Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tumbling Class At Power Play

The other day, a friend of mine who I met at the library, Barbara, introduced me to a great indoor play space. It's called Power Play and it's located on 3rd Avenue and 8th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

We met up at Power Play for a play date and Ari loved the indoor play space. It was equipped with many plastic vehicles to drive, a giant slide that lead to a sandbox, a big wooden playhouse and lots and lots of toys.

The play space costs $10 for a 2 hour play session. Barbara had a Play Pass, which she was kind enough to let us use. Ari loved the indoor play space. He spent the majority of his time there playing in the sandbox.

When we were getting ready to leave, the receptionist told us that Power Play offered gymnastic/tumbling classes for kids. If I was interested, she said, I could sign up for a free trial class. I asked Ari if he wanted to take a tumbling class. He said "Yes!" So I said "Yes!"

My friend Cordy texted me yesterday asking what I was up to on Thursday. I said "Taking Ari to a tumbling class. Wanna come?"

She said she was down, and so I signed up her two girls Z and L.

The class was a big hit with the kids!

The instructor, Abbie, (pictured above) was great with the kids. Ari was shy, because there were a lot of kids there and he tends to take a while to warm up to people in a group situation. But she was very patient with him and let him take his time getting used to the group.

Z and L had less inhibitions, but all of the kids had a great time.

I want to sign Ari up for the semester. Lately I've been feeling like he needs more structured social interaction with other kids, and this seems like a great environment to achieve that goal in.

After the class we had some amazing pie across the street from Power Play at a place called Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which Barbara also introduced me to as well. Ari was very serious about his pie.

For more information on Power Play click here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Distractions Needed While Nursing

I don't know how anyone successfully nurses two kids, especially if the older kid is a 2 year old boy. Whenever I try to feed Samara, Ari is literally climbing on my back. Today he got the brilliant idea to lick my arm while I tried to feed the baby.

"Stop it!" I said "I don't like that." Of course this response made him do it more. In the end my left arm was covered in drool.

He also likes to engage in potentially dangerous or aggravating activities while I have the baby on my boob so that it is difficult for me to stop him. He'll climb on top of the couch, attempt to pull down the window blinds, rip up important papers that are sitting on the coffee table and much much more. It's anxiety provoking.

If we're home, the only thing that seems to work is to turn the TV on. He is transfixed by it, and therefore stops climbing on me temporarily. But I don't want to over use the TV because a) it's bad for his brain, and b) he'll become immune to it and it will not work as a method of distraction.

A few moms have suggested having toys for him that only come out when it is time to nurse the baby. I sort of tried this with his Thomas The Tank Engine Board Game, but it didn't work so well. He got excited at first, but then quickly got bored of the game and started searching for things to destroy in the living room.

Anyone have any tips on this?

Monday, March 28, 2011

When In Doubt, Call in Reinforcements

When I mentioned that I was going to lead Story Time at the library to my parents, my dad was excited. For those of you who don't know him, he comes from a theatrical background and loves kids.

"Can I help?" He asked.
"Of course!" I automatically replied.

When we got to the library I got some shocking news. It turns out that the librarian is not going away for ten days, but rather three weeks. Consequently, I'll be covering two more weeks of Story Time.

My dad and I led Story Time together and it was loads of fun. Thank you to everyone who made such great book suggestions for the 0-4 age group. We ended up going with "Click Clack Moo", one of my favorites:

"The Monster At The End of This Book"

"Knuffle Bunny"

And a couple of other Mo Willems books that I can't remember the names of right now.

I'm so glad my dad was there to help me.

As for songs we did:
Old McDonald
If You're Happy And You Know It
The Color Song- See previous post for lyrics
Open Shut Them

Below are some pictures from the day. The faces of children involved have been disguised so that they may remain anonymous.

One of my mom friends from the library was kind enough to hold Samara while I read and sang to the kids.

Thanks dad for helping me out. When my mom heard that my dad was doing Story Time, she said:
"I want to do it too!" And she's actually led it before, so she knows what to do. Maybe she'll help me next week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Giant Frog, By Ari

Here is a story that Ari told me at breakfast today:

ARI: Once upon a time there was a boy named "Mommy."
Mommy met a giant frog.
The frog say "Hello."
Mommy say "Hello."
Mommy was scared.
I all done with peanut butter toast.

I love that I am a boy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Trader Joe's, Will You Marry Me?

Groceries are extraordinarily expensive. I try to buy mostly organic, so they end up being even more expensive. My mom has been telling me (for over a year) to try Trader Joe's. I kept meaning to go over there, I really did, but I was addicted to ordering my groceries online, with Fresh Direct. It was so convenient, but also pretty pricey.

Yesterday, I had a playdate, and I made Mac and Cheese for the kids' lunch. My friend saw the box and commented:
"You know, Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese is like 99 cents."

My jaw hit the floor. It was then that I knew I needed to get over there immediately.

I'd heard enough tales of Trader Joe's cheapness. I was ready to embark there with the two young ones.

Today, I left the house, and decided that I would take a taxi over there. I figured, I would be saving so much money once I got there, that the taxi fare wouldn't be too bad, plus I had two kids with me. Ari was pleased.

The cab ride to Trader Joe's cost us $9.00. When we got there, I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many aisles and everything was so cheap! Ari was pleased to simply sit in a grocery cart.

A kind security guard took my stroller and put it at the front desk for me.

People in the store began to get annoyed with me because I was standing in the produce aisle, blocking their way. I was so surprised at how cheap everything was that I keep re-reading the signs.

"I'm sorry," I kept saying. "This is my first time here, I'm really overwhelmed."

I was also terrified that Samara was going to wake up at any given moment and want to nurse. She didn't, thank goodness. She slept through the whole shopping trip!

Ari got a free cookie, they were giving out samples, and at the checkout counter, he got stickers!

I noticed there was a bunch of moms shopping there. That's why they have cookies and stickers on hand.

Here's the best part. I was throwing things into my cart left and right, and I was terrified of what the total would be. Four enormous bags of groceries cost me...drum roll please...$98.00!
I couldn't believe it. I was expecting the total to be at least $150.

Here are some of the items I got:
Kosher Organic Chicken Breast
Kosher Ground Turkey
Organic Peanut Butter
Organic Eggs
Toilet Paper
A giant bag of grapefruit
A giant bag of navel oranges
Organic bread crumbs
A gallon of Organic Milk
Wheat bread
2 bags of organic broccoli florets (fresh)
A package of zucchini
Organic vegetable broth
2 boxes of Trader Joe's frozen pizzas
32 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A giant cucumber
Organic Bananas

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, but you get the idea.

After we checked out, one of the women who worked there, for the sake of anonymity we'll call her "Brenda," helped us out of the store, called us a taxi and loaded the groceries into the taxi trunk for us! We spent the time waiting for the taxi talking about kids. She told me about her three girls, two Virgos and a Pisces, ages 7 months, four and nine years old.

Before the taxi came I realized I needed to get cash. Ari, Samara and I dashed across the street to the ATM. Ari was furious at me for not letting him push the buttons, but I was in a rush, Brenda was watching the groceries and I didn't want to miss our ride home!

The taxi ride home was $10 with tip.

Here's a cost break down:
$98 groceries
$19 cabs
Total: $117

When I order groceries from Fresh Direct, I spend anywhere from $130-150 a week. Even with the cab ride, I saved money. Plus Fresh Direct, to my knowledge, does not give away free cookies and stickers.

Additionally, if I leave the kids at home with Wil or my mom next time, I'll save the $19 in taxi money.

Who else likes Trader Joe's?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Would Only Happen To Me

Ari and I went to the library for story time yesterday. As soon as we entered the children's room, I made eye contact with the children's librarian, and I knew something was wrong.

"I have to sit at the desk, can you do story time today?" She pleaded with me.

"Uh...okay..." I said. I was barely caffeinated and certainly not prepared with material for 0-4 year olds, but I didn't want to let the group down. I quickly scanned the library shelves for age appropriate material and went through my mental rolodex for songs to perform.

I had a rough start.

The books I picked were way too long for the group. By the third page of a book where the protagonist draws all over her bedroom wall with crayons, two toddler girls were screaming at the top of their lungs and bludgeoning each other with giant lady bug shaped pillows. Ari was sitting at the front of the room with me pointing out all the colors in the story very loudly.

The songs were a bigger hit than the story. I did the color song. It goes like this:

"Red, red is the color I see.
If you're wearing red then show it to me.
Stand up and turn around, show me your red and then sit down."

The kids who are wearing the particular color you're singing about have to get up and dance. They loved it.

I also did some old standards like Old McDonald and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. After we sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I let them in on a little secret.

"Did you know that Twinkle Twinkle Little Star has the same melody as another song?"
I made them guess what song it was. Someone guessed right!
"Yes! The alphabet song!" Naturally, we sang the A-B-C song after that.

After some songs, I proceeded to read more books that they couldn't focus on, and there was more hitting and screaming. I kept saying:

"Okay! On the count of five we're going to sit back down on the rug!" They would sit on the rug and then get bored and start running around again.

The librarian is on vacation for 10 days starting next week. She asked me to come back and do story time again. I felt too badly to say no.

Any suggestions for age appropriate books?

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm Not Ready

I was supposed to substitute teach two days next week. I prepared myself for it mentally and physically. I pumped enough milk for both days in advance and froze it. But as it came closer to return to work date, I started to panic. I wasn't ready. It was the same panic I experienced when I tried to return to work when Ari was three months old. I looked at Samara and she looked so little to me. I don't feel ready to leave her for an entire day.

I just couldn't do it. I contacted the school and told them that I wasn't ready.

I'm not ready, and I'm okay with that.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wrong Number!

Warning: The following has nothing to do with motherhood. I've been receiving peculiar text messages from varying sources and needed to document them before my brain atrophied.

There's something about my cell phone number that attracts random people that I've never met. I've determined, through the messages I've been receiving, that my phone number once belonged to a woman named Zenovia. This woman has led a very interesting life.

It started out innocently enough on New Years Day.

I got a text message that said: "Happy New Year Beautiful, to you and your family."

I didn't recognize the number, so I ignored it, thinking it was either a wrong number, or someone I'd lost touch with. But my curiosity got the best of me. Here's how the text exchange went:
"Thanks! Who is this?"
"Now I'm offended Zena. You don't remember me?"
"No, who is this?"
"Just a year ago you were licking my chest down in the park."

I knew it was time to call this gentleman and set him straight. Poor guy. Here's how the phone conversation went:

"Hi, this is Sarah, you've been texting Zena. You have the wrong number."
A pregnant pause.
Another pregnant pause.
"I'm sorry ma'am. Have a nice day."

I thought I'd put the ghost of Zenovia to rest. But then a day or so later, I got another text message.

"Zena, snowstorms predicted in your area. Don't drive in to work."
It's too bad she never got that message, I hope she didn't take her car to work that day.
I called that number back. Apparently the person worked with Zenovia at NYU and was trying to give her a heads up about the weather.

After that text, the Zenovia messages calmed down. But a few days ago, I got another wrong text message:

"Call Corey and Joel regarding meeting."
Needless to say, to my knowledge, Corey and Joel weren't called. But I did text back saying:
"Wrong number! P.S. Sorry. Hope the meeting goes well!"

I'm not sure whether this message was intended for Zenovia or not.

Tell me, do you have a funny wrong number story?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How Does He Do It?

I've been trying to get Samara to take a nap all day. I've been rocking her, patting to her, letting her cry a little, giving her the pacifier, you get the idea. Finally, Wil says to me "I'll take her."
I gladly hand over the baby and go do the dishes. 15 minutes later, I return to the living room and find this:

I'm sure when he wakes up he's going to brag about how awesome he is. I want to know how he does it. It's not fair! It comes so easily to him. I'm her mother, I should know what to do!

I've asked him what is secret is, but he insists that he doesn't have one.

"I just try everything babe." He says.

I try everything too, but nothing works.

Well, at least she's asleep. I should really be sleeping too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm Calling In Sick

Parenting is a full-time job, but unlike a "real" job, there are no sick days. You don't feel like being a mom today? Too bad! You are one. You have to do "your job." Today was a day that if I could have called in sick, I would have.

I'm a good worker, I show up every day and every night. I'm there for my kids. Come on, I deserve a day off!

This morning Ari refused to be changed or wear pants. He hid under the couch. Meanwhile Samara was screaming. I asked him to come out from under the couch 50,000 times and finally, my brain short circuited and I lost it. I yelled at him. He yelled back. Wil woke up, saw that I was in distress, grabbed Ari from underneath the couch where he was hiding and changed him. He had a private talk with Ari, lecturing him to listen to me. Then he went back to sleep because he had worked the night before.

The rest of the day was filled with more crankiness. I tried to save the day by buying Ari and I each a chocolate chip cookie, but nothing could save this day.

Don't get me wrong, my kids are cute as hell, and I love them so much it hurts.

But today was a day when I would have given anything to sleep in, eat ice cream and do absolutely nothing.

Who else wants a day off?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BioGaia Tells Colic Who's Boss!

Samara is a colicky baby, there is no doubt. I've been at my wits end here trying to to soothe her. There have been days where she's cried for over five hours. It's rough. One of my Canadian readers, Sara, suggested I try BioGaia Probiotic drops for colic.

I googled them, ordered them to my local pharmacy and gave them a go.

I am happy to report that they resulted in this:

And then this:

So thank you BioGaia and thank you Sara for the recommendation! My baby feels better and I have a sense of relief.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ari is in The Eye of The Beholder

The other day, Ari was finishing up his french toast. He left the crusts, as usual, and said:

"I all done Mommy!"
"Okay," I said 'Throw the rest in the garbage."
"No!" He shot back "I not doing that! I don't think so!"
Taken aback, I said:
"Don't you talk to me like that!"
"I don't think so!" He repeated defiantly.
"If you say it again, you're going to time out!" I knew what was coming next. Predictably, he said:
I immediately picked him up and sat him in time out for two minutes. I set the stove timer so I would know when those two minutes were up. When the timer beeped, I removed him and asked:
"Do you know why you went to time out?"
"I don't know." He replied innocently.
I knelt down on my knees and looked him in the eyes.
"You don't talk to mommy like that. You have to respect mommy."
"Your eyes are Ari." I couldn't quite understand what he said at the point so I asked:
"What? My eyes are angry?"
"No!" He shook his head "Your eyes are ARI!"
I paused, and then it occurred to me, he couldn't focus on anything I was saying because he saw his own reflection in my eyes.

"Oh, you mean you see your reflection in my eyes?" I clarified.
"Yes!" He confirmed.
"That must be distracting." I said.
"Yes!" He agreed.
"Okay, need to respect mommy. Can you say it?"
"Respect mommy!" He repeated diligently.
Ari is in the eye of the beholder.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Disciplining Other People's Kids

I was on a playdate the other day, and I did something that I try to avoid; I intervened in an argument between Ari and another kid. I always feel strange when I'm telling another person's kid what to do. It doesn't seem right, I didn't give birth to this child, I don't tell him/her what to do on a daily basis, what makes today any different? Why should I have the right to tell this kid to cut it out?

Back to the playdate. It was a situation in which both kids weren't sharing a coveted item, and something needed to be done. Afterward, I asked the kid's mom:

"I'm sorry, is it okay that I did that? I didn't mean to tell your kid what to do."
"No!" She said sincerely "I'm glad you intervened, I have a lot of friends that just sit there and don't do anything, and it really bugs me. Thank you for doing that."

I felt a little better about it after that. But I have to say, there is a fine line. Here is when I think it's appropriate to step in and intervene in a conflict between your child and someone else's:

1. When there is a physical fight.
2. When there is a verbal disagreement that doesn't appear to be working itself out on it's own.
3. If your kid does something that you don't agree with/allow him to do at home.

Essentially, unless the kids are beating the crap out of one another or verbally abusing each other, let them work it out on their own.

It really bugs me when someone tells my kid what to do if it's not necessary and doesn't help the situation at hand.

I am now stepping down from my soapbox.

How do you feel about disciplining other people's kids?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dinosaur Art at Barking Cat Studio

I've written a bunch about the exorbitant amount of money that Pre-School costs. Recently, I've been seeking out low cost classes as an alternative to Pre-School. A friend of mine, who also has two kids similar ages to Ari and Samara, recommended art classes at a place near us called Barking Cat Studio. She said the classes were affordable and it was an all around great time.
I decided to check it out.

I went to their site and gave the number a call.

Within an hour, Karen (the founder of Barking Cat Studio) called me back. Karen had a vibrant voice and a great energy. I immediately got a good vibe over the phone. She said they had a class on Friday where the kids were making "dinosaur art."
"Perfect!" I said "Ari loves dinosaurs."
I asked how much this class would be.
"Normally classes are $25, but since it's your first class, we'll give you $10 off."
"Thanks so much!" I said getting excited already.
Friday arrived, my mom watched Samara and off we went to Barking Cat Studio.

What a great time it was!

One of the great things about Barking Cat Studio, is that you get to take all your art work home. They call it "Make it & Take it Arts & Crafts." Here's what Ari made today:

Karen Merbaum, Barking Cat's Founder, has worked in graphic design for over 20 years. Barking Cat Studio used to be her graphic design office. One day, she had an epiphany. She no longer wanted to practice graphic design, she wanted to use her artistic background to work with children.

A year and half ago she transformed her space into what is now Barking Cat Studio. She is an incredibly talented artist. In fact, she made this desk:

We had a wonderful time at Barking Cat Studio, and I'm sure we'll be back!

For more information on classes at Barking Cat Studio, click on the Make it and Take it Bag below!