Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve Part I

New Years Eve began like this:

To be continued...

The Warm Fuzzy Tale- A Childhood Favorite

When I was a child my mom used to read me "The Warm Fuzzy Tale."

This book is a story about being kind to others. It was written by Claude Steiner, a clinical psychologist to teach children about being kind to others. The way in which this is illustrated in the book is that people give one another small furry balls that sort of resemble koosh balls from the 1990's.

The balls in question are called "warm fuzzies." The warm fuzzies make people feel good. They are like giving some a compliment, or helpful advice.

Pictured here are children and a woman dancing happily holding warm fuzzies

There is an evil witch in the book who manufactures a competitor to the warm fuzzy called a cold pricklies, which for some reason do not seem to exist on the internet. I can find copious images of warm fuzzies but no cold cold pricklies.

Anyhow, there is a huge conspiracy when the witch decides to sell cold pricklies to people and they then get really nasty and mean because they have received them!

Here is a you tube video of Claude Steiner, clinical psychologist and author of "A Warm Fuzzy Tale" reading it aloud!

I remember absolutely loving this book so much when I was a child. The illustrations are vivid, and the story is captivating. I hope you all love it as much as I do/did.

If you want to purchase the book click below:

A Sample Parental Dialouge

The scene: I am sitting on the computer in our bedroom, Ari in the hallway and is mysteriously quiet except for a strange clicking sound. Wil is sorting and folding laundry.

Me: What's he doing?
Wil: Playing with that square thing.
Me: What square thing?
Wil: It's white and square.
[A pause while I try to determine what he's talking about]
Me: Is it safe?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ready For a Bed?

Last night I saw something amazing, my son climbed out of his pack 'n play.
I attempted to place him back in the crib to see if this incident was a fluke. But the moment his feet touched the Pack 'n Play mattress, he began to scale the walls and he was out of the crib once again.

So I put him back in the crib and left the room. But one minute later, I heard knocking on the door of the room he was in. He had gotten out of the crib and was trying to get out of the room.

I called his pediatrician for advice.
"Well," she said "It looks like he's ready for a big boy bed!"
"Really?" I replied "But he's only 20 months old!"

She insisted that since my son is able to escape the confines of his crib, the next natural step is to put him in a toddler bed.

I am still unsure of what to do. Any thoughts?

Filipina Magic

Last night, my son was having a rough go of things. He refused to sleep and it was getting later and later. Part of the problem is that we are in a different place from home, and his routine has been thrown off. His bedtime is generally 7:30pm-ish in New York, but due to the time difference and amount of exciting activity present here, my child refuses to sleep.

Not only does he refuse to sleep, but he also will not leave my side. For pete's sake he won't even allow me to use the bathroom. Each time I leave the room he wails: "Mama!" Can you say "separation anxiety?"

Yesterday evening was no exception. He was wailing and saying "Mama!" Every time I got up to leave him even for a mere moment. So I walked into the living room and exclaimed to my extended family:

"Can somebody please help me because I am going to kill myself!"

I am going to pause the story here to clarify some cultural details. I was raised in a reformed Jewish household. I believe the Jewish culture to be inherently dramatic. I can personally attest to this dramatic behavior and have seen it in my household as well as the households of my fellow Jews.

I feel a sense of dramatic comradery when I enter a Filipino household. My boyfriend's family understands my dramatic nature because, just like the Jews, the Filipinos also are delightfully full of drama. So in other words I need not worry about saying outrageous things in front of them because they are just as wacky as I am.

Back to the story:

So my son is screaming and not sleeping, I am loosing my mind and I beg my Filipino relatives for help. One of the other wonderful things about the Filipino culture is that this culture loves children, and they somehow always know what to do in a moment of baby crisis.

My practically-mother-in-law and aunt-in-law scooped up my son, put on his pants, jacket and shoes, buckled him into his car seat and drove around for an hour until he fell asleep. They returned with a sleeping toddler, placed him in his crib and quietly shut the bedroom door.

I must have thanked them for hours afterward. G-d bless the Filipinas!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knitting With Nieces

Yesterday, my boyfriend took a marathon nap and my nieces and I were bored. So we stole his debit card and traveled to my new favorite Texas locale, Walmart. We purchased several craft materials including a sand art kit, squares of multi-colored felt, knitting needles and yarn. Then we went to Best Buy and picked up snacks and a DVD. We had a craft based evening while we watched "Mean Girls."

Here are the fruits of our hard work:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lost in Texas

Let me tell you about my sense of direction, I have none. Yesterday my niece, my son and I took a journey to what we thought was the mall. My glorious Google phone told us to embark on route 2252 and we would end up at Rolling Oaks mall. So we drove and drove.

As we drove we began to notice civilization slowly but surely disappear. Buildings, main roads and stores were replaced by farms and farm animals. Things began to look creepier and creepier, including the houses. Here is a picture my niece and I created to represent the kind of houses we saw:

We passed what appeared to be an abandoned church in one of the eeriest looking towns I had ever seen.

My son was relatively oblivious to how creeped out we were. He was simply fascinated by the surroundings. I suppose this is one of the benefits of this pre-verbal age.

I was just waiting Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone, to start announcing our fates when all at once we saw it.

It was a mecca at the end of the mysterious farm road: McDonalds.

We drove toward those famed golden arches, the sign of life to come. We stopped at a gas station for snacks. Amazingly my son spotted the aisle of candy. I was astounded that he knew what these products were since he has never had candy in his life.

Perhaps he was intrigued by the bright colors and exciting packaging. Since gas stations in Texas have a limited food selection and sell absolutely no fruit, I opted to buy him dried fruit and pretzels.

With the help of the Texas gas station cashier ladies we managed to find the Rolling Oaks mall. Here's the hilarious part, the mall was only 10 minutes away from our starting point (the house). We had driven 40 minutes North for absolutely no reason at all other than my lack of directional sense.

We arrived at the mall:

We exhausted the mall's options in 20 mintues. Then we decided to see a movie. My niece hadn't seen "New Moon" yet, so we searched for theater nearby where it was playing. It was playing in downtown San Antonio at The River Center.

"Are you up for an adventure?" I asked my nine year old niece.

"Sure!" She said with a smile. My son had no choice in the matter. So off we went to San Antonio proper!

It took us 30 minutes to get downtown. We got stuck in an incredible amount of traffic in downtown San Antonio and I had no idea where I was. So, like a child of the 1980's who was raised on PSAs, I did the safe and smart thing, I asked a police officer where to go.

Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Where is the River Center Mall?
Police Officer: Sorry, I'm not taking anymore questions today.
Me: (pauses silently stunned)
Police Officer: Just kidding! Go down three blocks you'll see it.
Me: Can I park on the street?
Police Officer: Good luck!

Thanks a lot! I thought people were supposed to be helpful in the South!

We managed to find the River Center mall on our own. We purchased tickets to the film which began at 6:55pm. I was hopeful that my son would behave himself in the theater since we had such great luck with his first two film viewings.

The days of good behavior in the movies are over. At first things were going well. My niece and I loaded him up with a tray of popcorn. He was transfixed by the large film screen and the crunchy popcorn. But then he got stir crazy and exited his chair. He roamed up and down the theater aisles, threatening to approach the movie goers.

At first I let him, and then when he began talking aloud, so I had no choice to remove him from the theater.

After entering and exiting the theater several times, I managed to get him to watch the last 30 minutes of the film.

By the time the movie ended it was already 10pm! We frantically called my sister-in-law to assure her I hadn't kidnapped her child. We rushed home, and my son fell asleep on the way.

What a day!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Love Affair With Walmart

Being a city girl, I am relatively ignorant with regard to what the stores of suburbia have to offer. On my journey to Texas, I have been introduced to Walmart.

It was love at first sight. Walmart is truly a super store. I believe Walmart to be a combination grocery, clothing, electronics and everything you could ever imagine store.

Here are my purchases from today:

Robe: $15 - On sale from $18

Multi Car Set- $3.97

Hanes Body Creations- Underwear $9.00
Hanes Low Rise Briefs: $5.50
No Nonsense Socks $6.00

Tee Shirt- $5.00

P.Js- $4.00

Vasserette Bra- $10

Fruit of the Loom Bras- 2 pack - $5.00
Danskin Long John Shirt- $8.00

And one of my favorite shirts of all time:

Ocean Pacific Hoody - $12

When I return to Brooklyn I will be sad because I won't be able to afford anything.

When you visit suburbia go to Walmart and be happy. If you live in suburbia, thank whatever deity you believe in for Walmart.

A Filipino Wedding Featuring Two People We Don't Know!

Yesterday we went to a wedding where we did not know the bride and groom. The wedding was more like a 25th anniversary, actually, a renewal of vows. We got all gussied up:

And off we went. As soon as we entered the church it was clear that my son was NOT going to sit through the ceremony. But the church happened to have this amazing playroom! First of all, it was pleasantly decorated and featured an elaborate mural with various forest animals and trees. There were a million toys, a crib, a changing table with diapers sizes ranging from New Born to 5, organic animal crackers for snacking, a TV/VCR/DVD combo with kids videos and DVDs just beside it. We were set. Boredom issue was solved, for now.

My nieces even joined us to help with the toddler entertainment process:

All was well, until we had to go to the wedding reception. We arrived at the Army Base where the reception was being thrown. My son could not sit still at the circular dining table. He was grabbing at forks, knives, spoons, asking for "wa wa" or water out of a glass every three seconds, throwing items from the table onto the floor at warp speed.

My only recourse was to remove him from the scenario and retreat into the hallway next to the dining room.

He zoomed up and down that hallway over and over again. He veered toward the "Gentleman's Bathroom," and almost entered it. But thankfully I grabbed him and redirected his 25 lb self before he got there.

During the course of his travels he managed to break a votive candle, shattering glass all over the Base hallway floor. At this point, my boyfriend and I decided, it was time to leave.

I honestly don't know how people with toddlers attend to fancy events, aside from getting a babysitter. Please share your stories, suggestions and advice for these occasions. I need a game plan for next time!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Texas Xmas

The following pictures and video are in no particular order. My child was so tired by the time he got to Texas, he could barely keep his eyes open!

Ah suburbia, where the houses tell us what holiday it is!

Below is a particularly garrish house, but I rather enjoyed it.

Flying to Hell...I Mean Austin With a Toddler

Today I realized that I dislike traveling. I used to quite enjoy boarding a plane and zoning out, listening to music, watching Animal Planet re-runs, or reading a trashy novel. At this point in my life all of these things are impossible, because I have a toddler. I love my son more than anything in the universe, but he will not let me relax!

As soon as we boarded the plane, he was raring to go. He wanted to roam up and down the aisles, talk to strangers and steal their food. I was exasperated. I tried to bribe him with toys but he was uninterested. I was so desperate to calm him, I turned on cartoon network on the individual TV screen at our seat. He didn't care.
I was at my wits end.

My boyfriend was no help at all, he had been up for 36 hours straight working and left the childcare for the flight to me. And when he did try to help for moments at a time, my son would scream "mama!" And reach for me.
So we took walks up and down the aisles. Low and behold on our journey we found three babies with mamas and daddies attached to them.

One couple was particularly wonderful. They had two little boys, Baxter,3, and Anakis, 17 months. The dad offered me a seat as I was chasing my son down the
endless plane aisle. "Only parents truly understand..." I remarked to him as I collapsed into the plane seat. He smiled in agreement.

The mom and I got to talking about sleep issues, pre-school, having siblings and the works. This couple was so down to earth and dare I say "normal."

My son blatantly stole their crayons and they didn't even bat an eye lash. When my child began drawing on the plane walls with these same crayons, I cried out in a panic, the dad responded:
"Don"t worry! They're washable!" And he handed me a baby wipe to clean the wall with.

I loved this couple.
I told them about what a rough flight my boy was having. They consoled me by letting me know that my son's stir crazy travel behavior was, indeed, just a normal phase in development.

Curse Word Substitutes

As I sit in the airport waiting to board a plane that is delayed, I am taking the time to write about curse words. Since about the 4th grade, I am ashamed to admit, I have been an avid curse word producer. You name it, it came out of my 10 year old mouth.

One would think that having a child would have stopped my potty mouth, but no, I continue to use these vulgar words on a regular basis.

My sister-in-law uses substitutes for curses. I like this idea. Here are some that I have compiled for general usage. I hope you all can exclaim these to stop yourself from yelling F you!

1. Motther Hubbard!
2. Shut the Front Door!
3. Jimminy Christmas!
4. What the Foo?
5. Fudge!
6. What the Funk?!

If you have more to add post a comment! Or email me at

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Jewish Xmas

Today, I celebrated what is known, in my family, as a "Jewish Xmas." This consists of eating Chinese food and watching a movie. When I was a kid we went to the movies. Today watched "Bring it On" on DVD.

Today's Jewish Xmas was extra special, because it was also my belated birthday celebration! My real birthday was actually in October, but my friend Staci and I weren't able to get together until today (December) to actually celebrate it!

First, the Chinese food:

On the way back my apartment we saw a large stoop ornament that Staci almost got into an altercation with:

Then we came back to my place to enjoy a chocolate birthday cake that Staci had purchased for the occasion, until we opened the cake box and found this:

The cake, however xmas-like it was, was delicious!

After the cake, our Jewish Xmas continued when Mint and Mike came over and gave Ari a belated Hanukah present! During the gift giving they(and Staci too) convinced Ari that it was okay to wear his hood, which he kept trying to unsuccessfully remove from his body

Happy Holidays Everybody!

Sleep Woes at 20 Months

My son has decided that he does not like to sleep anymore. I don't know whether it's because he thinks he is missing something important that only occurs when his body is in a resting state or what the issue is, but the bottom line is that he refuses to sleep. Even naps have become an issue.

I've ended up taking him into my bed with me when all else fails. I turn out the light and he curls up with me and falls asleep. However, I don' t get restful sleep when he is in the bed with me because he is a total bed hog. I wake up in the middle of the night to find him sprawled out in random directions, or positioned so that I am almost falling off the edge of the bed.

In a desperate attempt to solve the problem, I decided to reason with him. I asked why he doesn't want to go to sleep at night. Here's what he had to say:

And finally, he revealed his real reason for not wanting to sleep in the crib:

Clearly I need some help. If you have sleeping suggestions for toddlers, please post them as a comment or email me at

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Day My Computer Died

Today is a very sad day. Today my computer is no longer with us. It crossed over to the other side. My laptop died a sad death this morning when I was on hold with technical support for a long long time. I lost all my photos, my music, my writing and I'm not sure what else.

I don't really know how to feel. I'm sort of in denial at this point.

Here is what a video version:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ari in the Snow Part II

Da Bus!

I was so worried about my son talking, but now the words are finally starting to come. Today he said the word "bus" for the first time. Well...he actually said something more like "da bus!" while he was glancing out the window at a city bus!

Future Me

I don't remember doing this, but I apparently I sent this email to myself on December 22, 2007 to receive today December 22, 2009! I used this website called FutureMe. And my prediction came true!

Take a look:

Dear FutureMe,

I am 17 weeks pregnant today and I still don't know the gender of the baby. I am so excited to find out and I do; in three weeks.

I kind of think it's a boy.

I can't wait until my baby shower and to find out the sex of the baby.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ari in the Snow

Yesterday we got over a foot of snow here in Brooklyn. It was my son's first real experience with the white stuff. He really didn't know what to make of it. He just kept saying "Wow!" over and over again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Can't Dance Because I Never Crawled!

How Do You Use Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap?

For years, my best friend Mint has been raving about Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap and it's multiple uses. I recently purchased a bottle of the stuff, and frankly I am overwhelmed. Please see video below:

Here is the Dr. Bronner's website for someone how has more time then I do to look it over.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Am I Awake?

It's 2:52am and I just woke up. My son spontaneously woke up ten minutes ago. I took him into my bed with me but neither of us could sleep. So we got up.

Usually I would be more persistent about getting back to sleep on both of our parts. But this time I gave in to insomnia. So now we are sitting in the living room, he is watching "Blue's Clues" and I am writing a blog. Look! A friend just joined me!

Cats are always up for for nighttime action. Egreck is now sleeping on my knee. I wish I could sleep. I wish my son could sleep. Maybe we should try again?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On Crawling: Christine Labeste, Pediatric O.T. Speaks

As a child, I had a difficult time learning to hold a pencil. I later found out that this was connected to the fact that I skipped that crawling stage as a baby! I sat down with Christine Labeste, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, to get the scoop on crawling. Here's what she had to say:


More on crawling from Ms. Labeste:

1. What is the importance of crawling?

Crawling is fairly important during development, but having tummy time is even more crucial. It provides many skills for development in the future. When children are on their stomachs, they are receiving sensory information on the whole front side of the body by bearing weight on their hands, wrist and elbows. It gives them information about where their bodies are in space, providing skills for future bilateral coordination and reciprocal movement (left and right working together). It also encourages binocular vision (being able to use both eyes to focus near and then far) since they can look close when using their hands and far when they need to get to an object. And most importantly, tummy time and crawling helps to strengthen the neck, upper torso, shoulder girdle, and the muscles needed in the hands for manipulating objects.

2. How can we encourage our children to crawl?

Since the advent of the "Back to Sleep" campaign due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, babies are spending less time on their stomachs as in the past. Children can first be encouraged to tolerate being on their stomach for at a few minutes as early as newborns using high contract pictures and toys or getting the other parent on their stomach to talk, sing, make silly faces to the child. As they get older, mirrors and toys in front of them while their elbows are propped are great. For babies who have trouble maintaining propped on their elbows, placing a small towel or pillow under their underarm/chest area to give some extra support. Tunnels are a common toy to encourage crawling. Put something appealing at the other end such as a remote control or cell phone!

3. What happens if a child skips the crawling stage altogether?

Skipping crawling may affect a child's ability to hold silverware or a pencil down the road, since the weight-bearing experience of crawling helps develop arches and stretch out ligaments in the wrist and hand that are needed for fine motor skills.

4. What rumors would you like to dispel about crawling?

That skipping crawling or tummy time won't affect future development. As a pediatric OT, I see more and more cases of weak shoulders, poor hand strength and manipulation skills, and lots of handwriting problems. I think that if we had more babies crawling and crawling for longer periods of time, we would see a decreased occurrence of these problems. However, there are certainly some children who skip crawling altogether and are perfectly fine today. Overall, I think that crawling and tummy time should not be overlooked and that we should encourage our children to go through all the stages of development.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cocoa Victory!

I previously mentioned my son's aversion to drinking milk. I've tried many creative techniques to combat this challenging behavior including strawberry milk and the commercial chocolate powder that I grew up with. See previous posts here and here. These solutions were short-lived.

Today, I discovered another alternative: organic cocoa powder! My dad was drinking hot cocoa and I asked him if I could have some. He said "I want to warn you, it's a little spicy." Fair enough. I tried it, I liked it, so I decided to test it out on my son.

I warmed organic whole milk in the microwave for 30 seconds and mixed in a bit of this magical fair trade powder. I placed the cup of cocoa on the floor so my son could discover it on his own. Low and behold it worked! He loved it.

My dad generously donated the rest of the container for toddler use! YAY!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kaleido Gears For Hanukkah

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. My sister-in-law sent me a text message the other day asking if my son would rather have some clothes or a new toy for Hanukkah.

While we can always use more clothing (since my son is growing at an extraordinary rate) I knew he was bored with all the toys in the apartment,** so I replied that he would rather have a new play thing.

And so, last night he was lucky enough to receive this:

Kaleido Gears are just perfect for him. Though the box reads that this is a toy for ages 3 and up, with some parental assistance it can be enjoyed by younger ones. My son is 19 months and he loves these things. He enjoys taking objects apart and putting them back together. Kaledio Gears enable him to do this favorite activity.

Here's where the parental guidance/supervision comes in. For little ones his age, there are smallish parts that you need to be aware of and you'll need to set up the gears on the peg board for your child. But once they're up, your toddler will love turning and playing with them.

The company that makes Kaleido Gears is based in Italy, thus their website is all in Italian. Here is a link for those who happen to speak Italian

For the English speakers, here is a link to where you can purchase Kaleido Gears.

**When my son gets bored, he tends to destroy things. Not a good look.