Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Swimming, Swiming in a Swimming Pool!

Yesterday a momentous thing happened; my son went swimming for the first time ever! My great friend and I decided that it was just too hot outside and the only solution to the heat and humidity was to go swimming...in New Jersey.

So we took a trip to the Palisades Park Swimming Pool. Located in Palisades Park, New Jersey just an hour away from downtown Brooklyn and 30-40 minutes from Manhattan, the pool costs only $10 for an entire day of swimming. If you go during the week it is sufficiently less crowded then the weekend. They do not have a website, but for more information about the Palisades Park Pool, call (201) 585-4140‎.

The pool grounds are such a pleasant environment. There are three separate pools, One large one, one small one for children, and one specifically for people swimming laps. In addition to the pools, the grounds have a snack bar, picnic tables, grass to sit on and a small playground containing baby swings, a slide and climbing equipment.

Since my son is only 14 months old, I was nervous about putting him in an enormous pool. I was nervous but my boyfriend was a wreck. My boyfriend was getting ready to go to work and he asked:

"So what are you guys up to today?"
"Going swimming." I said
"What?! Where?"
"New Jersey!" I said confidiently "In a swimming pool."
"Make sure you never ever leave him unattended? Does he have floaties?! Don't leave him alone, okay babe?! Okay?! Are you listening?!" He went on and on.

Well, I was nervous before I spoke to my boyfriend, now I was really nervous! However, there was one thing that did make me feel better; my wonderful friend who introduced my to the Palisades Park Pool happens to be a lifeguard, so this made me feel a little more at ease.

We arrived at the pool and I asked my friend for her expert advice as to how to introduce my son to the water.

"At this age its about getting him comfortable with the water." She said calmly. "He can't really do much by himself. You have to hold on to him and guide him around the pool."

So that is what I did. I got into the freezing cold pool first, got myself adjusted to the water and then my friend handed me my son. She jumped in and we we were ready to enjoy the water.

At first my son was skeptical. I was holding him on my hip and I could feel his legs tighten around my waist. He was afraid. Can you blame him? A large pool of clear blue water must be intimidating to a 22 lb munchkin.

But after a minute or so, he was loving the water! He was smiling, splashing water in my face and laughing at the result. He absolutely loved the water. We guided him around the pool and he was pointing and smiling at the swimmers and making cute babbling noises along the way.

I think 14 months is a great age to get your child used to water. Because as they grow older they will not be timid about learning to swim. So don't be shy! Take your baby to a pool and teach them to love the water.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Tantrum Victory

This morning I was cooking chicken drumsticks for my boyfriend to take to work for lunch. I was in and out of the kitchen and my son was crawling all around the living room during this time finding interesting things to play with.

I re-entered the living room and he approached me, lifted his arms up to indicate that he wanted to be picked up. I obliged, gave him a hug and a kiss and then I heard the the timer beep in the kitchen. I went to put my son back down on the floor. He arched his back, began crying and flailing his limbs uncontrollably.

"Here we go again." I thought to myself. But then I thought, "Let me try something." So I carefully placed him on the floor and said "goodbye." in a very matter of fact way. I wanted to communicate to him that if he was going to act in an out of control way, then I would not be around him.

Guess what? It worked. He cried for three seconds, got up and began searching for new and exciting objects to play with.

Victory! One point for mommy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mommy! Where Did You Go?

Ah babies! They always keep you on your toes. If its not teething, gas, excretion of some kind or all the other wonderful things that come along with being a mom, it's this; separation anxiety.

My son will be 14 months in July. Shortly after his first birthday he has started to cling to me like super glue.

He used to sleep through the night incredibly well, but lately when I put him to bed at 7pm he screams and screams until I go into the room and remind him that I still exist; I haven't left him for good.

And it doesn't stop there. When I leave him with anyone other than myself, even to go to the next room, he freaks out; screaming and crying. It is intense. Eventually he calms down after a minute or so, but you should see the relief on his face when I come back in the room.

Separation anxiety is normal; particularly at his age. Typically the onset of separation anxiety occurs anywhere between 12 and 18 months but can occur as early as nine months.

Just because it's normal doesn't mean that it isn't exhausting for both parent and child. For my part I am glad that my son is showing me that he is healthily attached to me; however, It is draining to have to constantly reassure him that I'm still here. I love him very much, but come on! Give mommy a break!

With regard to the trouble sleeping at night, I had to give him a refresher course in the Ferber method.

1. After he has his bath and I read him a bed time story, I put him down in his crib at 7pm. 2. He cries for five minutes.
3. If he is not asleep after five minutes, I go in there, LEAVE HIM IN THE CRIB, and rub his back for exactly one minute. Then I exit the room again.
4. I wait ten minutes.
5. If he is still crying after ten minutes I go in again and rub his back for maximum one minute. Then promptly leave the room.
6. Then wait 15 minutes. Usually during this interval, he falls asleep.
The point of this exercise is to reassure him that I am still here. You start with a small interval (5 minutes) and then increase accordingly. You are showing your baby that they can be alone for a period of time and you will still return eventually.

Separation anxiety is rough for both baby and mommy. I hope that my son gets over this phase quickly. I am doing everything that I can to show my little boy that I am here for him.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Lovely Teeth You Have!

I have been writing this mom blog for some time now, and I cannot believe that I have never addressed the issue of teething! It's such a common annoyance that both babies and moms alike have to deal with.

Lucky me, my son began teething at 3 months old. His first two teeth (the bottom ones) emerged at 4 months of age. At the time, I was still nursing. After dealing with mastitis (a breast infection) now I had to contend with teeth on my breasts.

Many people questioned my devotion to breastfeeding at various points:

"When he gets teeth you're going to stop, right?"

Depending on my mood, and my energy to deal with the particular person asking the question I would respond accordingly. Sometimes I would say:

"Yes! I don't want to deal with that." Because clearly that is what the person wanted to hear. Or other times I would attempt to passively explain my cause.

"Well, I'm planning on nursing him for a year. So hopefully he won't have too many teeth along the way."

The funny thing is, it wasn't the actual teeth that bothered me while I was nursing; it was when the teeth were getting ready to emerge from my son's gums that was the most irritating. For two reasons:

1. When he was nursing and the teeth were emerging at the root, my breasts would itch like crazy!
2. My son was irritable all day and night during this time.

I am proud to say, I toughed it out and nursed for one year through ten baby teeth. Go me!

As always, I solicited the advice of many veteran mothers to try to cope with the teething process. Here are some tricks that actually helped me and my son along the way:

1. Freeze a washcloth. Once it is frozen offer it to your baby when he is cranky due to teething. He can munch on it and it will ease the teething pain.
2. Freeze a bagel. Same principle as the washcloth, but there is a bonus! If little pieces of the bagel break off, your baby gets a snack! But try to buy bagels that are not crumbly. The mini bagels are a bit flimsier and break off enormous chunks causing your living room floor to be quite the mess. Go for the real deal, big bagels are best.
3. Pedialyte Freezer Pops or the generic Electrofreeze pops. Essentially they are like frozen Gatorade. Older babies (six months plus) love to suck on these.
4. Essentially freeze any plastic baby toy. They will munch on them and it will comfort the teething pain and your pain from dealing with the teething pain.
5. Cold drinks. Give your baby a cold sippy cup of water. This will make him/her feel better as well.

Here is what many people do NOT tell you about teething. Teething can be just as hard on you as it can on your child:
  • If your baby wakes up during the night because he/she is teething, you're awake too; trying to find a way to deal with his pain.
  • It's hard to see your child in pain and know that there is only so much you can do to help. You can offer home remedies to them, but in the end, this is just a developmental phase they are going through. This can be frustrating for YOU.
Here are two facts that you may not know about teething. I didn't know them, and I'm glad I do now:

1. Teething may be accompanied by a fever. Do not be alarmed! Just give your baby the age appropriate dose of Infant Motrin (read the back of the box) to cope with the fever.
2. Teething also may be accompanied by diarrhea. This apparently is because the gums are slightly infected. The loose stool is a result of the infection. Just feed binding foods such as bananas, apples, rice and toast.

To all those who are dealing with a teething baby at this very moment. I'm sorry! It will get better. My son is actually teething right now. I feel your pain.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Waaaaa! I want it now!

My son is 13 months, but you would think he was already two because...the tantrums have begun.

He zooms up to my computer and bangs on the keyboard with his little hands which are surprisingly strong. I quickly run up to him, remove him from the situation and place him in front of a zillion baby-friendly toys as an alternative. He freaks out. He screams at the top of his lungs, he wails; tears streaming down his face. Did I mention that he is only 13 months old?

The most frustrating aspect of this situation is that he is still a non-verbal being. My son does not yet use words to express himself. Instead he reacts by screaming, crying, screeching and babbling. Houston we have a problem! I cannot communicate with my child!

Needless to say I've been at my wits end for the last couple of weeks. I've solicited the advice of many veteran mothers to combat the issue. Below are some of the pearls of wisdom they have offered:

1. Get him a toy computer. Clearly he is interested in the computer for a reason, give him a computer to play with that is all his own.
My response: A great idea, but I don't have the funds right now.

2. Give him an old keyboard to play with.
My response: It works...for a little bit. But...he still goes for my computer eventually.

3. Remove him from the computer, sit him in a safe place and let him cry until he is ready to be civil again.
My response: Baaaa! I can't take the screaming! I'm going bananas!

3. Distraction, distraction, distraction! Give him something else to play with. He will eventually forget about your computer.
My response: Maybe...for a minute...nah! The computer is still more interesting than anything else I could offer him.

If it's this bad now, what happens when he actually hits the "terrible twos?" Any advice, folks? 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Thoughts on The Jon & Kate Plus Eight "Scandal" Part II

I (like most of America) watched Jon and Kate Plus Eight last night. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have been a fan of the show for quite some time. It was a poignant episode for sure.

The truth is, despite the success of their show, despite their celebrity status, their trips to exotic locations, the complimentary services and products their family has received, Jon and Kate Gosselin are just two ordinary people. Two people that found themselves in an extraordinary situation.

They tried to make their marriage work despite the obstacles they were facing; providing for their eight children. Unfortunately, they decided to end their 10 year marriage as of yesterday.

I was saddened watching the show. When I watched previous episodes, I thought to myself: if these two people could make their marriage work there was hope for the rest of the couples in America who didn't have eight children to provide for.

I have to say, I was impressed by Kate's interviews on this particular episode. She was brutally honest; stating that she was afraid to "do this alone." "This" meaning raising eight children. And that when she realized that her marriage was over, she "let herself fall apart for one day," crying her eyes out. But then she resolved "I will always be there for my children. Even if I have to put on a happy face when I'm not feeling happy."

Kate is a phenomenally strong woman. She is still pushing forward; being there for her children in spite of her marital discord.

As a mother, I have great respect for Kate's outlook on the situation. There have been many times in my own life, recently, where I have wanted to break down. I've thought to myself "how much can one person do?" I have been overwhelmed by the prospect of providing for my son, taking care of myself, taking care of my boyfriend etc. But I know that I must go on. I must be emotionally present for my son. This is where Kate Gosselin is coming from. And I appreciate that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Park Slope Parents Debacle Part II

I am happy to report that I received an apologetic email from the founder of the Park Slope Parents Yahoo Group.

My great friend, Josina wrote an email to PSP stating the following:


I have let my membership expire on purpose as I feel that it is not a
worthwhile expense for my family to take on. I also was shocked at how your organization responded to an email (sent by a friend of mine, Sarah) questioning the purpose of this new membership fee. Your tone was dismissive and rude. You should be ashamed of yourself.


The founder of PSP responded to Josina with the following:

Thank you for your email. I respect your decision.

I am sorry you felt our tone was dismissive and rude. I'm not sure of
the correspondence you are referring to or who responded, but it
clearly left a negative impression and that is unfortunate. We've
pooled many of the questions about the purpose of the new membership fee in a long document that we posted to the list and to the website. You can find that document here:


That document may help you better understand why it was not worthwhilefor the organizers to continue to take on running PSP without being compensated.

As we posted to the list, we're all still neighbors and fellow
parents, so we wish you the best of luck and if you find that you need
us, we're here.

Best regards,

Susan Fox
Founder, Park Slope Parents

Upon further investigation, Ms. Fox realized what email exchange Josina was referring to. She then wrote a follow up email and sent it to Josina and myself:

Sarah (and Josina),

I investigated the message you (Josina) mentioned that Sarah felt was dismissive and rude and told you about. Now that I know the background of the exchange I absolutely understand your feelings about PSP. I do have to say that we’re ashamed of ourselves on that one and that we’re sorry. We’ve taken quite a beating over the last few months about the new membership fee and this was one time our frustration showed through. Regardless, it was inappropriate and not in character for Park Slope Parents.

I’m sincerely sorry you had this experience. I notice that you decided not to follow through on the complimentary membership, which I can understand. It is unfortunate for the whole community, though, so if you decide to change your mind, we’d love to have you on board.


Susan Fox

Founder, Park Slope Parents

I am still quite confused. I was never offered a complimentary membership to PSP. So I wrote Ms. Fox back stating as such:

Dear Susan,

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your acknowledgment of the situation. I am confused because I was never offered a complimentary membership to PSP.

I was contacted with regard to volunteering in order to secure a membership; however, I was not offered a complimentary membership.

Thank you for your time.


Sarah Fader

I am now awaiting a response from Ms. Fox. I will keep you all posted.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Old School New School Part II

I was hanging out at the pier on the West side highway with my son and a dear friend of mine. Suddenly two cute little dogs appeared out of nowhere and accosted us as we were sitting in the grass.

The dogs were followed by an attractive looking couple, a blond woman and a dark haired man.

"Don't worry," said the lovely woman "they're friendly."

Upon further inspection I noticed that the woman was visibly pregnant. When I could be sure I said

"How far along are you?"

The woman replied that she was in her second trimester. We got to talking and came up that she was a former lawyer turned television anchor. She told me about working in TV and how much better she liked it than being in the courtroom.

The topic turned back to pregnancy and birth.

"You know, all these people keep telling me that I need to get a Baby Nurse!" She remarked "And my response is 'isn't that what my mom is for?' Why do I need a Baby Nurse?"

"I totally agree," I replied "I would have been lost without my mom. I'm so glad she was there when my son was born."

This was unexpected. When I met this woman, I assumed because she was television anchor she would be inherently very busy and need the services of someone like a Baby Nurse. But the fact that she was excited to have her mother around to help excited me. It proved to me that this old school idea of grandparents helping to raise a child is still alive and well.

We talked for a while and the couple went on their way.

Shortly thereafter I caught my son smiling and waving at someone. I turned to look at who he was making eyes at. It was another woman; a runner.

"Is he eight months?" she asked
"13 months," I said proudly
"Oh okay. My son is eight months old now."

We to got to talking about pregnancy, birth etc. It turned out that she was a single mom in her mid-40's who had chosen to to have a baby via IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

This piqued my curiosity and I began asking many questions:
"How did you choose the donor? Was it expensive? Where did you have it done?"

She kindly answered all my questions. She had it done in Massachusetts where IVF is apparently FREE! All she had to pay was her insurance co-pay. She knew the woman that ran the health clinic where she got her donor sperm. Her contact advised her of the "quality" donors.

She told me that her baby looked nothing like her! He was blond and of Scandinavian descent due to the dad's genetic composition. But he had a great temperament from the moment he was born.

"We go traveling together. I am taking him hiking in the mountains with my dear friend next week."

This woman was a dynamo! She decided she wanted to have a child and went for it! And now she is living her life as usual, just with child in tow. She was a New school mom!

The story of these two moms exemplify the purpose of this blog. To honor the old school parenting ideas and constructs and the new school ones. We can learn from both of these women.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Bluntness of Children

Let me start by saying that I am a very lucky woman. I am lucky because I have the opportunity to earn money while spending time with children. I love being with kids. It is a distinctly different experience from being with adults. But one of the main reasons that I enjoy spending time with children is this; they are honest.

Just yesterday when I was teaching an Afterschool class a five year old child approached me and stated:
"You look like a teenager!"
I paused for a moment and said
"Thank you!" I took it as a compliment. I mean after all I am approaching 30 at this point. If she thinks I look young, great!

But the point is this; children (for the most part) do not sugar coat things. They tell you if your breath smells, if you look pretty or unattractive, if they like you or dislike you; they tell it like it is.

Somewhere along the lines we loose that as adults. We are told that it is not polite to tell someone that their clothing is ugly, or that they smell badly, if we like or dislike them even. I mean I have had supervisors in many jobs that I could not stand. But I couldn't verbalize that to them.

Children possess this unique capability to freely express themselves. I believe it should be fostered, encouraged, coaxed out of them.

Furthermore, I've noticed that part of their expression is not only through words. It manifests through artwork. Visit a class of kindergarteners. At any given moment one of them will run up to the teacher and plead:

"Can I draw?!"

They do this because it is a means of expression. What occurs between age 5 and age 35 that we stop freely drawing? Some select few become artists but the rest of the world is told that they don't have an artistic inclination and stops drawing cold turkey. I find this unfortunate. Everyone should have a means of artistic expression no matter what age.

We can learn from the way that children freely express themselves. And we should encourage them to do so into adulthood.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Crying in The Bathroom

Let's face it; as much as I would like to think I've got it together, it's a lie. I am often overwhelmed by the stress of

--caring for my son
--maintaining my two "real" jobs
--caring for my boyfriend
--caring for myself

There are more items that I could add to this list but it would literally take me all day so I'll spare you the gross details.

The truth is, I am stressed out. There I said it. I've had enough and I want to freak out. So what do I do? I go to my favorite freak out place: the bathroom.

One very wise mother of two turned me on to this fantastic space to cry in. Some people swear by screaming into a pillow, throwing things. I say go to the bathroom, take a shower and cry your eyes out. It works for me!

So next time you feel like you are going to loose your mind. Give your child to someone you trust and go cry in the bathroom!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Free Baby Body Care - Earth's Best!

As a mom who is attempting to live on a limited budget, I am always excited when I find free or low cost baby products.

I received an email today from my favorite baby food company, Earth's Best with an exciting promotion; a free Baby Body Care kit by Jason. I am committed to caring for my son using natural and organic baby products. Jason's products are self described as "natural, pure and organic."

To receive the free kit you have to:
--Collect $15 worth of proof of purchase bar codes from your Earth's Best products
--Write a check or money order for $1.95 to cover the shipping cost.
--Send the completed package to Earth's Best.

For more detailed information about the promotion, click here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Many Months Are You?

Before I had my son, I would run into adorable children on the street and ask:

"Aw! How old is your son?"

And the mother would reply:

"He's 19 months."

At that moment I would internally roll my eyes and laugh. 19 months? How old is that really? When you ask an adult how old they are they give you a regular number: "I'm 30." or "I'm 45." And they are referring to years and not months. I wasn't used to hearing age referred to in months. I promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those parents that referred to their children's ages in terms of months.

However, now that I have a child times have changed. Up until my son was one year old, I referred to him in terms of months. He was at one time seven months old, then eight months etc. until he turned one year old.

My son turned a year in May. Now that it is June he is no longer exactly one year old but rather....13 months!! I know, I swore I wouldn't do it. But the truth is, developmentally, from child to child, there is a vast difference from month to month.

There is a significant difference between a one year old and a 13 month old.

On the other hand, I (as an adult human being) cannot refer to myself in months. It would be socially unacceptable and bizarre to say that I am 355 months.