Sunday, November 27, 2011

15 Becomes 32

Yesterday, Ari, Samara and I hung out with my friend Andrea.

She was visiting from London, because we're grownups now and we can live in places like London. Andrea and I have been friends since we were 15 years old. We are now 32, and 31 years-old respectively. She actually just turned 31 on November 24th. It seems like only yesterday we were 15.

We do not want to be in our thirties, but we are.

I have vivid memories of Andrea and I dancing to Madonna's Immaculate Collection in my room. Here's my old room in case your interested.

I drew/painted that mural myself. Andrea is now an Art Director, by the way. She's always been an amazingly talented artist. Here is some of her earlier work:

All artwork © 1995 Andrea Acevedo. Stealing is bad for your soul.

Andrea and I used to use bus passes to travel around the city.

I remember her dad, Julio, teaching us how to drive on the cobblestone roads of Vermont when we were 14.

It's crazy to me that I'm 32 years old. In my mind, some parts of me still feel 15, or 19, sometimes 25, but never 32. I feel like in the blink of an eye I went from being a child to an adult. Sometimes the process seemed elongated, but thinking back on my life, I can't believe I'm a bonafide adult.

So Andrea, here's to bus passes, Ray Bari Pizza, hanging out at playgrounds when we were the oldest people there, and being 15 again. I love you girl!

Do you feel your age? Tell me about it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The REAL Thanksgiving Story

It's Thanksgiving today, and when I think of Thanksgiving, I remember elementary school.
I have vivid memories of coloring in Ms. Israeli's classroom. She was an art teacher, a stern portly woman with frizzy blond hair, who wore stretch pants every single day. In hindsight, she shouldn't have been teaching children, because she clearly disliked them. But there we were, little first graders, coloring pictures of pilgrims with giant hats, multi-colored indian corn, turkeys, cornbread, Native Americans, I believe boats were involved...maybe because the pilgrims came over on a boat. It was an idyllic depiction of the Thanksgiving feast.

But's let get real. The pilgrims didn't come over to America, hang out with the Native Americans and eat turkey and cornbread. They came to the Native American's land, took over, gave them small pox, and forced themselves on the Native American women. That's not such an pretty picture.

I suppose, if we extract the reality of Thanksgiving and treat it as a time to spend with our families, it can be a nice holiday. But the question is, what do we tell our kids about this holiday? As I got older and out of Ms. Israeli's art class, and learned the grim reality about Thanksgiving, I felt duped. She (and her stretch pants) lied to us!

Do we treat this holiday as a nice time to spend with our families, or do we address the truth of what happened to the Native Americans?

What do you think? What do you tell your kids about Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ficklets Giveaway! Make Your Kids' Glasses Look Cool

I first "met" Ros Guererro, founder of Ficklets, on Twitter. I was intrigued by her Twitter handle: "Ficklets." It was such a whimsical word, I wanted to know what it meant. Then, I checked out her site, and loved the concept. Ficklets are little charms that your child can use to decorate their glasses! Here's an example:

I was so excited about Ficklets, that I did an interview with Ros. You can see that here.

Now I want to ask you something? Do your kids fight wearing their glasses? Perhaps they'd like to add a little decoration to their spectacles.

Now's your chance to win some Ficklets!

Here's what you win:
  • Three Ficklets
  • Extra bands
  • Lens cleaner
Here's how to enter (each of these counts as an entry) :
  • Follow Ficklets on Twitter
  • Follow Ficklets on Facebook
  • Follow OS/NS Mom on Google Friend Connect
  • Follow OS/Mom on Facebook
The winner of the Ficklets Giveaway will be selected randomly and announced here on Wednesday December 14th, 2011.

Good luck spectacle wearers!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Where Do You Go to School?" "I Don't."

The other day, I went to a birthday party of one of Ari's friends. At the party, I met a woman and her six-year-old son. The kid was really cute, and had a beautiful head full of curly hair.
"Where do you go to school?" I asked him. There was a pregnant pause.
"Go ahead, you can say." His mom said with a soft smile.
"I don't go to school."
"We're un-schoolers." His mom said. She meant that her son was being homeschooled. She went on to say that they learn whatever he happens to be into at the time. Her son is really into clay sculptures at the moment. They don't go by a particular curriculum, per say, but they follow his interests. They visit a lot of art galleries, museums, and basically "live life." It sounded utopian to me.

I've always been fascinated with homeschooling. I'm not sure if I want to pursue it or not for my kids, but I like a lot of aspects of it on the surface. I like that you can design your own personalized curriculum for your kids, or you can follow a purchased curriculum from a particular education style, for example Waldorf, or Oak Meadow.

Ari is not in pre-school now, and that gives me the flexibility to explore his interests. However, there is a lot of societal pressure to put your kids in traditional school. Homeschooling is viewed, by many people I've spoken to, as cultish. The other concern I've heard from many parents is that kids that are homeschooled don't get enough socialization with other kids.

From my limited experience with parents of homeschooled children, these appear to be misconceptions. I've heard this sentiment time and time again:
"Homeschooling is not about being in the home."
This means that kids are taken to different classes to explore their interests, they are exposed to other children who are also being homeschooled or "unschooled," whatever terminology you use.

My personal concerns about homeschooling would be the following:
  • When would I have time to work on a curriculum?
  • When would I have time for myself?
  • How would society judge me if I chose to homeschool my kids?
If I chose to enter Ari into Universal Pre-K at a traditional school, I'd have to make that decision by January of 2012. I keep vacillating between traditional schooling and homeschooling. At the age of 3 1/2 it seems premature to be making these decisions about my child's future. He still seems so little to me.

What about you? Would you consider homeschooling your kids? Do you have your kids in traditional school?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Call For Jury Duty

I got a purple and white envelope with perforated edges in the mail on Saturday. Without even opening it, I knew exactly what it was. On the slight chance that I might be wrong about the contents of the envelope, I aggresively ripped the perforated edges, and out came the undeniable, a notice to appear for The Kings County Supreme Court on December 5th. My heart sank.

I really did not want to sit around for days away from my kids waiting to see if I would be placed on a trial.but then, I posted my woes on Facebook, and a couple of people suggested that I would be excused because I am a caregiver.

Upon further inspection of my purple and white foe, I saw that with the presentation of "my youngest child's birth certificate" I could postpone my fate. I wasted no time. On Monday morning the kids, both of their birth certificates (I wasn't taking any chances with the bureatic system) and I headed down to Adams Street.

They were just as angry about the summons as I was.

This is my game face.

After we climbed many stairs, they made us go through a security checkpoint. As thr diaper bag was going through the X-Ray machine, I was getting nervous. What if the baby nail clippers or my keys or spare change covered in soggy Cherrios made the alarm go off? The coast seemed to be clear, until the stroller passed through. The metal detector went completely insane and and would not stop beeping. I started sweating. The security guard gave me a cold glare which quickly morphed into a half smile as she said:
"Go on through."

We ran through, at which point I realized that I had no idea where I was going.
"Um, excuse me? Where is room 156?" I asked burly security guard who was lurking in the corner.
"Around the corner, take the elevator down one." He grunted.
We rushed around the corner and took the elevator down.

Then we looked for Room 156...

And found it.

We waited in line, and finally we approached the window of the clerk.

The clerk took one look at me, then the kids, and finally at Samara's birth certificate. She smiled and said:
"You've got two years."
Yes! Two years of being Jury duty free!
"You may get something in the mail saying to come down here again before the two years is up. If you do, just come back with the birth certificate again."
The kids and I exited the court with the purple and white envelope and a very important addition to it:

Have you been called for jury duty recently?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Feel Like I Just Had Her

It feels like I just gave birth to Samara, but in reality, it's been nearly 10 months! Samara will be one on January 22nd, 2012. Aunt Mimi just got a new cell phone, and so she purged all her old cell phone pictures into an online album on Google Plus, which she shared with me. I stole these gems from that album:

Aunt Mimi, Samara, and I

Samara at Birth: She Looks Like Ari!

Olivia (my amazing friend and doula), and Samara Olivia

Me Nursing Samara

Aunt Mimi and Samara

Aunt Mimi, thank you for purging your cell phone. Sorry I stole the pictures, but they were too awesome to pass up!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A TCM Perspective On a 3 Year-Old's Anxiety

Yesterday, I took Ari to see my acupuncturist. I was at the acupuncture clinic the other day, and I saw a sign that said "Pediatric Shift, Thursdays." So I thought, what the hell? I made an appointment for him, thinking that acupuncture might help with his insomnia, which he still has, and with his level of anxiety, which seems to be high.

I don't have any pictures of the session, because during the appointment I was much more concerned with keeping Ari calm than photographing him.

When we got to the clinic, Ari was asleep. He had been to art class that morning, and he was worn out. Ironically, the reason we were going for acupuncture was for sleep issues, and here he was zonked out!

I strolled him into the exam room, and Samara and I (the awake ones) met his practitioners, Heather and Rachel. Heather, Rachel and I discussed Ari's sleep issues, he's been crawling out of the crib since 18 months of age, he hates going to sleep at night, whether or not he naps during the day he still goes to sleep and 10pm. They were really nice, and to make Ari feel more comfortable, they removed their white lab coats for when he decided to wake up. Meanwhile, Samara was playing with a metallic space blanket on the floor.

When Ari came to, Heather gave him some paper and highlighters to draw with. Samara continued to try to destroy the space blanket with no success.

Heather and Rachel attempted to get Ari to show them his tongue, for examination, but he adamantly refused and closed his eyes, pretending to go back to sleep while holding the paper and highlighters.

Then, Melanie, the supervisor came in. She was able to convince him to stick his tongue out. She said, based on his tongue coat and color, that he had a lot of heat in his body, and his digestion was aggravated. From examining him, she determined that his diet needed to change.
This was further confirmed when I told her that his diet consists primarily of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and chocolate milk. Granted the bread is whole grain and organic, and the peanut butter are also organic, but still, it's not the most nutritious meal on the planet. After his exam, Melanie said the following:

"You know what you can do? Get some beef bones and boil them for 24 hours in a soup, give him a cup of broth every day, for a week. And sneak vegetables into every meal you can. Make cookies and hide nutritious things in them! He needs to get away from eating all this starch. It's making him more anxious. Change his diet, and I guarantee you'll see a big change in his behavior. Also, give him omega 3's, like cod liver oil, daily. It will help his mood, and his dry skin."

While she was giving me nutritional advice, Melanie massaged Ari's legs and feet hitting various acupressure points for digestion and anxiety.

She decided that since it was his first session, she would skip the needling for today. We may revisit acupuncture points with needles next session.

In the mean time, I'm trying Melanie's dietary suggestions, and hoping for the best. The Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is very different from what the pediatrician recommends for sleep problems. TCM looks at the overall picture of health, rather than attributing sleep issues to behavioral problems.

Have you ever taken your kid to see an acupuncturist? Would you?

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Did Something Awesome Today

Today, I had a play date with a friend of mine, Holly. She has two kids and, like me, no brain. I asked her a zillion questions about how she manages life with the two. One crucial one was:
"When do you find the time to clean?"

For those of you who know me, and/or love me, you understand that cleaning is not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, I am a terrible cleaner. Yes, I do the dishes, and occasionally sweep, but it is my amazing husband who is the cleaner of the family. Before we were married I used to call him my "house boyfriend," because he is so domestically inclined that way. You can see his handy work here, if you're interested.

I, on the other hand, am not a cleaner. I would rather blog, read a book, walk in the park, take a shower, basically do anything so that I don't have to clean.

Samara has the right idea:

I was actually crying on the phone, the other day, to my friend Adriana about how overwhelmed my dirty house makes me.

Holly's response to my "when you clean?" question was:
"I don't. Well, honestly, here's what I do. I have a play date at least once a week, so that forces me to clean. If I know people are coming to my house, I have to clean. Because otherwise, I'd be embarrassed."
This really inspired me, it made so much sense! Having people over on a regular basis is the perfect motivation to clean! Something clicked in my head. And I went home right after the play date and did this:

I was so proud of myself. This really made me feel accomplished.

This is my next task.

Wish me luck! And please feel free to tell me how awesome I am for cleaning my living room. I need all the encouragement I can get!

When do you find time to clean with kids?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Give Him a Job

Lately, Ari and I have been engaged in a full on power struggle. It's like he's 16 instead of three. If he doesn't get what he wants, he does one of the following things:
  • Screams and/or writhes on the floor
  • Runs into his room and slams the door.
  • Repeats what he wants in various different ways, using a variety of sentence structures, sometimes even pantomiming what it is that he wants.
We've been butting heads, and by the end of the day, we're both exhausted from arguing.

I've been talking to anyone who will listen about his behavior (and mine for that matter) to get insight, and advice. And I've gotten some really good advice about it.

One friend of mine, Danyel, said:
"Telling him 'no' and 'don't do that' over and over again is going to make him want to do whatever he's doing more. Let him fall on his face, so to speak. He needs to learn through experience. I know, I grew up with four brothers."
Let me be clear, she didn't mean "don't tell him 'no' at all." There are many circumstances in which children need to be told no, especially if they are doing something that is dangerous to themselves or others. She meant that there are some times when kids need to learn through experience.

Then it dawned on me, part of this is a discipline issue, but part of the reason he's acting out is that he's bored. I've noticed that he acts out when there is nothing particularly exciting happening in the house. He does something mischievous when I am occupied, nursing, changing Samara, cooking dinner or going to the bathroom.

And then I remembered a trick I used to use in subbing. When there was a particularly high energy kid, a kid who happened to get bored easily, but was very bright, often times (I'm not making a gender generalization however) this child tended to be a boy, I would make the kid in question my right hand man. I would give him a job. It made him feel very important. Let's pretend this child's name was Mark.
"Mark, can you stack those chairs for me? That's great! Thanks. Mark, can you help me pass out these crayons? Awesome!"

I realized that it was about time that Ari became my right hand man. He needed structure, fast.
I was making pancakes yesterday.

Ari said:

"I want to help you." I thought, great! Here's my chance.
"Okay, can you put the flour in the bowl?"
"Sure!" He exclaimed with glee.
"Can you pour the milk in the bowl too?"
"Yes!" He exclaimed.
Normally, while I was making pancakes, Ari would be in the other room, potentially destroying something. But that day, he really did help me.

I'm going to continue giving him jobs. It seems to be helping.

How about you? Do you give your kids jobs?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Grandmas Day Out: Ari and Nelson Go to The Transit Museum

Until yesterday, Ari had never been to The NYC Transit Museum. This is curious, considering the fact that this kid is utterly obsessed with all vehicles, especially trains.

On Thursday, my mom graciously offered to hang out with him, because I had a ton of transcription to do and a yucky cold on top of that. Things didn't exactly go as planned at first. The initial idea was to park the car near our place, and the kids and the Grandmas would take the subway to The Transit Museum.

My mom picked up Nelson and his Grandma and came back to our place to park the car, but there was no parking to be found! So I dropped up Ari with my mom, and Samara and I ran out in our pajamas to find parking. Mom, if you're reading this, sorry if I was cranky yesterday, I was just really congested!

But alas, there was no parking for us either, so we ended up going to Blue Sky for a shared muffin, in the interim, and then to Staples because I needed to scan something, buy a flash drive, and most importantly because I love office supplies.

But this is not about alternate side of the street parking, Staples, muffins or Samara. This is about trains and buses.

While I was running around Staples, the Grandmas set out on their adventure with the boys. There are no pictures of the Grandmas themselves, because the Grandmas were taking the pictures.

The MTA must have known they were coming...

They had to take the train to go see the trains!

We know how much Ari loves the bus. Remember this?

He really loves the bus...

a lot...

After the museum, the Grandmas and the boys went out for pizza and ice cream.

Thank you mom! You are the best mom and Grandma in the world. Thanks for taking Ari out for the whole day. He told me he had a blast!

And I think your new glasses rock!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Winner of The Simple Wishes Pumping Bra is...

Congratulations Amanda! You won a Simple Wishes Pumping Bra, in the Pump it Up in Style Giveaway here on OS/NS Mom!

Now you can be as cool as her:

Thank you so much to Simple Wishes for allowing me to host this giveaway! Your pumping bra is awesome!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween Parte Dos- The Making of a Robot

Making a robot is hard work. You have to start some place.

Sometimes, when making a robot, one gets carried away.

And there is a point, in the artistic process, when you need an objective eye to see things clearly.

In art, there isn't always a plan.

But when inspiration strikes, it hits hard.

During the creative process, don't be alarmed if your audience gets restless.

In the end, your creative efforts will be rewarded...
With candy!