Long Island Mom

What I've learned about being a mom.

2012 Year In Review

What a year.

We had so much drama in 2012 I can honestly say good riddance. A difficult second pregnancy gave way to an even more difficult pre-term birth and subsequent NICU stays for my little preemie. We lost my grandmother and then Hurricane Sandy. As 2012 comes to a close I am breathing a sigh of relief that things are looking up.

As I have written before, through all of these obstacles thrown our way this year, we feel extremely lucky. Our kids are both healthy and happy and we have a roof over our head. That is so much more than many people in our area can say. Nothing has made me appreciate my family more than the terrible tragedy in Sandy Hook and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of the pure hell those parents are going through mourning the loss of their children.

2013 looks very promising for our family. This is the year my firstborn, my little tyrant Sofia, will start pre-school. I look forward to many parent-teacher conferences about her temper. There will be many milestones for our baby. He will learn to sit up, crawl, walk and talk this year and I am so excited to see him grow.

Some new exciting things are headed my way for this blog as well! A good friend and writer Jesse Lasky (@jesselasky if you’re looking for someone funny to follow on twitter) has me in contact with the Huffington Post online and Modern Mom is going to feature my recipes, so look for more information in the coming weeks. Very excited about what 2013 has in store and I’m so appreciative of all the support from you guys!

Spread the word about this blog, my Facebook page : www.facebook.com/LongIslandMom and my twitter @thelimom Thanks again!


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Firstborn vs Second

I have noticed my threshold for fussiness and crying with baby David is much higher than it was with Sofia. Have I been desensitized to it because he’s my second? Probably. Is this detrimental to his well-being? I think the opposite.

I rushed to Sofia’s side for every little whimper when she was a baby, a habit I’m trying to break myself of now. She knows crying gets attention so she uses it whether or not it’s warranted. As a baby, I rocked her to sleep for 20-30 minutes until she was in a deep enough sleep to be put down. This set the stage for needing sleep training at 9 months old, and a lot of crying on her part as well as mine.

Now, she believes that her whining or crying will get an immediate reaction from us. And for the most part, she’s right. We rush to her side at any sign of fussing for fear it will turn into a Category 5 meltdown. We’ve created a monster. I’m trying to break her of this by letting her throw a fit and not paying attention to it, which is just mortifyingly embarrassing in public.

Baby D on the other hand, will fuss for a minute or two, then calm himself if nobody comes to get him. I mean, if something is legitimately wrong, he’ll cry, but if he just wants mommy and I don’t rush to his side he doesn’t let loose with a wail like his sister did. Is he just a calmer baby, or is this because I don’t have unlimited time to run to him? I guess it’s debatable but I have a feeling much of it has to do with the fact that I had every minute of my life to dedicate to Sofia, and poor David has had to share me from day 1.

I am the oldest of 3 kids. My sister is 3 years younger than me and my brother is 3 years younger than her. I can say without hesitation that I am the least patient of the 3 of us. My sister has the patience of a saint and my brother, well he just marches to the dubstep beats in his own head. Nobody else hears them and he’s ok with that.

So my question is this : have I set my daughter up for a lifetime of expecting instant gratification? Is it too late to teach her patience and selflessness? And is my baby lonely and neglected? Will he think I love him less? Let the feelings of mommy guilt continue I guess!



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Toys for Tiny Tots?

This Christmas I had 2 small children in the house, a 2 year old and a 3 month old. Neither of my children have a clue about Santa or gifts or anything like that. I didn’t go crazy buying gifts for them because I knew they would be getting truckloads from our families and really the last thing I need in my house is more toys. So we put art supplies in our 2 year old’s stocking and got her foam blocks that we wrapped for under the tree.

Now for the baby. We felt bad not getting him stuff but really. What does he need? He can’t even play with toys yet and he has more clothes than I do. But are we neglectful parents if we don’t get him anything?? So we put little rattles and things in his stocking.

What do you think about Christmas and birthday gifts for the under-3 set? Is it necessary? Do you buy them gifts or wait until they actually understand and can ask for things?



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Hot Toddy

So I got my daughter’s mega-cold. The joys of motherhood. I hate cold medicine and will pretty much refuse to take it under all circumstances, but I will drink a Hot Toddy. This is how my Scottish family gets over a cold and it’s the only thing that’s cool about being sick.

Hot Toddy

1 shot whiskey
1 cup hot water
1 tsp honey
1 slice lemon
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
Pinch of nutmeg

1. Combine all ingredients

2. Drink and drift off into a lovely slumber.



Lookin Haggard.

Several people in my family including my Aunt Terri and my husband got me skin care stuff for Christmas.

What are you trying to tell me guys? Apparently these nights of no sleep are making me look pretty haggard these days…

Time to put in a little more effort lol


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Spicy Peanut Chicken

I love Thai food and mainly because I’m a fan of peanuts and peanut butter. And spicy. Thought it should be easy enough to make a Thai peanut sauce but came across recipes with things like fish sauce and coconut milk in them. I don’t know about you but I don’t have that kind of thing in my pantry and wouldn’t use it for anything else. So I experimented and came up with an easy peanut sauce using stuff I already had. The result was a very easy spicy peanut chicken with broccoli and white rice. Took 20 minutes total and will now be a staple in our house!

Spicy Peanut Chicken

1 package of chicken breasts (thinly sliced if you can find them)
1 tbs vegetable oil
3 cups Broccoli florets
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

Peanut sauce :
Salt and pepper
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbs rice vinegar
Hot sauce or chili oil to taste
1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup hot water

1. Salt and pepper chicken and grill or sauté in vegetable oil until cooked through. Slice into thin pieces

2. Whisk together ingredients for peanut sauce

3. Add broccoli, soy sauce and sesame oil to a pan, cover and steam 2-3 minutes.

4. Toss broccoli and chicken in peanut sauce and serve with white rice.



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Slow Cooker 2 : pulled chicken

One of my favorite weeknight quick recipes is shredding a rotisserie chicken and mixing with BBQ sauce, onto a bun and voilà, a 15 minute meal. Probably the easiest meal that I’ve ever made for company. We probably eat it once a week but I’m starting to get annoyed at how expensive these rotisserie chickens are at the grocery store. So I decided to experiment with my slow cooker and it came out so much better. Bonus – the slow cooker keeps it warm so it’s waiting for me whenever I’m ready to eat (which is normally after the kids are in bed so I can eat with both hands sitting down – what a luxury!).

Also, if you make enough for leftovers you can freeze it and reheat at a later date!

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

Chicken thighs, split bone-in breasts or a whole cut-up chicken
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
3 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
Hot sauce (optional)
1 cup water

1. Add onions and garlic to bottom of slow cooker

2. Brown chicken pieces in vegetable oil in a pan on the stove.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine.

4. Add chicken and cook on low 8 hours.

5. Take chicken out, shred the meat and add back to the sauce. Serve on buns.



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Playing Nice in the Sandbox

Another guest blog post, this time from my sister, Stephanie Ross, BCBA. She is an Applied Behavioral Analyst and has her MA in Clinical Psychology. And she’s pretty much a smarty pants.

‘Playing Nice in the Sandbox’

Continuing the Mental Illness Conversation in America

In the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and as we try to process what has happened and find an explanation there have been many conversations about gun control, parenting, our society as a whole, and the role mental illness plays in this conversation.

I am a behavior analyst; I primarily work with individuals with developmental disabilities but have encountered an entire spectrum of mental illness in my years as a clinician. I have been pinched, kicked, hit, bitten, and scratched, had my hair pulled out and my belongings thrown around the room in the course of providing behavioral therapy to my clients. In a few instances I have been in situations like the one described by Liza Long in her recent article, ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’. This brave insight into her family and their inner-workings prompted me to think about our service delivery as a whole and how we can provide the best service for parents like Liza who simply need help.

Three times in my very new stint as behavior specialist for a Medicaid service agency in Manhattan I have encountered families in Ms. Long’s situation. Things are fine until they are not, and when they are not the only solution is calling the police and eventually hospitalization. When the child has recovered they are sent back home only to be brought back at a later date for another explosive incident. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground, some kind of overlap from hospital to home.

Just yesterday I received a phone call from an exasperated parent who was at the end of her rope. Her 21 year-old son was having what she called an “episode”. For the last 3 days he had completely torn their house apart from top to bottom. Mom was afraid to be left alone with her son and had completely lost control of the situation. I asked her if she had called his psychiatrist and what his opinion was. “He said it’s just an episode and we have to ride it out” was her response. When these “episodes” happen she has two choices: ride it out, or take him to the hospital.

In my graduate education the term “playing nice in the sandbox” was mentioned early and often. Behavior Analysts as a whole do not have the greatest reputation in the field of psychology. Historically we have been stubborn, unyielding, and think it’s our way or the highway. The new school of behavior analysis teaches tolerance of other disciplines in the hope of providing the best level of care for our clients. The deeper I get into my own career the more I understand the sandbox preach of my professors. So often I will meet with school program directors, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and speech therapists who think their discipline is the one that is going to best help their client, when in reality, the best approach involves a treatment “team” full of qualified professionals, working together to develop a multi-dimensional plan. What’s worse is when treatment is not working, it becomes very convenient to point the finger at anyone who isn’t you.
A qualified treatment team working together could have prevented this explosive “episode” from happening in the first place.

So what can you do to ensure your special-needs child is receiving the best level of care? Educate yourself. Learn the system, learn what services your child is entitled to, and try your best to get them. Don’t accept anything at face value, ask questions, challenge responses, and don’t accept no for an answer. Don’t be distracted by “fad” treatments that promise to cure your child, they won’t. Build your own treatment team and hold each and every clinician responsible for the outcome of their treatment. For a child with a developmental disability a treatment team should include an occupational therapist to evaluate sensory needs, a physician to monitor any underlying medical conditions, a psychologist to correctly diagnose the child and offer counseling to the family, a psychiatrist to manage and/or prescribe medications, and a behavior analyst to help the child and their family manage problem behaviors and evaluate treatment outcomes. This list is not exhaustive but my opinion of what a basic treatment team should include.

What can we clinicians do to ensure we are providing the best service for our clients? Play nice in the sandbox. Without a functioning and respectful relationship with the rest of the treatment team, we can get caught up in our own egos and miss what is most important, helping your child. After all, isn’t that why we’re here in the first place?

This is a link to autism speaks, they have put together a list of resources for families with children with disabilities in the aftermath of the CT shooting.


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Not just a toothbrush…

I probably think about my own health a good 0% of my average day. I mean, I get up, I shower, I brush my teeth, I take my vitamins and I try to get enough sleep (yeah, right). But I’m not really so concerned with bettering my health in any way. I don’t work out, and I eat pretty well but I’m not actively adding more veggies and eating less crap in the hopes that it’ll help at all. I do, however, obsess over my kids’ health. I worry about every inch of them, inside and out, I read articles about keeping them healthy, and I do my absolute best to make them the healthiest I can.

So, it’s not that health isn’t important to me, it is. Just not mine. Like so many other things in my life my health has taken a backseat to taking care of the kids. The wonderful folks at Modern Mom sent me an Oral B Professional toothbrush to try out for a product review. That was when I realized the last time I went for a cleaning was when I was pregnant with my now 2 year old. Yikes.

My mom has one of these fancy toothbrushes and I never gave any thought to my dental routine before I was asked to try this thing out. I figured I brushed twice a day, and that was about all I could do. I probably never got close to the 2 minute guideline dentists advise and I definitely don’t take the time to floss.

A toothbrush is a toothbrush, right? Wrong. This thing is like a spaceship. It comes with a nifty little clock that connects to the toothbrush so when you’re brushing it counts how long you’ve been going. Wirelessly. Pretty cool. And the toothbrush pauses and beeps in 30 second intervals, telling you to switch quadrants in your mouth so you’re giving proper attention to each area. And it has different modes, like deep clean that gives a little more time to each quadrant. Even more impressive is that the toothbrush blinks red at you when you brush too hard. Apparently I was a little over zealous of a brusher because the thing was glowing red till I eased up.

The end result? It feels like I just got out of the dentist’s chair (minus the guilt trip over not flossing) every time I brush. Yeah, it’s that cool. And because the brush head detaches, you can buy one base and use different heads (color coded so you’re not getting them confused) for you and your spouse. So it’s 2 toothbrushes in 1. Never thought I would care about something like a professional toothbrush, but now I can’t imagine going back.

Give it a try, it’s actually worth it!



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The Bigger Issues

A guest blog post by Connor Ross, my brother in law who lives in Northern California. I think he has an interesting take on the bigger societal issues behind these tragic school shootings.

Like many others, it was the news from Connecticut that made me speak out on Facebook. I started a discussion that led me here – writing to all of you. I did not start out with this intent, but I feel that it’s too important to stay silent anymore.

Some of what I write below is the conclusion from that discussion and some of it has been expanded on with new thoughts and a bit about my own past experience in conflict resolution. I am not speaking to any one group or subset of people. My remarks are intended for all to reflect on.

Our Society Built This

Before another person feels like being sarcastic or witty, more weapons isn’t the answer. Let go of the arrogance that you could have stopped the shooter “if only you had been there” or “if only all the kids and teachers were armed” – that is not productive in this discussion and it is only self serving, distracting, and naive. Moving on.

It starts with parents. We need to rebuild our culture into one that values peace over conflict (i.e. stop rewarding the loudest most confrontational people with reality shows and sponsorships). Stop glorifying war, stop glorifying gun ownership as a symbol of “ultimate freedom.”

Teach children that their actions affect others, teach them peaceful conflict resolution using words that heal wounds, not weapons and hatred that create new wounds. I’m not saying there is an easy solution, I’m saying we need to stop looking for quick solutions and take the time (maybe several years, even a decade) and shift our violent culture back to one that values peace over conflict.

When I was in the third grade, I joined PAL, which stands for “Peer Assisted Learning.” I was a conflict resolution officer. I was trained by my principal in ways to resolve conflicts between my classmates that focused on respecting both parties, skills that helped find common ground and peaceful solutions. I’ll admit, I live in California, so this may be a bit more progressive than what others may find at their local elementary schools, but the skills I learned helped in real life conflicts on the playground, and to this day I still use those skills I learned to get me through tough times. Knowing how to find common ground between two parties and come to agreements is an important skill as one gets older. I say the sooner they learn these skills, the better they will hone them as they grow into adulthood. Children need this counterweight to the myriad of aggressive and hyperbolic imagery of our media culture. They need to be taught to use my words and that violence doesn’t solve anything. It is so simple that we overlook how our own actions undermine this effort. Children cannot be told anything, they must be shown the way.

Real housewives of anywhere, video game makers, parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, friends of friends, strangers that you see in town – I am talking to you. If we are serious about this, if we really want to prevent these shootings and not forget about it with the next 24 hr news cycle, it will take all of us committing to non-violence to change the tides of this nation. It is going to take time, but the great thing about that is our descendants will reap the benefits of our actions, and we will be held up as a model society – one that decided enough is enough and is willing to take on this serious issue regardless of how hard or how long it takes.

Healthcare Falls Short

The second part of this discussion needs to center around the failings of our healthcare system to sequester troubled people like this and treat them. I think we need to really think about how we can care for people with disabilities like this years before they are at the tipping point to commit violent acts. In some people that I talk to, I am seeing a total lack of connection between how these people are treated by their peers, and how that leads up to the violence. In many instances, the people committing these violent acts are neglected, teased, bullied, and altogether made to feel “different” from the rest of their peers. I am not saying that all who are bullied will end up as violent murders, but some people don’t have the emotional stability and family/friend network to help them cope and get through it.

When I have kids, I am going to teach them to love the nerd, be nice to the geeks, seek out the kid that sits alone at lunch. That’s the inclusiveness we need. It is so easy to turn our backs on them, to let them separate themselves from us, but we can’t let them do that. The day has come when we need to start teaching our kids that compassion and love will take them way further than hate and anger.

We need to take a serious look at ourselves to see how this got so out of hand. I look forward to a healthy discussion and debate over these issues, and I hope you take the time to reflect and respond… hopefully in a respectful and peaceful manner.

If you would like to keep the conversation going, please visit my Facebook page and send me a message. I will be setting up a forum to discuss all of these topics. This will be a place where mindful discussion takes place. NO POLITICS in this one.

Connor Ross