Long Island Mom

What I've learned about being a mom.

Get it Together

I have outings with the kids where it all goes right. Sofia is happy and smiling and saying ‘Thank you! Byeeee!’ as we leave the store, and David flirts with everyone he passes, flashing his adorable smile. In these moments I feel like I have it all and I’m rocking this motherhood thing.

Then I have days like today.

I got both kids in their car seats. That’s when I smelled poop. I hate this moment. I decided they were already buckled in so we’d drive to the store and I’d change him in the trunk when we got there. Problem #1 solved.

First time putting David in the shopping cart. I normally carry him in my Ergo or Baby Bjorn carrier but he’s getting a little hefty at 7 months old. Sofia went in the plastic toy car that attaches to the front of the cart. So far so good.

The following sequence of events I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

David hates the cart. David screams an annoying, yelling, girly, whining scream repeatedly. So I carry him in one arm and steer the very awkward toy car extra-wide cart with Sofia in the front. She sings to herself and tells me to push ‘faster mommy!’ I forget what the hell I need in this store.

All of a sudden the singing stops. Sofia is quiet and I know that’s not a good thing. I check the toy car and, yup, she peed.

I trek them to the bathroom in the front of the store with my diaper bag which is stocked for just such an occasion, thank god. Now where do I put Whiny McGirly Voice while I clean off Miss PeePee? I pull down the changing table and lay him there while I strip my poor pee-covered little girl.

David screams which makes Sofia cry and I want to just hop on a plane to anywhere to escape this scene but on I go, singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider while I remind my apparently forgetful 2 year old that we only peepee on the potty.

I check out, with nothing from my list, and immediately put them both down for naps. And they know enough to not complain and just go to sleep. At least I have that going for me.

How has your day been?

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Good morning

Mornings are a clusterfuck in my house. Sorry for the term but I can’t find a single word in the entire English language that describes it so perfectly. When I hear my 7 month old son stir at 6am I hit the ground running and the next time I see the clock it’s 10:00. And I haven’t even had my coffee.

The impatience of my 7 month old son requires me to set up his breakfast the night before. It takes me about 2 minutes to get his breakfast together and he yells at me for the entire 2 minutes. This normally wakes up Sofia, who needs to be taken to the potty and given Cheerios and milk the moment her eyes open. I’m worn out just writing about this.

Then kids need to be dressed and Sesame Street is demanded and the baby needs me to speak or sing directly to him until he’s ready for his nap at 9:00. And the cleanup. Oh, the cleanup.

So here’s my Mother’s Day wish – I want just one morning. One morning where I can sleep until 9:00 and when I come downstairs the kids are fed and dressed and the house is clean with dishes washed. Just one.

And an uninterrupted shower.

And cinnamon rolls in the oven.

And a mimosa.

Is that so much to ask? :)

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Back in the Saddle

So aside from a brief stint in Bikram Yoga, I haven’t worked out since college. I’m in terrible shape and I keep using my kids as the excuse as to why I can’t get my butt to the gym. That was working, until my mom divulged that she used to go to the gym before we woke up so she could get a workout in. Basically calling me lazy. So I joined the New York Sports Club here in Oceanside.

When you join you get a free personal training session. I politely declined. Then they called me twice to re-offer, so I scheduled it for Monday at 6am. Yikes. My alarm went off at 5:45 and I felt like death but I dragged my lazy behind to my session.

So he didn’t find my joke funny about wanting to look like Kate Upton, you know, if that’s possible. He put me on the elliptical and asked me some questions about what I normally do when I work out and when was the last time you did this and I was so tempted to lie. Like I do at the doctor and the dentist and anyone else looking out for my well-being. Do I drink? Only a glass of wine on occasion. Floss? Oh yes, every day. All lies.

But I told the truth, and only because I knew he was about to see how incapable I am of any physical activity. I actually didn’t look too bad until he asked how many push-ups I thought I could do. Exactly 0, it turns out.

Today? Kill me. Everything hurts and I remember why I’ve been putting this off. But I’m hoping once I get in the swing of things, I’ll enjoy the hour to myself 3 times a week and my newfound energy and strength. I will, right?

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Flying with kids

I’ve traveled a bunch with my kids to see my parents in California. Sofia was 4 months old for her first trip, and David was only 6 weeks old for his (thanks Hurricane Sandy). I’ve made every mistake possible on these trips so I think I have a unique ability to give advice on air travel based on these screw-ups.

You can find lists of what to pack for your kids online but really it’s about what entertains your kids and what they need. My son is a mess and requires several changes of clothes plus and extra shirt for me, in case I’m his target after a meal. My daughter only requires an extra outfit because she’s newly potty trained. You know how much of a mess your kids are.

Snacks are so important, for any kid old enough to eat real food. Puffs and Cheerios are great for the younger set because they take awhile to eat. I save things like lollipops for special occasions like plane rides and have found that not only does the sucking help with eat popping, but it keeps Sofia quiet as well. Very important.

No limit on screen time while traveling. If she wants to sit and watch Cinderella 8 times on a long flight I let her, it’s all about survival. And if you are buying a seat for your child, I absolutely recommend a car seat. It’s a bitch to carry through the airport but once she’s strapped in, there’s no getting out except for diaper changes. We simply explained that a plane is like a car and we have to buckle up.

If you have a baby who is riding in your lap, I recommend a fabric baby carrier like an Ergo or Baby Bjorn. Both of my kids fell asleep easy in them and I had 2 free hands to read or eat or have a much needed cocktail once they were asleep.

I made the mistake on my first flight with Sofia when she was 4 months old of panicking that her ears wouldn’t pop. I over-fed her from the bottle and she threw up the entire contents of her stomach all over my mother. Lesson there is not to give a bottle or nurse until the plane is already off the ground and rapidly rising. It takes awhile for the pressure to bother their ears and if the bottle runs out you could just screw yourself. If your baby takes a pacifier, you’re lucky here.

Bring new toys on the journey. This one I learned from my mom. On a long car ride or flight, my mom would randomly hand us presents. New, small toys that would occupy us because, well, they were new. Nothing expensive, just a new Barbie or book of crossword puzzles or something like that. Sofia had figurines from her favorite movie, Tangled. She talked to Rapunzel and Eugene for most of the flight.

If all else fails, walk the aisles. Turbulence permitting, walk up and down the aisles holding your child pointing out things on the plane to them. Stand by the bathrooms and sway as you sing songs, and tell yourself that this too, shall pass. When one of my kids is in a mood, it doesn’t matter how prepared I am, flying is hell. Other parents on the flight will give you knowing looks because they’ve been in your shoes. If you’re lucky enough to never have a bad flight with your child, count your blessings.

Good luck!

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Making friends with ASD

A guest post by my brilliant sister, Stephanie Ross, who is a behavior analyst who works for a nonprofit in NYC with children with developmental and physical disabilities. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @sarossBCBA

In honor of Autism Awareness month, I wanted to take a look at some of the recent changes in discoveries in the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder and how it affects more than just the individual and their families.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an ever-changing diagnosis with a list of symptoms and potential treatments to lessen these symptoms. While the CDC reports that 1 in every 88 children today are diagnosed with ASD, new numbers from Autism Speaks suggest it may be as many as 1 in every 50.

What does this mean for a parent of a typically-developing child? More and more children are being put into “mainstreamed classrooms” for part or the entirety of their day at school. Chances are your school-aged child has a classmate (or many) who fall on the Autism Spectrum.

Children with ASD present with higher rates of depression and suicide than their typically-developing peers, and the rates of bullying of children with ASD are increasing at an alarming rate. One reason for this may be that not only do children with ASD not know how to interact with their peers; their peers do not know how to interact with them.

As parents of typically-developing children, we can give our kids the tools they need to successfully interact with children on the spectrum. We already teach our kids that while some people may be different than we are, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. We teach tolerance of race, sex, religion, etc., we need to add disabilities and functioning levels to that list.

Children with ASD are expressly taught everything from how to maintain eye contact during a conversation, to how to keep appropriate distance between themselves and peers during social interactions. These things our children did not need to be told, they learned through observing this behavior from others. A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that children who receive social skills training that involves not only training the child with ASD how to interact with others, but their peers who interact with them yields significantly better results than treatment which just focuses on the child with ASD.

By teaching our children how to interact with their typically and not-so-typically developing peers, we will increase their confidence in facilitating and maintaining social interactions with others. One way we can begin the lesson is by having a conversation about their peers, the fact that they may need a little more help than others, and that by being patient with them and sharing in their interests, they can make a very special friend. These skills will translate to a child who is more aware and tolerant of others, and a child who is able to make a meaningful impact in the lives of the people around them, just by making a friend.

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Naptime

I love my kids. I really do. But I LOVE naptime. After a morning of feed this kid, clean up, feed the other kid, clean up, change diaper, take to potty, put down that marker, HOW DID YOU GET A MARKER? When 12:00 rolls around I feel my muscles start to relax in my neck knowing I’m going to get a few minutes to re-group.

Having a tough time getting these kids to coordinate their naps together so those minutes could maybe turn into an hour of alone time. Seems almost impossible. Because I’m never sure how long I have by myself I treat it like a boxing match and they just rang the bell. I have a sip of water and catch my breath because round 2 is coming.

Here’s to a full hour intermission between rounds for everyone today :)

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Update – both kids woke up too early from their naps in bad moods. Currently in a tornado of whining/crying. Is drinking at 3pm acceptable in this circumstance?

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Tantrums

Does anyone else find temper tantrums as hilarious as I do?  My daughter is so dramatic that I can’t help laughing when she throws herself on the floor and fake cries over something ridiculous.

I understand tantrums because I won’t give her ice cream or her brother takes a toy from her.  What I don’t get are the tantrums over daily procedures like peeing on the potty, baths, and getting dressed.  We’ve done the same thing every day of your life, why is it surprising today buddy?

We had 2 epic meltdowns this morning that were gone as quickly as they came on, but not gone before I could snap a photo.  You’re welcome.

Tantrum # 1

Sofia wanted to wear her Princess Sofia nightgown all day today.  Not really a good idea seeing as it doesn’t fit and it would have been indecent to strap her in the stroller for our walk this morning with her underwear in full view.  After a few tries at negotiation (what do you want to wear today, Sofia?  Do you like this shirt?) I lost my patience and took it off of her.  The following picture ensued.

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Tantrum #2

We got back from our walk, yes Sofia was fully dressed by then, and I made her lunch.  This is always an exercise in power struggle.  I gave her a few options, she ignored me as usual, and I decided on cheese, crackers and fruit.  I opened the fridge to get the strawberries out and Sofia stood in front of it demanding items I have never had in there/don’t exist in real life.  I went to close the fridge and asked her to move, which of course she didn’t, so I had to move her myself.

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I’d love a few tantrum stories and pictures from you guys!

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Toddlerisms

My 2 year old has a pretty good command of the English language. The other day at Gymboree, a dad of a not quite 2 year old girl asked me when Sofia had started speaking and I couldn’t give him an answer. It seems like she came out babbling along. We just can’t get her to stop. Please, kid, 5 minutes of quiet would be amazing.

I attribute her knack for speech to genes, and Sesame Street. I’m a talker (can you tell?) and I pick up on languages pretty easily. I don’t sit and drill Sofia on letters or use flash cards to teach her words. She just hears and repeats. Sesame Street’s word of the day is a favorite for her, although I find some of their words to be a little ridiculous for the age group (paleontologist and metamorphosis were 2 recent ones).

She does, however, have a wealth of words and sayings that only my husband and I understand. Most of them are endearing and adorable, some are just a garbled mess (see paleontologist and metamorphosis above). Here is my list of her toddlerisms –

Ephalent – elephant
Dinosaur Rex – Tyrannosaurus rex
Guacaroni – guacamole
We wannnn – I want

She loves watching Elmo the Musical so she asks for it frequently. When she ran up to my dad to ask him to put it on, he didn’t understand her at all and replied ‘you’re moving to Mexico??!’

What are some of your kids toddlerisms?

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Oceanside parishioner banned from duties

It is with much sadness that I write this post about a parishioner who was banned from church duties at my parish, St. Anthony’s in Oceanside, NY.  Nicolas Coppola, an openly gay member of the church, wed his longtime boyfriend this year, and hid none of this from the church where he had been a very active member for close to 10 years.  An anonymous letter was sent to the Diocese of Rockville Centre complaining about his sexuality, and he was subsequently banned from church duties.

Nicolas is a retired construction worker who volunteered his time at St. Anthony’s assisting with confirmation and visiting sick parishioners, hardly a menace worthy of being dismissed from helping those around him.  It more than disappoints me, and I’m left wondering why this member of our community found it necessary to blow the whistle on this man’s sexuality.  I have no doubt that this letter was no surprise to the priests at St. Anthony’s, but with a letter of complaint like this sent to the Diocese, their hands are tied.  Of course I disagree with the Catholic Church’s opinions on homosexuality, as I do about many other social issues they refuse to be more open-minded about, but I’m sure an angry letter to my parish will do little to change Catholic policies.  What upsets me is the fact that this parishioner felt Nicolas was some sort of a threat to the church when, in all actuality, he was a giving and helpful man who was looking so serve God and his community.  What does it matter who he chooses to spend his life with?

We are taught that only God is to judge, and yet so many Christians are doing just that.  Protesting outside of abortion clinics, opposing gay marriage, and generally wagging their fingers at those they claim are sinning.  I am choosing to continue my relationship with St. Anthony’s, and the Catholic Church, for the sake of teaching my children about God and His teachings, but I will be sure to also teach them that they are to love everyone, not just those that are like them  , and that they are not to judge other people.  God made everyone, gay or straight, disabled or able-bodied, in a variety of colors and languages, and my kids are to accept and love everyone for their differences, not point fingers.

I hope that Nicolas Coppola sees and understands that the thoughts and actions of this one parishioner have nothing to do with how most of us feel about him.  What a wonderful and selfless thing to volunteer your time with the church and to help those around you.  God bless you and your husband, and may you continue to reach out to those in our community in another fashion, we will all support you.

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Weeknight Chicken

Another quick recipe that can easily be done in under a half hour with few ingredients. I’ve included the chicken, potatoes and asparagus ingredients and then the steps follow in order to get all 3 done at the same time. Hope you enjoy!

4 servings

Chicken in White Wine Sauce

2 chicken breasts butterflied into 4 pieces
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

Oven Potato Chips

1/2 lb white or Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into thin rounds
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400

2. Toss together the potatoes, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl then spread on a cookie sheet. Put in the preheated oven for 15 mins. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

3. Toss together the asparagus, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and spread on a second cookie sheet. Once potatoes have been in the oven for 5 mins, put the asparagus in. Cook for 10 more mins.

4. While potatoes and asparagus are in the oven, salt and pepper the chicken and cook in a skillet with the olive oil on medium high heat until brown on one side (2-3 mins). Flip, add garlic, wine and lemon juice and finish cooking (another 2-3 mins).

5. All 3 should be done at the same time!

Enjoy :)

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