Long Island Mom

What I've learned about being a mom.

The Best of Me

A new Nicholas Spark book-turned-movie sure to make you shed a few tears and believe that true romance does exist is coming to theaters.  This one stars James Marsden (remember how great he was in The Notebook and X-Men??) and Michelle Monaghan (of many movies but I always think of Mission Impossible) and looks like the perfect date-night or girls night out movie.

Here’s the plot synopsis :

“Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of the beloved friend.  Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.”

There will be a screening of The Best of Me in Deer Park this Thursday, October 2 at 7pm and I have 100 pairs of tickets – for free!!  Just go to http://www.relativityscreenings.com/LImom and remember to bring the tissues!!  See you there :)

 

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2 years later

Two years ago today, I was in the hospital anxiously and nervously awaiting the birth of my son David.  It started at church (ironically, not a place we frequent) when I stood up and thought my water broke.  Turned out to be a placental abruption, meaning a trip to the hospital.  30 hours of monitoring later, it looked like there was nothing they could do to stop impending labor.  A few short hours after that, David was born at 5 lbs 3 oz, just shy of 5 weeks early.  Everything looked ok and we breathed a sigh of relief, only to find out he had jaundice and would need to go into the NICU.

More testing, leaving the hospital without my baby boy, returns to the NICU, blood tests, pumping, leaving my 2 year old daughter at home with my mother, nights up worrying about him, it all is so fresh in my mind.  He came home 5 days after he was born and again, sighs of relief.  A trip to the pediatrician 2 days later to test his blood, and back to the NICU.  They couldn’t figure out why his jaundice wouldn’t subside and there we were, calming a screaming newborn as they tried to get an IV into his tiny veins.  I have never felt pain like that in my life and hope to never experience it again.

My son will be 2 years old tomorrow and is happy, healthy and a handful.  He talks, he runs, he hugs and kisses and I have never felt so lucky in my entire life.  I am a mom to a baby boy who had a tough debut.  In no way do I think what our family went through bringing him home is worse than anyone else’s story and in no way am I complaining or looking for sympathy.  What this experience taught me is that nothing should be taken for granted.  I had such an easy pregnancy with Sofia, and her delivery was not only normal, but easy by comparison.  David has taught me so much, but most of all how lucky I am to be a mom to 2 healthy kids.  It would seem that pregnancy and childbirth are normal, everyday experiences, but they are not always perfect and can end up tragic in a heartbeat.

So, this year, on his 2nd birthday, I am reflecting on what this little crazy boy has taught me and how happy I am to have him.  He’s a force to be reckoned with and one of the 2 lights of our lives.  He is a bundle of love, has a terrific laugh and loves surprises.  He loves his family, especially his sister, and anything with wheels.  He dances like his father, god love him, and can eat his weight in fruit snacks if given the opportunity.  He makes us laugh and can turn anyone’s bad mood into a good one with his sweet disposition.  He also unrolls toilet paper with the skills of a cat.  Not sure if that’s a skill that will come in handy, but he’s proud of it so we’ll list it.

We love you David and we will always be so proud of you.

David

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Pure Barre

Anyone that knows me will tell you I’ve become a little obsessed with my new workout.  To say that I’m not a ‘gym person’ is a gross understatement, although I know the importance of being fit and healthy.  I’ve done yoga, even Bikram yoga which is that hot yoga in a sweaty gross room.  That, I actually liked for some reason.  I’ve also done Zumba, but I look like the worst kind of spaz and my ego won’t allow me to continue it.  I heard a few months ago of a Pure Barre studio opening in Oceanside and decided to try it.  I didn’t look into it too much before I went, thinking it was just some sort of ballet-type workout and it would be fun to try.  It is all kinds of intense that I was not prepared for.

Pure Barre is a total body workout that focuses on arms, thighs, butt, abs, and back in separate, intense segments.  You will use light weights, a resistance band and a rubber ball for the exercises and will be encouraged to move in small, inch increments.  It is designed to fatigue your muscles to the point of shaking and inner-monologue cursing, and I am in no way kidding when I tell you that you will see extreme results in your body within 10 classes.  You can read more about it here.

When I started, I was going to 2 classes per week.  By class 5 I could see definition in my arms in a sexy, womanly but powerful way.  I am now just past 30 classes and my entire body has changed.  They call it ‘Lift, Tone and Burn’ and it is a very accurate description of this.  Everything is lifted and toned, and after 2 kids that is no small feat.  I’m so addicted to this workout now, that I’m going 6 days a week.

I am also loving the abundance of options as far as times are concerned.  I can go as early as 5:45am, before the kids are awake, or as late as 8:40pm, long after they are (hopefully) asleep.  There is an app you can download to reserve your spot in a class and to pay, buy merchandise, etc.

On the note of merchandise, I would greatly suggest buying a pair of ‘sticky socks’ before your first class.  Several of the exercises require a grip on the floor and socks must be worn, and trust me when I say that regular socks won’t cut it.  They also offer lots of cute leggings, workout tops, etc. in the studio, which is always tempting!

For those of you interested in trying this addictive and amazing new workout, Bryanne Graser, owner of Pure Barre Oceanside, is offering a free class to anyone who mentions they read about it on Long Island Mom.  So show up, put on some sticky socks, and get ready to see a complete change in your body.  You can thank me later!

You can also follow Pure Barre Oceanside on Facebook, and don’t forget to follow me there too!

 

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The Nap

50% of my worries in parenting surround nap and bedtime procedures, length and time of day.  The other 50% is made up of mostly food-related issues, which is another post entirely.  I thought with my second kid, I would have this whole sleep thing down, but alas these kids couldn’t be more opposite when it comes to sleep, so my experience with Sofia did not prepare me whatsoever for my experience with David.

Sofia wanted to be rocked to sleep for a minimum of 20 minutes before I would gently lay her down and pray to ALL THAT IS HOLY that she wouldn’t wake up.  When I finally came to my senses, we did the ‘cry it out’ method (see here and here) and haven’t had too many problems since.  David had no problem going to sleep, and still brings us his blankie and says ‘ni-night’ when he’s tired, but he won’t stay asleep for anything.  He’s up sometime between 5-6am and it doesn’t matter what time he goes to bed.  He’s our little rooster.

I’m so tired (literally) of worrying about their sleep.  At this point, Sofia is nearing 4 years old and doesn’t need a nap every day, but how do I judge when she needs one?  When she passes out on the floor? (Not even an exaggeration, it’s happened several times since she dropped her nap) Sometimes I put her in her room and she just talks to herself for a full hour until I come get her.  Is that child neglect?

Also, at what age is it appropriate to put David in a toddler bed?  He will be 2 next month and seems fine in his crib, but at what age is it ridiculous to have a child sleep in baby jail?  Sofia was evicted at 18 months because her brother was on his way, so I can’t even really go by her.  She also is content to lay in bed until I get her, even now.  I have a feeling he’s going to escape and be in my bed in the middle of the night.

Lastly, how long do I have until the baby monitor is no longer a monitor of safe sleep but more a creepy surveillance system?  That’s going to be a hard one to let go of.

 

What are your sleep issues and questions with your kids?  And can anyone help me with this ridiculousness?

 

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A Nation of Wimps

A friend of mine posted an article on her Facebook page that you can read here, titled “A Nation of Wimps” that I found very interesting.  To sum it up, we hover over our kids and don’t let them make any decisions for themselves and ensure that they can’t be successful adults because they don’t know how to live without our constant direction.

And it’s so true.

As a high school French teacher in several different districts on Long Island, I encountered so many parents who begged for inflated grades, for me to pass their kids to the next level when they knew they didn’t deserve it, and to excuse ridiculous behavior without punishment. These parents weren’t interested in teaching their children consequences or life lessons, they were interested in preserving their school records and the image of their perfect children.

I hate to get all ‘back in my day’ but this isn’t how my family operated when I was growing up.  I constantly tried to blame teachers for my less-than-desirable grades, and tried to get out of trouble whenever I was caught, like every other kid on the planet.  The difference was, my parents didn’t cover for me.  I was expected to do the right thing, to show up to class, to do my work, to study, to behave well, etc.  When I didn’t, I had to face consequences.

The consequences we as parents face with this kind of ‘Johnny is so special and perfect’ parenting are kids that never leave home, that expect to be taken care of their whole lives, and adults that aren’t aware of their own strengths and weaknesses because they’re unaware that they actually have weaknesses.

I’m not saying I’m not guilty of thinking my kids are special.  Isn’t that what every mom thinks of her kids?  I think my daughter is probably one of the smartest 2 year olds I’ve ever encountered.  But she also has a wicked attitude and has the hand/eye coordination of a stroke victim.  My son is a complete love bug and a charmer, but he screams like a girl.  No child is perfect and no parent should be stepping in to spare them the reality that they do suck at baseball and shouldn’t make the team, or they are lazy and should fail Social Studies so that they learn next year to do their homework.

So I vow to let my kids make mistakes and suffer consequences, no matter how much it hurts me to watch them struggle.  Because these are life lessons and in the long run, I’m doing them a huge favor by allowing them to learn from these mistakes when they’re young and the stakes are low.  I’m convinced this is what makes for successful adults.  Who’s with me?

 

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No yelling!

My 8 month old baby boy screams like a girl.  All. Day. Long. In fact, it’s so often that my 2 year old is constantly telling her brother “No yelling!”

I’ve tried ignoring it, but he yells louder.

I’ve tried telling him to stop, and when I look at him he smiles or laughs.

Is 8 months too young to be grounded? Or time out? Can I take away his video games? His bike? I mean, how do you discipline an 8 month old?

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Hulafrog

I have recently become involved in a website called Hulafrog. It’s a site full of kid-friendly restaurants, stores, and activities geared toward the area you live in and it’s such a great idea, especially for new moms not quite used to needing kid-friendly places, but also for moms that are new to an area and need ideas for places to bring their kids. Anyone can register on the site and start reviewing their favorite places, and you’re encouraged to do so! Check it out :http://rockvillecentre.hulafrog.com/default.aspx

 

Looking through the site, I have come across so many new activities I can’t wait to take my kids to, that I had no idea existed. Without a site like this, all we really have is word of mouth, which is great, but limited to your circle of friends. Hulafrog extends that circle of friends to moms throughout your area who have tested out new places and are ready to give you the thumbs up, or down. It takes the guess work out of planning your weekend activities.

 

There are also top 10 lists, like the recent list of Summer Camps and Parks and Playgrounds, with detailed descriptions. Give it a try and check out my reviews:

http://rockvillecentre.hulafrog.com/Members/LongIslandMom.aspx

 

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Beyond terrible twos

I have heard that the Terrible Twos are a parent’s nightmare. But then I’ve heard that 3 is worse than 2. And then I’ve also heard that the half birthdays are worse than 2 or 3. I’m here to tell you it’s all awful.

Sofia is 2 1/2. She has been in the tantrum throwing Terrible Twos for 6 months now, and it hasn’t been the most fun I’ve ever had. I’ve found the tantrums are less frequent now than they were when she entered this stage, but they have more power and last longer when they do occur. I have a stubborn little mule on my hands.

I try to be consistent with how I handle her outbursts, ignoring the screaming until she calms down, which has seemed to work up until now. I’ve found that trying to calm her or discipline her in the moment only added fuel to the fire, so when possible (read : not in public) I choose to ignore. In public, this isn’t always possible because I care about my fellow humans eardrums and sanity, and do not wish to subject them to the insanity that is a 2 year old tantrum.

Today, things got out of control. There was no warning. She was playing dress up in my jewelry in my bedroom and as I went to check the baby monitor for what I thought was the baby waking up, she hit me hard with my watch under my eye. I’m a little swollen and bruised, and frankly look like I got a fist to the face. Nope, I’ve been abused by my 2 year old.

These instances are few and far between but are so upsetting. I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative thing, but her physical agression has always and only been against me. As a baby, she would bite my shoulder, but nobody else. As a toddler, I have things thrown at me and she hits me. My reaction to this is a time out and removal of her from the situation as well as the offending object she used. There are tears, I solicit an apology, and we move on.

Her triggers are mostly not getting the attention she wants 24/7, every minute of every day. I’m sure that’s what this was about today, as I took a break from playing with her to check on her brother. I’m sure that pissed her off but really she needs to learn that the world does not revolve around her every minute of every day. I guess I’m writing this to get other perspectives on ‘normal’ toddler behavior. I was a hitter as a kid, and was punished constantly for it. My brother wouldn’t have hurt a fly. Are some kids more violent than others by nature? Am I handling her behavior correctly? How can I fix this?

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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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Newsday

Featured in an article in today’s, 3/25/13, Newsday paper. Joe Amodio wrote an article about Birchbox, came across my blog post about it and interviewed me. Pick up today’s edition to see it in person!

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