Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Holy Terra-Moto

Some of you may already know I am a mom of a sweet two-year-old who I affectionately refer to as “ Chickpea.” Well, I don’t know what the hell has happened to that sweet little girl. Recently, it seems that my sweet Chickpea has been overcome with major temper tantrums on a daily basis, I have gone so far to nickname her alter-ego “The Terra-Moto.” I guess I have to accept the fact that Chickpea had officially entered the “Terrible Twos,” which I think should be renamed the “Tumultuous Twos.”

At this point, I would like to know when my child was switched with this new cranky monster that lives to torture her mommy. Alright, I know I am being a bit dramatic, but anyone out there living with a 2year-old knows exactly what I am talking about. It feels like my sweet little Chickpea has a split personality -- kind and adorable one minute, a wicked little beasty having a tantrum the next.

This all came to a head when I was out having lunch with Chickpea at one of our usual spots. A few minutes into lunch, she started whining for something, I tried to understand what she was wanting by asking her to use her words so I could understand her. This did not seem to work, and only added to her frustration, and she continued to escalate. At this point she was so worked up that there was little I could do to “bring her back,” so I made the decision to pay the bill and just leave. As I literally dragged her out of the cafĂ© kicking and screaming, and after I struggled to get her safely into her car seat I began to drive home. It took about 20 minutes to get home, and yes you guessed it she screamed the whole way. I have to admit by the time we got home, I was ready to put myself in a timeout just to cool off. They aren’t kidding folks when they say parenthood is full of ups and downs as clearly demonstrated by Chickpea’s mood swings, and temper tantrums.

Following this episode I wanted to place a n ad on Craig’s List that read: “ Beautiful and sweet 2yr old girl and 529 account included” instead I decided to do some research, and advice searching to find out how does one survive this stage of parenthood, and still feel like they are being a good parent. I hope you enjoy the following bits of information, as I have found it helpful and at times have saved me from giving Chickpea to Gypsies’ (Just Kidding, no need to call child services).

Why do tantrums happen?

A tantrum is the expression of a child's frustration with the physical, mental or emotional challenges of the moment. Consider this: Most 2-year-olds have a limited vocabulary. Parents may understand what a toddler says only 50 percent of the time. Strangers understand even less. When your child wants to tell you something and you don't understand — or you don't comply with your child's wishes — you may have a tantrum on your hands.

What's the best way to respond to a tantrum?

1. If you can, pretend to ignore the tantrum. If you lose your cool or give in to your child's demands, you've only taught your child that tantrums are effective.

2. If your child has a tantrum at home, you can act as if it's not interrupting things. After your child quiets down, you might say, "I noticed your behavior, but that won't get my attention. If you need to tell me something, you need to use your words."

3. If your child has a tantrum in public, pretending to ignore the behavior is still the best policy. Any parent who witnesses the scene is likely to sympathize with you as you ignore the tantrum. If the tantrum escalates or your child is in danger of hurting himself or herself, stop what you're doing and remove your child from the situation. If your child calms down, you may be able to return to your activity. If not, go home — even if it means leaving a cart full of groceries in the middle of the store. At home, discuss with your child the type of behavior you would have preferred.

Should a child be punished for having a tantrum?

- Temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up. Rather than punishing your child, remind him or her that tantrums aren't appropriate. Sometimes a simple reminder to "use your words" is adequate. For a full-blown tantrum — or a tantrum that caused you to abandon an activity in public — try a timeout.

- During a timeout, seat your child in a boring place — such as in a chair in the living room or on the floor in the hallway — for a certain length of time, usually one minute for each year of the child's age. You can pretend that you don't even see your child during the timeout, but you can still assure his or her safety. If your child begins to wander around, simply place him or her back in the designated timeout spot. Remind your child that he or she is in timeout, but don't offer any other attention.

Can you prevent a tantrum?

There may be no foolproof way to prevent tantrums, but there's plenty you can do to encourage good behavior in even the youngest children:

1. Be consistent. Establish a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect. Stick to the routine as much as possible, including nap time and bedtime. It's also important to set reasonable limits and follow them consistently.

2. Plan ahead. If you need to run errands, go early in the day — when your child isn't likely to be hungry or tired. If you're expecting to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.

3. Encourage your child to use words. Young children understand many more words than they're able to express. If your child isn't speaking — or speaking clearly — you might teach him or her sign language for words such as "I want," "more," "enough," "hurt" and "tired." The more easily your child can communicate with you, the less likely you are to struggle with tantrums. As your child gets older, help him or her put feelings into words.

4. Let your child make choices. To give your child a sense of control, let him or her make appropriate choices. Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt? Would you like to eat strawberries or bananas? Would you like to read a book or build a tower with your blocks? Then compliment your child on his or her choices.

5. Praise good behavior. Offer extra attention when your child behaves well. Tell your child how proud you are when he or she shares toys, listens to directions, and so on.

6. Use distraction. If you sense a tantrum brewing, distract your child. Try making a silly face or changing location. It may help to touch or hold your child.

7. Avoid situations likely to trigger tantrums. If your child begs for toys or treats when you shop, steer clear of "temptation islands" full of eye-level goodies. If your child acts up in restaurants, make reservations so that you won't have to wait — or choose restaurants that offer quick service.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Swim or Not to Swim....Lessons That Is

Well it is that time of year again, when temperatures rise to the high 90's and at times even the 100's, and you soon find the only way to seek refuge is to either stay inside (no fun when you have small children) or hit your local watering holes (no not the bars). When speaking of local watering holes, remember I am a mommy now and have limited opportunities to visit bars, what I am referring to are pools, beaches, lakes, etc. So in attempts to beat the heat that comes along with Florida summers, Chickpea and I have been visiting the pool almost every day.

The thing I noticed since visiting the pool, and taking Chickpea to the beach, is that my girl has no fear. In fact she is a dare-devil in every sense of the word. This got me thinking if it was time for me to get Chickpea enrolled in some formal swim lessons. Now understand I use the word formal only because my swim lessons where anything but. In fact my swim lessons basically involved my dad picking me up and walking down a wooden dock at my grandmother’s home, past my mother who sat wondering what he was about to do, only to her horror as she watched my dad toss me into the water. My mother still tells this story the best, but as she watched my father do the unspeakable, she yelled, "What are you doing?" My dad only replied, "Trust me she is fine, she is either going to sink or swim." I am glad to know that my dad had that much confidence in me that day, or maybe he just had one too many adult beverages that afternoon, but to my mother's shock I rose to the surface with bulging eyes and swam. Who would have thought I would have gone on to become a competitive swimmer through my high school years. Understanding that my father's actions almost led to my mother divorcing him, I figured I would go the more traditional route with Chickpea's swim lessons.

I started to do some research to find out what would be the best fit for Chickpea. While doing my research I came across some interesting facts:

-It was not until May 2010 that Pediatricians recommended swim lessons for children under the age of 4

-It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown

-Children under five and adolescents between the ages of 15-24 have the highest drowning rates.

-Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.

Needless to say these are all things that validate investing in swim lessons for your young child. My husband and I finally decided on a swim program called ISR, which stands for Infant Swimming Resource and can be found at This is a unique program that involves 1 to 1 sessions for 10minutes a day, 5 days a week, for up to 5 weeks. Without saying this program requires a tremendous commitment of your time and resources, these lessons are not cheap, but are worth every cent when your child develops the skill to float/ swim to safety if they where to fall into a body of water.

I have to admit that prior to doing my research, and watching Chickpea go through the ISR program, I would joke with other moms and call it "supervised drowning". With all joking aside it is tough to watch your child go through these lessons at first, but with each lesson I saw Chickpea become more calm and confident as she demonstrated the skills that where being taught to her, and reassured me that my husband and we made the right decision. So thank you to Mr. Rusty for enduring endless crying, and at times being puked on, it is because of you that Chickpea has a developed a strong foundation as she will continue with swim lessons each summer.  And maybe, just maybe become a competitive swimmer just like her mommy.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thanks Hilton Head... See You Next Summer

I have to say it is nice to be back after taking a much needed vacation with my family. Now, you are probably sitting there thinking how could I be looking forward to a so called "vacation" that involved a six hour car ride, a 3 yr old, 2 yr old, and a 7 month old and sharing a summer rental with another family. But even with all these crazy facts we all had an amazing time. Don’t' get me wrong we had our share of tantrums, and potty training mishaps, but this was one of those vacations that we will look back on and have great memories to relish for a lifetime.

We chose Hilton Head Island in South Carolina as our vacation destination, and rented a home on Sea Pines Plantation. I will admit that getting onto the island can be a bit taxing due to heavy traffic, but once you arrive you can kick back and begin to relax. Sea Pines Plantation is one of the more well known plantations on Hilton Head, but once you pass thru the main gates you are surrounded by never ending tree canopies, and all the beauty that the costal Carolina's have to offer. And the best part is, you never have to leave the plantation once you arrive.

Sea Pines Plantation is unique for so many reasons, but the main thing that made this location attractive as a vacation spot is its reputation for being extremely family friendly. Now, don't get the wrong idea, just because I said it is family friendly, does not mean the kids run the joint and there is little for adults to indulge in. In fact it is quite the contrary with beautiful beaches, world class golf/ tennis, spas, shopping, biking, and restaurants this is hardly a mouse like attraction. The following are just some of our personal favorites of what Hilton Head had to offer.

Gregg Russell:
Every night at 8pm with the exception of Saturday it is a Hilton Head tradition for families to meet under the old liberty oak tree in Harbour Town. It's under this old oak tree you'll be entertained with Gregg's summer concerts. His performances are reminiscent of the children's TV show "Kids Say the Darndest Things" with games, interviews, sing-a-longs and a quick wit that makes for great entertainment for the whole family. There is a reason that generations for over 30 years return each summer with their families night after night to see Gregg play under the old oak tree in Harbour Town. Gregg Russell is an absolute must when visiting Hilton Head, and don't be surprised if it becomes a new tradition with your family.

The Salty Dog Cafe:
In a fishing village at South Beach lived John Braddocks and his dog Jake. John earned his living as a fisherman. Jake shared his love of the sea. Early one Friday morning, John powered up their 36 foot fishing vessel and headed for the deep blue sea. After being tossed out of their boat the Salty Dog, so the story goes that Jake headed west and swam for 3 days and 3 nights with John holding onto his collar. No one knows how Jake could have known the way back to his home port. The townspeople built a gathering place in the village and named it The Salty Dog Cafe - in honor of Jake's heroic feat. Portraits of Jake wearing his yellow sou'wester hat adorn the walls. His place in nautical history is assured.

The Salty Dog Cafe, sits in the South Beach Marina on Hilton Head, and offers great casual food with great indoor/outdoor dining options (and they make a great vodka tonic). Along with the great food there is live music, and plenty of sites to keep your little ones entertained. Don't forget to visit the Salty Dog Cafe Shop to pick up a t-shirt, hat, and a printed handkerchief for your favorite four legged family member.

The Sand Box:
What to do with the kids when your husband and his friend leave to play golf? You take them to the Sandbox, and I don't mean the one that your child is most likely to get a nasty case of ring-worm from. The Sandbox is an interactive children's museum that is dedicated to the positive development of young children through play. This unique non-for profit museum offers quality educational and family-oriented exhibits and programs. Children can let their imaginations run wild as they shop, buy, and prepare exotic meals in the International Bazaar or play with the magic sand in the Loggerhead Sandcastle. Whether taking a trek across the rock challenge course to track the T-Rex or painting a picture and playing an instrument in the Rhythm and Hues room, The Sandbox offers endless possibilities for fun!

Lawton Stables:
Be sure to bring your family to visit the small animal farm which is free to all visitors. They have a petting farm of small animals, including goats, sheep, donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, llama, miniature pony, chickens and rabbits. Be sure to stop by to meet, feed, and pet these adorable animals yourselves, and for the more adventurous members of the family there are horse and pony rides.

Harbour Town:
This is definately the heart of Sea Pines Plantation. Harbour Town offers shopping, casual eateries, entertainment for the entire family, a beautiful marina and the historic lighthouse. Harbour Town is the place where families meet at the end of there beach filled days to enjoy live music, and some of the most delicious icecream you will ever eat.

So if you are still on the fence on where to spend summer vacation with your family, I would strongly consider Hilton Head. We had an amazing time and look forward to going back next year.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Unofficial Initiation into Motherhood... The Adventures of Pooh-Casso

As all of you who follow my blog know I am a mom to an adorable toddler who we have nicknamed, Chickpea. Well that nickname has now changed until further notice to Pooh-Casso. No, I did not say Picasso, the famous Spanish artist from Madrid that introduced the world to "cubism", I said Pooh-Casso (emphasizing the Pooh). So you may be wondering, "Why the name change"? I’ll tell you, but before I do, I must warn you this story is not for the faint hearted.

So it was last Wednesday, a typical afternoon in our home. I had put Chickpea (aka Pooh-Casso) down for her afternoon nap. I assumed my normal routine while she slept. I would say it was about two hours later, when I heard Chickpea over the monitor. I started my trek up the stairs to her room not thinking anything was out of the ordinary. I could not have been more wrong!

As I grabbed the doorknob to open the door to Chickpea's room, it did not take long to figure out I was in for one of the more shocking experiences I have had to date. There she was in all her fecal glory. Yes, my sweet, innocent, little girl was covered in poop and loving every minute of it. Not only was she covered in poop it seemed like everything within a 10 foot radius was covered in poop. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit, but it was like wall to wall shit. So as my sweet little girl reached up her hands for me to pick her up out of the crib I had to go into full on HASMAT mode. I thought to myself, "Where do I start?”

As I slowly began to triage this crappy disaster, I remember telling myself "Don't make a big deal out of this, all kids do this." I could not believe how much pooh I was dealing with. Pooh all over the kid, pooh all over the crib, pooh on the floor I am surprised there was not pooh on the ceiling (although I think she tried). It looked as if Chickpea got into a full on wrestling match with a chocolate cake (that will cure those chocolate cravings for sure) All I can say is thank God the dog was not home that day, he would have thought it was an all you can eat hot food bar for Labrador Retrievers.

So after spending close to two hours cleaning, disinfecting, washing laundry, and making up her crib I call my sister for some advice on this situation. See my niece Margaux pulled the same stunt on my sister about a year ago. When my sister heard what Chickpea had done she started laughing hysterically, then in her twisted way she asked if I took any pictures and commented this would be great for the blog. Don't worry, taking photos of this disaster was the furthers thing from my mind. After she got through her laughter, she congratulated me on my official initiation into motherhood. I then asked what I could do to prevent this from happening again. Like a great sister, she gave me some great practical advice. She told me that this is a thing that most kids her age do, and that it is part of the whole exploration experience, and not to make a big deal out of it. My sister also advised that I would need to prevent her from getting to her diaper, and to put her in a onsie or place diaper cover over her pamper.

Well I am happy to report that her advice worked and we have been pooh free since. After looking back on what happened last week, it made me realize a few things:

1. You have to exercise a vast amount of patients with your children

2. You cannot have a week stomach

3. You must resist the urge to over react to situations

4. You must be able to find the humor in even the darkest of situations

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What to do When Your Toddler Hates to Shop....

Shopping has always been a great past time for me. There was nothing that a little retail therapy could not fix or make better.....that is until I became the mother of a toddler. Oh do I find myself longing for the early days when Chickpea was an infant, and I could get out of the house a go to my favorite shopping places and spend an afternoon. Long gone are those days. Now it seems the second I step foot into any retail establishment, Chickpea mutates into a cranky, screaming, destructive alter ego. Needless to say, it took me a couple times of experiencing the alter ego to realize my girl does not like to shop. At this point I am thoroughly convinced my husband has conditioned her to go off anytime mommy attempts to take her shopping.

So what is a mom to do when she needs some retail therapy or if she needs to buy birthday gifts for the endless amounts of birthday parties we seem to be attending these days? I'll tell you. Just when you think you've been defeated, turn to your trusty computer and fire up that internet, and soon you will find infinite shopping opportunities.

Now don't get me wrong, while there seems like endless shopping opportunities on the internet, there are still those great websites that never let you down when deliver the goods. The following are two of my some of my favorite shopping websites for kids, and what makes them so unique and great.
This is the ultimate site for hip, stylish, and functional baby/kid gear. Genius Jones is just that, Genius. This website along with 3 store locations in South Florida offers everything from apparel to home decor. Founders, Daniel Kron and Geane Brito subscribe to a great philosophy: Just because you're now a parent doesn't mean you should have to abandon your love of design.  The fact that Genius Jones looks for products made by companies that truly care about children that use non-toxic and sustainable materials, and take steps to ensure that their manufacturing process does not cause harm to the environment are some of the things that makes Genius Jones a cool pace to shop.  In addition the folks a Genius Jones  feel that parents don't have to surrender to the whims of the mass market. It is possible to find functional children's products that are well designed (no more hiding the hideous baby gear when company comes over). So the next time you are looking for that ultra cool, unique and functional gift that has not been seen ten time over at your local Babies R Us, checkout Genius Jones, and become the coolest gift giver among your friends. :
This site is brilliant for so many reasons, especially if you are becoming a parent for the first time, this site is a must. Founder and CEO, Ali Wing, wanted to develop a unique baby store.  When getting ready for a new baby, there is a lot to take into account, choices can be overwhelming and stressful (and your baby hasn't even arrived yet). Giggles helps to make new parents and soon to be parents jobs a lot easier. How does Giggle do this you ask?  Giggle has done the homework for you, by including the must have baby items, that have been pre-sorted to include the most stylish, healthy, and innovative products, and if they didn't make our lives easy enough, offers customers endless resources like: great gifting ideas for parents, babies, toddlers, baby showers, grandparents, and even first birthdays, or shopping by stage to ensure the right tools for each milestone, and various buying guides for how to stock your nursery to feeding on the go.  My favorite of all the resources are the 6 different blogs that are written by local experts with topics ranging from child development to nursery design. If you happen to be fortunate enough to live near one of the 11 store locations located in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and New York check out the site for upcoming events ranging from mom/baby yoga, cooking and music classes. Giggle is for sure a one stop shop  for new parents and parents to be.

So the next time your little one bucks at the idea of going on a shopping trip. Just remember that great retail therapy is just a click away. Happy shopping.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Show Must Go On...

Well as promised, I am sharing how Chickpea's 2nd Birthday Bash went. Overall things went great. The only thing I would do different was wish that I was not dealing with a raging sinus infection. In fact all I wanted to do all weekend long was stay in my pj's, in bed and under the covers. To say I felt and looked like death warmed over would be a compliment. But as all of us mothers know the show must go on, especially when a birthday party is at stake. So I guess it is fair to say that us mom's are much like letter carriers(if that is even a correct term these days) we go to work and do our thing regardless of even the most extenuating of circumstances.

So after much thinking, we decided to host Chickpea's 2nd birthday at the Orlando Science Center. I have to say it was a great choice for many reasons. First, they are extremely easy to work with, and are very organized leaving little to no stress on the day of your party. Second, you can't beat the value that they offer with their parties (invitations, party supplies, activities, 2 party coordinators, price of admission and parking, as well as tickets to the IMAX show for that day are all included). Third, this being the most important (at least to me), when the party is over they take care of all clean up and you are not left cleaning up a mess or worse having lingering party guests camping out in your home.

Chickpea had an animal themed party that ROCKED. Her guests where all greeted by two party hosts, and once all of our guests arrived the coordinators kicked things off by doing a cool show and tell all about the different animals the kids where going to look for during the upcoming scavenger hunt in the animal sanctuary. This was then followed by an art project where everyone was given a round ball of "plaster" that was made of salt, flour, ground coffee beans and water (totally safe in case anyone wanted to give it a taste test). The coordinators then instructed everyone to roll their plaster into a ball, and then began talking about all the different types of animal tracks we saw in the sanctuary. The party guests where all then able to create their own animal foot imprint that they later took home after the party.

After all the fun activities we sat down to enjoy pizza, cake and ice cream. Then just when we thought things were beginning to wind down, we where surprised by one final guest. A baby alligator that all of our party guests were able to get up close and personal with (touch that is). Everyone loved the opportunity with one exception, my sister. The true irony is this is a person who owns multiple exotic animal skin shoes, and handbags. I guess I will chalk up her reluctance to good old fashion guilt.

With everything all said and done, Chickpea's 2nd birthday bash was a big hit. I even took some of my own advice and visited the local dollar store to create a great goodie bag to send home with all our guests. I guess at the end of the day, our children especially at this age have will have little recollection of these parties. So why do we go through all this trouble? I'll tell you, for the memories of friends and family getting together to celebrate your child.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wow How the Time Flew, Chickpea is Turning Two

I can't believe it has been two years since Chickpea was born. Just when I thought I was never going to make it through the sleepless nights, the 2am feedings, bouts of colic, etc., my baby girl is turning two. So now with all the sentiments behind me, it's time to get down to business and start planning a party.

Understand who you are planning a party for: At this stage, your child will probably be clingy and dependent one minute but mobile and freedom-seeking the next. While she will happily play alongside other children, your two year old won't be truly social. This is mainly because she can't put herself in another child's shoes yet, so she may hit, bite, snatch toys and make other children cry without realizing why. Although embarrassing and upsetting, this is normal two-year-old behavior. The key to keeping the peace at her party is to have good adult supervision and not too many guests.

Who to invite: This will depend on a few things, the extent of your social circle, how well your child handles having a group of people focusing on her, and how much work you ultimately want to create for yourself. Now, parents keep in mind you are planning a party for a two year old, and there is no need to have a guest list that rivals an Oscar after party. With all this said, 6-10 kids is ample be sure to include their parents to handle any meltdowns that may occur.

Timing is everything: This is especially true when planning your toddler's party. Some children of this age still take afternoon naps, so take this into account. Mornings or after 2 o'clock are great times to host your party, especially if your toddler’s birthday falls on the weekend. Keep the party short and sweet, I would not recommend anything beyond two hours.

Picking the right spot: Some people feel home is still the best place to host you little one's party, but is seems that there are countless options on where to host a party for your child these days. So whether you choose to host your child's party at a local park, indoor play gym, or a pizza parlor, it is important to check it out and be familiar with any policies they may have before making any final plans.

Choosing a theme: This will depend on your child's likes or dislikes. A jungle/ animal theme is always a winner at this age whether you are planning for a boy or girl. Be sure to incorporate animal musical rhymes, animal-shaped foods and animal masks/costumes to keep things fun and entertaining for your child and their guests. You may find that party supply companies have helpful suggestions for themed party packs, decorations and more.

Putting together a "goody bag": This is a traditional way to say thank you to your guests for coming and celebrating your child's birthday. Now, the key is not to go overboard and break the bank putting your goody bags together. Be sure to visit your local dollar store to stock up on age appropriate items to give away to your guests. Some ideas include: non-toxic bubbles, crayons, activity/ coloring books, animal crackers, gold-fish, etc. . Don't spend a fortune, but beware of too many cheap sweets which are usually high in colorings and may contain gelatin that is not suitable for vegetarians. Just be sure to use your imagination, and creativity and you will be just fine.

So now that I have completed this week's blog, I have some planning to do on Chickpea's party. Be sure to check-in next week to see how things turned out. And yes, I promise to share video and pictures. TO BE CONTINUED.....

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