Category Archives: Smile

It’s not your fault, some babies are just hard

You push the stroller through the door of your local baby group, amazed you were able to make it out the door. Your eyes are bloodshot and droopy from not having a good night’s sleep in months. You gaze around at all the put-together, well-rested parents, each holding happy, well-behaved babies, and just hope, for once, your fussy child, will be able to get through this without screaming.

You wonder: what am I doing wrong?

Nothing.

You are doing nothing wrong.

Some babies are just hard.

This isn’t just me, science agrees, so if anyone tries to smugly shame you for not doing the “right” thing to soothe your baby, or believes they are somehow how superior because their baby sleeps through the night at two months, feel free to ignore them.

New parents who are gifted with an easy baby are lucky, that’s all.

Before I continue, let me insert a bit of a disclaimer here and say that I understand “easy” is relative. I am not trying to compare my experience to a parent whose baby required non-stop medical care, or any other circumstance beyond the typical scope of babyhood.

I am talking about developmentally typical, relatively healthy babies, and even when most of these factors are the same, some babies will be harder to deal with than others. That is just how they are born.

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Many parents learn this truth after their second, or third kid. They live in a blissful state of self satisfaction, believing they somehow cracked the code on parenting, and then, BAM!, out pops a baby who screams non-stop, and these parents realize they weren’t the “experts” they once believed.

Other parents, like me, are blessed with a more challenging newborn on their first go. And, if you haven’t spent much time with other babies (I hadn’t), you really believe that 1) this is just how it is, and 2) if you can’t fix it, it’s totally your fault.

I genuinely thought it was normal for my baby to want to be on my boob every 30 minutes. I assumed all babies hated sleep, or at least not sleeping on top of another human. Continue reading

Sukkot: The awesome Jewish holiday you (probably) never heard of

If you are Jewish (or have at least a few Jewish friends), you probably saw a lot of stuff about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Indeed, those two holidays are, in my estimation, the most widely observed among the Jewish people, with Yom Kippur, in particular, holding a good deal of weight.

Lesser known among non-Jews, and even among more secular Jews, is the holiday of Sukkot, which is a shame because it is pretty awesome.

Sukkot is an eight-day-long festival celebrating the harvest and remembering the time when the Jewish people were wandering from Egypt to Israel. This last part is honored today by the practice of building a sukkah — a temporary hut, usually crafted from simple materials with branches and other natural material used for a “roof.”

As a child, I loved decorating my family’s sukkah with tinsel, garlands and other various items my parents have gathered over the years. Now as a mom, I am enjoying passing on this tradition with my own children. I love that is a chance for us to come together as a family to build something we can all share.

During Sukkot, families such as mine will eat, relax and enjoy time with family in the Sukkah. For kids this is a really cool experience, and makes family meals a special time. Some people even sleep in the Sukkah, to get the full feel of what it might have been like for the Jews in the wilderness. My family has never done this, as unlike in the Middle Eastern desert, this time of year gets pretty chilly where we live!

Sukkot is a wonderful time to connect with family, and, because we spend a lot of it outside, it is a great time to connect with nature as well.
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I’m a mom who makes mistakes

I wish I could tell you about that one time I lost my cool in front of my kids;

Or about that time I forgot to send in something important to my son’s school;

Or that time I was late picking my kid up.

I wish I could tell you about that “one time,” but, the truth is, there’s more than one time.

There are many, many times.

Because, I am a mom who makes mistakes. Continue reading

The five stages of embracing the awesomeness that is leggings

My early days of motherhood were a blur of sleepless nights and unanswered days. I often wore the same raggedy clothes around my home with no concept of when they were last washed. With a baby who spit, pooped and peed all over me, my fashion was not top of mind.

Despite how little I cared about my wardrobe in the comfort of home, when I did manage to venture outdoors, I always put on “real” pants. And by pants, I do not mean leggings. It did not matter how exhausted I felt or how gross I looked, I made a statement which said, I will try and look like a put together human. It could be a plain t-shirt and jeans, but it was something. It was clothes.

Leggings were not something you wore out in public.

I resisted leggings for many years because I felt they were the one clothing item left to take me over the edge to utter hot mess. Sure, I wasn’t the picture of style before, but at least I took a little pride in myself.

I never thought I would be the mom who wears leggings 90% of her week.

I have changed.

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Six years into raising humans, I have come to embrace the stretchy goodness of leggings and have accepted them as a staple of my wardrobe. I realize nobody cares what I wear while shopping for milk and eggs, and I might as well be comfortable.

You may still swear off leggings, standing firm in your belief that leggings are not pants. I respect your conviction, but speaking from experience, you will have to face the inevitability that leggings will take over your life.

The path toward leggings acceptance is fraught with questions about your identity, emotional turmoil and wonder about life’s purpose. You will go through these stages until you emerge happy and ready to love leggings.

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Finding magic outside the “Magic Kingdom”

Every few months or so, I mull over the idea of planning a family trip to Disney World. I go online, research the best hotels, compare vacation packages and express my interest in Disney to a chorus of responses from friends who are Disney vacation planners, or know people who are Disney vacation planners.

The process overwhelms me, as I am confronted with the reality of how difficult — and expensive — a Disney World trip can be for families, not to mention how hard visiting the Happiest Place On Earth is for anyone traveling outside a very narrow selection of dates.

So, I table my plans and think, maybe another time, all the while wondering if I am depriving my children of some magical experience they will only appreciate when they are young.

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It doesn’t help that my six-year-old has never been that into Disney or most other “fantasy.” I swear the kid was basically born an adult.

My younger son, however, loves princesses and make believe and all things magical.

He is four, which means soon, he too will have no interest in childhood fantasies.

I often worry I’m depriving him of the opportunity to have his dreams come true.

But, then I think about how magic can come from anywhere.

I am reminded simple joys can mean the world to a child.

On a family trip to Mystic, Conn., we decided to drive about 25 minutes away to watch the Connecticut Tigers, a minor-league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Continue reading

All a baby needs is your love (and maybe diapers)

My eyes widened as they caught sight of a beautiful crib, displayed with great care in the middle of the showroom floor.

I, pregnant mom-to-be, and my husband were deep in our shopping for the baby whose arrival was quickly approaching.

I spotted the crib and was enamored with its features:

A built in changing table!

Drawers!

It converts into a toddler bed!

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I was sold. The rational bargain shopper in me, would have insisted on a more simpler (i.e. less expensive option), but I thought, hey, this is an investment. This is something we will use in so many ways, and it will last many years. After all, a baby spends a lot of time sleeping, right?

Turns out, my firstborn spent little time in his crib, and I wound up purchasing a special bassinet which enabled me to safely co-sleep with my baby.

As for the changing table, well, I mostly found it to be a pain, and performed most of my diaper changing on our floor on top of a mat or spare towel.

The drawers did come in handy, and once in a while our child did use the toddler bed, so maybe the crib wasn’t a complete waste.

But could we have done without it?

Yes. Continue reading

Dear parent about to send your baby off to Kindergarten

I sometimes have trouble believing nearly two years has passed since I sent my oldest off to Kindergarten.

I remember doing my very best to hide my nerves to keep my son from picking up on my anxiety and becoming worried himself.

I had no idea what the year would bring, and my mind buzzed with questions.

Will he adapt to the school environment?

Will he get along with his classmates?

Will he like his teacher?

Will he behave?

Will he meet expectations?

With each school day attended, a little bit of my worry eased. Not just my son, but my husband and I, became more acclimated to school life.

We learned along with him.

We got through the struggles with him.

And, sure enough, our son finished Kindergarten and went on to have an excellent year in first grade.

Your kids will get there, too.

While on their journey, here’s some things which may help.

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Foundation seeks to make college a reality for deserving youth

My parents drove me up to my dorm, the family car stuffed with clothes, bedding and more to get me through the coming year. I was filled with excitement and a little bit of fear, as I was about to embark on my collegiate journey.

I had the typical freshmen concerns:

Will I like my roommate?

Will my classes be hard?

Will I have a good time?

One question, I never had to ask, however was:

Will I be able to afford my education.

I am privileged to have had my entire college education paid for by my parents. Not once in my four years as a student did I ever have to worry about where I would find money for books, room and board, or even food. I was fortunate. More fortunate than many of my peers.

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Knowing my financial situation was always stable, I was better able to focus on my studies and handle the other pressures of college life.

But, my family support wasn’t limited to money, I also had parents, who, were actively invested in ensuring myself and my two siblings made it through school and earned our degrees.

They knew getting through college is not a task easily accomplished without help. Continue reading

Best ways to spend a long weekend in Mystic

If you love history, quaint shops, museums or beaches, Mystic, Conn., is a great choice for families looking to spend a long weekend out of town.

Located about a two-to-three hour drive from most points originating in either the New York Metro area or the Boston Metro area, Mystic has long been a popular destination for families looking for a little bit of everything on their vacations.

Where To Stay

Because we booked our trip somewhat last minute, and it was over the July 4 holiday, our hotel choices were limited — a lesson learned for the future about how popular this town is during the summer. Also, we were looking for options best suited for families, which narrowed our options.

Fortunately, we were able to find a room for a reasonable price at Residence Inn by Marriott.

At first, I was disappointed we couldn’t find something at one of the quainter hotels in Mystic’s more historic areas, but once we checked in, I knew we made the right choice.

The Residence Inn is located right off the the I-95 exit and is just minutes from Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium, making it super easy for families to get their desired tourist attractions. Access to an indoor pool was also a huge plus for my kids, when they needed to get some energy out before bedtime.

For our family of four, the room (which included a separate living space with kitchen and pull-out couch) was sufficient for our three-night stay, but was a bit cramped. I would opt for a bigger suite if we were to return.

What To Do

Of course, we weren’t in our rooms much, with all that Mystic has to offer.

Our first stop was Mystic Seaport, a sprawling, outdoor museum dedicated to preserving and educated the public on the area’s rich maritime history.

Visitors can explore an old whaling ship, learn how people lived in the 19th century and discover the science behind sailing and other maritime activities.

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For families with younger children, there’s a wonderful children’s museum on site, in which kids can pretend to be sailors, cook in an old-fashioned kitchen and learn how to tie sailor knots. Best of all, the museum is included with your Seaport admission.

Depending on when you visit, Mystic Seaport has many special events for your enjoyment. We were able to go on July 4 and watch the parade, but the highlight for me was learning to play croquet. Our family had so much fun learning the game we decided to buy croquet set of our own!

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Mystic Aquarium is a wonder of aquatic life

My six-year-old loves learning about sharks, and I’m almost certain we have read every library book available on these fascinating sea creatures. When our family had the opportunity to visit Mystic Aquarium this summer, I was eager for him, and his brother, to see some sharks and other marine life up close.

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From the time we walked in, our family was impressed by the size of the aquarium. The facility boasts plenty of outdoor and indoor exhibits — be prepared to do a lot of walking — and remember with small children, it can be hard to visit everything, so focus on what interests you.

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