Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Homeschooling

When I said I was going to do a series on controversial topics
I found that most of my topics were too passionate. 
And sounded more like angry rants than actual topics. 


So I decided to move away from baby-exclusive items 
(breastfeeding, extended rear-facing carseats, TV time, etc) 
and onto another topic that I actually have experience with, 
but am not prone to passionate ranting. 


Homeschooling. 

Pretend my child is looking at something school-related like math, 
not a Pottery Barn catalog.


Shocking to most people who meet me, 
I was homeschooled from 4th-9th grade. 
I'm not sure if it's shocking because I'm "normal" 
(stereotype!) 
or because I'm a crazy extrovert 
or because I have the mouth of a sailor 
and generally homeschooled kids are much better behaved than me. 


In my experience,
Homeschooling is one of those polarizing topics where people are either: 
"Yes!, I'm going to homeschool all 17 of my children!" 
(another stereotype) 
or 
"HELL NO, I'd never homeschool." 

(Adam is in the second.)


So, from a kid who was homeschooled, here's my take: 

I don't think homeschooling was the right choice for my personality. 
I am a HUGE extrovert. 
(Shocking, right?)
And despite events like homeschooling groups, 
youth groups, church, etc., 
I felt I was "missing out" because I didn't have that constant peer interaction. 
I am also 7- and 12- years' older than my sisters, 
so I never had "play companions" that bigger homeschool families enjoy. 


Ever heard of the idea that if parents are too strict, that their children will rebel later in life? 
Along those sames lines, 
I felt so excluded from my years of homeschooling, 
that I made an above-and-beyond effort to feel included once I was back in public schools. 
Did that lead to some bad decisions? 
Maybe. 
(Although many were FUN bad decisions... hehe) 
And I don't believe that homeschooling me for longer would have changed that. 



There are a LOT of mothers who homeschool in the blogsphere, 
and as an ex-homeschooler, I find their reasons very interesting. 
Some are due to physical space/location. 
Like living on a midwestern farm where the closest school is an hour+ bus ride away. 
Other reasons are sociological or religious. 


The physical location reasons I understand completely. 
But I struggle with the sociological / religious reasons 
because - from my experience - it feels more like sheltering and exclusion. 

As an ESFJ Personality
I am INTENSELY aware of the opinions of those around me. 
And while homeschooling may sound like a fantastic option to mold my opinions into the type of person I should become, 
it would have benefited me to experience a wide variety of opinions (good and bad), 
and then learn to work through those experiences.


Now the next question... 
Would I ever homeschool? 

Generally, my answer is a resounding NO... 
...but with an exception


If Aaron one day had trouble in school, 
and I don't mean just academic trouble, 
but severe social trouble, 
(drugs, etc), 
I see homeschooling as a perfect opportunity to pull him out and "reset." 
Not permanently, of course, 
but just until I felt confident to introduce him back to school. 
Most likely, assuming financial stability, 
I would first try other options like private schools, 
but in the event those failed as well, 
I do see homeschooling as a potential help. 
(Disclaimer: In today's media world, it takes a lot more than physical distance to separate a child from their friends' influence, but that's why there is a multi-billion dollar parenting-book industry to reference!)

 
 Summary? 
In my [very strong] opinion, 
homeschooling success depends on the child's type
not on the effort of the parent. 
And it was just not for me. 
 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Highlights of a Low Key Weekend

We needed this weekend. 
As much as Aaron and I love our people-packed weekends, 
every now and then my orderly OCD side wins out and needs a weekend to recoup. 
Our highlights were low-key. 
And I got a lot done around the house. 


Highlights of the weekend 
(in chronological order, not order of excitement): 

Finishing my 7 mile run.  
I was really worried about this since I'd fallen behind while sick. 
It was a slow run, but I finished it. 
Whew. 
Next week is 8 miles and then we should be back on track for Broad Street


Beer Resupply 
This time we opted for Harpoon Brewery's UFO
and oh my gosh, is this good. 
I created my own happy hours this weekend for this beer.  

Aaron's Overwhelming Joy at these Shopping Carts 
Khols is big in the Philadelphia area, 
but I'm not a fan. 
I liken it to JCPenney, as in "the place my mom shops." 
But we had a giftcard and needed new down pillows for our bed, 
so we embarked on this store, 
and lo and behold, 
these carts are apparently awesome 
because Aaron didn't want to leave



Getting our Taxes Done 
(with the help of a bottle of wine) 



Aaron's First Time in Church Nursery 
To say we've been church slackers is a dramatic understatement. 
We haven't been there in months. 
Also, Adam didn't like the idea of Aaron being watched by "strangers" in the nursery, (which I think is odd, having grown up with Sunday School, but I guess that Synagogues aren't big on kids programs).
Anyway, Adam was golfing so I decided to take Aaron to church 
and (dun dun dun) the nursery! 
Unsurprisingly, Aaron was totally fine. 
He didn't bat an eye when I left
 and was very excited to show me his papers to take home. 
He was also VERY excited to tell me that they sang 
["This Little"] "Light of Mine" which we sometimes sing at bedtime.



Buying my New Summer Shoes 
I have needed new summer shoes for at least 3 summers, 
but could never find the perfect pair. 
Sunday afternoon, when Adam got back from golf, 
I took advantage of the "you were gone for 6 hours so now I'm going out" 
and browsed the mall. 
And lo and behold... 
 


Successful new Pinterest Recipe 
After the horrid disaster that was the last pinterest attemps, 
 I was a little nervous to try these new stuffed peppers.
I changed the recipe a bit (red peppers, not pre-cooking, etc) 
and it was a smashing success. 
Aaron asked for "more" (a true test) 
and Adam dubbed them better than the previous victors

And that's that. 
That's our weekend. 
Nice and relaxing.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Day in the Life

I love reading about people's routines. 
It's kind of weird, 
but then I find that other people love it too, 
so it seems ever-so-slightly less weird. 


I really wanted to do a "Picture-every-Hour" post for a while, 
but there's a whole stretch of 8-9 hours
which would be pictures of my office over and over. 
Yawn. 


So, instead, I'll put together the less-exciting, 
but-equally-long post about our weekday routines. 


 Our mornings haven't changed since Adam started in Big Law World back in October
I just sleep in a little more and rush a lot more. 


6:00-6:30: Alarm goes off and I snooze every 5 minutes. 

6:30: Up and in the shower. 
Aaron's bedroom shares a wall with the shower, 
so this usually wakes him up if he isn't up already


6:30-7:00: Get me ready and get Aaron ready. 
How do I get two people ready in 30 minutes? 
I have a streamlined makeup routine and I don't blow-dry my hair. 
Yes, I'm that person who goes to work with damp hair.

7:15: I'm out the door, 
while Adam and Aaron are having their leisurely breakfast.

7:30: I arrive and my workday begins. 
Meanwhile, Adam spends the morning engaging Aaron in some highly education hands-on projects, like watching Thomas or golf or flipping through videos on the iPad. 
I tease, but I know they both treasure this little hour alone.


7:45: Adam packs up Aaron in the car. 

8:00-8:10: Daycare dropoff. 

8:10: Adam calls to tell me about the morning activities
and how daycare dropoff went. 
90% of the time, these conversations begin with a chuckle of: 
 "He's so bad" and then a little story of my devious child. 

8:30: Adam catches his train into the office. 

9:00: Adam walks into his office and his workday begins. 

***

4:00: I leave work and head to Aaron's daycare. 

4:15 - 5:00: I park at the daycare and run 3.5 mile loop out and around the area.

5:00-5:10: Daycare pickup!

5:20: Arrive home and commence our evening of fun. 

I've generally learned my lesson on trying to make dinner or be productive in the evenings, but every now and then I have to relearn it

Our evening usually entails "stations" of toys. 

We always start with trains: 


Followed by donning our sweatshirts and heading to the arctic basement playroom. 

Here we cook: 



And build blocks: 



And play golf with Daddy's putting green in the Man Cave: 


As the weather gets warmer, 
these play activities at home are substituted by the park. 


6:00: I coax Aaron upstairs for dinner, 
which is either leftovers, 
or some thrown-together meal like scrambled eggs or sandwiches. 
And once in a while, we really up our nutrition and settle on nachos


6:10pm: Dishes,
where I wash and Aaron either puts the dishes in the dishrack 
or, in the case of measuring spoons and measuring cups, 
carries them around the house for the rest of the night. 
(And then I find the 1/3 cup measurer under the couch)



 6:20: Bath 
 This can either be a battle into the tub or a battle out of the tub. 
There is no rhyme or reason, 
except there is always a battle. 


If it's a non-bath night, 
then we'll use this time to watch a Thomas or two. 
I don't mind because I get snuggles on the couch. 


 6:45pm: PJs, sleepsack, teeth brushing, and books. 
Books are my favorite part of the day. 
Since we upped his book collection with some awesome Dr. Suess
I'm loving the tongue-twisting wacky reading adventures of the evening. 
I think I should have a Black Belt in Fox in Socks.

7:00: Lights off. 
I sing "Jesus Loves Me" because that's what my Daddy sang to me when I was little. 
Then Aaron is into the crib. 
And immediately, he begs for "Mama sit". 
I usually oblige. 

 7:10: I leave his room and he throws a fit begging for more "Mama sit!" 
This fit lasts about 45 seconds. 


7-9:30pm: 

Clean house, 
Laundry, 
Prep dinner, 
Make tomorrow's lunches, 
Blog, 
and maybe do an extra scour to see if I can find that damn missing puzzle piece
If Adam gets home early from work (early = 7pm), 
then we may enjoy some quality couch cuddles 
and catch up on our favorite TV shows 
(Walking Dead, Big Bang, Modern Family) 
or just watch some high quality Family Feud with Steve Harvey. 

9:30-10: Read in bed
...or fall asleep on the couch and have Adam drag me upstairs. 


Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2nd Birthday Weekend

Aaron is 2! 
I'd say "it's hard to believe," but its not the number that's hard to believe. 
It's how he's grown, so much taller, thinner. 
I look at him and I just don't see any baby left. 
He's so handsome. 
(Because beauty is in the eye of the mother


To kickoff birthday weekend, 
our first stop was Adventure Aquarium



Aaron loved the hippos, the crocodile, and all the fish 
(anything floating in water was fish... even crabs). 


He was a little timid around the sharks, 
especially in the shark tunnel where they swam around and above, 
but he had zero fear of touching a stingray. 
Meanwhile, I was totally grossed out. 



Sunday kicked off with a new birthday haircut, 
complete with his first faux hawk style. 
Which I loved so much that we bought the gel they used. 
It's not super organic toxic-free like all the other products I use on him, 
but c'mon, its gel.  Its not eaten or smeared on his skin, so yeah. 



Sunday afternoon was where the real fun kicked off. 
Our ity bity tiny townhome was flooded with friends, family, and small children. 
Aaron absolutely loved it. 
He also went BIZERK for presents. 



And to say we hit the jackpot of presents, was an understatement. 
Water table. 
Radio flyer bike. 
Basketball hoop. 
Matchbox cars. 
Books. 
Clothes. 
Unlike my Christmas rant, I have zero complaints. 
We have such great friends and family. 






Then CAKE. 
Aaron has loved cake since Zach's birthday in February
If he ever is eating cake, pie, cupcakes, etc., 
all attendees must sing "happy birthday." 
So to have his own cake, 
with candles, 
and EVERYONE there to sing happy birthday... 
if my child could cry happy tears, he would have. 




(side story on cake: 
I'm bringing out the cake and I realize "Do I have candles?!?!" 
Because we are good Jews
I knew we had menorah candles. 
Fortunately, I dug out candles from my cookie decorating box
Otherwise, menorah candles it would be!)


Aaron had the best time. 
I love my little Extrovert.


We considered taking off his actual birthday, 
but we decided the weekend was enough. 
We sent in cupcakes with daycare for snack time. 
 (storebought cupcakes, because Spiced Rum Cupcakes seemed inappropriate) 

After work, 
it was too cold for the park so we did the next best... 
Chick-fil-a. 
I got Aaron his usual 4-ct grilled nuggets, 
while I sampled the free Frosted Lemonade which 
did not disappoint. 
And Aaron can attest because he drank over half of it. 


So overall, a successful birthday weekend!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A fear of flying

-- Pictureless post written on my iPhone as I act out the nightly "sitting" ritual (where all lights are off, aaron lies in bed and I rock in the rocking chair for an unspecified amount of time) --

This was a fantastic, busy weekend. It was Aaron's birthday weekend (he's TWO!!!) which meant a birthday haircut complete with faux hawk style, trip to the Aquarium, and a super fun friends and family party at our house. Don't worry, I'm  sure I will pump out a long post about all of that fun. 

But right now what's on my mind is the dreaded upcoming business trip this week. 

I put tremendous faith in statistics until it comes to air travel. I know I'm far more likely to die in a car crash but it doesn't matter: I'm TERRIFIED of flying. And to make it worse, this time I'm traveling on a propeller plane. My first time ever. I would totally be popping Valium except I have to drive at the destination. Oh yeah, and actually work. 

Thanks to this panic-level fear of flying, every time I leave, it's not just emotions of departing from Aaron for a few days, but the terrorizing thought of "what if I die in the flight and never make it back?" People roll their eyes at me, but no amount of reasoning can make these thoughts go away. And it's really a terrible thing to imagine not being there for my child. 

So needless to say, I'm quite on edge and probably will be so until my feet are firmly planted back in Philadelphia soil Wednesday night. Wish me luck. Say a prayer. And send some Valium. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Personality Types for Mom

Last fall, I wrote this post about Personality Types for Children, 
based off the book Nature vs Nurture. 


Just recently I finished MotherStyles
which takes the same Myers-Briggs Personality Typing 
as applied in the book above, 
but instead applies it to the reader as a mother. 



I LOVED this book. 

Although Nature vs Nurture is focused on the child, 
I spent much of the book also figuring out my type. 
If I were to do it again, 
I would read this book first to determine MY type
and then read Nature vs Nurture to determine my child's type. 


What I love about this book, too, 
is that when its using scenarios to "type" yourself, 
it doesn't use randomly abstract scenarios, 
but rather, what is your gut reaction as a parent
which is much easier for me to relate 
since this is what I do every day. 


Through this book, 
I confirmed that I am ESFJ.
(butchered descriptions are available in my last post)
 I also confirmed that I am almost entirely EQUAL 
in Feeling (F) and Thinker (T). 


The book did a great job of pointing out 
that if you are almost equal, 
it could be based on how you were raised. 
This makes sense because I have two Thinker (T) parents, 
and therefore although my natural reaction is to be a Feeler (F), 
I have very strong Thinker (T) tendencies because of the way I was raised. 


The second half of this book discusses the parenting implications of personality test. 

Several of the chapters discuss how your personality would interact with your husband and your children.  These chapters are really only valuable if you know either.  The text offers some "hints" as to what your husband may be, but I didn't find them helpful. However, I think this could be easily solved by sitting down one's spouse and asking him to take the personality test.
I know my husband is an introvert, but don't know much else. 
Maybe next date night? 


As for children, I would highly recommend reading Nurture by Nature because that book does an outstanding job of highlighting a child's type. 

 
Aside from the interaction chapters,
there were a few about how mothers tend to parent based on their type. 
For example, I am one who tends to parent based on needs
I see that my child's basic needs are fulfilled, 
and therefore feel that I am an adequate parent. 
This is probably why things like nutrition are so important to me. 

This does not imply, of course, that other mothers do not care about their child's needs, 
but rather than mothers measure their own success differently. 
Some mothers focus more on the happiness of their child, 
and measure their success as a mother based on the child's joy. 

While I do want Aaron to be happy, 
I recognize that sometimes he just isn't 
(welcome to toddlerhood), 
and focus my attention on the physical needs
This was particularly eye-opening for me. 


In summary, my recommendation to any mother would be : 
1) Read the first half of MotherStyles to determine your type. 
2)  Switch to Nurture by Nature to determine your child's type. 
3) Ask your husband to take Myers-Briggs. 
4) Switch back to the second half of MotherStyles to learn how one's style interacts with children and husband alike.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Aftermath Thoughts

Sometimes work sucks and I just wish I was a SAHM. 
Sometimes home life is a bit much and I'm glad I'm a Working Mom. 

Today was the latter. 

This past weekend we experienced the glory of the overnight Stomach Bug
and despite my expectation that "it'll only last 24 hours,"
it was not so. 
 A factor I learned when Aaron puked in his car seat on the way to the doctors. 

(Yes, we wore PJs to the doctors)


Now let me present to you, 
a random assortment of thoughts from our day+ home:


1. I feel that puking in the car seat is one of those Mothers Rite of Passage
Like you don't fully claim your status of mother until you are scraping slimy, pink puke out of every hole of the car seat. And washing it down with baking soda/vinegar. 


2. I am not easily overwhelmed.
I shine in high-pressure situations, 
in that I'm not one to "freak out." 
My mom is definitely the opposite, 
and there's a whole slew of stories from my childhood of my swooping in to "save" one of my little sisters when my mom was freaking out. 
However... 
Yesterday afternoon, 
when Aaron had puked in his car seat on the way to the doctor, 
I didn't bring an extra set of clothes, 
and my entire week's schedule was falling apart by the threads, 
I felt the panic rising. 
Fortunately, the superhero NAP swooped in to save the day. 
And in 2.5 hours, my Control Freak had regained control.
The car seat was cleaned, 
laundry was done, 
house was put back together, 
work was addressed, 
the weeks' schedule was sorted out,
and I was once again Master and Commander of all things Life. 
:: waves flag* of victory ::
*flag may have puke on it


3.  I have hit my max Lion King
Like any paranoid mother, I'm very careful to moderate TV time, 
except in Survival Mode
Growing up, sick time was the only time I was allowed unlimited TV time. 
And we employ that same philosophy. 
That said, 
after watching the Lion King five times since Sunday. 
I'm done with Simba
I dream of Simba. 
 
 
 
And all of the above is why I was so relieved to walk into work at noon. 
Keeping down his breakfast and being fever-free 
earned Aaron the right to go back to daycare today. 
 
And as I walked out, I breathed a sigh of relief. 
And went back to a world a spreadsheets 
without vomit. 



 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Stomach Bug Wins

This weekend was horrible. 
Almost everything about it was a disaster. 

The disasters started off small and then continued to build 
until culminating in one of the worst nights we've had as a family. 

Saturday afternoon I embraced my domestic goddess 
and spent the entire afternoon whipping up healthy muffins 
and St Patrick's Day goodies. 

Normally, when I make recipes from pinterest, 
I have about a 1:1 success/failure ratio. 
This time: 1 ok : 2 failures. 
A devastating ratio for an entire Saturday afternoon. 

First of all, I whipped up this Guinness cheddar dip
I wayyyyy overdid the parsley and it was pretty awful. 
I served it to our visiting friends Saturday night and they were very polite about its overwhelming-ness.  It the end, most of it got tossed. 
I may try it again next year because it was good before I suffocated the flavor in parsley.

HORRID. 
I mean, so horrid that I wouldn't even offer them to our friends. 
I let Aaron have a nibble 
(which was not the wisest decisions, given the subsequent events
and even he wasn't interested!
 (but I suspect additional factors in there...

Lastly, I made these strawberry banana muffins which were "meh." 
Aaron loved them but given the events of the evening, 
I began to question whether they were the cause, 
and once I started to question that, 
I couldn't continue to eat them. 


Oh, and then Aaron deleted my Listomni app on my phone, 
(to do lists, grocery lists, gift lists, etc
and the data wasn't backed up. 
:: Ensue mild panic attack ::


But all of these miniature disasters were nothing in compared to the grand finale: 

The Stomach Bug. 
Originally questioned as food poisoning, 
it eventually made its presence quite clear. 


As I said, we had friends over Saturday evening. 
Aaron was happy and playing, 
and excited for company (my little extrovert makes an extrovert mama proud!)
We bring out the failed cheddar dip, 
and he nibbles on some pretzels 
when all of our sudden, horrid projectile vomit

In his 2 years of life, Aaron has vomited 3 times. 
Twice from a sweet potato incident, and once at daycare with a [brief] stomach bug. 

So needless to say, we were in shock. 
But we cleaned him up, and the evening resumed. 

"Ah-ron burped!" he tells us and we laugh. 
"Yes, yes, Aaron burped." 

Then, it happened again

At this point, we were still questioning food poisoning from muffins, 
because he was his normal happy, talkative self. 
Surely he wasn't actually sick!?!?!

Aaron went to bed, 
our friends left, 
and Adam and I settled in for some couch cuddles and TV. 
Then we hear it... the cough. 
We check the video monitor. 
The sheets go dark. 
And we know. 

Nothing was spared. 

Crib sheets, protective mattress cover, blankets, sleepsack, PJs... even Monkey! 

We strip everything down and set him up with new sheets (towel underneath), new PJs, and successfully convince him that Bunny is an acceptable substitute to Monkey. 
We contemplated a full bath but instead
we chose to just run a washcloth on his hair and put him back down. 

At this point, Adam and I made the decision to sleep on the floor. 
We wanted to be in the room in case he vomited again. 
No sooner are we settled on the floor with our blanket and pillows... 
it happens again. 

For the second time, we strip the bed and strip him down. 
At this point, we're out of clean PJs and Aaron is just completely shell shocked. 
He's not saying anything, he just stares blankly around. 



I sit in the rocker while Adam runs Laundry Duty. 
Aaron lies against me totally not moving. 
After about 15 minutes, he asks for water so we give him some pedyalite, 
afraid that all the vomiting has made him dehydrated. 


And then it happens again. 
First the cough. 
I bolt from the chair and before I can even reach the bathroom, 
it's all over me, down my shirt, down my bra. 
It's cold, wet, and slimy. 
I set Aaron in the tub and he points at me: 
"Ah-ron burp on Mommee!" 

This time, Adam gets rocking chair duty and I'm on laundry/clean-up duty. 

It was one of those moments I was so thankful I don't have a weak stomach. 
The smell of vomit does not make me nauseous, 
which is good, because it was in my hair


Apparently, the third time was the charm because soon Aaron recovered from his shell shock and demanded books from Daddy. 


We give him the tiniest bit of pedyalite, 
and then keep him up another 20 minutes to make sure it stays down. 
Finally, Aaron is back to bed and Adam/I are back on the floor. 
I can still smell the vomit in my hair but I am so tired I don't care
I couldn't even tell you what time it was. 

Then around 4am, we wake up to another cough. 
We grab him out of the crib and whisk him to the tub. 
In the end, he dribbles a little on his PJ shirt, 
but there just wasn't much left in his little belly to come up.  

He looks at me from the tub, so confused, so sad. 
 

Back to the rocker we go, 
and after 10 minutes, he asks for "bed" 
I put him back in bed and he goes right to sleep. 

So do we. 

We all slept till 8am. 
Sunday was a lot of TV watching. 
We watched Lion King, Thomas, Milo & Otis, and more Thomas. 
Aaron had occasional waves of nausea, 
which was so heartbreaking because nausea is the worst 
and we couldn't 't do anything to help him. 
But overall, he kept down the BRAT-diet food we provided, 
and so for that we considered it a success. 

(A bad wave of nausea)

So in the end... 
we survived. 


I'll end on a positive note with this: 

1. I am so thankful that: 
a) Adam was home and 
b) we only had one sick kid. 
I can't imagine handling both cleanup duty AND comforting duty, 
nor could I ever imagine being outnumbered by sick children. 

2. The weekend wasn't a total failure thanks to a few key moments: 
a) good night with friends on Saturday evening
b) Sunday evening, when Aaron was basically recovered, I went for a 6.7 mile run at Valley Forge and, according to my app, it was the third fastest run I've ever done.  Nice!
c) I finally watched Caddyshack with Adam,
so I can check that off the list of "old classics everyone quotes but I don't know"