Love and Freedom

“Just like a plant needs light and space to grow, a child needs love and freedom to unfold.” – Sigrid Leo  

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Vanilla Ice Cream and Fancy White Dresses…

…Pig Tails and Dollies and Tons of Your Kisses….

Lately I’m left at the end of my little one’s night (and the beginning of mine) with fearful visions popping into her mind from Peter Pan of a horrible Captain Cook.  That happened to be last week’s movie which I proudly selected myself – the authentic version which I saw as a child.  I recall it being purely magical and sweet and honestly didn’t remember Captain Cook with a hook for a hand!  Rated G I verified.  Of course Tinkerbell and Peter Pan happily fluttering about a bedroom night scene is the ONLY thing I do remember about the movie!  Anyway it will now remain in our permanent video library – to haunt my daughter and never to be played again unless by my boy if he’s lucky enough…  Oddly with his prone-to-anxiety nature he would enjoy being spooked by far worse.

What can I say when these night terrors start?   What can you do when yours thinks there’s a boogieman in the closet?  I used to do a monster dance for my first born which was meant to scare any night creatures away and the humor worked for him.  For this little girl I’ve been telling her to think of her favorite things and singing some of them to the tune of The Sound of Music’s “My Favourite Things”.  So far it works!  … That is until she sees Captain Cook again…  I might try the monster dance soon as long as the curtains are shut so the neighbors won’t see, but in the meantime I’ll test how fast I can rhyme on the fly while sticking to her favorite things.

…Butterflies, flowers and everything pink, these are a few of my favorite things.  When the moon’s up, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad…

The real version:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
brown paper packages tied up with strings,
these are a few of my favorite things.

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.
these are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in a white dresses with a blue satin sashes,
snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
silver white winters that melt into springs,
these are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
brown paper packages tied up with strings,
these are a few of my favorite things.

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.
these are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
silver white winters that melt into springs,
these are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad.



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Teaching your kids about fire safety

You know this: IN A FIRE, SECONDS COUNT.

… But do your kids know that? Would they know what to do if something happens at home? Would they know how to get out – and quickly? Would YOU know how to get out in difficult times – and in different situations?

If you have children at daycare or school, you may not realize it but they are going through those fire drills pretty frequently. They’ve been warned about the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide and what to do in the case of an emergency. I’m sure you have memories from your own childhood that involve running out of your school mid-day while the shrieking fire drill cries on – super psyched to chat with your best friend when normally you’d be doing equations inside class… Not sure if she is exaggerating but my four year old daughter told me the other day that they do their drills monthly! Lucky for her to be able to goof off with her favorite friends… and good to know that she knows what to do – at least in school.

Make your emergency plan!

After my daughter told me they do their drills monthly, I couldn’t help but think that we should immediately implement an emergency plan here at home. After all, practice makes perfect and in the event of a fire or other emergency, our most valued treasures – our kids (if they are old enough, that is) should have no hesitation about what they need to do!

That was the story a few days ago and I have not yet implemented a plan for our family. Well, today turns out to be the day to make a difference! This morning I received a message from a friend who is urging others to take precaution. She is deeply saddened by the loss of a loved one – and from a fire related accident…..

Don’t be the one to say: “How did I let this happen?”

One thing about me is that I am extremely thorough when it comes to my kids’ safety. I’m always on the lookout for what could potentially harm them. I’m one of those people who is unable to utilize the convenience of finger-print access code locks since I’ve eliminated the prints on my fingers from excessive use of antibacterial soap (you can only imagine how often I clean my kid’s hands)… As for my son getting more active outdoors – with his bike sans training wheels, his pogo stick, scooter and more, I am finding myself adding the protective guards he so hates. Nah.. a helmet is just not enough! Yes, I can be pretty annoying to my husband and family, but I maintain that I’m only worrying (and most importantly doing something about) what I can control. With that said, I cannot comprehend how we are currently living in a home that has three floors, but only ONE working alarm (and that alarm is quite ancient and insufficient)! …How did I let this happen? I really can’t say, but the good news is that I am doing something about it! I just opened some brand new detectors and I am about to replace the old and/or non-working ones. Sure, we are staying in this home temporarily, but we still need to be safe! Emergency evacuation plan will also be discussed this evening.

Protect yourself and your family TODAY!

NOTE: I don’t take credit for this list. It was sent from that friend earlier today in an attempt to urge those she knows to take some steps today. Doing so can save your family’s lives. If I’ve left anything important off this list, please add to it.


-Hot water heaters should be no more than 15 years old. They should be installed on top of tile or cement, not wood. They should NOT be located in a garage or other cold area (they have to work too hard to keep warm.) If in a closet, they should be fully vented with louver doors or the doors should contain two large vents.

-You have TWO MINUTES to escape from your house in the event of a REAL fire. And, the smoke gets to you fast.

-Take NOTHING. Only grab your kids! Take your animals only if you can do it VERY quickly.

-Have a family fire plan in place. Meet at a tree outside. Tell children to take nothing except themselves.

-Your detectors have to have new batteries every three months. Check your detectors every month.

-Detectors should be less than three years old.

-If you take down your detectors for some reason, put them right back up!

-If you get annoyed about the sound of the detector while you are cooking, think of your family and do NOT take it down.

-Fire detectors are NOT ENOUGH. You need HEAT and SMOKE detectors in one. KIDDE brand is excellent.

-Buying eight detectors is NOT overkill. If one happens to need new batteries, another one will still go off!

-Always have a drawer FILLED with batteries and flashlights.

-Do not store garbage or recycling or other junk in or in front of the furnace and hot water heater closet.

-Make sure exits are clear of junk every night before you go to bed.

-Check the stove before you go to bed.

Here’s a list of what to buy and install this week:

1 KIDDE brand smoke, heat, and carbon dioxide detector (in one) in a central location on each floor of your house. Buy at least two of these.

1 KIDDE brand smoke and heat detector in each bedroom (labeled “living room”).

1 cheapy smoke detector in laundry room (provided you have GOOD detectors everywhere else.)

1 KIDDE brand detector (labeled “kitchen”) in the kitchen. These are GREAT because they are photo-electric and actually “see” the smoke and fire…so they don’t go off EVERY time you cook!

-You should have a detector in the general vicinity of any heating device: hot water heater, furnace, fire place, dryer, clothes washer, wall heaters, etc.

-Menards is great. Be prepared to pay around $150 and be okay with it. You really could save a life.

-If you are not willing to pay that much, and do not have the time to install ALL of this, at least buy two of the first detectors mentioned above – the heat, smoke, and carbon dioxide detectors. Install them in two central locations in your home.

getting new detectors out of the boxes

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I wish I had treasured the doing…

All My Babies Are Gone Now

By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow, but in disbelief.

I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves.

Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education — all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations — what they taught me, was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay.

No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent, this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr.Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants:average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged?

Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine.

He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the “Remember-When-Mom-Did” Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language — mine,not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed.

The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, “What did you get wrong?” (She insisted I include that here.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs.

There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.

I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done.

Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

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May 13, 2013 · 8:39 am

Which pocket should I dip into when my child asks for what seems to be too much of me?

Everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into one or the other, depending on the need.

When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and, there, find the words: “For my sake was the world created.”

But when feeling high and mighty one should reach into the left pocket, and find the words: “I am but dust and ashes.”

– A teaching attributed to Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa

So… which pocket?

Usually when I feel that one of my kids is asking too much of me, it’s also a time when I am trying to get too much done anyhow, and not being in the present moment with that little person.  Times like these may call for a third pocket.  One that may not solve any problems except state the current situation.  A pocket on ones belly that says:  “For the sake of this baby the world was created.  I am but dust and ashes”


Filed under Keeping your sanity, quotes, Tips & Strategies, toddler

March for Babies

This year, more than 7 million people will join forces in a 3 mile walk that helps raise awareness across the US – awareness and support for programs that help more moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies and aids research to find answers to issues that threaten babies.  Your involvement can make a difference and give hope to the more than half a million babies born each year too soon.

Visit the March of Dimes – March for Babies to find out about a walk near your community.

For Chicagoans, information on the walk is listed below:

April 28, 2013

Grant Park, Butler Field
100 S. Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, IL  60605

Walk Distance: 3.1miles
Registration Time: 7:30 AM
Start Time: 8:30 AM
Chapter: Illinois
Phone:  (312) 435-4007

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But I want the REAL vitamins!

Don’t get me wrong, Ella (my four year old) is in my mind one of the most beautiful little girls in the world. She is your typical “girly girl” – loving everything princess and pink (which she most definitely did not get from me)! I often remind her what makes her truly beautiful is not just how she looks on the outside but the ultra sweet, caring person she is on the inside. I 100% believe this to be true, yet I can’t deny the pestering notion that she could be a bit taller. Not that tall equals beauty, but I’m tallish (5’11”)and my husband is tall (at least 6’2″), not to mention she was born at a high percentile in height… so what gives?

The thing that really got me sorta obsessing over this was when I plugged in all the details on an online “child’s height predictor” I somehow stumbled upon a few months ago. I’d usually pass this up as a bunch of bs however this is webmd and I’d like to think of them as pretty legit…

Try it out for yourself here!

According to predictions, my girl will be approximately 5’1″.

This is all good and fine if its in the genes, and it could very well be. However, if a growth stunt is brewing from my own leniency at the table, that would be unacceptable in my mind. She used to be a great eater with no complaints, but things started to go downhill when she turned two or three and lately I find that her diet primarily consists of bread, pasta, milk and bananas. In an age when our children are usually surpassing our own height, I find myself feeling saddened at the thought that she could be slightly malnourished.

How do you force feed a four year old? Does the same rule apply as with babies – keep introducing the same food at least 16 times, even if baby doesn’t like it. At times I find myself giving up as I half-ask her if she wants the veggies or fruits that her brother and sister are eating.

Well, I’m tired of feeling bad about this and I’m turning a new leaf starting today!

From now on, I will not give up! I will bribe her if I have to!
She WILL eat her fruits and veggies.

Just the other morning I asked if I could please give her a strawberry, or even a taste and explained how yummy it is but also how full of good vitamins that her body needs. She responded that she wants “the REAL vitamins”! (real meaning Flintstones) I responded “These are the REAL vitamins!” This really got me thinking how things need to change around here. I will begin each meal with the following mantra as I once again have faith and include on my daughter’s plate all the powerful foods that can contribute to a healthy body. With that said, I leave you with the following quote:

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” – Ann Wigmore

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Recipe to curb the blues…

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.

When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?”

– Gabrielle Roth

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April 11, 2013 · 10:29 pm

Rest stop #1 on the drive to Ann Arbor. (Some people just don’t get when the diaper is full)

“Are you kidding me?!”

When your SO tells you with an urgent tone that the diaper is full and definitely needs to be changed, you haul that little bugger into a restroom you’d rather not use and indignantly lay your little princess down on a very likely germ-infested pull-down diaper changing area (of course first placing some sort of barrier down which can never stop baby’s hands from grabbing everything reachable)… While florescent lights offend her and surrounding toilet flushes terrorize her delicate senses, you find yourself bewildered at the realization that there isn’t a single drop of anything in that little diaper of hers! Nada. Zilch… Yet, “full” it was?

Not sure whether to be mad at yourself for not double checking or steaming angry at the one who messed up in the first place, you busily get the heck out of that stall and make your way to washing those paws. All the while making a serious note to self to always double check the diaper because some people just don’t get when the diaper is full!

Not to elaborate too much on the subject, but it really is a problem for some people. I have found that certain individuals overestimate the amount of *what-have-you in the diaper and others underestimate, but the fact remains that they are consistent in their judgements. My mom, for instance, for some reason never gets how disposable diapers absorb and is constantly sticking her finger in the diaper to see if it’s wet! First of all, ew! Secondly, how come she can’t understand that it’s not the way things work in this day and age. Maybe one day I need to take a diaper and run it under the faucet so she will see the dynamics! My mom, as you can imagine, is one who underestimates, and certainly with no ill-intentions.

*Pee, of course! If it was #2 I believe we all would know it.

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Praise your Children…

“Praise your children openly, reprehend them secretly.” – W. Cecil

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March 31, 2013 · 8:04 pm