Monthly Archives: July 2010

Believing It’s OK to Stutter

Several weeks ago I blogged about my concerns on whether my son had a stuttering problem. He was really struggling to get out the words, especially ones that started with W. He’d ball up his fists and his face would turn red as he tried to force the words through. It broke my heart a bit.

After that post, I got numerous responses from people about their child going through a stuttering phase. Thanks for everyone’s input, you know you’re never alone in this parenting gig, but it’s great to have concrete reminders. It makes the phrase: “It’s just a phase” seem real instead of just something people say.

I talked to the pediatrician’s office about it and the nurse asked me a few questions. How often does he do it? (Whenever he’s excited, sometimes when he’s not.) Is it mostly with the letters L, T, S and N? (No, it’s mostly Ws.) She told me that his stuttering appeared to be what they normally see in kids this age, especially boys. Sometimes it’ll last for a few weeks or a few months, then slowly disappear. It’s just their mouths trying to catch up with their brains. Since we have an appointment for the end of August, she said the doctor was fine with evaluating him at that time.

That response was fine by me. I was worried, but not to the point of being obsessively concerned. Also, my school district (as do, I believe, most districts in the U.S.) offers an early childhood intervention program. Ours is pretty good in that it screens kids for all special needs, speech, cognitive, motor skills and youngsters considered “at-risk.”

If it’s determined that your child needs a little extra support, he or she can attend a class twice a week to work on those skills. I’m really impressed with how it’s set up and recommend anyone with questions about their child to contact their school district to find what’s available.

It’s interesting to see where Logan is now. A week after my post, I noticed he tried to stop using W words _ the most popular being “why?” And switched to “how.” It was like he figured out a workaround. After a few weeks of “How we going to do this?” (Translation: Why are we doing this?) his stuttering dramatically decreased.

We have a day or two where he stutters a lot, but now we’re generally stutter-free. I have no disillusions. I know it’ll return, I’ll wait for it to waft away, not make a big deal out of it and we‘ll just see what the doctor says. 

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Wanted: The Perfect Birthday Party

I’m starting to get a little worried. My son’s third birthday is in three weeks and I have no clue what we’re going to do.

For his first birthday we had a sizable party at the house. His second was at the local park district where the workers had great games and prizes for all the tots. This year I haven’t the energy to do either.

The options, though, are seemingly endless. You can take a tour of the fire department and have cake at a nearby park, go to the swimming pool or a splash pad, there’s also always a trip to Chuck E. Cheese or those bounce house places. I’ve even heard of parents dropping thousands of dollars for petting zoos and carousels in the back yard, fake snow for sledding in the summer and dancing, singing Disney characters.

With the exception of the aforementioned fancy pants party, I’ve considered all of these options. Many moms in my stroller-pushing set already had the hand-addressed invites in the mail by now. Not me. I’m pretty sure I’ll fire off a text to give folks a heads-up and then use Evite to spill the details.

But details on what? I’ve even looked to Logan for ideas. He told me he wanted candles. OK. That I can do. Beyond that? I don’t know.

And why do I care so much? Is it because I want it to be something he remembers? Kinda. After all I still remember my 5th birthday party at McDonald’s, which to me was THE best birthday. Is it because I want to impress my friends with a swanky kiddie soirée? Nah, those kind of people aren’t my friends.

I think it largely stems from this exhausting need to have everything perfect. I want the perfect house, husband, child, career and all in my life should be perfect, perfect, perfect. Much of that need died when Logan was born, but it occasionally rears it’s ugly head. Thankfully life’s happenings usually knock me back to reality. And reality’s a good place to be.

Hmm. I think I just figured out what we’ll do for Logan’s big day. Hubby can pick one family, I’ll pick another and we’ll have them over for afternoon of pizza and birthday cake. Problem solved.

My Apple Falls A Little Too Close to This Tree

My mop-topped toddler has taught me a lot about me. First, he taught me how to be a mommy and the on-the-job training ain’t no joke. He’s also put a sharper point on who I am, my personality, preferences and character. His insights are thought-provoking.

Watching Logan is like looking in a mirror, but the layers of life’s wear and tear have been sloughed off. He unknowingly reveals sides of myself and those glimpses push me to be a better person.

He’s so stubborn and digs his heels in on all battles big and small.

He’s stringent that rules _ real or imagined _ must never be broken. In going to bed, his back must be rubbed three times. Not two, not four. Three. When driving, heaven forbid I run a yellow light or eek by a red one because I get reprimanded and that the policeman will get mad at me.

I’ve got those Monk-like quirks too. When I drive somewhere I don’t like to retrace my steps home, I like taking a different way back. I always return shopping carts to the corral, even in the rain because you’re “supposed” to.

Thankfully he’s got a healthy dose of Hubby in there too. While other boys are stage-diving off coffee tables, Logan’s more cautious and he’s still a snuggle monster. That’s 100% Hubby. He’s also hilarious and likes to pull little pranks. Again, that’s Dad.

Being a parent is one of those things I call a “stretch assignment” because it forces you to grow. Yes he’s integral in this newish role as mommy, but he’s also shown me other parts of me. It pushes me to think about why I do what I do and how I can improve.

After all I’m responsible for this wonderful creature and helping him make it in this world. So if he’s the unvarnished me, I want to be the best me I can.

A Nail-biting Decision: Picking “The Right” Preschool

The new school year is just around the corner and many 3 and 4-year-olds will have their first day of school. It’s time for preschool, where’s your child going?

Picking one isn’t as trivial as you might think. There’s tons to consider. Full-time? Part-time? Do you want a program where you have to volunteer at the school? What about Montessori? There’s also some “must-have” school systems that are so exclusive you feel pressured to get into the $20,000+ a year preschool because that feeds into the elite elementary school, which you must attend to go to the immaculate middle school to get admitted to the high-performance college prep school that paves a yellow brick road to the Ivy Leagues.

Before you know it you’re panicking over whether your child will get in. How will the interview go? What about the “play-date” where they evaluate your kid’s interaction with others? How will she behave? Did you get in all of the right papers? Say all the right things in your essay? Have you talked to all of the right people? Of course to me the latter is the more extreme example, but the concern is palpable on all levels.

Logan’s in daycare and a few months ago there was a flurry among my mommyfriends as to what preschool their kids were going to attend. I honestly didn’t know if I needed to even think about that. My kid’s been in a learning facility since he was 7 months old and the facility has kids from 6 weeks to 12 years.

Nevertheless I figured any good mom would at least know her options. So I poked around at schools in my neighborhood and found one that was highly recommended, focused on letting kids be kids instead of enrichment programs to enhance their SAT performance. Plus many of the kids that go there go to what eventually will be Logan’s elementary school. He’d arrive in kindergarten with friends in his class.

I was tempted to make the switch, especially as I grew increasingly frustrated with his teacher. But his girlfriend, Cali, was there (she replaced Emma) not to mention his best buds, Shawn, Soham and Jackson. The teachers are wild about him and he loves them, even calling one of them Miss Holly-Mom. The other parents dote on him too since he gets there early, he’s the unofficial greeter, hanging out at the front desk saying hi to all and doling out hugs. I figured, why change? Plus now he’s moved up into a new class and his teacher is amazingly wonderful.

So in going through the throes of picking the right school, go with your gut and try not to fret too much, though every mom does. (Even if they won’t admit it.) The biggest thing that kids need at this stage is a few hours each week of playing with peers. And peers can be siblings. Some kids never go to preschool and they’re fine. I think that’s the key. Remember that they’re going to be fine. We’re doing our best and that’s all you can really ask for.

Weekend Warriors: Pitching a Tent Instead of Pitching a Fit

It was 8 p.m. Friday and our family was headed to the sticks of Wisconsin. A hectic week meant we had to pack everything after work that day. My Jeep was so full it looked like we were moving to Afghanistan instead of camping in Wisconsin.

Logan was ecstatic about his camping trip.

After a two-hour drive, we rolled into the lakeside campsite. Hubby began the not-so-easy task of pitching his first tent in decades with only the Jeep’s headlights to help. But he assured me, he could do it. Thirty minutes later, the only progress made was the tarp had been laid and we’d attracted a Biblical-sized swarm of creepy crawlies.  

I decided to stop looking after Logan, who was over-the-moon happy, and help Hubby with the tent operation. He explained to me what he was doing, but I was lost, it didn’t make sense. I’ve never pitched a tent. Ever. However it quickly became clear why it was so slow going. Hubby kept stopping to spritz himself with bug spray and he was steadily dancing around.  

“What’s wrong with you? You gotta pee or something?” He stopped girating: “No.” I then had an “A Ha Moment.” Hubby was so freaked out by the plague of insects he couldn’t focus. I don’t like bugs either, but that’s in my house. When I’m in their hood, I try to roll with the punches.  

I took over the tent operation, eventually asking him to step aside because it was just easier to fly solo with a backup dancer. Once I got all the poles in the right place, I called him in for the hoisting and the tent was pitched. We settled in for the night, only to be awakened at 3:30 a.m. by industrial strength fireworks from a house across the lake. At least Logan was thrilled.  

The next day was great. We got to explore the area, I read a book under a shade tree, Logan fed some chickens and ducks at a nearby chicken coop, we went for a hike in the pine woods, drank amazing water out of a glacier well, the boys played in a rowboat, real Huck Finn type stuff.  

That night though, around 2 a.m. Logan woke crying, complaining of a headache and demanding medicine. He seemed fine, and this is something usually fixed by the “medicine” of milk and honey or Vitamin D drops. (Hey, that placebo effect thing works wonders.) I scoured my sleepy brain to think of what “medicine” I could concoct. (Feel free to judge me now.) I mixed ketchup, apple jelly and ginger ale in a cup and told him to take a small sip because it was camping medicine so it worked great but tasted bad. Hubby and I watched with bug eyes as he sipped. I took the cup back. Logan asked for more. Gross, but I hesitantly agreed to one more swallow, then we’d have to go to bed. He drank, we slept.  

On Sunday we went to Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, a huge complex of water slides, obstacle courses and fountains attached to a hotel. Hubby had rented a suite for the day so we could have a place to drop our stuff. I’d never been there and was expecting a glorified cabana, but when he said suite, he meant it. There was a full kitchen, a dining area, two-seater Jacuzzi bath, balcony… I walked in stunned and then groaned thinking of how we’d have to leave in a few hours to go back to our mosquitoes and four-man tent. Instead of dwelling, I seized the moment, took the world’s longest shower and we had a blast at the waterpark.  

When it was almost time to leave, hubby informed me that he didn’t have the heart to yank us out of the lap of luxury and wanted to give Logan another day at the park. We were staying the night. I jumped for joy and ordered room service.  

Overall it was a great weekend, and I’m not saying that because we got a rockin’ suite at the end. We got to camp on this beautiful private property at McIntyre’s Resort, met wonderful people along the way, but most of all we enjoyed creating new memories and spending time together as a family.

Surprise Honey! We’re Going Camping!!!

That was my Wednesday evening. My hubby was tearing into a big box that arrived in the mail like it was Christmas. Out came an unending sleeping bag. “It’ll fit the whole family!!!” He grins. We’re going camping in two days. Me, hubby and toddler. Oh boy.

Let me back up by saying hubby and I have been dying for just an easy family vacation. I had a lot on my plate so told him, hey you organize it. I don’t care where we go, as long as it’s less than two hours’ drive and I don’t want to be in a hotel or outside (meaning no camping) so he could find a cabin, a condo, a bed and breakfast… That was a month ago. It seems he forgot my “no outside” disclaimer because on Wednesday night, he did the “Big Reveal.” Camping.

I have to say I have wanted to go camping for awhile as a family, but we didn’t have a tent, a tarp, sleeping bags, flashlights, none of the equipment. And I grew up camping, so my confidence as a camper is high, my confidence as a mommy camper, not so much.

As soon as I found out about our three-day adventure, I turned to my sage computer to look for advice. There were Google searches and frantic e-mails to friends and posts to my boards on BabyCenter, all with the four letter word: help! Thankfully, I was flooded with great tips.

At least we’re at a campsite that has bathrooms. What they look like I know not, but really, has anyone ever been to a nice camping bathroom? Like a perfectly well behaved 2-year-old, they don’t exist. There’s also a beach, which will be great and apparently there’s nice trails.

The temperatures, though, will be sweltering in the mid-90s, the mosquitos will surely be feasting and I wonder, is Logan going to be afraid of the dark? He’s already asked me if there’s going to be monsters. Will we three be jammed into this massive sleeping bag with all the flashlights flaring throughout the night, causing the tent to be blanketed in moths, or worse, June bugs?

Time will tell. I’ll come back on Monday to report how it went. Hopefully we don’t get West Nile, and that the lake doesn’t have E. coli. Though I betcha it’ll work out fine, and who knows at the end of it all, I may even be a fan of the family sleeping bag.

Paying A Stranger To Look After Your Babe

Babysitters. It sounds like a nice-enough word, but really it can and has thrust many a mom into a tailspin.

It seems babysitters are now just a part of parenting. Since several families are raising kids in places where Grandma or Aunt Peaches doesn’t live just across town, we have to seek out help in filling the gaps. There’s mommy doctor appointments, difficult errands and oh yeah, Date Night.

And so the search begins. You can rely on your other mommyfriends to either step in or give recommendations or you can use an online service that finds sitters. I used one and it’s been a godsend. It does background checks, you can sort by age , price or language. Nifty. All but one of our babysitters has come from the service.

When Logan was 4 months old, hubby worked in an evil fiefdom. The CEO of the company had a holiday party for employees and their families and the RSVP was essentially Attend or Offend. Well my little guy had a cold and I wasn’t going to bring him out into the November night, it was bad enough that I had to be there. So I hopped on my computer to find a sitter.

I remember leaving the house and feeling like an unfit mom extraordinaire. But I made it through, and she was a wonderful sitter.

The first few sitters though can be really rough. Here’s this stranger, in your home. Doing your job. Taking care of your child.

And it’s odd meeting a new one. You want to say “Hi, nice to meet you! If you harm a hair on my child’s head, I’ll kill you. Thanks for helping us out, the numbers are on the fridge!”

But keep doing it, it gets easier. 

  • Find someone with a level of experience that you’re comfortable with. I prefer my sitters to be in college who have worked at a daycare, though most of my gal pals use high schoolers and they’ve been great too.
  • Check their references. The best part of finding a sitter is talking with other moms who have entrusted this person to care for their child. Ask the usual questions to suss out the sitter but feel free to be honest and say “Hey, I’m nervous to have her take care of my baby.” The other mom will be supportive and end up giving you more information that can help you make your decision.
  • Create a “profile page” on your child. Ours includes pertinent medical information, his schedule and preferences. It also comes in handy when the grandparents are making an appearance. We keep a file on our laptop so that it’s easy to update.
  • Have the sitter come over to meet you and your child, to help ease the adjustment for your little one. I’ve often been in binds where this isn’t always possible, so my workaround has been to have them start an hour early. That way they get the tour of the house, get a good read of the profile page and can ask questions without the time pressure of the parents rushing out of the house. It also allows you, the sitter and your child to just play together so that everyone can get comfortable with each other.

Getting a sitter can seen like a chore, but one that’s worth it.