Monday, October 31, 2011

Ava's first Halloween

Ava is going to be a red hot chili pepper for Halloween.

That's chili pepper as in the fruit (yes, fruit), not the 80s funk rock band  with a bass guitarist named Flea.

Ava and her cousin, Landry, are sticking with a produce theme for their first trick-or-treat experience.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A mother's gift

Celia Winn Spaans with her daughters (author Samantha at right).
When I think of my mother one word comes to mind: JOY.

Celia Winn Spaans was probably one of the happiest, most joyful people you would have had the pleasure of knowing. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, but that did not stop her from loving and serving others. She cared for my sisters and me (ages 5, 3, and 1) with an open heart. When she passed away in 1998, we knew that she had gone to be with the Lord and was joyfully singing praises to him just as she had here on earth.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 4 Blues

Preston is three and about to turn four.  He has been daytime potty trained now for quite some time.  We were fortunate enough to catch that window of time when he was ready.  As for nighttime potty training, that’s a different story.

Preston has been wearing a pull-up at bedtime for a while now.  At first we didn’t really work at it.  As he turned three, he still wanted a cup of milk before going to bed, and we allowed it.  At about three and a half, we began noticing that he would wake up dry, so we started noting it.  We cut out milk before bed, and it seemed to work well.  There wasn’t a consistent pattern, but there were dry pull-ups.

Early in the summer, Preston saw a commercial on television for the “bear workshop” as he called it.  “Mama, I want to go there, again!”  He had been there for a friend’s birthday party, and he loved it.  Right then I saw an opportunity to strike a deal.  “Okay, Preston, we will go to the bear workshop if you can be dry five nights in a row!”  He thought it was a great idea, and we shook on it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baseball traditions

I think it’s so important to have traditions with your children.  When we got married, my husband and I blended our family of three kids.  Looking back, some of the traditions that the children remember most fondly center around baseball and the Texas Rangers. Every spring, my husband would take the kids out of class for opening day.   Now they don’t remember the extra work they had to make up, but they do remember how special they felt when they left school with their Dad/Stepdad and the excitement of Opening Day at the Ballpark in Arlington!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surviving candy season

Oh, Halloween. Classically a fun and exciting time for ghosts and goblins old and young -- the costumes, the parties, and...the candy!  It’s the one day of the year where you knock on strangers' doors and demand free candy. It's true that candy is a central part of the Halloween tradition, and little ones everywhere would be devastated if the sweet treats were removed from this spooky celebration. But the scary part for parents is thinking about what all that extra sugar does to kids' health, your health, and not to mention our teeth! 

Which perfectly portioned Halloween candies are worth the indulgence and which ones should you leave at the bottom of the bag? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween: To Be or Not To Be

While Halloween is not “the” holiday in our household, it is certainly the most talked about. The decorations and goodies are always a no brainer, but the costume decision is something I always the main topic of conversation or should I say… debate.

In years past, my daughter Kyah has been everything from Santa Claus to Astrid from “How to Train Your Dragon.” One thing that is consistent is that I can always expect the unexpected from my sweet little girl. This is year was no different.

I asked the question “what do you want to be this year”, and thought I was prepared for anything but she replied, “I want to be Draculaura, mom. She’s super cool! ”

Not having the slightest clue as to what she was talking about, I decided to refer to my trusted advisor, the internet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Did you see the size of that mum?

My oldest stepson entered high school this year and the transition has been full of new and exciting things-and some new adjustments along the way.

One new difference-they have slurpy machines in the cafeteria. This is one of the first bonuses my stepson pointed out about high school.  Next, he seemed to instantly transform into a social butterfly and we transformed into a taxi service for a teenager.  So many fun things to attend-football games, parties with friends, events at church-the list goes on and on.

Then, my husband started looking at his grades online and the taxi service came to a screeching halt.  School work has always been pretty easy for Josh.  He is a smart kid and if anything he might get bored with a subject rather than be stumped by it.  However, this is a whole new ballgame.  He is in pre-AP courses in preparation for college and some of the grades were not pretty.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be

Larissa at the Oct. 15 ceremony
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Mom-to-be Larissa bravely shared her story at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital's candle lighting ceremony on October 15 for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, a special time for bereaved parents to honor their losses:

When my husband and I first decided to add to our family in June 2008, I thought that within a year I would be taking a sweet little baby home from the hospital. Well, I was wrong.

In February 2009 we found out we were pregnant.  I couldn’t fight back the anxious feeling that I had.  I knew in my heart that something was wrong, but I just didn’t believe that I would have a miscarriage.  That was something that happened to other women.  It just couldn’t happen to me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Don't mess with a Mom

It was a sunny Saturday morning. I pushed the baby in his stroller with one hand and held the fingers of my princess ballerina with the other. As we approached the door to the recreation center I began to smell cigarette smoke.  Suddenly I spotted the offender, an older lady sitting on a bench as close to the door as you could get. Without even thinking the words trailed out of my mouth.  “You shouldn’t smoke right here.” Startled, she looked up at me. “It’s rude, you shouldn’t smoke right next to the door,” I said, as I pointed to a No Smoking sign. “If you choose to put your life at risk with cigarettes, that’s your prerogative, but I’d like to protect the lives of my children.” In amazement she answered back, “You’re rude!”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shoe success

Learning to walk is a monumental process. After weeks – and sometimes months – of crawling or scooting around, then “cruising” while holding onto furniture, taking those first steps changes the life of a child – and the adults around him/her!

As a parent, it’s my responsibility to give my kids the best start in life – including orthopedically sound walking shoes. So now that my daughter is an official toddler, it was time to take the plunge…

Monday, October 17, 2011

What a difference a year makes

Anyone who knows me knows what a huge baseball fan I am. I’m not talking about the “fan” who seems to be everywhere now that the Rangers are making their second straight post-season run. I’m talking about me! I know the entire 40-man roster top to bottom and can recite it on a dare. I play in a fantasy baseball league so complex my wife constantly questions my sanity. I was sweating games in May the same way we are all sweating these incredible October games.  So as you can imagine, this time of year pretty much everything else takes a backseat … or at least it used to.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Healthy habits we can learn from our kids

Parents are powerful role models, and healthy habits you adopt will help set a good example for your kids. But there are a few things you can learn from your kids, too.

With the help of Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, a registered dietitian and fellow nutrition blogger at Raise Healthy Eaters, I offer to you some excellent healthy habits that children can teach us -- if we let them. Let us tap into our inner child!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nandi's Dedication Ceremony

It’s always good to receive spiritual nourishment, but this past Sunday was quite memorable for our family. Our baby had her Dedication Ceremony – and it was all the more special, because it took place on my mother’s birthday.

The Dedication Ceremony a ceremony where the parents make a commitment before God to submit their child to God’s will, vowing to raise their child according to His Word. 

Both my parents and my husband’s parents live out-of-state, so it’s quite difficult to schedule events that complement everyone’s schedule. With that being said, I decided to have our little girl’s Dedication Ceremony on my mother’s birthday, since neither set of grandparents could make it. I think my mom liked the idea, despite not being able to attend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mama’s Guilt…the bane of the working mother

My name is Heather Bartos. And I suffer from working mom’s guilt.

It has been 20 seconds since I last “guilted.” I know I’m not the only one out there with this problem. Right now, a lot of you are feeling the same way.

For our daughter, she has a dad that stays home with her and a mom that “brings home the bacon.” I have to make sure I stand back and not critique the fact that some days they watch Baby Einstein seven times in a row. Or that she ate animal crackers for breakfast. And lunch. Their uninterrupted time together gives me the ability to have my own time together. After dinner, he does the dishes, and we go upstairs and play. So here’s the pact that I made with myself (and like a good diet/exercise program, I constantly tweak it)—when I’m home, I give her my undivided attention—we sit on the floor together, we giggle, play puzzles. If for only an hour, my daughter and I completely are with each other.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eating Dilemmas

Oh, how I wish I would eat the way my children eat! Perhaps then I wouldn’t have to worry about diets. But, why, oh why, is eating so difficult for a three year old and a one year old?! And, why does it bother parents so much?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The amazing Inception “Dream Feed”

My husband has a nickname for everything, and the technique we used to first get our baby girl to sleep through the night is no exception.

“Dream Feed” is a term coined by the late Tracy Hogg, a nurse and author who wrote the Baby Whisperer books. The technique is described in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems – Hogg’s third book.The first night we tried the Dream Feed, my husband called it the “Inception Dream Feed,” and the term stuck.

The method is brilliant in its simplicity. The very first time we tried it, Ava was only six weeks old and slept through the night. After a week of Dream Feeds, Ava was sleeping 12-14 hours each night and has literally never awakened in the middle of the night since we started it (except for one night when she had a high fever.)
As a new mom, I had read parts of several baby books, but I favored following my own instincts over sticking to baby-care instructions in any one book. Nevertheless, after six weeks of waking every three hours each night to feed, I was getting desperate. One morning, I was so bleary-eyed that I tried to brush my hair with a toothbrush.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Things We Do

It's no secret that when you become a parent, you've signed on for certain things: middle of the night feedings, searching out monsters in the closet or under the bed, getting puked and pooped on. There are endless smiles and giggles, stories and lullabies, and hugs and kisses. As the children get older, there are family jokes, traditions, stories they read to you instead of the other way around, and a multitude of "firsts."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A certain type of mother

It seems like mothers are quick to typecast one another. Not that I’m even sure of what all these different Mom stereotypes are officially called and how many groupings exist (Tiger Moms? Soccer Moms? Type A Moms? I don’t know.) But this baby isn’t even out of the womb yet and I feel like it’s already happened to me.

My husband was buying our weekly stash of local, grass fed, antibiotic-free meat from the farmer’s market one Saturday morning and mentioned to the vendor that we’d love to come visit their store in McKinney someday soon. Maybe one day when we’re out visiting a cloth diapering supply shop we love in Allen, he said. This of course led to small talk about our impending family addition.

“So what birthing center is your wife delivering at?” she asked.

Birthing center? He explained that I work for a health system and will be delivering at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth (with drugs, please and thank you).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning to Juggle

Well before I got pregnant, Tom and I sat down and discussed how things would go when our future children arrived. And, well, as a writer, I pointed out that after more than a decade and a half in the trenches as a reporter and editor, I had the contacts to begin freelancing if we wanted to try it. We did the math, and discovered that just about half my paycheck would be going to daycare for just one baby. We did a little more math, and determined that really, we just needed a certain magic number - far less than half my paycheck - above Tom's paycheck to make ends meet and be comfortable.

And with that, we had a revelation - I could make that easily freelancing, and still be able to stay home with our future child.

And then I got pregnant with John. I began amassing freelance contacts, putting feelers out there, and got a few paying, regular gigs to supplement our finances. When John was born, I went from full-time employee of a communications firm to full-time employee of a tiny boy whose memos came in the form of whimpers, burps, poopy diapers and crying.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Power of Will: Stick-to-it-tiveness part 2

Some of you may recall that my last post involved my woes about whether or not my seven- year old would ever learn how to ride her bike without training. After posting and getting advice to continue the low pressure tactics, I decided to just that. I was pleased to see that sticking with this method allowed my daughter to really think about the idea of conquering the bicycle as a more of a heroic accomplishment.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hives, fever, and a nerve-racking waiting game

Poor Ava's hives
As a new parent, I knew my baby girl's first bout with sickness was inevitable. But I wasn't prepared for the feeling of utter helplessness that came along with it.

Ava struggled with a blocked tear duct in her left eye starting when she was about a month old. When the duct got infected, her pediatrician put her on a course of antibiotics. But when the first course was finished, the infection returned.

I took her to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who did a procedure to open the duct and prescribed a second course of antibiotics to ensure the infection wouldn't spread.

Six days later, Ava woke up with what looked like a mosquito bite on her neck. By noon, her little body was covered in hives. It was my fourth day back at work, and Ava's fourth day in daycare. I took her to the doctor, who said she must be allergic to penicillin. She told me to discontinue the antibiotic, and that it would get worse before it got better. That was an understatement.