The Kindness of Strangers….

“Sometimes when we are generous in small  ways, it can change someone else’s life forever.”

This saying rings true for a very special woman I have had the pleasure of getting to know this past year.  Truth be told, I would never have had the honor of knowing her if not for her generosity and kindness to everyone she meets.  Her kind and generous ways have changed my life forever.  Let me explain…

I am talking about my friend and the owner of this website, Allison Alexander.It was just about a year ago that Allison’s path crossed with mine.  I was involved in an event committee for a local fundraiser to celebrate the life of Camden A. Fry, a beautiful eight-year-old girl who was killed in August of 2009.  It was my responsibility to reach out to the local television and radio personalities to line up emcees for different time slots throughout the day.   As time passed quickly, I was still coming up empty in being able to obtain any television personalities for the event, and needless to say, I was becoming a little FRANTIC as the event date was less than a month away!

Well, it was around that time that I received an email from Allison, who at the time was an evening news anchor in Providence, Rhode Island.  Allison was unable to attend on that date, but through her kind efforts she went the extra mile for me and not only arranged for an emcee for that day, but she also kept in touch with me until the event arrived.  I still cannot thank her enough for her help and generosity.

The kindness of strangers is what I think of when I look back on this moment in time.  We not only have stayed in touch with each other, but any chance she could do something out of the goodness of that big heart of hers, she would.  She arranged for my son to tour her television station for his birthday, and not only did she show him around the station and introduce him to everyone there, but she also  let him sit and watch the news broadcast, LIVE.  She made my son and me feel welcome and special that day. Words cannot express how much that meant to us.

Just recently, she asked me to be part of a wonderful new adventure in her life.  Allison was developing her own website www.amomknowsbest.com, which is a website not only geared toward moms, but also toward women, in general.   I was touched and honored not only that she asked me to be a contributor, but that she thought I might have something interesting to offer.  It has been an opportunity for me to express my thoughts on many different subjects including divorce, parenting and friendship.    It has also given me the chance to meet the other amazing women who contribute to the website and who have  become my friends.  I thank Allison every day for giving me this creative outlet which has changed my life and my outlook on life as well.

Over the past year, I have gotten to know Allison and she has become a wonderful friend.  She is a person that looks at you and sees all the good in you, all the promise in you and makes you see it too.  She is a diamond in the rough, and I am a better person for having met her.   Allison recently moved with her family out of Rhode Island.  Although I am very sad about her leaving,  I know that through my contribution to her website, and because of the kind of person that she is, we will remain friends and in each other’s lives for a long time.  As I have told her, she is a bright star that only gets brighter…

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How being a parent has made me eat my own words

Total "Binkieholic"

Before I had my son, I swore that my child wouldn’t eat McDonalds or chicken nuggets. The child would eat whatever my husband and I would eat. Picky eaters wouldn’t exist in my house.

Before I was a Mom, I would never have a “crusty” kid at the mall or in public.

Before my son was born, I would never allow a toddler to have a binky.

Now that I’m a parent of an 18 month old, I  know to never say never. ESPECIALLY about parenting.

Little did I know, I would be blessed with a wonderful, smart little boy who does not eat. I’ve written many posts before about how my son was diagnosed “failure to thrive” and we’ve been going to Hasbro Children’s Hospital to figure out ways to get him to have an appetite and just eat. If my son would eat McDonald’s, I would be at that drive thru buying a Happy Meal every meal. When you have a child who has no appetite, you’d be willing to feed him whatever it takes at every meal to get him the required nutrition to grow and thrive.

Until I had a toddler, I had no idea how hard it is to keep him “crust-free.” The crust just happens. Sometimes it is not worth the battle to get the crusted on boogies off his nose during cold season. So please don’t judge me when I run into the market with a crusty-nosed kid to grab some dinner. I have to pick my battles as a toddler Mom.

I’ve also written about our battle with the binky before. The battle is still going on in our house. It seems that every time we are ready for the 3-4 days of torture, something happens: sickness, family emergency, you name it. I know, those are just excuses. We are not ready to give up the binky in our house. It’s a crutch for us all and when I have the crusty nosed toddler on a shopping trip, it is simply much more enjoyable if he has the binky with him. Honestly, I don’t know when the time is going to be right. We will be moving twice in the next 4 months, then we have a baby coming in October. At this point it seems like my dear son will be going to college with a binky. Oh well.

In my short 18 months of parenthood, I’ve learned many things. The most important is to never say never. I’ve also learned to not judge other people’s parenting, because who knows what they are going through and why that 5 year old has a binky in his mouth at the store. After all, that could easily be my crusty kid with a binky in his mouth in no time. People do what they need to do and I believe the majority of parents try to be the best parents they can be.

 

How has being a parent changed your outlook?


Pregnancy the Second Time Around: Advice Needed!

I am currently 17 weeks pregnant with our second child. My son is 17 months old and while we are thrilled for the new addition to our family, this pregnancy is entirely different from my first.

My first pregnancy I worked full-time, but was able to nap when I got home from work and sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is still a semi-rare occurrence in my home. My son, especially while teething, will wake up a few times through the night and/or is up for the day at 5am. The lack of sleep contributes to a much more tired, worn-out pregnancy.

Gone are the days I can throw my feet up and relax when feeling nauseous or tired, now I have a little buddy wanting to throw a ball or go for a walk. Now, I can barely think about this pregnancy, in contrast to my first pregnancy where I obsessed over every little twinge or symptom. This time, I have more faith in my body and trust everything is going to be ok. I don’t have time to worry about the alternative.

Despite the obvious differences in having a toddler this time around vs. having no kids, this pregnancy has been totally different. First time around, I never got sick or even nauseous. This time felt like I had the nastiest college hangover from about weeks 7 through week 13. My first pregnancy, I felt so good I was in a fantastic mood all the time. This time, not so much. These differences have my husband convinced we are having a girl. I’m not sure either way, but we will find out for sure on June 1st.

With my son’s pregnancy I took weekly pregnancy pictures throughout my entire pregnancy (You can see them here). This pregnancy, I have a total of 5 “belly pictures” at 17 weeks. I feel HORRIBLE about it! I always swore my second baby would have an equal amount of pictures, little did I know I would be WAY more sick the second time around. I hope he or she forgives me! Thankfully, I am finally feeling better and will make up for lost time.

I hope I will be able to be as good of a Mom to this new baby as I have been to my son. People always tell me that your heart expands and you never know you could love TWO little babies so much. I hope that’s true because it seems implausible to think of loving another baby as much!

Moms of two or more: I would love your advice on introducing a new baby into your family. Especially on how to introduce a baby to a very jealous toddler who will be 22 months when he takes on the new role as “Big Brother.” Thank you!

Heartbreak via Toddler

Grandma, Toddler & Mom

As some of you know, I am originally from Florida and now live in Rhode Island. This past week I was fortunate enough to have my Mom visit for six days. She has been a huge help to my husband and I since we are selling our townhouse. We’ve spent the past several days packing boxes, moving them to our storage unit and she has helped us out by taking over toddler-duty. I’ve enjoyed not changing as many diapers or waking up quite as early as normal, but I’m surprised by how quickly my young son has thrown me aside for another woman.

Until a few weeks ago, my son has always been a sweet pea, giving kisses and hugs on demand. Now he shakes his head and laughs when I ask for a kiss. For the first time in 16 months, I don’t feel as needed by him. I breastfed him for almost 13 months and during that time he definitely needed me, even if it was only once a day.  I was a source of nutrition and comfort for him.

He has always come to me for solace when he fell down or needed something. That is, until my Mom visited. I’ve been replaced by his Grandma. She has spent the past six days with my little boy attached to her hip. When he fell off the couch today, he went to her for comfort when I was just as close. I have to be honest, it stung! I’m not looking forward to the tears (from all of us probably) when I drop her off at the airport.

Moms of boys, I’m well aware this is just the beginning. I’m sure he will be too cool to give me a kiss when I drop him off at school. He is going to spend more time with his Dad shooting hoops than cuddling with me on the couch. Someday he’s going to fall in love with a girl in high school and I’ll be second place while he obsesses over her text messages and where they will be going on their date nights.

I knew this was going to happen but I was not prepared for it to be so soon!

Moms of toddlers, please tell me he will come back to me for a little bit…

Raising your kids in a “sports family”

 

Sports are important in our family. One can tell how important by seeing our cars with our respective schools on the plates or the basement painted in my husband’s alma mater’s colors of maroon and gold, complete with Boston College logos on the wall.Of course, the other side of the basement is “my side” with Gator orange and blue accessories.

 

I was raised in a sports family and some of my fondest memories are summers spent in the pool for swim team or at Bollettieri tennis camp in Bradenton, FL. My parents always raised me to value being part of a team, whether it was the softball team in high school or the equestrian team for the University of Florida. My husband also has a sports background, having grown up running track and playing basketball.

You can find us on any given Saturday in the fall at a college football game, in the winter it’s basketball and during the summer we are on the golf course or tennis courts.

I believe sports instilled the principles of teamwork, hard work and dedication in our foundations. We are raising our son with these same values and hope he has a love of sports like we do. I can’t wait to see what he will love as an older child and adult. One of his first words was ball (pronounce ba-all) and he can spend hours throwing and chasing down the ball for himself. I am counting down the days until he can enroll in tee ball, tennis or golf. I can’t wait to be a true soccer mom! Until then, the weekly swim lessons will have to tide me over.

I hope that being involved in sports while growing up will teach him the importance of teamwork and give him the self-confidence he needs to reach his goals in life.Some people have asked us what we would do if our son hated sports and chose   another activity completely unrelated to sports. My answer is always “completely support him!” If it made my son happy to sing in the glee club or be a Thespian instead of quarterback, good for him! I can guarantee you my husband and I would be in the audience for every performance, you’ll be able to spot us wearing the BC and UF gear.

I’d love to hear what you do to help instill your family’s core values in your children, please leave a comment letting us and the other readers know!

Becoming a pacifier-free toddler

 

 

Joanna's son at 5 months old & his beloved "binky"

 

I must disclose that we have not broken the pacifier (aka “a binky”) habit in our household, yet. My son is almost 16 months old and currently uses his binky in the crib and car.  I have also been known to sneak it in my pocket during shopping trips in case of emergency.

I decided it was time to start weaning him off the binky when he recently found one under his crib and had a massive meltdown when I told him it was not the time for his binky. I mean a major tantrum, complete with head-banging on the hardwood floor and juice cups being thrown at the dog.

I’ve asked all of my Mom and Dad friends about how they said goodbye to their kids’ pacifiers. There are a couple different theories that my friends have shared with me regarding becoming binky-free.

My favorite idea is the one my friend Neile shared: cut the tips off all the binkies in the house and quit cold turkey. You’re not the bad guy and you can console your toddler while they lament the loss of their intact binky. Another variety of this theory is to cut off the tips slowly until there isn’t much left for them to “pacify” themselves. I believe our first plan of action will be the first. After all, I live down the street from a 24 hour CVS if we HAD to get a replacement binky. There is an entire web site devoted to this theory, www.bye-bye-binky.com, if you’d like to read more.

Another theory, which would be more appropriate for an older toddler, is the “Binky Fairy.” After discussing the Fairy with your child, you set a night for the Fairy to come and take away all of his or her binkies.  The Fairy leaves a small gift for the child in exchange for all the household binkies. A variation of this theory is for the Fairy to take the binkies to a baby who needs them, maybe a little cousin or friend. Packing up all the binkies before the fairy comes can be a special going away ceremony for your toddler to participate in. I’ve also heard that Santa collects binkies for other little boys and girls during Christmas. Maybe the distraction of all the new toys would help ease the pain? I believe my son is a little too young to understand the Binky Fairy or Santa at this age, but if he was older I would definitely try it out.

These two theories were by far the most widely used in my social circle, but before my husband and I embark on this parenting journey I would love to hear your advice. Did your child use a binky and how did you say goodbye?

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