Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Of The First Things I've Learned As A Single Mother

Hey Lovelies!

***Don't forget to enter Mommy Delicious' giveaway! Two lucky followers will win a $50 American Express gift card! Click here to enter!***

Motherhood has a way of seeping into every aspect of your life. Every. Single. Aspect. Once you have a baby, your life is changed forever. Forever. You are always a mother, and nothing will change that.


I have always known this, but ever so often something "new" happens that makes me re-realize and think, wow... no matter what other things I have going on in my life, I will always be accountable for another human being until he can take care of himself... whoa!


Last week's "new" thing: graduate school. More specifically, class from 7:20pm -- 9pm.


I registered for this class last spring knowing that the time would be slightly inconvenient. But in order to apply for my MA in Psychological Counseling this semester, I needed to take this particular class. So I figured Aiden's dad would do the daddy thing with him (like we've done in the past) for the one night each week.


Well things have changed since I registered for the class and we are no longer together, which means that I can no longer threaten him, I mean guilt him, I mean ask him to care for Aiden on that night. So when he's unavailable... sigh!


My sister has offered to watch him on that night and I love her for that, but as always, things come up for her. When she's unavailable, his grandmother keeps him. When she's unavailable, it's my cousin.


Although all of these people love and adore Aiden very much, it stresses me out calling er'body and their mama trying to find s0me one to watch him for that night. And it frustrates me that his routine changes so frequently each week, depending on who's available. And sometimes, none of them are available. Like this past week. Since my sister had something to do during Aiden's scheduled pick-up time, our arrangement was for me to pick him and her to meet me at my school so that she can babysit him as I attend class.


So I left my internship in the city, took the train back to Brooklyn to pick the kid up, and got back unto the train heading towards Columbia... whew! But my sister couldnt make it. Bummer.
Since we were already on campus, I decided to take Aiden to class with me. So off to class we went... for about 10 minutes. My professor was really nice and understanding about my childcare emergency and allowed me to miss the class. After enduring a few side glances from classmates (I chose to politely ignore those people) and making the rounds to introduce Aiden to my friends and more pleasant classmates (they totally adored him!), off we went... back on the train and back to Brooklyn.


I didn't ramble on and on and on for no reason. I actually had a point to make.


One of the first things that I learned about being a single mother is to GET A PERMANENT BABYSITTER.


No more switching off from "tia's house" to "mama's house" (as Aiden calls them) every other week. Although they are compensated for their efforts, I'm keeping my baby on as steady of a schedule as possible... with a babysitter. Period.


A couple weeks ago, I was concerned about not being able to accept help from others. Well I could have really used the help last week. LOL.


I've learned that I cannot always be present with him and I cannot feel guilty about that. I have to remember why I'm not there (thanks Linda from NYCSingleMom for reminding me of that!). I'm in graduate school. I'm getting two Master degrees. I'm moving forward in my career. I'm making my life better. Our life better. And in the long run, it'll all be worth it.

Smooches,
SweetAl

Monday, September 27, 2010

$50 American Express Gift Card Giveaway!

Hey Lovelies!

Ever since my journey into single motherhood, my life has been pretty hectic and grad school and work has been kicking my a$$! I've constantly been on the go and have been trying to be this perfect single mother, but was always falling short and having, what I like to call mini temper-tantrums in my head.

It all was beginning to take a toll on me and I missed being my fun little self again. Something had to give. So this past weekend, I skipped Aiden's swim class and took the afternoon all to myself!

First I got a massage because if my shoulders could talk, these past few weeks, they probably would have said, "lady you are insane! Are you trying to kill us?!" After the hour, I felt much better. But my day was only beginning.

Next up: shopping! David Z, H&M, and Urban Outfitters did NOT disappoint. I figured, I just went through a breakup, which makes it okay to splurge a little. Plus, it's a new season and I need (want) a couple new staple items for this Fall.

I was very happy with my finds: two pair of skinny jeans, new slacks, a new wallet, a fabulous leather bag that's big enough to fit my books and some of Aiden's crap (I mean, toys), an amazing burnt orange Fall jacket (perfect color for the season), and great necklaces. Score!

And let's not forget the shoes! I love a good heel. The higher, the better. But when I went to David Z to purchase a pair of Uggs, these fabulous flat, over-the-knee boots were calling my name. And I just couldn't resist. So I got them too.

After that lovely day to myself, I felt much better. With the help of massage therapy, retail therapy, and my therapist (hey, I live in NYC where even the therapists have therapists!), I had two epiphanies:
  1. I don't have to overcompensate and try to be the perfect mother; I can just be the "good enough mother," and I've been doing that pretty darn well with that.
  2. Mommy self-care is VERY important. My mental, emotional, and physical well-being depends on it! So I need to take an afternoon/evening to myself at least once a week so I can unwind. I don't even have to go shopping or spend any money, just do something that focuses on ME.

Now... about the fabulous giveaway:

Because I love you and because it felt so gosh darn good to spend money on myself for once, I've decided that you deserve to spoil yourself too. Wouldn't it be fabulous if you had an extra $50 to spend on whatever you wanted?! Well, now you will!

TWO lovely followers will win a $50 American Express gift card to use at your leisure. That's right, TWO people will have an extra 50 bucks to go shopping for a few Fall staple items or get a massage or have fun with friends... whatever you want because mommies need a time-out too! Here's how to enter:

Mandatory Entry:
  • Follow this blog via Google Friends Connect and leave a comment saying that you want to win
  • If you are already a follower, just leave a comment saying that you want to win... so so simple
Extra Entries:
  • If you own a blog, write a post about this giveaway post and link back to here. ~ 2 entries
  • Tweet about this giveaway post and leave a link to this post! ~ 1 entry
  • Share this giveaway post with your Facebook friends. ~ 1 entry
Rules:
  • You MUST complete the mandatory entry before the extra entries
  • Leave each "Extra Entry" in a seperate comment so that it can be counted
  • You do not have to own a blog to follow MOM DELICIOUS and enter to win
  • Valid for US addresses only
  • 2 eligible entries will be randomly chosen as the winners (http://www.random.org/)
  • The deadline for entries ends FRIDAY OCTOBER 8TH @ 12PM!

Good luck!

Smooches,

SweetAl

(Disclaimer: American Express was not a sponsor for this giveaway.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekend Reads

Hey Lovelies!

Here is a list of good reads from this weekend's link roundup.

Your baby will look even cuter (is that even possible?) with these Halloween costumes.  Mom Finds has got the skinny on costumes for babies that meets all budgets. 

Teaching your kid how to read? Then you'll want to check out these awesome tips from Shiny Brite! With a son in the first grade, these moms are right in the thick of it and are passing on what they've learned thus far. 

Culture Mom has yet another treat for all its lovely readers: a chance to win a family pack of four tickets to "Angelina Ballerina: The Musical." To enter, all you have to do is click the link and add a comment on her blog. Love it!

Hope you guys have a fantabulous weekend!

Smooches,

SweetAl

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Am Not The Perfect Mother... And I'm Way Too Hard On Myself

Hey Lovelies!

Mommies are great at multi-tasking. Unfortunately, this can be a blessing and a curse.

As a newly single mom, I find that my mind is always racing. I'm always thinking about the next thing on my mile-long list of things-to-do. I'm always thinking about how I'm going to find the time to accomplish things, and do them well. I want Aiden to have a top-notch mommy and not put him at a "disadvantage" because he is no longer lives in a two-parent household.

But because I want to do it all, I am always on the go. Always.

Lately this has been the case even during my weekends when I don't do anything work-related, but spend time with Aiden or catch up with friends. It's funny that even during these "leisure" activities, my mind is constantly thinking of the thousand things that I have to do. I love the activities that I do with Aiden. And I love spending time with friends. Both energizes me in different ways. But I've been having trouble putting the brakes on things, relaxing, and just being "in the moment."

I'm always thinking of bills that need be paid, assignments that need to be completed, the load of laundry that I have yet to do, or (lately) if my dinner is going to come out edible-looking and yummy.

And if it's not one thing, it's another. It's all a balancing act and I don't have it down quite yet.

I want to give Aiden a mother who is always put together and always on-point. But I fall short of that about 50 times a day because me trying to be perfect 100% of the time = major mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion! Not to mention, A LOT of tension in my shoulders and back, which is usually where I hold all my stress.

So yea... I'm not the perfect mother. And I'm way too hard on myself.

But somethings gotta give. And after reading a post last week on The Young Mommy Life, I was relieved to realize that I'm not the only mommy on the planet with these sentiments. Mommies need a time-out too, gosh darnit!

Although Aiden will be 3-years-old next month, I have to remind myself that with each stage that he -- we -- go through, it is NEW. And that's okay. It's okay to be a novice. I'm still figuring out this whole single mommy/ full time graduate school student thing... and that's okay. It's okay to still be figuring things out. That's all apart of growing. And all apart of motherhood. And all apart of life.

So... what am I going to do about the tension in my shoulders and back? I've already booked a massage appointment. Lovelovelove 'em. Hopefully I'll be able to relax, be in the moment, and just enjoy the massage.

Smooches,

SweetAl

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Williamsburg Movement And Arts Center -- Anyone Else Loves Free Things As Much As I Do?

Hey Lovelies!

As a mother and a New Yorker, life can get pretty expensive. This is not a good thing for a poor grad school student like me. Luckily, I like to seize all deals, steals, and opportunities. Basically, I love anything free [and legal]. That's why I was super happy when A Child Grows in Brooklyn posted a list of free children's classes ranging from arts to movement to music that was pretty much all over Brooklyn.

Since Aiden is in between semesters for swimming and we didn't have anything on our agenda for this past Saturday, I decided to take him to a toddlers dance and movement class at the Williamsburg Movement and Arts Center. Located in trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they are dedicated to introducing the love of dance to people of all ages so I thought taking him to the class would be a neat idea! And did I mention that it was for free?


When we first arrived, I was a little nervous and felt like Aiden wouldn't enjoy it because all of the other tots were younger than him. Plus, it took him a few minutes to warm-up to the instructor (he has a slow-to-warm temperament as you may remember from his swimming lessons). But half-way through the class, although still a little shy, he ended up really enjoying himself! I was super happy to not have wasted a Saturday morning that I could have spent sleeping (I mean, uhh, playing with Aiden).

Here he is shaking away and making music with his maracas.

I thought it was awesome that they have an open play area where kids can play freely before or after their scheduled class. Aiden loved playing in the doll house!

The weather was so gorgeous that I didn't want to go straight home afterwards. So Aiden and I headed to Chelsea for lunch to enjoy the city... and the last weekend of Summer.

I totally scheduled a manicure and hair appointment after looking at myself in this pic (#hotmessyoungmom). But Aiden is so delicious!

And here he is feeding (or scaring) the pigeons. Look for the little guy amongst the other NYers. Love it!

Hope you guys got out to enjoy the last few days of summer. Anyone do anything special?

Smooches,
Sweet Alicia

Monday, September 20, 2010

How Many Do-Overs Are Mommies Allowed In A Single Day?

Hey Lovelies!

Like most daycare centers/preschools, Aiden's school has a pick-up time of 6:00pm, 6:30pm the latest. The day when one of my classes ends at 4:45pm is the absolute worse. By the time I pack up my things, jet out of the room, and practically run to the subway, it's already 5:00pm.

Since we live in Brooklyn and his preschool is in Brooklyn, on those days I curse myself because I just had to go the the Ivy League graduate program that's an hour away from our house and his preschool (on a good day). On those days, I also I stress, panic, and pray that the Subway Gods are on my side and in my favor. One day last week, they weren't.

Because of some stupid "investigation" going on, all the trains that I rely on were delayed or out of service. Sigh. Once I re-routed and got to his school by 6:29pm (no kidding!), in my rush, I totally forgot to take the kid to the bathroom before we headed home. Bad mommy.

He wet his pants on the way home. Already stressed and tired from my commute, I got a tad bit upset. Yea... I said it. Right now, he doesn't have 5 uniforms for the 5 school days in the school week and the others were already dirty, which meant that I would have to wash the one he was wearing when we got home. Like I needed another thing to do that night. Sigh. Of course, I had a mini temper-tantrum in my head.

But I gave myself permission for a do-over.

I took a deep breath. Yup. Right on the corner where Aiden wet his pants then looked up at me with those "oops!" eyes, I had a "woo-sah" moment.

I paused to think things through. It's not his fault; he's only 2-years-old; I forgot to take him to the bathroom; he's been wearing his underwear and doing *so well* lately; one accident won't kill us; I can bathe him and just wash the doggone uniform when we get home.

Do-over. "Aiden, the next time you have to go the the bathroom, please let me know. Okay?" And that was that.

And when we got home, I had a couple more "do-overs" throughout the night. Hey, sometimes you need to have more than one.

When Aiden spilled his apple juice... Deep breath. Pause. Do-over!

When he became whiny and cranky because he wanted to stay in the bath longer... Deep breath. Pause. Do-over!

When he protested going to bed by trying to get me to read him a third book... do-over! Well, sort of. Instead I told him about my crazy commute on the "choo choo train," as he calls it. And he made up this extremely elaborate ending to my story, which included the conductor fixing the train and a lion coming to my rescue so that I could get to his preschool "faster, faster." Too cute! Gotta love it!

So, as I head into a new week, I'm reminding myself of three things: take a deep breath; pause to think things through; have a "do-over" if need be.

Smooches,

Alicia

My First Blog Award -- Versatile Blog Award

Hey Lovelies!

I am super excited to share that Mom Delicious was chosen by the super awesome blog, YUMMommy to receive it's first blog award:


Although I'm still pretty new to blog world, I love blogging and I'm totally psyched that someone who frequents the blog feels it is deserving of an award. THANK YOU YUMMommy! xoxo

Rules For Winning This Award
~Thank & link back to the person who gave you the award.
~Share 7 things about yourself.
~Pass the award to 15 other bloggers you've recently discovered and think are fabulous.
~Contact the bloggers you chose & let them know about the award.

7 Things About SweetAl
  1. My real name is Alicia Harper.
  2. I love ALL things pink... and purple.
  3. I'm so afraid of dogs that once when I was pushing my son in his stroller and saw a dog coming, I started to run away... leaving the stroller behind. Then I came to my senses and went back for the stroller.
  4. I'm super organized and like order and consistency in all areas of my life.
  5. I was given the name "SweetAl" by a high school boyfriend and it somehow just stuck.
  6. I'm getting better and better at cooking... and I'm actually starting to *like* it... a little bit.
  7. Motherhood has become so totally and completely delicious for me... hence the name of the blog.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekend Reads

Hey Lovelies!

Here are some good reads for this week's link roundup.

The 'skinny jeans' trend (for boys and girls) is now bigger than ever. Aiden has quite a few pairs in his mini closet, but since fall is upon us and he has outgrown some of his old pairs, I've bookmarked this post from Mom Finds, showcasing the best skinny jeans for boys, no matter what your budget! 

If mannerism is an issue with your little one, here are a few tips from Shiny Brite about the things her children are not allowed to say. Feel free to steal a few of her ideas!

Routines in the mornings and evenings helps make life with children much easier. This week, thanks to professional organizer and mom of two toddlers, Amanda Wiss, A Child Grows in Brooklyn has pretty awesome tips for establishing routines. You're welcome!

Have a great weekend. Enjoy your children and enjoy yourself!

Smooches,

Alicia

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just Accept the Help, Lady


Hey Lovelies!

Aiden had his first homework assignment the other day. Nothing major, just to color and paste some things together as best as possible since he is only in the 3's class. Because I am in graduate school, I had class that night until 9pm and obviously was unavailable to help him with his homework. My sister, who has graciously offered to pick him up on those days (bless her!), helped him instead.

When she called me to tell me that they'd finished his homework and that he'd done such a fantastic job, etc, etc, etc, I felt a tinge of jealousy. And that feeling was followed by a pinch of guilt.

Although she only has to care for him a couple evenings per week, I want to be the one who does that. I want to be the one who meets with his teachers at the end of the day. And helps him with his homework. And tells him what a great job he's done. After all, I am his mother.

But obviously, on the nights that I have class, I can't. I can't be in two places at once and finishing grad school is a *major* priority of mines. So yea... can't help Aiden with his homework on the nights that I have class.

I've always been pretty self-sufficient. I've always been able to pretty much solve my own problems and push myself to reach a higher level. And I pride myself on my ability to be independent. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but I'm just trying to show that I've gotten so used to taking care of myself that sometimes (not all the time, but sometimes) it makes me really uncomfortable to ask for help and accept it.

But I'm not super woman. And I don't have special super-human powers.

So.... as part of my whole "take care of myself first" project, I am learning to suck it up, humble myself, and just accept the help.

How exactly am I going to do this?

Well, I'm nixing the guilty feeling (I'm beginning to see that it serves no purpose anyway) and I'm continuing to remind myself that the people who are in our lives are here to make it a lil' bit more manageable. And even though I enjoy doing all of the mommy things for Aiden (most of the time.. lol), and I like feeling like a reliable mommy and knowing that he knows he can always depend on me... I just can NOT do it all. I mean, really.

So, as self-sufficient and as independent as I wanna be, mommy needs help too. Period. I'm learning to just accept the help... with open arms.

After all, it takes a village to raise a child. Right?!

Smooches,
Alicia

Monday, September 13, 2010

Who's That Girl?

Hey Lovelies!

Since something major has happened in my life recently, I decided to take this time to re-introduce myself and let ya'll know why I decided to name this blog Mom Delicious.

Although you guys know me as SweetAl, my name is Alicia Harper, and I am a 26-year-old newly single mother. And although I feared this label at first, I'm getting more and more comfortable with this title as the weeks go by.

If you checked out my guest post on The Young Mommy Life last month, or if you've been keeping up with this blog, you'll know that I've felt like my life is not the way I planned it. Like life ever is! Why can't life just listen to your plans and go along with it? Wouldn't that be glorious?! But that's a total tangent...

I never planned on having a baby at a young age or being kidnapped into motherhood. What I planned to do was live-it-up as a divalicious young thang in NYC... but it didn't happen that way. Here I was this 22-year-old young lady... pregnant. And in relationship limbo with the father-to-be. And confused. And scared. And like, what the eff?!

And the first out of all my friends to have a baby. Don't get me wrong, they were super supportive, but happily and freely living-it-up, which made me feel even more alone than I'd already been feeling.

But at some point during this whole motherhood thing, I began to feel... well, like a mother. And although some days are way better than other days, I started to feel like I was swimming and not sinking. It didn't happen the way that I planned, but it became yummy. And delicious. Thus the name Mom Delicious. Even in the craziest circumstances, motherhood can be delicious.

I knew there must have been some other young mommies out there who've experienced some of the same things that I have experienced... and continue to experience.

So I turned to the television shows, but could not see my kind. I turned to magazines, but still couldn't find my kind.

So I turned to blogging and voilĂ ... a fresh new social support network. You guys rock. Really.

This post is to toast you. To all the fantabulous mommies who are doing the damn thing... and who know that motherhood, with all its ups and downs, highs and lows, kisses and temper tantrums, is so freakin' delicious: Cheers!

Smooches,
Alicia

NYC Fashion Week & Fashion's Night Out!

Hey Lovelies!

As the epitome of a girly-girl, I've always loved NYC's Fashion Week and NYC's Fashion's Night Out. The celebs, the designers, the I-wish-I-had-that-couture-dress-in-my-closet feeling, the energy... what's not to love?!

That's why I was super psyched when Yakini over at The Prissy Mommy Chronicles asked me if I wanted to accompany her to an exclusive, by invite-only Fashion Week event: the first ever Children's Fashion Week showcasing the top couture designers of children's clothes.

A chance to attend a children's couture fashion show?!
Umm... did she even have to ask?! I've been known to turn my living room into a runway show just to strut my stuff in a new outfit and I'm the queen of "smizing" (a la Tyra Banks and ANTM) amongst my family members... This New Yorker LOVES fashion shows and modeling. Umm... of course I wanted to go!!!

And let me just say that I've always admired the amazingness that is Yakini from across the blogosphere. Visiting her blog is like taking a walk in the fab lane as she records her life as wife, mom of 2 delicious baby boys, and Clinical Psychologist of a state hospital. And the Prissy Mommy Reviews & Giveaways section, one word: wowsa! Basically, my blog wants to be her blog when it grows up!

That Friday eve, after dropping baby Aiden off at a sitter and getting all divalicious in my little black dress and 4-inch heels (love 'em!), I met Mrs. Yakini at The Metropolitan Pavilion for the show. And it was a blast!
Here we are with Jessica of Momma's Gone City chit-chatting before the show. All smiles!


Once the show started, it was on. The runway showcase featured Spring-Summer Collections 2011 by Cavalli, Simonetta, Charabia, and Sonia Rykiel. Ouch!

Look at little Miss Diva in her Charabia dress. Don't you just love the crazy curls?!


Check out Mr. Man in his Roberto Cavalli. Hmm... I wonder if they have that in Aiden's size?

I even got a chance to chat-it-up with my long time friend, Jeanine, a fabulous editor over at Mom Finds. Love her!
And as you may all know by now, the events after wards for Fashion's Night Out were absolute madness. Those of you who were in NYC, what did you do on FNO? Anyone get a chance to spot Ms. Anna Wintour? She was everywhere!

All in all, the night was absolutely fabulous! I give it an A-plus!

Smooches,
SweetAl

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Reads

Hey Lovelies!

Here are some good reads for this weekend's link roundup.

Mom Finds has the best (and cutest!) Halloween Costumes for infants, toddlers, and big kids. Yes, it's that time of year again and Halloween is right around the corner so get your kids' costumes now!

Shiny Brite has got the 411 on the rewards of the Slow Food Movement and Slow Food in Schools Projects so be sure to check it out.

For Culture Mom, this week it's all about her family's visit to Philadelphia's Franklin Square.

The beginning of September marks the end of Summer (oh glorious Summer!), which means that "fall is approaching and it's long dark days need to be filled creatively." For the SAHM or the work-from-home mom, ad hoc Mom has got the right idea: just take it day by day. LOVE that little tip!

Have a great weekend and do something fun!
Smooches,
SweetAl

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Perfect Family

Hey Lovelies!

"More than one-third of women who were cohabiting at conception and whose pregnancy was unplanned broke up with their partner by the baby’s 2nd birthday."

"70% of black children are born to single parent homes, a statistic that's higher for Blacks than any other ethnic group in the U.S."

These are some of the troubling statistics that have been running through my head for the past few weeks. But the problem with statistics is that they don't always paint the entire picture. So here's my story...

After four and a half years of off-and-ons, Aiden's dad and I have broken up. For good. [Insert a few tears and a huge sigh of relief here].

So that makes me a 26-year-old Black newly single mom.

While I refuse to use this place and space to speak badly about my son's dad, I will say that we are just not compatible. And before I could sit back, think about it, and realize the unfortunate truth -- we are just not compatible! -- I found myself pregnant. BAM!

So I did what I thought I should do as a mother-to-be. I forced us to be the perfect family -- father, mother, and child. I had this idea in my head of what a perfect family should be -- one that I was deprived of growing up -- and I tried to force this idea on a family unit that just didn't fit.

It took me awhile to figure it out and a lot of unfortunate situations, but even in the midst of those unfortunate situations, I held on to the false hope of my perfect family... And that false hope made me deal with with A LOT more than I should have.

When I finally came to the harsh realization that the relationship just wasn't working a few months back, I was held by a couple of things, but mostly by my fear of being -- gasp! -- labeled a single mother... as if that's the worst thing that could happen to me.

Afraid of being labeled yet another young, Black single mother, I stayed. For a long time. But I shouldn't have. Because, actually the worst thing that could have happened was that I stayed "for our son" and been miserable and take all of my frustrations out on our son. Displaced anger... for no good reason. Not to mention that I had many images in my head of me not functioning as an effective mother and Aiden being subject to seeing his parents bickering all the time, which wouldn't be pleasant. At all. The thought of that happening was one of the things that snatched me back to reality, and I now know that I deserve to be in a respectful and secure relationship. Period.

After months of torment, I now feel at peace knowing that I tried every thing that I could -- from coming up with a new life motto to doing things daddy's way to suggesting couples counseling... but it was wasn't working.

I'm in a better place now and I know that I am better off alone than trapped in an unhealthy situation. So I've come to embrace single motherhood and accept that this is my fabulous family -- just Aiden and me. And these picture look pretty darn perfect to me. Don't you think?




Surprisingly, after the break-up, I don't have as much resentment towards Aiden's dad ("as much" being the operative words here. LOL). I've let go of the negative energy that can suck all the life out of you if you let it, and I know how to communicate with him a little bit better, not bitter.

So cross your fingers and wish me well as I try my luck at this co-parenting thing.

Smooches,
SweetAl

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Importance of Play

Hey Lovelies!

As some of you may know, my son Aiden has a very active temperament.

From playgrounds to play dates to birthday parties to Gymboree to swimming class, the kid keeps me pretty busy. That's why it was important for me to chose a daycare/preschool that incorporated play into their learning activities.

Although I totally think that preschools should teach our children basic skills and strongly prepare them for elementary school, I DO think that it is unnecessary to teach three-year-olds the order of operations aka PEMDAS or that (7x6)+12=54 and 20,000 site words... especially when they are not learning how to read via learning phonics and the sounds that letters make. Trust me on this. As a former 3rd grade teacher, I've seen kids who "knew" how to read site words, but didn't know how to read words they've never encountered before because they never learned phonics. And therefore, they could not read complete sentences. In the third grade. But that's a total tangent. Back to the point.

Play is to children what work is to adults. Through play, children learn some serious skills. From gross motor development to fine motor development to even greater cognitive and problem solving skills to their social and emotional development to language development to helping move them towards self-sufficiency, playing helps our kids grow mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Because I live in NYC and we don't have acres and acres of open grass and fields for the kids to play, in addition to the above mentioned activities, I have to rely on Aiden's school to encourage play. And not just aimless playing (although the free exploration definitely helps kids discover lots of things about the way the world works), but playing with a purpose... to learn something.

I remember having a conversation with a friend about preschool choices for our children and she mentioned that her top choice for her daughter was a school that's super strict and taught the kids to multiply through endless drills... by the age of three. Three! Because she did her research and seemed to know what she wanted, I'm sure that'll work for her, but it's not my cup of tea. To me, when done correctly, pretend play and socio-dramtic play teaches math and life skills just fine.

And besides, Aiden has Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade to learn that stuff. I never went to Kindergarten so I learned basic multiplication in the 1st grade... and no where on my college application did it ask, "At what age did you learn the answer to 8x6?" And I went to Columbia University... on a full academic scholarship. And, since I also got in again for grad school, I can assure you that it was no where on the grad school application either. Don't get me wrong, of course I want Aiden to learn basic reading, writing, and math readiness (and he has!), but not at the expense of learning through play...

The younger toddlers will usually engage in parallel play, which is where they play near each other, but not necessarily with each other. It may look weird to us grown ups, but they kiddies are truly learning as they engage in this type of play. Also, don't expect 'em to share too much during this type of play.

For the older tots/preschoolers, with some encouragement, they can engage in associative play. This type of play is where they still do their own thing with their own toys, but they interact with each other often and may even share their toys... if they feel like it. LOL.

As they get older, in the preschool/pre-kindergarten years, they progress towards cooperative play, which is where they play with each other by coming up with a plan and executing it. Ever played a game of tag or seen a group of kids having a fabulous tea party? That's cooperative play!

Think about how much of a workout you got from a good game of freeze tag. Or how much you learned from playing dress-up. Think about how much your little one can discover when play is incorporated into many aspects of their learning. Now get out there and let your little ones play, play, PLAY!

Smooches,

SweetAl

**Thanks to my awesome coursework and professors in the Counseling and Clinical Department at Columbia University for equipping me with all this fabulous information that I can pass along to you guys.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Weekend Reads

Hey Lovelies!

Here are some good reads for this week's link round up.

Even in the midst of obstacles, young mommies can succeed. Just read this incredibly inspiring post on The Young Mommy Life if you think I'm kidding.

Found! Amazing group coupon sites so that you can save some serious cash in these challenging economic times: Mom Finds.

If you are in the NYC area and are looking for something fun (and cheap!) to do this Labor Day Weekend, click on over to A Child Grows in Brooklyn.

Culture Mom has an awesome giveaway for those times when motherhood (and life) stresses you out. The giveaway ends Friday September 17th so hurry on over to enter to win this stress buster!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Smooches,
SweetAl

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Best Part Of My Day

Hey Lovelies!

Aiden and I have always had a bedtime ritual. It's bath, get the pajamas on, get in bed, read a book... or two... or three, say our prayers, and then before I tuck him in, turn the lights out, and say, "good night, sleep tight," I give him a hug and kiss, look into his eyes, and tell him, "you're the best part of my day." Every night. And no matter what else I forget to do that day, I never forget to tell him those seven words.

No one said that motherhood would be easy. And it isn't. There are lots of ups and downs, highs and lows; good feelings and not-so-good feelings, feeling competent and feeling like huh?; trials and triumphs, predicaments and praise.

But throughout everything, I remember that all that I do is for my son. All the hard work, all the extra work... it's for him -- so that he can have the life that he deserves. And really and truly, he has become the BEST part of my day!

When I'm having a stressful day, I remember that I'm going home to an awesome toddler who would love to play with me like there's no tomorrow... He's the best part of my day.

When I'm worried about work or money, or when grad school starts to kick my @ss... He's the best part of my day.

When I have a list of things-to-do that seems to be a mile long... He's the best part of my day.

When I'm having one of those incompetent mommy moments when I feel like huh? ... He's the best part of my day.

When Aiden's having a temper tantrum... He's the best part of my day.

When I'm not as patient as I should be with him... He's the best part of my day.

When he's been naughty... He's STILL the best part of my day.

When he's been nice... He's the best part of my day.

Bottom line: now that I'm a mother, seeing my son and being in his presence has become the best doggone part of my day. Everyday.

Smooches,
SweetAl

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Thing I Learned From My Son's Dad

Hey Lovelies!

Between Aiden's dad and me, I have always felt like I am the "better" parent. Well, not exactly "better," but, you know... more readily available. I mean, since it's always, always, always "mommy, mommy, MOMMY!" I feel that it's only fair for me to make such a statement.

Another really cute way that Aiden requests or demands my attention is "mommy, do you hear me? I talk to you!" Not "I'm talking to you!" He's hilarious. But that's a total tangent.

All of the parenting and childcare issues usually lands on me.. 96.5% of the time. Really. Getting the boy up in the morning, giving him milk in his favorite cup, making breakfast, packing his lunch and snacks for preschool, trying not to get into a power struggle when he wants to choose his own outfits, getting him to preschool, trying not to get into a power struggle when it's time to say "goodbye," picking him up from preschool, feeding him an afternoon snack... Are you tired yet?

No? Well... then there's dinner, bath time, story time, trying not to get into a power struggle when I've finished the 3rd book and story time in OVER, saying our prayers, hugs and kisses, and bedtime. WHEW! I'm definitely tired now.

Sometimes I feel like I do it all. ALL. And all the time. Don't get me wrong, I love knowing that I take good care of Aiden, but let me be honest, sometimes it's exhausting!

So exhausting that sometimes I pop in an Diego dvd when I just want to relax... and bedtime seems nowhere near in sight. Only thing is, Aiden always wants me to play with him... even when the dvd is on! Who knew?!

But with me taking care of almost everything for Aiden... and the house... and work... and graduate school, life (or sometimes Facebook) gets in the way of our play time.

But one thing that I have learned from Aiden's dad is how to be truly present while playing with Aiden. See... I can always look for the silver lining in every situation. Even this one. To him, taking care of Aiden means nonstop, total, and complete playing for a good half hour or so. To me, it's all of the nurturing and mothering stuff, which sometimes makes me too tired to truly play.

Thing is, I don't want Aiden to grow up thinking that I was too busy packing his lunch or cleaning the house to play with him and/or be fully present in the things that matter the most to him. And as this Fall semester kicks off, I have to remind myself of this NOW as opposed to when I'm in the midst of midterms or writing that 20-page final paper.

So here's my little reminder to myself: during Aiden's play time. PLAY MORE and FRET LESS! No blackberry, no Facebook, no dvd's in the background, no cleaning, no reading a great article for class. Just us two. Playing. Laughing. Having fun. And enjoying each other's company.

Smooches,
SweetAl

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