Friday, October 19, 2007

Mr. B's Book Reviews

It's tough to find books that hold the attention of a 13 month old. Now that he can crawl and climb, Mr. B barely stops moving until he's actually snoring. But these books always slow him down and help him settle in for bottle and bedtime. Pick them up for any infant you know. They'll be well-loved baby gifts.

Here are Mr. B's favorite right now:

Little Cricket's Song
Sweet, lilting rhymes tell the story of a little cricket that wants to learn to sing. The pictures are lovely and the end of line rhyme scheme gives the book a sing-song quality, but the highlight of this book is the clicking cricket. Push either the mommy or baby cricket's head for a baby-delighting "clicking" sound.

Ten Little Christmas Lights
Mr. B loves this one so much, we've been reading it since the spring. On ten wonderful pages, animal decorate thier homes with Christmas lights, and a new tiny little light glows on each page. The final page brings all the animals back for an encore with a Christmas tree full of lights. Luckily, the lights go off two or three times, so your baby will get to enjoy pushing the button a couple of times per reading.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Mr. B loves a gimmicky book right now. But this one charms by the force of word and sound alone. Eveytime I say "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Will there be enough room?" he giggles with delight.

Mr. B Blows!

I mean that quite literally. Yesterday, I made mac and cheese for lunch. It was still hot, but he was clamoring for it, so I brought the dish to him, let him touch it and said, "hot!" Clearly, this wasn't the first time I'd said that, because he started to blow. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but when I brought it to his lips, he blew on it before he opened up for the bite. While this might not seem amazing to everyone else, this "1+1=2" was pretty exciting for his mom. He did it again and again, and when I smiled and praised him, he clapped for himself, blowing all the while.

Then, later that afternoon, he crawled over to his sisters Crocs on the floor and tried to put them on his feet. Amazing! He used to only chew on them. Now he knows that they go on feet!

We're at the stage where he is growing and changing nearly every day and I'm trying really hard to savor every minute. I'm at my mothering worst during toddlerhood. The kiddos are just so go-go-go. They make a million messes a day and breeze through the house like tiny little Tasmanian Devils.

But at the end of the day, he's lovely and luscious, and when I sing the ABC song he curls up in my arms because he knows its time for bed. He surrenders all that frustration and toddler angst just to be my baby for a little while longer. And then, he lies his head down and goes to sleep, usually, exhausted and without a peep.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Grab your earplugs everyone, we’ve got a screamer.

I know very clearly when it happened. It was Tuesday morning on the way to school. That’s when Mr. B discovered his voice. He’d made lots of sounds and possibly even said some words before. He’s been known to repeat "Ma! Ma! Ma!" while crying when he doesn’t want to nap. But this was something different. This was screaming.

In the back seat, the WG and Sammy Wammy asked me to turn the movie up so they could hear it… their headphones.

It’s a loud, screechy sort of sound. It’s not exactly a happy sound, but he’s not mad either. He’s clearly trying desperately to communicate. Often, he’s pointing at something, reaching for something or trying to do something. There’s just one thing that’s the same every time – it’s loud.

It’s everyone-in-the-restaurant-turn-around-why-doesn’t-she-do-something-about-that-screaming-baby loud.

I’ve never had a child like this, so I confess, that I have no idea what to do. I speed dialed friend # 1 – just wait it out was her advice. Friend #2 just laughed and said that Baby B is "no WG." Friend #3 said, "Do you hear that screaming in the background? Then why would you think I’ve found a solution."

So here it is, an open call for advice. I’ve tried to ignore it – no dice, especially in public. My constitution is incapable of stomaching that kind of noise without a response. I’ve tried a firm "no," which has gotten me a big nowhere. And I don’t really want to discipline him, after all, he’s just trying to talk to me. What I would like him to do is communicate more quietly.

For now, we’re working on sign language. I’ll let you all know how it goes. In the meantime, I’m open to any words of wisdom. And suggestions for the best possible earplugs.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

How Can I Get More Zzzzzzzzzzs?

I can’t figure out how to get enough sleep.

Now that Baby B is nearly walking (and unloading all my Tupperware drawers, emptying the pantry, and getting into the toilet paper) I am busy every moment he’s awake. The WG’s school starts at 8am and I spend a couple hours each day doing the pick up and drop off routine. It seems that the only time I have to work lately, is well, late.

Hubby has been traveling these last three weeks and so I start dinner around 5:30. We eat dinner at 6:00, then it’s time for baths, dressing for bed, brushing two sets of teeth (one much tougher than the other) and reading three books each. I finish up around 7:30 and then it’s downstairs to clean the kitchen. By the time I’ve checked my home voice mail, my work voice mail, email, put in a load of wash and gotten the kitchen clean, it’s nearly nine. Then, it’s time to work on the details for the next magazine party, plan the photo shoots, or write articles. On average these days, I’m getting in bed a touch before midnight and I’m still so keyed up that I need to read or watch TV for half an hour before my head stops spinning.

I absolutely love my life. I have such a great mix of work and family. My kiddos are great and my job is terrific – I love what I do. But the one thing I would change is that I would get more sleep. If I had more childcare, I know I could get more done during the day and get more sleep at night, but I guess at least for right now, I’m willing to forgo sleep for time with the kiddos. I guess I can always sleep when they go to college.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Must Watch for Every Mom: Mom's Overture by Anita Renfroe

Three great things for Yummy Mummys

W’re moms, but we’re not dead. So why do we some times behave like we are? During my recent trips (getaway to scenic Greensboro, NC with hubby and overnight to NYC solo) I’ve started rediscovering Corey. Here are three of my new favorite things.

My new Oilily Bag
Extravagant, yes. But boy do I like it. It’s big, compared to most of my other bags, and makes a great impromptu carry all. Plus, it has lots and lots of yummy details. I never thought I’d carry something with leather and grommets, but baby, I’m rockin’ it!

Jo Malone
Showering in Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom shower gel is literally like showering in orange blossoms. The scent lingers on your body and in your bathroom all day! Plus, whenever I use the jasmine and lilac blossom perfume, people actually try to sniff me.

Bubbly by Colbie Caillat
If you believe our local Clear Channel DJ, her dad worked on some of Fleetwood Mac’s albums and helped his little girl with her debut. The song is a tiny bit sexy, a lot sweet and terrifically mellow. Who knew I could still like something that’s on mainstream radio? Check it out. Of course, if you haven't turned the sound down on my Slide, you're hearing it already.

My Favorite Parenting Book

At great risk of incoming email, I’m going to make a proclamation. If you only read one parenting book ever, it should be "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

You should read it because it works. I had read parts of it previously, but I read it straight through on a recent trip to NYC. Before I’d even made it home, the book was always making a difference in my relationships. I was standing in line at McDonalds in the Laguardia Airport on Sunday morning. I wanted a Diet Coke more than anything (terrible, I know) and the man behind the counter was clearly upset. He was overseeing the staff in the back while trying to manage a growing line in the front. He moved to a new register and rather than saying, "May I help you," he said, "You can just stand there in one line or you can move over here and it will go a lot faster."

I could have written this off as a "typical New Yorker," but there was really much more going on. He was frustrated and overwhelmed. He was scowling at me, and I the opportunity to be rude right back, which he almost seemed to expect. But I’d been reading "How to Talk" and I decided to try one of my techniques out on him. "You seem very frustrated," I said. There was a long silence while he looked at me. His face softened, his tone changed and he said, "I am. Can I take your order?"

I was amazed. So, I tried some of the techniques with my daughter, WG. She and I are having recurring problems about messes in the playroom. She plays until its such a mess that she can’t clean it herself and the task is left to me. So, as the book advised, I asked her to sit down with me and together we brainstormed ideas for how to handle the problem. We wrote every idea down and at the end we chose a solution we felt could work for both of us – she’d clean up after bath every night. We have just two short nights under our belt, but each evening she’s eagerly reminded me, "Mommy, it’s time for me to pick up the playroom."

Even my one-year-old, Mr. B, seems to be responding. When he’s in a frustrated fury because he wants something that’s dangerous or otherwise not allowed, I look in his eyes and say gently, "You seem very frustrated. You want that toy." The tone of my voice and the acknowledgement seems to be all he needs, even at this young age, to move on to the next activity.

In a nutshell, I like the book so much because it works. It gives parents a step-by-step guide to improving communication with their kids and thus their relationships. The book is predicated on the idea that our goal in raising children is to help them to become happy, successful adults who know how to make good choices, deal with adversity, communicate effectively, and handle both positive and negative feelings. Through specific examples and illustrations, the authors provide you with scenarios for practicing skills, role playing and putting their theories into action. Though I felt silly "filling in the blank" at the beginning of the book, I found myself jotting in the margins by the end. First published in the 1980’s and a best seller for years, I’m hardly the first person to say that this one is a "must read," but I hope that you’ll go out and by this one. You’ll be glad you did. Now, the only question for me is, will these strategies work on my husband?