Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Double Win!

So much winning I'm starting to feel like Charlie Sheen! I have two things to brag about today, the first one:
You will never guess how much I paid for this pair of Gymboree PJs

1. they were on sale, down from $19.75 to $8.99.
2. Gymboree was having a special "extra 25% off all discounted items that day.
3. I had a 20% off coupon from a magazine.
4. I had a $5 rewards coupons for being such a good customer.

 and the total was....

...42 cents!!!!
I could not even believe it, you always hear about people getting great deals, but it never really happens to me, at least not to that extent. So, I am quite proud of myself .

My second reason to brag? A's birthday cake.
We celebrated A's second birthday with my husband's family on Sunday. I had bought a teddy bear cake pan at Williams Sonoma about three years ago (on sale), and decided to try it out this year.

 I followed the WS recipe, but the cake didn't come out quite right, so I had to improvise the decorations to cover up the gap between the two bear halves. I whipped up some chocolate buttercream and masked the problem. I created a little red jacket out of fondant, and tada.... here's the result.

I think it looked pretty cool, especially for a first try. The cake tasted really good too. Come to think of it, I may have tiger blood in me... Now it's on to the rest of the birthday celebrations...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where are the warm and fuzzy Pediatricians?

I have great memories of our visits to my childhood pediatrician. He was a warm, compassionate man (he actually spent quite some time doing some volunteer work in Africa), took his time to examine me, and took even more time to just sit and chat with us afterwards. We almost considered him a friend.
 I understand that doctors in the US have more of a factory approach to their patients, pawning most of the work over to their nurses, but during my pregnancy, I still had hopes of finding a warm and caring doctor for my soon-to-be-born son.

I met with a female pediatrician who was recommended to me by several of my friends. She wasn't my fantasy-come-true, but seemed ok at the time. Once the baby came though, I was greatly disappointed. As new parents, we were, of course, overwhelmed, worried, and tired. We never really saw much compassion in her, she had a very matter-of-fact approach, which might work for other parents, but definitely not for us. I know those doctors are busy people, but does it take that much time to say something positive, like "oh, what a cute baby!"
I was a little upset when my other breast feeding friends told me that they were giving their babies Vitamin D because breast milk doesn't have enough. When I asked the doctor, at the 4 months appointment, if I should have been giving A the vitamin, she nonchalently said "oh yes", well, why didn't she tell me so from the start then? There were a few other small issues we ran into, including some wrong information about the flu vaccine.
What really did it for us was A's 6 months appointment. When we told her of our struggles with A's sleep, she offered no compassion, instead told us to let him cry and proceeded to tell us how she not only let all her kids cry, but also once, was watching someone else's baby, let that baby cry, and when that baby cried so hard she threw up, she bragged to us that she just went in, changed the bed, and put the baby back in there to cry some more!
I understand that there are times when you have to let your baby cry, but there are other ways to "sell" the method to new parents.
So that was it for us. The bottom line is that you should feel good about your child's doctor and trust him/her, and we did not.

(source) My Dream Pediatrician!

 I knew that it was pointless to go on the quest for Dr Karp (although I might have considered a move to Los Angeles just to become one of his patients.. this guy seems totally awesome and if you haven't read his book, The Happiest Baby on The Block, I highly recommend it!), but I asked around and found a new pediatrician who is closer, is open Saturday and Sunday mornings and took care of most of my neighbors' kids. Is he super warm and fuzzy? Not really, but I trust him, and at least, he takes a little time to try to win A over, high-fives him and does little gestures like showing him his stethoscope before he uses it; that tells me that he approaches my son as more than "just another patient".  I might also be a little biased because I have always preferred my doctors  to be grey/white-haired men. ( Is that wierd?)

Have you been disappointed by your pediatrician? Have you ever changed pediatricians? Why?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend with Elmo

Toddlers bear some similarities with wild animals, in the sense that you never know how they are going to react to things (well at least mine). When I heard that Sesame Street Live was coming to town, I thought it would be fun to take A. My husband can usually get tickets for stuff like that through work, so I figured that even if A hates it and we have to leave, it's no big deal if the tickets are free... Also, having been the producer of a local TV talk show in my former life, I knew that the Sesame Street show usually sends characters to the TV show for promotion, so I asked my friend who still works there if she thought A could come for a meet & greet that day.

my coworkers and I were excited to meet Elmo back  in 2007

I guess the Sesame Street peeps are pretty strict about those things and don't want to allow many kids there, but my friend managed to get us in! Yey! 
The idea was so exciting to me... however the day before, I started having second thoughts, what if I asked for this special favor and A freaks out when we're there? Those characters are pretty big and can be quite scary for little ones. Oh well,  I'd take my chances. So I bought A a Cookie Monster t-shirt, watched a bit of Sesame Street with him, and told him all about how we were going to go see Elmo and Cookie at Papa's work.
Friday morning we were ready to go!
And boy was he happy to see Elmo and Cookie! No fear at all, just sheer joy!

He showed off his t-shirt....

                                high-fived and hugged both of them and came back for more.

 The cutest thing was that after each hug, he would say "Merci Elmo" or "Merci Cookie". The whole experience just filled my heart with joy!

On Sunday, we headed for the actual show. Again we had no idea how A would do there. Would it be a big let down from Friday, since there would be no up-close this time? Would he sit still for the hour-and-a half show?(remember, he's not two yet). He did announce in the car "non Elmo, non  Cookie, MyGym!"Once there, he got pretty excited, but had a mini meltdown when he saw we had to go sit in our seats.

He was probably wondering how we would hug our big friends if we were sitting in seats with all those other people. But once we got our friend the pacifier in, everything settled down and we were ready for the show! He totally loved it, danced and clapped and said "encore" at the end of the songs. I have to say they do a really good job with the show, the music and the costumes. Plus, thanks to another friend who works with my husband, we had really good seats, close to the stage, so it felt like we were right there.

Since the tickets were free, we indulged a bit in the junk they sell.. A ended up with one of those silly spinny things that don't really do anything other than spin,

 and he also got a giant Elmo balloon.

 I won't say how much they cost, because I'm a bit embarrassed to be one of those suckers who buys that stuff, but if you've ever been to a show like that, you know..... All that matters is that A had a great time and we did too. And we're ready for our next show!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finally Above 30!

The temperature finally rose over 33 this week... (0 degres centigrades), which means it's time to play outside!!!!

Now, that's a happy face! Hello driveway, we haven't seen you since October..
Rediscovering his bike. (and who needs pedals anyway?)
Two funny penguins at the zoo!

It doesn't take much to make us happy... please winter, go away for good this time!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is it me, or is Thomas the Train boring?

I guess I should make a little addendum to my previous post, in order to tell the whole truth... We went to another birthday party this past weekend, and this time around, A did not need any warm up time.  It was nice to see him play next to the other kids, he had a blast and didn't want to leave. He totally loved the cake too, and kept coming back for more. Since we are doing so well, I think we should have a party with the same people every  weekend, to keep it going. On that note, his birthday is coming up, and we'll see how he behaves on his turf...

 Now, back to our subject of the day. Up until now, A hasn't watched much TV at all. The American Pediatric Association advises against any TV until age 2. While I think that's a little extreme, we did keep him away from almost any TV until A was 18 months old, and since then, he has only been watching very few shows that we carefully pick for him, and he is usually only allowed one or two a day.

 We have French DVDs of Barbapapa and La Petite Taupe. What's nice about them is that the stories are very simple and are self contained 10-minute shows. We have a few Sesame Street DVDs, but A only really likes to see Cookie Monster sing "C is for Cookie". My biggest beef with Sesame Street is that an hour of TV is way too long for a toddler!
Lately, we have started watching the Mickey Mouse Club House and Max and Ruby. I like both shows, just wish they were shorter.

And then, there is Thomas... A loves trains, and consequently, likes Thomas. We have a train set at home, he also likes to go play with the "tchoo-tchoo"sets at Barnes & Noble and at the library, and I think that's great.

at the library, playing with Thomas
We have a couple of Thomas DVDs at home, but the truth is, I hide them. Why? Well, first, I think A doesn't understand the stories and is just hypnotized by the trains. He usually gets very upset when I turn it off, more so than with the other shows. In addition, a lot of episodes feature angry, mean trains, which, in my opinion, can set a bad example when you're too young to sort through the good and the bad guys. Finally, I find the show incredibly boring, and I'd much rather be doing the Hot Dog Dance than feeling like a cow watching trains go by on the Island of Sodor. Sometimes, I wonder if the last reason isn't really the main reason for hiding the DVDs.... but, so what? If I have to watch toddler programming, I should at least get to pick which one.

Are there some kids' TV shows you just don't like? Which ones and why?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Does Not Play Well With Others

A is totally awesome in many ways, he's super cute, makes jokes, loves to laugh, gives the best hugs, learns things at an amazing speed, is full of energy and quite impressive with a ball, and the list goes on.... However, he is going through a difficult phase right now, where he can be quite aggressive towards other kids. It can take  A a while to decide he's comfortable with other children, and to actually start acting nice towards them.
For instance, we went to a birthday party this past weekend. When we got to the party, A stuck close to me for a while, went to look for some toys, and decided that whatever he picked was his. When another little kid woule come near, he would yell out "a moi" (mine). That's not very nice, but if that were the only thing he did, I wouldn't complain. I just keep telling him that he needs to share, that the children want to play "with" him, but, for now, he doesn't seem to care.
 The bigger problem is that if the other child persists, A is not afraid to take the battle to another level. Of course, if he becomes physical, I intervene and take him out of the situation until he has calmed down.
What is bizarre is that after an hour and a half at the party, his mood turned around, he started playing basketball, dancing with the other kids, and he actually sought out the birthday girl to give her some of his stickers! So what can I do to speed up the "warm up" time?

I should mention that A does not act like that with his best bud at his sitter's; they share stuff all day long and get along famously,they say "thank you" to each other every time they give each other things, they even hug a lot,so I know that A's not completely antisocial.  I have also observed that he is better in one-on-one situations with another child than in a group situation, and he is much better if  he feels like he knows the other child (he's usually better on the second play date).

I have to admit that being the mother of a "sometimes aggressive" child bothers me a bit. SleepyPapa says I'm just embarrassed because I'm "that mom" that other parents look at wierd. That's probably true. Maybe I should rejoice that he's not a wimp! But it can be tiring to constantly have to monitor what he's doing so that he doesn't take out some innocent little girl... I don't know if it's a boy thing, and  it's probably just a phase he's going through. My guess is that as long as we continue to work on it, A will eventually understand that it's more fun to play with the other kids than to fight them. I just hope our friends don't stop inviting us over in the meantime!

Did your child ever go through an aggressive phase? How did you deal with it? What worked for you?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Pacifier Dilemna

I have a confession to make. In the early days, I had hoped A would suck his thumb because it's, in my mind, the easiest way to soothe yourself. I sucked my thumb as a child, I only did it at night and don't think it was a big deal.  Anyway, that secret wish did not come true, A decided he liked pacifiers instead.
Almost two years later, A still relies on his pacifiers at night, at naptime, in the car, and anytime he feels sad or has a booboo. I should mention that he has no other transitional object, I have tried to encourage it, but he has not developed an attachment to any particular stuffed animal, he loves them all the same...
A's pretty good about giving  up his pacifier when we get somewhere, or taking it out of his mouth if we tell him we don't understand what he's saying, but when he wants it, he wants it.

During our doctor's visit Friday afternoon, the nurse practitionner told me in a condenscending tone "he's way too attached to this thing, he's almost two, you really need to take it away."
I know that eventually we'll have to work on the pacifier, but I don't think that now is the time. Here are my reasons:
  •  I checked out dentists' opinions online and it seems that pacifiers are not detrimental to a child's teeth until he is older.
  •  I have heard stories of toddlers who switched to their thumb when the paci was taken away, and although I was a thumb-supporter in the begining, I would rather cut out all sucking at once, not replace one by another.
  • I think that in the year to come, A will probably decide on his own that he is a big boy and doesn't need the pacifier anymore. (Most toddlers apparently give their pacifiers up before they turn three.)
  • To me, it's more important to be potty trained than to be binky-free, so I'd rather work on that first.

Am I making a big mistake? When did your children give their pacifiers up? Was it a struggle?

Take Me Home to "Socialized Medicine"...

I'm in a mood right now. I don't even know if I should write this post, because it's going to be an angry one. I'm angry at the health insurance system, and if I were to run into a tea partyier right now, or any of those anti "Obamacare" nut, I might just want to punch him/her.

A is sick again (don't you just love winter?), he caught a cold on Monday, on Wednesday he started coughing, and Thursday he was coughing so much I took him to the Pediatrician's - better safe than sorry is my philosophy, even if it costs me a $25 co-pay each time. The doctor checked his oxygen level and it was pretty low, it looks like he's having an 'asthma-like' reaction to his cold. So they gave him a nebulizing treatment there, which brought the oxygen levels back up quite dramatically, thereby avoiding a stay at the hospital, thankfully!
They then informed me that they had called a supplies company that would be delivering a nebulizer to my home. Well, that company called my home to ask me to pay $115 over the phone before the nebulizer could be dropped off. The doctor was nice enough to give me some samples of the medicine so I didn't have to go pick some up until the next day.
Today, we had to go back to the doctor's office to check on  A's oxygen levels (another $25). After that, I went to pick up the medicine, and my jaw dropped when the pharmacist announced $55 for a four-day supply!
 So by the time we go back to the doctor's on Monday for another check up (and another $25), we will have spent $245 on this little illness. I should remind everyone that I HAVE health insurance!
Does that sound insane to you? It does to me, especially since I come from France, with its scary "socialized medicine"...
Honestly, what is so scary about not having to worry about how much your sick child is going to cost you this time, so you can focus on helping him heal instead?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Raising a Bilingual Child

my awesome school

As you may already know, I am French and was born and raised in Paris. My husband is from Central New York, where we live. Growing up, I attended what I think is the most awesome school in the world, l'Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel, a bilingual school in Paris that teaches kids English alongside French from preschool on. So of course, it was obvious to me that my son would be raised bilingual, but it turns out it's easier said than done.

As you may know from past posts, the first thing I do when I want to figure something out is ... I buy a book. During my pregnancy, I read The Bilingual Edge, Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language, by Kendall King and Alison Mackey, two linguistic professors at Georgetown University. They confirmed what I knew from my many bilingual friends' experiences; that each parent should speak his/her own language to the child. They did explain that in order to fully acquire a language, a child needs to hear it at least 20% of the time, and also, that once a child goes to school, the other language gets kind of tossed aside, so I figured it was important to give A a strong start in French.

The Bilingual Edge By Kendall King, PhD, Alison Mackey, PhD

I strictly speak French to A, and by some kind of miracle, we found A a French babysitter! She has two little boys of her own, who speak French, so A is mostly surrounded by French, which brings us to the first "bump in the road" to bilingualism... even though A lives in the US, he mostly lives in a french world.

SleepyPapa does speak to him in English (he didn't always, but that's another story), A understands most of what he says but answers in French, and pretty much only speaks French (outside of "truck", "cars", and "hello doggie") which can be an issue outside the house. The other day, A was trying to get a little girl to play with him at Wegmans, and his pleas of "petite fille, baton rouge!" were only answered by a puzzled look on the little girl's face. Now, I know that this is only temporary ( some kids A's age don't even really speak yet) and that soon enough, A will fully master both languages, but not everybody gets the big picture, especially when you live in a not-so-big city...

People find it important to tell us about kids they've heard about who were "so confused" because they weren't spoken to in English before they went to school... how their teachers didn't know what to do and that the families eventually "had to" switch to only speaking English to stop "the confusion". Well, I feel sorry for those kids, who are missing out on a great opportunity. I feel sorry for those teachers who are so narrow-minded they can't even think beyond what they've done year after year. And most of all, I feel sorry for the parents who give in to the pressure of those narrow-minded people.
So what if my child doesn't sing "row your boat" but likes "bateau sur l'eau" instead? I'm sure he'll learn the other stuff in no time when he goes to preschool, and then he'll know both instead of just one.
Right now, the hardest part of this is to keep on doing what we're doing, without paying attention to other people's comments and odd looks.

Are you raising your child to be bilingual? What kind of issues have you encountered?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Please, Don't Try to Hold My Baby

What is it with people who think they have a right to hold and hug your baby? Who expect the child to be happy in any one's arms, or worse... who don't even care how the child feels about it, because they want a hug and they are going to get it anyway! Do you like it if someone gives you a major hug and you really don't feel like hugging them or anyone at that point? Why would a child be any different?

A does not like people  forcing him to do stuff, and especially not holding and hugging him against his will. We, his parents, don't do that, so he's more than a little baffled when others try it.  In this sense, he is very similar to a cat.  The cat-like children need time to get acquainted, you have to earn their interest and their trust. Just like with a cat, you need to play with A from a distance first and let him decide when he's ready to get closer. He will, if you give him time, and once he's decided he likes you, the rewards are amazing. But if you want a quick baby-fix, A is certainly not the child you are looking for.

I understand it's not mean spirited, that babies and little kids are cute and that you instinctively want to cuddle with them, but next time you get the urge, at least ask the parent if that's OK, they usually know how their child might react.

How does your child react to people wanting to hold and hug him/her? How do you handle it?