Thursday, December 15, 2011

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 I absolutely love Christmas time. I always have.  But now that we have a toddler who is beginning to really "get it" it is even more exciting, fun, and meaningful. We've done a lot of preparing around here for the Holidays. Enjoy a few pictures of what we have been up to!

We made Hot Chocolate for the first time, prior to decorating our tree. 

Ryan LOVED his "Hot Candy" as he called it.

Ryan loved hanging ornaments. And every night as soon as it is even slightly dark he runs over to the tree and says, "Mama! I turn on da Kissmas twee!"

Ryan met Santa Claus for the first time and we got a very successful first picture with Santa. (Last year's I don't really count because "Santa" was my cousin Paul, who is skinny and young, and muscular, and looked nothing like Santa!)

Ryan and I made Pretzel/Rolo/Pecan Delights together. It was the first baked good we have made together.
He was most helpful in taking all the wrappers off the Rolos. Also, he preferred Bunny Crackers on top!:)

This has so far been a wonderful Christmas season. We can't wait for the big day! I hope you're having a wonderful Holiday Season, too!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Parenting Dilemma: To Say Something or Not

As most of you know, I spend the majority of my working time as a "Nanny" to my two adorable Nieces. Part of this role involves dropping off and picking up my oldest niece, Caitlin at preschool. Each morning and afternoon when I do this I spend about 5 minutes waiting outside with Ryan and Julia. They play, the dig in the dirt, pick up leaves, etc.  There are other siblings of the preschoolers there as well. There is one little girl who has a reputation as a bit of a trouble maker. Her grandmother is with her waiting for her brother to either go into or come out of school. On numerous occasions this little girl has treated Ryan poorly, and I am wondering what the best way is to deal with the situation. 

Side note: As with all 2ish-year-old children we are currently in the process of teaching Ryan how to share and be considerate of his peers. This is not something that comes naturally to a 2 year old, and Ryan is no exception. Though, fortunately (or not) he seems to save his worst behavior and complete refusal to share for his little cousin Julia, when we are home. So far I have not been in the position of having to discipline him in public, though I am sure the day will come. 

So, this is what played out outside of preschool: Ryan was playing with a leaf, happily brushing it back and forth along a fence. Said little girl, we will call her Sally, came up to Ryan and grabbed the leaf from his hand while yelling, "MINE!" Ryan looked at the little girl sadly and then looked up at me. 

In the few seconds I had before I reacted I thought the following things:
  1.  I don't want to embarrass this little girl's grandma.
  2. If I expect Ryan to learn to share and be sensitive, I cannot have a double standard and expect him to just "deal" when other kids don't share with him or treat him insensitively. 
  3. This is a great opportunity to help teach Ryan empathy. 
  4. If I react too strongly I will look like "that mom." 
So, I gently said to the little girl, "No Sally, that is Ryan's leaf. You need to give it back to him." She did not, and then her grandma  intervened. She took the leaf from Sally's hand and a complete meltdown ensued on Sally's part. I then took the opportunity to quietly say to Ryan, "That made you sad when Sally took your leaf, didn't it? (He said yes). That is why we don't take things from people. We don't want to make them sad. Sally needs to share with you and be nice, just like you need to share with Julia. Right?" I know Ryan is still young, and much of this may have gone over his head. But, these are the "teachable moments" that as parents we must jump on. 

And yet, I still feel bad that I made a big deal out of leaf. I think if Sally's Mom was there, instead of her Grandma I wouldn't feel so bad. Sally's mom is more responsible for her behavior than her Grandma is. But I wonder, should I have just picked up another leaf, given it to Ryan, and moved on? My gut tells me no. If I had done that I wouldn't have been teaching Ryan or Sally anything about the correct way to treat their peers. 

Ahhhh, parenting is filled with one challenge after another. I know that these "how to address situations with Ryan's peers" questions will only get more challenging as he grows older. This is just the beginning!

Have you been faced with a similar situation? How did you react? 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

System Failure

She was not yet 22. She was dying of Pancreatic Cancer. She had a 2 year old. She had been hospitalized at a local hospital for over a month. She came to our inpatient hospice late on a Thursday. I met her early on a Friday. She was ashen and thin, yet bloated around her abdomen from the growth of so many tumors. I didn't expect her to live more than a week. But I figured we had a little time.

I called the Social Worker from the hospital that referred her to us. I wanted to get a sense of what kind of legacy building they had done with this young mom. What efforts had they put forth to help this mom leave behind a legacy for her young daughter who would have no memory of her Mommy. I asked, "Did you help her to write letters? Or make a video?" Her response, "Oh, we don't do that that kind of thing." Oh, I thought. You don't do that kind of thing? Then, what is it you do?

I called this young woman's father to get to know her family. He had been at our facility late the night before when she was admitted. He wasn't planning to come in until around 5:30 when I would already be gone for the day. We had a wonderful chat. We talked about his daughter. What she liked to do, who she was, what she was like. I asked if they had any video of her. He said, "No. I don't think anyone we know has ever owned a video camera." I asked if he thought his daughter might be interested in making a video for her own daughter. I wanted to make sure she wouldn't be upset by the idea, given that it was so late and she hadn't yet done it. He said she would love the idea and I should definitely ask her about it.

So, I did. She immediately lit up. She loved the idea. But she wanted to "look good!" She wanted to wait until tomorrow when she would have everything she needed to "do it right." Her cousin (who was also her best friend) was visiting with her when we talked. She started to assign tasks to her cousin: Bring my favorite jeans. And I want a wig; My mom will know the one I like. Bring my make up, especially lots of eye shadow. Get me a purple shirt...Her cousin had a better idea, "I'll make you a shirt with a picture of you and N (her daughter)." She loved that idea. We had a plan. Her best friend was thrilled to have "something to do." I called her dad back and he too was thrilled to be able to be a part of this. He was going to make sure her daughter would be here in the early afternoon so that her mom would be most alert. Her dad said, "That's her best time of day."

I went home that night confident that I was going to help this woman die well. That her daughter would be able to "see" her mom when she was older. That she would hear her voice.

The next morning she wasn't coherent. She was no longer speaking. She died later that night. The video was never made.

The system failed her. No one made this important task of legacy building a priority when she was still healthy enough to do it. She was kept in a hospital for too long before the idea of hospice was ever brought up. The system failed her little girl. She will never again hear her Mommy's voice. That is unacceptable. We must change the system.

(Names have been excluded and identifying details have been changed so as to protect confidentiality). 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Seeing as we are out of town I don't really have time to write as much as I would like. But, this post, written last year on Thanksgiving sums things up pretty well: THANKFUL! I figure I can easily reuse an old post since back when I wrote this post no one really knew I existed. So, to most of you, this will be a brand new post! But in all seriousness, I truly am so very thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life. I am a very, very lucky woman!

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All About His Daddy

From the moment Ryan was born Matt has proudly and exceptionally taken on the role of Daddy. He is a truly amazing Daddy. He gives hugs and kisses with reckless abandon. He plays trucks better than anyone. He is stern when he needs to be but always gentle. He reads books with enthusiasm. He is a great tickle fight and wrestling opponent. And he loves his little boy more than I think he knew was possible. 

Ryan has always loved his Daddy, but recently he has been particularly enamored with this man whom he looks up to (both literally and figuratively!). He wants to do whatever his Daddy is doing and he just loves playing with him. There have been a few incidents recently that demonstrate just how much Ryan loves his Daddy. 

Most mornings during the week Ryan wakes up after Matt has gone to work. When I go in to get Ryan he says, "Hi Mama! What Daddy doin'?" I explain that Daddy is at work. To which Ryan replies (as this has been explained to him in the past) "Dada be home when we eat dinnah??" And I assure Ryan that yup, Dada will be home at dinner time! Ryan is very aware of when Daddy is home and when he's not and he anxiously awaits his return. And when he is not with his Daddy, he thinks about him and what he is doing.

Case in point: The other day when I was making Ryan's lunch he was riding on his toy car as he often does. He eventually drove up next to me, pulled at my pant leg, and said, "Mama, I go to work. Be back soon!" And off he went....

Ryan has always been an affectionate little boy, and lately he just showers his Daddy with love when he comes home in the evening. He grabs him around the neck and gives hugs. He runs up to him, hugs his legs and says, "Gotcha, Dada!" And last night, he did one of the cutest things he has ever done. Matt was holding Ryan as they were making a smoothie (something they do together most nights). All of sudden, Ryan held Matt's head in both of his hands, turned Matt's face towards him, and kissed him gently on the nose. It was so sweet, and such a spontaneous display of love. 

Ryan certainly couldn't look up to anyone better. Ryan and Daddy mutually adore each other and I hope it stays that way for a very looooooooooooooooong time! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Recap

Our Halloween Festivities began on Sunday afternoon when Ryan carved his first pumpkin. Well, let me rephrase. Ryan helped clean out all the gook from the inside of the pumpkin, and then I carved it.

I carved Elmo, expecting Ryan to be VERY excited. He LOVES Elmo. And well, he was unimpressed. He definitely knew it was Elmo, but he didn't care. Oh well. I had fun carving it!

On Monday morning we drove my niece to Preschool and watched her parade. Ryan was VERY excited when he saw Mickey Mouse. He saw him before I did and said, "Mama! Mama! Look! Mickey Mouse!" I guess we don't have to take him to Disney World anymore.

And then, on Monday evening just after dinner the real festivities began. We got Ryan in his Koala Bear costume, and he promptly began trying to take it off.

I distracted him with candy to try and snap a few pictures, and that worked for about 10 seconds.

But then he immediately went back to trying to at least get the hat off.

We got him outside to start the Trick or Treating process as quickly as we could. And as long as he was engaged, he was fine and tolerated the costume. He was especially distracted when the adorable twins that live across the street (whom Ryan seems to have a toddler crush on) came over to say hello!

 But if given more than a few seconds to think, he would immediately start saying, "Take it off!" We went to a few houses in our neighborhood, and then drove over to my brother and sister-in-laws house so that Ryan could Trick-or-Treat with his cousins.Once we got there he was completely distracted and tolerated the costume with no problem. Well, bribery with lollipops certainly didn't hurt. That boy would give his right arm for a lollipop! (Side note: He knows that he gets a lollipop when he goes to Hair Cuttery to get a hair cut. So, when we go out he will often ask, "Mama? Go get haircut? Get lollipop?" He is too funny!)

You can see Ryan here with his cousin Caitlin. She wanted to be a flip-flop, so I made her costume. She looked so cute. And yes, a few people did actually know what she was!

My niece Julia wasn't anything. Well, if people asked her Mom said she was an Eskimo. But Julia was afraid of every single costume that was brought within a 5 foot radius of her. (She was fine if the costume was on someone else. But if it was clear that the intent was for her to put the costume on, she was having none of it!). So, we had a Koala, a Flip Flop, and a Julia.

Matt, Ryan, my brother John, Sister in law Cindy, Caitlin, Julia, and I had a blast trick or treating. Ryan caught on quickly to the concept and when asked to "say it loudly so people can hear you" he would yell "Trickotreat" as if it was one word. He would then (usually) follow it up with a quick "tank you!" The only thing that would have made the evening more enjoyable for Ryan is if less people were sitting outside their houses with the candy. Ryan LOVES to knock on doors and ring doorbells. And most of the people in my brother's neighborhood were outside just waiting for the kids to come by. So, there were very few doors to knock or bells to ring. But he still had a blast!
Desperately trying to knock on any door he could find....garage doors included! :) 

It was a great night!

 I am already excited for next year! Though, I have a feeling that next year Ryan will have more of an opinion about what he is going to be. And that will make me just a little bit sad....he is indeed growing up too fast!

Happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Ryan's language (both expressive and receptive) continues to develop at lightning speed, and thus, the words and phrases he says have grown more and more complex and "adult-like." Sometimes he makes me stop in my tracks and laugh or in many cases try hard not to laugh. Other times he makes my heart melt. Thus, there have been many snippets lately that I just don't want to forget, and that will be forever remembered here. Apologies in advance if these little snippets aren't particularly entertaining to the "rest" of you. They are however, treasures for me.

The other day I was putting Ryan into his car seat, and out of the blue he said to me, "I love you, Mama!" (Yup, he used "I" correctly, something he frequently confuses. As in, when he wants me to pick him up he says, "Mama, hold you, pease!" instead of "Mama, hold me, please." These are the things that will make me sad when he does finally say them correctly. But, back to the "I love you" moment.) I responded and said, "I love you too, Buddy!" He paused for a second, and then said, "I love Daddy, too!" He thinks about and asks for his Daddy frequently throughout the day. He loves him to pieces. Of course a text message with the details of this exchange was quickly sent off to Matt. And Matt's heart ached for his little boy even more than normal for the rest of his work day.

Last night I was giving Ryan his bath. He takes great pleasure in blowing bubbles in the tub, and he was vigorously doing so last night. After he finished he said, "Mama, you blow bubbles!?" And I said, "Buddy, I don't think Mama can get her head down there to blow bubbles." (We don't fill the tub with too much water). Ryan looked at me and said, "Mama can try!!!!" And, try, and succeed I did. Sometimes I wonder if there is anything I won't do for that boy.

Ryan is currently having a love affair with Ice Cream, Farms, and Dunkin' Donuts, and he will make his wishes known. (Disclaimer: Yes, we treat Ryan to Ice Cream and a donut on occasion, but he does not have them as often as he would make it seem!) My parents watch Ryan every Friday. On Thursdays I tell him that "You'll get to spend the day with Nee-Nee and Pop Pop tomorrow!" Previously he would respond by saying, "See Nee-nee, Pop Pop todaaaaaay???" And I would say, "No, tomorrow. After you go to sleep tonight." Well, now he responds by developing plans of what he and Nee-Nee and Pop Pop will do. Recently he said, "Get yeh-yeh (yellow) ice ceam with Nee-Nee! Go Faaaaam (yes, sometimes he sounds like he's from Boston) with Pop Pop!" This boy dreams big! Well this past Friday, my parents did take Ryan to the Farm (they did not get ice cream...they had done that the week before). Ryan had a blast. He fed the goats and chickens, he played in the Nursery Rhyme section of the fields, he watched the ponies. When I came home my Mom said, "Tell Mommy what we did today." Ryan said, "We go Dunkin' Donuts!" ...Only in your dreams, Buddy, only in your dreams.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment so I know you're checking out my blog. I am more likely to put more "reader friendly" content and less "all Ryan all the time" if I know I actually have readers :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What about the Tigon Mom?

Recently Emily Rapp wrote a beautiful piece in the New York Times called, "Notes from a Dragon Mom." (You can find it here). In it she talks about the heartbreaking and yet immensely love filled experience of parenting her son Ronan who was born with Tay-Sachs disease. A disease for which there is no cure, and which nearly guarantees a slow deterioration resulting in eventual death by the age of the three.

Ms. Rapp calls herself a "Dragon Mom," distinguishing herself from the much publicized and talked about "Tiger Moms" that stem from Amy Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" in which she outlines a prescription for raising a highly competitive and successful child. Ms. Rapp explains that because her son will not have a future in which he will go to college, get a job, and be an upstanding adult that she is freed from the pressure of setting limits and worrying about every decision she makes and whether or not it will affect Ronan’s ability to get into Harvard.  In Ms. Rapp's words, "He can watch television if he wants to; he can have pudding and cheesecake for every meal. We are a very permissive household. We do our best for our kid, feed him fresh food, brush his teeth, make sure he’s clean and warm and well rested and ... healthy? Well, no. The only task here is to love, and we tell him we love him, not caring that he doesn’t understand the words."

The entire time I read this moving and powerful article, and for many days since, I have been unable to stop thinking about the many parents I know who are neither Tiger moms nor Dragon moms. Rather, they are the mothers to children who have a life-limiting illness with no clear life expectancy. They parent very sick kids, who have had numerous surgeries, dozens of hospitalizations, and more pokes and prods than anyone should have in a lifetime, much less a life of a few years. These children could live to be 2 years, 10 years, 20 years, or 80 years. No one knows. 

And so, these parents are stuck in the awful place of feeling the need to set limits and create high expectations so that, if they do live a long life (as every parent prays their child will) they will be upstanding and responsible citizens. Yet, they always have in the back of their mind that they do not know how much time they have with their child, and thus, they want to give in to their wants and allow them to experience joy and happiness above all else, because they may not be here tomorrow, in a year, in 10 years.  These moms are not Tiger Moms. They are not Dragon Moms. They are Tigon moms. And they, like Ms. Rapp, are an inspiration to all mothers and fathers. The Tigon moms (and dads) who effectively find this balance between limit setting and living life to the fullest every day, so as to never (or at least rarely) look back with regret show us all how to be better parents. Tigon parents have clearer, and yes, I would go so far as to say better, priorities than some of us parents who are not faced every day with our child’s mortality. We can learn so much from them. There are many "Tigon" moms who I know personally, all of whom have made me a better mom. Some of them may read this blog. Others will not. But they all deserve to know what a difference they have made in the lives of those who know them. So, to Christy, Sandy, Sara, Kim, Leighann, Sarah, Yolanda, Mercedes, Amy, Dina, Candy, Kelly, Kisha, Zuleyma, Beverly, Leticia, and so many others,  THANK YOU! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mommy Competition

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted an update that said, "Good Lord! 18 month olds are exhausting!" 

And these were the responses, which I have copied exactly: 

Person 1: Wait 'til she turns 3. Just sayin'....

Person 2: ha! I was going to say wait until they are 2.5! LOL

Person 3: hahahaha.... try two of them, of the male variety.

Person 4: they never stop being exhausting.... 4 years and almost 7... I am exhausted, thank goodness for school! lol

Person 5: It never ends mama. If you are a mom, you are exhausted. LOL

Person 6:  All the exploring is fun :) just wait till she's 6 and has an opinion about *everything*. I get a break when he's at school, but good grief, weekends are rough. By Sunday, 2pm, I'm ready for a shot. Rofl!

 I read these responses and I thought, "What the *&%$?"  This is not the first time I have been turned off by the responses of mothers to each other. 

Why as Moms do we not support each other when such comments are made? Instead of saying, "Oh just wait till...." (Which does nothing except invalidate the experience of the person who isn't yet at that stage with their child) why don't we say, "Yes, it’s very hard! But it will get better! I promise!" Because as the mom of a 21 month old, I can say that Ryan is easier right now than he was 3 months ago. Sure every kid is different. But for the most part, the hardest parts of parenting come in waves, and it does get better, if even for a brief period of time. 

It seems like as Moms we always have to compete with each other over "who has it worse" which is a terrible thing, given that being a mom is probably the best thing most of us will ever do! It is hard, it is exhausting, and there are days all of us just wish we could take off completely, but we can't. But it is an amazing experience indeed that most of us would not trade for anything. So, why do we feel a need to point out the hard parts all the time? I mean, people even do it to pregnant moms. They say things like, "Oh, you just wait!" This is so NOT helpful!

And yet, immediately after a baby is born, when it is REALLY, REALLY hard, and overwhelming, and exhausting, when we want to hear that we are not the only mom that has thought, "Put him back in!" the only things we hear are comments like, "Enjoy every moment?" and "Isn't it amazing?" and "It goes by so fast." And it is in this life-altering, exhausted state when we do actually want to hear that everyone finds it difficult and challenging to make the switch form a happily married couple without kids to a hopefully will stay happily married couple with a crying, screaming, eating, bundle of "joy." 

It seems that as moms we never give each other what we really need. When we need someone to commiserate with us,  instead we are told to "enjoy every moment" and when we want to be bolstered up and given hope we are told, "You just wait until...." 

I am from here on out making it a goal of mine to be helpful to my fellow Moms out there and to give you what you want to hear. So, if you need commiserating or bolstering, you let me know! 

Summer Fun Recap (in photos)

(I started writing this post WEEKS ago, and Blogger has been a pain in terms of uploading the pictures I want to upload. I have tried 4 or 5 times and some just consistently have errors. So, there are some key pictures missing here. But I figure I better get this posted before I have to post a recap of our Fall 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

 September 20, 2011

As I've mentioned in previous posts, this past summer (yes, it is almost officially past!) was filled with lots of fun outings. While I don't fully have time to detail them all, I don't want them to be forgotten. So, here they are documented through pictures:

We went to Clark's Elioak Farm. And it was here that you first fell in love with goats! You also had your first Pony Ride and sat on a Tractor with Pop-pop. 

You had a blast playing with your water table throughout the summer: 

 And you ate your first Freeze Pop. You LOVED it! 

We went to the Catonsville 4th of July Parade: 

We spent the day at Dutch Wonderland with our friends Neal, Christa, Josh, & Tyler: 

 You especially lovedthe water park. You would have stayed there all day if we had let you!

More fun with the hose and water table: 

We went to Ocean City with Uncle John, Aunt Cindy, Uncle Mark, Auntie Catharine, Caitlin, & Julia. We had so much fun! 

We went to your first baseball game: A Bowie Baysox game. You were less than interested in the game. You just wanted to play the games and bounce in the moon bounce (which you did ALL BY YOURSELF, despite Mommy's nervousness.) You did great! 

And we also went to the Howard County Fair. But those pictures won't load for some reason. You LOVED looking at all the animals and going down the "BIIIIIIG slide!" You also had your first funnel cake, which you thoroughly enjoyed. Mommy loves this special treat too, and I have a feeling we will be sharing one each year at the Fair. I can't wait!

We had an amazing summer! And soon, I will be posting a "Fall Festivities" Recap. Fall is my favorite time of year and it has not disappointed this year! 

The Cam Fam has been Published on:

Scary Mommy