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Posts Tagged ‘family’

The Year of the Tiger!

Posted by flsquared on February 22, 2010

This weekend, we decided to attend the “Biggest Chinese New Year Parade” in Manhattan.

Armed with a 15% off coupon, I traveled down to the BabiesRUS store in Union Square to check out the umbrella strollers.  It was about time we got one, and we would definitely need it for the subway ride.  As with any “big box” retailer (but especially with BRU), I immediately started to get overwhelmed with the choices and quickly slunk out without buying anything.

I perused the Union Square Greenmarket (and bought a huge bag of $1/lb local apples) to calm myself.

Then I went home and checked out Craigslist.

Lucky for me, I found a great used Maclaren Volo for $40.  SCORE!  (Oh, and by chatting with the woman selling the stroller, I made a new friend in Brooklyn!)

Bright and early Sunday afternoon, (40 degree, sunny weather!) we met some friends to see the dragons dancing and floats passing by.  I am kicking myself as I forgot my camera, but it was amazing!  The kids enjoyed the people watching, scooping up confetti and throwing it at each other, (I’m not sure how much they actually saw of the parade), and just seeing Mama and Papa happy.  We even popped into a crowded Dim Sum restaurant and stuffed ourselves while they ate and played with chopsticks.  We ended the day by going over to Union Square and hanging out at the playground (and buying a few bottles of “3 buck chuck” wine at TJs).  The subway ride was uneventful and I was actually able to carry the little guy up and down the stairs myself with the new, lightweight stroller.

After we had gave the kids dinner and put them to bed, my husband turned to me and said “What a great day!”  I totally agree.

For me, the best part about the day was exploring a new part of the city and seeing everyone have a good time.  Amazingly, there was no (well…, okay, very little) crying, fear of crowds, or explosive diapers.  Days like these bring our family closer and open the door for new events and experiences to further strengthen that bond.

Oh, and bill for the day?  $2.25 for the subway and $25 for 4 at the Dim Sum (and believe you me, the kids eat as much as I do!).  Not bad!

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Posted in activity, family, happiness, holiday, saving money, simple living | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Goodbye to the Family and Hello to 2010!

Posted by flsquared on January 9, 2010

Just 10 minutes ago, I closed the door and said goodbye to my inlaws.  They arrive and leave like a hurricane, bringing and taking with them so much emotion, noise, and activity.  And since they live in Spain, we don’t get to see them often.  They will be missed and we’re already counting the days until our next visit this spring or summer.

*sigh*

But on to 2010!

For me, 2009 was a tough year, filled with a lot of hard work, little sleep, sick kids, 3 apartment/city changes, new jobs, etc. etc.  I took theHolmes-Rahe Stress Test and scored a 320 just for last year! where a score of 300 puts you at risk of illness.  If you take the test as read (24 months) I score nearly 500.  Ouch.

Lucky for us, 2010 brings with it a year of stability:  my husband has started his new job, my eldest son has been accepted to a NYC preschool (no small feat!) beginning next fall, and my youngest is moving out of the baby stage, and into the toddler stage which I adore!  We love our new apartment and neighborhood, and have started to make some new friends.

I love to make resolutions with the new year.  It helps me gather my thoughts and set the tone for the next 365 days.  A few days ago, I reviewed my resolutions for 2009:

Theme:  Finish projects that I have started!
(Resolutions in no particular order)

1.  Knit a blanket for each of the kids and finish ours
Status:  I “outsourced” David’s blanket to my MIL (complete) and am 80% finished with Victor’s.  Our’s remains unchanged at about 70%.

2.  Organize our digital photos
Status:  unchanged

3.  Understand ipod and download music
Status:  spent a number of hours to figure out mac-ware (I’m a PC-girl) and downloaded a number of CDs to my ipod.  more to go!

4.  Camera:  take a class/read a book to take better photos
Status:  unchanged

5.  Read a book in Spanish
Status:  unchanged

6.  Read “The Name of the Rose” (long story!)
Status:  unchanged

7.  Organize photos/memorabilia into scrapbooks or whatever
Status:  5% organized

8.  Organize Recipes
Status:  15% organized

9.  Organize professional / social contacts
Status:  unchanged

10.  Organize email
Status:  50% organized

11.  Clean up info on old laptop and save to CD
Status:  95% complete (saved to flashdrive–need to transfer to CD)

12.  Study French
Status:  swapped 1 class

13.  Blog 2x/week
Status:  more or less….

As you can see, my completion rate hasn’t been so great.  Quite frankly, I think I underestimated how much time and energy two little creatures take out of you.  Add in all of our other major life events and I’m surprised I get anything done at all.

So my 2010 resolutions?  2009, Take 2!  The only additions will be:

14.  Keep up with monthly budget

15. Get caught up on pile o’ magazines/newspapers

16.  Begin to take over some responsibilities from my husband (paying bills, medical invoices, etc) in the 2nd half of the year.

17. Take time to enjoy my family, friends, and just be by myself. Live in and experience the moment!

Perhaps my accountability to you will help me complete these projects over the next year. I’ll keep in touch and let you know how it’s going!

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Toddler Tip: 10 Quick and Easy Ways to Toddler Proof Your Holiday Destination

Posted by flsquared on November 22, 2009

With the holidays and family get togethers coming up, one thing that I dread is predicting how my babies will stay safe in a hotel or someone else’s home.  Especially when that someone else does not tend to have many visits from babies and toddlers.

I put together a list of quick and easy ways you can temporarily toddler proof for your holiday stay while someone takes your little darling for a quick walk around the block.  Of course these are not 100% fail proof, but they may give you a few extra seconds to respond before your baby gets in trouble.

1. Quick scan:
**Get down at your toddler’s level and do a quick scan of the area to see where s/he could get into trouble.  Is there a heavy coffee table?  A delicate vase?  See what you can remove, relocate, or just be aware of.

2.  Cleaning products:
**Take a quick look in the usual areas:  under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, laundry room, etc (or just ask your host) so you can know where they are.  Close doors to these areas where you can.  If they are in common areas (or you are afraid that your toddler will wonder into these areas unsupervised), see if you can put the products up high, out of reach.  For example, I keep my cleaning products above the refrigerator and on the top of my closet.

3.  Bathroom:
**Keep the door closed and the toilet seat down.

4. Cabinet doors:
**Knob doors:  Loop one end of a rubber band around the knob, give the band a twist and loop it around the other knob.  If it’s loose, just wrap it around the knob a few more times.

**Handle doors:  slide a wooden spoon through both handles until the spoon piece “locks” against the handle.  Take a rubber band and loop it around the spoon end.  Give a twist and slide the end of the band over the other end of the spoon.

**Glass doors (for example the “push open” doors on entertainment centers):  if paint and finish are not an issue, I have used packing tape to tape the door(s) closed.  You can also use duct tape, but since packing tape is clear, it’s more difficult for little fingers to pry it off.

5.  Kitchen Stove:
**Most stoves will allow you to remove the knobs from the burners.  You can do that whether or not the stove is in use.  Just keep them handy in case you need to adjust the burners.

**Make sure to keep the handles of pots and pans turned inward and away from little searching hands.

6.  Bookshelves:
**We all saw the Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives where little ones got in trouble with bookshelves.  I spent a nightmarish summer in a sublet apartment chasing after my crawling son who was attracted to the shelves like a moth to a flame.  If any look like they would be interesting to climb, see if you can slide a chair in front of them or block them off altogether.

7. Stairs:
**I have been known to park my stroller in front of the stairs. Make sure to close (and lock) stairs to basement, attics, etc.

8.  Fireplace:
**Wrap a few towels or a blanket around a brick/stone fireplace footing.

9.  Patio / Balcony:
**Keep the door closed and locked.

10.  Bedroom:
**If you are staying the night and your toddler will be sleeping in a big boy bed, put a second mattress (or at least a few blankets or sturdy pillows (such as from the couch) to soften their fall if they slip out of bed.  In a pinch, I have used a few chairs with their backs to the bed to serve as railings and prevent the fall.

What did I miss?  What other ways do you baby and toddler proof an unfamiliar setting?

Posted in baby, family, safety, simple living, toddler | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Battle of the Laptop (or how to keep the focus on the kids)

Posted by flsquared on November 18, 2009

Toddlers are exhausting.  They have endless sources of energy and fear nothing.  No matter where they are or what they are doing, they always seem to find exactly what they should not touch, and put it directly in their mouths.  Or what they should not climb, and not only climb it, but try to jump off….head first!  Just physically and mentally exhausting.

I remember reading an article sometime last year that one of the reasons that Facebook is so popular with new moms is that it allows you to catch up with friends (or at least read their status updates) in 30 second increments.  Which is approximately the free time you have after re-directing your baby from climbing up onto the dining room table to eating the TV cable.

The problem with these 30 second intervals is that they become addictive.  First, you are reading an email or two every few hours, and slowly but surely you are creeping over to check for any sort of outside stimulation every 10 or 15 minutes.

What I have found is that when this happens, I start watching the clock as the day passes so very slowly, the kids are cranky and vocal (read:  crying, tantrums) for attention, and there really aren’t that many interesting FB updates, emails, or blogs to read.  (At least ones that you can intelligently digest in 20 seconds or less).

Instead, when the laptop is out of sight, the kids and I (and my husband, if he his home) spend quality time together and enjoy it all the more. I focus 100% on them (okay, 90%), instead of stealing glances at the inbox, and have a great time.  And time just seems to fly by.

So why does that pesky laptop seem to migrate to our dining room table more often than not?  Easy.  There are things to do: emails to answer, plans to make, weather forecasts to check, library books to renew, etc.

My new challenge to my husband and I is to put focus back on the family.  I challenge us to keep the laptop out of the common area during all but 2 hours/day, while the kids are awake.  Believe me, this will be tough for us.  And I have yet to break the news to hubby.

I will let you know how it goes.  Wish us luck!

In the meantime, I would love to hear how you minimize distractions in common areas of your house.  How do you keep your family tuned in to each other during family time?

Posted in activity, baby, challenge, family, happiness, philosophy, simple living, toddler | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Toddler Tip: Veterans Day Crafts

Posted by flsquared on November 10, 2009

My boys and I attend a pre-school-like class twice/week where the caregivers rotate bringing in the snack and preparing a project for the kids.  The toddlers range in age from 20-25 months (not including my David, who usually is so happy to have the playroom to himself he doesn’t want anything to do with the craft!).

Today was my day.  And let me just say that I stress waaaaay too much about the craft.

This nervousness is not unfounded–the last time I was in charge of the art project, I brought in egg cartons and pipe cleaners to make little spiders and caterpillars.  After 5 minutes, the instructor whipped out some stamp paints with stencils.  So what if the mamas and nannies were doing most of the work!

(Ours turned out very cute though–who doesn’t love googly eyes??)

aaaaaaablog 003

Hoping to avoid another embarrassment, I did about 2 hours of research last night on different crafts that toddlers and pre-pre-schoolers may enjoy doing to learn about Veterans Day.  Here are my favorites:

**  Enchanted Learning shows how to make a 3-D American star.

**  DLTK has two cool wreath ideas:  rememberance hands and poppies.   I especially love the hands wreath because one of Victor’s favorite activities is to have me trace his hand, and for him to trace mine.

**  The “Love To Learn Place” Suggested writing a letter of thanks to Veterans and sending them to VFW Hall.  One idea I had would be to draw a picture or decorate a flag and send it in to the Vets.

**  First School had a turkey and flag coloring page (Veterans Day and Thanksgiving!)  and a “My First Flag” activity where you use finger paint to make thumb prints for the stars on the flag.

In the end, I decided to go with something straightforward and easy.  I chose the “My First Flag” activity, but we glued foam stars and stickers onto the flag and colored a bit.  It was a bit hit!  There was no cutting, and lots of gluing (these guys love to glue!).  Most importantly, it was something that could be somewhat completed during their less than 2 minute attention span.

Here’s how ours turned out:

aaaaaaablog 002

(Oh, and it was Victor’s idea to not just sign his name, but to sign his brother David, Mama, and Papa.  What a sweet guy!)

I would love to hear from you–what projects are you planning on doing for Veterans Day?

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Simple Pleasures: Say Goodnight

Posted by flsquared on November 9, 2009

Last night, shortly after putting my 2 year old into bed, he called me back into the room.

I was surprised.  He has always been a good sleeper, rarely making a big fuss at bedtime.  I opened the door and walked back into the room, hoping it wouldn’t be one of those nights.

I sat on the floor by his bed and stroked his hair and whispered, “What’s up?  It’s time for bed.”

Smiling, “Mama!”

“Yes?  It’s time for bed, sweetheart.”

He looked at me for a moment.  “Victor happy.”

Until that point, it had been a normal day, nothing special.

Or so I had thought.

Upon hearing those two words, my heart filled, and I knew I would remember this day forever.

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Toddler Tip: Displaying Art Projects

Posted by flsquared on November 6, 2009

Now that my oldest boy is 2, he is constantly painting and coloring and creating all sorts of masterpieces with stickers. But where should we display them?

Posting them on the fridge won’t work:  I’m not a big fan of the cluttered look.  However, more importantly, while he enjoys taking a look at them from time to time, his little brother enjoys eating them more often than not.

I don’t have the energy or patience to create one of those crazy post-your-toddler’s-artwork display centers they talk about on TLC.

And, living in NYC, if there was a “big box” store solution, it would be beyond us.  Plus, money is tight and I’d rather improvise in some way.

After scratching my head for a bit, and collecting a number of projects in a box until I figured it out, I came across the perfect solution in my gifted subscription to Family Fun magazine (November 2009 issue, tip given by Heidi Hadfield):

Tape your favorite projects to the inside of your kitchen cabinets!

aaaaaablog

Awesome!  Everything is tidy, and yet when we want to take a peek at his artwork (or need to grab a bowl), we just open the cupboard.  It’s also a hit with Papa, who loves to come home, grab a snack, and check out what the little ones created today.

Posted in family, organization, saving money, simple living | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments »

Last Minute Halloween Costume: Mini-Farmers!

Posted by flsquared on October 30, 2009

Today, on the way back from Central Park we passed Ricky’s.  Apparently, it is the one-stop shop for Halloween costumes.  At 50% off today, there was literally a line a block long to enter (at 2pm, no less!).

To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about it until last week.  I can’t say that I’m a huge Halloween fan.  My husband is from Spain and has never celebrated it.  He’s not into dressing up at all and, as such, I have not been to a Halloween party in, oh, 10 years.  My first son was born in 2007 and spent most of September and October in and out of the hospital due to jaundice, so we didn’t do much more than take him for a short walk on Halloween.  My second son was born last year on October 28 and I think we left the hospital Halloween morning.

This year, we have 4 Halloween parties for the boys!  We definitely needed costumes.

On to the thrift shops I went.

No luck.

No luck?  Wow.  New York (Upper East Side, anyway) is tough!

I went into their closets.  And I started thinking….Every time I put the boys in cute little overalls, my husband calls them “farmers”.  I pulled out blue jean overalls, a flannel shirt, and a couple of red bandanas I had for whatever reason.  I actually had everything for both of them except overalls for the eldest.

Back to Gymboree (I finally got to buy something for us at that sale!).  The sales girl found some PERFECT overalls marked down to $7.99.  20% off coupon added and that was the price tag for their costume.  Hurrah!

Here’s one farmer:

aaafb 013and the little guy:

aaafb 012

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A Swing and a Smile

Posted by flsquared on March 28, 2009

Yesterday was a beautiful day–60 degrees, the sun was shining….  

We took a ride over to Bartlett Park to meet some friends.  Victor fell asleep in the stroller so all attention fell on David.  He just loved the swing!  

david swing

When Victor woke up, he decided to join the fun:

david victor swing

Yea Spring!!!

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Don’t Tell My Husband, BUT….

Posted by flsquared on March 24, 2009

I had a DATE on Saturday!  

Actually, he already knows.  It was with my son, David.

david

You see, with my husband being a full-time student and my being a full-time mother (and with no family within a 5 hour radius), we get few breaks.  Since David turned 4 months and has started getting a “routine”, I have started to have some time off.  Generally, Wednesday nights are my free nights (usually I get a coffee and work on the blog, go to my knitting group, or take a walk with a friend), Thursday nights out with the girls, and Saturday mornings/afternoons I go to “The Strip” to get our food for the week.

That’s the goal, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  

This past weekend, for example, my husband had to work on a presentation.  So I grabbed David and headed off to The Strip while Victor was taking his nap.  I’m not going to pretend it was easy wheeling the stroller around in the midst of the Saturday crowd, but it was worth it!   In fact, I think this is going to be the start of a new tradition.

You see, Victor, my 19 month old, is always the center of attention.  He loves people (especially women) and is a HUGE FLIRT.  Going to the Strip with David, I realized what a gem he is too.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore him, but we just haven’t have the time to bond as Victor and I have.

As we checked out the produce and fresh pasta, we were stopped by women left and right:  “He is so cute!”  “Just look at those cheeks!” “What a good baby!”  “What a smile!!”  

Makes a mama proud!

My favorite part was stopping to get a coffee and just “hanging out” with David.  We made googly eyes at each other and just smiled and laughed together.  I’ve been making such an effort to have “alone time” with my toddler that until that moment I didn’t realize that I needed time to focus on the baby as well.

I definitely think that Saturdays are now going to be mama and David days!

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