Monday, February 27, 2012

Back to School and Links

Today we got back into more normal routine, as A's bus service resumed and the boys went back to school. I used the morning to bake hamentashen for Purim...It is 10 days away and I have a lot of cooking and prepping to do for our ever-expanding Purim meal.
I also have a midterm next Tuesday which is not exactly convenient but it seems none of my classmates are making a meal for 35+ people. I was just telling my friend that I would rather start cooking early and freeze, because I am too old to pull all-nighters.
The costumes are bought/ordered, my mishloach manos boxes and food are in the apartment too, so I am feeling semi-confident that things will fall into place.
I am just happy to be back to our usual schedule and to have some time to run errands and do my cooking. And to not have to take someone to the bathroom every 45 minutes. Baby AY has not been super cooperative in terms of sleeping and letting me get stuff done, but I will have to just schedule nursing  and/or holding the baby breaks into my schedule.
Since I have nothing too exciting to report, here are some more interesting links:
-MamaBirth on becoming "That Mom"- I can totally relate to this

-JewishMom has a very moving article about the Fogel-family. It is nearly a year since the murder and the piece profiles how the children and grandparents are trying to move on.

And for some Adar humor, a video making fun of all the things Anglos in Israel say. I could totally relate to this and it made me miss my family and friends in Israel, who are lucky to be there every day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Toilet-Training Chronicles

I have to say I am not one for toilet training. My philosophy with most parenting stuff is to let kids figure it out on their own, rather than push. This works well with most things but apparently not with toileting. I kept waiting for my kids to give me a sign they were ready, to show interest like the books said they would but nada.

When A. was 3 yrs old, I decided that I had waited enough and just put her in underwear. To her credit she figured it out in a day or two.

That attempt was also the first of many attempts to train Y. He did not figure it out then or in other subsequent attempts over the years. I kept saying, when he is 4, 5, 6, he will be clean but it was not happening. Partially because he was not ready, partially because I was not consistent enough with him. For the past year or so he is being taken to the bathroom consistently on schedule at school. It seemed to be working okay, so last Tuesday, about 10 days ago,  we took the plunge and put him in underwear.

It has been a rough ten days, made harder by the fact that the boys were home this whole week. I have a very hard time remembering to take him to the bathroom every 30-45 minutes (hello annoying timers) and he often resists it. I would like to say we have made progress and we have, but we are not quite there yet. He will not request to go , so we are still taking him what feels like all the time. As long as we stay on schedule, we are usually okay. If I forget or he refuses to go, we have accidents. There has been a lot of laundry going on around here. I have been tempted to give up many times but at this point I feel there is no turning back. It would undo all the work we have done. My special needs support group is cheering me on and telling me to give it a good 3 to 4 weeks to really click. That seems like forever to me but I am still trudging on. We are almost at the two week mark and once he is back at school, they will be in charge of this aspect for a large part of the day.

Like I said, M and Y were both home from school this week and we were stuck at home (ie near a toilet) anyway, so I decided to be really insane and put M. in underwear too. Thank goodness he caught on right away and is doing well, although still averaging about one accident a day. Maybe I should tell Baby AY that his time has come too? Or is three months a bit too ambitious? I guess if at the end of the week I have one toilet trained child, I should call it a success, right? I just wish it was the other child.

As a motivator to get moving on the training, I had bought myself a jdeal- a 60 minute massage plus reflexology treatment to be redeemed when Y is fully trained. I told my husband, that even though Y. isn't totally there yet, I think I have earned my reward already.

It has been a LOOONG week keeping everyone entertained, happy and most of all, dry. A. I am looking forward to a, hopefully, restful weekend followed by back to school for everyone on Monday.
Stay tuned for more fun potty updates. Baby AY wishes you a wonderful shabbos.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Product Review- Aden and Anais

With the new baby, came the question of new baby gear. Did I have everything already or were there some things I needed? Was there anything new out there? Over the past few years, I had started seeing the Aden and Anais Swaddle Wrap Cloths everywhere. They seemed like a good idea and had cute designs, but once I saw the price tag, I was less enthusiastic to pay so much for what seemed like glorified burp cloths.
Still, something about them appealed to me. When I had the opportunity to use some store credit in a baby store, I decided to go for it and buy a pack.
I have to say that I really, really love them. They are soft and very large and come in handy for lots of things. I use them as a cover when I am out and nursing in public. Their extra large size ensures that I am more than adequately covered and the light material is good for not overheating the baby under a thick covering.
 I use them to clean up spit up or as a changing pad if I do not have one handy. They are great for swaddling the baby, although Baby AY is getting bigger and doesn't seem to need the swaddling as much. They also work as a light blanket, another layer on these pre-spring days.
I have also used the cloths as a covering for his stroller when he is sleeping and we are out and about. Like this, the kids won't poke him and wake him  up and he is also not as exposed to the noises and stimulation of the busy NYC streets. In short, it has become my go-to item and I do not leave home without them.
I am still not super thrilled with the price (between $35-50 for a pack of 4) but at least I now know why they are so popular. My recommendation would be to buy this item if you are pregnant or have a newborn. And if you are really lucky, maybe someone will read this post and gift you a set, so you do not have to pay for it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Giving Back

Over the years of being a parent of a child with special needs I have been and still am on the receiving end of lots of advice- finding therapists, medical referrals, toilet training, IEPS, general support, you name it. I am part of a Special needs list serve and also know other parents and their information is often invaluable and not easily accessible.
At times, as a parent, you feel like you are reinventing the wheel when the answers already exist, you just have to find the person who knows them. This is why I very much treasure being on the giving end of the advice chain.
Whether it is support for a new mother, referrals to therapists or explaining how CPSE works, I like to help people.  Not because I am so knowledgeable and amazing, but because I remember so clearly what it is like to need answers and not know how to get them. Just today I had the opportunity to email someone with some information about the Turning 5 process. This mother is confused and hearing conflicting information from different sources. All she wants is to find a placement for her child. While I definitely do not have all those answers for her, I was able to give her some general information that will be helpful in making decisions and point her in the right direction.
Knowing how meaningful it is to me to get a crucial bit of information or just the listening ear of someone who has been there, I am happy to give back in this way. Supporting each other on this crazy journey is what it is all about!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekend Round-up

Thanks for everyone's concern about my presentation. I actually think it went really well. Just my luck, my professor was more into intervention free birth :) One of the girls said I "almost convinced her." To me, it was not really about convincing anybody, just about giving them access to information they may not get otherwise. I may summarize some of the things I spoke about in a different post.
We just came back from a weekend away with our whole crew. We had a family bar mitzvah. I was a bit concerned because taking our kids out of their routine and into a new place is always a bit challenging.
Especially when you are eating long meals in a big shul and the kids do not have the patience to sit through it all.
I brought along way too many things for just over 24 hours- clothing, diapers, toys, etc but my friend always says it is better to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.
Thankfully, the weekend worked out very well. A friend referred me to a babysitter, who helped out during the meals. She played with the kids outside when they were done eating and made sure noone went wandering off. She was very sweet and did her job well. And the peace of mind of knowing there is another set of hands and eyes to keep tabs on everyone is invaluable.
The kids actually had a lot of fun playing with their second cousins, whom they do not know so well. I am glad they had a chance to spend time with them but it made me kind of wistful,wishing they had more opportunities to interact and play with their cousins in Israel.
Our kids are such city-kids. Getting in a car and driving 20 minutes to New Jersey was a huge adventure for them. A. was talking about it for weeks, counting down to it and telling all her friends. The boys were excited that they got to drive in a car. A. was asking lots of questions- where are the traffic lights, why are there houses and not apartment buildings, why do the side-walks look different. I joked around with my husband that we need to take them out of the city more often :)
The only mishap over the weekend was that M. took a nasty fall on the way home from lunch. He was running down the sidewalk, when he tripped over an uneven part of the pavement. He fell forward straight onto his head. I was already having visions of a repeat from last summer, stitches and all. Thank goodness, he just had superficial scrapes and some bruising. He still looks pretty awful though.

AY was the star of the show this past weekend. Everyone was marveling at his spiky hair and saying how cute he is. I definitely agree with this assessment :)

This week, both boys are off from school for President's Week. I am still not sure how I am going to entertain them or where to take them. Suggestions welcome. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Presenting on Birth

I have been busy these past few days, working on my presentation for class. Our professor wants each of us to pick a chapter of our book to present to the class. Even though the chapter on birth was not on her list of choices, I asked if I could present on this topic, because I have expertise as a doula.
She loved the idea, the only catch was that I had to have it done by Thursday. She told me this on Monday. I said yes anyway and got to work. It helps that we are not home for shabbos this week and I did not need to worry about cooking.
Countless hours and a 23 slide PowerPoint presentation later, I feel prepared. I am going to review it in the morning but I think I am ready. The only other issue is that I know my material but I hate presenting. I am not really much of a public speaker, I usually leave that to my husband. I am hoping the PowerPoint slides will make it easier. I am also motivated because I have the chance to educate a room full of young women and future mothers on the topic of childbirth and teach them some important facts.
Now that I had my first assignment, I feel like I am officially in school!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gigi's Playhouse

Today I got a random email from an old provider of ours. I was not even going to read it but I am glad I did because it contained exciting news. There is a Down Syndrome Awareness Center opening up in Morningside Heights, right near us.
Gigi's Playhouse was originally started as a play space for children with Down Syndrome by a parent of a little girl named Gigi. It has since evolved into a national organization with playhouses in different cities all over the US. They offer programming and educational activities for children of all ages and their parents.
The goal is to raise awareness about Down Syndrome, provide support to the parents and give the children a great place to learn, play and gain confidence. You can find out more information here.
The NY location is opening at the end of February and I am definitely going to check it out. Just another example of how networking is so important when trying to navigate the world of Special Needs.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Breastfeeding in the News

It has not been a great week for breastfeeding...
First Staples co-founder Tom Stemberg complains that breastfeeding is going to cost the economy jobs and productivity. He is referring to a part of Obama's Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide reasonable breaktime as well as a place other than a bathroom that is shielded from view to either nurse or pump milk for their babies. Stemberg refers to this private space as "lactation chambers."
Then a texas judge upheld a company's right to fire an employee for wanting to pump milk for her baby. From the article I linked  to:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint on behalf of Donnicia Venters against debt collection agency Houston Funding. Donnicia Venters, 30, alleges the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman "because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth."...
Joan Williams, law professor and director of the Center for Work Life Law at the University of California, Hastings, said, it "makes no sense at all" to say lactation is not a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. 
"Everybody knows that breastfeeding is a medical condition related to childbirth," Williams said.

I do not know much about the law, but I do think it is absurd to say that nursing is not related to birth. But Little Legal's blog explains that the Civil Right's Law says you are only protected against discrimination for things you have absolutely no choice about, unless otherwise specified. The Breastfeeding Discrimination Act only covers pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Therefore she says:  because breastfeeding is a choice and not a medically “necessary” element of pregnancy or childbirth, most judges are not going to think it’s protected from discrimination.

I am happy that I do not have to contend with these issues, but it is mind boggling that these things are still happening in the year 2012! 
My biggest issue with breastfeeding is doing it around people. I am very comfortable nursing in public with a blanket covering me. It does not really faze me but I can see that sometimes it makes others uncomfortable. I am not doing it to make a statement, rather just for convenience's sake.  I do not like feeding babies in bathrooms or hiding in my bedroom unless absolutely necessary.
I do think by (unobtrusively)feeding in public we can do our part to help normalize breastfeeding and make it seem like a natural thing to do. Maybe then we won't have to hear people talking about "lactation chambers" (I mean really??) or listen to dubious claims that breastfeeding is not related to birth.
What do you think?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Developmental Psych and Me

I have been kind of missing in action this week, for no particular reason. Somehow I never got around to writing. By the evening, I would just be too exhausted and I chose sleep over blogging. Which I think is a wise choice.
So far, school has been going well. I am taking developmental psychology which I find interesting. The professor talks fast and I do not always get to write everything down in my notes. But I know it is all in the book, so I am not too concerned. We have been discussing the different theories on development.
One of the theories speaks about the influence of context, i.e culture and society on development. I read my homework assignment aloud this week, in which I talked all about the cultural context of growing up in Europe. Not quite what the professor was expecting I think.
A different theory also discusses the influence of non-normative events on one's development. I definitely score big in this category- living abroad during high school, having complicated surgery at age 16, giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome at the age of 21...I think these all qualify.The question would be, I guess, how specifically these events influenced me. Something to ponder at a later date.
The behaviorist perspective is of interest to me as a mother. It talks all about stimulus/response and behavior modification by reinforcing certain behaviors and extinguishing others....This is what disciplining children is all about, especially at a young age. In its most rigid form, it is the basis for ABA therapy for children on the autistic spectrum.
Children definitely need this consistency and do well with sticker charts/rewards and consequences but the truth is that people are more complex than this behaviorist perspective. So even though, a certain behavior is being reinforced with positive feedback, other factors may come into play that will prevent a child from doing what you expect her to. If it really were that simple, there would not be so many mommy-blogs dedicated to women complaining about their crazy/uncooperative children. Not that I know any such blogs/mommys/chidren...:)
The next chapter is all about conception, pregnancy and birth- my favorite topics. Looking forward to share.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's the Little Things

Here are just a few of the things that made me happy this weekend:
- Baby AY slept a 6 (!) hour stretch. And I actually slept for 5 of those 6 hours.
- My husband and I went to a luncheon/kiddush this week after shul with just the baby who slept for most of it and only woke up at the end to nurse. It was a quasi-date, if you do not consider the 100 or so other people who were there too :)
- When I got home from my quasi-date, I discovered that my babysitter had not only watched the kids but also done my dishes from the night before. Have I mentioned how awesome our new Shabbos babysitter is?
- The kids had friends come over who kept them busy and occupied most of the afternoon. When they left, Y, M and I had an impromptu Uncle Moishy concert/sing-along that was fun.
All in all, a low-key, happy Shabbos. After last week's bad news, I treasure all the little, normal, fun moments.
Hoping there are plenty more of those in the upcoming week.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

For Ayelet

Why is it that you only appreciate what you have when confronted with loss?
We woke up yesterday morning to the sad news that little Ayelet Galena had passed away in the early hours of the morning. It was a shock and I have spent the last two days quietly mourning and reflecting on Ayelet and her incredible parents.
The truth is, I woke up on Tuesday feeling sorry for myself. It was the day of Y's annual IEP meeting. While we usually discuss how far he has come, most of the meeting is spent discussing new goals and how far he still has to go. But my little pity part was cut short when I read the news. How can I complain when I have four healthy children? Healthy enough to make messes, throw tantrums and blast Uncle Moishy at 5 45 am.
And yes I should be feeling that every day, but it gets lost amid the lack of sleep and the children who seem to be intent on stepping on my every last nerve and seeing how far they can push.  This was a stark reminder of all my blessings, one that I probably needed.
My husband and I went to the funeral today. It was very sad but also very moving. There is something really powerful to be united in this way with hundreds (we estimate about 750  but it is hard to know) of people. We were all there together, to show support for Hindy and Seth, to comfort and be comforted.
And through the tears I also laughed at some of Hindy and Seth's comments but mostly I was inspired. Do you know that through the bone marrow drives that were held for Ayelet, a staggering 21 matches were found? This little two year old girl has been the conduit for saving all these lives. Her facebook group and blog inspired so many of us to pray, do good deeds and work on ourselves. She truly was a light and an inspiration.
If a two year old can bring out so much good and create so much light, who knows what our true potential is.
So I have been thinking a lot these past few days. Mourning this tremendous loss, feeling her family's pain while also appreciating the blessings I have and contemplating every individual's potential to accomplish so much.
Let us all resolve to spread a little bit more light. May her memory be for a blessing.