Thankful Because You’re Gone- A Holiday Declaration of Love for Myself

 In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I figured I’d write about what I’m thankful for.  Maybe not in the traditional snorman rockwellense, like, I am thankful for my beautiful family, yadda yadda.  Don’t get me wrong…I am VERY thankful for them and  for so many other things that I have.  But, I am ironically, also thankful for the thousands of near misses that I DO NOT have in my life. I am thankful that I had the good sense, or the inner guidance, if you want to call it that, to steer me clear of certain paths and individuals.   Yes, of course they are learning experiences, but Damn…I’ve had a lot of learning experiences.  I’m pretty good now.

That George Michael song, “…turn a different corner and we never would have met…” Oh so true.  Of everything.  We are faced with choices every single day. One choice to go left instead of right can change the course of your entire day, and your entire life, or if you want to be morbid, that choice can lead to the end of your life.  Time is short.  It goes by too fast. Things are happening around us at a pace that we cannot control.

Like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

This year and every year as I get older, I realize that I don’t have time in my life for people that do not value me, or my family.  I don’t mean this in the figurative sense.  I literally mean, If I used to give you 30 minutes of my time daily or weekly, trust me, that 30 minutes is filled with something else.  I am spread very thinly.  At my age and stage in life, I will only allow meaningful relationships to occupy my precious and limited time.  I’m not the type to never give a second chance, but, chances are, if a thread of respect is broken in our friendship, it will never be the same.  Some people may find this harsh, I find it realistic.  I am careful with my words.    “It’s not what you say, its how you say it.” I expect my “friends” to do the same.  I am polite toward my friends, even when I am being honest.  When I don’t get the same respect, things change.  They rrrrrrrreally change. I will never be the same toward you. Ever.  I am thankful to all of the people over the years that have shown their true colors before truly destroying me.  I am thankful you are no longer in my life. Like I said, I’m pretty good now! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Posted in Abby's life, Family, family values, Kids, life, Mommy, Moms 40+, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Started A You Tube Channel For My Kiddos

12304387_10154757611634572_6405155957718687019_oI know exactly how it started.  It started with the introduction of the first electronic device we handed to them to function as a babysitter.  It was the Smart Phone.  We have since graduated to bigger babysitters; to a Kindle, an  iPad and a computer.  They can operate any electronic  babysitter…er…device.

How did they start watching YOU TUBE?  About  five years ago,  it started while in the car  with Maddie.  She was screaming in her car seat, as usual. It was excruciatingly painful to hear. We searched YOU TUBE for  Elmo and we found him singing with Katy Perry. When I could not stand the video any longer, I  moved to various renditions of  The ABC’s, and Barney until we reached our destination.  We discovered all sorts of kids entertainment, right on our phone!

On their own, the kids have become obsessed with YOU TUBE channels where kids do not much more than play with toys.  Instead of playing with their  own toys, Maddie and Caroline like to watch other kids play with toys.  So bizzare. They can do this for hours, so of course, I limit the viewing and make them play with their own toys.  They watch kids open large play doh eggs with surprises inside.  They watch Baby alive poop out Play doh burgers and fries.  It’s mind numbing!  Which, I am not going to lie, is why I let them watch.  A little sedation to catch a break?  I am not above it.

A  new phenomenon has been developing for the last year.  These days, they walk around the house saying, “Hi, guys!” as they begin doing anything and pretend they are in a show.  I remember doing this with my brother when  we were little.  I guess every kid wants their 15 minutes! They learn about “fame” pretty early.

Madeleine has been wanting to start a cooking show, and a toy opening,  aka, “unboxing”show. Caroline will do whatever her sister does, and loves the camera.  So, I did it.  I just started their channel for which we will create content.  I felt as though, “Why not?”  It is something we can do together! Heck, I would rather film them playing than having them watch other kids play!

I realize though, as with all of the things we do with our kids (Geo and I ), it takes a lot of work.  We are an “if we are in it…we are in it to win it” sort of family.  I want to impart this to my girls.  They need to know that if they set their minds to it, that they can do anything!  Please watch their You tube channel and subscribe and share! We are in it to win it!  Little MadCar is born.  The name is a combination of their  first names, and I think it sums  up their personalities quite nicely. Show it to your kiddos! Let them subscribe and let them know we will be needing Guest stars!

Click this link for  Little MadCar’s You tube channel  Don’t forget to like it on YOU TUBE and to subscribe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flying with Babies:Tips from a Flight Attendant Mom

Little airplane

Image via Wikipedia

I consider myself  a professional traveler. I travel for fun as often as possible, and travel for work between 100-150 hours per month. No, I am not a corporate head honcho, I’m merely a mom that is also a flight attendant. I have an 18-year-old daughter that has been to more places than most adults, and she also can claim professional traveler status. She had her first flight over the Atlantic before she could lift her own head. My younger, baby daughter is a bit of a slacker, having had her first flight at a mature three months of age, a short flight, to Orlando, Florida. I was nervous, since I was traveling on my airline, and my co-workers would expect that my child would be a model passenger. Lord knows that if she were a crier, it would be the topic of back galley conversation for the rest of the month. Thankfully, I am pleased to report, that she did fine on that flight. At three months, she was still a “sleepy” baby. Things began to change on her second flight to Aruba, a four hour flight. Maddie was 8 months old, and no longer a sleepy baby. She was learning to use her voice-her very loud, high-pitched, happy, albeit, screaming voice. I happened to be friends with that day’s crew, so they didn’t give me too much of a hard time.

It had been a while, 17 years in fact, since I had to travel with an infant, or toddler. My older daughter now packs her own luggage. Speaking as a flight attendant, screaming babies and the like are not such fun for us. Now, now, I’m just being honest. You’ll hear us in hushed tones saying things to each other like, “those parents are clueless.” To be fair, some parents really are clueless, but that’s not the point of this story. The fact is, it is nearly impossible to control a fidgety baby that is sitting on one’s lap, even if it’s a flight attendant’s lap! I had forgotten how hard it can be. I am that pesky flight attendant whom every parent thinks is childless because she just doesn’t understand, meanwhile, I’m also a mother that actually really does understand. I’d like to share both sides with you.

First things first, the obvious thing you can do to make life easier with children under two, is to purchase a seat for the infant car seat so that the baby has his/her own space. Make sure your seat is safe for air travel by checking the sticker on the back; if it does not comply with FAA standards you will be asked to check it. On most domestic flights, until the age of two, a child can fly for free or for a discount plus tax as a lap child. But, is that really a bargain? Really? Is peace of mind and a lap not dripping with sweat not worth something?

On some airlines, you can get an actual passenger seat for a discount, I strongly recommend looking into it, especially if your flight is a domestic long haul or international flight. One other major factor to consider, in deciding whether or not to purchase a seat for baby, is safety. Holding a child in your arms, although allowed until the age of two, is not the safest. If you do not bring the seat on board, but plan to gate check it, or they make you check it, a car seat cover is recommended so that Junior’s seat remains clean. This kind of cover is also great for gate checked strollers. For information on traveling with child restraint systems, check out www.faa.gov.

For traveling with infants, a bassinet can be reserved on some carriers (for long haul or international flights) for babies 8 months or less, or within certain height and weight requirements. Check your airline for details. Always remember, although something is reserved when you book your flight, check again at check in, and double check  at the gate, this goes for seat assignments that change at the last minute. Try to remember, you may or may not get what you want, and you should be prepared for that. Chant a nice “Om” and let it go, you have a long flight ahead, make it a good one. The rule of thumb is that the nicer you are, the more likely someone with control over your situation will want you to get your way and will go out of their way to make it happen.

Chances are good that my baby will be traveling again very soon, as is the nature of a flight attendant’s perks. Have flights, will travel. In the meantime, I am preparing a lot of things to keep her occupied. Now at 11 months Maddie has a slightly longer attention span and can watch entire “Yo Gabba Gabba” episodes (and I thought I would never resort to TV babysitting-HA!) which helps a great deal. Over the years I have collected some tips from watching other parents, (the ones that TOTALLY have a clue!) managing their children on flights. One very creative mom had a great idea. She purchased several inexpensive, small activity type toys such as Colorforms, magnetic paper dolls, and travel Magna Doodle. She gift wrapped the top of each item with ribbons and the whole bit. For TSA clearance, she left the back of each gift unwrapped. For every half hour that the child “behaved” she allowed the child to open a “present.” The unwrapping of each gift was exciting, and at the same time, a bit of busy work for the child. Each new toy presented an activity, and the child was happy for hours! Sure, there’s a little bribery involved, but I’m not above it, are you? The flight attendants were all amazed, and she received so many compliments on that flight from other parents, that I share her idea whenever I can.

Aside from keeping children happy and occupied on flights, more important is keeping children fed, safe and comfortable. It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? You would be amazed, or mortified, to find out how many parents do not bring sufficient basic supplies for their children on board. I’m talking food, diapers, an extra change of clothing and milk. These things need to be in your carry ons, not in your checked luggage. They should be the first things that you should pack, since flights, more often than not, can be delayed. Add weather to the mix and you’ve added several hours to your flight because of circling over your favorite airport (so close-yet-so-far), or even stopping to refuel if circling goes on too long. What does that mean? That means you’ll need a few extra diapers, that you’ll be faced with a few extra feedings, and that you should be ready.

Do not be surprised if a flight attendant chuckles slightly when you ask if food will be served on your way from JFK to LAX. Very few domestic airlines these days provide meals, let alone meals that are suitable for a baby or children. Yes, we all miss the days when it was glamorous to fly, and the flight attendants, or air hostesses would change into their serving outfits. Most airlines, not all, serve some kind of snack, operative word being snack. Some airlines do not even provide a snack. You should consider getting to the airport early to have a meal in the terminal after you’ve cleared security, and purchase anything you feel you may need on board. http://www.cheapflights.com/promos/kadg/ provides a great “kids airport diversion guide” that lists the kid friendliness of various domestic and international airports.

It is important to find out what amenities your particular airline provides ahead of time, and then be prepared that whatever they do provide, will run out. For example, on my particular aircraft, we have very few containers of milk, and the milk that we do have, is not “fresh” it is “shelf” milk. It is doubly important that you bring your own food if your child suffers from allergies of any kind. If your child suffers from airborne allergies, do not travel without an epi-pen in your carry on. Ever. Imagine your dismay on an international or long haul flight to find out that there are no gluten free meals on board because they ran out, or they never got your request. Breast milk, formula, and juice as well as baby food for babies are allowed in carry on baggage. Check with www.tsa.gov for allowable quantities, and to be made aware of your rights before traveling on both domestic and international flights. Bring food that does not need to be cooked or warmed, as not all carriers have a microwave or heating system on board. When meals are not served, there is no need to have a microwave, or food utensils, so don’t forget those either!
My dear parents, I would like to share with you an important announcement about what makes every flight attendant cringe, no matter how many times we see it. 1. Parents taking their children into the lavatories barefoot. Why? You are aware that people miss the toilet 90 percent of the time? It is the social and cleanliness equivalent to the time Britney Spears went into a gas station bathroom barefoot. Remember the media frenzy on that? 2. Parents handing flight attendants dirty diapers in their bare hands. Unless it is my own baby’s pee or poop, which is not always the cutest-I do not want to touch it. Parents actually say to us, “it’s just pee.” Need I say more? It’s pee, and pee doesn’t belong in a seat back pocket, and while I’m at it- we all know not to change our babies on the tray tables where people eat, right? I thought so. Good, you’re not one of those parents. Basically, all kidding aside, not everyone will think that what your baby does is cute, I know, I know, it seems unlikely-its even hard for me to believe about my own baby-but it is a fact.

Ladies and Gentleman, I will now interrupt your in-flight entertainment for a special safety announcement; Please pay close attention. As a mother and as a flight attendant, I will explain something to you. Flight attendants are not on board to make your life with baby a misery. No. We actually care about the safety of your children. If a crew member asks you to secure your child in a seat belt, not only is it an FAA rule, which means that you should comply, but it is for your child’s safety, I promise. I myself have been seriously injured on flights due to turbulence. I have seen children become seriously injured due to turbulence. Babies crawling in the aisles, and sleeping under-yes under the seats-will, repeat, will get hurt in turbulence. When will turbulence happen? If you know, please, alert the pilots so that we all know. In my experience, no one knows. The pilots can predict, yay, anticipate turbulence-but know for certain when or how bad it will be? Never can tell. Now, having warned you out of experience and concern, one more thing about turbulence: VOMIT. I can speak candidly here, since I know that parents are no strangers to vomit. That my friends, is why that carry on of yours should include extra clothes for your baby as well as a t-shirt for yourself and your partner so that you don’t arrive to Grandma’s smelling like, well, vomit. Also handy for those crazy little bodily fluids of the kiddies, odor neutralizing plastic bags like the ones used for diapers. These are great for stinky clothes so that you don’t have to smell them for the rest of the flight.

Now, back to the in-flight entertainment. In-flight entertainment may or not be something that your airline provides. Some airlines provide TV or movies, others do not. Of the airlines that do, occasionally, they may experience technical difficulties in the air that cannot be fixed at 30,000 feet. Also, there may be areas that are not covered by their satellites. What does that mean? No in-flight entertainment. Although you may have chosen a particular airline for its ability to entertain the tikes-you should have a back up. Portable DVD players are a life-saver with the “Wiggles” on demand. Headphones that are suitable for little ears are suggested for DVD players, and even for the on-board entertainment, since the airline’s headphones may not fit little heads, or may be too loud.

Many safety and in-flight entertainment ideas for the little ones can be found  in my Amazon store under “travel”, and also at my blog site, Bebe en Espanol.com.  West Side Kids, a toy store on Amsterdam Avenue and 84th street on the Upper West side of Manhattan has a section devoted to travel that includes books like “Going on a Plane,” Airport sticky people, airplane coloring books, and games. My older daughter loved plastic Safari animals and took them in a small backpack on trips, to restaurants and anywhere that required her to sit for long periods. One of the coolest things I have seen is the Melissa and Doug “Lock and Latch board.” It is for ages three and up, but with adult supervision, I saw it keep a 10 month old busy on board for at least an hour.

Ladies and Gentleman, we will be landing shortly. At this time, please nurse or bottle feed your baby for the sake of his ears due to air pressure. The sucking action will help unclog his ears. For older children, chewing and swallowing anything or drinking from a straw will help. A quiet baby may suddenly screech upon landing due to air pressure in the ears. Chewing gum for children is not advisable at this time. Due to crying and hyperventilation, the gum can easily get sucked down the wrong passageway, and now instead of ear pain, you’ll have a choking child. Ear problems associated with air pressure affect everyone differently. It is not advisable to travel with a child that has a cold for this reason. You must be very empathetic with your child, as this experience is painful. Do your best to soothe your child at this time. If your baby happens to be sleeping upon landing, do not wake him/her to feed. A child will always let you know if they are experiencing pain.

I have seen many parents give their children Benadryl to get them to sleep in-flight. I have heard parents say that their doctor advised it. I, for one, am not an advocate of this type of behavior control for my own child. If you decide that medicating your child, just so that he is quiet, is something that doesn’t bother you, I would suggest trying it out at least a week before you fly. The worst thing you can do is introduce something new to your baby or child, especially a drug, that will bring on a reaction that you did not anticipate while at 30,000 feet in the air. This goes for new foods as well.

Lastly, you may have taken every suggestion, and your baby may have been a great little passenger except for a ten minute meltdown. What happens then? Well, there will always be a couple of heads turning back Exorcist style to glare at you and shake a ” Tsk, tsk, tsk,” whenever your child makes a teeny, or not so teeny, peep. It is to be expected. However, hold your head up high, you, prepared parent, you! Armed with activities and supplies to help yourself and to entertain your baby, you can safely admit to yourself, and express to 15E, that you have done the best that you can. I do hope you’ll fly again soon. Check back again soon for more travel tips and check lists.

Posted in 40, Abby's life, Entertaining kids, Family, Flying with kids, Kids, Mommy, moms, Moms 40+, travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Home School Spanish: Mexican Bingo Play and Learn!

loteria card

As a child, I played Loteria, or, Mexican Bingo, with my family.  Some of my fondest memories come from the days when my Grandmother would call out the Spanish words with their iconic pictures and riddles.  We would mark our bingo cards with dried Pinto beans (they always seemed to be on hand), or with pennies.  When Grandma felt like adding a little interest, we would play with quarters as markers; the winner kept the markers from the players that didn’t win during that hand.

Today I played with my girls in an effort to practice Spanish with them. Some of the words are not PC today. I recall as a child, strategically using  a pinto bean to cover up a mermaid’s (la sirena’s), bare breasts.  The game’s gorgeous artwork has remained the same for the last hundred years. Artist Teresa Villegas updated the classic for an art exhibition, and subsequently published a new version with her artwork (no longer available, but can be seen on tour), in collaboration with the current makers of the game. I am partial to the original art as it brings back great memories.

My daughters loved playing the game today!  I found it useful in teaching phrases like, do you have it, I don’t have it,  you have it, I see it, Do you see it? in the corner, on the left, etc.

I plan to make my own bingo games to compliment words that we are learning: Colors, parts of the body, and verbs.  I found a great Bingo card generator online! Make your own picture bingo game and print it up using your own pictures of familiar objects.  Kids love to see themselves! Use pictures of their favorite foods and toys!

I am enjoying these Spanish lessons with my girls. It is really encouraging to see them getting excited about speaking Spanish. Madeleine has proudly moved on from merely knowing the word Manzana to knowing her colors, numbers, and some favorite foods in only a week! I am doing my best to keep it going!

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Friendships: When Breakups Affect Your Kids

DSC_0428I recently had a “friendship breakup.” It was not my first, but I think it may have been the most painful. There are “friends” and there are friends.  It is difficult to tell what kind of friendship you are having if the feelings are not on the same level for both parties. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing where exactly you stand until there is a test to the friendship; and it becomes clear. I have had four major friendship breakups in my lifetime.  Two of those friends I have reconnected with, the other two may not be worth re-investing in. Honestly, of the friendships that have been rekindled, I can say that they won’t ever be the same, they are not terrible, but they are not as deep. There is something that changes. The trust bond is broken, and it is a thread that can never fully heal. So, friendships with people that you know on some level are likely to hurt you again, are they worth keeping around?  I mean, aren’t we all kind of busy?  I know I am.

I am not the kind of person to remain “friends” with ex boyfriends.  My personal thought on that is, if we could not be friends while we were lovers, we really don’t need to remain buddies.  For what? I guess on some level, the reconnecting, or getting back together with a friend has a similar tone for me. If a friend shows that they do not consider you as valuable as you thought you were to them, the love is obviously not there.  I have no time for superficial relationships in my life.  I am not saying that to be self righteous.  I simply cannot spread myself that thin. I invest a lot of time into my friendships.  I give a lot of myself, and a lot of my time.  I have a family, and a full time job, and my time is very valuable; especially since there always seems to be a shortage of it. If you are my friend, likely, you have been integrated into my family, because I don’t have a lot of time to do “extra” stuff without my family. So, if I break up with you, my family breaks up with you too.  This is a confusing and painful thing for little ones.  They will want to know what happened to Uncle or Auntie so-and-so.

I have considered remaining friends for the sake of my little ones, but that is like staying in a bad marriage. Why would I do that?

I have explained my break up to my children as something that sometimes happens between friends. They are little girls; everyone is their friend. I have explained that Auntie so-and-so and I disagreed on what our friendship was, we did not care for each other in the same way.  Sometimes one person loves one more than the other, and sometimes you have to let that friend go.  Sometimes friends hurt you.

It sounds a little harsh, but I used it as a teaching moment, because sadly, as girls, they will experience the heartbreak of girls breaking their hearts more often than boys.  It will follow them into adulthood, and it will not become less painful. It makes me sad that they will have to have those hurt feelings at some point, but it is a reality.

It is very difficult when your children say, “…But you love Auntie so-and-so, can’t you work it out?”

It seems like I should be able to work something out with a friend as a grown up, but when is it time to let that person go?  I had to look at the big picture. Was it  (the relationship) real? The answers to my own questions were very surprising. I have had a lot of conversations with adult women about their own “breakups” with close friends.  Everyone agrees that they are difficult times.  Everyone seems to go through a mourning period.  It gets better.  I have a little extra time for friends that I should have been devoting that energy toward, and also toward my adult daughter.  With time, my little ones will also heal.  It hurts me that they are sad, but they will be OK. I have to trust that I have explained the situation to them as best I could.

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Spanish Home School Starts at My House Today!

It is highly embarrassing that my husband and I are both fluent in Spanish and that our daughters are not.  Madeleine, age five, can say “apple” in Spanish.  That’s about it. That changes today! Today I will become a different woman! I will Speak Spanish to my children! Pinky Swear!

You can go ahead and tsk. tsk. all you want, but it has been challenging for us to teach the girls Spanish.  I did “try” at one point.  I founded a group called “Bebe en Espanol” in Brooklyn to meet other parents with the same problem: exposing our kids to Spanish speakers. I organized Flan contests, Spanish language story times, play dates, you name it.  It became difficult being the sole organizer and I found myself losing sight of what I had set out to do.

So, I shelved my bilingual baby rearing.

I don’t speak Spanish on a daily basis myself.  I have said to my husband, that my personality “gets lost in translation.” My jokes, my thoughts and favorite curse words, are all best expressed in English.  That has kept me from speaking to my girls in Spanish.  Sadly, the only times my husband and I speak Spanish to each other are when we don’t want our girls to know what we are talking about! True, we are inadvertently exposing them to the language, but seriously?  How bad is that?

So, while Caroline, my non-Spanish-speaking-two year-old,  is napping, I will purchase my Spanish Visual aids on Amazon, to really do it this time.  I will chronicle my lessons here, and keep you up to date on my progress.  If you are doing something similar, please, let’s travel that road together!  I would love comments and suggestions!

I will be making a lot of my own games, visual aids and lesson plans. I will be translating a lot of our children’s books into Spanish. Brown Bear Brown Bear is a good start! I will also be doing One Fish Two Fish, and all of our “Pete the Cat” books.  I like this better than buying Spanish versions, since we already have the books.

My first lesson begins today.  We will be reading “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” in Spanish. “Pedro el Gato y sus Cuatro Botones Cheveres”  We will be learning the numbers one through four in Spanish, and learning four colors by drawing, coloring and pasting buttons on to a Pete the Cat drawing. For those of you that speak Spanish, please excuse the lack of accent marks! I have not figured out how to fix that on WordPress! Our cut and paste activity is below! Hasta Luego!

pete the cat cut and paste

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New Year, New Lifestyle!

Image Most of my friends know that I have been in the Health and Baby business for the past 8 years.  I’m always looking for my “next adventure” in life, but am always sought after to give Holistic Health advice, or Pregnancy advice.  In light of that, I have answered the Universe’s call, and have decided to devote my time to my new-found Health coaching practice.  I hope to assist other families while I work on the health and happiness of my own family.  My family is my first priority, and I am always looking for ways to make my family more emotionally healthy and happy; I can help you do the same for your family by sharing what I put into practice myself.

Although I am a Birth doula, I do not plan to offer birth doula services at this time, however, I have some wonderful doula friends that I can refer! My focus will be primarily Health Coaching for Mothers, and mothers to be, and their families.

As a Certified Newborn Care Specialist/ “Baby Nurse,” and Lamaze certified childbirth educator, I will offer private Childbirth education classes, as well as “Baby Planning” services which can take you anywhere from “preparing your body”  with nutrition for pregnancy, to nursery item selection and nursery design.

Take a moment to poke around my website to find out how I can help you achieve your personal health goals, and those of your family. Contact me anytime for a phone consulation!

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