I can feel the love!

February 14, 2010

Love at first sight for the ice cream cone cupcakes, love at first sight for the books, and LOVE at first sight for the mountain of stickers to apply to the Valentine mailboxes!

As Fancy Nancy would say: The party was a scrumptious success! We began by eating our treats and listening to Valentine-themed books. And Fancy Nancy is always a win. At the beginning of Fancy Nancy: Heart to Heart, we find Fancy Nancy making sequined valentines for all her friends at Bree’s house. When she gets home, she finds a special secret valentine for her on her door…hmmm…I wonder who sent it. The case is on and Nancy must accessorize to find her secret admirer.

Next up we read How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? We have been IN LOVE with this series since Mina was a little one. The pictures of the dinosaurs in all the crazy colors are just wonderful and the funny things they do are the icing on the cupcake. The dinosaurs all seem to be getting into mischief, but in the end, they give the best hugs and kisses to their mama and papa. Of course, Mina would read the How Do Dinosaurs books by Jane Yolen all day long and one is just not enough. She knows exactly where they are in the bookshop and went on her own to get another one! Can you guess which one? Of course, the one with the DOCTOR in it : How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? Of course I told her we would read it, but we had valentine books to read first.

We were first fell in love with the pen and ink art of Peter McCarty (author and illustrator of the Hondo and Fabian books) with Jeremy Draws a Monster a few months ago. In it, Jeremy, a lonely little boy, draws himself a monster imaginary friend. The monster becomes very obnoxious and demanding and soon Jeremy is drawing him a hat, suitcase, and a bus ticket. After sending the Monster on his way, Jeremy goes down to join some “real” boys and girls for a game of ball. And now Peter McCarty has a little love story out just in time for Valentine’s Day: Henry in Love. I love the art in these books because they are so vivid with the colors, but also very calming with the fine use of the pen. Henry gets ready for school and has a lovely blueberry muffin for a snack. As we progress through the book, we learn that he has a crush on a little bunny named Chloe. In the end, after rearranging the desks in class, Henry and Chloe are sitting next to eat other, getting ready to eat their snack. Henry trades his beloved blueberry muffin for Chloe’s carrot so she will have the better snack…aaahhh young love!

Okay, everyone! Finished with our treats and our books, we move into the other side of the room to decorate our boxes! Stickers and kids are a match made in heaven. The process of peel-stick, peel-stick is such a loved activity. In the undecorated as-of-yet mailboxes, they found a woven heart basket made out of construction paper. It was filled with special Valentine’s Day stickers and a few blank Valentine cards to give out. There were also feathers and red construction paper hearts to glue on as well. Of course, I had a last minute crazy project addition: making herbal heart sachets. It all worked out so PERFECTLY in my head at 2 p.m. the day of the storytime! I cut out and sewed the hearts, filled little ziplock baggies with the herbs and beans, but when I went downstairs to get my glue gun—it was no where to be found. Grrr. I grabbed some needle and thread and flew out the door. After getting to the bookstore, Anne came to my rescue by going home and getting her glue gun! Implementing the filling process did not go as smoothly as I had imagined. I had thought that if I cut a hole in the corner of the ziplock bag, the child could place that in the hole of the heart sachet and everything would just slide in. Vigorous shaking of the bag was too tempting and the children’s room looked like an herbal explosion by the time it was done. Thank goodness for vacuum cleaners!!

A fun time was had by all and we hope we see you at our next Friday Fun for Kids. Ahoy there! We will be going on a treasure hunt, mateys! So, dig out your pirate attire and help us find the hidden treasure in the store. Yo HO HO and a whole lot of FUN! You won’t want to miss THIS one! Friday, March 12, 4 p.m.

Mommy’s Quiet Time | 21st Century Grandparenting

March 12, 2009

Both of Mina’s grandparents live out of state and out of the country. We use the usual, Skype and the Ojo video phone, to keep in touch. Last summer, when I was in Turkey, I had the forethought to buy two each of a few Turkish books–one to stay in Turkey and one to come back with us. The books were divided up between Mina’s grandmother and two aunts, so that each would have a book or two at their house to read to Mina when we called. I thought that one day, Mina and her grandmother or aunts could read to each other over the Internet and really be able to have the experience of sharing a book, no matter how far away they were.

Well, it finally happened! Mina went to her bookshelf and picked out a book that my mother-in-law had and they both sat down to read “together”. They were able to point out things on the pages, count bears, look at the balloon colors, all together. My idea worked! It maybe a little expensive, but it really helps to bridge the distance and helps everyone not feel so far away. ~Elif

Mommy’s Quiet Time | Cooking

February 24, 2009

I love to cook and to do as much as I can by scratch, and I thought it would just naturally extend into baby food and baby cookbooks, etc. Yeah, whatever. I spent all this money of containers for baby food, baby food cookbooks, baby food cooking flashcards of recipes, blenders, freezable trays. I went ALL out! I was going to cook for this baby and she would love it and we would have a grand old time.

Then reality set in. Mina barely ate any solid food, predominantly nursed and when she wanted food, it had to be store bought. I tried so hard to replicate Earth’s Best sweet potatoes! Mina would have none of it. I think the best advice to a new mom when considering baby food books is this: go to the library, check out ALL the books you can find, try them and then when the baby likes more than ONE recipe from a book, go and order it at TKE ( it will come in faster than Amazon!) and be satisfied that you didn’t waste a ton of money.

Now that Mina is a toddler, we cook together and she LOVES to cook and make up her own recipes. Just the other day, we made cookies and she decided on what to put in and which spice to choose. “Mama, I need to SMELL them! Mama, I need to TASTE them!” I look at toddler cookbooks with an eye of caution. Right now we read my cookbooks together and we make up our own recipes without cookbooks.

Fortunately or unfortunately, some of our lastest food creations have been influenced by Elmo or Pooh. We now put lots of honey in our cookies in honor of Pooh and spiral pasta is now called “Tigger tails.” I guess, if it helps to get her to EAT something, I will buy more “Tigger tails”. Sesame Street also introduces new food to Mina, through books, not TV. I got a coloring book last month and she would rather “read” it than color it. In it, Ernie, Bert, Zoe and Grover are around a campfire cooking hot dogs. Mina sees the picture and asks “What are they cooking?” To that I reply, “Hot dogs.” Of course, the next comment is an immediate, “I want a hot dog.” I tell her that we can get them at the market when we go, and end up wishing that you could buy just one hotdog instead of a pack of whatever it is. She ate her one hotdog and I spent the next week eating chicken hot dogs until I couldn’t look at them anymore! We were at a bookstore the other week and they had the Big Block Party which contained about 6 recipe cards. Yes, I bought it; I figured it was worth a shot. We went home and made Zoe’s Pink Tutu smoothies with bananas and strawberries. She ate some of it. Was it a waste of money? Not really, we still read the story out of it and we talk about the recipes. I think for right now, we will just cook together and bake together. When she begins to eat more and more consistantly, then I will probaly go with a backpack to TKE and buy out the whole shelf of children’s cookbooks! ~ Elif

Mommy’s Quiet Time | Sleep

February 16, 2009

For months now, I have been talking about doing a blog on sleep — or lack thereof! — but have not gotten around to it. Mainly because I kept hoping that I would be able to offer or add my own success stories about getting Mina to sleep. Alas, we are still in search of the magic potion that will ease the child into slumber without her needing to hold onto my thumb for comfort! Yes, I did say that she needs to still hold my thumb to go to sleep…sigh…

When I first discovered that I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding babies, food, nutrition, labor, pregnancy… you name it, I read it. Except, interestingly enough, sleep. I have no idea how that crucial concept slipped through my fingers. It is really baffling to me. My best friend Sunny was a month ahead of me and we would swap books or websites, but neither one of us talked about SLEEP! I really wish we had because I think I would have been more prepared. I really believe that research and initiating a sleep training of sorts when they are first born lays a foundation for the months to come. Yes, there will be hiccups and bumps along the road, but things may be easily righted by to normal.

Mina slept great until she was about 5 months old, and then she started screaming in her bassinet. Come to find out a month later, she had developed a dairy allergy and started to scratch at her face when she woke up. No more “let her settle herself down by herself.” It soon became, get to her fast before she rips her face to shreds and makes a bloody mess of the crib! We had to swaddle her and run to her upon the first moment of restlessness. At that point I began to dive into books about baby sleep. I walked down to TKE and came away with 3 books: The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Three completely different ways of dealing with sleep and I was more confused!

Read the rest of this entry »

Expectations, Brains, and Vacation!

May 19, 2008

I know that I had said that I would do my next mommy blog on sleep, but I have recently read a couple of books here on vacation that I want to chat about first. Mina and I are in Turkey right now visiting relatives and I always bring tons of books to read. We are early risers and I need something to keep me occupied! I am really glad that I have had the time to read these books, which have been collecting dust on the shelf for so long.

I am trying to lay a foundation of expectations, I guess one might call it, for Mina–behavioral expectations. I worked in a day care center for two years before having Mina, specifically in the baby room. It was apparent to me that parenting is not always an innate ability and it is better to be forewarned and forearmed with information! So, when I was pregnant, I devoured baby books and now I am transitioning to toddlerhood with the “terrible two’s” rapidly approaching!

I bought the book Parenting with Love and Logic from TKE a few months ago and just sat down to read it Saturday. It was a pretty rapid read and I found the verbiage very accessible, the scenarios plausible and very relatable. I was surprised, however, to see that each chapter began with biblical Proverb excerpts. This was not a problem for me and they were not too preachy, but I am not a very religious person. Someone of a different faith may have a problem getting past that point because it does quote a religious text, but it would be a shame to let that stop you from reading this book.

I think I am going to start implementing many of the recommendations right now! For example, I liked the part about giving up control and putting it in the hands of the child in certain aspects because it fosters independent thinking and decision making. Too many kids relay on the parents to decide for them and it does not lay a firm foundation for the future. How will the kids ever be ready to enter the real world and decide how to live in it? So, the other day, instead of just putting shoes on Mina, I asked her what shoes she wanted to wear: Dinos. Ok. Fine. Sunday we went to the park and I brought her sweater. I asked her if she was cold, she said no. I left it at that. A few minutes later, she came up, signed “Cold, Sweater, in” and we put on her sweater. It is really working out well! Before we go out, I ask her if she wants to walk out by herself or carried. First she says walk, and then sometimes she puts her hands up after a few minutes and says “up”. I can see how this application can prevent tantrums and foster independent thought processes to develop naturally.

There is one story that really illustrates the basic parental command: “Put your coat on, it’s cold outside.” The kid says no and there is a tussle to get out the door. The example in the book recommends this instead: “It is cold outside. You might want to consider wearing a coat. I am because I don’t like being cold.” The child decides not to and is shivering the car, rethinking his decision. Is the kid going to catch a cold with a quick car ride? No, but the lesson he will learn will last a long time.

The other book that I am about done with is called Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth to Adolescence. Mom gave it to me months ago and I am just getting to it now. It has been really interesting to see how the brain functions with regard to learning and enrichment, how it grows and shrinks due to positive and negative influences at such early ages. The author, Marian Diamond, is a brain specialist and you can really feel her excitement for her work as you read.

I have to admit that I skimmed some of the basic brain segment information area–I am on borrowed time when Mina is sleeping, so I wanted to get to the juicy parts! The short version is, they conducted tests with rats in two different cages: one big and full of toys and friends and one small and isolated. Then they measured the size of the cortex. The rat from the bigger cage had a thicker cortex! In some instances, rats with no stimulation had no cortex growth at all. It is a very interesting read about how early treatment of children really affects their learning capabilities later in life.

It was unbelieveable to me how long lasting these early experiences chart the course for life. Another example : A girl is raised by a controlling father who decides what she eats, when she eats, and so on. She doesnt do anything before consulting him. Once she was removed from that environment and was asked what she wanted on her sandwich, she looked blank. The area of the brain that could have made that decision was stunted and she was, at that moment, physically unable to make that decision. The book also goes into how much reading and playing with children enrich their lives and give them such an advantage. Not only do they learn faster, they grow faster too! They said that the increased enrichment process also stimulates the brain metabolism and the kids grow faster, teeth come in faster, etc.

I guess I could go on and on with other examples, but you get the idea. There is a lot of science in this book, but the authors have main-streamed the researc for the everyday reader. Definitely something to read before you get pregnant or while you are pregnant, because i don’t think you will ever get the time to fully absorb all the science after the baby comes (unless you go on vacation!). ~ Elif

Guest Blogger | Introducing Mommy’s Quiet Time with Elif

April 4, 2008

Goodness, it is hard to just start writing a first blog! Here goes the first installment pic_0432.jpgof the “Mommy’s Quiet Time” series; we’ll start with the most helpful books I came across while I was pregnant with Mina. I was always reading something about kids, babies, childbirth; here are my favorites!

Easy Labor: Every Woman’s Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth
I liked this book because it really went over all the different ways to help you through labor. It covered various natural methods and explained how they worked. It led me to decide to go with a doula instead of a midwife, and I was so happy that I did. They really did a good job of explaining various natural pain relievers that I had never previously heard of. For example, there is a procedure (forget what it is called) in which they inject water at the base of the tail bone and this (somehow!) relieves back pain. Who knew? It made natural childbirth not only possible, but less scary.

Natural Baby and Childcare: Practical Medical Advice and Holistic Wisdom for Raising Healthy Children
I picked this book up and found it to be a nice blend of natural healing methods coupled with traditional medicine. The book is a great reference for childcare from birth up to age 14. It is written by a pediatrician who turned to natural and/or homeopathic healing remedies for her patients. I think the best aspect of this book is that it combines natural and traditional remedies. The page is set up with both at once and you can make the best decision for you and your child. Sometimes, you might put sliced onions next to your child’s bed to relieve nasal congestion, other times you will hit the medicine cabinet and use Benydryl. Not only does it go over illnesses, it has chapters on breastfeeding, sleeping, what to expect at different ages, etc. It is very substantial and encompasses a variety of child-rearing subjects.

Attachment Parenting
My friend, Sunny, sent me this book and it really validated the way I was raising Mina. I think mothers these days have it rough — there is always someone to criticize the way you are doing this or that, and it makes you insecure and more likely to second-guess your mothering “gut instincts”. Attachment parenting is a very natural way to raise a child, but very different from our our mothers’ methods, which were more about structure and setting expectations for mom and baby. After I read this book, I was able to take a breath and say “Hey, I am not doing such a bad job after all! It’s OK if Mina sleeps with me sometimes… It’s ok if I carry her around with me. She will NOT turn into a spoiled child just because of all this so called ‘attention’.”

I wish I had had The Happiest Baby on the Block and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer before I had Mina. It would have made things a bit easier. They really go into babies, their rhythms, and how to relax into being a parent. I think I was so preoccupied with labor, the birthing process, and baby health that I forgot to read up on what happens when a baby comes HOME! DUH!

Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood
This was a really honest book about the details of pregnancy and motherhood that no one tells you. Let me repeat: It is a very HONEST portrayal of the whole process, so only read it if you are pregnant. It was refreshing to read lots of things that you think about but never say to anyone else. Yes, it really does hurt when your feet swell and you retain water! I am not going to say anymore about this book because it’s one that you need to decide to read for yourself, when you are ready. Even though it was honest about what you are going through and what you WILL go through, it relaxed me. I knew what to expect, and that I wasn’t alone.pic_0440.jpg

I have to say that I had a fantastic pregnancy; I pretty much felt like a big fat and happy buddha by the end of it all. Delivery… well… the best laid plans of mice and men… I did the best I could to prepare and we all came out healthy and happy in the end.

Well, until next time. We will be talking about sleep….or the lack of it! ~ Elif