Monthly Archives: August 2015

An Idea for a Rainy Day

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q's floor pic two

As my son napped and I attempted to clean the house, I decided to put together an activity for him when he woke. Normally, we attempt to spend time outside, but with the pending tropical storm, I figured we would need to find some entertainment inside this afternoon.

I cut up paper grocery bags and used blue painter’s tape (to protect our floors!) to secure the canvas on our floor. As my son is only 15 months, it helps that the paper is going to stay in place as he scribbles creates art. I decided to select a few of his favorite images from magazines I had around the house. Taped the the canvas, he would find a cat, dog, clock, flower, colors, and a teddy bear. I also put a few foam stars on as well. I couldn’t help myself, I also needed to write a special message:

q art floor

I was in luck! When he woke up, he was thrilled to see the crafty activity ready for him and he began to color immediately! He loved the pictures that were already there and enjoyed picking off the stars. He’s a creative little monster and I only needed to ask him to not color on the floor, walls and toys a few times (seriously, a record).

The rain didn’t come this afternoon, but we had fun coloring inside anyway.

Good for Them, Not for Me

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The balance of work and being the mom I strive to be has proved to have its challenges (the idea behind RWMOTB). Some days the emotion of not being able to be with or do certain things with my son sparks a good cry, and other days I feel like I am conquering the world. On those good days, I recognize the magnificent balance and totally blessed life that I have –I get to be a therapist (which I LOVE) and spend time with my family (which I also LOVE).

The Caretaker Complex

Sometimes, I find myself feeling jealous of my son’s caretakers. Logically, I am fully aware that I am fortunate to have people spending time with him that love him and teach him when I am not around (and keep him on schedule!). But, emotionally, they get to be with him while my husband and I work, enjoying the giggles and holding him when he is sad—and I want that. I want my superpower to be the ability to be in two places at once.

Caretaking 2.0?

I was in complete awe the other day when I read an article and learned that there was a mom out there who was confident enough in herself and her bond with her baby that she was in full support of having her friend breastfeed her baby while she watches him during the day. WOW. That’s impressive—to trust in the love, attachment, and balance you have with your child to add another human to the mix. To be able to let go of expectations you may have had and trust the other adult so completely that you can excitedly allow them to become the food source for your child when you cannot.

These two moms are receiving a lot of attention and judgment in this choice they made. No judgment from me—more power to you. Good for them, not for me.

Though I think this may be an extreme example of caretaking 2.0, I know I have a long way to go when it comes to emotionally accepting that I am not the only caretaker in my son’s life. It’s hard just leaving for work in the morning…what the hell am I going to do when my son goes to school?!

“Cherish every second. It goes by so fast.”

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Newt starts kindergarten a week from tomorrow. I think I’m ready.

I know that SHE is ready.

I vividly remember crying when she was 4 months old and the then 5 year olds were starting school. I remember dreading the day when she would start school. Granted….this was before I fully recognized I had a nasty case of postpartum anxiety, but that’s a post for another time. That child and that mom seem like strangers to me now.

Newt went to kindergarten camp at her new school a couple of weeks ago. When I was asking about her first day, she excitedly told me about the scavenger hunt for Pete the Cat, about her snack and about the different places she saw.  I asked if she met new friends and if they were nice. Her reply, “Oh yes! No one touched my bathing suit parts!” So, all in all, clearly successful. And she was apparently listening when her dad and I had the talk with her about private parts and safety.

Since I found out I was pregnant,  I have heard 2 statements more than any other. The first was ridiculous, “Get your sleep while you can.” That of course was what people said to warn me of how little babies sleep. It is true babies do NOT sleep, or at least mine didn’t, but it was laughable that I could get sleep when I was pregnant. I have never slept so poorly in my life.

The second statement I have taken to heart, “Cherish every second. It goes by so fast.” I have loved every developmental stage so far. And even if I didn’t necessarily like the stage (why did no one tell me threes are more challenging than the “terrible twos”?), I appreciate the good parts and how those struggles are necessary to help her become the person she is.

I don’t have a feeling of dread as we approach my baby starting big girl school. I don’t see that helpless little 4 month old anymore. I see a smart and sweet person. One who will watch Dr. Who marathons with me, whose new favorite word is conundrum, which she uses correctly in context. One who doesn’t want to steal the ball in soccer for fear of hurting her friends. One with rich fantasy play and one who loves Guy Fieri and special effects makeup, and Star Wars and high heels and cake.

I will cherish the time I have with her as I walk her to her classroom next week. I will try to cherish when she pulls away from me and doesn’t look back. I will cherish picking her up from her first day, wanting so badly to hear about all the details, knowing that she will fall asleep in the car before she can tell me much.

Kindergarten is going to be great! And I’m only going to cry a little bit.

I hope.

What Can Mothers Learn From Cecil the Lion?

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I have been thinking a lot about the dentist that killed Africa’s most famous lion. As a therapist, I know I can’t assume things about people. I do not know what his thought process was that day. I also do not know what he was told by the others who helped him with the hunt.

I DO know that I don’t like the way I felt when I heard the news of Cecil. I would like Q to have a greater respect for wild, beautiful animals and not choose to be in this situation. I hope that he will enjoy observing these magnificent animals (far enough away so he doesn’t become dinner) and decide that playing soccer, golf, or other sports may peek his interest far more than big game hunting.

How do I teach Q to have a deep respect for animals? What am I doing that will help Q draw his own conclusions of what is “right” or “wrong” for him? (Gosh, this “parenting” thing is never-ending, huh?)

Model behavior

First, I am modeling behavior. I cultivate a love and curiosity for animals. I suppose my interest in them makes the task of modeling positive behavior much easier. When I was eight, I was given a cat for my birthday. Crazy as it may seem to some, that cat knew my secrets and was frequently my alarm clock in the morning (he would lick my face every morning trying to wake me up for school). The curiosity I had about what he “knew” and how he was able to communicate was never-ending. When we go for walks, Q points to each animal he sees and we stop for a moment to observe the creature.

Teach empathy

Second, I believe teaching empathy is important—empathy for people as well as other animals. As a therapist, I want to ensure Q has empathy so that he can develop and maintain deep, healthy, and lasting relationships with all creatures. I hug Q when he is sad and laugh with him when he is happy. (How to teach empathy can be complicated, but I’ll post more in a future blog.)

Q is still little, so I guess we have several years before we decide if this works. However, I already feel the weight of importance to model good behavior choices and a healthy lifestyle—along with countless other things—so let’s just add animal love to the list.

8 Tips to Get Your Kids Talking

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Relationships with others are important- the backbone of society. A child’s relationship with his or her parents sets the stage for the types of relationships they will have in the future. Communication is the foundation of a successful relationship. Therefore the communication between a child and his or her parents is important. Here are some tips to get the communication going!

  1. Use open-ended questions rather than close-ended when you want a conversation. Closed- ended questions are questions that can be answered with only a word or two. The question is specific so the answer will be specific. Open ended questions allow the person to answer in any way they would like and usually with more descriptions. Consider how different the responses would be in the following 2 questions- Did you have a good day in school today? (Closed-ended). Or- What did you do in school today? (Open-ended).
  2. Use close-ended questions when you are trying to make a decision with your child. I think it’s important to find ways to empower children and allow them to feel some control over their lives. That said, there are usually limits that we have to place on choices. For these situations, give the child several options to choose from. Consider what your child would say if you asked, “What do you want to do this weekend?” If your kid is like mine- the answer would be, “Disney World!!” Instead, try a close-ended question such as, “Would you like to go to the movies or bowling this weekend?”
  3. Avoid asking “why”. For some reason- the word “why” tends to make some kids feel on guard. An alternative that works better is to say, “How come?”
  4. My favorite phrase is “Tell me about….” Gone are the days when your little one proudly shows you their masterpiece and you can see them actually deflate when you ask, “What is it?” Instead just ask them to tell you about their beautiful artwork. That is just one application. “Tell me about…” is such a useful tool for encouraging communication. Those 3 little words are actually conveying that you want to know about them. It is permission to talk openly. This phrase works on everyone from little ones to tweens, teens and even adults.
  5. Make time to talk. Everyone is busy. There is never enough time to get everything done- much less to find time to talk with our kids or partner about anything of substance. There are a few times; however, when making time to talk is a little easier: dinner time and time in the car. Even if it is just a few times a week- eat dinner together and have good, deep conversation. Turn down the radio in the car and talk. (Tips for meaningful talk later.) The 2 places I tend to talk with my kiddo are in the car and at night when I am putting her in bed.
  6. Be respectful of when your kids don’t want to talk. Just like you, they have moods and times when they are not going to talk. Respect that. And let them know that you are there when and if they want to talk.
  7. Be patient. If verbal communication is not something that comes easily in your family, think of this as learning a new skill. And learning a new skill requires practice. Keep at it.
  8. Make it fun and interesting. Most of the conversations in families are very goal oriented. And by goal oriented, I mean- the goal is just to get through the day in one piece. Get to know more about the people that live under the same roof as you. Get to know what and how they think and feel. Let them know about you too. To help with this, click on the “conversation starters” link below to download a pdf that you can print and cut out into cards. At least once or twice a week, have your family talk about whatever is on a card. Everyone answers. There are 3 blank cards too, so come up with some questions of your own. When you do sit down to talk about the topic, make sure to leave whatever stress or frustration you are having behind and focus on what everyone is saying.

Conversation Starters

Learning to appreciate my new hometown

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Don’t let the name of our blog fool you. I am fully aware that Tampa Bay is a body of water and no moms, working or otherwise, actually live there. But Real Working Moms of the Tampa Bay Area didn’t quite flow as well. And well, the truth is I no longer actually live in Tampa.

I was born in Tampa at St. Joe’s Women’s Hospital. I grew up in Tampa. My mother was born in Tampa. Her parents were from Jersey and came down here for their honeymoon and never left. My father was born in south Florida, but his father was born in Tampa. His parents actually met when they were both working at the Tampa Theatre. My kid was born in Tampa. When I went away to college (Florida State) I met a decently cute enough guy in my apartment complex. He said he was from Tampa. He lost his shot; however when I learned he was really from *gasp* Zephyrhills. How dare he say he lived in Tampa.

Little did I know that a decade and a half later I would fall in love with a little house with a big yard in Zephyrhills. I wouldn’t say that I love Zephyrhills, but I am learning to appreciate parts of it. There is a Publix nearby and we are close enough to everything in Wesley Chapel to still feel connected. The other night I fell in love with a place I had never been in Zephyrhills.

We were heading home from Legoland. Tired and hungry and looking a little worse for the wear as one does when they hang out all day outside in Florida in August. We decided to go to a mom and pop kind of restaurant instead of a chain and Matt suggested an Italian place he saw that had opened several months ago. When we pulled up, the place looked decent enough from the outside.

dimaggios outside

When we walked in though, we almost walked out as we thought we were more than a little under dressed.  It looked, as Newt would say, Super Fancy. But the hostess didn’t bat an eye and showed us to our table. After we were seated and our drink order taken, our server brought over a plate of aged provolone, pepperoni and some of the most delicious garlic bread bites we had ever eaten. Newt is a super picky eater so of course she ordered a PBJ. When her PBJ arrived, we all started giggling. It was surrounded with strawberry topping, sprinkles and some powdered sugar. Clearly this is a place that cares about presentation as well as the youngest diners.

pbj dimaggios

I ordered Eggplant Parm- Delish. But the real amazing dish was the 3 1/2 pound hunk of lasagna Matt ordered. It was amazing. So many thin layers. The perfect amount of meat, cheese, sauce and noodles. The owner, Roman, explained that all of the recipes are his wife’s family recipes- over 100 years old. Proving if it ain’t broke- don’t fix it.

So, if you are ever in Zephyrhills, or even a little bit close to it, you need to stop at

DiMaggio’s That’s Amore

5347 Gall Blvd, Zephyrhills, FL 33542. (813)-788-5544

The food is amazing and priced well. We walked out spending a little under $50 including tip (we didn’t buy booze though). (Newt’s PBJ was $5- which included a drink, side and A CUPCAKE!!)