to have and to hold

My husband came home tonight and sat down with me and asked if I had heard about the premature baby who died after it was born. I said “No” and he said “It was on the news.” I asked him why that would have made headlines when that happens so often to so many families. He then continued to tell me how this baby was born premature and the parents went down to the morgue to say one last good bye and take one more photo of their child. When they got there and opened the small box of a casket, the child was ALIVE. Four doctors had pronounced this little soul dead and when they opened the box, this babe was crying. And then my eyes filled with tears. Tears of happiness for this family and tears of sadness for this baby who came into this world too early and just moments after leaving its Mother’s womb, was placed in a cold hard box, where he stayed for 12 hours. Crying. Alone.   My heart broke for the parents, who for 12 hours thought they just lost a child, and for the baby, that was without its Mother’s warm embrace, without the sound of her beating heart, where he could not hear her voice or feel her touch for his first 12 hours on this earth. And then I thought of how happy the parents were when they opened up the box and heard that cry- the sound of an angel….a sound that will forever change their lives.  And then the tears were once again happy tears, as I thought of how this child was just given a second chance to live.They named him and his name means “miracle” and a miracle he certainly was.
This really hit home with me for a few reasons. One being that my nephew was born premature at 1 pound 14 ounces. I never prayed so hard in all of my life as I did to beg God to let him stay with us. I pleaded and pleaded to just let him stay. And God answered my prayers and the prayers of my sister and our family and friends. Our lives would have been forever changed to have lost him or to never have known him. He has changed our lives by being here with us today, eight years later a blessing to each of us in his own special way. It also hit home because I thought back to the birth of my three children, one of which was just 11 weeks ago. I remember each time going over with the Doctors and Nurses that I absolutely needed the baby placed directly on my chest after birth, asking them to let me nurse the baby before they cleaned him/ her and did any routine tasks. I remember looking at my children with tears in my eyes, feeling so bad for them in a way- that they were just inside my womb and now on the outside, not knowing at all what just happened to them. It made me hold my babies tighter and longer than most thought I should. I had people tell me I was going to “spoil” the baby. I just strongly felt like I was doing what a Mother should do to meet their needs. I am pretty sure I haven’t put my daughter down since she was born and held my two sons just the same. You can just tell when they need you. When they cry and you pick them up- and then they suddenly stop- is that them being spoiled or is that them wanting you and needing your touch and your warmth- maybe they just need to hear the sound of your heartbeat. So maybe my arms physically get a little tired or there are days I get absolutely nothing done, and that is okay with me. I truly believe there are neurological benefits (and it has been scientifically proven) of keeping your babies close to you- whether during the day or during the night.

I pray for the children who are neglected and have parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and are not capable of meeting their needs. I pray for the baby- the sweet miracle child who was placed in a box and thank God that they wanted just one last look. I hope that baby felt God’s arms around him while he lay ‘alone’ until he could once again be in his Mother’s arms. I pray she holds him and never puts him down and realizes what a gift it is to have a child to hold. I will hold my babies as long as they need me, as much as they want me….one day too soon, they will be holding me.

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Pop the bubble!

I think it is safe to say that my two year old never ceases to amaze me with the things that he thinks is a good idea to do or the things he gets himself into.  As a Mom, you just cannot avoid multi-tasking and this little guy has truly mastered the skill of waiting for that split second of time that my attention is drawn to something other than him….(could be letting the dog out, emptying the dishwasher, switching the laundry,  or running to the bathroom)-  he siezes the moment and he gets himself into some kind of “trouble” that he thinks is “really fun”. This happens every day at least once and some days, all day long. He exhausts me- he is in to EVERYTHING!! Do any of your children get into things, or is it just me?

Yesterday as I was emptying the dishwasher in the kitchen, I heard this banging over and over and over again. I thought to myself…that sounds a lot like something hitting the TV. I peek my head around into their playroom (which just a few short months ago was our family room) and on the 61 inch TV screen (that once was our TV) was Sesame Street. On Sesame Street was a close up of someone blowing a bubble with pink bubble gum. My two year old being fascinated with both bubble gum and baseball bats was repeatedly trying to “pop” the bubble with his baseball bat. Once I got him to stop trying to pop it, I asked him why he would EVER think this was a good idea. As innocent as can be, he said to me: “Mommy, I was trying to pop the bubble”. In his defense, the bubble looked very real and took up almost the entire screen.  I explained to him that we do not do that and of course if I saw him hitting the TV again in the future with anything that he would have a consequence.

Kids have such literal ways of looking at the world and if I think about it, 99.9 % of the messes they get into, probably seem like great fun to them at the time. They are learning every time they touch something and they touch just about everything they see. They are exploring their surroundings and testing out their senses…and at times I think they are testing their limits with us as well. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and clean it up and try to see life from their point of view. After all, I think it is my job as a Mom, to set boundaries and stick to them while at the same time guide them to keep them safe as they live, learn and explore the world around them!

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A New Addition!

On January 27th, 2012 we welcomed a new additon to our family- Emelia Jeanne. Her 2 older brothers have adapted quite well and she seems to be quite comfortable in her new role as ‘princess’ of our family. Shortly after her birth, the boys wanted to know “if she is the princess, then does that make you the Queen?” Yes, and that makes Daddy, the King! “Then what are we?” The Princes! So suddenly, I had everything- a loving husband, two healthy boys, a Persian cat, a Saint Bernard and now….finally, a daughter. My fairytale had come true. This is my life and I have never been happier. Now that the sleepless nights are over it is time to start blogging about this crazy perfect life of mine. I say ‘crazy, perfect’ but things are not always “perfect” and seem pretty crazy at times. I am a dedicated wife to my husband, a stay at home Mom for my three children, a licensed Physical Therapist (with a love for pediatrics and the elderly), I run my own business, take care of a Saint Bernard who acts a lot like “Bethoven” and a Cat who is in kidney failure and try my best to keep up with my house. Sometimes I am just flat out exhausted from cleaning up messes and other times my cheeks hurt from laughing at the funny things these boys say or do. It may not be “perfect” in the eyes of a stranger, but it is my perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. I just try to soak up every moment I can and force myself to live in the moment. I know one day all too soon I will be looking back on the crazy times that left me out of breath and wishing I could have just one more perfect day.

If you too love children, pets and the elderly than this blog is for you- and I hope that you will enjoy reading about my life that has been impacted and blessed by people, young and old and faithful friends with fur. What I write will be real and straight from my heart, and at times, out of the mouths of babes!

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“2011- Babysitting in this Generation”

A Sitter’s Perspective of Kids today
Muhammad Ali once said, “Children make you want to start life over”. When I look around the room I see children playing with complex electronic objects or shows that even I did not have ten years ago growing up. Our world is constantly changing and the mind’s of children are adapting to our growing technological society at a rapid pace. You may think I chose this quote because I wish I had the new X-box game, or the DS, or wasn’t given the chance to watch “The Amazing World of Gumballs” at their age. But, it’s rather because of the mindset and ideas children come up with that frankly, I cannot recall whether my mind was that inquisitive or not. The questions I am asked by the children always surprise me that their little heads (I mean some are really tiny!) could hold such valuable questions. It’s as though they notice our World is so much more complicated than it once was and they need to ask everything they can think of to be on top of things. So I leave you hear asking yourself the same question I ask myself, is it because they know they are going to have to know all of these answers in the future or is it just a silly game of how many questions can I ask the babysitter until she discovers this too is only a complex game?
Here are a few questions children I have babysat in the past have asked. Enjoy these humorous questions and/ or comments. Feel free to post yours as well!
-“So, you have a boss for babysitting?”
– “Will you come back tomorrow? I’ll ask Mommy when she gets home tonight and you can come back and play with me tomorrow.”
-“Will you come back and babysit me when we go home too?”
-“Will you lay down and help me fall asleep?”
-“I like you, your one of my new best friends.”
-“You’re the best babysitter we have had, can you come back next summer?”

Thanks 🙂

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A New Perspective- A preview of the Real World: Lessons Learned by a Sitter

I pull into the driveway of a home (after following directions- even though we live on a 12 x 5 island, even locals get lost), and I think about what type of family I will be sitting tonight and what they will have taught me by the time I leave. There’s always something I learn from the kids, whether it’s a new combination to try on your pizza, how to build the empire state building out of legos or how lucky I am with the life I have lead so far without having a life-threatening disease. It always amazes me how a child can be so happy in their own skin, even if they may have just battled a disease that could have ended their life.
Your entrance is always important the second you step in the house (this isn’t nanny 911 so you don’t have to come in with a suitcase ready to crack the whip), but rather with interaction being the most significant aspect. The children always look at you gawking with huge eyes- I mean they don’t know you, so yes- you did this when you were a child too. Luckily, Guardian Angels already sends the sitter the name and age of the children before they get to the job to make the situation as comfortable as possible for everyone. You are this new person to each child- an alien in their minds in fact and they want to discover if you are their new playmate for the night. I have learned speaking to them along with the parents makes them feel they are respected and noticed. Throughout the night, you are like their new friend they met at school and want to show everything to you- from their favorite sippy cup to the “blankie” which now only consists of a few pieces of thread from being carried everywhere. A child often sees an adult as someone they only go to for help, yet being their playmate makes them feel more comfortable and apt to ask more questions. For this reason, Guardian Angels has each sitter bring a Mary Poppins bag to take to each job, which is filled with fun things for the child in attempt to break the ice.
Every family I have met so far in my 14 month experience is completely different from the last. You meet organized, sociable, rushing, genuine-just about every kind of family. The agency has given me this chance to meet people from around America-or even sometimes the world- with different cultures and values. You may walk into a family that values having white noise while a baby sleeps or already having their baby become a mini- vegetarian. No matter what the circumstances, every parent- no matter how unique their attempt is- tries to create the best foundation for their child. These families allow you to see how we all live differently and look at things from a different perspective. It allows us to see how our agency covers everyone’s need-no matter how complex a child’s needs may seem- we always do our very best to suit how the family would like the child to follow through with their rituals.

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“You’re hired!”- Lessons Learned at an Early Age: Guardian Angels Hires Responsible Teens

Like all teens between 16 and 18, we all struggle to find a job that suits us, something we will find enjoyable, makes us want to go to work, and most of all that lets us apply at this early age. Recently, retail stores in the area have made it almost impossible to work before 18, stressing the fact of “responsibility” not gained before that age. Many of you are probably asking yourself the same questions I was asking myself- Weren’t they aware of those 18 and older who were still less responsible then us- those who didn’t need a job but wanted to take on a responsibility? Or maybe the thought that an interview would help to define the person in front of them rather than a blank sheet of paper, (which couldn’t help them the slightest bit in determining who this person really was). Until I heard about Guardian Angels, I didn’t realize someone would actually take the time to get to know me fully before hiring me- to fully see my capabilities rather than making a decision off a blank sheet of paper.
The owners of Guardian Angels brought an agency to the community that has really influenced my life like no other job I would have (at the age of 18 of course) to help fill this position. Melissa and Christina don’t hire anybody that just fills out an application- the applicant must fill all of her requirements including a one-on-one interview (and no- she does not make you nervous, in fact from the second you sit down you will find yourself talking to someone you feel like you have known forever).
I recently started the college visits and college application process, and I cannot stress enough how much emphasis is put on what your summer consists of. I interviewed with Melissa Monge in Hilton Head Island, SC to gain experience working for a certified company. What better job to put on my college application than one that has required me to be CPR-certified, take a babysitting course, require a background check, and be responsible for children as young as an infant? A job that allows me to learn the responsibility a job consists of and how important communication is with your boss. Like any other company, Guardian Angels host an annual orientation to go over their updated policies and procedures for safe sitting. Each sitter is matched with a family according to the age abilities, talents, and experience the family is looking for in the sitter they are requesting. Guardian Angels want all families to be comfortable with the sitter that is looking over and caring for their loved ones.
For those sitters that become close with the families they sit for, the family has the option of requesting a sitter on their sitter application form in the Sitter preference section. For those of you looking for a job during high school and have not come across the perfect fit, join Guardian Angels- believe me, the experiences will leave you with life-long lessons and memories you wouldn’t find working at the outlets, or a restaurant, or just having a lazy day at the beach- this is something different- something where you “watch over what matters most”.

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From Potty Training to PUPPIES!

“All I can do is take a deep breath, clean it up and be thankful I don’t also have a puppy.” These are the words that I now read in a previous blog that I wrote and wonder how it was that I temporarily lost my mind. Thinking back there were a few events that stand out that were quite traumatic for myself and my children, at the end of this past summer. Growing up, I always had a dog- it helped me cope with things that were less than perfect in my childhood. The dog became not only a family member, but a best friend that I played with, cared for and confided in. I decided my family desperately needed a puppy as soon as possible. Not just any puppy but a  7 week old, 13 pound SAINT BERNARD puppy that I fell in love with.

Despite the fact that my husband did not grow up with animals/ pets, I wholeheartedly wanted this for our children. I also thought what better pup to break my husband in with, than the biggest there is. Why mess around? I have always wanted a Saint Bernard or a Newfoundland- the bigger the better. I fell in love with this pup’s face the moment I saw it. An angel of a friend drove with the kids and I to Allentown, PA to meet our pup and pick him up from the breeder, who was driving more than half way to meet us. I picked him up and he licked my face all over. Ahhh- what is better than puppy breath? I took him to my three year old and said “here is your puppy, what do you think!?” He said, with the biggest grin on his face, “mommy, he is perfect!” My 1 year old who was terrified of dogs until this very day that I speak of looked at the puppy, smiled and reached out to him with two arms (I am sure confusing him for a plush teddy bear or ball of fur). Until this day he would look at a dog and scream!! He is now “cured” of his fear of dogs 🙂

Although we named him ROMEO (after all it was love at first sight), he acts a little more like Beethoven at times. He can be ornery, playful and then a lazy lump of love all in one day. He is now 16 weeks old and over 45 pounds.  Everyone I knew including my husband (with the exception of a few best friend/doggy lovers) tried to talk me out of this decision. Will I have a bit more of a mess to tend to in addition to the kids? Yes. Will I clean a little harder now and have one more boy to bathe? Yes. Will I have to make special arrangements when we go on vacation? Yes. Is it like having another BABY?! YES!!! But let me say this- he is going to grow with my children (a little faster and a little bigger for now) and they are going to be best friends. They are going to learn responsibility and what it means to care for a living thing. They are going to learn to brush him and bathe him when he rolls in the mud (it actually takes my husband and I both to bathe him now- I can only imagine it will take 4 of us shortly). They are going to learn to play with him and walk him. They will learn how to train him. They will learn how to love and cherish an animal. And sadly enough, they will learn about life and death. I can’t say enough how important these life lessons are. I remember, love and miss each and every one of my pups from childhood until college.

Saint Bernard’s are rescue dogs. How ironic. Even as a baby he has a way of sensing danger when it comes to my children. We recently were on a family vacation in New Hampshire- stayed at a log cabin. The baby wandered out to the driveway as we stood on the front porch, watching him. We were calling his name to come back. Romeo instantly ran to him and started tugging on his pant leg, ever so gentle (we have seen his not so gentle clumsy self in action before). He was clearly trying to pull the baby to “safety”. When the pant leg did not work, he actually took his arm and moved his mouth down to the end of his sleeve, careful not to bite the babies hand, and pulled on it, trying to pull him back to the porch. He pulled and pulled until the baby’s arm actually came out of the sleeve and was sticking out of the shirt- he continued pulling. How amazing. At a traumatic time in our lives- he helped “rescue” my family and gave us something very positive to focus on. I am sure, without a doubt that he is going to not only continue to rescue his new family any chance he gets, but Romeo will leave his paw prints on the hearts of my children, myself and even my husband. Muddy paws or not- they are welcome in our hearts.  We love him!

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Fisher Price Recalls! Information every parent should know!

The Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) has announced that Fisher-Price is recalling more than 10 million children’s products that were sold in the U.S. The list includes tricycles, infant activity centers with inflatable balls, high chairs, and “Little People Wheelies Stand n’ Play Rampway” cars. For more details and what to do if you own any of the products in this recall, please click the link below.http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/09/the-fisher-price-recall-more-than-10-million-products/
Courtesy of Mamapedia Newsletter

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Potty Training continued….

Well my son did great for the first two weeks. We had our first public restroom experience with our new little potty trained boy the other night. We had a fun family night planned on the Ocean City Boardwalk. We were not brave enough to put big boy underwear on my son for the night- including the hour car ride to and from. I had put a pull up on him before we left. We made it through dinner at the bashful banana (which by the way is an excellent healthy place to eat on the boardwalk and the food is YUM!). He made it through all of the rides. We were on our way  back to the car decided to browse in a shop. He was looking at all of the toys on the shelf when I noticed him squirming, shaking his toosh and crossing his legs. He then said “Mommy- I have to go potty”. My first reaction was to want to say- “it’s okay, you have a pull up on” because I truly was just not ready to tackle the public restroom thing. BUT- I refrained and said, “okay- let’s go, let’s go- we will find you a potty”. When we got outside, my husband offered to take him. He promised to not let him touch ANYTHING and that he would wash his hands. I had flashbacks of helping my nephew (who is now 6) when he was three years old, go to the bathroom in a public restroom. I remembered holding him over the toilet in a public restroom, suspended in the air over the pot with his legs and hands outstretched and his bottom aiming right over the pot and me saying “okay, now go”. He must have thought I was nuts, but I didn’t care then- after all, he was not touching ANYTHING!

The public restroom comfort will come with time, I am hoping- because I know I have no choice. I am hoping that my son will learn to be more consistent as well with time. He does great MOST of the time. And then there is the occasional times that I hear “UH OH, Mommy, I peed on the floor, let me show you where” or “I have stinkies in my underpants”. Never a good time to hear that- no matter where you are or what you are doing. All I can do is take a deep breath, clean it up and be thankful I don’t also have a puppy. Afterall- he is still learning and God made little boys and floors washable for a reason!

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P is for Potty Training…P is for PATIENCE!!

The day I brought my second son home from the hospital, my two year old decided he wanted to start potty training. He had the little potty that sang to him and although he loved to sit on it and play with it, he never really wanted to pee in it. From what I had read, you are supposed to look for the signs- and when they are ready, they are ready. Don’t push them. So I didn’t. But I didn’t expect that the day his baby brother came home for the first time, would be the time. I quickly found out that it is as much about the child being ready as it is about you being ready. It never failed, whenever I was nursing the baby, my 2 year old would yell “Mommy, I want to go potty”. It was physically impossible to help him at that moment…and I found myself thinking “really? But you have a diaper on?”. I was exhausted mentally and physically and did not want to take the chance of using my last bit of energy up on potty training, to have him regress for attention as the baby grew a few months older. So I bought pull ups and thought I was beginning the process. I soon realized, that to a child, a pull up feels a lot like a diaper and they do not mind using that still, for their toileting needs. At Easter, the Easter Bunny brought my son “big boy underwear”. He was not very excited about it.

When he turned 3 two weeks ago, I made up my mind that I was going to put 100% energy into this and do it. No more pull ups (except at bedtime-after all, who wants to chance have wet sheets every morning). He started to wear big boy underwear all day during the day. I made sure I had tons of them clean each day…and yes, we went thru almost every pair some days. There were days he went willingly to the potty and there were days I carried him kicking and screaming. We did this consistently for about a week and then I gave him a few days of a break. We started again the next week consistent again. No pull ups- just at night. I gave him rewards every time he went on the potty. He soon thought he was going to get a lollipop (organic of course) every time he went on the potty. I thought about this and decided I needed to change the reward or he was going to end up with a mouth full of cavities by the time he was fully trained. I started giving him stickers and promising prizes every time he went and told him that there would be no tv for the day, if he messed in his big boy pants. He is super excited and proud of himself every time he goes. Whether we are in a pool or relaxing in the house he either tells me when he has to go, or just goes in and goes by himself….never forgetting to come to get me and show me what he has just done. Stay tuned for his potty dance….

I realize three may be late for potty training a girl, or may or may not be right on target for a boy, according to some. I am a firm believer that when the child is ready, and you put your mind to it, anything is possible. I would love to hear your potty training success stories…funny things that happened or techniques you have used or are using. I would also love to know how you handle public restrooms…I have my portable potty all ready to go in the car, but I have a feeling when we are on the go…I am going to be missing those diapers!! Looking forward to hearing your comments!!!

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