This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of KinderCare. Tracking Pixel

Jax turns 4 next week, and as far as I can tell, age 4 is going to be the year his interests really develop. Over the past few months, he’s shown an increased interest in nature—in particular, bugs. And we all know how I feel about bugs. But I put on a smile and push aside my own disinterest (I’m using a very mild word for how I really feel about bugs!) and I read to him countless facts about all his favorite insects and arachnids. Among his favorites? The Black Widow, the trapdoor spider, and the dung beetle–no surprise there, right?

Since a visit with the Bug Lady in May sparked his curiosity about 6- and 8-legged creatures, Jax has been unquenchable. This week alone, I must have read his new spider book–complete with larger-than-life images in full color–at least twice each night, answering questions such as “What’s silk?” and “Why does a spider need turn his prey into liquid?”

Our nightly reading. No nightmares yet!

Our nightly reading. No nightmares yet!

I believe it is my responsibility to foster that curiosity and nurture it as it grows with him–even if it means endless documentaries about house spiders and wolf spiders!

Watching National Geographic's Super Spiders documentary. Ick!

Watching National Geographic’s Super Spiders documentary. Ick!

As parents, we fill their children’s lives with learning moments. Routine activities, such as reading books about spiders, can provide educational opportunities for young children. Participating in my son’s education also by making informed decisions about it is essential. For example, I remember spending countless hours with my husband, deciding on Jackson’s care while we’re at work. Determining what’s best for our children can be challenging. Because I’m always interested in opportunities to ensure Jax is receiving the best education for his changing needs and interests, I’m excited to learn more about KinderCare at their Open House on August 13th.

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KinderCare is holding Open House events at all of their learning centers across the country on August 13th, 2013. Families are welcome to visit during the Open House to see what quality early childhood education looks like and get to know their local KinderCare teachers and staff. Families can visit KinderCare to locate their neighborhood center. This link can also be used to schedule a tour at a different time, if that’s more convenient for your family.

KinderCare’s first ever Back-to-School sweepstakes will award five lucky families a scholarship for one calendar year of free tuition for one child at a KinderCare or Knowledge Beginnings Center. From now through October 18th, 2013, new families who visit any participating KinderCare or Knowledge Beginnings Center and take a tour will be entered to win one of five grand prizes. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit KinderCare to see the Official Rules.

The KinderCare August 13th Open House theme is “Learning Moments.” Learning moments are instances when learning happens away from the chalkboard. KinderCare focuses on capturing these moments every day and making every moment a teachable one. Sounds like one of our goals as parents, right?!

KinderCare provides high-quality early childhood education and childcare for kids who are infant aged through kindergarten. One of the best ways to learn more about KinderCare is to attend their nationwide Open House on August 13th, 2013. Visit KinderCare to find the Learning Center or Knowledge Beginnings Center closest to you. If you’re going to check out the one near us, maybe we’ll see you there!

And don’t forget: KinderCare’s Back-to-School Sweepstakes will award five families a scholarship worth one calendar year’s tuition for one child. To be eligible, families must visit their local KinderCare Center and take a tour. Terms and conditions apply. Click here to see the Official Rules.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of KinderCare.

Jax has been talking about “bad guys” a lot this week. It’s unnerving, as you might imagine given the Sandy Hook tragedy. The hopeful part of me considers this a coincidence. Afterall, he’s 3 and a half now, and I watch his imagination become bigger and better every day. He isn’t shielded from a whole lot by my husband or me. He watches a fair amount of television (although our tv rarely changes from the Disney Jr channel). He likes superheroes and their movies, which, as you know if you’ve ever seen one, always feature a bad guy or two. As soon as he gets scared, we turn off the movie and tell him it isn’t real. Then he asks to watch Disney Jr again. Simple as that.

I’m trying to recall whether he’s ever actually talked to me about bad guys before last Friday, and I can’t remember. He must have, right? I’m sure this is selective memory on my part. Or whatever you call that phenomenon that occurs when, for example, you’re trying to get pregnant and it seems like everyone around you is popping out a baby.

I’m still trying to not think about what happened last Friday. I’m trying to push the bad thoughts out of my brain daily—multiple times daily, like whenever I open my Facebook account or check Twitter. But then my 3-year-old starts talking about bad guys again.

I got angry when I first thought that maybe his daycare teachers mentioned something about the shooting to the kids. I mean, they’re 3 years old! Still so innocent, too young to talk to about murderers. Right? And that’s my job, when I choose to tackle it, right?

I’m struggling with the decision to talk to Jax or not about what to do if he encounters a bad guy in real life. On the one hand, the knowledge could save his life. On the other hand, have I mentioned he’s only 3? I’m so afraid to scare him at this young age. And I don’t even know what to tell him to do! Run? Hide? Pretend he’s dead (I’d probably opt for the gentler “pretend you’re asleep”)? I can’t even stomach the idea of this conversation with my baby boy. So far, all I’ve done is reinforce the message that there are always helpers around if he ever needs one (teachers, police officers, and so on). I like the Mr. Rogers quote about this that has made the social media rounds recently. One of these days, I’ll even read past the quote and learn from the rest of the article.

I know there are resources out there for parents to learn how to discuss tragedies with their kids—like the one I linked to above–and how kids should act if they occur. But I can’t face those articles just yet.

Do I have to? He’s 3. Barely a little boy. He still has the same nose he had when he was a baby. It’s like a button.

During Fire Prevention Awareness Week, he learned what to do in case of fire. And then about a month ago, I taught him how to call 9-1-1 on my cell phone in the event of an emergency, which to him means a fire (I didn’t elaborate on all the potential emergencies that could happen). That was scary and real enough. I never thought I’d be questioning whether to talk to him about hiding or playing dead if he encounters a bad guy with a gun.

Aside from teaching him about 9-1-1 and how to stop-drop-and-roll, I have no experience with this kind of thing and I’m floundering and frightened. I will do anything to keep my child safe, but I’m not willing to rob him of a single moment of his childhood until I have to. How do I know when is the right time?

I’m asking for your help. Have you talked to your 3- or 4-year-old about the incident? Have you discussed with him or her how to respond to an act of violence? I’m truly interested in your thoughts on this.

Don’t worry, Woody (& friends) survived!

In preparation to dogsit for my parents and due to the post-birthday bombardment with new toys and lack of space in my smallish house, I embarked on a project last night to weed through all of Jax’s toys and donate the good ones and toss the broken ones. The project commenced with a hasty trip to Target for big Rubbermaid totes in which to store the toys for transport to my son’s daycare–which, in a win-win situation, is happy to take the toys Jax is too old to play with but still in great condition.

Sidenote: I’m happy to report that in addition to the two totes, I bought only two other items–this is progress, given that we all know how impossible it is to escape Target without buying triple the number of items on your list! I got off easy last night, buying only double! What can I say, I was in a hurry!

While I was at Target, a wave of sadness washed over me as I thought about which toys I should remove from my home. Some toys were bought during my pregnancy and have sentimental value. Some toys I just can’t bear the thought of Jax no longer having the option to play with, even though he hasn’t played with them in months or a year! Like his first babydoll he so lovingly cared for (when he was in the mood). Or stuffed animals older than Jax, given to him at my baby shower.

Feeling sentimental is dangerous when you need to declutter your house, and fast.

To make myself feel better–and because I was projecting on Jax that he would be sad, like me, to lose some of his older toys–I stopped in Toys R Us on the drive home from Target and whipped out some gift cards Jax received for his birthday. I told him how proud I am of him for moving into his new classroom this week (have I written about that yet?!) and would let him choose any one toy.

I also told him we needed to give some of his old toys to his school so that other kids could play with them, too. He seemed receptive to this idea, thank goodness.

He chose this toy, and I freaking love it. It provided belly laughs last night as we chased the dogs around the house with it. Sorry, dogs, but you kind of deserve it after all your shenanigans.

I asked my husband to take Jax outside to play last night while I spent 30 minutes sorting through all of the toys in 3 different toyboxes in my house. Once I pushed out the sentimental thoughts, I got into a groove where it was almost too easy to ditch many of the toys. My husband had already done some of the work and created a huge pile (he obviously is not sentimental) of toys he thought we should toss. I admit I did keep two items from his pile–the first toy I bought for Jax when I found out I was pregnant and a Wiggles guitar Jax still plays with. It is just too adorable when he rocks out on that thing, even though it sounds terrible.

I was able to get rid of one lawn bag full of broken or old toys missing pieces, and I prepared a huge tote for the daycare. What remains at our house are toys Jax still loves and regularly uses, and they’re all organized now! Success!

In summary, I learned a few things about getting rid of toys:

  • It is hard when you’re feeling sentimental. But it’s OK to feel sad about letting go of baby things. For some, it’s clothes. Apparently for me, it’s toys. It was a walk down memory lane as I recalled when he received some of the toys (holidays, birthdays) and from whom.
  • Work fast. This is key. Too much time to think is paralyzing. And don’t put on music or anything that could also flood you with emotion!
  • Probably not a good idea (and perhaps counterintuitive) to hit a toystore on the way home to get rid of toys. My husband definitely made some jokes about it, and rightly so.
  • Make sure you do this kind of project when your kid isn’t around to convince you to keep many of the toys. Unless said child is old enough to reason with.
  • Don’t use trashbags. Totes are best. They don’t rip, for starters.
  • Ask your local daycare if they’d like the clean toys in excellent conditions. If not, donate them. Be sure you don’t pass along anything that is broken or missing pieces. I wouldn’t recommend giving daycares any toys with magnets or small parts, either.

Am I missing anything? What are your tips or advice about getting rid of your kids’ toys?

 

I feel like a bad mom today. I know it isn’t true, but I still keep hearing those two words in my head.

Yesterday was a rough one. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me talking about my husband’s Seven Fishes dinner–hosted at our house on Saturday night for a group of 7, including his boss and her fiancee. Yesterday was all about the clean-up. Starting at 8am, I cleaned a fish-clogged kitchen sink, vacuumed broken wine glasses and family heirlooms from the floor, and did mountains of laundry and dishes. Then Jax returned from his overnight trip with his Nana around 11am and proceeded to have a total meltdown of epic proportions around 1pm because I didn’t want to nurse him–again.

I have to admit, I did lock myself in the bathroom and cried for 5 minutes while I let my husband deal with our abusive, sobbing toddler (yes, he hit me–in his defense, he is a happy, loving 2-year-old 99.9% of the time and we consider ourselves very lucky).

I just plain feel tired & overwhelmed with all that is left to do at work and at home before the holidays. Still so much shopping and wrapping.

And then Jax had a bad night of sleep last night. It came out of nowhere, because he’d been doing so great. After my bout of insomnia a few weeks ago, I’d been sleeping great! You’d think I’d have been able to handle a terrible night like last night without having a meltdown of my own. But no. I yelled a bit. I guzzled Benadryl to try in my desperation to fall asleep. Neither of those things were any match for a toddler fighting off a virus (I think) who just wants to nurse all night long again like a newborn. It was 3am before I fell asleep. It’s kind of hard to get comfortable with a toddler clutching your boob.

And then I got up at 6:20 for what is shaping up to be the busiest day at work EVER. Although tomorrow and Wednesday will likely give today a run for its money.

Anyway, the reason I feel like a bad mom today is because I yelled at Jax last night, “Jackson, just go to sleep!” I don’t remember cursing, but I don’t put it past me at 2:00 in the morning. And then this morning when he woke up and walked into the kitchen where I was packing lunches, he started asking for “nummies” again. Sigh. I said no at first (I’m afraid of undoing all the progress we’ve made toward weaning), but when he threatened to cry, I gave in.

He still had a meltdown anyway. I could tell he’s not feeling well today. But he has no fever, so I sent him to daycare because I have a crazy busy day at work. My thinking was that I need to get as much done at work today as possible in case my kiddo really is coming down with a virus and I have to miss a day later this week. But still, I felt bad for sending a cranky, miserable child to daycare when I’m sure all he really wanted to do was stay in his pajamas with his mommy. And I feel bad for the teachers who have to keep him happy today. Oy.

I wish I could be that cool, calm, collected mom who, during Christmas week, pulls herself together effortlessly and just gets shit done. Who doesn’t yell at the kids or her husband. Who can tackle it all & do it all well. Who finds the perfect gifts for everyone on her list and wraps them all up nice & pretty–with time to spare before Christmas.

But I honestly don’t think she exists.

I take a small amount of comfort in thinking that I am the norm. That I am an “amazing” (to quote my own amazing mom today) mother, despite that I yelled at Jax at 2am to go to sleep. Despite that I sent him to daycare this morning when he clearly didn’t want to go.

There will be better days–and soon! Until then, I’ll sip my coffee slowly, daydream about Jax opening gifts on Christmas, and try not to dwell on my long to do list & short night of sleep.

 

Jax has a best friend, Jeremy, at his daycare. The two of them are inseparable, so I’ve been told on more than one occasion. Their teachers tell me how they sit together for meals, how they wrestle, how they light up when they first see each other in the mornings. Just last week, they reported that when Jax woke up from his nap before Jeremy did, Jax sat beside Jeremy’s cot and patted his back while he slept.

Melts my heart.

Earlier this week, I was running so late to work that I had the fortune of dropping off Jax at the same time as Jeremy’s mom dropped him off. So I got to meet her for the first time.

So I thought.

Turns out, she looked familiar for a reason–we went to high school together! We weren’t good friends back then, but not for any reason in particular. We just ran in different circles. (Oh god, I sound like a grandma when I say that.)

We’re now Facebook friends, and we’ve exchanged phone numbers. I’m so happy that after the holidays, we can get the boys together outside of daycare. I have been feeling a bit of working momma guilt when the daycare teachers tell me how cute Jax & Jeremy are together because that is a whole other side of Jax I rarely get to see. We have playdates, sure, but usually with the kids of friends of mine–in other words, kids Jax doesn’t know that well because we aren’t around them more than once or twice a month, tops. So the interaction isn’t the same as it must be with his BFF he sees every weekday.

I’m so looking forward to seeing the two of them play together.

Does your kid have a best friend?