Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer craft for Kids


Recently i wrote about Mommy and Me Summer Fun and what do you know, a hop over to U Create, one of the blogs I follow had this link to fabulous summer crafts for kids...Way to go on getting your kids creatively active this summer.

Check out these uber creative ideas here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dealing with separation anxiety


So I've been back at work for the past 4 months, but still can't get the hang of being away from my dear little one. I didn't imagine it would take this much getting used to and i certainly assumed that with her away from the grasps of daycare, I'd be more comfortable and less anxious. Yet, the sad reality hits when i find myself holding out longer and longer before going off to work. I also find myself religiously skipping evening exercise sessions so i can get home to breastfeed, play and cuddle..Yes i know i sound like a big wuss, but who can deny that a baby's warmth is magnetic.

So it got me thinking that since i can't be a stay at home mom (due to financial constraints), there must be some way that i can still relish time spent with my little one, while being less anxious.

On a greater scale parent and child separation has continuously led to separation anxiety and too many persons do not know how to adequately deal with this issue. In the Jamaican scenario, many a parent can be heard reprimanding a teary and tantrum-filled child on departure. Onlookers may even chime in and label the child as 'spoilt'. Medically and emotionally though, separation anxiety is deemed worthy of being addressed so there can be more relaxed and happy parents and children.

I found this article quite useful and thought why rewrite the wheel. It deals with separation anxiety both for parents and children. You can view it here and share your thoughts on how you deal with separation anxiety.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When the going gets tough


Until today, all seemed a breeze in the life of a mother. I've been experiencing all things blessed, happy and remarkable... until today.
Its in moments like these that one sometimes ponder the fact that no matter what you do, you can and never will control some influences in your life.

It also begs one to address the issue of never being totally super, omnipotent or surreal. No matter how much you try to be a good mother, friend, lover, it makes sense to remember that just one minuscle element can break what would have otherwise been a perfect record.

This one element usually comes on unexpectedly and sack you in the back before you have time to anticipate the blow. Yet sometimes this 'blow' is relatively tiny and so goes unnoticeable until it festers and becomes an annoying and irritating sore. Yes sometimes, its like that seemingly elusive mosquito who goes in for the sting, you feel a mere pinch and before you can reach out to correct the problem, it is well on its way. Then at other times it is like a mere prick from a needle that you shrug off until you realise it has slowly been poking a bigger and bigger hole at the spot.

So now I know...i will always try to be the best, to give the best and to receive the best, but I will always remember that when the going gets tough, I have to accept that some things I will never be able to change, alter or defer. Some things will just have to play their natural course and be as much a part of life as the good elements we enjoy daily. So since I'll always remember this I'll remain OK with the fact that today I caught the flu (smiles...what did you think I was speaking about? lemme know)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Father's Day






Its been a busy weekend, but I just wanted to wish all Dads a Happy father's day. This being huzzy's first was truly a remarkable one. We got lil missy all dressed up for church and then went for a night cap. This one is short today. Here's a beautiful Father's day pic..tooo cute...awww

And a special poem for the Best dad ever..

Many say a mom never exists until the child is born
But these same persons forget the fatherly form.

The strength you exude is truly remarkable
and each time you hold her I see her eyes sparkle

The warm embrace you always offer
Puts to shame all anti-dad scoffers

You are an absolutely fantastically superbly great father
But there aren't enough words to say it, because you are like no other



Happy Father's day!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Weighing in on the GSAT Debate in Jamaica


Since its introduction, much has been said about the Grade Six Acheivement test (GSAT) in Jamaica. While results in the Math and Science fields have constantly been at the lowest ends, probably one of the biggest debates has been sparked by Minister Andrew Holness' comments in the aftermath of 2009 results. An interesting article that basically sums up my views can be found here. Yet I'll hasten to add that a mere 'fixing' of GSAT will not necessarily improve the quality of education our Jamaican children are being afforded.

I'm sure it is with good intentions in mind that minister Holness made the above comments, but there seems to be a more deep rooted problem at hand. First off, there's the issue of discipline (which will be aptly dealt with at another time). But right now I think that there needs to be an intricate look at the varied households children are coming from and the sort of encouragement they have therin. Surely, the government with its fiscal deficits, budgetary shortfall and struggling economy cannot at this time implement a comprehensive values and attitudes programme for all households. Yet what the government can now do is to implement better standards for improving the quality of education in our institutions, be it traditional or non-traditional.

What may be of merit is to assess what makes the difference between a traditional and non traditional high school. Is it better passes? More extracurricular activities? Better overall development? Better teachers? What exactly makes one school seem more desirable than others? An assessment of these variables could be particularly useful in determining a sectoral reform.

Surely, over the years, there has been a marked improvement in the standard of passes in non-traditional schools. It therefore means that there is much room for marked improvement, but it also means that some positive 'vibe' must have infiltrated the non traditional high schools at some point. What I think is needed then is a boost in the non traditional high schools to make them more desirable. If there aren't enough extracurricular activities, introduce some. Is there a system that rates teachers? If so ensure that there is a mix of those rated high, moderate etc.

I also think there's need for an extensive campaign that highlights the merits of non traditional high schools. This could be done by way of endorsements by students of non-traditional high schools who have moved on to coveted positions in society and have accomplished much.

In fact, I'm quite surprised about the constant hoola, when everyone knows that many kids from non-traditional high schools move on to perform in league with their traditional high school counterparts and at times even outperform them. Perhaps I need to do a survey at the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology to prove that whether you attend the traditional or non-traditional, you all eventually end up at the same place. Whether or not more students from non-traditional high schools get accepted to such highly desired faculties (Medicine, Law, Engineering, Journalism) is another matter which may have more to do with the focus in different high schools and again motivation from home.

What I can agree with minister Holness is that once a student performs at an above average rate, they need to be rewarded for such an accomplishment. Therefore, if a child gets a 90.1 and another gets a 90.2 on the GSAT exams, they both need to be afforded fairly equitable.

In this grossly inequitable world, advances towards equality are always welcome. However, i think the focus should not be so much on deciding who goes to what institution but adopting a mentality of making all high schools in Jamaica desirable. This may not be an easy task, but there's nothing an extensive PR campaign can't fix. In fact, more often that not, its the children who attend the traditional high schools who uphold airs of being 'better' than their non-traditional counterparts. It is full time for this hypocrisy to stop. Set the standards Mr. Minister. Our focus should be on ensuring that our students are at the required level of competence, with the knowledge that once that is achieved, they can thrive in any institution that is equipped to properly educate them. To the students I say, GROW where you're planted, To the teachers I say, treat your job as a service to humanity,To the government: Treat education as the breadwinner of your 'household' and to the parents: Make motivation a constant theme within your household, knowing that many a Doctor, Lawyer, Prime Minister, Governor General and even President can grow from the enclaves of a non-traditional high school.

What are your thoughts? Share them below and let's keep the discussion going.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

200th visitor



Today, June 17th at 11:07 a.m. My hits score recorded my 200th visitor.. So again I offer a big shout out to all those who have visited this blog. Do come back again soon and feel free to always share with us what you want to see on Jamaicanmommies.com

A Big Thank You.

Blessings
XO Shan

Mommy and Me Summer Fun





Its almost the end of June and what do you know, SCHOOL's OUT. While this may mean you get to see your kids more (happy face), It may also mean You get to see your kids more (ugghhh). Come on, I know we love our kids and all, but let's be real, sometimes when your toddlers and teenagers are now home constantly there are endless dangers for them to get into. Then there's the issue of finding appropriate and meaningful activities to keep them occupied. We'll discuss this later but right now you want to be able to enjoy the summer with your kids, while affording them the opportunity to to have clean fun on their own.

Also bear in mind that unless you're a teacher, freelancer or Stay at home mom, your mommy and me summer fun time will be limited to weekends, so here's how to make the most of the time you have available:

1. Indoor Fun: How about getting the family together for arts and crafts. Your older kids will be sure to enjoy creative online DIY (Do it yourself) sites such as cutoutandkeep.net, www.make-stuff.com/kids, instructables.com, craftzine.com, www.diynetwork.com/diy/crafts and the list goes on. Your teenagers will also have cool fun using such sites as picnik.com, imikimi.com and mag my pic to edit photos and make cool scrapbook images (plus you get points as a COOL parent for suggesting these sites).

- Painting: Have a room you've been wanting done for the longest while? Well put the kids to use. For younger kids you can even make a cute mural for their room. Just grab material big enough for the space and have your kids make foot and hand prints with coloured paint for a wonderful look.

- Family movie night: Have a projector? Turn your space into a wonderful movie theater (If you don't I have one for rental here that you can contact me about. Hang a white blanket on a solid wall, make popcorn and drinks and you're on your way for a wonderful family moment.

- Board games- Great for indoor and out

2. Outdoor Fun: This is never exhaustive and is particularly useful with the heat of summer all around.

- Games (whether it be board games or a game of waterbombs, Baseball (The Jamaican version with homemade bats and balls), 'Sightings' (the one where you try to dodge the ball) , paint balling (You can now play at Sun Coast in the Harbour View Region) or a simple backyard game of water squirt (Get dressed in your swimsuit and just have fun with the hose) You can surely have Fun Fun and did i say FUN.



- The Beach/Watery bodies: This is a never ending fave and Jamaica has such beautiful beaches, waterfalls and rivers it should be just enough fun trying to decide if you should visit one in Kingston (Remember Lime Cay is under quarantine), St. Catherine (Hellshire, Fort Clarence and the Caymanas Bay river are faves), Numerous ones in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and ones in the Eastern and South Coast areas are great options. For moms of younger kids you may want to use more contained areas such as pools located around the island but be sure to check with your doctor about babies, public pools and vaccinations.

- Picnic: Hope Gardens Still remains a fave, but you can explore other places such as Serenity Park and others scattered around the island

- Barbeque: Where there's food, its bound to be fun. This can be quite fun and you can have older kids help with preparations. Just grab some hamburger buns, franksfurters, lunch meat, whatever it is you want on a grill, prepare a huge pitcher of lemonade and you are all set. Oh and while you're at it, if you have a big enough space, be sure to invite your friends/kid's friends over too. To help with costs, you can have them all contribute to the Barbeque..Now that's fun.

Now there's sooo much to do and I could go on and on, but whatever you do, just try to be creative and include everyone. You may need to do separate activities if you have older and younger kids, but whatever the activity the aim is fun. Still want more ideas? Check these out

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Mother's prayer


A random google search for mother's prayer led me to so many beautiful pieces I just had to share. These can be read in down times to help and boost all moms who may be running out of energy. Congrats on being a mother and feel rewarded at a job well done.


Prayer 1- Very beautiful
O Lord
I need your help today.
I want to care
for those you've sent into my life,
to help them develop the special gifts
you've given them.

But I also want to free them
to follow their own paths
and to bring their loving wisdom
to the world.

Help me
to embrace them without clutching,
to support them without suffocating,
to correct them without crushing.

And help me
to live joyfully and playfully, myself,
so they can see your life in me
and find their way to you.
Amen.
A mother's gift is to give life. But in the daily demands of feeding and forming, cleaning and cautioning, tending and teaching, her gift can get lost in the layers.
She needs to remember that her work begins with herself. To be attentive to others, she must listen to her own heart. To care for others, she must take time for herself. To teach self-love to others, she must act lovingly towards her own body and her time.

If she finds her own sparks, she will fan them in those around her. If she frees her own spirit, she will help others soar. If she focuses each moment by being wholly present, she will point the way to holiness and to God.
And if she truly lives, she will give real life to the world, not only in her children's bodies, but in their souls.


Another Beautiful piece..Short and sweet
Here are the lyrics of a beautiful mother love poem titled "A mother's prayer" by Mary A. Loberg.


A Mother's Prayer

Help me dear Lord, as a mother, I pray
And bless these hands folded in prayer today;
May they be ever strong as they guide, as they teach,
Beings never too far for a child to reach.
May they never, with selfishness, try to dissuade,
Nor too quickly punish, nor too slowly aid.
May they point out the pleasures in laughter and song,
And may they show, wisely, the right from the wrong,
So that one day I'll know that I've helped all I can
To make her a woman, to make him a man.


And the word's to Celine Dion's mother's prayer

A Mother's Prayer

I pray you'll be my eyes
And watch her where she goes
And help her to be wise
Help me to let go

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

I pray she finds your light
And holds it in her heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind her where you are

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide her with your grace
Give her faith so she'll be safe

Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

Vaccinations ugggh- The love/hate relationship



So I figured I haven't really shared much about my personal experience as a mother, but only recently (This friday in fact) I took my little one for 4 month shots and got to thinking just how much i love (make that appreciate/hate those vaccination thingys.

So first of all she hates all things that she needs to swallow apart from her 'milky' of course and so I've had constant struggles trying to get her to swallow any form of medicine. So you can imagine how much red stained clothing items i now have from spillovers of the Baby's panadol. I mean i could have easily pinched her nose as is customary in Jamaica, but i hate seeing the look of terror in her little eyes and have therefore moved beyond that route.

Moving along to the actual visit, my little 'spitter' got the new oral rota virus vaccine to prevent against cases of gastroenteritis and guess what she LOVED it. No spitting, she literally gulped that thing down and even started a fuss when it was done..Funny eh? then came time for the triple part shots and just seeing that needle made my heart move, so i was kindly asked to turn away while my sister was given the grand task of holding little Kailee down for the dreaded shots. Now i know this is supposed to be beneficial for her or whatever, but can't these needles get any shorter?

In the end though my lil champ took this all much better than i thought since 5 minutes after she was her bubbly self and even though she ran a fever the day after, I somehow felt that until I could find an alternative such as Dr. Sear's vaccine schedule then I'd at least try to be optimistic about the number of shots she receives.

For the benefit of all moms out there, here's the WHO's schedule for vaccinations in Jamaica. You can also find a full breakdown of local vaccination information here

I will continue to read up on all these vaccinations though and encourage all parents to do the same, you just might be blown away at what you can find out and while you are at it let us know how you deal with vaccinations and also please do share how you get your little one to actually take a full dosage of medicine. Just to digress, i saw a pacifier in Michi that allows for fluids such as medicine, but i know the instant Kailee tastes that she'd simply spit the entire paci out. You can see what it looks like here though

And as ever share your thoughts on this post and if there's anything you need to know, just ask and i'll get the answers for you.

XO
Shan

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Surviving a Recession


Just because i know Things seem to be tight on all ends. I found this useful article that offers tips on surviving a recession. While some of the article speaks particularly to an American scenario, the tips generally prove important for mastering frugality.



Here are some of the most useful tips I've chosen to highlight. Check out the entire article below.

Tips for Surviving a Recession

1. "Two things you don't want to do is buy a second house and figure out how to sell the current one later or quit your job and figure out how to get another one later," says Jeff Lancaster, a principal with money management firm Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough.

Many experts say the housing and job markets are likely to get worse before they get better. That's because economic stimuli generally take six to 18 months to have an impact.

2. Assess your job situation. In a recession, no one is immune from layoffs. Today, anyone in housing, real estate or finance is especially vulnerable.

3. Build an emergency fund. You should have at least three to six months' of living expenses in a safe place such as a money market fund or savings account.

4. Pay off credit cards. It's sad to say, but many people "use their credit cards as a rainy day fund," Yarrow says.

5. Consider a home equity line of credit. If you have enough equity in your home, think about opening a line of credit while you still have a job. As long as you don't borrow against it, you won't incur interest charges and there's usually no fee. If you do lose your job, you can use it for emergency funds. You generally can't open a line of credit when you don't have a job.

6. Don't spend to relieve anxiety.

7. Investigate health care options


Check out the full article compiled by Kathleen Pender here

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Getting your Kids to help



For those of you with older kids, I thought this would be of value. Check out this piece from one of my now fave blogs V and Company.

Enjoy the article here.

To add a few tips of our own:

1. Make it Fun: Your Kids are more likely to help with chores if it somehow does not seem like a chore. My mom succeeded with that by having us do mini competitions to see who could clean up their clothes the fastest, rake the leaves etc.

2. Offer an Incentive: Technically the same as making it fun. But they do say reward sweetens labour.  I remember how we would aim to complete a task in as short a time as possible or as best as possible if the end result was a sweet treat, extended play time, tv time etc

3. Do it together: Yes we did say, getting your kids to HELP. I know we are often busy doing other chores but kids (especially the younger ones) are likely to 'want to help' mommy or daddy vs having a chore dumped on them :-) What works for my toddler for example if I say, Please pass mommy the clothespins while I hang the clothes or you remove these items from the bag and I'll put them in place. It honestly helps.

4. Reward them with Play: Yup the family that plays together stays together alright.  So why share only chores? Remember to let your hair down and have some fun with your kids their way.

Cheers
Shan

The Professional Mom







Looking on the HUGE pile of laundered clothes that were to be put away from the longest while, I put put a lengthy sigh and somewhere in my head I screamed...HELP I need a HELPER. It also got me thinking of motherly demands and moreso, demands of a professional mom who tries to balance work, time with baby, home time and motherly me time. Which i previously spoke about here

With changing economic times and a marked increase in female independence, the entire essence of motherhood has somehow been revolutionized. Today increasing numbers of mothers have claimed their place in the workplace, occupying varying skilled and semi skilled roles. But how does this fare for mom and the child she is expected to care for in all ways possible?

More often than not, being a career oriented mom means that most if not all babies will be ushered off into the world of daycare at 2-3 months (In the Jamaican scenario) while mothers return to the demands of a job. This return is almost never anticipated and it is with bated breaths and mass separation anxiety that many moms leave for an 8 hour, make that 12 hours (including travel time) away from their little one.

Then comes the agonizing hours wondering what your child is doing, how he/she is managing, Is he/she adjusting to being away from you and the list goes on. Then when you finally get accustomed to them being away from you, the pangs of exhaustion starts setting in. So you come home from work, probably try to make the evening's meals while making time to get some one and one interaction with the newest member of your family and what do you know within an hour or two after getting home you are beat-flat out tired and wonder whatever happened to the days when you could do an all nighter, go to bed in the wee hours of the morning and still function fairly throughout the next day.

Surely you want to scream and let the world know that moms deserve better- better maternity policies, more time with your young'un and of course you want to go on and on citing the psychological benefits of spending more quality time with your little bundle or your growing toddler or even your teenager. But let's face it, unless you live in places like Canada where you can get up to 52 weeks Maternity leave then there's no need screaming your eyes out about how unfair the Jamaican government is towards mothers. In fact count your blessings (In the US Maternity leave is not necessarily etched in policy, instead time frames vary based on Employers, number of employees to a company and sometimes even the employer's discretion?) sad huh?

So while you're yet wailing, experts recommend that the first step in achieving quality time as a professional mom is to GET RID OF YOUR GUILT; Hard i know but sitting around pining doesn't help either.
So after you have stopped thinking about how sorry you are for having to go off to work the next step is to make your time with your little one count. As Armin Brott, Yahoo parenting expert explains "
Although you can't recapture time spent away from your child, you can make the most of your time together. First, separate work time from time with your child. Make sure that whenever you're with your baby, you're with him 100 percent. Forget the phone, the computer, the newspaper, and the TV — you can do all those things after the baby goes to sleep, before he wakes up, or while he's busy nursing."
In this age of Blackberries and host of other peripheral devices, this might be much harder than in days gone by, but go for it...After all your little one is worth the effort and sacrifice (you were complaining about not enough time after all right?)

Brott also says "You might also want to explore a few different work scheduling options. Ask if you can come into work an hour or two earlier so you could leave early and have a few relaxed hours with your baby in the afternoons.

Or perhaps you could telecommute one day a week. The time usually spent in traffic in the car could be spent reading to your son. And a walk around your neighborhood — in a carrier or stroller — is a great way to take a break from work during the day".


And then there's this issue of organizing your time to maximize time spent with your little one. This will be explored in a later post, but you can always check out some useful tips at Mom's Network

So now you have the basic idea, Being a mom is after all already a task in itself and being a working mom is double work. It can be exhausting and so it is important to find the right balance to ensure that adequate time is given to all the important areas of your life.

Let us know how you manage life as a professional mom...Any tips? Advice? or are you still struggling through life as a professional mom.


Hope to hear from you soon
XO
Shan

100th visitor


Today, June 4th at 11:36 a.m. My hits score recorded my 100th visitor..whoopedee. So a big shout out to all those who have visited this blog. Do come back again soon and feel free to always share with us what you want to see on Jamaicanmommies.com

A Big Thank You.

Blessings
XO Shan

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting that ME time you deserve


So after almost four months of always being home bound, huzzy and I went out ALONE for the first time since our lil miss arrived. I had a fabulous time, which made me remember what it felt like to feel like the ME still exists in my life. It also got me thinking about just how much some ME time can really help to lift a mother's spirit.

Now you may be thinking, where do i get the time? Seems complex, but its pretty simple really-JUST MAKE IT. Hard i know, especially since i've struggled with having my little one (LO) out of my view or away from me for any period over a few minutes. But then something clicked off somewhere in me and i realised that with the thrills of motherhood i had somehow become drained, dragged and in a bid to always be motherly, i'd somehow forgotten what it was like to be ME. So after the struggles that got me to eventually realise that LO would be just fine if mommy went out alone, i've narrowed down the 'journey' to 5 simple steps:
1. Plan Ahead:
Make an appointment even, pencil it in your busy schedule or block out that section as ME time on your Bberry.While you're at it, plan your outfit too, just to heighten the excitement of being out again.
2. Make SECURE arrangements:
Have a responsible individual on hand to take care of your little one for you. This may require you introducing the 'sitter' to LO in advance to see how the child responds to him or her.
3. Carefully Brief the Sitter:
This is particularly important if you have younger LO's. Let the sitter know what schedule the child is on (bedtimes, playtimes, feeding periods etc). Also be sure to leave ALL forms of contact so you can be reached in case of an emergency.

4. Make a big Deal:
About you going out that is-Tell your friends, call up the person you're going with and let them know how excited you are to be going. Making a big deal will help to keep the tempo up even when you're drained after a sleepless night with your LO or after picking up toys or your child from afterschool care.

5. Enjoy yourself:
This you need to do since the entire point of being out was to really have a good time. I stuck to this rule so much that even though other persons at the event seemed a little bored, Huzzy and I went home all happy after a night well spent. Oh and for those of you who are new moms and breastfeeding, remember you can have a reasonable amount of alcohol, but try to consume this after a feeding session and at least an hour before the next feeding session is due.

So now that you know it's this easy to get some ME time. What are you waiting for? Get on out-go to the beach, go for dinner, get a spa treat or if only for one night go on and Live La vida Loca.

XO
Shan
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