Happy 10th in Heaven Mami

If you’ve visited me within the last two weeks (thanks btw), you’ve probably seen that I’ve fallen off the writing bandwagon. I’ve not been so busy that I couldn’t write. I’ve chosen not to.

Mami in her heyday.

See this picture – she’s the reason why I’ve been offline. It’s been ten years since I’ve not hugged her or heard her voice. Some days the memories are so clear that it’s like she’s sitting next to me. And other days – it’s so hard to remember how she did the things she did.

I look at my son and see how much he’s grown. It is in looking at him that I’m reminded of the passage of ten years. He was just a year and a half when she died. And she loved him SO much! I just wanted to share that Mami was the strongest woman I’ve ever met and there will NEVER be another mom like her. My mom, my role model, my pain in the ass. I love you Mami. Until we meet again.

Frances Reyes (1942 – 2002)

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A Big Boy’s Room

 I’m the mom of an 11-year-old, about-to-start-6th-grader who was ready to break out of the little kid’s room. So, this past weekend, kiddo got his “big kid” room.

Kiddo’s original room had a captain’s bed and a small drawer chest lovingly provided by my father (he’s too good to me). It also had his toddler table and four chairs (a gift from my sister) and a rocking chair & ottoman (also from my father).

It was bittersweet for me cleaning out his room and moving the rocking chair, ottoman and toddler table into my spare room. I didn’t think he’d outgrow that. Now I totally get it when my father tells me that he doesn’t see Heiddi the grown woman with a kid and career. He says that he sees a six-year-old gap-toothed, pig-tailed little girl.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for kiddo to grow up. But, it’s happening anyway.

Kiddo couldn’t wait until Wednesday (he’s at his father’s til them) to see his new bedroom set. My heart was racing when he walked in because I didn’t know if he’d like it (the set we picked was discontinued and I picked a new one). Squealing, kiddo raced up the ladder to lay on it and get a feel for the new mattress. And he had to test out his freethrow after all.

All I wanted to do was cry happy and sad tears. Happy tears for being able to provide him with his ‘big boy’ room and sad because my Cocohead is growing up. Onto the next mommy adventure.

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Sleep-Deprived Mommy

Sleep-deprivation – defined by WebMD as follows

  1. a sufficient lack of restorative sleep over a cumulative period so as to cause physical or psychiatric symptoms and affect routine performances of tasks.

I had a sufficient lack of restorative sleep over a cumulative period of four nights in a row and caused fatigue, crankiness, fogginess and affected my work/life routine performances.  AKA – I was FRIGGIN’ tired!

With so many wonderful things my amazing mom passed on to me, sleep deprivation was one I could have done without. I thought my sleep-deprived nights were over once my son left the baby years. NOT!

Now, what keeps me up at night are thoughts. Thoughts about my son, things I need to do at work and home, my life – EVERYTHING. I also have a very bad habit of daydreaming and visualizing dreams. These are all good things to do, but not when I need to get to sleep right away. What also keeps me up is kiddo.

Kiddo’s a pre-teen with the ‘I’m a big kid’ attitude going on, but still likes to sleep in my queen-sized bed once in awhile. When he does sleep there, I don’t. Rather than keep his pre-teen rump on his side of the bed, he manages to roll over to my side. Kicking and throwing his arms out. I often wonder if he’s dreaming about beating me to a pulp.

Between the kicking and throwing, plus my own pre-sleep racing mind (bills, kiddo, work, bills, kiddo) I get little to no sleep. Add to that a stressful, draining dayjob and it’s a recipe for a bitchy, tired mom.

I’d like to invent a contraption to keep a child stuck in place all night long and maybe throw sand from Mr. Sandman on the child’s head to knock them the hell out. But, then thinking that up will probably keep me up at night, too! Dammit!

Guess I’ll have to change up my routine to make myself a priority. Because a well-rested mommy is a HAPPY mommy.

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Ruckus Reader is here!

Parents, got an iPad or iPhone? Do your kids hijack your electronics to use apps? In search of apps perfect for your little readers? Look no further than the Ruckus Reader.

Specially made for kids, Ruckus Media offers a variety of apps for young readers through 8 years old.Very user friendly, kids can choose to have the story told to them or read it out loud. Cool graphics, great music and classic stories come to life with the Ruckus Reader. The kids can use the apps over and over again for reading fun!

 

And that’s not all. Parents, the Ruckus Reader also “gives parents feedback on how their kids are doing and tips on how to help.” It reinforces national educational standards for preschooler through second grade. The Ruckus Reader has been given thumbs up from Daily Candy, Parents.com, Five Minutes for Mom and Mediabistro. To learn more, check out Ruckus Reader today!

Yes, I AM Mom Enough!

Yesterday’s release of the Time magazine article incited outrage and comments from moms all over. Some moms were upset because of picture itself of a mom breastfeeding a toddler (who is standing on a chair to reach his mother’s breast). Others were upset because it showed a woman breastfeeding in public. It was all over my Twitter feed. Neither of those things upset me.

What DID upset me? The title. “Are you Mom Enough?” I could care less about what other moms do – breastfeeding in public (or not), breastfeeding a toddler (or not) or attachment parenting. I know what works for me doesn’t have to work for anyone else. Or vice versa.

But, the idea that I’m NOT mom enough because I’m not breastfeeding a toddler did spark my outrage. The title of this article is yet ANOTHER way that words have hurt the community of moms. Stay-at-home, Work-at-home or Work-outside-home, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding – these are all words that have caused divisiveness in the Mom community.

Rather than helping moms unite as a force to be reckoned with, this choice of words for the cover article title only serves as a way for us to pick at one another for our parenting styles. This mom wants to breastfeed her toddler? So what? She wants the world to know about it? Fine by me. Her choices do not mean that she is “more mom” than I am. Not at all.

I’m a single mom living in New York City. Not many women would freely choose to be a single mom. I got out of a relationship and am co-parenting my son with his father. Yes, a single mom I am, but it doesn’t make me any “more mom” than the moms featured in the article. This is just my experience. It does not make me braver than anyone else. It doesn’t make me stronger than anyone else. It just makes me – me.

So yes, I AM mom enough! Next!

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Earth Day Traditions & Tribute

Growing up in a low-income Latino household, Earth Day wasn’t something that was discussed. In fact, Earth Day started in 1970. But, in my 80’s home, my parents were more concerned about making sure that we had clothes to wear and enough to eat.

However, my parents (my mom especially) unknowingly passed on some great traditions that I now pass on to my own kiddo. Here’s our list of earth-friendly traditions. See if yours makes the list and add your own in the comments!

1. Hand-me-downs – My mom was the queen of hand-me-downs. As a middle child, she frequently received clothing from her older sisters. She was very annoyed at the time she said, but understood after having us. I remember a received a hand-me-down uniform for freshman year of high school. Today, I pass on this tradition by having kiddo help me sort clothes, books and toys to pass on to others in need.

2. Making the best of leftovers. My mom believed in not wasting anything, so she tended to cook extra food to last for the next meal. How did I know that I caught this bug, I realized a year ago that I was wasting food because I couldn’t cook for less than four people. Go figure! lol

3. Making items from scratch. My mom also showed me that making things at home was cheaper and tastier than buying it at the supermarket. She used to make sofrito the seasoning mix that is the base of many Puerto Rican recipes. Rather than buy it at the store, which was more expensive, Mom gathered all the ingredients and blended them in the food processor. She then froze it and thawed it out as needed. For months, Mom had ready-made sofrito to season all of her yummy meals. While I’m not much of a sofrito user, I have learned to make my own spaghetti sauce from simple ingredients. (Please note – the above recipe was the closest to my mom’s.)

4.Brewing coffee. Mom loved her Bustelo coffee (it’s my favorite coffee, too). We didn’t have a coffee maker growing up. So no filters to waste. She brewed her coffee by boiling it and then using a cloth strainer to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. I’ve continued this tradition by brewing my own coffee. Not only to be earth-friendly, but also to keep her with me.

I’m sure if I think hard enough, I could add to this list. But, these four tricks are the ones I use the most. And these are the ones that keep her memory alive and help me miss her a little less. What are some earth-friendly traditions you’ve adopted in your household?

Happy Earth Day!

Traditions courtesy of Francisca Reyes (1942 – 2002).

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Tribute to Mami

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 70 years old. I imagine she would’ve been very similar to what she was before she died – stubborn, independent, strong-willed. The best (or worst) part about this is that her grandson (who’s birthday is on Wednesday) is JUST LIKE HER.

Kiddo has her independent spirit. I don’t know if this is because they had birthdays around the same time or if he inadvertently gained her characteristics just because. He was a year and a half old when she passed away. She loved him so much that at one point I wondered if she still loved me! I got over my jealously quickly though, Kiddo was so adorable.

Now that he’s a pre-teen, I can only imagine what Mami would have been like with him. Probably the same way she was back then – she’d hang out with him for awhile and then send him right back my way. While sometimes I’m sad because I miss her, other times I’m okay because her spirit lives on… in him.

Happy birthday Mami; love you. (1942 – 2002)

Off Broadway meets Childcare with Playtime!

Parents, have you wanted to see a play, but weren’t able to because you couldn’t get quality, affordable childcare? I know I have. With expensive show tickets as well as childcare, I rarely took the chance to go catch a show.

Until now. Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of taking in an off-Broadway show while kiddo played, sang songs and taught someone how to play a card game. How did I do this? Playtime! helped me. What is Playtime? It is the first ever child enrichment program that provides arts, culture and care for kids while their parents see an Off Broadway show. Collaborating with Playtime! are three local theaters and Sitters Studio. Playtime! is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Elroy and Terry Krumholz Foundation.

Courtesy of Playtime!, I had the opportunity to see The Hurt Village (review coming up next week) and had a blast. I didn’t have to worry about kiddo because I knew he would have a great time. It isn’t a “drop ’em; leave ’em” kind of sitting service. I had to verify my contact information (in case of an emergency) and get a numbered ticket (assigned to kiddo on a bracelet) so that I could claim my child after the show.

After the play, I went to pick up my child, submitting my ticket and receiving a written report about his activities and behavior. Kiddo raved about his sitter and said that he wanted to have her babysit for him again in the future. He also mentioned that he had a great time even though (at age 10) was the oldest child there. According to the report, the sitter noted this and had kiddo help out with the younger kids.

I was very impressed at how well-organized they were and how smoothly the drop-off process was. Especially since kiddo is a child who needs routine and structure to do well. And he did. He had a blast! Playtime! is a great asset for parents who love a good play and need childcare to get to see the show. I loved The Hurt Village and thank Playtime! for the opportunity.

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Update: Celebrity Parents Going too Far?

Normally, the birth of a child would be something special to treasure. As a parent, I gush over other people’s kids and welcome the newest members of the parenting community. I’d give my congratulations to all parents both known and unknown.

This morning though, I didn’t want to. 1010 WINS reported that Beyonce and Jay-Z had their little bundle of joy. As I was thinking, “How great for them!”, the reporter announced that they paid $1 million dollars to shut down the entire maternity ward at Lenox Hill Hospital. Workers had to turn in their cell phones to avoid pictures getting out of their newborn. While I get that they are protecting their child (after all I’m a parent, too), I did not feel it was fair for them or the hospital administrators to impose that on other parents.

According to the report, parents of a set of premature twins were not allowed to see their newborns in the NICU. I was floored and livid on behalf of these parents. And for the parents and families of other people who had babies at the same time.

How is this fair to us “regular” people? How is that fair to parents who want to see their children or families who wanted to celebrate new additions to their broods? Especially when early bonding is so important. What if something happened to those premature twins and the parents weren’t there? What then? The birth of a child is the right of any person on the planet, celebrity or not.

I feel that if celebrities want that kind of security and privacy, they should pay to provide it. That being said, Beyonce and Jay-Z could have spent that $1 million dollars on creating a maternity ward on their property rather than in a public hospital used by everyone. Everyone deserves to have that special time with their babies as well as with family and friends. Shame on the administrators of Lenox Hill Hospital for allowing this kind of infringement on the rights of the everyday people who keep them running. A hospital should not allow this to happen simply because of money. Other celebrities have taken it upon themselves to get private rooms to give birth and I commend them for it.

Yes, protect your child. Yes, keep them safe. But, don’t do it at the expense of other families who want the same for their children. There are 7 billion people on this planet and fairness is something everyone deserves regardless of wealth, background, etc.

Update: After buzz from this original post, I received links further discussing these events. Please check them out.

Hospital Press Release

People.com

TMZ.com

1010 WINS

6 Parenting Tips from Mommy Irene

Everyone knows that parenting is a tough job and that there are rules to follow. Below you will find Mommy Irene’s parenting rules. She decided to come to New York City (and the Eastern Seaboard) to let us know how parenting works with her. There is no need for her to yell or carry-on. With her simple rules, Mommy Irene quickly lets the kids know who is boss. Below are Mommy Irene’s tips. For more information, you can also check out safety tips as issued by the Mayor’s office and OEM.

1. No you cannot play with your toys! – The MTA shut down all regular service (buses/trains) as of noon today.  Ferries, Access-a–Ride and Amtrak trains have been shut down as well. Also, all NYC parks, public libraries and Broadway shows have been closed for the weekend.

2. Go to your room. The city has been split up into various zones and Nyers have been advised to stay put if they can or evacuate immediately if residing in a danger zone (Zone A and the Rockaways).

3. Somebody’s on time-out.  Mommy Irene has spoken and there are specific time-out spots (shelters/schools) for NYers in danger zones with no alternative shelter. If you don’t have family and friends within a safe zone, there are shelters that are open. (Note: pets are welcome!)

4. You can’t go out today. All major airports have been shut-down as of noon today to inbound & outbound flights. (Contact your specific airline to find out about flight information.)

5. No, your friends can’t come over. All highways have been shutdown to Southbound traffic. Northbound traffice (heading away from NYC) only. And only for emergency vehicles.

6. No Video games for you. Power will be shutdown in lower Manhattan as a precaution to avoid problems when the hurricane arrives.

I hope that these parenting tips will help you get through the storm. Please stay safe people. Check in here if you can and let me know how you’re doing.