Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby-Friendly Yoga for Moms!

I have found some amazing stuff in my months home with my baby.
1. Stamford Hospital Moms Group (every new mom should go to this- Fridays at 11- I made a bunch of awesome new friends plus I love the lactation consultants who run it!)
2. Baby Yoga (the babies do the yoga!) at Elements Yoga in Darien
3. Fairfield County Attachment Parenting Meetup Group
4. My latest thing, Baby-Friendly Yoga at Glow Yoga in Greenwich.

I used to work with Jenn, Glow's owner, and she happens to have a baby about the same age as mine. We wanted to do yoga together with other moms, but do it in a way that the babies could be there. I wasn't sure how our crawlers would allow the moms to do yoga, but we met up today for the first class and it went great.

Basically, the yoga studio is set up with places for the babies to play while the moms do yoga. The non-crawlers can chill on a blanket, and for the crawlers, well, we have an arsenal of containment and entertainment. Pack and play, exersaucer, walker, or just let them roam. In the picture above, you see Jenn containing a baby while a mom does a move. The other great thing about baby-friendly yoga is that there is no pressure for your kid to "be good" or "be quiet" during the class. If you have to get off your mat to feed your kid or change a diaper, no one finds that weird.

Please contact Jenn at jennifferahanson@gmail.com to sign up for the baby-friendly class, or for any of her other classes. She is a wonderful teacher, and in class today, she helped me modify moves because I have a) hip pain and b) elbow pain. (So, other moms should not be intimidated, because I am here to set low standards for you all.)

Please pass the word on to any new(ish) moms that you know!

Glow is just off exit 5 in Greenwich, so very convenient to Stamford.
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It's That Time of Year Again: Summer--> Leaf Piles--> Dark Winter

This is the best time of fall.
The leaves are a beautiful color as they float to the ground.
Everyone's football team still has a chance.
It's sometimes warm in the afternoon.
We haven't set the clocks back yet, so it's still light at 5pm.
The stress of the impending holidays hasn't yet hit.
It's not unpleasantly cold.
Kids still feel OK about school.

In general, I don't yet feel the time crunch that starts to happen after Halloween, when we set the clocks back, and when the daytime is pinched by early darkness, and when it feels like there's just not enough time to get things done before it's pitch black out. Once the Christmas shopping starts, that's when the stress starts. Money and time go out the window. It takes a lot to not fall into that harried state.

Winter is coming.

The leaf piles are starting to build in the street... but not yet forcing me to walk fully in the road... with my baby, amid all the speeding, careless drivers who think that 3 feet is plenty of space for their SUV to give a stroller. Oh, I feel the rage building.

As the leaf piles grow, I do feel the time starting to close in, but I don't think it will feel bad until after Halloween, when it's- UGH!- November! I'm going to work hard to maintain my "everything is cool" feeling that I've had ever since the baby was born.

I'm looking forward to the holiday lights downtown... and... more afternoons at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center... What else does Stamford have to offer us this winter? I need something to hang on to!

Related posts:
-- October 21, 2008-- Leaf Piles: Fall, FC Style

--November 27, 2008-- Blue Holiday Lights Downtown: I Like 'Em

--November 19, 2008-- Let's Get Rid of These Leaves!
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Youth Football Follies

Local sports teams practice on a field near my house where I sometimes walk. Last week, the main sport seemed to be the coaches yelling at the kids. There was so much yelling that I started to think it really wasn't a football practice so much as the "mad coach show." Here are some (pretty much) direct quotes:

"It's week six! WEEK- SIX! And you STILL don't huddle right! You don't come OUT of the huddle right! You don't even line UP right! ...And could you NOT interject a comment after everything I say!"

I should really start bringing pen and paper on my walks, because there were some other funny lines I don't remember.

Here's what I've learned after 11 years of teaching: if you have to yell at kids about the same thing twice, the problem is YOU, not the kids. It's a management issue.

Here's what I suggest to these yelling coaches: Rather than berating, state the problem, the desired solution, and the consequence. (And probably a reward.)
For example: "I'm seeing you line up too slowly. When I say 'go,' you line up as fast as you can. If you don't do it in under 4 seconds, you are ALL running laps. If there's improvement by the end of practice, I'll let you run one less sprint than usual." They'll probably have to run laps twice, but then they'll get lined up faster for the rest of practice.
(Oh, and if anyone walks during laps, the whole team has to keep running until the slowest player finishes.)

I teach the age group of these kids, so I have a lot of sympathy for the coaches. Kids aren't easy to manage, especially middle school boys who are trying to look cool for each other.
But I also have sympathy for the kids who are having their time wasted getting yelled at. A teacher or coach who has a good management system will not have to yell. When you are new, though, you don't understand it's actually more important to have a good management system (and maybe get nothing done at first) rather than try to get stuff done with kids who sense you don't have a good structure to your discipline.

Kids, especially boys, love consequences. Once I had a very boy-heavy class, and I read up on what works best with boys (keep them active, lots of competition, strict rules). I ran my classroom like a football team. "OK, people! Here is what I wanna see! If I don't see it, here's what's gonna happen to you! I repeat: Do this, do not do that, and if I like what I see, I'll reduce your homework a bit. GO!" And when someone messed up, I punished them. They LOVED it. They ate it up. They loved when I threatened them and then followed through on it. They were almost ecstatic.

I'm not joking, they'd cheer for me when I punished someone who didn't follow the expected behavior. It was like we were in a gladiator arena. They would jump out of their chairs and roar their approval.
(And when I say punish, I mean, the person had to like, come after school to close my windows, or be the last to leave for lunch. But if you say it's a punishment, they interpret something little like that as undesirable. The kids were fabulous, so we had a good time with it all. And they did some great writing for me.)
Click here to read more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama Visits the West Side!

Maybe he's been reading Stamford Talk, because that is my old stomping grounds, which I blogged about in "Southfield Area: Diversity, Boats, Hoods" (includes description of my famous public rollerblading wipeout).

Obama swung by Eastern Land Management on Selleck St, between Southfield Ave and Exit 6. I feel kind of good that Obama saw a not fabulous part of town before hitting the swanky Hilton. I mean, the rest of Stamford is so boring-looking! (Except Cove- Cove area is interesting looking.)
A commenter on the previous post said that Eastern Land Management received some federal stimulus money. Wonder what for? From the ELM site, they are a landscaping company, nothing too complicated. I guess local small businesses received some stimulus money?

I'm watching News 12 but not seeing much Obama coverage.
Click here, though, for an Advocate photo of Marine One landing in Stamford!
Click here to read more.

WHAT Local Biz is Obama Gonna Visit Today?

I have no clue. What ONE local business is worthy of a stop by Obama? Guesses? Umm, Colony Pizza? Ummm, St. Luke's Lifeworks? UBS? RBS?

I need to get a good tip so the baby and I can make a sign that says "We Love Obama"- no- "Kick Butt Barack." Yeah, that's a good message. It expresses my support, rather than unabashed, unconditional love, and encourages him to keep his nose to the grindstone to solve our nation's problems.

If you don't believe I will make a sign, you don't know me at all.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flu Shot Has Flown the Coop, but Obama Will Be Landing in Stamford

I'm hating myself because Stamford Hospital ran out of regular flu vaccine before I could get my act together and get the shot.
However, if I get a glimpse of President Obama's helicopter tomorrow, I will feel better. I know he's arriving at the Hilton for a fundraiser, but does anyone know what time?
(And uh isn't this going to cause some traffic problems especially because the Hilton is right by 95? Mental note do NOT go near train station Friday night!)
Edit, Fri AM: Offfff course when I checked my google reader at 3 am, there are three articles in the Advocate about this! A Stamford Times article says the fundraising dinner starts at 5, and that before Obama goes there, he is making a stop at a local business. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THAT BUSINESS IS, PEOPLE. The baby and I really want to catch a glimpse of the O.

An Advocate article says, in what I can only assume is a joke, "Though President Obama's motorcade is expected to arrive at the Stamford Hilton during Friday evening rush hour, police do not expect significant traffic issues." That must be an attempt to be funny. Anyone who's spent any time on 95 knows that a spare tire on the side of the road can cause significant issues, much less Marine One swooping by.

If I didn't have this baby, and if the weather were going to be nice, I might go hang out near the train station. But it's cloudy and cool, and I'm not really sure if it's responsible mothering to drag your baby to the Stamford train station and hang out there for an hour or two just to see a helicopter. But if I could get a hint of what that local business is....
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Swine Flu Freaking Me Out

I am freaking out about swine flu.

I was already freaking out last week after a friend told me her friend's 5 year old was hospitalized in TX with kidney failure from H1N1. This was a previously healthy kid.
THEN I got an email from a friend in VA yesterday. Her coworker's kid went to a birthday party 2 weeks ago at an elementary school. Every kid at the party came down with the swine flu, and the birthday boy died. Again, a previously healthy kid. Correction: article says the boy had a pre-existing heart condition. Still.

My friend Meg of Fairfield County Child has a post up about where to get the swine flu vaccine (summary: good luck, places have it totally randomly, like the Darien Y has it today, I think the nose spray version). Some pediatricians have the nose spray available, I think, for ages 2-4. Mine doesn't, though. It's a crapshoot, pretty much.

I am definitely getting the swine flu shot or spray for myself. I am leaning toward getting it for my baby, too. I cannot imagine the effects of the vaccine could be worse than the actual swine flu and its accompanying complications. For goodness' sake, the kid ended up in the ER (twice) when we got the flu in CA, and I don't think that was even swine flu. Or maybe it was. But he never had a fever. But they say if you had flu this year, 95% chance it was swine. So maybe we did. That flu we got was certainly frighteningly contagious, which swine supposedly is.

I suppose if I were going to stay home with the baby all winter, and forego playdates and baby classes until flu season is over, I might feel OK about not getting him vaccinated. But one, I don't want to be a total hermit, and two, I'm going to be teaching in January, and he's going to be in daycare, so both he and I will be around a lot of germs. Sigh. I hate to submit my kid to untested vaccines, but this vaccine is made the same way all the other flu vaccines are.

My question is, why WOULDN'T I vaccinate him for swine flu? I'm getting him all the other standard vaccines, including regular flu, so why wouldn't I do one more? He's far more likely to come into contact with swine flu than polio or hepatitis B.

I do see how it seems crazy to give little kids so many vaccines, especially in the first year. I mean, it sucks either way, whether I do it or not.

Good luck to all of you, especially parents, in making your decisions.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Flu Vaccines: Regular Here, Swine Vacc a Comin

I think I'm gonna bite the bullet and get the swine flu vaccine.
1. I'm a teacher.
2. I have a baby. He already had flu/stomach bug in September, and the sight of your infant vomiting is not pleasant, even if it doesn't go on and on for five days like my baby's did. (For all I know, we already had swine flu.)

Now, Stamford is not yet offering swine flu vaccine to the regular population, so I can't get it yet, but I'm going to swing by Tully next week to get the regular flu shot. My baby already got his first of his two-dose regular flu shot (my pediatricians, like many others, have not yet taken a position on giving kids swine flu shots- I'll cross that bridge later). I do know that I'm going to get the swine flu vaccine, and I'll probably make my husband get it.

Check out this Conn Post article for info.

I'm no vaccine pusher, especially for tiny babies, but my baby's flu was really hard on him- I don't want that to happen again. We had to go to the ER and get IV fluids because of the repeated vomiting, and then after that, he stopped eating/drinking for a few days. It was not good, and he was really only better after a whole week of round the clock care on my part, which was also pretty hard on me.

I used to have a much more wary view of vaccines, but know that I've seen how hard a little old flu can be on a baby, I am knocking down my pediatrician's door to get whatever vacc they are offering (mostly an exaggeration, I'm just saying, I now feel way better about vaccines even though they are a little controversial).
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Raising Awareness for Juvenile Myositis

As a Stamford blogger, I am fortunate to know most of the other local bloggers, including the wonderful Kevin McKeever of Always Home and Uncool. Kevin has asked our blog community to post the following essay to raise awareness in the blogosphere of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with on this day seven years ago.


Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn't admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skins conditions -- none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner -- then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn't know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even though we had ruled out every allergy source -- obvious and otherwise -- that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

This was her gift -- a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago -- Oct. 2, 2002 -- the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter's first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don't know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at www.curejm.org.

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to www.firstgiving.com/rhondaandkevinmckeever or www.curejm.com/team/donations.htm.

Stamford Talk Note: Even if you don't donate, I think it's important to be aware of this disease in case your child or the child of someone you know ever shows symptoms like this.
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