Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Birthday Parties for Kids

As a new mom living in the northeast I am constantly amazed at the production and costs that have become associated with kids birthday parties. I can remember when I was young, all of my cousins, friends and I celebrated birthdays in the basement of their respective homes. Or, for my later pre-teen birthdays, we went to Howard Johnsons for a big "birthday celebration" with some friends and cousins. I think all the kids got to pick their own meal off the menu, we got birthday hats, and there was a cake. I felt like a grown up. Although today, Zack was eating out with us at Outback steakhouse when he was only a couple weeks old!

For my sons first birthday we had a few family members over to celebrate the big event, and the highlight was when Zack stuck his hand in the frog cake. Then for his second birthday we decided to have some friends over and make it an "adult" get together, with a couple of his neighborhood friends. He was excited to send out the Batman invitations and see our dining room decorated with batman party decorations.

But for three years old, I wanted to have a little more of a kids party, with several of his friends. But being that it is winter, where do you hold it? Children with birthdays in the spring or summer have it made. You can celebrate at a park, or the beach, or a lake pavilion, but in the winter you really need to be inside somewhere? But where?

I started investigating and was amazed at the costs that places were charging for hosting a party, without any real decorations, not many options in food and very little in entertainment!!! Before you know it, a "simple" birthday party for ten people or less could cost a minimum of $300. (For a child's birthday party)

I am all for celebrating -- but I would prefer my son be older to appreciate the expense of a big event.

What I ended up doing was having another gathering at my house, with six other children and ten adults. I cleared out the coffee table for the kids to have space to run around and decorated the dining room and kitchen in a Spiderman Theme. I sent invitations asking that the children come dressed in a superhero costume and they had fun running around the house playing their role. I organized a few activities that we did in the basement (to limit the mess) -- like pin the string on spiderman, and spraying silly string on pictures of villians. Then upstairs the kids pulled strings on a spiderman Pinata that splashed out chocolate candies for all of the participants.

Zack had a blast playing with his friends, being dressed up, celebrating his big day, receiving presents and doing something fun! It was a huge hit and was the perfect celebration for a three year old.

The question will be, what do we do when he turns 4, than 5, than 6.......

I guess I will address that next year!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Giving Away Toys

About a week ago I found myself constantly picking up toys around the house and getting extremely frustrated because I knew that my son's birthday and christmas were soon approaching and there was no way this living room could handle more toys. So I said to my son that we should really go through his toys and figure out what he isn't playing with any longer and give them away to make room for the new toys he will be receiving.

Well, wasn't he the cutest. The next morning before I even had a chance to make my tea he had gone through some of his toys and pulled out 10 small toys that he wanted "me to give away because he doesn't play with them any more." I just looked at him in amazement and was so proud of him. I said that I would put them in a bag and give them to children that don't have any toys. He thought that was "a good idea", and helped me go through the rest of his toys to review what he was willing to give away.

Three bags later, we had not even made a dent in the stuffed animals, had cleaned out some of the bigger toys he doesn't play with any longer, and had some nice toys to pass along. I called my friend Lisa because I remember her telling me that she does something similar with her daughter Peyton before Christmas every year and I wanted to find out who she gives them to. There is a woman around the corner from her that collects items for a shelter with mothers and children close by. Perfect!

As we approach the holidays I think it is a perfect time for younger children to understand the spirit of giving and especially to those who are less fortunate. Is it time that you cleaned out your child's toy box and gave those toys to children who could really use them?

I think I want to make this a yearly tradition!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vaccination Choice

When my son was born, almost three years ago, I had already been talking with parents for a few years about the possible link between vaccines and autism. At the time certain vaccines were laced with mercury, which I find interesting, since pregnant women are told to stay away from certain fish, sushi and even more than a can of tuna fish a week because of mercury. But yet, once a baby is born it seems ok to give them vaccines that may contain mercury?

So as a parent, and the guardian of my son, I feel it is my choice to make sure that he is not given anything that is not safe for him or may be harmful in some way. In doing so I wanted a Pediatrician that understands my beliefs and is willing to give me the pros and cons about certain vaccines and then ultimately leave the decision up to me.

And I am not alone in that thinking. In 2008 an organization formed in New Jersey that I happily signed up to support -- it is called the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice. Recently they called all their troops together in support of Republican Chris Christie for governor, who for the first time made an unprecedented and historic move by making an official campaign promise in support of vaccination choice. He further cemented his position on live radio with Don Imus, by becoming the first gubernatorial candidate to utter the words vaccines, autism and parental choice in the same sentence. Vaccine choice supporters showed up in record numbers to cast their vote for Christie.

Anger towards Governor Corzine has been building. It is well known that New Jersey, Autism Capital of the world, is also Ground Zero for mandated shots for school. Many parents and grandparents blame environmental causes, including the state's ultra-aggressive vaccine schedule. The "Freedom of Choice" rally in Trenton last fall garnered national media attention and catapulted this issue into the mainstream dialogue. On the heels of Corzine's 2008 decision to add four additional vaccine mandates to the state's already crowded schedule, thousands of parents have lined up to attend vaccination choice seminars and protests across the state.

I feel every parent should have the choice to decide what is safe and not safe for their child, and not be mandated to give their child something that could be life altering. Why should our state be allowed to mandate MORE vaccines and a flu shot for our children to be allowed into school?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Busy Launching Company on National Level

This blog entry is an apology to my readers for being out of touch for the last two months. As all moms can relate there are only so many balls that one can juggle in the air; and for the last couple of months I have been putting pieces together, finalizing my business plan, and tapping into resources that I will need, to launch A Child's Voice onto a national platform.

So while doing this, a few things needed to be put aside, in order for me to do the other roles well -- that of a business woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter (also went to visit my parents in Florida with my son for a long weekend) and a friend.

I look forward to getting back into writing this blog and bringing more "motherhood juggling" and "insights" to my readers.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"The Good Wife" CBS Pilot Show

I was asked to review the pilot of an upcoming series this fall on CBS entitled "The Good Wife." On hearing the name I thought it was going to be a sappy show about an obedient wife and put together stay at home mom. But was I ever wrong!!

I was intrigued from the beginning when Peter Florrick (played by Chris Noth) opens up the show with a news conference announcing his resignation as District Attorney due to a very public sex and political corruption scandal. And there stands his wife Alicia (played by Julianne Margulies) standing right by his side, portraying "the Good Wife;" but yet you can see that she is frozen like a deer in the headlights, astonished that she is caught in this position.

As the cameras flash and questions are yelled to the resigning District Attorney, he finishes his statement, grabs his wife's hand and leads her out of the room, caught up in his own world. But as soon as they step into the empty hallway, she slaps her husband across the face, and you realize that soon the tables will turn.

This show is ripped straight from the headlines, depicting a politician who lived a corrupt life, with no regard to his wife or family, and they are the ones who suffer the consequences when their dirty laundry is aired in public. But in our world the media is so caught up in shining the spotlight on the criminal, very rarely do they show sympathy towards the innocent families that are devastated by the fall out.

This show follows Alicia Florrick, a dedicated mother of two teenagers, after her husband is sent to jail and she has to sell their house to pay for Peter's legal fees. She ends up going back to work as a junior associate at a prestigious Chicago Law Firm where she joins her former law school classmate and firm partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles), after being out of the courtroom for 13 years. She gave up her law career to support Peter's career and raise their children, now she has to start at the bottom and prove herself amongst public ridicule as a corrupt politician's scorned wife.

It is wonderful to watch her gain her confidence as she jumps into a pro bono case that the law firm is involved in and starts using her skills as a sharp defense attorney. She finds an ally in Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), the firms tough in house investigator and for the first time in years, Alicia trades her identity as the "good wife" and takes charge of her own destiny.

I applaud the writers of this show and I look forward to watching the series and routing for Alicia Florrick this fall.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ode to Our Family Pet

Ten years ago when I met my husband Jeff he had a one year old boxer puppy named Jasmine. She was his baby. And within six months Jeff, Jasmine and I were living together in New Jersey. After just transplanting myself from Florida to New Jersey, Jasmine became my best friend; especially when Jeff was working a lot of hours at the Meadowlands.

As with any couple that doesn't have kids yet, their dog or cat becomes their baby and is considered their child. That was no different with us. Jasmine was our "girlie" and received all of our affection until she was 6 years old, when we decided, since we still did not have children, we would bring another boxer puppy into our family -- a white colored boxer we named Aspen.

Jasmine was so good about becoming the big sister and put up with Aspen's craziness and extreme energy. I think his energy kept her lively over the years. Before he came along she spent a lot of time hanging out on the couch -- but with a new puppy in the house, he kept her busy and they began to play together.

When Jeff and I finally did become pregnant Jasmine was eight years old and we both knew that she would be the protector and once again, big sister. Sure enough, once Zack was born we would find Jasmine laying on the carpet, by Zack's crib whenever he was sleeping.

As Zack has gotten a little older he has stated that these are his "two doggies" and that while Aspen can run around and play rough with him, Jasmine is an "old girlie" who he gives hugs and kisses to.

I am very sad to report that on Sunday, at 11 years old, our loyal, loving, good natured and extremely sweet Jasmine girl passed away, leaving a very large void in our life. I am truly grateful for having her in my life all these years, and loving me and our family unconditionally.

We will all miss her tremendously, but know she is in a place of peace and joy.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Being the Best Dad (FM)

I was very pleased to have two very interesting Dads on this show. Both of these men have careers that do not revolve around being an author, yet each of them felt compelled to write a book about being the best dad possible, and what impact one father had on his son.

My first guest is Tom McManus, who is a former NFL football player with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is now owner and host of a Sports Talk Radio Show in Florida called "The Rumble with Tom McManus" and he recently published his first book "We'll Always Be Pals." He is also a father to three daughters.

This book was written as an ode to his father who passed away due to cancer while in his seventies. Tom shares his close relationship with his father and how his encouragement and guidance helped him play college and professional football. He also points out several lessons he learned from his father, which has molded him into the man and father he is today for his daughters.

Then Tom Sturges, an Executive VP and Head of Creative for Universal Music Publishing Group, and father to two boys 17 and 11, has written his first book entitled "Parking Lot Rules and 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children." On one side Tom has worked with some of the greatest songwriters of his generation...shortly after our interview I spoke to him and he had just attended Michael Jackson's Memorial. And on the other side Tom mentors at-risk kids at a south Los Angeles school with a learning program that develops creativity in children via song and lyric writing.

When he first became a dad he wanted to be the "best dad possible" and went in search of books to show him how to do just that. When he couldn't find one, he decided to ask parents, grandparents, sports legends and rock starts for their advice, ideas and tips to be the best father. This book is a compilation of "Rules" he had picked up and found effective over the years.

I think you will find them effective too.