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Wednesday
Sep282011

Perspective

I’m not gonna lie. This week has been a hard one for me. I’ve been working non-stop, helping our son make the transition to preschool, attending to household duties, trying to exercise, going to a billion events, and on and on and on. While it’s really no different than any other week, I’ve had trouble facing everything from the mundane to the challenging because I’m running on fumes—I haven’t slept through the night in fifteen days due to colds, poopy diapers, bad dreams, tension headaches, snoring, and insomnia. Aren’t I a barrel of fun? Sigh. Sigh again.

I’ve never forgotten the effects of early parenthood sleep deprivation. It’s my least favorite part of being a mother and, while it didn’t bother me when I had zero obligations beyond snuggling all day with baby, I can tell you that it’s had a negative impact on my outlook now that I’m working again and beholden to an employer. Naturally, I feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions, I’m stressed that I’m being a bad mother, and I sadly feel a little bit angry about my sleepless state like I’ve gotten the shaft. If I’m painting you an accurate picture, I would depict myself as a She-Hulk on the verge where everything on the surface seems okay but underneath, from outta nowhere, it feels like I might lose my grip. I don’t think I look good in green. Needless to say, I have not been the best version of myself.

And just when I reached the point when I was going to explode over inconsequential things, I got a much-needed dose of perspective (albeit not in the form I would ever wish for – never, ever). My sister contacted me to tell me that our 12-year-old, bright-as-day niece had collapsed at school because her heart stopped beating. Amazingly, and OMG thankfully, her teachers swiftly performed CPR and revived her using an automatic defibrillator. While she has to get a pace maker, the most important thing is that she’s alive and gets to continue enjoying the life she deserves to live.

I’m sad that it’s taken this close call—the unfathomable—to remind me that I have nothing to be angry about and that I’m wasting my energy and precious time by giving power to a feeling that isn’t that productive. It’s very hard NOT to let the everyday stressors cloud our vision about what’s truly important—we’re all guilty of taking things for granted—but I know we can do ourselves and our children a favor if we stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to do and be something (whatever that picture you have built up in your head is) and instead just be. Be mindful. Be present. Be alive. This way the time we do have with each other is connected, meaningful, and everything.

~ The Other Sarah

Tuesday
Sep272011

The Goods: Zutano Baby and Toddler Clothes

You haven’t lived in NYC until you’ve experienced a New York Fashion Week event! True, the fashion event showcased baby and toddler clothes but it was the first year that Fashion Week didn’t pass by just like any other week in my life. As a new mom, I’m always on the lookout for well-made, cute clothes for my son. You think this would be an easy shopping trip in NYC, but once I had my son I soon realized that the stores only sell lots of skulls, sports, rock ‘n’ roll, and teddy bear boys’ outfits. This is just not my son’s style (read: this is not my style and until he is old enough to make his own fashion decisions I relish the fact that I have complete control over his wardrobe—you bet I'm going to take advantage as long as I can!). So, it’s no surprise that I was excited to receive a sneak peek of Zutano’s Spring 2012 collection, which totally captures mod, whimsical children’s clothing designs.

 

 




The Zutano clothing line is new to me, and probably to you too if you don’t live near or shop at specialty baby boutiques. But have no fear because Zutano just launched their new Web site so everyone—no matter where they live—can shop online and enjoy the clothes for their kids!  I’m happy I was introduced to this brand because the designs are exactly what I’m looking for when dressing my son—the colors are vibrant, many of the prints would look great on a boy or girl, and the cotton feels sturdy. (The Other Sarah tells me that Zutano clothes wash really well and retain that “new” look long after being purchased—she even brought the Little Dude home from the hospital in a Zutano outfit.) The sizes range from preemie to 4T and, even better, the styles mix and match so you only need a few pieces to create many different coordinating looks. The Web page makes shopping so easy (great for moms) because you can shop by “Print Families” and learn what stripes and solids match with your favorite print. My two favorites for Spring 2012 are Crabby and Beluga, but then again I would dress my son in all the Zutano patterns.



In addition to viewing the cute clothes and new designs, we learned about Zutano’s history. If you work there, you can bring your baby to work for the first year of his or her life (so family friendly, more companies should do this!). We also enjoyed some glasses of Mommy Juice Wines (perfect for your next play date or Moms-Night-In) and Zutano red manicures with Non-Toxic Kid Safe Nail Polish from Hopscotch Kids (mine only lasted three days, but what little girl or mom does not like to have her nails painted!?!).



This event was hosted by Mom Trends and I received a gift bag from Zutano for attending.

***Enjoy Mommy Juice Wine with 20% off  by using coupon code “20%OFFMJ” at checkout.***

~ Kristin Strange
Tuesday
Sep272011

Redshirting: Helpful or Harmful

So, it seems my blog posts are limited to two topics these days—baby showers and parenting controversy. I hate to spoil a streak so let's keep this ball rolling.

Image via scooptoo.com

Today's parenting controversy? Redshirting—the practice of holding your child back a year from starting kindergarten so they are more physically and psychologically advanced. This controversial practice is back in the news with a New York Times article by by Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt, co-authors of the book “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College.” Using the results of a large scale Canadian study, they argue that while redshirted children enjoy a modest boost in performance in grade school, the same children become less motivated in middle school and high school and see a drop in performance. They also miss out on a year of potential salary reducing their lifetime earnings.

So, why the drop in performance?

Learning is maximized not by getting all the answers right, but by making errors and correcting them quickly. In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability.


Apparently, most children are able to bridge any developmental gaps by modeling the behavior of their more advanced peers. In fact, the authors found that the best thing a parent could do give their child a leg up is just the opposite—skipping a grade. Grade-skippers are more likely to pursue advanced degrees and overall report more positive emotional feelings.

As the mother of two young boys, this subject comes up repeatedly among my friends. Admittedly, both of my children were born in early summer—nowhere near the cut-off date for kindergarten—so this isn't an issue I will have to deal with directly. Of course, considering the growing popularity of this choice, there is a good chance both Griffin and Amos will be in class with children substantially older than them and therefore it does affect me — if a bit indirectly.

I have to say this study confirms my misgivings about redshirting. Overall, I feel it is an attempt to protect—as opposed to prepare—a child from situations we as parents don't feel they are ready for. Instead of assuming our child will rise to the occasion as an individual, we assume they can only succeed with our help.

Now, it is absolutely true that no one knows your child better than you. And I have heard plenty of anecdotal stories about children that truly benefited from begin held back a year. However, it is difficult to argue with the results of this study (and it's not the first to conclude redshirting offers no real benefit across the board).

So, what say you wise readers? Are the studies wrong? If not, why does this practice persist? Let us know what you think.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Monday
Sep262011

Feather Her Nest

It's time for the third and final installment of Sarah Throws A Baby Shower!

My husband is one of four boys and a  baby girl. Well, the baby girl is having her own baby girl. Me and my sister-in-laws Jennifer and Ginger threw a bird nest themed baby shower to celebrate the impending arrival.

Again, I looked to the invitation from Paper and Pigtails  for most of my design inspiration.


My favorite touch was the little birdseed ornaments. My sister-in-laws made them inspired by this post and I thought they were just perfect.



All in all, it was a lovely party.

More importantly, it was my last baby shower FOR A LONG TIME.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Sunday
Sep252011

The Biter

Last Thursday I received a call. The call. My son’s preschool teacher wanted to inform me that he had been involved in an “incident.” Incident. Incident. In-ci-dent. Sounds so formal, doesn’t it? I immediately thought of the worst, even though I’m not sure what the worst is when you’re barely two. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach, as if I was being called into the principal’s office. And then she told me. The Little Dude bit a classmate.

Image by Toddler Biting

His teacher was doing her job—quite well, I might add—by letting me know the details surrounding this criminal inconsistent behavior. He bit a friend who wouldn’t take turns driving the bus, which just so happens to be his favorite playground toy. She naturally wanted to understand why the Little Dude bared his fangs when he’s normally such a lover (he just so happens to hug and kiss everyone). The interrogation discussion went something like this:

Q: Is he a biter?

A: Well…yes and no. It’s true my shoulder has proven to be prime nipping ground. He occasionally bites me when he’s overtired, inconsolable, or frustration gets the best of him and he doesn’t have the words to express his big feelings. However, he’s only bitten another child once. About five months ago, he bit his girlfriend when she took a ball from him. A week later his girlfriend bit him when he took a ball from her. They never again bit each other and he’s never laid teeth on any other wee one. So, I wouldn’t categorize him as a repeat offender.

Q: Are there other reasons you think he might bite?

A: He’s hungry…

…He’s really into pretend play and sharks right now…



…It’s hereditary? His dad’s nickname was snapping turtle…

…Hmmm…Baby Vampire? It's all about Team Eric here (sorry, Bill)...

Image via Amazon

…Because preschool is still so new (it’s only his third week), he hasn’t adjusted to regularly taking naps. That, coupled with a week of suffering through a bad cold, left him sleep deprived and out of sorts. He’s overtired and overstimulated, which we all know makes for an unforgettable combo in toddlers.

Q: Is he teething?

 A: He’s been teething for the past 20 months. The kid has a serious case of oral fixation. He puts everything! in his mouth and because he’s too young for cigarettes, gum, and lollipops, it’s possible that he satisfies this need with an innocent arm. When does this stop, by the way? But, yes, it’s true that he’s cutting his molars.

Of course, the phone call really was no big deal and I am writing most of this post in jest because it helps me cope with my slight embarrassment (see below) and in my right mind I know this is nothing to be overly concerned about. It’s just a passing phase, as his teacher, who showed nothing but kindness and understanding during our conversation, reminded me.

Even so, I truly felt embarrassed and worried when I learned that he had bitten another boy named, according to the Little Dude, “Boone.” (Boone if this is your real name and your mom is out there reading this, I’m sorry.) The mommy side of my brain was both hearing “Ladies and Gentleman, we have a biter!” and seeing a neon sign flashing this information above his head for the world to see and label him. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that biters have such a bad rap and can be ostracized from the playground set, and I definitely didn’t want my son to have that stigma attached to him. And if I’m being honest with myself, I’m sure my reaction to this (unflattering) news is due in part to my own fear of being labeled a bad deficient B+ mother for having a biter on my hands. I must have done something wrong, right?

Thank goodness I have the sense, on most occasions, to know that my insecurities are baseless (the Little Dude isn’t destined to wear a scarlet “B”). The experience ultimately reassured me that I have a wonderful partner in his preschool teacher, a person who is legitimately committed to helping the Little Dude navigate this new developmental stage by teaching empathy instead of punishment. This is something I truly value and appreciate.

~ The Other Sarah