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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Looking For Something to do this weekend? 11/19-21

Odile Fredericks has posted her weekend blog, filled with all of the great things going on this weekend in the Triangle. If you are looking for something to do this weekend, look no further! Very Happy

Brittany -

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free Classes From Stroller Strides

If you are looking for something fun to do with young kids still in a stroller, Stroller Strides is offering a few cool classes for free and I thought I would pass on the information to you:

Mon, Nov 22
Free Stroller Strides class:  "Butterball Burn!"
Crowder Park,
4709 Ten Ten Road, Apex
10am, Robin Shelter

Join us for a calorie-burning pre-Thanksgiving workout, followed by a fun Thanksgiving Harvest playgroup!
Class is free today for all moms. It's a great day to try Stroller Strides if you haven't yet!
Please bring a towel or mat for ab work, water and sun protection, and workout-appropriate attire. Please arrive about 10 min before the class starts if this is your first class. 

Wed, Dec 1
Free Stroller Strides class
Cary Towne Center mall
Meet at Center Court (park/enter at Food Court)

Stroller Strides is coming to Cary Towne Center mall this winter.
This will be a great chance to keep up (or get started on!) a fitness routine through the winter (and do a little window shopping while we're at it!), without being affected by the weather.
This class is free to all.  Come out for a great total body workout, including cardio, strength training, and ab work, plus songs and fun for the kids.
After class, we'll take a ride on the carousel, for those who are interested!

For more information you can click here!

Brittany -

Books for your kids: 0-2 years

There are so many books out there for your little ones, I thought I'd take a moment to introduce you to a few of my faves that I've enjoyed over the not-quite-four years I've been a mom.

0 to 2 years old:

Blue Hat, Green Hat, by Sandra Boynton

This book is adorable. When my little one was really little she used to crack up at the part that is repeated on every page. Basically the characters mix up their clothing and wear them on the wrong parts of their body, and the huge "OOPS!" as it is recognized used to make her giggle to no end. Loved it. You can also find this book in one of the packaged sets of Boynton's books. Loads of fun, even at an early age.

B is for Bear, by Roger Priddy

This book has been one of my daughter's favorites. She enjoyed the pictures at an early age, and then as she learned more from it she has been able to recognize the letters, and memorize the images so when I say "B is for ..." she knows that the answer is bear. It's a great book for the wee ones.

I Love You Through and Through, by Rosetti-Shustak

This book is one of the sweetest books I've had for my daughter for some time. She still loves it and enjoys the story, and the images/illustrations are so precious, it's one you won't want to pass up. And it tugs at your heart-strings just a little bit. Enough to touch you, but not enough to make you weep!

** These images were obtained from searching online. All of these books are available at or at any local book retailer if you're interested in checking them out.

Read to your child at least 20 minutes a day. S/he will thank you in the years to come!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Geography Awareness Week - Our Pond Study

It's Geography Awareness Week 2010. The topic this year is Freshwater. According to National Geographic, only about three percent of Earth’s water is fresh, and most of this water is frozen in icecaps and glaciers. As the world’s population grows, so does our demand for fresh water.

We have a pond out behind our house, so I decided to explore it with my kids so they could better understand where ponds come from and the importance of this source of fresh water.

How does a pond form?
Before visiting the pond, we reviewed the water cycle. We talked about the fact that water evaporates from the earth, forms clouds in the sky, and then comes back down to the earth as rain or snow. We talked about how ponds and lakes are filled with rain water, as well as water that comes from rivers and other waterways that originate in mountains and other higher elevations.

Our pond is mostly filled with rainwater, because it's a retention pond that was created when our housing development was built in order to ensure that rainwater is collected in a manner that does not disturb the surrounding land. Rainwater flows into the pond from our neighborhood roads and sidewalks. This helps prevent flooding by taking water in quickly and releasing it out slowly into natural, undeveloped areas. In addition to the water flowing into the pond, whatever comes along with it also ends up there. This may include oil, trash, and lawn fertilizer, among other things. The retention pond enables pollutants to settle to the bottom of the pond, rather than being released into nearby streams and other natural areas. Water remains in the pond for a certain amount of time in order to allow the soil to filter out the pollutants. The retention ponds in our neighborhood are a type of storm-water best management practice (BMP).

During our pond study, we saw where the water runs into the pond:

And where it runs out on the other side:

What lives in and around our pond?
Our pond is home to many animals, despite the fact that it is a retention pond. We've lived in this house for more than three years now, and the kids have observed many animals in and around the pond. We made a list of all the animals we've seen at one time or another ~ and a few that they imagined may be around the area. Some live in the water, such as fish, a snapping turtle, and tadpoles. I'm sure the fish were originally added to the pond when it was first developed. I'm not sure about the frogs and turtle. Perhaps they've found the pond on their own.

Others animals live around the pond, including ducks, geese, snakes, box turtles, frogs, a blue heron, fire ants, fox and deer. Still others fly above the pond, such as dragonflies, bees, mosquitoes, bats and many types of birds. We also see a combination of evergreen and deciduous trees around the pond, but can't observe any plants actually growing in the water.

It's amazing that a retention pond could support so much wildlife. When we went to visit the pond for this study, we didn't observe many animals. Perhaps the colder weather is keeping them hidden. We did see a few fish in the water, but couldn't get a good photo of them. And we saw a green frog who hopped out of our way. He's well hidden, but you should be able to pick him out of the grass:

Protecting our pond
We've visited the pond many times. But we haven't talked much about how we can protect the pond ~ and the importance of doing so. Because so many living things rely on the pond as their home, we should be very careful not to disrupt this environment. We should never throw anything into the water. We certainly should not leave garbage or other litter in or near the pond. Even though this is a retention pond and may include pollutants within it, animals could get sick and even die if we leave additional litter around the area. I think this is a very important lesson for children who live near or frequent any pond or other body of water. I hope that I can instill a sense of responsibility in my children so they are respectful to the animals and the pond itself as they get older and start to visit it on their own.

Further study
I found a great lesson plan on the National Geographic website: K-2 Can We Keep the Lake Clean? This lesson focuses on the impact of people on lakes, and I expect I'll use this as an extension to our pond study. The lake that supplies our water is not too far from our home. We actually drive by it a few times each month. I think in the spring I'll take the kids there for a day of playing at the beach and learning about where our water comes from.

Our area of the country is growing rapidly, so access to water is a big deal here. Developers and city planners must consider the amount of water available for the thousands of new homes being built in this area. We have year-long water restrictions in our town, and we encourage the kids to conserve water when washing hands, taking baths and showers, and brushing teeth.

There are many lessons to focus on when it comes to freshwater. For more ideas on topics to cover with your kids, visit My Wonderful World.


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Whistle

Last week we were at Target to buy my son's birthday present. After getting a feel for what he wanted, I kept him busy in a different part of the store, while my husband was making the purchase. This was to keep his present a surprise. But I was in for a surprise as well.

We were looking at some bedside lamps for children. One had a sport theme, and the lamp cord had a shiny whistle toy at the end. I looked at my son. He looked at me. We were both wondering the same thing. So without actually touching my lips to the whistle, I tried to blow some air into it. No sound. I gave a disappointed nod and told my son "Its just for decoration, its not a real whistle." I moved on down the aisle looking at some of the other kids' decor items. My son lingered behind me. Just as I reached the end of the aisle and started to turn around, the unmistakable shrill sound of a referee's whistle rang through the air. I turned in surprise, curiosity and shock. Surprise and curiosity that my son had not settled for my conclusion and figured out something I hadn't. And shock that he was mouthing the whistle that countless people might have touched.

These little surprises are some of the things make motherhood so interesting for me. It is always exciting to learn about my children, and to learn from my children.

America Recycles Day

Today is America Recycles Day. It's a good day to remind yourself of all the things you can recycle. It's not just cans and bottles anymore. Most cities and towns around the Triangle make it very easy to recycle many items, including juice boxes, cereal boxes and greeting cards. Do you know all the things you can put in your bin each week?

Check out the links below to see what each town will pick up right at your curb.

Apex curbside recycling
Carrboro curbside recycling
Cary curbside recycling
Chapel Hill curbside recycling 
Durham curbside recycling
Fuquay Varina curbside recycling
Hillsborough curbside recycling 
Holly Springs curbside recycling
Morrisville curbside recycling
Raleigh curbside recycling
Wake Forest curbside recycling

You can also bring recyclables to convenience centers in your county:

Durham County recycling drop-off centers
Orange County recycling drop-off centers
Wake County convenience centers

Interview with Lisa Sacco of Orenstein Solutions

I interviewed Lisa Sacco,  an associate of Orenstein Solutions, a comprehesive psychology practice in Cary and Chapel Hill, who have been kind enough to offer our site some amazing opportunities for many of our members who utilize our available support groups. I hope you enjoy getting to know Lisa as much as I have.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I'm 49 years old, have a husband (of 22 years) and two wonderful daughters, aged 18 and 14.  The eldest is a college freshman.  The younger one is an 8th grader.  I grew up in a big Italian family in CT, went to college in Boston and graduate school in VA.  My  husband and I have lived in Cary over 20 years and when I'm not at work, I enjoy hanging out with my family and dog, a 90 lb. golden retriever, traveling, camping, reading and quilting.  I've been licensed to practice psychology since 1990.

What made you go into Psychology?

It's always interesting to consider this question.  My best answer is from a young age, I was curious about people and very interested in relationships.  I seemed to have had an intuitive understanding of others and, as I got into h.s., I decided I wanted to be a psychologist.  I liked the idea of building on my natural talents to help people feel better.

How did You come to join Orenstein solutions?

I'd been in solo private practice in Apex for 4.5 years.  (When I first came to the area in 1989, I was in private practice in Raleigh and did some hospital consulting work.  When I had my eldest daughter, I became an at-home Mom for 12 years, did occasional consulting, then taught a couple of courses at Wake Tech -- wonderful teaching Abnormal Psych. and Developmental Psych. to a wide range of people). 
In early 2006, I decided I wanted to work part-time since my youngest was still in elementary school, so I opened my own practice.  Though I loved my office, location and had rewarding clients, I wanted to shift to a more collegial environment.  Dr. Orenstein and I had spoken in the past about me joining her group and, when they moved into their new office this Sept., the timing was right!  It's a group of dedicated, well-trained clinicians very attuned to serving the community.

 Tell us about your practice:

I see a fairly broad range of people -- teens, adults, families and couples.  I treat people who are anxious, depressed, grieving a loss (from miscarriages through those losing a spouse of 50+ years as well as the 'harder to define' but real losses associated with infertility, relationship dissolution, self-esteem struggles due to the difficult economy/job shifts, etc).   I take a holistic approach to mental health combining evidence-based treatments with a supportive but direct style.  I believe in the appropriate use of humor, storytelling and fundamentally in people's capacity to make meaningful change in their lives ( for details of my work and the rest of the clinicians in the group).
I'm particularly excited about expanding my services to women in pre and post-partum stages.  We're in the process of putting together a support group for Moms-to-be and new Moms (even veteran Moms who might be new to the area) to help women avoid the isolation that sometimes comes with parenthood.   I've also been trained to use clinical hypnosis to help women manage childbirth and delivery (used it myself with both my girls).  I really enjoy helping individuals and couples transition to new roles as parents.  It's delightful to participate in getting families off to a healthy start! 
Also, in keeping with the idea of care across the lifespan and  throughout various stages, I also assist couples who are confronting the challenge of infertility (secondary or primary).  It can be very difficult to simultaneously long for a child and keep one's relationship healthy and satisfying. There's a huge amount of frustration and sometimes a sense of failure for men and women that accompanies infertility.

 What keeps you going?

A lot!  I'm very fortunate to have a close family and great group of friends who sustain me.  Also, I 'practice what I preach' in terms of using mindfulness techniques to keep me 'balanced.'  At the end of every day, I reflect on people or things for whom or for which I'm grateful.  I also practice deep diaphragmatic breathing, a style of breathing that is used in yoga, meditation, etc.  There's a lot of research from the positive psychology field that people who routinely meditate or even just reflect with gratitude, journal, etc., have lower levels of stress, depression and report more happiness and well-functioning immune systems. 
I also make it a point to notice beauty and grace around me.  As I type, the muhly grass in my garden (an ornamental grass with beautful pink/purple feather plumes) is swaying in the breeze and in and out of my peripheral vision.  Just noticing small things like that can a lot for a person! 

What is your favorite way to unwind after a hard day?

I have several things I like to do.  I hang out with my family, take the dog for a nice walk and either quilt or read.  We're also big soccer and hockey fans so we might catch a game together.

What is your favorite quote and why?

You're making me work on this one.   I love to read and listen to music so it's difficult to narrow it down to a favorite.  There are many from which I take inspiration.  O.K., I'll give you one from music and one from literature -- taking a bit of liberty here:). 
From music/Robbie Robertson:  "When you find out, what's worth keeping, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away." 
To me, this is about taking what's been uplifting, strengthening and 'good' from the history of one's life, understanding the heartaches and suffering that can be part of being alive, and freeing yourself up to fully take the reins of your own life and move forward.   Sort of a poetic way of fostering resilience and the power of the human spirit to move through adversity.
From the (admittedly controversial but I love the quote) 20th century writer Anais Nin:  "And then the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Again, this speaks to me of touchpoints in people's lives -- critical moments when they can choose to live fully and authentically, doing what's meaningful and life-affirming for them.  Often when people are depressed or anxious or just worn out of doing things the same, frustrating way, they'll have a moment like Nin's when the risk *not* to change was actually more painful.  It's a wonderful privilege to watch people shed fear, sadness and worry.   This is not to diminish the fact that people sometimes have endured horribly painful, traumatic experiences, it's simply to acknowledge that sometimes people can access a part of themselves than can transcend or transform through that experience. 

 Any advice you wish to give us moms?

I'll try to be short and sweet:)
  • "Worry less, do more" ( a favorite mantra in our house)
  • Take the long view (many mind-numbing, frustrating stages with kids run their developmental course and then you're on to something else!)
  • It's not selfish to take care of your self.  It's essential.  One of the best predictor's of a child's mental health is his/her mother's -- don't put yourself last.  You're not doing anybody any favors -- least of all your kid(s) -- motherhood is not the place for martydom!
  • Remember that being a parent is the most important 'job' you'll ever have.  Enjoy the ride.

Brittany -