Adele D’Man

Contributing Writer

@awendy4

 

I look forward to Spring for the general feeling of re-birth. There is something about the first sight of colored flowers, lighter jackets, and long walks that can't help but make you smile. I learned years ago that even just a fresh new lipstick or shade of nail polish can make my winter style feel revamped. Well, it's the same for kids. What mom isn't tired of their child's down coat now dingy with Winter's breath? So whether you want to add one new item to their wardrobe, or multiple, we got you.

Here is a list of my favorite brands/stores and items. All of these brands can be found inside my tween daughter's closet...Child approved.

Jakandpeppar.com 

Think bohemian plaids and florals. The clothes are unique, soft, and oh so stylish. A few of the standouts for me:

I love the Coronado Skirt in floral.

 

Maggie Tunic in multi

 

 Chloe romper in stone.

 

Abercrombie.com

My sporty girl loves Abercrombie. Some standouts include:

 Strappy tie jumpsuits in florals and stripes.

 

 Velour ZIP Hoodie

 

 Camo Denim Skirt

 

 Tie front romper

 

For Boys:

 Checkerboard Patched Denim Shorts

 

 Twill Camo Shorts

 

 Ripped Taper Jeans

 

Zara.com

This brand never disappoints. Vibrant colors and eclectic collections. 

 Loving the Pastel Denim Jacket.

 

 Twin Set Knit Top

 

 White dress with Embroidery

 

 Woven basket bag with Bamboo Handles

 

 Pleated Jumpsuit with ties

 

For Boys:

 Plush Gray Cargo Pants

 

 Gray Washed Bucket Hat

 

 Red Sock-Style Stretch High Top

 

Nordstrom.com

They have many great brands and a good shoe department.

Girls:

 Wide Leg Jeans by TRACTR

 

 Walking on Sunshine pink tie dress

 

 Adriano Goldschmied kids Brezlyn Denim Shorts (Big Girls)

 

 Ten Sixty Sherman Stripe Dress (Big Girls)

 

Boys:

 Joe's Brixton Straight Leg Stretch Jeans (Big Boys)

 

 Vans Torrey Water Resistant Jacket (Big Boys) green

 

 Vineyard Plaid Boys Button Down

 

Milly.com

For the slightly over the top occasion, you may want to check out our fave, Milly Minis located at milly.com. Where do we begin is the question, because I love all of it!

The Luna Dress is bright and happy and seems easy to wear.

 

Milly Minis Je Taime Coco Dress is just perfection

 

Vertical Textured Flare Dress fits amazingly well

 

I would love to know your special finds this season, feel free to leave them in the comments.

"'Is the Spring coming?' he said. 'What is it like?'... 'It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...'" - Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

 (thehkphotocompany/Unsplash)

I remember one of the few times I allowed my feelings to rise to the surface in front of her and I acknowledged how unfair it was that she was in the hospital while all these old grandparents were still out and about. With perfect comedic timing, she said, "But they don't look very good.." My mom was seventy and about to lose her fight with cancer. 

St. Patricks Day will be ten years. Ten years without my greatest emotional support and best friend. My life literally separated into before and after. This piece I'm dedicating to all the Motherless moms and dads and everyone who has ever felt a complete level of devastation.

 (my mom, Sandra Friedman performing comedy in NYC)

My mom was hilarious, ask anyone that knew her and that's one of the first things they will say. She didn't particularly look funny. In fact, she looked like Marlo Thomas from "That Girl." And those months of absolute suffering in the hospital were incredulously filled with laughter as well. But it was always there, the bitter fear of how will I raise my children without my mom? We dreamed of these days together since I was a little girl. We only had four years of mothering together and my youngest wasn't even two yet. There were just too many things to remember, to memorize, to study. And the truth was that all I wanted to do when I saw her was cuddle in bed with her.

I made little deals with God, "I'll lose weight, I'll have more patience." I started hiding little copies of the "Zohar" in drawers and decorated things with religious symbols. I concentrated on healing and carried a card with its healing sign wherever I went. Yes, I knew bad things, terrible things, happen every day to people. But watching death up close is entirely different. I never had grandparents. Death had been the thing you didn't worry about when everyone was so happy.

(My mom and I)

I roamed the house while everyone slept, sobbing, and making more deals. And whenever I was alone on the weekend, I lost myself in Toddlers and Tiaras. Yes, this reality show about pint size beauties with full make-up on allowed me to forget for 60 minutes. Shows like Survivor no longer had appeal. Try to get out of a cancer wing alive...Now that's impressive.

While I was literally praying for a miracle, a very close friend, Tony, suggested that I ask her some questions. This was something I could do. I made it fun, an interview! And I ended it with a bonus round: One-word nicknames for each of us. My children made her videos and the doctors allowed my four-year-old son to sneak in and visit with her. "Nana! How wonderful that you have this gorgeous view!" and then he read to her. My mother said every day after that, that it had been the best day of her life.

 (Three generations on Mother's Day 2007)

We decorated her walls with pictures from the kids and a few of her favorite things, Madame Alexander dolls, and pictures of the family. We found a book that parodied her favorite operas and we took turns reading it out loud. The nurses would come in asking what all the loud laughter was about. We made fun of the lady who blasted her TV, flirted with the cute doctors, wrote operatic parodies. We were merciless in our quest. Surely the angel of Death would skip us over if we were having this much fun. I even denied her a Frappuccino because I thought it would harm her further. We put my birthday trip to Vegas on the back burner and dug in.

Of course, the call came anyway. On March 17th, 2009, my son had just finished playing a piano sonata to her picture when we received the news that she had died. The nicknames from the interview I gave her were saved as a gift to the recipients at the funeral. 

 (my parents)

I had two babies and virtually no time to mourn, so these feelings would get acted out in a myriad of unhealthy ways. Friends would leave, things would change, and the glue that held much of it together was never coming back.

We went to my "Happy Place," San Francisco. While we frolicked at Ghiradelli square I suffered from the Swine Flu. And at night while everyone slept, I cried my eyes out and wondered how could I be a mother now when I still need one? Cindy Crawford's infomercial had a calming effect on me and when we returned home, dozens of boxes of her skincare greeted us. "At least it wasn't a car commercial..."

It's been ten years and I am still in utter disbelief and find myself yearning to curl up in bed with her, feel her hands on my face, hear her laugh, her wisdom... I'm still in great despair at all the life she missed with my children. I have learned things: those of us that miss this hard are the lucky ones to know so much love, and I wish I let her have the Frappuccino. Sometimes, in my head, I hear things she's said, "I don't think love can cure me but it sure is helping me."

Recently, I found myself forgetting the details of one of Nana's incredible stories. I faltered and told my daughter I was so sad about this. She said, "Mommy, you are the mom now and it's time we hear all your stories."

 

 

After my article about not purchasing an electronic gaming system for my Son (14) and my Daughter (11), I received lots of messages asking me questions. Many of them asked me to go further and discuss how I control exposure to the internet in today's day and age. Well, the opportunity truly presented itself last week over February break.

Both my children voluntarily gave up their phones for the week. We were headed to the Berkshires where we rented a house. When asked why they made this swift decision, they both said the exact same reason, it was simply because they wanted each other's attention. The last we saw of their numerical friends was when my son placed them side by side on the piano.

The car ride was when we immediately felt the difference. Loud singing accompanied most of the two-hour drive as well as lots of laughter. We looked at the mountains and gasped as the terrain became covered in snow!

When we stopped for lunch there was no repeating "We are here!" to get their attention. Instead, we were all on the exact same page at the same time and jumped out of the car together.

Because this was a voluntary surrender and not a punishment, snuggling up with hot cocoa and watching movies was definitely part of the week's agenda. But lots of other things occurred as well... The children woke up and went straight to each other and to their books. There were no reminders to not read on their phones at the table, and conversation flowed. Both kids bundled up to play and explore outside.

My husband and I say the highlight of our trip was watching them hike in the woods and play together in the snow. And at night after dinner, we would play games or just laugh together. There was definitely a calm feeling without having to worry about homework, deadlines, alarm clocks, or a phone in-between us. To be honest, both my children use it more for reading then going online but the item is still there, an obstruction. And somehow an old fashioned book doesn't feel that way.

Even the walk from the car after we would go on an excursion was much more lively and felt all inclusive. By the end of the week, neither child mentioned missing their iPhones or even mentioned them at all.

On the ride back we talked about our favorite memories and unanimously agreed this was one of our favorite vacations. 

I would love to hear if you had a similar experience or if you're willing to try it!

 

(Paul Hanaoka/unsplash)

When I grew up in the 70s and 80s, punishments were easy. It was either no TV or umm well...no TV. Phones were attached to the wall back then and were usually in the center of the home so in my case, not used that much. When I was a teenager, I used to stretch the phone cord all the way to my bedroom and close the door on it. This kind of worked, until my father came home and yanked on it while screaming at me. So up until twelve years old, the television was really the only true currency my parents had to use against us.

 (Sven Scheuermeier/unsplash) 

If I missed a homework...No TV. I yelled at my mother...No TV. I didn't clean my room...well you get the idea. This punishment was exceptionally painful because I grew up in a beautifully, eclectically, internationally furnished tiny apartment in NYC. My parents loved watching TV together at night. It was bad enough when I was told I couldn't even enter the living room because inappropriate shows were on. I mean just to be fair, it was 10:00 PM and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" was just not proper viewing for a child. So being punished during the times I was actually able to watch it was even more terrible. 

But now, we have different tactics. My children grew up without television, so I didn't have that to use. But I did use the form of punishment known as "Time Out." I always thought it would be much more productive if this came with a soundproof booth. Because unfortunately, at least in my daughter's case, a Time Out usually came with a screaming and crying rant that lasted as long as her sentence. And at that point, who are we really kidding... it's everyone's sentence. Just to note, when she got older she was so quiet I actually forgot she was in Time Out. Suddenly I would hear, "Mommy! Did you forget about me? I'm still in the corner..."

One day I saw a Dr. Phil episode where he suggested emptying their bedroom of everything but their bed and immediate clothing and having them earn it back. I couldn't imagine either child doing anything to warrant this extreme punishment. That is, until the Auck. The "Auck' is what we called the pacifier. I was told if I didn't get rid of it by three years old, her teeth would turn out like buck teeth and they would be harmed forever. (How can baby teeth be harmed forever?) But I believed this. So in the middle of the night, the most incredible thing happened. These "Auck" fairies flew in and took them all away and left fairy presents instead.

 (Les Anderson/unsplash)

During the day, this played out like a fairy tale...and then night came. There was no peace, she couldn't calm herself, she wanted her "Auck." Night after night I stayed up with her in my arms to calm her. I read everything, I did everything. After a week of no sleep, my husband reminded me he was leaving the next day for a business trip. It couldn't be worse timing. I had to get tough.

That night alone, the getting out of bed reached a new high. We were on the fourth hour. I started removing things for punishment and putting them in my room. ("There goes the piggy bank!") Soon enough, my bedroom looked like FAO Swartz and nothing changed! Darn that Dr. Phil! I was at my wit's end. I locked myself in my room and gave myself a Mommy Time out. I then called up the Princess I hired who was coming to her birthday party and told her loudly through the closed door that I was so sorry but I was going to have to cancel. The party would go on but I couldn't reward her by having her favorite Princess celebrate with her.

Soon I heard tiny footsteps through the door and then my daughter's voice, "Mommy! I'm so sorry. please give me another chance." I hung up with the Princess and opened the door. This unorthodox punishment of taking away a reward truly affected her. She went right to sleep. What I quickly learned was that it's okay to think outside of the box.

 (She got her Princess!)

Now, for my son who is now a teen, I use his one allowed late night. For my daughter, I use her phone. And sometimes I use the sink or swim as a family unit. If someone messes up, then we all lose Family Game Night. 

What do you use for punishments? What are your kid's currencies? Have you ever used something out of the box? Please share it here.

 

photo: Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash 

When I grew up in Brooklyn, Valentine's Day consisted of giving my mom some homemade sentiments and my father exchanging cards with my mother. My husband Peter remembers it similarly in his home in Massachusetts. When Peter proposed to me, he designed for me a heart diamond ring (my favorite shape) and took me on a surprise limo ride from NY to where our first date was in Boston. There among the falling snow, and inside a charming Italian restaurant in the North End, he proposed to me. It was Valentine's day.

When my children were very little, V-day was a holiday for just my husband and I. We would try our best to get a sitter, or re-create our first one together which consisted of him cooking me his baked stuffed shrimp. There would be cards from each of us and a present to me, flowers, jewelry, and so on. This was our holiday.

I'll never forget when my son was four and it was around V-day, we went to a street fair and he bought me fake roses that would never die. Another time he bought me gold bracelets. Valentine's Day was still centered around me, the only female in the house, and I thought that was the norm.

 (10 years old fake roses from my son who was four)

One day my little daughter exclaimed excitement about the impending holiday and wondered what she would be receiving. My husband and I stood there perplexed. Was this a new phenomenon that children were gifted on Valentine's Day as well? Or was this something that had always been and somehow escaped both of us?

Sure enough, I happily got into the swing of things and surprised my kids with candy baskets filled with hearts, lollipops, new stuffed friends, and forget-me-nots. Our tradition to include them has been like this ever since. Though my husband still comments he thinks it's all a bit strange to include children in what he had always perceived to be a holiday for adults, even though we do still go out to dinner by ourselves.

Now with Valentine's Day right around the corner, I decided to do some research and peek into people's lives to see what, if anything, does it mean to them. I was also curious about how they celebrated it as children.

Here are my Valentine's Day findings:

I asked 20 adults and 12 teenagers. 99% of the people I talked to have always been included in the holiday celebration as children and continue that with their kids. Many saw it as a child-oriented Holiday. Popular traditions include a special heart themed breakfast, surprise gifts like chocolates, and little toys. One family from Ireland calls it "love day." It includes the whole family. A few told me their Valentine traditions included hiding of the gifts and pretending they didn't know who gave them. Many dads I talked to still give V-day gift bags to their daughters while in college.

Peter still feels like since every day is basically Kids Day, Valentine's Day should be more adult-oriented and not Kid-centric. "A wonderful reason to come home early and spend quality time with my wife...Give her gifts, flowers, and take her out to a quiet dinner."

While I understand his sentiments, I think there is plenty of love to go around. As I'm typing this, I received a phone call from my son excitedly telling me what he's filling his sister's Valentine bag with...and that makes me happiest of all.