PittsburghMom

PittsburghMom is our original, featured blog by Heather Starr Fiedler.  Heather created PittsburghMom in March 2008 and began this journey.  Heather is the mom to two young boys, Matthew (9) and Benjamin (7), a college professor and General Manager of PittsburghMom. She's busy, but not too busy to blog about her sometimes serious, sometimes painful and often humorous thoughts on life and share her favorite Pittsburgh spots for families.

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Teaching independence is a crime?

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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I was very saddened to read the decision this week that the Maryland couple who let their children walk home from a park alone were found guilty of 'Unsubstantiated Child Neglect".  CPS Finds “Free Range” Parents Responsible for Unsubstantiated Child Neglect.

For those of you not familiar with the story, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv practice "free range parenting" and teach their children independence. After practicing, they allowed their ten and 6-year-old to walk the one-mile home from a local park. While on the walk, the kids were picked up by the police and CPS was called. After a two month investigation, the couple was notified this week that they were found guilty of child neglect.  

While I understand the need to keep our children safe, I also mourn the loss of the days when we could let our children have some freedom. Of course we all remember the freedoms we had as children. We were off and running the minute school let out and didn't come home until the street lights went on.  Gone are those days. And not necessarily because the world has become a more dangerous place, but because, more often than not, other people will judge us for our actions, and call the police on us. 

There have been numerous times recently when my kids have asked to stay in the car while I've run into the store for a quick errand. I almost never let them. Not because I'm worried anything will happen to them but because I'm worried someone will see them and call the police.

There was an interesting chart circulating online yesterday about when it's appropriate to leave your children home alone. There is currently no minimum age in Pennsylvania to leave a child home alone.  Children must be 6 years old to be left in a car alone. So legally, I have every right to leave my kids while I run in to the market for some bread and milk, but that doesn't mean I couldn't and would't get charged with child neglect.  

I know we can't dial back the time machine and go back to the days of street light alarm clocks, but I sure do wish we could trust each other's parenting decisions a bit more and allow our kids to the ability to develop a stronger sense of independence with fearing a call from CPS.

 

 

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Another day, another delay

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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I should start by telling you that I'm from Buffalo.  This matters in the context of this blog, because that means i have a skewed impression of what "winter" means, and how to handle it.  I love the four seasons, but of the four Winter is most definitely my least favorite. While I enjoy an occasional snow tubing or snowman building day, I could take about four of those and then be on to Spring thankyouverymuch.  I'm not a Winter-hater, though, like it seems a lot of folks are. Ever since I moved to Pittsburgh 20 years ago I've been surprised at how shocked people are every Winter. It snows. It's cold.  That happens every year. It's Winter. It's supposed to snow and be cold.  But yet, year after year, people seem genuinely surprised by it.  

So while I don't really feel like this is a "terrible" winter, the cold really is annoying. I'll take seasonably cold temperatures, but these below-freezing days are even getting to me, the Buffalo girl.

What I'm finding the hardest to deal with are the school delays and closings.  I think we've had at least seven school delays in the past month or so and two full days closed.  Some of them, like today, have been for snowy roads, but most have just been for cold temperatures.  

While I understand the decisions and how they are being made, I still find them REALLY frustrating. As a working mom with a husband who also works outside the home, these delays are KILLING ME.  We do not have family nearby that can take the kids, so we have to "make it work". I'm so incredibly fortunate that, as a professor, I can schedule my own classes, and I know not to schedule too many early days in the Spring semester.  I have early classes Tuesday and Thursday and on those days my husband has to stay home if there is a delay.  If there's a cancellation I have to either get a babysitter or take the kids in with me (they've learned a lot of college-level material this year).  As I said, I'm lucky. I have those options. I know a lot of people don't.

I wish we could find a better system for dealing with cold-related delays. I understand that if the roads are truly snowy and slippery that school should be delayed. But delaying for cold is often just so kids don't have to stand at bus stops (which almost none of our children at my stop do anyway), or to get the busses running and warmed up.  There has to be a better way.  

I don't have any solutions, but with the climate change happening that we surely can't ignore, I see more temperature extreme days in the coming years, and the delays will keep happening unless we find a creative solution.

What do you do when school delays (or cancels)?

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Things that go bump in the night

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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I can't remember the last time I slept through the night. I'm sort of like a newborn except instead of waking up because I need to be fed, I'm waking up because my children don't know how to sleep through the night.

Each one goes through stages where they sleep really well and stages where they don't. Right now my 9 1/2 year-old is currently in a "not sleeping well "stage.

He has suddenly developed supersonic hearing and seems to think he can hear every little noise, creak, siren, train whistle and bump in the night.

Not only can hear them, but he has developed some anxiety about these bumps in the night. He's woken up every night for the past week scared of some noise that he's heard (or believes he's heard.) We do live relatively close to some train tracks and you can sometimes hear the train running. It's not loud and there is no whistle, but he seems to think he can hear it, and it scares him.  Every time the heater kicks on it wakes him up and scares him. Every time the cat knocks something around in the house it wakes him up and scares him. Every time the wind howls it wakes him up and scares him. You get the picture.

And every time he wakes up scared he comes into our room and scares the living daylights out of me waking me up in a panic insisting that the world is coming to an end. Then he lays in my bed for the next hour and asks excitedly "what was that noise?!", what was THAT noise?! " Eventually he calms down enough to fall back to sleep but by that point of course I am wide awake.

I know this is just a phase and in the grand scheme of life I'm not too terribly concerned. If some extra snuggles with my oldest is the worst thing that happens to me this week I will gladly take it. But I'm wondering how to calm his anxiety about these noises and how just long the phase might last.

 

Any suggestions?

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Parenting fail

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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Those of you that have followed my blog for a long time know that I am a fan of keeping it real. I'm thrilled to celebrate my successes as a parent but I'm also willing to tell you about the times that I have dropped the ball. A couple of weeks ago I had one of my biggest parenting fails to date.

Sometime last year, I decided that my children were old enough to brush their own teeth. In fact I was so confident in their ability that I didn't really monitor said toothbrushing very well. I handed them their toothbrushes and went on about my other chores.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when both children had dentist appointments. I think you know where I'm going with this but I'll just go ahead and say it. There were cavities. Lots of them.

The good news for my older son is that they were on baby teeth so they're not even going to bother filling them because the they will just fall out soon anyway.

But my little guy has a few cavities that need to be filled. I was so mortified when the dental hygienist came out and told me that his teeth were full of plaque and he obviously wasn't brushing very well. I hung my head regretfully, and did the walk of dental shame back to the car and promised myself and the kids to do a better job.  

I love our dentist. In fact, everyone at our dentist's office is awesome. I have no complaints about that. This is totally my fault. A parenting fail.  

We went back for the first of his fillings last week and I can assure you that he will be brushing his teeth better from now on. Not only am I monitoring toothbrushing, but he really did not enjoy having his cavity filled and I think the reality of it will stay in his mind each time he brushes.  We have another appointment in the morning and he's begging to get out of it (not happening, kid).

The dentist also gave us these awesome tablets that the kids can chew on which will then highlight the areas of plaque in their teeth, allowing them to know where they've missed. I found them so useful that I went ahead and ordered more. I think I'm just going to make them use them every day until they really understand what it takes to brush their teeth correctly.

Of course, I could start brushing for them again, but I'm not sure that's the best solution either. They need to learn how to do it properly themselves. 

Our goal now is a cavity and plaque-free house for the next year at least. And I'm also going to check in on all those other little things I thought the kids were old enough to handle on their own (is that closet really clean?)

 

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Sugar free Valentine's Day

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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As you know, Valentine's Day is coming up this weekend. We are in an unusual place in our house when it comes to Valentine's Day. We just booked a summer vacation to the beach and both my husband and I really want to get in great shape before we go, so we are watching what we eat very carefully.

In addition to that, my children's school has instituted a no food policy at the school all day every day (with the exception of lunch, of course). That means that there are no food-related Valentines items allowed.

So between my husband and I not wanting to eat chocolate and not being able to send any food into school, I've had to get creative with Valentine's Day this year. It's not a holiday that we put a lot of stock into, so my husband and I will probably just exchange cards.

But obviously the kids want to bring in something to exchange with their friends and put in their Valentines boxes. Enter Pinterest for inspiration. I also wandered around Target for quite a while trying to find some things that might work.

I ended up with what I think are some cute ideas that took me about five seconds flat to create, which means a winner in my book.  Now we can still celebrate the day without worrying about breaking any rules.  While I think that it seems silly not to allow any Valentines treats (kids take the boxes home, so it's not like they would be eating the treats in school anyway) I do like that we're teaching our kids to celebrate things without food.  It seems to be the wave of the future, so we might as well get used to it and look on the bright side.

 

What are your valentines day traditions?

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