Review Category : Pam’s P.O.V.

An anniversary shout out to the love of my life

By Pamela Brownstein

This week, in the throes of my deadlines — which for me falls on Tuesday evenings, meaning I probably haven’t showered since the weekend and have gotten very little sleep in the past two days and still have one long night ahead of me and, even though I work from home, nothing has been done in terms of doing the laundry or picking up after the kids or feeding the pets — as I sit hunched over my computer in my “office” (which is actually just a messy desk in the corner of our dining room) my husband, Daniel, who had only been home for about 10 minutes after a day at work and picking up our two kids from daycare and is still dressed in his suit and tie, asks me if I would call him A: The love of my life; B: My baby daddy; or C: Some guy I share a house with.

I laughed and replied, “I guess all three.”

Then I asked him, “Would you call me A: Your fun, sexy wife; B: Your baby mama; or C: Some crazy lady who sits in front of a computer all day and night.” He laughed too, and right before he went outside to walk the dog, he added, “You forgot ‘Love of my life.’”

I was glad he left and couldn’t see me start to cry a little because that was the best, sweetest thing he could have said, and it reminded me how special he is and how lucky I feel to have him in my life.

Happy fifth anniversary, babe. Looks like we made it.

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The Baby Diaries: Celebrating one year with joy, disbelief

By Pamela Brownstein

I don’t know if there’s a scientific phenomenon that causes the earth to spin faster and the hours and days to go by so quickly, or it’s just a symptom of getting older, either way, I feel like the past year has flown by.

This time last year I was sitting in my hospital bed at Beaufort Memorial holding a one-day old baby girl in my arms, grateful for her beauty and perfection, and even more grateful to be done with the nine months of pregnancy.

Although I remember details about that day with surprising clarity, I feel like I can’t remember specifics about the entire year that followed. Seriously, I can’t believe my baby just turned 1. She always looked so little compared to her big 2-year-old brother, but now she’s so close to walking, she’s right there with him defending her territory, taking his toys, trying to eat his food off the plate, and looking up at her parents with her big bright eyes and adorable smile filled with four teeth.

My sweet Selah has gone from an easy-going infant to a spunky chick seemingly overnight. I would describe her as a pistol, a character, energetic, silly and so smart. She has so many looks and expressions, you can just see the wheels turning inside her fuzz-covered head.

When she doesn’t get what she wants and throws herself on the floor dramatically, it’s hard not to laugh. But then I see the future and know that we’re totally in for it because I also see the past and know that I used to do the same thing. My husband’s favorite phrase when she’s acting naughty or sly is “she comes by it honestly; she’s just like her mom.”

I can’t slow down time or reverse it, so I am trying to enjoy my amazing girl as she is now. I wish her all the happiness that can fill one’s heart with joy and wonder, just as she has filled my heart with love that grows deeper each day.

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What do you get for the dad who has everything?

By Pamela Brownstein

I am faced with this dilemma every year: What do I get my husband, Daniel, for Father’s Day?

I am a notoriously poor gift-giver. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s mostly that I am so last minute: By the time I think of something thoughtful and cool, it’s the day before and too late to find it or order it, and I usually give up in frustration.

It’s in that moment of frustration I think, “In the past two years, I’ve given him two beautiful children, really, what more does he want?”

But once I get past that flash of selfishness, I realize that the hardest part for me is finding a gift that represents all that Daniel does for his children and his family. How can I find a gift that equals his patience and kindness and involvement? What item can express my love and gratitude for being understanding and funny, even when we are completely exhausted at the end of the day?

Of course, I knew when we got married that Daniel would be a good dad. But this year has proven that he’s not just a good dad, but a great father. With a 2-year-old boy and a 9-month-old girl, these are chaotic times in our house as we navigate through Babyland. With both of us working, things can get stressful when the baby gets fussy or our toddler throws a temper tantrum and won’t go to sleep in his big boy bed.

Through it all, though, Daniel has shown me what it means to be a good parent in all the little things he does for the kids, especially for our son, Wolfe.

He goes to great lengths to make sure that Wolfe has healthy, balanced meals and tries a variety of food. It’s such a sweet act to see Daniel cut a cucumber into little bites, and add just a dollop of ranch dressing to the plate. Then he watches proudly as Wolfe eats every bite.

He also goes online and researches popular children’s books so when he goes to the library during his lunch hour at work he can pick out the best books to bring home to read with Wolfe. And even though he’s probably read “Curious George Makes Pancakes” more than 100 times, he still uses funny voices and reads it in bed with Wolfe when he asks.

With our daughter, Selah, even though I spend all day with her at home, as soon as her dad walks into the room, her fat little face lights up with a big smile — revealing her two little bottom teeth — and she can’t crawl to him fast enough.

I’m also trying not to take it personally that her first word was “Da-da.” (OK, I get it. Mama’s on deadline and wishes Dada were home too, but you don’t see me saying his name every five minutes.)

But even though I don’t say it enough, I couldn’t be more proud of Daniel or more grateful to have him in my life. I’ve watched him evolve from a father-to-be who had never even changed a diaper to a full-fledged, hands-on dad who doesn’t think twice about cleaning a dirty diaper and knows just the right combination of powder and Desitin to fight diaper rash.

So this year, in addition to my unending love, I want to give him something special. And I think it will be exciting to see the look on his face when I reveal his gift. Surprise! Here’s the double jogging stroller you’ve always wanted!

 

SHOP LOCAL WITH THESE FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS

FOR THE FOODIE DAD

• The Chocolate Tree makes special treats that will make dad smile.

• Specialty olive oils and vinegars from Olive the Above will definitely impress the man who loves to cook.

• Upgrade dad’s old grill with an awesome new version from Grayco.

FOR THE OUTDOORSY DAD 

Bay Street Outfitters has gear for guys as well as fishing equipment.

A yearlong pass to Hunting Island State Park will save money when the whole family goes to the beach.

FOR THE FUNNY DAD 

Lulu Burgess carries a variety of humorous cards and books that will make any funny father chuckle.

FOR THE SENTIMENTAL DAD 

Book a family photo session with a local photographer for memories that will last a lifetime.

FOR THE BEER-SNOB DAD 

Piggly Wiggly features an excellent growler station and selection of unique craft beer.

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When things don’t add up

By Pamela Brownstein

I don’t pretend to be an expert on taxes and governmental finances. Millage rates, fiscal year budgets, these sometimes go over my head, but I would like to think I have a basic grasp on spending and the role of the taxpayer.

Many actions recently taken by the city of Beaufort make me question if funds are being used effectively, especially the project to replace lamp posts downtown. It seems the “candy cane” lamp posts are expensive to fix and maintain. Why wasn’t this addressed when they were first purchased? But now that new ones are being installed, I hope they will find better placements. Have you ever tried to push a stroller down Charles Street? It’s difficult because the lamp posts take up so much of the sidewalk.

Between the costs of the Office of Civic Investment and the recent selection of a private developer for the marina parking lot, it feels like there are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to public involvement and the transparency of public dollars.

Add to that the county offering to pay $850,000 for a machine that would attract private businesses, in a deal that may or may not pan out at this point, and it only fuels my skepticism.

I guess the dollar amount of these projects wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I hadn’t just received a bill in the mail for my property taxes. Under the county’s recent property reassessment, the value of my house has dropped more than $20,000 since I bought it in 2004. (It seems odd anyway that the price of my house has gone down when the safety of the neighborhood and the condition of surrounding homes have only improved, but that’s another story.)

OK, fine, I understand it’s a difficult real estate market since the recession and many people’s homes were affected during the reassessment. It sucks, but I can accept it. What I’m having a much harder time accepting is the fact that while the value of my house has decreased, my taxes this year have increased by more than $100. What?

I also understand that my tax bill is not directly linked to city or county projects, but putting them all together creates an interesting dichotomy, one that I find frustrating and frankly makes me lose a little faith.

Like I said, I’m not an accountant or a financial expert, but when I hear about local governments spending (or some might say wasting, but I won’t go that far) taxpayer’s dollars on projects that deserve more transparency or were not managed properly from the beginning, sometimes it just seems like things don’t add up.

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Fall-ing in love all over again

By Pamela Brownstein

I’m pretty sure I announce my love of fall every year at this time, so this year is no different. Or is it? The things I love about this season haven’t changed: cool mornings, college football, pumpkin-flavored everything. But between my husband, Daniel, and I, our roles and responsibilities have changed and we enter autumn as the parent of two young kids, both working and Daniel completing graduate classes toward his MBA. Basically, we’re totally busy and crazy.

This time of year is also our anniversary and it’s a reminder of the day we tied the knot in Beaufort four years ago. So much has changed for us since then, it’s comforting to look back and remember the fun of having all our family and friends together as we said our vows. It was the best decision I ever made to marry Daniel and I can’t imagine my life without him. I’m so grateful for his love and patience, and watching him as an amazing dad only makes me love him more. I feel fortunate to celebrate with my favorite person during my favorite time of the year.

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The Baby Diaries: It’s worth it all

When my husband and I first started dating, we came home one day and discovered a bouquet of flowers on our front porch that had been delivered to the wrong address. The note attached simply read: “ITS WORTH IT ALL. XOXOXOXO.” At the time we thought it was funny. Today, seven years later, we still have the note, and it has become an inside joke between us. (When times are stressful or hard, we like to say, “Remember, babe, it’s worth it all!”)

Wolfe, Dad and Selah dancing. It’s moments like these that make it worth it all.

Wolfe, Dad and Selah dancing. It’s moments like these that make it worth it all.

This phrase seems particularly appropriate for us right now as we welcome home a baby girl, Selah Mary, and become accustomed to life with a newborn and a 19-month-old toddler, Wolfe.

I find it amazing that even though Wolfe and Selah are so close in age, not even two years apart, I had already forgotten about the specific needs of a newborn — especially being on-call at all hours of the night. This was hard with one baby, but we’ve found it even more challenging with two. Fortunately, Wolfe has always been an excellent sleeper. Once we put him to bed in his crib, he usually sleeps through the night, and has since he was about four months. But he still has his moments, as we realized this past week when I was up tending to Selah, and my husband Daniel had to go pacify a distraught Wolfe. At one point, as the clock read some ungodly hour, we both ended up in the dining room, each with a crying child in our arms. If we weren’t so tired, we would have been laughing, but instead it was a snarky exchange that went something like, “Is this what we signed up for?”

Selah also makes Wolfe look like a giant — I swear that kid gained five pounds during the two days I was in the hospital, I felt like he could barely pick him up. The difference is especially apparent in the size of their diapers, hers look teeny tiny.

A lot of people have asked me how Wolfe is adjusting to having a new baby sister. I guess you never know how the older child will respond, just like you’re not sure how your dog will respond when you bring the first baby home. Luckily for us, our black lab, Lefty, has been good with our growing family (although I’m sure she feels somewhat neglected since so much of our energy now is focused on babies). And also Wolfe is very sweet and excited about his sister. His favorite new word is “bay-BE” and he’s constantly monitoring her location. He touches her gently — most of the time — and has learned how to help mom and dad with the baby’s bottles. His behavior has actually been better than we anticipated, and I’m sure some of that will eventually change, but it also shows how mature he’s becoming, and he’s not our Little Boo anymore.

One of the things I have learned is that time moves fast and some memories are ultimately fleeting. It feels like our transition from carefree newlyweds to responsible parents occurred before we even knew it, so it is important to cherish the time we get to spend with our little humans.

When my baby girl tilts her tiny head my direction and opens her eyes wide when she hears my voice, the voice she’s listened to these past nine months, I am filled with a love that is so complete. I want to kiss her sweet face all the time (well, except when she’s crying, then she turns into an angry raisin face).

I realize now why parents are able to love their kids unconditionally and forgive so many transgressions as they get older: They remember all the times when they rocked their babies or gazed at their innocent sleeping faces or caressed their wrinkled little hands and marveled that they created something so perfect.

So when both babies are up crying at 3 in the morning, I have to remind myself that the exhaustion is just temporary; I know ultimately that taking care of my kids, having us all together and healthy and the well-being of my family is worth it all.

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Taking a baby break

By Pamela Brownstein

After nine long months, the time has finally come for me to succumb to my condition and take off on maternity leave.

Unlike my first pregnancy, I feel like this one has taken its toll. With the first one, I relished comments such as, “You look great, you’re glowing!” This time, one look into my tired eyes often prompts a patronizing, “How are you feeling?” But what they really mean to say is, “Whoa, you look rough!”

It’s for this reason, and many others — including awful acid reflux and extreme exhaustion — that I am glad the end is in sight.

During my time off, I’m looking forward to kicking back and reading books on the beach, sipping cocktails by the pool, spending quality alone time …. um, oops, I’m sorry, that was me talking from Fantasyland.

Instead, I’ll be making last minute improvements to my house, and trying to pretend that I don’t notice how everything needs to be cleaned but realizing I’m too tired to do anything about it. I’ll also be spending a week on “vacation” with my in-laws.

On or around August 7, we’ll be welcoming a new baby girl into the world. Then the rest of the month we’ll be adjusting to the needs of a newborn, as well as taking care of an increasingly willful toddler. Throw in several weeks of my own visiting relatives, and I anticipate a very busy, and possibly even stressful, time off.

But as I find myself immersed in Babyland, there is still so much happening in the community, including the start of fall sports, and of course, to the excitement of every student, the start of the school year. I hope our readers continue to send their photos and stories to theislandnews@gmail.com; I’ll see you in September.

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Memories are a blast

By Pamela Brownstein

The Fourth of July is a special holiday for Americans, as most families gather together and have their own traditions about how they celebrate the freedom of our nation.

Although the traditions in my family have evolved over the years as we’ve all gotten older, the main focus is still on the fireworks.

When I was little, I remember holding my ears and shrieking once I heard the first boom in the sky. But after catching a glimpse of the exploding color and shapes, I couldn’t take my eyes off the magical display that lit up the night.

I have been fortunate to have seen countless amazing fireworks, and memories of these shows makes July Fourth one of my favorite holidays.

The town where I grew up, Montville, N.J., always put on fabulous fireworks. Everyone would meet at the high school and set up blankets in the surrounding fields. When we were younger we would beg our parents to buy us glow-in-the-dark necklaces; when we were teenagers, we would ditch our parents and go meet up with our friends. Once darkness fell, the lights and music would start on the football field, then the colors would shoot into the air — pretty circles, whizzing rockets, giant BOOMS would elicit “ooo” and “ahhs” from the enraptured crowd.

One year, my parents took us to the Statue of Liberty to see the awesome fireworks light up the New York harbor.

Another year, on a trip cross-country, I found myself in Telluride, Colorado, for July Fourth, where the dry conditions prevented fireworks. Instead, I saw General Norman Schwartzkopf lead the parade through town, and later in the day I saw a double rainbow clear across the mountains.

Most recently, our family has established our Independence Day tradition on Hilton Head Island, where we’ve been going on vacation since the ’80s. The fireworks in Harbour Town, on the south end of the island, are an easy walk from my parents’ condo, so we bring our chairs and blankets and set up on the 18th green of the Harbour Town Golf Course. The fireworks come from a barge in the water and explode beautifully over Calibogue Sound, the lighthouse and the boats in the harbor. It’s lovely and inspiring, and always seems to end too fast.

With my own growing family, I am excited about building our own traditions, and passing on the fascination of the fireworks to my kids.

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Fondness for the flag appropriate for the Fourth

By Pamela Brownstein

For a while now, our toddler, Wolfe, has been interested in flags. He especially admires the large ones that hang outside of houses (specifically our neighbor’s American flag, which he makes a point of visiting at least once a day).

Our All-American Baby with his favorite flag.

Our All-American Baby with his favorite flag.

But we didn’t realize the full extent of his obsession until this summer, when stores are full of flags and patriotic paraphernalia. Earlier this month, on a trip to Walgreens, Wolfe stopped, mesmerized before a display of flags. We took one home, and it surprised me how much he actually likes it. He carries it around everywhere, I think he even took it in the bath once, and he cries when we take it away before bed.

I indulged his obsession by buying him a shirt with a giant American flag on it, and he wore it to Beaufort’s Flag Day celebration downtown. He was amazed at the multitude of flags there, and didn’t understand why he couldn’t have them all.

Last Saturday, on a trip to Lowe’s, he became excited as we passed another flag display. (Honestly, it’s still a little funny to me because it’s probably the last thing I would notice.) His wonder is so genuine though, it’s hard not to find it completely endearing. So we took home another flag. A bigger one this time.

The next day, Sunday, on a trip to Walmart, Wolfe probably felt like he was walking into heaven, and my husband and I discovered too late that we were walking into a danger zone because there were literally flags everywhere. I placated his hysterics by hastily handing him a flag, only to find out at the checkout that that flag was only for display, and when we took it away, you would have thought the world was over.

I reminded myself to stay away from stores between now and July Fourth, and then I thought that it will be exciting to take him to his first Independence Day celebration, where he can wave his flag and see Old Glory in all her, well, glory.

I’m sure this will be the first of many passing phases in Wolfe’s life, but it’s one that I want to remember: Our All-American Boy who freaks out over flags.

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Happy Father’s Day to the best dads around

By Pamela Brownstein

I realized early on in my dating life that I was in trouble: It was going be hard to find someone as great as my dad. He set the bar high for me with his kindness and love and the sacrifices he made to ensure his family had all the things he didn’t have when he was growing up.

For more than 20 years, his commute to work was more than an hour each way from our home in the New Jersey suburbs to his office in New York City. But he never came home disgruntled or distant; we always ate dinner together as a family and after “Jeopardy,” (which he always knows the answers) he would help us with our homework.

At a time when many of my friends’ parents were going through divorces, my mom and dad’s relationship was solid and special. He always made her laugh and supported her choices. He was the strong, silent match to her social, outgoing personality, and for a long time I never thought I would have what they had. But by some miraculous Divine intervention, I managed to find a man who embodied many of the qualities I admire in my dad — a subtle sense of humor, intelligence, patience and loyalty — without being too much like him.

I have been fortunate enough to watch my husband Daniel grow from an easy going reporter to a loving partner to a devoted Da-da to our 17-month-old toddler, Wolfe.

It’s hard to describe how supportive and involved Daniel has become in his son’s life. He takes the early shift and wakes up with Wolfe almost every morning — which is a big deal for someone who can sleep until 11. He lovingly makes Wolfe’s dinner on nights that I’m working, being careful to include a variety of healthy choices. And most recently, he is taking Wolfe to baby swim class (no easy task considering the little guy likes the water about as much as a cat). Daniel never complains about his duties, and even after a long day at work, and with grad school homework waiting, he always takes the time to read books to Wolfe before bed and to tuck him in at night.

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After my mom died in 2010, my relationship with my dad changed, for the better. It took a long time for me to get past my own grief to realize how much my dad lost — his best friend and confidante — and that I might not agree with his way of doing things, but he’s doing the best he can. Although he misses my mom, he’s not alone because my grown sister still lives at home with her 10-year-old son. At 65, my dad hardly has the life of a retiree, and I have more respect for him because he takes care of their daily needs, and also helps my 88-year-old grandma, who lives in an independent living home in the same town.

Still, with all that on his plate, he always makes time to talk to me whenever I call. His relationship with Wolfe will melt anyone’s heart; even though we live far away, we Facetime at least once a week and Wolfe always smiles and gets excited when he sees his Grandpa Tex.

This Father’s Day, I want to thank my dad for giving me so much and showing me what it means to put family first. And I want to thank my husband for all of his love and support and for reminding me daily that I couldn’t have asked for a better father for my children. I am blessed to have them both in my life.

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