Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Gorgeous Friend Wendy in FARGO

I just had to share this photo of my friend Wendy and her daughters, taken by a photographer for their local FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA newpaper. Yes, I said FARGO. Shiver.

I met Wendy and her husband Christopher in Rye NY, 11 years ago. We became fast friends, then they moved to Minnesota, and now they are in ND because Christopher has a morning radio show there. His website has past shows, his weekly newspaper column, and essays from the past couple years, including two fabulous ones about parenting called "Demando and Commando and "The Simple Language of Parenting and Football Coaches." Wendy blogs at My Green Side with green living tips, so do check out both of their websites if you are interested!

The caption for the photo was: Wendy Gabriel walks home from the sledding hill with her daughters Sunday afternoon. The girls took advantage of the above zero weather. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Took advantage of the above zero weather. Good gracious. When I visited the Gabriels in Minnesota one February, it was the coldest weather I've ever experienced. With wind chill, it was below zero, and it was so very painful for this Virginia-bred girl.
Click here to read full entry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Natural Parenting Blog Carnival: Parenting Resolutions 2010

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutions!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month we're writing about how we want to parent differently — or the same — in the New Year. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

2010 is going to be a big year, because in one week, I go back to work after a blissful ten month maternity leave. Fortunately I like my job and having been doing it for ten years, so I feel good about going back. I would not have been ready at 3 months, and 6 months, but I’m ready now. I feel great about the bond my baby and I have achieved, and I think he’ll be OK being away from me and his Dad for 6 hours. (Dad doing late drop off at 9, me doing early pickup by 3:30.)

Speaking of that babydaddy… one big thing I know I should improve in my parenting is involving my husband more in decisions. We don’t always see eye to eye on how to do things- for example, I think co-sleeping is cool, he doesn’t. He’s been really good about letting me do what makes my life easier, but I feel ready now to take more of his suggestions without getting defensive and thinking that he’s criticizing me as a mom. Just recently we had a heated debate over how to get the baby to eat more solid food- after an hour of arguing about it and sundry related topics, turns out we were mostly on the same page. This is very typical of us, but it’s tiring, and I’d like to change that pattern.

Other resolutions:
2. Get the baby eating more solids so he will stop waking up 3 or 4 times a night. If he can wake less, I can have him in his crib more, where I think both he and I will ultimately sleep better. I’ve been sleeping with him in the guest bed because my husband’s and my bed is not safe for co-sleeping, and I’d like to return to my own bed.

3. Keep in touch with the wonderful moms I’ve met this year by keeping up our Saturday bi-monthly playdates.

4. Keep up with my blog, FC Mom, and with my baby’s blog.

5. Monitor my stress level as I go back to full time work in 2 weeks. I want to be at my best for husband, baby and job- or, as close to my best as I can be while balancing those three.

6. Keep up habit of batch cooking healthy meals for my lunches. That way I can just throw a Tupperware and an apple in my lunch bag and have a good meal at work. Drink lots of water at home and work.

7. Focus while at work. I’m pretty good at this, but I love my coworkers, so sometimes it is tempting to talk to them rather than grading. However, I’ll now be pumping during those “free periods,” so… I am going to have to figure out how to be productive at work, both milk-wise and work-wise.

8. Despite being very busy, I want to take time to stop, look at and listen to people- at least occasionally.

9. FC Mom Video. I would like to work more video into my blog in the form of interviews, mini talk-shows, and skits.

10. Above all, I want to enjoy my baby, husband, job, family, friends and my interests (writing, exercising, Biggest Loser), and do whatever it takes to allow me to enjoy life.

What about you, readers? What are your resolutions?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(All the links should be active by noon on Jan. 12. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)

• To Yell or Not to YellThe Adventures of Lactating Girl
• It Is All About Empathy: Nurturing a Toddler's Compassion PotentialBaby Dust Diaries
• To my babies: this year…BluebirdMama
• Mindfully Loving My ChildrenBreastfeeding Moms Unite!
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: ResolutionsCode Name: Mama
• Imperfect MotherConsider Eden
• ResolutionsCraphead (aka Mommy)
• FC Mom's Parenting Resolutions 2010FC Mom
• What’s in a Resolution?Happy Mothering
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutionsHobo Mama
• Natural Parenting ResolutionsLittle Green Blog
• This year, I will mostly...Look Left of the Pleiades
• Parenting ResolutionsThe Mahogany Way
• I Resolve to Breastfeed In Public More Oftenmama2mama tips
• Moving to Two KidsMegna the Destroyer
• Use LoveMomopoly
• My parenting resolutionsMusings of a Milk Maker
• Talkin' 'bout My ResolutionsNavelgazing
• Parenting ResolutionsOne Starry Night
• Invitations, not resolutionsRaising My Boychick
• No more multitasking during kid timeThe Recovering Procrastinator
• I need to slow down, smell those roses AND the poopy diapersTales of a Kitchen Witch Momma
• Resolutely Parenting in 2010This Is Worthwhile

Click here to read full entry.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Structure in the Classroom... and at Home?

I liked this article at Mothering Magazine: "The Three Rs of Behavior Management: Rules, Rituals, and Routines."

I feel like I'm a master of these things in the classroom. I could not survive without them, and I feel like my students thrive because of my efforts to establish a predictable routine, with clear rules, and fun little rituals, at the start of the school year.

I do not, however, feel like I've applied these very well to my baby. We're just getting into the "Bath, book, boob, bedtime" routine. Maybe an infant is too young to go hardcore structure with; it never felt right to me, but now that we're going to be on a much tighter schedule with me back at work and the baby at daycare, the idea of routines is starting to feel MUCH more relevant. I'm kind of excited to see what I can establish for my little guy.

There are a couple books I've seen on Amazon that look interesting, but I hate ordering books that I'm not sure will be relevant.
1. Seven Times the Sun: Guiding Your Child Through the Rhythms of the Day by Shea Darian
2. You Are Your Child's First Teacher: What Parents Can Do With and For Their Chlldren from Birth to Age Six. This book comes highly recommended by a blogger I like, Amber Strocel at, so I think I might just get it. Or at least put it in my shopping cart, so when I'm flush with cash from my teacher's salary, I can get it. My local libraries do NOT have either of these books.

Hm. Maybe I could ask Borders to order them for me. Then I could return them if I don't like them.

I ordered the book "Discipline Without Distress" (yes I know the quotes are wrong, I should italicize, but quotes are so much easier) for a parenting book club. I bet that suggests routines as a way of avoiding behavior issues.

Well, that's enough coherent thought for the day. Off to shower.
Click here to read full entry.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Judgment in the Mothering World: Good or Bad?

I think it's human nature to judge others, but I think it's beneficial to take a step back and not judge others harshly. I've noticed that as a new mom, it's easy to feel judged, and it is really, really tempting to judge others. I'm not sure that helps any of us, though.

One thing I've noticed is that moms tend to gravitate towards moms who parent similarly, because then you don't feel like your parenting choices (formula vs. breastfeeding, sleep training vs. cosleeping, etc.) will be judged. I'm a middle of the road mom. Although I lean heavily toward attachment parenting, the husband is soooooo not on board, and that's ok. We have found a good balance at this point (I think). I'm quite happy with my occasional cosleeping, constant babywearing, non-cloth diapering, breastfeeding lifestyle.

Anyway, my point is that I try not to judge other moms. Everyone's lives are so different. While I do not think sleep training would have worked for me, I have friends who do it, and for them, I think it was the right choice. They are working moms of several kids, and they simply could not have dealt with all of the night waking that I did (and still do). There's no one way to do things.

I also hope people don't judge my choices. I couldn't stand to hear my baby fuss for a second, and that's just the way I am. I don't think it means I'm a pansy whose kid walks all over her. I think we all have different personalities, different babies, different demands in our life, and we do our child-rearing accordingly. My next baby will probably fuss a little more as I teach her ('cause I know it's gonna be a girl, I already have her nursery colors picked out) to soothe herself. This first baby of mine sucks at that, and I pay the price every night as he wakes 4-5 times. Now, my sleep training friends look pretty smart. I don't regret how I did things though, because I followed my instincts and did what felt right. No sleep training book was going to persuade me otherwise. (Before you offer me sleep advice, I'm not asking for advice. We're good. I have it under control.)

Know where my judginess comes out? In my rss reader, which, for you computer neophytes, is a google service I have set up to send me headlines from all the blogs I like. I separate my blogs into categories: friends' blogs, mindless inanity, mom blogs, and crunchy moms. See? Even I feel the need to define mothers as just regular mothers or crunchy mothers. There are "molds" out there, and we look at those molds to see where a mom fits. Is she a cosleeping cloth-diaperer who quit her job to stay home with her baby? Is she a busy working mom whose baby is not the sole focus of her life? Those are the two molds I feel like I see in my area in CT. I think I am a little of both of those. And actually, so are my friends who sleep trained. They are very crunchy in some ways, and they are wonderful mothers. The problem with putting people in a mold is that they often don't fit. I think we miss out on friendships if we let our tendency to judge separate us.

Wait- I think there is one more mold in my area- the SAHM who can afford a nanny, private yoga instruction, tennis lessons, and salon visits. I don't see those moms much, because that's not the circle I run in, but I certainly don't begrudge those moms that lifestyle. Frankly, it sounds like my ideal life, although I'd do horsebackriding instead of yoga. And I'd probably take my kids along if they were good. We'd ride together. Also, they'd come with me to yoga, and the nanny would take care of them while I did yoga, or the kid could do yoga, too, if they were good. I think homeschooling is cool though, so maybe I'd do that as well. Or have my own school. Or send my kids to Montessori. Whatever. Anyway. Do you see how open-minded I am, that I could accept that lifestyle? Yup. No judgment here on that great backhand!

I guess my question to readers is, Do you judge other moms, and do you think it's a bad thing? Is judgment helpful or hurtful to you and the other moms in your life?

I'd bet that many people feel wrongly judged. I hear of moms who get criticized for cosleeping or breastfeeding past a year. What else do you get judged for?

One of my favorite bloggers, Annie at Phd in Parenting, has a post up that actually comes out in favor of judging others. While I agree with her premise- that parenting styles should be up for debate- I just don't see how I'd be able to keep my friends if I thought it was my business to judge their parenting. I feel like, as long as our different styles don't conflict with out ability to hang out, it's OK to be friends with people who do things differently. (I hope I have not wrongly summarized Annie's point- go read it, it's really nuanced and awesomely opinionated).
Click here to read full entry.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Biology, Baby's Cry, and The Working Mother

I just figured out why it's so hard to leave your baby at daycare, besides the not wanting to be away from them. Their face when you leave them, the hysterical sobbing- the baby is saying, "Mom, don't leave me! I'm scared! I'm in danger! I want to be with you!" As a mom, you are programmed to listen to your baby. The baby is programmed to want to be near you for safety- and that's how Moms work too. If they are with you, you know they're safe. The separation brings up an anxiety in both baby and mom.

The mother, the adult, know it's in her baby's best long term interest to be left at daycare, in my case, financial health and security in a tough economy. So, the mother has to ignore her instincts to soothe her baby and walk away. And that is really really hard. It's very upsetting to know that my baby knows that I know he's upset, and that I'm leaving him anyway.

Maybe dads feel this way too; I work mostly with mothers because I'm a teacher. I'd heard about how it's hard to leave them, and I'm sure this is exactly what they meant.

Although I will say, after I drive away, I feel a good ten minutes of euphoria at getting to be alone and let my thoughts wander, and make phone calls to friends and family, and run errands without dragging the baby out of the car in the January cold. The constant feeling of attachment to the baby CAN be tiring, so I do understand the wide range of how mothers feel: some cannot bear to leave baby so quit their job, finances be damned- some stop work temporarily or find a less demanding one- and some really don't enjoy being home all day with kids, and are delighted to get back to the adult world. I understand all of that.

Off to playgroup! Click here to read full entry.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Let's Have an Egg Fight: SAHM vs WOHM

I know there is no such thing as SAHM vs. WOHM. But that was in the media in October (on Dr. Phil, and some lady said that if people didn't want to stay home with their kids, they shouldn't have them- “I wouldn’t outsource loving my husband, why would I outsource loving my kids?” and "“If a woman is so selfish she can’t stay at home with her kids, then maybe she just shouldn’t have them!”). I didn't really understand the whole debate, other than that each group thinks they have it harder than the other, so whatever. And, that some people think they're so great that they are qualified to judge the choices of others. Most people thought Dr. Phil was making an argument out of nothing, and I agree. Everyone makes their own life. If you're happy with your situation, you shouldn't be mad at strangers. (See this article from Dr. Phil's site.)

Husband: "Can you get that strap away from him?'
Me: "No- that's giving me at least ten free seconds."
(That exchange just happened- about the baby, obviously.)

But I was thinking, that for one of my first FC Mom vlogs (video blogs), we'd spoof that stupid debate by having an egg fight between the WOHMs and SAHMs that I know. Each team wears a certain color. Before the fight, we have a cocktail party and mingle, getting to know each other (oh, and the babies are invited too, husbands, I guess so). Then, we go into my backyard, and we fight! Or, we have an egg toss. Whichever team wins, they're the best.

Then after that we go back inside, keep drinking, and the men take care of the babies.

(If anyone wants to steal my idea, that's fine, because I'll probably never get around to making the video.)

Please also visit Annie at PhD in Parenting to read her response to the Dr. Phil show.

The image above is a Japanese postcard used in France in 1904. You can buy it for 100 bucks at It is an image of "Russo-Japanese War Throwing Eggs." Ya got me.
Click here to read full entry.

Vlog: Am I Camera Ready?

I've had the idea for a few months to do video for FC Mom, but I was going to do it in talk show format. You know, invite my kooky* friends by for interviews. (Oooh, my friend Sam would make an AWESOME pregnancy interview. She should really host her own show, she's so fun.) I think I'd be a very good moderator because of my teaching experience and general willingness to boss around other adults. Maybe that could be one of my New Year's resolutions- to do more video. I have cute, tiny flip cam that's easy to use and relatively easy to edit.

My Twitter friend Sarah at just did her first vlog yesterday. I'm really proud of her for taking the plunge. It's making me want to try it too. Sarah's sweet and sincere personality is obvious in the video, and I love her Wisconsin-ish accent. (OK turns out she lives in Illinois.)

Vlogs are tough. The best ones, I believe, are pretty short. Daphne at has it down pat... then again, she's a comedian and talk show host for TV Guide who speaks on camera for a living. That's my goal- to be as funny and smooth as Daphne- she's also sincere, like Sarah, but I visit Daphne chiefly for her humor and outgoing personality. She makes me feel happy. Also, I like knowing that a working mom can still be gorgeous and funny and frazzled and... her son is about the same age as mine, so it's fun to see what he's doing.

I tried to follow a local vlog by a guy, and it was SO BORING. The thing with a vlog, is that it can't just be the same stuff you'd write. It has to offer something extra. Whether it's a pretty face, a nice voice, great facial expressions and tone... if you are boring, and can't smile and laugh, stick to writing.

About vlogs being short- even those Momversation videos, which I like, and which Daphne participates in, can get a little long. Those are basically vlogs by several mom bloggers on a topic, spliced together, often as a "she said-she said" style. The ad before the Momversation takes a few seconds, which is annoying, then the cute graphics take a couple seconds- I don't have the patience for that. I'll take Sarah and Daphne's right to the point style, no cartoon graphics needed. (That said, if Momversation were to invite me for a v-visit? I'd accept! But they're probably not going to invite me, which is why I want to host my own show. Yes. That's my New Year's Resolution. FC Mom video. Oh God- I just had a really, really good idea for a spoof on "SAHM vs WOHM." Which is a crap non-debate, which is why I want to spoof it. I'm both a SAHM and a WOHM, sorta. Altho I think I say that just because I like to join ALL the clubs that I can.)

Anyway, a hearty pat on the back to ANYONE who dares vlog!
Click here to read full entry.