Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Blues

I hate New Year's resolutions. To me, they take on the same level of seriousness as tarot cards or fad diets. Now goals, that's something I can get my head around. Here's why.

We don't take New Year's resolutions seriously. Who's still talking about their resolutions in July? Its simple. Resolutions have none of the hallmarks of a goal. They're not specific, they're rarely attainable, and they're hardly ever time bound.

So this year, I'm setting aside a few hours before Jan. 1 to do my quarterly goals review. I'll write New Year's goals, but you won't find me making any resolutions.

Here's a preview of my 2010 goals:

I will take better care of myself by doing at least three things for myself every day. At least one of these things will be health related, another will be family related, and the third will be related to my career goals. For example, today I will paint my toenails, plan a special activity with my husband, and set aside an hour of writing time.

What are your New Year's goals?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Learning to share

As the Jolly Old Elf is preparing to make an appearance at our house, I'm immersed in the time honored tradition of sorting through old toys to determine what we'll donate or throw away to make room for the new.

Every mother knows this is a task that's much easier to perform when the kids aren't looking. But that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? I'm hoping my son learns about sharing in this process. My goal is that he'll choose some toys to give away to the needy--nice ones, still in good condition.

After all, isn't sharing the most important lesson we can teach during the holidays?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Better you than me

I hate when I think that way. I wish to be a better person, one who is both understanding and truly caring of her fellow beings. But when someone's kid is shrieking in the middle of Target...this thought does flit through my head. It's not that my kids are perfect - far, far from it! In fact, there are days when I wonder if the little monsters will ever behave like respectable human beings. And what I'm doing so wrong.

I recently received a picture from a family member whose toddler was sitting in the toilet. Not on. In. Again, I thought, "Oh, I'm glad that wasn't MY kid."

Do you ever have those type of thoughts?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Get a job

Someone said this to me recently. I was joking about how I'd like an intern to help me with my housework so I could have more time to play with my kids and write. I laughed it off at the time, but I shouldn't have.

The correct response: I already have one. Or two. Or three. Just as it's not cool to let a racist comment slide unnoticed, we shouldn't just accept sexism.

I've seen both sides of the mother story. I was a working mom when I had just one child and chose to stay home as our family grew. And at the time I chose to work, I had people make the comment, "Be a mother." This is exactly the opposite of the comment made to me recently, and it illustrates a glaring fact:

Women, we're damned if we do, damned if we don't. And society thinks it's OK to judge us in a way they'd never consider judging fathers. (They unfairly judge fathers in other ways, like "he shouldn't stay at home with the kids or be a Brownies leader.")

So, just to make me feel better, here's my snarky response to my former male co-worker who thinks I need a job to justify having help around the house:

The minute you can nurse my infant, feed and dress my children, start a load of laundry, interview sources, write an article, take the kids to the doctor, visit Santa, drop off my husband's dry cleaning, cook dinner, play trains, attend a play date, and get everyone bathed and to bed in a timely fashion, feel free to come over and judge my schedule. Until then, I'll be doing the best I can.

And I still think I could use an intern. So there.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The art of regifting

It's tacky. It's a sit-com joke, right? Perhaps sometimes. But every once in a while, regifting isn't so bad.

This Christmas, my dad wants a digital SLR camera. And he's in luck, because I upgraded this year. While it's hard to say goodbye to my first baby, my Nikon D50, it's a shame that she spends so much time collecting dust while I take her older sister out for spins around town.

So this Christmas, my dad's gonna unwrap the same present I did three years ago. And I think he'll be thrilled. It's a much bigger ticket item than we'd normally spend, and I can verify it's been lovingly cared for.

Plus, it's in the truest Christmas spirit: I love this camera still, but I want to share the love. That counts, right?

What do you think? Tasteful or tacky?

My overindulgence

I found out there is indeed a point where I've consumed too much dark chocolate almond bark. You'll be glad to know it takes significant effort to get there.

Here's a quick recipe for anyone interested:

1 cup very dark chocolate (over 70%) chopped into small pieces
1/2 c raw almonds
pinch large flake sea salt

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle chocolate onto parchment. Place in oven. Turn on to 325F. Wait 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and smooth chocolate with spatula. Sprinkle with almonds, pressing down lightly to ensure they stick in the chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt and cool slightly. Place in fridge to cool completely. Cut into SMALL pieces (that way you can eat more of them).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Food Insecurity

Now there's a political term for you. What does it even mean? I had to look it up. Apparently, being food insecure means you are either currently hungry, are on the cusp of becoming hungry or just really worried that you might not be able to buy enough food to feed your family.

That's a wide range. No wonder there's such a large number of Americans that fall into that range. Over 49 million.

At the same time, we - as a nation - are on track to have about 43% of our population fall into the obese category by 2018.

Local food pantries are completely bare. School programs have seen a rise in the number of children needing free lunches and breakfasts. Food stamp programs are seeing many additional (and highly educated) requests.

We have truly become the land of the haves and have-nots.

My daughter's school is hosting its annual holiday food drive. This is the third time in four months that we've donated nonperishables. I wish I could do more. I truly - deeply- wish the 22 million food insecure children had enough to eat each day. Hunger - especially in one of the wealthiest nations ever to exist on this planet - seems ridiculous. I wonder if there's more I can do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't get sick, mom!

We've been a sick house for the last week, and no one was safe. And this time it was bad, the worst we've ever been through as a family.

We've all heard the stories from fellow parents, co-workers, and friends. The one that starts with, "One time everyone was sick, and I was standing around in my underwear cleaning up (fill in yucky mess here)."

I had plenty of those moments this week, and you're in luck, cause I really, really want to whine about them right now.

Because there's a simple rule when the family gets sick, and it's the same rule that applies the other 51 weeks of the year: Mommy is the caretaker.

It doesn't help that my husband's under a work crunch and has two cases due in court.

Now, I could detail the agonies of the last week with late nights, early mornings, a sudden deluge of laundry, and a water heater that chose a choice moment to die. Or I could get down to my point:

I'm a big believer the idea women need to find time to offer themselves the same care they offer others. But sometimes, you need to get others to take care of you.

You can bet that's factoring into my weekend plans right now.

The Waiting Game

My three-year-old best exemplifies what most of the rest of us are thinking. Her body will start to quiver and she'll shout, "But I REALLY want it!"

The wait for something truly important always seems horrendously long. Five minutes, three days, a month...dragging out a much-anticipated present, promotion or even interview makes for such harrowing thoughts. And I have to admit, there is a part of me that wants to shout just as much as my preschooler. But, I have learned that wanting does not mean I will actually get something. And my drive to accomplish a goal has been tempered - out of necessity - by some tiny fleck of patience.

I just hope I have enough (patience that is) for this next go-round of "I want!" Because this time there are real consequences to not achieving my goal.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Isn't that what life really is? A list of priorities. What will I do first - or what is most important to me today?

Everyone has theirs. And each list is individual. But I think there are some universals that tend to climb to the top. Those include family, friends, lifestyle and health.

I would love to hear how you juggle these priorities. Sometimes it's relatively easy. But - for me, at least - there are days when I can barely squeeze in half of what I know I should be doing.

How do you manage your list of priorities?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Poor sleep, poor decisions

There is now scientific evidence that proves it. When you don't sleep well, you struggle to make sound decisions. Any new mom could tell you that. I remember the time I thought it would be a good idea to eat a sandwich while nursing. Let's just say the dog and the living room floor ended up with most of the food.

The best defense against illness, weight gain and doing something completely stupid is getting enough sleep.

I hope to give myself the gift of eight glorious hours tonight. What will you do for yourself today?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Affordable health care

What makes health care affordable? Is it lower monthly premiums? A lower deductible? What about co-pays?

There are many fees even for those with health insurance. I want to know what Congress, big Pharma, doctors and health insurance companies are doing to mitigate costs and help you and I get the coverage we need.

What changes would you like to see come out of this health care reform session?

I want to know I can truly afford good, quality coverage.

Breastfeeding ... still

My 15 month old still loves breastfeeding. I get comments, funny looks, but hey, did I mention she likes it? But this article from USA Today makes me wonder, is breastfeeding a young toddler really such a bad thing?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I had one of those moments two weeks ago. I was late. Three days late.

This would not be the ideal time for me to get pregnant. Which, I have to point out, is exactly why it would happen. I woke up each morning, torn between joy and hyperventilation associated with the mere thought of another child. Don't get me wrong, I love babies. Especially my own. But I've given away all my infant paraphernalia. And I need a bigger bar. Where would we put the baby? Would I stay home with this new child as I had my others?

These thoughts were the last I thought each night and the first I awakened to each morning. Until, on day four, I started my period.

I was disappointed.

I was relieved.

Have you had a similar experience? I hope you'll share your feelings with us.

How does it happen?

Babies have a lot to learn. And as they grow, it seems like the list of "need to knows" grows with them. Frankly, sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by the responsibility. From the ABCs and counting to labeling body parts or wiping their own bottoms, the items range from "good to know" to "have to know before they go to school."

Miraculously, with attention and good habits, most of this stuff just ... happens. Now I'm not saying moms and dads don't put an incredible amount of work into this, but we don't have to build mini classrooms for our kids. We just need to adopt a teaching role and help them become good learners. After all, they're born with a natural curiosity.

Statistics show habits such as reading to your child help better prepare them for a lifetime of learning. In addition, we have countless teachable moments every day. For instance, my 4 year old helps cook sometimes, learning about how to follow directions. My toddler learns fine motor skills when we color together. And even picking up can be a teaching experience. Not only does it create a sense of self-discipline and responsibility, you can discuss letters, numbers, and colors as you do it. For example, "Can you hand be the red block next to the coffee table? And now can you pick up the book with the B on it?"

I've often said I'm not worried about whether my children are first—or last—to read, walk, or even become potty trained. I think children will help guide you down the right learning path for them as long as you're aware and prepared to teach. So keep watching for those teachable moments. You never know which ones will become the memories they remember for a lifetime.