183 posts categorized "Mamahood"

Take a deep breath and bike

February 23, 2009

Trees_park_bike_meditation I write on many ad-supported web sites to earn my family's keep, and sometimes I weary of the grind. The cheerful list of tips. The careful consideration of a topic from all sides. So when I got the opportunity to do a presentation at Ignite Portland 5 -- I'd pitched the title "hacking life with kids, and without a car" -- I decided to avoid the usual perky lists and helpful hints and top-10 lists and I wrote it as a meditation. "You are riding your bike. You are taking the bus, train, streetcar... You do not pray for change in the world. You are the world. You are the change."

As usual when I really get lost in something I'm writing, it got away from me and took on a life of its own. The line that was repeated the most after the presentation on Thursday night was this: "You are not en route. You are already here." As I've been thinking over the past few days of dealing with challenging children and my own need to take a deep breath so much in my life, it's a good reminder to myself: this is what I wanted, this life, with children who want nothing as much as to stand in the middle of a parking lot tracing the stenciled letters on the ground, or to take a 90-minute bath because they're just enjoying looking at the faucet, or to play and play and play at the park until the sun goes down. When I dreamed of having kids, it was not a dream of typing at my laptop in a coffee shop without them, no, it was the journey that was my dream, the struggle and the joy, the books read over and over and over. The video of my talk is after the jump; you can link to other Ignite talks here at Blip.tv (I love this one on chickens; this one on taking the bus; and this one on being a refugee).

Continue reading "Take a deep breath and bike" »

What wouldn't we do for our kids?

January 26, 2009

Life as a mama can indeed be a sacrificial life.  As we carry our offspring, we may give up things to preserve the best environment for the growing babe (for me, it was hardest giving up wine and rigorous physical activity).  Once the babes are born, we still give up the ease of going out for a date with friends or partner, we give up restful nights, we give up money that we would've otherwise spent on frivilous items for ourselves.  So many times, we put the kids first and foremost, above and beyond the things we love, need, and want - oh-so badly.

The top things on my list of those crazy things I'll do for my kids:

  • Not peeing.  Sometimes I get so busy with life in the home - running around with the kids, running errands, cleaning up, making dinner, playing checkers, reading stories - that I defer peeing.  Sometimes, I fear that I will cause permanent physical challenge.  But, better to get that story read than relieve myself, right?
  • Pooping on demand.  My second girl went through a phase when she needed to be the one to flush the toilet after she peed or pooped.  It was an assertion of independence.  Once, by habit, I accidentally flushed her poop, and she was pissed.  She threw a full out tantrum, in the middle of which, she told me, "I want poop back in the toilet!"  I pulled my pants down and tried to poop for her.  Alas, I couldn't do it.  It was already afternoon.
  • Not eating.  There are some things they love to eat.  Pad Thai is one of those things.  For sure, two orders is way too much for us, so we will only get one order on that special occassion that we get Thai food.  Maybe my love for pad thai has now just vanished.  I forgo the desire, for I know how much they love to see those leftovers show up in their lunches the next day.
  • Spending hours at the mall.   This is absolutely one of my most unfavorite things to do.  Alas, Lloyd Center is home to the only ice skating rink in Portland's city limits.  And, my first girl believes she is the next Michelle Kwan.  So, I bring the paper, a pile of work, and my phone & charger.  On one school in-service day, I spent eight hours at the mall, watching my girl and her friends go 'round and 'round and 'round.  Definitely not my favorite place to hang.

We all do things we don't love, for the love of our children.  I laugh about those things, and - in the end - that's all we can do.  We make choices, and we wouldn't do these things if we couldn't live with ourselves.  I know I'm not alone.  I want to hear stories of crazy things you all do, all for the love of your kids.

On being selfish: Where is the line?

September 02, 2008

Mamas_with_wine_240 The recent debate about Sarah Palin's choice to go back to work three days after her fifth baby was born (and what that means for the "little" people's parental leave rights), as well as the comments on the Blackberries on the playground post, have got me thinking about selfishness. I wrote, "when do we cross the line between caring for ourselves (whether that be reading a good book or furthering our career) and giving our children appropriate attention? must good parenting be about entirely sublimating our own interests to focus every moment on our progeny? ...I think most of our behavior rides the line, not entirely healthy for our children, but not entirely servicing our own sanity, either."

I've been wondering a lot lately, when am I being selfish, when am I just giving myself what I need to maintain my sanity and sense of self-worth? If I let my children's dinner be blueberries and cold Otto's hot dogs because I really just need to run once or twice a week, is that selfish, or self-care? If I ignore their needs temporarily (such as today, when I'm working without any child care because my sister-nanny just went back to work at her former employer, a preschool) for long-term gain -- including the mortgage payment and my career -- is that fiscal good sense or minor neglect? If I go out for drinks with other mamas once a month, is protecting my identity as friend worth the risk that they'll watch an inappropriate movie and eat preservative-packed ice cream bars with papa? When I shoo the kids out of the kitchen so I can dive in to my latest preserving obsession, am I foregoing one more opportunity to snuggle and read with my kids, or am I just making sure we'll have local heirloom tomatoes to mix into pasta all through the winter and spring? How often do you do something that feels right for you, but wrong for your kids (even if it's very minor wrong)? Am I justifying when I say that having a sane, happy mother is far more important than the paltry sum of tonight's nutritional profile?

Photo thanks to the awesome Amy McMullen.

Going Gray: Pluck, Color, or Leave It Be?

August 05, 2008

Age ain't nothing but a number right? But nothing makes me feel like I'm maturing like wrinkles (ugh!) on your face (that's another discussion) and of course, gray hair.  Over the past year, the couple of gray hairs hidden (or so I think) in the back of head have multiplied.  O.k., so now there are only about seven gray hairs but it's enough to make me pause, and wonder what I should do with them.  I have let them be ever since their discovery.  I am curious, what is your strategy for graying hair? Are you a "plucker"? Do you color? Or do you just let it be? Or? Of course I'm blaming the kids for causing undue stress that would turn my hair gray.

What's on your iPod?

July 31, 2008

20080629_57_4We recently had some friends over and after playing the ecclectic mix of songs from John Denver to Sarah McLachlan to Justin Timberlake (it keeps me young) from our iTunes playlist, a friend said, "Alright, I have to draw the line at Celine Dion."  I felt a bit embarassed. But of course it's on the playlist since it was my son's favorite song as a result of his several month long obsession with the Titanic.  After all, music is much a part of our identities, and I felt in that one instant that bit of embarassment felt in adolescence for being perceived as "uncool".  I'm curious, what are you listening to these days?  Have your tastes changed?  Are there artists or songs you'll rarely fess up to liking or we all grown up and beyond caring if we are no longer "cool"?

Mamas: how often do you shower?

July 23, 2008

We really got the conversation going earlier in the year when we affirmed our varied bathing schedules for the kids.  As I sit here unshowered, I realize that there are many days when I will skip the shower.  There can always be more dishes to be done, laundry to fold, food to make, that can trump the bathing ritual, which is a daily one for many.

How often do you mamas get around to showering?  Is it a must-do every day?  Do you skip it every once in a while?

How do you talk about your period with the kids?

July 09, 2008

Menstruating is just part of womanhood.  For a child, though, it can be a little foreign until we explain some part of it.  An urbanMama Pam emailed, wondering how/if you've addressed this reality with the kids?

I'm looking for advice/ideas on how to discuss menstruation with a 5-year-old boy. Is it too early to explain it to him? I try to be reasonably discrete with my "supplies" but of course he sees them and wonders what they are for. I tell him it's something for women's bodies, but I can tell he's wanting more info.

I'd love to hear how other moms have dealt with kids finding supplies or seeing blood in the toilet. Or explaining the little garbage can in public stalls after they opened it and looked inside (ugh!).

Yesterday at Fred Meyer we were walking to the parking lot and he found my bag of pads and held them up and asking loudly "mom, what are these for anyway?"

Mama Getaway: where would YOU go?

July 07, 2008

We spent the weekend with a few other very close family friends, all in different stages of their lives as parents.  Some were newer parents, some were conceiving of conceiving, one was pregnant, and another was parent to a 12-year old.  Our spouses took a morning to have an activity of their own, and they are also planning on participating in a very fun weekend excusion, sans families.  We, left manning the fort and entertaining the offspring, got to talking: we should plan a getaway of our own, mamas-only.

Will you dream with me?  If you could plan a getaway, to take time all to yourself away from the family, where would you go?  What would you do?  Just because I want to daydream, let's pretend we didn't have to worry about money or logistics.

What's it to you: 'mama', 'mom', 'mommy', or 'mother'?

June 26, 2008

The other day, someone said to me, "Oh, I saw your website!  The MOMMY one."  I cringed and may have rubbed my ear.  "Mommy", I thought?  Every since I became a mama, I've always been called "mama".  My little ones have always called me "mama."  Always.  Letters to me say, "Dear Mama."  Even my own mom will tell the girls, "Go ask your mama."  I am not sure why the preference.  Could it be that "mommy" (or "mommeeeeee") harkens thoughts of minivans and soccer practices and big houses with three car garages?  Could it be that "mama" is a better-fitting suffix to "yoga-", "bikey-", "urban-"?

A long while ago, Sarah made mention of prefering the moniker " mama" over "mom".  I know we are all urbanMamas here, but we're also "mamas", "moms", "mommies" and "mothers" at home.  I was wondering if you have a preference: do you care?  Does it make a difference?

Six figures for SAHMs

June 03, 2008

U24840832 Of course we all know that the work mamas put it on the home front is priceless.  But.  CNN just released its 8th annual survey of what SAHM's would make if they were actually paid for their tireless, often thankless - but of course (mostly) very rewarding work.  Ready to hit the mall, mamas, with your $117,000/year?   Not surprising, of course, given the overtime!  And WOHM's would earn an extra $68,000 for their at-home labor.  Bring it on.  Makes our '08 economic stimulus check pale by comparison.  What do you think?  Useful exercise?  Off the mark?  You really can't buy love? 

The Maternal is Political: Read It, Hear It

May 26, 2008

Imagedb_3We've discussed before how becoming a mother transforms us.  And as I recently overheard, it does so instantly, completely, and forever. Agreed, mamas, agreed.  And we've read Guestivista Kristin's article on the important role of women  - most of whom are mamas - in politics.  Now we have another opportunity to read the impressive words of a local mama on this topic:  Shari McDonald Strong's upcoming book, The Maternal is Political.  You might know Shari's writing from Literary Mama and Mother Talk.  We're  planning to review it and interview her over on Activistas in the coming weeks. 

But if you're like me with far too little time to read, head over to Powell's on Hawthorne Thursday 5.29 @ 7:30 for a reading. Shari and four of her contributors will be there to read excerpts from the book.   I can't wait to dig in - even if it takes me 40 weeks to get through the 40 essays!

There's a SPRING in my step!

April 03, 2008

The blue skies and the sunshine has gotten to me!  Exclamation points abound!  Giddiness all around.  Yesterday, I picked up kids early from school so that we could have ice cream sundaes for dinner!  This morning, we had fresh baked cookies for breakfast!  I feel like playing at the park and swinging with the kids all evening long.

I know it's all a tease.  The rain will come back tomorrow.  C'mon.  This is Portland.

Still, we live in the NOW and we have blue skies outside right NOW!  Has the spring weather affected you & your family's moods?  Having a little tougher time focusing on must-do items?  Taking a few extra moments to stop and enjoy the daffodils?

Do you stay at home? Why or why not?

March 05, 2008

Each of us have our own circumstances, that lend to our decisions and abilities to stay home, work outside of the home, work from home.  We are all entitled, and we all have our reasons.  A mama recently emailed:

Awhile back you had a discussion about basically feeling in or out of the urbanMamas loop, asking if you feel like you fit in.  Well, I don't.  I consider myself a liberal in all ways except one.  I absolutely do not understand why (unless you are a single mama or have a sick husband etc.) a woman would decide to have children and then work.  Why would you pay other people to raise your child?  Why would you want to have someone else potty train, teach values, know all your child's likes and dislikes, get all the hugs?  If you didn't want to stay home and raise your child, why did you have them?  And isn't it selfish to think that the child is happy being raised by someone else?  We are talking about 8 hours a day or more of care.  Five days a week. 

My husband makes far less than $100,000 a year.  But we sacrifice so I can stay home and raise our children.  If you have a job that allows you to mostly stay home....that's wonderful.  I am referring to the full time working Mamas.  Why do they do this?  All of the posts about finding daycare......I just don't get it.  It seems taboo to believe that a Mother should raise her own children.

So, care to share?  It goes without saying - but we'll still say it here - thank you for using respect and honesty when sharing your views.

Could it be PMS?

February 22, 2008

This morning, I woke up on the wrong. side. of. the. bed.  Absolutely and completely.  It was all wrong from the moment the day started.  It continued to be wrong throughout the morning and into the the afternoon.  My husband took note of it, first by snapping back at me, then by asking if there was anything he could do.  The last time I felt this irrationally awful was ....  just about four weeks ago.

In the fall and in the depth of the winter, I would think, "could it be the weather?"  Now that blue skies and sunshine is on our horizon, I know better.  Could it be PMSDo other mamas out there experience the moodiness and discomfort that can accompany PMS?  How do you limit the ickiness?  How do you fare in limiting exposure of the negativity to the rest of the families?

When Mama ain't happy...

February 06, 2008

I don't think anyone here will disagree with me when I say that parenting is an incredible joy.  We love these little people so much and they do so many things that make us proud.  But there is another side to that coin.  A neighbor of mine once shared this wisdom about parenting:  "They will make you feel all of your emotions stronger than you ever knew you could."  Among those emotions?  Anger.

It's a very visceral emotion, and it arises without much warning or forethought.  And it's really, really difficult for me to process these emotions, especially in confrontation with my child.  Things can go many ways but the end is never very pretty.  And neither one of us feels good about it.  I know this is difficult to talk about, but I also know I am not alone.  Another mother wrote to us:

I feel like I am in kind of a dark place in terms of parenting. I have caught myself in behaviors where I am yelling, really yelling, at my child. This might include throwing things (coats/cereal bowls etc) this might be spurned on by me asking my child to clear the cereal bowl or to brush his teeth. And when it doesn't happen my hot point is right there. Although I have not hit my child I can imagine how parents do it. I don't think I would hit my child. But I am not ok with where I am finding myself in terms of my temper and lack of patience.

I have several stress points in my life that are not negotiable; I am raising my son alone and don't have lots of support. My son has recently been on/off medication that amps him up- and in turn really stresses me out with his behavior. So I need to find some solutions within those constraints. To me this is not a conversation about being single. I am looking to other moms who also find themselves short-fused, short-tempered, and parenting in a way that that they are not happy with.

What do you do- how do you manage the anger & stress and get to a better place with your kids?

I think that, for me, it was very important for me to step back and realize that I had these feelings and frustrations, not only with the situation but with myself.  I wasn't happy with my own behavior... so I had to ask how I could change it.

Now, I'm not a single mother, but I am currently the single caregiver to my two kids (with much support from two grannies until daddy comes home).  I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be without their support.  Add to that some behavioral issues my 4.5 year old is having at school, and life is not getting any easier day to day.  After some looking around and reading up, I have turned to the Love and Logic approach.  Today is day 5 and I'm trying not to let myself relax back into my old ways (and this morning - it was really, really tough!).  But reading the philosophies helped me realize that there was a power struggle going on, and that my son needed to have control over SOME things in his life, or he'd be constantly trying to control everything.  That cycle had to stop.  That's where Love and Logic came in for us.

Have any of you Mamas or Papas had some wild success breaking the power struggle?  I, for one, felt very freed, and much happier with my child when we weren't angry at each other all the time.  How is a mama to get past the anger and become a happy Mama again.  What other techniques have worked besides just a parenting philosophy?  Sleep, diet, exercise?  I'd love to hear what other parents are doing to manage stress and anger.

Age: ain't nothin' but a number?

February 05, 2008

I got pregnant with my first child while finishing up some school.  Her father, 6 months older than me, was my boyfriend of 4 years.  He was also still in grad school.  I was 24.75 years old when she was born.  Our oldest daughter is 7.5 years old.  I  often blush when other parents ask how old we are (32), when we graduated from high school (1993), and what our favorite movies may be (mostly 80s flicks).  I was relieved when I turned 30, but I still have never met a mama or papa of a friend of our first-born who was younger than me.   The Census reports that the average age of a woman's first birth is 25.1, "an all-time high for the nation.   This average has risen from 21.4 years since 1970." (*pdf to National Vital Statistics Reports, 2002).  I guess my feeling of being a younger-than-average mama was confirmed.

I knew very few mamas when our first girl was younger.  We met other parents from daycares or playgrounds, but we never did seem to connect.  I would talk to my husband about it, and he'd say, "Maybe it's because we're only in our 20s."  I always wondered if that was true.  Several of commenters recently wrote in about being over 40, and another mama mentioned feeling isolated as a younger mama at 29.  Is age ain't nothin' but a number?  Do you have good friends that were born over 5 years before or after you?

We want to thank you

February 04, 2008

Dear Mamas,

In the past week, we have discussed the many ways that we are both inclusive and exclusive.  Over 100 mamas shared about themselves, and we are certain that we are mamas of babies, toddlers, school-aged children, and teenagers; we are in our 20s, 30s, and 40s; we are single and we are partnered; we are financially strapped and we are comfortable; we are mamas and we are papas.

We, the mamas of urbanMamas, strive to constantly improve the site.  While we want to be inclusive, we are not always.  The content you find here is largely reader-driven.  We appreciate your emails every day with suggested posts, events, links to resources.  We want to take this opportunity to encourage you all continue: Send in your questions!  Email us free events in the community!  Want to help coordinate an event?  Let us know!  And, share with us important resources that would benefit some of the mamas out there.

Peace,
urbanMamas
[email protected]

When it's a "SNOW DAY", what do you do?

February 02, 2008

As much as I love the sight of puffy white stuff coming from the sky, I dread how it can have an effect on our schedules.  Today, a Saturday, is a great day for a snow day, a day to stay inside and watch the flakes come down.  But, if the weather is like this on Monday, a school day, and if our school is closed (see HERE for the PPS inclement weather e-hotline), what are we to do, if it is supposed to be a work day for us?  If you work outside the home and have a "snow day" school closure, what do you do?

Recongizing the Diversity of urbanMamas

January 27, 2008

We were surprised the other day, when we heard in passing that urbanMamas seemed to be a homogeneous community geared toward "privileged" stay-at-home moms.  The judgment felt ironic to hear, especially since this site is maintained and operated in the off-hours by a handful of mamas, who are all full-time working mamas.  We receive many emails and requests in any given day, and we do our darndest to publish all of them.  We hear from stay-at-home mamas, single mamas, working mamas.  We are middle-income mamas, lower-income mamas, and higher-income mamas.  We are mamas who live in Portland, and we are mamas who live beyond.  We are all of it, here on urbanMamas.

Maybe it's us, but we pride ourselves in the diversity among us.  We love all of you, mamas and papas and many other caregivers, who come to urbanMamas to contribute your honest thoughts and respectful perspectives.  And, they are not all the same.  It rang true when we flipped through comments in a recent thread on saving for college.  We are in different places, financially.  We are different parents, philosophically.  We are have different backgrounds, inherently.

We all have struggles as mamas, and we are here to share thoughts, commiserate, find support.

Certainly there is a certain profile of the mama who feels most comfortable actively participating in our daily conversations.  But, we know there are more of you who read than who comment.  We are certain that our urbanMamas fabric is complex and deep.  We have heard from over a hundred of you as you introduced yourselves a la We Are Family, and we want to hear from you again.  How do you consider youself privileged or underprivileged?  Are you a stay-at-home mama, work-at-home mama, work-out-of-home mama?  Are you single or partnered, car-free or car-less, straight or gay?  Are you white, black, brown, red or purple?  How do you feel marginalized or alientated by our conversations?  How can we, urbanMamas, provide you with more of a voice, represent you more? 

Who has time to read the paper?

January 20, 2008

My husband asked me the other day, "did you read that article on Kenton in the Oregonian?"  It isn't unusual for him to ask... "did you read about [blank] in the paper?"  He reads the paper in his office.  Not having an office, I don't have that big stack of black and white to flip through, and - frankly - I'm jealous.  I don't read the paper anymore.  No longer commuting primarily by bus/MAX, I've lost that precious short window of opportunity to read an article or two.  Not getting it on my doorstep, like we used to pre-kids, I don't have that growing mound of papyrus in the corner to leaf through when I have a "free moment".  Not having the time to even respond to all my emails, I don't even gravitate to the online newspapers (and, I'd never bother to go to the Oregonian online.  It's just awful!).

I know a friend who reads the Sunday paper as part of her Sunday morning ritual.  And, I am sure there are others who do.

But, what I really want to know is: Who has time to read the paper?  How do you do it?

Single Mamahood: What is it REALLY like?

January 10, 2008

Mamahood comes in different forms.  Some mamas have a partner who may be a papa or another mama.  Some mamas are separated or unpartnered for other reasons.  Some mamas are single mamas by choice.  We want to hear what single mamahood is really all about, and we recently received email:

I recently had a friend come to me asking about being a single mother. She just discovered that she is pregnant with someone whom she just broke up with. I would really like to give her as much information as I can so that she has some knowledge draw on as she decides whether or not to become a single parent. I can share with her my own story but I know there must be more information out there than that.  I have done a umamas search on single parents but most of what I find is about single parents groups, etc. Does anyone out there know of any resources, beyond the standard WIC, Planned Parenthood and the like where my friend can get information about being a single parent, not necessarily JUST about the process of choosing or deciding against abortion?  I'd really appreciate any kind of feedback that anyone has to give.  Thanks again for being such a wealth of knowledge and support!

Mama Resolutions for 2008

January 02, 2008

The last time we talked mama resolutions, we had just kicked off 2006.  Our whole family has been talking about it for the past week or so, mulling over ways we can focus on ways to bring us closer as a family and ways to strengthen ourselves independently.  After an autumn wrought with greyness and stress of the endless juggle, we are looking forward to the new year.  Here are a few top items that I am thinking of:

1.  Enjoy the little moments with the kids.  It is so easy to flip out and lose my top when the kids move to slow or refuse to put on appropriate clothing or disagree with me.  Alas, it's just not worth the battle, often times.  I resolve to make the little things in each day more fun, to make time time to tickle them each day, to make fun out of those chores or activities they dread.

2.  Spend more quality time with my spouse.  My husband and I spent part of yesterday clearing out some old boxes in our desks.  We stumbled across photos, notes, journal entries, and love letters that we wrote to each other from the last millenium.  It was fun and refreshing to see how in love we were are.  In the new year, we resolve to enjoy each other more, bicker about the little things less, express ourselves to one another more, and be more affectionate with one another.

3.  Try to read more.  I have mama brain to the max.  I don't think I have read a book cover-to-cover since my pregnancy with my first daughter back in the summer of 2000.  I got a new book for Christmas, and maybe even the book group will encourage me to settle in with a good book and enhance my perspective on life.  I resolve to read more, even if it's just one non-work, non-parenting book this year.

4.  Get organized.  We are serious this year.  We have clumps and piles of stuff everywhere, from old no-longer-used toys to papers, books, important documents scattered throughout.  We resolve to go paperless whenever possible to decrease clutter, purge and revamp our home filing system to make it more efficient and accessible, and reuse or recycle old items that we no longer use. 

5.  Use postal mail and revive our letter-/note-writing.  Yesterday, one of our girls wrote a note to her friend, telling her how much she missed her over this winter break.  She addressed the letter and put a stamp on it and asked me to walk her to the mailbox.  Our family is extremely delinquent with thank-you cards, and we resolve to take time to handwrite thank you notes and other notes to send mail out to our friends and family, even if they live just a few miles away.

We'd love to hear more from you -- what are your hopes and dreams for 2008?  What are you determined to accomplish -- for yourself, for your partner, for your children?

Oh What a Year!

December 31, 2007

2149176011_2fdbcd1c8d A few weeks ago,  we gathered sans babes except for a single nursling to celebrate our urbanMama community.  It was an intimate gathering of mamas and their partners (my dining-living room can only hold so many) donned in their best finery (aka, bridesmaids dresses dusted off from previous celebrations because let's face it, who has an evening gown lying around).  We drank wine, played parlor games, and indulged on some amazing dishes that Sarah created.  Even though it was parenthood and the urbanMama's blog that brought our group together, it was nice to share stories of our past (pre-kid!) and present.  It's been another great year, despite many struggles that we've shared and encountered as parents.  We are hopeful and grateful that we will have another great year to look forward to with you - our incredibly supportive, non-judgmental community of parents in Portland (we are so lucky).  Thank you for reading, sharing, and commenting.  Here's to another year, and more exciting adventures in 2008!

Could it be the weather?

November 26, 2007

Before I moved to Portland four years ago, I braced myself.  I had heard about grey skies and neverending winters.  Rain, showers, and clouds.  I recalled when I had moved from the West Coast to the East Coast for college: I sulked and sat in a depressed slump for over a day when I went through my first blizzard.  I suspected that Portland's grey skies would similarly send me into a dampened state.  I'm surprised that it didn't.  Until now.

Rainy_dayFour years later, as I look at the blank backdrop of a sky, I have this deep-down feeling of plain old yuck.  I feel grey.  blue.  black.  Whatever the color is, it isn't bright.  Surely it could just be the circumstances of my autumn this year - the loss of a friend, the endless juggle (thereby resulting in the mama lush = mush phenomenon), the constant question of work vs. life, the loss of my grandfather.

But, then again, could it be the weather?  Seasonal affective disorder maybe?  Is the condition real?  Have you had it?  How have you handled it?

Mama Lush = Mush?

November 15, 2007

I am here to tell you what we already know -- yup, motherhood is mutha-freakin' hard.  It is an endless juggle for sure.  Sometimes I don't know where it will end.  I know we are all different with different circumstances.  Some of us work long days away from the family.  Some of us work at home and try to juggle baby-duty with work-duty.  Some of us study long and hard all day to finish degrees.  Some of us are home all day caring for our babes, growing them into healthy, happy individuals.

Whatever our situation, it sure is hard.

Wine As evidenced by the wild success of the Mommies Who Drink mother chat (back in August 2006) and our penchant for w[h]ine nights as our preferred urbanMama gathering (having had almost a dozen or so urbanMamas wine nights over the past two years!), there are mamas who love to have a drink.  I am one of them.  Lately, I have just been so spent, that all I can think about is enjoying a glass of wine in silence at the end of my day.  The past few weeks have been met by grief (dealing with the death of a friend), work woes and stressors, love-and-marriage-not-going-together-like-a-horse-and-carriage, and four no-school days spent doing the work-at-home-while-still-spending-QT-with-the-kids.  Wine has been abundant and a daily calling.  The other day, even, when life just felt like it got too carried away, I mixed myself and another mama a hot toddy.  Yum yum.  It dulled my hypersensitive nerves (at all the noise of stomping and "mommy!!!"-calling) while some of my irritations (at stepping on endless hairclips or legos) were muted.

So, if I'm a mama lush, does that make me a "mush"?  Are you a "mush" too?  Or do you have another wonderful daily outlet that offers some relief from the craziness?  Please, lend some of your best suggestions on acheiving daily serenity now.

The responsibilities of Mamahood

October 25, 2007

The ever expanding field of motherhood has plenty of management opportunities available.  Here is a list of just a few of the many management roles someone pursuing motherhood might find themselves in.

CBO    Chief Bedtime Officer - handling everything from pajamas to teeth brushing to stories and tucking in, one of motherhood's great delights!
CCO    Chief Coat Officer - Managing and Keeping tabs on all the coats in the family, so that one never goes without a warm jacket or coat.  Can also include scarf and glove/mitten responsibilities.
CDO    Chief Discipline Officer - Maintaining acceptable behavior models consistently and repeatedly, sometimes thousands of times over.
CEO    Chief Executive Officer - In charge of getting things done, no matter what difficulties come your way.
CFO    Chief Food Officer - Responsible for ensuring that everyone is fed with healthy food and snacks.
CHO    Chief Hug Officer - Offering hugs for every situation needing a little extra comfort.
CIO    Chief Illness Officer - In charge of gathering symptom information and passing it on to the next expert.
CJO    Chief Joking Officer - Responsible for keeping the mood light and fun even when tempers are short, tummies are empty, and eyes are sleepy.
CKO    Chief Kissing Officer - Both mitigating the emotional impact of bumps, scrapes and bruises and also conveying the mastery of the Chief Loving Officer title.
CLO    Chief Loving Officer - Gifted with the fullness of heart no matter what comes your way.  The mother's love is boundless and comes without any conditions attached.
CNO    Chief Noise Officer - Regulating noise levels appropriate to location and current company.
CPO    Chief Potty Officer - If this one needs explanation then perhaps you're looking in the wrong field ;-)
CQO    Chief Question Officer - The first go-to for all questions from your little workers.
CSO    Chief Shoe Officer - similar to chief coat officer responsibilities.  Added benefit:  Being in charge of purchasing shoes.
CTO    Chief Toy Officer - Managing the flow in and out of toys, both indoor and outdoor.
CUO    Chief Underwear Officer - Making sure there are always clean pairs, even extras, available.
CWO    Chief Wipes Officer - Responsible for keeping wipes available everywhere at any time.  Even for complete strangers, if necessary.
CZO    Chief Zipper Officer - No explanation necessary.

Halloween costumes: Are you an early owl?

October 22, 2007

Trick_or_treat "Can we not make my costume on the day of Halloween?" Everett asked. "So you don't finish it when it's already time for trick-or-treating?" Oh, my son knows me too well. Desperate to create something wonderful and handmade for each child, I'm typically still sewing when dark arrives and end up rushing around frantically, pulling a costume on him at 6:30 that's a few steps below the masterpiece I'd planned and very, very tardy. My photographs are dark and blurry as he runs away from me toward the candy loot he longs for.

So color me gobsmacked when I see other mamas whose children are wearing their costumes to early Halloween festivities nearly two weeks before the big day. I just don't get it! Especially when they're lovingly handmade and far more artful than my last-minute scraptastic creations. What, have you all conquered the procrastination demons far better than I?

What's going on in your house for Halloween? Did you have the costume picked out and purchased by September 1st? Are you blessed with a capricious child who changes her mind once a day? Do you use the same costume every year? Or are you, too, foreseeing a mad rush of sewing/gluing/knitting/crafting on October 30th?

Mamas: How do you really feel about your bodies?

October 04, 2007

It happens to the best of us.  It happens to me at yoga class.  Sometimes.  I look over to the fit yogi next to me, and I sigh.  "I want to be as taut as she is.  So young, so toned."  It happens to me on the rare occassion that I get to go out on the town.  At a bar or lounge, I will spy with my little eyes ...  I skinny little thing with the hip and happenin' clothes, the fashionista with the slim hips and the perky boobs to go with the snug outfit.

I feel good, I feel strong.  I hold my chaturanga for like 20 counts.  More maybe.  That's super core strength.  And yet, I feel sheepish about my body.  Sometimes.  My body has birthed two lovely babies. BUT, my hips are wider than before, my tummy flesh is nice and flappy and stretchy, and my boobs are smaller and saggier than ever after all those years of nursing.

In a NYTimes article today, they ask: "Is the 'Mom Job' Really Necessary?"  How do you feel about your body, post-babes?  Confident?  Wishing it could be a bit tighter and harder?  Have you considered a nip, tuck, suck, lift, trim?

And, in case this whole conversation has inspired you to get out and get active, check out the urbanMamas fitness index.

The Bill Maher Saga Continues

September 26, 2007

The Bill Maher saga continues, and Bridget shares her thoughts with the rest of the urbanMamas:

So I watched Bill Maher the other night ONLY to see if he would apologize or say anything about the breastfeeding issue, and HE DID (speak about it, that is, not apologize)!  He actually made matters worse by opening his mouth (not unusual for him) but I have to say that I was pretty happy that he was feeling some pressure in the first place.

After Bill declares Janeane Garofalo “America’s leading feminist” ( a complete absurdity! ) he goes on to ask her about Sally Field’s statement at the Emmys and then makes his statement about breastfeeding.

The Sally Fields problem is very serious as well since she was censored by Fox for speaking out against war.  She said, “if mothers ran the world there would be no goddamn wars.”  Maher goes on to say that women leaders have been and can be just as violent as men and the panel all goes off on women as leaders, NOT MOTHERS!  Fields’ entire point was about mothers not just women.

Maher is absurd and truly ignorant.  He then makes his point perfectly clear about how he feels about breastfeeding in public (for everyone who thought he was just saying women should be more “modest”)

from the transcript:  Maher:  “Don’t you think there is a problem, that if you say anything that criticizes any woman… breastfeeding in public, which I’m against.  I got a lot of calls saying I’m sexist.  If I criticize a woman, it doesn’t mean I’m sexist anymore than if I criticize a black person means I’m racist.”

Janeane Garofalo:  “It’s childish, when people accuse you of that it shouldn’t even be indulged. I don’t consider you sexist for the breastfeeding, it’s for all the other issues that I consider you sexist.”

So, if you were interested in the petition and/or forwarded the email on to others, I’m afraid it got lost in cyberspace.  I’ve had many of you tell me that you signed the petition and forwarded it on, but it never made it back to me.  However, my petition was posted on mamas websites around the US and I have moms emailing in from all over!  So, if you wanted to get your name on the petition you can go to http://billmahermustapologize.blogspot.com or email [email protected]

Bill Maher: I think I hate you

September 17, 2007

On September 8, 2007, nursing mamas in 105 locations in 38 states participated in a nurse-in, "after a breastfeeding mother was treated poorly by Applebee's on both local and corporate levels."  On September 14, 2007 Bill Maher, on "Real Time with Bill Maher", spent a good part of his opening comments elborating how he thought breastfeeding in public was narcisistic and inappropriate.  See the whole thing here (and forward to the 7:00min point).

He said, "Breastfeeding a baby is an intimate act, and I don’t want to watch strangers performing intimate acts…” He equates breastfeeding, a “natural” act, with masturbating, also an “intimate”, “natural” act.  Making it sound like breastfeeding is some fad, he speculates, “Next thing, mothers will want to give birth in the waterfall at the mall.”

If we mamas nurse in public and are not decent about it, we are “lazy to either plan ahead or cover up.”  To the mothers who nurse publicly, he says you are “fighting for the spotlight that you surely will get when you go 'Janet Jackson' on everyone."  And, finally, he winds down with “Only in America do women think they deserve a medal for having a kid," and he suggests that even dogs can have kids (so are we all dogs?)  He closes with “it’s about how petty and parochial our causes have become, how activism has become narcissism..... There is a place where breasts and food go together, it’s called ‘Hooters’”.

Cyberspace is teeming with anger with his comments, just google "bill maher breastfeeding" to find mamas and others around the country who are writing about it.  I try not to be hypersensitive when it comes to comedians trying to make a buck and tell a joke, but Bill Maher goes too far and is offensive, obscene, misogynistic, completely outta line.  Local mama Bridget is preparing a statement to send to HBO, and you can email her at billmahermustapologize@comcast.net to add your name to petition.  Are there other ways we can express our views? 

Continue reading "Bill Maher: I think I hate you" »

Is it back to normal?

September 12, 2007

The summer can feel a bit uncontrolled, and that can be a challenge for some of us who can really thrive on consistency.  With new camps each week or piece-meal daycare to cover days when I could not work from home, the schedule was harried and days were looooooong.

The last stretch of the summer and first weeks of September are a real blur for us.  From HTC to a week-long trip to see family back in New York, we launched ourselves right into the new school year, with just a few moments to spare.  No rest for the weary! 

Our two girls are now basically situated in their schools ans school routines, and I feel like I can come up for a bit of air. I have been able to take a sigh and deep breath in the past few days at 8:45am, or sometimes earlier, depending on how early we make it to each of their schools. 

Now that school has started and the jitters may be a little bit behind us, has your household settled into a new rhythm?  Does it feel more balanced or more "back to normal"?  Inquiring mamas want to know!

The endless juggle

September 10, 2007

A recent comment by Lenny about struggling "with the balancing act of working mother" and my new work situation has got me thinking A LOT about that challenge of mamahood wherein one juggles the little ones, their needs, domestic/household issues, finances, work-life/career, and relationships/marriages.  Needless to say, the email from MomsRising.org came at an interesting time for me.  The Huffington Post is starting a series, in partnership with MomsRising, on the daily juggling act.  And it gets me thinking ...

We've talked before about "Does it work for You?"  But, we ask again:  How do you do it?  The days are so long with doing the stuff that pays the bills.  And, yet, somehow, we fit in time to make doctor's appointments, go to said doctor's appointments, read 20 minutes a day with the kids (at least!) in the evening, make lunch/dinner/snack/breakfast, clean bathrooms, and even manage to spend some kind of down time with ourselves or our partners.... 

How do we do it?  What keeps you sane?  What drives you insane?

Knowing is half the battle

September 06, 2007

Those of you who regularly read the Oregonian may have noticed an article regarding Jack McClellan moving to Portland.  Those of you who didn't, might want to know who Jack McClellan is, and why I'd be bringing him up here.  He is a self-proclaimed pedophile who once kept a website that posted events where young girls could be seen/photographed.  There was a time he photographed them and posted the photographs, too.  He claims to no longer be photographing but he has looked to Portland to seek refuge from the harassment he received in Washington state and California.

Legally, many state that McClellan hasn't violated any laws by his writings and photographing, but admittedly, he's very outspoken about his intents, and doesn't deny them.  So what's an urbanMama to do?  Be aware.  Know as much as you can.  Look for his picture online and know his face.  Beyond Mr McClellan there are other things we should be informed about too, such as sex offenders and where they live.

So please remember that knowing is half the battle.  Armed with this knowledge will help in keeping your family safe.

Lonely Mama in Portland

August 20, 2007

We all know that mamahood can be tough, especially solo.  Jennifer is looking for ideas on how to keep spirits up as she juggles mamahood on her own most of the time:

Hi there!  After reading the recent post Do You Yahoo, I tried to find the perfect mamas group for me, but came up short.  My husband travels frequently for business, which leaves me at home alone with our 15-month old, sometimes for four consecutive nights.  Maybe I should consider myself lucky that it's only 4 consecutive nights instead of four weeks at a time.  I know I must not be the only stay at home mom who ends up feeling like a single mom because their husband travels.  Lately I just feel like my other mom friends don't get how difficult it is to manage day to day without the other partner.  All of our family live East of the Mississippi River, so I can't just drop the kiddo off at grandma's and go to my doctor's appointment, get my hair cut or just grocery shop alone.  I certainly don't fit into a single-mom's group even though I have tremendous insight into how hard it must be.   I just need support, positive feedback, inspiration, and playtime with other moms who feel just as lonely and stressed out when their husband is away.  Any ideas?  Thanks in advance!

Other urbanMamas, do you have suggestions on how to build a community of mamas and papas around you to help when the going gets tough?  Who do you rely on when you need a helping hand?

The Mama Identity

August 04, 2007

So often when we become mothers, or parents, the focal point in our lives shifts onto the new beings who we're responsible for 24/7.  It's very easy to get caught up in the day to day activities and forget altogether about how life was before baby arrived.  Some folks say it's not worth reminiscing since things are different now, what's the point?  Others say it's important to remember your roots, as they are inherently your child's roots too.  So how do you connect with your pre-parenthood roots?  How do you maintain your identity aside from the "Mama Identity"?  One mother offers this story:

This mother is a rock and roll star.  I play in a band that has a regular gig at a popular venue in Portland.  I'm the only "chick" in the band, and the only parent, which means there isn't much talk about mothering/parenting issues -- nor is there more than talk about music, and "boy bantering," which is nice to have.

I love that my daughter can see me playing & singing up on stage, an equal w/ the guys, completely respected as a musician.  I love that she sees mama on stage and understands on some level that it's natural for a woman to be in the spotlight.  But the truth of the matter is, I would do it even if she didn't get that out of it.

In my experience, musical improvisation is hard, but parental improvisation is harder.  So getting together w/ the guys to play is a welcome respite.  It lets me use parts of my brain that don't get much of a workout otherwise.  And even though I'm a mom, I'm not staid.  I'm still a punk, I'm still a rude boy (girl).  I still thrill to the Sex Pistols and the first Pretenders album; I still like striking a pose and acting hard; I still delight in putting on a show, and showing off; I still dress for the occasion; I still feel vibrant and alive onstage,
and I don't feel the least bit bad that at this point in time, my daughter can only watch and not yet participate.

Do other mamas have something all to themselves that is not traditionally Mama-like, or directly beneficial to hearth/home/family?

Sometimes when I contemplate doing something that is frivolous or self-serving... mommy guilt looms over my head and I usually dismiss the idea.  Then again, sometimes I indulge the temptation.  Maybe it's just a w[h]ine night or perhaps a trip to the spa.  But nothing quite as exotic as being in a band.  How exotic is your indulgence?  How do you connect with yourself aside from your parental position?

Feeds we Read

July 24, 2007

Inspired by our recent ability to RSS to urbanMamas comments, which allows us to keep abreast of all the urbanMamas conversation, we got reacquainted with our feeds on our google reader (just recently having switched over from bloglines).  Blogosphere, o blogosphere, how much do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  While there are blogs upon blogs of mama musings (don't forget to peep the urbanMamas blogroll), I dusted off all the other feeds in my reader:

  • Food.  Just in case the hunny and I can steal away for some nice dining without the little folk, it's nice to read up on what's hot and what's not on Portland Food and Drink or ExtraMSG.
  • Drink.  Just in case the hunny or the mamas and I can get away for a little drinky-drink or happy hour, we hit up BarFlyMag or Unthirsty.
  • Gettin' Around.  Not only is BikePortland.org our ultimate resource on all things bikey, but it's also a great resource for current events and news on many regional public transit issues and upcoming policy.  For this multi-modal transiting family, it's a good daily read.
  • Other stuff.  Toward the bottom of my list, I save room to glance at PDX MetBlogs and the Portland Business Journal.  I also keep a hot list of things we may want off craigslist - the current item du jour is a tandem bike.

Now that I've shared, what about you all?  What feeds do you read?

Juggling a Preschooler and a Nursing Babe

June 21, 2007

I remember when our second daughter was born, our older one was just over 3 years old. Just when I'd settle in to nurse baby Tati, I'd hear: "Mammmmaaa!" from the other room. "CAN YOU DRAW WITH ME?!?!?" I came to look forward to evening nurse sessions, after I had tucked in older Philly to bed. But, even then, it'd be: "Maammmmmaaaa!" she'd holler, waking baby Tati from her nam-nam slumber. "I GOTTA GO POTTY/NEED WATER/WANT A KISS!!!!" It's tough, juggling the two. How did you do? Sarah is feeling challenged:

I'm due to have my second child any day now, and I already have a 3 1/2 year old daughter. Does anyone have recommendations for a special activity or ways to occupy a preschooler while nursing a baby? When my daughter was nursing, it regularly lasted 30-45 minutes, and I want to be prepared in case this baby is a slow eater too. Any tips?

When Mama meets Mama

May 18, 2007

It can be really difficult to meet new people.  It's even more difficult when you're busy tending to your child(ren).  Conversations are difficult to hold and a child somehow senses when you are trying to talk, and usually (inadvertently) thwarts your efforts to keep your attention on said conversation.  Gaia is looking to get past the first awkward (and distracted) hellos at the park and find a mama's group nearby:

I am a young mother and hardly know any other moms in the area.  I live in SE on mt tabor with my daughter who is 7 months.  We love taking walks and spending time outdoors in the nice spring weather.  Also a nice cup of tea is always good on a rainy day! I'd love to learn about a mom's group in my neighborhood or somewhere in the SE area.

Being a Mama: The Sixth Sense

May 09, 2007

Do you have it?  Did your mother have it?  Is it a curse or a blessing?

Maybe it's just me, being on a power trip, but I am convinced that I have developed that motherly sixth sense.  I remember being young and hearing my mom yell to me to stop doing this that or the other and thinking "how'd she know what I was doing??? she's three rooms over and has the phone to her ear!"  But now I find myself doing the same thing and I'm nearly sure that my little guy is thinking the same thing... "how'd she know what I was doing?"   But it's not just a here-and-now type of superpower.  Oh, no.  Mama's sixth sense can see into the future and predict all possible consequences that follow a decision. If you don't bring snacks, there will be a melt-down over no snacks. If you don't bring a small sippy with a drink, there will most surely be a disaster to follow.  And those are the reasonable thoughts... I won't burden you with the "If I don't hold his hand and he runs out in the street..." type thoughts.  Those are the times when I think the sixth sense can be a bit of a burden.  Let's just say I have an overly active imagination.

So, what do you use your sixth sense for?  Any great stories of discovering how your little one is getting into trouble without the aid of the pedestrian other 5 senses?

The path to Mamahood: Adoption and Surrogacy

May 07, 2007

An urbanMama who is looking to expand her family asks a really great question.  Perhaps some of our readers can share some resources:

We are beginning to consider adoption/surrogacy to expand our family.  I am emerging from 2 years battling cancer and it's side effects, the most emotionally devastating of which has been going into premature menopause.  We had a crazy rush before chemo/radiation began to freeze one embryo, so our first option would be surrogacy, a (very, very) long shot with only one embryo.  Does anyone know of any good resources to start exploring the surrogacy option?  We are also considering adoption.  Does anyone have experience with adoption agencies or other resources in the Portland area?

Being a Mama: Those Magical Moments

This week before Mother's day I've been thinking about what being a Mama has brought to my life.  One of the things that stands out foremost are those magical moments where everything "clicks" and you know you're doing the right thing.  For me, part of the challenge is that the magical moments are very much outnumbered by the very frustrating, not-at-all right moments where we're just trying to get through that shopping trip or get loaded into the car, or even get dressed and ready for bed.  The mundane every day events are not boring just for mama, but for the little ones too, and I think they feed on the uninterestingness and perhaps decide it's not in their interest to participate.

Thaboyz But the magical moments can come at any time, in any place, and they are wonderful and make mamahood all worthwhile.  Most recently the thing that makes me smile and makes my heart warm is when my eldest plays with his brother and makes him giggle (he's almost 7 months old now!).  Usually I don't "get" what's so funny, but I don't have to.  All I have to know is that they're loving each other at that moment.  Also magical are the times when our (nearly) four year old gets to participate in a grown-up type event with his daddy.  Things like riding the chairlift when snow skiing or mowing the lawn put him in a state of wonderment which creates an unusual quietude in our otherwise energetic little guy.  The expression on his face is always one of awe and interest, you can almost see him absorbing the situation with all of his senses.

As a mama I should probably take this as a lesson to myself.  To really enjoy things with all of my being instead of rushing on to the next step and achieving the next "goal" or accomplishing the next task.  As a mama my children have taught me to side step the routine, and really enjoy the moment.  To really fully experience something with all of my senses and in so doing, I've learned to enjoy life to a deeper extent than I had before.  Some people spend time lamenting the loss of freedom... freedom of spontaneity, freedom of schedule, freedom of other choices that are allowed to people who have not endeavoured into parenthood.  Occasionally I start to think maybe I'm missing out on something.  But then it's clear, if I hadn't started down this path, there is most certainly something I'd be missing out on and there is no doubt in my mind that I chose the right path.

Special Mother Day's Event

Mothers_manifesto_7 Mother’s Day weekend kick-offs Saturday, May 12th at the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd) with a special celebration of motherhood that also provides mamas a unique opportunity to learn and talk about the issues that are important to them: Motherhood Manifesto Day!
  •  10 am - 2 pm Mother’s Day Market:  Local women-owned businesses that offer creative goods and services with particular appeal to mothers will turn the lobby of the Hollywood Theatre into a fun-filled bazaar. Admission to the Market is FREE!  
  • 11 am - FREE Special Performance by Super XX Man! Super XX Man creates bittersweet folksongs of love and memory, sure to soften even the most hardened cynic. According to Bob Boilen of NPR’s All Songs Considered, “If we’re going to choose 10-songs every week, let it be Super XX Man.”
  • 1:30 pm - Special Screening of The Motherhood Manifesto. This screening will be followed by an unique opportunity to discuss the issues presented in the film with the filmmakers. Admission is only $7 and all proceeds will support momsrising.org and the 2008 Portland Women’s Film Festival.
  • Special Raffle! Movie ticket holders may enter a FREE raffle and get a chance to win some great prizes like gift certificates for Milagros, Natural Light Photography, and Campbell Salgado Studios, free pilates Classes from Divine Pilates, great products from  Blueprints for Footprints, Global Sistergoods, Zoom Baby Gear and more!
Get advance tickets to the showing of The Motherhood Manifesto on-line or directly from the Hollywood Theatre box office at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR. See you there!
 

Mother's Day 2007

April 30, 2007

The years are zipping by, just zippin', zippin', zippin'. This will be my sixth Mother's Day as a mother. I can't believe it. It really is going by so quickly. Our fantastic mama day celebration last year at urbanMamas Day 2006 feels just like yesterday...

The past few years, my Mother's Day has begun sweetly and sleepily. I awaken to the smell of bacon or fried eggs and - of course - fresh coffee. My husband and the girls bring a huge tray of goodies to me, along with a flower and a sweet card. They wake up at the crack of dawn to start my early morning treats, and I just love the love and thought they put into making me breakfast just the way I like.

We mamas sure do work hard, and I make a promise to myself to treat myself to a little break, each Mother's Day. I vow to let everyone else take care of thinking of what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I make few decisions on behalf of the family. I refrain from doing chores. I allow myself to be pampered. I deserve it.

Do you celebrate Mother's Day? For yourself or for your own mother figures? Are there emerging trends or traditions in your family?

Mama of two; what to do?

April 24, 2007

When I had our second baby, I recall feeling stretched thin from both ends. It was like one child was pulling one arm (actually, she was nursing the heck outta me, so she was really pulling something else), and our other child (who was a 3-year old then) was pulling my other arm. Hard. It was a constant juggle, and it definitely took quite a bit of time to adjust to being a mama of two. Lydia asks for suggestions from the urbanMamas community:

I have a new baby, 5 weeks today. He has a big sister who just turned two. We're doing pretty well, thanks, all things considered, but I am dying to get out of the house more! Problem is, my daughter, being two, can be "uncooperative" when it's time to leave, or stay close by while I nurse, or whatever. Any ideas about what we could do? I need places where the big girl can be a little contained if I need to nurse or something. The one thing I can think of is the Portland Children's museum where there's an infant area with a gate, and nobody will mind if baby fusses a little while I shepherd everybody in there. Indoor play parks are also a possibility, I guess, except my daughter loves the trampoline most and I probably shouldn't spot with a baby on my chest. Advice from other experienced moms of two? Should I just stay home (please no!)?

Question for 2-house families

April 21, 2007

urbanMamas and Papas, Sadie Rose would love to hear how you have juggled scheduling for your child(ren) who have two or more places to call "home":

I have a 2.5 year old boy, and he goes to his dad's one night a week. But now, things are changing and he's going to be there nearly (but not quite) half the time!

I was just wondering if anyone out there has any ideas on the best way to do the split household with a little guy. I was nearly twelve when my parents divorced, and as I headed into my teens, I liked the longer stints at each house so that I didn't have to go back and forth so much. But clearly, with a toddler, I'm not going to do it as I would with a teenager. At this point, we have developed a schedule where he goes to his dad's house 2 nights in a row, comes back to me for 2 nights, back to dad's for 1 night, and then back to me for 2 nights.

It sounds complicated, and I suppose on many levels, it is. I am just wondering if any uMs have any other ideas or experiences or advice on this matter. We are barely even through our first week with the new schedule, so I'm not even sure how it's going to go. Time (and emotions) will tell.

Eek! Email Error!

April 19, 2007

Ahhh, email.  So easy-to-use!  So easy-to-talk-through!  Ever crafted an email and hit "SEND" when you meant to hit "SAVE"?  Ever blurted out all your inner-most thoughts in an email thinking you could save it for later but then - !poof! - cyberspace whisks it away to send to the [un]intended recipient? Ever type something you didn't really mean? Ever been unnecessarily mean, sacrcastic, catty? Ever live to laugh about it later?Send

The authors of the new book SEND is looking for your "tales of misdirected emails and other errors of email etiquette".  Share your stories!

As a li'l somethin'-somethin' for your quips: urbanMamas would like to offer a couple of free tickets to the Just Between Friends pre-sale on Friday, April 27th, to some of the wackiest, craziest stories of email errors.

P.S. The authors, David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, will appear at Powell's this Sunday, April 22nd, at 7:30PM.

The at-home gardening vacation

April 09, 2007

Today, I am recovering from my week-long vacation.
Urbanmamas_vacation_mosaic
[photo credits: 1-4 cafemama; 5 fionnsnana; 6 trillium~mama]

It's not a typical recovery though. Usually after a vacation, I'm feeling shell-shocked from the impact on my bank account and exhausted from late nights and lots of bag schlepping. Not this time: I took an at-home gardening vacation. It was an idea born of necessity (husband in Kansas for reserve duty, tight budget, etc.) and last-minute plans -- my boss is going on maternity leave starting Wednesday so this was my chance! But I'd recommend it highly to anyone else who works a vibrantly engaging job (i.e., I think about it every minute) and rarely takes vacation.

More important than the whole r&r thing, I have a sense of accomplishment and a foundation that will allow me to do little things throughout the spring and summer to maintain -- and fully develop -- my yard. I feel a little less awful when I hear those gloomy tales of climate change on the BBC late at night (gardening is good for the planet!). It gave me a chance to just spend time in the dirt with the boys, a rare opportunity as I'm soon to be devoted to a new human being. This definitely ranks up high in recharging potential alongside "leave the kids with grandma for a week while you go somewhere alone" (something my mom suggested and she did, herself, when we were young) and "long weekend with your favorite urbanMamas and their families." What vacations have you found the most satisfying? Any local destinations or activities to recommend?

OOPS I did it again

April 08, 2007

Mama brain in effect here.  The other morning, while I was in the shower, I was also thinking of what to pack for lunches. Next thing I knew, I had double shampooed my hair.  Ick.  This morning, I was in such a rush, and I think I was making a shopping list in my head while I was brushing my teeth. Then I realized I had used bubble gum kiddie toothpaste. Ta-pooey! Double Icks. I think I once put the TV remote control in the fruit drawer in the fridge. Once, my husband, harried from the morning routine of trying to get kids fed and off to school in time, put our infant accidentally in the big kid forward-facing car seat, and little Tati must have been only 3 or 4 months at the time, definitely not big enough to be in the forward-facing position yet!

I am certain I'm not the only one with a mama brain. Can you all make me feel better and share stories of funny mama-brain stories?

Healthy Children, Healthy Planet Group Forming

March 20, 2007

The Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) is an amazing organization dedicated to a grassroots approach to influencing how lightly or heavily people choose to tread on the Earth. The hallmark of NWEI is the peer-led discussion group setting where people gather to discuss topics around certain themes: Voluntary Simplicity, Discovering Sense of Place, Globalization, Deep Ecology, and Sustainable Living. One of the organization's most recent additions was a discussion guide on "Healthy Children, Healthy Planet".

A couple of years ago, at my former workplace, about a dozen of us formed a noon-time lunch group. Every Wednesday, we'd meet as the very first group to go through the discussion text for Healthy Children, Healthy Planets. What I loved most about the group was that the discussion offered a platform for me to explore so many different views and approaches to raising our children, especially when we are faced with powerful forces of the big C's: corporate interests, capitalism, consumerism.

I was thrilled to receive this message from Chris, who is currently seeking other urbanMamas and urbanPapas to participate a Healthy Children, Healthy Planet course that will begin next week:

A group of Portland moms will begin the eight-session Northwest Earth Institute discussion course, "Healthy Children, Healthy Planet." The purpose of the course is to understand how the pervasive effects of advertising, media, and our consumer culture can influence a child's worldview; to discover ways to create meaningful family times and healthful environments for children; and to explore ways to develop a child's connection with nature and to foster their creativity.

We will meet from 7-9pm on the 4th Wednesday of the month at Bipartisan Cafe (SE 79th & Stark), starting March 28th. So far, the group is all moms, but dads and people without children are welcome, too. A facilitator from NWEI will join us for our first meeting, bringing materials and getting our discussion started, then we will take turns facilitating meetings thereafter. Cost of materials is $15. F or more information about NWEI and this course, see www.nwei.org. If you are interested in joining this discussion, please send an email to Chris (mcmusser AT bigfoot DOT com).

Thoughts on Number Three

March 19, 2007

At date night last Friday, my spouse brought up the topic of number three.  I have to say, I wasn't fully prepared for the discussion.  There is a huge part of my heart that would love to conceive another baby (the fun part!), and I would more-so love carrying another life inside of me and delivering another little bambina/o.  I look less fondly on the ensuing challenges of having baby: postpartum issues, sleep deprivation, nursing, feeding, diapering... 

I have two siblings and my husband has three.  Our family dymanics have been robust and generally happy.  Now that I'm all grown up, I'm happy to have two brothers to call on for occassional back-up childcare or to invite over for Sunday night dinner.  I'm happy to have my husband's siblings, the aunties and uncles who are all beloved and important parts of our girls' lives.  Family affairs when our families gather are rambunctious and overjoyous.  Shall we keep the cycle of our families growing by growing our own nuclear family?

By the time our first daughter was 3, her baby sister was soon to come.  Now that our second daughter is 3.5 (!!!!), I get to thinking, "Should we?  Could we?"  The past few days, I have looked at our younger daughter with a few ounces of wistfulness and nostalgia.  Her days of babyhood are now years behind us.  Our little Tati is 3.5 years old going on 35: she looks like a little woman, a dalagita as they say in my parents' language.

Granted, having a baby just to prolong the sweet smell of baby in the household isn't reason enough to go for three.  Tati's best friend, who almost 3 years old, is expecting a baby sister within weeks.  Tati has come home saying, "I want to be a big sister."  I'm having a hard time coming up with a way to respond to her.

Have you decided?  Do your Thoughts on Number Two also apply to your Thoughts on Number Three?