Monthly Archives: July 2009

How Not to Talk to Your Kids -The inverse power of praise.

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I’m recommending that you read Po Bronson’s article from New York Magazine.

The Power and Peril of Praising Your Kids
New York Magazine – Po Bronson

As a former educator, I was also appalled by the overuse of praise in an effort to uplift student’s self-esteem. I didn’t want to use purple pens when correcting, because a wrong answer is wrong, no matter what the color. I did want to encourage my students to learn from their mistakes and not be chastised.
As a parent, I’ve shamelessly fallen into this trap. My kid is what I would consider, “spoiled”. I have rewarded and bribed him to do what I ask or rewarded him for the right answer, but not the effort taken into getting the problem solved. Good article to help remind us all that there needs to be a balance and praise placed appropriately. The goal of school is not to only get an A+ but to learn to LEARN.

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Must-Have Items for Beaching with Kids

Pūpūkea, Hawaii
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Must-Have Items for Beaching with Kids

It’s hot, you have baby gear to tote, but you need a day at the beach nonetheless. How long until naptime? What to bring for lunch that won’t spoil? Will the kids be entertained and safe? How do I keep the baby from eating sand?

I liked this article since I’ve been living near the beach, I’ve been adjusting my beach plan since I’ve had kids.

What do you bring, do and live without when you take kids to the beach? Please leave a comment and let us know.

travel accessories, luggage tags, tsa locks, security belts, converters

I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper

I’ve just read, I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper by Trisha Ashworth. I really liked her perspective on the relationship of man and wife after the introduction of kids. I think she’s written about something that’s been unsaid for so long. In a marriage a relationship changes. I met my husband in high school, but I’m a much different woman now then I was then, at least I hope so.I think as we change our marriages change too, with jobs, goals, pets and kids. Of course your relationship changes with kids, YOU change with kids. You are a different person as a mother than you were when you were a wife. I know that my mindset changed, my goals were tweaked.

What I didn’t expect was the strain my marriage would have. Yes, we love each other, but damn we’re tired. We have to compromise on a lot more than dinner now. Who does what around the house, who gets up for the 12 or 3 am feeding, sex tonight or next month? For example, who’s the “bad cop” and who’s the “good cop”? I know we didn’t discuss this and if we did it wasn’t a serious conversation.

This book helps you think of questions you may not have thought of asking each other. There are bullet pointed sections, short antecdotes, quizzes that have you answering honestly and steps to help you communicate or keeps you in check. I loved that it was written for someone who was short on time and has a sleep-deprived “mommy brain”. It was easy to flip through and easy to read and had me uh-huh-ing and shaking my head yes enough to capture my husband’s attention.

The book definately helps you reevaluate your goals as a person, mother and wife.

It’s a great conversation starter with your husband. It’s even better if you can have a conversation with your husband without the kiddos flinging cheerios. It might be the best if your husband can sit down and answer questions without a sarcastic comment like, “Are we going to talk about our feelings now?”

I’m going to try and use this book to help my husband and I to reconnect. It was nice to read a perspective similar to my own, I knew I wasn’t the only one out there in a whirlwind of mommyhood/marriage confusion.

Hope it helps you too.

Related Articles:
10 Cheap Date Night Ideas – by
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All I Needed to Know about Life I learned in the first six months of Parenthood

six-month-old boy asleep in greataunt's arms
Image by Martin LaBar via Flickr
by Lela Demeter
As my child gets closer to the huge first birthday, I thought I would jot down some random thoughts that I have learned in the long, strange trip that is parenthood.
  1. Your kid does have a distinctive scream.
  2. Your own parents are crazy because they raised kids and you will be that crazy one day too.
  3. Old ladies don’t stoop because of old age, they stoop because they have spent years reaching down to small children and lifting them up.
  4. The best strength training is your child.  Just look at the gun I have in one arm.
  5. Your childhood begins and ends the moment you become a parent.
  6. You can cry and laugh when your child is laughing because it is the most beautiful thing in the world.
  7. You can fall in love with a tiny person who has no bowel control, can’t feed themself or speak a disconcernable language.
  8. Babies learn to smile at their mothers early so they get taken care of.  Its very similar to the smile a spouse has when they do something wrong.
  9. Babies are like the very elderly.  Both are helpless but are valuable and need love nonetheless.
  10. Being a parent makes you a better human being.
  11. You will sound like your mother. Deal with it.
  12. Being a parent is like being mentally ill.
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Lela Demeter is an educator, technologist and mother of one.

Who are they kidding – that is no purse!

by Lela Demeter

I am addicted to bags.  I need to join a support group for my bag addiction.  Before I had my baby, I loved my bags.  Seriously.  Who wouldn’t?  If you gain weight, your purse still fits.  Many purses still look nice, season after season.  Spend a little bit of cash and your purse is an investment piece that doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned, in most cases, can be repaired and will, with care, last until your fickle heart finds another.

One of the biggest things I looked forward to when I got pregnant was that I finally had a reason to buy my coveted Coach baby bag.  When my DH purchased it, I thought all of my baby bag needs were met.  The morning I left for the hospital, I lovingly packed my Coach bag and went to have my little darling (with the bag safely stored in a closet at least 20 feet from where I gave birth).

Ha ha.

The first time I took my fall baby out (November in Chicago), I, like many new mothers, completely overpacked.  Diapers, wipes, vasoline, pacifiers, extra outfit, a thousand bibs PLUS my wallet and cell phone.  Do you know that some moms have the wherewithall to put a first aid kit in their bag (now that is good planning, or what)?  Forget the zipper.  That Coach baby bag was STUFFED and things were FALLING out of it.  Did I also mention that the idea of putting something that my little darling puked or pooped on INSIDE my Coach bag was completely repellant to me?  So I decided I was only going to use the Coach bag for “special” occasions. Until I brought it to a bridal shower (at a country club on Chicago’s Northside) and it flipped over and everyone at the shower saw my son’s and my (it was that time of the month) diapers.  GOOD TIMES.

So then I went in search of a utilitarian diaper bag.  Obviously a gigantic trash bag was out of the question.

Now, Google search “diaper bag” and the options are limitless.  Google “stylish diaper bag” and that is also a cornucopia of options.  However, the idea of a STYLISH diaper bag is about as unreal an expectation as pregnancy not completely decimating your body.

First off, cost.  Anything stylish usually costs money.  Anything stylish usually requires care.  And money and time to care about something other than the breathing, crying and complaining people you live with – is something that most moms do not have a lot of.  Just count how many “dry clean only” items you have in your closet (you know, the outfits that are sitting next to the purses you haven’t used in a while and the shoes that fit before you got pregnant and had the child).  Now count how many times you have worn them since having a child.  Now count how many times you have worn said outfit with said child. Same goes with the “dry clean only” diaper bag.

Any diaper bag that I carry must pass the PP (puke and poop), a.k.a the SS (spit and sh*t) test.  I must feel comfortable sticking things that either have been or will be puked or pooped on in said bag.  I am not sticking something that belongs in a PortaPotty in a bag that I have spent more than 50 cents on. Plus, if you plan on taking your child anywhere but the mall, plan on that bag being treated worse than your favorite pair of tennis shoes (i.e. dragged on a stroller, thrown into a car, falling off a car seat, being ransacked by DH, etc).

Very few new moms consider what should go in a diaper bag.  As mothers, we are usually prepared for any occasion or disaster.  Most times that means schlepping half the house with you.  Any “stylish” diaper bag is usually TOO SMALL to be packed in preparation for World War III. But, here is a short list of my essentials that should go in the diaper bag:

1) Diapers, wipes and diaper cream.  All of this can fit very nicely in a Ju-Ju-Be Be Quick.  The Be Quicks are affordable and very handy.

2) Your stuff – i.e. wallet, cell phone, day planner, makeup bag.  Prior to my DS, I was an overpacker. Ha ha. No more.  I am also putting these essentials in another Be Quick.

3) SEASONAL clothing.  Because I love mafia movies and Chicago style pizza, I will probably never leave the Chicagoland area.  Due to this, I pack clothing for my son like we will be traveling through at least three climates.  I usually bring a washable bag so I can stick the PP clothes in the bag so I can wash it.  New moms – nothing says love like machine washable.

4) Pacifier and pacifier holder.

5) Something to entertain the kid.

This is all you need to leave the house.  So, the criteria for a diaper bag should be: reasonably priced, requires little care, and maybe machine washable.

The first bags I looked at (after I decided that the Coach bag was my new work bag where it would be far, far away from my little pooper) were the Petunia Pickle Bottom bags.  Very cute.  Until I asked my DH how to clean brocade.  After he mumbled something about our checking account, I thought I would ask an expert.  When I found out that brocade can stain, I moved on.

The closest I have come to meeting the aforementioned criteria is the Ju-Ju-Be line of diaper bags. Every Ju-Ju-Be bag is treated like it will be shipped off for a hard tour of duty (which it will be).  Its coated in safe, stain-proof materials that require little care.  Sure, if you spill something, you can use the baby wipe – but the best part about these bags is that you can stick them in the washer and pull them out to air dry and your bag is as good as new.

These bags are reasonably priced.  In fact, one of the only complaints I have is that they are a little hard to find.  But most online retailers carry them.  But if you want to look before you buy, good luck finding one close to you.

These bags also come in all shapes and sizes.  Most of the prints do kinda scream “DIAPER BAG.”  But, they have debuted a new program where you can customize your own bag.  I personally own two Ju-Ju-Be bags – the Packabe and the BeTween.  The Packabe should really be called “the stuff as much sh*t in it as humanly possible without it exploding” and the BeTween should be called “the I am only planning to be out of my house for a half hour and I am hoping the kid does not poop like he ate a can of Beano.”

These bags meet my criteria for being durable and fairly (around 100 bucks) reasonably priced for a bag you will use over and over again.  As a mother, I am embracing my inner MacGyver and going for utilitarian and sacrificing a little bit of vanity.  Besides, I figure that I will never carry a small purse again – I gave that up when I got married and started carrying around my husband’s stuff.

Yes, my house is this messy, or a defense of the working mother

by Lela Demeter

I am a working mom.  There I said it.  In the 21st century, after a historic presidential election, when we live in a time where we have more access to information than ever before, this is almost seen as a surprising phrase.  Why?

A 'New Found' Respect For Mothers
Image by ronmarshall074 via Flickr

Being a working mom does not mean that I don’t love my child or that I am so career focused that I couldn’t give it all up to stay at home with my little cherub.  It doesn’t mean that I care so little about my child that I would “dump” him on anybody who would take him.  It doesn’t mean that my husband and I are so enamored of our “country club” lifestyle that I work so we can afford vacations, new cars, and lots of toys (for ourselves).

What does working motherhood look like in 2009?  Well, my version of it is simple.   I CHOOSE to WORK.  There I said that too.  But, why?  First, and foremost, it is an economic necessity in my house.  My paycheck covers basic necessities like the family house and food.  I may not make millions but my contribution is necessary.  When my husband’s company discussed layoffs, the thought that helped us sleep at night was the idea of my income and insurance if the worst did happen.

Secondly, does this make me love my kid less?  Absolutely not.  In fact, it makes me appreciate him more – every minute I can spend with him is important.   Do I have “mommy-guilt?” Absolutely.  The only way that I feel comfortable with this whole situation is because my son is looked after by the THIRD most loving caregiver that exists – his own grandfather.  I will say without a doubt that my experience is the best possible situation out there for daycare.  My retired father is willing and able to take care of my son during working hours.  This creates a place for THEIR relationship to grow.  And growing up without grandparents definitely made this a priority for me to foster.

Finally, would I work if I didn’t have to?  Actually, yes.   Why?  Sure, its stressful.  I basically have two careers.  My house is a disaster and its lucky that I am wearing matching socks in the morning.  So why would I do it if I didn’t have to?

Working makes me a better parent.    A SAHM asked me if I had joined any Mommy and me groups, and I was able to tell her no – because I was fortunate enough to have peers at work who were like me – working moms.

I am the first female role model to my son and its important for me to show him that girls can do anything – that Daddy isn’t the only one that works and that Mommy isn’t the only one who works around the house.  Working allows me to feel no dependence on anybody – yet its because of the help of others (namely my parents and my husband) that I can swing working and parenting.  The best perk about working?  Sitting down to a half-hour lunch.

It also gives me a sense of self-worth and belonging.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel valued as a parent – this is still a major piece of my life. The problem that I faced as a new mom was something I had never felt before.  Prior to the birth of my son, I juggled work, marriage, graduate school and my hobbies. After my son (during my maternity leave), all of that came to a screeching halt as I cared for my baby.  After the shock of birth wore off, I began to feel terribly isolated, waiting by the door for my husband to get home – not to get relief from my infant, but to just talk to another adult.  I had absolutely no experience with infants and here I was, every waking minute connected to an infant.  Getting out of the house for seven hours gives me the opportunity to get a break from the constant demands of my child and allows me to come back to him with renewed purpose.  I looked forward to going back to work because it forced me to make time management a priority.  But it also made me realize that every second I have with my son is a gift and that I needed to make sure that the QUALITY of time was more important than the QUANTITY.

I envy SAHMs.  I do.  I would love to be financially stable enough to stay at home – many SAHMs are sacrificial lambs in the “mommy track.”  Sometimes I do feel like it is pretty selfish of me to work while someone else is “raising” my child.

I also never get a day off – it is hard for me to ask my parents to baby-sit when my dad puts in 40 hours a week in daycare – not to mention that I will be missing out time with my son.  But I also remember what tremendous sacrifice my parents made so my mom could stay home and its the look on my dad’s exhausted face after working 18 hours to support us that sometimes gets me in the car in the morning and off to work.  Some mornings I get up and think I am crazy for doing this.  But I do it for my family because I am the mom and this is my job.

Lela Who?

Lela Demeter is an educator, technologist and mother of one.

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