Archive | October 2008

Everything in Moderation by Karen Williams

Who hasn’t heard this phrase before? It’s the key to our diets, our livelihood, our spending habits, and our indulgences. This week, however, it also the key to caring for multiple children. Allow me to explain.

My daughter attends daycare a few days per week. While I work for Motherhood Inc., I also choose to teach two days per week as well. While I am teaching, my daughter attends a lovely little daycare/school that is responsible for helping her socialize faster, learn to feed herself sooner, and even help her begin using the sign language we started teaching so long ago. For the first month that I dropped my daughter off at daycare, I cried the entire way to school. After that period, however, I began to adjust to my new routine. Daycare is good for her, and it’s good for me too. Until, of course, last week.

Last week I picked my daughter up like any other time. I gathered her bag and sweater, looked over her record of eating, drinking, and diapers, and scooped up my baby. As I prepared to leave, however, my eye caught a sheet of paper on the counter, “Incident Report.” As I surreptitiously tried to discover what purpose this unfamiliar document served, my daughter’s room teacher handed it to me along with a pen. Upon closer reading, I realized my daughter had been bitten by a little boy-identity unrevealed-at school that day, and I was required to proffer my signature as a sign that I was aware of this brutal and vicious attack against my innocent child.

Cue the torrential downpour of emotions. My baby? Bitten? Attacked? Assaulted while under the watchful eye of drastically underpaid people in an overpriced institute? This is unheard of! This is unacceptable! Call the police. Wire the National Guard. Who is the devil who dared to puncture the flesh of my precious little angel?

Then, of course, I got over it. Kids play, and this happens. Her skin was not actually broken, so I can cease watching her for signs of rabies, gangrene, and the host of other illnesses which may have otherwise prevailed. The teachers can’t tell me who bit her for a variety of reasons, and I understand. I can be a completely calm and rational person when it comes to incidents with my child (the first time, anyway).

However, this was still a learning experience for me. It is very important to me that a teacher be hands-on constantly with these children. They are fighting over a toy? Teach them to share and offer an alternative. They are fighting because they are tired? Separate and soothe. Hungry and uncomfortable? High chairs make excellent feeding decvices/separation apparatus. For any problem among babies, the key is moderation. Make sure someone is always available to separate them if the babies are having a disagreement, and make sure you do it before my child gets injured. The result will be a room full of happy children, relatively relaxed teachers, and one less Mama Bear on a rampage because of a repeat assault.

Trust me. If we all used moderation as key, the world would be a better place.

Chicken Pox To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

 As many working mothers I hemmed and hawed over the vacination process. I had been alarmed by the rising rates of Autism and the news reports that appeared to link both. Finally I said a short prayer, let them vaccinate my healthy young son and hoped for the best.

Boy was I suprised when three years later I was home with my son with a bout of the chicken pox. Now he didn’t get at full blown case like I remembered as a child, covered with pox and itching until the day was done only to suffer all night. I still have pox scars on my eyelid and leg. And my vaccination scar on my arm.

Did the vaccination help? Maybe? His case wasn’t that severe.  Was it worth it? I don’t know. Even though I had my son vaccinated with both the original and the booster he still got the pox. For one week he was sick and for one week I juggled motherhood, a sick child, and working at night so I could comfort my son during the day. 

The whole scenario brought to my attention that we don’t really know how well a vaccination will work for an individual child. We think they do more good than harm. As a working mother, I thought that since he had the vaccination, he would not get the chicken pox. I was wrong.

Would I vaccinate for the chicken pox if I had more children? Probably. More because of conventional medical wisdom than anything else. Would I worry about it – absolutely.  Would I think he was protected – absolutlely not.

Has anyone else vaccinated their children only to find they still get the Chicken Pox?

Adjusting to Kindergarten – Part 2 – By Nicole Perkins

By Nicole Perkins

 My first post on this subject garnered quite a bit of interest so I thought it might be worthwhile to provide an update.

 As I mentioned the first time around, we were dealing with major tantrums after school in the first couple of weeks – completely irrational and unexpected tantrums. My husband and I decided to just keep things calm and come home right after school to let her unwind a little bit until she got into the routine.

On most days, we come straight home, have a snack together and talk about our day, then we all get started on our “homework.” She loves that she has work to do with me, and she’s even taken to teaching her little brother what she learned in school that day. I’m really astounded at all she’s learned so fast, all the little songs I hear her singing, adding and subtracting everything and just wanting to learn more and more. We’ve even had some playdates, met some really nice new mothers and are currently trying to infiltrate the PTSO – that’s another post!

 It was interesting because last week was her fall break and yesterday was her first day back at school. I had a million things to do, so after I picked her up, we ran to exchange something at the mall – meltdown central, stopped by a friend of mine’s to drop off a present – RUDE, then I had to go let a client into a house – I just left her in the car where she screamed the whole time.  It was like the first day of school all over again! It was a nightmare, but I should’ve known better.

So, it seems to be working really good as long as she decompresses after school first. Now, if only I can find a way to love her teacher. Our first parent/teacher conference is tomorrow – that’s another post as well!

In the World of Outside Dependents by Karen Williams

There are few people in the world who would question our responsibilities as mothers. We are cooks, maids, primary caregivers, launderers, personal shoppers, and a whole host of other job titles which all seem to fit under the category of “mother.” We clean the house and cook the meals, and regardless of how much or how little others realize what our job entails, everyone understands on some level that it takes a lot of work to be a good mom. For that reason, I would like to use this week to address the rest of our dependents in the world for which we receive so little credit (and yet deserve so much).

Let me start with the obvious: the husband. Just as he has a responsibility to us as our best friend, our confidant, and our partner, we have an equal and often greater responsibility to him. It is his children too for which we are primarily responsible. We also have obligations in the house, out of the house, with our appearances, with his appearance, with the in-laws, and the list goes on. Regardless of how helpful, how responsible, and how understanding a husband can be, he will always be another dependent in his own right.

 Next comes the pets. In my house, this means three furbabies with a fourth on the way. My dogs require a near-constant level of attention in terms of feeding, watering, breaking up fights, removing and replacing toys, protecting my daughter from wayward paws, and providing the many medicines involved in caring for “Special Needs” dogs. And this is just before 8am. This does not include cleaning the yard, vacuuming the fur, and providing the love they can ONLY seem to receive from their mommy. Each time I think they are beginning to establish some independence and adopt more family members, their big, doe-like eyes remind me that I would never expect my non-furry daughter to take on new family members as a means for gathering attention. Knowing they’re right, I have no choice but to smile as I drop to my knees mid-project in order to thank my furkids for their very existence.

All of these dependents occur just inside the house. What about out of the house? Extended family members need updates, announcements, relationships, sometimes advice and often a sounding board. Plus, of course, we have an obligation to connect these outside members with the inside members of our families. Friends need equal attention along with person-to-person contact before too long. Associates, former coworkers, current coworkers, bosses, former employees, and even students (as it is in my case) all need some of our attention. Any overbearing lapse in this attention quickly results in a reenactment of a woman screaming “Why don’t you like me?” a la an episode of Friends, much to the chagrin of the watching audience (aka you).

Now, truth be told, few people really begrudge any of these dependents their appropriate amount of time in a mother’s life. We enjoy our family, our friends, our pets, and hopefully the other members of our life story. For this reason, we hope to encourage their ongoing appearance in our chapters, yet this doesn’t solve the dilemma of when to fit them into our already overwhelming schedule. Is it really possible to talk on the phone while vacuuming, entertaining a toddler, avoiding three dogs, and preparing a meal? If you answered yes, then congratulations! You have officially figured out how to solve approximately 1/100th of your agenda problems as a mother of few, keeper of many.

A little $ and a Whole Lotta Faith/ by Elisa Garcia

1411_spring_weather_sun_melting_icicles.jpgSo I’m sure you’ve guessed the theme around my house these days.  What else is new?

I’ve blogged about surviving on a single (paltry) income before, but it’s gotten pretty darn dire lately.

We’ve cut corners wherever possible and sacrificed and scrimped to make the mortgage payment and keep food on the table.  At times we’ve resorted to paying for groceries on credit, the penultimate money sin (hey, I worked in the financial sector for 10 years, I know!).  I literally fought tooth and nail to obtain medical coverage for my daughter since she can’t be on her other mother’s policy– no domestic partner benefits at her job.  I myself have been uninsured for months and pray daily that my fitness routine and smarter eating habits will help me avoid doctor visits.  And, yes, I’ve started on a (real) job search since my freelance gigs are becoming further and fewer between.  At this point we need something stable to supplement our nailbiting paycheck to paycheck existence.

Perhaps it’s the impending holidays, perhaps it’s the overall economic tightening that’s occuring countrywide, but I am experiencing the most difficult job journey of my life.  No one is responding to the applications I’m sending– and, lately, I’ve sent a lot.  When I left my 9 to 5 career a year ago, it was with the stipulation that I would never, ever, EVER return to that industry– if I returned there, I would die there, perpetually mean and grouchy and leaving my cubicle only sporadically before waking to find that another ten years had passed.  So it’s not the best feeling knowing that I may very well need to resort to that, though I’m applying for every other type of job than the one I left.  Now, I love working from home, love being with my daughter all day, am happy to trade the small sacrifices (limited adult contact, fewer resources) for the immense payoffs (freedom and family time) …. but it’s glaringly obvious that my family needs something steadier even though I fully intend to maintain my freelance contacts and projects.

Yes, it is frightening to wonder how we’re going to pay the mortgage.  I’m not even THINKING about the holidays and what Santa will eke out.  Yes, the financial fights in our house are no picnic, either.    And yet– and yet– there is a tiny part of me that is not too terribly stressed.  I’m living in the here and now and leaving it up to the universe, thankful all the while that right now we are still surviving, still fed, clothed, and warm.  Somehow we’ll make it.  We always do.  Things could truly be worse. 

Much, much worse.

by Elisa Garcia

Poco $ Y Much Fe/ Por Elisa Garcia

1411_spring_weather_sun_melting_icicles.jpgEstoy tan seguro que usted ha conjeturado el tema alrededor de mi casa actualmente. ¿Qué más es nuevo?

Antes yo escribi un blog sobre la supervivencia en una sola renta (ínfima), pero ha conseguido calamitoso maldito últimamente.

Hemos cortado esquinas donde sea posible y sacrificado y escatimado para hacer el pago de hipoteca y para guardar el alimento en la tabla. Hemos recurrido ocasionalmente a pagar por groceries en el crédito, el penúltimo pecado del dinero (hey, trabajé en el sector financiero por 10 años, yo sé!). Luché literalmente el diente y el clavo para obtener la cobertura médica para mi hija puesto que ella no puede ser en la política de su otra madre ninguna ventaja del socio doméstico en su trabajo. Mismo he estado sin seguro por meses y ruego diariamente que mi rutina de la aptitud y hábitos alimentarios más elegantes me ayuden a evitar visitas del doctor. Y, sí, he comenzado en búsqueda de trabajo (verdadera) de a puesto que mis carruajes independientes se están convirtiendo en más futuros y menos en medio. A este punto necesitamos algo estable complementar nuestra cheque tensa a la existencia de la cheque.

Quizás es los días de fiesta inminentes, quizás es el económico total apretando eso es ocurrencia nacional, pero estoy experimentando el viaje más difícil del trabajo de mi vida. Nadie está respondiendo a los usos que estoy enviando y, últimamente, he enviado mucho. Cuando dejé mi carrera 9 a 5 hace un año, estaba con la estipulación que nunca, nunca, volver NUNCA a esa industria si volviera allí, yo moriría allí, significa perpetuo y malhumorado y dejando mi cubículo solamente esporádico antes de despertar para encontrar que otros diez años habían pasado. No es tan la mejor sensación que sabe que puedo necesitar muy bien recurrir a eso, aunque estoy solicitando cada otro tipo de trabajo que el me fui. Ahora, amo el trabajar de hogar, amo el estar con mi hija todo el dia, feliz de negociar los pequeños sacrificios (contacto adulto limitado, pocos recursos) para las rentabilidades inmensas (libertad y el tiempo de la familia)…. pero es muy obvio que mi familia necesita algo más constante aunque me prepongo completamente mantener mis contactos y proyectos independientes.

Sí, es espantoso preguntarse cómo vamos a pagar la hipoteca. Incluso no estoy pensando en los días de fiesta y qué Santiclos va traer. Sí, las luchas financieras en nuestra casa no son ninguna comida campestre, tampoco. Y con todo y con todo hay una parte minúscula de mí que demasiado terrible no se tensione. Aquí y ahora estoy viviendo en y lo estoy dejando hasta el universo, agradecido todo el rato que ahora todavía estamos sobreviviendo, todavía alimentado, arropado, y me caliento. Lo haremos de alguna manera. Hacemos siempre. Las cosas podían verdad ser peores.

Mucho, mucho peor.

Por Elisa Garcia 

Preparing for Halloween by Karen Williams

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes the need for costumes, candy, and a plan. Kids today are less happy with a cloth sheet and a plastic mask handed down from older siblings, and fewer and fewer neighborhoods are participating in the time-honored tradition of passing out candy on All Hallow’s Eve. For us, that means its time to break out the creativity cap and plan ahead.

 Before I continue, I must admit that my ten month-old daughter is not yet at the age where any of this really matters to her. That, however, makes the plan more important than ever!

 The first thing I’ve learned as a new mother making a plan is the joy of community-sponsored activities. My church hosts a Trunk or Treat night on Halloween where families line the parking lot with their cars, donate and receive candy from the church (to make sure it’s safe), and give out candy to the trick or treaters. The local zoo hosts a Boo at the Zoo where kids get in free, receive a page of tickets, and exchange their tickets for candy throughout the night. College campuses and malls are also great places to find Halloween activities that are safe and enjoyable for the little ones.

Before any of this happens, however, a costume comes into play. When they’re truly young, it’s admittedly easier. We can buy costumes they year before when everything goes on clearance, and we are pre-equipped for the following season. As they get older and have opinions, this becomes notably harder. For this reason, it’s important for parents to consider whether the sixty dollar costume at the local department store is really the best way to acquire a one-time outfit. Secondhand stores and garage sales are equally great places to find retired costumes or even recycled pieces of clothing that can easily be turned into a costume. Sewing machines and theatrical experience are obviously an ideal combination when putting together a wallet-friendly combination, but in a pinch, secondhand stores can be a savings grace for needle-impaired mothers with good intentions.

I look forward to years of putting my daughter in fabulous costumes and taking her out to safe places for trick or treating. I purchased her first costume at a Black Friday sale a week before she was born, and nearly everyone laughed at me for thinking so far ahead for something as silly as a costume. Until, of course, they went to buy the same costume ten months later for seven times the price I paid. I profited by planning ahead, and I know I will continue to do so from here on out. In the meantime, Happy Halloween!