7 Links For You to Read

I’m taking the SITS Girls challenge on Blog Frog, 31 Days to a Better Blog. Today’s challenge was to write a list post (something I love to do) so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and also take part in another challenge from ProBlogger, the 7-link challenge.

So here is a list to 7 links from past blog posts you may have missed as well as a post that I didn’t write but wish I had.

Enjoy this look back and I’d love to hear feedback on any of the posts!

  1. My First Post – My first post was actually on my MySpace blog, but I did upload to Meg’s Idle Chatter when I first set it up. It was the first of many birthday posts I would go on to write. This one being about Patrick’s 4th birthday. It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging that long! Reflections on my Baby’s 4th Birthday
  2. The Post I Enjoyed Writing the Most – This post felt so good to write. It really felt like this was the kind of post that I was meant to be writing on this blog, Every Mom is a Working Mom
  3. A Post That Had a Great Discussion – This post didn’t just cause a discussion on my blog (see comments) but on MomConnect.com, Facebook, Twitter and even with moms I knew personally at my son’s school. Your Parenting Style and How Your Doing it Wrong
  4. A post on someone else’s blog that I wish I’d written – This was such a great post that I related to and shared on Facebook. This was another incident where I had moms at school thanking me for posting it on Facebook. The amazing Stephanie Himel-Nelson, better known as Lawyer Mama, wrote it. My Scarlet Letter H
  5. My most helpful post – If any regular readers would like to disagree, feel free, but I think that this post related to getting kids to read was the most likely to be helpful considering how many moms I know (including myself) have found this to be a major challenge. Tips on Getting Your Kids to Read
  6. A post with a title that I am proud of – Breastfeeding is always an important topic to me. And finding support for the difficulties that can sometimes be found when breastfeeding was one of my introductions in to the world of mommy blogging. So it was only fair that I eventually wrote a post on the topic and gave it a funny tongue in cheek play on words as a title. Breastfeeding Sucks
  7. A post that I wish more people had read – This was one of the most emotional and personal posts that I think I ever wrote. I cried writing it and sometimes still do. This man may have been just a director to some, but he was a major influence on me and I found it surprising difficult to say goodbye. I wish more people had come across this post. My Life According to John Hughes

Do you have a favorite blog post from this blog or any blog to share in the comments?

Parenthood Lowers Blood Pressure?

Hmm, I’m going to let you guys stew on that title while I take a moment to use a classic pop culture term from my generation, as if!

It was hard to read this original story between fits of uncontrollable laughter. Apparently a study done at Brigham Young University found, after observing 198 adults who wore portable blood pressure monitors for 24 hours, those who had children had a lower reading then those without children. And oddly enough, the effect was even stronger in the women who took part.

Lead researcher Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad had this to say,

“While caring for children may include hassles, deriving a sense of meaning and purpose from life’s stress has been shown to be associated with better health outcomes.”

Ok, I guess on some level I can get what Dr. Holt-Lunstad is saying, but as a mom of two, I can’t help but repeating, as if!

Not that I would change being a mom for anything in the world, but I would be lying if I said I was I it for a lower blood pressure…And I also have to wonder how old the kids were of the parents in this study. Because mine are four and six, but from what I gather the stress level only increases as they age and become teenagers so…

I have only two theories that make sense to me.

  1. The parents involved in the study were just so damn happy to be out of the house and hanging out at a University for the day without their kids, that they automatically felt less stressed.
  2. That somehow living in a constant state of chaos somehow achieves some sort of inner calmness, much like what they say it’s like in the eye of a hurricane.

Either way the whole study strikes me as odd. Then again with as many “calgon, take me away” moments I have in any given day I wouldn’t trade a second of it. And how good my kids are for my heart is not exactly news…

What do you think, has parenting done wonders for your blood pressure or are these folks at Brigham Young sipping the crazy sauce?

A Cranky Toddler, An Airplane & You

IMG_2046Maybe I’m a little late coming to this gossip session, but I just heard about the woman who was kicked off a Southwest Airline flight from Amarillo, TX to San Jose, Ca. As the plane was about to take off her cranky two-year-old was screaming for the plane to go and also screaming for his daddy. There have been a number of news stories and blog posts floating around the web abut the incident.

Basically the mom was waiting for the plane to take off before feeding the child so that his ears would pop easily and he would hopefully nap the duration of the flight. Yet passengers complained that they were unable to hear safety announcements due to the screaming toddler. Southwest made the decision to turn back to the gate and escort the mom & toddler off the plane.

Southwest apologized and gave the mom a $300 travel voucher on top of a full refund. The mom is calling for more commendation to make up for the extra diapers and porta-crib she had to purchase while staying at her parents in Amarillo for the unplanned extra night.

It’s hard to come at this story from one side or the other. Most people who fly with any kind of regularity know that not all flights kick off screaming toddlers. In fact some people might even complain that most in fact, do it often enough. It’s this observation that leads me to wonder just how extreme was the screaming?

In my reading up on the incident I couldn’t find one first hand account (other than the mom’s and the airlines official statement) of the incident. Which makes me wonder even more. You’d think that if it weren’t pretty extreme wouldn’t some of the passengers have spoken up for the mom once the story made headlines?

I’m a mom. There have been occasions where my kids where tired cranky, and just plane intolerable in public. So I did my best to avoid taking them in public during those times. I think all of us have had moments like that. As a mom, I think the last thing I would have wanted to do was to spend the next four hours in an enclosed area with my child on a lane if he was in a mood like that.

In fact, though would’ve been embarrassed, I think I would’ve happily returned to my mom’s house with my full refund and $300 travel voucher. Then returned with a happier and much more well rested child in the morning.

That’s just me though.

So what do YOU think? Was Southwest totally out of line or is this mom pushing it by continuing to push for more compensation?  And at what point do you think a disruptive child, whether it be yours or someone else’s, should be asked to leave?

Awww, motherhood. Never a dull moment.

Meghan Harvey is the Community Manager for MomConnect & never ever flies. But she IS the pilot of her own mode of transportation, a small SUV. She has never booted any cranky passengers off, though she has been tempted to. But her kids aren’t teenagers yet either…



This post is a cross-post from MomConnect-The Blog!

Breastfeeding Sucks

100_3351That’s right, I said it. Breastfeeding sucks. That was one of the greatest pieces of advice I ever picked up as a new mom.

Let me back up just a bit. For me, deciding to breastfeed was never really much of a decision. I knew I was going to breastfeed the moment we decided to have kids. Once I was pregnant I bought all the books, read every magazine article and even took a breastfeeding class at the local clinic. I was going to be the best breastfeeder EVER.

As it turned out, the books, the class, and all the magazine articles that I’d read left out a number of things. What all those great breastfeeding articles didn’t talk about was my 30 hour labor and my 10lb baby boy. They neglected to mention the effect that a 30 hour labor and the horrific tearing that took 20 minutes to stitch up would have on my ability to sit down and breastfeed in the early weeks. Or how that discomfort would make it harder for my milk to let down so the feedings would take even longer.

They said my nipples might crack & bleed. They said engorgement may cause a little “discomfort.” What they didn’t say was that the pain involved might actually make me forget about the pain of childbirth.

These resources also listed some of the pitfalls of breastfeeding. Like mastitis, thrush, and the continuous leaking from my breasts. They didn’t explain how excruciating these things could be, especially when they all happened to me one right after the other.

Needless to say in those early weeks of motherhood I was feeling pretty beat down by breastfeeding. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I also felt like I couldn’t get a break. I really wanted breastfeeding to be this beautiful and mystical experience for me and my son. It just wasn’t working out that way.

Then somewhere along the way I came across a blog post online, I don’t remember where exactly now. But in this post the woman said, “Anyone who tells you breastfeeding is easy is a big liar! But if you stick it out, it gets better.”

And I did stick it out. Thanks to ice packs, lanolin, antibiotics and ibuprofen my problems passed. And breastfeeding did turn out to be one of the best things I ever did. I went on to breastfeed my son until he weaned himself at 14 months, even pumping for a whole year once I went back to work.

When I had my daughter a couple of years later I breastfed her as well. Oddly enough other than gritting my teeth through some sore nipples, it was pretty easy the second time around. Then again I think the breastfeeding Gods owed me one.

So why tell this story almost seven years later? Because somewhere out there is a new mom with cracked nipples and a hungry baby. And she’s feeling like maybe, just maybe, it’s too hard.

Well honey, it is hard. In fact it sucks. But it gets better. And it’s worth every ache and pain.

This post is a cross-post from Meghan Harvey’s personal blog, Meg’s Idle Chatter, where she writes about more than just sore breasts.

H1N1: Living With Swine Flu

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A Few Swine Flu Necessities

Last week some of you may have read my post about whether we should get flu shots or not. And if you did, you probably recall that I mentioned my family was already sick with the flu, so we were going to have to wait until after everyone was better before we got flu shots. Well the day after I posted that we found out that the flu we had in our house was not just any flu, but H1N1.

That’s right, we’d been swine flued (I don’t know if that phrase will catch on, but I’m going to try and push it out there). The ugly flu going around here in my sleepy little suburb turned out to be the one and only H1N1. Now before you rush off to go wash your hands and disinfect your computer after reading something written by someone exposed to swine flu, relax.

I’ll tell you a little secret that we were made privy to by two different pediatricians in the last two weeks, the Swine Flu? Well, it’s just the Flu. Don’t go telling the media or anything though, because then they wouldn’t have anything to panic us about.

Seriously, it is a NASTY flu. My husband got sick (fever, vomiting, aches, etc.) on a Monday. My son came down with fever & aches on Wednesday. And my daughter pulled in the fever & vomiting on Friday.  Every 48 hours we had a new patient in our house.

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Waiting in the Waiting Room for Doctor Visit #2

From what I understand, now, local doctors are not even testing for H1N1 because 99% of the flu cases where I live were coming back positive. The doctors we saw were very quick to stress that it was not that much different then the regular flu. The real danger was of course watching for Secondary infections. Which as it turned out did occur with all three members of my ailing family. My husband’s turned into pneumonia. And both kids had theirs turn into bronchial infections.

But, my son has had the flu in past years and it turned bronchial. It’s just how he rolls. So it was a complication we watch for anyway. And my husband, well he smokes. If you smoke, chances are any flu is going to take you down a little harder then someone who doesn’t. Whether it’s H1N1 or not. And my daughter, well they weren’t positive hers had turned bronchial, but they treated her for it anyway, which was fine with me.

My advice to you? If H1N1 is running rampant in your community stock up on soup and your favorite cold & flu medicine. And talk to your doctor or pediatrician to see what the H1N1 situation looks like in the area you live in. Think about the vaccine, if it’s still available. And don’t panic. If your kids do get sick, just take care of them and watch them close for any signs of it turning into something worse. For us it was a day or two of feeling better and then BOOM! The fever came back out of nowhere.

The most important thing to remember during this outbreak of H1N1 is that the ONLY person you should really be seeking advice from is YOUR doctor.

As for my family and me well everyone is on the mend and back at school and work. I never did get sick, though as I write this I have a bit of a head cold. But that’s ok. I’ve got a cupboard full of soup and some cold medicine sitting beside me on my desk. Because after all, it is flu season you know.

Meghan Harvey is the Community Manager for MomConnect & all though she has no actual medical expertise considers herself to be way more knowledgeable about H1N1 then she would like to be.
This post is a cross-post from MomConnect-The Blog!

The Great Baby Einstein Refund Debacle

DSCN3062-1.JPGIt wasn’t long after my son was born in 2003 that Disney’s Baby Einstein line-up became super popular. They were going to make my child smart and stimulate him in a way that I couldn’t. Or so they claimed. As cool as the marketing made the videos sound, I knew better. I’ve always been a very “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” kind of woman, and I took that mentality into motherhood with me.  I had read enough baby books and even taken a few early childhood development classes in high school to know that T.V., no matter what, can have some negative effects a child under two. So any video series that was targeted for younger than that made me roll my eyes.

But the idea that there was a video out there that could somehow stimulate my baby enough to make him smarter, well it did peek my curiosity. And after all the videos were stamped with Walt Disney seal of approval. So I ran out and picked one up to see what the fuss was about. The music was classical, which I already played for my infant on a regular basis, and the video was, well odd. Sure there were bright colors and moving objects, but nothing that led me to believe that my child would indeed be the youngest Nobel Prize winner for Astro physics or anything.

I put my baby in his favorite bouncy chair (yes we lived & died by the bouncy chair in our house) and pointed him towards the TV.  For about five minutes my infant was mesmerized. Then he was done. His eyes started to wander his feet started kicking and the bouncy chair started moving. He looked for me, looked for his binky, and refused to turn his attention toward the TV again. And that was the extent of our time with Baby Einstein. A big thumbs down in our book. And as my husband pointed out, “Well we could’ve saved $15 and made that ourselves!”

Baby Geniuses? Really?

My instinct was to stick with what the pediatrician and all the trusted baby books I had read told me, which was TV before age two was a no-no. I should probably admit that as my child got older he was granted far more TV time then I would ever admit in a public forum such as this, but as an infant his stimulation was kept to me reading and playing with him face to face. Lots of music and lots of playtime with the kids at daycare.

Now, a few years later, it seems Disney has decided that maybe those videos weren’t so great at making smart babies and that they should probably concur with what the previously mentioned studies has shown.

First of all, most of us didn’t really think these videos were going to make our babies smarter, did we? And most women who have children right now know that TV before the age of two is not really the best idea (though we all know in real life NO TV is a little ridiculous). We don’t always follow that advice, but we know that there have been enough studies to show it to be true.

So, why I do think the marketing for the Baby Einstein videos was exaggerated, they also offered a money back guarantee if you weren’t satisfied all along. I don’t know if Disney should shoulder the responsibility for people believing what they see on TV. That being said, I also think the fact that they are anyway is a testament to how much the company truly does care about their reputation and their consumers. Bravo Disney for taking responsibility and trying to make it right.

If you have a Baby Einstein DVD you’d like to return you can return up to four DVDs in any condition, with or without the cover, for a refund of $15.99 each. The instructions for returning the DVD’s are on the Baby Einstein website.

Meghan Harvey is the Community Manager for MomConnect and never cared for the Baby Einstein videos anyway. She and her two children do however standby their claim that Little Einstein’s on the other hand is one of the best kids shows EVER.

This post is a cross-post from MomConnect-The Blog!

Should Your Family Get Flu Shots?

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Down with the Flu

A couple of weeks ago I posted a thread on MomConnect asking for everyone’s opinion on Flu Shots. It generated a lot of strong responses and some great advice, and a few other threads as well. Like whether or not you should give your child the H1N1 Vaccine and I did end up deciding to do flu shots this year as we have the last couple of years. I just did not make the decision quite soon enough.

As I write this my entire family is down with the very nasty flu that has been going around both of my kid’s school and our community. I am so far the only one left standing, but can feel the nasty flu bugs circling me just waiting for their moment to pounce. I know it’s coming.

Though I will check with the doctor first, I think once everyone is better we will probably still go get the flu shot. This has been a nasty strain and it’s only October. There’s still many more months of the flu season left to deal with. I’d rather take my chances with the shot than risk welcoming another flu outbreak into my house.

So if you’re still wondering whether YOU should get the flu shots, the best advice is to trust your instinct and talk to your doctor or pediatrician to see what the flu season is looking like where YOU live.

If you’ve never done a Flu shot before and are thinking this might be the year to start then here is the rundown as written on the official website of the CDC.

Here are two types of vaccines:

The “flu shot” — an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for “live attenuated influenza vaccine” or FluMist®). LAIV (FluMist®) is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

And also here is who the CDC recommends should get the flu shot,

People who should get the seasonal vaccine each year are:

  • Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
  • Health care workers
  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu

You can visit the CDC’s website to learn more about who should and shouldn’t get the regular seasonal flu shot as well as the H1N1 vaccine. But the best person to talk to is your own pediatrician to help you determine the risks based on your own family’s health history and what’s going on in your own community.

Good luck this flu season and stay well!

Every Mom is a Working Mom

IMG_0610I have been formulating this blog post for almost two weeks now. Ever since the Washington Post published an article related to recent Census results regarding stay-at-home moms and the New York Times piece regarding the guilt of working moms. And of course there was the huge buzz surrounding Dr. Phil and the infamous “Mommy Wars” episode which showcased a few of my favorite mommy bloggers (Jessica Gottlieb and Heather Armstrong). Both articles created quite a debate both on the MomConnect Facebook Page and in a couple of threads in MomConnect forum.

The culmination of these recent articles and what I’ll just say was an embarrassing Dr. Phil episode, have got me in quite an uproar. You see I’ve been a working mom with an infant in daycare. I’ve been a SAHM, a daycare provider and have now found some peace as a WAHM. So moms, I’ve been there. And I have no doubt that each choice I made was the right choice for my family and me at the time. And NO ONE can ever tell me otherwise. No one can ever tell me I should feel guilty for any of the choices I’ve made. And quite frankly, I’m tired of other people talking about it.

The NYTimes piece discussed a survey that was done by the Pew Research Center. The poll found, when asked how they would rate themselves as a mother, that of the at-home mothers, 43 percent rated themselves 9 or 10, at the top of the scale, while 33 percent of working mothers did so. Basically showing that only 13 percent of working mothers think that they’re doing the best they can.

This survey couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. That same week the Washington Post printed an article talking about the recent results of a Census analysis of stay at home mothers (the first ever), which showed that stay-at-home-mothers tend to be younger, less educated and have lower family incomes.

There’s much more to both these articles, but I’m covering the gist. So the consensus is that if you’re a working mom you’re going to feel bad about yourself and be a bad mother. But if you’re at home then you’re young stupid and poor. Now this may not be exactly what these articles said, but isn’t it really what they’re feeding us?

Add to these pointless pieces of reporting the great Dr. Phil jumping on board to make more moms feel bad about themselves. Only this time it felt like the target was the stay-at-home moms. At any rate the episode created some nasty discussions between working moms and SAHM’s across the blogosphere. The reality about this episode is that it didn’t really talk about anything we moms need to hear. A great post was written on the blog PHD In Parenting that brought up some of the notable topics that were not discussed by Dr. Phil on the show.

My own personal opinion? We don’t need Dr. Phil to tell us it’s ok to work, we don’t need the Washington Post to tell us if we’re home we’re young & dumb, and we most certainly do not need the NYTimes telling us that if we’re at work we should feel guilty about it.

Ladies, there is no right answer. Some of us work or stay home because it’s our only choice. Some of us work or stay at home because it’s the choice we made. Either way, it’s ok. The most important thing we can do is stand together as moms and tell society and the media that we are moms and that’s all.

We are all in this together. And we are all doing the best we can in a bad economy, in a dangerous world, and with everyone watching us waiting for us to fail. Well, we’re not going to. Because we are going to work harder to support one another and the choices we make.

There should be no divide here. There should be no “mommy wars” and there should be no debate. Wherever you are today if you’re a mom and your child is loved and being taken care of, you’ve done your job and deserve a pat on the back.

I leave you with this simple message I posted to twitter.

Dear Dr. Phil, NYTimes, & Washington Post,

We don’t need your help. We’re doing just fine.

Thanks,

The Moms

This post is a cross-post from MomConnect-The Blog!

Breaking the Mean Girl Cycle

IMG_1380A recent study by Brigham Young University created quite some buzz when it announced that “Means Girls” start in preschool. Though I certainly found the study to be interesting, it was not anything I had not already discovered to be true in my own experiences with my children.

The study found that girls as young as four use aggressive social behavior to maintain dominance amongst their friends. The study found that girls in preschool were already demonstrating the kind of traits normally associated with older girls. These preschool age “mean girls” in the study were demonstrating a number of socially aggressive tactics when dealing with peers. Such as:

  • Not allowing a specific child to play with the group.
  • Demanding other children not play with a specific child.
  • Threatening to not play with a child unless certain needs/demands are met.
  • Refusing to listen to someone they are mad at (the aggressive children may even cover their ears).
  • Even spreading malicious rumors & telling secrets.

Now my daughter was in a tiny tots program last year and will begin official Pre-K this year and I certainly found the things mentioned in the study to be true among the girls in my daughter’s class. I found it to be fascinating that in the first few weeks of class there was instantly a clan of “Queen Bees” in the class that dominated much of the play and conversations. My daughter’s reaction was even more fascinating. While I could see that the popular girls accepted her, she could easily take them or leave them. Sometimes I would watch her right in the middle of play with the popular girls and other times I’d see her playing by herself as happy as can be. When I’d ask her why she was by herself she’d simply reply “The other girls talk too much.”

I think for me, my biggest fear is not my daughter falling victim of the mean girls as she gets older, but that she’ll become one. And this is why I’ve already opened up dialogue, using the term “mean girls” with my daughter. There is a great book, Purplicious by Elizabeth & Victoria Kann.

Purplicious was a great way to open up dialogue between my young daughter and I about teasing between girls. I know that as a girl how my daughter views and values herself is extremely important. The self-worth I embed in her today will have huge impact on how she carries herself through her entire life. But what this study shows is that we should also be thinking seriously not just about how our girls view themselves but how those girls view and value each other.

This post is a cross-post from MomConnect-The Blog!

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