Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Happy New Year to Me….—by Jamie Levine
My birthday is on February 1st, and for decades, I’ve been touting February as “birthday month,” with the implication that I celebrate all month long (and that my friends should celebrate right along with me). Now, in the era of Facebook, it’s easy for people to remember my birthday—but, out of habit, I still relentlessly remind everyone of the date (and I believe old friends must have it imprinted on their brains). It’s my day and I like to milk it; it’s the one day on which I don’t have to feel guilty about focusing on me. And I don’t expect much from my friends and family—simply attention: Cards, calls, texts, emails…oh, and flowers are nice, too.
It's also crucial that I celebrate with the people who are important to me. This year, I kicked off my birthday with some fun pre-celebrations: Dinner in the city last week, and a pre-birthday bash at a local bar this past weekend. Both nights were spent with close friends whom I've made throughout the years, and reminded me of how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life who care about me. A few friends who couldn’t make it to my party promised to celebrate with me on other nights ahead, and of course, my birthday, itself, will be spent with my family—and most importantly, my daughter, who loves birthdays as much as I do.
The other important thing about my birthday is that it comes exactly one month after the start of the “official” new year, which gives me one month to practice for what really counts—my new year. I never make resolutions for January 1st, and this year, I didn’t make any specific changes in my life on January 1st, either. Instead, I just started to change my way of thinking…and I’m hoping February will bring me some positive new possibilities. I’ve been practicing the virtue of patience when dealing with my daughter, and I’ve been focusing on taking better care of myself, emotionally, and giving off the right kind of energy with which to attract the love I want in my life. I’m nurturing my treasured friendships—and developing new ones. And I’m getting ready for my first experiences working as a speech-language pathologist (as a grad student in the clinic) and am prepared to take more risks in order to learn more. I intend not to simply grow older—but to grow better. And no matter what happens, I think 42 is going to be a very good—as well as a very significant—new year.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Living Dangerously — A Book Review by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan
Mommyville is a place mothers carry in themselves. Everywhere you go there you are...In Jennifer Wilson’s new memoir—Running Away To Home, our family’s journey to Croatia in search of who we are, where we came from and what really matters—she captures perfectly the internal conflicts mothers face as they pursue their dreams with their families in tow.
Wilson set out to write a travelogue and says she ended up becoming an accidental memoirist. Too personal and emotional for a standard travelogue, the internal process of taking one’s family on a year long adventure to find a lost heritage in a formerly war-torn country becomes an exploration in expanding the self and redefining what family means.
I was fortunate enough to interview Wilson and felt sad that we didn’t live in the same town, since my instant desire was to go have coffee. In reading her book and even more so when speaking with her, one finds a kindred mommy spirit. It is easy to imagine quickly becoming her good friend, which is what reading her book is like. She tells a great story—but the level of personal detail about her fears, her hopes, her desires—it feels like she is hanging out sipping coffee right in front of you. The intimacy of her writing is compelling especially if one has ever dreamed of traveling and taking along children or if one is considering something completely crazy like making a significant life change.
For me, what is so absorbing about the narrative is how the reality of motherhood in the United States is clearly articulated. It’s not always a fun place and Wilson acknowledges the isolation of the experience, but then in this bold move of changing her life for a year with her husband and her two kids, she sees what is real in her family and in America. The revelations Wilson discovers at times are unexpected, but also comforting. An overwhelming sense that life is “a glass half full” becomes a reminder that each of us individually—that I personally—have so much to be thankful for in these United States.
If you have dreamed of travel, but thought it too daunting with children, then Running Away To Home is a must read. If you're feeling like you can't remember what's important as you shuttle back and forth between swim lessons and dance lessons and a myriad of other kid activities then this book is for you. If you want to be reminded that though you are a middle-aged mommy, your expiration date has NOT come up then jump into this book with abandon, take a deep breath, make your own plunge and remember who you are. Reading Running Away To Home will definitely inspire urges you long thought dead...
Friday, January 27, 2012
It's About Numbers by Robin Gorman Newman
What is it about numbers that can be so challenging?
My husband is great at them, though it often consumes his life.
My son, who is in third grade, is hugely challenged by mathematics. And, when I spoke to a potential math tutor the other day, she commented how kids are introduced to math at a younger age, and really it's in fourth grade that kids are expected to do it.
I don't recall when I learned math as a kid, but it pains me to see Seth have such a hard time with it. And, it impacts our home life by causing added stress.
The teacher claims he does okay in the classroom, but when it comes to homework, he says it's too hard. She commented that kids often act differently with their parents. No doubt that is true, but still, he knows he needs to do the homework, and that if he wants computer play time and television time, it has to get done.
The homework battle is one many parents experience. My friend Debbie and I were discussing it one day. Her son is older, and she said she's sick of getting sick about his lack of motivation when it comes to homework. She's read him the riot act, including explaining how he needs to step up to the plate if he wants to do well in school and get into a good college. He acts indifferent.
I'd hate for this to become a pattern with Seth.
What's a parent to do?
Should we hire a math tutor? My concern is that it might feel like more pressure to Seth.
Kids do deserve downtime.
Is the homework just too much?
Children can't excel at everything even though it's expected of them.
Math wasn't my forte in school. In fact, there were some mathematical subjects I despised.
To this day, I don't love even having to balance the check book. In that sense, comes in handy that I married an accountant. Though I wish there was some alternative to tax season.
There's gotta be a better way for him...and for my numbers-challenged son!
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Intuitive Eating Isn't a Diet...by Liimu
I combed the internet to see if I was doing something wrong. Every fiber of my being screamed out for me to go on a diet and yet, the truth is I'm done with dieting. I just am. I sort of wish I weren't, but I totally am. So, I prayed. I prayed for the answer because I was sick and tired of being at that jumping off point of being ready to let go of my old way of doing things but not knowing yet how to do things the new way.
And then the answer came to me like a smack in the forehead:
Intuitive eating isn't a diet...
...but it's not NOT a diet.
The wikipedia definition of a diet (the noun, that is, not the verb), is "the sum of the food consumed by an organism or group." That doesn't say anything about restricting or starving or controlling. In fact, it's only when diet is used as a verb that even any mention is made of how dieting relates to weight loss.
I realized that what I had been doing was still just sort of eating whatever I wanted. Intuitive eating for maintenance, I guess, when what I want is to lose weight. I'm not ashamed or afraid to admit it. I. Want. To. Lose. Weight. So, I need to adjust my diet so that it supports that goal. Simple as that.
So for the past week, that's what I've been doing and by gum, I think it's working. I can tell you, it's working inside my head. I'm no longer worried about whether or not I'm doing this right. I just wake up every morning and pray for the willingness to do it right. Because I know what to do, I just need to do it.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Is it Okay to Lie to Your Child? - by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Am I Over-scheduling my Child? - by Margaret Hart
Monday, January 23, 2012
Much-Needed Time Off—by Jamie Levine
My first day of “vacation” was Martin Luther King Day, a day whose importance my daughter acknowledged by telling me, “I feel bad for Martin Luther King because he wasn’t allowed in the ice cream store like everyone else.” And that evening, while my parents tucked my darling little daughter into bed, I was wined and dined in New York City, "grown up" style, in anticipation of my upcoming birthday—a great kick-start to the rest of the week.
I can’t say I did or went anywhere extraordinary, but after an intense cycle of classes (culminating in a 20-page research paper and an 18-page term project, as well as a 4.0 average), it was nice for me to not have to think about anything school-oriented for a few days. I went to the gym every morning, leisurely ran errands afterwards, met good friends for lunch, caught up with some long distance pals online and over the phone, went on a couple of dates, drank my fair share of good wine, and even took care of a few doctor’s appointments (allowing myself to thumb through a magazine rather than my requisite text book, while I sat in waiting room). Most importantly, I tried to focus on me for a change—and tried to start taking better care of myself emotionally.
Ever since my long-ago break-up with Library Guy, I’ve been unsure of what I want, romantically, in my life. I’ve floundered between not being ready to date to wanting tons of attention from guys and dating like mad just to “have fun,” to wanting something serious and not being able to let my guard down, to simply being the confused mess I am now. And as an amazing friend of mine wisely pointed out to me this week, what I really need to do is work on giving myself everything I want a man to give me and to “be the love that I wish to receive.” She assured me that “the universe gives you what you want,” so I need to “put out what I want to get in return.” And while I generally roll my eyes at “new agey" stuff like that, some of what she told me rang true. Especially when the following day I heard from (and bumped into) a few former love interests, and realized I was emanating true self-confidence and happiness.
It’s been an interesting week. And I won’t even speculate on what the next few weeks will bring. But as I return to school, and start to focus on my studies again, I intend to keep at least some of my focus on myself and what I really want. Hopefully I'll come up with something wonderful...and the universe will make sure I get it.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
GUEST BLOG POST: Creating a Life That REALLY Works by Vickie Milazzo
Labels: wicked success for women
Saturday, January 21, 2012
The Role of Grammar in a Marriage by Sharon O'Donnell
There have been a few times in the past, though, that my accent has caused me some embarrassment. When I was a freshman in college, I dated a Duke student who was from upstate New York. I’ll never forget the time I told him our football seats were under the cement overhang so we’d be protected from the forecasted rain. I pronounced the word ‘cement’ as ‘sea-ment’ with emphasis on the first syllable, the way I’d grown up hearing it. He said, “Pardon?” and then paused, trying to decipher my meaning. Then he smiled and said, “Oh, you mean cement,” saying the word without the long ‘e’ sound and stressing the last syllable. He seemed amused. I wanted to yell, “Haven’t you ever seen The Beverly Hillbillies? It’s the ‘seament pond’, not the cement pond!” I refrained, however, realizing that the Beverly Hillbillies were not exactly authorities on proper pronunciation.
Then there was the time I was at a staff holiday party at one of my first jobs when I asked a co-worker, “Are you going to put the record on?” Everybody started laughing because I had said ‘own’ instead of ‘on’. I knew the difference of course and in a public speech I would have used the correct pronunciation; but, this was in a supposedly relaxed setting when I could let my guard down.
Even our grammar usage has some of its roots in where we were brought up. My husband and I used to bicker about his use of the words 'take' and 'bring'. He would say to me while sitting in our family room, "I need to bring the car in tomorrow to have the tires rotated."
"You need to take the car," I would say to him, relying on the grammar courses I took as a journalism major at Carolina.
"That's what I said. We need to bring the car to the tire place." He saw no difference in the usage of these two words, that 'bring' indicates motion toward the speaker and 'take' indicates motion away from the speaker. Not a big deal, I know, but just one of those petty things that drove me up the wall. Besides since he was in business and gave speeches regularly, I thought it would benefit him to know the proper usage. I finally dug through my old college books and found my usage and style textbook, flipped to the bring-take rule, and showed it to my husband.
He was not impressed. Saying “bring” was what he was used to saying, therefore it sounded fine to him. The book even explained that people from the northern part of the United States are more prone to saying “bring” for “take”, and my husband’s family is originally from New England. It was then I understood why he insisted on saying ‘bring’; it was a part of his own heritage. I decided to give up and try not to let it bother me anymore; I’ll let him say ‘bring’ as long as I can say ‘seament’. Yet, when I hear one of my sons doing this because they hear their dad doing it, well, then it becomes a problem again. I want to try to make sure my boys have some basic good grammar skills. Even when they were young, I was aware of the need for this; it’s never too early to start gearing up for the SAT.
Once Jason threw a basketball at Billy and hit him in the face, accidentally of
course. They came inside with five-year-old Jason yelling, “Mom, I throwed a basketball and hit Billy right in the face!”
Being the concerned mom that I am, I said calmly, “It’s ‘threw’, not ‘throwed’.”
Billy replied, “Ah, mom, I don’t think that’s the main point of what he’s saying here.”
Another time my boys’ grammar just above drove me insane was when Billy, a big Carolina Hurricanes hockey fan, wrote on the car windshield during play-off season, “Lets go Canes!” That’s ‘lets’ with no apostrophe as it should be in the contraction for ‘let us’. I couldn’t stand driving around town with everybody thinking I didn’t know better. What really got me was that Billy and David are both honor students, but when they write stuff on car windshields it’s like they forget every bit of correct grammar they ever knew. I know it shouldn’t bother me the way it does, but I can’t help myself. Something comes over me when I see signs on a door that say, “Employee’s Only”.
I think I must get this from my mother. A number of years ago she was in the hospital for major surgery. Since she was 80, the doctors had said her recuperation period would be slow, and she might be kind of out of it for a while. As she lay ‘napping’ in her hospital bed, my siblings and I were discussing what visitors she’d had that day. One of us said something about ‘a lady from church and her daughter-in-laws came over’. Suddenly, my mother’s eyes flew open, and she said, “daughters-in-law”.
We turned to her, surprised. “What?” we asked.
“Daughters-in-law,” she repeated. “That’s the way you say the plural of daughter-in-law.” We all just looked at each other and smiled. We knew Mama would be well in no time, which she was.
In our household, the misuse of lay and lie still is a problem, and no matter how much I explain the difference to my guys, they revert to using the words incorrectly. I still remember the time when Sesame Street’s Elmo was so popular, and we had one of those talking stuffed Bed Time Elmos who said various remarks about going to sleep when you squeezed his hand. I noticed right away that one of the remarks used lie and lay incorrectly and was glad that soon after there was coverage in the media about this and how bad it was that cute little innocent Elmo was leading the youth of America grammatically astray. “See,” I told my family, “other people are bothered by this too.” Of course, Jason still played with the furry, red toy, but every time Elmo said something like, “I’m tired. Let’s lay down,” I’d add, “That should be lie down, Jason.” As if Jason gave a damn.
A few years ago, Kevin and I attended his cousin’s son’s wedding. At the reception, when the handsome groom was making a speech, he thanked everyone for coming and said, “It means a lot to Jennifer and I.” He suddenly stopped, a look of horror on his face, and turned to his beautiful bride who was getting ready to say something to him. He held up his hand to stop her, and said, “I mean, to Jennifer and me.” Then he laughed and added, “I still have to work on that.” Everyone else laughed, too, but I reveled in it and looked around for Kevin because the me/I thing was one of our most hotly-debated grammar questions. Actually, ‘debated’ is the wrong word choice because ‘debate’ implies he had an opinion on the topic and argued it, when really he just didn’t care whether he said it correctly or not. I wondered if in twenty years the groom would still be so concerned about using the proper grammar that obviously his new bride had encouraged him to do. I hoped so. But I doubted it. He would probably still be saying I instead of me, and it would be driving her out of her mind. She’d say, “Remember, honey, at our reception when . . .”
So in our study is a fine assortment of grammar books I’ve collected over the years for the guys, such as Painless Grammar, Grammar Smart, and Grammar for Dummies. My hope has been that when they’re doing their homework and have a question about word usage or run-on sentences, that they, with their thirst for knowledge, will grab one of these books and look up the correct answer. But the books remain on the shelf in pristine condition, unopened since the day I got them.
One time 15-year-old David said he was going to bring his baseball pitching net over to a friend’s house. “You’re going to take it over to a friend’s house,” I told him.
“Yeah, that’s what I said.” And with that he was out the door.
I’ve got to learn there are some battles I’m never going to win. I doubt grammar problems are one of the leading reasons for divorce, but then again, couldn’t that be part of ‘irreconcilable differences’?
Friday, January 20, 2012
Seth...My Son the Supporter by Robin Gorman Newman
Last week, my beloved dad suffered a series of strokes, and has been at St. Francis Hospital.
When I became a later in life mother, I was somewhat conscious of the fact that I was living the “sandwich generation”….caring for a young child and senior dad. But, that has taken on heightened meaning as my father’s health challenges have become more acute in recent times.
I’m finding it essential to do my best to practice good self care, though the stress gets to me more than I’d like. I’ve had bouts with tears, headaches and sleepless nights, but I want to be strong. I don’t see anything wrong with crying, but I don’t know what Seth might be thinking or feeling deep down, and I’m trying to stay as upbeat as possible for him. It’s not that I’m not thinking positive, I’m just drained with all the uncertainty, questions, decisions, etc. I’ve come to understand….if not accept….that essentially this is what life is. None of us has a crystal ball. But, I do prefer it when I feel as if I’m coasting along and in a “safe” place, whatever that means for me.
I am so proud of Seth when I witness his behavior in the hospital. He is very patient, plays with his 3D DS and even involves himself in ways to be helpful that interest him. For example, keeping an eye on the equipment that monitors my dad’s heart rate…..figuring out how to operate the lights, television, phone, etc. in his room…..fetching the nurse when we have a question, etc. He’s become my little helper, and his spirit and energy help lift me up when I need it. He’s like a little ray of sunshine, and I’m so very grateful for his presence in my life…and not just at this difficult time.
On the flip side…Seth is very high energy, and after a day at the hospital, I need to chill, and can’t do that with a young child. There is dinner to be made, homework, bath time, toy clean up, after school programs, etc. We have an agenda, and do our best to continue the daily routine as we know it, despite extenuating circumstances. I’m so grateful to my husband who is totally there for us and helpful in every way he can be and more.
There is the saying “It takes a village….” (to raise a child), and when difficult times arise in life, this feels especially true.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
What if... by Liimu
What if this doesn't work?
What if intuitive eating will leave me fat?
What if I'm intuitively eating too much?
What if I'm wasting valuable dieting time?
What if I'm too old to lose weight intuitively?
She gave me a simple solution: "What if you said "what if" in a way that would serve you?"
What if it does work?
What if intuitive eating will get you to your ideal weight and keep you there?
What if you're intuitively eating just the right amount for your body?
What if you never have to diet again?
What if this whole process will leave you feeling and looking younger than ever?
What if the only things you have to eliminate from your life are the thoughts that don't serve you?
What if, indeed.