Sunday, August 12, 2012

What's Harder, Being a Pilot or a Parent?

I got the chance to have a sit down interview with my brother-in-law, who's been an Air Force pilot for 12 years.  The interview took place while 3 kids were sitting on him. 

Me: OK, what pilot skills come in handy for parenting?

BIL: You have to have situational awareness in the airplane and with parenting.  You have to be organized.  Communication within the plane and outside the plane as well.  You have to deal with pressure- it's a different kind of pressure.

The BIL with 4 of his 5 kids and one of mine
How is the pressure different?  
It's a higher stakes pressure.  You can't make a mistake in the plane.  With kids, it's more constant little things.

What's harder?  

What's harder, taking care of children or flying a plane?  (pause) Taking care of children is considerably harder.  Five children, at least.  It's a joke, having two children.  That's the easiest thing in the world.  (pause) You get a lot more training to fly an airplane.  Otherwise it would be much harder. You don't get a lot of training to be a parent.

Any more questions for my brother-in-law?  Let me know and I'll include them in a future interview.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Motherlode's Questionable Content

Over the past year, I've been disillusioned with the New York Times parenting blog Motherlode.  I'm unhappy with the steady stream of guest posters and I don't like the tabloid-y headlines and teasers meant to provoke.  For example, today’s sidebar reads: “Should You Leave a Loved, But Unprofessional, Daycare?; Why We Should Watch More TV with Our Children; Parents of Picky Eaters, It’s Not Your Fault; Our Spoiled, Rotten Children.” I don’t need to feel provoked by every headline, yet I want to read about parenting news and issues. I've been feeling like Motherlode is just yanking my chain in an effort to get me riled up so they’d get more page hits.

I thought the last straw for me and Motherlode was a month ago, when lead blogger KJ Dell’Antonia tweeted about an article in the Times, “Professional Photographers in the Delivery Room (yuck.)”  I know not everyone has had the positive birth experiences that I’ve had, but I started to wonder why I was reading a parenting blog curated by someone who seemed grossed out by birth.  Yet I didn’t delete the blog from my google reader or Twitter feed.  Amidst all the chain-yanking, there were posts on car safety and the Penn State sex abuse scandal, which are things I want to read about. I didn’t want to miss important news just because the style of the lead blogger (or whoever is writing headlines and making decisions about content) rubbed me the wrong way.  

However, an essay posted on Motherlode yesterday truly is the last straw. I was shocked to see the headline “Breastfeeding and Sex: Is Latching On a Turn Off?” in my twitter feed.  Talk about tabloid-y!  The teaser for the post by James Braly said, “Extended breast-feeding impacts the whole family. And I would argue that the impact on the father - and his sex life - is not good.”  Wow!  Who is this guy?  A pediatrician? A psychologist?  An average dad?  I’d have to read to see. It sounded bad, but maybe this was just one of those teasers meant to make me read, and the post itself would not be inflammatory.  Well, it was actually WORSE than I expected.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stamford Downtown Horse Tour 2012

Stamford Horse Tour 2012 Leg Three Crew 

 My friends and I had the most fun yesterday completing leg 3 of a walking tour of all of Stamford's horse statues.  Every summer the Stamford Downtown Special Services District does an Art in Public Places show.  This year the theme is "Horsin' Around" and the horses are awesome!
I say "leg three" as if there is a planned tour... no, one of my fabulously motivated and organized friends planned a four-leg tour for us so we can see all 40 horses. To make it more interactive for the kids, she also made books so the kids can put a sticker beside every horse they see.  I missed leg 2 of the tour because I was working, so now I am way behind.  Fortunately on our last leg we are going to review a bunch of horses, because my child WILL complete his sticker book.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Photo I Like: The Obamas

Official Obama Family Portrait 2011
Sometimes I stare at photos of the Obama family and think, and let myself feel, "My God!  We have a black family in the White House!"  I think it's because I never believed I'd see it in my lifetime.  Being from the South, I was always aware of just how much progress still needed to be made in how whites and blacks live together- because in my time in Virginia, I felt people lived very separately.  (I don't think that's limited only to the South- there's also plenty of separation up here in the suburban Northeast.)

I was very proud when our country elected Obama in 2008.  I think he's done a good job in a difficult economy. And having a young family in the White House has been a real joy.  It has been a pleasure to watch two caring, attentive parents spend lots of time with their kids while at the same time doing an important job.  I have also loved watching Michelle Obama encourage the nation to be healthier, and I love that she has talked about the importance of breastfeeding.

Freedom Rides 1961
I know a person's skin color isn't the only lens through which to view him or her, but with our country's ugly history around race, skin color represents where we have been and where we are going.  In the case of a great-great-great-granddaughter of slaves being the First Lady, it shows how hard many people have worked to overcome difficulties and discrimination.  It was only fifty years ago that the Freedom Riders encountered violence while simply trying to integrate buses across the South.  It's been less than 150 years since slavery in this country ended.  We've come a long way.

That's what looking at that photo of the Obamas makes me think of.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Abbey's Tips: Dog Mauling Strategy

Abbey's Tip #1: If you are on a walk with your kids, and are attacked by a dog, throw your kids into a trash can.

My commentary: Every mother (I think) has a fear of dog attacks.  When you are walking with your kid in a stroller, they're right at dog-mouth height.  Every so often you hear those dog mauling stories on the news, and why shouldn't there be a crazy dog at the park?  Even if you are wearing your kid- wait- no, you ARE safer if you are wearing your kid!  Because you'll have time to run to the trash can!
The only flaw in Abbey's tip is that you're not guaranteed to be close to a trash can- but if you are babywearing, the dog has to drag YOU down to get to your kid, and of course your supermom strength will prevent or at least delay that. So, a corollary of this safety tip is, "Babywear your baby anywhere you might encounter dogs."  Surely that's reasonable?  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Cloth Diapering Made Me a Better Mom

Before anyone gets offended, I don't feel like I'm a better mom than anyone else; I just feel like a better mom than I was before. I recently jumped into cloth diapering with my second child, and I've been very pleased at the ripples it has caused in my life.  For me, cloth diapering helped me get off my butt, literally and figuratively.

My stash after my first purchases
My gorgeous cloth diapers that I wash every two days (I could get away with three if I bought a few more, but I'm enjoying seeing how few diapers I can get away with) keep me on a schedule.  I am a person who needs a schedule, or I get nothing done.  My cloth diapers keep me active.  Go downstairs, put diapers in for ten minute cold rinse.  Go back down, wash on warm.  Go back down, put in dryer for 45 minutes on low. Go back down, take out my (beautiful) PUL covers and put them on rack to dry, dry rest of diapers/inserts for a hour on regular.  (Some moms dry all the diapers/inserts, but I'm too paranoid about ruining my beautiful bumGenius 4.0 PUL covers).  It's easy to be motivated to do this multistep wash because if I don't, my baby has no cloth diapers to wear, and her mommy doesn't have adorable cloth diapers to revel in all day. I wake up with a purpose: are my cloth diapers clean?   

Diapers loaned by friend
Cloth diapering also helped me get off my butt, health-wise.  I started cloth diapering because I read that disposable diapers have dioxin, a cancer-causing chemical in them.  This was just after I learned that Tide Free, the detergent I've used for YEARS, had unhealthy levels of dioxin.  The amount of dioxin I could be exposing my kids to really freaked me out.  I immediately emailed all my cloth diapering friends and asked how to get started with cloth, and I've been on a roll since!  I did a 3 week trial of 8-9 different diapers from Jillian’s Drawers, and all 3 of my friends loaned me diapers to try; this way, I wouldn't spend money until I knew what worked best for me!  
Once I got the girl in cloth, and saw how easy that change was, I started looking at other things that used to seem hard.  To be able to deal with my children’s poop so easily- with just a washing machine and later, as poop gets more solid, a diaper sprayer, is very empowering! I figured if I could do cloth diapers, I could do anything!  I began learning how to find shampoos and sunscreens that didn't have bad chemicals in them.  I started doing all organic veggies and I'm looking into using safer cleaners in my home. To make sure I use all the organic fruits and veggies that show up at my house every Wednesday, I've had to cook and meal plan more.  I'm hoping this will make my whole family more healthy.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Birth Resource: Hypnobirthing of CT

One of my favorite local birth resources is Cynthia Overgard’s HypnoBirthing of CT. I took Cynthia’s HypnoBirthing class just over 3 years ago. It’s great prep for childbirth because, in addition to providing thorough information on all your birthing rights and options, it's based on the fact that your brain is your most important birthing organ. The premise of HypnoBirthing is that fear and tension cause the labor pain experienced by so many women. With simple breathing and visualization techniques, women learn to remain relaxed, just as one would in an intense yoga pose, resulting in a quicker and more comfortable birth. (If I hadn't seen my sister have two births like that, I wouldn't have believed it was possible... but it is.) Although the goal is not natural childbirth, approximately 80 percent of Cynthia's clients birthed completely naturally last year.

Cynthia teaches the 12 hour course out of her spacious studio in Westport. It’s a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, thanks to Cynthia’s warm nature and obsession with feeding people. (There is a table full of delicious food at every class she teaches.) Before realizing her calling as a birth educator, Cynthia was a corporate executive and finance professor at UConn in Stamford. Her childbirth class reflects both her meticulous attention to detail and her passion for empowering couples to have a satisfying birth experience. The class is organized, engaging, and enjoyable.

I recently got back in touch with Cynthia while planning the birth of my second baby, and I’m more aware now of what an amazing resource she herself is. From her experience with hundreds of local pregnant couples and new parents, Cynthia knows an enormous amount about birth options and resources in the area. Cynthia counseled me on the various birthing options for birthing my second baby, and to have her calm guidance was, well, pretty priceless. I can say for certain that she helped guide me to have the birth I hoped for.