Calm, Cool and Committed

Three Moms and a Dude

Simple Man

According to family therapist and parenting guru, John Gottman, a child’s emotional IQs more of a foreshadowing of his future success than his intelligence.  Shocking? How about this: the father plays a greater role in a child’s emotional development than a mother.  

Mama told me when I was young, “Come sit beside me, my only son.  Listen closely to what I say. If you do this, it’ll help you some sunny day. Oh, take your time. Don’t live too fast. Troubles will come and they will pass.  You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love. And, don’t forget, son, there is someone up above. And be a simple kind of man. Oh be something you love and understand. Baby, be a simple kind of man. Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can?”

If you’re a mother of a boy, you can hear the guitar chords in your head and feel the lump in your throat.  When men hear that they are going to be daddies to a little girl, they panic a little bit and buy bumper stickers about killing boyfriends…and they’re only half kidding.  When the ultrasound tech told Bug and me that we were having a boy, he was relieved.  He said that with a son you only have to worry about one boy; with a daughter, you have to worry about all the boys. He’s right. Girls get their hearts broken easily and often find themselves in situations that are tricky at best – sometimes even dangerous.  Fathers are right to worry when they have girls because, as my own father once said, “I was a teenage boy once, too.” They are The Shadow: they know what “evil” lurks in the hearts of men.  So, when we found out that Doodle Bug was going to be a boy – Bug was relieved. I was not.

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I know that girls can get hurt because they often put themselves in situations where their heart could be broken.However,  I panicked because I know that boys can get hurt because they put themselves in situations where their necks can be broken – speeding, bungee jumping, rugby.  It’s like they’re not happy unless their mother is so worried about them that she chews her fingernails right off waiting for them to come home. I told Bug that I want Doodle Bug to have the slowest, heaviest car. Preferably, a tank.  He would be in the band and wear football padding if he chose to play table tennis.  Now that Doodle Bug is a toddler and I’m getting to know him, I see that those are ridiculous requests.  I am not worried about my baby’s physical safety any more than I am about his emotional security. I’m not only worried about him driving into a wall; I’m worried about him hitting a glass ceiling.

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Wait.  Aren’t glass ceilings only a concern in Feminism? Not any more.  The Women’s Rights Movement was a reaction to a feeling of oppression and sexism against women.  It took women out of the kitchens and put them behind desks and on battlefields.  *It masculinized them. In turn, men felt like they had to become bigger and tougher.  Suddenly, anything that made a man appear even slightly weaker than Rambo was girly or wimpy and must not be shown.  Men no longer could cry, be afraid, feel emotion or admit defeat. Those were womanly characteristics and men were tough, goshdarnit.  Men should be able to lift couches, beat up bad guys and fix toilets.  The only time they should ever be caught cooking anything was if there was open flame involved and even then, only red meat.

My father is a victim of this tough guy mandate.  As a family, we went to see The Little Mermaid in theaters.  When Ariel’s father professes his love for her, suddenly my dad’s allergies kicked in.  He had inexplicable watering of the eyes and runny nose.  It was probably some lady’s floral perfume. My husband has let projects sit for months (::cough:: ::cough:: years ::cough::) without finishing them.  During one emotionally charged conversation, I discovered that he would rather I think he was lazy that know that he hadn’t the foggiest idea how to do some things around the house.  As my mother says, “I don’t know how to sew drapes so I hire someone who does but if men don’t know how to fix a leaky faucet, it’s like their penis falls right off.” Well, not my son’s. His package will stay firmly in place. I want him to know that he has permission to cry in front of his friends. He may ask someone else to fix his toilet and have his girlfriend beat up the burglar while he dials 911.  I want my son to be a simple kind of man.

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Society seems to be so focused on not letting girls get hurt that we worry about the boys.  Girls hear things like, “make him treat you right” and “don’t trust those boys!”  What do boys hear? “be gentle with your sister,” “open the door for ladies,” “don’t break her heart,” “be a tough guy!” Maybe in the past forty years we have been so focused on getting women ahead that we haven’t noticed our men slip behind.  We  have been so busy dwelling on our difficult roles as mothers, wives, and career women that we can’t hear the men asking, “how am I supposed to be a father, husband and career man?” We tell our daughters that guys are up to no good but I’ve seen as many teenage boys cry over relationships as girls.  I’ve had conversations with male students that feel like the limelight is on them. They are not allowed to get angry at their girlfriends because they will be accused of being abusive. They have to win fight or they will be called weak. They can’t let the girls win because that is condescending and they will have to admit that they’ve lost to a girl. Nor can they win because, then what? You beat a girl. Way to go, man. No wonder there seems to be a learned helplessness among this generation’s young men.  They are just as confused about their roles in society as women were when they were sent back home after having done their time as Rosie the Riveter.  Even when a man manages to do a good job, all of the voices around him whisper, “behind every great man is a greater woman” or “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

I look at my daughter, Sunny, and I pray that she is spunky and strong so that she doesn’t get trampled on. Then, I look at my son and pray that he knows he is allowed to strong but not tough. He can be smart but not arrogant. He can admit he’s in love or that his heart is broken. He can tear up the opposing team and turn around and blow his mom a kiss.  All humans are allowed to show happiness, sadness, strength and weakness.  If that means that we cry when we skin our knee, then that’s OK. Even if we’re boys. Even if we’re in our 30s.  If something hurts, it hurts and all I want for my son is to be emotionally intelligent and free. Just like my dad sat on the couch and cleaned his guns when boys came to pick me up, I’ll be staring down the girls who want to date my boy.  There are no rules about how to be a man just like there are no rules about how to be a woman. All we are is people. Simple people. And all our mothers want for us is to be satisfied.

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*Information courtesy of a Sociology major friend of my sister.

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Thanks for the Mammaries

This afternoon, a coworker asked me how big Buddy was these days.  When I told her he was almost 16 pounds, she smiled and said, “The power of breast milk.”  I nodded, smiled and – on the inside – laughed.

I never thought breastfeeding would get me down.

When I was pregnant with Bud, one of the decisions I really mulled over was whether or not I’d breastfeed.  Truthfully, I had no desire to do it.  The idea of a small infant attached to my nipples didn’t fill my head with images of angels singing and fairies sprinkling pixie dust.

Back when the idea of Bud was just that – an idea – I had one good friend ask me if I was going to breastfeed.  I told her the concept kinda skeeved me out.  She responded, “You don’t have to breastfeed.  It’s okay to formula feed.”  I nodded and said, “That’s good.”  In the back of my head I thought, “Duh.  Of course I don’t have to.”

And then I got pregnant and ran smack dab into the Boob Nazis.  It seemed like everywhere we went – OBGYN, pediatrician, maternity clothes store, car dealership, people would ask “Are you going to breastfeed?”  My husband and I quickly learned that “We’re not sure yet,” was the equivalent of saying “Please convince us to breastfeed,” or worse, “We clearly are dysfunctional idiots who need to be given dirty looks.”

When my favorite OBGYN asked if I was going to breastfeed, I told her I hadn’t decided.  She responded, “As long as the idea of it doesn’t gross you out…”  Hubby and I looked at each other and I kinda foolishly giggled.  Because, yeah, the idea DID gross me out.

My husband and I did a lot of research (he more than me, actually) and discovered that there’s no decisive evidence that breastfeeding makes better kids.  It seems a strong parent/child connection is what makes a difference in a child’s development.  Because this is such a debated topic, I won’t go further, but I will point you toward this article if you’re interested.

Since colostrum (the first breast milk product)  is so high in nutrients and antibodies – and helps babies work up a poop – we decided we wanted to give breastfeeding a try.  The plan was that I’d breastfeed, hopefully making it until I returned to work after Bud’s three month birthday.  If I got that far, maybe I’d consider going to six months.

Soon after they wheeled me and Bud out of the operating room, the nurse asked if I was ready to breastfeed.  Uneasy as I had been about it, the shock of just having an emergency C-section took the edge off my earlier hesitancy, and I was blessed with a baby who, as several OB nurses exclaimed, had “a perfect latch.”

Not long after this, I told my husband I was proud of how well I did with breastfeeding.  Moms who breastfeed SHOULD be proud.  That business HURTS.  At Bud’s newborn photo session, one of the photographers remarked for the first few weeks of breastfeeding her babies she had to sit on a rocking chair and rock through the pain.  And that’s the truth.  I remember for the first couple weeks wincing in sharp agony at the initial latch.  If you can deal with the pain, you also have to come to grips spending more time breastfeeding than doing anything else.  It felt like breastfeeding was all I did.  It was work.  It was a job.

When we went to Bud’s one-week check up, we learned that not only had he not started to regain his birth weight, he had lost even more.  The pediatrician assured me that this was common in first-time moms, but she wanted us to give him a ½ ounce shot of formula, to help him gain weight.  In seven days of life, our little guy was even littler, and we would not allow him to suffer.  After a week or two of supplementing, we were able to get him back to being exclusively breastfed.  And this worked well.  Until we started taking to heart the comments about how tiny our baby was.  A week of daily home weigh-ins proved Bud wasn’t gaining, and a trip to the pediatrician for a weight check supported that.  Bud wasn’t adding weight like he should.  At around two months of age, Bud had to go back on formula in addition to breast milk.

I was not prepared for the emotional setback this would cause.  I – the woman who wasn’t even sure she wanted to breastfeed – hesitated to supplement.  I felt bad about breastfeeding, about myself.  I felt like I was letting Bud down.  After all, I had oodles of packets from doctors, and hospitals, and baby companies all telling me the same thing – Breast is Best.  And if breast is best, everything else is worst.

The pediatrician assured me that some women just don’t produce as much as is needed.  She said he’d gotten many weeks of antibodies, and that was good enough.  Yet, I still felt bad.  I asked what I could do, and she gave me a prescription for Metoclopramide, a medicine that can cause weird muscle twitches that never go away.  After getting freaked out about that, I decided not to take the medicine, but that meant I would not longer be able to exclusively breastfeed.  I would be a “supplementer.”

And that’s when I got hit by the Boob Nazis.  BN’s are not to be confused with the helpful friends who legitimately wanted to offer help (I now take an herbal supplement from Motherlove which increases my milk output by ooooh, half an ounce on any random day).  The Boob Nazis were other people who appeared out of nowhere, in the shape of people I never thought would gave two twitches about breastfeeding.

Left and right I was bombarded by women telling me no mother ever needs to supplement, that a mother can provide exactly the right amount of food for her baby, that it’s okay if your child is so tiny they’re not even on the WHO’s breastfed baby growth chart.

“Did you pump between sessions?”
“Did you try eating oatmeal?”
“Does he have a good latch?”
“Are you drinking enough water?”
“Are you keeping him at the boob long enough?”
“Have you tried standing on your head in subzero temperatures while eating raw crocodile?”

I wanted to scream!  I already felt like my body was dysfunctional, and now people were reinforcing my negative self-image.  Through their words, they reassured me that my body was in fact failing my son.  I had tried everything I could think of but they made me doubt myself.  I began to wonder if drinking one can of beer before bed would fix the problem.

At one point Hubby said to me something along the lines of “It seems like you’re okay with Bud not gaining weight if it means not giving him formula.”  That statement gave me the wake-up call I needed.  Breast is Best advocates promote breastfeeding because it creates a good, healthy baby.  But in my case, exclusive breastfeeding wasn’t getting the job done.

So now I breastfeed.  And I supplement formula.  And I’m becoming okay with it.  As you can tell, I’m still a little sensitive – and a tad bitter – about it.  Yet this past weekend, Hubby looked at me and said, “Look how happy and healthy this guy is.”  We chose the right thing.

I’m not sure why the Boob Nazis perpetuate the myth that every mom can successfully and exclusively breastfeed all the time, right from the get go.  Would these same people tell women suffering from infertility not to take Clomid because “Every woman ovulates in the manner needed to produce a baby”?  Would they tell someone whose thyroid isn’t functioning not to take Synthroid because “All thyroids function in the appropriate manner?”

I belong to a support group for molar pregnancies.  Recently one of the members said, “If this had happened to us 100 years ago, we’d all be dead.”  Her sentiment is truth, and one I’ve thought of before.  If I had Bud 100 years ago, he might have failed to thrive.  Luckily, Bud was born in 2012, and his mom didn’t die from a molar pregnancy, and he won’t suffer from a lack of milk.

So, I thank God for the mammaries, but I also thank Him for the formula companies, who help keep my garden growing.

FEED ME!!!

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Diapered Bottoms and Beer

Naked baby pictures – everyone has them! But, do you post yours or your children’s on the internet???

Parents all over the world post pictures of their children on the internet…every…single…day (I won’t say if I’m guilty of this or not…). I’ve found four categories that parents fit into, when it comes to posting pictures of their children online:

My sweeties – cheesin’ away!!!

1 – Anything goes (They’re just children, after all.)!

2 – The Anne Geddes supporters (disrobed infants only).

3 – Moderation nation (lots of pictures, but nothing questionable).

4 – No way! Never (no pictures of their child(ren) on the internet…ever…clothed or not…not even in disguise)!

Every once in a while, however, a seemingly innocent picture is called into question. In fact, the dad who wrote this post (click the link to see his post and picture: http://blogs.babble.com/dadding/2012/08/14/was-i-wrong-to-post-this-picture-of-my-daughter-and-i-on-the-internet/) was featured on Babble Facebook page for what was thought to be an interesting post about dads and their fashion slump after having children. The excitement of being featured soon vanished when readers began attacking him for the picture he posted of himself and his daughter sitting on his front porch. Part of the reason the controversy began stemmed from the beer can he was holding (understandable, perhaps). The other comments focused on his daughter, who was sitting beside him, wearing only a diaper. Readers went so far as to accuse the father of being a “pedophile.”

Honestly, I have no idea who the blogger is, but I believe that the picture is innocent. They appear to be simply relaxing after a long day, just like any other family. Would I have chosen to post that exact picture, had I been in his shoes? Probably not. But, to each his own.

Should parents post pictures of their children in the bathtub or wearing only their diapers?? Let me know what you think by taking the poll and commenting below!

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Have a Xanax‏

By Mamma Fratelli

I was called a b*tch twice today. Both times, it was by a male driver. One time was my fault-ish, the other time, definitely not.

The first name calling incident occurred when I was driving along, minding my own business and a 20-something guy on a cell phone ran a stop sign, forcing me to slam on my brakes. To add insult to potential injury, he screamed out the window for me to move and referred to me as a lady canine.

The second incident took place at an intersection with a notoriously long red light. I was turning left and did the pull-into-the-intersection-and-if-you-don’t-get-a-turn-go-while-the-lights-are-changing routine. I’m sure the legality of the maneuver is debatable but it is SOP around here. Well, today the traffic was backed up more than usual and the tail end of my car was still in the line of fire when the eastbound light turned green. The gentleman (and I use the term loosely) sitting in the pickup truck at the light must not have had power steering because he sure was mad that he had to maneuver around me a smidge. I guess I still had my dog costume on because he suggested that I, a puppy’s mama, be…ahem…copulated with.

I tried to let it roll off my back but the irony was not lost on me that I taught at a center city school for five years and nary once did I have the pleasure of being double dosed with the B word. In a simple day’s errands, though, i managed to piss off two strangers enough to get hit with it twice. After pondering the matter the rest of my drive, it hit me that the problem is so much bigger than an offensive coincidence.

Yes, I was in the wrong in one case, but I’d wager the pickup driver had made his share of poor judgments while driving and I hope he wasn’t cursed every time he did. The instant explosiveness of the other two drivers seems to reflect a growing problem in society today: everyone on the road is pissed. If someone tailgates, the driver in front brake checks him. Maybe he needs to get to the hospital. If one driver is about to back into another, the potential target lays on her horn. A simple beep would suffice. If a driver’s tires don’t break pavement the instant a light turns green, it sounds like the brass section of the London Philharmonic is tuning up behind him. Breathe, people. The thing about green lights is that they just keep coming all day long.

Why are drivers on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Is driving itself that stressful? Are we under pressure at work but instead of blowing up at our bosses, we take it out on strangers? Is the fact that the term road rage even exists a sign of a bigger problem in society?

I’d say yes to all of the questions above. I think the anonymity coupled with the potentially serious repercussions of driving mistakes serve as a lighter to a pre-existing fuse for some people. Driving is very frustrating by design. Hurry up and stop. Wait your turn. Lose your turn. Miss your exit. Hit construction. Rarely are we going anywhere that we don’t want or need to be within a certain time frame. The possibility of arriving late to work, missing a kid’s soccer game or simply wanting to finally prop up your feet after a long day are enough to get anyone’s fingers tapping at a red light.

So, how do we get everyone to do the Rodney and just get along? I’m not so sure there’s a solution. We have to accept that there are other people in this world and they are going places, too. Unless you’re headed to the ER or have to get The Football to the President, your destination is probably roughly as important to you as everyone else’s is to them. We would have to do a major overhaul to culture and society to eliminate that constant feeling of a looming deadline (that’s another blog post entirely!) so it’s safe to assume the problem is not going to resolve itself. What’s left to do? React? Or don’t? That’s up to you. I chose to give both men the biggest, cheesiest grin and wave that I could muster. I can’t change what happened but I can giggle to myself at the idea of the rude driver complaining to his buddy and answering the question, “then what did she do?” with “she smiled and waved.” I guess if you can’t stand at the red lights handing out Xanax, you have to get creative.

<;a href="http://http://www.aaafoundation.org/resources/index.cfm?button=agdrtext“>;Safe driving, everyone!

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Fall, Crisp Apples and Soul

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Fall

I love fall! It awakens part of me that sleeps during the other three seasons. After the dog-days of August (and feeling trapped inside by the artificial cool of the air-conditioner), the crisp, snuggly weather rejuvenates my senses, and I feel energized. All of the sudden I am surrounded by irresistible love and warmth!  To me, it’s the ultimate season of nostalgia where cinnamon-spice smells, fun-filled nights, soul-warming food and family outings take over.

Crisp Apples

To define our official start to fall this year, I went apple-picking with the kids! Honestly, I just went because my best friend and her kids already had it on their agenda, and we were super-excited to spend time with them. So, whatever they were doing, we were definitely doing too! Who knew picking apples could be so much fun?!?! It ended up being a great adventure for all of us! The kids were running and laughing and crunching into their juicy picks, while excitedly filling their baskets and exploring the orchard. And, my best friend and I chased them around with our cameras, in an attempt to capture each memory. It was like a mini-vacation, surrounded by nature and the billowing, fall-filled skies. Nothing makes me feel fuller and more relaxed than the sounds of our giggling children walking through sweeping grasses and crisp leaves. Heaven!

Soul

After bringing home 60 lbs. of apples (No, that’s not a typo!), the remainder of our night consisted of gooey apple dumpling and apple crisp creations too yummy to resist! It was bliss! As the evening and our visit came to an end (always too soon), I realized something in the car: no one can replace my best friend and the time we spend together. She fills a special part of my soul. Because we’ve known each other since birth (my birth actually…I’m 6 months younger!), we share a special bond and a TON of memories, despite several rough patches along the way. There were times where we didn’t talk for years, but somehow we always found our way back to each other. Now, although our crazy lives don’t allow us nearly enough time to spend together, we appreciate every moment we have. And, for me, extending this bond to our children is absolutely irreplaceable. 

Want to see the apple dumpling recipe and MUCH BETTER pictures?? Click the link and scroll down slightly, once you reach the site: http://www.inspiredandenchantedphotographyblog.com/its-fall-and-time-for-apples/

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A question for you, dear readers!

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Facebook/Off

I recently stepped away from Facebook.  Why the hiatus?

Two Mondays ago, I was flipping through my news feed.  The local paper posted a picture of my town’s Latinos for Obama rally.  I clicked on the picture to read the caption.  Unfortunately, that meant I also read the comments that were slowly, but steadily, accumulating.  I was appalled and horrified at the comments plastered there.  It’s one thing to BE a racist, but to post racist comments for all to see?  It disgusted me.  More than that, it embarrassed me.  I was ashamed that my hometown included people who would deride and insult the Latino population based on preconceived (and inaccurate) stereotypical notions.

For hours, the racist comments on the picture bothered me.  Moral outrage coursed through my body.  How could people say things like that?  Heck, how could people THINK things like that?  As anger continued to boil up inside me, I clung to one hope – maybe there were good, non-racist people out there.  Maybe those people just weren’t commenting on the picture.  Maybe the only people commenting were the jackasses.

So, I took to Facebook and wrote a post.  I asked my friends to look at the picture and comment about how racism would not be tolerated.

I have over 700 Facebook friends.  I imagined scores of comments calling out the racists and putting them in their places, all while showing the Latino community in my county that their neighbors weren’t all jerkwads.

Only a handful of my friends posted.

A little while later, I posted another status.  This one asked whether people gave their first or last names to the host at a restaurant.  That post got over two dozen responses.

The Facebook I suddenly saw sitting before me sickened me.   I no longer saw friends loving on each other and on the world.  Instead I saw people posting inflammatory memes, arguing with each other, mocking people who looked like thumbs.  How do we have time for all that hate but not time to stand up for what is right and good and sound?

So I decided I was done with Facebook for a little.  And I signed off.  My plan was to do it for the workweek.  Then the weekend crept up, and I decided to stay off for the weekend, too.  Then the next week arrived, and I still didn’t return.  Something in me had shifted.  Being away from Facehate felt good.

I’m no stranger to giving up Facebook.  I’ve done it twice for Lent.  But those times weren’t like now.  Maybe election season is bringing out the worst in us.  Perhaps the blue moon made us all crazy.  Whatever the reason, I needed the break to rejuvenate.  I feel better.

My hiatus won’t last forever.  In fact, I plan to post a link to this blog.  Really, though, I’ll go back because I have too many friends who live in far-flung places like Minnesota  (I’m looking at you, Lepsch).

—–

I learned a few things when I gave up Facebeast, and I’d like to share those with you, my faithful reader.

  1. The longer you’re out of people’s news feeds, the less they care about you.  I allowed one Facebook exception – birthdays.  Every morning I’d log on and wish people “Happy Birthday.”  This allowed me to see how many notifications I had.  The first day I received 25.  By the second day it had almost doubled to 48.  The third day saw things drop off, with only 17 more added.  Then I hit 11 new notices.  And then one.  And then one. And then none.  People stopped giving me Facebook love.  Apparently, absence does not make the heart grow fonder.
  2. People are Facebook-self-absorbed.  Two people noticed that I was not on Facebook.  My demented friend Nikki (I say demented because I know she’ll see it as a compliment), and my kind friend, Christina.  That’s it.  Or at least those are the only people who asked me where I’d been.  I can’t be upset about this, because when I use Facebook, I mainly read what’s in my newsfeed and what people say about my statuses.  Is Facebook our current form of narcissism?
  3. Facebook is good for something.  Birthdays are important.  Before I had Facebook, I only wished a few close friends well on their b-days.  This wasn’t because I didn’t care about other people’s birthdays, but instead because I didn’t have a good way to find out those days and keep them.  I’m glad Facebook does this for me.
  4. Even though Facebook is by far the biggest time waster ever, there are other smaller ones that will sap your productivity, too.  Namely the new Simpsons game called Tapped Out.  It’s free from the Apple store.  Get it.  Hey, don’t knock it – I need something to do during 3 AM feeding sessions!
  5. You can learn the really important things in life by noticing what things you wish you could post on Facebook.  What did I miss posting?  Not my political memes (though I would have enjoyed chiming in on “Eastwooding” – especially since Hubby mistakenly looked up “Chairing” on Urban Dictionary.  Word to the wise – don’t do that).  What did I miss posting?  Stuff about Bud.  I kept wanting to post pictures of him.  I wanted everyone to see what a great little baby I have.  See point #2.
  6. Even though you’re not logging on to Facebook, your spouse will still tell you the important – make that ridiculous – status updates people post.  Apparently a lot of people are falling for satiric articles these days.  Like this faux article about breastmilk curing homosexuality.
  7. Everyone should use Facebook Messenger.  I did not give up using this iPhone app because it’s replaced text messaging for me.  You can set up Messenger so that it pops up on your phone just like a text message, and it’s free.  I love texting with my CCC peeps.  If I used real text messaging, I’d have to up my 200 text plan to an unlimited one.  Messenger saves me roughly 200 bucks a year.
  8. Life’s a lot less aggravating when you’re away from politically biased hate-talk.  Would my life have been better if I hadn’t ever seen the comments on the Latinos for Obama post?  Yes.  Ignorance really is bliss.

One last thing.  Since I couldn’t post the 100 cute photos I snapped while on hiatus, here’s one —

Bud’s Four-Month-Old Hands

***Update — within minutes of posting this blog on Facebook, several friends commented that they noticed my absence and either thought I was busy with mommy stuff or worried that something personal happened and was keeping me away.  So, I learned one more thing —

  1. There are people out there who care but know how to be sensitive and thoughtful of their friends’ lives.  XO
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America Attacks!! (Working Families)

Family

Who could ever hate this family?? XOXO!!

Vitamin D and my family are at the top of my happy list. The more I’m outside, in the sun, breathing the country air and absorbing Vitamin D, the more energetic and lively I feel.   And, the more quality time I spend with my family, the more at-ease and complete I feel.  

Recently, Time Business published an article online about one of the happiest places on earth (Iceland) and listed its secrets to happiness. The subtitle, “Icelanders are more than twice as happy as Americans. Here’s what your business can learn from them,” intrigued me, so I continued to read. When I reached number three, however, my blood began to boil.

Here’s what I read:

Most U.S. businesses seem to actively hate families, seeing them as unwelcome distractions from the work at hand. Iceland, by contrast, is beyond family friendly. For example, companies provide nine months of maternity leave-for both fathers and mothers. Making certain that employees can focus on their families reduces stress and keeps workers on a more even keel.

(Read More: http://business.time.com/2012/08/28/secrets-from-the-worlds-happiest-workplace/)

Literally, after reading the first sentence, anger welled up inside of me, and my hands began to quiver. Why? Because I know what it’s like to have to choose between work and what’s best for my family. Just this past Friday, my son’s daycare called to tell me that he was feverish and not his happy, active self.

Panic set in.

It’s only the second week in to school; I can’t take a day already! What if I don’t have enough days to last the year? What kind of mom am I for thinking like this? Why can’t I just leave when my son needs me, without worrying about who will judge or punish me??

Guilt, guilt and more guilt…

To be clear, I do not think my employer “hates” my family. However, recent policy changes have made it clear that businesses understand and support families less and less. In particular, working mothers are pressured to choose between work and their children’s needs. What makes my blood boil is when strong, successful, independent women are looked down on or indirectly punished for being good moms – when they stay home to tend to an ill child or choose not to take work home, for example. To me, not only is treating good moms differently because of these choices unacceptable, but it is also detrimental to our children, our families, our communities and ultimately, our country.

Is this the next American epidemic? Share your experiences and opinions below.

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