Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mary Mary - Get Up

This is my anthem this week. I need some motivation to GET UP and get things done. I keep waiting for this thing or the next, one person or another, the right time, for everything to fall into place, and it is past the point of being acceptable. I struggle with fear, fear of failure. But honestly, to quote Marianne Williamson, like most of us I am afraid that I am powerful beyond measure. It might not be eradicated overnight, but I'm not going to conquer anything without effort. So here it is. Hopefully some of you will be inspired to get started, or keep going.

It's your dreams, your choice, your time, your life, so don't you miss it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Postpartum Depression, Bottle Feeding and Infant and Mother Separation at Birth

I read this article today and decided to share. It is not conclusive evidence, but it is an interesting beginning to what, I hope, will be more research.

Postpartum Depression, Bottle Feeding and Infant and Mother Separation at Birth

Posted using ShareThis

Let's Start at the Beginning

When I think about the importance of family, one of the first things that comes to mind is maternity leave. In China, women under 30 are given 3 months paid leave, women 30 and over, 4 months. Women in Mexico get 12 weeks, and Cameroon, 14. Both paid. And most of Europe is even better. England is more than 6 months. Polish women get 4-5 months and French women 16 weeks for the first baby, and more for subsequent children. Paid. The United States? Nothing. If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, then you are entitled to 12 weeks. Unpaid.

I know that people argue, especially for smaller companies, that it will cost too much money to pay women to stay home with their children, even at a flat rate. But if other countires can afford to do it, why can't we? Each county has different laws, different taxation rates, different health care systems and governments, yet most of them manage to give mothers at least three months of paid leave, so I'm sure that we can find a way to make it work.

The US is one of only 5 countries in the world that don't offer paid maternity leave. I know a lot of women in the US, women that work at small companies, women that work at blue-collar jobs, women that had difficult pregnancies and had to take a lot of leave before the baby was born, that had to go back to work the day after their 6 week checkup. Some even before their 6 week checkup. Even if women are covered by the FMLA, most are required to use all of their sick and vacation time first. Yes, it helps with getting paid for as many weeks as they had time, but it also means that they have to return to work with a small child at home, and no time off available. This is not a good situation for the mothers or the babies. If there are other children or a spouse at home, it is not good for them either. And the family suffers.

Unrealistic and often unobtainable expectations putting in full day at work and getting home to a baby that ooohhs and coos for a few minutes then promptly sleeps through the night. The reality is often harsher, and more difficult. Everyone is sleep deprived. The baby knows that mom has not been there all day and needs her attention, love and affection. And everyone still has to eat, and bathe, and occasionaly wear clean clothes. We have mothers that are stretched too thin too fast. As most people know, if mom is ok, everyone is ok. Let's take care of our moms.

Here are a few websites to check my facts about maternity leave:

Unfortunately, the fight to change the maternity leave laws is often waged on the state level. To learn more about the efforts to change the laws:

And if you are trying to figure out how to pay the bills and stay home with your baby, here are a few ideas from other moms that made it work.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It Takes a Village

When I was 15, I went to Mexico as an exchange student with a small group from my high school. On the way there, our 1st flight was delayed and we missed our connection. This was before the days of cell phones and widespread internet. The airport staff, dealing with a lot of irate passengers, continually brushed us off. We called our school, and the head of the exchange program was not helpful. Lacking enough change, we couldn't all call our parents. Having run out of options, we prepared to sleep in the airport.

Suddenly, I heard my name being paged. Surprised, I listed to see if I would hear it again. There it was, I was being instructed to pick up a red courtesy phone. I picked one up, told the person my name, and was instructed to come to the ticket counter, and make sure my classmates were with me. So we gathered our stuff and found our way to the ticket counter, all the while wondering what was going on. We got to the counter and were lead to a back room. We crowded into the room, and a woman sitting behind a desk looked up. She surveyed the group of teenagers, and then looked at me and said "You need to call your mother. Now." and handed me a phone. As it turns out, my mother had gotten a call from the teacher at our school informing her that he knew we were stuck in Texas. That's it. They are stuck, and I know. Well, that was NOT acceptable. Armed with a phone book (yes a yellow pages) she tracked down the number for Continental's unaccompanied minor department in Houston. She appraised the staff of our situation, and the staff quickly stepped into action. We had a chaperon, a hotel and food within 30 minutes of that phone call. The airline did not know we were unaccompanied minors (that was the fault of our teacher and the agents that booked our fights and checked us in) and none of the other parents thought to call the airline. Thankfully my mother did, and she didn't call and say my daughter is stranded, she said my daughter and her classmates are stranded, and gave the airline personnel our names, genders, and approximate ages. In fact, when we arrived the woman behind the desk checked us against what my mother said, first, and then against the computer. Thanks to my mom, none of us slept in the airport. And all of the other kids excitedly told their parents how "[my] mom got us a room in a NICE hotel! And free FOOD!"

When we returned from Mexico we all waited together for our bags. Slowly, parents began to arrive and stand with their children. My parents were nowhere to be found. The other parents noticed that I was still alone, and asked if my parents were there. I said no. Once their child had all their bags, they said goodnight, and left. One by one, all of the parents started to leave, without a second thought or backward glance. It was late, the airport was fairly empty, and I was a teenage girl, alone, in an airport in a city about 2 hours from my home. I went to look around for my parents, and did not see them. Aside from being scared, I was nervous, worried...all I could do was wait, and everyone was leaving. When I returned to the baggage carousel, I saw my classmate and his parents, who happened to be elderly, the last people still there. Maybe it's because they grew up in a different era, but they did not leave me alone. They waited with me until my parents came because it was the right thing to do. And I am grateful for them, may God rest their souls.

I know that I was not the responsibility of any of the other parents, but what about doing what's right? They all came, knew I was the only child whose parents hadn't arrived yet, and in some cases knew they lived within 30 minutes of me, and said goodbye without a second thought. Not a single backward glance. No concern for my safety or well being. I, simply put, was not their problem. What if my mother felt the same about their children? What if she had told the airline employees that her daughter, who was the youngest in the group, was an unaccompanied minor, but not mentioned the other kids? Would they have felt slighted, offended, would they have called her selfish or uncaring when they discovered that I had slept in a 5 star hotel and eaten two free meals at a nice restaurant, while their children were left to fend for themselves? I was 15, and a few of them were 17 and 18, technically not unaccompanied minors. But because my mom told the airline employees that we were together, they kept us together. My classmates were not my mother's responsibility, but she did what was right, because we were all children.

In the years since then, I have had numerous other scenarios like this. My family will drive other children home or wait with them until their parents pick them up. But when the shoe is on the other foot, when we are late or stuck in traffic, we arrive to a child standing alone, the parents of the children that we wait with and drive home saying "bye sweetie, tell your mom I said hi" as they pull off.

I know that we are "different", but wish we weren't. I wish that when people stepped in to help, parents didn't automatically get defensive, so that they could accept constructive criticism. We can't separate the good from the bad if we don't listen. I wish people thought about other children the way they think about their own. Your children are amazing, and unique, and wonderful, and special to you, and other children are exactly the same to their loved ones. Maybe if we applied the golden rule, ALL of our children would lead happier, safer lives. Just a thought.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I have a lot of stuff. Just stuff. Things for my future home, souvenirs from various trips, books, lots of books, baby clothes, photo albums, pictures in boxes, yearbooks and autograph books, and a random assortment of items that I keep "for sentimental value". I have stuff in Shanghai, stuff in NYC and stuff in FL. This summer I had the opportunity to go through my collection of NYC crap, and got rid of the bulk of it, but I still have a few bins and an attic storage closet of things with my name on them. I said that I would only keep things that I'm willing to take around the world with me, which helped me get rid of a lot, but some things are difficult to let go of. I might not take them with me, but it would be nice to know they are in my mother's garage. I know this is a slightly flawed philosophy, so I decided to look for some tips on how to de-clutter my items of sentimental value.

Here's a sample of what I found (taken from here):

Here are eight ways to break free from the sentimental clutter:

1. Photos: We all have boxes of pictures waiting to be organized into albums. Luckily, the Digital Age has made this easier to tackle., a Gilbert-based photo-scanning company, scans photos for as little as 16 cents per image. The company also digitizes videotape and negatives.

When photos are digital, they're preserved for the ages on a DVD. Plus, you can create photo books in minutes. Sites such as,, and walk you through every step of creating a photo book, from uploading and organizing photos to adding captions. (And they're affordable - for example, a 40-page notebook-size photo book is $19.95 at, and smaller flipbooks are just $4.99 at snap That way, you can ditch the clunky, mismatched albums.

If you're willing to ship photos out of the state, California-based charges $50 to scan 1,000 photos onto a DVD. Arizona Scanning (, which started in Arizona and moved to Virginia, charges 20 cents per image for higher-resolution scans.

2. Children's artwork: McGivney suggests buying an artists' portfolio case at an art-supply store such as Aaron Brothers to store kids' artwork by date, then periodically sorting it and keeping the best. Steill helps clients make memory boxes for kids' treasures.

For her own household, Steill takes photos of her daughter holding her artwork and school presentations, and prints them in a photo book. She said the photo is a better memory of her daughter's age and lasts much longer than glitter glue on poster board. (I love this idea!)

You also should take a digital photo of the artwork itself. Digitizing your child's artwork allows you to showcase his or her creativity in clever ways. Turn it into greeting cards and stickers at or, where you can print 10 personalized photo greeting cards with a different image on each one for $24.99.

3. Kids' rooms: The dolls and the trophies don't have to live with you forever. McGivney has a perfect antidote for empty nesters dealing with a child's room: Buy an appliance box at a moving-supplies store. Then make an agreement with your college-bound kid to store everything he or she wants to keep that fits in the box until after college. In four years, most of that memorabilia won't seem important.

Haber hopes to edit her children's stuff as they age to a few key objects and present them with one special box or trunk. "I really want them to have their history accessible to them in a fashion that isn't overwhelming," she said.

4. Souvenirs: Steill said a lot of clients have trouble getting rid of travel tchotchkes - the majority of which end up in boxes rather than on display. Again, she suggests taking photos of the objects and adding them to the trip's photo album. (Um, why buy it? Just take a pic of it in the store and then you can put a caption: Another thing I wanted to buy, but didn't.)

"You have the memory but without having the three-dimensional object that is taking up space," she said. For special items, place them in a shadow box along with a few favorite photos from the trip.

5. Books: "I find a lot of people hold on to books for sentimental reasons," Steill said. One client purged his beloved law-school books after making shadow boxes from his favorite textbook covers. The rest of the textbooks were recycled.

McGivney helped another book lover sell the collection on, leading to a part-time business. You may feel better about giving up treasured books by donating them to a library. (I tried that in NYC, and the library wouldn't take them, they didn't even see them). Blanke also encourages people to visit to send paperback books to those in the service.

6. Parents' belongings: Baby Boomers are grappling with the belongings of parents who have downsized, moved into an assisted- living home or passed away. (We just downsized with my grandmother. Again.)

Julie Hall, an estate expert and author of "The Boomer Burden" (Thomas Nelson, $14.99), urges people to pare before burdening loved ones. She also said aging parents should talk to their children about what items they want and leave detailed documents about their final wishes.

"My goal is to make both generations aware the burden is not our parents, the burden is their stuff, because their children don't know what their things are worth or what to keep and what to sell," she said.

Have an appraiser evaluate items before anything is distributed or sold. Capture the home and contents with still and/or video cameras, making for warm memories while helping loved ones let go of all but a few cherished heirlooms.

"Keep the stuff that really, really means something to you, and let the rest go," Hall said. "Let people make new memories."

7. Family heirlooms: One of Blanke's clients inherited her mother's collection of china figurines. "They just weren't her thing at all, but her mother had loved them," she said.

Blanke encouraged her to set them out at an estate sale and take solace when buyers fell in love with them.

Blanke has this test for keeping heirlooms: "If having it around me makes me feel really happy, I'll keep it. But if it's up in the attic and someone else can use it, then I'll give it away."

8. Correspondence and documents: There's no way you can hang on to every Christmas card or letter. McGivney suggests treating holiday cards like kids' art. Keep only the best. Then make a holiday album you store with the seasonal decor to remember great holidays past.

If you're cleaning years of paperwork out of a den, a shredding service can be a godsend. Remember that almost any bill or statement can be retrieved online, so there are few essential documents you must keep.

What do you think? What are your time tested secrets to staying clutter-free?

Monday, October 05, 2009

A New Theme

I'm trying to get more organized. The past two weeks have been difficult for me, I've been disorganized, lacking focus and generally unproductive. My to-do list was a mile long, and I didn't get past the first 10 feet.

So I've decided to get organized. I finally made a daily schedule, and I already see the difference. I know, one child is not that much work, why would I need a schedule? Well, the schedule helps both of us. My son is a very active child, which I love, and that means that he doesn't like to sit and chill while I do other things. A few weeks ago, I started taking him outside in the backyard every morning. We have a fun backyard, with a play house, car, slide, balls, and other small toys. He loves his outside time, but after a while it gets too hot and we have to come in. And I spend most of the rest of the day trying to figure out what we are going to do next, thinking about all of the non-parenting things I have to do, and wishing I was an X-woman with mutation that would allow me to do multiple things at once, like play with my son, write a grant proposal letter, and crochet some fingerless gloves. Unfortunately, I don't have a mutant X gene that allows me to be in 6 places at once, or use the computer just by thinking about it, so I had to come up with a better system. Hence, the schedule.

Now, I know that after we come inside we are going to have "music and movement", and then a snack. I am no longer trying to figure out what to do, I already have an idea. Sometimes it is specific (storytime) and other times it is more general (free play). I even included "quiet time" in the schedule, so that he ca learn to sit still and entertain himself while I do other things (like clean). And we are both happier, because he knows what to expect, and I am less exasperated. The schedule has worked wonderfully, but along with the schedule, I had to change my mindset.

I have a limited time frame during which I can do "other" tasks on a daily basis. If I have a deadline, or something comes up, my schedule can change. But most days, I have two hours during nap and two hours after bedtime to myself. No more staying up until 2 and 3 in morning, as I usually accomplish little and am sleep deprived. This meant that I had to readjust my idea of how much I can get done in a day, or a week, and that is okay. Maybe I will work smarter, or faster, but I will also have to be more realistic with my deadlines and expectations. And that is a good thing. I think that with the schedule and change in mindset, I will be a better parent, and a more productive employee and entrepreneur.

While I'm on a getting organized kick, I like the idea of weekly themes on my blog. I know that there will be postings that are off topic, but having a weekly theme helps to keep the blog organized, and more regularly updated. Don't worry, I have a LOT of themes in my mind. And if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Until next time, here's something to think about:

"We can no more enjoy life by hoping for a future result,
than we can enjoy music by waiting for the final note."
Vernon Howard

Enjoy your life!