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Monday
Jul022012

Mom to Mom: The Runaway

My good friend Laura Weisskopf Bleill, who has three young daughters, originally wrote this for her own wonderful hyperlocal site, chambanamoms.com. (It serves families in Champaign-Urbana; please share it with friends in that area!) Next time you have a day like she had when she wrote this, you'll know you're not alone.

There are days you want to put in your rearview mirror.Some days, I want to run away from home.

And lay on the beach and sleep all day and not look at my smartphone or have to fix a meal or wipe a butt.

Some days, I want to run away from home.

And rewind the clock and remember what my body looked like before I pushed out three beautiful babies.

Some days, I want to run away from home.

And fly half way across the world and backpack through Southeast Asia, or take a Jeep through the Australian outback.

Some days, I want to run away from home.

And go hang out in the city with my besties and do the things I used to do before I couldn’t do them anymore. Shop. Spa. Eat. Drink. Repeat.

Some days, I want to run away from home.

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Monday
Apr302012

Mom to Mom: The Perfection Fetish

The Williams-Sonoma catalog sends me into an irrational rage.

Who has a playroom like this? Not the author of this piece. Photo by eren {sea+prairie} on Flickr.That wasn’t always the case. I loved perusing the glossy pages laden with gorgeously set tables and photographs of food I could almost smell.

I would sit on a Sunday morning with a pile of catalogs, drinking coffee and earmarking pages featuring items I would never buy. Christmas was my favorite time, when each trip to the mailbox resulted in another armload of aspirations.

Now I can’t stand the sight of them.

This constant influx of perfection started to make me me feel … exhausted. It made me feel inadequate. It made the stains on my carpet and sofa stand out in stark relief.

Who are these people? Who has the time to spend hours perfecting their homemade pasta? I know I don’t. I barely have time to hit McDonald’s for a drive-thru run, and I know I’m not alone.

So why can’t I remember that when I’m looking at playrooms in the Land of Nod catalog so well organized that they look more like a ROTC project?

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Thursday
Jan192012

Baby Makes Four: A Cranial Band for EZ Unleashes the Tears in Mom

We got one of the most wonderful gifts recently: My almost 7-month-old baby FINALLY rolled over! Yippy! I know that 7 months is kinda on the late side but whatever, he did it and if I didn’t write it down I wouldn’t ever remember when this joyous occasion occurred. His sister Ava was late on that stuff too.

EZ getting cuddle time with mom, despite his helmet. Photo provided.The reason why this is an even bigger deal is because EZ rolled over for the first time ever... wearing his helmet. I swore that thing would hold him back but well, well, looky here. I was wrong. For the first time in my life, I was wrong. Imagine that. I think I scared the bajesus out of him when I squealed louder than a hyena. HE ROLLED OVER!!!! EEEEEEEEE HAPPY DAY!

This whole cranial band (aka supa fly helmet) has been a roller coaster for us. When EZ was four months old he was diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly. Basically, this means his head was flat on one side due to us not moving him enough to keep his head from being flat. That makes us sound like horrible parents, doesn’t it? What the heck is wrong with us for never wanting to pick up our baby... jeez. Mommy FAIL.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. EZ was born early and babies who are born early didn’t get a chance to have all their little bones and bits to grow like a full - baby. So this means EZ’s head was super duper soft, easily moldable. Regardless of the position, me wearing and carrying him, his head still became flat. He preferred to lay with his head to one side (don’t kill me for saying this) but EZ sleeps 12 hours a night and that’s a long time to be laying in one position.

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Wednesday
Jan042012

Mom to Mom: An Unconventional Workout Buddy

When my friend Karen mentioned that she was getting to bed a bit earlier than normal in order to work out in the morning with a pal, I asked her to write about her routine. As you'll see, her workout certainly has a great twist. - Tara

I'm a busy mom with two young children, which is a great excuse to not exercise. It's also the best reason to exercise!  

Our guest columnist has a long-distance workout buddy. Photo by gfpeck on Flickr.After making the decision to get into fighting shape, I called my long-distance friend Darlene Palenica. She agreed to be my accountability partner for my workouts. I knew she would be great since 1) she is my dear friend and 2) she is a kickboxing instructor who is in the best shape of her life. 

But how were we to accomplish this? She lives an hour away, and our schedules rarely match up.  By rising at 6 a.m., before my brood is up and at 'em, I call her. She hops on her stationary bike, and I crank up my treadmill and we chat about everything and nothing until time is up!  

This has been working well, since my excuses for not going to the gym ran the gamut of "I don't have time,"  "I can't find my shoes," or typically, "Maybe tomorrow." The keys to making it work are first of all, making the initial decision to exercise regularly (you know you should!) then, finding someone to help you get into the routine and finally, sticking with it. 

I lost weight without even sacrificing my Christmas cookie platter nibbling! However, to make it all work and have an awesome before and after picture there will indeed be some dietary changes coming. Step by step, it will happen!

Karen Veeder enjoys chocolate but likes her treadmill more in 2012. Casual bystanders are routinely stunned by her cat-like reflexes, a result of regular exercise. She lives with her family in the far western suburbs.

Tuesday
Nov222011

Bullying: What Are the Signs?

This story first appeared on the website of ChambanaMoms.com, an important resource for families in the Champaign-Urbana area. The child who died lived just about 45 miles east of Urbana.

The tragic death by suicide this month of Ashlynn Conner, 10, hit very close to home. The Ridge Farm, Ill. fifth-grader allegedly told her mother she was being bullied at school and the family is saying that harassment from her schoolmates contributed to her death.

Photo by apdk on Flickr.Ashlynn’s parents say their daughter was the victim of schoolyard taunting from a group of girls at school, and that the relentless teasing continued even after she told her teacher about it several times.

While we cannot claim to know exactly what happened between Ashlynn, those girls and her teacher, we do know that sometimes it can be easy to miss the signs of bullying, especially when it comes to the less physical bullying that can happen between girls.

But boys, too, are often the victim of bullies, as we saw when 13-year-old Asher Brown killed himself in 2010 after constantly being teased about being gay.

The scariest part of these stories is that the deaths of these children came as a surprise. That’s why parents absolutely must be alert for signs of bullying.

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Thursday
Nov172011

Mom to Mom: Being a Public Parent, at Home

“Can you giggle while eating your cereal? Little Miss Giggle could. Can we giggle like we have cereal in our mouth? Oh, that’s really good!  What funny giggling!!”

“Owldidn’twantDoratohelpUnicornio.Hewantedtobekingforever. Oh, there’s the timer – gotta go get that out of the oven. Look out! I don’t want to step on you!I’ll be right back to finish the book. Sorry, G!”

Photo by iStockphoto.com.Here's my question for you: Which one of these mini-conversations happened at home and which one happened during the preschool routine, in front of other parents, kids and teachers? I’m sure it’s not hard to figure out the answer.

I consider myself a pretty patient person. I love kids. I love playing with them, reading to them, teaching them things. I especially love my kids. I respect the little people they are and the people they’re trying to become. So understandably, it makes me angry when I catch myself splitting attention with them and less important tasks, like cooking, cleaning, laundry. Not that these things are unimportant, but I don’t think they should take priority over reading "Dora Saves the Enchanted Kingdom" to my 3-year-old daughter, or pretending to be the road for my 1-year-old son's Tonka trucks.

I’ll be the first to admit … well, the second. My husband would be the first ... that I have a time management problem. For example, I’m writing this at work. No … I’m not. Well, OK, yes I am. But, shocker, I digress. I start projects and forget about them. My one pile of clutter on the bookshelf is now three neat piles that didn’t make it to their respective homes. But what frustrates me more than a half-cleaned kitchen counter is when I look back at yesterday and think about the times I procrastinated spending quality time with G & D playing ponies or trucks because I was trying to finish something I thought was more important at that moment. Or when I lost my patience with them because I was trying to do too much at once.

By the way, the laundry still didn’t get done, and those neat little piles fell off the bookcase.

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Thursday
Oct132011

Mom to Mom: A Call to the Fussy Baby Network

He's crying. I'm crying. I thought this Mommy thing was supposed to be all smiles and giggles!

The Fussy Baby Network can help with this. Photo by istockphoto.My son, Aaron, was born at the end of December 2008. He was a beautiful, healthy boy.  He was born naturally, and we were discharged in two days. I wondered what the nurses and doctors were thinking discharging us with this baby that we hadn't a clue how to take care of. 

But how hard could it be? Baby cries when he's hungry - feed him. Baby cries when he's wet or soiled - change him. No one really told me that babies would not always 'sleep like a baby.'  Everyone said, "Sleep when the baby sleeps."  But, what if baby would only sleep for 30-45 minutes at a stretch? Well, I must have been doing it wrong. What a failure I was as a mother!

After driving myself insane with internet searches, parenting books and unsolicited advice, I turned to the Fussy Baby Network. The network is a program of Erikson Institute, a graduate school specializing in child development. I called (1-888-431-BABY) and left a message, trying not to sound too distraught and panicked. 

Marsha called me back within a few hours and listened to my plight. She acknowledged my difficulties and offered some great tips.  I needed a plan of action, and Marsha gave me the advice I needed to get started.  Things didn't improve dramatically, but my attitude and outlook did. It wasn't hopeless! My child would eventually sleep! Marsha gave me the tools I needed to make it to four months (the magic age when we could start sleep training, according to her).

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