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Entries in guest columnist (34)


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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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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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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Baby Makes Four: Avoiding the Store With the Bulls-Eye

I have an unhealthy relationship with a certain store that has a red bullseye for a logo.

Photo by JaxPhotography on Flickr.For me it’s like my own personal holy land. As hard as I try, I go there for toothpaste and walk out with a $100 worth of stuff that I simply cannot live without. I can’t seem to spend less than $50 in that store. They don’t always have the best prices on things but it’s a one-stop-shop. I can get groceries, clothing, toys, furniture, Halloween decorations ... oh my!!! 

It’s gotten a whole lot worse now that I have two kids. You’ll usually find me perusing the sale racks in the clothing department or knee deep in the cutest stinkin' shoes you’ve ever seen in the shoe department. I simply can not help myself.

And then ... they came out with the beautiful Missoni line. Stick a fork in me I am done! It’s an ongoing joke with my friends and me. We all love that place, so much, too much. My bank account hates me for it. I even have their card that links to my checking account but it saves me 5% on each trip. I can justify anything when it comes to that store. And when I tell my husband where I’m going he just groans. Ava has caught the bug too. Not only is it the coolest place on earth, they also have a very popular coffee place inside that sells fancy drinks with green straws.

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Baby Makes Four: Introducing Ethan Zane!

Our guest contributor Stacia returns, and she'll now be regularly writing a column called "Baby Makes Four" about the changes that come along with adding a newborn to the mix. So far, it's going swimmingly.

Hey ya’ll!!! Did ya miss me?! Do you even remember me? I know it’s been a while but ya see I’ve been kinda busy growing a human and then having said human. SURPRISE! He came early: 4 weeks and 2 days early to be exact, and he’s perfect. 

Meet Ethan Zane. Photo by Megan Abelard Photography.Remember all that talk about names? I do think I might have mentioned we finally picked out his first name but we were still undecided on the middle. Ahhh we can now check those things off the list! I would like to formally introduce you to my son, Ethan Zane. 

His initials are EZE. Oh yes, we went all gangasta rapper. Ya know... Eazy E, the dead gangta rapper? No? Well some of you might know who I’m talking about. Actually we didn’t name him after a dead rapper, his initials just happen to spell it out, but we are calling him EZ as a nickname cause holy cow it’s the cutest thing evah! Zane was a strong contender for a first name but when we came across Ethan we didn’t want to throw away Zane either. And there ya go.

He is now four weeks old. I’ve had such an amazing experience this time around. With my daughter, Ava, I had postpartum depression, and she was also early (5 weeks and 2 days -- one whole week gestationally younger than EZ). Ava’s surprise birth and stay in the NICU threw me for such a loop that it took a long time for me to come to terms with it all. She was in the NICU for 13 days.

I started having contractions with Ethan early on. I just knew what was going to happen. I ended up laboring for four days. That was fun, but I was praying I could go for just one more day. One more day with him inside me meant, hopefully, one less day in the NICU. I knew he would immediately have to go to the NICU due to his gestational age, and this time I was prepared for it. I am a freakin’ pro at having babies and not having them come home with me right away.

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Baby Boy Name Game ... Part 2

Our favorite name-obsessed, pregnant guest columnist returns to ask for more advice. If you missed her original post on the struggle to name her unborn son, you can read it here. Remember, she says one of you already suggested the leading contender!

Holy cow, you guys really rocked the name game! Thank you so much for all your suggestions! Keep ‘em coming! I’m keeping a word doc of all the names that J and I have come up with thus far and why we liked them and why they were eventually vetoed. The latest name we have makes for some hilarious initials (which you will read about once this little chicken is born). We still aren’t sold on the first name 100% -- but I’m honestly not sure if we’ll ever be. It’s a name we like. It is what it is.

Photo by ladybugkt on Flickr.I have eight weeks (probably less) to go and I’m freeeeaking out. I’m excited/anxious/nervous and holy hell what did we get ourselves into?! The name should be the least of my worries and sadly no, I’m so damn hung up on getting his name right. Since Ava’s middle name of James is a sort of a family name (a variation of), would it make sense to give the boy a family name too? It would be nice. We’ve run through both sides of the family, and I’m sorry but there isn’t anything that stands out to us. Isn’t that horrible? I would like to represent my side of the family but um, yeah... I can’t really get on board with my family names (even looked waaaay back into my family tree). I’m totally going to be stoned for saying that. I’M SORRY but I’m being honest and really you should know by now that’s how I roll.

My brother has my dad’s name as his middle. My name on the other hand was just randomly picked, and I’m totally OK with that. Do you think this kid will care if he doesn’t have a family name? I know it makes more sense for the boy to have a family name over the girl, at least that’s more traditional. I say screw tradition.

I want his name to POP and I do want his name to be meaningful. We went back to Ava to see if she had any more suggestions. She still wants to name him “Orange.” Gawd, woman, you are so bad at this game. We’ve tried a few names out on her and the one we are leaning heavily on (by the way, one of you nailed it) and she tells us she doesn’t like it and refuses to say it. Really child?

Are you sick of me asking you about names? Just eight weeks go to guys, hang in there with me because otherwise the swollen feet, carpal tunnel, heartburn, and back pain just might send me over the edge. Now, who wants to shave my legs for me?


Tales of Transformation: Settling Down, Outside of Her Urban Comfort Zone

I’m so excited to introduce a new columnist today. She happens to be very new to the far western ‘burbs, too. In fact, that’s what Sheila Corcoran-Abraham will be writing about over the coming months as she seeks to settle her family (including her toddler son) into their new home. Anyone got a recommendation for her of a great bagel place? Maybe a good bagel place?

Another suitcase in another hall - take your picture off another wall.

Sixteen. I can count 16 city apartments that I’ve called home in the past 25 years or so.

Sixteen moves, from numerous neighborhoods in Boston; Hoboken, N.J., and most recently the West Loop of Chicago. I’ve been a city dweller for the last two decades and loved it.

Each apartment had its own character and charm, from a garden level (basement) to a penthouse to most everything in between. Though I’ve never had a proper doorman, I’ve come home to a few odd characters sitting on the front sidewalk.

In the early days, my style of packing was simple. I’d toss my clothes, portfolio, various tchotchkes and a few family photos in a Hefty bag and then carry on to the next apartment. I learned to live minimally. Or should I say, I learned not to get attached to things.

Photo collage assembled by Sheila Corcoran-Abraham. The Mickey Mouse-shaped paint swatches are for the toddler's room, natch.What I enjoyed most was the challenge of transforming these quirky city apartments into something different. Each new space was a chance to start new, get inspired, create, build and paint.

I collected pieces of used furniture as if they were stray animals. The filthy end table that was found at the corner of Tremont and Mass Ave has been cleaned up and it works well with the coffee table that I made out of a tree stump that was pulled from the Hudson River. I knew how to dumpster dive and was able to repurpose anything. I was a repurposeista.

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