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Entries in guest columnist (34)

Tuesday
Mar152011

Having a Baby Boy and So Happy ... But Worries, Too

The following comes from our new guest columnist Stacia, who as she puts it, writes about "the underbelly of parenting." You can get to know her better by reading the introduction she did for GWYM last month, as well as by following her own blog Dried on Milk

I’m in my 2nd trimester now, and I was super-excited to find out what we are having. And it turns out we’re having a boy, which couldn’t be more perfect since my mind frame is similar to a 13-year-old boy’s, after all.

Photo by handmaidenbymaria on Flickr.My nearly 3-year-old daughter Ava kept telling me this whole time it was a girl. She’s totally fired as my psychic. I didn’t have a feeling one way or the other, but I think I was leaning heavily toward girl since I already have one, am one and have all the stuff. Seriously, Ava has more clothes than Paris Hilton. When the ultrasound tech used the mouse to make it very clear... “you see that long thingy and those two thingies next to it? It’s a boy.” Sqweeee, so happy!

So naturally the very first thing that ran through my mind was how do you clean him when he craps all over the place? No, really. Baby poop is so freakin’ runny and messy. With a girl it’s so easy, nothing to clean around. Friends have told me little boys’ parts aren’t as delicate as you think. I guess you also have to be quick with a diaper lest you get sprayed. Come on man. I have worry about him spraying our house? My cat already does a good enough job barfing on everything; I would prefer to keep urination out of the mix. Oh, I’m not saying I’ve never been peed, pooped or spit up on but this is a whole different level, this is an actual hose as apposed to a spigot. Get what I’m sayin'?

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Thursday
Mar102011

Hero at the Table

I’m so pleased to welcome a great new guest columnist, and she’s the most recent member of theMompreneur Directory as well. Jennifer Downing’s home-based business, called Nourish, offers cooking experiences in her Batavia kitchen, with an emphasis on sustainable, local and natural ingredients. She offers classes for kids and birthday parties, too. Check her listing for more. But here, Downing writes about something simple you can do that’s so good for your children: Eat a meal around your family table. -- Tara

As a child growing up in our fair Fox Valley, I was never much into heroes.  The mystique of Superman, Wonder Woman, and their marvelous friends always escaped me. I remember watching “Batman” with my brother in the family room of the house where I grew up.  As memory serves, along with his faithful sidekick, the Gotham City protector appeared after school just as dusk was beginning to settle but before “Son of Svengoolie.” The room would grow dim with only the yellow flickering light of Channel 32, and our eyes glazed over. It seemed hours had passed when reality returned and, with it, the call for dinner.

Photo by Jennifer Downing.Mom always had dinner on the table and always at a reasonable hour. We weren’t on the run, and afterschool activities were limited or sometimes non-existent. Everyone sat together, there was no television, no phone calls, and texting didn’t exist. The table was set and graced with a complete meal including salad and sometimes Jell-O. Busy days would come and go, but dinner always seemed to be a priority. Some of my fondest memories take place around a casserole at that small iron-based butcher block table. Conversation was good and included odd facts gleaned from WTTW. At that table I tormented my brother into repeating the “r” words he practiced in speech.  Mom taught us to hang spoons from our noses – I have pictures. We learned to keep our elbows off the table, chew with our mouths closed, and ask to be excused.

These memories include my grandparents’ pickled oak table, too. While the food was delicious, the best part of the meal was when it was over. The dishes would sit and the real conversation would begin after “the men” would retire to the living room. Here I learned about distant family members I had never met and sat quietly hoping to be privy to the smallest, tasty morsel of family gossip, even if I didn’t really understand it. There never seemed to be a thought to the dishes piled high in the tiny kitchen.  They weren’t going anywhere and since eventually we would leave Grandma’s, having that time together was what mattered most.

Today I am a mother to four great kids and have a worn black farm table of my own where the food is the star. When I read recently a parent can be a hero to their children every day in the kitchen suddenly, my laissez-faire hero attitude changed: Heroes are awesome! I try every day to prepare the best food from all parts of the pyramid of nutrition. I work harder for homemade and willingly pay for local, organic and sustainable. In thinking of the dishes I heroically serve my loving diners I became more conscious of the place I like to end my day. Like my mother, I make it a priority to gather my family.

There is a tremendous amount of information available about the importance of gathering for mealtimes around a family table. Statistics show it to be one of the most important ways to save our children from the ills of society. Avoidance of addictions, better communication skills, higher grades, and greater feeling of value are but a few of the weighty benefits. The humble kitchen table may offer a greater base for success than income level, afterschool activities or family structure.

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Thursday
Feb172011

Two Families, the Beatles and a Rabbit Named Paul

I am over the moon to welcome a new guest columnist to Go West Young Mom. He’s Don Babwin, a former co-worker of mine, and he’ll occasionally be contributing stories here. I’ve read the following piece at least 10 times and it leaves me misty-eyed every single time. If you’re a Beatles fan, you’ll love it. But no matter what your musical tastes, this essay will make you ponder what warm family memories your children will treasure long after you are gone. -- Tara

It was my father who came home with the news that we would not be watching the second half of “Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color” on Sunday night. Instead, he announced, some of his buddies at the sheriff's office said there was something on “The Ed Sullivan Show” we just had to see. And he promised my brothers and I would like it.

The author with his father, Ed Babwin, in the summer of 1957.We'd seen Topo Gigio, Senor Wences and Robert Goulet too many times to think there was anything that would justify turning the channel a half-hour into Disney, but both he and my mother insisted. 

Nearly a half-century later I remember our family sitting in front of the black-and-white TV watching in disbelief what was unfolding in front of us. It wasn't just that we couldn't believe what we were seeing. It was that it made us – all of us – so happy. Two years later my father would die of cancer and three years after that my older brother would leave home for college, beginning the kind of splintering all families go through. But on that night, we were all together. We were a family. We were watching the Beatles.

Now it is happening again. Not in a living room, but in a car. Late last year, my wife decided we'd been trapped long enough in the car with the likes of the Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, Demi Lovato and the cast of “High School Musical,” that something had to be done to regain control of the radio and CD player from our 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. Just drawing the line at singing chipmunks was no longer enough.

So she put in the CD player the Beatles' greatest hits, the one with every one of their songs that reached No. 1 on the charts, from "'Love Me Do" to the "Long and Winding Road."

And they liked it. Not all of it, of course. "Yesterday" was too slow for my son. But soon, they were asking for their favorites, my daughter requesting "Yellow Submarine" over and over and my son insisting on "The Ballad of John and Yoko," and then belting out "Christ, you know it ain't easy," along with John.

This was a huge deal. And not just because it meant we didn't have to listen to the "Camp Rock" soundtrack. My wife and I were older when we had our daughter – she was 40 and I was closing in on 50 – so we were big enough fans of the Beatles to count the night John Lennon was killed as one of those you-know-exactly-where-you-are-when-you-heard-the-news moments.

But for me, there was more. The Beatles aren't just part of history, they are, starting with that night in 1964, a chapter of my family's history.

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Thursday
Feb102011

Rummaging for a Simpler Life

The following essay appeared on Amy Bordoni's own blog, Don't Stamp the Baby, back in November. But with the new year, I've been trying to live a simpler life and pare down some of our belongings, and I bet some of you are trying to do the same. Meet you at the Eiffel Tower. -- Tara

Once upon a time I lived in Paris. I had a room in a row house in the 15th arrondissement. I lived with a young family who were aristocracy. Count and countess, in fact. By French standards, they were wealthy. They owned a house in Paris and a castle in the countryside. By American standards, you'd never know it.

Photo by Rodrigo Galindez on Flickr.My rich French family did not own a car, a dishwasher, a clothes dryer, an excess of clothing, furniture, toys or stuff. My rich French family took public transportation, bought the day's bread and milk fresh every morning like the peasants, made meals from scratch, conserved water, wore outfits 3-4 days in a row before wearing something new. My rich French family ate dinner together every night, never watched TV, bought nothing other than food in the six months I lived with them (that I know of), wrote letters by hand, spent free time taking walks, riding horses, reading books and engaging in lively discussions.

My first month in Paris I thought my French family was rather poor. I learned a lot about simplicity, modesty and what it means to be rich. I still have a lot to learn.

This week is the semi-annual rummage sale at our church. I love helping to sort for this sale. It is amazing to see the piles of castoffs that get offered up. Tables piled high with clothes, dishes, frames, craft supplies, books, toys, and on and on. A bargain shopper's paradise.

Before every sale I pillage our cabinets and closets collecting items outgrown and unused to donate. Twice a year I fill the back of our car with a load of stuff. And yet our space is still anything but simplified. There are too many outgrown and unused items I can't bear to part with. It would take 20 trips to cart all the extras away. I hate the clutter and the overstuffed closets but I struggle to let go.

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Saturday
Feb052011

Our Guest Columnist Discovers ... Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

The following comes from our new guest columnist Stacia, who as she puts it, writes about "the underbelly of parenting." You can get to know her better by reading the introduction she did for GWYM yesterday, as well as by following her own blog Dried on Milk

I use to be one of those people who would judge. I would say to myself or my husband, “I would never let my kid act that way in public.” Two and a half years into having a holy terror on my hands, this is my public apology. Nothing like karma giving me a big ole bitch slap.

Photo by iStockphoto.There was a good long stretch where I never thought I could leave my house again. Ava is much better now when we go to stores, but she sometimes she still has her “what on earth is your problem?” moments. It seemed like there was about a whole year where it was just impossible to take her anywhere.

Just a teensy walk around the block was a nightmare because if we went this way instead of that way, the demon exploded. Last summer we wanted to take walks and we tried, but just attempting to take one step toward home made us vow to never take another walk with her again ... until the next week. It was a vicious cycle. Thinking it would get better and it just never did, and we gave up. We couldn’t use the stroller because she would stay in it for like a nanosecond and want to push it herself and at that point it wasn’t really walking anymore it was more like shuffling our feet.

I no longer judge (as much), particularly after the time we were in Bed, Bath & Beyond and we were pushing her lunch/nap limits and I saw the meltdown coming on so swooped her up in my arms and was half running to the door just trying to get out of the store as quickly as possible. In the meantime, she was screaming and hitting me on the face and head. At one point she got her teeny little finger got hooked in my hair and I swear she scalped me. I could see all people’s faces blurring by as I dashed out, that look of horror ... that look of judgement.

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Friday
Feb042011

Introducing Our Newest Guest Columnist and the 'Underbelly of Parenting'

I’m very happy to welcome a new guest columnist today. She lives in the far western 'burbs and will be writing under her first name, Stacia. She'll be contributing to Go West Young Mom every month, although you can see her first “full” post tomorrow. When I started following Stacia’s own blog, Dried On Milk, I loved how funny and honest she is about how while being a first-time parent is an absolute wonder, there are moments when it can be hard. Really hard. - Tara

My name is Stacia. I’m a mommy blogger. Go ahead... yack all over your computer now, you can clean it up later. Are you sick of us yet?! The Internet here is a way for us mommies to take over the world, as if we don’t already. Actually this isn’t a full-time gig. I have another job that pays real money. I wish I were cool enough to make blogging my money maker.

Photo from iStockphoto.I’m a rookie mom and I write about my experiences, the good, bad and the ugly. I don’t have the slightest idea of what I’m doing. OK so maybe I kind of do since my kid is 2.5 years old and still kickin’. Yay me! I’m doing the best I can to not scar my child for life. It took some time to find my blogger groove/voice ... I think I’ve finally found it, albeit  it’s a bit like verbal diarrhea. I’m not the kind of blogger that is all “la-dee-dah parenting is soooo wonderful.” Sorry guys, but I speak the truth and I happen to know that most, if not all, of you feel the same but are afraid to talk about it, the dirty little underbelly of parenting. Make no mistake, I wouldn’t trade this life for the world.

Here’s my stats:

• I’m a mom (duh) to a ridiculously indecisive 2.5 year old drama queen.

• A wife to my college honey bunny (did I make you throw up a little bit there? Sorry.)

• A full-time graphic designer, outside the home so that means someone else cares for our kid Monday through Friday. It’s OK, we’re cool with it.

• I’m four months pregnant so that means I’m a hormonal, fully-loaded, walking shot gun. Yay reproductive system!

• Our family recently acquired a pet fish that our cat is on a mission to kill as quickly as possible.

• I have the longest arms in the world, although it hasn’t been scientifically proven but long sleeve shirts in the stores tell me so. Being pregnant and having this problem is even more fun.

• I can’t cook. At all. Not even a little bit. The results are disastrous when I try. Probably doesn’t help that I’m the pickiest eater you’ll ever meet besides my toddler.

Wednesday
Feb022011

Finding Her Style Through the Use of a Style Book

When Go West reader Torrie Boggs mentioned on her own blog that she had worked on a personal “style book" this past year, I immediately wanted to know more. Here she tells us why she decided she needed a style book, provides instructions for putting one together and describes the difference it’s made in how she feels when she walks out of the house every day. -- Tara

After years of following fashion trends or whatever everyone else was wearing, I decided that my style needed a bit of an update. Maybe update isn’t the best term. I wanted my clothes to reflect who I am, not just the trends.

The idea of just jumping in and buying new clothes was overwhelming and actually not possible due to a tight budget. So I decided to organize my thoughts into a style book.  By doing this, I forced myself to truly think about my clothes and what I wanted to buy.

When I really started taking stock of my wardrobe, I realized that I purchased items that were on sale or cute, but I didn’t think about how the individual pieces fit into my overall wardrobe or with my style. A change needed to happen, and I decided a style book was the way to go.

One of the pages from Torrie's style book.I purchased a plain unlined notebook that was large enough to fit pictures from magazines. I already had a subscription to “Real Simple” magazine, which features articles on clothes and has fashion ads. “InStyle” magazine is another good pick for my style, but any magazine or even store websites are good places to look for photos of clothes that appeal to you.

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