Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Parenting in Public Is About 75% Nodding And Smiling

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

When you are in a public or semi-public space with your child/ren, people are going to talk to you about those children. And when strangers talk to you in public, they have a tendency to say some really stupid things. Try to remember that 99.99999% of the time they are just talking to you because you are there and their mouths are capable of forming words. I am an expert at having people talk to me because I haven’t yet learned the art of making absolutely no eye contact. Also, my children like strangers (I’m pretty sure they were switched at birth. All of them. Individually.)  So when Grandma Grabbyhands starts petting Caroline’s hair, instead of screaming “STOP TOUCHING ME STRANGE LADY”, Caroline insists on chatting about how she’s four and a half and loves horses and goes to school and one time on the bus her friend Michael threw up right on the floor.

Here is a brief list of things strangers might say to you in public that make you do the slow double blink. Remember, none of these things are personal. They would probably say them to a brick wall if the wall appeared to be listening:

  • Calling your boy a girl or your girl a boy. Your beautiful little girl could be wearing a pink, sparkled, ruffled gown with high heels and full make-up, her long curly hair braided and tied in bows and holding a giant flashing sign that says “I AM A GIRL”…and some lady at the grocery store is still going to say “He’s so sweet, what’s his name?” I promise this is not what is going to send your kids to therapy, so just smile a nod and say “Matilda Jane”. Then you can laugh and point as she struggles to comprehend why you would name your son Matilda. Or maybe don’t laugh and point, just stick with the smiling and nodding.
  • Saying “Wow, you sure have your hands full!” You probably, literally, do not. Most parents I know cannot parent without at least one free hand so we have found a whole list of ways to keep them available: babywearing, carts, strollers, leashes, whatever. This is just stranger-talk for “I see you have some small children in your vicinity”. Non-responses to this comment include: “Yep, children are a blessing”, “I sure do!”, “Really, it’s not so bad” or the perennial favorite: JAZZ HANDS while you nod and smile.
  • Making completely arbitrary comments over your child’s physical attributes that are probably wrong. Someone looks at your child who is in the 3rd percentile for height and says “She’s so tall!” Or they see your 99th percentile in the grocery store and say “What a little peanut!”. These are just words people are saying because they want to make a comment. They might as well  say “She is wearing blue!” or “Your baby has feet!” Unless you are at a medical doctor during a medical doctor appointment and it’s the medical doctor who looks at your very small child and says “What a chub!”, do not react. Nod and smile.
  • Asking you if the baby is sleeping through the night. THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION. They do not care if your baby is sleeping through the night. What they want to do is tell you about their baby or their cousin’s baby or their hairdresser’s nephew’s mailman’s baby who either a) started sleeping through the night at 4 days old, b) still doesn’t sleep through the night at 10 years old, or c) refused to take this stranger’s advice and now their baby is broken. Do not waste your time forming a truthful and accurate answer. They are not listening. Just said “Mostly!” and then nod and smile during what is sure to be a fascinating story.
  • Giving you ridiculous or outdated advice. Again, unless it’s your pediatrician telling you a little Jack Daniels is the perfect cure for teething pain, nod and then smile and then nod some more to disguise the fact that your eyeballs just rolled out of your head. (If it is your pediatrician, may I gently suggest you look for a new one?) These people will insist that they raised children who have survived to adulthood, which means you should do everything they did or your children will diiiiiiiie.

via GIPHY

I know it can be really really hard to simply nod and smile all the time. When the people doing these things are inescapable – because you are trapped next to them on a bus or because you live with them – it is incredibly frustrating. But I promise you, 90% of the time they are not being malicious, they are just talking because at some point human beings evolved the ability to speak and they are afraid if they don’t use that ability as much as possible they will lose it.

Nod and smile. Nod and smile.

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New Mom Advice: Get A Thing

Monday, September 15th, 2014

When I was pregnant with Evan oh those many moons ago, I first discovered blogging. I mean, I “discovered” it the same way Columbus “discovered” America, since there was already an entire world of people who were like “Nice going, you found this big giant thing that’s been here for a long ass time”. But for me, it was all new and exciting. I wrote words on the internet. Then I moved up to pictures. I found other people’s words and pictures. I blogged and blogged and talked about blogging and read articles on blogging and read actual blogs and when I found one I liked I’d stalk their archives back to the birth of their children and I know more about some of those people than I do about my own siblings’ lives.

Blogging was My Thing.

My Thing kept me connected to people when I was too tired to get off the couch. It gave me something to think about when I couldn’t think about my crying baby any more. I learned the shorthand and the big players and the culture and made friends who I still talk to literally every single day. The internet connected us but I’ve now hugged them in person and slept on their couches and can’t wait to see them again.

If I could give pregnant women one piece of actual, helpful, universal advice, it is to get A Thing.

Obviously your baby will be Your Thing, but there is a lot of busywork with babies. You are up with them in the middle of the night, you are trapped on the couch feeding them, you are so so so tired you can’t even sleep. You need A Thing you can read about and think about and learn about and talk about. Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to find other people who share Your Thing and also want to obsess about it, so you’ll never run out of ways to waste your time. Even if Your Thing is something you can’t really do as much as you’d like, you can still obsess about it online. Like running. There are about fifty zillion ways to learn about running that don’t actually involve running.

Here is a brief list of Things you might try: blogging, photography, baby wearing, cloth diapers, knitting, crocheting, breastfeeding, scrapbooking, gardening, knitting, couponing, crafting, cooking, conspiracy theories, tv, computer games, video games, puzzles, art, eBay, Etsy, painting, sewing, puzzles, running, paleo, cross fit, hair, make-up, monthly subscription services, fashion, YouTube, nail polish.

Any of Those Things have a million deeper levels and sub-levels. Not just cloth diapers, custom-made WAHM diaper covers. Not just Etsy, handmade baby moccasins. Not just running, long distance marathon training. Find a Facebook group or forum about Your Thing and dive in. Don’t worry, you will never know more about your thing than ANYONE else, so just start somewhere.

Most Things are going to cost you a lot of money. Even if they seem cheap and harmless now, there is a collectible version or a new version or a fancier version or an exclusive version and you WILL want it and you WILL find yourself spending what previously would have been a crazy amount of money on it.

Try to find a way to get involved in Your Thing in real life too. Meet-ups, conferences, swaps, or even just one friend you can have coffee with. But even if you just have internet friends from Your Thing, they will easily become real friends (just not in-person all the time friends).

You can have more than one Thing at a time, but it’s best to focus on one and then let it become less intense while you move to another. I still tweet, but Twitter isn’t my go-to Thing. I can still knit, but I don’t hunt down a babysitter to go to the weekly knitting group. Photography will always be A Thing (your thing can often lead to an actual business), but the forums aren’t holding my interest they way they used to.

Clearly blogging is something I still love and do regularly (well, semi-regularly) but it is not longer my thing. Currently, My Thing is woven wraps for baby wearing. For real. I’m just now discovering baby wearing goes far beyond the Moby and the Ergo. Waaaaaaaay beyond. Insanely beyond. I’ve joined four different Facebook groups and formed a real-life wrap group that meets every other Friday (which was easy to do, thanks to mama friends I met through Stroller Strides, which was My Thing a few years go). I can browse the Facebook swap group any time of day or up at night with the baby and there’s new stuff to look at that I can google and learn about fiber content and warp and weft and brands and makers. It’s INSANELY boring to anyone who doesn’t care but right now I can’t get enough.

So tell me what’s Your Thing? Just don’t make it too interesting, I don’t have time for much more.

 

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6 Totally Reasonable Tips For Road Tripping With A Newborn

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

1. Buy the right car seat.
There are no actual guidelines for what constitutes “right”, so be sure to read lots and lots and lots of reviews on Amazon. 200 at least. And don’t bother reading the 197 positive 5 star reviews – sort by 1 star and be sure to take VERY SERIOUSLY the three people who HATED that particular seat because their baby got stung by a bee while sitting in it. What kind of MONSTER doesn’t buy a bee-repelling car seat? Also take into consideration what color your baby’s eyes will be and order a seat in a color that really makes them pop. Since you need a car seat to bring your infant home from the hospital and cannot actually SEE your baby’s eyes before it is born, you will definitely buy the wrong seat. Wow, you didn’t even make it to the end of the first tip. You should probably stay home.

2. Pack lots of snacks.
You will have to stop a lot of times to feed your newborn, because newborns are lazy and refuse to just feed themselves pretzels and Twizzlers like everyone else does on road trips. But don’t expect you will actually get to eat or drink ANYTHING when you stop. This is not your time, this is BABY’S TIME. It doesn’t really matter what kinds of snacks you bring, since you’ll be blindly shoving it into your mouth while keeping your eyes on the road. I recommend crunchy things – the sound of yourself chewing helps drown out the screaming from bee stings.

3. Avoid traffic.
Since I am sure usually you enjoy sitting through construction, accidents and other acts of God you have no control over, actively avoid those things when you have a newborn traveling with you. If you cannot see into the future and/or predict traffic slow downs, invest in a psychic or perhaps a hoverjet.

4. Wear your baby.
OBVIOUSLY not while you’re driving, but at some point you will need to pee. It is easier to do so when you don’t have to also hold a baby with your arms and hands. Just like the car seat, it is important that you buy the RIGHT baby carrying device. Check out the lively world of online parenting message boards, which are not at all full of people screaming at each other over which kind of baby carrier is the best. Remember, a $600 organic hand woven sling is clearly superior to the kind you can just borrow from a friend, because the more something costs the more babies like it. This is why all babies prefer those wooden black and white educational toys to the car keys you just dropped in the parking lot.

5. Bring help.
Consider hiring the following people: nanny, wet nurse, car seat installer, personal chef, therapist, barista, and driver. Since bring ALL those people would require a much larger car than you probably own, try to find help who can multitask – there’s no reason someone can’t make you a latte while nursing your baby. If you have to bring just ONE person, your spouse will be fine. I guess. Can they make coffee?

6. Order the correct baby.
Did you get one of those newborns that hates riding in the car? An unreasonable baby that doesn’t sleep in 4+ hour chunks right from the beginning? Does your infant take hours to eat instead of efficiently chugging their milk/formula? Unexplained screaming? Poopsplosions? Colic? Clearly your baby is defective. Check your warranty paperwork to find out where to get your baby repaired. If you cannot locate your paperwork (people often seem to misplace it) send me $500 and I can get the Department of Perfect Children to mail you another copy. It’s no problem, happy to help.

Now you are ready for your road trip! It should be a very fun and relaxing activity, with lots of good opportunities to take and share beautiful Instagram photos of yourself in your adorable yet casual driving clothes standing on the beach or in front of a quaint farm stand or local landmarks. Remember to take at least one where you breastfeed in a field while staring peacefully into the distance, to prove you are a good mother. Good luck to you and your baby!

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The Good Life for Less Review & Giveaway

Friday, February 1st, 2013

*Giveaway is now closed!*

Back in December, I vowed that as soon as the crazy that was Caroline’s birthday/Christmas was over, I was going to buckle down and find ways to save money. And then, like magic, I got an email in my inbox asking if I’d be interested in reading and giving away a copy of a new book on how to live a happy, abundant life for less. Hey world, next week I want to buckle down and win the lottery! Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Fortunately, I did get a copy of The Good Life for Less written by MomAdvice.com founder Amy Allen Clark.

The Good Life For Less

The Good Life for Less ranges in advice from saving money at the grocery store to designing a cute and eye catching frame wall for your house. I really enjoyed the chapters on setting a cleaning schedule (something I’ve always struggled with) and on saving money during the holidays by remembering that the memories are more important than the stuff.  Obviously there were a lot of tips aimed at moms but none of it would be bad for anyone – everyone has a friend getting married or knows someone with a new baby and could use a creative gift idea.

In my opinion, the best part of the book is the plethora of recipes in the middle. I know that these days you can find recipes for almost anything on the internet but having them all together in one place is so nice. Amy covers everything from how to make your own Bisquick mix to what to do with frozen fish to Rainbow Cupcakes baked in mini mason jars (who doesn’t love things in jars?!) One of my favorite tips was to make your own mixes for things like pancakes, cookies and bread in large batches, then keep them in sealed and labeled bags in the pantry so you can whip up whatever you need quickly and at a fraction of the cost of buying all the mixes premade. She also inspired me to dig my bread maker out and give homemade bread another try (“try” is a good word for now, but I’m going to work on it).

I know from my description it sounds very common-sensey. Maybe some of it is. But reading it all written out in The Good Life for Less in a light, conversational style made following the smart and practical advice much easier. It’s not a hard read and you’re definitely going to want to stop at various points to go do that thing you just read right now! It’s a great idea! Do it quick! And then your good life is a little bit better.

The publisher sent me an extra copy of The Good Life for Less (an actual hard copy I’ve hidden from my children so it’s still in excellent shape) to give to one of my readers. If you’re interested, leave a comment on this post. You can tell me something you do to create a good life for less (or you can just tell me my hair looks pretty today – I’m not picky). I’ll pick a random winner next Friday!

You can read more about Amy Allen Clark and her book on her website here, including where and how to buy a hard copy or the e-book version. I was sent a free copy of the book but no other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.

And the winner is…#16!

1-Fullscreen capture 2192013 73942 AM

 

Congrats to manda, who was commenter #16! I’ll email you to get your address and put your book in the mail ASAP!

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Obligatory BlogHer Advice Post

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

If you are not a blogger and couldn’t care LESS about blogging conferences (which you imagine are pretty much like Star Trek conventions without the awesome dorky costumes)(you’re wrong, by the way, blogging conferences are MUCH more uncool than Star Trek conventions) feel free to skip this one. I’ll have more ginger baby pictures up in an hour or two.

blogher 11 photos

I saw lots of people and did lots of things

I started writing this post days after coming back from BlogHer’11 in San Diego, when the whole experience was still fresh. I added to it for a few weeks as I gained some perspective and finished it up just yesterday when I was talking to some of the friends I made last year. Since I’ve only been to one BlogHer I am by no means an expert, but I hunted down and read every single one of these posts I could find last year so I thought I’d throw my hat peacock feather fascinator in the ring.

Pre- and At BlogHer Advice

1. The fun actually starts long before the conference. Last year, almost everyone I knew got into town on Wednesday night, so they had all of Thursday to hang out and/or attend Pathfinder Day. I didn’t want to leave my nursing baby for an extra day so I skipped it – and regretted it (well, not the part about missing the baby, the part about missing the fun). I’m going to make sure I’m in NYC for a long time.

2. Don’t be afraid to call your friends. Even the ones you previously only talked to online. I did a lot of texting and tweeting and Belugaing (a free app that’s like texting), but would miss people because of lag time and I ended up being alone more than I wanted to. But the women who were brave enough to just dial a number and say “Hey, where you at?” met up with their posses much faster.

3. 200 business cards is too many. I handed out a LOT, even to my friends, just because my cards were super cute but I still came home with at least half of them, even after dropping a bunch in bowls for giveaways.

4. Nobody cared what I was wearing. I spent tons and tons of time worrying about it but in the end all that mattered was having comfortable shoes. If you’re a fashion blogger, you’re already good at wearing cool clothes. If you’re anyone else, just wear clothes.

5. Don’t commit to things that will keep you away from your friends for too long. Sure, private parties and invites and appointments and swag suites are AWESOME, but your time is precious and if no one you came to BlogHer to see is invited to your super secret event you’ll be there alone. One of my roommates last year went to a private party that was incredibly cool but took place on an island after a boat ride and she missed a ton of fun (SPARKLECORN) because she was there.

6. Put away your phone. I had SUCH a hard time doing this, but my best conversations happened after my phone was dead and I was forced –FORCED I TELL YOU – to focus on the people I was actually with.

7. Send some emails. Start a Facebook group. G-chat. Really get to know the people you are hoping to hang out with. EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT, and if you let your social anxiety prevent you from talking to your friends’ faces through the internet it will be a lot worse when you try to do it in person.

8. The Expo Hall is a great way to connect with brands but it is not the ONLY way to connect with brands. A lot of companies send representatives to the actual conference, so it never hurts to chat with the strangers at your table. The first company to contact me after BlogHer with actual stuff I was actually interested in using was because I put on my best brave and friendly face and sat with strangers during lunch.

9. Come up with a brief summary of your blog so that when people ask what you blog about you don’t say “Oh just my kids and stuff”. Sometime this is called an elevator pitch, but that name totally put me off. I thought “Naaaah, I’m not going to pitch my blog to everyone I meet! Imma just be ME”. I somehow forgot the ME the people (might) know IS my blog – and the ME brand representatives and sponsors want to get to know is my blog too. Since I’m slightly awkward in person (SHOCKING I KNOW) I’m going to plan ahead a little better this year.

10. Have a good time. Let your hair down. Dance on the stage with the DJ. But remember: falling down and throwing up are no fun, so don’t let “Open Bar” mean “Super Drunk”.

Post-BlogHer Advice:

There will be a LOT of posts about BlogHer and what people thought and where they went and how they loved seeing their friends. Sometimes they will mention you. Sometimes they won’t. Don’t let their memory of the conference skew your memory. If you had the Best Time Ever then it WAS the best time ever. If you were a little disappointed then it was a little disappointing. Stay in contact with the people you met and enjoyed. Don’t feel obligated to add every single blogger to your Google Reader, but it might be worth adding them all to your Twitter for a few weeks to see if you have stuff in common (Pro tip: go through the pile of business cards you collected while waiting for your flight/train home and everyone is still fresh in your mind. It’s a great time to tweet “It was great to meet you!” so they can follow you back).

To be 100% honest with you, I spent way, way too much time last August worrying everyone I had met secretly hated me or thought I was fat and ugly and lame and boring. I’m sure I won’t be able to avoid some of those same feelings of doubt (hellooooo, I’m a blogger because I am insecure and awkward and you probably are too) but it’s a full year later and since most of the internet friends I met at BlogHer11 are STILL my internet friends, I’m assuming they don’t dislike me too much.

If you’re going to BlogHer in NYC and we aren’t already friends, let’s start now. Tweet me, email me, comment here, or just come find me (I’ll be hosting at the Serenity Suite on Saturday from 2pm-4pm) and we can go get some free humus or cottage cheese together. One month! I’m so excited!

sesame street panel blogher 11

That’s real Elmo, not some cheap knock off.

p.s. If you’re looking for me this year, I’ll be wearing pretty much ALL the same clothes as I am in the above photos. Just to make it easy for you.

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