Thank You Very Much, But My Plate is Full!

  Normally my motto is "pile it on", but today my plate is full.  OVERWHELMED is my all-encompassing word of the day (possibly the week), and I need a break! I usually tend to be the kind of person wh0 needs to have a million things on my to-do list, or else I get bored. I find extreme amounts of satisfaction as I successfully complete tasks and cross them off my list.  I love watching the list get smaller and smaller, until I add more, of course.  But every once in a while, there comes a time when adding that last item to the very bottom of my list can really push me over the edge. I normally don't know when it's coming; this feeling seems to just creep up upon me. It's like I hit my breaking point, and there is no turning back. This poses the question : How does a Fashion Forward Mama know when it's just too much? According to kidshealth.org: "Stress is a feeling that's created when we react to particular events. It's the body's way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness." It is important to note that there are such things as 'good stress' and 'bad stress', and even more important to know how to tell the difference. Good stress gives us the motivation to do something really well through practice and planning, or to react in a certain manner during emergency situations. Bad stress stays with us for the long term and can have negative effects on our overall health. After … [Read more...]

“But…I Don’t Like This”

  It's official! My little guy has developed a taste palate that is identical to his father's, which translates into PICKY! PICKY! PICKY! I feel like I am one tired Mama who is sick and tired of hearing Branden's infamous words: "But...I don't like this." Since my meat and potatoes husband is set in his ways, I feel like I still have some time to turn my little man's dislikes into likes. In the meantime, I have found that I have developed many tricks of the trades to get Branden to make healthier choices and learn about nutrition from a young age. Whenever I make vegetables such as broccoli, squash, carrots (really anything that can easily soften) for dinner, I set a little bit aside and overcook so that I can form a paste out of it. The next day, whenever I am making Branden something like grilled cheese or a cheese quesadilla, I smooth the paste onto the sandwich and (most of the time) he doesn't notice the difference! So that we can get away from drinking so much juice (even though I always use the half juice/half water method), I have taken to having Branden help me freeze pieces of fruit inside ice cubes. Once they are frozen, we place these frozen nuggets inside juice cups filled with water so that he's a little bit more eager to drink it versus plain juice. We also freeze yogurt in between vanilla wafer cookies for bedtime snacks. You can even freeze yogurt or organic fruit juices in ice cube trays as well. I know that Popsicles and Go-gurt exist, but … [Read more...]

Mother Bird Syndrome

Editor’s Post by Deborah Hetrick Catanese On a Monday in Virginia, I saw  Newly Fledged Children Flying on their own, Shot down Before their wings had fully spread.   On a Monday in Virginia I see A tiny bird flying High in a still, crystalline sky, Frantically chasing a hawk Fifty times its size.   I want to shriek, To attack, to fight, to madly protect! Like Mother Bird.   So fierce. So determined. So small. Just like us all, On a Monday in Virginia. Project Motherhood has touched on a number of thought-provoking topics. Branden’s irrational fear of spiders, described in Allison's "Facing the Fear", made me realize how similar we “grown-ups” can be to children when it comes to anxiety-driven thinking. And “The Many Styles of Parenting” brought to mind the exterior chatter that comes at us about how we are “supposed” to feel and act if we are to be good parents. These pieces make me think about how we can manifest our desire to protect our children even while staving off “attitudes” about our parenting. This potentially crazy-making combo is something that we as parents need to navigate without letting either fear or second guessing control us. I wrote the above poem in one of those states, when fear rose up in me like fat to the top of chicken soup.  I could hardly breathe when I heard about the shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, even as my own daughter strolled through her far away college green, unguarded and blissfully unaware. You … [Read more...]

The Many Styles of Parenting

  Remember when you were in high school and got caught doing something you weren't supposed to be doing with a  group of people? Some of your friends would start freaking out because they knew right away that they were going to be in "big trouble"; some even knew EXACTLY what their punishments would be. While others were more relaxed about it, knowing this wasn't going to be a big deal with their parents. It makes me cringe just thinking about being on the disciplinary side of this insinuation with Branden someday. Anyways, this scenario got me to thinking about the different parenting styles that exist in the world and how as a parent it is so important to make sure that we are parenting with the appropriate methods that work for our children. In some cases, we must parent each child differently, based on their unique qualities so that they are able to grow in their individual ways. I remember learning about parenting styles in Child Development class in high school, but after becoming a parent, I'm not sure I really see how important it is to categorize ourselves into a specific parenting "style". After all, each day we are faced with new obstacles to overcome and different situations. I personally don't want to feel bound to acting in a certain manner or always react a certain way to everything that comes my way as a parent. But as usual, this thought got me to doing some research because I do think its important to stay on top of these things, so here are … [Read more...]

A Natural Disaster

It was just like any ordinary Tuesday in the Cooper household, me writing on the computer, Branden playing with his toys, and my husband at work. But in my parents' household, all the way in Pittsburgh, Pa, all hell was breaking loose. You see, Tuesday is the day of the week when my parents are in charge of my [then] three year old nephew Shane, while my sister goes to work. During our regular phone calls, my mother and I often vent to each other about the two little ones, especially now that my Branden is entrenched in The Terrible Two's. It helps us try to keep our sanity! But, on this particular Tuesday when I checked my email, I was surprised to hear from my father instead of my mother.  You see, my father is a man known for rolling with the punches that come along with raising a family of four children, but NOT for emailing about family news.  I guess we could say he was especially "inspired" to write on this particular day, to put it mildly! "On Tuesday August 2, 2011, MSomma wrote: Subject:  Shane did this today Today started just like any other day:  first work, then a quick stop at the pool to pick up Anna where she was hanging with her teenage cohorts, then head for home. I am well aware that when I arrive at our house on Tuesdays, ANYTHING can greet me. You see, Tuesday is the day my wife Linda watches our grandson Shane, and depending on his disposition,  he can be tons of fun or a handful.  And whatever the state of his mood, it tends to take over the … [Read more...]

Poop

  Over the years, I have become a firm believer of the phrase "everything happens for a reason." I think that whenever things are happening to us that we may feel are disappointing, it may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but eventually it will be there. I also think that sometimes situations arise in our lives to teach us a lesson, this is one of those instances.The story that I am about to share happened last summer when my little man was 2 years old. On this specific day, the world of the day in my household was "poop." Yes! I said it! Poop!  It's not glamorous and pretty darn disgusting, but as a mother, sometimes you have to deal with it. So why am I talking about poop today? Just bear with me, and I hope that maybe after reading, it will make what you have to face today a little less… well, you know. My husband Christopher was on leave from the Army, and I decided to take advantage of him being home by taking a much needed nap. In fact, I thought we could all use some "quiet time." We put Branden down for a nap in his bedroom, I went to take my nap in my bedroom, and my hubby went to the living room to catch up on some television. I started to drift off into a deep sleep (thoughts of Manolo's and Louboutin's danced in my head).  Suddenly, I felt my husband shaking me. "Babe, you have to wake up. I need your help. You have to see what Branden just did." These words are a mother’s worst nightmare. I hesitantly crawled out of … [Read more...]

Playground Etiquette: Dealing With Other Children and Their Parents

[Disclaimer: If you reside in the Greater New York City area, you may be best able to relate to this alternate title--Playground Etiquette: Dealing With Other Children and Their Nannies] Upon becoming a mother and taking Branden to the park a few times a week to burn off steam (and let's be honest, I'm also motivated by the increased chance of him taking a great nap after all the exercise), I've learned that going to the playground is not always the relaxed experience I had dreamed about when I became pregnant.  There are of course the days when we meet up with Branden's neighborhood friends and their mothers who I've befriended as well, and it is an enjoyable time.  But, then there are those other days where children and their parents come out of the woodwork with no manners or consideration for ANYONE else.  Since my goal is to try to handle every situation with poise, it can sometimes be overwhelming as well as disappointing. Though I've often wished there was a posted written code for proper playground etiquette, over the years I have formed my own strong opinions about what we as parents should and should not do, as well as opinions about directing our children's behavior.  Trust me, I am confident that if we all follow these simple guidelines, we will all be poised Mamanistas, and the playground will become the happy place it's intended to be. The PROJECT MOTHERHOOD's Guide to Playground Etiquette: 1. Teach your children to be nice to other children, no … [Read more...]

The Big Fight

  At this point in life, I think that we are all aware that conflict arises. We're not all made the same way, so opinions can collide no matter who you are speaking with. Ironically, I have found through my experience that we tend to argue most with the people we love the most. Why is this? I'm not sure, but maybe it is because we can more easily vocalize our opinions to those people who we know the best and make us feel the most comfortable. Who knows? The trickiest thing for me is dealing with conflict whenever it comes to Branden. I obviously want to teach him to respect other people's opinions, but I also know that it's  important for him to be able to make his own points as well. It is a two way street that I want to show him, to not only be able to listen, but how to be heard. I guess whenever it's all said and done, I want my son to be able to fight fair. So then, how do we teach our children to fight fair? Through example right? Hmmm, that can tricky, because it brings on a whole new slew of questions, the main one being: Is it okay for our children to see or hear us fight with our spouse? Children idealize their parents, so whenever they witness them fighting, no matter how small or big the fight, it can scare them. I know that in my house, Branden gets overwhelmed and starts telling us "Shhhhhhhh" even when my husband and I are having a passionate conversation without conflict.  To me, that is a pretty big message that strong emotions can be a … [Read more...]

Mindful Eating

  I have always considered myself to be a pretty healthy eater, only giving in to the 'bad foods' whenever cravings arise that just can't be controlled by any other measure. I read all the nutrition labels for the foods I eat each day, especially while grocery shopping and choosing foods that I'm going to cook with for my boys. I've always tried to be on top of new food research, findings, and protocols, because I feel that as a mother it is important for me to be on top of what my family is putting into their bodies. In some of my recent research, I keep running across the words 'mindful eating,' so I decided to do a bit of research and share my thoughts with you lovely Mamas. According to The Center for Mindful Eating, this process essentially revolves around making yourself more aware and 'mindful' of what you are putting into your body. Being aware of what we put into our bodies on a daily basis, we will then be able to better satisfy hunger, know when to stop eating, make better choices, and free ourselves of bad eating habits. Meditation practices are also encouraged to go along with this healthier lifestyle. The meditation role is to help you accept, remain whole and balanced, while being conscious of your well being. The connection between mindful eating and the meditation will help you feel more complete and well rounded. Therefore, this new process has left me thinking: have I been looking at food and nutrition all wrong my entire life? I … [Read more...]

The Boona Boona Bug — A Short Story About Bedtime and Childhood Fears

Editor's Note:  As I looked to weed out any typos in Allison's piece about Branden and his childhood fears (see "Facing the Fear"), I couldn't help but reflect upon my own experiences with my now twenty-something children.  As I read about Branden and his scary "spiders", I flashed back on the joys and challenges that occurred along the amazing journey and privilege of helping my own children grow up. Allison's clear and open discussion of these issues took me back in time to one night of my parenting, when I was fortunate enough to roll with the punches and find some inspiration.  I can't say that the type of motherly inspiration revealed in the following story was ALWAYS the case, but it was at least my best intention.  So remember, fellow Mamas, it's always easier if you can laugh!  dhc The True and Scary Story of The Boona Boona Bug, A Short Story about Bedtime and Childhood Fears  by Deborah Hetrick Catanese The nightlight shone in the little girl’s room, illuminating the sweet face of the sleeping child.  D tiptoed through the room, setting the well-worn copy of Good Night Moon on the bookshelf near the door on her way out.  She audibly sighed, her shoulders slumped slightly with the tiredness that only the mother of young children can fully grasp.  She went to the next room, cracked open the door slightly, and peeked inside at her youngest, who bore a peaceful, angelic expression, now that sleep had erased the eager excitement that his three year old face usually … [Read more...]