The Tango of the Unwanted Parenting Advice

Since Branden was first born, I have been in many different situations where I look at people as if they had four heads while thinking to myself, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know this was your child!" Last I checked, I gave birth to Branden, and the only names on his birth certificate are mine, his, and my husband's. I'm sure that all of you Mamas know exactly what I am talking about! I have come to refer to this awkward situation as The Tango of the Unwanted Parenting Advice. Let's face it, this title is quite fitting. It really is a dance around the subject of what is right for MY child, and what someone else THINKS is right for MY child. We have all been in this situation where people come out of the woodwork to offer parenting advice, leaving you to wonder silently, "Did I ask you for your opinion?" It is just plain miserable, awkward, and humiliating, whether it comes from friends, family, or strangers. (By the way, what is up with strangers who approach you and think they instantly know what is best for you and your situation? Kind of presumptuous, right? I will never understand.) Dealing With Unwanted Parenting Advice Let's be real here for a second (as if I'm not being real enough already!). Each generation has their own debates about child rearing issues (ie. circumcision, breast-feeding, immunizations) that must be decided upon. Due to medical and technological advances, additional research, and current trends, there seems to be an ever … [Read more...]

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...]

Being Fashion Conscious: Dressing For Your Body Shape

Dear Diary, While turning my apartment completely upside down yesterday to find a matching shoe to one that I had lost, I came across some pictures of myself from high school. I couldn't help but cringe whenever I looked at what I was wearing. Obviously fashion has gone through quite a transition since then, but it wasn't necessarily the fashion that bothered me. What stood out to me like a misplaced accessory was the fact that I was wearing the wrong cut of clothing in absolutely every picture! It became so apparent to me at that moment how important it is to always be fashion conscious and dressing for your body shape. At this point in my life, I can walk into almost any store and know right away before trying something on if it is going to be a good fit for my body type or not. But back then, I was in a quandry about how in the world to dress for my body shape. Even though I have thinned out a bit since high school, I still consider myself to be an apple body shape, in that I carry my extra weight in my mid-section. In order to hide this, my family and friends often suggested that I should wear things oversized to hide the problem area. Now, considering everything I've learned about my body, and shopping, and fashion as a whole, I know differently. So, I thought that it would be beneficial for my lovely readers if I explained the different body types and how to identify where you fit in, and then point out some key pieces that are more likely to work with your … [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...]

Alterations and Fit 101

  While shopping online recently for a dress to wear to an upcoming event, I came across the perfect BCBG dress. It looked like it would fit my body type to perfection, and I instantly knew that I simply NEEDED to have it. But, since I was running on typical Mama time (late!), I only had enough time to run to one location while praying to the "fashion gods" that this dress would be in stock. When I arrived, I saw that my coveted dress was part of their window display. "Oh no!" I thought. "It's probably really popular since its in the window! I really hope they have my size left!" Being that I am a fairly average-sized female, they didn't have any middle sizes, only XS and XL, of course!!! "Crap!" So I tried on the XL to get an overall idea of how the dress flowed, made the purchase, and headed straight to my trusty tailor. (See post "Size Matters?" to help yourself get over buying a size that is larger than what you typically wear.) It is IMPERATIVE that every fashionista befriend an amazing tailor.  (Seamstress is a suitable word too, but for the purpose of this article, I am using the word "tailor" interchangably with seamstress to describe a man or a woman who can sew and alter clothing with great skill.) So, yes, we need a tailor who really knows what he or she is doing and who will make your clothing fit your frame perfectly and therefore look fabulous! But I've met so many people who struggle to find a tailor, while not even being certain of the proper way … [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...]