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...]


  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 Clothing Speaks Volumes

Moving back to New York City has enabled me to fully delve back into one of my favorite hobbies--People Watching! There is seriously no better place to people watch than in NYC, where people feel free to express themselves and are not afraid of being who they really are. (This is one of the main reasons I think that this is the greatest city in the world!) Whether you are looking at what people are wearing for fashion inspiration or for admiration or simply watching the way that people interact with one another, you can pretty much pick any street corner and your people-watching cravings will be fulfilled in no time! One of my favorite places to people watch "the show" is from the Union Square Playground. This is a great spot because people are coming and going all day long, as they visit the Union Square Market, the stores, the restaurants, or even the hospital in the area. I also can let my little man play happily, while I sit back and enjoy the sights, um, I mean, people. Of course I get a front row view of what all the Union Square parents are wearing to play with their kiddos, but I always try to look beyond those gates to explore life outside the playground. (Even if I don't always get to live it at this stage in my life, I get to observe it!) While visiting this spot last week, I decided to observe from a fashion perspective (of course!), but instead of silently critiquing everyone's outfits, I decided to explore each person's fashion sense from a different … [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...]

Facing “The Fear”

  Over the weekend my husband and I took on the huge challenge of cutting Branden's hair. To most parents this might seem like no big deal, but for us it is one of those moments that we dread. You see, my little man has a huge fear of getting his hair cut because he thinks that the freshly cut hair falling to the ground is spiders. We have done everything to help him understand that this just isn't so, but nonetheless, he freaks out uncontrollably each time it is hair cutting day. (You may notice in the picture with this post that there are some longer pieces that shouldn't be there, but his frame of mind indicated it was time to quit!) This experience had me thinking a lot about fears. Accepting them, overcoming them, and dealing with them. We all have fears, but as adults we don't typically handle them the same way that children do, as it's just not acceptable behavior. I'm sure that we could all sit with a pen and pencil, and list our 2 or 3 things that we are fear the most. For most people, this ranges from public speaking to flying, snakes, and even death. And, yes, spiders! Then, there are the daily worries that we experience and the lingering anxiety that I have come to define as "The Fear." What I mean by this is that moment of hesitation that keeps you from doing something that might actually be good for you, because you are over-thinking the situation. In this moment, you begin to doubt your abilities to complete this task successfully, and then you … [Read more...]

Making Necessary Edits

  As I was going through my closet this past weekend and making some necessary edits (so that I can add new magical pieces, of course), I realized that its important to edit our lives the way that we edit our closets. As we grow up and our lives evolve, it is important (and sometimes imperative) to make necessary edits to the way we are living, to the people we surround ourselves with, and to the daily choices that we are making in order to live a more fulfilled life. Therefore, I decided to break this process down into the phases that I go through whenever I am about to make changes to my existing wardrobe and allow it to be a metaphor for my life. Phase #1: The Evaluation During this phase, I examine my wardrobe and make a list of things that I know I want to get rid of. In our lives, this phase would be an evaluation period where you really look at your life, both the things that you love and the things that you want to change. Take some time to really think about what you want out of your life (after all, we are responsible for our own happiness) and what you want to achieve in the future. This could take some time to put things into perspective, so don't rush it. Some questions to consider: What can I purge from my life to make it better? Who/what is bringing me down in my life? What needs to be added to my life to make me feel more fulfilled? Phase #2: The Plan During this phase, I sit down and come up with a course of action in order … [Read more...]

Mama to the Rescue

  Ever since my sister and I had our babies, we have been faced with many different situations with our little men that have perplexed us beyond belief! Children get into all kinds of trouble on a daily basis, and when you are a first time mother, it can be rather intimidating when you realize that you don't know all the answers. (And even more intimidating when you realize how many questions there are!) Luckily for my sister and me, our own Mama is a registered nurse, and ALWAYS on speed dial! Our mother has been there through thick and thin, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as our emergency go-to person for tons of questions. She surely has become our "Mama to the Rescue!" In addition to being a nurse, my Mama is a nurturing mother of 4, a caring grandmother, and one of my best friends. Due to her fashion sense and petite figure, she has been teasingly tagged with the nickname of "G.I.L.F." among our family. (Meaning: Grandma I'd Like to ...well, you know.) I'm sure many Mamas have someone that they trust on speed dial to answer important questions in their life, other than 911 and poison control of course, but for those of you who don't, I thought it would be helpful to share my Mama's Mommy advice with you all!  Below you will find my Q's and my Mama's A's. What are some of the funniest situations that we, your daughters, have called to ask you about over the years regarding "emergencies" with our babies? "There have been many stories to chuckle over, … [Read more...]