*Alternately titled – This is what happens when you watch too much HGTV on the plane ride home from BlogHer.
I recently confessed on my BlogHer recap post, “I watched too much HGTV on the plane ride home and have all kinds of projects in mind for myself (and ones we will need to spend good $ on) on how to stage our home for selling next year. Just what I need – more projects!”
Well, one of the first projects I decided to tackle this weekend was to beautify the outside of our house a bit – ya know, do some landscaping (something I’ve never tackled before) and add the oh so important “curb appeal.” 😉
I’ve often talked about the lack of sun in my yard (both front and back), so when I decided to put in some new plants I had to make sure they could handle a crapton fair bit of shade. I asked for suggestions on Twitter, and got many recommendations for hostas. Lynn at The Human Being Blog (who also lives in CO) recommended vincas and hybrid hydrangea in addition to hostas.
I went to The Home Depot in search of all of these plants and didn’t find exactly what I was looking for in the shade-tolerant, perennial category, but did walk away with some hostas, coleus, impatiens, and a vinca (or periwinkle) plant, as well as a few bags of red cedar mulch.
I started off by putting in a new flower bed around a tree in the backyard. It adds some color back there and I think really helps tie the two sides of the yard – grass on one side and playground mulch on the other side – together. I know there’s a patch of dirt right next to the flower bed, but I’ve planted clover and grass seed there a few days ago and it’s already filling in.
Then I tore out the majority of the plants in the front flowerbeds – the flowerbeds that have looked almost exactly. the. same. for the past nine years that we’ve lived here and which consisted of about 80% of Snow on the Mountain (as seen below).
I forgot to take a before picture until I’d already pulled out some of the plants, but this gives you a rough idea of what it looked like. Rather boring, with just a bit of color thanks to some flowers my mom planted in June.
Here is the after picture:
I’m soooooo pleased with how it turned out. I think it looks so much more put together and hopefully adds that “curb appeal” I was looking for. 🙂
Next on Amy’s HGTV home improvement project list is to get new counter tops (and possibly new sink and floor) in the kitchen and to enclose our upstairs loft to make a fourth bedroom (will make 3 bedrooms upstairs and one in the basement). There’s also a need for new carpeting (though I want to wait until Julian is potty trained for that one) and paint. Let the fun begin. Whee! 🙂
This weekend my family and I went to our first slow food potluck. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase slow food, it’s “an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.” The goal of our slow food potluck, organized by my friend Melissa and hosted by my friend Alison, was to use as many local ingredients as possible. In addition to local foods, we also had local drinks including wine, beer, mead, cider and a few flavors of homemade kombucha. I will write more about the potluck and delicious foods everyone brought later.
Because my garden isn’t producing much more than strawberries, cucumbers, and a few tomatoes at present, I went to the farmers’ market to get the bulk of my ingredients. I got the zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic there, had the spices at home, and got the peppers and sun-dried tomatoes at Vitamin Cottage.
I was happy to hear that everyone liked it, even those who were skeptical at first. Even my husband who’s not a big zucchini or tomato fan thought it was really good. (I’m holding him to that and planning on making it again!) 🙂 What I found really interesting is that the pasta, which is just thinly sliced zucchini (I used my vegetable peeler to make ribbons), tastes so much like “real” pasta when you have a flavorful marinara all over it.
More on the rest of the slow foods potluck, including pics of all of the tasty dishes, later.
Yes, it’s true. My cucumbers make me happy. No, no, no. Not the happy Superbowl banned PETA ad kind of way. C’mon, people. Get your mind out of the gutter. 😉
This morning as I was packing my kids’ lunches for summer camp (they go two days per week to the Waldorf preschool that Ava has attended the past two years), I made a sandwich wrap, put in some organic blueberries and some Goldfish crackers from BlogHer (yes, we’re eating the swag). I wanted to throw in a vegetable as well, but only had carrots and spinach in the fridge and wasn’t excited about sending either. That’s when I remembered, I have vegetables growing right in my backyard!
I walked about 20 steps out my backdoor, into my garden, plucked a cucumber off the vine, brought it into the house and sliced it for their lunches. Problem solved!
It’s moments like this that I’m so happy to have my little organic garden. Although it hasn’t turned out to be quite what I wanted it to be this year, I have learned and continue to learn a lot and am enjoying the experience, even if it includes digging up plants and repotting them in pots so I can move them to where the sun is. 😉 We might not ever get eggplants, carrots or zucchini in our garden this year (due to enormous amounts of shade), but we will have cucumbers. Lots and lots of cucumbers. And that makes me happy.
My first BlogHer experience is over with and I’m left wondering how it can already be done. While at times it seemed like the weekend would never end (or rather that I would never sleep again), it also seemed to go by in a blur. I already miss the women I got to know better over the weekend – women who are more than just blogging buddies, but who are friends. I decided to compile a list of sorts with some of the things from the conference that surprised me, made me smile, had me laughing out loud, saddened me and even made me cry. Without further ado, here are my BlogHer confessions.
Once my husband and kids dropped me off at the Denver airport Thursday afternoon for my trip to BlogHer ’09 in Chicago, I didn’t really have any anxiety the whole weekend. I did take 1/2 Xanax Thursday night, but only because, after lying in bed for hours, I could not fall asleep and I was hoping it would make me tired enough to finally crash. It did.
I don’t usually dress the way I did at BlogHer. I rarely accessorize, but I wore a necklace every day I was there – sometimes two different necklaces in one day. I bought nearly everything I wore there new (or second-hand) before the trip. I definitely used BlogHer as an excuse to get myself some new duds.
Thanks to Twitter, I found another BlogHer attendee to share a cab with to the Sheraton and, during the drive, discovered we had quite a bit in common.
My roommate Annie was much taller than I expected her to be. She was also very nice, considerate and quiet as a mouse when she woke up in the morning before me.
Three of the women I hung out with the most (other than my roomie) were Jenni, Allie and Melissa, although there were so many others that I met up with for a couple seconds, to a few minutes, to several hours. In other words, way too many names/blogs to list. Just know I enjoyed meeting every single one of you. I have no complaints!
I often felt torn on who I should spend my time with. There were so many fabulous women and so many places to go and only so many hours in the day/night that it was hard to pick where to go and who to hang with.
When “they” tell you you don’t have to go to every session and you should take time to just chill and relax during the conference, believe it. The weekend, while amazing, was incredibly exhausting and I wish I would have purposefully scheduled in a nap or two.
I confess I didn’t recognize some people who introduced themselves to me. However, upon going home and seeing their Twitter avatar or going to their blog, it then clicked who they were. A-ha! I think everyone should have their Twitter avatar on their name badge. It would make identification so much easier. 🙂
I approached a few women thinking I knew them, but it turned out I did not. It was fine though. I’d rather say, “Hi, do I know you?” than regret never asking.
I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but I’m happy with the ones I did take.
I teared up after running into Katja on the elevator and then having a chat about our past struggles with anxiety in the hallway (after she teared up). Chatting with her was one of the highlights of my trip.
I dripped “juice” from my chicken sandwich down my shirt and into my cleavage while enjoying room service on my bed Friday night. Even though my bra had dried “juice” on it, I wore it on Saturday too.
I woke up with a killer headache and threw up once twice Saturday morning and didn’t emerge from my room until noon. I don’t see how I could have been hungover (since I only drank two and a half glasses of wine the night before), but I think the combination of getting very little sleep for several days, not eating the kinds of food I’m used to, and having so much going on just all caught up with me. Thankfully, once I got a little food to stay in my belly, I was fine the rest of the time.
I was surprised by how much fun I had with Sommer and Jennifer Friday night. They were both a riot! I laughed so hard my face hurt.
I was kind of disappointed by some of the breakout sessions I attended. I walked out of one of them (I felt the content was seriously lacking) and felt another one I went to was rather lacking too.
I surprised myself by raising my hand to talk into the microphone during the Green Blogging session. Public speaking didn’t kill me! (Though it did make my heart race for a few minutes.) I hope to write more about the green blogging session (which was easily my favorite) at a later time.
I packed way more clothes than I wore, but forgot to pack my toothbrush and razor. Thankfully, the front desk had both.
I didn’t have to pump the entire weekend, but I did manually express milk a couple times. Never got engorged – thank goodness.
I didn’t make it to either of the BlogHer sponsored cocktail parties.
I watched too much HGTV on the plane ride home and have all kinds of projects in mind for myself (and ones we will need to spend good $ on) on how to stage our home for selling next year. Just what I need – more projects!
I was surprised by how excited and crazed some women seemed to get about swag (free stuff). The consumption and waste I witnessed at times throughout the weekend saddened and frustrated me.
Although I rarely drink soda (pop), I had a Pepsi at lunch on Saturday to help me recovery from my headache and upset stomach. It was one of the only things that sounded good.
I was pleasantly surprised that a fewwomendeliberately checked in on me to see how I was doing (with my anxiety and all). I thought that was super sweet of them.
I didn’t really truly miss my kids until I was on the plane ride home. Then I missed them terribly and couldn’t get home fast enough. (For the record, Jody and the kids did great without me.)
A small piece of me hoped my 2.5 year old son Julian might forget how to nurse while I was gone. He remembered and I was honestly relieved.
I was surprised by how many amazing, talented, funny, inspiring, sweet, eco-conscious, adorable blogging women (including several local bloggers from Colorado) I kept running into and yet I still left the conference with a long list (in my head) of more I never got to meet. (Next year, right?)
Someone told me that as soon as BlogHer ended this year, I would already be looking forward to doing it all over again next year. She was right. BlogHer ’10 is in New York City (be sure to register early so you get in before it’s sold out) and I’m already planning on being there.
Lastly, thank you sooooo much to my sponsor Stonyfield Farm and their organic Oikos Greek Yogurt for helping me with my trip expenses. I really appreciate it! (And everyone I gave an Oikos Greek Yogurt coupon to was thrilled.) 🙂
Edited to add: Oops! One last thing! I got so many compliments on my photo cuff bracelet at BlogHer and I wanted to tell anyone who’s interested in getting one where you can buy them – Check out Smoy.net. Wonder if I can get them to sponsor me next year. Ya think? 🙂
Tomorrow afternoon I will embark on an adventure unlike any I’ve had before. I will kiss my kids and husband goodbye and travel alone (for the first time in more than five years) to the windy city of Chicago. I will arrive at the Sheraton hotel and likely not know what hit me as I join 1,500 other women bloggers for the sold-out Fifth Annual BlogHer Conference. There will be general sessions and break-out sessions, the community keynote, hugging, swag, friendships forming, more swag, networking, and more parties than you can shake a stick at.
I had been feeling really overwhelmed and anxious about it all, but honestly right now I am mostly just excited. This definitely isn’t something I do everyday and I’m excited to be a part of it all – to learn and grow as a blogger and to meet sooooo many women who, up until this point, I’ve known only virtually.
Yes, I will still be nervous and will be keeping my bottle of Xanax on hand just in case, but I am hoping I can push through the anxiety and turn it into an unforgettable experience.
My name is Amy. I live in Colorado with my husband Jody (yes, he’s a guy) and our two kids Ava (5) and Julian (2.5). I’m currently a stay-at-home mom (hence the “Domestic” part of my blog name) and I also write as a contributing editor for BlogHer. I love finding new ways to “green” the way we live (hence the “Crunchy” party of my blog name) – from organic gardening to composting to cloth diapering to biking to using environmentally-safe non-toxic cleaners to making my own yogurt and granola (the best!) and much, much more. I like to post the occasional Green Challenge to motivate others (as well as myself) to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
I try to raise my kids using the Attachment Parenting philosophy, though I admit most of what I do is just parenting by instinct. I sometimes make mistakes though and am thankful that tomorrow is another day.
In addition to writing about parenting and eco-friendly living, I also enjoy writing about maternal health. I am a big believer in the power of a woman’s body (both to give birth and to nourish her baby) and I had my son at home with the help of my midwives.
I also consider myself an activist and most recently was involved in campaigning for Barack Obama and trying to get my city to allow backyard chickens. (I finally got the OK to get a permit!)
I grew up in an alcoholic family which is something that, after years of repressing, I am tackling head-on now. I kind of felt like I had no choice after I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder at the beginning of 2009. There are a lot of things in my life I am tackling head-on now (thanks to therapy) to help myself be a mentally and emotionally healthier person.
I sometimes struggle with how much information to share on my blog. There is a lot that I want to share that I don’t feel that I can out of respect for others who are involved. However, I often find myself sharing quite a bit anyway (things about myself and my anxiety disorder) and feel comfortable doing so as long as it’s not going to harm anyone.
Anyway, I bring up the alcoholism in my family’s past because growing up in those kind of conditions definitely shaped who I am today – which is a mostly quiet, reserved person, at least until you get to know me (or I have a glass of wine *wink*). Sometimes people thing I am just being snobby or stuck-up because I don’t talk much (especially in larger groups), but I’m just shy like that. I prefer one-on-one or small group conversations to those with several people. I feel more comfortable that way.
I love to write and am also a photography nut (and did portrait photography professionally for a while), though I haven’t picked up my SLR in months. I imagine that I will get back into again someday soon. I consider myself kind of crafty, but just don’t have the time to do much. However, after Jody recently suggested I make my own business card holder for BlogHer because “it would be the ultimate crunchy thing to do,” I had to take him up on the challenge. I sewed that by hand last night with some fabric I had and I cut a button off an old shirt. 😉 It’s not perfect, but, provided it doesn’t fall apart, should work just fine.
My favorite quotes are, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi (I had that printed on some stickers I will be passing out at BlogHer) and “Knowledge is power.” I try to live by both of those mottos.
I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at BlogHer (tomorrow, eeep!!!). Please remember that if I don’t immediately jump into a conversation or run up and introduce myself to you, it’s not because I’m stuck-up, I just move at my own pace (though would welcome you running up to me to introduce *yourself*). 😉 If you have time, write up a “getting to know you” post of your own and then link to it over on BlogHer and leave me a comment here with the link too so I can read about you before I meet you. 🙂
And if you aren’t going to BlogHer (I will miss you!), but want to know what I’m up to (hiding in a corner? sneaking away for a nap? eating some Chicago-style pizza? partying with my roomie PhDinParenting?), I plan on tweeting while there so be sure to Follow me on Twitter. You can also search flickr for photos tagged “Blogher09” – maybe I’ll turn up in some. 🙂
Lastly, a big THANK YOU to my sponsor Stonyfield Farm for helping me with my trip expenses. If you are interested in trying some of Stonyfield Farm’s new organic Oikos Greek Yogurt, track me down at BlogHer and I’ll give you a coupon for a free container of it. 🙂
After more than 11 years of my feet or my car being my primary modes of transportation, I am pleased to announce I finally have another option – a lovely new Schwin bicycle! And oh, do I ever LOVE it. 🙂
I’ve been riding my new bike probably 4 or 5 days out of every week since I got it a few weeks ago. With the help of our Burley bike trailer (that we got used off of Craigslist last summer), I’m taking the kids to and from summer “camp” (which is at the same place where Ava went to Waldorf preschool) a few blocks from our house. I ride it for fun and exercise to a nearby lake (pictured below) and started early enough Saturday night to go around the whole lake before dark. I’ve taken Ava up to the hair salon to get her hair cut. And Jody and I took the kids to the fireworks on the fourth of July using our bikes. I have plans to bike to the grocery store, the bank and more.
I love the freedom I feel when riding my bike. I love that I’m not polluting the air. I love that I’m getting some exercise. I love that it’s good for my mental health as well as my physical health. I love that I can run errands without piling everyone into the car. I love that time slows down and I notice things (rabbits, a fox, prairie dogs, flowers, birds) that I wouldn’t see if I were speeding by in a car.
Jody bought me my first bike “stuff” yesterday at REI – a headlight and taillight so I don’t have to worry about getting home before dark. I have a list of other “stuff” I’d like to get for it too, but I’m trying not to get too bike-crazed too fast. For now I am just enjoying the ride. 🙂
The needleless vaccine, developed by Dr. Lauren Bakaletz, a researcher at Nationwide Children’s hospital, is administered by way of a drop of liquid rubbed into the skin on the outside of the ear.
Dr. Bakaletz says it works by activating cells just under the surface of the skin, called dendritic cells. When this liquid touches the skin, it touches off a response throughout the body.
“These cells deliver it to the lymphoid organs where it can generate an immune response. So really harnessing a power that’s there all the time, but you’re doing it in a way that’s now directed toward a specific disease,” says Dr. Bakaletz.
It seems only natural that moms, especially those of young children, are having some strong reactions to the news of this possible future vaccine. Some of the those I’ve seen from moms thus far include excitement and curiosity, as well as disbelief, frustration and cynicism.
An anonymous commenter on News Anchor Mom said, “Don’t you think we should be looking into the CAUSES of these ear infections rather than just adding yet ANOTHER vaccine to the list? Neither one of my children have ever had an ear infection. They are now 4 and 2.”
Karissa, another commenter, said, “Wow! What an ingenious idea! I am always leery of giving more vaccines but ear infections are the worst! It seemed like for years one of my three kids always had one. The kids were miserable, and couldn’t sleep or eat. … I’m interested to see what happens with this.”
Yet another commenter, Emily from Randomability said, “This sounds promising and it doesn’t go into the ear either. My only concern would be long term side effects.”
Catherine Morgan shares a lot of the same thoughts and concerns that I have regarding this vaccine and vaccines in general and wonders how many is too many.
I wonder how many pharmaceutical companies are bothering to invest in research to actually cure diseases that kill children? Because, why should they bother wasting money on cures for drugs that only a small fraction of children will ever need (buy), when they can make billions on new vaccines for non-life threatening illnesses that can be sold to every child?
Regardless of how you feel about autism, food allergies, or processed foods…When it comes right down to it, pharmaceutical companies are making vaccines that they believe can be most profitable for their companies. I think there comes a time when we (the parents and the consumers) need to decide that we don’t need to vaccinate every child for every illness that they may or may not get.
The thing is our immune systems need to develop by actually fighting off these infections, viruses and diseases on their own. We are already becoming a society with more and more people suffering with auto-immune diseases (like MS, Lupus, Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis, Celiac Disease, just to name a few). Personally, I would rather risk my child coming down with the flu, the chicken pox or an ear infection and fighting it off now, than risk their immune system failing them when they really need it later.
Is there a vaccine that we would ever say no to?
A vaccine to end conjunctivitis (pink eye)?
A vaccine to prevent poison ivy?
A vaccine to prevent runny noses or sore throats?
A vaccine to end diaper rash?
Where do we draw the line? How many vaccines is too many?
Interestingly enough, I first learned about this vaccine via an email that was sent to me from a media relations specialist (MRS). She mentioned that she could put me in touch with Dr. Bakaletz so I took her up on her offer and sent her a list of questions that I and other women (both bloggers and non-bloggers) came up with. Some of the questions included:
What are the possible side effects of the vaccine? – asked by Beth of The Natural Mommy
Who will be the manufacturer of this vaccine?
What are the ingredients?
Could this vaccine create resistant strains like antibiotics do? – also asked by Beth of The Natural Mommy
What are you trying to prevent with the ear infection vaccine – ear infections, the number of children who need tubes in their ears or deafness? – asked by Kayris of Great Walls of Baltimore and Kate
The response I got from the MRS was that the questions were “a bit too detailed for Dr. Bakaletz to answer given where she’s at in the development of her vaccine at this point.” However, she encouraged me to submit some more general questions, so I said:
I’d love to know how long the vaccine will be tested (on animals and humans) before it is deemed safe for public use and/or if she knows what the possible side effects are.
What prompted her to pursue making an ear infection vaccine?
Again, I was told, “Unfortunately Dr. Bakaletz couldn’t answer your specific questions.” However, she did forward on to me some general information from Dr. Bakaletz. This response left me a bit frustrated and wondering why I was told I could be put in touch with the doctor in the first place.
Whether you are excited about the prospect of this vaccine or not, it will not likely be available any time soon. Dr. Bakaletz notes, “most vaccines have taken 25-30 years from discovery to development, so I can’t really predict how soon the transcutaneous vaccine would be available since we’re still so early in terms of our experience with this vaccination approach.”
In the meantime, children will continue to get ear infections and treating them with antibiotics is not always (in fact, not usually) the best course of treatment. According to this recent Health News article, “Repeated use of antibiotics to treat acute ear infections in young children increases the risk of recurrent ear infections by 20 percent, according to researchers in the Netherlands who called for more prudent use of antibiotics in young children. … Antibiotics may reduce the length and severity of the initial ear infection, but may also result in a higher number of recurrent infections and antibiotic resistance, the researchers stated. Because of this, they said, doctors need to be careful in their use of antibiotics in children with ear infections.” You can read the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for treating ear infections here, which include:
Minimize antibiotic side effects by giving parents of select children the option of fighting the infection on their own for 48-72 hours, then starting antibiotics if they do not improve.
Encourage families to prevent AOM (acute otitis media) by reducing risk factors. For babies and infants these include breastfeeding for at least six months, avoiding “bottle propping,” and eliminating exposure to passive tobacco smoke.
SafBaby also suggests parents of children who suffer from ear infections might want to look into chiropractic care as an alternative to antibiotics.
I dislike that I resort to putting my daughter in front of the TV whenever I’m trying to get my son down for a nap.
I dislike being around smokers when I have my kids in tow.
I dislike muddy paw prints in my house.
I dislike that I haven’t been the blogger that I want to be lately.
I like the smell of autumn.
I like the sound of a gentle rain.
I love seeing and hearing my kids laugh hysterically at each other.
I dislike it when I yell at my kids.
I love growing food in my backyard.
I dislike that my backyard doesn’t get enough sun to have a big garden.
I like that my backyard has so much shade I don’t have to worry about my kids getting sunburned.
I love the looks on my kids’ faces when they discover something for the first time.
I like the feeling of sand between my toes.
I like that now (after more than 11 years) I have a bike to ride again.
I dislike that sometimes marriage seems like so much work.
I dislike not having the answers to all of my questions.
I love living in Colorado.
I love Michigan (my home state), but only in the summer and fall.
I love that my sister and I have such a close relationship.
I dislike that talking to my parents isn’t easy.
I like that my parents and I are slowly but surely working on our relationships.
I like that I know how to make my kids laugh.
I like educating others.
I like writing.
I dislike that I don’t always feel motivated to write.
I dislike blatant consumerism.
I love watching my kids play.
I dislike early mornings.
I love to sleep.
I love that I’ve been able to breastfeed both of my kids.
I dislike ignorance.
I dislike that sometimes I am ignorant.
*I dislike the word hate, which is why I used “dislike” instead of it.
I love that my husband believes in parenting the same way that I do.
I love that my husband is a wonderful father.
I dislike my cluttered house.
I dislike addiction.
I love feeling like I’ve made a difference.
I love that I have a supportive group of friends.
I dislike that there’s so much suffering in the world.
I love that my children willingly eat so many foods that I was never exposed to until I was an adult.
I like that I’m allowing myself to feel for the first time in a while.
I dislike the way that those feelings sometimes make me feel.
I dislike fear.
I love that I’m learning to overcome my fears.
And I love that my kids make everything that seems difficult, or even impossible, worth the effort.
This feels rather meme-like, so I invite you to feel free to do this on your own blog if you feel so inclined. I found it to be a very enlightening, fun, and educational exercise. It’s especially interesting to see how many likes, dislikes and loves you come up with at the end. If you do this on your blog and want to link back to me, I’d appreciate it, but please don’t feel obligated. 🙂
After taking part in a recent discussion on Twitter with @NTFFC, @feelslikehome and @phdinparenting regarding the fact that we all were experiencing various degrees of separation anxiety about leaving our kids to go to BlogHer, I felt certain that we weren’t the only moms feeling this way. Moms and children alike have dealt with separation in the past, but I began wondering what ways there were to get through it that would make it easier on everyone involved.
I should first note that I’m writing this article from the perspective of a mom who practices Attachment Parenting (AP) with her children. It’s what I know, it’s what I do, so it makes the most sense that I write from that angle. That said, every mom knows their child’s and their own needs better than anyone else. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to parent, just offer suggestions for those who are looking for help.
Although I really wanted to go to BlogHer last year, I didn’t feel the timing was right. My youngest, Julian, was a little over a year old at the time I would’ve needed to commit to the conference. He was still nursing (and never took a bottle), and I knew that several days apart wouldn’t go well for either of us. Although I whined about it plenty on Twitter, I knew I made the right decision for us to stay home. As it was I was still able to virtually attend BlogHer in Second Life from my own house, where I met some new people and had a great time. Not the same thing, but it allowed me to experience a small bit of the awesomeness that is BlogHer.
Fast-forward to this year. Julian is a year older, night weaned (though still nursing during the day), no longer co-sleeping (with me, though he shares a room with his sister Ava), will go to sleep for someone other than me (if I’m not home), and can comprehend that mommy is leaving for a few days (just like daddy sometimes does for work) and that I will be back. I feel it will go much more smoothly. And so, after four and a half years of blogging, I am attending my very first BlogHer(!!) and leaving my kids for an extended period of time for the very first time as well. The only other time I’ve been away overnight from my kids in five years (yes, five years!) was when my husband and I went to Boulder for a night away two weeks ago while the kids were with my parents and my sister. My kids (ages 2.5 and 5) did really well, but we were gone for less than 24 hours. My BlogHer Chicago trip will require me to be gone for three nights and yes, I’m a little nervous about it.
However, I was much more nervous about it before Jody and I had our night away. I think of that getaway as kind of a trial run for the kids. They did great with my parents and sis here and I feel quite confident that they will do just as well, if not better, when it is daddy taking care of them while I’m away. I’m sure I will be OK too, but I have a feeling that for me and many other moms it will be harder on us to be away from our kids than it will for our kids to be away from us.
That said, I believe that there are ways to make the separation easier on the children and, if they are old enough to comprehend what’s going on, they should be prepared in advance for mom’s departure. I also believe that moms know their children best and can likely tell if leaving them in the care of another for a few days will be minimally disruptive to them or if it will cause more difficulty than its worth. If the separation would be too much, there’s also always the option of bringing little ones with you either to keep with you (in a sling or carrier) during the conference (perhaps have a relative or friend stay with you to allow you some time sans child or, if your child is up for it, take advantage of BlogHer’s childcare option) or bringing the whole family and letting your partner and the kids enjoy a little vacation too, but still have the opportunity to hook up with you during the conference as needed.
Annie at PhdinParenting (who will be my BlogHer roomie) has some great suggestions for minimizing the separation anxiety for the children and for mom.
Having an attached dad helps. If your partner is more than just a “babysitter” then the kids will feel comfortable with him.
Waiting until the kids are old enough to understand that Mommy is going away for a few days and will be back soon (rather than just being distressed that she isn’t there). My first time away from my son was when he was almost 2 years old. I wouldn’t have considered it before that. My daughter is now over 2 years old and I think she is ready.
Getting help while you are away from another relative or friend that the kids trust to take some of the stress/pressure off of your partner. My mother-in-law will be here while I’m away at BlogHer, so my husband will have help and the kids will be distracted by her being there.
Take photos with you to look at and show others.
Set up a time to call your kids and check in with them. Having a time set in advance ensures that you are both available and there for the call and no one is disappointed.
Give them something to look forward to. Promise a special gift from your trip or a special activity upon your return.
Have your partner plan some fun activities while you are away. Special outings or play dates or special foods.
Alison at GreenMe jokingly said that mommy BlogHers should update their kids via Twitter and perhaps do some Skyped bedtime stories during their absence, but is that really that far off the mark? Others don’t seem to think so. Even Alison admits that her friend Skyped her 18-month-old every night when she was away for a recent trip and the child barely noticed mom was gone!
Maria from A Piece of my Mind said when she has to leave her son for an extended period of time, “I talk to my son about my leaving, how long I will be gone, if he will visit, what I am doing, etc. I also call/video conference with him.”
Ally from In the Middle of Somewhere said the longest she’s been away from her one-year-old daughter is five hours and they were “not easy” on her. Her daughter, on the other hand, didn’t notice she was gone until she returned. Ally said taking a picture of her daughter with her would’ve helped her separation anxiety and if she was gone longer than five hours she thinks Skype would have come in very handy.
Sandy from Between Lightning suggests making some recordings of you reading their favorite books. And for babies, “I’ve also heard it helps to give them your shirt for scent.”
Bits of Myself, who is currently battling cancer for the second time, offered up what she does for her daughter when they have to be apart. “When Nugget (age 2) and I have to be apart for chemo or hospitalization, we talk about what will happen, what she can expect, visiting, who will be helping to care for her, etc. We also make a special Build-a-Bear together for her to hold when mama’s away.”
Explain to them that you’re taking a trip, show them on the map where you are going, talk to them about the plane (so fascinating!), promise to call from the plane, tell them what type of plane, call when you land, call every night for night-night routine, and promise to bring back a present (eco-friendly, of course). Begin talking to them about a week prior…then remind them the day before, tell them when you’ll be back, what you’ll do….I think the message here, as with Attachment Parenting, is that you want them to KNOW what you are doing, and to be ENGAGED and INVOLVED. NO hiding. No sneaking around.
When a friend of mine needed to be apart from her children for several days while she recovered from a planned surgery, she made a book of photographs for each of her children. That could be done like a scrapbook or photo album, but she used an online photo site to print and bind an actual book. The book included photos of the child, the mother, and the family, and it was meant to be read both before and during the separation.
It could also help to have a calendar — possibly made together as a craft — to count down the days apart. Another idea is to make a construction paper chain to count down the days, just like many children do before Christmas. The mother could take the idea one step further and write a little note on each of the ‘rings’ so that there would be a special message from Mom for the child to read each day.
When I went to Disney Mom Bloggers Mixer two months ago, only bringing my breastfeeding infant, I called throughout the day to my husband and children, and they were told to call me if they missed me. I had the phone on me constantly. We had good practice with mommy being away with the birth of our youngest, luckily she latched to sleeping with just hubby pretty well while I was in the hospital delivering. My toddler is definitely more of a daddy’s girl now. We reiterated his putting her to sleep just before we left, and now it’s his job because, as I said, she’s a daddy’s girl and she loves him and prefers him now! My older children coped well because I called a lot and emailed them pictures.
Amy at Resourceful Mommy offers up a good reminder that we need to take care of our own needs as well as those of our children, and she views attending BlogHer as a way of recharging her batteries. “Breathing new life into ourselves will leave us ready to face the challenges of caring for our children.”
So what am I personally going to do to make this separation easier on all of us? I think a little bit of everything. I plan to:
Talk to my kids about my trip about a week before I go, and then remind them a few more times as the day gets closer.
Leave them some special notes to find while I am gone. (I will likely have my husband place a few around the house each day.)
Call them at least once a day and tell them they can call me too.
Email them pictures and ask them to email me pics of them too (with daddy’s help).
Help my husband plan out their days with a few special activities before I go so the kids have some things to look forward to.
Get the book “The Kissing Hand” to read before I go.
Bring them both home a present.
And I will definitely have some pictures of my kids with me.
Do you have any suggestions on how you have or will reduce separation anxiety for your children or yourself? Leave a comment and share your tips.
I’m not an big fan of large, lush (water-guzzling) lawns, especially in areas that often experience drought, like here in Colorado. However, if you have a lawn or patch of grass (or even weeds), chances are you need a way to mow it occasionally lest your yard become the eye-sore of the neighborhood. We don’t have a very big yard here and just got done converting about two-thirds of the backyard into a playground mulchy play area for the kids (as well as some raised garden beds for me), so the amount of grass we have back there is minimal. We still have a lawn in our front yard, but again, it’s not very big and of course we need a way to mow both of them.
In the past we’ve (and when I say “we,” I mean Jody) cut our grass with a gas rotary lawn mower which has always been Jody’s responsibility. I’ve been opposed to cutting the grass for as long as I can remember because I have grass allergies and am not fond of the grass/dirt cloud created using a gas-powered mower. I also don’t like the gas fumes, the noise or the air pollution they create, so I’ve somehow managed to get out of mowing the lawn both as a child and as an adult – in other words pretty much all of my life. 😉
For Father’s Day this year, I decided to get Jody a manual push reel mower – the Scotts Classic Reel Mower. It seemed more practical for our yard now that we have even less grass than before and would be a good change for the environment. However, I suspected the gift might secretly be for me. I took the new mower for a spin in the backyard last week, which may have been my first time cutting the grass ever, and I liked it. I didn’t have to worry about a grass/dirt cloud, noise (my kids could happily stay outside while I did it), or fumes. My allergies weren’t affected by it at all.
What’s the difference between a reel mower and a rotary mower?
Using a reel mower is healthier for the grass. “A reel mower scissors-cuts the grass in its place as it lays. Grass blades are cut cleanly and precisely, with minimal disturbance to the plant. A rotary mower sucks all the grass up to vertical and then chops it off with the fast-moving blade, tearing and bruising the grass, and disturbing its natural growth pattern. This often causes the lawn to dry out and to brown.
The more healthy the grass, the thicker, greener and more beautiful. Reel mowers promote the health of the lawn by minimizing the impact on the grass plant and allowing it to maximize its own inherent properties. In other words, a reel mower helps the grass plant to help itself!”
How much air pollution does a power mower cause?
“Garden equipment engines emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in many metropolitan areas like Los Angeles.
A conventional lawn mower pollutes as much in an hour as 40 late model cars (or as much as as much air pollution as driving a car for 100 miles).
A typical 3.5 horsepower gas mower, for instance, can emit the same amount of VOCs — key precursors to smog — in an hour as a new car driven 340 miles, say industry experts.
The replacement of every 500 gas mowers with non-motorized mowers would spare the air:
* 212 pounds of hydrocarbons
* 1.7 pounds of nitrogen oxides
* 5.6 pounds of irritating particles
* 1,724 pounds of carbon dioxide
To top it off, lawn and garden equipment users inadvertently add to the problem by spilling 17 million gallons of fuel each year while refilling their outdoor power equipment. That’s more petroleum than spilled by the Exxon Valdez in the Gulf of Alaska.”
Looking for an alternative to a lawn?
Read more about xeriscaping, which is landscaping or gardening that minimizes outdoor water use while maintaining soil integrity and building aesthetics. Xeriscaping typically includes emphasis on native plantings, mulching, and no or limited drip/subsurface irrigation.
This Sunday I mowed the front yard and I enjoyed it too. See that lovely unwashed hair smile on my face? ;P The more I get into gardening and doing things outside, the more I realize that I really enjoy pretty much all aspects of yard work. I know the reel mower was meant to be a present for Jody, but now that I’m the one mowing the grass and he no longer has to worry about it, it really is a gift to him (and a gift to the Earth too). Now if only I could get my neighbors to quit smoking while I’m out there cutting the grass, I’d be a happy camper.