Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Laryngitis Diaries

Today, after the Little One came home from preschool, we had a little exchange about the state of my vocal chords:

Little One: Talk normal, Mama.

Mama: (In a barely audible whisper, emphasising with hand gestures) I can't, love.

Little One: But you have to try. I don't think you're trying.

Mama: I am trying, sweet one. But I lost my voice.

A look of concern mixed with fear clouds her face. A look like: "Lost" her voice? I didn't know this was possible.

Little One: But where'd it go? Did you lose it? (Looks at Mama's pockets.)

Mama: (Nods)

Little One: Oh no. What happened? Did you swallow it?

Adventures in deductive reasoning, sponsored by my three-year-old.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sound of Silence

I've lost my voice.

See, I've got kind of a nasty cough (no fever, so no aporkalyptic swine flu fears) and it seems to have robbed me of speech, or at least of vocalization. At first blush, it's not the end of the world, right?

But consider A Day in the Life of a Mama:

  • I need to write out my Starbucks order before getting online. Dunkin' Donuts drive through isn't even a possibility.

  • When the Little One takes off running toward the supermarket parking lot, I open my mouth to yell "Stop!" But what comes out is...nothing. Fortunately, she's as well trained as any Pavlovian canine and so came to a screeching and immediate halt once at the curb.

  • The Little One is on her 6th tantrum of the afternoon. I need to call another Mama to vent, but am reduced to texting, which is, of course, not the same thing.

  • Bedtime turns into a nightmare when Mama can't read even one of the six books requested. Compromise prevails, though, when we silently agree to look at them together.

Any good home remedies to bring my voice back? I'm not psychic, but I foresee tantrums and storybooks in my near future.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The World Series of Love

So I'm watching game three of the ALCS tonight. I'm an unabashed Yankees fan, as anyone who knows me will tell you. (Stay with me West Coast readers.) I was dazzled by the magic that closer Mariano Rivera worked as only he can. The man's arm is graced with some serious positive juju, the likes of which I've never seen in my life as a baseball fan.

After Mariano got himself, and my boys in blue, out of what could be generously called a serious jam, I kind of relaxed. Mo took control, shut down the threat; it should have been smooth sailing from there.

Here's where the Mama stuff comes in.

After Mo's miracle working, the Yankees failed to deliver a run. So the team, while momentarily out of the woods, still had some work to do.

Enter Joe Girardi, Yankees Manager. A baseball manager is, in many ways, just like a Mama. A manager wants his team to thrive, to succeed, to prosper, just the same as any Mama wants for her family. A manager knows his team, inside and out, the way a Mama knows her family. A manager makes decisions--both popular and less so--based on what he feels is best for his team, just the way we Mamas do. (Think enforcing bedtime and candy rationing.)

Well, tonight, Joe Girardi made some decisions in the 11th inning that I will go to my grave without understanding. He replaced Rivera with Robertson, a young right-hander who performed, for the precious few pitches he threw, admirably. Then, in a mid-inning move that confounded many a fan and--in my mind at least--lost the game for the Yankees, Girardi pulled Robertson for another right-hander, Aceves, a pitcher who has struggled some in recent games.


Here, Mamas, is the crux of this post: Because Girardi thought he was making the best choice he could make in a tough situation. The game was tied in the 11th inning and he had already used his ace. What next?

See, Mamahood and baseball have a lot in common. As Mamas, we're thrown curve balls almost every day of the week. (At least baseball players get off days!) We're operating in the moment, with outside forces vying for power. (Think MTV, Toys 'R Us and Mean Girls.) We try to anticipate and cut off danger before it even crosses the plate.

But sometimes, in the thick of it, as we formulate our permutations of every conceivable outcome for a given situation, we over think things. Sometimes, in an effort to save, we end up doing some collateral damage.

So Joe Girardi, if you're reading this, let me first tell you that I'm a big fan. But let me also give you some advice, one Mama to another: Sometimes we need to give our kids a chance to fall, before we try to save them from doing so. They'll learn some lessons in the process, to be sure. And the landing might not be nearly so bad as we anticipate.

As for the rest of us Major League Mamas, let game three of this ALCS serve as a reminder not to judge. When you see that Mama at the supermarket with the wild child, check yourself before you let those holier-than-thou thoughts fly: You don't know what she's faced that day or what kind of curve balls she's been thrown. She might have just moved her world through a potential shitstorm with no casualties and could, at that moment, be in need of a solid reliever to carry her through. Whatever her story, she's probably doing the best she can at that moment, just like good old Girardi.

But next time, Joe, if you've got a good thing going? Do me a favor. Let it ride.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reunion Magazine

I've been moonlighting, Mamas.

I know, I know, I probably should have told you sooner. And I love this little blog of mine, don't get me wrong. But another master has been vying for my focus and devotion. So I feel like it's finally time I told you...

We just launched a magazine!

By we, I mean the dedicated, driven and fearless team at the Joyful Heart Foundation, founded by Mariska Hargitay to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse and shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.

It's a bold mission that Joyful Heart pursues. Reunion, the magazine, is the latest addition to their impressive agenda. Intended to connect and expand the Joyful Heart community, Reunion also turns up the volume on these issues of abuse for the community as a whole by: "helping survivors and practitioners heal from trauma with thoughtful self-care; educating our supporters and partners about issues important to our cause; and empowering the wider community with ways to work together to help end the cycle of violence and abuse."

As the Editorial Director of this ground-breaking publication, I joyfully introduce you to Reunion. Read it online or sign up for a subscription to the print publication. Embrace the hope and healing it promotes. And, most importantly, talk about it. Talk to your friends, your family, your hairdresser, your school principal. Make these issues of violence against women and children your issues. Together, with voices raised, we will be heard.

Read more about the healing work of Joyful Heart here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Words of Encouragement

I blog pretty often about my own insecurities as a mom, the heavy load of guilt I carry that I'm screwing up my kid, and my efforts to overcome this destructive cycle of self-recrimination.

Recently, some profound--and profoundly simple--words of encouragement popped up in my inbox, emailed by another Mama, of course. It was the text of an article by Elaine Heffner, CSW, Ed.D., entitled "The Good Enough Mother." It's wise and witty and just about every Mama I know will relate to it. We can't be perfect mothers, Heffner insists, so we need to stop trying and give ourselves a break. We need to be, she says, "good enough" mothers. And a "good enough" mother, in Heffner's estimation:

  • loves her child but not all of his behavior.
  • isn't always available to her child whenever he wants her.
  • can't possibly prevent all her child's frustrations and moods.
  • has needs of her own which may conflict with those of her child.
  • loses it sometimes.
  • is human and makes mistakes.
  • learns from her mistakes.
  • uses her own best judgment.

It feels nice to be reminded that you're doing a good job, doesn't it? And we are, Mamas. We are.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mama's Magnificent Pumpkin Bread

We've got baking on the brain today. And we're all set to run to the supermarket to pick up a few ingredients for this, the moistest and most fantastic spiced pumpkin bread recipe around. But before we run out the door, I thought I'd share my recipe with you.

Mama's Magnificent Pumpkin Bread

4 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts or raisins (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 3 loaf pans (7x3).

2. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin, butter, oil, water, sugar until blended. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Blend the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, then pour batter into prepped pans.

3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. (Loaves are cooked when you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This Is Halloween

"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

The creeptastic Halloween season is upon us and my little ghoul and I have already begun our Halloween crafting. We've been hard at work making our own Halloween greeting cards with construction paper and glue sticks (her favorite).

I've been sneaking around, looking for other spooktacular low or no cost crafts to do with her. Here's some fun and easy ideas I've been able to scare up.

This handprint spider is perfect for preschoolers and their mummies. If you need the directions, they're over at Amazing Moms.

Recycle your milk jugs and create a spooky lighted walkway outside your house. Details are over at Disney's Family Fun site.

It's scary how many old t-shirts most of us have lying around. Why not repurpose one into this cute little ghost door hanger? Kaboose has all the details.

And while you're busy making all these tricks, why not give your little monsters a real treat. Chow has the skinny on these "Tricked Out" Caramel Apples. Scary good!

Want more ideas? I found some good ones last year, too.

UPDATE: How could I have overlooked this comprehensive Halloween guide from Cookie?

Monday, October 5, 2009

H1N1 411

This week marks the much anticipated first deliveries of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine to doctors' offices, health clinics and school districts around the country. But do you have the facts? Should you get the vaccine? If you want it, where can you get it? What if you're pregnant? Should you vaccinate your kids? Is the darn thing safe?

As usual, NPR has a done a terrific job answering the important questions on a major issue. See, they've got a woman on the inside. Journalist Joanne Silberner reports from a front row seat at the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Emergency Operations Center, a place where the nation's top health officials monitor all major public health situations, including continued H1N1 outbreaks and the vaccine response. You can listen to the full report here.

Additionally, NPR.org posts listener questions and the expert responses. ("[T]ake the flu vaccine," Dr. Frank Witter, a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, tells pregnant women.)

It's a great place to start your research and make your decisions regarding H1N1, the vaccine and your family.

Additional resources:

CDC H1N1 page

AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) H1N1 info

WHO (World Health Organization) H1N1 response

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's the Little Things

Two years ago, a week before I was to host my first Thanksgiving dinner, I broke the little toe on my left foot. When I say broke, I mean that it was hanging, loose and limp, like a rotten berry ready to drop off a branch. Yeah. It was ugly. I actually had to go to the ER (for a broken toe!) and call my saintly little brother away from some hugely important football game he was watching to drive me home from the ER. I was on crutches. It was ridiculous.

Today, after a lovely dinner with kiddos and friends at another Mama's house, I slammed the same toe into one of her sturdy oak kitchen chairs. And yes, I broke it. Again.

Fortunately, this time it doesn't look quite so prepped for amputation as it did two years ago. So I was able to leave my little brother in peace.

Like any hardcore Mama, I put a belt between my teeth, taped the sucker myself and drove my kiddo home for bedtime. I'll even admit to some small sense of pride in being able to do so, though it does kind of hurt. (Two glasses of wine have taken the edge off.)

Nevertheless, both experiences have reminded me how important the little things are. This tiny, seemingly vestigial digit is, apparently, quite useful. Almost integral, some might say, to important daily activities like walking or lifting a little one out of the bath.

So I sit here typing, humbled at the power of my little toe and all of the other tiny things that shape my life: little people, little displays of love and the tiny rays of hope that always seem to peek through even the most menacing of clouds. I accept this broken toe as a reminder from the universe not to take the smallest things for granted.

Little toe, get well soon. Bath time needs you. And so does yoga class. I promise you a spa pedicure when you're well. So hurry up and heal, little guy.