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Friday, January 02, 2009

Last Year in Review

The tradition has fallen! My last blog post in 2006 was a year in review through the lens of Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting. I then did the same thing to end 2007. For those of you who anxiously counted down all 2008, even over that extra day for Leap Year, I must apologize for having failed you. 2008 ended without a year in review post.

Does that mean doom to the tradition? Nope. Instead my first post of 2009 will be a review of 2008. I am repeating my first lesson learned from each month in 2008. May it bring wisdom, insight, or entertainment to all who muddle through it.

First Lesson Learned of Each Month in 2008




  • January: Ending one year with pre-existing friends and starting another with new friends makes for an enjoyable and memorable transition.
  • February: Bringing food to a funeral home can be one way to help a family that has just undergone a tragedy.
  • March: You can figure out where in life someone is by their dream snow pants.
  • April: Parenting can age you.
  • May: Keep your newborn on your older child's schedule, but make sure that older child does not have any Sharpies.
  • June: There are strange people everywhere, including your own driveway.
  • July: Children act like children.
  • August: Birthday politics are challenging.
  • September: If your creep alert goes on, it's a good idea to turn around and go back the direction you just came from.
  • October: Just because some members of your family take certain religious holidays off does not mean that schools will close for other members of your family.
  • November: Eat a few pieces of Halloween candy that you really like on Halloween or you may eat many pieces of Halloween candy you don't like.
  • December: Parenting includes some crappy experiences and memories that just can't be flushed away.


  • I wish each and every one of you a wonderful new year.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:13 PM   4 comments
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    Monday, November 03, 2008

    Election Day is Finally Here

    This past week has been very busy, but in a good way. The Big Giraffe and I have gone on three date nights! I know, I can't believe it myself. Let me just pause here so I can pinch myself to make sure I'm not asleep! I hope that those three date nights don't mean that we won't have any more date nights for the next year. Is there a quota on how many date nights you can have a year once you have kids? We went to the So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour, to see the movie Mama Mia in the cheap theater with the awesome self serve popcorn butter machine (seriously why don't all theaters have that?) and tonight out for coffee and dessert. I'm still in shock that we had three in one week!

    We also replaced the sunroof this weekend. I should clarify that by "we" I mean the roofers because for the Big Giraffe and I to have replaced the roof would truly be an impressive feat. We were impressed with how quickly that was finished. After having a week filled with date nights and successful major household repairs, it seems almost fitting that election day is tomorrow. Like many, I can't believe that the election is already here. It seems like the campaigning has gone on for...what...four years? Regardless of what happens, I am excited to go cast my vote. I'm going to watch the results come in tomorrow night. I'm excited for my kids to be part of this historic event as they began their introduction to politics.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: I encourage you to go out and vote.

    Labels: ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 10:14 PM   3 comments
    3 Comments:
    • At 11/04/2008 12:26 AM, Blogger Heather said…

      My daughter is really excited to vote at school in their "election."

       
    • At 11/04/2008 6:28 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

      Wow, three date nights? Share your secret please!

      We're voting this morning before school.

       
    • At 11/04/2008 8:08 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

      I schlepped the boys in with me, and H was tres excited to be in the same place as the fire engine...even wore his fireman's helmet. I taught him to say 'Barack the Vote' :)

       
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    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    7 Random Things About Me

    Sally HP tagged me to write a 7 Things About Me meme. It's been a while since I've had a meme at FF&FP so here it goes.

    • When I was younger I had an imaginary identical twin sister. Her name was Mary Frances and she lived in the world on the other side of my bedroom mirror. Of course that meant that she was left-handed. I remember as a kid thinking that was totally obvious. The flaw in this reasoning was that for some reason, I mean I really can't believe this, it was not intuitive to other people that I had an imaginary identical twin sister. My parents were a little skeptical when I told them that Mary Frances broke my canopy bed when I was 5.

    • Almost two decades later, I met a guy who had his own imaginary country where he was president. When he ran for reelection, his cat beat him in the primary. He managed to eek out a victory in the general election as an independent. We immediately started dating. Although that didn't work out, we eventually became friends, and he had been friends with the Big Giraffe before I met either of them. Unfortunately he passed away from colon cancer. We named our older son after him. This should count as three things about me.

    • I was a vegetarian for ten years. I still don't like a lot of meats.

    • I cannot sleep at night unless I have a heavy blanket. It makes no difference how hot it is outside. I found out when I became a parent that it's a sensory issue. So is the fact I hate celery in chicken salad, soups etc.

    • When I have any sort of big project to do, I like to get it done right away. Sounds good, right? Sure sometimes. It was great for schoolwork or for projects at work. Not necessarily when handling things though in my personal life. Many, many times, I wished that I had just stopped to calm down and think about things before I delved into them. I get into the mode where everything needs to be done yesterday and thus totally stress myself out and anyone who happens to be around me. I can see my husband nodding his head in agreement. In fact he may have even said a "Here! Here!" out loud.

      Need an example? I found out on Friday that I need to have an area of our sunroom repaired. Here is what went through my mind: What? I'm going to have to sell my kidney to pay for this!!! It's going to snow, and then we will have ceiling and wiring damage, and Oh my God it's going to snow and it's the end of October and it's going to snow in a few weeks and I need to call roofers and did you see the market today, and it's going to snow in three days and what if the roofers futz around with coming by to give me an estimate and did you see what happened with the stock market today and surely it will be snowing in five minutes and our sunroom needs to be fixed. Has it already started snowing? By Friday afternoon I already had two roofers and a handyman out to give me an estimate. I also felt like I might have diarrhea. The good news is that at least in this instance my tunnel vision was productive and my stomach calmed down. The better news is that the fix is relatively inexpensive and not of significant consequence to the house.

    • I absolutely love Greek yogurt. No, seriously I eat it every day. Hmm...I think I need to re-stock tomorrow.

    • I love napping. One of my favorite things to do is nap on a hot summer day. I love getting all cozy under a heavy blanket with the air conditioner on. To me it's absolute luxury to be able to have nothing else to do so that I can nap.


    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: What you sense and what you imagine can impact what you like in life.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:06 PM   4 comments
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    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Twitter

    As I wrote before, I finally succumbed to other bloggers the powers that be and joined Twitter. Kate from Eucalyptus Pillow asked me to explain exactly what it is. I have to confess that I actually first heard about it at BlogHer Chicago two summers ago. Emphasis on the word heard. Everyone was talking about Twitter. Not that this would ever happen to me of course, but have you ever had the experience where you've blanked out during a critical moment when someone is telling you a story? Suzy was dating Jon and when you zone back in Suzy is now dating Stan and you're not sure what exactly happned but are too embarrassed to admit that you don't know because you weren't paying attention? That's sort of like Twitter and me. I knew that it involved typing one line sentences, but I was too embarrassed to say that I had no idea what exactly those sentences were about or why someone would want to read or write them.

    I think the best way to explain Twitter is to compare it to the Facebook statuses. All you are doing is answering the question, "What are you doing?" You then type one sentence that describes what you are doing; you aren't allowed to use more than 140 characters. For example, my Twitter status the other day was "I can't figure out Twitter" or something to the that effect. Yesterday I twittered that I was on cat duty to make sure that the cats didn't jump through the giant hole in my wall. Anyone who follows me on Twitter would have been notified of my activity and wondered if I were drunk. Someone who knew me in person might be aware that the workmen scheduled to replace our living room picture window had shown up.

    Unlike when someone reads your blog, you get notified if someone is following you on Twitter. There are security settings that can require someone to get permission before becoming a follower of yorus or can enable you to block specific people. You can use Twitter from your cell phone or your Facebook account.

    One of my reasons for joining Twitter is that I have been the last to learn about several writing opportunities that others have heard about through Twitter. It's not as addictive as I had feared it might be, and let's face it, the last thing I need right now is to be twittering away while doing something critical like performing "cat scans." Perhaps that is not so critical; obviously someone tipped the cats off to the workmen's arrival since they were nowhere to be found. I think the informant was the neighbor's cat who is always hanging out on our lawn. I also think that cat is our older cat's boyfriend, but I don't have the hard evidence I need to convince the Big Giraffe that I'm right.

    The biggest drawback that I've both heard and experienced it that once I've Twittered something, there doesn't seem to be much point in doing a blog post about it. Sure, Twitter is only a senentece and a blog post gives all the details, but it sort of feels like telling someone a joke after already revealing the punchline. I enjoy being on Twitter, though, just like I enoy reading everyone's status updates on Facebook. What can I say except that I'm nosy and I have ample time to find things like Twitter and Facebook fascinating, for example when watching windows or Tae Kwon Do or sitting for five minutes in a parking space because I got to preschool early!

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: This one was passed on to me by Balex Elliot. When someone tells you they are for example @alexelliot and you have no idea what that means and are tempted to do a virtual Star Trek gesture back at them, it means that to find them on Twitter you should go to www.twitter.com/alexelliot.

    Labels: ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 6:22 PM   8 comments
    8 Comments:
    • At 10/18/2008 12:52 AM, Blogger painted maypole said…

      an IRL friend of mine does twitter (as well as a large amount of virtual friends) and tried to explain to me why I should do it, and just made me resist it even more. like blogging isn't time sucking enough!

       
    • At 10/18/2008 7:08 AM, Blogger Goddess in Progress said…

      Yeah, I just can't seem to get into Twitter. Blogging and Facebook are plenty for now, I think. :-)

       
    • At 10/18/2008 1:30 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      at first I didn't get Twitter but now I quite like it....though I have not been blogging as much.

      Just started following you on Twitter.

       
    • At 10/18/2008 1:37 PM, Blogger Kate said…

      THANKS for the explanation! I was wondering was the heck that was about. I guess I just haven't caught on with the whole virtual networking thing, b/c I just haven't gotten into Facebook either. Blogging is about my extent at virtual/social friendships. Thanks again!

       
    • At 10/18/2008 6:42 PM, Blogger abrowncow said…

      i got on twitter because i had things i wanted to share during the day, but didn't think they qualified for a blog post. most of the time they were just one-liners or observations. i like it because with browser add-ons i can twitter site URLs or whats on my mind right from the address bar. there's also a plug-in that i use with my blog that twitters a "blog alert" when i post something new. you can also link twitter with your facebook status - but i haven't gone that far yet.

       
    • At 10/18/2008 7:10 PM, Blogger Zip n Tizzy said…

      I just joined twitter too. I found out about it the same way you did, but at blogher SF, where I met you!
      I also thought it would be a big time suck, but finally decided it was a good way to get connected, which it's proving to be.

       
    • At 10/19/2008 12:01 AM, Blogger Heather said…

      I have found some great new blogs, read some great posts and laughed a lot because of Twitter.

      It's also a major time-suck though.

       
    • At 10/20/2008 2:16 PM, Blogger jodifur said…

      love,love, love twitter. Just followed you.

       
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    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Blogging Limits

    For a serious post for a good cause, please go check out Pundit Mom's blog post. For every comment, she's donating a dollar to the Capital Area Food Bank in honor of Blog Action Day.

    I have to say that I feel like a wimp these days. The election is coming up in a few short weeks, and I have yet to write a post about it. Next month we will vote for a new president, but the half dozen posts in my mind are about motherhood, workmen and preschool and yes in that order. Motherhood in the abstract vs. the workmen getting the days mixed up vs. parent-teacher conferences. I've read a lot of really great posts about the election. Check out Jen at A2eatwrite who provides non-partisan links on info about both candidates as well as info on registering to vote. I've also had a number of really great political discussions with friends. In fact the book club I hosted last week focused less on the book and more on the election. I have to admit that I was surprised because we normally don't discuss politics at book club, but it was a really great conversation.

    I enjoy hearing different points of view. Yesterday I had a good conversation with someone who is unsure of which candidate she will ultimately support. She explained what she felt were the pros and cons of both candidates. I felt like I was truly having an intelligent conversation where different thoughts and ideas were exchanged. Even though I didn't agree with everything she said, there were no hard feelings. I truly enjoyed hearing what she had to say.

    So what can I say if I'm not going to write a political post?

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: I would encourage you all to read up on the candidates and of course to vote.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 6:47 PM   2 comments
    2 Comments:
    • At 10/15/2008 9:32 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      I've decided to try to steer clear of politics on my blog! I will, of course, vote.

       
    • At 10/16/2008 9:12 PM, Blogger Kate said…

      I haven't written whole posts about my political opinions, but I think it's clear by the Obama widget on my blog who I'm voting for. It saves me from having to write about it I guess.

       
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    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Tips from BlogHer Boston

    I know I know: but what did I learn at BlogHer Boston? Take a seat and I will spill the secrets of blogging. Alright that's a little dramatic. The fact of the matter is that this is my third BlogHer conference, and each time I have learned something new. I've walked away thoroughly enjoying talking in person with bloggers I've "met" on line, meeting new people, learning about new blogs to read and learning how to get the most out of my own blog. Here are some tips that I learned in the two blogging sessions I attended. Yes, it was two not three because I wound up talking with some bloggers at the end of the first one and losing track of time.

    • I'm putting this one first because it applies to non-bloggers as well: Google Alerts. What are those? First of all they're free. Basically they are alerts you set to find out who's talking about you. I know someone who had a job interview in a couple weeks time and set the alert up for that company so that she was sent information whenever there was any news about that company. She was very prepared for the interview. Same thing for any topic of interest to you, whether relating to allergies or a political candidate. If something new comes out on-line (blog, on-line paper etc.) you will receive an email telling you about it. Also, if you wanted to only search blogs for something, you can go to Google.com, select more from the top of the screen and then select blogs. This will allow you to do a blog search. This is what I did when writing for Just Cause.
    • Post frequently. Hmm...I seem to be falling short on this one lately
    • .
    • Comment frequently. See above. Someone recommended commenting on three new blogs every day while you trying to build a blogging community.
    • Respond to the comments either by leaving a comment on your own blog or emailing the commenter back. At the rate I'm going I'm not going to have any readers left!
    • Encourage conversation in your comments section. This can be either by responding to comments or asking your readers questions that they would answer in your comments.
    • Blog template should be easy to read and not too cluttered. I actually was already planning on doing a complete makeover of FF&FP. Now, if I could just find a way to invent a time machine and stop time, this might actually happen!
    • It's important to catergorize and tag your blog posts. This increases your Google hits. If you're finding that people get a huge number of pages on your blog when searching for a term that you frequently use in your blog posts then try breaking that term into a more specific catergory. Confused? The example was carrot from a recipe blogger. Because she uses carrots in lots of recipes, a search for carrot cake would bring up all her recipes with carrots as an ingredient. Instead of using the category cake for the recipe for carrot cake she was advised to create a specific carrot cake category.
    • To find a blog community, look for a blogger you like who has a blogroll. Read those blogs and comment away. Another way is to click on the profile of someone who has left a comment on a blog you like and then follow that person to their blog, comment on their blog, etc. Just like in real life society, bloggers have a tendancy to move in circles.
    • Use Google Reader or Bloglines to read blogs. It's more efficient than clicking over to each individual blog you read. It also allows you to see when a blog has been updated so you don't have to waste time checking on blogs to see if there are new posts. My problem is that I need to update my Google Reader, as I am currently using Firefox bookmarks. Bloglines is supposed to be easier for newbies, but Google Reader is more convienent for Blogger bloggers since you have to have a Google account for Blogger anyhow.
    • Designate specific times when you're going to be on your computer. That way you know that if you read an email, you will have the time to respond to it. If you find that you lose track of time when you're on the computer, then set a timer to limit how long you can be on it. Apparently time-out timers are good for this.
    • You can set your email up to automatically put messages into different folders based on certain criteria thus making it easier to manage your inbox.


    That's all I can think of off of the top of my head. I finally joined Twitter! Yes, after two years of thinking about it, I finally took the plunge because hey I don't have enough ways to procrastinate! Anyhow, if you're on Twitter, leave a comment on how I can find you. I'm @alexelliot

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: BlogHer Conferences are full of lessons.

    Labels:

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 6:37 PM   13 comments
    13 Comments:
    • At 10/13/2008 9:22 PM, OpenID goddessinprogress said…

      Nice summary! It was nice to meet you, and hey, crazy small worlds!

      -Liz (from Evanston)

       
    • At 10/13/2008 9:38 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      I wish I could go to one of these someday!

       
    • At 10/14/2008 4:58 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

      all valid comments
      ....

      but then I start thinking "shouldn't blogging be fun and a hobby". If you need to start thinking about all these things, making sure you do enough effort to leave comments everywhere etc, make sure your posting frequency is high enough, etc....just to increase readership and community is it still fun.

      I mean those things often come spontaneously and are fun too. I love to discover new blogs, leave comments everywhere etc, ...but only because I want to do so, when I feel like it...not because I start having the feeling I am supposed to do so.

      Yes I am a statistics hore and I love to see my readership increase and the number of my comments increase and feel part of a community, but I'd hate myself if I start blogging and applying all kinds of tactics with that goal.

       
    • At 10/14/2008 5:29 AM, Anonymous Melissa said…

      Thanks for the round-up. I think that i'm going to go get google alerts right now. :)

      I wish that I could have gone...

       
    • At 10/14/2008 6:09 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

      Great post. I'll have to check out blog lines (I use google reader because I'm lazy like that).

      And I'll start to comment more.

       
    • At 10/14/2008 6:26 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      Those are all good tips, Alex - thanks!

       
    • At 10/14/2008 6:38 AM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

      Thanks for all your comments! Liz, it was great to meet you too!

      Goofball, I understand what you're saying. My one criticism of one of the sessions I attended was that I thought it left out the fact that there are lots of levels of blogging. Not everyone wants the same thing with blogging.

      That aside, I think that for people who are blogging socially (as opposed to a business blog) it's just like real life in that if at the coffee shop or playground you only introduce yourself to one person, you'll probably make just that one friend and maybe a couple friends from that person and that person's friend. However if you introduced yourself to 10 people and thus a couple of each of their friends, you've made that many more friends.

       
    • At 10/14/2008 6:21 PM, Blogger jodifur said…

      I posted my tips from blog her dc, as well. Did you like blog her boston better than blog her in san fran?

       
    • At 10/15/2008 10:25 AM, Blogger skiplovey said…

      Thanks for the tips! It's just like going to BlogHer without actually going.

       
    • At 10/15/2008 1:01 PM, Blogger Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children said…

      Thanks for posting the tips you learned.

      I only recently learned of Google alerts and I LOVE using this service.

       
    • At 10/16/2008 5:08 AM, Blogger agnes said…

      This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

       
    • At 10/16/2008 9:38 PM, Blogger Kate said…

      So apparently I'm a complete idiot because I don't understand what Twitter is. Can you explain how it works?

       
    • At 10/18/2008 2:49 PM, Blogger Lady M said…

      Thanks for sharing! Especially about the tags.

       
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    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Get Organized and Get A Prize!

    We are now approaching my favorite time of year. I love it when the air is crisp, the leaves turn bright colors, and I can wear jeans and a light jacket. What could be better? Answer, you can become the parent of preschooler, and it becomes the time of year when kids also go back to school.

    When I became a parent, I began to get more involved with various activities ranging from Mommy and Me classes to events at our church. In fact, on one occasion I let a friend of mine talk me into participating in a potluck. I had no idea what to bring, and it was last minute so I brought left over stew that I had made in my crockpot. I worried that no one would eat it, because it was a new recipe that turned out not to be worth repeating. This potluck ended up being largely attended probably because my friend had done such a good job of personally inviting everyone. Unfortunately, pot luck can be a nice way of saying "Bring whatever isn't moldy in your fridge" so they ended up serving a half a dozen salads, a plate of brownies, and my stew. Despite its quality, as the only entree, my stew was a hit. Of course, people learn quickly, so there was no problem with having too many salads and not enough desserts at the next potluck. Unfortunately that was because everyone brought desserts. While that is definitely my type of potluck, that wasn't what everyone wanted.

    The amount of volunteer opportunities for me has skyrocketed since I began parenting a preschooleer. From volunteering to help out for special events in the classroom, to chaperoning, to after school activities, to bringing in snacks for school and outside activities, there certainly seem to be a lot. That's not even counting carpools, since we won't drive into that world until we get a larger car. The challenges also extend to community activities (who is hosting which event), programs to bring meals to new parents or friends in need (6 meals on one night could be overwhelming rather than helpful), and team participation (who is bringing the halftime snacks to which game).

    If only there were a way for everyone to know what was needed and what people had signed up to bring without barraging each other with emails followed by reply alls to emails containing conflicting copies of spreadsheets that are difficult to incorporate into one document!

    Well, there is...

    Yours truly is in charge of a campaign for a free website that helps parents (and others) get organized and get things like this done. The site is called Jooners. That means I also have some good prizes to give away. Click here for more info.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: It is difficult to know what to bring to a party if you don't know what everyone else is bringing.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:00 PM   1 comments
    1 Comments:
    • At 9/15/2008 6:08 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

      ah so you are also a fall lover. Not me! Crisp air? I couldn't care less. I am preparing a post on that ;). Keep your eyes open if you are interested why I don't like fall.

       
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    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Menstruation Sensation

    If you were at BlogHer, I may have pawned off one of my business cards on you. On the back was a sticker saying that I am looking for period stories submissions. Suzanne, author of Off the Beaten Subway Track, asked me to be a co-editor of an anthology of period stories! We made our site live right before I left for BlogHer.

    Women at BlogHer seemed pretty excited about the idea of a period anthology. I think that I heard more period stories on Friday and Saturday than I had previously heard in my entire lifetime. In fact, these stories were so much fun that a group of us ended up talking about them for at least a half hour. I believe we may also have scared some woman away, but that's another story.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: We're looking for more submissions. Please click here for more info.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 4:05 PM   6 comments
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    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Why Do You Blog

    One of the sessions I attended at BlogHer discussed whether mommy blogging is a radical act. Forget mommy blogging, what about blogging in general? Have you ever tried to explain to someone that you blog and had them look at you as though you have six heads. If you mention that you are going to a conference on it, they look at you as though you have eight heads. They apparently imagine you spending a weekend in a dark room lit by a single light bulb with two shady people who identify themselves as "bloggers". They actually get even more shocked when they hear that over 1, 000 bloggers attended. After a lengthy silence, it's not unusual for a person to look truly mystified and say, "but why would there be a conference for it and more importantly why would you attend?" (I admit I was concerned before my first BlogHer that it might be like a Star Trek convention. The Big Giraffe didn't understand why that would be a concern.)

    I love blogging. I have a community that supports me. I can work on my writing. My family and friends can read my blog and know what's going on with me. My family lives in Chicago, my MIL lives in Chicago, and my BIL and SIL live in KY so reaching out to people who live far away is a big deal to me. Let me go further. We don't get to choose the parents of the kids in our children's preschool class. While we can choose what activities we do, sometimes we don't see eye to eye with other parents. With blogging, you get to choose who you want to "hang out with." As someone at BlogHer said, "You can always hit the X button on your computer if you don't like what you're reading."

    I have some fantastic friends in my real life, but it can be hard to have a conversation while kids are running around, and none of the in-person interaction takes away from the fact that I blog and read others' blogs and any corresponding emails in my own time. Bloggers tend to write things that I normally don't hear discussed. I think that relates to time and space. The fact that blogging occurs on a computer rather than face to face makes a difference. The asynchronous nature of the communication gives bloggers flexibility as to when to respond. If I conceive of a response to a post, but don't have immediately available time to write it, I can post it later. If someone shares news in person, I need to respond immediately. Not so with blogging. Plus, real life pre-blogging friendships have grown closer when we both blog.

    During the keynote at BlogHer, Dooce talked about attempting to explain how she felt about something to her husband and finding that he only fully understood later when he read a post on the same subject. That's how I feel many times about my husband and my real life friends who blog, and I believe the feeling is mutual.

    Last year was my first blogging conference. I walked into a hotel and met a lot of women who were just like me! There were a lot of laptops, iPhones and all sorts of technological gadgets. As a SAHM, one of my fears is losing touch with the modern world. Seriously when you're buried under diapers and parenting magazines, are you really aware of the top 40 tunes and the latest trends in movies and technology? What's going to happen a few years from now when my kids are a little older if I'm not connected? I wouldn't know enough to protect my kids from risks or encourage them to take advantage of opportunities that I don't truly understand. As counterintuitive as this may sound, blogging has really helped me keep in touch with reality. It was the same thing for me this year.

    Ironically as I was hovered over my Blackberry next to Suzanne who was typing away on her laptop at BlogHer, I got an email from someone is my moms group who said that one of the group's meetings this fall will be on Living Simply. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I suspect it has to do with turning the TV and computer off and cutting back on activities. As I looked around the conference I thought to myself that I want to embrace all this not turn away from it. Suzanne was also surprised by that choice of topic. Does blogging take up time? Yes. Could I be doing something else? Sure. Let me put it another way though. Does reading up on parenting take up time? Sure. Is it worth it or should you be doing something else? That's an individual decision. What about talking on the phone? What about playdates?

    I have learned so much from blogging. I have walked away from reading blogs with ideas for how to be a better parent, better wife, and all around better person. I have felt that maybe I'm not so alone. It's comforting to read that someone else's child has major temper tantrums or has no interest in dressing himself. I love reading suggestions about books to read, movies to see, or even recipes to try. Any time a post makes me laugh, parenting or not, it is worth my time right there.

    At BlogHer several of us discussed managing computer time although none of us felt overwhelmed by it. There are so many different ways to do it. Personally I tend to rotate through my blogroll so my blog reading is divided into chunks. Just though like you are your own publisher when you blog, you're your own boss when deciding when to read blogs. You get to set your own rules. Forget living simply. I want to be organized.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: There are some really great technical gadgets out there, like Blackberries and Palm Pilots, that really help you be organized, and there are lots of blog posts out there to provide suggestions on how to take advantage of them.

    Labels: ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 11:12 PM   11 comments
    11 Comments:
    • At 7/24/2008 11:57 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      I love this post too Alex, I feel the same way about blogging... I once sat in a room full of mother who were shocked that anyone would want to put anything about themselves on the internet.

      I was too cowardly to even try and explain it so I didn't even mention that I had a blog.

      And also I feel strange when someone will ask me how I met someone and I have to say, well on the internet. There is a stigma attached to that somehow from online dating... though I happen to know several happy couple who met that way...

      Thanks for your insight once again!

       
    • At 7/25/2008 8:10 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      I think that blogging has made the world of being home, especially with very young children, much more doable for women who had a very social, career-oriented perspective prior to becoming SAHMs. I think it's provided support to writers, to those who can't get away from home as easily, to many different groups of people.

      It's not for everyone, as scrapbooking or reading or playing on a softball team isn't for everyone, but it has opened a whole new world for many.

       
    • At 7/25/2008 9:43 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

      ok...allow me to be a little bit difficult.

      I can see your advantages for blogging: meeting new people, staying in touch with modern world, new different ways for reaching out, flexibility in communication, own rules, .... (and I totally agree with that)


      but you didn't answer in this post whether blogging would be radical? and why would it be more radical for (stay at home) mommies than for other people?

      I am just wondering about that subject in the workshop

       
    • At 7/25/2008 10:17 AM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

      Hi Goofball,
      Thanks for your comment! I didn't answer it because I already touched briefly on it a couple days ago and didn't want to repeat myself. Anyhow, I think the idea was that mommy blogging was radical in the past because very few moms were doing it. The idea of writing about your kids seemed strange. It also goes back to the argument that the work women do can be less valued than men's. Also, and this is still true, some people feel that mommy bloggers exploit their kids.

      I personally feel just the idea of having a blog can be seen as radical if you're in an environment where most people do not blog which is why I wrote, although apparently not very clearly!, that just a blog in general can generate looks of confusion. Anyhow, basically the panel talked about writing for you and not for a particular audience and how there is room for all types of writing and blog posts in the blogosphere. It mostly came out of the discussion of whether or not it's okay to review products on your main blog.

       
    • At 7/25/2008 11:14 AM, Blogger JulietteMerry said…

      The world of mommy blogging has made it possible for women to share information and not feel all alone. Not everyone is lucky enough to have lived in a community for years or have family and childhood friends around to have someone close to talk to. It's bad enough when you have a job related move with young children and know not a sole. It can be very isolating. Mommy blogging has opened a forum for people with "dumb" questions or someone who just wants to share a funny moment. I wish they had this 30 years ago when my children were young.

       
    • At 7/25/2008 6:11 PM, Blogger super des said…

      My reasons for blogging are very similar to yours. I've moved around the country so much, it's an easy way for me to stay in touch with all my friends. As an added bonus, I've made some new friends along the way.

      I was so bummed I couldn't go to BlogHer this year. I had such a great time last year (with you)!

       
    • At 7/25/2008 6:59 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      Well said.

      There are some moms who I've told I have a blog who think I'm totally nuts. They'll never understand why I'd want to do this...and that's fine. Some of them still read my blog though, so they obviously like the concept. Or else they just like to read about how screwed up I am.

      Other friends have started blogs too.

      And my family is much closer because my blog allows us to talk about things we probably would never have discussed if I hadn't mentioned it on my blog.

       
    • At 7/25/2008 10:58 PM, Blogger motherbumper said…

      I'm trying to think of something profound to say because this is a great post but I can't. All I keep thinking is "OMG I has gotz to dedicate my next post to hers and her husband dude". Seriously FF&FP, last Saturday night you took my craptastic mood and chucked it out the window after you told me that reading my blog was something both you AND your husband do - AND you haven't stopped reading (yet, I expect the restraining order shortly). It was wonderful meeting you at BlogHer08 (seriously, it was).

       
    • At 7/25/2008 11:30 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

      loved reading this - as i tell virtually no one that I blog and feel kind of weird about it, and have been trying to figure out what it is about it that I like so much. this helped. :)

       
    • At 7/26/2008 10:21 AM, Blogger Always Home and Uncool said…

      when blogging becomes a chore, it's time to stop. i come from a family that is fond of constantly interrupting me when I speak to switch topics, so this is the one time i get to complete my own thoughts. for better or worse.

       
    • At 7/29/2008 9:10 PM, Blogger ShannanB aka Mommy Bits said…

      I rotate my reading too. enjoy reading blogs and I dont ever want it to become overwhelming.

       
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    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    What I Learned at BlogHer: Boundaries and Bumpers

    I realized after re-reading yesterday's post that I should have mentioned that there were five or six sessions going on simultaneously during each time slot, plus "Birds of a Feather" Meet Ups, so each participant had to pick and choose what they attended. In other words, 6 people attending BlogHer could have gone to 6 entirely different sessions at the same time. Also, this year there was a designated mommy blogging session during each session block. (No, mommy bloggers were not required to go to any or all of those sessions, but several of them were of interest to me.) One theme that permeated several sessions, both mommy blogging and general, related to writing and boundaries.

    In Liz Rizzo's Sex and Relationship session, she specifically asked us if there were topics about which we wouldn't blog. Since this was a sex and relationships session, I was expecting people to say that, well, they don't blog about hot steamy sex. It turns out that while their blogging may not steam up any monitors, many people do blog about sex. As much as those bloggers were all for sharing what happens between the sheets, several did have other boundary limits, like not talking about work or not discussing family situations. I actually impose several boundaries on my own blog. I previously identified them as "things I don't blog about," rather than boundaries, but it is essentially the same idea. Calling them boundaries made them seem more official.

    I do not blog about my husband's work. Like any blogger, I'm not sure exactly who reads my blog, and my husband's work business is his own business to share if he wants. I don't think I've ever posted about it, and I don't foresee doing it in the future. That one seems pretty obvious.

    However, the more I thought about some of my other boundaries, the less sure I became that they are really firm and solid boundaries, rather than something like inflatable bumpers in bowling alleys which allow you to hit the pins without gutter balls. (The bowling metaphor is my own spin on things; it did not come from BlogHer.) These are things that are rarely the central focus of a blog post, but they do sometimes get mentioned peripherally. My biggest inflatable gutters are my kids or, more specifically, photos of my kids. I have posted some in the past, but I don't tend to do it too often. I also don't use their names. Another gutter is my everyday social life. For example, I have had my ups and downs with my moms group since I've been part of it. I tend not to write about the group's meeting topics and activities, good or bad, but after reflecting on this for a few days, I think I might start to post more. I won't ever bash anyone or even post about a specific person though because that to me is a hard boundary, not an inflatable gutter.

    Yeah, yeah so we all have boundaries. Big deal. Except it is a big deal as your kids get older. Several bloggers debated about whether your kids' stories ever become solely their own stories or always remain your stories too. After all yes, my older son was potty trained and being potty trained is his story. However potty training a child is my story too. I heard several different perspectives from bloggers who are parents of teenagers. Some felt that they shouldn't blog about their kids. Others' kids loved that they blogged about them. It seemed that many of the kids also blogged about their parents! I think that's one of those areas that is probably a very personal and individual decision depending on the family. I'm sure there's lots of ways to go about doing it too. I have no idea how I'll feel when my kids are teenagers much less how they'll feel.

    In the meantime, a boundary I've always had is to not tell intentionally embarrassing stories about my kids. That's a hard one though because what is embarrassing to one person is not to another. So perhaps I didn't blog about one of my children taking off his diaper in the middle of a park and running around bare bottomed, but I did post about how one of my kids made a pet rock whale while his classmates made cats and dogs. To me the former story might be embarrassing, but the latter would not be. I guess I really set boundaries for my kids based on what I assume would embarrass me if I were them. We all know the saying about assumptions!

    My big conclusion is that it is helpful to have some rules for what I will and will not post. I think it really does help me decide what to write about and how to make a conscious decision about whether or not I really want to share a particular story or divulge a particular piece of information. I am of the mindset that it's easier to be conservative in your posts than to try and take back what was written later on. Plus, as many speakers reiterated, once something is out there, it is out there even if you delete the post.

    The nice thing about being a blogger and therefore being your own publisher and boss, is that you get to decide when the boundaries should change. As great as boundaries are, they will always mean that there are areas of your life that you can't ever talk about on your blog. It just depends on why you're blogging and who your audience is. Many speakers also reiterated something that the Big Giraffe tells me all the time...no matter how hard you try to be anonymous, you can never fully be anonymous. In other words, secret blogs aren't always so secretive after all unless they're password protected.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: We all have boundaries.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:22 PM   15 comments
    15 Comments:
    • At 7/22/2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      I love, love, love the bowling bumper metaphor!!! As for blogging about parents, some time ago, my mom admitted that she sometimes only reads my blog when she is the subject. She likes being a "blog star" of sorts. So maybe your kids will look at this and be proud to be the main players on your blog. Or maybe not. :)

       
    • At 7/22/2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      Interesting perspective.

      I think about my posting photos of my kids a lot. I'm not sure if it's a bad thing or not.

       
    • At 7/22/2008 11:46 PM, Blogger Lady M said…

      I have boundaries also, but I think they are growing more relaxed as I know my regular readers more. That could definitely lead to problems if I'm not careful though. Lots of thought here.

       
    • At 7/23/2008 1:07 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      I'm just always under the assumption that my blog could be read by anyone, so I'm pretty careful. Which is inhibiting sometimes.

       
    • At 7/23/2008 3:12 PM, Blogger Tracee said…

      Before BlogHer I thought I was an oversharer with few boundaries. Now, I feel like I've had significant boundaries mainly because I use my real name and I want to have real relationships with my family and friends. I don't want to cross their boundaries. Also, I don't want to cross my children's boundaries so I think I'm pretty careful and ask them if they care what I write about. I've had to delete a few blogs my husband found as crossing his boundaries though I didn't understand why he was offended. doesn't matter. He's uncomfortable so I've taken them down.

      I missed this panel, so thanks for this perspective. I did want to attend.

       
    • At 7/23/2008 4:17 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

      Actually Jen, I think that yours is a wise assumption.

       
    • At 7/23/2008 9:21 PM, Blogger kgirl said…

      I'm so not understanding the line (not yours, just the line in general) about our children, and that these are not our stories to tell. My kids are 3 and 8 months. If I don't tell the stories, they won't know 'em.

       
    • At 7/24/2008 7:42 AM, Blogger Always Home and Uncool said…

      I wish I was better with metaphors and smilies. I'm finding in my short-time blogging that everything is up for posting ... until it really pisses someone off. Nice post.

       
    • At 7/24/2008 10:12 AM, OpenID gunfighter1 said…

      I have boundaries. Some of my boundaries are professional. Some are personal.

       
    • At 7/24/2008 11:12 AM, Blogger Rick said…

      Interesting post. You can read some of the strangest things on these blogs - I've discovered.

      I told a "road side potty" story about my daughter when she was young - now in college. At the time, if I had shared that with people it would have embarrassed her. Now she told me that she read it at a meeting with a bnuch of her peers.

      So, the situation varies from person to person, and age to age.

      http://www.organizeddoodles.blogspot.com/

       
    • At 7/24/2008 2:56 PM, Blogger Brillig said…

      I dig the bowling bumper metaphor too! I'm not sure that I have any hard fast rules. I don't talk about sex much-- not on my blog and not in person either. I don't talk about what my hubby does. I don't ever use my children's real names, or my own, for that matter. Anyway, it's interesting to think about. Great post! (Some of us... um... missed BlogHer-- AGAIN. So this is very helpful!)

       
    • At 7/24/2008 4:50 PM, Blogger WM said…

      Jumping on the inflatable bumper bandwagon too. Love that metaphor.

      I try and be respectful of family and friends and not use real names in order to protect them...beyond that I guess I kinda write whatever. At least whatever is of interest. When I talk about sex on my blog I doubt everyone wants to hear the nitty gritty details so I refrain but otherwise I do mention it occasionally

       
    • At 7/24/2008 7:54 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

      I have often heavily edited things, worrying that my mother-in-law will read it, and I'll be knocked off the pedastal that being the only person so far to provide grandchildren has placed me on :) Other than that, it's hard to balance not embarassing people with telling a REALLY funny story!

       
    • At 7/24/2008 10:04 PM, Blogger ShannanB said…

      I try not to blog about my husband or my mother -in-law, who lives with us. I gues those are my boundries.

       
    • At 7/27/2008 11:40 AM, Anonymous slackermommy said…

      I'm someone who lacks personal boundaries but I try to be respectful of my friends and family. I blog very little about my husband and my kids know that I blog about them. If at any time they become uncomfortable I will stop.

       
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    Monday, July 21, 2008

    BlogHer '08

    I had a fantastic time! There's so much to tell. I thought I would provide an overview and if anyone wants to hear anything specific, then I'll write more about that. I may also have a couple more specific posts over the next couple days as well. In case you're wondering, there were 1, 000 people there. Yes you read that right. It was sold out. I also heard that there was a waiting list.

    I headed out on Thursday. Over the years, I've become less and less comfortable flying. Hence you can imagine my pleasure when I found out I was seated between two doctors one of whom was a former ER doctor. I felt reassured that should I have a massive panic attack, I was in good hands. Fortunately, I was fine, and the flight although long (seriously the longest one I've been on in 15 years)was uneventful.

    After checking into our hotel room, Suzanne and I met up with Average Jane and had lunch. Later on I met up with Suzanne again to attend a BlogHer speakers and contributing editors reception. After meeting some great bloggers there, we went to the newbie party with some friends. That party was held in a gorgeous room on the top floor of the Westin. For reasons I don't understand, I got motion sickness while on the glass elevator and became convinced that the floor was moving for the entire time I was at the party. Sadly, I was not smashed either. In fact I hadn't drunk any alcohol. My theory that perhaps there were small tremors was fortunately unfounded. Hey, this was my first time in San Franciso. Suzanne's old co-worker Claudia stuck by my side and repeatedly offered to get me anything I needed. From there we went with Snigdaha to the People's party where they had awesome swag. After spending some time there and talking to more people, Suzanne and I headed out to a very late dinner at a diner. Honestly this whole weekend I felt like I was living with no sense of time. There's a three hour time difference between CA and MA.

    Friday we had breakfast at the conference, and I was psyched to catch up with Plain Jane Mom. I attended a session entitled "MommyBlogging: Is Mommy Blogging Still a Radical Act?" It was a very interesting session and left me with a lot to think about. I even asked a question. I walked away thinking about whether or not I'm tailoring what I write to a specific audience. In other words, am I really being true to myself and my writing? I think this can be tricky for many bloggers. It certainly is for me. I have a tendency not to get very personal in my writings. Right now I have a couple of big things going on in my life that I've never posted about. I have a lot of admiration for bloggers who can say exactly what's going on with them, and I think that's one of the things that makes them very good writers. At the same time, bloggers risk alienating people and losing friends, for example if someone in real life isn't talking to you because you said you didn't like the preschool class gift. In fact, I asked about that during the panel at the session.

    After that I attended a session called: "MommyBlogging: Public Parenting and Privacy." That one was also interesting, and I decided to share my thoughts on that one in a future, separate post. The moderator Digital Sista, was amazing, and I repeatedly told her throughout the rest of the conference that she was my favorite moderator.

    I had lunch with a whole bunch of bloggers I hadn't met before which was a lot of fun and then darted out for Suzanne's book signing. This was followed by Liz Rizzo's session called "Sex and Relationships." It turned out to be my favorite BlogHer session. Liz did a wonderful job, and I found the questions and stories the bloggers told to be very eye opening. For example, as someone who's 32, I didn't realize how invisible older female bloggers are in the blogosphere and media both in general and specifically in discussions about sexuality.

    During this time, I also enjoyed a very tasty Grover cupcake. More on the cupcake elsewhere in this post.

    Later on I attended the community keynote where 20 bloggers had been selected to read their favorite posts. I think the majority of us alternated between laughing and crying. The posts were that moving. This was followed by a party at the Ruby Skye nightclub. A bunch of us hung out there for a while talking with other bloggers. There was amazing food. Then Suzanne and I walked from Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf to the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory. After a lengthy investigation of their wares, we took the cable car back.

    The next day started with breakfast followed by a session entitled "MommyBlogging: The Commercial Momosphere: Policies, Ethics and Outreach." Although it seemed to be going well, I had to leave early to finish with Grover. No, I don't mean I needed to finish the cupcake, but I did have to go back to the Sesame Street room. The actors who do the voices for Grover and Abby Cadabby were there, and I had one of the last DVD reservations. What? Let me explain. I got to be on a mock episode of Sesame Street where Abby Cadabby and I talked all about my boys. She talked to them and even sent me home with a hug to give to each of them. Getting to be on Sesame Street for a couple of minutes made me the coolest mom ever in my boys' eyes. It was an amazing experience.

    Despite missing a lot of the her panel, I did meet "ebay mom" later. She was incredibly nice. Hey, she's from the Chicago area. What else can you expect?

    Afterwards, the Red Stapler, Suzanne, and I met up with Count Mockula, her new baby, and her mom. The Count was one of my roommates last year, but understandably with a new baby could not make the conference this year, particularly since she had her appendix removed last week. She does live in CA, so she was able to meet up, and her mom treated us to lunch. Afterwards, I went to Suzanne's session on feminism and gender and then hung out in the BlogHer bookstore with the Count, her mom, Suzanne, Claudia and the Red Stapler.

    That evening, I went to hear the keynote. I was really looking forward to it because Heather Armstrong and Stephanie Klein were speaking. I even got there early in order to get a good seat.

    If that all weren't enough fun, the day ended up with a reception at Macy's. You needed your BlogHer ID to get there, but once you were inside, you had access to seven floors of different activities. I'll admit to being skeptical about the logistics, but it turned out to be the perfect place to have a reception for 1,000+ people. The 7th floor was the best. It was the furniture floor and they had an area for music and dancing. They also had the book signing for Sleep is for the Weak. I found the editor of the book, Rita Arens, who blogs at Surrender, Dorothy to also be really nice. All the contributors who were there signed the books. There was plenty of food and drinks. It was so spread out that I managed to get a seat on a very comfortable couch with a bunch of bloggers. And hey it was the furniture department so there was plenty of seating and tables for all!

    Afterwards, Suzanne and I hung out with the Red Stapler some more. The next day after breakfast, Suzanne and I walked around San Francisco for an hour and a half. Then it was time for me to board the BART and get to the airport. Even there, I saw more bloggers, and I had a nice chat with Velma.

    I got home after 1 am this morning, exhausted but excited.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: At BlogHer, there are a lot of great bloggers to meet and many new ideas about improving blogs and writing.

    Labels:

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:21 PM   9 comments
    9 Comments:
    • At 7/21/2008 10:13 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      So glad you had a great time and looking forward to future posts on what you learned!

      :)

       
    • At 7/21/2008 10:51 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      Oh I wish I could have gone. The sessions sounded so interesting...and the Sesame Street DVD? That is too cool.

       
    • At 7/21/2008 11:30 PM, Blogger Lady M said…

      It was nice to see you again!

       
    • At 7/22/2008 9:40 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      That sounds so incredibly cool! I'm so glad you were able to go!

       
    • At 7/22/2008 2:45 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

      Glad you had a good time. I'm so going next year!

       
    • At 7/22/2008 10:45 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      The Sesame Street DVD was about the coolest thing ever! You are so going to be a rock star to YS and OS!!!

      I had a really fun time with you, too! And just reading about everything we did together is making me tired.

       
    • At 7/23/2008 7:51 AM, Anonymous Jenn said…

      Thank you for including a link to my live blog! I really enjoyed the keynote as well :)

       
    • At 7/23/2008 8:08 AM, Blogger Goofball said…

      wow I feel exhausted after only reading it.

      Is there that many theories about blogging to fill all those seminars? Pretty amazing. I am curious about what you learned in those sessions.

       
    • At 7/23/2008 9:02 PM, Anonymous workout mommy said…

      it was so nice to meet you at the Macy's party! I look forward to reading about your triathlon success!

       
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    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Blog to the Purple

    I know it is kind of funny to change my template just before going to BlogHer, where I will no doubt hear many speakers share a variety of exciting ways to jazz up my blog, but I was getting tired of the purple, even though it is the last remnant of my blog's original template. I know that purple is considered a royal color, and that British peers are described as "born to the purple," but the look was starting to feel heavy to me.

    So I asked the Big Giraffe he could exercise what he claims are his limited web development skills do something quick enough so that he wouldn't feel put out if I undid it a month from now but thorough enough to lighten up the blocky feel. He asked a couple questions, and then went off to handle the boys' bedtime rituals, patiently answering all of our older son's questions, including what is the Big Giraffe's favorite color (red) and what is his favorite TV show (Babylon 5).

    He then came downstairs, confiscated my computer, and started paging through the gibberish that makes up my blog template. I don't know how he did it, but his first draft was exactly what I wanted. As I pressed that Save Template Changes button, he suddenly gasped out loud as if in pain. When I asked what was wrong, he turned to me with a self-satisfied smirk and said, "Alex, your blog was stunning in purple!"

    After a few blank looks from me and a lengthy explanation from the Big Giraffe, I now understand the reference to what is apparently one of the most famous quotes from Babylon 5. In an episode written by series creator Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS), a seemingly over-the-hill space alien ambassador got drunk and fell on his face during a banquette uttering "But in purple, I'm stunning."

    Comparative Templates
    Templates over Time



    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting may have been born to the purple, but in its new colors, I find it stunning.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:13 PM   7 comments
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    Monday, June 30, 2008

    And The Winners Are....

    Thank you to everyone who participated in the Happy Birth Days Carnival! I am really enjoying reading everyone's stories. Mostly I love that everyone was able to say exactly what they wanted to say, and since I'm reading them from the comfort of my living room, neither I nor anyone else can jump in and interrupt your stories and talk about when we needed Pitocin!

    I think it's important to be able to share something that is so important to us. After I become a mother, someone told me that sometimes birthdays are hard on moms. Yeah, no kidding! Your kid is getting older, and sometimes sulkier, and while I personally am grateful that my kids are healthy and celebrating each birthday, there's a part of me that just a teeny bit said that with each day their babyhoods are a little farther behind. (Then I have to change a diaper in a public bathroom and that regret gets tossed out faster than the actual diaper.)

    Although our children's birthdays or adoptions are the anniversaries of when we became mothers (or dads, aunts, or grandmothers) for the first (or sixth) time. Yet somehow that fact seems to be forgotten. There's the emotion and sometimes the physical pain. Sometimes we still have physical scars from the births, and sometimes there are emotional scars as well, despite how glorious and wonderful that day was. If there was a difficult birth or if there were stressful events around the time of the birth or adoption, those feelings can resurface on their anniversary which of course is...ta dah...your kid's birthday. For all those reasons, I think it's important to always have the option to be able to tell your story. I therefore am grateful to everyone who participated.

    Please feel free to continue to add your posts to Mr. Linky. Just because the raffle is over doesn't mean the carnvial is closed. I know of a couple posts that are still coming. On that note, I used random.org to draw the names of the two winners. They are Mayberry Mom and Jen. Congratulations!

    Thank you also to Mir over at BlogHer for writing about the Happy Birth Days Carnival!

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Everyone's birth story is unique, and everyone's birth story is precious.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:32 PM   7 comments
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    Sunday, June 29, 2008

    Elsewhere

    Birth Days
    Click here for the Happy Birth Days Carnival. I am extending the carnival through the weekend meaning that I will do the drawing on Monday evening. You are more than welcome though to add your story to Mr. Linky after Monday. And, since several of you have asked, you don't have to enter a new post to be eligible for the drawing. You can link to your birth story, no matter when you may have posted it on your blog.

    I am enjoying reading all your birth stories! Keep them coming! In light of the fact that I came down with a cold yesterday and seem to be losing my voice, I don't feel up to writing a post today. (Alright, losing my voice isn't a factor, because it's not like I'm reading my blog posts out loud to you, although I learned at BlogHer last year that I can.)

    I am not the only one who is slightly disengaged from the blogosphere this week. My friend Jodifur is on vacation, and I was very honored that she asked me to be one of her guest bloggers in her absence. I am going to refer you to the post I wrote for her on her blog.

    Perhaps I can have the Big Giraffe guest post for me this week about his experience taking our Older Son (OS) to a birthday party since I had my frog sexy voice and thought my pillow would be more comfortable for my pounding head than spending the time with lots of excited kids on a sugar high.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Go read Jodifur

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 5:32 PM   6 comments
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    Saturday, June 21, 2008

    Extra! Extra! The Happy Birth Days Carnival is Here!

    Birth Days


    Tonight I kissed my younger son as I put him in his crib and said to him "Good night my 1 year old". This is something my parents used to say to my brother and me on the eve of our birthdays. This is the last night I got to tuck my 1 year old into bed. Tomorrow, Saturday June 21st, he will be two.

    I think back to the my first ob appointment of the pregnancy. My doctor confirmed what I had already heard from two obs - because of the structure of my anatomy and because my older son (OS) had been born via c-section with a weight of 8 pounds 12 ounces, it was recommended that I have a planned c-section with YS. The nurse informed me that in order to perform the c-section the week before my due date, YS would probably be born on June 21. A summer solstice baby! I imagined snagging the first slot in the maternity operating room at 8 am and delivering the first scheduled baby of the summer by 8:30. I was pretty excited.

    Throughout the entire pregnancy I fixated on the fact that YS would be born during the summer solstice. Sure enough, when it came time to schedule the c-section at the hospital, the date was June 21st. It wasn't totally perfect; I did end up with the 10 am slot. Other than being concerned about the fact I wouldn't be able to eat breakfast, I didn't worry too much about it.

    Less than three weeks before my planned c-section, my doctor informed me that he had to have a kidney and rib removed. No, I'm not making this up. Although he was a solo practitioner, he had made arrangements with another practice for coverage. I was a little shaken to say the least. I had never been thrilled to have a c-section, and I had really wanted my own ob to perform it. In fact I had even switched from my prior ob after OS's birth to have him as my ob. Obviously I understood though! I knew several of the obs from the covering practice, and I was able to choose the one with whom I was most comfortable, since it was a scheduled c-section. Unfortunately, that ob did not perform scheduled c-sections on Wednesdays, so the date was changed. The ob was told, the hospital was told, the family was told, and my insurance company was told. I assumed YS knew of the change as well. Now I was scheduled for Thursday, June 22 at 8 am.

    On June 15, I started having strong contractions. The Big Giraffe and OS got me to the hospital. Once I was safely checked into a bed, he called a friend of ours, whose son was also a friend of OS's and ducked out quickly to drop OS off at their home. He returned quickly, hoping to arrive just in time to attend to the c-section. Alas, it was a false alarm; the contractions were caused by a previously undiagnosed UTI. Although we were partially disappointed we felt we were in the homestretch. One of our "emergency contact friends" who had been available to take care of OS in the event of surprise, nighttime labor went out of town for a week. However, our second emergency contact friend, "Cee" had three young kids and wasn't going anywhere, and we had family flying in the night before the new date for the c-section.

    I was very excited when June 20th rolled around. I was planning for my final playgroup as a parent of an only child at Cee's home the next day, the arrival of family that next evening, and then an easy drive to the hospital for YS's birth the following morning. Then C called to let me know that her middle child was running a fever. There might be no playgroup. As the day went on, I wasn't feeling so hot either. In fact several people told me I looked awful that day. Nice, right? I was having cramps, but I assumed that I was either sick or having a resurgence of the UTI. The Big Giraffe kept insisting I was in labor. I was in denial. Finally around 4 am, on June 21st I couldn't take it anymore, and asked the Big Giraffe to take me to the hospital. With OS sleeping peacefully and our family not expected to arrive for almost 24 hours, he went to call our first emergency contact...who was out of town ummm...our second emergency contact...whose kid had a fever ummm...an unsuspecting friend of ours. It turned out that she had a cousin who had just been in a fatal car accident earlier, and she was caring for her mother who was in shock as a result. She was willing to come over to take care of OS, but she asked if there were anyone else. Obviously the Big Giraffe offered his condolences and said we would call someone else. He then called a woman from our church that I'm friends with, who immediately (but nervously) said she would come over. OS didn't know her well, so we were concerned about how he might react upon waking up with her in the house, but we didn't have much choice. She arrived at 4:30 in the morning, and we took off for the hospital.

    At 6 am, the Big Giraffe called Cee, and it turned out her sick child was fully recovered. She and all three of her children got to our house while OS was still sleeping. OS awoke to find his favorite friend in his room. Then he got to go out for donuts and have a sleepover at her house later on that night. I think it was one of the best days of his life!

    Meanwhile, an ob I didn't know from the practice of the ob who was covering for my ob examined me. I was 3 cm dilated. I was quite proud of myself because I never dilated on my own with OS and had always sort of wondered if I were capable of it. Time for the c-section. The ob called for an anesthesiologist. That's when the next round of hoo hah started.

    Apparently the anestheseologists were all very busy at a meeting. "No, it's not an emergency," I heard the ob snap into the phone, "but I am here with a woman who is in pain, and we should take care of her." After placing the phone down with what I would describe as restrained deliberation, he turned to me and said, "I apologize. That was completely inappropriate." He then strode from the room with continued deliberation. I presume that he went directly to the anesthesiologists and displayed less deliberation than he had shown to me. Either way, an anesthesiologist was in my room less than 5 minutes later. I took off my brand new sandals and walked into the operating room. The ob whom I had originally picked to cover for my own ob came in even though it was not her normal day in the hospital and partnered with another attending to perform the c-section. It is apparently pretty usual to have two attendings perform a c-section.

    The c-section was really quick, and I felt nothing. In fact, I was waiting for them to start the procedure when they announced they were finished delivering the baby. Little YS was born at 8:22 am on Wednesday June 21 just like I had pictured for the majority of my pregnancy. He was healthy. Despite the drama of his birth, he was an incredibly easy baby and still is. One thing did not go according to plan: my new sandals were stolen.

    Throughout my pregnancy with YS, I believed he would be born on one specific day. Even when it seemed like he would be born a day later, he still claim on the original date. With OS, things had appeared opposite. I went into labor one day before the due date projected by the ob. However, I went through 38 hours of labor followed by an unplanned c-section. The result? OS was born on his due date.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Babies are born when they are ready. In some families, that may actually be on their due date.

    Happy Birthday, YS! I can't believe you're two years old!

    The Happy Birthday Carnival will run for a whole week. You are more than welcome to still continue to add your blog to Mr. Linky after that, but I will be drawing two $10 gift cards to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts at the end of the week ( the evening of June 27th).

    Labels: ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 5:50 AM   21 comments
    21 Comments:
    • At 6/21/2008 7:22 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

      Great idea Alex. I plan on writing my three up this week. Possible ending with my middle child since her birthday is on the 27th.

      Great story's. It's amazing how things worked out. With my first daughter, our emergency contact person to drive me to the hospital if Husband was working, moved to Florida two days before I delivered Einey (and a month before I was due).

       
    • At 6/21/2008 8:16 AM, Blogger Marinka said…

      Happy birthday. My baby is seven years old today. I can't believe it. He was due on 6/9, so I'm sure you can imagine how the days crawled until the 21st. But it's a very cool birthday! Enjoy!

       
    • At 6/21/2008 9:18 AM, Blogger Tracey said…

      Happy birthday YS!! I always make an issue of the last day of their ages... For instance, this year, Justin is 9. In February, when he turns 10, and I am an emotional wreck, I will be commenting on his age for 4 weeks straight.

       
    • At 6/21/2008 11:09 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      Wonderful story, Alex! I'm definitely writing this up, but I'm not sure when I'll be posting. Congrats to YS!!!

       
    • At 6/21/2008 1:34 PM, Blogger Mayberry said…

      I had a due date baby too. Happy birthday to YS!

       
    • At 6/21/2008 4:21 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

      Hey alex,

      Just posted H's birth story.

       
    • At 6/21/2008 7:38 PM, Blogger Meredith said…

      I love Birth Stories! Thanks for hosting the Carnival!

       
    • At 6/21/2008 9:23 PM, Blogger Count Mockula said…

      I managed to make it shorter than version one, which appeared not quite three months ago.

       
    • At 6/21/2008 11:58 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

      what a sweet tradition!

       
    • At 6/22/2008 7:12 AM, Blogger Jen said…

      What a wonderful birth day carnival! Thanks for making me think about some wonderful memories and a very happy birthday to YS!

       
    • At 6/22/2008 9:26 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      What a great story! I love that he ended up being born almost exactly when you planned...

      Happy Birthday to your little guy!

       
    • At 6/23/2008 2:33 AM, Blogger Lady M said…

      Happy Birthday to YS! This is a great carnival idea - I've been wanting to write up Buster's story, and hopefully having a deadline will help.

       
    • At 6/23/2008 2:22 PM, Anonymous Chantelle said…

      I hope it isn't totally cheating to link to an old post. I just reread it before posting and relived the whole thing.
      Everyone seems to have an amazing story to tell.

       
    • At 6/23/2008 2:57 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      I am sure that I am not supposed to focus on the OB yelling at the anesthesiologists, but your writing is so hilarious.

      Happy birthday to my sweet little godson! We can't wait to see you, your brother, and your mom and dad in a month!

       
    • At 6/23/2008 8:59 PM, OpenID felicepd said…

      I am a sucker for birth stories! Love them.

      My son just turned one on 6/5 and I posted my birth story on my blog. I just linked to it.

      Thanks for hosting this carnival -- it is a great one!

       
    • At 6/24/2008 8:30 AM, Blogger jodifur said…

      Happy B-day younger son!

      My post is up!

       
    • At 6/24/2008 7:24 PM, Blogger soccer mom in denial said…

      Yeah for the Carnival! Of course, I have THREE stories to share (I think folks will be birthed out by Friday) so get ready for me linking a few more times.

      It's funny, I never planned on writing these out but FOR YOU - anything.

       
    • At 6/25/2008 1:07 PM, Blogger skiplovey said…

      Happy (Belated) Birthday YS! Hope it was a great day.

      I posted Nate's birth story a few weeks back so it's still kinda newish.

       
    • At 6/26/2008 12:56 PM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

      Okay my three are posted. I broke them up to three seperate posts due to length. I can't wait to go and read all the stories!

       
    • At 6/26/2008 7:27 PM, Blogger soccer mom in denial said…

      Good think others did multiple posts! My three birth stories for you and YS and all posted and wrapped with a big bow!

       
    • At 6/27/2008 9:02 PM, Anonymous julie @ the calm before the stork said…

      I love birth stories! Thanks for hosting this.

       
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    Monday, June 09, 2008

    Extra! Extra! Happy Birth Days Carnival

    Birth Days


    I attended a new moms group when my older son (OS) was just a few weeks old. This group met for 4 weeks and was run by a facilitator named Rosemary who had been doing it for many years. After we initially introduced ourselves and our babies, Rosemary had each woman tell the story of her baby's birth. We each got the group's undivided attention and could take all the time we wanted.

    Childbirth like many women's issues is a funny phenomenon in our society. It's a rite of passage. However, it's a rite of passage that we aren't really encouraged to talk about. Sure when you get together with a group of other moms we might tell parts of the stories, but my experience has been that usually moms all jump in and share their experiences too. Hence it becomes a conversation. And yes, many times I'm the mom who jumps in on the conversation. After the inital phone calls to family and friends, it does seem like we don't have that chance to have undivided attention about something that was a major event to us all. Sometimes even those phone calls are interrupted or we may realize later that we didn't say everything we wanted to say. This is why Rosemary had us tell our stories. We had the opportunity to have the spotlight on us and have a listening audience who gave us their undivided attention.

    A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about giving birth to my younger son. I happened to mention that my brand-new shoes were stolen while I was in the operating room having my c-section. Apparently this isn't the first time that shoes have been stolen at that hospital. I was surprised that I hadn't mentioned it to her before, just because it is a funny part of my own birth story. Alright it wasn't so funny when it happened or when my husband had to find a pair of shoes for me to wear home since I didn't have any. It occurred to me that because I wasn't a new mom when I had YS and therefore wasn't in a news moms group, I never got the chance to tell my birth story for my second son.

    In honor of YS's 2nd birthday on June 21, I am holding a Happy Birth Days Carnival. I'm encouraging anyone who wants to participate to share your birth day stories. It can be for any child. It can be a birth or it can be an adoption. It can be the birth of your grandchildren, your nieces, or your nephews. It's up to you. Our stories are all different. Some are sheer happiness, some are pain and happiness, some are funny and some are sad. We all have stories though.

    Here's how it works. On June 21 I will put up my birth day post and I'll include a Mr. Linky at the bottom of it. The carnival will be open for a full week. At the end of the week, I will use random.org to draw two gift certificates for $10 each to your choice of Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. You can mentally picture yourself enjoying a cup of coffee and a good pastry on me while all of us in the blogosphere are sitting on virtual couches in a coffee shop reflecting on the birth story that you've shared. Please email me if you are considering participating and would like the code for the button.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: No matter how many children we have, every child has their own special birth day story.

    It's been called to my attention that many people have had a problem leaving comments on my blog for the past week or so. If you've had problems with this, please email me at alexelliot at flexibleparenting.com I'm trying to figure out exactly what is happening.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:27 PM   12 comments
    12 Comments:
    • At 6/10/2008 12:28 AM, Blogger Tracey said…

      Hmmm. I can still comment. Guess your blog just loves me more, eh?

      :)

      I will link to my kids' birth stories. I believe I have all 3 written out, but I'll have to check and see. I may not have Justin's written down yet...

       
    • At 6/10/2008 6:19 AM, Anonymous Amy said…

      Cole's Birth Story - http://family.masson.us/index.php/2003/09/21/hes-here/

      Harper's Birth Story - http://family.masson.us/index.php/2005/07/29/harper-lee-masson/

      There are actually both written by my husband.

       
    • At 6/10/2008 6:23 AM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

      Oh maybe I do one for all three, culmulating on the 27 with Meenie since its her birthday!

       
    • At 6/10/2008 6:37 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      What an interesting idea, Alex! I hope I'll have an entry in time.

       
    • At 6/10/2008 8:37 AM, Blogger Heather said…

      Sounds fun! I should be back from vacation so I can participate then!

       
    • At 6/10/2008 9:08 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      What a great idea! I am excited to participate by sharing the story of my mom's birth. It has lots of excitement.

       
    • At 6/10/2008 11:02 AM, Blogger JulietteMerry said…

      I am looking forward to sharing my story. Great idea, Alex

       
    • At 6/10/2008 2:19 PM, Blogger Sally HP said…

      Hey Alex,

      I just posted C's birth story, but I can do a little ditty about H's as well... I'd love the code for the button.

      C's story is at http://sexandtheknitty.blogspot.com/2008/06/i-fell-in.html

       
    • At 6/10/2008 8:36 PM, Blogger soccer mom in denial said…

      I'm promoting. And will tell my stories. For you? Anything.

       
    • At 6/11/2008 2:52 PM, Blogger Chantelle said…

      Such a cool idea. I already have mine up from ages ago, but will read other people's stories.

       
    • At 6/12/2008 10:52 AM, Blogger Kami said…

      That's a great idea Alex.... and perfect since I just posted Jack's birth story and I am going to do Kamden's in a couple of weeks for his birthday.

      :-)

       
    • At 6/16/2008 1:19 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

      Love the idea! If I can get it together enough to write out the long drawn out story I will absolutely participate!

       
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    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Something to Say about Denial

    With my first triathlon tomorrow morning, I have been trying to be particularly careful in my eating and sleeping habits this week. I have also tried hard to manage my progressively escalating case of nerves as the week went on. So you might expect that I would have gone to sleep as early as possible yesterday. Almost as if I were in denial about my need for rest, I did the opposite, and enjoyed what was for me an unprecedented social opportunity that I could not refuse.

    I was honored to receive an invitation from Soccer Mom in Denial to join her and Jenn from Something to Say about Life in the Netherlands for dinner. That's right, for this weekend Jenn in Holland is Jenn in Massachusetts! How cool is that?


    We had a fun evening typing talking and talking and talking. Plus there was fabulous food. We were the last ones to leave the restaurant. Hmmm...I bet my triathlon training buddy and our trainer would have something to say about that. If they ask me about it, I may need to deny it. Afterwards, we went to a bar. Relax! I was willing to stay out late for friends, but I did deny myself alcohol in order to avoid derailing my training and triathlon prep. Actually, I had such a good time that I really feel it helped me to relax before my big event tomorrow. The Big Giraffe also denied me the consequences of my late night by generously encouraging me to sleep in today! I certainly have something to say about his kindness.

    I have enjoyed what SMID and Jenn have to say for almost as long as I have been blogging, and there was no denying from our prior meetings that SMID is a fabulous person. I quickly felt that I could say the same about Jenn. I have to admit that as much as I enjoyed getting to know Jen and getting to know SMID better, what most stuck with me today, other than just having a great time last night of course, was what Jenn had to say about Life in the Netherlands.

    Of course, I had to find a metaphor in what Jenn described to apply to my own life. For example, Jenn described the way she shops by going from specialty store to specialty store like the cheese store, the nut store, and the bakery, just the way things used to be in the US before supermarkets became so prevalent, except that they bike everywhere. So today I didn't just go to the supermarket, but made a stop at a specialty store, Trader Joe's, to stoke my yogurt craving as well. Technically, I haven't ridden my bike in two days, but I will be on it bright and early tomorrow for the first leg of my triathlon. Yeah, not as nice and neat as in the Netherlands, but if you add biking and choosing the right store for each purchase... Of course, in the Netherlands, an employee would have started pulling together my usual order for me when I walked into the stores. Trader Joe's didn't even have my normal order; they were out of the cheaper Greek yogurt. I silently rejoiced at the "excuse" to buy the more expensive Greek yogurt that tastes twice as good.

    Tomorrow's my big day. I'm all packed and just about ready to go to bed. I'm definitely nervous although not nearly as nervous as I would have thought. Apparently a night off was just the ticket.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: When preparing for something stressful, there is something to be said about denial.

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:06 PM   11 comments
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    Friday, May 02, 2008

    Two's A Charm

    Dear Mrs. Chicky, Her Bad Mother and Mrs. Chicken,

    I would love to be able to give you some advice on having a second child. The problem is that most of the time, I still need some advice. I'm just kidding sort of. Honestly having a second was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Here's the two best pieces of advice I have for you.

    1) This is really the best advice I've received for parenting. A friend of mine who is remarkably organized despite having and has four happy kids told me to make the new baby fit into the older child's schedule. Sounds a little harsh, but I am so glad I did it. I think back to what it was like when my older son (OS) was a newborn and I was housebound because of perceived nap restrictions, minor germ phobias, cold weather, hot weather, you name it. However, when OS was 34 months old, and it was the official first day of summer aka my younger son's (YS) birth, I knew that being housebound was just not going to be okay with him. Talk about a way to make him resent his sibling. I just made sure that there was a Pack N Play at whatever playdates or playgroups we attended so YS could nap. If necessary, I brought one with me. I also invested in a few more receiving blankets and hung them from the handle of the baby bucket carseat when YS was in the stroller and we were outdoors to provide a sun screen. I know people who've even bought the velcro sticky tape to velcro them to the handle. YS never ever had a sunburn.

    Here's the best part of this wonderful advice; YS is incredibly easy going and while part of me knows it is just plain old luck (for which I will be eternally grateful) there's a part of me that believes it's because he has led a "go with the flow" life from birth. Of course, an afternoon nap was part of OS's schedule, so they both napped at the same time.

    2) Make sure you don't have any Sharpies in your house. No, seriously. A few weeks after bringing his brother home, OS found a Sharpie and colored all over his walls, furniture, the bathroom, and clothes, when we thought he was sleeping. We didn't even know we owned a red Sharpie. If you have any doubts, send your older kid and friends on a treasure hunt for Sharpies in your house. You may be amazed at what they find.

    Best of luck! Everyone told me that the best part of having multiple kids was seeing the beautiful friendship that forms. I have loved witnessing this because it allows me time during the day to blog and/or talk on the phone .

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Keep your newborn on your older child's schedule, but make sure that older child does not have any Sharpies.

    This post was written for a virtual Baby Shower.

    Labels: ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 3:36 PM   10 comments
    10 Comments:
    • At 5/03/2008 9:39 AM, Blogger motherbumper said…

      No Shapies? BRILLIANT (good advice for any parent really).

       
    • At 5/03/2008 12:55 PM, Blogger motherbumper said…

      I meant sharpies (she realizes hours later when she comes back to close her browser)

       
    • At 5/03/2008 1:16 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      One of my good friends could have used that Sharpie advice last year. I learned from her mistake and all of our Sharpies are well out of reach (I hope). Her twins colored the carpet, the walls, etc.

      And I did the same with my #2. He just had to go with the flow. It worked pretty well.

      I'm hoping #3 works the same.

       
    • At 5/03/2008 1:36 PM, Blogger Whirlwind said…

      For us, is was fake flowers. Einey was smelling one when I had both down for a nap. The tip broke off and got lodged in her nose. It had to be extracted in the ER. Who knew?

       
    • At 5/03/2008 7:54 PM, Blogger Tracey said…

      We still have Sharpies. Sigh... Can't part with them. LOVE them.

      But definitely arrange kid #2 around kid #1. I had my second son at the zoo at 2 weeks old... In the hot, HOT sun!

       
    • At 5/03/2008 9:36 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      I agree. On both points. Especially the sharpies one ;-)

      I found the second newborn so much easier and I really think it was because he was forced to adapt. We were much less neurotic with the second than the first and guess what? The older one is less adaptable to changes in his rountine than the younger one.

      Coincidence?

      I think not!

      But I do think that lesson can only be learned the hard way. At least for me!

       
    • At 5/04/2008 2:11 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

      I echo the Sharpies warning. My middle once colored her arms and legs in Sharpie. Lovely.

       
    • At 5/04/2008 2:38 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicken said…

      Ha! I'll never look at a Sharpie the same way again.

      Great advice about the schedules, too. Thanks!!

       
    • At 5/04/2008 6:50 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

      Oh noes! I have Sharpies everywhere! I'm screwed.

      Thanks for the advice, friend.

       
    • At 5/07/2008 11:21 AM, Blogger Her Bad Mother said…

      Yeah, that sharpie thing? LEARNED THAT THE HARD WAY.

      (thanks so much for this. xoxo)

       
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    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    On the Move

    No, this isn't about exercising or triathlons. I'm very excited to say that I will be writing for both Just Cause (click on Editor Blogs) and GNM Parents. Did I mention that I'm excited? I'll be writing on Mondays for Just Cause (I have been doing Fridays) and on Thursdays for GNP. Hmm...today's Thursday and tomorrow's Friday!

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    posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:24 PM   6 comments
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    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    A Letter To My Body

    BlogHer Letter to My Body!
    Dear Body,

    Where do I begin? We've definitely had our ups and downs over the years. I remember as a kid not thinking too much about you. I wasn't displeased with you, but I never appreciated you either. On the other hand, you seemed comfortable doing your own thing, like when we went through puberty. You didn't ask me my opinion on it. You just went ahead and did it way before I was ready. I would be lying if I didn't say that at times I felt betrayed by you. At times I also hated you. We got through that though and when I was in high school, I actually felt really good about you. Together we did swimming, fencing and synchronized swimming. You and I also had some great times with my high school sweet heart.

    In college I realized that I had been holding something back from you. I didn't want to hurt your feelings. I tried to talk myself out of my own feelings, but you were doing something that was causing me physical pain. My back hurt all the time, and I wasn't really thrilled with the way I looked. After consulting with a plastic surgeon and weighing the risk factors for us, I decided to have a breast reduction surgery. I have to say that I think you were actually pleased by it. Nothing hurt anymore. A weight had literally been lifted from our shoulders. Life was much easier. Even my times at swim meets were faster because it was easier to move you through the water.

    Time ticked by. We certainly enjoyed getting to know the Big Giraffe, but overall you were ignored again. Life got busy. I paid attention to you during my engagement and I toned you up so I could look good. After that though, I have to say that you were sadly forgotten. More time passed and I realized I really needed you. I had something that I really wanted you to be part of: having a baby. Once again you came through. And you did it twice. I am thrilled to have had 2 healthy baby boys. Large, healthy baby boys. You even allowed me to experience breastfeeding, if only for a brief period of time. Even though you initially disappointed me by requiring me to have a c-section, I quickly got over it. Out of all the things I may get neurotic about, having a c-section wasn't one of them.

    That leads us to almost a year ago. Between being a new mommy and trying to balance my new life, I forgot about you again. The great care I had tried to take of you in my high school and college years by eating properly and exercising were long forgotten. We had grown to be such strangers that I had trouble even recognizing you when I saw you in the mirror. I bought a package of personal training sessions. We showed up - heavier with our abs hanging from two c-sections - to get in shape. It was hard. If I hadn't bought the package of sessions, honestly I wouldn't have gone back. You screamed out in pain. I hated going. For about three weeks I remember every time I moved your were incredibly sore. Yet you still allowed me to push through.

    Then in October I got this crazy idea to train for one triathlon which turned into training for multiple triathlons. I was so excited. You supported me even though running has never been our thing. Demands of motherhood made it hard to stick to a good schedule. You were great about allowing me to fit in exercise wherever I could. However, it wasn't enough. I wanted consistency. That's when I had to ask you for the biggest favor, my night owl body. You that has loved staying up until the wee hours of the morning. You that hates getting up early. I had to ask you to start getting up at 4:50 am to be able to work out. At first you hated it, but then you surprised me. You actually liked it better.

    I guess that leads us to now. We're still going strong. Thank you.

    Love,
    Alex

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: When you take good care of your body, you will be amazed at what your body will do for you.
    This was written for BlogHer's A Letter to My Body

    Labels: , ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 3:45 PM   13 comments
    13 Comments:
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    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    Setting Up a Tent Blind-Folded

    42 started Flashback Friday last week. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, and a post that Sally HP wrote early this week about finding baby items in a bowl of soup while blindfolded at her baby shower reminded me of my own incident with a blindfold in college. Get your mind out of the gutter! So you'll have to wait until tomorrow to learn why taking my kids to the library anytime in the next ten years would be a really bad idea.

    When I went to Wellesley College, I joined a club called the Outing Club. It was one of the clubs that had a combined membership between Wellesley and MIT. My friends and I were very excited to go on a big campout with a bunch of different colleges one spring. By the time we got there, it was starting to get dark, and we were starving. Fortunately the MIT contingent had agreed to bring the food. Unfortunately, they forgot to bring enough for us, and I have a distinctly bad memory of eating someone else's leftover spaghetti. After Suzanne's post (and the comments from various people) about eating food out the trash, I finally feel okay with this.

    I hadn't been camping in about 5 years, and none of my friends had ever camped. Fortunately the MIT contingent had agreed to bring the tents. Even more fortunately, they remembered to bring one for us. When they gave it to us, we did what we thought was the reasonable thing and asked where the directions were. They looked at us like we were crazy. Fortunately engineering students don't need instructions to know how to put things together. Unfortunately liberal arts majors do. Fortunately male engineering students lack the patience to watch liberal arts coeds fumble around trying to put together a tent at the pace of a snail while it gets dark. They jumped in, corrected our mistakes and put the tent together in about 2 seconds. Alright, maybe it was 60 seconds, but I swear all I did was turn around and it was assembled. They gave us a weird look, commented on how putting a tent together was really quite easy, and left.

    That's why I was shocked the next day when they suggested the following bonding activity for all the colleges: put together a tent while blindfolded. No, I'm not kidding. Not wanting to be bad sports my friends and I participated. Needless to say, the only record we set was for the longest amount of time ever taken to put together a tent. The MIT geniuses contingent seemed genuinely stunned. I remember pointing out to them that we couldn't even get the tent together with our eyes open much less with a blindfold on. We did much better on the task requiring us to run around several trees with water on a spoon without spilling any of it.

    As for our tent? I hated to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it was set up on a patch of completely uneven ground so we ended up sleeping outside.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you can't do something with your eyes open, there's a good chance you won't be able to do it blindfolded.

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 6:53 PM   7 comments
    7 Comments:
    • At 2/07/2008 10:41 PM, Blogger super des said…

      i like those tents that don't involve being put together.

       
    • At 2/08/2008 12:22 AM, Blogger Nora Bee said…

      This is great. I am married to an MIT alum, so can relate fully. What? You need instructions? Give me that.

       
    • At 2/08/2008 8:10 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

      Hahaha. Yeah, I'd so be sleeping outside if I had to put a tent together blindfolded. Either that or I'd be wearing an eye patch and not a blindfold from having skewered myself on a tent pole.

      Thanks for playing Flashback Friday with me. :D There's a Mr. Linky up on my post for this week if you want to sign in.

       
    • At 2/08/2008 9:01 AM, Blogger Heather said…

      Yeah, but could they give directions on how to put the tent up? Doubtful.

       
    • At 2/08/2008 12:14 PM, Blogger Lizzy in the Burbs said…

      Funny! I much prefer the "pop-up" variety that only requires one tug and the whole thing self assembles. (they kind of look like igloos) Actually,...I much prefer the hotel room!

      Lizzy

       
    • At 2/09/2008 2:09 AM, OpenID pincushionpoints said…

      Can you say room service? Putting up the tent is just one of the things I hate about cramping.

       
    • At 2/13/2008 2:17 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      Yeah, I admire you for roughing it out there, but I'll keep to places with indoor plumbing.

       
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    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    My Contribution to Ending Teen Pregnancy

    Because I am concerned about lowering the rate of teenage pregnancy, I have decided that it's time for me to do my part. There comes a time for each and every one of us when we are called to duty. A time when we must make sacrifices for the good of a cause. It is tough, but we must hang strong! We can prevail if we set our minds to it!

    In that vane, I have decided to rent my kids out to teenagers who are contemplating having unsafe sex. That's right, I'm setting up several package deals so that these teenagers can have my kids for the day so they can truly consider the consequences of their actions. My bonus package includes taking the boys to the Field Museum in Chicago. This package is complete with a 4 year old who will meltdown and scream the whole way out of the museum as well as a 19 month old who will try to "investigate" the toddler toilet while you are using the adult toilet in the individual family bathroom you have declared ingenious only moments before. I will also offer the To the Moon and Back Package package. This is for teens who feel that it's well and fine that my kids may give me a hard time, but if they were their kids they would be perfectly behaved. In this deluxe package, teens can watch my kids for two whole weeks. At the end of that time, they can take my kids to the Field Museum and see how they fare. Prices vary depending on locations. Does not include airfare, housing, and tax.

    Check out my post and others over at the Writing Game today.

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Kids are challenging.

    Labels: , ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 11:10 PM   18 comments
    18 Comments:
    • At 1/31/2008 7:10 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

      Freaking brilliant! I actually said something quite like this to my 20 year old sister last time she was in town with her friends.

      This is why I love yo, Alex. :D

       
    • At 1/31/2008 8:58 AM, Blogger Amy said…

      Dude, so true. My sister, who has a 10 year old and tried for a number of years to have a second, has declared herself to be completely free of the child-itch after having my kids in her house for three days.

       
    • At 1/31/2008 9:04 AM, Blogger Heather said…

      I agree, that should work wonderfully.

       
    • At 1/31/2008 9:07 AM, Blogger Jodi said…

      that's a fabulous idea!

       
    • At 1/31/2008 11:37 AM, Blogger Ted & Laura said…

      I am willing to contribute a 3.5 year old and 2.5 year old in case playdates at or around the Field Museum are needed. I must add, that perhaps a bonus package including the opportunity to take the children to Old Orchard or Northbrook Court Malls at 3 pm on a Saturday during the Pre-christmas sale season should be offered as well. No earplugs will be provided.

       
    • At 1/31/2008 5:24 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

      Ted and Laura,
      That's a great idea! I wouldn't even take my kids to Old Orchard today. They stayed with grandma.

       
    • At 1/31/2008 6:35 PM, Blogger skiplovey said…

      Ha! so true. I overhear teens at the park talking about when their going to have babies and while my first thought is "what the hay?", my second thought is "here, hang out with this monkey for awhile and see if you still want to be a "baby momma".

       
    • At 2/01/2008 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Apparently you feel that time spent with your children, who are healthy and don't always do what you want, would dissuade any girl from having children. If you had had such an opportunity five years ago, would you have made a different choice?

       
    • At 2/01/2008 12:58 AM, Blogger painted maypole said…

      and this way, instead of paying teens to babysit, YOU would get paid. Maybe we could get a government grant for this program?

       
    • At 2/01/2008 9:12 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      Dear Anonymous:

      The difference between Alex and a teen girl is that she is an adult with a lot of resources to help her cope with these difficult moments. A teen girl is generally far less likely to have the support of a husband or parents who are not currently raising their own kids.

      Clearly, you knew that this comment was inflammatory, so you bravely chose to make it under the cloak of anonymity. How clever of you. Since I am not afraid of saying "controversial" things and backing up my words with my good name, I'll say this: Yes, spending time with kids actually did teach me that I am not appropriate parent material. It is an exhausting, demanding job that I am not up to doing 150% of my time. I am not ashamed of this. I like spending time with Alex's (and other kids) and then going home to peace and quiet. What I suspect that teenagers can learn from Alex's service is that there is no break when you are a parent. Perhaps that will encourage them to wait until they are older and hopefully, more ready (although I am not sure anyone is ever fully ready) to take on such an important (and rewarding) task.

      Best wishes,
      Suzanne Reisman

       
    • At 2/01/2008 9:12 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      Also, Anonymous, I suggest that you develop a sense of humor.

       
    • At 2/01/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger Lizzy in the Burbs said…

      Oh, that's funny! My oldest son who is in high school was telling me about a class they offer where you carry a doll baby (it has special sensors in it)around with you for a week; at home, at school, at work, after school activities, etc. It cries when it's hungry, wet, tired at all times of the day and night 24/7. Most of the kids are excited at the beginning and think it's going to be a piece 'o cake, but by the end of the week aren't quite so thrilled to be a "parent". I think it's a great idea! Sometimes I think kids feel about babies the way they feel about puppies or kittens, you know? Tiny, cute and snuggly, but wait,..they require work and attention?? Ack!

      Have a great weekend!

      Lizzy

       
    • At 2/01/2008 6:01 PM, Anonymous selfmademom said…

      I offer my 22 month old in the car on the way HOME from the Field Museum where he will only insist on listening to "Alouette" on repeat.

       
    • At 2/01/2008 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Dear Suzanne
      You chose to interpret my question as inflammatory, that is your problem.Perhaps you are overly defensive. Anonymous is no different then cable girl or painted maypole or any pen name chosen.

       
    • At 2/02/2008 9:24 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      That's true. I was in a horrific mood when I saw it, and I probably should not have said anything. If you didn't mean it in the way I interpreted it, then I owe you an apology.

       
    • At 2/02/2008 9:31 AM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      Anonymous, I feel very bad this. I was in a bad mood due to a hostile comment on someone's blog, and I know that Alex has had some anonymous people hassle her in the past, so immediately I assumed that was going on. Again, if that is not what you meant, I apologize and I hope my explanation makes sense.

       
    • At 2/02/2008 3:20 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

      Just to clarify, this post is meant to be humorous, and, unless I have a lot of readers who are seriously looking to have strangers spend unsupervised time with their kids, I think that the majority of commenters understood that. I think humor is an important part of parenting, and I really enjoy that part (and many other parts).

       
    • At 2/02/2008 10:11 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      Yup, it's humorous, but it would also be true. ;-) You can't "get it" until you've been there.

       
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    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Baring Your Soul

    I have to say that I before I write anything really personal, I always stop and think about whether or not I really want everyone to read it. Sometimes I'll write a post, and wait a few hours before actually publishing it. As anyone who blogs knows, once you put something out, it's...well...out there! Sure you can delete it later, but you never know who saw it (or cached it).

    I feel the same way about political posts. Of course I have my own opinions. One of the many purposes of a blog is to be able to say whatever you want on it. So why not say what you believe about politics? I can tell you what makes me hesitate: it's the fear of offending someone and being verbally attacked. These were both things I thought about on Wednesday when my Blog for Choice post went up. Every time I checked my email, I wondered what sort of comments I would get. Would I a) offend someone or b) be verbally attacked?

    Sure enough, not only did a) happen, but b) did as well. I couldn't believe it. That's what I get for sharing my true opinions...for baring my soul...for sharing the world as I view it. I was left feeling exposed. I felt bad that I had been misinterpreted. Frankly I was also a little annoyed. I worked hard on my post to make sure that it really did reflect my views and to ensure that my readers would find my post informative.

    So was I attacked by a staunch opponent of abortion? No. Was I attacked by someone who felt I was unfair to the religious right or to political conservatives? No. Was I attacked directly for my Blog for Choice post? No. I was attacked for something far more divisive. In a post on New England Mamas, I actually...used the word museum to describe a place called "Noodle Noggin and Bean." I have now learned that the I should have called it a play center, and that the word museum refers to something with a "historical or archival component." It is not a mistake that I will soon make again, and I do appreciate the commenter's subsequent feedback on both why she is so passionate about the word's proper usage and some of her own thoughts on getting children to get out their energy.

    A. Elliot's Lessons Learned: 1)It may be difficult to predict what content will be considered offensive. 2) The written word is great, but it doesn't contain nuances.

    Labels: ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 3:14 PM   6 comments
    6 Comments:
    • At 1/25/2008 6:49 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      Okay, so that's... um... bizarre. Well, I'm sure it was a learning experience! ;-)

       
    • At 1/25/2008 9:00 PM, OpenID pincushionpoints said…

      I've been lurking for a couple of weeks, and I just had to comment. Have they never heard of a children's museum. I think you were in the right.

      I once started a new job and proofed a newsletter. I switched a word in it to sound like "english" and not "biologist speak". One of the other biologists called and ripped me a new one for changing the text. Just after that, the biologist who wrote the original called me to tell me it sounded great and that he appreciated the change I had made. I wanted to tell the naysayer to bugger off. I think you should do the same! Bugger off meanie!

       
    • At 1/25/2008 10:29 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      I can't figure out why people feel the need to comment if it's a negative comment. Just don't comment at all then, at least that's my opinion!

       
    • At 1/26/2008 12:20 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      Wow some people get a bee in their bonnet about the littest thing... It's okay to point that out but not necessary to be verbally abusive.. oy!

       
    • At 1/26/2008 4:29 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

      It always amazes me how people can miss the point so completely. I mean, why pick on the irrelevant. It's not like your post didn't have (doesn't ALWAYS have) some real meat to it.

      BTW, I just left my comment over at the Blog for Choice post. I'm so annoyed at myself that I didn't know about this in advance. It is something I would have lover to take part in.

       
    • At 1/27/2008 1:44 AM, Blogger Nora Bee said…

      Wow. People feel strongly about words, it seems.

       
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    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Awards: Kiss and a Roar

    I love getting awards. Unfortunately many times my response to awards goes the same way as my thank you cards and takes me much longer to write than I ever intend. Time to catch up!

    I was quite honored to be awarded the Mwah! award by Jenn in Holland. She writes a fantastic blog and also writes the nicest emails. The Mwah! award is a chaste kiss given to say thank you for friendships and comments in the blogosphere. When I first started my blog, I had hoped for a comment here and there. I have been taken aback by how many wonderful well thought out comments I have received. I also never expected to develop the friendships that I have. If you would have told me when I first started out my blog that in a year and half time I would be exchanging emails, exchanging Christmas cards and meeting other bloggers in person, I wouldn't have believed you. My favorite time of the day has always been checking the mail. Now checking my email has surpassed that. So here are the people to whom I am giving the Mwah! award in no particular order:
    Mwah! Award


    Soccer Mom in Denial awarded me A Roar for Powerful Words. As with Jenn, I have a deep respect for SMID. In addition to enjoying her wonderful writing, I have actually had the privilege of getting together with her twice. As part of this award, I need to describe three elements that I believe are critical for good writing. If I subjectively define good writing as writing that I enjoy, then I can kind of toy with the rules by providing the criteria that cause me to pick the blogs (blog posts) that I like to read.
    • I like blog posts that I can relate to in someway, whether they are funny, political, serious, or they speak to something that I have in common (or will have in common) with the blogger.

    • I like blog posts that are honest even when the writer isn't always portrayed in the best of lights. It shows that we're all human.

    • I like posts that show emotion. This one I'm taking directly from SMID. I enjoy reading blogs to see bloggers write about what most people don't discuss very often.


    Again, in no particular order:
    award

    Labels:

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 7:06 PM   13 comments
    13 Comments:
    • At 1/21/2008 9:01 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      Thanks for the shout-outs and kind words. :) I am honored to share the awards with such awesome women.

       
    • At 1/21/2008 10:11 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      Mwah! Right back at ya :-) and thanks too!

      Blogging becomes a part of life doesn't it! What would we do without our on-line buddies?!

       
    • At 1/21/2008 10:45 PM, Blogger Mayberry said…

      Well thank you! I feel very blessed by everything blogging has brought to my life -- most of all the people.

       
    • At 1/22/2008 7:12 AM, OpenID cablegirl said…

      Hey. Congrats on getting the recognition you deserve.

      Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go check out some of those blogs you listed. :)

       
    • At 1/22/2008 9:10 AM, Blogger Ashley Winters said…

      Congrats! You deserve it! Hope you are surviving all that Boston snow this year. It's cold here in the Midwest. Brrr...

       
    • At 1/22/2008 12:36 PM, Blogger slouching mom said…

      Thank you! Mwah to you!

      And congratulations on your awards.

       
    • At 1/22/2008 5:14 PM, Blogger Count Mockula said…

      Congratulations on your awards, and thank you for mine! Is this where I give my acceptance speech about how Jesus can suck it?

       
    • At 1/22/2008 6:12 PM, Blogger Heather said…

      Awww. Thanks! I usually kind of skim these award posts because I'm usually never awarded anything! So really, thanks!

      Congrats to you on your awards!

       
    • At 1/22/2008 9:05 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      Thanks so much, Alex! It was a hard day today and this gave me a great, virtual hug! Mwah! to you, too! ;-)

       
    • At 1/22/2008 9:44 PM, Anonymous selfmademom said…

      Wow! Thanks so much... I have really enjoyed reading your blog and emailing with you over the past few months, and I appreciate the shout out! Hopefully you'll keep on reading even though I'm changing my focus a bit.

       
    • At 1/23/2008 7:20 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

      Aww, shucks! I heart you right back. I LOVE that you tackle both that which is humorous and some very serious issues as well.

      The awards given to you are right on the money!

       
    • At 1/24/2008 3:39 AM, Blogger Chantelle said…

      Awe, thanks for the mwah! I wouldn't comment so often if you didn't wrote such a great blog.

       
    • At 1/25/2008 9:29 PM, Blogger Jodi said…

      Wow! Thanks, I'm still catching up on all my blog reading from vacation!

       
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    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    Happy 33rd -- no 32nd -- Birthday to Me

    As I was driving my older son (OS) to school today, he announced that today is my last day of being 31. I immediately corrected him and said that it was my last day of being 32. Actually I'm going to be 32 tomorrow. Who accidentally thinks that they're older than they are? Shouldn't I be forgetting that I'm not 28 anymore?

    29 was a huge birthday for me simply because for my entire life I have been hearing my elderly relatives tell me that they were 29. This lead me to believe that there must be something extra special. In fact 29 was to me was what 21 is to a lot of people: a birthday you look forward to your whole life. 30 was fun because well, it was the start of a new decade. Now I view people in their thirties as either being 30 or 35. I consider you around 30 if you're between 30 and 35, and I consider you around 35 if you're between 35 and 40. I don't make a distinction because honestly what's the difference between 33 and 34 for example? OK obviously the distinction is the difference of living a year longer, and I apparently consider the difference between 32 and 33 significant enough to devote an entire post to it, but there aren't any milestones between 30 and 35. Or at least there aren't any commonly recognized milestones. The Big Giraffe was really excited to celebrate a third of a century of excellence exactly 4 months after he turned 33, but that is only one of the many ways in which he is...unusual. Everyone is welcome to mark their own personal milestone, the way I marked 29 and the Big Giraffe marked 33.333 (repeating).

    I still take pride in getting older each year. I don't deny that there may come a day when I want to hide my age, but for now, I'm still proud that I'm aging; you know the whole thing about getting older with wisdom, dignity and grace. Wait a minute! I'm still waiting for those things to happen. Does anyone know the exact age when I can expect to start experiencing these things? I have no problem with the number itself getting higher. Hey today I thought I was turning 33 tomorrow instead of 32. Hmm...perhaps that in and of itself shows I'm getting older!

    In celebration, the Big Giraffe is taking the day off and we will be having a family outing. My older son (OS) also picked out a Little Mermaid birthday cake for me. He is quite excited about it. In fact he was so excited about it, he told everyone at preschool that I am going to be 32 tomorrow. You know it actually made me a little uncomfortable. Are you assuming that it made me feel old? Nope. It made me feel really young when the teacher commented on my age.

    I'm also going to participate in Soccer Mom in Denial's Day to Read. I'm going to be starting The Book of Salt by Monique Truonghich a friend loaned me.
    It looks like it's going to be a fantastic birthday. Of course what could a blogger possibly want for her birthday? Why comments of course!

    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Comments make a great birthday gift for a blogger.

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:05 PM   16 comments
    16 Comments:
    • At 1/10/2008 12:27 AM, Blogger super des said…

      Happy bday!!

      This whole year I've been saying I was 27 instead of 26. I guess the same thing possessed me to be a year older too.

       
    • At 1/10/2008 8:42 AM, Blogger Jodi said…

      Happy B-day. Enjoy your little mermaid cake.

       
    • At 1/10/2008 9:51 AM, Blogger Mayberry said…

      Happy birthday! I'm glad you think I am only 35 (and I get to stay that way for 3 more years).

       
    • At 1/10/2008 10:56 AM, Blogger Heather said…

      Happy Birthday!

      I did that one year too. I spent an entire year thinking I was older than I was. It was great when I realized my mistake.

      The years just seem to blur together lately.

       
    • At 1/10/2008 11:00 AM, Blogger Chantelle said…

      When we turned 28 a friend and I - we're born a month apart - both kept thinking we were turning 29.

      Funny isn't it?

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU (whatever the age)!

       
    • At 1/10/2008 11:31 AM, Anonymous Suzanne said…

      Happy birthday! I've thought I was 32 since Steph turned that age on Big Giraffe's birthday. Although sometimes I forget how old I am and answer with random ages because I'm a space cadet. And I am with you - I don't have any problem getting older. Why should we?

       
    • At 1/10/2008 2:25 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      That is too funny! I keep forgetting how old I am too. I think 33 but maybe I have spent the entire year thinking the same way you were. Maybe I am only 32.

      Probably not. Just wishful thinking.

      Oh and is Big Giraffe and accountant or an actuary? 33.3333. Being an accountant myelf that cracked me up!

      Happy Birthday Alex!

      Hope it's a great one :-)

       
    • At 1/10/2008 2:39 PM, Anonymous selfmademom said…

      Happy Happy birthday!!!

       
    • At 1/10/2008 3:25 PM, Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said…

      Have a great one. And enjoy the Ariel cake! Yum!

       
    • At 1/10/2008 6:00 PM, Blogger Worker Mommy said…

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

      Have a terrific time .

      Oh and I'm so with you on the 'eh what's the big deal about getting older. I'm just happy to be here living life. (although I reserve the right to change that thought process at any time over the next several years)

       
    • At 1/10/2008 6:14 PM, Anonymous skiplovey said…

      Happy Birthday! I like your perspective on getting older. I look pretty young and have gotten quite a few "really??" when I tell people mt age, which makes me even older for some reason. maybe this year I'll just be happy about it.

       
    • At 1/10/2008 6:32 PM, Anonymous Erin - ExpectingExecutive said…

      Happy Birthday Alex! I hope you are having a wonderful, wonderful day today. And, yep, I also appreciate my age and look forward to enjoying the phrase "with age comes wisdom". One day I'll get there ; -) Big birthday hugs! -EE

       
    • At 1/11/2008 11:48 AM, Blogger gabes_mom said…

      have a wonderful day!
      The land of the 30's hits me this July. I can't decide how I feel about it yet.

       
    • At 1/11/2008 3:16 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      Happy Birthday, Alex! I shut down blogs for The Day to Read and missed this post. I hope you had a wonderful day. What more could one wish for than a little mermaid b'day cake? ;-)

       
    • At 1/12/2008 4:46 PM, Blogger Jenn in Holland said…

      Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Alex! hip hip HOERA!

       
    • At 1/13/2008 12:30 PM, OpenID cablegirl said…

      Ok, I'm a little late to the party, but Happy Birthday!

       
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    Monday, December 31, 2007

    The Year in Review

    Last New Year's Eve, my last 2006 post was a year in review through the lens of Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting. Since it seemed to work then, I am trying the same thing this year. For round #1 I am repeating the first line of my blog for each month in 2007 (excluding Blog Exchange posts or Blog Exchange references). For round #2, I am repeating my first lesson learned from each month in 2007. May it bring wisdom, insight, or entertainment to all who muddle through it.

    Pass #1


    • January: I know January 1 is supposed to be a day of change since it's the start of the New Year and New Year's resolutions.
    • February: Some memories of your baby growing up can be precious.
    • March: My husband had been stressing out about it since before my younger son (YS) was born.
    • April: I grew up Catholic and my husband is Jewish.
    • May: Yes, I am writing this from a bathroom in a Holiday Inn in West Virgina.
    • June: I was very surprised to receive the following question from the Big Giraffe over email:
    • July: What's worse than when your 3.5 year-old throws up on one of the few rugs in your house after inhaling his breakfast and running around like a lunatic?
    • August: Last year Massachusetts almost banned the inclusion of free formula samples in hospital gift bags for new moms.
    • September: Happy birthday my sweet older son (OS).
    • October: Today I was talking to a pregnant friend of mine.
    • November: The day after Halloween many years ago, my kindergarten teacher told us that she paid her kids $5 if they would give her all their candy.
    • December: Soccer Mom in Denial is declaring January 10, 2008 to be a very important day.


    Pass #2


    • January: Who knew that one bag of tater tots could lead to so many questions.
    • February: Yogurt spit-up smells disgusting.
    • March: Invest some time into reading the FAA's and your airline's website and some money into a box of gallon sized ziplock bags.
    • April: The prohibition against having pets in the doctor's office apparently does not apply to imaginary chinchillas.
    • May: Look messy - earn free soda.
    • June: If your marriage is secure, your spouse should be able to handle being told that you consider another human being physically attractive.
    • July: With any medical procedure, it's best to get the most current information and not rely on information from when you were in 2nd grade.
    • August: It is possible and desirable to promote breastfeeding without limiting any woman's choice for whatever reason to feed her child formula.
    • September: Gardening equipment may be hazardous to your family.
    • October: The difficulty in assembling children's gear increases faster than a parent's skill in performing the assembly.
    • November: If you ask OS if he got a lot of candy for Halloween, you will get a dirty look from me.
    • December: You are legally responsible for your own decisions regarding how to dispose of a Christmas wreath.


    I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy new year.

    Labels:

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 10:08 PM   4 comments
    4 Comments:
    • At 12/31/2007 11:58 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      Happy New Year to the Elliot clan!

       
    • At 1/01/2008 12:05 AM, Blogger Heather said…

      I love your lessons learned.

      Happy New Year!

       
    • At 1/02/2008 3:58 PM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      This was wonderful! Happy New Year! My favorite two lines were back-to-back:

      # The prohibition against having pets in the doctor's office apparently does not apply to imaginary chinchillas.
      # May: Look messy - earn free soda.

       
    • At 1/02/2008 4:10 PM, Blogger Kami said…

      What great ideas both of these were. I adore your lesson's learned. Most often they are humourous spins on REAL life.

      :-)

      Happy New Year!

       
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    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    The Golden Compass and the Best Feminist Blogging of '07

    One of my Christmas gifts to my husband, the Big Giraffe (BG), was the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. The BG finished The Golden Compass on Wednesday, The Subtle Knife on Thursday, and The Amber Spyglass on Friday, passing each over to me as he finished. It thus may not surprise you that I am thinking a lot about interconnections between various worlds.

    It is far easier to click a hyperlink to another blog than to find a way from one universe to another, but sometimes the gulf in the blogosphere seems almost as vast. I know that with the large number of blogs, the small amount of time to read them, and the lack of an alethiometer to guide me, I have a tendency to keep clicking on the URLs of my favorite bloggers over and over rather than to cut my way to new writers. Since joining BlogHer Ads, however, not a day goes by without four links that open windows to other blogs that are often not on my blogroll. Some days do go by without me going through those windows, but when I take the time, I am often impressed by what I find.

    Today's BlogHer ads brought me to a post called I Need Validation on a blog called So Sioux Me. I was initially struck by her tagline, "My intention is to inspire women and help them to empower their daughters. I welcome comments to generate a constructive conversation," which feels very consistent with what so many of my favorite bloggers seek to do on their blogs. I read a couple of posts and saw her writing openly and honestly about her brand of feminism, how she makes choices, and how she parents. I will be back!

    However, the post where I initially landed was about a contest on another blog that I didn't know, Hoyden about Town, to find the top 40 feminist posts of 2007. I started scanning the comments and following a couple of links. I was struck by two things: the quality of the writing and my complete lack of familiarity with any of the blogs. It reinforced how there are entirely separate universes of women blogging on innumerable topics, including those related to feminism. Unlike the worlds in Pullman's trilogy, the blogosphere can only benefit from connections these blogging universes.

    So I urge my regular readers to go through the window to Hoyden about Town and read and enjoy the posts that you find there. In particular, you can find the contest explanation and rules so that you can nominate up to six posts from other blogs and up to two of your own posts. This isn't an election, as the selections will be made by "the Hoydens" themselves from amongst the nominees, but it is a chance to enjoy bloggers whom you may have never read before and to attract bloggers who may have never seen your work or other work that you appreciate. Go quickly! The contest ends at the end of this year, and then it will be as ephemeral as dust in the wind.

    So what links am I leaving open across the blogosphere? Here are my nominations for a few of my favorite feminist posts of the year:
    • Suzanne's post Suzanne Reisman, Swimsuit Model, Takes a Stand on CUSS taking a personal stand agains unrealistic beauty standards. (In accordance with the Hoyden linking policy, I will note that CUSS is not safe for workplace viewing (NSFW).)
    • Do Assumptions Change When you Know the Accused also by Suzanne but on BlogHer rather than CUSS, struggling with the balance between supporting women and preserving the presumption of innocence for those accused of crimes against women, particularly when you know the accused.
    • Soccer Mom in Denial's post Be an Ally and a Friend linking a personal story, a well-known tragedy, and our own responsibility to Transgendered Day of Remembrance.
    • Kristen's post Irrelevant on Motherhood Uncensored about getting lost in blogging, public relations, and the value of motherhood.
    • Pundit Mom's post A Political Equation calling on women to use blogging to drive political change.
    • Expecting Executive's post What Breastfeeding Ban? Defending Facebook defending Facebook's controversial actions as neither being unreasonable nor being anti-breastfeeding.


    And for my two self-nominated posts...
    • The Latest Formula Ban is the post I wrote criticizing the New York City public hospital ban on free formula samples for new moms that got me invited to speak on the Mike and Juliet Show on Fox TV last August.
    • Breastfeeding after Someone Else's Breast Reduction Surgery is a post that I wrote about a pediatric nurse practitioner's personal devastation at the inability of some women who have undergone breast reduction surgery to breastfeed their babies.


    A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you follow a link into another blogger's world, you may be amply rewarded by what you find there.

    Labels: ,

    posted by Alex Elliot @ 9:10 AM   9 comments
    9 Comments:
    • At 12/30/2007 10:41 AM, Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said…

      Thanks for opening my eyes to this, Alex. I think I'll have to join Blogher Ads, too - I never really knew what it was before.

       
    • At 12/30/2007 12:49 PM, Blogger Tracee said…

      Thanks so much for the compliments and the link! I very much appreciate it.

      I kept thinking CUSS, CUSS - what does that mean. I must be so far out of the loop.

      Then I saw it and now I can't stop laughing!

      Oh, would that I could - but mid-growth the itching gets to me and I regress.

       
    • At 12/30/2007 9:32 PM, Blogger soccer mom in denial said…

      I started reading this thinking how envious I was at Big Giraffe's reading capacity then moved on to awe at your writing and thinking (my brain is this big - note finger and thumb is touching when compared to your brain).

      Then you go and write something nice about me and my writing. And you call me a feminist!! Now you just made my year.

       
    • At 12/31/2007 1:21 AM, Blogger painted maypole said…

      i think it's interesting how in your post about following links... your post is currently at the top of bloghers links. ;)

       
    • At 12/31/2007 9:09 AM, Blogger BOSSY said…

      An alethiometer. Bossy forgot to ask for this for Christmas - she knew there was something. (Thanks for your comprehensive list of cool posts.)

       
    • At 12/31/2007 11:56 PM, Blogger Suzanne said…

      I'm with SMID. Thanks for the nominations, and even more, thanks for being such a good friend this year and every year. I'm so lucky to have you (and your family) in my life, even if it is long distance.

       
    • At 1/01/2008 5:53 PM, Blogger Lisa said…

      Alex, thanks for this post. It was our own interest in finding and reading other great women bloggers that got me, Elisa and Jory excited about BlogHer in the first place. And it's posts like these that help us get excited about digging in and doing even more in 2008.

      Great best-of links, thanks for the tips. And I have one for you: We downloaded the Dark Materials trio on iTunes and the whole family recently listened to it as we drove to and from our holiday vacation. It's a great listen.

       
    • At 1/01/2008 10:45 PM, Blogger PunditMom said…

      Thank you SO MUCH for the nomination AND for all your great posts through the year. I know I don't comment as often as I should, but I'm here and reading!

       
    • At 1/08/2008 10:00 AM, Anonymous Erin - ExpectingExecutive said…

      Ack! It seems I am always late to the party. Thank you for this recognition. The Facebook vs. boobs thing was certainly a conversation starter in 2007 eh?

      I am glad you added your post about NYC hospitals and formula. That post has stayed with me and it still ticks me off to think about the whole situation! Sheesh.

       
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    Name:Alex Elliot
    Home:MA, United States
    About Me:Professional Mom of two cats, a dog, an ant farm, and oh yeah...two boys: a 6 year old and a 3 year old. Also found in my house is my husband who is known on this blog as The Big Giraffe.
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