Monthly Archives: July 2008

Business Week Working Parents article

Listen to any financial guru being interviewed on the radio or television, and they will all say the same thing:  we still are not technically in a recession.  Our country is yet to post two consecutive quarters of negative growth; despite the disasters that have come of the housing market crash, fuel and grocery prices, and escalating utility bills.  And still, despite the fact that we, as a collective nation, are feeling a pretty hefty dose of financial strain, it still doesn’t hold a candle to what life was like for most families during The Great Depression.

I don’t know about you, but I’m awfully thankful for that.

I had the opportunity to chime in on what our family is doing to conserve resources, save money, and ride out this relative financial storm–considering , most sources don’t expect a significant upswing until well into next year.  Visit Lauren Young’s Business Week – Working Parents article from 7/25 to read more.

What are you and your family doing to cut costs, make changes, and weather this financial storm?

2 Comments

Filed under Writing and Publishing

Switched At Birth

Here in Montana, Ira Glass’ This American Life airs on our local NPR station at noon on Saturdays.

The routine Andrew and I have set up for me, to ensure that I get some significant, uninterrupted writing time AT LEAST once a week is for me to take off on Saturday mornings, head into town, plant myself at a coffee shop, and write.  Sometimes for two hours straight.  I have to say, it really is quite heavenly in a small sort of way.

Often, when I’m on my way back home, feeling satisfied and ready to re-join the fray of family life, I catch part of This American Life in the car.  I usually arrive home, caught up in what NPR calls “a driveway moment”–where I just can’t get myself to pull the key out of the ignition and turn off the story that’s only half way done.

Yesterday was no exception.

This week’s story was about two families in small town Wisconsin.  Back in 1951, two mothers from these families both gave birth to baby girls in the same hospital, on the same day and, yep–you guessed it–they were inadvertently switched in the nursery.  The babies went home with the wrong families.

One of the women knew right away, and spent the next 40 years trying to convince her husband of that reality.  The other mother had no idea.

CAN YOU IMAGINE???

As a mother, it is so unbelievable to me to think of a woman, knowing that she was raising the wrong child, and that, her own child was out there somewhere..being raised by another family.  And the most amazing part of the story:  she knew her real daughter.  The two families lived in the same community…and eventually went to the same church.  The knowing mother knew who her real daughter was, and made a variety of efforts to stay in touch with her over the years so she could keep tabs on how her real daughter was doing.

This mother–the knowing mother–kept trying to drop hints over the years to anyone who would listen.  But people in that little town just thought she was crazy, and dismissed her suggestions.

The interviewer goes on to question the knowing mother as to why she didn’t push things harder with her husband.  Why she didn’t talk to the hospital staff about the suspected switch.  At 96, she answers the interview questions from a 1950’s woman’s perspective.  She didn’t want to make waves.  She didn’t want to wreck her marriage.

Can you imagine being imprisoned in a society in which you couldn’t rectify the switch of your own baby to another family???  (Of course, world-over, there are plenty of societies TODAY in which this could easily happen, and the mother would have no recourse.)  Can you imagine having to stifle that motherly instinct that tells you, for FOUR DECADES, that you’ve raised the wrong child?

Follow the link above.  Listen to the story.  Tell me what you think.

36 Comments

Filed under From One Mother to Another, Living

From Potty Training Woes to Crushed Mailboxes…

In the past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time vacillating between feeling like things are finally starting to feel easier, from a motherhood perspective, and feeling like mine and Andrew’s challenges in raising children simply flow from one set of circumstances to another.

For example, a couple days ago, I asked our three kids to get washed up for dinner.  Now, remember, they are only 5, 3 1/2 and 23 months old.  The older two know how to do a pretty good job of washing up at this point (they know Mommy will ask to smell their hands to check for the remnant scent of hand soap.  No scent.  No eat.) 3 1/2-year-old Landon, who is otherwise in a robust stage of alternately playing with his younger brother, and purposely hitting him in the head with any number of different household objects, called Gabe to accompany him into the  bathroom on that particular evening.  As I went to check on the three of them–making sure they were not turning their bathroom floor into Lake Hull, as has occurred on several other occasions, I discovered the most heart-warming scene:  Landon and Gabe were squished onto a step stool together in front of the bathroom sink; older brother teaching younger brother how to wash hands.

“See, Gabe, you do it like this,”  Landon went on to explain.  “You get the soap in your hands, and rub them together while you count out loud to ten…”

I just about melted.

*** *** *** *** *** ***

Today, as I was pulling into the neighborhood after having the kids out all morning–and very much looking forward to my hour of “quiet time” during which I’d work on my new novel (instead, I am sitting here typing this post), I discovered an amazing site: the remnants of our cul-de-sac’s mailboxes after our across-the-street neighbor’s 15-year-old son hit it with their car…

Wow.

Then it hit me:  the ups and downs as a mom will never end.  It’s not like I didn’t suspect this before, but when I went out to check with the boy’s mom and see if there was anything I could do to help out…seeing her crying at the shock of what her son had done…feeling bad for him in his distress…worrying about what would happen to their insurance premiums (three out of their four children are still teenagers, and, I would assume, still on the parents’ car insurance) and how they would get their car repaired…worrying about what her husband would say…I saw the anguish in her eyes that I feel like I know so well, even though we are both mothers at drastically different points in our lives of raising children.

“It’s always something,” she joked with me and the other mom who’d also come out into the street to offer help.  The other two of us nodded knowingly.

For me, the “always something” consists of refereeing squabbles, cleaning up potty accidents (yes, still), dealing with tantrums, sorting out who said what to whom…but regardless of what age a mother’s children are, I imagine it will always be the same to a certain degree.  There will always be something to deal with.  And as moms, we will always be needed in our roles as mothers.

1 Comment

Filed under From One Mother to Another, Kids

Mother Nature’s Fury in a Matter of Minutes…

I love my flowers.  Ask Andrew.  I love to feed them, water them, watch them grow inch by inch.  I take pride in my garden.  I don’t use chemicals.  I don’t Weed N’ Feed the yard.  I just  love them a whole lot.

This is what my garden was beginning to look like this year:

On Tuesday night, we had the biggest thunder and hail storm anyone around these parts can remember ever seeing in their collective memory.  With winds up to 80pmh and half-inch hail stones blowing sideways, people suffered multiple broken windows in their homes.  Stripped siding on their houses.  Trees were downed in the middle of roads and on power lines.  Roads were flooded with water and floating hail…in a matter of MINUTES.  Storm drains clogged almost instantly.  Store parking lots were turned into miniature lakes, with water sitting at two feet deep.

Now, before I go on, I will fully disclaim that I am aware this was NOTHING like what people suffer in the midst of hurricanes, tornados and typhoons.  We consider ourselves INCREDIBLY lucky.  After all, it was really only my garden that took the beating, in our household.  But, here’s what it looks like now:

(The trellaces in the back had been covered in dark purple and lavender clematis, with multi-colored lupin, lillies, alium and more in front.)

(This is a butterfly  bush that had been fully leafed out and ready to bloom.  Notice the pile of hail still sitting behind it.)

Hhhhm, bummer.  Oh well, there’s always next year!

1 Comment

Filed under Living

The Debate Over Childbirth Safety in America

Wow.  I’ve been in a rather heated, on-line debate over the past week.

On the women’s self-advocacy and information-sharing, on-line community called EmpowHer.com, I recently posted an entry to the Maternity/Parenting forum called, “If You’re An Expectant Mom, or Know One, Please Read This!!!”

It was based on an article recently released by midwife Ina may Gaskin about the maternal mortality rate in the US (15.1 women/100,000 will die in chidlbirth overall…36.5/100,000 for African American women).
No less than four hours after my original post, an obstetrician named Amy Tuteur chimed in, and boy did she have a mouthful (a page full) to add.

From there, the debate commenced:  Discussions on childbirth safety here in the US in the hospital vs. in the home setting with midwives, comparing the US maternal mortality rate to that of other countries around the world, the life saving techniques and technologies perfected by the obstetrical community and whether or not those advances deserve a place in all births, or only the rare 10% or so that really require their use.

The debate got hot.  And then hotter.  A few more folks joined in.  Statistics were flying.  Sweat was collecting on the brow of each and every participant, I’m sure.

But the debate is not over.  It never will be.  As long as women and babies still die in childbirth; as long as there are still drastically different opinions about how women should be cared for before, during and after their childbirth experiences, the debate will go on.

What are your thoughts?  Visit EmpowHer.com and follow this link to the debate.

2 Comments

Filed under Childbirth Issues, From One Mother to Another, Living

Brain Travel

Last week, our five-year-old daughter received an invitation to a Princess Birthday Party for a little girl  she’d attended preschool with a few months ago.  Ellie was beyond ecstatic to the point of being obsessive about the party.  During the five day wait for the said event, she made multiple birthday cards and home-made gifts for the birthday girl.  She talked about the party incessantly.  She set out her outfit for the party three days in advance.  And her brothers’ too.  (She really struggled between dressing as Snow White or Cinderella.)

The party was scheduled for Friday afternoon at 3:30.  Because I knew I’d be taking all three kids to the party with me alone…to a new family’s house…along with lots of other families I wouldn’t know…I wanted to make sure the kids all got plenty of rest time prior to the shin-dig.

As Ellie retreated into her room for Quiet Time, she came up with a brilliant plan:  a way to help her bide the remaining 2 1/2 painstaking hours, before we could leave for the party.

“Mommy!  I just had a great idea!  I’ll send part of my brain over to Sophia’s house and go and…you know…watch what they’re doing to get ready for the party!  Then I’ll know what’s going to happen at the party even before we get there!”

Since when did five-year-olds understand the concepts of time travel and out of body experiences?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  The girl really freaks me out sometimes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Kids

The Cancer of Cycling–The Crack of Writing

After reading my husband’s recent post on drug doping being the cancer of all sports–an analogy made by Phil Liggit, himself, it got me to thinking: what of the writing world? What is our cancer, our crack, our nemesis?

Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Friendster, Amazon, Hi5, Youtube, Author Nation, Posh Mama, EmpowHer, Blogger.com and, yes, even Youporn.com…the number of on-line communities, many of which offer writers of any conceivable writing ability the opportunity to publish their thoughts via the ever popular weblog, are popping up faster than the dandelions in my backyard.

But what should we make of all these virtual communities, and the quality of writing that is showing up in these places?

I have, on much more than one occasion, found myself cringing and actually hollering at my computer screen in response to what I’ve read on-line. The arguments otherwise strangers get into. The hipster lingo that, unless you’re extremely techno-savvy and/or were born after 1985, comes across as an untranslatable foreign language, made up mostly of acronyms and emoticons. (If you don’t know what emoticons are, you’re SOL.)

So, I have to ask–here in my very own blog–is the practice of blogging, and interacting with people with screen names like MagicMan and PuffBird and Hot Guy, the Crack of the writing community? Is it so tempting, so intoxicating, so addicting to see your name, your thoughts and your work in print, that this practice of placing your mental ramblings–often unedited and certainly unabridged–in the permanent virtual form, that the practice has become commonplace, if not expected of today’s active writers. And not just writers. Anyone from any walk of life can have a blog. And anyone from any town, city or country, can read that blog.

And what of the traditional publishing industry? What of magazines and newspapers that we writers aspire to get our articles, book reviews and editorials into? Do they legitimize the work that writers place on the web? Do they value articles posted to on-line magazines like Glam and New West Net and Baby Center.com in the same way as they would items listed on a writer’s more “traditional” resume?

For me, the practice of sitting down at the computer every day and pounding out a few lines–whether on my blog, my new book project, or a five minute free write is all equally important. It’s all instrumental in keeping the muse alive. But, in doing so, I take care with what I write. Especially when it’s something that will find a place on the (ever permanent) WWW.

So, IS this blogging, on-line community craze the Crack of the writing world, or just a really, really good bar of Belgiun chocolate or a bag of Lays Sour Cream and Onion potato chips–something that’s so good, you just can’t stop after the first bite.?.?

2 Comments

Filed under Writing and Publishing