Friday, December 31, 2010

The dog ate my passport

My last blog discussed how I often find myself wanting to run away from the holiday season.  As I mentioned, we had a trip planned to Playa del Carmen this December. One thing I can tell you is that vacations are a critical part of the relationship I have with my husband. Each year we take one trip with the boys and one trip just us as a couple. 2010 had flown by and we had not had our trip so there was no way I was letting it slip away!

We kicked off the adventure the night before by heading to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate that we were officially on vacation for the next five days. We then went home and packed our bags since we had to be at the airport at 6:15 AM. We got there, strolled up to the counter and that is when the adventure began. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The power of princesses

My 3.5-year-old daughter recently got glasses. She was born with a cataract – a small spot near the pupil on her left eye. So she has been going to a pediatric ophthalmologist since birth. At her last appointment, she was old enough to take a vision test (which involves black and white pictures of familiar objects instead of letters); and some nearsightedness and astigmatism were detected. They also sensed that she’s starting to favor the “good” eye, so patch therapy was prescribed.

I was a bit anxious about the glasses, not knowing how she would take to them. Luckily, I wear glasses, and she’s of an age where she actually wants to be like Mommy (yeah, I know that won’t last) so my first comment to her when we got in the car was “You get to wear glasses like Mommy!” I called my husband and relayed the news to him in an equally upbeat and perky fashion. No pushback from the backseat. Whew! Maybe this will be okay, I thought.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To All the Foods I Loved Before

Once upon a time, I used to eat cheese without looking at the label to see if it was pasteurized. If it was offered to me at a party, I would unthinkingly pop it into my mouth, and enjoy. I didn't wonder if the bleu cheese crumbles in my salad were safe, and feta was not eyed with suspicion.

If it was Fall, I would down a glass of apple cider, fresh from the farm, and not think about whether or not it had been heated so the cooties were now in absentia. I would go to a sandwich shop and order a sandwich and shun heating it up to kill possible listeria whatsits.

And once a week, on average, I would eat sushi. I love sushi. I would never turn down sushi. My bachelorette party started with sushi. And tiaras. But mostly sushi.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Setting realistic New Year's Resolutions

I don't know about you, but I always have the best intentions come the end of December. January just seems like a clean slate and a great time to start fresh. Unfortunately January also always seems to be a busy time and it's easy for my best intentions to fall by the wayside.

Emily Bullard, registered dietitian, and Mike Lofland, director of the Texas Health Fitness Center HEB, offer tips for setting realistic diet and exercise goals.

Do you set New Year's Resolutions? What are your goals for 2011?

Jennifer Erickson is a Sr. PR Specialist who is aiming for small, achievable changes in 2011, not any grand pronouncements for change as the ball drops on Friday night.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas, Honey: It's a girl!

Baby Raya standing on her head in full somersault position. (Head is bottom right, torso curving up along the right side, legs and feet across the top.)
I must confess: I’ve had to do a bit of sneaking around this holiday season. It all started when my husband told me I can’t keep a secret.

Shortly after we found out I was pregnant, I calculated that on Christmas Day, I would be 18 weeks pregnant to the day. Since 18 weeks is typically when you find out the baby’s gender, my husband, Nick suggested I find out a little early and give him the news as a Christmas gift. This idea didn’t last long, though: he decided I would ruin the surprise because I can't keep a secret.

A word to the wise: don't tell a pregnant woman what she can't do.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I believe

I saw Santa. Not the mall Santa, or any of the other imposters, but Santa.

Let me back up. It happened when I was four or five, the exact year has since been forgotten. But what remains is an incredibly vivid memory  –  though when pushed I’ll reluctantly admit it must have been a dream. I remember waking up and crossing the hall to go to the bathroom and looking to the left in our ranch-style house and seeing Santa in the living room. My little kid brain processed it fast as “oh no, Santa won’t leave us the toys if he saw me.” So I quietly hung out in the bathroom leaving Santa a reasonable amount of time to finish his work before scurrying back to bed face straight ahead lest I catch another glimpse of Santa and put my family’s Christmas in jeopardy. This story has become the stuff of lore in my family.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Returning to work and finding a balance

Leaving my child was the hardest thing I have ever done.  I have always loved my job and still do.  However, I was not prepared for how hard it was going to leave my little boy.  People told me “something happens when you bring a child into the world,” and they were right.  The second my son entered this world, my life changed. 

Working has always been fun and challenging and it still is.  The greatest challenge is finding work-life balance and managing all the demands of a mom.  It has only been three weeks since I returned to work and I am still learning how to juggle all the needs and demands on me.  So, I offer some advice to all you moms who are preparing or just returning to work:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weird Dreams Are Made Of This

I've always heard about the dreams pregnant women have, but when I had my first, not long after we found out we were pregnant, I was surprised with how vivid they are. However, I should probably preface this by saying I've always had weird dreams. Even before pregnancy, my husband would be either amazed or horrified by my recounting the night's dream activity. Making Wilford Brimley cry. Being chased by the police, only to find I was being chased by The Police. All weird and vivid.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Help a single mom this Christmas

This is my unabashed plea for you to help out a single mom this Christmas. These are my people, and frankly, we need you to get through the holidays. Not until I went through my divorce did I realize that Christmas is not merry for many people. Rather, there is a vast, wounded group of people for whom the holidays are a piercing reminder that their lives have not turned out how they wanted them to be.  At all.

For single moms, we have the strange reality of every other Christmas kind of being how we’d hoped, but not really. For the years that we have our kids, we smile and do all we can to make it a happy time for our kids. But, staying up half the night putting together the toys by yourself and then watching your kids open the gifts the next morning by yourself still isn’t what you had planned.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bah Humbug

As usual, I am nothing but honest in my blog entries. So, this one will be no different as I cover the subject of Christmas. I must tell you, I’m not a fan of the season. And that begs the question: why?  How can you not like Christmas? What a scrooge!

Let me clarify. What Christmas is really about -- the birth of Christ, the manger, the wise men, Mary, Joseph -- I love that. The true meaning of Christmas I can’t get enough of it. However, each year I find myself wanting to escape the craziness. The overwhelming amount of ads on TV, radio, newsprint, and my mailbox sends me into near panic and I feel like I can’t breathe. I mean, when you start seeing Christmas décor for sale in October? Seriously? 

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Here’s some breaking news: I hate vomit.

It’s safe to say that most people don’t enjoy it, but I hate it to the point of mania. Seriously, I have a problem. I could fill pages detailing the extent of my hatred, but suffice it to say that I’ve had several traumatic incidents that revolved around vomiting and it has scarred me beyond repair.

The act of vomiting has so jarred me that any food that I’ve ever vomited I refuse to eat again. The memory of it is too much for me to bear. A rational person might conclude that some type of stomach bug contributed to their illness, but not me, it has to be the food. So pulled pork sandwiches, fettuccini alfredo and bean with bacon soup are permanently off my menu.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lessons you learn while pregnant

As I creep up closer to the sixth month, I've learned a few things. You CAN eat too much macaroni and cheese. Public restrooms can be your enemy or your friend. Humidifiers make good white noise machines. Always keep a supply of emergency Tums next to the bed.

But my most recent lesson came at church. I wish I could say it was something touching, like some parenting advice. But the lesson I learned came directly from this child I haven't met yet. The lesson? Do not sit in the middle of the pew.

Before I explain how this lesson was taught to me, let me back up. Not long ago, I started feeling little flutters and kicks. Over time, they got stronger as the baby has gotten bigger. Until Sunday, they had been amusing little bits of punctuation to my day. When my stomach growls, the baby kicks and punches as if to tell me to eat already and knock off the racket. If I lay on my left side, soon I will feel insistent knocks and kicks as the baby tells me to roll over, the left side is not his or her favorite. The Jackson Five played loudly in the car prompts a flurry of kicks and jabs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A big reveal...

Last summer a few of us got together and brainstormed. We’re young – in our late- 20s and early-30s and have been seeing the list of family and friends getting pregnant growing steadily. Some of us are stepmothers. Others want to have a baby soon. We’re pretty Internet savvy and turn online to research any new experience or health issue. But it can be hard to decipher where to look or what sources to trust. So, we wondered, why not create a local resource that pulls together trusted health information and a sense of community through social media?

The stats on how many women like us turn online for information when they are looking to get pregnant, the pregnancy test turns positive or their child presents a new challenge is staggering. Ninety four percent of moms online say pregnancy triggered them to seek health information on the web and connect with others in similar situations, according to the Babycenter 2010 Social Mom Influencer Report. We’re no different.

And so we started with the Texas Health Moms blog, Facebook page and Twitter account in mid-August. And we truly appreciate each and every fan, like, retweet and comment we’ve gotten in the past four months or so. But behind the scenes we’ve been working on something even bigger.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas sharing

It’s the time of the year when you have to decide where you are going to spend your time at Christmas. With my daughter, her husband, and granddaughter living in Atlanta and my son, his wife, and my other two grandchildren living in northeast Arkansas, where should my husband and I spend Christmas? 

Early in my married life, we split our time between our parents; that was easy, we all lived in the same town. We went to the candlelight services on Christmas Eve; Enjoyed Santa’s visit in the morning and shared the cooking among all the families. As our children were born and became older, we wanted to start our own traditions and have Santa come to our home; we also had moved away from our hometown. We occasionally would visit our parents during the holidays, but Christmas morning was always in our own home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

As parents we all do what we think is best for our kids. We teach them what we think is right and wrong. Our discipline styles vary and our expectations are sometimes different.

I am not a perfect parent by any measuring stick. And I am not under the delusion that my kiddos can do no wrong. When they make a mistake or act inappropriately, it’s my job to fix the behavior and show them how to live up to my expectations.

I have found myself in situations where I didn’t agree with how a parent approached disciplining their children, to the point where the children are not welcome around mine. When a parent approached me about it, I was honest about the children’s behavior and got excuses for why it was ok for them to behave the way they did. (This was recurring behaviors, not one-time incidents.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's your holiday tradition?

We’re nearly two weeks out from Christmas, when the big holiday build-up is at its merriest and brightest.

You know that feeling everyone gets when all the presents are opened up and you realize Christmas has ended? And then it’s sort of sad because the holiday has come and gone? My family has a unique tradition that delays the feeling a bit.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Paying More Attention to Nutrition - for Now and Later

During my first trimester, I worried frequently about my nutrition - or lack thereof. Because of morning sickness that pretty much lasted all day, the only foods I could keep down with any regularity were Whataburger chicken strips, Subway sandwiches and Arby's roast beef. Not exactly the stuff of healthy building blocks. But once the second trimester hit and the nausea subsided, I began (to my happiness and my husband's complete and utter joy) craving fresh fruit and vegetables.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Breastfeeding Moms aren't sacrificing sleep!

By Becky Law

Myth: one of the sacrifices new moms must make in order to breastfeed is their sleep.

Truth: recent research shows that regardless of the type of feedings the baby is getting (either breastfeeding or formula) moms are getting the same amount of sleep.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The BEST PET EVER for your kids

By Laura Johnson

The pleading began at about age four. “Mommy, can we get a dog?” “Mommy, I NEED a dog!” “Mommy, everybody has a dog but me.” “Mommy, if I don’t get a dog, I’ll never move out of the house and will spend the rest of my days lying on the couch watching mindless reality shows and drinking all of your Diet Cokes.”

The boy does know my hot buttons.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Christmas (Lights) Story

our half-done lights
By Megan Brooks

In the suburbs, everyone feels compelled to one-up each other. This is most evident to me in the summertime (whose lawn is greenest?) and during the holidays, when you can’t drive down the street without nearly having a seizure from all the blinking twinkle lights. Each house shouts at me: no, I have the most Christmas spirit!

Over the weekend, our neighbors (and good friends) sent us a teasing text message: “Our Christmas lights are up. Where are yours?”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Use your words

By Elizabeth Long

Elizabeth with her niece
More than 10 years ago after my sister's divorce, both she and my niece moved in with me.  It has been a wonderful experience.  From rocking my niece to sleep when she had an earache, to crying when we took her to school for her first day of kindergarten, I have had the unique blessing of being a part of her daily life.

My niece is now 13.  She has an amazing since of humor, she's very intelligent, she's kind and thoughtful, she's loving...and she texts like I've never seen before.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Road Trip at Five Months

By Bethany Erickson

Our plans for Thanksgiving weekend were set long before we knew we were pregnant - in fact, they were set last Spring, when we bought tickets for a college football game in Kansas City, something that has become a tradition of sorts since we started dating.

But this year, I knew I couldn't handle an eight hour road trip. So immediately after we got our big fat positive pregnancy test, we began making plans to break the trip up over four days, driving about five hours on Thursday afternoon, three more on Friday, and then leaving after the game Saturday and driving halfway home before stopping again. We'd finish the trip up Sunday, with plenty of time to relax Sunday evening before returning to work.