Stories from March 2010

A Romantic Getaway for the Aged

Kate Chretien

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, stars align and The Husband and I go on a vacation with just the two of us. I must note that I don’t consider any trip with the kids to be an actual vacation proper. Vacations have to be more relaxing than riding in a VW Beetle with 10 clowns.

I write this as I sit in the airport after a short adults-only trip to Napa Valley, California. Yes, land of wine. With no kids. The last time we were there, it was 10 years ago, the trip where The Husband proposed.

I couldn’t help but compare the differences between the two trips.

Then: Entire San Francisco trip planned out to a tee. We had schedules, agendas, big plans.

Now: Didn’t have time to think of a plan. Barely remembered to make a car rental reservation the day before.

Then: Trip on a student budget. We crashed with relatives, stayed in dives, booked everything on Priceline. (Read more…)

Working Girl

Angie McCullagh

Once upon a time, I was a working girl. I put in 40 hours a week as a graphic designer for an inflight airline magazine. Before that, I toiled as an art director for a newspaper group. I have a whole resume, in fact. Which, considering I’ve been home for the past seven years raising kids, sometimes seems hard to believe.

Anyone who is acquainted with me, even vaguely, knows that I’ve struggled mightily with balance. I’ve never been able to get it right. At first it was too much work. After having Milo, it became too much family. Way too much family.

Yet, I resisted, while finding my way as a mom, working for someone other than Me, Incorporated. Because, beyond the occasional (or even semi-regular) babysitter, I didn’t want anyone else raising my kids. As much as I complained about being their main caretaker, as much as I thought I might explode if I had to endure one more day under the same roof as my children, I wasn’t willing to give up being their One.

I don’t regret giving so much of myself to Milo and Belle. How could I? I was able to experience many firsts I wouldn’t have if I’d been locked in a downtown office. But I will say that staying home did a number on my identity, and, in turn, on my marriage and my parenting. Everyone suffered, to a certain extent, because I, once again, wobbled around, off balance. (Read more…)

Kids, Kids Everywhere

Lisa Kerr

We are in the midst of a post-sleepover haze at our house. It’s oddly reminiscent of our college days, when we would wake up feeling groggy, stumble over people sleeping on the floor in the living room, survey the empty food wrappers strewn about and ask questions like “Has anybody seen the lizard?” and “Why are there socks in the fridge?”

Perhaps I exaggerate. But only slightly.

Despite the chaos, mess and fractured sleep, I love hosting sleepovers. Sleepovers give me the chance to imagine what it might have been like to have a big family. The hub and I never wanted for more than two kids and are thrilled with the two we have. My brother is eight years older than me and my parents were divorced, so growing up my house was generally a quiet place. Perhaps that’s why I find there’s something nurturing about a house full of people. I enjoy the sounds they make – arguing over who scratched in mini-pool, screaming and laughing in the dark outside during a game of manhunt, quietly giggling at the crass jokes in the movie they stayed up way too late to watch. I love cooking for a huge group of kids – making giant pots of spaghetti and listening to them, crammed around the kitchen table, talk about their weeks and who did what at school and trying to impress each other with tall tales. (Read more…)

Beyond Awareness

Becca Sanders

April is Autism Awareness Month. It’s also National Landscape Architecture Month, Prevent Lyme in Dogs Month, and Soy Foods Month. I know many of you are trying to find a way to combine all of these interests into one swinging party, so I am here to help you with the autism part.

First of all, let’s discuss the word “awareness”. It means being cognizant of something, as in “I’m aware that a large truck is barreling toward my chihuahua” or “I’m aware that a psychotic clown is hiding in my toddler’s closet.” As with these cases, when it comes to autism, “awareness” alone is simply not enough.

As the mom of a boy with autism, I can give you some tips. First, learn about it. One book I can recommend is “Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Notbom. One of the best suggestions that comes from this book is one that urges parents to put aside the notion of the “normal” child you “should have had” and appreciate the one standing in front of you, who deserves your unconditional love. If you are a friend to a parent whose child has autism, this means you don’t show pity for your friend’s situation. Don’t say, “I’m so sorry.” If someone came up to you and said, giving your typical child a fearful look, “I’m so sorry you have Junior. What a burden for you!”, you’d want to poke them in the eye, right? Right. (Read more…)

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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.