Friday, August 31, 2007
"Officials met with dozens of focus groups before concluding that the best way to influence mothers was to delineate in graphic terms the risks of not breast-feeding, an approach in keeping with edgy Ad Council campaigns on smoking, seat belts and drunken driving. For example, an ad portraying a nipple-tipped insulin bottle said, 'Babies who aren't breastfed are 40% more likely to suffer Type 1 diabetes.'
Gina Ciagne, the office's public affairs specialist for the campaign, said, 'We were ready to go with our risk-based campaign -- making breast-feeding a real public health issue -- when the formula companies learned about it and came in to complain. Before long, we were told we had to water things down, get rid of the hard-hitting ads and generally make sure we didn't somehow offend.'"
So instead of getting mothers to sit up and take notice (and potential raise our country's dismal breast-feeding rates (estimated to be 30 percent at 6 months), we're spending lots of taxpayer dollars on ads we know will be ineffective.
Now I can see how the images in the proposed campaign might make moms who have chosen to formula feed (or tried unsuccessfully to breast-feed) feel bad about their choices. But good, effective advertising is never milquetoast--it needs to grab attention and start conversations. It's sad (but not surprising) our current administration is kowtowing to industry lobbyists on issues of women and children's health.
Click here to see the proposed campaign and let me know what you think.
Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
So I became the human pacifier, having to lift my shirt or offer a freshly Purelled pinky finger whenever Z became inconsolable. Which was at least an hour a day. Not having the binky available to me, I fell into the bad habit of nursing her to sleep. Which meant that every night I'd have to oh-so-carefully pry my infant off of my breast and sneak her into her crib. Then I'd creep out of her room while carefully avoiding all the creaky floorboards for fear of waking up the baby and having to start over again. We'd even find ourselves standing over her crib as she sucked our pinky fingers numb.
So when my next-door neighbor Sharon (my primary source of parenting advice and a champion breast-feeder to boot) started singing the praises of the pacifier, I paid attention. She encouraged me to give my second child a paci right at the very beginning--in the hospital, preferably. She also stressed to me that you can't just offer the plug once and give up. Instead, she demonstrated her patented hold-in-the-paci and pat-the-bum trick for encouraging paci love in a newborn.
It took experimenting with a few brands, but now we've got a pacified baby on our hands. And let me tell you, it is so worth it. I can offer a paci when I'm done nursing and Baby A needs a little non-nutritive sucking. When we're in the car and she starts to fuss, even our 2-year-old can pop a paci in her baby sister's mouth. When she's hungry and I need to buy myself a couple of minutes before I can feed her, the pacifier keeps her happy. She doesn't usually need it to fall asleep, but she does like to suck on it as she is winding down toward a nap.
I know I'll have to take away the pacifier eventually (I hate seeing 3 year olds with a paci!), but I don't care. If baby's pacified, I'm happy.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
This week's US News and World Report cover story "The New Mommy Track" details how working mothers are pursuing the careers they want without sacrificing family life, and this related article "The Age of the Alpha Mom" shows that advertising creative is starting to reflect this new approach to balancing motherhood and a fulfilling job. Instead of feeding us images of the stressed-out minivan mom of the 1990s and early 2000s, we're seeing a new vision of motherhood: one in which the woman is in control, ably balancing work and home life with the help of her supportive husband and flexible employer.
While I'm thrilled we're stepping away from the frazzled mommy stereotype in the media, I hope to see more evidence that companies really are pursuing talented women with the lure of flextime, telecommuting and job sharing. Selfmademom has done a great job of blogging about the difficulty of on-ramping for SAHMs and the rarity of part-time positions like the one she currently holds.
What do you think, is Alpha Mom a pejorative term or should we take it as a compliment?
Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog
Now if I could only figure out to to capture a picture with my iMage webcam, I could show you the work in progress...
Sunday, August 26, 2007
In 2003, we'd just moved into our house. We were the new kids on the block: young, childless and known largely as the replacements for the previous owners.
In 2004 I was the really pregnant one.
In 2005 I brought my smiling, crawling baby to the block party. She didn't do much but gurgle and giggle, but she won some admirers.
In 2006 Z was finally able to enjoy the block party. She was too frightened to go in the bounce house, but she ate a hot dog and helped build the world's largest ice cream sundae.
This year we brought two children to the block party. Baby A dozed in the Hug-a-bub (the manufacturer should thank me for selling the wrap's benefits to an army of moms), and Z strutted around like she owned the place.
She did both bounce houses. She participated in the water balloon toss. She swatted at a pinata and snatched up all the candy she could get. She won a bag of goodies by pitching balls into the Bozo Buckets (kid's got an arm!). And she piloted ride-on toys down the middle of the street. She can boast of friends up and down the street, but it was particularly exciting to see that there are three other three year old girls within a block of our house.
For my part, I really enjoyed talking with so many neighbors. There are a lot of people I only see at the block party, but there are a fair number of people I see regularly at the park or on the train. And with plenty of wine, margaritas, appetizers and pizza, I seriously sabotaged my post-baby diet.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Here's the part where I get rewarded for biding my time. Gloria had a stash of Playtex Nursers she wasn't using because of a suspected latex allergy in her infant. She gave them to me and A's taken to them just fine. As an added precaution, I'm pumping into my Ameda collection bottles, but immediately transfering the milk into a Playtex Nurser or a freezer bag.
And I have one less thing to worry about: the Gerber NUK pacifiers A's adopted are BPA-free.
Friday, August 24, 2007
There are devices unique to parenting like the baby monitor, the breast pump and the white noise machine. And since I'm a the mother of a toddler who likes everything just so, I had to deal with a bedtime freak out when my 2 1/2 year old found out we couldn't play her bedtime music and her night light wasn't working. "But I can't seeeee," she cried until we gave in and joined the worst parents ever club, placing a votive candle on a high shelf in her room. The headlines flashed before my eyes as I fell asleep, "Unprepared for disaster, parents leave a candle lit, burn down house."
Other highlights of our night without power included changing diapers by flashlight and cleaning up not one but two massive spit-ups by blindly patting the floor, feeling around for warm, sour-smelling puddles. When we woke up, we couldn't call on Curious George or Clifford, our a.m. babysitters. But I was able to call up a friend who didn't lose power and beg her to find room in her freezer for cuts of meat and bags of breastmilk.
We spent the morning at the Original Pancake House and the library, where we ran into crowds of neighbors in the same situation. Apparently everyone was looking for a place to take the kids and score some free wifi.
By afternoon nap time I'd gotten accustomed to our new, camp-like existence. The cooler in the kitchen was packed with ice. We'd stocked up on batteries, candles and a battery-powered night light, and the block was hopping with neighbors exchanging stories and guessing when the power might be restored.
Then, at 5:15 p.m., I heard the most wonderful noise: the sound of dozens of window units kicking into gear at once. And from the street, cheers of glee.
Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Surf the Internet one-handed. This is frustrating because I have to decide if it is worth the trouble to peck out a comment with my left hand. And with the iBook balanced on the couch off to my right or my left, I'm tempting eye and neck strain. Then the battery runs low and I forget to go plug in the machine.
Read a book. I usually only make a couple of pages of progress before A needs to be burped or Z runs in to ask me a question. Right now I'm slowly reading I Heart My In-Laws which I won from MumsTheWurd and Without a Map, a memoir by Meredith Hall. I also read Z stories while I nurse if she holds the book and turns the pages.
Listen to the radio. There's only so much NPR a girl can take, which is why my new favorite thing to do while breastfeeding is...
Books on tape! Books on CD, actually. I checked out Snowflower and the Secret Fan from the local library and I get through one or more of the nine CDs each day. It's wonderful to listen to someone else read the story because I can burp, change diapers, put away clothes and pump milk for A's daily bottle. Freedom!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
First, the Rules:
1) Post these rules before you give your facts
2) List 8 random facts about yourself
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) people and list their names, linking to them
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged
And now… my facts:
1) I am a Foreign Service brat, but aside from three years in Islamabad, Pakistan, I didn't live in terribly exotic locations while growing up.
2) I learned to knit five years ago, and I'm most proud of the queen-sized, cabled blanket that took me an entire winter to put together. Now that I've got a baby on my hands, I am on knitting hiatus.
3) In 1997, my boyfriend, now my husband, was so appalled I'd never been to Disney World or Disneyland as a child that he insisted we take a trip to Orlando. It was OK.
4) When my first daughter was 11 weeks old we took her on vacation to Hawaii for a family reunion. People thought we were crazy, but there is no easier travel companion than a tiny, nursing baby.
5) I always put a spoonful of peanut butter on my breakfast bowl of Cheerios.
6) I never thought I would be the primary breadwinner in my family, but I am completely comfortable with our situation. (And liking my job helps a lot!)
7) I love movies, books and music, but I can never remember the titles of anything I've enjoyed. This amuses my entertaiment critic of a husband to no end.8) I played varsity softball for two years.
And I tag you:
Franny at Minding Mizz
Meagan at Equilibrium
Christine at Firefly Mama
Shannan at Mommy Bits
Eleanor at Little Bigfoot
Emily at Gabby's Gab
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I came home to find this frightening article in the Chicago Tribune. Apparently I should be thankful I've got some time to think about Lasik.
Monday, August 20, 2007
First thing in the morning I wrapped Baby A in the Hug-a-bub and we took a walk through the neighborhood. Z monologued the whole time, observing everything and creating an exhaustive running commentary: "That car looks just like our car, right Mommy? Is that a toy someone lost on the ground, Mommy? Who lost that toy squirrel, Mommy? Was it a little boy or a little girl lost that wet squirrel? It was a child and not a grown-up lost that squirrel. Did they drop it and lose it, Mommy? Why? Why weren't they being careful and they dropped they's squirrel? Is now that squirrel is crying, crying for its Mommy. Right, Mom? Mommy? Why's that tree have red leaves? We're going for a walk around the block. Children always hold hands when they cross the street. Right Mommy? To be safe. We always hold hands. We don't run into the street!"
At 10am we attended Miss Tracey's Storytime at the Brown Cow with Gloria and her daughters (also 2 1/2 and brand new). It is a very popular event, and it soon became apparent why. Miss Tracey had all the kids completely entranced. She didn't read from books, as I expected. Rather, she engaged the under 4 crowd with silly antics and lots of audience participation.
This afternoon we headed south to Berwyn's Toy Trains and Models, an old-fashioned toy store with a heavy emphasis on trains (from Brio and Thomas to the big-deal, super-realistic model trains hobbyists go nuts over). Z spent about 5 minutes at a wooden train table before discovering the dolls (so much for gender neutrality). I was delighted to find an aisle dedicated to Playmobil and Ravensburger toys, both fabulous German toy brands I remember from my childhood in Berlin. We bought Z a little Playmobil set (a nursery with mommy, baby, a changing table, crib, and a few teeny, tiny accessories). I had as much fun assembling and setting it up as Z did playing with it.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
First of all, while none of the toys in our house were on Mattel's list of 19 million recalled toys, I'm starting to freak out a little bit about the whole BPA in baby bottles issue. I pump breastmilk into clear plastic bottles and all of the bottles I saved from Z's babyhood are Avent--one of many brands that may cause everything from early puberty and developmental problems to cancer. I may just bite the bullet and buy glass or Born Free bottles. There aren't a lot of safe options out there.
My other big worry? We were the victims of a home burglary Thursday afternoon and it took us two days to figure out we'd been robbed. After spending parts of Friday and Saturday trying to figure out how both our digital camera and my Blackberry could have disappeared from their designated spots, it occurred to me that the Blackberry charger was missing too (it had been plugged in). When we realized some DVDs had vanished and I reminded Josh that the back door had been unlocked when we returned from some errands on Thursday, we decided to call the Oak Park police.
The cops pointed out some signed of forced entry on the back door, further demonstrating that our belongings probably hadn't just up and walked away. It's unnerving knowing someone was in my house. And now they've got a camera full of pictures of my kids and full access to my email (although I just changed the password on my personal account). And naturally Josh is working tonight so I'm alone in the house with one sleeping kid and one hiccupping, spit-upping baby.
There are other, smaller worries eating at me too, but they all involve issues of time management and balance--something that I can control, I hope. I need to figure out how to juggle two children, household responsibilities, volunteer duties and family obligations with my own needs and wants (a flatter tummy and more time to surf the internet would be nice). And I need to figure it out before throwing a 40+ hour work week in the mix.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
It was great seeing so many familiar, friendly faces. I'm lucky to work with really wonderful people, all of whom were delighted to squeeze baby cheeks and ooh and ahh over her tiny size.
And how often do we get to breeze into work at 10:30, socialize for an hour or so, and breeze right back out the door without so much as flipping on our desktop machines? (I couldn't anyway, IT seems to have taken my computer away!)
While I can't imagine returning to work before my baby's a little older, my stomach's a little flatter and everyone's sleeping a little better, I got a taste for the good stuff I'm missing when I stopped into a new business pitch meeting. I love the challenge of solving marketing problems in creative new ways, and the product being pitched was one that interests me. But for now I'll have to exercise my creative muscles by coming up with new and inventive ways to make a delicious, nutritious dinner while nursing a baby and entertaining a wound-up 2 year old.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
A lot has changed since I wrote my first post. I was on Oprah, I bought a new car, got pregnant, celebrated Z's second birthday and had a second baby. For the first time since we've owned our house, I had the windows washed and the yard landscaped. I traveled to Portland, Omaha, Mexico, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. At the office, I achieved resident expert status on the subjects of word-of-mouth marketing and blogging. And I attended the BlogHer conference and learned how much I still don't know.
I've used my blog to brag about the trials and joys of pregnancy and parenting, but I'd like to think I'm more than "just a mommyblogger." I write about consumer marketing, customer service, and them products and services I love. And I try to do it from my dual perspective as a marketing creative and as a consumer. Because I'm a mom. The consumer with whom brands big and small want to connect.
As a blogger and a mom, I've been given fabulous opportunities, attending the Chicago Auto Show as a guest of GM and reviewing books, DVDs and other products for Parent Bloggers. I even scored a spot on the Chicago Moms Blog!
Most importantly, blogging has connected me with some really wonderful people, mostly women. I've shared the challenges and joys of balancing a career and home life with other working mothers and I've learned a lot from marketing blogs like Seth Godin's.
I love blogging so much I've convinced my best friend and sister to start blogs of their own, and as a result I've benefited from regular peeks inside their lives (and plenty of photos of their kids).
Anyone care to guess what the next year will bring?
Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Z: Who did we give my diapers to?
Me: Mari and Leo.
Z: And Vi-Vi too?
Me: I guess so.
Z: I want them back. Let's get my diapers back.
Me: But you're potty trained. And you're going to go to school. Besides, I'm sure they've been used by now.
Z: I don't want to be potty trained and go to school. Let's ask Daddy to buy me some diapers at the store.
Me: I don't think so.
Z: I need to go pee-pee. In the potty.
Z: I don't want a baby sister anymore.
Me: Baby A is here to stay. We love both our girls.
Z: I don't want her to be here.
Me: What do you want her to go?
Z: I want to throw her away.
Me: But just minutes ago you were giving her hugs and kisses.
Z: Let's go give her night-night kisses!
Friday, August 10, 2007
Bliss, baby, bliss.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Enter the Hug-a-Bub. I'd seen my friend and ubermom Deb wear her daughter in it for hours, so I dropped her an email asking if could give it a try. Later this afternoon it was sitting on my front porch. I put A down for a nap in her crib and popped in the instructional DVD. Low and behold, just as the movie gets to the part about putting in the baby, A cries out (I guess she wanted in). I placed her in the carrier and she's been sleeping peacefully in it ever since.
More importantly, I'm comfortable wearing her. Perhaps this will be our sanity tonight. Last night an overtired, distraught A fussed and refused to fall asleep until close to 11pm.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Relatively speaking, it was a piece of cake. I left the car seat and stroller in the car and put her in the sling for the walk to the theatre. Once inside, I loosened the sling so she was cradled in my lap. She wanted to nurse through the previews, but slept through 95 percent of the film. I missed one song-and-dance number to change a diaper, but otherwise I was able to enjoy the movie from my seat. My friend was not as lucky: her 2 month old wanted her up and moving so she spent most of the time standing in the back of the theatre.
As for the movie, it was pretty good. Cheesy as expected, but enjoyable. I really liked the art direction and costumes. And John Travolta? That man has no shame.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
And did I mention we don't want to look like whales any longer? At three weeks postpartum, I've still got 15lbs to lose, but I'm down 25lbs from my delivery date and I don't want to look at my maternity clothes any more, much less wear them. I don't want to be mistaken for knocked up, thank you very much!
So last week I packed my new addition into her stroller and walked across Oak Park to Majamas (909 S Lombard Ave., 708-524-9668), maker of cute clothes for new moms. They've expanded into maternity wear, but what really distinguishes this local gem is their nursing clothes. They make cute tank tops, shirts and dresses with built in flaps and support that make nursing bras redundant. You can breastfeed discreetly without worrying about positioning a blanket over your kid's head and, best of all, the poochy stomach stays under wraps. I wear my Majamas gear--particularly my three dresses--more than anything else these days. They're comfortable, stylish and effortless. And they're built with the new mom's body in mind.
As Baby A grows, I trust I'll continue to shrink. And perhaps then I'll have the guts to try on regular clothes in a regular store. Until then, I'll just thank my lucky stars that this cool company is headquartered in my home town.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Lollapalooza is over, so the next few days should be a piece of cake.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Check this list of recalled toys and make sure none of the Dora, Elmo or Cookie Monster playthings are in your home.
Can we say enough already?
a) Sitting down to any meal, preferably a hot one
b) About to accomplish a task with my older daughter, be it giving her a bath, reading her bedtime stories (which can be done with a nursing baby), or taking her to daycare
c) Pulling onto the highway or stuck in traffic in a sketchy neighborhood
But when I hear her grunt and fuss in the middle of the night and I turn a light on and feel my boobs start to leak as I sneak over to her bassinet? Then she's fast asleep.