Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Winning Role

Red Couch Project Set 10 (65 of 70)
Photo Credit: Dave Austria
“I need Mommy!” My little man Noah uttered this cry and threw his arms around my neck as I attempted to get him back to sleep in his crib in the early morning. It did the trick and melted my heart, so seconds later he was cuddling with me on the mommy-daddy bed. It got me thinking about how many needs we fill on a daily basis while answering the mom call-of-duty.

Sure, there’s the huge list of feeding, cleaning, and scrubbing, but the list is augmented with countless airplanes to waiting mouths, spot cleaning faces while playing “body-name tag,” and letting little hands “help” with the housework. Sometimes I worry that my focus is too much on ticking items off my list and that my children become obstacles between me and a job well done. Other times I’m physically in the right place but mentally stewing over the half-cooked meal lying neglected on the stove.

Steaming pan of burnt grease
Photo Credit: Jon
There have been unanswered cries and glossed over protests when I make the call that it’s just a minor problem the kids can sort through on their own. It can be healthy to let siblings resolve conflict themselves, but not for the reasons I’ve let it happen. As a mom, it can be really easy to either become too blasé or to heap on the mommy guilt. I’ve run to both sides of the spectrum, and right now I’m trying to find balance by noticing my actions and attitude and evaluating them a little more thoughtfully.

So, I resolve to put my heart into being the best mommy I can be. I’ll re-prioritize my list and make sure cuddles and lap time come before vacuuming, a kind word and gentle touch comes before an impatient or scolding tone of voice, and the reset button in my mind gets pushed whenever I’m feeling resentful when I’m behind on dinner. Because while it’s too easy to put off the unquantifiable part of daily mommy duties, I want my kids to grow up knowing a clean house isn’t the best expression of demonstrating love. Their Daddy and I are the people in charge of showing them how to love and growing them in love. Now, I could really get into that role!

Monday, August 29, 2011

We are not circus performers.

Photo Credit: danilola
A juggler throws up a ball in the air, no problem.  Now adds two, three, four.  We watch in amazement as they manage to keep everything going in smooth simple arcs.  Now someone throws a larger ball into the fray, after a moment where we don’t think they’ll pull it off the juggler manages to keep going without much change in the rhythm.  A second person comes in and this time throws a fragile vase in.  Again, the juggler is able to keep everything in the air, although now the rhythm is getting more frantic.  A small child approaches and begins to ask questions, and talk, and ask for things that take at least one hand to do.  The juggler knows they must keep everything going and tend to the child, so they switch and manage to keep everything going using their head and one hand while helping the child with the other.  Now an adult comes in and needs to talk to the juggler, ask questions that require some thought, and wants to have a full conversation.  All the while the juggler is trying to keep four balls, one large one and a delicate vase in the air while helping a small child. 
London Juggler
Photo Credit: Leon Benjamin

Sound familiar?  It’s what a lot of parents do each day.  Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have another adult who will step in to help the child, take some of the balls out of the air, or even take over juggling all together.   Sometimes we end up dropping something, not being able to help the small child just right then, or aren’t able to talk to the other adult until later.  The problem comes in that we expect ourselves to be able to handle all of that.  Day in and day out we demand, of ourselves, that we juggle all of that and help the people asking us to help them without stopping to consider our own needs.  We also rarely ask someone else to help us.  We expect perfection of ourselves.  The fact is that even the best of us can’t do it all alone.  Sometimes we need to have someone else take over, even just one of the items we’re juggling.  But we often do not ask help.  Whether that’s because we’re afraid or just don’t know how doesn’t matter.  The fact is that we don’t ask for help as much as we should.  Our fears about asking could be because we don’t want to be rejected. We may fear that people will think we are unable to do anything without help.  We worry so much about appearing weak, but asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength.  We worry so much about what others think of us that we can’t bring ourselves to ask for help.  
Photo Credit: Dimitri N.

Sometimes what makes us great parents, what makes us truly great people is not our ability to do it all on our own or juggle everything.  What makes us great is our ability to admit we can’t do it all and to get help.  So next time you’re struggling to juggle everything at once stop and admit you need some help.  See if someone will take one of the things out of the air for you, maybe even two or three.  And maybe see if you've taken too much on and need to step back and let something fall.  Even if that vase breaks, it's just a vase.  Don't expect too much from yourself.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Membership Drive!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing Yourself and Your Baby for the Stages of Labor

You’ve seen the movies and gone to the birthing classes, but what actually happens to your body and mind during labor? Knowing more details about the process can help both you and your baby better prepare and become empowered during this miraculous process.

In stage one, at the early, latent phase, you may be feeling the realization hit that you will be soon holding your child in your arms! If you have had any fears about birthing or about becoming a parent, these may arise here. 
Photo Credit: Amber naralim Ross
You might feel energetic and joyful as you begin the long awaited start of labor but become hindered in excitement with the coming pain. Remember that stage one can be a time for spiritual connection and prayer. You may have planned this time to set candles out, relax with a cup of tea, or say a blessing, but if you become deterred by the pain or flooding emotions it’s perfectly okay. Go with the flow and the moment.

 As the 1st stage progresses into the active phase, you will feel significant changes in your body and mind. Some impediments may include zoning out and blocking out helpful support or suggestions. Some moms becoming angry that their birthing methods are not stopping pain and this anger and physical tenseness could not only increase the intensity and duration of labor, it also adds stress to the baby. Remember to voice your frustrations and your support people can help you overcome them. At this point you may find your significant-other's role changing and transforming to your needs.

At the end of stage one, the transition phase, feelings will increase in intensity. You may feel pain that could cause multiple roadblocks in your emotion and spirit. Know that this intensity is strong but brief. You will be holding your child soon and you have many positive things to focus on. Prepare yourself and your baby for this phase by knowing what transition is really like. You may have the feeling of ‘giving up’ and might even curse your higher power, moan, whine, or blame a loved one. This is the ‘scream’ phase and that’s is completely normal- it’s part of human nature, but know that too much anger here could lead into more tenseness and physically holding your baby inside even though you are so close to the end. Practice your breathing, your visualization, and your trust. Again, this stage, although short, is extremely intense in body, mind and spirit.
Amy in Labor
Photo Credit: wickenden
As the 2nd stage of labor begins, you may be excited that you’ve finally reached the pushing stage, but your exhaustion may hinder your progress. Especially if you didn’t have much rest or fluids, you may feel weak or worn out. The pushing chapter needs you to utilize all the energy you have. Prepare for this by resting when you can, drinking or eating as you need to, and meditating with your little one before you reach the second stage. Remember at the end of this stage you will be holding your child!

Photo Credit: michibanban
Excitement, adoration, love, passionate intensity and relief are some of the many emotions reported by moms at the beginning of the final stage. Your baby is born, but the placenta still needs to be delivered. In the 3rd stage, you may feel emotionally “done” with birthing and do not want to cooperate in body or mind with the afterbirth. Keep in mind that this ‘delivery’ will be less intense and throughout you will most likely be able to hold your precious child. Staring into each others eyes can help you concentrate and relax. Nursing can also help with the delivery; especially if you are still connected via the umbilical cord.  It may surprise you that your baby’s nursing causes painful cramping and contracting in your uterus but this is all for the best! Every pulse helps it shrink back down to the size it should be without a baby inside.

Holding your child in your arms for the first time may be a different experience than you pictured. It is quite possible to be in awe and in shock, touching and looking at the small child that was journeying with you, inside of your body this whole time. Just let the emotions come. Do not set expectations, goals or objectives. This is the magical moment where you live with your primal feelings, enjoy each other and just let it be.
Jill D. Chasse, PhD, MSpsy, MPA, CHt
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sponsor Spotlight!

We recently celebrated our 3rd birthday at My Gym Potomac.  They were kind enough to host us for an hour and a half of fun fun fun!  Here's some more on their great business!

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center of Potomac and Bethesda provide awesome fun fitness classes for kids ages 6 weeks to 13 years. Our structured, age-appropriate, weekly classes incorporate music, dance, relays, games, special rides, gymnastics, sports and other original activities. We maintain an exceptionally low student to teacher ratio; and our extensively trained staff is committed to nurturing children, treating them with understanding and positive reinforcement, maintaining a supportive and noncompetitive atmosphere, and making learning fun and exciting. My Gym kids have loads of fun as they develop strength balance, coordination, fine and gross motor proficiency, agility, flexibility and social skills. The most important benefit the children gain, however, is the building of confidence and self-esteem. We also offer Fun filled birthday parties where your child is the star of the party and we do all the work. We also offer ½ day Camps, Parents Night Out and other fun events.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cheater's baked Crab Ragoon...

It's a known fact that I don't like to fry, I don't even like to cook bacon in the house because it makes the house stink. If I make bacon I make it in the oven, but I guess that's another blog. These Crab Rangoon are baked and I actually lost the original recipe but I generally just throw whatever sounds good in them. Diva likes to help in the kitchen so I let her lay out all the won ton wrappers on parchment for me.

Won ton wrappers
Softened cream cheese
Lump crab meat or even imitation
Worcestershire sauce
Sea sat
White Pepper- ground
green onion- diced, save some for garnish (optional)
Cooking spray- I use the all natural no chemical stuff

I let Diva lay the Won ton wrappers out on parchment paper. While she's doing that (she's three it takes a while, not only that she's particular, if they aren't straight she fixes them) I mix the soften creamed cheese, crab meat, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, pepper and a little green onion if using (I didn't have any on hand) in a bowl. Mix gently so the crab stays in chunks. Set aside. Spray won ton wrappers with a LIGHT coating of cooking spray and place one wrapper cooling spray side UP into each muffin cup, divide crab mixture onto wrappers. I bake until browned at about 350 degrees.
These are not folded over, essentially the wrapper is a little cup and holds the filling.

Submitted by Katherine
{Originally published by Give Peas a Chance on October 17, 2007}

Monday, August 22, 2011

Forum Spotlight: Special Needs

 Do you know we have many wonderful support groups at NorthMetroDCMommies? One of them is just for moms with Children with Special Needs!  If you have a child with special needs and want support, advice or just to vent this is the forum for you!  If you want to know how to help your child understand kids with special needs or if you work with kids and want some advice, come join the discussions or start one.  The moderator, Ilene (DRS_Are_Best) sat down with me to share more information.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Children with Special Needs forum?
This is a place for local Moms to come to talk about how to handle children with “Special Needs”. This includes speech delays, autism, SPD, down's syndrome, or anything else. It's a very supportive group of women who both ask and answer questions for one another. We are some of our most valuable resources – our own experiences. We can help people determine where to start when it comes to a new therapy, we can exchange information about upcoming meetings, we can just listen to each other vent about a bad day, whatever is needed.

How did you first get involved with this forum/NMDCM?
I was actually looking for this forum when I joined NMDCM. I learned that talking to other parents dealing with a child (or children) with autism was more helpful than talking to our doctors. I wanted to listen to what others had done. I wanted to learn what they had to offer. And I felt that I had a fair amount of knowledge and experience to share with the group. Every time I ask a question, someone is always ready to answer me. And I try to do the same for them. When this group was in need of a moderator, I was honored that I was asked.

What do you like most about the Children with Special Needs forum?
The supportive nature of the group. This group involves some very personal and sensitive issues. None of us want to admit that our children are having difficulties. None of us wants to admit that our children are not “typical”. It makes it hard to talk about our concerns. This group is inviting. This group supports everyone who comes in to ask a question. This group epitomizes what a local online support forum should be, in my opinion.

Can you give us an example of the support you have received from this forum?
As my husband and I were preparing for my son's IEP meeting, we had several concerns about his placement. He wasn't progressing as well as his twin sister and I thought his placement may have been a cause of this discrepancy. So, I asked questions of these Moms about what they thought of the programs and of how to address these issues in the meeting itself. I received a great deal of support and helpful advice. And, in the end, I think we were able to make the right decision to best help our child, because I knew what to ask, how to look and how to listen to the answers of the IEP board.

Does this forum have any scheduled events coming up?
No. I have considered arranging for an event, but I'm a bit hesitant. Personally, I don't know these women face-to-face very well (but I would recognize a few of them if I saw them), and I think I find that helpful. The semi-anonymity of this group may actually help us ask some of these questions.

Do you have a favorite event from this forum?
No (see above). But I do like that we share information about upcoming events so we can learn about these areas and the programs that are available to continue helping our kids.

Any tips for moms looking to join this forum?
Just be supportive and open to asking and/or answering questions. We have people who are just learning to cope with a diagnosis, others who have been living this for years, and everything in between. We also have people who don't deal with special needs in their own children, but see it around them and would like to learn how to help. Realize you are entering a community with very sensitive needs and please be respectful. If you accept that, then you are all most welcome!

Thanks Ilene!  Be sure to come over and see what we're talking about and get the support you need!
Friday, August 19, 2011

Country Mouse

I grew up in rugged, isolated environments, and learned early on which spiders I could pick up and which ones I should leave alone. Cities astounded and bewildered me, and it wasn’t until I reached my teens that I began to wonder if I’d missed out by being a country bumpkin. I always envisioned arriving at motherhood in similar surroundings, clucking after a brood of tough, grimy, tree-climbing kids.
Indeed, my twins were born when my ranger husband and I were living in a mountain town of 90 residents at the base of a little known volcanic wilderness. As soon as I could roam again we strapped the little ones into carriers and resumed hiking and exploring together. I held bruised fir needles under my infants’ noses and encouraged them to examine the various types of bark that armored the native trees.

Postcard - Aerial View of Washington, D.C.
Photo Credit: adam79
Imagine my shock when we learned that my husband had been accepted by the park service in DC, and we’d soon be replacing dirt trails for multi-lane freeways! I was nervous on a personal level, but looking forward to reaching beyond my comfort zone—but what about being a mom? Would I be sacrificing my dream of raising children who are at home in nature?

We arrived in Maryland in October of last year, and I was relieved to see how many trees and green spaces have been preserved throughout the urban communities. The transition was made easier after I found the nature centers and park trails abundant in Montgomery County. The variety of cultures, cuisine, and entertainment blew me away. Access to new friends at NMDCM was a bridge to my new life.

Still, the wailing sirens that stream by haven’t yet faded into the background for me. I can feel the concrete pressing in just out of sight of the park boundaries. I miss the wild miles between me and city living. It will take time to fully embrace this change, but it contains many opportunities I’ve not encountered before.

My husband and I are determined to give the best of both worlds to our children. We take them camping, peach picking and creek exploring in the same week they attend story time at the library and play dates at Splash Playground. I find it humorous that the cell phone ringtone is of Grace imitating a siren, and that Noah is obsessed with buses and loves riding the metro. I’m relieved that Grace likes playing in mud and Noah chases ants with his fingertips and notices every bird.

Am I a concerned that neither child is able to fall asleep in our tent without a sleep-inducing car ride? Not really. Does it bother me that my children aren’t free to wander, but must be tightly contained in our tiny common space so they don’t head into the street? A little. Will I get over it? Absolutely.
Kids Camping
Photo Credit: Michael McCullough

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What did you say? Huh?

What Did You Say? Huh?
That is exactly what I said to my DD’s Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist (ENT) when he told me that she needed to have tubes placed in her ears, and have her tonsils and adenoids out. As some of you remember a few months ago I wrote about how I decided not to be a wallflower and pass up her forever lingering cough in the evening (bedtime/naptime) as allergies. 

We went to see an ENT and he performed a whole work up and scheduled another appointment to come and see him in a month to go over his findings. I knew before we left his office that he would be more than likely placing tubes in her ears since she was hearing at a 45 (meaning she had 45% hearing out of 100%). We also left knowing it was more than likely that her Eustachian tubes were being blocked by her adenoids and that they would be removed. When I heard him say that the tonsils were coming out too I did worry a bit. I had been doing some research and realized that the tonsils were very beneficial in helping to protect from infection and bacteria. Once I spoke more with her doctor he assured me that while that is true in young infants, that a child at her age (who also is in daycare and building immunity there) has built up her immunity and to not worry as much. He mentioned how her tonsils were “a tad” large and that they were a bit inflamed, so removing them would benefit her. Her doctor also mentioned that he could leave them in but that he would feel pretty awful in a few years time if we were right back where we were right then and there discussing moving her tonsils because we didn’t remove them when she was three.

The swolen tonsils of Daniel Morris.
Photo Credit: Daniel Morris

The Human Ear
Photo Credit: mitopencourseware
If I didn’t think the blow of finding out my little angel would need surgery was enough, what came next nearly knocked me off my feet. At her initial appointment we had at her ENT we tested her hearing but I was only informed she was hearing at 45%. I had no clue other than the numbers what that meant. While yes I could assume everything sounded like she was under water.  I could bring myself back to when I was a child and would try to have conversations underwater in our family pool with my sister. I never took it much past that. When the audiologist placed the ear phones on my ears and spoke to me at the level my daughter was hearing everything, I choked back tears right there in the sound booth. I luckily was able to hold back the tears till after I dropped her off at daycare and headed to work. I knew right then and there the pain of watching her go through the pain of surgery would be NOTHING compared to the pain she would go through if she couldn’t hear ALL that this world has to offer her.

The planning quickly began and the next few weeks went by so quickly with planning and preparatory appointments to get everything into place for her surgery. Note to all who are about to go through this same surgery with their little ones or take them in general to give blood, watch how tightly you hold your child’s arm. Yes, due to yours truly, my daughter had to be stuck twice with a needle. I held her arm so tight the first go of it that I cut off the circulation and they needed to move to her other arm to get the blood they needed. Another note, Rita’s appears to erase that error if you so do make it as well. Other than the blood draw appointment, all other appointments leading up to the surgery went well. Before we knew it, it was surgery day and thanks to “Curious George Goes To The Hospital,” and many discussions, my daughter was as prepared as we could get her for the surgery. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mommy & Me Tea: flowering teas

Check the calendar for details on our upcoming Mommy & Me tea party!  We'll learn about and make some Bubble Tea!
Friday, August 12, 2011

Last Chance!

The Mommies Network National Auction closes Saturday, August 13, at 10 p.m. EST! There are but a few hours left to place your bids. With more than 600 items, ranging from boutique clothing to autographed books to tickets to Dollywood, there is sure to be something for every taste and budget.

Click on a link below to see what's what in each category!
Amusement Parks, Activities, and Travel
Books, Music, and Games
Children's Clothing
Classes and Lessons
Crafts, Collectibles, and Toys
Decor and Home Items
Fashion and Jewelry
Health and Fitness
Infant Items
Infant/Child Gear
Maternity and Breastfeeding
Party Time
Photography Packages

By bidding on an item, you are helping mommies all over the country! Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from The Mommies Network National Auction will benefit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The remaining portion of the proceeds will go to furthering our mission:

To provide a safe, secure, FREE place for mothers to find support and encouragement from other mothers and to empower them to be better women, parents, and community leaders.

Cooperative Preschool – Right for my Family

“Look at that brown doggie.  Can you say ‘doggie?’  Oops- gentle with the doggie’s ears!”
As parents, we are our children’s first, best teachers.  When your first child was born, do you remember being astonished at how busy your baby was with the important work of learning?  Learning to smile, learning to form a fist, learning to pick something up, learning to drop something (who knew that was a separate skill?), learning to use a pincer grip, learning to feed herself….  Those first few years are full of teaching moments, large and small, at home, at the grocery store, on the sidewalk…  Everywhere you went with your child, your role as a loving teacher was prominent.
When it came time to think about nursery school for my older child, I was excited to give him an opportunity to learn in a group at school, but I was not willing to divest myself of being involved in my son’s day-to-day education.  My family found that a cooperative preschool was the perfect fit: it gave my son, Johnny, an opportunity to grow and learn with other children under the guidance of a professional teacher while providing me the opportunity to be integrally involved in Johnny’s educational experience in a school community that nurtures families as well as children.
A child’s preschool experience can have a lasting impact on his or her life-long educational journey.  One of the keys to a successful pre-Kindergarten educational experience is parental involvement.  All preschools presume some level of parental involvement. The more engaged parents are in their child’s education the more successful the educational experience may be, and this effect can last far beyond the early years.[i] 
Cooperative nursery schools (which are also known as “parent participation preschools”), offer parents the opportunity to fully engage in their child’s first formal educational experience.  Parents are fundamentally involved in all aspects of a cooperative nursery school.[ii]  So, for example, at our school, every classroom every day has a parent helper.  Parents get to know all the children in the classroom deeply.  We develop a sense of shared responsibility to each others’ children, and our children learn that they are nurtured by a wide variety of adults.  Parents set school policies regarding everything from snacks to class size, and parent input is valued in every aspect of the school.  Our cooperative nursery school allows parents the opportunity to directly influence how the school impacts their children.  The end result is a nurturing, caring preschool environment, where both children and parents feel valued.
Cooperative nursery schools not only offer children a higher level of family support during a critical transition from early home learning to more formal education in a school setting, but also help fathers to engage with their children at the start of their educational journey, in a way that sets patterns for years to come.  Researchers at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) have documented that fathers whose children are enrolled in cooperative preschools find social support for being positively involved with their children, and build “networks of like-minded men.” [iii] Similarly, in the 2011 Harvard Family Research Project, Holly Kreider reported
…parents who were involved in early childhood programs read to their children more, were more likely to visit their children’s kindergarten classrooms, and were more likely to network with other parents than those not involved in early childhood programs.[iv]
Cooperative nursery schools offer families the opportunity to find like-minded families who together focus on creating a nurturing, educational environment both at home and at school.  Working in our children’s classrooms and helping to manage the school in ways large and small helps us as parents show our children how much we value their education.  The effects of attending a cooperative preschool linger long beyond those brief first years in both friendships formed and familial habits of engaging in children’s education.
Guest bloggers Christine Borger and Kay Berglund Newhouse together are parents, board members, and friends at Rockville Community Nursery School(RCNS) in Rockville, Maryland.  Like other co-ops, RCNS is founded on parental involvement, with the goal of helping children realize their full potential in a nurturing, creative environment.

[i] Miedel, W. T., & Reynolds, A. J. (1999).  Parent involvement in early intervention for disadvantaged children:  Does it matter?  Journal of School Psychology, 37(4), 379-99;  Marcon, R.A. (1999). Positive relationships between parent school involvement and public school inner-city preschoolers' development and academic performance. School Psychology Review, 28, 395-412.
[ii] See
[iii] Hewes, Dorothy W. “The Changing Role of Fathers in Co-op Nursery Schools.” Paper presented at the Annual Conference and Exhibition of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (Washington, DC, November 29-December 2, 1995
[iv] Kreider, Holly “Getting Parents ‘Ready’ for Kindergarten:  The Role of Early Childhood Education” (Amherst, MA:  Harvard Family Research Project. Retrieved July 23, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Buttermilk Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I made some cheesecake for Cherry Cheesecake bombs and I had some filling leftover.  I decided to make this AMAZING ice cream. I decided to use a buttermilk base and it was perfect the tang from the buttermilk with the cheesecake bites- PERFECT. I'm really enjoying being "back" in the kitchen lately and experimenting and coming up with fun things to try. 
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla paste/1vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar, I used Vanilla Bean Specialty Sugar - you can use a cup, I just don't prefer things overly sweet
2 cups buttermilk
Maraschino cherries roughly chopped(with some juice reserved)
Vanilla bean cheesecake chunks  (I'll post that recipe soon also)
Graham cracker pieces- I gave the girls the option of graham crackers or oreos. They chose graham- I'm glad

Freeze the cherries and cheesecake in a single layer.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
In a heavy bottom sauce pan stir the vanilla into the heavy cream. Bring it to a simmer.
Temper the cream and yolk mixture. I can't stress this enough. Be patient unless you want scrambled eggs. To temper add a little bit of cream to the yolk mixture and stir it. Add a little more and repeat to bring the yolks up to temperature and then add all the yolk mixture to the cream.

I put some cherry juice into the buttermilk. Stir it up and add it to the cream mixture. Transfer to a container and cool in the refrigerator.

Follow the instructions for your ice cream/gellato maker. Right before it's done stir in the yummy goodness that's in the freezer along with the graham crackers. Transfer it all to a container and finish freezing it.
Can it get any easier?

Submitted by Katherine
{Originally published by Give Peas a Chance on May 20, 2010}
Monday, August 8, 2011

Building Community- an ever evolving process!

My husband and I both moved to Maryland from other places.  He moved here for an amazing opportunity to work at a world-class research facility.  I moved here for a great opportunity in the Biotech industry.  We thought we had everything we needed.  We traveled a lot, spent time with work friends, went out to dinner and to parties and movies, read books, explored local culture and began renovating our house.  We had plenty of things to keep us busy.  So why did this existence feel so empty sometimes?  
build community
Photo Credit: wizchickenonabun
After many soul-searching discussions, we decided that what we were really missing was a sense of community here in Maryland.  It's something that you kind of automatically feel when you're living near where you grew up or if you're with friends at college.  But when you're all on your own in a new place, it can be hard to regain that feeling of connectedness and warmth with a new set of people.  We realized that neither of us wanted to socialize too much with work friends, since we were already spending forty or more hours every week with those people.  So we decided to look elsewhere.  We found a dinner group that rotated around to people's houses for themed dinners.  Having dinner with complete strangers was a bit out of our comfort zone, but it ended up being a wonderful experience.  We met some very interesting people who became very good friends to us.  We started to do other fun things with this group besides going to dinner.  Right around this same time, we also found a wonderfully supportive church community that became a big part of our lives.
But after about a year or so, that same empty feeling started to creep in again.  We started the soul-searching process once again and finally decided it was time to have kids.  We both knew we wanted them, we were well established in our marriage and the time just seemed right for us.  After having our first child, I began the rough transition to being a stay-at-home Mom.  I was where I wanted to be, but the reality was that staying home with an infant was very lonely and isolating.  Nobody else I knew was at exactly this same place in life, so I began searching for a Mom's group to fill the void.  That's when I found a The Mommies Network (TMN) group called Frederick Mommies and a local Attachment Parenting support group.  The women I've met through those groups have become lifelong friends.  More recently, I've become more involved with NorthMetroDC Mommies, in an effort to connect to Moms closer to where I live.  In just a few months of involvement, I've already found some wonderful new friends and playmates for my kids.  And I've felt like my support has helped others along the way, too.  I'm not sure where I'd be without TMN and the wonderful women I've met here.
laughing mom friends
Photo Credit: Lori
Our community has grown and evolved several times since we moved to Maryland, but it continues to grow richer and more meaningful to us as the years pass.  I’m sure we will go through many more transitions, adding some new friends to our community and growing more distant from others.  I strongly believe that certain people appear in your life to help you get through specific challenges or to remind you of what’s important.   I encourage others to reach out beyond their comfort zones in search of community.  You never know what amazing relationships are out there just waiting to be cultivated!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The National Auction has Arrived!

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a community to support a mother and to provide her with the resources, encouragement, and opportunities necessary for her to be her best. With more than 90 local chapters and a national site that reaches all moms, The Mommies Network provides that community.

We are a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a safe, secure, FREE place for mothers to find support and encouragement from other mothers and to empower them to be better women, parents, and community leaders. Our philosophy is that no one should have to pay a fee to make a friend, so we offer free membership to any mother within the community who wishes to join. Members gain camaraderie and support through an online forum that is available 24 hours a day, as well as local events where mothers can meet and develop friendships that last a lifetime.

This August, The Mommies Network is hosting our second annual National Auction and will donate 25 percent of the funds raised to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a national network of volunteer photographers who "introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture … [to] serve as an important step in the family's healing process by honoring their child's legacy." The remaining 75 percent of funds raised will be used to further the mission of TMN to provide support to moms across the country.

We believe that by working together, mothers can change the world — one family, one neighborhood, one community at a time. The Mommies Network is a connecting force, helping us each to make a difference in our own lives, in our families, and in the places we call home.
Friday, August 5, 2011

Mrs. X on potty training

Dear Mrs. X,

It's almost time to potty train. I've been reading a lot of how-to material and still haven't come across the answer to my second biggest fear (the first one is that I'll still be diapering a 5 year old if this doesn't take).

How do I train without ending up with puddles or worse all over the carpet? Do regular undies really keep the leaks under wraps? I had envisioned a marathon of going baby commando in the great outdoors, but it's not possible with apt. style living. Please help!

Crying Over Spilt Nappies

Dear Spilt Nappies;
Oh the fun we all undertake when we attempt to potty train!  I’ll be happy to ease your first fear- unless they have an underlying condition that prevents them from it, all children potty train.  How often do you see a five year old in diapers?

On to your main concerns!  It is difficult to avoid accidents, as a popular potty training video sings “accidents happen!”.  This is, sadly, simply a part of a child learning to know their bodily functions, the cues to them, and what to do about them.  I have myself dealt with puddles and the occasional pile on various surfaces (including my foot, but we won’t get into that).  There are many remarkable products on the market designed to clean up all those messes.  You can invest in a small carpet spot cleaner or you can do what I have heard of some intrepid parents doing; covering the floors in disposable pads, carpet remnants or even plastic drop cloths!  If you have a particular furniture item you do not want “baptized” in that way then do not allow the child to sit on it when not in something absorbent. 

Regular undies do not really contain leaks, unless they are the trainer variety which just absorb a bit more of the leak.  Think of your own undies for a moment, would you trust them to contain leaks?  What if they had an added layer or two?  You can still have your vision of commando in the great outdoors with some ingenuity.  Do you have a deck or small porch?  What about a friend who is willing to have you over for extended visits?  If you have a kitchen or bath area that are uncarpeted you can certainly bring some washable toys in, barricade it and allow your little one to go bottomless.

The main advice I would like to leave you with is to watch your child for being ready and to learn their cues.  If you get resistance to potty training then your child isn’t ready yet.  Start slow, present the potty for the darling to explore without any expectations.  Read books to them and allow a video or two. But most of all, be patient.  It will happen eventually.

 Have a question or issue you'd like help with?  Write to Mrs. X to get answers! 
Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sponsor Spotlight!

Remember the great potluck picnic we had?  That was at a great school called Jefferson Montessori. They were kind enough to donate the use of that wonderful space for our use!

 Since 1982, The Jefferson Montessori School has provided and exceptional early childhood education for children 18 months to 6years of age within a welcoming and diverse community.  Here children thrive, families find friendship and faculty flourishes.  Jefferson is accredited by the American Montessori Society and approved under the non-public school branch of the state of Maryland.
Thank you Jefferson for your support!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Upper Montgomery County Mommies

 Do you know we have many wonderful support groups at NorthMetroDCMommies? One of them is just for moms in Upper Montgomery County!  If you live in Upper Montgomery County you can join the group to get local business reviews, talk about the local schools, find out about all the great parks, or set up meet ups with moms local to you.  The moderator, Traci (izzysmom7) sat down with me to share more information.

Can you tell us a little about the Upper Montgomery Mommies forum? The Upper Montgomery Mommies is a private forum made up of members who live in Upper Montgomery County, specifically Germantown, Damascus, Poolesville, Laytonsville, Boyds, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village areas. We have discussions about events, restaurants, parks, schools, daycare centers, stores, shopping centers, sales, activities, and basically anything going on in Upper Montgomery County.

How did you first get involved with this forum/NMDCM? I wanted to find a moms group that was more local than just Maryland and had activities and members that lived right by me as well. Another currently active member told me about NMDCM. As soon as I joined I felt very welcomed. Soon there after, since I love to plan events I became the Events Manager. I held that position for about a year and then went back to work full time and chose to step down. The position of Upper Montgomery Mommies Moderator became available and I decided to take it since I missed being part of the management team but this allowed me to do that at a more manageable level.

What do you like most about the Upper Montgomery Mommies forum? I like to check in and see what other members are up to, places they recommend to check out. I also love being the moderator because I'm able to check our list of new members and then personally welcome (via Private Messagess) those members who are from Upper Montgomery County.

Can you give an example of the support you have received from the forum? When I was looking to go back to work full time I would go to the forum to see how others rated daycare centers in Upper Montgomery County. Then when I excepted my current position I leaned on the other members in the forum for advice on daycare centers that we were looking at. I also received wonderful advice when our daughter started to have some difficulty with allergies I asked other members for advice on finding Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists as well as Allergists in our area.

Does this forum have any scheduled events coming up? Nothing directly scheduled and only posted in the forum. Many of our upcoming group wide activities will be taking place in Upper Montgomery County. I try to make sure I promote the bigger events either in the Events forum under the thread for that event or when I'm sending out welcome letters I promote our new members to join us at those events.

Do you have a favorite event from this forum? Since our forum doesn't directly plan events, I just promote the members from this forum to come to our group wide events, I will just go with my favorite events thus far since I've been a member of NMDCM and that took place in Upper Montgomery County. That event would have to be our tour at CPK (California Pizza Kitchen). It was a huge turnout, huge success, and everyone had a wonderful time!!!

Any tips for moms looking to join this forum? Since it is a private forum you do have to ask for be approved to join the forum. To do so you can click on Usergroups up top of the main forums page. Then click on the pull down and select Upper Montgomery Mommies and ask to join. I will receive an email that you are interested and then add you to the group. Or, you can PM me and I will just go in and add you to the forum. Once you have been approved and are part of the group, jump right in and start posting!!! smile

Thanks Traci!  If you're a mom in Upper Montgomery County be sure to log in today and join.  If you haven't registered yet, come join in and check out all the fun!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The National Auction is Coming! Want a Sneak Peek?

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