Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

I wanna be THIS mom!   7 comments

Every so often I’m searching the web, or lately Pinterest, and I see a blog belonging to a mom I totally envy. She is just SO cool! Her site makes it look like every day her children wake up to a perfect nutritious breakfast followed by a day of stimulating age appropriate activities. Of course they will then have a nutritional lunch and a perfectly timed, restful nap. Then some other educational outing only to come home to another delicious toddler friendly meal, bath and bed. Sigh…. this is no mompetition, this is mom envy.

I wanna be that mom. If I had a full time housekeeper, personal shopper and no part time job or outside interests I could probably pull it off! Alas, real life sets in. I do have to work, clean my house and I think it’s probably healthy that I do the occasional thing for myself, not to mention my husband. But I still wanna be that perfect mom.

And sometimes I feel like I’ve dropped the ball. I know in my head I’ll be pretty cool with the crafts, story telling and awesome art ideas when she gets a little older. She’s probably just still a little young to learn hieroglyphics or make paper. But then I’ll see these awesome posts about things to do with your 8 month old, 1 year old or 18 month and I think “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Don’t get me wrong, we do cool stuff. I’m really good at finding really fun outings and fun places to go. I let her run all over and explore. I don’t mind her getting dirty… I’m cool like that. But I feel like I could be doing more sensory and creative play at home. I just sometimes get so wrapped up in my “to do” list that when we are home I don’t think outside of the box of what she could be doing besides the usual.

The other week I was really desperate… I needed 20 minutes to finish something for work. LA was getting bored and I just wanted to be done so I could play with her and start dinner. So I grabbed a muffin pan, put a towel down and filled cups with some water and her Elmo foam soap. Then I gave her a spoon and straw and her her go at it.

She had a blast!

… and bonus was I got done AND got dinner started before she was bored with the activity. I even had time to sit down and play too!

SO with that in mind I’m making two resolutions (I know it’s late for them but I can do what I want!), the other resolution will be in another blog.

This resolution is that every week I will do at least ONE cool toddler activity like the ones on Pinterest or my favorite Mom Envy blogs.

Here is the link to my Pinterest board where I’ve been posting ideas in case you want some for yourself. Also, here are some blogs I love Lasso the Moon, Play Create and Explore, and Play At Home Mom.

I’ll then blog about how it went and if it worked.

With this in mind I already let her help “wash the dishes”… We really need a learning tower but she basically played with bubbles and water while I did the real dishes. I gave her a cookie sheet to scrub but she wasn’t interested… she did have a blast and I got the kitchen clean. I’m liking this idea already ūüôā

PS that is the first outfit she’s every demanded to wear. Normally she only cares about her accessories…. but that day she wanted to wear her swimsuit/gym outfit ūüôā

….pss if a week goes by without a post I need you all to nag me. Seriously… I need naggers ūüôā


Ok one more…   Leave a comment

… seriously, we’re behind Pakistan!!!

Posted May 26, 2012 by etainl in Culture, Education, Stay at Home Mom

This is what moms should be fighting about   2 comments

Still up on my soapbox, last one for a while, promise. I’ve already written about Mompetition¬†and how Time Life thinks we are in Mommy Wars (or they are trying to start one) let me tell you now what I think we SHOULD be fighting FOR.

So not to be all preachy but there are some things I feel that should cause us to start Mommy Wars, Moms vs the system.¬†There are things that should change to make things better for ourselves and our children, especially our daughters who will be dealing with this same nonsense in 20+ years (40+ years if LA’s Daddy has anything to say about it lol)

Since I’m still up on my soap box let me tell you some things I think we should fight to change.

First of all Americans seem to think that because we are one of the biggest and the richest countries that automatically makes us the best in everything. This fascinating study¬†appeared in the LA Times last week¬†concerning the ranking of the United States in regards to women and children’s issues this week. This study places us at 25th place for best places for a woman to live and 31st for the best places to be a child. That is unbelievable to me!¬†I am amazed by the fact that it has not been picked up by the media. I would think that argueably one of the greatest/richest countries in the world being ranked so low for such important issues would be news. But then again I always am amazed at the power of denial in America. Since this study wasn’t done by us the ethnocentric thinking would be that it doesn’t “count.”

This is not the first study of its kind that has come out. I remember when I was pregnant the World Health Organization came out with a similar study that placed us even lower. We actually rose 6 places this year… impressive.

What amazes me is that many of the items we were marked down on could be easily fixed if we simply recognized that there were problems.

The US was ranked poorly because of these things- Mothers Mortality Rate (1 in 2,100 risk pregnancy related death, the worst of any industrialized nation), High Infant Mortality Rate (ranked 41st), poor education concerning prenatal care, labor and breastfeeding, relatively low political status and benefits for maternity leave for women the fact that the US is one of the few countries that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave.

Now the benefits for women with regards to maternity leave is huge. I totally believe that women should be given at least minimal paid maternity leave. I still remember a former boss of mine saying in regards to a discussion on if a coworker should receive a bonus the rest of the teachers had because she was on maternity leave “Well, she shouldn’t get the bonus… she already has her reward.” ¬†Of course she has her reward, what is better than a baby… but really? Not receive the bonus? Because babies come with a financial gift as well and have no costs attached? But that seems to be the attitude from the system. Just get back to work faster. No one is giving any credit to the fact that these babies are our future work force if nothing else and there are countless benefits for a woman to be able to stay home and develop a healthyrelationship not to mention¬†attachment¬†to their child. It benefits us all to have our country peopled by healthy well adjusted adults.

Concerning the mother mortality rate I am often appalled by the attitude of women going in to have their children. I am shocked that it is so very high in this country. I had no idea. But I do feel if we better educated ourselves we would all fare better. So many women are completely uneducated about the process of birth or what happens during a medical or non medical birth. Even before I became pregnant I educated myself ¬†concerning what would happen to my body and what I could expect. ¬†Recently I saw a woman I know on Facebook ask “Should I even bother going to the birth class or is it a waste of time?” Another woman posted, “Why bother? Just get the drugs and do what the doctor says… after all, they are the ones who went to school for this.”

There are so many things about that statement that made me angry. First of all, this is a miraculous thing that you are doing… you really have no interest in even knowing what is going on? And two, yes Doctors went to medical school but that doesn’t make them gods.

I know women who have spent more time researching what type of shoes to buy and where to get a good deal on them versus what is best for them and their child regarding birth!

And that’s the thing, when we decided to have LA in a birth center my husband and I both received all sorts of push back. I was being irresponsible to not have my baby in a hospital where “babies were meant to be born.” I even had one person tell me that I was recklessly endangering myself and my child so I could prove I was superwoman. Which is ridiculous. My birth center was less than five minutes from a hospital and I was just as safe there. Actually according to recent studies on infection and other issues I was safer at the birth center than the hospital. Most women are. There are countless studies that home birth or birth center births are safer for women than hospitals. They are certainly cheaper. My birth cost around 6000 vs the minimal 15-20k required at a hospital birth (and that’s if I didn’t have medication or other procedures).

There is a reason for insurance companies and hospitals to push the myth that having your baby there is the best, “Safest” decision…. it’s big business. There are also countless studies showing how much money birth rakes in yearly. It’s astounding, but not so much when you do the math. Half of the population is likely to give birth at least once… they get a ton of money each time we check in and it’s relatively quick and easy for them.

Now, does this mean I am saying that all doctors are evil and hospital births are wrong? Of course not. Doctors and hospitals are lifesavers for women who have complications or children who need more. Births that have problems. But that is the rarity not the norm.

If a woman feels more comfortable birthing in a hospital that is her choice too but my point is it should be a choice made by women who are educated. Not just because “that is how things are done.” I know some of my friends who were just more comfortable there or who wanted drugs, which are unavailable at a birth center. Which is great. That is what is best for them as long as they made it for a reason and not because they didn’t know about other options.

Here we are right after LA was born in our birth center

I also know a girl who was pushed into a birth center birth by her parents because it was cheaper. That isn’t right in my opinion either. A woman should be able to choose how she gives birth as long as she is being safe considering the needs of her pregnancy.

Ok, so say that most women still want to be in a hospital because they feel safer there or because they want that epidural. Fine too. But still be educated about it.

For example most women don’t know that getting that epidural in most cases will slow labor down. Many women don’t know (until after) that it will not block all pain. They do not know that the more they up the epidural the more pitocin will be used to speed things up. The more pitocin is used the more pain they will feel because the contractions are becoming more intense artificially. This will often put a strain on the baby and can lead to a¬†Cesarean. The Cesarean is labeled necessary and maybe it is now but only because of the steps that led to it.

By the way here is a fascinating article on pitocin…. it has the actual instructions and warning label from the manufacterer. Did you know that it says it is not to be used for induction unless the induction is medically necessary? Did you know that it increases the risk of post partum hemoragging or a pelvic hematoma? … the makers of pitocin don’t even recommend it be used unless necessary. So why is it used in nearly every single hospital birth? It’s become standard to hurry births along.

Pitocin can be used to save lives and is so important. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessary for every birth!

There are countless US studies that induction and pitocin will lead to Ceasarians. And no matter how normal Ceasarians have become in this country they are a major surgery that can cost the lives of women…. hence our mortality rate (or part of it).

The World Health Organization estimates that necessary C sections should be around 10-15 percent maximum. In the US it hovers between 30 and 50 percent depending on region. There are several US studies concerning how most C sections are done in the hour before a shift change. Do women really think it’s coincidental that the C section becomes medically necessary right before it’s time for Drs to go home…. or is it just for convenience?

If you didn’t have information about pitocin, epidurals, C sections etc a Dr coming in and telling you that a C section was necessary would just scare you. You want to protect your baby, naturally, so you agree. But you don’t ask questions that could show that you don’t need that C section.

Again, I’m not saying Dr’s are evil…. even the Dr’s who do this. They have been taught that this is the way to go. Our country has seen so many lawsuits and so many things about convenience that this is the easiest way. But it does not mean it is the best way.

1000 years ago the most modern medical advice was that bleeding was good for everything. I feel like in the next decade the way births are rushed and treated to a one size fits all standard will be looked down on.

Also, I trust my Doctor. I love my doctor. But I intereviewed doctors before getting this one. A lot of women just go in and take the first doctor given to them. Doctors differ. Some have different techniques and different methods. Some are better than others. Some have different views.

Another thing I heard when having natural birth with LA was that doctors were more educated than I was so why did I think I was smarter than they were. I don’t. I am not more educated or more qualified than doctors. But I recognize that since all doctors differ I want to find one that agrees with how I feel. One who has read the same studies I have and who supports what I feel is best for me. If I was buying a car I wouldn’t say “Well all cars go so I will just get the first car I see and it will be right for me.” I would research and make a choice.

Induction is another issue that leads to C section. There are reasons that induction is necessary but it has become something done all too frequently. There are study after study that shows that even one week in the womb can finish off a child’s lungs or can cause them to have asthma or other issues because they weren’t ready. But in this country induction happens all the time. A due date is a best guess. Unless you only had sex once you do not know when your child was conceieved. Even if you only had sex once there is a 3 day window of when conception happened… so you can’t be sure. But in the US it’s become norm to induce the day of due date or the day after.

Obviously there are times this is necessary… but it’s become a real elective thing.

I know of women who were offered induction a week before their due date or on their due date… “just so you can see that baby sooner”… no medical reasoning behind that. Inductions usually lead to C sections…. most women don’t seem to know that.

I feel like I’m a bit all over the place but so many interesting articles and studies came out in the last few weeks. And it amazes me that they aren’t talked about at all, especially in comparison to that stupid Time Life cover, which just makes people argue. We should be full of¬†righteous¬†indignation¬†rather than arguing over “How old is too old too breastfeed?”

Again, I’m not saying that I’m against inductions, doctors, C sections, making the choice for an epidural, hospitals or anything…. but I truly believe women need to be empowered and choose the birth that is best for them. Not some cookie cutter idea of what is most convenient for the doctor… or doing it just because this is the way it’s done. Every woman is unique and her birth should be too.

If more women were educated and doctors recognized that births don’t usually have to be sped up or kept to a timetable then we wouldn’t be ranked 24. While I was working on this blog I came across this new article from Consumer Report about 10 procedures that women should reject regarding labor and delivery. It’s awesome. ¬†I could probably have skipped writing this post altogether and just cut and pasted this article here because it says what I’m trying to say… and better. But here is the first paragraph…

“Despite a health-care system that outspends those in the rest of the world, infants and mothers fare worse in the U.S. than in many other industrialized nations. The infant mortality rate in Canada is 25 percent lower than it is in the U.S.; the Japanese rate, more than 60 percent lower. According to the World Health Organization, America ranks behind 41 other countries in preventing mothers from dying during childbirth.”¬†

I mean, just the fact that we are so poorly ranked should take some of the god like status away from doctors and hospitals.

It just amazes me that there are all these studies that, to me, seem like a big deal. But they don’t get the coverage of other stories. They are not by fringe media or dubious sources they are legit, though non American, organizations. Why don’t they get coverage? Well, I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I believe they don’t get coverage because the insurance and pharmaceutical companies are big business and they put pressure to keep them away.

I recently read a study by the World Health Organization that showed a direct link to the number of vaccines given before age 2 and SIDS. The more vaccines given before age 2 the higher the risk of SIDS. This accounts also for the infant mortality rate in the US. We have a huge number (percentage not actual number) of SIDS versus other industrialized countries. We also give more vaccines before the age of 2 than any other country.

Again, I’m not saying vaccines are bad. But when we were kids we were given about 9 shots for 3 diseases before the age of 6. In 2012 if a parent followed the CDC guideline their child would receive 49 doses of 6 different vaccines before the age of 6. Out of all European countries we give the most vaccines before the age of 2 and more doses than anyone else. All other European countries have the same levels of outbreaks and deaths that we do. So why do we give more when it seems there is no benefit? Especially when new studies are showing it may increase our SIDS rate?

If a parent agrees with the CDC that the benefits outweighs the risks than go forward. Even my Dr, a mainstream pediatrician, doesn’t agree with the CDC schedule and he’s not the only one. There are countless alternative schedules because people are different. We feel most comfortable with the schedule on and we aren’t even doing all of the shots on that recommended schedule.

Also, please realize I’m not criticizing any other mother’s choice. I understand why moms are more comfortable with all the vaccines. But I’m not and that should be respected too. LA will get some vaccines, but not the whole CDC list and not until she’s over two. I actually have wanted to post a bit about vaccines before but I’m afraid. It is not something I even talk about regularly with my friends. Because I feel that I will be judged. I had one person tell me it was child abuse. The other side of things is that I don’t want my friends to feel I’m judging them if they get all vaccines. I understand why you’d choose to do that as well. But I shouldn’t be afraid of judgment if I feel good about my decision. And hopefully those that know me understand that I believe that we all make our own best decisions and I don’t judge others.

While women ranked 24 in the above study children ranked 31. The US is ranked 31 best/worst place for a child to grow up. That was based on access to pre school, nutrition and mortality rate. As I mentioned we have one of the highest mortality rates for children of any industrialized nation.

So let me get off my soap box for a minute… but the point of this blog is that studies like that scare me. Especially when so many people put blind faith in our system. That is my point… there is a purpose to hospitals and doctors and vaccines… but not a one size fits all purpose. And when we try to impose a one size fits all mentality to something as unique and individualized as health care we get results like the ones in the study.

This is what we mommy’s should be going to war about. This is what we should be fighting for….

Oh and after I wrote this whole thing one of my friends posted the awesome blog below about what she feels Mommy Wars should be fought about… and she’s totally right too! We have so many more things to fight for than who does it better!

I feel like I just gave you all a whole bunch of information to study and read ūüôā …. go forth and do your reading! There will be a quiz on Friday! (The teacher in me pokes her head out and grins!)

Posted May 19, 2012 by etainl in Culture, Education, Hippie Mommy, Mommy-hood

Thank you Time Life   8 comments

…. that is said both with gratitude and some sarcasm.

The cover has stirred up all sorts of issues. I feel like Time was trying to encourage this “Mommy war” that the media is always talking about. ¬†A lot of moms buy into the Mommy Wars which is evidenced by the comments regarding the cover, not even the whole article. Comments about how extended breastfeeding is sick and child abuse. Others say the picture is pornographic and that the woman is damaging her son, who incidentally is only three. I feel Time chose a very mature looking three year old to make it looks even more extreme.

I would guarantee that the women making those negative comments have not done ANY research concerning the long term benefits of extended breastfeeding. There certainly is a lot of it. ¬†LA still nurses at 20 months. For us this works. In my mind I have that we will start weaning around two years old… we are just about to start night weaning. For many of my friends this is way too late for their comfort level. For others I know this is too soon. But this is what works for us and it is, frankly, no one else’s business.

Many of my friends have told horror stories about friends and family bullying them to stop nursing, as early as 6 months. They push formula or mock them, they tell them they will spoil their child etc. I suppose I am lucky to have friends and family who have not done this to me. Although I have a friend who says I’m just so outspoken that if someone tried that I’d just dump a load of information on them to shut them up… this too is possible.

I do have one friend who messages me about every other month to ask if I’m still breastfeeding. There is no chatty email that this comes up in conversation. I’ll simply get an email that says “Are you still breastfeeding?” I’ll write back, “How are you? blah blah blah… yes we are. Things are going well.” I will get a reply that ignores all my pleasantries and says, “When are you planning on stopping?” It just makes me laugh although I’m aware she is expressing some sort of morbid curiosity or disapproval.

I suppose if I think about if I’ve received some disapproval of the fact that LA slept in our room until she was 1. I know a couple people who made negative comments that we didn’t sleep train or that I still fed her at night for comfort. But most of my friends respect my decisions, or at least keep harsh opinions to themselves. I don’t mind opinions or questions… just the ones aimed at making me feel bad. ¬†And some of the negative comments I’ve received have been both sides… for example some of my parents who co sleep made negative comments that we did not and those that did cribs from day one were not approving of how we kept her in our room. I definitely received some comments from people regarding our decision for LA to be born in a birth center. Two that stand out are “Babies were meant to be born in a hospital” (which made me laugh because they only have been born in hospitals for the last 90 years, before that hospitals were pretty much where you went to die) and “Are you trying to prove something?”
You can’t please everyone… and that’s fine.

Even before this cover came out I was going to write a post about all these different labels we have for mamas- Tiger Mothers, French Mothers, Attachment Parenting,¬†Disciplinarian, Baby Whispering… I’m sure there are others. Why do we have to label each other? I doubt anyone is 100% any one type.

I would say I ascribe to many Attachment parenting philosophies but after reading an article on French mothering I do many things, especially in regard to discipline, that they do… but again not all. When we label we have to pick. And when we pick one it seems none of us are mature enough to stop putting the others down. And there are things I do that aren’t any particular “thing” that I’m aware of.

Parenting is unique. No two sets of parents will ever do the exact same thing, even if they ascribe to the same parenting style. There are many types of parenting styles. All of this will combine into various type of people… which is the point. None of us are the same. We are all different but different doesn’t mean that one way is necessarily better. It may be better for one mom, but totally wrong for another. ¬†Unless abuse or neglect is going on and the parent has made the decision out of love and the best interest of their child (rather than intimidation, ignorance or¬†coercion) there is no wrong decision!

For example, I know one mom who told me that she “couldn’t handle” her child getting up once or twice a night to feed still at a year like LA did. But her child got up at 6 am every morning, something I personally couldn’t handle. I far preferred getting up once or twice for 10 minutes a piece with the exchange of sleeping until 8 or 9 every morning. It’s all about what works for each individual family.

It’s not to say we don’t judge ever. We make our parenting decisions because we feel they are the right ones, so we have our reasons why we think the alternatives are not as good. And it’s natural to be defensive of what we are doing… because we are all doing our best. But we can keep in mind that other parents are doing their best too. And we can make choices about how we treat others. Even when I strongly disagree with what someone else does I remind myself “I will do my best not to make another parent feel bad about their parenting decisions.”

Because there are other factors in every family and what works for one does not work for another.

The only complaint I have about many parents I meet is educating themselves. I do tend to be hard on parents (and I should not be but I’m working on that) who do not educate themselves before making parenting decisions. I suppose also I’m hard on parents who know the benefits but don’t care because of convenience or other small things… but I suppose that goes back to what I said that no decision made from love can be wrong.

And as I said before I thank Time for making this a topic of conversation. Because when a topic becomes conversation usually some level of education is achieved. Based on what I’ve read of the article, the title and the picture I feel they were trying to sensationalize Attatchment parenting… the stranger it looks the better for their sales. I can only hope some mothers will read the article and takes what works for them and leaves the rest.

I’m annoyed with Time because I feel the whole idea of encouraging Mommy wars, especially the idea of “Are you mom enough?” is trying to pit us against each other. I’m about to post a blog post concerning recent ratings of the US in regards to womens health issues. If they keep us fighting each other we will never turn around and fight to improve things for ourselves and our children…. which is what we should be doing!

A friend of mine recently posted the following quote on her page. I don’t know where it comes from but I think it is perfect…

“Motherhood is — should be — a village, where we explore each other’s choices, learn from them, respect them, and then go off and make our own.”¬†

I wish we could all remember this….






Total side note… when I went on Pinterest to find the “Are you mom enough” response I had to search for it. A ton of pins of the original cover came up… most of the comments were “Wtf” “What is wrong with this woman?” and “Someone should go get that child a glass of real milk.” The last is my favorite because she clearly doesn’t know that mothers milk is far more nutritious than cows milk.

Personally I’m aiming to have LA weaned around 2 because that is where I am comfortable. To be totally honest the idea of nursing a child who could be in pre school or kindergarten makes me very uncomfortable. But that is my issue and my feelings and I wouldn’t impose them on anyone… and I wouldn’t make horrible comments on pictures judging that mom. I don’t do formula, and while I realize it has a purpose and is a blessing for women who need it I do not like that some women just choose it, not out of necessity, but because they want to keep perky breasts or can’t be bothered etc… however I don’t make nasty comments on pictures of children eating it from bottles. Even though I don’t feel it’s the best choice I leave that mother to parent her own child and am infinitely glad that the child is being fed and loved… even if it’s not how I would do it.

And that’s my point… it may not be how we would do it but it’s love and care and that is what counts!

PS Moments after posting this I saw this great article about how breastfeeding to 3 and above is anthropologically beneficial… and how in most of the world, the US excluded, it is the norm.

The Writing Class- Part two   4 comments

Does it surprise anyone that I have slacked a bit?

I tried, I really did. But the past month has been C-A-RA-Z-EEEEE (crazy! lol). LA was sick, I fell super behind in everything…. so I was a bit late submitting my pages to my writing instructor for critiquing.

I wasn’t super worried about it because he hadn’t forwarded me anyone elses work so I figured it was ok. Turns out it wasn’t. I had missed the deadline (even though he had never told me there was a deadline) and he hadn’t sent me work because he assumed I wasn’t participating. Which was very irritating because I paid for the course, why would I not participate?

I wrote back and asked him to tell me when the deadline was for future reference and if he could send me the other students work so I could read it. He never responded.

I tried to contact the main person to find out if I could skip this weeks course and add one on at the end of the class (same amount of classes for what I paid). Her response was to come to class to talk about it…. which seems strange since I was asking if I could skip it.

So when I get there I get the distinct impression that she is there to “handle” me… she offers to refund my money if the course wasn’t working for me etc. I said that the class wasn’t exactly what I expected but I wanted to stay and was ok with it. I had only been curious if I could miss this week and add an additional week on to my time. She explained that there were not extra courses.. so I said fine. I was surprised she was there as my question was simple and I wasn’t trying to make a stink…. I just figured if I had nothing to critique for others and nothing of my own to critique I was somewhat useless. And again, I got the impression that my teacher asked her to be there… which was odd because I didn’t think I was argumentative in my communication with him.

During class he passed over nearly anything I said or offered.

Thankfully after everyone’s critiques there was time in class for me to read from Sadira aloud.

This was really good for me. I’ve been looking at it so long most of it felt dull to me or in need of work. But the other participants really liked it. They said I had an excellent strong voice and an easy to read rhythm. They pointed out several stellar sentences (their phrase not mine) and they laughed out loud in parts. It was good for me. My teacher’s critique? “You were reading too fast and I didn’t catch it.”

What?! If I was reading too fast why didn’t he stop me?

Then he drops the bomb….

When I signed up for the course the advertisement said the class was to help finish a novel. As I mentioned in a previous post it was pretty clear that the class was not really designed to help with the grand scale of helping finish a novel. So I was hoping I could polish key pieces of my novel and get feedback on my style and technical needs. He told us that we were to turn 5 pages in monthly and that we could submit parts of our novel, a short story, or the response to writing prompts he would supply. I remember this specifically because someone asked directly if we could submit continuing sections of our novel and he said yes.

So tonight he passes out an outline of a short story. Similar to ones I gave my high school students when I was teaching and he tells us that our assignment is to write a brand new short story. He DOESN’T want parts of our novel, he wants something brand new and to try to write a short story that follows the steps. This is so basic. I know the steps of a short story. I have about 20 short stories that follow this outline… heck, I TAUGHT this outline. I am not here to do this.

Granted, it’s not as if it wouldn’t help… because again we can focus on style, voice, characterization etc… but I’m here to work on my novel!!!!

Another woman asks if we can work on our novel and he says, “Well of course you can do what you want…” and he went on to say that we could but heavily disapproved of. His disapproval was palpable. I wish I could remember exactly how he said it because it was good but the message was “You can do whatever you want but if you don’t do what I want I will not take you seriously and it won’t be the same and I won’t have as much to offer or help you with when your work is sent out you non cooperative, lazy, selfish, non team playing writer”

After class I went up to speak to him. I began by saying I was sorry if he took offense at my questions regarding the deadline for manuscript submission. He just kept giving me a condescending smile and not making eye contact. Said he hoped I could meet deadline this time. I said, yes on that note I wanted to ask about that. I reminded him that he previously told us we could continue to submit from our novel and that was really what I was there for. I was trying to have a conversation with him but he was clearly not having it. He again repeated that I could do what I want but basically that he didn’t approve…. a lot of shrugging and eyebrow raising. So disapproving.

I’m really disappointed.

I’m used to teachers liking me…. I’m annoyed that he seems to dislike me for no good reason. I’m annoyed because I feel like if I do what I signed up to do he will not take my work seriously and he won’t critique me as he would if I’d done his assignment.

I could easily pull a short story out of my “vault” or I could write a new one… it’s not a big deal but I’m trying to finish a novel… I don’t really want to split my focus or use a critique on something that doesn’t matter as much to me right now.

On the way out though another woman stopped me to ask if I had permission to submit from my novel. She had the same complaint and concerns that I did. She said she really liked what I read in class and asked if I’d send the first five pages so she could critique it for me and I could do the same for me. Better yet she said that she was going to submit the next portion of her novel so that we could both be “problem children” together and it wouldn’t just be one of us.

And on a bright note she told me that there is a local group that meets every Saturday morning for critiques. At this group you get five minutes to read and then everyone gives you input. You pay 35$ for the whole year…. so that might be really useful to me. If I had to have five minutes worth of reading every week it could be vastly helpful.


Posted March 16, 2012 by etainl in Education, Writing

Baby Signing   Leave a comment

My husband made few specific requests when we were awaiting the arrival of LA. But one of the first was that we teach her to use Baby Sign Language.

I thought this was a good idea. However I was worried about us being consistent in doing it.

A few people (ahem mom! lol) thought it might be a waste of time since it would make more sense to just work on teaching a child to speak rather than to communicate in a non verbal manner.

To anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept of using Baby Sign Language the point is not to teach them to sign rather than to speak. Nor¬†is it to have them¬†communicating in long sentences about their deep thoughts and feelings. The point is to teach them to communicate basic things about wants and needs so that they can let you know more easily than the typical toddler method of “I will cry until you figure out what I’m trying to say.” This is because even while they are learning to speak they are not always clear and I have been involved in too many cases of “Guess what I’m trying to tell you” with a child to not value easier communication.

Most of the signs we have focused on have been things that she will need or will help us more quickly establish what’s wrong. We have been most consistent with the signs for milk, bath, fish, pony, more, all done, cracker, eat and home. Originally we were working on Mama, Dada and other family relationships but since she’s already mastered MaMa and Dada we’ve pretty much dropped the signs for them.

I also really want her to learn the signs for hurt, dog, potty, please and thank you as well as others. The more the better really. I explained to my mom why I thought it was important to demonstrate hurt. Until they are older you can’t always tell what is bothering a child when they don’t feel well.

Recently LA was out of sorts. She started to run a fever and we weren’t sure if it was teething, an ear infection, or something else entirely. I took her to the pediatrician and she had lesions in her throat due to a virus. If I had been able to ask her “Where does it hurt?” she could have shown me if she understood… or done the sign for hurt in front of her throat. Now, I don’t think at 10 months she has the coordination but she will soon! And it beats the guessing game of “What’s wrong with Baby?”

So we started doing Milk, Eat, MaMa, DaDa, and bath pretty consistently from when she was three months old on. Most of the things I read said that she could start doing signs around 6 months.

I anxiously awaited her first sign… what would it be? The book said it was often something fun… so I guessed it be fan or feather, two things she dearly loves. Or maybe doggy, she loves her doggies.

I say consistently but we weren’t truly consistent. We were mostly consistent during good times and fairly consistent during others.


I chalked it up to us not being consistent enough. But one thing you don’t think of when you make a decision like this is that WE had to learn the signs too! It’s all well and good to say we’ll teach them to our child but first we have to know what we are doing too!

For Christmas her Grandpa got her two DVD’s of Baby Signing Time recommended to us by my friend Carly over at

She LOVES those things!

If I put on a baby signing time she will literally sit, entranced, for the entire 30 minutes. If I put it on loop she might sit there all day! She absolutely adores them. I have never seen a child so young watch something like that. If I put one on while she is playing she will crawl to sit in from the TV and not move while she watches. If you dare stand in front of her or the TV she will crane to look around you or try to push you aside. But even beyond the benefit of her fascination, or that I’m hoping she picks up a lot of words through it, it has been instrumental in Steve and I learning more signs.

At seven months I thought I noticed that she would grin when I did the sign for milk. By eight months I was sure she was recognizing it because she would dive bomb my shirt when she saw me make the sign!

Finally around nine months she started opening and closing her hand (the sign for milk). I wasn’t sure if she was signing milk or practicing her wave but pretty soon it became apparent that she was actually signing for milk. Not only did she sign for milk but I think she does the sign to call for me in general… so to her the sign is for both milk and MaMa. This had my mom quite excited, I think she is now a believer!

We can now tell that she recognizes the sign for milk, pony and fish. There may be others but these we can be sure she knows.

She has a rocking pony that she absolutely adores. She rides on it and rocks back and forth with the biggest grin on her face! We have been consistent in asking if she wants to ride her pony and using the sign. The other day we were watching Tangled while she was sick. There is a horse on it that cracks her up. I asked her if she liked the silly pony. She got all excited and kept motioning from the television to her own pony. Now whenever I make the sign for pony she looks at her pony or to the television to see if her sily friend is on.

The other day we noticed that when she is indicating her pony she holds her hand up in the air and seems to be trying to make the sign (the sign for pony is to motion with two fingers from your head, like a horses ear).  I love watching her attempt to make the sign for pony! I love that we can see little glimmers into her mind, much faster than if we were just waiting for her language skills to grow.

On top of all the fun we are having I have read studies that children who learn baby sign actually develop spoken language more quickly and learn a large vocabulary than other children. Who knows if this is true but for me it went against the idea that it would stop her from learning real words.

I had held off in writing this blog because I was becoming so frustrated that she hadn’t signed for us yet. She still really has only mastered one sign but I have seen her indicate that she understands at least three- milk, pony and fish. And these were all learned recently… so I can’t wait to see what is next!

It did take her to 9 months to start but I would recommend anyone start signing with their child and check out the Baby Signing time DVD’s since they are so much fun and so rewarding!

LA on her pony!

Posted July 10, 2011 by etainl in Education, Hippie Mommy, Mommy-hood, New Mom, Stay at Home Mom

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My Own Graduation…I guess Part one   Leave a comment

I wrote this a few weeks ago… it took me a while to finish writing it and get it up. Things have been crazy in my world… both good and bad, often emotional… so here we go. I expect some of the next few posts to be a bit emotional so be warned!


Before I tell this tale there are two things you should know about me:

1. I do not take change well. I get attached. I’m emotional. I was the child who couldn’t bear to part with my stuffed animals, for fear their feelings would be hurt.¬†¬†And this was long before Toy Story 3 told us that this was true. Heck, my mom¬†can tell you I¬†was sad when we got a new couch or a car! Even things that are joyful or that I want desperately can fill me full of angst. Big changes, especially those that come with big decisions make me very apprehensive.

2. I fell into teaching. It was serendipity, God and Fate got together and arranged things. It was¬†meant to me because I also feel like I took to it. You don’t make it as a teacher for 10 years if you aren’t at least pretty good at it. And I like to think I did a good job. I won teacher of the year at one school… I’ve had students tell me I made a difference, parents tell me I helped and I’ve felt good about myself at the end of every year.

With that in mind every year I’ve taught has been bittersweet. There is the relief of another year finished. Being the advisor for the yearbook and the newspaper leaves me feeling like I finished running a marathon (or two), not to mention the general exhaustion that comes from teaching “regular” classes… last year at the end of the year I wasn’t just finishing up yearbook, newspaper, the literary magazine but finishing up teaching Journalism, Humanities, English IV, and Creative Writing II (3 of which were new classes I had to write curriculum for… all while pregnant!)

But it is always¬†hard for me to let go of my seniors. I’m so proud of them and also so sad to see them go. Because I taught publications these were often not students I had for one year but two or three or even four.¬† I miss them. While they are “mine” I consider them like my own. My husband jokes that he never realized that when he started dating a teacher that he was dating a woman who had over a hundred kids.

I care about them. Besides being their teacher I try to be there for them to listen to their hopes and dreams, their woes and griefs. I try to encourage them to be their best- academically and personally. I love watching their triumphs and I quietly weep with them when they fall.

I love that many of them choose to keep in contact with me. Through the magic of facebook I can keep in touch and see what they are doing. After ten years of teaching I now have students playing College Football, having babies, getting married, graduating college, taking amazing jobs, ¬†traveling the world, serving in the military and doing all sorts of amazing things that I’m immensely proud of. I laugh every year because they are not allowed to friend request me until they graduate and I love seeing the requests roll in after graduation. I joke about the student I tease the most for being the first to friend request their old teacher, now it’s a game who can be first. I currently have students already with their friend requests in… some have had them waiting a year to be “first.”

I love that they have taken the time to send me cards or bring gifts by when my daughter was born. That when I gave an open invitation to come by and meet her that so many of them did, often bringing gifts for LA. It truely touched me.

And I watch them return year after year to visit their old classmates and me. I watch them stand in the classroom that once felt like home and see how it doesn’t quite fit anymore. I remember the sensation from when I was a college student visiting my friends and former teachers in high school.

The place used to fit, you were king or queen there. There was¬†always at least one room that you felt comfortable in. A classroom that you were relieved to go to when you were having a rough day. Kind of like the bar in Cheers… a place where everybody knows your name.

But when you graduate and move on the pieces change and reassemble and you never quite fit the way you did before. It’s normal and it’s good but I can see it on their faces when they leave after that first visit¬†that it is a bit of a shock.

That was how I felt tonight.

I have been on maternity leave for the last year. I left my students in the hands of another teacher. A woman I have known since we were children who has graciously allowed me to help and to be involved in what was going on. But I was not there. This year they were not mine. Not as much.

I went to their end of the year banquet tonight.

It was beautiful. I was so proud of them. So proud of my friend who has done such an amazing job with them.  They honored me and I was so flattered.

But I didn’t fit. They had their inside jokes and their triumphs and I was not a part of them. It was not their fault. I was touched that they did include me every chance they could. Both LA and I were in the end of the year slideshow. They were bouncing around happy to see me arrive. The new editors were excited to show me their new positions. Everyone wanted me to see what they did…. so nothing was wrong. Everything was, actually, good.

But I was still sad. Sad because while I have treasured this year with LA. Treasured not getting up at 6 am every day. Enjoyed the distance from the drama and stress of working in a high school. I missed them. I missed deadlines. Inside jokes. Olive Garden parties. Hearing about their day. Seeing the pictures of prom dresses and new cars.

I knew when I left I would miss them. It was so hard to not be there with them… but it was even harder than I though to let go of the teaching.

And I was also so happy… there is comfort in knowing they can go on without you. That they can still have a good year full of inside jokes and goofy pictures taken on a Mac (when they were supposed to be working!!!! lol) I was happy and proud…. they were well trained and even if I wasn’t there for their last year I had some part in that…

For a career that I did not plan to have I found that I mourned my time away more than I would have expected. And it is because of my students. It is such a blessing and a gift to be allowed to be a part of their lives, even for a short time. I was so proud of them. So sad that I missed their year and so impressed with them that they were so happy for me and so encouraging.

Part two to come….
LA at Banquet  with one of amazing students

Posted June 9, 2011 by etainl in Education, Life, Stay at Home Mom