Dads Matter Too

Eli in the blue skyLOften times, the role of dad in the family, be it modern or traditional, can get overshadowed by the role of mom. Don’t get me wrong I know moms do so much for their families and sometimes at the expense of herself. Historically, that has been what is expected of us by not only our families, but society as well. However, if you live or have lived in a home with a good man and a great father, like I do then you realize that dads matter, too!

Growing up I was definitely a daddy’s girl. He was my protector, a nurturer and at 6’4, he was known as the giant guy, with a giant voice and a giant heart. I still remember sitting in his lap until I was 13 years old and rubbing his ear lobe. He treated me like I was a prized possession thereby teaching me how I wanted the man in my life to treat me. I’m not sure if he even realized what he was doing, but the expectations I developed for any man who entered my life came from how my father treated me. Dads matter, too!

Now, I am fortunate enough to share my life with a great man and a great father to my children.  I’ve watched this man dedicate his life to his children. Whether it was playing Yu-Gi Oh with my son (whom he’s raised since he was almost 4) and stepson, coaching every sport they ever played, having once a month outings that they have named “Bachelor Night” or teaching them how to wash the car, cut the grass and treat a woman.  A few months ago, I over heard my/our 16 year old telling his father that he was grateful to have him in his life and that he has learned so much just by watching him. It brought tears to my eyes because again, I realized that dads matter, too!

Three years ago the hubs and I gave birth to our 3rd child and I am blessed to witness their relationship. All over again, I get to see him coach a bunch of 3 year olds in soccer, play silly games, get excited about how many foreign languages he can teach him, make cleaning out the car the best experience in the world and perform “magic” when he falls down and gets a “battle scar.” But the most heartwarming times are when I over hear our 3 year old saying “Daddy, I love you sooooo much. You’re my best friend.” Dads matter, too!

Again, I know we get consumed with how important mom is to the family but I hope my examples are proof that dads and I mean good dads matter, too! They are not only the ones that will move heaven and earth to protect their family, coach little league soccer in 80 degree weather, make washing the car fun or stand in line for 6 hours on Christmas Eve at 3 in the morning to get their child’s must have toy…but they also set the foundation for teaching our boys how to become men and our girls how to be treated by one. Say it with me readers…Dads. Matter. Too!

Happy Father’s Day to the best husbands and fathers in the world,

Kela

The Renewed Me is Back!

Wow, it has been a very long time since I’ve felt like I could write, make sense and actually contribute something positive to this virtual world of ours. For a while, I was not only allowing this huge responsibility that I felt I owed to my fellow stepmothers out there to consume me, but I also gave birth to a beautiful boy and that was consuming me. So, I decided to take a step back and allow my fabulous sister-friend, stepfamily coach and business partner, Diane Greene, to navigate our ship for us and she has done an outstanding job! I am so lucky that she is the other half of my team.

While I was away, I spent time kicking postpartum depression’s butt! I think I’ve explained in a previous post that I spent 20 weeks on bed rest, with 3 of those weeks being hospital bed rest and I still delivered my son prematurely. On top of that, my husband’s volatile relationship with his ex-wife always has some effect on our overall family (no matter how much we wish it didn’t) and it was all starting to really get to me.  I was so anxious I literally couldn’t sit still and wanted to jump out of my own skin. All of those realistic expectations that I preach and teach about through Today’s Modern Family were not being applied to my own life and I was losing control. I knew at that point it was time for me to regroup, refocus, recharge and renew myself. And so began my journey to apply all of the things that I know I should do and should have been doing all along.

  1. The word NO became one of my favorite words! No, I will not over extend mysef to the point where I increase you and deplete me. If I’m running on empty, I am no good to anyone.
  2. I got a hobby; one that has always been in my life. I just had to reawaken it and that hobby is photography. It is my creative outlet that is just for me and I really enjoy allowng my imagination to soar and seeing what beautiful picture results from that.
  3. Prayer, devotion and meditation is a daily practice for me. I not only start my day with it, but I’ve made them an intregal part throughout my day as well.
  4. I turned my pain into purpose by writing a book called The Joyful Mind Project. In my quest to always seek and choose joy, I decided to put the things that have helped me in a book in hopes that the information will help someone else.
  5. With the help of my friend over at Singing Bird Studios, I designed The Joy Collection; a collection of handmade wearable art with powerful phrases that helped get me through postpartum depression.
  6. I began to spend time enjoying my family WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY! I no longer consume myself with who isn’t there and why. I just enjoy the loving family and friends who are there.
  7. I began to eat healthier and incorporate some sort of exercise in my life on a regular basis.
  8. I began to choose me and realize that it’s perfectly ok, acceptable, and appropriate to do so…no matter who says otherwise.

Today, I feel so much better! I’m finally starting to feel refreshed and revived. At the same time, I realize that the lifestyle changes I’ve made are going to have to be permanent for me to continue feeling this way.

I named my photography hobby after my boys, Marc and Eli. This angelic pregnant woman is one of my favs.

 

I Have Cancer? The Journey of a New Mother and Her Mesothelioma Diagnosis

This article was first published by Heather Von St. James. To follow her journey and read more insightful articles, check out her blog here.

August 4th, 2005, 3:00 a.m. I sat up to get out of bed to walk around after a couple of hours of fitful sleep. We had already gone to the hospital earlier that day thinking THIS IS IT! SHE IS ON HER WAY!! Sadly, my contractions stopped once we got there and we were sent back home. As I stood up from the bed that night, all of the sudden, I felt a “pop” and a “whoosh”! My water broke! This was it! I yelled out to my husband, Cameron to hurry because our baby was coming.

Once we finally arrived at the hospital things began to move quickly. They checked me to make sure everything was okay and to make sure Lily was in the right position for delivery. Unfortunately, it was determined that she was frank breech. Delivering a baby who is a frank breech is extremely dangerous, not only for the child, but for the mother as well. Due to this, I was immediately scheduled to have cesarean section. I remember saying in my happy, but drugged up stupor that I was glad because now I knew our baby would have a nice round head. This is how I think when I hear bad news. I have to remember that things could be much worse. I always find the bright side no matter what the situation may be! Lily Rose came into the world at 5:18 a.m. Out she came squawking like crazy, letting us know that she was here, and, dammit we would know it.

Lily was pink, chubby, and yes, her head was round. They let Cameron hold her, while I stroked her little, downy head. After I saw and touched my baby for the first time they took her to the nursery, in order to finish my surgery. Everything went wonderfully. I was the proud parent to a beautiful baby girl. I healed well from the c-section, Lily took to nursing like a pro, and 4 days later we were sent home. At the time I was told I was a little anemic, but to eat some protein and all would be well. I had no idea that anemia was one symptom to my fate.

The first few weeks of parenthood flew by. I was getting used to having a baby around the house. I healed from surgery and was left to figuring out all the snaps of baby clothes in the middle of the night. All things considered, I was learning and living like any other new parent. However, I did this with even less sleep than most new moms. I spent many nights sleeping in the recliner with Lily, both of us falling asleep as I nursed her. I was exhausted, but what new parent isn’t? Before I knew it maternity leave was up and I had to go back to work.

I worked full-time behind the chair of the salon I was partial owner of and managed. Most people get 12 weeks off for maternity leave. However, not in my industry, I took 4 weeks off, yes only 4. I had a full book of clients waiting for me and although I only worked part time the first month, it was still challenging.

The great thing about working and breast-feeding was I started losing weight. Not only was I losing weight, I was shedding the baby pounds fast. Actually, I was dropping a couple of pounds a week. I was not a small girl when I got pregnant; I am 5’10” and weighed 225 pounds when I delivered Lily. During my pregnancy I only gained 5 pounds. Looking back I should have known that that was not normal!

At any rate, the doctor chalked up my weight loss to healthy eating. My doctor was not concerned, so naturally neither was I. My weight continued to literally fall off over the next few weeks, but instead of feeling better, I felt progressively worse. I had no energy, I was short of breath, and I had a low grade fever every night. In addition to these symptoms I was rather pale. I just continued to blame all of this on being a new mom.

Read the entire article here.

4 Tips for Transitioning Through the Identity Shift Being a New Parent Brings

Who I thought myself to be all changed the moment I first held my 5 pound, 13 ounce baby in my arms and felt the warmth of her skin against mine. In those first few moments no longer was I a compilation of all the labels I had previously given myself. Now, I was simply “A Mother”—and in my eyes, being a mother was the only label that mattered.

 As one day merged with the next, my newfound sense of joy, unconditional love, and enormous inner strength that came with motherhood also brought to me a healthy dose of discomfort and disruption to my everyday life and fundamental core of identity.

 Instead of being the confident and assured mother that I had imagined, I found myself wallowing in self-doubt and obscurity more than I wanted to admit.

 In those first few months I wondered what had happened to those early days of bliss when everything made so much sense? Mostly, I wondered when my world would return to normal.

 But it never did…

 Now, 10 months into mommy-hood I am still adjusting to life as a new mom and life as the primary caregiver to my rambunctious daughter, Jaida. However, one of the things I’ve learned is that transitioning means more than just learning to function with sleep deprivation or exhaustion.

It means completely opening myself up to the tremendous amount of growth that lies before me.

 By quickly adapting to a whole new sense of self, personal identity, expectations, and new relationships—as well as passions—I’m able to thrive (in my own sense of the word) in this new world. And to me, that’s what being a “modern mama” is all about.

 Here are 4 things I’ve learned to help me stay in harmony with myself and the world around me:

 

 1. Define For Yourself What Being a “Good Parent” Means

So many of us struggle with answering this question and quite frankly, I still do… On a daily basis… And even more so when I am out with other people.

 Raising children is a huge responsibility. We all want what’s best for our kids, but what’s good for one child may not work for another. A huge example of this is the common debate over how long a child should be allowed to breast-feed, and how long they should remain in diapers. For many of my mama friends, being in diapers until 3 (or so) is perfectly fine, while breast-feeding until the same age is “just wrong.”

 I hold different opinions on the matter, but ultimately what it comes down to is individually determining for ourselves what is best for our children while at the same time refraining from unfairly judging others for making different decisions.

 2. Create a Plan that Allows for Flexibility

Being a good parent requires a healthy dose of both planning and allowing. Even though things seldom go as planned, having one—even a crude one—sure helps move things along.

 The allowing part is there to simply give ourselves permission to be okay when life intervenes (as is always does) and rearranges our plans. What’s most important is allowing ourselves, and our ability to meet our own expectations, to be a work in progress.

 3. Make the Best Use of Your Time

Doing so changes on a daily basis for me. When my daughter was younger, making the best use of my time meant sleeping when she slept. Now that she’s a bit older and her sleeping patterns have changed, I now make good use of my time in an assortment of different ways: like connecting with friends on Facebook, catching up on emails, eating a meal, writing, reading eBooks, and staying on top of household chores.

 As a side note, one of the things I have quickly come to the realization of is that no matter how much cooking, cleaning, laundry, organizing, (insert task here) I get done, there will always at least 10 other things I could have done instead.

 It’s a never-ending cycle. Therefore, my advice is to do your best. You know what needs your immediate attention, what can wait until later, and what can just keep waiting. The most important thing to remember here while your going through your transition is to… (read next tip 🙂

 4. Give Yourself Time to Recharge

As much as I believe in providing my child with love, encouragement, and togetherness through routines, I also know the power in taking time as a parent to recharge. As wonderful as it sounds, it isn’t always an easy task for me to hand Jaida off to my husband when he gets home from work because sometimes I feel downright guilty doing so.

 However, my husband and I established early on that the best way for us to survive parenthood and keep up with our individual passions was to team-up while encouraging and supporting each other.

 So, when my husband gets home from work, I support him by watching Jaida while he goes to the gym. After his workout and shower, he supports me by taking over caring for our daughter.  This gives me an hour or so (before it’s time to start preparing her for bed) to focus on my passions—like writing for my blog, catching up on reading, and sometimes taking a little nap—while allowing my husband to spend one-on-one quality time with our daughter.

 Of course things don’t always go as planned, but at least one has been set into place for when they do.

 Tips to Grow By

Embracing the simple fact that life will never (ever) be the same as it once was is what parenthood is all about. By surrendering old ways of thinking and creating new patterns of action, we are better equipped to take on the responsibilities being new parents brings.

 

About Aisha Quinece:

“How am I making the world a better place?” is a question I ask myself almost on a daily basis. As a wife, mother, designer, writer, and teacher, actively enriching the lives of others is a responsibility that I take seriously. Supplying you with practical ways to “Create Your Life” is what my blog, www.AishaQuinece.com, is all about. So, check it out, visit me on Facebook, follow me Twitter, and get started creating your life today!

Love the ladies at The Glow

Ok, I found a new love and it combines 3 of my passions; beautiful photographs, telling a story and celebrating modern mamahood! I’m officially in love with www.theglow.com.

In their own words, The Glow is a glimpse into the world of inspiring and fashionable moms. There you’ll find their styling ideas, go-to gear, multitasking secrets, and enviable decor.

What I love about these jet-setting moms (which is what, in my opinion, makes them modern mamas) is witnessing the sweet moments they share with their kids in these beautiful photographs taken by Kelly Stuart of http://www.kellystuartphoto.com/. They are candid about their experiences with motherhood; from sleepless nights to finding balance between being a wife and mother while not losing themselves. Check out a few of the photos below and be sure to visit http://www.theglow.com/.

It IS possible to be wife, mother/stepmother AND not lose yourself in the process! It is the essence of modern mamahood – take notes!

"Take naps whenever you can, drink enough water and accept that you look tired" (and that's not necessarily a bad thing). ~Ana Lerario-Geller and daugther Luna

When you have a kid, at the end of the day, you want that little special feeling for yourself. The bed represents that for me." Meredith Kahn and daughter Grayson

"Because I started my own company, I said to myself, there are things I’m going to be able to do that I wasn’t able to do before, like picking up the kids at school and bringing them home. But I feel a tremendous amount of guilt." Jenne Lombardo and sons, Bowie and Valentine

Struck by Living Top Ten for Raising Teens – Julie K. Hersh

Recently I saw “Race to Nowhere” a great documentary about the stress kids face in school. I liked the film, although I wanted a “take away” from the film that provided a list of things I might do to reduce stress with my teens. I came up with this list – as always this is not a comprehensive list. I’d love to see ideas from readers about things they do to keep their teens mentally healthy.

 Increase Communication: Try to have dinner together at least three evenings a week. Engage conversation by telling teens about your day and asking them to talk about theirs. Talk about things that are important to them (friends, sports, music, art) not just the academic grill (how did you do on that test? Have you done your homework? How could you get such a bad grade??)

Advise your own children, but live your own life: Teens often do not have the experience, maturity or prefrontal cortex development to understand when they are overloading themselves. Advise them to them look at their time, abilities and help them plan realistically (e.g., 4 AP classes might not be a good idea at the same time s/he is starring in a show).

 On the other hand, try not to live vicariously through your children. It’s great to experience (again), the joy of life with children, but when a child becomes the tool to do the things parent never did (e.g, star of a sports team, be “popular” or star of the school play); the parent feeds his or her own ego and is not nurturing the child. Had an interesting example of this with my son. When he was nine years old, I got calls from a long list of select soccer coaches. They cajoled me (he’s so good!), threatened me (if he doesn’t play select he will never fulfill his potential) and played to my ego (he has enough talent to be a college player – he obviously has your athletic build). My son said – “Mom – I want to play with my friends. Plus I want to play other sports.” I let him do what he wanted. My gut feel was the friendships he would develop through a less competitive team were more important than building creating the next soccer star. This was a tough choice because I had already invested hundreds of hours in his soccer (coached his early teams, hired special coaches, drove him everywhere). I had to step back, and think long term for my child. Coaches want to fill a team for a year or three years tops. You are trying to build a child into adulthood. Keep that goal in mind.

Praise is good, Over praise leads to unrealistic expectations and a hollow win: Kids need to be able to achieve and have their work mean something. When we give a trophy for participating and not winning – we are creating future monsters of expectation and entitlement. A person has to work to win. It is okay to lose, as long a strong effort took place. But kids need to experience losing early and frequently. Failure teaches resilience.

Model life learning: When was the last time your child saw you read a book, newspaper, go to a scientific event or arts event? How can we expect our children to be curious if we aren’t? Do you love your job? Do you talk about the positive things at work at home?

Model good self care: Do you take care of yourself? Get enough sleep? Eat healthfully? Do things you love? Engage healthy discussions with your spouse or significant other in front of your kids? OR Are you the doormat for your family’s and community’s needs? Kids learn more from actions than from words. If you show them how to protect yourself, there’s a better chance they will model that behavior.

Say “NO” or limit school activities that destroy family vacations: I’m still working on this one! My 16 year-old child cut out a week of Christmas vacation because of Varsity soccer. He did not see his 85 year-old grandmother or cousins who he only sees once a year. Was this worth it? No. Will he get a soccer scholarship or be a professional soccer player? Probably not. If family is important – we need to put family first.

Provide a venue for connection with nature and exploration. When I was a kid in suburban VA, I’d explore in the woods, by myself, with friends and fighting the bullies in the neighborhood (I was an adept dirt clod fighter). I formed much of who I am in those explorations. One of my biggest regrets about living Dallas is the lack of exploratory time my kids have. I drive them everywhere, and their time is scheduled. So our family has made an effort to go places on vacation where our kids can have more freedom. Go to a small town where kids can walk or ride a bike to a store by themselves. Go to a national forest and let them do a hike by themselves (with instruction, of course). Give them opportunities to take risks, get lost and recover.

Encourage interaction with positive family members or friends outside your child’s age group. As a parent, sometimes our relationship with teens is hostile. Sometimes a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or a reliable family friend or “cool” but good older teen is better at providing comfort or perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When children are only exposed to kids in their age group, they get stuck in the landmines of that age group. Someone who has survived the age your child faces might provide better insight on how to handle the situation.

Get out of the house and turn off electronics. Get your kids to go outside – create a pick up basketball or baseball game. Encourage them to get some exercise and face to face interaction with other kids, without direct adult supervision. Brain development is enhanced by exercise and games that require coordination. Exercise also relieves stress.

Let your kids have space, but hold them accountable.  We tell our kids they have plenty of freedom until they screw up, but if they do, the screws tighten. Kids need some freedom figure out who they are. Set boundaries clearly and punishments that fit the crime swiftly. A child in a cage can’t be a creative thinker. A child without consequences learns to be corrupt at an early age. Freedom and accountability is a tough balance, but perhaps the most important one we can strive for as parents.

Recommended Reading:

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain: John Ratey

Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age:  Maggie Jackson

Mindset: Carol Dweck

Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Wendy Mogel

Struck by Living: From Depression to Hope: Julie K Hersh (not about teens)

For more information on Julie K Hersh and Struck by Living, please check out our website: www.struckbyliving.com

Revision 3 – 2/1/11

Recently awarded the Mental Health America Ruth Altschuler Community Advocate Prism Award and selected as one of the 2010 Distinguished Women by Northwood University, Julie Hersh is an outspoken advocate for mental health. “Despite medical advances,” Julie says, “too many people die by suicide because they are afraid to seek help.” Julie’s goal is to provide a living example that mental illness is a manageable disease. Her Struck by Living blog is featured on the Psychology Today website. Julie is also a guest blogger on the Menninger Clinic “Say No to Stigma” website.

Amy Chua Uproar

The uproar about Amy Chua’s bestselling book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has been deafening. Many mommy tyrants have been criticizing beyond belief and even administered some death threats to Chua for what they believed to be Amy’s parenting tactics. The problem is many of her critics have yet to actually read her book, and instead, are only basing their opinions off of a Wall Street Journal essay that Chua says gravely misrepresented her.

According to Chua, WSJ contrived an essay that pieced together the most controversial sections of the book, slapped a title (that wasn’t approved by Chua) on it called “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” and claimed it was written by the Yale Law School professor. In the essay, critics went wild over what they believed her parenting tactics were, which included things like denying her children bathroom and water breaks for hours while they struggled to perform a classical music piece to Chua’s satisfaction.

Chua, however, says that her book isn’t a polemical tirade at all, but a reflection of her experiences as a tiger kid and how she has learned to alter her traditional chinese view of parenting over time. Her oldest daughter, Sophia Chua (18) supports her claim and wrote her own essay in response to WSJ, to tell the truth about her mother. Below are excerpts from that essay:

Excerpts:

–”Dear Tiger Mom, You’ve been criticized a lot since you published your memoir, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” One problem is that some people don’t get your humor. They think you’re serious about all this, and they assume Lulu and I are oppressed by our evil mother. That is so not true. Every other Thursday, you take off our chains and let us play math games in the basement. But for real, it’s not their fault. No outsider can know what our family is really like.”

–”A lot of people have accused you of producing robot kids who can’t think for themselves. Well, that’s funny, because I think those people are . . . oh well, it doesn’t matter. At any rate, I was thinking about this, and I came to the opposite conclusion: I think your strict parenting forced me to be more independent.”

–”To me, it’s not about achievement or self-gratification. It’s about knowing that you’ve pushed yourself, body and mind, to the limits of your own potential.”

All of this talk about Tiger Parenting had me questioning whether or not I’d be considered a Tiger Mother. Although I don’t and would never be as harsh as to deny my kids food and water or other necessities in order to “push” them beyond their potential, BUT I am a more strict parent compared to friends and other parents that I’ve witnessed. Since my oldest was very young, I’ve always expected- not demanded (to me, there’s a difference) excellence.  Additionally, I don’t accept excuses of any kind. I’ve never allowed him to use the “my parents aren’t together” excuse or the fact that he had severe seizures as a kid that completely altered his fine and gross motor skills. I give him room to express himself and even to complain, but I don’t allow him to get stuck there, and always encourage himself to push beyond his potential. At the same time, I know that for a young impressionable mind, words have so much power and so, along with pushing I also give an enormous amount of praise. Every single day (literally), I tell him that he’s one of the best people I know. I tell him how special and smart he is. I tell him that he’s capable of greatness and most importantly, I tell him how much I love him. I do this so much that he says, “Mom, are you going to tell me this everyday for the rest of my life?” I respond by saying, “Yes?”

I won’t be sure if my methods work according to societal standards until he gets a little older. He’s only 13, but what I do know is that he’s been a mostly A (he’s gotten a B+ on his report card a few times) since he started school and he doesn’t accept anything less than his personal best. He never blames anyone else for what he perceives to be his weaknesses and instead works harder to improve upon them. He’s a high achiever because he wants to do well and continue to make not only me proud, but himself as well. I don’t tell him that he’s one of the best people I know because I’m his mom. I tell him that because he is.

I think Sophia said it best and it’s what I constantly instill in my oldest and will instill in my youngest (he’s only 9 months), “To me, it’s not about achievement or self-gratification. It’s about knowing that you’ve pushed yourself, body and mind, to the limits of your own potential.” If that’s tiger parenting then I guess I fit the description.

Not All Pink For This Baby Girl!

We welcomed little Miss Blaire into the world on September 12th and she’s been stealing hearts ever since. She’s a healthy bouncing baby girl and her parents couldn’t be any more proud. It’s no wonder that this little princess needed a room fitted for her little tiara wearing self. But no traditional pink for this baby. Oh no, not with a mother who is a self-proclaimed lover of all things purple. Add a little green and there you have it! Baby Blaire’s nursery color scheme is complete.

 blairbear

 

widecrib

changingtable

 

closet

 

wallcloset

 

futon

mobile

Blair’s mother was inspired by the colors in an adorable baby shower card. With that in tow we went hunting for the perfect shades of purple and green paint at Home Depot and walked out 5 minutes later. Score! That was the easy part. We scouted a nearby Target for the perfect wall art. Score again! Very cute and girly white 3D butterflies. Michael’s had the perfect stencils (However, I don’t recommend using paper stencils when painting. The paint got underneath the stencil which required a lot of stencil clean up by hand) and mirrored flower and butterfly shaped wall decals were found at Babies “R” Us. The furniture and rug are from Buy Buy Baby. Pillows were purchased from Home Goods, which is one of my favorite places to shop for accessories. The white pillow with the star was custom-made by a friend of her grandmothers creating the perfect touch to the nursery. The futon and wall coverings were already in place which turned out great. The stuffed animals are courtesy of her mommy.

 showercard

The challenging part of this room makeover was…you guessed it! The stripes on the wall. This was actually my first time attempting to paint stripes. It was a really fun project. I definitely learned a lot. You must measure, measure, measure! That’s really the only way to ensure you’ll be pleased once you remove the tape and your stripes are revealed.

 closecrib

I must say this project was a real treat. I started a little over a week before Baby Blaire was born and it was a lot of fun to see her settling into her new digs. Her mother picked out much of the decor so painting and styling was all that was required. This room is now fit for the princess affectionately known by her family as Blaire Bear. By the way…no repainting this room till she’s 16 *wink*. Enjoy, Blaire!

rayneesmRaynée Crowe, TMF’s primary modern home contributor, is an interior decorating consultant who ironically never considered herself creative, and then one day the ‘ol proverbial light bulb went off. Her love for mixing and matching colors, patterns and decorating had manifested itself into daydreaming of color swatches, textiles and room arrangements. That passion and excitement grew and soon it was pure enjoyment as she worked with friends and clients to select color pallets, accessories, furniture and arrange spaces. Finally she understood the saying “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life” and so in 2008 Color Vision LLC was born. For more information, you can email Raynee at yourcolorvision@gmail.com. For more great tips and ideas, check out her blog at www.yourcolorvision.wordpress.com.

Dealing With Stress of a New Baby

Newborn babyBabies are super cute, soft, cuddly and they just melt your heart with the soft blink of their eyes or that unintentional smile. However, there is a dark side that no one tells you about bringing home your little darling and that is they come with an enormous amount of stress. Sleepless nights, unpredictable schedules, poopy diapers and constant attention can often times wreak havoc on a couple; as if our modern families aren’t complicated enough. Because everything is about the baby and initally, most of the responsibility of caring for the baby falls on one of you, when the excitement of the baby wears off, some couples find themselves estranged.

A month or so ago I remember one of the ladies on Momversation brought up this very topic. Heather Armstrong from Dooce chimed in by saying that when she and her husband first had children, it took them a while to develop that “tag team” dynamic. I thought that was a cute and appropriate way of putting it because you really do have to have some superb teamwork in order to handle a baby AND maintain your sanity and marriage.  Below are some things that my husband and I have learned as we work together to raise our little cutie, make time for the older boys, ourselves AND  each other.

  1. Realize that you are experiencing a normal situation and it doesn’t mean that you can’t get back that lovin’ feeling.
  2. If you’re missing your spouse, let him or her know that. I know that not eating or sleeping right can make you cranky and irritable all the time, so sometimes it just may good for your spouse to hear, “I miss you.”
  3. If either of you are feeling overwhelmed, talk about it and work together to divide household chores and parenting duties.
  4. Make sure both of you have time away from the baby for at least one hour per day (this is for my stay at home parents). You need that time to rejuvenate so that your body doesn’t completely shut down. Don’t cook or clean during this time (that is not a break)! Put your feet up, watch your favorite show, go visit a good friend or take a hot bubble bath by candle light.
  5. After you put the baby to sleep, carve out 30 minutes of “grown up” time. Talk to each other, cuddle, have some dessert together or you may even have time for a “quickie.”
  6. Realize that this too shall pass. This is just a phase in your lives. Remember, babies grow up, eventually sleep through the night and become less and less dependent on you. Try to keep this in mind and instead of being consumed by the stress, enjoy this sweet little baby while he or she is young.

Today’s Modern Family’s Top 10 Mom Must-Haves

torideankidsStar of Bethenny Getting Married, Bethenny (Frankel) Hoppy and actress, Jessica Alba both admit to a night nanny being a must have. Modern momma, actress and star of hit reality show, Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, Tori Spelling swears by the Orbit stroller. Star of the movie, “The Kids Are Alright,” Julianne Moore says that traveling with mozerella cheese sticks and crackers for her two kids is a must have and modern momma and actress, Nia Long says that having her “Nia” time is a must!

But whether or not you’re a celebrity, most days modern mommas are juggling so many things that it feels like they have a celebrity’s schedule. If you’re a modern single momma who’s having to do it all, you probably can’t or should I say, shouldn’t, live without your “me” time. If you’re a modern stepmomma, raising someone else’s kids, a glass of wine may top your must have list. If you’re a modern working momma, a routine is probably essential for you.

We checked with some Today’s Modern Family modern momma readers and friends to see what their mom must haves were and compiled a list of the top ten. Because we are advocates of our modern mommas taking good care of themselves and we know must haves don’t have to be specifically for the kid, we encouraged our readers and friends to list something that they personally need to get them through mommyhood. Are any of your must haves on the list? If not, add them in the comment section.

As a new mom (again) to a 4 month old cutie pie and mom to a 13 year old, I must agree with number 1 on the list; ten minute power naps. Delina Hill-Brooker, co-author of Revealing and Healing, says that there’s nothing like a 10 minute power nap to quickly rejuvenate yourself. Another one of our modern mommas said that a glass of Berringer White Zifindale does the trick for her. McDonald’s Ice Coffee is another one of our modern mommas drink of choice. She said that it’s a definite mom must have.

jaimeearlSpicy Wifey co-founder and celebrity make-up artist, Quin says that she can’t live without her Jaime Earl Organic Skin Care line!

Many of our modern mommas confessed to not getting enough of paper plates. The less dishes they have to do the better and I must agree!

Studies do show that exercise releases endorphins that make you happy and a few of our  mommas can’t live without that gym time.

As a mom and stepmom, with kids coming and going like ping pong balls, a rountine was essential especially when my son and stepson were very young. Modern single momma of 5, Chamar Folson couldn’t agree more. A rountine tops her list of mom must haves.

 “As a mother of 5 children, the most important thing for me is a concrete evening schedule. Children thrive on structure and it helps keep them well rounded when they get older,” explained Folson.

Author of bestseller, Mircales of my Mistakes, and divorced modern momma of 5, T.Smith, swears by Godiva’s dark chocolate maccroons – yummy. 

Several of our mommas must have  daily meditation or spiritual time with God. Modern momma, Jina Helms said that she worships God daily through song on her way to work and on her way home, and won’t go a day without it.

“It’s my woosah moment and keeps me prepared for all of my jobs; mom, wife and employee,” said Jina.

kidghcwalldecal

design by Tiffany Kendall of Glass House Coutoure

CEO and lead designer of Glass House Coutoure and modern single momma, Tiffany Kendall, said that she can’t live without removable wall decals. She says they are a must have for moms because they can easily personalize their kid’s room with them.

As a working mother, I can definitely relate to more than a few of the above. I can’t function without a daily dose of “Kela” time, those 10 minute power naps are a great “pick me up” and paper plates save me time on doing the dishes. What about you? Tell us what you just can’t live without.