Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mom With Many Hats: Welcome Melissa!


Hi there. My name is Melissa.

This is the first blog that I have ever contributed to.  I am not a writer. To be honest with you, I haven’t even read too many blogs but I was presented with this opportunity (thanks Katie Parsons) to share my story as a first time mom here on Mumbling Mommy and I thought I would give it a try. 
My daughter, Lindsay
I am not your average mom.  I am a 35-year-old, newly-divorced mom of a 2-year-old little girl. I live on the South Shore of Massachusetts. My new life consists of raising a child, living back with my parents, dealing with an ex, working full time and dating again. Phew.  Some of these things are exciting and some of these things are not ideal, frustrating, overwhelming, scary, and new –respectively.  So how did I get here?

The last five Octobers have been a whirlwind, to say the least! I was engaged the first, married the next, gave birth the next (on our one year anniversary) and left my husband the next. If you are thinking that October is not my best month, you are right.  I may sleep through the whole month next year.

I don’t have all of the answers so I will not be preaching on this blog.  I will be telling my story (or the sitcom life I lead, as my friends say) with hopes that you can help me move through these new milestones in my life.  Writing things out always helps makes sense of it and, as I am learning in my new dating life, I tend to over-think things so I am grateful to have this platform to write what I am thinking without risking relationships along the way. 
I am excited to write more and hear from you so come join me on this new adventure.

Should We Let Our Daughters Watch The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show?

By Katie

I don't know about you, but this week has been chock full of holiday specials on TV at our house. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Shrek the Halls, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and my personal favorite, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Who doesn't love seeing that $2 million bra worn on a super model before they unwrap it themselves on Christmas morning before enjoying a day of Christmas traditions?
Beautiful, half-dresses models smile and
blow kisses for the camera and audience.
Photo Resource: eonline.com


I have a fascination with the over-the-top outfits and angel wings that manage to "go" with everything on that runway. This year it was also an excuse to listen to rap music, (Kanye West and Jay-Z, a guilty pleasure) since all the little ears in the family were asleep for the night. I texted my sister-in-law to see if she was watching and if we could therefore send some sarcastic texts back and forth during the "behind the scenes" clips that attempted to show us that Victoria's Secret angels had more brains than boobage. (One is a self-proclaimed "nerd." I never knew the depth.) My sis wrote back quickly that she was watching a cooking show instead, adding:

"Too much beauty for me to handle. No thanks."

I laughed but wondered if the show might have a little too much beauty for me to handle too. I couldn't pull off those outfits on a good day (you know, one where I'm not 15 weeks pregnant) and nothing I can do will ever make me six feet tall at this point. I started to squirm a little bit. Luckily Nicki Minaj showed up on the runway, sparking a distracted debate between my husband and I about what "real" music sounds like. He was not on Miss Minaj's side, by the way.

After the Victoria's Secret angels took their final bow, I declared "I will never let the girls watch that show. Never." My hand flew to my mouth. Who just said that?? The liberal lady inhabiting my body who believes in self expression? Um, no. But maybe the mom with two beautiful toddler girls who clean their plates and have the appetites of ponies.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reasons Why Cyber Monday Is Better Than Black Friday

Happy Monday all! I trust that you had a relaxing holiday weekend with your families and had more than your fill of food and fun. I had a wonderful first Thanksgiving being married and living in Florida, that included a long run in the morning and a nap in the afternoon. We hosted the event at our house but my mother-in-law did most of the cooking, which was so very nice.

There's just one problem. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it is officially the Christmas shopping season and I am already behind. I skipped Black Friday, in part because I think the whole day has gotten a little out of control and ridiculous, but mostly because I did not have my act together. No list of people to buy for. No way to cross reference ads with what was needed on my (non existant) list. No budget in mind. So yeah, I skipped Black Friday.

Luckily for me, today is Cyber Monday. I adore Cyber Monday. We are friends. Here are a few reasons that Cyber Monday is a better time to shop than Black Friday.

1. Organization. On Cyber Monday, you can sit down at your desk with your list of names and compare prices on several sites before making a final selection. No standing in line. No driving anywhere in the middle of the night. Just you, a Christmas music playlist, a cup of hot cocoa, your list and successful check marks. The impulse to overspend is lessened when you have no flashy in-store displays to distract you.

Memoir Monday: Telling Mom

Hello Blog Readers -- This is the second week of Memoir Monday. For those of you who missed last week's post, I am writing a memoir about my first pregnancy as a single mom. It is a work in progress but I'm posting pieces of it on here every Monday in an attempt to push myself to keep writing and pursuing publication. Feel free to leave comments or email me at kpparsons54@gmail.com. As always, thanks for reading.


Telling Mom The Truth


My mom had been calling a lot lately. It probably had more to do with the fact that she knew I was living alone in a strange city than that she suspected that I was pregnant. Moms have a special brand of spidey sense though, so I tried to change the subject any time a conversation made me think that I might spill my guts.

Mom: Did you hear that Kelly from church is having a baby?

Me: Wow. Cool. When is Grandma’s half-birthday?



Mom: Have you thought about what to get your one-year-old niece for Christmas yet?”

Me: Christmas is such a Hallmark holiday. What a racket.



Mom: I found a cassette tape of you reciting “The Three Little Kittens” when you were a toddler. Want me to play it for you?

Me: Mom? Mom? Are you there?? I …eem… oooo… ave…ost…u… Click.



Mom: The leaves are starting to change colors here. What has your weather been like?

 Me: Oh gee, look at the time. I have to go to work.

Mom: Really? Because it’s 10 p.m. your time.

Me: Yeah, I’m filling in for someone… who… works the overnight shift. You know the newspaper biz, it’s 24/7.

Mom: Are you okay?

Me: Okay? Me? Always okay.

Mom: Because you can talk to me if you need to. I know you have been under a lot of stress lately with working two jobs and breaking up with Brian…

Me: Nah. I like working two jobs. Keeps me out of trouble, hahahahha.

Mom: Okay. Well get to work. I’ll talk to you soon.

Me: Work? Work. Yes. Right. Better head out. Good night Mom.


Phew. That was a close one. How dare she try to weasel my secret out of me! Maybe I should just stop answering her calls until my son’s first little league game. Or my daughter’s first piano recital. She would surely become suspicious by Christmas though.

 My mom and I had never had a close mother-daughter relationship, in fairy tale terms. No talking about boys. No weekend shopping excursions. No Christmas cookie baking sessions with matching aprons. I bought my prom dress after school one afternoon with my own money.

We went on a weekend trip to Indianapolis when I was 13 where we visited museums, stayed in a fancy hotel and ate at a quaint Italian restaurant. It was a memory that stuck with me and one that my Mom had no recollection of when I brought it up as a college student.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kids reading: Paper books vs. electronic pages

Photo via iPadforums.net
By Katie

I enjoy a good book when I get the chance to read for pleasure. Like most parents, this is not as often as I would like. Along with the schedule constraints faced by parents and non-parents alike, I have to protect my books from sticky fingers and defacement by crayon. For convenience, I do most of my reading on my laptop and it's usually in the form of a news article or blog I really love. I have yet to get an e-reader (please, oh please, Santa!) but have no qualms about reading anything that is necessary in an electronic format. The flip side is that I really do love books and am attached to several that I own. My parents bought me "Letters to my Daughter" by Maya Angelou when I was pregnant with my daughter and the I've kept the sticky gift tag with their heartwarming message stuck in the inside cover. I have a copy of Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms" that I picked up at a flea market and later discovered is a first edition. I do not actually read that one though; it's more of a decoration. I love libraries and bringing home a stack of books in triumph after navigating the Dewey decimal system. I have an emotional connection to books that does not necessarily coincide with my love of reading.

Which is why I have no problem with my kids (all under the age of 5) reading electronically. A New York Times article cites parents, many self-confirmed "tech freaks," who do not allow their children to read from a screen. These parents believe that traditional paper books are the only way to teach a proper appreciation of reading, even if that makes them appear old-fashioned. Experts in the article explain how the engagement of the senses in reading a paper book is higher than electronic reading (the smell of the book, turning the page) and that by reading from a paper book, kids separate reading from the games and gadgets that are often associated with things like Kindles, iPads and other tablets. I will not argue with those points but instead I'll raise a question:

Do children actually learn more, and read better, if they are given paper books?

Four sites I'm shopping this holiday season

By Katie

I love giving gifts for Christmas. It's one of the best parts of the holiday season. I do not, however, love Christmas shopping in the traditional sense of the word. Black Friday lines and midnight hours are for the night owls. I tend to fall asleep at 8 p.m., on a good night.

Which is why I love shopping online. I peruse the retail online staples, like Amazon and Target, but have also found some pretty cool sites that give my gifts more creativity. Here are four of the sites I'll be shopping this holiday season.

Note: I've received no compensation; I just really like these sites.

Pretty Colleen: The tagline of this Etsy shop is "make a beautiful statement" and the hand-crafted jewelry lives up to the motto. Shop one-of-a-kind necklaces, shoe clips, little girls' headbands and other items that site owner and craft extraordinaire Maura makes on a whim. Maura combines her South Florida roots with her now-cosmopolitan location in Chicago and finds inspiration in old clothing, fabric scraps and costume jewelry pieces. I bought a few pieces from the Pretty Colleen shop to give away to readers of the blog. To win this statement necklace, comment at the end of this post. Start your comment with "All I want this holiday season is..." I've put an example. I will choose a random winner on Black Friday, so check back that day to see if it's you! You can also leave your Twitter name in the comment and I'll contact you that way.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Memoir Monday: A Kick for Christmas

Hello Readers --

One of my goals for this blog is to begin posting pieces of the memoir I've been working on for the past three years. It covers the time that I was a single mom-to-be. Some of the material sticks to that specific period of time, with a few flashbacks thrown in along the way. I'm actively looking for a publisher for the book (and actively finishing it, too) but for now, I figure I can be my own publisher. Every Monday you will find a snippet from the memoir, in no particular order. Read all the entries by clicking the "Memoir Monday" tag at the bottom of this post. I want to kick today off with a bit about the holiday season -- more specifically, Christmas Eve. Thank you in advance for reading!

By Katie

A Kick for Christmas


Since I had no Christmas Eve plans I volunteered to work a closing shift at the restaurant. Other people had kids and families and such. My kid went everywhere with me by default and my family was far, far away in snowy Indiana. Being on my feet, rubbing my belly for tips, would be better than sitting at home bemoaning my inability to drink eggnog.
I didn't even have to wake up at 3 a.m. to do my normal newspaper shift. Though I insisted on working it, my boss told me that since I had volunteered for the Thanksgiving shift, I should have the day off. She told me to just enjoy the quiet.
Work at the restaurant was busy. Churchgoers, last-minute shoppers and people eager to spend their gift cards made my shift a hectic one. I wished people a "Merry Christmas" if it looked like they had just come from Mass. I told others to have a Happy New Year. I made a lot of money. My last table took their time toasting each other on the patio and by the time I cashed out their check, the kitchen was closed. It was about 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and I was starving.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Mmmm, Pizza: My favorite vegetable

Photo via savoryreviews.com
By Katie

If you haven't seen a similiar headline yet, members of Congress blocked a suggestion that the Obama administration made regarding school lunches. Obama and his nutrition experts wanted the rules to change so that schools could no longer count pizza as a vegetable.


Did you even know this was the rule? Yeah, me either.

The new rule would have stated that only 1/2 cup of a vegetable (like tomato paste used in pizza sauce) could be counted as a serving. The average pizza serving has only two tablespoons of tomato paste and let's face it, schools aren't serving slices heavy with spinach, broccoli and fresh tomato. Critics of the new rule voted against it (enough to defeat it), saying that the new serving size rule as it relates to pizza would be too costly and burdensome for schools.

C'mon now.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Three: Things I Can Make for Thanksgiving

Photo from Creative Commons Search
By Katie

Ahhh, I love the sound of a good "th" word in the Fall. I also love Thanksgiving. It rivals Christmas in my book mainly because there is not nearly as much fuss or stress but it offers a day off, counting blessings with family and friends (and the grub isn't half bad either). I'm not much of a whiz in the kitchen and it takes a lot for me to actually be inspired to try out a new recipe or something beyond the normal menu rotation at our house. Thanksgiving is one of those occasions that does inspire me though and I have a few go-to items that tend to be a hit around the dinner table. Here are the three things I'll be making this Thanksgiving. Feel free to share your own recipes in the comment section!

Waldorf Salad


Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 apples, unpeeled, chopped bite size (I like to mix a sour green apple with two or three sweet honeycrisp apples)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery (I put more like a cup in)
  • 1 cup of red grapes (not in the classic recipe, but I add them)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Photo via SimplyRecipes.com
Slice up the apples, remove any piece of the core. Sprinkle the slices with the lemon juice. Add the raisins, celery and walnuts. Combine the sugar and mayonnaise in a separate mixing bowl, then add to the rest of the ingredients once blended. Stir thoroughly and let it chill overnight. This serves 6 - 7 people.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The lies we tell ourselves about fertility

By Katie

In an article on NBC's Today Show site, experts cite some interesting stats about women and their knowledge of their own fertility. According to RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, most women have been misinformed, or under informed, about the facts of a woman's reproductive system and the realistic amount of time in a woman's lifetime that she has to become pregnant. An expert quoted in the article says that by the time women seek fertility help they have literally "run out of time."

via veronicagraham.wordpress.com
Here's a little quiz with questions that were actually on a RESOLVE survey of 1,000 woman, ages 25 - 35. Test yourself then read the answers below.
Survey questions:
1. What percentage of chance does a healthy thirty-year-old woman have in conceiving?
2. What percentage of chance does a healthy forty-year-old woman have?
3. How many months on average does it take a twenty-year-old to conceive?

Answers:
1. 20 %  (that's it!); Survey responders said 70%.
2. 5%; Survey responders said 60%.
3. Five months; Survey responders said two months.

So where is the disconnect here? How can we as women, who often know when our monthly friend is going to arrive to the minute, not know these basic facts about our own procreation?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's on your "diaper pail" list?

By Katie

We've all heard of the popular concept of creating a "bucket list" of items that you want to accomplish in your life before "kicking the bucket" at the end. I've never actually composed one of these lists, mainly because I fully expect to live a long, long time and have plenty of time to accomplish all the planned and unplanned things on my rolling to-do list. The things that I do not get around to doing will inevitably be replaced by more meaningful ways that I decided to spend my time -- ways that may not have made a priority list when I was a senior in high school.


Diaper Dekor, via Target.com
While I haven't made a bucket list, during my first pregnancy and now during my second I have made a few mental to-do lists on a nine-month timer. I call these things my "diaper pail" list. Some couples make lists of what to do before conceiving that may include exotic trips that are best enjoyed without toting a diaper bag, or buying a home that is suitable for a family of three or four or more. My diaper pail list isn't that kind of list. My list is more of a life check, a gut check, a "what can I improve" check  before this baby arrives in my life.

To make my diaper pail list this time around, I first asked myself about the relationships in my life. I thought about estranged ones, tense ones and the ones that I'm so blessed to have. In regards to the people who were once vital and are now distant, I asked myself "why"? In general, my answer was that though I had thought about reaching out in the past, I had never found the time to do it. This baffled me. How long, really, does it take to send an email?

Full Circle

Welcome to the new home of my blog. Or should I say "welcome back"?

I started this blog a few months after my daughter Emilia was born in 2007. Prior to that, I had a pregnancy blog called Growing Everyday, which you can still visit and re-read. I stopped blogging on this particular site when I was asked to begin blogging for Moms at Work in the fall of 2007, a Tribune Media blog (and a group of ladies that I very much enjoyed being a part of). After I left Tribune this past June, I decided to fire up a new blog (are you still with me?) that tracked my progress training for my first marathon while adjusting to the new demands of being married with three young ones at home. While that blog still exists at MarathonKatie.com, I have put my marathon training on hold as I prepare for the birth of my second child in May. So it makes sense that my new home (for now) be back here at Mumbling Mommy. I am working on merging all of my blogging content to this site.
So if you are a friend or regular reader, welcome back. If we are just meeting for the first time, pull up a chair and get to know me and my style of blogging a little better.

Give me a follow on Twitter @MumblingMommy. Thanks for coming along on my adventures -- I promise to keep it interesting.
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