Talking Politics

The first presidential debate was this week, which means it’s getting harder and harder to escape the buzz of this year’s election. It probably permeates social media more than ever and the candidates are also more polarizing than ever. People feel a strong need to share opinion pieces when they agree with them, which I think mostly serves as an echo chamber for confirmation bias and will almost never convince someone with opposite viewpoints to come over to your side.

This is one of the reasons I hide many people/pages in my Facebook news feed that post rabidly about politics. It also interrupts the kind of escapism I’m looking for on Facebook. Scary Mommy has become particularly guilty of sharing these kinds of opinion pieces that I think tend to alienate half of their audience. Continue reading

6 Ways My Husband is a Better Parent

My husband and I are very competitive. We try to best each other in almost anything and for the most part he usually wins, except in water sports. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason he is terrible at anything related to the water.  When we found out we were having a baby I was very excited. Finally, I thought, something I can beat him at. Surely, I’d be a better parent. I’m nurturing and love taking care of people. He is not nurturing and doesn’t particularly like other people. I was basically made to be the world’s greatest mom. I may be a great mom and he is definitely a great dad, but overall he is hands down a better parent and here is why:

  1. He has not lost a wink of sleep since our daughter was born. Everyone always uses the term “I slept like a baby.” Um, no thanks! Babies sleep horribly. I’d rather sleep like a new dad. Our baby can be screaming in his ear while he is asleep and it will not faze him at all. As I mentioned in a previous post, we encountered a pretty substantial earthquake that shook our whole house and bed and he still did not wake. Some nights when I’m feeling extra resentful, I’ll wake him up and make him get me water or ask him to do some other unnecessary task just so he has to get up and be awake with me. Call me cruel, but I haven’t slept for longer than a 3 hour stretch in over 8 months.

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    “Sleeping like a Daddy”

  2. Speaking of sleep, my husband can somehow lay our daughter down in her crib and she will go right to sleep. No matter what time of day it is. I have seen him unknowingly put her down for a nap, right after she woke up from a nap and she falls right back to sleep! WTF? When I put her to bed, there is at least 5-10 minutes, if not more, protesting before she gives in and falls asleep. He claims it is because she knows her cries have no effect on him.
  3. Our baby’s cries have no effect on him! I have gotten better over time, but it still hurts me deep down in my soul when I have to listen to our daughter cry. Sleep training was the worst. I think it was more painful for me than her. Now we are going through teething and I would do anything in my power to never hear her cry again. No wonder they used to use the sound of babies crying as a torture method. I’m sure it is super effective…unless you are my husband. Just the other day I heard our daughter crying in the nursery for a long time. I knew Daddy was watching her, but after a while I started to get suspicious because she was still crying. I go in there to check on them and he is just sitting in the chair holding her as she howls in his ear.
  4. Our daughter already knows that she can’t get away with stuff around him. If she starts crawling toward an outlet or over to the bookshelf to eat a book, all my husband has to do is clear his throat or say “no” once and she quickly sits back on her butt and redirects like she never intended to go that way in the first place. When I am home with her and tell her “no” she literally laughs at me…hysterically I might add. It is very disconcerting.
  5. He put together matching safari outfits for the two of them for our first family trip to the zoo. Somehow it is just not as cute when I dress my daughter like me. I always feel like the mom from “Mean Girls” and a little bit desperate when I do it…that definitely has not stopped me though. When my husband wears a watching outfit with my daughter it is the cutest, most adorable thing you have ever seen. It literally made all the ladies at the zoo swoon.

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    San Diego Zoo 2016

  6. My husband Bedazzled a jean jacket for our daughter. Let’s start with the fact that he bought a Bedazzler online with the sole purpose of turning a brand new OshKosh B’gosh jean jacket into a more fashionable wardrobe piece for her. He spent days tracing out designs and searching for the perfect rhinestones. I will say I am super jealous of his dedication and craftsmanship. Our baby is lucky I even found the time to go to OshKosh B’gosh in the first place.

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    He added a cigar to make it look more manly

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The most bad ass baby on the block – that is Cthulhu bedazzled on her jacket, not a plain octopus.

So you can see from these examples my husband somehow got this parenting thing figured out way before me. Just wait till she starts walking and talking and we will see who is better then.

Labor and Delivery: Round Two

 

If you have been following our blog then you know by now that Claire is expecting her second child early next year. She has been hard at work trying to figure out the best baby name to pay homage to the great country of Texas (*insert eye roll*). I appreciate that because I have known some people that go to the hospital and deliver a baby without the slightest idea of what they’d like to call their offspring. I mean seriously, you have nine plus months to prepare for this day, you’d think you’d at least have a name. I totally get that people prep and plan in different ways though, so I polled some of our pregnant moms for another MoFoGro (Mom Focus Group) on what they have planned for their big day. Continue reading

Iconic Texas Names for Girls

Unfortunately none of my children will have the privilege of being born in the great state of Texas due to the transitory nature of military life. As a way to represent our Texas home, I’m working on making the middle names of our kids Texas-themed.

Boys names are easy. But when it came to finding a girl’s name that was iconically Texas, my list came up short. All searches for Texas girl names mostly come up with typical Southern names, which I still love, but I wanted something with ACTUAL Texas roots. Luckily, I have access to a large group of ladies who feel as much Texas pride as I do and shared their ideas and real-life examples of Texas names. Continue reading

 8 Delusions I Have About Having a Second Child

I’m pregnant with my second child due early next year and I’ve been convincing myself of all the reasons a second child is going to be awesome. Hey, a little bit of naivete can go a long way…

(Note: If there were a sarcastic font, the rest of this post would be written in it…)

1. I need a second child to give me something new to do

Things with my first child are easier now and they’re pretty much only going to get easier. My son is growing more independent and doesn’t need me as much. It’s time to add a little challenge to parenting!

2. Childbirth: been there, done that

I think I know what to expect from childbirth by now, so no preparation is really necessary. Consider me an expert. There’s no way giving birth could throw any curve balls this time around.

3.  My son is going to be the best, sweetest, most helpful big brother

My toddler already likes to follow me around to “help.” By the time baby comes, he’s going to be great at following instructions to help mommy and baby have an easy time. He is also already so sweet to the babies he sees every once in awhile, just imagine how great he’ll be with an infant 24/7! 😍

4. Creating a second kid is basically creating your firstborn’s BFF

I’m certain that this is the perfect age difference for siblings. They’re going to grow up with a close bond and be the best playmates for each other. They’re going to have so much in common and so I can anticipate jealousy and fighting to be at a minimum. Getting along is basically a guarantee.

5. My toddler is going to handle change in-stride

I admit there’s a lot of changes he’s going to have make in order to accommodate a new baby – potty training, new bed, staying quiet when baby is asleep, letting mom hold and feed baby, keeping his small objects and food away from baby and (since we’re moving) a completely new house. Sure, it sounds like a lot, but he’s growing up so fast and is going to love his new responsibilities and “big kid” stuff. These changes should come naturally to him, so I don’t think he’ll resist them at all.

6. A toddler’s behavior only gets better from here

My son is only growing more comfortable with boundaries and learning to behave. He’s leaving all the baby stuff and tantrums behind. We’re on the up and up!

7. A first born already taught me everything I need to know for a new baby

My firstborn has already showed me what it’s like to take care of a newborn. I can pretty much expect the exact same things from a new baby and now that I’ve learned from my mistakes, it’s going to be easier this time. I know exactly how I can expect to establish sleep routines, approach weaning, introduce solids, etc.

8. A new baby will fold seamlessly into our routines

We already have a pretty good rhythm established to our days, but there’s enough wiggle room that fitting a new baby into what we already do shouldn’t be too difficult. Really, I just need to add babywearing to everything I already do and it’ll be fine. It’ll be fun to have a new kid to join us on our adventures!

Y’all. I’ve got this down. If you need me, I’ll just be writing a book based on my expert opinion on parenting while my two kids nap simultaneously!

Back-to-School Mini Series: Online Organizer for Busy Moms with Busy Kids

My husband and I are known for our punctuality. You can ask any of our friends and they will tell you “the Morris’ are never late, in fact, they are always early.” That is actually how we met. We both regularly showed up to Cross Country practice 15-minutes early and a bond was formed. Now that I have a LO that 15-minute early arrival is getting shorter and shorter. I hate to admit it, but I have even completely forgotten about some meetings and events that I promised to attend. If it does not get put on my calendar right away, with a bunch of alerts, there is a good chance I’ll miss it. I get overwhelmed just thinking about all the activities and events that will be added to our schedule once DD is enrolled in school and sports. Apparently, 1 in 3 parents have messed up picking up/dropping off their kids from extracurricular activities because of disorganization. Oh geez, that is definitely going to happen to us. I try to keep all of our appointments and DD’s playdates on a Google calendar that is shared with my husband, but I can guarantee you he either a) has forgot how to access it or b) has it disabled so that it does not send him alerts. This is going to be a real problem in a few years and I think I’ve found a solution.on-the-go-planner.jpg

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Nikki Sacks, the co-founder of PodKeeper, an online organizer for busy parents with busy kids. Nikki told me a little bit about her family and what inspired her to create PodKeeper. Nikki and her husband both have successful careers along with two school-aged kids. Go ahead and add room mom and a youth soccer coach to their resumes and you’ve got a very busy family. Nikki said they wanted a better way to manage all of the day-to-day activities so they came up with PodKeeper. PodKeeper is a game changer for parents as they can easily access the schedules and details for many groups from a single dashboard.

Who here hates group texts and emails?? EVERYONE! They become so cumbersome the more people you add to them and the more details you try to flesh out. Something always gets mixed up or completely overlooked. My husband absolutely hates group emails. I’m pretty sure he just stops reading them after the first reply all. I don’t blame him, but that leaves me sifting through emails looking for important details. Through the PodKeeper web app, parents simply create an online group called a “Pod,” invite other parents to join, and finally have a place to stay on top of all the details. They can also manage household details with their spouse or a co-parent by creating a family Pod. PodKeeper acts as a personal planner app and syncs with online calendars.

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Here is a screenshot of a discussion board for one of the Pods

PodKeeper is geared towards anyone who is in charge of organizing an event, team, class, etc. or who wants to be informed about said event. As an organizer, all you have to do is add the email addresses of the people you want to contact and they will be invited to join your “Pod.” I am excited to share PodKeeper with my family. Just this week, my aunt sent out an updated family contact list with 44 email addresses on it! (We have a big catholic family.) You can imagine how insane those email chains can get when we try to plan family events. When we start using PodKeeper, we will be able to easily schedule events like “pumpkin carving” and “ornament exchange;” create sign up lists for food and party supplies; store files and photos from the events; and even provide important last minute updates. I can already tell you some people in my family (*cough* *cough* my husband) will not join PodKeeper. I asked Nikki if this will be a problem for the group or that individual. I worried that if he does not accept the invite he will be left out. Nikki assured me this would not be the case at all. As long as their email address has been added to the Pod then they will be up-to-date with all the information via email. It also syncs with Google calendar, Yahoo calendar, Apple iCal and Microsoft Outlook.

If that hasn’t already convinced you to give PodKeeper a try, I am not sure you are involved in enough activities. Go volunteer to organize the next playdate and introduce PodKeeper to your group; you will look like a genius!

Learn more by visiting http://www.podkeeper.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube.

Back-to-School Mini Series: Teaching Kids about Emergencies

I shutter to think about having to teach my daughter emergency situations. I know it is 100% necessary, but I legitimately worry I’m going to scare the sh*t out of her. Just thinking about it, my silly mom-brain envisions the most god-awful scenarios she might get herself into. For example, shortly after DD was born we experienced our first Earthquake. It was so small it didn’t even wake my husband, but in my mind I could picture the house splitting in half with the nursery on one side and me on the other. Ridiculous, I know; but I definitely do not want to transfer that fear to her when we teach her about emergencies. I want her to be confident in her abilities to get herself out of danger and to a safe place.

Below is an approach from Dr. Sanam Hafeez  – New York City based Neuro-psychologist and School Psychologist – on emergency preparedness that won’t freak your children out.

First, you’ll want to explain the difference between an emergency and a problem to your children. An emergency is a situation that requires immediate assistance from the police or fire department, or requires immediate medical assistance through paramedics or EMTs. A problem is something that they need help with, but does not require emergency services. When your child experiences a problem, and they are home alone, he or she should decide whether to call you immediately, call a neighbor, or whether the problem can wait until you get home.

You’d probably want your child to call you if he or she:

  • Felt scared
  • Had trouble getting into the house
  • Got home and found that the electricity was off

The following issues would warrant an immediate call to 9-1-1:

  • A fire
  • Evidence of a break-in
  • A medical emergency, such as someone being unresponsive or bleeding profusely

To alleviate anxiety, be clear with your children that an emergency is something unusual that happens sometimes resulting in injury or causing damage to things like houses and cars. Explain to them that, every now and then, nature provides ‘too much of something’ like, rain, wind, or snow. Talk about effects of an emergency that children can relate to, such as loss of electricity, water, and telephone service; flooded roads and uprooted trees.  Explain that everyone is better able to take care of themselves in emergencies when they know what to do.

Dr. Hafeez points out that, “For younger children, it might also help to talk about who the emergency workers are in your community — police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, and so on — and what kinds of things they do to help people who are in trouble.” This will clarify not only what types of emergencies can occur, but also who can help.fire-police-emt

When to Call 911

Dr. Hafeez explains that, “Part of understanding what an emergency is, is knowing what it is not. A fire, an intruder in the home, an unconscious family member — these are all things that would require a call to 911. A skinned knee, a stolen bicycle, or an argument with a school mate would not. Still, teach your child that if ever in doubt and there’s no adult around to ask, make the call. It’s much better to be safe than sorry”.

Make sure your kids understand that calling 911 as a joke is a crime in many places. In some cities, officials estimate that as much as 75% of the calls made to 911 are non-emergency calls. These are not all pranks. Some people accidentally push the emergency button on their cell phones. Others don’t realize that 911 is for true emergencies only (not for such things as a flat tire or even about a theft that occurred the week before).

Create a Plan with your Child

  1. Teach your child one parent’s cell-phone number or a good contact number. **I remember my mom teaching me our phone number and home address as a song. She even taught me to show the numbers on my hands along with the words.
  2. Choose a location other than your home where your family can meet. You’ll need to go there in case of a fire or an earthquake, for example. Your meeting place might be a local park, school, or shelter. Walk to the site with your child so he/she knows exactly how to get there.
  3. Designate a trusted friend or family member who can pick up your kid at child care or school if you are unable to get there in a disaster situation. Be sure that you give official permission to release your child to that person. **When I was a kid we had a family password. If someone different picked me up from Daycare, that I was not expecting, I was supposed to ask them for the password. If one of my parents had sent them, they would have told them our secret family word.
  4. Make a card with your plan for each adult’s wallet. Include contact names, your emergency location, and designated friend/family member. Put a copy in your school-age child’s backpack.
    • Inform caregivers and nearby relatives of your plan. Be sure to give a copy of your plan to your child’s teacher too.

If you’re not good at texting, improve your skills. When cell- phone signal strength goes down, texting often still works because it uses less bandwidth and network capacity.

 

Discuss Region-Specific Natural Disasters

You probably won’t need to waste much time on teaching a child that lives in the Midwest how to manage a hurricane, but he/she will need to know what to do in the event of a tornado. Talking about the natural disasters that are most likely to occur in your area and making a specific plan to deal with them is imperative, especially if you live in a region that’s particularly prone to environmental emergencies.

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Photo courtesy of Modern Survival Blog

Work Out a Home Evacuation Plan

In the event of a fire, home invasion, or a natural disaster, your entire family will need to have a coordinated evacuation plan to ensure that everyone makes it out of the house safely. Dr. Hafeez stresses that, it is important to explain to your child that all material possessions, even favorite ones, can be replaced and that it’s far more important for them to exit the house than it is to save their belongings. Make sure that he/she knows how to get out of the house if you’re not able to reach her, to make her way to a pre-arranged family meeting place and what she should do when he/she arrives there first.

 

Role Play Specific Scenarios

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Netflix’s Stranger Things – fantasy role-playing D&D

Dr. Hafeez explains that, one of the best ways to determine how much your child knows and what she still needs to learn about emergency preparedness is to role play specific scenarios that she could potentially encounter. There’s a reason why public schools practice routine fire drills: they help kids prepare in a relatively low-stress environment for an emergency so that, in a high-pressure situation they know how to react. Role playing serious injury situations, weather emergencies, a house fire, and even potential intruder situations gives you an idea about what your child knows and helps you teach them more detailed information so that they’re prepared to handle any emergency.

Sanam Hafeez Psy.D

New York State Licensed Neuropsychologist and School Psychologist 

www.comprehendthemind.com

Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a New York City based Neuro-psychologist and School Psychologist.  She is also the founder and director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C.  She is currently a teaching faculty member at Columbia University.

Dr. Hafeez graduated from Queens College, CUNY with a BA in psychology.  She then went on to earn her Master of Science in Psychology at Hofstra University.  Following that she stayed at Hofstra to receive her Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) She later completed her post-doctoral training in Neuropsychology and Developmental Pediatrics at Coney Island Hospital.

Dr. Hafeez’s provides neuropsychological educational and developmental evaluations in her practice.  She also works with children and adults who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), learning disabilities, autism, attention and memory problems, trauma and brain injury, abuse, childhood development and psychopathology (bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc…) In addition, Dr. Hafeez serves as a medical expert and expert witness by providing full evaluations and witness testimony to law firms and courts.

Dr. Hafeez immigrated to the United States from Pakistan when she was twelve years old.  She is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi (Pakistani and Indian languages.) She resides in Queens, New York with her husband and twin boys.

 

MLM Overload

Note: I have started writing this piece a handful of times and every time I think about posting it, someone inevitably approaches me about “joining their team” or “having a party” and I worry they’ll think I wrote it in response to our conversation. I promise, this is not about any one person. This is more about the overwhelming presence of MLM’s in my life.

When I was just out of high school, the very first lesson I learned about looking at job listings is that if they make promises that seem too good to be true, it probably is. That and a legitimate job offer will never make you pay for something upfront.

Vector Marketing (or Cutco). That was my first encounter with a Multi-level Marketing (MLM) business. They sent me a letter after my high school graduation promising an income around $15/hr and vague things like, “working one-on-one with people, building your own team, etc.” Luckily the internet existed so I could look up what exactly the company was before I could find out more at an “interview.” Knives. It was selling knives–a sales job. Well, why didn’t you just say so!?! Yeah, I had no interest in that AT ALL. It’s not like I’m passionate about knives. Plus, recruiting others, meant selling them a promise that had yet to be fulfilled for me. Oh, not to mention, that you needed to begin by buying your very own “demo set” of knives for $200!!!

Fast forward 3-4 years to when I began freelancing in events and social media. The nature of my work and the city I lived in led me to lots of networking opportunities. I was happily exchanging business cards with a freelance copywriter, when she invited me to a bar for a presentation with some people in her “business network” who had “really helped her grow her business.” No other info. I was, naively, picturing a tight-knit group of savvy marketing entrepreneurs who give client referrals to each other and who might spend time together getting advice and support on their businesses.

I’ll never forget arriving there early to talk with my new business pal. When I asked for a little more info about what we’d be doing. She just gushed about how much money these people make, “Oh, and the people on top?” She said, “They’re millionaires!” People on top? I wondered. She continued to boast about their success yet continued to leave out any specifics about how these people make their money. Dread set in. I should’ve made an excuse to leave right then and there, but I didn’t want to be impolite.

What followed was an hour-long presentation about communication bundles (internet, cable, phone) and how to sell them in order to help us, as entrepreneurs, fund our passions/endeavors. It was, quite literally, the biggest waste of time in my life. I had actual work that I could’ve been doing.

So, why am I sharing all this now? Well, I find myself in a very conflicted position. As a SAHM and military spouse, I am now inundated with MLM business pitches, invites, groups, etc. on an almost daily basis. I know a handful of people in just about every category of these network marketing businesses (make-up, skincare, housewares, essential oils, workout/nutrition supplements, etc). Now, more frequently than ever, I find myself in that uncomfortable dreaded position of wanting to escape, but also not wanting to be impolite. So here are a few of my personal procedures when I get approached:

  1. I WILL accept invites to “like” a consultant’s business page
  2. If I am invited to a Facebook group for a consultant I  hit “MUTE NOTIFICATIONS” and then I regularly purge my inactive group memberships (If I didn’t regularly leave groups I’m inactive in, I’d still be a part of about 50 that are just MLM related)
  3. I WILL attend “online parties” of new businesses I’m not familiar with just to see and understand what they’re about.
  4. I WILL NOT attend a party for a business more than once if it has already disinterested me.
  5. I WILL turn down any personal invitation to try out a product or “challenge group” if it’s not something I’m actively seeking out.
  6. If I see promotions for MLM businesses pop up several times in my feed, I mute whomever is posting them.

I know some people DO find great success or fulfillment from these types of businesses, which is great for them, but they’re usually the exception, not the rule. Just look up “[business name] income disclosure” and you’ll likely find a little asterisk that essentially says that high income is usually only typical for about 1-10% of their salespeople. Somewhere near this footnote you’ll probably also notice some sort of illustration of their recruiting structure, which may or may not resemble a dismantled pyramid.

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“It’s not a pyramid scheme, it’s a reverse funnel system!” – Dee, Always Sunny In Philadelphia 

Still, I can’t help but think of the people like me who tend to feel like they’re getting suckered into opportunities like this; people who might join and start losing money or people who are at a loss with how to get out of the business especially when it’s become intrinsic to part of their social circle. Worst of all, I think about all of the incorrect claims about health and science that are made when peddling some of these products. Remember, almost none of these “consultants” are formally educated in science, nutrition, fitness or the medical field (you can read some snarky commentary in this vein about a couple of popular MLM’s from one of my favorite fitness writers here and here).

I don’t know. Perhaps I should’ve just left this subject alone. I’m not the only one up to my eyeballs in offers and invites though. I do welcome anyone to offer up your thoughts in the comments. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a rebuttal to this post up next week. Until then, I continue to keep MLM’s at arm’s-length.

Back-to-School Mini Series: Duct Tape Projects

 

Here is the answer to yesterday’s POP QUIZ:

  1. Mandarin – With more than 955 million speakers, Mandarin claims the top spot as the world’s most common language — and one that often requires professional translation services.
  2. Spanish – Its prominence in the Americas as well as in Europe makes Spanish one of the most common languages, with 405 million speakers.
  3. English – English used to be the second-most common language, but Spanish-speakers have increased much more rapidly over the past 15 years. Still, scholars have named English the world’s “most influential language,” due to the number of speakers (360 million) and the number of countries in which it is spoken.

I like to pretend to be crafty every now and then. I get all of my ideas from Pinterest and am successful at completing most of the projects that I attempt (there are a few Pinterest fails every now and then). I am always so fascinated when I find craft ideas using Duct tape; I never would think to use it in such a way. I remember a girl, when I was in school, who made a purse and backpack out of Duct tape. I thought that was the coolest thing I ever saw. If you are interested in trying your hand at Duct tape crafts check out these projects below and tell us what you’ve made out of Duct tape!  Continue reading

Back-to-School Mini Series: School Prep

Labor Day typically marks the end of summer and official start back-to-school. Parents everywhere are rejoicing! Or are they? I saw the movie “Bad Moms;” PTA meetings and extracurricular activities sound like a whole lot of extra work that you didn’t have over the summer. If your kids are older you are probably also worried about finding the right tutors and making sure your little Einstein is taking all the right classes to get into college. Geez! I sure do not remember focusing that much time or energy on getting into college, but hey maybe I should have… Continue reading