Stroller discrimination

I like to shop. Well, I take that back. I like to walk around the stores and sometimes buy things (unless my sister is with me and then I always seem to be able to shop more easily). I have realized though that during my (limited these days) shopping trips that I often find myself banging the stroller into all kinds of things…into the clothes, into the sales clerk, into the door of the dressing room, into the random person trying to shop. Now this isn’t because I don’t know how to look five steps ahead to see where I am going but rather because I have realized that stores seem infinitely smaller when you have a stroller. Even when I go to Carter’s, oddly the racks of clothes are SO close together that I find myself banging the stroller into the many racks as I try to maneuver around.

I guess the stores don’t need to cater to the many moms that would like to shop there but why not? Couldn’t they at least try to make it a little easier for us rolling around in the biggest stroller ever? These are things I used to not think about or ever even notice but I certainly notice it now! I find myself constantly apologizing when I am shopping – mainly to SCB when I run the stroller into something but also when I kind of run into someone who oddly won’t move slightly out of the way when they see the stroller coming. Is it my fault I ran into you when you refused to move? Please consider this a pre-apology to any of the people that I may run into this weekend!

All in all, I feel there is a serious amount of stroller discrimination happening these days. There are actually stores where I have looked in and thought, “Nope, can’t bring the stroller in there.” I could have spent some serious money in that store but it is just too hard to maneuver. I supposed I could thank the store for allowing me to save my money.

Not a Pageant Mom

I could never be a pageant mom. I am watching a show on OWN where Lisa Ling is talking about pageant moms. I have quickly determined that of all the decisions my husband and I will make for our daughter, whether or not she will enter pageants is not one of them. She definitely won’t. I am trying to have an open mind and I don’t judge those who have decided to go that route but I know I could never do it.

I think it is important for SCB to value her inside values more than her outside appearance. I don’t see how you can make the argument that a pageant isn’t about outside appearances. I know the pageants have a “talent” section but I still think the big focus is around the child’s appearance. I don’t want to spray tan SCB when she is 10 years old (what one mom did that was featured on the show). It is very uncomfortable to watch as little girls are dolled up in full make-up, costumes that are way too risqué and have a little girl in tears because she wasn’t crowned the “queen”.

I feel like my parenting style is to let SCB choose what she wants to do so what happens if she decides she wants to be in a pageant because her friend just participated in one? I am hoping that day never happens (I know, I know, there are worse things) but I think I would be OK letting her know that I think pageants put too much focus on the outside appearance and I want her to feel good about her inside appearance more. Again, I don’t have any issue that pageants may be something some parents want to do for their kids but I know it isn’t right for our family.

Have you ever put your child in a pageant? Good experience or bad? Write in and let me know!

Cry it out

I used to watch those nanny shows and always wonder “how could you be a parent and let your kid run the house like that”?. For those that haven’t seen those nanny shows, usually an episode would involve the typical scene where the kid doesn’t want to go to bed and instead wants to run around the house. After the nanny comes in to teach them how to get their kid to go to bed, you realize how the parents need the training more than the kids do. Ok, so I can admit I was a little judgmental of these parents…especially as I found myself picking up SCB out of the crib as she was having a sky-high tantrum about taking a nap. Suddenly I felt like I was the one that needed to be on one of those shows!

I should remind everyone that SCB is only four and half months old now and yet she already knows how get her point across so I definitely have been getting the “I don’t want to take naps” memo. Everyone I know would talk about how you have to let your baby “cry it out”…but we have been so lucky because SCB goes to bed at 7 and wakes up at 7 so I always wondered how we could even let her cry it out because she was never really crying. Welllll, let’s just say I don’t need to wonder anymore. SCB has mastered the art of getting so upset that it is impossible for me to leave her in the crib. She used to respond to naps pretty well as I would have to go in and out of the room a few times but eventually she would fall asleep. As I told my sister, our cry it out plan consists of waiting “zero minutes” before going back in to either pick her up or give her the pacifier. I am wondering if we are going to need to change that as the days where she would slightly whimper have morphed into a full on Godzilla like tantrum, complete with leg stomping and a beet red face of anger, coupled with the saddest face as if I am leaving her on the side of the road somewhere.

I talked to the doctor today and she said we can either let her cry or because she is getting a good stretch of sleep at night, we can be a little more flexible on the naps. Amen to flexibility! I know there are moms out there that live and die by the idea that the entire house needs to stop because the baby needs a nap. I think as long as you are doing what is best for the baby and your family — even if it means napping in the stroller, then it is OK. I think for now, I will try to get her to take a nap but it isn’t worth the red-face, kicking and screaming SCB as she will only be exhausted for the day and I am not sure how much that accomplishes. We will see how it goes tomorrow.

Have you let your baby cry it out? How old were they and what was the experience like? Write in and let me know!

Baby + Sleeping

I have to make a confession. When SCB was four weeks old, I was the mom googling “four weeks old, nighttime schedule”, hoping to find some kind of answer. At the time, it seemed completely normal to want to put my new adorable baby on some type of night schedule so I could help her avoid building “bad habits”. If only I had read baby 411 instead of the book I chose to read that oh so simply stated that you could just put your baby down to sleep at night — not asleep, but awake and they would just eventually fall asleep. HA. (enter the sound of maniacal laughter)

Instinctively and realistically, those ideas just didn’t make sense to me. SCB had no real interest in going to sleep at night at four weeks old. Our nighttime routine consisted of either me or my husband getting plenty of exercise on the exercise ball while we bounced our baby girl to her heart’s content so she would hopefully fall asleep. The ball routine then morphed into the moby wrap routine where I got so used to wearing the wrap that I found myself wearing it even after SCB had already fallen asleep. I’m not complaining in a major way as we were fortunate that she would only wake up twice during the night. Now at four months, we put her down at 7, my husband gives her a dream feed at 11 and she wakes up around 6:30-7 AM – sleep success!

I have learned over these four months that all of the things that we were doing were completely fine at that point and we were nowhere near building bad habits. At that young age, anything goes and anything to get your baby to sleep should be OK. Once I saw 278 comments on Baby Center about ALL the different things people do to get their babies to go to sleep, I realized there is no “schedule” as pretty much every baby is different. It really is about your baby and what works for you. It sounds obvious and easy to say but sometimes it is easy to forget your motherly instinct. It is definitely nice when you can remember it!

I made a different choice when it came to getting SCB on a nap schedule. Rather than googling or reading anything, I just decided to try. Try as in try to put her down for a nap. For some reason, looking at my very awake baby and thinking there was even a remote possibility she would go for a nap, would make me laugh. Until I just decided to try. I have a system now where I put her down, give her a lovey, put on the sound machine and rub her forehead until she seems calm….and then I walk out of the room. Now, she may stir a bit where I have to go in and out of the room a few times but eventually she goes to sleep (I should add that we are not a household where the world stops when it is nap time. SCB also takes naps in the stroller). I also have the nanny following this plan as I noticed the nanny would rock her to sleep and I wanted to make sure that did not become the habit. I don’t let SCB cry it out but I am trying to build a pattern where she knows she is in her crib and can go to sleep. I am hopeful we never have to let her cry it out but we will see. Tomorrow is SCB’s four month appointment. Hard to believe how quickly time flies!!

Have some good thoughts on how to get your baby to sleep? Please write in as I think it is helpful for other parents to hear about what works for their baby!

Back to Work

After almost four months off for maternity leave, I went back to work. I have always been into working, perhaps some may say with too many work-a-holic tendencies. As I was headed out on maternity leave (I worked until Wednesday and was due on Saturday), my boss said “we will see how she does in the outside world”. I had made myself the promise though that I would truly stick with my maternity leave and would not let work get in the way of me bonding with our new addition.

I remember when SCB was about three weeks old that I thought I would return to work after my six week maternity leave was over. I had told my boss that I wanted to take three months as “everyone” seemed to say that was how much time you needed but about three weeks in, I thought for sure I would be fine with the six weeks. How quickly things changed. If I was going to tell a new mom how much time to take for maternity leave, I would say four to five months if you could get it. It would be long enough to bond but not long enough to where you could not even remember what it was like being at work.

I can say that returning to work is filled with a million different emotions. Even if you are someone who likes to work, it is very difficult leaving your sweet precious baby after weeks of taking walks, seeing friends “ooh and ash” over your baby and pretty much being free to do whatever you want with your child. I didn’t sit at my desk and cry or think that there was no way I could handle being back at work. I did however go into a full state of appreciation of what working moms go through when deciding whether to work or stay at home. For me, I have decided that working is all about flexibility. I felt that way before I even had a child. I think the kind of job where you are chained to your desk doesn’t really make anyone feel empowered. If I am allowed to work hard and be my own boss when it comes to making light schedule adjustments, the harder I work. When I feel cornered, stuck to a specific schedule day in and day out, it makes me not want to work at all. I have been fortunate that most of the time I have been able to build in this flexibility. I have always operated from the place that flexibility should be allowed if the work is getting done.

Having said that, flexibility now means something different than it used to mean. I didn’t have someone that I wanted to see who was going to bed at 6:30 or 7. Luckily at the moment I am able to have the flexibility I need. I am only a week in though. Will have to keep you posted as things develop. Would love to hear from all the working moms out there! :)

Suing your Employer or Ex-Employer(s)

Have you ever wanted to sue the company you work for or your boss? Perhaps many of you have had those thoughts but would you actually go through with it? Jerry Kowal is the guy that actually did go through with it (see article here: http://www.deadline.com/2014/04/netflix-amazon-sued-defamation-conspiracy-wrongful-termination/). Kowal was an employee of Netflix and then left to go to Amazon. Chaos ensued as a result of his departure and now he has filed a wrongful termination suit against both companies, along with naming two executives from Netflix. Quick synopsis in case you don’t feel like reading the article is that Amazon let him go and Kowal alleges that Netflix was the reason why.

I had a phone call interview once with Netflix and I remember the HR person telling me to carefully review the materials on their website that talked about company culture. I recalled thinking that it seemed like a great place to work as the focus was on autonomy rather than keeping people chained to their desks with specific hours (I am a fan of letting people either do their job or fire them — rather than tracking hours in some mindless kind of way).  Through the grapevine though, I heard that despite having what seemed like flexible work policies, the company works their employees so much that it didn’t really matter they didn’t have a strict vacation policy as employees never were really able to take a vacation due to workload. 

Mr. Kowal’s story is an interesting one as it is always a sticky situation when you leave one company to go to a competitor. The question is what happens when the company you are leaving takes a vested interest in this new job you are taking? How often does that really even happen? There is sort of a general understanding from my perspective that people leave companies all the time to go to other companies – including their competitors and it is really on the employee to handle themselves appropriately. What happens though if the company is the one going after the employee simply for taking a new job? 

I know this case will settle even though Netflix and Amazon are huge companies. There are so many specific allegations and as an employee, you have to think long and hard before filing a lawsuit as it could certainly effect your ability to get a job later, regardless if that is a fair or not. No one wants to work with the guy who always files a lawsuit after leaving a company. I think the likelihood of Kowal’s claims have some truth to them and it is good to shed some light on these kinds of company tactics. 

Have you ever left a job to go to a competitor and then been harassed by your former employer? Write in and let me know! You can also write in if you just want to sue your company or boss in general. Venting is OK sometimes :)

It’s Insane

The first time I did yoga, I hated it. I didn’t understand the point of breathing, posing, more breathing, more posing and finally ending up on the ground as if you were going to sleep. Over time, and I mean a LOT of time, I have learned the yoga is one of the most crucial practices for me to incorporate into my life to stay balanced. The times that I do not want to go to yoga are the times I have found that I need it the most. Kind of a funny concept.

How does yoga become important to the balance of life? I think it is the recognition (and this may sound familiar as most teachers repeat this sentiment quite often during class) that the breathing is the most important part of yoga, even more important than the physical practice. Until you can really appreciate the concept, those words sort of go in one ear and out the other. To be able to stay focused or even want to stay focused for an entire practice on the breath is really the game changer in one’s yoga practice, or at least it was for me. I should clarify that I can’t quite focus on my breath for an entire practice but I do try! I used to go to yoga and think about what I was going to wear to work the next day (deep thoughts I know) or the errands I needed to run after class so I would say there has been much progress. When I started to really focus on the meaning of what “breath” is and taking what I learned in yoga into my general life, that was the moment yoga started to become more than a physical practice.

How do you take yoga into your general life? I think if you can figure out how to focus on your breath in a yoga class, it gives you the ability to focus on your breath during stressful moments in life. It has the ability to center your mind. This practice finally gave me a way to take a break from my racing mind. Of course, I am not always a calm buddha sitting on a mountain top but I am definitely more centered than I used to be.

I have to give credit where credit is due as it was Vytas Baskauskas’ class at Power Yoga in Santa Monica that really changed my practice. I have been taking his class for a few years now and while I still go to other classes, his is still the best. The class is very challenging, the music is amazing and while he doesn’t talk a lot, it is very clear that you are supposed to focus on your breath….and he has a way of simplifying the way to think about yoga/your life. We will be holding a pose and people will be breathing super hard, making it seem so difficult and he will say — the truth is, all we are doing is holding our arms up. Very true.

I was in class one time and there was this guy next to me who really needed to blow his nose (something extremely noticeable when the whole class is quiet and we are supposed to be breathing!). I tried to get in the yoga zone, tune it out and it just wasn’t working. I could not get my mind off the gross sounds I was hearing. I started looking all around, thinking that there MUST be another place in the room where I could go. As everyone was in down dog and there was no Kleenex in sight for the guy next to me, I literally stood up to look around to see if there was another space in the class where I could move. Immediately Vytas saw me looking around and came over to ask what was wrong. Without me even saying much, he figured out I wanted to move my mat to another spot in the room….his response to me was that “today, this is your yoga practice…there isn’t anywhere else for you to move in the room”. Sounds kind of like an obvious statement but if I had tried hard enough, I could have made room in a different spot in the class but that wasn’t really the point. The point was that I needed to just stay in the moment, tune out my mind and Mr. Needs Some Kleenex and just do yoga. Again, being reminded that when situations in life that come up that are annoying, disappointing, anxiety producing or any other challenging emotion, focusing on the breath can always get you through it.

Cut to this past year where even up to the day before I went into labor, I was going to yoga. Yoga took some interesting turns during my pregnancy. I tried pre-natal yoga and hated it so I just decided to go to the same classes I would usually do and modify the poses. That plan worked out until my stomach was too big and the last month or so I did some easier classes. I had to learn to think of yoga in a different way as my body changed its shape as I was often surprised by my stomach greeting me in every pose we would be instructed to do.

Once SCB was born and after getting clearance from my doctor (who asked me “what’s restorative yoga?”), I started going back to yoga. As in, I started going to class where there was no flow, no music, no sweating and certainly no physical intensity. The intensity was in my mind as I realized that I had not been on my back in practically ten months! Poses that I used to be able to easily do now felt unfamiliar and even sometimes painful. I found myself getting frustrated and irritated. I wanted to be back to my regular classes with my regular body but what better time to remember to be grateful for my body that was able to actually produce a baby!

This past week, I went to a more “flow” type of class and told the teacher I had a c-section so when she saw me in child’s pose potentially more often than not that she would know why. The teacher ended up telling me she had a c-section as well and told me to take it super slow. Toward the end of class, as I was telling her it was really crazy getting back to yoga, her response was “It’s insane” and she is right in the perfect kind of way. Everything I am doing in yoga feels like the first time but rather than thinking that I can’t wait to be back to where I was, I want to just keep going forward and accept these new changes in my practice. I just went back to Vytas’ class yesterday (with my sister who was in town!! I had a hard time staying focused b/c we like to laugh so much) and I was once again reminded how important the breath is. If you have never done yoga, I highly recommend it! If you have had to return back to yoga after anything — an injury, a pregnancy, just stopping in general, write in and let me know what your experience has been! Happy Friday to all!

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