Category Archives: Link

Preschool Funding

If you wonder why I’ve been so quiet lately, it’s because I’ve been busy reading and writing for LJ Idol. But I really out to be putting more effort into driving votes to a contest that deserves greater attention .

Winning the audience prize in the Baby Steps video competition could fund my son’s preschool tuition through the end of the year. We’ve been living paycheck-to-paycheck, so that would be a godsend.

EVEN IF YOU’VE ALREADY VOTED, please go to the Baby Steps competition page to cast your vote for my video. You can vote every two days, so please bookmark it and return. The deadline is March 28.

The still of my video shows my son with two puppets. It’s the first video on the first page. It looks like I’m soundly beating the competition, but a contestant on a later page has four times as many votes, having apparently learned about the ability to vote multiple times much earlier than I did.

Please share this post! In return, I’ll gladly help you promote any personal project.

In other news, I’d be grateful for suggestions for new WordPress templates, since this one doesn’t look as good on the newest version of WordPress.

Video Contest Countdown

First of all, thanks for all the support so far, but if I’m going to win the audience prize in the Baby Steps video contest, it’s going to take a lot more. Right now, I’ve got about 28 votes, whereas the top vote-getter has twice as many.

If you haven’t yet viewed it, please take a moment to watch this video of me and my little man, Kung Fu Panda, called “Puppet Problem Solving.” It should make you giggle. I’ve embedded it here for maximum convenience.

Afterwards, if you liked it, please go to the voting page ( and click on the box in the upper right-hand corner of the video. Here’s an image to show you exactly where to click.

Voting page for Baby Steps competition with arrow

A judging panel will award top prizes based on how well the videos met specific requirements, but they’ll also give out a cash prize for the top vote getter. Winning that cash prize would help defray the costs of KFP’s preschool tuition for the rest of the year.

Thanks again for all your support!

Help Out a Mommy

I apologize for my limited posting of late. From week to week, my best-laid intentions for writing seem to fall prey to the demands of daily living and parenting. I hope to turn that around soon.

This week, I did manage to squeeze out enough time to put together a 2-minute video for a competition held by an early education organization called Baby Steps. It features my little man, Kung Fu Panda, who readily helped me shoot a video I call “Puppet Problem Solving.”

Please take a quick break and view it; it should make you smile (maybe even laugh):

To view it, scroll to the bottom and look for an image of KFP with two puppets.

Afterwards, if you liked it, please click on the box in the upper right-hand corner of the video to vote. A judging panel will award top prizes based on how well the videos met specific requirements, but they’ll also give out a cash prize for the top vote getter.

Mommy Files: Enriching His World

KFP's fingerpaint train. #art
Can you see the train?

This afternoon, KFP and I made homemade fingerpaints and painted: me an abstract outdoor scene, him an exuberant, minimalist train.

I felt good about it for two reasons: one, I am finally recovered enough from my cold to do something besides sit on the couch while my head spins; second, I got to cross something off the “Kingergarten Here I Come Calendar” we’ve been following. I like crossing things off.

We picked up the calendar for free at the local public library (although you can also order them online). They’re designed for preschoolers, ages 3 through 5, with activities that relate to literacy, basic math principles, safety, hygiene, scientific principles and other essential skills. Each month there are 16-20 activities to cross off, ranging from simple craft projects to things to point out to your child (such as taking a walk and looking for signs of autumn). Each month also suggests four to five books, which I added to a Google doc and have been getting from the local library system.

Some of the activities are challenging and more involved (such as today’s activity of making and using fingerpaints) while others are much easier (such as looking through a magazine for people and figuring out what expressions are on their faces).

I’ve been pleased with how many of the activities have been ones I’m already doing: such as giving him an option of choosing between two acceptable choices for things like what shirt to wear or what book to read next. His response to most of the new activities has been so enthusiastic that I get excited about them, as well. Some things have become new favorite activities, such as acting out stories with puppets and stuffed animals.

He may still be a couple years away from kindergarten, but with these activities, combined with his preschool, I predict he will definitely be ready when the time comes.

He's painting a train, he says.
KFP creates his minimalist train.

Dodging the Mombie Hordes

This week, while brainstorming a possible name for tired parents, I did an Internet search for the term “mombie.” Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the term already existed and meant something quite a bit different from what I thought was my genius idea. A mombie, according to the collective wisdom of the Internet, is a mother who was once a feminist and is now a pale shadow of her former self, caring only about cooking, cleaning, and caring for baby.

My discovery prompted my entry this past week for the online writing contest, LJ Idol, a humor piece I called Attack of the Mombies, which placed in the Top 5 in votes.

In the piece, I tried to channel Erma Bombeck, who was famously self-deprecating about her own domestic skills. As I was writing it, though, I was highly aware of the fact that few of us live at one extreme or the other. The truth is, I often enjoy cooking, while I’m in the midst of it. But while I like eating the results, it’s simply not something I spend much of my waking time pondering. It’s not that I fault mothers who do enjoy cooking; I simply find my thoughts (and most of my conscious energy) focused elsewhere.

That’s the nagging aspect of this topic that my piece — built around a simple humor device — couldn’t begin to approach. What, exactly, is feminism? And are feminism and housework mutually exclusive? My immediate response is to say no, they’re not; in fact, it’s a preposterous idea. Feminism is about expanding choices, and some women choose to spend the bulk of their time cooking, cleaning, and taking care of other household tasks.

I’d like to hear further thoughts about the feminists v. mombies debate. Where do you categorize yourself? And is it a destructive argument to be having, to begin with?

Looking forward to Belated Mommy? Name your own price for my new special-edition ebook, Now with Kung-Fu Action Grip, featuring writings about pregnancy and my toddler’s first years.

Mommy Files: Changing Priorities

On my personal blog this week, I wrote an essay introducing myself through my toddler, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda: Meet My Little Panda. In it, I talk about how many aspects of myself I see in my 2-1/2-year-old boy, as his personality becomes clear.

Pondering these connections also made me think about how much of my life revolves around him these days. In pre-KFP days, whether a day was good or not was defined by: how much I accomplished, how I felt, and how well things went. These days, no matter how much I achieve, my day rises or falls based on: how content he is, how well he eats, and whether he takes a nap! Before I became a mother, I underestimated how much my priorities would change. I find myself continually apologizing to friends for losing touch, because most days, it’s enough to take care of my son’s needs; keep up with household tasks like cleaning, laundry and cooking; and maybe get a little writing in.

This week on “The Simpsons,” Maggie goes through a period of self-assessment because she realizes that her mother was just as much of a high achiever in school. Yet, Maggie is determined not to turn out like her mother, and therefore, she swears that she’ll avoid such distractions as falling in love, which could lead to marriage, a family, and being a stay-at-home mom. I remember when I used to feel that way, myself, believing that my self-worth could only come from achieving something in my chosen career of writing/journalism.

If you had told that version of me — from roughly 20 years ago — about my life today, I wonder what she’d think. But my 22-year-old self could never have understood how rewarding it is to watch my son grow and develop. He is an amazing little person, and I feel like one of the best achievements of my life was bringing him into the world.

Yes, I still have career goals, but now I’m trying to find a balance between those goals and taking care of the guy in the T-Rex shirt sitting next to me.

Secrets of the Work-at-Home Mom

In an ideal world, I would wait until my husband got home each day to do my work, and he would watch our little Kung Fu Panda while I researched, wrote, and did other career-related tasks. In my world, it doesn’t work this way. Because I do evening transcription work at home, more or less at full-time night shift hours, any writing-related tasks must take place either during the day or on weekends.

While I admit my methods may be far from perfect, I’ve discovered a few things that work for me.

  1. Get out of the house. I try to spend at least a couple hours each day out of the house with KFP. Whether it’s working out at the YMCA while he plays in Child Watch, or attending the weekly Toddler Story Time at the local library, or simply running errands or taking a walk, getting out of the house keeps both of us from getting cabin fever. I often spend time planning articles or working out ideas while we’re out and about, and if the mood strikes me, I can write by dictating into my voice recorder (using Dragon Naturally Speaking to transcribe it once we get home). The value of this method became more clear to me this past month, when my son and I took turns being sick, which meant staying home. By the end of it, we were both going stir crazy!
  2. Get him involved in an activity. When it’s time to sit down at the keyboard, I make sure there’s something constructive to occupy my little guy. Whether it’s his wooden train set, a coloring book and crayons, or one of his favorite Sprout TV shows, I make sure he has something to do, some water to drink, and if it’s snack time, a snack.Then I sit down on the couch and get to work. Working on the couch, I’ve discovered, is more comfortable for both of us than trying to sit at my office desk. He knows he’s welcome to crawl up next to me and snuggle, if he likes, while Mommy works.
  3. Take “toddler breaks.” Some breaks are built in when working with a little one. Many is the time I interrupted myself in the middle of writing a sentence because my nose told me it was time to change his diaper. In addition, I also try to remember to take breaks to spend a little time with him: reading a book or building a block tower. On the days I don’t go to the gym, I may pause to have a “dance party” with him, as we watch his favorite “Sesame Street” DVD and groove to the silly songs.
  4. Be reasonable about goals. I try to be realistic about my daily goals. If I can write one 500-word article and do a little networking, or if I put together one poetry submission, I consider it a good day. When I have larger projects, I try to break them down into manageable steps to spread over several days. It’s not always possible to avoid overworking myself — I am, after all, still a Virgo and a Type A personality — but my son and I are both happier when my goals are reasonable and achievable.
  5. Stay on task. Admittedly, this is the point that gives me the most trouble. It’s too easy to get distracted by personal e-mails, social networking and Web surfing. But more and more lately, I’ve tried to do a better job of maintaining focus. Since toddlers can be subject to mood swings, I’m learning it’s best to get the important stuff out of the way while he’s being cooperative. Then, if he’s still playing happily (and doesn’t need anything), I can take a few moments to check Facebook or read some friends’ blogs.

These are just a few of the things that work for me. Holly Reisem Hanna has written a very informative blog entry, “10 Ways Work at Home Moms Can Entertain Their Children without Using Technology,” which I recently discovered while searching for Christmas gift ideas to suggest people get me.

I definitely already use creative play toys. In our case, we have a wooden toy train set which provides hours of fun; two different types of building blocks; a flotilla of little construction trucks and other do-it-yourself toys; and a bin full of books my toddler loves to peruse himself. I’m looking into expanding our craft options beyond just crayons, and I’m also going to feed his musical interests with yet another musical toy — a toddler DJ station — to add to his drum set, play guitar, keyboards, shakers and harmonica. The best part of him making his own music is that I can participate by singing along, even while typing away!

What are some other tips you’d share?

KFP colors a monkey in the Hideaway Latte Cafe, Lewisburg.