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Tracey
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Yesterday for Mother's Day, I went to church. By myself. I do not get to my Unitarian Church on the Upper East Side as often as I'd like, or really ever. But I thought the holiday would allow me some time for peace and contemplation. And when the minister started the service saying Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, birth mothers, adoptive mothers, and those regardless of gender identity who have played a nurturing role in the lives of children, I knew I had come to the right place. A mother in the congregation gave the sermon. She quoted a... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2017 at Astoriamom
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I have struggled to write in recent weeks since politics have dominated my thoughts. And while I have decided not to completely avoid political topics, this is not a political blog. So I'll discuss something else that's been on my mind lately: Ferngully. I recently rediscovered this movie when I decided to introduce it to some friends about to embark on a rainforest vacation. I had seen it in the theater when it came out in the early 90's and it had a strong influence on me. Fueling my future in primatology, it inspired my desire to see the rainforest.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2017 at Astoriamom
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Photo by YinXia Ng While studying anthropology, I once heard a story about bonobos. Bonobos are great apes related to chimpanzees but with a big difference: whereas chimpanzees are male-dominated and highly violent, bonobos are female-dominated and use sex to establish social bonds and ease tensions. In both chimps and bonobos, males are larger than females, more so than in humans. While observing a group of bonobos feeding at a fruit tree, my professor saw a high-ranking male push a low-ranking female out of the way to get some fruit. She almost fell to the ground and let out a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2017 at Astoriamom
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"It is time to stop standing at the edges of rooms. Hugging the walls. Living in my head... if I don't poke my head out of my shell and show people who I am, all anyone will ever think I am is my shell." Shonda Rhimes New Year's means new beginnings. New diets, new commitments, sometimes even a new lifestyle. It means for many people, in the words of Shonda Rhimes, saying yes. Many mothers find this difficult—to say yes to who they really are and the layered lives they lead. Social media often involves an onslaught of picture-perfect family... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2017 at Astoriamom
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Never have I directly posted about politics here. This is a parenting blog whose readers include good people I love and care about with different political beliefs. But I need to express something as a concerned parent. Because being a parent has been the hardest part of this election for me. The hardest part is the unshakeable feeling that this world is not yet worthy of our children. I was raised to be politically aware and involved. I first remember watching presidential debates in 1984 and think I have rarely missed a presidential debate since. Over the years, I have... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2016 at Astoriamom
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I love Halloween. The decorations, the costumes, the chance for my ever-present-but-usually-latent inner Goth to emerge. But I also love it for another reason. It marks the anniversary of Ben and I meeting two of our now closest friends, Jess and Adam - our friendiversary. On Halloween of 2009, Ben and I attended a party at our old house - this is the house where we met. A long story in itself, basically I lived in a house with a bunch of twenty somethings who had come together on craigslist. I went away one summer to do fieldwork in Borneo... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at Astoriamom
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On a recent walk home with Willa from school, I saw a little dead bird on the sidewalk. Not a common bird, but a beautiful goldfinch or some other little yellowish bird, just lying there. I hoped Willa wouldn't see it, but she did. And she of course asked me what happened to the birdie. I am obsessively honest with my kids. They already know the truth about Santa Claus and if they asked where babies come from, I would read them one of those child-friendly picture books that gives the real anatomical facts. Like my parents (who also never... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2016 at Astoriamom
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I am not someone who is "not ready" for their kids to be in school. I think a healthy amount of separation is just fine at their ages and feel that it will not only help them grow, but make our time together more...special. However, I am not ready to leave my son for over six hours and find his entire day has disappeared into a Sarlacc pit with almost no evidence of what occurred. Yet I am faced with this loss daily due to a serious illness that Nate has acquired - school amnesia. Willa does not suffer from... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2016 at Astoriamom
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I think of the calendar in terms of the academic year. For me, Labor Day is vaguely equivalent to New Years Eve and then the new year begins with the start of school. I realize that I personally have not been in school, even grad school, for a rather long time. But that way of thinking stuck. Plus, I taught preschool for years and then worked at a university for another few years. So to me September is the beginning of a new year. And this September is the beginning of quite a few other things as well. Nate started... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2016 at Astoriamom
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On a recent visit to church, an enjoyable but relatively rare event, I listened to a sermon focused on someone I have barely thought of since childhood: Mr. Rogers. I had no idea that Fred Rogers was a minister or that he got into television for the sole purpose of providing ethical entertainment to children or that he gave a speech to Congress back in the 60's to argue for funding for PBS. Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward, the woman giving the sermon, noted that his television show followed a similar format to a church service: an opening hymn of sorts, a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2016 at Astoriamom
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I just read my children the book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. Beautifully illustrated, the story revolves around a new girl, Maya, and narrator Chloe who spurns her attempts at friendship, looking away from Maya's smiles, rejecting her offers to share toys and sneering at her raggedly clothes. After a school lesson describing how acts of kindness ripple through the world like a stone in water, Chloe reconsiders her behavior towards Maya. It is not your typical children's book, which would end happily with Chloe changing and becoming best friends with Maya. Instead, she learns that Maya has moved away.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2016 at Astoriamom
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When Willa was 18 months old, she successfully used the potty for the first time. Thrilled, I thought she was one of those potty-precocious children who would be wearing dry underpants before two. I was wrong. After occasionally using the potty for the next week after that first triumph, she just stopped. As if she thought, "Ok, I tried this potty thing and ...eh." Unless I physically held her down on the potty, no amount of persuasion would get her to sit. But she was 18 months and I thought there was no need to force it. Well, she's now... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2016 at Astoriamom
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During my first pregnancy, I always planned to return to work. While I wasn't thrilled about putting a 4-month-old in day care, I had started looking for an affordable babysitter, maybe a student, who could watch my little Sylvie during the day. Some folks told me I would change my mind when the baby arrived, but honestly I don't think I would have. Having an income-earning job, even an unglamorous, making-a-pittance job, was an important part of my identity. I knew pumping would be a pain, but I was determined. I was even in the process of figuring out how... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2016 at Astoriamom
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I returned to my high school last Saturday for the first time in over a decade. A dedication ceremony was being held to rename the auditorium for my former music teacher, Dr. Bunnell. The ceremony moved me in part because it reminded me of how inspiring and devoted Dr. Bunnell was as a teacher. But also because it brought back so many memories. I entered my freshman year with very low self-esteem. I not only lacked confidence, I also did not see much value in it. Luckily, I enjoyed a large circle of supportive friends in high school who encouraged... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2016 at Astoriamom
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I recently got into a discussion with some friends about which one of us is the worst mom. Now bear in mind, none of us are abusive and all of us devote a huge amount of time to our kids. But we all felt that we really are the worst. And many other moms I know have confessed having the same thought. Having taught preschool for nearly 5 years, occasionally having sole charge of a room of 15 two-year-olds, I thought I would totally have motherhood in the bag. But somehow being an actual mom of two children is harder.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2016 at Astoriamom
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Not the most popular of Disney movies, but one of the few offered on Netflix streaming, Mulan happens to be a favorite of mine. So I recently introduced it to Willa and Nate on a rainy day. They both enjoyed it, but not the same parts. Willa likes the beginning when Mulan gets bathed, dressed, and made up for the matchmaker. Nate enjoys the cannon explosions and the main villain. With such gender-typical preferences, I think they may have missed the point of the movie. While I think both nature and nurture influence behavior, I do think some inherent differences... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2016 at Astoriamom
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When I was single and uninformed, I remember thinking it odd that anyone would nurse a child old enough to verbally ask for it. Little did I know I would be nursing a little girl who would say, "Can I have the other side please?" But now, after two and a half years, I think Willa's breastfeeding days may have come to an end. While many Americans hold my former beliefs, I now know that the World Health Organization actually recommends children nurse for at least their first two years. And in other parts of the world, the average to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2016 at Astoriamom
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Last week, I headed out to an event at Nate's school with Willa. We left the house with her lovely grey knit hat securely on her curly head, but it was missing when we arrived at school. "Where is my hat?" she asked. I had no clue. I asked her if she took it off and she said yes. I asked her if she threw it out of the stroller, and she again said yes. Great. Her only good winter hat, gone. After a fun event, we left the school for home with Willa's two fleecy leopard mittens on her... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2016 at Astoriamom
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Children are messy creatures by nature. I love my two mess-makers, but they do leave a trail of dirt and destruction wherever they go. With sympathy for Sisyphus, I find my floor, swept clean only minutes before, covered with new crumbs and food chunks almost immediately. The bed I actually made gets attacked within moments by wild children, disregarding my no-monkeys-jumping-on-the-bed rule. The toilet which I just cleaned becomes the victim of my son's poor aim the next time he needs to use the potty. It makes you wonder why bother cleaning at all! After reading Marie Kondo's The Life-changing... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Astoriamom
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After employing every possible method (strict routines, bribery, sticker charts, crying it out), we had finally started to get the children's sleep problems under control. And then the winter illnesses hit. First Nate was sick with one of his odd symptomless fevers that he gets from time to time and then Willa. She went to bed happy with no noticeable symptoms on Sunday night. Then shortly after we went to sleep, we heard that tell tale barking cough: croup. It was familiar to me, but not from our kids. Neither one of them had ever experienced croup before, but I... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2016 at Astoriamom
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Nate starts kindergarten next year and we currently have no idea where he will attend. We are zoned for PS 84, but have not heard particularly good things about the school. We applied to a bunch of local charter schools (Our World Neighbor, Growing Up Green, VOICE), which work on a straight lottery system. And we applied to the Gifted and Talented program. The NYC gifted and talented program starts at kindergarten and is extremely competitive. Four-year-old candidates must take a standardized test of 70 (yes, 70) questions which include analogies, spatial relationships, and patterns given by a tester (a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2016 at Astoriamom
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Clearly, the holiday rush consumed me this year. I have not posted in an embarrassingly long time. I found the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to just fly by this year. Between buying Christmas presents, baking Christmas cookies, hosting our annual holiday party, and sending out Christmas cards, I found myself pretty booked. But there is a reason why I commit myself to all these holiday activities every year; I love them. I love trying to find the perfect present to give. While I may have dropped the ball a bit on some family members, Nate was overjoyed at his... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2016 at Astoriamom
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When Nate was a newborn, I started keeping a gratitude journal. I tried to spend a minute each night writing down at least one thing for which I was grateful. An important practice because I needed reminding of all my good fortune. Even though I now had something so precious and so wanted, the daily struggles of exhaustion and new parenthood often distracted me from all the little blessings. I admit I have not kept up with the journal. But I do still find the practice of gratitude extremely important. We all have those everyday trials that challenge us, some... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2015 at Astoriamom
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I love the time of year from October through December. I love all the apple picking, leaf changing, pumpkin carving, costume wearing of October. The scarf wearing, hot cider drinking, family feasting, Thanksgiving of November. And I love the hall decking, carol singing, tree lighting, gift giving of December. But there's something I absolutely hate about this time of year: the dark. Whether it's my Italian heritage or just my personality, I miss the evening sun. Perhaps I have a touch of SAD, but I find myself continually depressed each time the sun sets before 5. I have noticed a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2015 at Astoriamom
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Willa seems - no, not seems - is transitioning out of her nap. She occasionally just will not fall asleep, although she has had a consistent nap time for about a year now. I have noticed that when she skips a nap, she does tend to sleep better at night - sometimes straight through until 5 or even 5:30. But of course, no nap means no break time for me in the afternoon and inevitable fussiness in the evenings. So I keep thinking about whether or not to try to cut out her nap - and keep thinking of it... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2015 at Astoriamom