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Meagan Francis
Michigan
Author & mom of five writing about life, motherhood and the pursuit of happiness
Recent Activity
Melanie, I third North Park Nature Center. I took the kids there once and we saw FIVE deer. In about a half hour. And they were very (almost disturbingly) close.
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ooh! You're going to Sault Ste. Marie? I grew up there! (on the US side...) And yea, unfortunately I think I used to BE one of those wimpy girls at the gym. Not trying to look sexy, I was just totally intimidated by the machinery and not all that willing to work hard. Now my time is so limited that when I make it to the gym I make it count!
Toggle Commented Jun 23, 2009 on What sexy is NOT: Gym edition at Becoming Something
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I would also love to attend!
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My third was not planned and in fact the timing and circumstances were about as bad as they could be--but like you, I didn't feel entirely comfortable sharing that, as friends and readers of mine were struggling with infertility and loss. And now that I have five, I sometimes feel a little funny when I admit to not being a great "playing on the floor" mom, because I fear that people will think "Why does she have *so many* kids if she doesn't want to be an engaged mom to them?" But of course, that's baloney. I'm a great mom, I have happy and loving and loved children who I am available to almost all the time and engaged with much of that time. There's just a few things about motherhood that I do differently than I thought I would before I had kids. There are always tradeoffs, and for every minute I don't spend playing cars on the floor (which honestly has never gone well every time I've tried) there is another minute they will remember of me singing, talking or reading to them. We can't all do it all all of the time. Congratulations and if it makes you feel any better, I found going from 2 to 3 kids a lot easier than going from 1 to 2. And I've been amazed at how different and uniquely cool that third...and fourth...and fifth kid can be, even when the first two have really set your expectations high.
Toggle Commented Jun 4, 2009 on About This Baby at Velveteen Mind
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Heh, Shannon, I wrote a column about this a few years ago making many of the same points you did, and I received MANY nasty, nasty e-mails telling me that no self-respecting bride would want me or my "snot-nosed brats" around on her special day...blah de blah blah. The funny thing was that I said several times that yes, it's the bride/groom's freedom to invite or not invite whomever they choose, and that I understand the cost factor...HOWEVER, weddings are expensive for guests, too, and having no kids invited may just make it impossible for me to attend, especially if it's out of town. If that $250-a-head dinner is important enough to risk some family/friends not being able to make it, that's their decision to make...but I also am not able to turn my life upside down and blow my entire budget to attend. And I personally enjoy the idea of a wedding as a family event, and that includes younger members of the family. It would be important enough for me to include them that I'd go with a less fancy reception...but that's just me.
Toggle Commented May 25, 2009 on The Adults-Only Wedding at Chicago Moms Blog
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AMEN! I'm bypassing the summer camps, the planned activities and the organized sports this summer, turning off the TV, and setting my boys free. I want them dirty and exhausted at the end of the day. I just hope there are other kids around for them to do it with.
Toggle Commented May 13, 2009 on Set Summer Free at Chicago Moms Blog
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This is exactly why I hate labels. Because they make us all into "others" or make you wonder if you're doing enough to fit the "label" others have given you (or that you've given yourself). Attachment parenting and natural parenting have become synonymous, but I don't think it was supposed to be that way. Attachment parenting started out as a specific parenting style including feeding on demand and being responsive to a baby's cues. The wooden toys, alternative medicine, organic cotton onesies, cloth diapers made from the hair of yaks on an organic, gluten-free diet...all that stuff got lumped in with the "movement" but really had nothing to do with the original principles of AP. So you could conceivably be an attachment parent but not a natural parent. I choose to use neither term, though my parenting choices tend to line up with both. I think both labels are extremely loaded and I don't want people to misunderstand where I'm coming from as a parent, so I don't use them. Hey wait, I think I may have written about this before...yes...I did! http://svmomblog.typepad.com/chicago_moms/2007/11/just-say-no-to-.html
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Carrie, I've been feeling like a neglectful mom because on the days that he doesn't take the bus (we live way too far to walk currently), I let my 5-year-old walk into school by himself...not walk TO school, but walk IN TO the school, as in, I pull up and drop him off 50 feet from the front door and wait while he walks up to the door, goes in and the door shuts behind him. This is exactly the same thing the bus driver does, by the way. But all the other parents who drive their kids to school park, get out, get any younger siblings out, and walk their child into the school. Every single day. (And it's May so it's not as though they are just helping their child get used to the process). I frankly find it baffling, because not only is it not anything the teachers requested, I just don't see the point. Is there something likely to happen to your child as he walks from your vehicle into the building in plain sight of you? Does he need to be personally delivered to the classroom each and every day? I don't really care what other parents do, but in this case, there are very few parking spots out front and when half a classroom worth of parents show up at exactly the same time and try to park, it makes it really hard for other parents to do a quick pull-in and drop-off. Well, other parent, I guess...I'm the only one. (There is no WAY I'm getting a 7-week-old and three-year-old out of their car seats in order to escort my very capable five-year-old fifty feet.)
Toggle Commented May 4, 2009 on Afraid to be Free Range? at Chicago Moms Blog
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My husband currently works away from us four nights a week (and is home Friday night through Monday evening). The hardest day? Tuesday, because I'm used to him having been here and now have to re-adjust to being alone. Also, because in some ways he creates more work (sure, he USES dishes, but does he always WASH them?) By Tuesday evening I'm getting things under control again, and then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are usually okay. I think it would be way harder if he traveled sporadically, because it would be much harder to get a routine down. Like Sharyn said, it's amazing what you can do when you have to. My husband and I were separated for over a year when my big boys were little, and I consider it both one of the hardest but also most empowering times of my life.
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It looks great. I am amazed by the stench in my big boys' room sometimes. It smells the way I remember the boys' floor in my college dorm smelling, minus the collective next-day beer breath. Just...feet and sweaty bodies and always something I can't identify. And getting worse.
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I LOVE those photos of you!
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>> I think that Mormons are even MORE upset when teens get pregnant than mainstream society, not less so.<< I don't know. Of course, I'm not Mormon so I can't speak from that perspective. But you might be surprised at how upset secular/mainstream families can get when their children aren't following the socially-acceptable timeline. It's not the sex that bothers them, necessarily; it's the pregnancy--because it doesn't fit into the "don't do anything of importance until you're at least 30 because you'll probably screw it up" mentality. I just wondered if, in a community where younger marriage was more embraced, earlier pregnancies--unplanned and un-ideal as they may be--might be more easily salvaged and worked around.
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2009 on Dr. Berman and Oprah: Ahem. at Becoming Something
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Yes, I was definitely asking a real question, which I think you answered, Jane. I was wondering if maybe a Mormon family could have a different approach to the teen/sex question because it might be more acceptable or even expected to marry/have babies younger.
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2009 on Dr. Berman and Oprah: Ahem. at Becoming Something
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I've been thinking a lot lately about how impossible our entire culture is for teenagers. They're expected to be able to handle all these completely life-changing decisions (How hard should I try in high school? Should I go to college and where and for what? Should I have sex? Should I use protection if I have sex? Should I try drugs/alcohol? Should I drive fast?) at the same time that their hormones are rendering them unable to think these decisions through carefully. And because our culture has become so oriented toward doing things a certain way--namely, going to college for at least four years, working for a few years and doing the single/partying thing for a while, getting married and having a few years together as a married couple without kids, buying a house, and then MAYBE having a kid when you're in your late 20s or 30s...well, it makes those teenage decisions even more life-changing. Because if you get pregnant when you're 17 or 18 or even 19 society is not going to encourage you to have that baby and take the fast-track to family life. So you have to choose--do I look like a together, successful person doing things the way I'm "supposed" to, or do I have this baby and struggle and look like a loser to the outside world until I'm finally old and/or well enough off to buy my respectability back? (Can you tell I speak from experience?) Let me ask, in a Mormon community are some of those choices less fraught? I'm thinking for example of an early pregnancy. In families where it's expected that you'll follow my above timeline, a pregnancy in the teens is often seen as nothing short of a tragedy. Would it be treated differently in your family/community/church?
Toggle Commented Apr 21, 2009 on Dr. Berman and Oprah: Ahem. at Becoming Something
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Hmm. Just because a parent allows gun or other weapon play doesn't mean they "aren't concerned about violence". As a mother who loves my kids, of course I am. I happen to believe that weapon play (within reason) gives children an outlet to work through their understanding of the world. And it's not like parents have to push this kind of play on their kids by purchasing toy guns and weapons. My older boys have been pointing sticks and "shooting" them since they were toddlers--with no previous exposure to violence in any form. Secondly, I take no pleasure in harming anyone or anything, but I LOVE laser tag. All I know is, as a mom of four boys no matter how hard I tried to keep gun play out of their lives, I'd be setting myself up for heartbreak if I really expected them to NEVER pretend to hunt, fight with or even kill another person (real or imaginary). Just because your kids haven't done it yet (or you've never seen it) doesn't mean they never will, despite your most careful guidance. It doesn't take a lot of--or any--suggestion from adults to get kids to play this way...from what I've seen, it seems hard-wired in many kids. I do respect your decision not to allow gun play with your kids, but I'm always bothered by the judgmental nature of these kinds of posts. Bottom line--you can't know if your approach is more right and I can't know if mine is. Both are opinions. That's why I'd never respond "curtly" to a friend who preferred to keep toy guns out of her home. And I'd appreciate that gun-free moms didn't make assumptions about my views toward violence.
Toggle Commented Apr 20, 2009 on Gun Toting Birthday Boy at Chicago Moms Blog
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I'm not an Everyday Math fan, personally. My son (now 11) is very science/math oriented and had high marks in math up until fourth grade, when some of the more advanced EM concepts started to be introduced. The number of steps in a typical problem confused him and threw up the first obstacle. Then, by the time he'd finally figure out what steps he was supposed to follow and how, he didn't have a strong enough basis in his math facts to actually work the arithmetic needed for a correct answer. (His school had taught math facts along with the EM curriculum from the beginning, but there must not have been time to do an adequate job with both because he was nowhere near fluent in them despite having done well in math through third grade.) Then he'd ask for my help, but the whole concept was so foreign to me that I was unable to assist him. Math homework took hours, we were both frustrated, and worse, he wasn't LEARNING. He finally was able to figure out how to work problems using the "new" methods, but it took all year, and I don't think he had any idea of WHAT he was doing. He was blindly following steps but the steps had no meaning. My other son does fine with EM, but he has a much easier time following directions in general. I think my older son's problem was that too many different ways of arriving at the same answer, plus many different steps, all added up to "noise" in his brain. He needed a straightforward, concrete way to work problems with the least amount of guesswork or estimating possible. More difficult concepts can be introduced when it's time, but if a kid doesn't know that 8X8 = 64 or even how to arrive at that answer, how is he ever to grasp algebra or trigonometry?
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Wow, thanks for all the supportive & informative comments, guys. I definitely plan on writing a letter (we received no exit survey or anything) both praising the excellent care she received and pointing out the areas where the NICU could be more parent-friendly. I'm hopeful it'll be well-received.
Toggle Commented Apr 2, 2009 on Navigating the NICU at Chicago Moms Blog
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Is the "leaving furniture out" thing universally acceptable in Chicago? I am not a Chicago native, so maybe I just don't "get" it, but "first come first served" felt like a more fair way to go to me...and I spent plenty of time hauling groceries and/or children down the street while living in Chicago. I do understand saving a place that you've spent time shoveling, but I have to admit I got really irritated when it was the middle of summer and half a block was taken up by people's chairs...sometimes right in front of my building! On a street full of three-flats, it's not really fair IMO to monopolize the spaces in front of your building, since they don't "belong" just to you but the other residents as well. Just another perspective. I'm not as cranky about it as my husband, who mentioned wanting to chop the chairs up into little pieces with an ax on more that one occasion...
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I was so thrilled when my son at age 7 saw a Kidz Bop video and said "I don't get it. Why don't people just listen to the real versions of these songs?" Exactly, son. Better yet, how about people don't listen to either version of some of these songs?
Toggle Commented Feb 21, 2009 on I don't want it that way at Chicago Moms Blog
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Kim, I remember the elevator lady! We were ALL thinking the same thing!! Once at a writer's conference I had a glass of wine or so and was chatting up a magazine editor, complimenting an article I'd read in his magazine about civil war in Africa. "That was fascinating--the piece about the Hooties and the Titsus," I said. "I mean, er, the Titties and the Hoo-hoos...the...the...hutus and the tutus...err...just forget it." "I'll just forget this ever happened," he said as I walked away.
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Jen, I see kids standing in backseats in the city all the time, just looking out the back window. Not only is it dangerous but--hello?--illegal? It's like the parents aren't even worried about getting caught. Maybe police don't take it as seriously as I assume they would? Or maybe people are just that dumb?
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2009 on The Car Seat Shuffle at Chicago Moms Blog
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