Archives for January 2011

How to Prevent Birth Defects

Did you know that January is Birth Defects Prevention month? I just happened to follow doctor’s orders and took my prenatal vitamins with my two pregnancies, even though they made me sick a lot of times. I’m glad I did though because I didn’t realize how important they are in terms of fetal development until our friends at March of Dimes shared with us their data on folic acid.

According to the CDC, 3,000 babies are born in the U.S. every year with neural tube defects, 70% of which could be prevented with the proper doses of B Vitamin folic acid.

These are babies like Isaac Thacker, who is about to celebrate his sixth birthday but who almost didn’t survive being born. Isaac has Spina bifida. He has undergone more than a dozen operations. His mom, Angie shares their heartbreaking story here and she says, “I only wish I had known to be taking folic acid before, rather than just during pregnancy,” she said. “I hope mine and Isaac’s story can help remind women that they should be taking at least 400 mg of folic acid daily at least a year before becoming pregnant.”

Did you know that? According to a March of Dimes survey, only 28% of women 18-45 know that folic acid can prevent birth defects and just 11% know folic acid should be consumed prior to pregnancy.

So even if you’re just thinking of getting pregnant or you know someone who is… please pass along this information. If you are in the St. Louis area, Schnuck’s Markets (with the help of March of Dimes) just began a program in January 2010 to provide free prenatal vitamins to any pregnant woman with a prescription! So please spread the word!

Thank you, friends.

BOLD SPONSORS

BOLD uses storytelling and the arts to raise awareness and support mother-initiated dialogue and solutions to maternity care problems.  The US cesarean section rate is more than 30%–15% higher than the WHO-recommended rate for industrialized countries; and it is estimated that only 2% of US mothers receive maternity care practices that promote normal birth.  Our wives’, sisters’ and daughters’ experiences are reflected in these numbers. Click here to see the BOLD sponsor levels or the download the full sponsorship packet if you think you or your organization would like to sponsor future BOLD events.

Proceeds benefit organizations in alignment with the BOLD Mission to inspire communities to create childbirth choices that work for mothers.

Sponsor support goes towards theatre costs, printing and, most importantly, getting the word out to encourage diverse members in our community to come and experience these events. In return, sponsors received the opportunity to show their support of the St. Louis Birthing Community while raising awareness of sponsors’ products or services. More than 150 people attended the BOLD event last year and 300 are expected in 2011!

How to Fall

I didn’t let people know the true depth of the hurt I was feeling after my first miscarriage. I let a few people in, but not many. My sadness seemed out of proportion to the amount of hurt I thought I was supposed to feel. In many ways, I just moved on. Hurting was hard. Moving on sounded like a better plan.

It took a lot to force my hand. Somewhere around miscarriage number four I guess you could say I “let go”. Life had me down on my knees and that was where I wanted to stay. Closer to the ground. Closer to spirit, to family. My perspective of life and the things that mattered were forever altered. I wasn’t in control and that was okay. Finally. That was okay.

It took me awhile to give myself permission to fall, but when I did, I fell into the arms of something greater than I ever could have imagined.

May this day find you holding on to letting go. Surrender to it. Lose control.

I wrote this poem years ago but it seemed right to share with you today.

SPIRIT

If I were to jump
Would you follow?

How is it
You are already there
On the valley floor
Arms outstretched
Ready to catch
What hasn’t even fallen?
——-

Suzanne Tucker, publisher of MyMommyManual.com and co-creator of YogaParenting, an online course helping parents create more joy and less stress in parenting.

How to Stay Organized, New Moms!

So a friend of mine recently described me as “Controlled Easy Going.”

???

As in, “I go with the flow but am conscious of what I allow in my space.” Alright. I’m going to admit that is totally and completely accurate. In fact, I will go even further and say I’m a bit of a control FREAK when it comes to what I allow in my space in order to allow as much flow as possible. For example, most of you know, I don’t own a TV. I also don’t subscribe to any magazines, nor do I read the papers. You could say I have a strictly controlled media diet, mostly consisting of blogs in my Google Reader, Twitter (Lists Only), and TED videos.

So my approach to organization is similar. I’m a freak about organization because the more organized I am about small things like my time and my stuff, the more I can focus on the things that I think are really important, like my kids and my friends and learning and growing. When it comes down to it, I think that’s how I live my pen name of “Practical Mommy.”

Tomorrow, I’m going to be on Great Day St. Louis with my good friend and new mom, Virginia Kerr. I’m sharing some tips with her on how to put some systems in place to support the new mommy brain. So tune in to KMOV4. Yes… I know, I’m on TV. The irony is not lost of me, friends.

And I’ll post the segment here too… that way I can actually watch it! Ha!

My  Product/Organization Tips

My Life Matters – personal planner for women

Mesh Travel Pouches – to organize your purse/diaper bag

Baskets – a.k.a. portable changing stations

Hold It Baby® – On the go toy organizer from our friend, @ElizabethLyons

Check out the Hold It Baby in action as Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy, puts it to the test with her twins in this short video:

How to Hurt

We all grieve in our own way. Add to that, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and you have two basic truth’s about grief that I discovered (and ultimately accepted) after much, much resistance.

My husband and I have had five miscarriages. A lot of living went into that simple sentence. Starting today, I am writing about my experiences with loss here on My Mommy Manual.

What I’m REALLY writing about is acceptance (or the lack there of) in my life. Acceptance. This is what life has been asking of me and teaching me all at the same time. Maybe you’ve had a miscarriage, or maybe you haven’t, but most likely you’ve experienced loss in one way or another.

As I write this we are grieving as a nation. Less than a week ago there was a tragic shooting spree in Tucson Arizona – six people killed and 13 injured. One of the dead includes a nine year old little girl. She was senselessly murdered, taken in a flash with no warning. Her parents will never tuck their daughter into bed again, never kiss her sweet forehead or hold her hand; denied even a last “I love you.”

We all hurt for this terrible, terrible tragedy. So many lives affected by one young man who picked up a gun and began to shoot. When unthinkable things happen, how do we find the strength to keep on living?

The following is an except from a book I am writing on acceptance and though it is written specifically for women healing through miscarriage, this conversation is for us all. I hope you’ll return weekly as we take this conversation to the next level. Ultimately, I’d like to add your insights to my book. Through our sharing, may we live ever more fully, a life of acceptance.

Here is the first section. Thank you for joining me in this, what I hope will be a dialog between us. I look forward to your comments.

NAMASTE

BEING WITH GRIEF

“Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself like you would a best friend or a beloved sister. Go slowly. We’re almost always hardest on ourselves.

And if EVER, as you read this book and/or reflect on your life, you find you are beating yourself up, stop! See if instead of judging yourself for judging yourself, you can take a deep breath. Say these words aloud or in the silence of your mind, “We all grieve in our own way. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve.”

Can we find purpose and meaning in all things that happen in our lives?  Do gifts or blessings really ever come from challenging experiences?  Can we be happy even if the things happening in our lives are not? If so, how?

These are the questions I’d like to explore with you in the chapters (posts) to come.

By sharing my experiences with miscarriage, my many struggles with acceptance and ultimately, the blessings I have received along the way, may I be a support to you as you live, heal and take time to be with your life experiences as well.”

——-

Suzanne Tucker, publisher of MyMommyManual.com and co-creator of YogaParenting, an online course helping parents create more joy and less stress in parenting.

How to: Parenting with Boundaries… Peacefully

Have you ever asked your child to do something “or else!” only to backslide when the time comes to deliver? For me, a mother of four kids ranging from nearly one to ten years of age, the question isn’t have I done this, but how recently.

Parenting boundaries. Do you know yours? Setting them and keeping them without completely losing our cool can be a struggle.

Take the mother I saw in the park last month whose repeated attempts to get her child to leave were met with deaf ears. She finally resorted to the ‘ole “I’m leaving” trick. “Bye-bye Lilly, mommy’s going home now!” Lilly, a wide-eyed, smiling little girl must have been all of three years old and she didn’t move an inch. This was a game for her, and from what I could see, she was winning.

The gig was up. Mom came back and began to plead with her, but this time with much more force. A full blown power struggle ensued. Short of dragging this child off the playground, mom wasn’t going to get her daughter to leave anytime soon.

We’ve all been there, locking horns with our kids over this or that to have the entire situation end in yelling and tears. So what’s the answer?

Knowing our parenting boundaries ahead of time can help us uphold them with an enforceable consequence when and if they are crossed. Let’s be real, even a three year old can learn to call her mother’s bluff!

Because our children want to know their boundaries, they will test ours. If we really want to help our children grow into happy and response-able adults, we (me included!) get to take a closer look at this thing called boundaries; both ours and theirs. As we become more skilled in setting healthy boundaries, we are able to better maintain our personal integrity and teach our kids to do the same.

So what might have helped that mom on the playground? The first thing that came to my mind that day was what if mom had given her child a five minute “heads-up” that soon they would be leaving? It might have helped. The little girl was having trouble transitioning and this little bit of notice can do wonders. Another idea to help prevent the power struggle that eventually ensued is humor. Never underestimate how far a playful spirit can take you when dealing with children.

It was time to go. What if mom started a marching band parade all the way to the car? What if she started telling a crazy story about how they had to hurry to their rocket ship before it blasted off without them to outer space? “10-9-8 — oh we better hurry! – 7 – 6 – 5…” you get the picture. The ideas are endless. Anything fun or silly might have helped the two disengage from the power struggle while still upholding mom’s boundary: it is time to go.

When a parent can peacefully maintain their boundaries even (especially) amidst conflict, it means their child is learning to peacefully uphold their boundaries as well. Learning by example from one’s own parent – a most powerful teacher.

This week as we parent, let’s breathe when we feel our blood pressure rising. Let’s pause before we speak/react. Let’s maintain our boundaries and our inner peace. It may not be easy… but it will be rewarding.

Peacefully maintained boundaries. What a gift to give our children (and ourselves.)

——-

Suzanne Tucker, publisher of MyMommyManual.com and co-creator of YogaParenting, an online course helping parents create more joyful, less stressful parenting.

How to Shop with Kids Peacefully

I am in that stage of parenting our twins where each time I take them to the store I wonder if it will continue to go smoothly. They are into everything now that they crawl and thankfully, shopping together continues to go WELL. Having a plan and just the right distractions helps. Watch here as I show you one of my best shopping sanely tricks which involves the Hold-It-Baby.

I find bringing a sling along is a MUST as one generally wants to be held and this frees up my hands for paying, loading the car, etc.

Send me your shopping with kiddos tips!!! How old are your kids and HOW do you make it fun/sane to go shopping?

Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy

Suzanne is the Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yoga Parenting. If you liked something you read here, she hopes you’ll sign up. It’s free and together you can remind each other to look inside.

How to be a Witness/How to be a Friend

Love. Think. Speak. Know. Creatures, I give you yourselves!

~ C.S. Lewis (Aslan in The Magician’s Nephew)

We’ve been listening the audio cassettes (that’s right) of The Chronicles of Narnia and I was so moved by this scene in which Aslan sings Narnia and all its creatures into being. Afterwards, he stands back and he commands them, “Love. Think. Speak. Know.”

It comes as no surprise that Suzanne’s mantra for 2011 is LISTEN because for almost as long as we have been BFFs, we’ve led parallel lives or even better, complimentary ones. The word that came up for me on this turning of the calendar was WITNESS.

What does this mean? For me, it means being a friend. It means holding the image and space of your best self so you can fill it. It means being a “safe pocket” for you in times of vulnerability. It means earning the right to hear your stories. I have grown into this word of witness/friend only by having received the same gift so fully in 2010. Suzanne, of course, is my Master Friend — the person who taught me that it is safe to “hold my seat” in a relationship even though it is painful sometimes. And I learned that this messiness is a small price to pay for the prize of true connection — especially with your Self.

So in 2011, this is a gift that I can now give. My internal GPS has been set to give you back to your Self. I got my marching orders. They begin with “Love….”

How to WEAR Your Baby Part II: Slingaroo

This is Part II of my series on baby wearing. I hear sooo often from moms in my massage classes that they gave up wearing their baby early on because they had trouble figuring out how to make the sling “work” for them. This video will walk you thru what I show my moms and hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do. I KNOW your baby will. 😉 Sooooooo many benefits. But then that’s another post!

Search baby wearing in the My Mommy Manual search box above and to the right for more on this important topic!!!

If you wear your baby, tell me about it in the comment section below – why, what sling, and maybe some of the benefits you’ve experienced.

Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy

Suzanne is the Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yoga Parenting. If you liked something you read here, she hopes you’ll sign up. It’s free and together you can remind each other to look inside.

How to Get Into Your Skinny Jeans in the New Year, One Way or Another

The new year is a time to turn our thoughts to fitness and renewal. There’s fresh hope that this will be the year we look our best. Sadly, the older we get, the fewer calories it takes to run our bodies — making this goal all the less likely.

The #1 Way to Prevent Arthritis? Get in Motion Jingle Jog 2010

But don’t get down. There’s a New Year choice: Give it up now and save on the gym membership. Or dig deep and challenge yourself to try something new.

I’ve heard that as a woman over 40, I need to cut my calories in half to maintain my weight. And that’s just to maintain. My friend Dawn took this to heart and asked her OB/GYN if it was true.

“No” her OB/GYN said. Dawn breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s 2/3 less calories. You have to eat 2/3 less to maintain.”

Dawn has lived in Paris and knows a thing or two about fine wine, delectable cheese and tasty bread. “2/3 less” isn’t on her menu. She decided to fight back and hired a personal trainer to help her prepare for a half marathon this spring. An admirable thing for anyone, but especially for Dawn as she’d never run before in her life. Not once.

For me, it’s been a Godsend. I’ve been lumbering along trying to become a gym person, someone who gets out at lunch, sweats it out, showers and goes about my day. But my workout partner moved back east. So, half of the time I’d end up at the gym, the other half at the Chic-fil-a right nearby. The Chic-fil-a was just so much easier. I didn’t even have to get out of my car.

So when Dawn asked if I’d run a 5K with her, I jumped at the chance. It was fall and the holiday pounds were on the horizon (make that on the lips, soon to be the hips). At our first 5K, I thought my lungs would explode. Seems lifting the Chic-fil-a isn’t such a good workout after all. But I finished. Mostly because I was too embarrassed not to.

The next month we signed up for a second race. This time I actually got out and ran a bit beforehand. (Not looking foolish can be a strong motivator.) We weren’t the fastest but not the slowest either. While we ran it occurred to me that she’s been looking good from all this training so I asked.

“Are you in your skinny jeans?”

She nodded. I was filled with happiness for my friend, but a touch of jealousy too. [Read more…]