Musings About Life... After Birth

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Updateyourcamera-justintimeforspringbreak!

Posted by Chelsea on February 26, 2010

My little Canon point-and-shoot’s been failing me lately. There is way too much wait time in between the moment I press the “take a photo” button and when the camera actually takes the photo. As a result, I miss all sorts of cute moments, and instead capture random shots of my kids either looking dazed and confused or not looking in my general direction whatsoever. The other day, my Big Bro and Little Bro both managed to open up a diaper box and hop inside it, pretending they were in a train. I found it hilarious, and wanted to capture the moment for a future Bar Mitzvah or rehearsal dinner slideshow. This was the best shot I got:

Awesome. Not.

While griping about this to a few Momtourage and Dadtourage members at a recent birthday party, it seemed everyone had a similar groan, so I called upon Dadtourage members Jeff and Eric, camera and tech

geeks

afficionados, to research the latest and greatest cameras, and categorize them into prices for any budget. My recommended place to purchase them is SHOP.com, which has some AMAZING prices and a ridiculously huge selection. Seriously, if you haven’t yet visited SHOP.com, you must go there - now!

Below, find our camera-savvy Dadtourage’s recommendations, compiled after an exhaustive amount of research:

If you’re able to spend somewhere around $1000, go for the Canon EOS Rebel T1i


Canon’s EOS Rebel T1i is packed with features, both refined and new. In addition to its admirable performance with a 15.1-megapixel Canon CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 image processor, a 3.0-inch clear view LCD with anti-reflective and scratch-resistant coating, and compatibility with the EOS system of lenses and speedlites, the EOS Rebel T1i adds remarkable Full HD video capture at resolutions up to 1920 x 1080. An HDMI port allows for quick connections to high definition TVs and monitors for easy viewing of your stills and video. The entire operation is simple and easy even if you are a beginner. You’ll have uncompromised EOS digital performance with power and flexibility right in the palm of your hand. It retails for $749, and you can add a fantastic lens or two for an additional $200-300. We went for this one - photos of us using it and the unreal images it captured to come later on in this week!

If you’re able to spend around $500, check out the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS



With a 10 megapixels Canon CMOS sensor and 20x wide-angle zoom for incredible reach, the PowerShot SX1 IS offers continuous shooting up to 4fps and can supplement photos with Full HD videos. It retails for $615 (we know, it’s a little over $500, but our experts swear it’s worth the extra $115 bucks!).





If you’re able to spend around $200, go for the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR


The FinePix F70EXR gives three critical improvements on current models. First, image quality - the one drawback with long zoom cameras is that the sensor has to be necessarily small, with less light reaching the CCD than would be the case with standard compacts. Fujifilm has introduced its award-winning EXR technology into the FinePix F70EXR, giving a significant improvement in image quality against other models. The second major benefit of the FinePix F70EXR is the neat compact design. Lastly, Fujinon 10x zoom lens, developed in conjunction with the super CCD EXR sensor, produces crisp high resolution results throughout the focal range, from 27mm wide-angle to 270mm telephoto.It retails for $209.95.

Need a new camera? The first person to send an email to info@themomtourage.com telling us why you need a new camera will win a Canon EOS Rebel T1i and lens kit, courtesy of the awesome folks at SHOP.com! We’ll ship it out to you first thing Monday morning, with plenty of time for you to learn all about it before your spring break travel! Good luck!

 

 

Sex,LoveandParenthood

Posted by Chelsea on February 23, 2010

Maintaining a romantic relationship with your partner is nearly impossible when you’ve got little kids. Luckily for you and your partner, The Family Groove has a great feature this month on how to keep that spark of romance alive when you’ve got kids. Here it is, courtesy of The Family Groove:

ESTHER PEREL, AUTHOR OF THE PROVOCATIVE AND EMPOWERING BOOK MATING IN CAPTIVITY: RECONCILING THE EROTIC + THE DOMESTIC, TALKS TO THE FAMILY GROOVE ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LOVE AND DESIRE,  COUPLE PRESERVATION AND THE NEED FOR MORE PLAYDATES—WITH YOUR PARTNER

THE FAMILY GROOVE: Every parent needs to read your book. It would be a great gift with purchase of a stroller.
ESTHER PEREL: If every time you buy a stroller, you get a book that reminds you of another focus that you are likely to forget at that time, that would be incredible.

TFG: You are so likely to forget about your sex life when you’re mired in your life with little children. It’s often the first thing that parents give up on. In your book, you talk about overzealous parenting. A lot of media and child-related companies have picked up on the overzealous trend and have exploited parents by playing on their worst fears that their child won’t be successful or happy or smart or pretty or won’t be liked unless this is done or that is done. And so we play into this fearmongering by giving up our own lives and our own identities for the sake of our children. It really strips a woman—and probably a man, too—of sexuality.
EP: Well, it’s not helping families—that’s the main thing. The divorce rate is very high, and for those who stay together, it’s very hard, too. There is something so isolating about overzealous parenting that disempowers them. It empowers the child but disempowers the adults.

TFG: Let’s talk about security and passion. We need both in our lives, but how can we as parents who really need security and the ability to foster security re-establish the passion?
EP:  If I were to take the general frame, I would say that Mating in Captivity came out of my work as a therapist with many happy couples who have good, caring, loving relationships but whose sexual lives are dull. Time and again, they would describe to me the paradoxical relationship between the security, the familiarity and the predictability that people seek in their committed relationships and the eroticism, the novelty, the mystery and even risk.

How can we reconcile these two sometimes conflicting human needs? How can we sustain desire over the long haul with one person—especially given that we live much longer than we did before? The idea of reconciling security and passion is in itself very new. It is not something that we thought to do in our marriages or committed relationships historically. Marriage was for companionship, economic support and family life. Passion existed somewhere else, if anywhere at all. We must understand that this is a new expectation that we bring to our relationships. We marry out of love—it’s a free choice en-terprise these days in the West. We come with expectations about intimacy and sexual gratification. What happens when people transition to family is that they begin to bolster the security needs and begin to make themselves more of an anchor so that their children can become the ones who will go out to explore and discover the world. They will be the adventurous ones, but in order for them to do so, they need to have a secure base, emotionally speaking. There is a tendency in us to begin to suppress our other side during that transition. This is not the time to race the motorcycle—it’s the time to trade it in for a car with safety belts and air bags. This is not a time when you can decide at the spur of the moment to go out, because there is somebody else here who needs you at home.

So you slowly begin to change your own adventurous needs and your own desires for the spontaneous and playful. The transition is a shock to the system—a shock that sometimes takes a long time for people to work through, to find their bearings and to get some time back for themselves. It often takes people a long time to remember the beginning of the book when they reach the end—especially when it’s taken months and months to read the book.

Parents must learn to be able to cordon off an erotic space in time, where they can be adults with each other and not just together in their parental, responsible, caretaking roles. The joke is often that sex must be out the window as soon as children enter the picture. When you look at this new modern family, you notice that the erotic energy is very much there, but it is transferred onto the children. The children get to experience novelty—you look for the latest activity to do with them—and the adults often become mired in repetition and routine when they try to do something together. The kids get to wear the latest fashions, and we walk around in our colored sweatpants. Kids get the long hugs, and the parents are left with a diet of quick pecks. So at some point, the erotic energy needs to be brought back to the couple. You are not going to live in a steady state of passion—desire doesn’t flow all the time—but there is a need for the adults to reintroduce the X in sex. Bring back playfulness, curiosity, novelty and imagination into your own life instead of cordoning it off exclusively in the realm of parenting.

For the other two parts of TFG‘s interview with Esther Perel, click here.

Chelsea’slifestyleandhomepicksforthismonth

Posted by Chelsea on February 22, 2010

Each month on The Family Groove, I pen a column where I list the coolest lifestyle and home goods I see each month. (As a journalist, each day I get all sorts of info in press releases and even samples that I get to check out, all so I can report back to our readers, giving the yea or nay on everything! I know, it’s rough.) Here’s what I’m loving this month:

Vive’s Chaos to Connection Parenting Program

Kids—and teenagers especially—don’t come with instruction books, but if they did, I have a feeling the books would look a lot like the step-by-step Chaos to Connection parenting package from Vive, a group of mentors and parent coaches who work to ensure family wellness and healing. The parenting package includes a parenting workbook, four instructional parenting videos and real-time support from parent support coordinators—all of which offer practical parenting concepts and real-life strategies to help you, your kids and your family handle real-life situations.

($249.95, www.vivenow.com)

Dyson DC31 Handheld Vacuum

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a loyal Dyson vacuum girl, so when it came time for me to purchase a handheld unit to attack the Craisins, Cheerios and cheese cubes that perpetually litter my kitchen floor (and, admittedly, that of my car as well), I knew I couldn’t get some crappy ol’ Dustbuster. So I checked out Dyson’s latest model, a seriously cool-looking handheld vacuum ideal for quick pickups and spot cleaning. It features a dual power mode that gives longer run time for large jobs and extra suction for stubborn dirt. This thing is no joke, folks. It sucks in a good way, and renders my home and car spotless. If only every gadget in my life were this reliable and efficient…

($219.99, www.dyson.com)

Harumika Runway Showstopper Set

I’m convinced that the seeds for my fashion junkie-hood were sown in the ’80s when someone gave me a set of Fashion Plates, thin plastic plates that you aligned on a board, covered with paper and then rubbed over with colored pencils, creating a decidedly Lynda Carter-esque woman with interchangeable outfits. The (far superior) equivalent for our kids’ generation is undoubtedly Harumika’s Runway Showstopper Set. Budding Donna Karans (or Giorgio Armanis) can make fashion design easy and fun with the included pink dress form, stylus design tool, chic signature fabrics and fashion accessories. With the included Harumika camera, kids can take pictures of their favorite designs and upload them to the Harumika website to share their designs with friends, join a fashion show and feature the styles in their very own online “Look Book.” Any shot my truck-obsessed little boys will indulge me and give it a whirl?

($24.99, www.amazon.com)

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PregnancyMythsDebunked

Posted by Chelsea on February 17, 2010

Whether it’s your first pregnancy or your fifth, it’s nearly impossible to get a clear handle on the rules of which activities, foods and drinks to avoid when pregnant. While there are countless do’s and don’ts swirling around the prego-sphere counseling you on what you should and shouldn’t do during your nine months of gestation, the information isn’t always clear. Some docs okay certain things, while others don’t. Confused? I gathered the latest info for The Family Groove and am reprinting it here on The Momtourage, but if you’ve still got reservations, ask your doctor.

MYTH: Pregnant women shouldn’t take baths.
TRUTH: Lori Albright, a certified nurse-midwife at The Midwife Center for Birth and Women’s Health in Pittsburgh, says a warm bath is a wonderful way for anyone to relax—pregnant or not. “The danger is when the water temperature is too hot,” she notes. “In the first trimester, very hot water can cause developmental problems in the fetus, and later in pregnancy it can cause preterm labor.” In general, a pregnant woman should avoid anything that raises her body temperature above 102 or 103 degrees, whether it’s hot baths, fevers or Jacuzzis. “Also, if a pregnant woman is leaking fluid or bleeding, she should avoid bathing altogether and consult her care provider,” Albright says. Hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas, however, are all off-limits.

MYTH: Avoid caffeine.
TRUTH: Good news: There’s no need to give up Starbucks for the next nine months. According to Dr. K.B. Lim, an ob-gyn at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., there is no proof that small amounts of caffeine—which means one cup of coffee or tea a day—adversely affect a normal pregnancy. However, if you are having a complicated pregnancy, you may want to limit your caffeine intake. If you have questions or concerns about how much caffeine is okay for you and your particular situation, check with your doctor to be sure.

MYTH: You must sleep on your left side.
TRUTH: Often, pregnant women are told that they must only sleep on their left side. However, it’s not necessary to change your sleep habits. “While some women who sleep on their backs can get dizzy or sweaty from too much pressure put on the vena cava, during a normal pregnancy, sleeping on the right side is just as good as the left,” says Trish Woollcott, a certified nurse-midwife in Chicago. However, if you have high blood pressure, if your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, or if the baby isn’t developing well, sleeping on the left side is slightly better than the right, she says. Bottom line: Whichever way you can sleep comfortably at night, just do it.

MTYH: It’s okay to have an occasional drink.
TRUTH: Despite any disapproving looks they may receive, some pregnant women still have an occasional glass of wine. Experts, however, advise that you think before you drink. “No safe level of alcohol consumption has been established—but since there is no safe level, you and your doctor need to decide,” says Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. Dr. Dolan recommends excluding all alcohol, especially during the first trimester, when so much of the baby’s nervous system is being formed.

MYTH: Don’t color your hair.
TRUTH: Most research, although limited, does show that it is safe to color your hair while pregnant, as the chemicals in permanent and semipermanent hair dyes are not highly toxic. While some studies have shown that very high doses of the chemicals in hair dyes may cause harm, it would take using a massive application of hair dye—we’re talking using enough for a thousand women—to cause any harm.

If you’re still concerned and would prefer to stay on the utmost safe side, wait to dye your hair until after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the risk of chemical substances—hair dye or otherwise—harming the baby is much lower. If you’re coloring your hair yourself, wear gloves, leave the dye on for the minimum time, and work in a well-ventilated room. As highlighting your hair doesn’t involve the dye touching your skin and reaching your bloodstream, it poses less of a risk. Of course, semipermanent pure vegetable dyes, such as henna, are a completely natural, safe alternative.

MYTH: Steer clear of soft cheese.
TRUTH: In the past, pregnant women were told to avoid soft cheeses like brie, camembert and gorgonzola altogether during pregnancy. These days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s safe to eat soft cheese as long as it has a label clearly stating that it’s made from pasteurized milk. Raw milk and any cheeses or other dairy products made from unpasteurized milk can carry disease-causing organisms, including the potentially deadly bacterium listeria. While raw-milk soft cheeses are thought to be the Martha Stewarts of hosts for listeria, the pasteurization process kills the bacterium and other potentially harmful organisms.

What’s 100 percent safe? As most dairy products made in the U.S. are pasteurized, your local grocery store has a whole range of pregnancy-safe dairy options. Cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, processed cheeses like American, and hard cheeses such as cheddar and Parmesan are fine, as are cultured dairy products like yogurt and buttermilk. Regardless, before you indulge, check the label and make sure that it’s been made with pasteurized milk.

TheMomtourageanswers:Ourfavoriteblogs

Posted by Chelsea on February 12, 2010

We gets lots of questions here at The Momtourage. We get all sorts of interesting, kid-related questions for our panel of expert docs, inquiries about various products (What’s the best stroller? Do I really need an exersaucer?) and sometimes, fashion and beauty questions too. Recently, Tamara, a reader in Knoxville, TN wrote in to ask us for a few blog recommendations. Here are the ones we’re loving right now:

1) Reality Blurred - All the news you need about reality television

2) Lucky Right Now: Lucky Magazine’s Shopping Blog - All sorts of sale news, clothing and product recommendations, etc.

3) May/December  - A blog by Melissa C. Morris, a 20something NYC socialite married to a guy old enough to be her dad. Before you judge, however, know that she’s truly the the anti-Real Housewife. She’s sweet, preppy and loves to cook and travel. Her blog chronicles her activities, the dinners she prepares, her dog’s adventures, etc. We’re hooked.

4) Jamie’s Foods and Finds - Written by a friend in the DC-area, this blog offers some truly awesome daily tips for deals and freebies.

4) Pete Bakes! - Another DC-area blog, this one, by a guy who loves to bake, chronicles his adventures in baking, complete with yummy pictures.

5) Apocalypstic Now - A very funny, honest beauty blog

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Valentine’sDayGiveaway:ErinCondrenCustomizedHeartLabels

Posted by Chelsea on February 08, 2010

I’ve waxed on and on about how much I love Erin Condren stationery…it’s graphic and modern, yet still classically sweet and traditional. A couple of years ago I sent out personalized Valentine’s Cards from her Valentine’s Day line (she has all sorts of other seasonal card offerings too), and they were a huge hit. This year, I didn’t quite get my tush in gear (blame it on the thousands of feet of snow we’ve been getting here in D.C.). Instead, I’m sending out good ‘ol Hallmark cards, but I’m attaching some of Erin’s customized heart labels on the envelopes. Here are some of the styles she offers:







They’re $20 for 25 labels, and if you order today, you can still get them in time for Valentine’s Day! Visit erinconcren.com to order. Want to win a set? Email me at chelsea@themomtourage.com and tell me who your Valentine is! One winner will be chosen at random.

Canyouspeak“nanny”?

Posted by Chelsea on February 03, 2010



In the Home & Garden section of today’s New York Times, there’s an article called “How to Speak Nanny”. The piece highlights the all-too-often communication breakdowns that can occur between mom and caregiver, and discusses why the mom/nanny relationship - especially ones in New York City - often involve a certain degree of strife.

As a mom who employs a part-time nanny, I of course found this major-league interesting. I also found it major-league annoying in that “ugh, the ridiculous crap that goes on in New York” kinda way. The stories of CEO Moms who passively aggressively communicate with their nannies, and the quotes from the “parenting consultants”....barf. It’s just too much. While I did find a decent amount of the article gross, I did find the central question of the article very, very interesting: When transferring some (or many) of their day-to-day mothering duties to another woman, how does it make moms feel? And, in turn, what do we do with those feelings? A “parenting consultant” (again, gag) in the article suggests that moms who give up a good portion of their child-rearing responsibilities to a nanny feel a certain degree of guilt about doing so, and therefore treating their nannies with a certain degree of contempt. And, it also seems, when they’re disappointed with their nanny’s performance - justifiably or otherwise - many moms fear speaking directly with their nannies (as they would any other employee) for fear that the nanny will take any anger she may feel towards the mother out on the kids instead.

Thoughts, ladies?

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

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