Monday, January 27, 2014

Dear Amy Glass

This piece is written as a response to an article by Amy Glass titled, I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I'm Not Sorry. 

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Hey Amy, its me Alana, the woman with a husband and three kids who you "look down on."  What's that?  You're not sorry?  Thats ok, I don't need your apology, I'm getting along in life just fine without it.  And for the record, no, I'm not silently weeping or lamenting over my life choices.  Your article didn't make me feel bad, for me that is.

Guess what?  I'm an attorney, err sort of, I mean well, I kinda changed my career path when I had **babies**...it's ok...pull yourself together Amy.  I'm doing just fine.  I don't need your pity, I feel pretty good about my life.

Its not that I've given up working all together.  I mean there are mouths to feed after all.  Actually, I work for my husband.  Amy, are you going to be okay?  Breathe Amy.  Breathe.  Yes, you heard me correctly, I work FOR my husband.  He spends a lot more hours in the office and bears the brunt of the stress.  We actually make quite a good team I think.  Though you seem like more of an independent spirit.  Whats that?  I'm hedging my bets on a man?  Putting all my eggs in one basket?  Well, since anyone could lose their job at any time and basically for any reason, I'm willing to roll the dice.  Call me crazy.  Oh wait, you kinda already did.

It feels good to be in the office, getting to do many things that I love and having responsibilities outside the home without having the pressure and stress of being away from my children all the time.  I actually think I am pretty lucky.  He's a pretty good boss actually. We agree that it's important that I drop off and pick up our kids from school, help with homework, and sit at the table during dinner and talk about their days.  You must find this disturbingly traditional and oppressive.  It's quite progressive that you feel women should abandon their roles as mothers, although I'm pretty sure you're content with the fact that your own mother chose not to.  I hope you make her proud.

I wonder how it feels to be so "free".  Is it awesome?  Is it everything you hoped it could be and more?  It must be nice coming home to an empty house.  Must be quiet.  While we're being so open and honest about our feelings, I must admit that I never found complete fulfillment from my job.  I like working.  It can even be fun to get out there and feel important in the world, as it seems that you feel you are.  I guess I'm a bit more difficult than you.  I need more.  Well, I've always been a bit of an over achiever, but in a quiet sort of way.  Not following?  Well, I didn't get much sleep last night.  My three little tax deductions wanted to snuggle.  You are so lucky that you never ever have to share your bed with anyone.

What I mean is that my accomplishments don't need to be held out there for all the world to see.  A quiet whisper at bed-time from my kids telling me that they think  I'm great, or that today was the best day ever, or a sleepy I love you, is enough to keep me fulfilled.  Though I must be honest, its exhausting work, with crazy hours and the pay sucks.

But you know what Amy, my work as a mother and homemaker is pretty damn important...after all, I'm freakin raising humans!

Like, real, live, actual people.  But I'm sure you have a lot of responsibilities at your job too.

I've actually read a few of your other articles, in my precious spare time.  Do you ever get bored?  Sitting up in that ivory tower?  It must get exhausting, judging other women all the time.  I'm glad that you have your cloak of feminism to keep you warm.  All this women bashing must take its toll.  But I'm not gonna judge you, after all who am I but a lowly mom and wife to judge you, a career woman.

I think in one way we are alike.  Don't be shocked...its true.  I'm also a feminist.  Amy, that wasn't meant to be funny. No, seriously, you can stop laughing now.  Just last week, I was on a flight with my kids and my baby started crying, so I whipped out my boob and breastfed her right there.  No cover, just some good old public nudity right next to the man in the window seat (who by the way allowed my son sleep on the whole flight) and the elderly gentleman to my right.  See I'm wild.  I am using my femininity for something other than the sexual revolution...if you ask me I think I'm quite the multi-tasker.

I'm glad you weren't there.  All that crying surely would have caused you so much eye rolling someone might have thought you were having a seizure.  Amy, the most amazing thing happened as everyone was getting off the plane.  Another woman, not sure if she was a wife, mother or career woman (she was traveling alone), gently put her hand on my shoulder and whispered, you're a very good mom.  Really?!  Me?

Aw shucks, you are too kind Other Sweet Lady forced to endure that horrible flight with babies crying, toddlers puking and a cup of coffee getting spilled all over me...you are an awesome woman!  You are my peeps, my homegirl, my sista....you my sweet friend and Mr. You Da Man in 15F, you are both true feminists, and more importantly you are kind people.  Because isn't that what life is about?  People?  Connections? Familial? Marital? Friendships? Passer-bys?  Don't we all just want to connect through kindness with others in whichever way we choose?

Amy, you see, if I've learned anything in life, its that judgment won't get you far, but kindness will.  See, I think its great that you want to stay single and be career minded.  It just wasn't right for me.  I actually waited several years to have kids so I could finish law school and get some work experience.  It wasn't for me.  There are different paths for different people.  I accept that and I hope other women do to.

The OB/Gyn (and mother) who delivered my baby, she's awesome!  My stay at home friend, rockstar! My mom, who raised four kids and also worked as a reading teacher, superstar!  My mother-in-law who raised six while teaching music, fabulous.  My Grandmother who battled polio only to go on to become a wife and mother, and complete her higher education...the awesomest person in the whole wide world.  You see Amy, its not a sport, there are no winners.  And contrary to your belief, no losers either.  Heck, you can probably grow up to be pretty great too, sans kids and husband if you choose.  And I promise, I will never make you feel bad about it.

Now Amy, come down off that high-horse of yours and come give me a hug!

XOXO

Oh, and PS...that little bit you wrote about showers and weddings in your article was written last month by another woman in the Huff Post.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Master of My Domain: The Headboard Redo




AFTER
 
Last week was a small victory of sorts.  After months of pouring over Pinterest, planning, discussing, thinking, and talking (mostly to myself) about redoing my bedroom, I finally started the process.

I moved into my house ten years ago, and upon arrival I made some alterations.  I painted a bit, furnished a little, and generally sprinkled some finishing touches all around the house.  Everywhere that is, except the Master Bedroom.  I suppose I felt that since no one else really sees it, making it super pretty and fancy was a waste (am I alone in that?).  Then I realized -- I'm someone!  I see it! And isn't that enough?

So just a little over two months ago, when my baby moved out of the Pack n Play and into her own room, I turned the "my baby isn't a newborn anymore" blues into the "I must makeover this bedroom ASAP" energy.  This event occurred only after I labored intensely over designing a shared unisex bedroom for my two older kids (I swear that labor was harder than actually birthing them and involved my husband driving to an Ikea in Baltimore and back in 12 hours for some out of stock items!).  The result of those efforts will be saved for another post.  Feeding off of that momentum, however, and the resulting feeling I got from doing it, I was set to start on my own space.

But lets get real.  With every expense out there, bedroom furniture falls pretty low on my list of must haves at the moment.  Still, my current stuff is awful.  Like as in really, really awful.  The people over at Martha Stewart and Houzz have nightmares about this kind of stuff I'm sure.  Maybe its the reason I don't sleep at night?  I really should stop blaming the kids!

I really can't be sure in what momentary lapse in judgement I picked this bedroom set...but judge for yourself on its accompanying headboard.

BEFORE
Apparently I had very bad taste.  Are you ooohing and ahhhhing over the inlaid triangles?  And aren't the brown sheets the epitome of style with that bed spread?  The iPhone picture quite honestly doesn't even do this gem of a home furnishing justice because you can't see the beautiful shellack it has.

And yet, amidst the questions of, "how the heck did I ever buy this?", I felt there was something there. Something salvageable.  I will say that the transformation even took me a bit by surprise.  Its not that I couldn't picture how good it could look, I just wasn't sure I could do it.  I actually told a friend about this project half way through the process.  I remember saying, "If it works out you'll see it on my blog, if it doesn't you will never hear about it again!"

In my opinion it worked out, and the results far outweighed the effort.  So here's the play by play for anyone interested in tackling an ugly headboard all their own:

First, I found the fabric.  I find that 99% of the time for me fabric is where its at.  One pillow, curtain, or bolt of well designed fabric is all it takes to design a room.  I found mine at Ikea.  You may be surprised but Ikea is an invaluable resource for fabric.  For $6.99/yard I bought three yards of this.

Then I sourced my materials: foam, nailhead trim, batting, paint, varnish remover, and a staple gun.  Part of what I think worked well for me was that I literally went to the source for my materials.  I convinced the owner of a warehouse that only sells to professional upholsterers to let me shop direct.  I picked my own materials from the warehouse and asked the owner for some pointers.  Next, I got my batting from a local upholstery house whose owner confirmed that my plan was solid and also sent me to the paint store down the block for a special product to remove the varnish.  (I would have never known such a product existed otherwise and this easily saved me at least half an hour of hand sanding).
Lastly, I brainstormed the whole thing with my partner in crime, my Dad (AKA Zaidy).  Then we got to work:

We stripped, sanded and painted the trim.  I didn't waste time on the center since it was getting covered up anyway.


Next, we used spray glue to adhere the foam and stapled a layer of batting.  I used a 1" foam and 1" batting because I was afraid anything thicker would make getting a smooth edge around the molding difficult.  My dad and I were actually too in the zone to stop and take pictures, but thanks to my three year old roving photographer, these few gems were captured unbeknownst to me:




I actually really appreciate having some actual evidence that I really made this.  Note the plaid shirt and ripped jeans.  In my mind dressing the part thats half the battle.

We laid it out over the fabric, wrapped and stapled (as seen above).  We stapled the batting and fabric in two separate steps.  I got this tip from the upholsterer.  At this point we made the fabric sit snuggly around the whole piece.  We then went in and stapled along the edge of the molding, leaving enough room for the nail head trim, which we then tacked down.   


Then we cut away the excess fabric and viola!


I am still shocked by the transformation.  All total this project cost under $100 in materials and took about two and a half hours to complete. Truth be told the design for the room actually began with a bedding purchase I made about three years ago (I told you I always start with fabric), so the bedding pictured above is not the final result.  

This little "win" has given me the jolt to move onto the next bedroom project.  I can honestly say that taking my time and asking professionals for pointers was a big part of my success.
Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to ask, and don't be afraid to try!

-Alana

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Mommy Wars: Make Babies, Not War

So, I may be a little late to the party for the latest in what the media has aptly dubbed the "Mommy Wars" (but what's new, I'm late to everything).  The recent Time magazine issue that took focus on attachment parenting was enough of a spark to ignite a new wave of controversy.  The cover was graced by a beautiful mother, bosom exposed, nursing her three year old son.  The issue ran with the headline Are You Mom Enough? on the cover.  That's all it took for the Mommy bloggers, the working Mothers, and the media to take sides, hurl insults, and point fingers.  Really ladies?  Not very ladylike behavior.

I saw a blogger on E! News (which lets you know this story is truly newsworthy) taking aim that the Mom was too pretty.  Oh yeah, and that she wore skinny jeans and "looked like a model."  Well, duh?  When was the last time you picked up any magazine with an ugly cover model?  And should we hate her because she's beautiful?  I was annoyed by the simple cattiness of the whole segment.  It made all women look vapid, jealous and simply put, competitive.

I may not agree with the whole idea of attachment parenting.  Its was not the right choice for me.  I nursed both of my children past one year and I loved every minute of it.  I was not ashamed to nurse in public. And though I certainly did not go out of my way to expose myself, I'm sure there were a couple of people here and there who got an eyeful as they passed by.  Oh well.  I understand that the photo was provocative.  It made people stop and stare.  That's what sells magazines.  I do not think it sexualized breastfeeding simply because the mother happened to be pretty.  This cover would likely have gotten lost in a sea of scantily clad women on the covers of every other magazine that week.  That is of course if it had not had that headline.

My issue is not with the picture, not with the mother or child, not with attachment parenting or extended nursing, and I certainly don't take issue with the attractiveness of the cover model (looking pretty and poised in a picture was a good thing last I checked).  My issue is with the pettiness and judgement from other women that resulted, more from the headline, Are You Mom Enough?, than anything else.  My issue is that women everywhere did exactly what Time had hope we would do: fight.

That being said, Time is in the business of selling magazines.  A shocking cover story?  Um, not the first time.  Maybe its because I grew up with three brothers (and no sisters), but I do not get the whole female jealousy/competition/nastiness thing.  If you ask me the feminist movement has taken a bit of a nosedive in last few decades, unless of course the goal was for women to have the right to judge each other, then we are right on track.  Here's the newsflash that I think we all need: We are all in this together.  We are teammates not enemies.

I think that someone needs to let women know that you can't have it all...but you can have a lot.  You cannot be all things to all people all the time.  Stay-at-home or go to work, nurse or bottle feed, co-sleep or, well lets face it, we all co-sleep, some of actually choose to, the rest of us are just too tired not to!  Sacrifices have to be made, decisions may get altered, and you may change course a time or twenty.  You are human, that is being a mother.  You will be great at some things, others you will struggle with.  That's it.  We will never, ever, ever, no matter how hard we try, be perfect.  I don't know who started this myth that has only been perpetuated by social media tools like Facebook, Pintrest, and Blogger.

Can we all just stop judging each other?  So what if your old friend from high-school posts home baked cookie recipes and kid-friendly craft ideas on Pintrest and the class mom writes public love letters to her "hubby" on Facebook.  Stop thinking that you're not the perfect little family because everyone else's kids look so clean and happy in their Instagram photos.  No one is perfect.  You are mom enough. Now stop judging yourself and every other mom too.  The truth is that you have to do what works for you.  Be the kind of mom that only your family needs and don't try to be anyone else.  If you push yourself and fake it, trying your absolute best to keep up with the Mommies you will resent yourself and your kids and they will resent you when neither of you measure up.

Do you think men really care about any of this?  If the phrase "are you man enough?" incites a surge of testosterone driving men to compete harder, the slogan "are you mom enough?" has caused a surge of estrogen causing women to compete harder -- with each other.  We are not in a pseudo-Mommy Olympics with ever other mother.  Stop acting like it.

Start by being nicer to other women.  Judge them less, compliment them more.  Don't pretend you have it all, just embrace what you do have.  I bet its a lot.  Stop caring so much about what everyone else is doing, you're probably doing just fine.  And be comforted by the knowledge that in the end its a lot of luck.  You do what you think is right, and hope that your kids don't end up on a therapists couch talking about how badly you screwed them up, but know that they probably will.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hello Mr. Turkey, How Are You?


My three and a half year old came home singing "Hello Mr. Turkey, how are you?" last year, and the song is back and better than ever this year.  I will spare you all the lyrics, but trust me once you start singing it, it will stay with you and repeat in a loop in your head for what seems like forever.  And while I find it kind of disturbing to talk to the turkey I am about to eat, I am still singing it and humming it all day.  I actually caught myself humming it as I picked out my turkey yesterday!

But the song got me thinking that maybe I should try something new this year with my turkey.  So here is how I think its gonna go down:  http://www.howtocookathanksgivingturkey.com/.  On the one hand this guy takes his turkey so seriously that he got the url "http://www.howtocookathanksgivingturkey.com/"  on the other hand I feel like this is a huge gamble.

The recipe kind of scares me (a) because its always scary to make a new recipe when you are having guests, (b) how bad would it be if the turkey was inedible (on Thanksgiving!), and (c) its a slow and low cook method (which has worked for me in the past for meat but I have yet to try on poultry).  (Also, I will have to swap out the butter for margarine which might be a gamble).  Nevertheless, I am getting good vibes about this one and I think the turkey gods are with me here.

Wish me luck....pictures to follow tomorrow.

P.S. I always think of this scene every time I make turkey!

THE VERDICT:  
So lets just say that the low and slow method of cooking turkey might have worked for me, had I put my turkey in the oven on Wednesday morning not Thursday.  I lowered the temperature per the recipe at 11:43 exactly, I know this because I took this picture so I would remember the time.

I look pretty damn serious in the reflection...this is Thanksgiving people! There are no second chances.
According to the plan, at 20 minutes per pound of turkey, this should have brought me to a perfect doneness by 3:43.  Just enough time to allow the turkey to cool and carve for around 5:00 and giving me about 30 minutes wiggle room. 




Well, when I checked in on my bird at around 3, nothing...no seriously, it was barely cooked.  It almost looked exactly as it did when I put it in.  I did use margarine instead of butter, which may have had an effect on the crispiness of the skin but not the cook time.  I could see that if I had the time this might be the way to go, but 12 adults and 5 children and no turkey makes for a pretty bad dinner.  I immediately cranked the oven to 350 and hoped for the best.  It took until about 5, but once I got a good internal temperature on my meat thermometer.



I took it out and carved away, not easy on a still hot bird, but I had little choice.  Tasted great but probably would have liked to leave it in a little longer (maybe I'm just used to drier turkey?).  All in all the turkey was great, but my nerves were shot.  I will definitely try this method again on a smaller bird when timing is not as important.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Fun at Breezy's

Check out the little fingers on the bottom right...they couldn't even stay away long enough for me to snap a picture!

So, its been a (really long) while since I've posted but today I did something that I had to talk about: I went on a class trip...and it was awesome!  If you're thinking that I'm a little old for class trips, you're right.  If you're thinking that my kid was in the class, you're wrong. 

My best friend Samantha sponsored a field trip to Breezy's for her daughters class and invited me to pop in and check out the action.  I got there a little early (I guess I walk faster than 5 year olds) and I couldn't leave.  This was my first class but its not the first time I went to Breezy's just to hang out.   The atmosphere is relaxed, the store is beautiful, and owner Breezy will help you find the perfect gift, in any price point. 

I would like to think that I was a kind of chaperone on this trip but in reality I was more of an active participant. Thank you Breezy for letting me stay and play!  This was seriously the most fun I have had in a while.  I can only imagine how great the adult classes are, I mean whats more fun than cupcakes, frosting and candy turkeys?  I am already brainstorming what party or event I can plan to have there next.  (You can check out the website for products and class schedules and "like" Breezy's on Facebook for giveaways and info on upcoming events.)

My kids were quite pleased with my work as you can see below.  And no they don't taste as good as they look...they taste much better! 

Yum!

 P.S.  Breezy also made sure that everything was nut and dairy free, so everyone could enjoy their creations!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Costco Culture: My Mom Bought Me Wrinkle Cream, She Loves Me

New StriVectin-SD™ Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles
(2-pack 4 oz Each, $144.99, Costco.com)

The Costco Fairy (aka Mom) brought me a little gift last week...a tube of  the New StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks and Wrinkles.  Wrinkle cream may not seem like the best gift, but at just under $145 for a two pack this is something that I likely would not have tried if I was purchasing on my own.  Each tube is 4 oz. so Mom and I split the pack.

I have never used the original so I can't compare whether the new intensive treatment is really better (or worth the extra expense).  What I can say is that this stuff is absolutely incredible!  While I definitely don't have many if any wrinkles at 29 (I wear Clinique Sunblock of at least SPF 25 every single day of the year!) this cream has completely changed the texture of my skin.  My pores seem smaller, my normal skin tone of pasty white somehow looks more luminous and any small marks or red spots have faded or disappeared completely.  Since my big haircut (post to follow) I feel like I need my skin to look great because my face is so much more exposed.

I find myself slathering this stuff all over, which I fear is going to be an expensive habit, but after 2 kids, one born just shy of 10 pounds, I figured this was worth a try...and it was!  Maybe its my imagination but everything somehow seems to look and feel better. 

The cream is basically odorless and absorbs into the skin pretty quickly so you can almost immediately put your makeup right on top.  The package says some results visible after 2 weeks and by 8 weeks you should see major results.  I have been using it a.m. and p.m. for about 1 week and saw results after 2 days!  At this pace by 8 weeks I'm going to look like I've been airbrushed ;)

Now all I have to do is start saving.  If it comes down to buying food and water or StriVectin-SD, I may choose smooth and flawless over satiated and hydrated!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eyebrow Whisperer Coupon Code


Hi Friends! Due to the huge response to my previous post and in honor of her moving to a private, new, beautiful location, Heba (affectionately known by my readers as The Eyebrow Whisperer) has offered $5.00 off to my readers.  Just mention coupon code: alanabell at time of payment for your discount.   

To book an appointment call Heba at 516-444-6469.