Monthly Archives: July 2010

Where do I get my “imperfect mom of the year” award?

My job situation allows me to work from home most of the time, but it also requires me to travel out of town for a few days every other week. Because of many co-workers being away, I had to delay this week’s trip to next week, allowing me to schedule meetings with the appropriate during my visit to the office.

The other night, my significant other and I were discussing my son’s upcoming 4th birthday party, scheduled for July 24, when he pointed out that I would be out of town for my son’s birthday on July 20. I quickly glanced at the calendar and realized he was right. Holy crap, how did I manage to do that??? Ugh, nice job, mama, for scheduling your business trip on your child’s special day!

I can fix this by either apologizing in advance to my son for not being home on his birthday, or pretending that his birthday is Monday and not Tuesday, while I’m still in town. But that would make me look like an even lousier mom, right? I guess I’d better find a really awsome Buzz Lightyear birthday cake to make up for this…

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Pottery Barn recalls drop-side cribs for repair

Pottery Barn drop-side cribs recalled for repair

Another drop-side crib is being recalled today… The repair on these cribs consists of installing a kit that immobilizes the side. Hmm, wait, that would make it … a fixed-side crib! Looks like the US Consumer Protection Safety Commission is actively working at establishing mandatory standards to address drop side and mattress support hazards. Hopefully the new standards will bring some peace of mind to new parents.

Name of Product: ALL Pottery Barn Kids drop-side cribs regardless of the model number. Sold through the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, http://www.potterybarnkids.com , and at Pottery Barn Kids retail stores nationwide from January 1999 through March 2010 for between $300 and $600. About 82,000 units.
Hazard: The cribs’ drop-sides can detach when hardware breaks, creating a space into which a young child can become entrapped, which can lead to suffocation. A child can also fall out of the crib. Drop side incidents also occur due to incorrect assembly and with age-related wear and tear.
Incidents/Injuries: 36 reports of drop sides that have malfunctioned or detached, resulting in seven minor injuries when children fell out of the cribs or got their legs caught between the mattress and the drop side. One child became entrapped at the head between the drop side and crib mattress but was freed without injury.
Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled cribs, inspect the hardware to make sure it is not broken, and contact Pottery Barn Kids to receive a free fixed-gate conversion kit that will immobilize the drop side.

More info on the US CPSC website at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10302.html.

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Great discipline book for children of all ages

As an avid reader (I go through about one book a week), I like to keep up with my field of expertise (marketing & communications) as well as educate myself on parenting, since I still have plenty to learn on the subject! Since I became a mother almost four years ago, I’ve read dozens of books on child raising, from breastfeeding, to baby development, to nutrition, to medical issues, to parenting, and more and more now, on discipline. By the way, the most complete and easy-to-read reference book for babies from birth to five is Caring for your baby and young child from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

With a two-year old who feels compelled to automatically answer “no” to all questions (except when there’s food involved) and argue about everything, and a four year-old who is still far, far away from the age of reason, I often find myself in intricate situations where I wished I could wave a magic wand and erase all negativity from the air. I’m still looking for that magic wand, but there’s a pretty good book I can recommend to parents with children of all ages (from about 2 to 18).

How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk

There’s a reason why “How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish features 4 & 1/2 stars on Amazon after being reviewed by 240+ people. It is THAT good. Now, don’t get your hopes high yet because understanding and implementing new discipline techniques is a long process, but it’s worthwhile for your children’s well-being and your own sanity. Here’s what I think is the recipe for success in applying the lessons from this book:

1) Read the book more than once:
The content is very dense, and by that, I mean there’s a lot of information to process but it’s a very easy read. After finishing the book, I’m sure I missed a few points or already forgot about some useful strategies. I now need to go back with a highlighter to mark the parts that I’ll put to good use.

2) Complete all of the exercises in this book:
By taking a close look at your issues and becoming conscious of how you currently handle a situation and what you could do instead, you’ll start applying the strategies to your own family more easily.

3) Take notes and focus on the issues you want to address right now:
Don’t decide to tackle every single issue going on at your house. Take the most pressing, most disturbing conflict you have, and arm yourself with a strong partner in this book.

4) Have your partner read it, discuss it together, and roleplay:
If only one parent decides to implement the strategies discussed in this book, it makes it very difficult to be consistent and effective. Even if you share some of the tactics, your partner may not apply them correctly, and if you try to correct him/her, you may face some resistance and criticism, instead of support. So enroll him/her by roleplaying. You actually may have some fun at it! How many times can you repeat, “it’s mine!” with a straight face?

5) Go back to reading the cartoons often:
At first sight, they look corny, but gosh, they’re very useful in remembering the numerous tips!

There are many, many good strategies and tactics discussed in this book, including how to break the cycle from your own parents’ discipline style (if you think their style was inappropriate), how to make your child open up and trust you to discuss many issues, and how to use praise appropriately to empower your children.

I’ll cover the topic of praise in another post when I discuss the book Nurture Shock (another great read!), but Faber and Mazlish explain very well that it’s more important to “describe the child’s good behavior” than to “praise it”. Take the example of a child who consistently forgets to eat with his fork and show a preference for his fingers. You’ve told him time and time again to use silverware but he doesn’t hear you anymore. The next time you encourage him to use his fork and he does it, instead of saying, “I’m so proud of you for using your fork”, actually state, “I see a boy who uses his fork to eat like a little man”. It sounds silly, but leaving it at the observation level makes your kid draw all of the conclusions himself (i.e. mom noticed I used my fork, she must be proud of me), rather than focusing on your own feelings. The point is to help your child make HIMSELF feel good and wanting to continue the good behavior.

I speak from experience when I say that stuff really works, even on little kids (2 or 3 years old). I use this positive reinforcement description tool all of the time. For example, I’ll say “I see two big boys walking nicely on the sidewalk” when they behave as expected, rather than not notice the good behavior and have to correct the infraction if they start running away or acting out. I can see that my noticing their good behavior makes them feel very proud (they grin and start to giggle). It’s a wonderful feeling for me too, and it saves me some stress!

So I hope you have a chance to borrow this book from your local library or a friend, or buy it from your favorite bookstore. When you’re done reading, stop by and let me know what you think. I’d love to have you share some success stories with other parents.

Happy reading!

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Never ask a favor to a graphic designer

As a marketing communications professional, I sometimes end up in what seems like a never-ending episode of document revisions, so this story below hits home. I usually don’t pass those around but I can’t help myself here as this is just HILARIOUS! It’s located on other internet sites and I’m not sure who the original creator is, but it’s too good not to share! Thanks, Paul, for showing me this in the first place!

Please feel free to share this link with anyone who could use a good laugh today:
https://perfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/graphic-designer-missing-cat-flyer

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Happy Friday!

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Why never ask a favor to a graphic designer

Shannon (the secretary) has lost her cat and has asked David (the graphic designer) to help with a lost poster. This is their email correspondence. Read from top to bottom….
 
From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.15am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Poster

Hi
I opened the screen door yesterday and my cat got out and has been missing since then so I was wondering if you are not to busy you could make a poster for me. It has to be A4 and I will photocopy it and put it around my suburb this afternoon.

This is the only photo of her I have she answers to the name Missy and is black and white and about 8 months old. missing on Harper street and my phone number.
Thanks Shan.

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From:David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.26am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
That is shocking news.
Although I have two clients expecting completed work this afternoon, I will, of course, drop everything and do whatever it takes to facilitate the speedy return of Missy.
Regards, David.

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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.37am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Poster yeah ok thanks. I know you dont like cats but I am really worried about mine. I have to leave at 1pm today.

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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.17am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Poster Dear Shannon,
I never said I don’t like cats. Attached poster as requested.
Regards, David. 

 
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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.24am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

yeah thats not what I was looking for at all. it looks like a movie and how come the photo of Missy is so small?

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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.28am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
It’s a design thing. The cat is lost in the negative space.
Regards, David.

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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.33am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Thats just stupid. Can you do it properly please? I am extremely emotional over this and was up all night in tears. you seem to think it is funny. Can you make the photo bigger please and fix the text and do it in colour please. Thanks.

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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.46am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
Having worked with designers for a few years now, I would have assumed you understood, despite our vague suggestions otherwise, we do not welcome constructive criticism. I don’t come downstairs and tell you how to send text messages, log onto Facebook and look out of the window. I have amended and attached the poster as per your instructions.
Regards, David.



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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.59am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

This is worse than the other one. can you make it so it shows the whole photo of Missy and delete the stupid text that says missing missy off it? I just want it to say Lost. 
 
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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.14am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster



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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.21am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

yeah can you do the poster or not? I just want a photo and the word lost and the telephone number and when and where she was lost and her name. Not like a movie poster or anything stupid. I have to leave early today. If it was your cat I would help you. Thanks. 
 
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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.32am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Awww

Dear Shannon,
I don’t have a cat. I once agreed to look after a friend’s cat for a week but after he dropped it off at my apartment and explained the concept of kitty litter. I have attached the amended version of your poster as per your detailed instructions.
Regards, David.



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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.47am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Awww

Thats not my cat. where did you get that picture from? That cat is orange. I gave you a photo of my cat.

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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.58am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Awww

I know, but that one is cute. As Missy has quite possibly met any one of several violent ends, it is possible you might get a better cat out of this. If anybody calls and says “I haven’t seen your orange cat but I did find a black and white one with its hind legs run over by a car, do you want it?” you can politely decline and save yourself a costly veterinarian bill.
Regards, David.

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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.07pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Please just use the photo I gave you. 
 
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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.22pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww



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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.34pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

I didnt say there was a reward. I dont have $2000 dollars. What did you even put that there for? Apart from that it is perfect can you please remove the reward bit. Thanks Shan. 
 
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From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.42pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww



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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Can you just please take the reward bit off altogether? I have to leave in ten minutes and I still have to make photocopies of it.

*********************************************
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.56pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww



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From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 1.03pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww 

Fine. That will have to do.