Monday, March 28, 2011

For sale: One defiant teenage boy, complete with full-on attitude...

...well, OK, maybe I won't actually sell him (as if anyone is in the market for this notoriously tough age group, anyway), but right now, I sure feel like it.

My oldest will be 13 this August, and with the advent of adolescence comes all those scary things I've heard so much about: the attitude, talking back, unbelievable sense of entitlement, etc., etc.

It all reached a peak the other day, after my many stern warnings that if the attitude continued, there would be major consequences. Lo and behold, he put me to the test. And so I brought out the "big guns": a strategy I picked up from  Dr. Phil (OK, you can stop laughing now).

It involves "stripping" your child of their material possessions: toys, video games, computer, etc. and allowing them to gradually earn them back through extended periods of good behaviour.

So, he's officially been stripped: the cell phone is gone, the only fun left in his bedroom now is some books. It's going to be hard to stick to, though I know it had to be done. But will it work? Is it a monstrous tactic? Is it age-appropriate? Time will tell.

Do you have any ideas, thoughts or comments on discipline for teens? What's your experience? What has worked for you? I'd love to hear about it. Please leave a comment or e-mail

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Awesome video of squealing baby--guaranteed to make your day!

Is there anything better to lift one's spirits than a two-minute video of a cute, squealing baby? How can you resist? Maybe she'll go viral...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back to work, sadly

A few days ago, I returned to work at my part-time office job, and baby Chloe began daycare. It was tough. I had a wonderful time staying home for four months, often doing nothing other than cuddling, feeding and playing with Chloe. I already miss those days.

Now, we're having to adjust to a new, frantic daily routine of getting up, fed, dressed and out the door to daycare and work. We have much less time together, even though I'm part-time, and I feel it keenly.

I'm starting to think of the moments I may miss while at work: the crawling, walking, the first recognizable word, and my heart sinks.

I enjoy my career in the news business, and in some ways, it's nice to be among adults again. But I find much of my attention--and all of my heart--stays with Chloe, no matter where I am or what I'm doing...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Need a romantic escape from parenting pressures?

So if you happen to have a few minutes free of crying, feeding, diapers, fielding questions and breaking up fights, and could use a little web-based escapism from the rather harsh realities of parenthood, I highly recommend checking out a super-interesting blog by my dear friend Kerry MacGregor: Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French. 

Kerry is a Canadian journalist who left it all behind to pursue her romance with a tall, French professor living in Nice. In her blog, she documents her romance and her "lovely, but awkward adaptation into life along the Mediterranean." It's simply dreamy...

My underage Facebook users

There's been lots of debate lately about whether parents should allow their kids to fudge their age for the purpose of joining Facebook (a disclaimer on the site says members must be 13 and up).

A recent NY Times article on the concerns surrounding the growing number of underage Facebook users (Read it here) quite rightly points out that allowing children to break the rules--even for what is largely seen as a minor fib that is necessary to let their children participate in the digital world--sends the wrong message.

I struggled with this very dilemma when contemplating whether to allow my two older children, ages 12 and 9, to essentially lie about their age in order to join Facebook. I wondered whether this would be a slippery slope. I constantly try to convey the value of honesty to them. Was I undermining myself as a parent by allowing this?

After much pleading from the kids--and with full access to passwords, maximized privacy settings and constantly supervised computer time--I decided to allow both to join Facebook. With proper controls in place, I really had no problem with the kids having access to the site, but what really got me--and still gets me to this day--is the idea of giving approval to lying about their age. So far, there've been no problems. Yet I still struggle with the mixed message.What happens if/when I have to lay down the law with regard to fake IDs and the many other issues that will inevitably arise?

Do you have underage Facebook users in your home? What do you think: is it a problem for kids of all ages to inflate their age for social networking purposes, or is it no big deal? I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The nightmare that is moving

It's been rather quiet here at this blog lately, largely due to the fact that we've just moved to a new place. The many stresses of moving reach a new level when a very active and high-need three-month-old is added to the mix. More soon...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Interesting parenting blog, NOT about Charlie Sheen

Check out Lisa Belkin's view on the whole Sheen mess. She writes a great parenting blog for the New York Times. In this entry, she focuses on the little people who are sadly overlooked in all of this. Read it here.

Thoughts? Comments? Have your say below or e-mail

Music, food for a parent's soul

In the spring edition of Ottawa Parenting Times, we feature several stories about the importance of music in a child's life, whether in the classroom, at home, or at summer camp. And I'm starting to see just how meaningful this is when it comes to my own children.

This fall, I decided to send my 12-year-old son to Broadview Public School, primarily for the chance to enter late French Immersion, an entry point the board is phasing out. I soon learned that music is greatly emphasized at Broadview, as my son began to study instrument for the first time--the clarinet--and then joined the school band.

We've had our ups and downs through this, including his incessant grumbling about waking up an hour earlier on band practice days (to the point of wanting to quit--but I wouldn't let him!). But we're also seeing some truly incredible moments. He couldn't be any more keen or proud when it comes to playing concerts and he's learned the value of all those early-morning practice sessions.

What's more, the other day, he actually wrote his first song, a snappy, infectious number titled, "Riding in the Sun." I was over the moon when I heard it, and saw his eyes sparkle as he showed off his creation.

I have to say, I love the sound of the smooth, jazzy clarinet coming from his bedroom, as he practices and perfects his technique, all the while learning discipline and the rewards that come from persistence and hard work. Now, he wants to form his own band, and I can't wait to see where this goes...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Breast milk all well and good, but ice cream?

 From time to time, in this parenting blog, I'll mention controversial, quirky and surprising parenting stories I often come across, such as this:

A London council has confiscated supplies of breast milk ice cream from a specialist parlor which launched the new flavor in the British capital last week on concerns the frozen treat may spread viruses.

Read the Reuters story here.

What do you think? Does breast milk ice cream appeal to you? Or is it just wrong?

Breastfeeding: to wean or not to wean?

In the current issue of Ottawa Parenting Times ("The breastfeeding debate rages on"), we examine how the much-touted advantages and health benefits of breastfeeding continue to be challenged with the release of a new book in which university professor Joan Wolf openly challenges the health claims made by breastfeeding proponents, and a new study by British researchers that reveals that, in developed countries, breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months may not be the best for infant health, contrary to WHO guidelines.

The topic of breastfeeding never fails to stir passionate debate, and the story sparked quick response from OPT readers

Louise Arsenault of Winchester wrote: "I wonder why educated people would ever doubt that Mom's milk is the perfect food for her baby. All mammals were created to receive this and this is the sole purpose of the female breast. Joan states "there is no conclusive evidence of breastfeeding's superiority to formula," and so on, when the word breastfeeding should be breast milk.  

The change makes a huge difference in the context. Breast milk cannot be duplicated and is constantly changing to meet the baby's needs as he grows. Babies always receive immunities through breastmilk and these things cannot be put into formula."

When I gave birth to my third child, Chloe, in November, I decided to breastfeed her, my first experience doing so. My other two children were formula-fed. I didn't make the decision out of guilt, but mostly due to being wiser and considerably older, with a greater appreciation for the medical evidence that points to breastfeeding being beneficial. 

My older children, I have to say, are very healthy, happy and quite bright. Formula feeding, at the time, was the decision that made sense for us, and I would never judge any mom who chooses to do so.

But nursing Chloe has been a surprisingly beautiful and satisfying experience, though not an easy one. From soreness to her constant feeding, we've had our share of struggles over the last four months (along with having to supplement with formula to simply get a few hours' break from feeding). From time to time, I've been tempted to give up. But I didn't, ultimately wanting to prolong the experience and this special time connecting with her.

Now, I have to make a decision. I have to return to my office job shortly, and Chloe will begin daycare next week. Our days of long, leisurely nursing has come to an abrupt end. I know Chloe can continue to receive breast milk in a bottle (so far, my one attempt at a manual pump yielded almost nothing), but I'm not sure which way to go. Is it time to make the switch to exclusive formula feeding? Or do I invest in a hospital-grade pump and do my best to sustain her breast milk consumption (and some nursing) while working outside the home?

It seems the toughest decision I've ever made.

Do you have any advice to share on weaning your baby? Or how you managed to breastfeed while working outside the home? Please share your breastfeeding experience by commenting below or e-mail