Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Bud Light Lime and Tostitos Kind of Night

The highlight of my day today (Well, aside from Jennifer Marine, author of No One’s the Bitch, liking the review I wrote about her book, and linking to my blog!) was my Bud Light Lime and Tostitos Chips and Salsa. Sometimes, New Breed Mamas just need an ice cold beer and some chips and salsa!

After a long day at the office, I picked up my son and did some running around to prepare for my girlfriend’s bridal shower and bachelorette party coming up this weekend. Finally, after hitting Giant Eagle, Michael’s, and Walmart, I made it home. Then, I broke out the Bud Light Lime and Tostitos Chips and Salsa while I put away groceries and started dinner.

This has been a long week and I am so glad tomorrow is Friday! This week, I have been working all day, taking care of kids all evening, and writing all night, which doesn’t leave much time left over for sleep! Also, if you’ve read my post from yesterday, you know that I found out this week that my second round of infertility treatment was not successful. That kind of week can take a toll on a New Breed Mama.

So, tonight it was time for me to take a minute and follow my Rule #1 from A New Breed Mom’s Guide to Life: Top 10 Ways to Reduce Stress for the Woman Trying to do it all! And that’s exactly what I did! I carved out a few minutes of ‘me time’ by blasting the stereo, drinking my ice cold Bud Light Lime and chomping on some good old Tostitos Chips and Salsa.

What do you do to alleviate stress at the end (or in the middle) of a difficult week?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Infertility sucks!

Infertility sucks! Women spend their whole lives trying NOT to get pregnant, and then when the time comes, and everything is right in your life, you can’t get pregnant! My husband and I are struggling with secondary infertility, which means you were able to get pregnant in the past, but now are unable to conceive.

Ever since I decided to spend the rest of my life with John, I have been excited to have a child with him. During our thirteen month engagement, I dreamed of the day when we would be able to start trying for a child of our own. I had it all planned out – we would get pregnant right away and then I would have the baby around the end of May or beginning of June so that I could be home with the boys, and the new baby, over the warm summer months.

Well, May has past and June is here and I don’t have so much as a baby bump to show for it! After almost six months of trying without success, I sought out help from my OBGYN, who figured out that I have a condition called PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This condition is when the female body makes too much of the male hormones and it prevents ovulation.

The first line of treatment is taking a drug called Metformin to help with my PCOS symptoms and then add a drug called Clomid to help me ovulate. Clomid is the most commonly used fertility medicine, but you can’t start it until the third day of your menstrual cycle. The problem being, if you don’t ovulate then you don’t have periods – hello! So, in order to get my cycle going, I take another drug called Provera, which is basically pure progesterone hormone.

One would think that being all hyped up on hormones and having terrible mood swings all the time would be the worst thing that could happened for someone struggling with infertility. They would be wrong. The worst thing ever is getting that phone call from the doctor’s office to let you know that the drugs that have been making you rant and rave like a mad woman (all in an effort to get pregnant) did not work, again.

This was our (and by our, I mean my) second round of Clomid. This month I thought I was mentally prepared. I thought I could handle it if the nurse called to say, “Your progesterone level was a two.” (2 is BAD – needs to be over 5).

Over the last month I have buried myself in blogging and writing – leaving very little time to focus on what was previously an obsession – getting pregnant. Yet, somehow, in the back of my mind, I thought that because I was so busy, rarely thinking about my obsession, that this month would be the month.

That is why it totally caught me off-guard when the news came today. “Your progesterone level is a two.” BOOM! Heart sinks. Feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach. Can’t breathe. Promptly burst into tears. At work. Yep. Infertility sucks!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sagas of a Stepmother: Book Review of 'No One’s the Bitch'

If you are a stepmother, or if you are a mother whose child has a stepmother, then this book was written for you! Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Carol Marine are a mother-stepmother pair and the authors of this wonderful guide on how to build a better relationship between mothers and stepmothers.

No One’s the Bitch is a well-written guide that teaches woman about forming a better relationship with the ‘other woman’ in their life. The book starts out where most mother-stepmother pairs start out – lost and confused – and guides them through the grueling task of building an amicable relationship with one another. Jennifer and Carol’s book provides a no-nonsense, down-to-earth, approach for navigating through the murky waters of the mother-stepmother co-parenting relationship.

In my opinion, one of the best aspects of this book is its ability to identify and normalize many of the taboo feelings women experience as they struggle to form an extended family unit for the best interest of everyone involved. The feelings involved in forming a “blended family” (for lack of a better word) are complex and, at times, overwhelming. It is difficult for a stepmother to decipher how much, or how little, emotional investment to place in her stepchildren. It is also difficult for mothers to decipher how much, or how little, say-so is appropriate for a stepmother to have when it comes to her stepchildren.

Every family is different, and each woman will have to determine the answers to these questions in respect to themselves, their husbands (or ex-husbands), their stepchildren, and the ‘other woman’ in their lives. At one extreme, some stepmothers may play a very active role in parenting their stepchildren. At the other extreme, some stepmothers have no interest in parenting their stepchildren and consider that the mother and father’s role.

While No One’s the Bitch is a useful book for anyone who is a stepmother, or whose children have a stepmother; it will be most helpful to woman who will regularly be in situations where they must interact with ‘the other woman’. It offers a ten-step guide aimed at helping woman through the long and difficult transition that occurs when a divorced man with children remarries.

The first couple of chapters in the book focus on self-reflection. Women are challenged to take an inventory of what their current mother-stepmother relationship is like and how that affects their day to day life and stress levels. They are also challenged to look within themselves to identify their own “crap” that contributes to the nature of the current relationship.

Next the book guides women to look towards the future and imagine how their lives (and stress levels) would change if they were to have a cordial relationship with the ‘other woman’ – not to mention how this would positively benefit the children involved. Unfortunately, children are often the battleground in which such mother-stepmother battles rage.

The authors go on to explain how to take action and begin to reach out to the ‘other woman’ and eventually form a collaboration of parenting efforts. Being accountable for one’s own actions and committing to be better at communication are both positive steps in this direction. Finally, since we all know that change does not happen overnight, there are two chapters devoted to regrouping and strengthening the fragile mother-stepmother relationship while it is in its early stages. The book also reminds us to celebrate and look back to see how far we have come in building a positive, healthy relationship where there was once only hatred and chaos.

Another thing I loved about this book was how the authors wove in sections on how the remarried man with children may be feeling about the newfound relationship between his wife and his ex. The book touches on how the man can be instrumental in forming a collaborative parenting team, or how the man may need some coaching from the two women after they begin to work things out.

While it may not always be possible for stepmothers and mothers to get along, when it is possible the kids will benefit immensely. The ‘loyalty binds’ often experienced by children of divorced parents, will lessen. The transition between households will go more smoothly. And most importantly, children will feel a more cohesive sense of self when all the adults in their lives team up to form a solid parenting unit.

I have been lucky, and blessed, with a great husband and stepson, as well as my own wonderful little man. The last two and a half years, that we have spent forming a family, have had their ups and downs. Building a relationship with my stepson’s mother has been challenging as well as rewarding. There are still many, many wrinkles which may never get fully ironed out, but I have made a commitment to myself to be the best stepmother I can be – and, to me, that means forming an amicable relationship with my husband’s ex-wife. As I like to say, we are learning to be one big, modern family.

Stepmother relationships are one of the topics I am most passionate about. Please feel free to post any questions, comments, or suggestions for future articles on the topic. Below I have provided some links to additional resources about stepfamilies.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Children’s Music Review: Beautiful Creatures – Children’s songs of Africa by Ed Jordan and Alan Glass

Beautiful Creatures is an awesome collection of upbeat, African, dance music for children. This CD also includes several slower songs, and even a lullaby, sure to lull you child to sweet dreams. Plus, the best part is that the music is all about animals! And if you’re a New Breed Mama, you certainly know how much children enjoy anything that has to do with animals!

As the title track explains, the songs are about all of the Beautiful Creatures that live in the African Plains. Young children, especially preschoolers, will love dancing around to these catchy, toe-tapping, tunes. Even my two seven year olds, couldn’t resist shaking their little booties when they heard these fun African songs!

Beautiful Creatures was formed in South Africa in November 2004 by Alan Glass, Ed Jordan and Paul Choritz who felt there was a need for ‘Parent Friendly’ children’s music. They take pride in their Beautiful Creatures albums for being uniquely South African with a positive global message.

There are seven different Beautiful Creatures albums, all which can be found at iTunes. Beautiful Creatures, More Beautiful Creatures, and Even More Beautiful Creatures feature fun, educational songs about African animals.

Beautiful Me, is an album that focuses on emotional development for children. It touches on issues such as sibling rivalry, anger management, self-confidence, and diversity.

Beautiful Bedtime, is a collection of songs that take your children through the routine of getting ready for bed. It is perfect for winding down, bath time, brushing their teeth, and putting their PJ’s on. Another great bedtime album is Beautiful Lullabies, which features ten slower tempo tunes to ease babies to sleep.

Finally, Beautiful Creatures of the Sea, contains many fun sea creature songs that discuss the topic of conservation.

The wonderful people at Beautiful Creatures, have made it possible for me to give away a Beautiful Creatures CD to three lucky winners! The winners will be provided with a link to download their free copy of the full CD in MP3 format!

Here are the rules for my first-ever Promotional Giveaway:

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post and tell me 1) Why you are a New Breed Mama, and 2) Why your child(ren) would love to dance and sing along to the fun African songs from Beautiful Creatures

One entry per person is permitted.

The promotion will run through Friday June 11, 2010.

For each entry, the name will be put in a hat, and three names will be drawn at random.

You must provide your email address in order for me to notify you if you have won. Non-winners will not be contacted. You can either include your email address in your post, or email me at with the subject Beautiful Creatures Promotion, and let me know who you are and that you posted your comment for entry.

The email addresses of the winners will be provided to Beautiful Creatures so that they can directly email the link for the winners to download their free copy of the full Beautiful Creatures CD in MP3 format.