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Mommy Needs Her Run

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run - Boston Moms

There are few things I can control during this pandemic. And there are few luxuries I am allowing myself. One of these luxuries? My run. I need my run.

My run is more than exercise. It is time for ME. When I am out of the house, I am not making a snack, cleaning up a snack, or being asked for another snack. I am not picking up another pair of socks off the floor or putting away a toy that I, quite frankly, just want to throw out.

My run is a time when my husband is primary parent. He gets to bond with the kids in his special way, and they get him all to themselves. My run is when I model for my girls the importance of taking time for yourself. It’s when I get the best goodbye hugs before I leave.

If I’m doing it right, my run is a time when I am not thinking about school reopening. I am not worrying about my kids’ mental health (or my own) — or the lack thereof. My run should be a time when I simply focus on my body and the beauty of the world around me.

My run shows my girls the importance of healthy exercise. I talk to my girls about my run, my progress, and my pitfalls. I model to them the importance of pushing oneself and also of knowing one’s body and when it tells you to slow down.

It’s no secret 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year. And we don’t know when we’re getting off the ride. My emotions have been all over the place. My thoughts are like the spinning teacups at Disneyland. I need my run even more these days than I ever have before. I need multiple runs, power walks, and breaths of fresh air. Mommy needs her run!

I’m sure you do, too.

But, do you let yourself? Please do.

Our Family Camping (and Working) Trip

family camping working - Boston Moms

Many years ago, before we were parents, my husband and I dreamed of being able to work remotely from wherever we wanted. We imagined road trips where we could work from the beach, the ski slopes, and everywhere in between — so long as we had an internet connection and cell phone service. Since we both grew up camping, we imagined a life on the open road, living and working out of our camping trailer.

We’re not planning on adopting this lifestyle anytime soon, especially now that we have an 18-month-old son, but we did give ourselves a taste of it for a few days this summer.

You can probably already imagine my skepticism about this whole thing. We had a camper and had even camped with an infant before, but an 18-month-old? I was convinced my husband had lost his mind when he proposed a family camping/working trip. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE camping — but I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to pack up the trailer, set up at a campground, and chase a toddler around while trying to work. After months of doing this at home, the adventure wasn’t looking like it would be the escape we were hoping for — at least not in my mind.

So, we compromised: Our trip would only include two workdays, plus the weekend, and we’d be in southern Vermont, just an hour and a half from home. I did not have high hopes for productivity, but I figured it would be a nice change of scenery and a chance to have some semblance of normalcy during this crazy COVID summer.

When we arrived at the campground, I was pleased to see it had all our “must have” amenities — a playground for my son, high-speed internet, and, perhaps most importantly, empty sites on either side of us. The last thing I wanted was to be waking the neighbors with our teething toddler in the middle of the night. Once I saw that there were many families with young children doing the same thing as us, I breathed a small sigh of relief. I guess we weren’t the only ones looking for a change of pace.

The next morning (after a rough night with my son), we woke up, made breakfast, and went through our game plan. Working around our scheduled conference calls, my husband and I would trade off toddler duty while the other worked, just like we did at home.

Fortunately, the weather cooperated, and we found that with more space to walk and do some (socially distant) visiting with other camping families, our camping setup was better than what we had at home! My son was ecstatic to be able to play outside ALL day, and we had brought several outdoor toys to keep him busy. All my stress about the trip was gone once I saw how much fun my son was having. Even though we were doing our normal routine, it felt like a big adventure because of the change in scenery.

Although we did have a few challenging nights with little sleep — thanks to both the teething and the new environment — our family “working” camping trip was a success. After all my hesitations, I am so glad we tried it. I know next summer will look different, but we will definitely be spending at least a few more long weekends living (and working) out of the good old family camper.

Phantom Baby Crying Is Real… But You’re Just Imagining It

Photo by kevin liang on Unsplash.

I grew up in the nineties, so I am going to quote The Cranberries here: “In your head, in your head, they are cryin’. In your head, in your head Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie. What’s in your head? In your head, Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie.”

Every time the baby is napping and you think, “I’ll take a quick shower!” you hear him cry. Or did you? Wait, no he is not crying. You squirt the shampoo in your hand and start washing your hair. Ugh, now he’s really crying. You barely rinse your hair, jump out of the shower, wrap a towel around yourself, and go to check the baby. He is still sleeping?! Maybe he woke up, cried once, and fell back asleep?

Back in the shower, you’ve moved on to washing your face. The baby cries again. You rush to rinse your face and get out. (You can shave another day — or next week, more likely.) Yep, the baby lost his pacifier and was actually crying. You pop the pacifier back in and dry off to get dressed.

Next, you have a great idea! You’ll make lunch and actually eat it without holding or feeding the baby at the same time. Wouldn’t that be delightful! You slap together a whatever-is-in-the-fridge meal and sit down. Cue crying baby on the monitor. You wait a minute to listen to the monitor while staring at the lunch you’re now not sure you’ll be eating anytime soon. Then suddenly, no baby crying. You eat half your lunch, then the baby is really crying. You push your lunch aside and go snuggle that baby. 

Baby crying was constantly in my head when my babies were newborns. My worst times were at night. Like most moms of newborns, I was hardly getting any sleep, and then this — the phantom crying. I would wake up constantly to a baby crying and then be incredibly frustrated when I would realize my own mind was playing a trick on me. My youngest is now 3 years old, and occasionally I will still hear crying and not be sure if it was in my head or real.

Yes, phantom crying is real — you are not alone.

Many new moms suffer with the imaginary baby crying. But guess what? It means you are a good mom! Your mommy instincts are working. When you have a baby who relies on you for everything, your hormonal mommy brain has a hard time turning off the parental instincts. Especially when your hearing may be slightly impaired, like when you’re taking a shower or sleeping. It is really frustrating — I’ve been there. But it will go away! My phantom crying experiences have lessened when my babies started sleeping through the night. Just like pregnancy and motherhood have affected your physical body, they’ve also affected your brain. Your mind goes through postpartum changes just like your body does!  

So hang in there, fellow mama. There is no advice or quick fix for phantom crying. There is no spouse, friend, or grandparent to step in and carry that load. But this, too, will pass. And in the meantime, remember that just because it is in your head does not mean it is not real to you!

Mommy Really Likes Coffee :: 3 At-Home Coffee Recipes

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coffee recipes - Boston Moms

My oldest son recently had a very wise observation: “Daddy likes beer. Mommy really likes coffee.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Pre-COVID-19, my regular days included at least three cups of coffee — and during two-job days, that amount could jump to four or five. But my coffee drinking came to a sudden halt with the pandemic. There were no more train rides to work to bring a thermos of coffee on, no more stops at one of the seemingly 16 coffee places near my train station, and no more office coffee pot.

After a few weeks home, I had to find a way to spice up my coffee drinking. I was so used to alternating between hot and iced, regular and lattes, and the occasional fancier drink. My idea to buy a basic Nespresso with fancy milk frother was met with disdain by my non-coffee-drinking husband. (I know — how am I married to someone who doesn’t drink coffee?!) So I had to find a way to spice things up at the coffee pot with what I had on hand and with what I could easily get in the midst of a pandemic.

Here’s what I came up with. 

When you crave a fancy drink: salted cold foam iced coffee

salted cold foam iced coffeeMy favorite fancy drink of the last year has been the Starbucks salted cold foam cold brew. (I feel like if you are able to say it correctly on the first try, you should get it for free.)

Creating an at-home version includes some planning. You need to pick up iced coffee from the refrigerated section of the supermarket — or make your own. You also need to procure the Reddi-Wip sweet foam coffee topper (which is an amazing product) or, in a pinch, a can of whipped cream. 

Pour yourself a glass of iced coffee, then top it with the Reddi-Wip sweet foam or whipped cream, and then sprinkle two dashes of salt across the top, making sure it is well distributed.

When your children have reached your last nerve: naptime latte

So you don’t have a fancy Nespresso and its even fancier milk frother. It’s OK. We can make do. Make a cup of coffee. Take 3 oz. of your preferred milk (this can be adjusted for your taste), and warm it in the microwave. Then whisk the hot milk until you get foam, and pour it on top of your coffee. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and enjoy. Is it the same as a fancy coffee shop? No. Will it make do when you’ve finally gotten your kids to take a nap and you desperately need a special treat that’s caffeinated? Yes.

(Oh, and if you want to take it up to a whole other level, spread Nutella inside the cup before making your coffee.)

When you really miss iced coffee and your cold brew attempts fail: the best KCup iced coffee

I am a long-time Keurig owner, but until recently I could never find a way to make acceptable iced coffee with it. Luckily, a few weeks into the pandemic a recipe arrived in my email that changed this. Dunkin’ sent out a bunch of “at-home” recipes, including an iced coffee cup. It uses a regular K-Cup instead of the special iced ones and just requires a few minutes of patience. It saved my sanity when I was in between grocery runs and really wanted an iced coffee. 

Although we can now get out and go more places than before, these recipes are always great to have in your back pocket. Even after the pandemic, there will always be times you can’t leave the house or are trying to cut back on your coffee spending!

I Tried to Breastfeed My Baby, But She Wouldn’t Nurse

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I had heard about this — about the baby who wouldn’t nurse. But I couldn’t make sense of it. After all, I had four babies who all latched immediately, and nursing was cake. Aside from some raw nipples I protected with a shield early on, I had no problems breastfeeding my first four, so I couldn’t see how it was possible for babies not to just get it. I never disbelieved it; I just didn’t get it.

And then I had baby number five. 

I was the mom friends reached out to with questions about the nitty-gritty details around nursing. I spent a lot of time learning from a lactation consultant about many aspects of breastfeeding because I was extremely fascinated with the whole process. I even looked into becoming a lactation consultant — I loved helping new mothers who were looking for support. I was that mom who showed other soon-to-be moms what pumping looked like in real time, sat with new moms while they nursed to keep them company, and would openly discuss any aspect of a nursing journey with anyone who wanted to share all.

So to all of a sudden have a baby who wouldn’t nurse was devastating.

I never considered that she wouldn’t nurse. In fact, I was committed to nursing her for as long as I possibly could because I knew she would be the last baby I would feed with my body. She was the last one who would allow me to participate in the miracle of birth and nursing. Giving birth and nursing my babies felt to me like the most complete form of living. I wanted to experience it one last time and cherish it for as long as I could. 

I never got to.

I don’t know why she didn’t nurse. She was born with hip dysplasia and went into a Pavlik harness on day two of her life (and stayed in it for six weeks). It might have made her uncomfortable while nursing. I can’t be sure. She was my second hip baby, but my other daughter had no issue nursing wearing the harness, so I just don’t know if that was the reason. She was also born with a slight tongue tie. We saw the ENT doctor three days after leaving the hospital. It didn’t work.

So I pumped. Around the clock. Every three hours. With four other young kids. It was a nightmare. I even rented a hospital grade pump, ate the cookies, took the supplements, and did all the things you do when you want to give your baby breastmilk. I cried in a lactation group. I found myself humbled. I was the veteran mom in a group of mostly brand-new moms. However, I was hormonally exhausted, grieving, and trying everything I could to get her to latch. I broke down while they supported me. 

My final strategy was to pay for an in-home consultation from a lactation consultant after my daughter came out of the harness — maybe then I could get her to latch. But you know what happened? COVID. And by the end of the week that my daughter came out of the harness, we were in quarantine. 

I decided it was over. I cried. I shared my story. I grieved.

And then I accepted it for what it was, and I was happy to give her formula. I was happy to feed her another way. I was happy for the time I had available now that I was no longer pumping. I was happy to have family members excited to help feed her. I was happy she was healthy. I was happy she was fed. After all, fed is best.

Why I Encapsulated My Placenta

placenta encapsulation - Boston Moms

When I had my first baby, I lived on the opposite side of the country from my family. What had once felt like an awesome adventure on the West Coast became an insane initiation to motherhood. It seemed I was in a sleepless cycle of tending to a needy newborn while trying to recover physically from a delivery injury.

Of course there were Skype and family visits, but the majority of the first three months of my son’s life I spent alone adjusting to my new normal. Between the pediatrician appointments, the diaper changes, the baby crying in the car constantly, and contracting mastitis, it all felt very sink or swim. While I’m proud to say I made it ashore, I never wanted to struggle during the newborn stage again. I was willing to do anything to make sure my next postpartum experience was better than the last. 

I prepared myself as best as I could — acquiring baby supplies, organizing help from family, meeting with postpartum doulas, and researching postnatal vitamins and even placenta encapsulation. 

The more I looked into having my placenta encapsulated, the more intrigued I became. Possible benefits as reported by the American Pregnancy Association include: 

  • restoration of iron lost during birth
  • alleviate anxiety
  • increased energy
  • increased milk production 
  • aid in postnatal recovery

It seemed that all the women I heard of who had tried it swore by it, whether they were moms I met in person or women whose accounts I read on the internet. When surveyed, the majority of women who had consumed their placenta after birth believed it to have positive benefits. They claimed to have easier, less painful recoveries from labor and also felt happier and less likely to experience “baby blues.” I figured it was worth a shot!

I mentioned this to my midwives during a routine appointment. They were supportive and talked me through the process and the beliefs behind it, as well as the medical side, explaining that there are currently no scientific studies supporting the physiological claims behind consuming one’s placenta.

I found a local OSHA-certified doula to encapsulate my placenta, which made me feel slightly better about consuming something that had previously been inside my body. I was told she would come to the hospital within 24 hours of my baby’s delivery to pick up my placenta. My midwives made sure to have my placenta placed directly into a sterile container and brought to a special placenta refrigerator to wait for pickup. Who knew such a thing existed? 

My pills were returned to me about a week later, and I was surprised at how normal they looked. They could have passed for regular multivitamins! They came with instructions on how many to take and how often. I found that I looked forward to taking them — placebo or not, I always felt a little better afterward. They seemed to give me a little boost, both energetically and mentally. I was certainly more supported following my daughter’s birth, being closer to family and friends, but I do believe that, in part, the placenta helped me to feel better nutritionally and recovery wise. I would wholeheartedly do it again should I have another baby, and I would also recommend it to others.

placenta encapsulation - Boston Moms

It should be noted that not only are there no scientific studies to prove that consuming placenta after birth is effective, the CDC doesn’t support the practice at all. I made the decision to consume my encapsulated placenta on my own and recommend that anyone who is considering it speak with their own medical provider before making decisions around their healthcare. 

Savor What Matters

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No phone. No to-do list. No distractions.

Sitting in a mountain river with my family brought a reminder to be still and fully present as the current of life rushes by at a rapid, sometimes pushy pace.

To stop and hear my husband’s laughter over the roar of the river.

To freely join in my daughter’s playfulness.

To lovingly admire my son’s curiosity.

To allow my family to enjoy me without reserve.

As we navigate challenging days, remember to practice mindfulness. We don’t get these days back, friends. Savor what matters to the fullest.

We’re All Stage-5 Clingers Now :: On Pandemics and Separation Anxiety

I never thought we’d go four months straight with two kids and NO babysitter while my husband and I both work.

But there are a lot of cute things I can talk about that have come out of quarantine with my two boys. I’m really fortunate that they’ve had this time to bond and we’ve all had extra time to be together! Lucas (2 years old) and Isaiah (8 months old) love playing hide-and-seek and splashing around in the bath together a few times a week. (They have already started to battle a little — mostly started by Lucas, but Isaiah holds his own.) Tom, my husband, has been able to spend a lot more time with them while I’ve attended births during the pandemic.

The no-childcare-with-young-kids-during-a-pandemic life has led to the boys being EXTREMELY bonded to us. But… they love us and ONLY us. 

Lucas has a meltdown anytime one of us has to leave. He acts as if we’ve been gone an entire day when we leave for more than an hour. And the baby seems to feel the same way! Isaiah was only 4 months old when the pandemic began and is now shy around others. The quarantine has solidified his love for our little unit. 

It’s a little hard to admit, but the separation anxiety works both ways. Parents are supposed to be more relaxed with the second child, right?! Well, not in the time of coronavirus. We are doing our absolute best to keep our kids close and stay safe, not only for our family but for our jobs. We’re just as nervous as anyone, wondering how to make the best choices for ourselves and our kids.

To work on the separation anxiety at home, I’ve started to put the baby down more. I talk to him from across the room, so he knows I’m still nearby. I know it’s completely developmentally appropriate for an 8-month-old to be clingy, but he doesn’t seem to be a big fan of live people — someone on a video chat is OK, but in real life? Not so much. This is something we’re going to have to work on as we re-enter the world in its new normal state.

Prior to the pandemic, we struggled to divide our time among all the things that were calling out for our attention. Our phones were always out and our laptops were readily available. These days, Lucas closes our laptops and demands that we dance — and we usually oblige. It’s still a struggle, but we approach it with more patience and laughter. 

If your kids are being extra clingy now, or if you’re worried they’ll never behave normally again with other real-life humans, you aren’t alone. I do know this will pass — it’s a pandemic thing. Eventually, the kids will relax into a routine, we’ll see people in-person more regularly, and we’ll all enjoy a little less anxiety about everything — including time apart. 

Camping With a Baby? Don’t Forget These Must Haves!

baby toddler camping - Boston Moms

I was a Girl Scout growing up, and I feel fortunate to this day to have camped in a treehouse, cabin, tent, teepee — and a shower stall. It’s probably one of my earliest camping memories: At a Girl Scout campout, all of our gear was in the middle of our teepees, about to be unpacked, when a torrential downpour began. That’s the funny thing about teepees — there’s a hole in the top. So our first night at the campground was spent in a shower house playing Guesstures. We had our mess kits and our sleeping bag pads (which, in retrospect, were essentially yoga mats) to avoid sleeping directly on the ground.

With no cell phones, WiFi, or Alexa, camping seemed so basic. Not anymore!

As I am on the cusp of my mid-30s and have just unpacked from our second family camping trip of the year, I think about how today, my husband and I still find new things to buy every year for camping and how we have to take both our cars to the campground to fit our family and everything we need! In our defense, we are camping with a toddler. When our son was born, we knew we’d take him camping with us, and this year marked his third camping trip!

Having camped with an infant and (now) toddler, here are some ideas for what to bring when camping with your little one.

Portable chair for feeding

This is convenient for an infant who can eat sitting up. It’s compact, too, and doesn’t take up a lot of room in the car!

Kid camping chair

Yes, your child will outgrow this chair, but 100% it is worth having a chair for them to sit in that’s their own.

Travel bassinet

If you have a tent that is big enough to fit a pack ‘n’ play, then awesome. I actually saw a couple of them this year when we camped, but we did not use one the first two times we camped with Jackson. We had the controversial and recalled Rock ‘n’ Play but took the legs off so it was essentially a manger. It worked great for him. A travel bassinet would be even better!

Nap mat

We were lucky enough to borrow a nap mat from a family member who has a daycare, so this year our toddler slept in his own sleeping bag with a mat underneath. You can also use a yoga mat.

Stroller

My goal when building my baby registry was to get a car seat that would convert as my baby grew and a stroller that would adapt so I wouldn’t have to get another one as he aged. Every year we’ve camped, Jackson has napped in the stroller. It’s also convenient for carrying gear!

Wipes, wipes, wipes

Extra wipes are great for more than diaper changes. S’more cleanup? Trip in the dirt? Sap? They’re good to have for adults and kids!

A decent cooler

We broke down and bought one of the “rugged” coolers that promises to hold ice for days. It kept milk and fruit fresh, but remember that no matter how long the cooler claims to keep ice frozen, when you open and close it, heat goes inside.

Basic skincare items

Don’t forget baby bug spray wipes (easier than spray), sunscreen, band-aids, and Neosporin just in case.

Cups with lids

These are so helpful to avoid bugs, campfire ash, etc. entering your kiddo’s cup. 

Magic Fire

These packets are so fun — have kids “make a wish” around the campfire. The packets go right in the fire and change the color of the flames! (If you’re camping around a campfire, obviously keep your child safe and make sure they aren’t ever near the fire without an adult.)

Perfectly Scituated :: A Staycation Unlike Any Other

Scituate South Shore staycation - Boston Moms

If your vacation plans for late summer or early fall have been derailed, look closer to home! You might find a perfect getaway right around the corner! We did.

When my husband decided to leave the military and we planned to put roots down for our little family, we knew we’d return home to the South Shore. I grew up in the woods in Plymouth, he grew up a mile from the ocean (also in Plymouth), and the South Shore has always been home.

We did end up planting roots on the South Shore, but closer to the city to ensure an easier Boston commute. However, on many weekends you can find us 20 minutes from home, tucked in a booth at Scituate’s Lucky Finn, our very favorite local cafe.

So when the world turned upside down this year and our summer vacation plans went out the window, we thought… maybe we should find a staycation option in SCITUATE?

And so we did. A quick search on VRBO revealed a gorgeous seaside home that was, GASP, cheaper than a hotel room on the Cape. What? An entire HOUSE with ocean views for less than a hotel room? Click. Reserved.

A few weeks later, we packed all of our earthy belongings (because we were traveling with three kids and a dog…) and our family traveled a quick 20 minutes to our rental home, where we spent five glorious days away from the hustle and bustle of “real” life.

A very, very full car.

We made it our mission to try as many local restaurants and visit as many local shops as we could while we were “away.” Scroll down to see a few of our favorites!

Scituate South Shore staycation - Boston Moms
Spotted a sign by Rustic Marlin, one of our favorite South Shore businesses, right on the garage of our rental house!

Scituate South Shore staycation - Boston Moms

Whether you are vacationing on the South Shore, driving through on your way to the Cape, or lucky enough to be a local…. Board143 is a MUST VISIT. I am a sucker for an excellent cheese board and had the pleasure of meeting owners Kerri and Mark Curreri when we visited. They are knowledgeable, friendly, and local parents themselves.

Board143 is full of delicious local cheeses and accompaniments and has a large selection of wine, beer, and other alcohol. You can pick up individual items to create your own cheese board or basket, or let the experts handle it! Kerri created a grazing box for us that was full of delicious local cheese, their INCREDIBLE truffle cashews, and more. It took us seconds to demolish, and I told my husband that if Board143 had co-working space, it would be my ideal work location! 

At Boston Moms we LOVE all things local, including the many local breweries we are fortunate to call our neighbors! While in Scituate, we visited Untold Brewing and my Instagram husband got to enjoy a special treat! I’m typically not a beer fan, but the double IPA was excellent. While their taproom is closed for now (boo, COVID), they do offer curbside pickup and local delivery!

The best meal of our Scituate staycation came from Rivershed. Hoooooly moly. With many local friends recommending a stop at Rivershed, we had high hopes for the food. I’m not exaggerating when I say this food far exceeded our expectations.

Rivershed’s menu is reminiscent of what you might find in the south, with a bit of northern flair. The BBQ was the best we’ve tried on the South Shore, and we have tried many BBQ places! Our entire family oohed and ahhed during the whole meal, which we grabbed via takeout and enjoyed on our beach house deck. We can’t wait to go back!

If you know my family personally, you know we are BIG TIME Lucky Finn Cafe fans. Huge. With locations in Scituate AND right off of Rt. 3 in Hanover, we are fortunate to have the best vanilla lattes ever within a quick drive from our house. While vacationing in Scituate, we *might* have made time for three or four trips to get coffee…

SO worth it.

Next up was incredibly rich and delicious homemade ice cream, served through a window (social-distancing style!) right on Scituate Harbor. Our kids licked their bowls and begged us to go back!

Nona’s Homemade has a second location in Hingham Square, too!

We couldn’t go on vacation without taking a little bit of BOSTON with us! I love themed pajamas (holidays, birthdays, etc.) and jumped at the chance to try these darling PJs on our baby girl while we were away. Joy Street Kids is a new brand in town, and owner Eliza is lovely. The PJs are soft and have washed well. Be sure to order two sizes up to ensure a proper fit!

AoPS Academy Lexington :: Where Exploration Meets Challenge

This post was sponsored by our friends at AoPS Academy Lexington! At Boston Moms, we love connecting local moms with local resources that can truly benefit them and their families. AoPS Academy Lexington is no exception!

Could a new challenge be exciting for our kids in these strange times? 

Since 1993, Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) has prepared hundreds of thousands of motivated students for success in prestigious universities and STEM careers. And this fall, AoPS Academy Lexington is bringing advanced math and language arts courses to the Boston-area community.

With 19 course offerings across grades 2–12, AoPS Academy Lexington allows students to jump in at any point in their academic career to accelerate their growth as problem solvers.

AoPS Academy Lexington - Boston Moms

AoPS Academy courses are built around the following four tenets:

  • Focus on Challenging Problems: Students learn how to approach difficult, unfamiliar problems and work through productive struggle in order to find solutions. 
  • Active Learning: Students approach unfamiliar concepts directly. Instructors guide students through the problem-solving process with motivating questions and reinforce key insights after students have come up with their own solutions.
  • Outstanding Peer Group: Students join an outstanding peer group that will connect, collaborate, and challenge each other. Even if they can’t currently meet these new classmates in person, your child has an opportunity to build a new local network of equally curious, motivated students that they can support and inspire throughout their academic career and beyond the Academy.
  • Effective Communication: Students build and practice effective communication skills to clearly convey their ideas in any subject. 

AoPS Academy Lexington’s engaging, interactive math and language arts courses push students to grapple with hard questions on a whole new level. Students are prepared to face challenges in academic and professional environments with the resilience and tools they develop through these courses. AoPS Academy instructors draw from their own love of learning and their experiences at top-tier universities as they guide students through their academic development.

AoPS Academy Lexington will start online courses this September, with plans to return to in-campus learning during the year once local conditions improve. In the interim, AoPS Academy will use videoconferencing to facilitate face-to-face class time. All courses have been adapted to match this new format to maintain a seamless, high-quality, active learning experience.

Join the Community

AoPS Academy Lexington offers math and language arts courses for advanced students in grades 2–12. Courses run with weekly classes from September to June. Interested families should arrange a consultation with the AoPS Academy Lexington directors to be approved for courses that will match their student’s academic level.

Visit the AoPS Academy Lexington website to learn more, or send questions via email to [email protected].

Birthing While Black :: Why Too Many of Us Never Make It Home

There are some moments in life that make me hold my baby longer and tighter than usual. A news story about a tragedy. A commercial about a cause. You know those moments. That story that makes your heart ache and has you checking on your sleeping baby… again.

When I saw Sha’Asia Washington’s beautiful maternity photos and read her story, I had one of those moments. I crept into my daughter’s room, picked her up, and cried. I prayed for Sha’Asia’s family and gave thanks that I’ve been able to witness 20 months of my child’s life.

Sha’Asia will never have that chance.

At 26 years old, Sha’Asia Washington was admitted to Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn with preeclampsia. She wasn’t given any medication to control her blood pressure and went into cardiac arrest during her emergency C-section. Doctors successfully delivered her baby, Khloe, but were unable to revive Sha’Asia. Sha’Asia’s story is all too familiar. 

Black women are, on average, three to four times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy-related complications than white women. Even when you control for socioeconomic status and education, Black women are more likely to die during or after birth.

Sha’Asia’s story is all too familiar.

Amber Issac tweets about her care at a New York hospital before dying in childbirth.

In fact, among college-educated women, Black women are five times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. What does it mean? For Black women, money, power, and physical fitness aren’t protective against the bigoted grim reaper lurking the halls of the maternity ward.

Kira Dixon Johnson, Beyonce, Serena Williams, and even I have learned that giving birth while Black is like playing Russian Roulette. Racism impacts a Black woman’s access to care and her quality of care.

If Sha’Asia had been a white woman, she’d likely be alive. She’d probably be at home right now taking countless pictures of her munchkin, Googling foods to eat for milk production, and asking friends how to cut a newborn’s nails. She’d be doing what most of us did during those first few weeks postpartum. She is Khloe’s mom, and she should be with Khloe right now.

Giving birth while Black is like playing Russian Roulette.

According to the CDC, half of maternal deaths are preventable. Sha’Asia’s death was preventable.

Black women are dying in and after childbirth at an alarming rate, and you can help to raise awareness about this issue. I’m asking this group for help because I know that when moms decide to do something — like really decide to do something — it gets done. Period.

It’s OK if you don’t know a lot about this issue. There are a number of ways you can learn more and help. You can start by following the pages below. You can also copy and paste the facts below into a new post on your social media page(s). Finally, share Sha’Asia’s story. Forward this article or any article about her to spread awareness. Let’s stand together as mommas.

Birthing while Black should not be a death sentence.

Instagram pages to follow right now to learn more:

@4kira4moms
@blackmamasmatter
@theblackobgynproject
@blactavist
@thelanguageofbirth
@birthingjustice
@sistersong_woc

This is an urgent issue. Here’s what you should know (find these facts and more at nationalpartnership.org):

  1. Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. 
  2. Black women are more likely to experience preventable maternal death compared with white women.
  3. Black women’s heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels.
  4. Seventy-five percent of Black women give birth at hospitals that serve predominantly Black populations, but these so-called “Black-serving hospitals” have higher rates of maternal complications than other hospitals. They also perform worse on 12 of 15 birth outcomes, including elective deliveries, non-elective cesarean births, and maternal mortality.

Dear Boston (the Love Letter I Never Thought I’d Write)

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Boston Public Garden ducklings - Boston Moms

Dear Boston,

I’ll be honest. When I arrived here four years ago, I was pretty certain I wouldn’t love you. My husband’s job was bringing us here for three years, maybe four, and then it would be on to somewhere new. I had been warned about the rough winters, the crazy drivers, and the not-quite-warm-and-fuzzy reputation of Bostonians. I planned to enjoy our time here as much as possible and then drive away with no strings attached.

And then I became a mom.

Suddenly, Boston, you became not just our home, but our playground.

In those early days, it was picnic lunches along the Charles River, early morning breakfasts on Revere Beach, long stroller walks around the Arboretum, and of course frequent visits to one of your MANY coffee shops for this tired mom.

As my son grew, you were full of new adventures. The penguins, sea lions, and Myrtle the sea turtle at the aquarium became dear friends. We spent many hours chatting with the gorillas (through the glass) at Franklin Park Zoo. There were toddler playdates at the MFA and hours of construction fun at the Children’s Museum. The best part is, most of these visits were free thanks to the Boston Public Library museum pass program! (Except the aquarium — we had to be members to check in our friends more regularly.)

This year the Museum of Science became the favorite for my train-loving, dinosaur-enchanted toddler. We enjoyed lunch while watching the Boston tea party reenactments from the harborwalk after a morning at Martin’s Park. And for a boy who loves buses and trains, the trip on the MBTA to these places was more than enough excitement for a day!

Of course, our final months living here didn’t go as planned. On a sunny day in March, life here came to an abrupt halt. There were no last visits to our favorite museums, story hours, or YMCA playgroups. We did get to log in virtually to say good-bye to some of our friends (human and aquatic). It wasn’t quite the same, but in a strange way I think the absence of these places made me realize just how much can be taken for granted by those of us who live here.

These beloved museums are reopening now, and I truly hope families here flock to them (masked and socially distanced, of course) and appreciate in a whole new way just how special they are.

As for my family, we are off on a new adventure. But Boston, you will always hold a special place in my heart. I will hold onto the memories — morning runs around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir as the leaves changed, an infant napping in the springtime shade at the Arboretum, a toddler counting boats along the banks of the Charles, and so many other moments that made me fall in love with you when I least expected to. Thank you for being the best first home for my boys. Thank you for introducing me to the best group of moms to stand by my side as we tackle the challenges of motherhood. Thank you for surpassing my expectations and making it so difficult to say good-bye. Until we meet again…

Love,
Katie

Not My Typical Summer Read :: Swapping Romance Novels for Anti-Racism Reflections

School’s out, and summer is halfway over. I usually start my summer with a book or two waiting for me to read. Before kids, I had the goal of reading 10 books each summer. Let’s just say that has drastically changed. I’m lucky if I finish two books! Wait, who am I kidding? More like one book. 

My go-to book is the one where you may have to hide the cover when you’re reading in public. The one that includes language you don’t want your children reading over your shoulder. The one that takes you to another place and lets you escape your day to day. Let’s just say I am a sucker for cheesy romance novels. Fabio is my go-to!

However, this summer is different. I think we can all agree this year is different.

And I have made a conscious decision to change up my typical summer reads for something else. I am halfway through “Me and White Supremacy,” a book created from the 28-day Instagram challenge by Layla Saad. This book examines white privilege and how to fight racism. I didn’t choose this book myself. About a month ago, my son’s principal sent an email introducing a summer book club with this book as the focus. Being a white woman, I decided it was time to take some action and learn. Each week, there are affinity group Zoom meetings to discuss and reflect upon what we have read. We have assignments, reflections questions, and topics to discuss. 

I have never read a book like this before. I have never done so much thinking while reading. This book is making me take a look at myself — a real hard look — and think about my life, who I am, where I am from, and what that means. 

It’s not easy to see the things I don’t like.

It’s not easy to have the hard discussions. 

But I am making a conscious effort to change. 

This year has certainly thrown us for a loop, and changing up my summer reads seems like a minimal change I can make. I want to set an example for my children. I want them to know I am being active in making a change. I want them to know I did not just sit back. I think it is important that I expand my reading horizons and tackle the difficult reads. I also know reading this book is just the tip of the iceberg for me, and I am committed to continuing to educate myself, having the hard discussions, and working through a pivotal moment in history. 

So, for now, Fabio, this mama is setting you aside. She has some work to do! But I will come back to you… I promise.

I Don’t Wear a Bikini — But Not for the Reason You Think!

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It’s summertime. Take a glance at the internet and you’ll see all kinds of encouragement promoting body positivity, telling moms to show that they love their bodies by wearing bikinis. Yes, mama! Definitely love your body. It carried and gave birth to a child (or to multiple children!). It’s strong, and it runs after those children while they grow. I wrote a whole post on loving your “mom bod,” and I do love mine.

But I won’t wear a bikini. Here’s why:

At least one child will definitely pull down my swimsuit, revealing my private parts to the entire beach or pool area.

I am not in a period of my life where I lay around on a beach chair, reading a book and working on my tan. Rather, I have three small children who love to pretend to be monkeys, using me as their tree. This is the most fun for them in the water! We play shark, I throw them around, we practice floating and swimming. With tiny hands constantly grabbing and clawing at me, it doesn’t take long before one of them gets hooked in my bikini, pulling it up, down, or sideways. I used to wear bikinis before I learned that, without fail, the top or bottom would become dislodged by a small person at play.

Wearing a one-piece bathing suit gives me more sun protection and saves time applying sunscreen.

Putting sunscreen on my kids is like engaging in a wrestling match or cage fight. They run, and I chase. They wiggle, and inevitably sunscreen winds up in their hair, on their bathing suits, on the furniture — pretty much everywhere except on their exposed skin! And that’s if we sunscreen at home. If I try to do it when we get to the pool, my kids are jumping in the water before I’ve even kicked off my flip-flops. No time for mom to sunscreen herself! So not only do I wear a one-piece, but I also rock a swim shirt! Yes! It’s not about fashion at the moment, it’s about function.

Will I ever wear a bikini again?

Sure, someday. When I hit that time in my life where I bring my kids to the pool and they tell me not to walk in with them, or sit with them, or acknowledge them in any way. And I’ll miss that functional one-piece bathing suit and the little girls who couldn’t swim without their mama.

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Guide To Boston

Boston Moms Guide to Apple Picking :: 2020

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Crisp fall air is entering New England, and that can only mean one thing — it's apple picking time! Apple orchards are speckled throughout...