Welcome to Kira's Blog

Welcome to My Blog

Life with young children can be challenging, but with the support and advice of friends, we can feel empowered and thankful for the blessing of being a Mom.

My musings are those of a self-proclaimed attachment-parenting Tiger mom, who juggles full-time mommying with a small (but growing!) baby-related business. I hope some of my thoughts help you
Enjoy your day, Enjoy your night, and Enjoy your kids!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Magic of Music

You've had a long night. A long week. Fights with the husband. Fights with the kids... laundry and carpools and dishes - oh my! Sound familiar? Rather than wallow in self-pity, it's time to take your mind off the challenges you've been facing. Turn off those negative thoughts.

Hmmm... how does one turn off one's mind? Unless you're a master at yoga, this sounds like an impossible task.

Fear not, my friend - there is an easy solution: music.

Music is an easy way to change your attitude. If you're stuck in a funk, crank up your favorite song. Sing along. Pour out your woes! And when you're feeling a bit better, make a list of your favorite upbeat songs, to keep playing tomorrow and beyond. Create a playlist and set it to "repeat" mode on your stereo, in your car, or on your computer :)

You'll be amazed at how much rosier your day looks with good music playing in the background.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Having Fun Yet?

I recently met a life coach who reminded me of a simple principle: enjoy life.

As moms, we can easily get bogged down - between the fatigue, the kids' whining, the babies crying, the never-ending lists of what we *should* have gotten done today, this week, or this year... we can feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.

But of course, this is hardly how we want our children to think about us as parents. We're still role models and need to show our children how to be happy, upbeat, and optimistic adults.

But how do you just choose to "enjoy yourself"? Or just "be happy"? Believe it or not, there IS a simple answer: tap into your own youth.

Find an activity that you enjoyed when you were young. Maybe you liked to draw cartoons? Or ride your bike? Maybe you love to sing or dance or ice skate? For me, I love musical theater, so I turn on Les Miz and sing around the house at the top of my lungs. Sometimes, my kids laugh at me. Sometimes, they join in. But always, we're sharing smiles for awhile.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adult Bullies

As parents, we must be strong. SO strong.

A friend T. tells me that she is being bullied by her 3-year-old son's teacher. He has a dietary health issue, but the teacher continues to ignore my friend's requests to control harmful foods in the classroom. When T. has confronted the teacher, she belittles the issue and says that she's had experience with these dietary needs and not to second-guess her. T. has turned to the principal, who simply says that she'll talk to the teacher (again).

T. turned to me nearly in tears and said, "Am I over-reacting? Should I just let the teacher do whatever she wants and trust that she knows what she's talking about?"

I told T. that as far as I'm concerned, she is absolutely in the right to stand her ground and not be bullied by the teacher. Turn to the principal again, and if that doesn't work, turn to the school's board of directors. Threaten to pull out your child from the school. Threaten to sue. Threaten to publicize that the school won't take care of children's health. Do whatever it takes.

Because if you are not advocating for your kid, who is?

If you don't advocate for him, what message are you sending? Your child needs to see that you are strong. Rock-solid. Firmly supporting him. So that he gets the message that it's okay to be strong. It's right to hold your ground. And it's wrong to let others pressure us into decisions we're not comfortable with as parents.

Spread the word - to your friends, your family, your peers, and whoever else needs to hear it. Be strong. Be firm. Be a grown-up. Because you are and you should.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Bullying is a common problem among elementary-school children, and bullying between girls is only recently gaining attention.

Rachel Simmons, a classmate of mine (who, incidentally, had bullied me when we were young, and  years later made amends ... well, I guess that's material for a future blog) wrote a fascinating book on the subject, entitled "Odd Girl Out" (see link & image attached). Definitely an important read for any mothers of young girls (or grandmothers, aunts, uncles...).

It starts young, for some in preschool and others by 2nd grade. And a key to overcoming it is teaching our girls about it. Awareness.

My daughter was recently involved in a bullying scheme, which someone suggested I detail in my blog, in order to empower other moms to recognize its sinister subtleties:

I received a phone call from A. She asked if my daughter Moriyah had mentioned anything about her daughter X to me... were they still friends? I said that I hadn't noticed or heard anything to indicate otherwise. She informed me that lately Moriyah had been telling X that she hated her. (!!!) I was dumbfounded and told A. that I'd call her back after asking Moriyah what was going on. I confronted Moriyah, beginning gently and vaguely with, "Are you friends with X? Do you play at recess?" I got all nods that yes, they were friends and yes, they play. Then, I got more direct. "Did you tell her you hate her?" Silence. Tears start. "Moriyah, you can tell me... what's going on? Why did you tell your friend you hate her?" And then she broke out "Because Y said that if I'm friends with X then she won't be friends with me. And I don't know whom to choose." In classic bullying fashion, she inadvertently chose Y over X, by telling X that she hated her.

BAM - it's done. One girl is bullied. Another girl gets the friend (and control) she wanted.

This is how the cycle starts. Or some similar means of pulling friends apart in a tug-of-war over popularity and social dominance.

I took my daughter's face into my hands and told her powerfully and concisely, "Nobody can tell you you can't be friends with somebody. That's mean and we don't allow that." I told her I'd be calling Y's mother both to make sure she knows what's going on and also to show Moriyah by example that when something is amiss, you take action.

I called A. to tell her the story, especially to assure her that Moriyah is still friends with X and the language of "hate" would be gone. Politely, I asked her in the future to please call me sooner if there is a problem, since she mentioned this had been going on for "a while" before she called me.

Then I called Y's mother, who was surprised to hear the story and promised to speak to her daughter.

The end is "happily ever after" (for now): When I asked Moriyah about it, she said that Y told her, "she's going to try to be friends with X." No more tug-of-war.

And then the obvious question: what would I have done, had Y's mother been defensive or passive? I'd simply hype up to my daughter that what Y was doing was WRONG and not nice, so that hopefully she'd feel empowered to stand her ground. Not perfect, but social interactions rarely are. Luckily, I live in a supportive community and send my kid to a private school where I know the parents care and want to be involved in these matters.

When bullying happens, we need to get involved and help set an example for our children. They don't "naturally" know what to do - we need to teach them. When A. called me, she opened the conversation with an apology to bother me about this... but... I corrected her that this was not a bother and that on the contrary, in order to be an effective mom, I NEED to hear what's going on from others. How will I know if nobody calls me? How would Y's mother help her daughter if I don't call her?! Sure, it's possible for a parent to demur, but unless we inform them, we don't allow them the opportunity to do good. And as we all know "all that it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

Today's bully is tomorrow's victim, and vice versa. Which is why it's important to be involved and teach our children - whether they are the bully or the victim, they need to be shown the way to healthy social dynamics. Rachel Simmons herself was surprised to hear how she'd bullied me as a kid - she was so enmeshed in her own social struggles, she hadn't seen how her behavior was equally hurtful. Hopefully, we're raising the next generation to be more aware and sensitive to others than we were.


Optimism works. It really does. If you CHOOSE to be optimistic, you will see that the world will reward you!

Yesterday, I had a great optimism day.

I forced myself to get dressed early and decided "today is my day!" I looked in the mirror and announced that I weigh 135 lbs (in fact, I am still far-off that mark, but I firmly believe that if I declare it, I will become it...) I later had a miraculous phone call with my sister, received a miraculous email from my mother, and finally found out that an old business arrangement had been changed in my husband's favor and we received extra money into our 401(k).

And by the end of the day, I had lost 2 lbs... coincidence? I think NOT! (I'm not technically on a diet)

Well, suffice it to say, I woke up and declared that today will be another optimistic day. The universe is abundant. I'm tapping in!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


It's 2:30pm and I'm still in my pajamas.

It's a slow-motion day in the world of parenting.

Send me comments about what you think - are slo-mo days a good or bad parenting example?


Monday, February 7, 2011

Must Do

I've chilled out as a mother. Sort of.

What I mean is that my mothering has changed. And I feel more at-ease with myself and my choices.

A big part of that is due to an epiphany of sorts. A breakthrough... from something my husband said (as I mentioned in a prior blog, he really is pretty brilliant :)

Here's what happened:

I was heading into the weekend - I usually ended my Fridays wanting the house to look perfect, have my kids bathed, dressed, and well fed, the laundry done and put away, the kitchen clean and cleared, etc. This particular Friday wasn't going my way. The house was in disarray, the kitchen overflowing with dirty dishes, and my kids were running around the house wreaking havoc. The laundry was half-done, unfolded. The food wasn't nearly cooked, but I was. I was totally fried.

My husband came home from work and saw that I was in quite a state. He turned to me and said sternly, "Let's just focus on what NEEDS to happen. Now." Quickly, I scanned the house - I needed to have food; that was a given. I needed to take a shower, for sure. And the mess? The dishes, laundry, toys, etc...? I decided, in that moment, to just let that all go. Released.

And since then, my parenting altered. Sure, I want to have an organized, clean house. But I forgive myself much quicker than I used to, as I trudge off to bed with the dishes still in the sink, or the laundry in the washer, or the blocks and dolls in a pile on the floor.

Instead, my energies are increasingly focused on my kids - making sure they get the attention they need (well, there's never enough time in the day for that, really, but I'm swayed more in that direction, anyway). And on myself, taking time out for a quick workout or to indulge in a real sit-down lunch (rather than a yogurt-on-the-go). And let's not forget some quality time with my spouse, who, after all, inspired this blog to begin with :)

So the message is this: When you feel like there are more to-do's than will ever get done in your hour, day, or week - let go. Release. Just focus on what you MUST do, and let the rest go. Your world will be much calmer and probably happier.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Music Therapy for Moms

A friend of mine was having a lousy day. I gave her some advice on how to get herself out of her funk. "Throw on some 80's music & dance around the house, while you clean up the mess your kids made."

Music has a funny way of changing our moods.

Many pundits recommend that when you feel you're losing patience, take a break and count to 10, before reacting. I add to that: listen to upbeat music that will put you in a better mood. Clearly, I recommend tunes with a warm-and-friendly message (e.g. "I'm Walkin' on Sunshine"), not angry music (e.g. Violent Femmes) or melancholic dirges (e.g. Mozart's Requiem).

Music Therapy for Moms 101. Keep it Allegro!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

good eating

Childhood obesity is a real problem. Unless you live in a third world country, your child is at risk. Period. Sadly, most parents in America (especially) don't heed warnings and feed small children plenty of foods with extra sugar, preservatives, food colorings, and other toxins for their bodies. Once your child sees that her friend has a lunch consisting of: m&m yogurt, nacho chips, chocolate pudding, and a juice-drink which is mostly sugar, she will quickly be eager to join the ranks of the junkies. So even the parents with the best intentions are facing an uphill battle. Unless you live in a commune with strict healthy-diet requirements, you will likely need to be very dedicated to this cause if you want to keep your child healthy & fit.

Now, I'm not a hard-core organic fanatic (or so I think), but I *am* devoted to teaching my children healthy eating habits. That includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruit in their diet. Lean proteins. Whole grains. Soups & salads. I've already posted a blog about how to introduce more vegetables into their diets, so if you're looking for some practical ideas, visit my blog "Veggie Ideas" from 9/6/10.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

40 Days of Solitude

When I had my first child, my mother-in-law informed me of a tradition in her family: when a baby is born, both mother and child remain home-bound (indeed, they are supposed to stay in their bedroom) for 40 days. According to tradition, the birthing mother has a special spiritual haze around her, and she must be guarded and protected.

I decided to give the tradition a shot. I didn't leave the house (except for doctors visits) for 40 days.

It was transformational.

When a new child enters the family, many changes are involved. Changes of schedule, foods, sharing-spaces, and of course attitudes and perspectives. It's quite easy to get overwhelmed.

By shutting out a big chunk of the world, indeed all of the world beyond your home, you are able to focus on the changes at play and make sure you and baby emerge healthy and the whole family remains strong. If you know there is nowhere you must go and nobody you have to see, then you can just pay attention to the new baby, hold her and feed her and dedicate all of your time and energies to yourself, your family and your baby.

I recommend this hibernation to all mothers - whether you are facing baby #1 or baby #15. It's the healthiest way to facilitate baby's entry into your family and your life.


As I read the controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua (see link), I gleaned some important messages.

In contrast with the hype and criticism the book (and author) received, I found the book uniquely empowering and enlightening.

The story takes the reader on a journey into the sensibilities, challenges, and considerations of a world-class mommy. It begins with her first daughter, who seems, for the most part, to follow her mother's directions and directives. Her second daughter provides most of the drama in the tale, as her headstrong, defiant nature challenges her mother's dreams, goals, and hopes for her future.

As the book progresses, Chua shares some doubts about her Asian-style of parenting, struggling with her commitment to many of its principles. And here, friends, is where I found the book refreshing and inspirational - the Chinese values are clearly worth consideration, and her struggle to maintain them while entrenched in a thoroughly Western environment brings beautiful drama to the picture:

"...I came to see that Chinese parents have two things over their Western counterparts: (1) higher dreams for their children, and (2) higher regard for their children in the sense of knowing how much they can take." (p. 8)


"In Chinese culture, it just wouldn't occur to children to question, disobey, or talk back to their parents. In American culture, kids... score points with their snappy backtalk and independent streaks." (p. 24)

Where the book begins with her embracing rigid determination ("Asian-ness") as a parent, by the end she shares newfound ("Western"?) wisdom with her daughter, claiming, "See how undefensive and flexible I am? To succeed in this world, you always have to be willing to adapt." (p. 221)

The clincher and the greatest message of this book is: dedication. Chua is clearly supremely dedicated to her children. Whether her methods are quirky, extreme, or questionable, her motives are pure and admirable: to challenge her children to tap into their own greatness and potential - to work hard and reap the benefits of their labor.

Whether Asian or Western in style, Chua challenges her readers to dedicate their time and energies to their children. On reading her book, one cannot help but consider "Am I too weak? Should I be more dedicated to my child's greatness-potential? Am I doing enough to encourage/challenge them to do more, be more?"

These questions, along with the message of dedication, are the real gifts of Chua's work. Set the controversies aside and consider what the book can offer you in your life - you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Common Breastfeeding Challenges

Breastfeeding is a challenge. I've heard from many sources that if it's done "correctly" it shouldn't hurt. Well, that's both a true and false.

The truth is this: when the mom and baby are in a healthy groove, it won't hurt. In fact, it will feel good for both, and joyously nurturing. But it can take a few weeks for this "healthy groove" to fall into place. Especially with the first baby, it feels like a long time for mom and baby to learn each other and establish nursing "habits".

And another truth is this: while waiting for your "healthy groove" with your baby, you can be plagued with all sorts of painful setbacks. Some are common and some are unique/rare. Even some lactation consultants may be stumped with certain anatomical challenges - you'd be wise to confer with more than one, if problems persist (like getting a second opinion from a doctor). But as for the common problems, many of us have experienced them, and they can be both physically and emotionally painful. And yet, those who breastfeed for longer than 6 months will tell you that it was worth persisting.

The first challenge in breastfeeding is getting a good latch. For this, lactation consultants are an amazing gift to mothers, old and new alike. I've heard over and over from friends, "if I could just get the latch as good as the consultant did in the hospital, this would be easy..." Alas, most of us exhausted and overwhelmed mothers are lucky if we get a good latch within the first 5 tries. Multiply that by 8-12 nursing sessions per day, and you get a lot of wear-and-tear on our nipples. The best advice is to try different positions, because while you may think one is most comfortable for you, the baby may need a different setup to properly latch and stay on. Experiment and practice. Just like everything else in life, the more you practice, the better you'll get, until it "becomes natural." Like tying your shoe, or riding a bike, you'll find that one day you'll realize that you no longer struggle to figure it out, and you can just enjoy the experience.

And then there are ailments...

Thrush is one common setback: it is a yeast and presents as painful, bright pink spots/blotches on and around the nipple. Sometimes, the nipple turns white/translucent after nursing, as a sign of distress. It is painful especially when baby is latching on, and I've often literally cringed when the baby is crying and ready to nurse. It can also be painful for the baby if it spreads to his mouth, so both mom and baby are at risk of nursing less often than is necessary for baby's healthy growth. There are some over-the-counter herbal remedies, but the doctors often prescribe diflucan for the mother and an oral anti-fungal for the baby. As with most nursing complications, it is important to involve both mother's and baby's doctors, since it affects both. Important note about thrush: if you have antibiotics, which many moms do during/after labor, then it greatly increases risk of yeast-overgrowth (just like a vaginal yeast infection). In order to help prevent this, it's a good idea to eat a lot of yogurt and possibly take additional healthy digestive bacteria in pill form, during/after labor and in the first few weeks of nursing.

Another upsetting possibility is mastitis. This is when a milk-duct gets clogged and infected. It comes on VERY strong and fast, and knocks out the mother with a high fever. It demands immediate and drastic attention. First sign is probably an itchy, red hot-spot on the mother's breast. Massaging that area can help open the clogged duct, but once the fever is on, you'll need/want antibiotics right away. Mastitis can hit at any time, but it is most likely to happen in the first few days or weeks, when the ducts are still figuring out how much milk to produce and often over-produce in the process. Which leads us to...

Engorgement - it hits almost all of us. It can be very painful and often presents problems for the newborn to latch-on... which creates a vicious cycle: baby can't latch on, so mom gives up and offers a bottle, meanwhile producing even MORE milk, so that it's yet again difficult for baby to latch on, etc. The breasts and nipple can feel like boulders, literally hard-as-a-rock. I've heard 2 pieces of advice on this: one is to take a warm shower and massage out milk, and the other is to place raw cabbage on the breast and just leave it there - it magically softens and relaxes the breast (just be careful to cut out a hole for the nipple, so it won't smell/taste like cabbage to the newborn!) For myself, I usually just pump extra milk (deflating the breast) and freeze it for later. I find that after the engorgement has passed, the supply/demand cycle of mom and baby naturally develops more easily.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for both mom and baby, but don't believe anybody who tells you it's easy and painless. The reality is: it's difficult and can be quite painful, especially in the beginning. But with the right coaching from a lactation consultant (not to mention supportive friends), it will become both easy and painless... and incredibly rewarding.