Weddings, Proms, Graduations and Parties

by Louise

It’s the season for celebrations. The Royal Wedding was perhaps the biggest such media event of the year. Do you have any celebrations coming up ? Are you the host or hostess or a guest ? Have you looked at an invitation dress code and wondered what to wear ? Any trusty outfits you routinely dust off and wear again ?
Let’s talk about celebrations, the trends, the fashions and departures from custom.

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That Mom

by Louise

The other day, I jokingly told DD that I was going to email the middle school and request more homework based on the light homework pattern I’d seen with her brother. She rolled her eyes and told me not be That Mom.

It got me thinking about who exactly is That Mom.  The antithesis of Mom and Apple Pie, Strawberries and Cream, Pretty Flowers and Cards.

I think of her as the woman who pushed for doctors and teachers to take notice, provide treatment or a plan of action and didn’t give up. If her own child couldn’t benefit it pushed the door open wider for others. She became an activist for a cause.

I think of her as a woman doing her best to provide for her kids. When her kids are hesitant to ask the teacher about things neither they nor her understands she pushes and prods. Tiger Mom she is not, it is more like Mama Elephant.

When I celebrate Mother’s day with my mother, I won’t be celebrating the seemingly sweet looking petite older lady. I’ll be celebrating That Mom.

An Ordinary Childhood?

by Louise

Reading the comments about Megan Markle’s childhood, commentators were saying at how ordinary/not so great it was. From all accounts, it struck me as being quite a happy childhood. Yes, she is biracial, has divorced parents, half siblings but seems to have been a happy kid who went to parochial school, is college educated and pursued her interest in performing in her career as an adult. Even without a prince in the picture, she was doing fine.

Have our standards for what constitutes a great childhood increased dramatically? What do you think is basic/good enough for your kids ? What are extras ? Discuss.

House – the next phase

by Louise

I have been thinking a lot about what sort of home design I want when the kids leave.

I love our lot and neighborhood. I feel like razing our house and starting over. Whatever we do, our house will have to work for the next phase. What features would posters want in their empty nes(x)t homes?

The first thing, I can think of the stairs, we will be better off in a ranch home. Next thing I can think of is size, keep the same square footage or downsize? I still like our yard, will continue to outsource its care, but may add more flower beds (ambitious add perhaps).

What things can you think of in home design for people getting older?

Favorite charitable activity or community event

by Louise

In my area lots of group activities involve some activity done for charity or the community. My workplace regularly organizes groups for Habitat for Humanity and Back to School events. At this time of year, there are elves needed to sort and wrap donated gifts, put together food baskets and tons of other volunteer opportunities.

Then there are community events and performances.

Which activities for charity do you like or dislike ? Do you participate in or support certain community events?

Do share….

Keeping up with Technology

by Louise

Let’s have a discussion of all things Tech.

Do you think you have kept up with technology? What are you favorite gadgets? Eagerly awaiting self driving cars? Afraid of handing over your keys to big brother? Is Alexa spying on you? Do you think kids should not have electronics (or hardly any) like one of our neighborhood families?

Discuss…

Early Childhood Development

by Louise

The book described sounds interesting.

The article has taken a political turn but I don’t want to put it on the political page or turn it into a political discussion. This is about our children, families and the role of parents, with emphasis on a mother’s role.

Once I had kids the demands of a job and those of the kids clashed. I couldn’t lean in as much as I wanted to. My own parents had busy work and social lives. They were unavailable. Many times as a teen, I wished my mother was home more like the mothers of my friends just to talk things through.

Totebaggers share your experiences, observations and opinions.

The Politicization of Motherhood

Today’s Juggle

by Louise

It’s been more than eight years since I began reading and slowly contributing to this group. At that time, I was really feeling the stress of the juggle. Two young kids, a full time job, a move, then a new job in a new city….

I can’t believe the amount of time that has passed since then. Over the years, I learnt the art of taking and asking for flexibility at work. I managed to get my kids to activities after school some weekdays. I continue to work, which at one time was becoming increasingly difficult with the juggle.

Now, things are changing again as my office is moving and location change will mean more commute, but it is not too bad. It will be close to DS’s potential HS, so I can pick him up if he wants to do after school clubs.

How does your juggle look today? It may be different with grown kids but aging parents in the picture. Others may have changed jobs or office locations, kids may be doing extra curricular activities that add to the juggle. Let’s revisit where it all began.

Our families and The Rules

by Louise

I have thought of myself as being more of a strict parent but lately I have been amazed at the rules some of my neighbors set. A big one is no sugar or nothing remotely unhealthy. Another one is reading for two hours every night. Yet another is no tablet devices for the kids. There are other practices like no lunch on weekends, eat whatever is in the pantry or fridge that are more lax.

What are your family rules? Are they stricter or more relaxed than the ones you had growing up?

Football – a debate

by Louise

With fall fast approaching, we return to sports at all levels – school, college and pro. A big one is football.

I was discussing football with my kid and he mentioned that students were out of school due to football related concussions. I happened to have lunch with a bunch of people and one guy was very opposed to his kid playing football. Then, I watch Last Chance U where football seems to be the only way out for young men from disadvantaged backgrounds. They want to play in spite of concussions hoping that they will be recruited to big football schools. I was troubled by this.

Next, I see this article on CTE.

CTE found in 99% of studied brains from deceased NFL players

What do you think ? Do you think football will continue as is or will people slowly turn away ? Will kids continue to play given the emerging research ? Discuss.

The Good Old Days

by Louise

Posters mention now and again their days as children and young adults. I find these a fascinating description of time and place.  Though most of our experiences may be positive, some may not be.

These days pictures and slide shows on Facebook pop up to remind us what happened a couple of years ago.  But prior to that there was just memory, faded pictures and some of you have mentioned home movies.

Describe your good old or bad old days.

Grandparents in the family picture

by Louise

This morning while reading about Melania Trump’s move to the White House, the article mentioned that her parents had moved to Washington. Wasn’t clear whether they moved to the White House too or were living separately but they had been living in the Trump Tower.

Michelle Obama’s mother lived with the family while they occupied the White House. I wonder about the impact on my kids from living with their grandparents. Perhaps my kids situation is more common than I thought.

In the situations above and in most current day situations it has been the woman’s parents in the picture, not her in-laws.

What do Totebaggers think of having grandparents in the picture ? I know some Totebaggers are grandparents themselves, what do they think ?

How to deal with personal issues affecting work

by Louise

There have been a few times when health crisis/issues have forced me to request even more flexibility at work. One time I was reluctant to share the details but I found that all up the management chain were very sympathetic and actually asked me what I was doing at work instead of taking care of the issue.

Recently one new hire didn’t work out because she had not got over the death of a grown child. I felt I was way more sympathetic than others in my workplace.

How have you managed a personal crisis and work? Have you been forced eventually to quit because things became too hard to manage?

How To Deal With Personal Issues At Work (Keep Personal Issues From Harming Your Job And Career)

Rituals and superstitions

by Louise

I grew in a country with a great deal of superstitions. People had various rituals to ward off the evil eye, observed auspicious days and times and matched birth horoscopes of potential life partners.  I lived for a long time in a city obsessed by The Curse of the Bambino (thankfully broken). Baseball players are known for their rituals.

The only superstition I have is being cautious of sharing certain bits of news. I waited three months to announce my pregnancies and didn’t reveal the name until the baby was born. Even now, I am cautious about sharing routine achievements of my kids.

What are some of your superstitions or (cough) rituals ?

Foods and Health

by Louise

I have become interested in the many people I meet who are careful about what they eat.  Lots of people have reduced or cut out gluten from their diets as well as diary.  Teens now go vegan.

What has been your experience with cutting out certain foods? Do you feel better in your gut, have you lost weight and feel healthier overall?

14 Best and Worst Foods for Digestion

Illness, Setbacks – looking inwards, coping with it all

by Louise

A mouthful of a title! How did Totebaggers cope with illness in themselves or loved ones, how do Totebaggers cope with setbacks? One day everything is fine, the next day dark clouds appear on the horizon.

My household just dealt with a bout of illness and all our issues are not yet resolved.
I thought of this book, I had been intending to read it but put it off, will pick it up again.

Review: In ‘When Breath Becomes Air,’ Dr. Paul Kalanithi Confronts an Early Death

Impact of Social Acceptance on Food and Lifestyle Choices

by Louise

The article below caught my eye. We now drink more bottled water than soda. A big part of this has to do with how we as a society now perceive soda. Sure we still drink it but at least among the Totebag set it is a once in a way item (or banned completely) rather than drunk daily.

What food or lifestyle habits have you made changes to over the years. Any items you have given up due to social pressure?

Soda Loses Its U.S. Crown: Americans Now Drink More Bottled Water

What are you watching?

by Louise

I have found discussions of shows, especially on streaming services and movies, to be a great ice breaker and a source of conversation with people around town I interact with.
I learn the names of some new shows, we have a good chat about shows we have watched. Beats talking about the weather.

I began watching Outlander. I had read one book in the series a while ago (didn’t realize there were so many). I am learning about Scotland as I go along. Very good place for a hiking holiday.

So, what shows have you been watching ? Any movie recommendations ?