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Seeing your baby in another context

Posted by Kara Baskin July 31, 2013 08:00 AM

My son had a birthday last week. As part of the festivities, his school invites parents to celebrate with a healthy snack and a chance to sit in during "gathering" time to sing "Happy Birthday." So I took an hour off from work and visited him in his classroom. It was fascinating and strange — like visiting my dad at the office when I was growing up. Here's this person whom I know so well, who has a completely different life that I know very little about. Sure, I'm confident that his teachers are nice to him, and we love his school. But seeing him in his element was as novel for me as it was for him.

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A Commoner's Birth Announcement

Posted by Kara Baskin July 22, 2013 03:00 PM

The big day is here: The royal baby has finally arrived. I just read the full press release announcing the birth. If only we civilians could use a similar line of formal announcements for our friends and family, answering the inevitable questions with elegance and grace!

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The Top Mom Stressors

Posted by Kara Baskin July 19, 2013 11:00 AM

It's easy to think that other parents have it together, when the truth is, almost everyone goes through meltdown periods of "what am I doing and why have I been wearing the same clothes for four days?" (And, if you read some of the comments here, signs of candid weakness are ripe for the mocking.) But nobody is completely placid and competent all the time. I'm willing to bet that even the most capable robo-mom sometimes questions herself. (And so do dads! But this blog is from a mom's perspective.) Second-guessing is part of life, and sometimes it helps to know we're all in this together. So, I polled a group of mom friends the other day to figure out what weighs on us the most. Balancing work with parenting? Money? Nutrition? Sleep? Head lice? I got a wide range of answers. Here are a few, from the serious to the silly.

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High blood pressure in kids is on the rise

Posted by Kara Baskin July 15, 2013 05:00 PM

New research published today in Hypertension reveals that the percentage of American children and adolescents ages 8 to 17 who have high blood pressure (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, organ damage, heart attacks and strokes, among other unsavory things) has climbed 27 percent over 13 years. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and other institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health used two large national surveys to make these conclusions, says NBC. The research ties rising blood pressure to increasing body mass index and sodium intake. Doctors tell NBC that the main culprit is processed foods and that the primary remedy is through better diet and exercise (no surprise there); pediatricians also need to be diligent about measuring kids' blood pressure, because the issue isn't just specific to older adults. So how to curb kids' feverish desire for salty snacks?

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What's the Difference Between Raising Boys and Girls?

Posted by Kara Baskin July 10, 2013 07:20 AM

I'd like to know: Which is harder? More difficult? And, most importantly — which gender is less likely to abandon you in front of Everybody Loves Raymond reruns after you turn 65? I'm sure both genders are rewarding for different reasons, but I'm asking because yesterday I got a totally out-of-the-blue text congratulating me on my nonexistent pregnancy.

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Toddler Truisms: Ten Things I've Learned As Mom to a Little Boy

Posted by Kara Baskin June 24, 2013 06:00 AM

Yesterday evening, my son was playing very quietly in his room for a very long time. I was tempted to investigate — was he setting fire to his crib? had he climbed out a window? — but I stopped myself. I've learned that these moments are precious, and if the worst he does is dismantle his toddler bed screw by screw, well ... my husband someone can always reassemble it. Here are some lessons I've picked up along the way. What are yours?

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Glamorous Chaos: The Tiring Pursuit of Art-Directed Motherhood

Posted by Kara Baskin June 18, 2013 08:00 AM

Is parenthood becoming too stylized? The New York Times has an article about how super-stylish mom-bloggers are devoting themselves to posting about fashion and decor: high-end post-maternity jeans, comfortable heels, tunics that won't make you look like a linebacker for the Patriots, and sometimes even messy living rooms and unmade beds — staged, naturally. These women are glamorizing a certain chaos. This isn't news to anyone who feels like maintaining their various social media profiles is a second full-time job (um, me). And so I say: Enough already.

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Parenting Is Pricier Than Ever

Posted by Kara Baskin June 7, 2013 08:00 AM

Today the Huffington Post reinforces what I realize every time I write my son's daycare check: Parenting is incredibly expensive. Last year the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates put the cost at around $300,000 for a middle-class family; the WSJ says that it's a "severe underestimate." (And I would agree, since that's about what we pay for preschool. Just kidding. Kind of.) The WSJ says the figure is more like $900,000, when you factor in things like the lost wages incurred by stay-at-home parents and the astronomical cost of college.

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Record Number of Moms Are Breadwinners, But At What Cost?

Posted by Kara Baskin May 29, 2013 07:00 AM

A new study by the Pew Research Center says that a record number of American women are now the sole or primary breadwinners in their families: Moms now "keep finances afloat" in 40 percent of households with children, up from just 11 percent in 1960, the study says. Many of these families have single moms at the helm, but Pew also says that a growing number are married mothers who make more than their husbands. I read this study and thought: Great: But how and why are they doing it?

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When the "Other Woman" Is Mom

Posted by Kara Baskin May 21, 2013 05:00 PM

Raising boys is sticky business. Case in point: Right now, I'm trying to toilet train my son without clogging our plumbing with Cheerios. And this week, research from the University of Wisconsin confirms what generations of sitcom writers have long exploited — mothers worry more when their sons marry than when their daughters marry. Studies like these make me hope that my little boy is never toilet trained. Who'd marry a man in a diaper?

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Let's Stop Milking an Overdone Argument

Posted by Kara Baskin May 8, 2013 10:00 AM

When you're a Playboy model, your breasts are everybody's business. Shanna Moakler ended up on TMZ the other night declaring breastfeeding "incestual" and "gross" to plenty of public outcry. And for probably the first time ever, Salon devotes considerable analysis to Moakler, ultimately declaring that her breasts are her business. At this point it's painfully clear that there's no "right" answer in the breast versus bottle debate; both sides can be obnoxiously smug when trumpeting their brave, hard-won choices. My question is this: Why is feeding such a lightening rod for judgment? The fact that people even care and bother to get worked up about what Shanna Moakler, whose children aren't even babies anymore, has to say on the subject illustrates my point perfectly. Would this even make headlines if she declared that toy guns are OK or that TV-watching is evil? Probably not.

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Why Gwyneth Paltrow Is Actually a Hero

Posted by Kara Baskin April 24, 2013 12:00 PM

I’m going to take a minute to defend an innocent person: Gwyneth Paltrow. This is not a parody. Yes, diagrams have been made analyzing her loathsomeness. Her quotes—about strict eating habits, non-British people, and the middle-class—have been swirling around the Internet like a limp Kleenex floating in a Spence gym toilet for years. People just named her their 2013 most beautiful woman, and the backlash has been fierce. But why do we actually hate her so much? At its core, it’s not because she suggests buying $400 cheese graters and helpfully recommends luxury hotels with sheets made of foie on GOOP. And it’s really not because she’s a product of Hollywood nepotism—after all, so are Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, Miley Cyrus, the Gyllenhaals, and that witty Lena Dunham. Nobody hates them with such fervor.

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A Boy and His Balloon

Posted by Kara Baskin April 16, 2013 08:50 AM

For my toddler, in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, this morning was like any other . Wake up. Jump into my bed. Request a piece of toast smeared with Nutella. Down a glass of milk while watching Dora the Explorer. Get dressed. Hop into the car with his Dora balloon, who rides along with him, and head off to school. We drove the same way we do every morning: right at the big hill, sharp right downhill at the big brown house. The bumps, the turns, the people walking their dogs — everything looked and felt familiar. And then, as he always does, Andrew began to belt: "Take me out to the ballgame! Take me out to the crowwwwd..." And I just lost it.

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Bridal Registries: Cautionary Tales of Frivolity and Delusion

Posted by Kara Baskin April 13, 2013 01:00 PM

A friend suggested I write about registry items because spring (and wedding season) is upon us. "I was at a shower today, and a friend and I were impressed by how restrained the bride-to-be's registry was. Looking back, I'm ashamed I actually thought people should buy me everything from fondue sets and silver place settings to a cake-decorating set and a breakfast in bed tray," she laments.

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Princeton Alum Susan Patton Might Be Crazy, But Her Advice Isn't

Posted by Kara Baskin April 1, 2013 02:00 PM

Right now the Princeton University website is crashing because of a letter to the editor in the Daily Princetonian penned by alum Susan Patton, Class of 1977. The title: "Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had." A tidbit from the frozen site: "Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out ... Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there." Predictably, people are lashing out at her, calling her retro and presumptuous and all sorts of other names. But amid all the knee-jerk noise, there's this: Is she actually wrong?

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No Easter Dinner Plans? No Problem.

Posted by Kara Baskin March 31, 2013 09:00 AM

I'm zooming off to the Grill at Gibbet Hill in a minute for Easter brunch, where I plan to do serious damage at the omelet station. No plans? Don't celebrate? Still want to eat out without paying a fixed price for a limp sliver of ham? Refuse to take a brunch cruise lest you wind up captive at sea with oodles of children wired on Cadbury eggs? I have ideas!

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Lifestyle Books for Parents With Real Lives, Budgets, and Senses of Humor

Posted by Kara Baskin March 28, 2013 02:00 PM

I enjoy hostessing. I like sending paper invitations, I like planning menus, and yes ... I even like cleaning my house. Before Andy was born, I had a graduation party for 90 people in a two-bedroom abode and dinner fetes for rogue guests including but not limited to the hardcore elderly and the very vegan. However: The nitty-gritty isn't always pretty, especially with a toddler underfoot. I have thrown more than one soiree that nearly ended in Brian and I murdering one another with paring knives. Which is why I'm tired of elite lifestyle "experts" peddling party porn to parents who cannot afford assistants, access to airbrushing, and detox diets that make a trot through Dean & DeLuca look economical.

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Now Kids With Allergies Can Sport "Don't Feed Me" T-Shirts

Posted by Kara Baskin March 19, 2013 07:30 AM

What do you guys think of this T-shirt for kids with food allergies? It was designed by comedian and reality show star Kym Whitley, whose toddler son is allergic to peanut butter, among other things. Apparently, he dons it to birthday parties and whenever he's with an unfamiliar caregiver. Would you actually buy this?

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Nine People You Meet Post-Thirty (Plus Honorable Mentions)

Posted by Kara Baskin March 11, 2013 08:00 AM

So much is written about friendships and people we should hang onto during the fluid time between our early 30s and early 60s: people who knew us when we had acne, braces, bad boyfriends, tiny apartments. But as life intervenes, we maneuver the platonic puzzle pieces of our evolving lives for the here and now. By the time we’re in our sixties (I imagine; I have conducted some anthropological research on the subject but haven’t reached the milestone myself), we cling to those who are still alive, willing to speak to us, and have a valid driver’s license.

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Four Great Restaurants, With Kids and Without

Posted by Kara Baskin February 28, 2013 10:00 AM

Today, a soothing departure from Marissa Mayer and thorny world of telecommuting. Thanks, everyone (OK, most of you!), for your comments. I just found out that I can indeed comment on your comments, which I'm trying to do whenever possible. Unless you're telling me that I'm out of shape, of course, because I have a yoga instructor and an inner monologue for those purposes. Anyway, I've been compiling another list of promising date-night and family-friendly restaurants. In my other life, I write about food, and I've tried some fantastic places lately. Here are a few of my new favorites.

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Marissa Mayer Is Snobbish, One-Dimensional, and Out of Touch

Posted by Kara Baskin February 26, 2013 09:00 AM

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is the ultimate cool calculating corporate animal: Two weeks' worth of maternity leave, a nursery adjacent to her office (how soothing for baby!), and now she's banned telecommuting at Yahoo! While she might have the luxury of making such an arrangement somehow workable, she's thoroughly out of touch with the majority of her employees. Many dedicated workers rely on telecommuting for its family-friendly benefits: No commute, so you can make those unreasonable 5:30 daycare pickups on time. No one hovering over your desk, so maybe you can pop out at lunchtime to visit your kid at the playground or watch the school play without the questioning looks from your colleagues. With her draconian, snobbish decree, she's robbed women and men of their freedom. I thought it'd be informative to check out this popular article about the Top Five Regrets of the Dying, written by a palliative care nurse, and compare it against Mayer's philosophy.

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How Parenting Became a DIY Project: The Key Word Is “Anxiety”

Posted by Kara Baskin February 20, 2013 01:00 PM

The Atlantic has an interesting article this month by Emily Matchar titled “How Parenting Became a DIY Project.” On first glance, I envisioned parents trying to make their own baby blankets or struggling with blenders. But then the subhed made me cringe: "From home birth to homemade baby food to homeschooling, raising kids is a way for parents to express their individuality." Excuse me? A way for “parents” to express their individuality? There’s a time and a place for this, and it’s called high school. When will parents realize that having children shouldn’t be an exercise in egotism?

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Snowbound? What Not to Worry About Before Getting Pregnant

Posted by Kara Baskin February 8, 2013 06:00 AM

Sometimes people ask me: "How will I know when I'm ready to get pregnant?" To which I reply: "Show me your ovulation calendar and two years' worth of income tax statements, please!" Just kidding. More than what to worry about (have you been taking folic acid? cutting down your wine consumption from five bottles per week to one?), I think there are things that you shouldn't worry about at all before making the big leap.

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Ten Things Never to Say to Other People. Period.

Posted by Kara Baskin January 30, 2013 01:00 PM

I chortle along with everyone else when I read the lists that come out about once a month of things not to say to this mom or that mom (witness this popular post today on HuffPo: What Not to Say to a Working Mom). What bugs me is that the media tends to divvy up parents into segments: moms versus dads, bottle-feeders versus breast-feeders, stay-at-home moms versus working moms. I think there some universal truths that most people can agree on—moms and dads, please—whether you work 60 hours a week and pump in your conference room, or stay at home and want to climb up your walls, or don't have kids and don't plan to anytime soon.

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Eight Tips for Feeling Better About Your Babysitter

Posted by Kara Baskin January 23, 2013 06:00 PM

At one time or another, most of us feel guilty about leaving our kids in someone else's care. Maybe you work and drop your child at daycare. Drop-offs can be wrenching, I know. You get back to your car, crank up the radio, and wonder if your child is splashing at the water table or spewing mucus bubbles through his nose in a state of permanent caterwaul. Or maybe you're just stealing away for dinner and happen to look back toward your house ... only to see sad eyes peeping through the blinds. Horror stories like the one about Aisling McCarthy Brady, the Quincy nanny who allegedly beat her infant charge to death, don't help. It's a piercing reminder that, yes, leaving your child with a stranger really is a leap of faith. Yesterday morning, I was on NECN offering up my tips for feeling better about your choice.

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About the author

Kara Baskin (@kcbaskin) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and mom to Andy. She thinks Sriracha and garlic make everything tastier. She loves Steely Dan and "Murder, She Wrote." Her More »
 

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