Thursday, March 23, 2006

Living in the City of Cincinnati

We live in the city of Cincinnati for a reason. We like the city life. We do not want to support urban sprawl.

Sure, if we lived in the suburbs, we would have a bigger, newer home, with a nice yard. We would send our kids to good public schools. We would have a much lower crime rate in our neighborhood- but we don't. We live in the city of Cincinnati because we like, and believe in the city lifestyle. We like the diversity of people in the city. My husband and I both believe so much time is wasted by commuting, so we choose to live where my husband has a bus option, or a 7 minute drive to work. We also try to use our car as little as possible. Living in the city of Cincinnati, we can walk to the post office, the bank, the grocery store, the movies, and so much more. So why would the city that claims to want people to stay in the city do things that only make families want to leave the city?

We live in a section of Cincinnati called Clifton. Clifton is the University of Cincinnati neighborhood with lots of old historic homes and character. People that live in Clifton LOVE this area, it's funky and friendly. We don't have any chain stores, with the exception of CVS. Sure, we might have a surplus of Indian restaurants, but we really do have a unique retail area.

But we have a problem these days...A developer named Jack Brand has come along to make a big change. At the end of our street, only a few houses away, he has purchased four homes in effort to demolish them, and build an eight story high-rise. This high-rise will have 40 apartment/condos, office space, store fronts, and God forbid, my biggest fear, fast food. The girls and I have been working with other neighbors to petition the neighbors, to put a halt to the project. With this development, zoning codes will have to be changed, so our residential section, will soon be zoned for business.

So with Cincinnati "trying" so hard to keep people living in the city, why are they pushing us away? Wouldn't it be safer to live in the burbs, where we know nothing will change. We won't have any risks like what we are facing now. Is Cincinnati turning into the next Detroit? If we don't do something to stop the zoning changes, we will have a vacant city that our Mayor Mallory speaks about. Everyone will be living in the suburbs, and eventually, all will be working there too.

Save our city- zoning codes were created for a reason. Let's keep it that way, Jack Brand. Do the right thing, think about your city, not your personal profits.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What do we want…Peace

Another guest editorial from Jayne Martin-Dressing

On Sunday, March 19th Cincinnati held an anti-War Peace Rally and March drawing a crowd of over 200 participants. I decided to take my two small children who are not strangers to organized demonstrations and who often walk around the house chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, George Bush has got to go.” Or my daughter’s favorite, “Ho, ho, hey, hey, George Bush has got to pay.”

I knew I was raising a lot of potential questions when my best friend from college came over to baby-sit on Saturday night with her art supplies and began making “No More Bloodshed” posters with my 6 year old. We’ve talked about the war quite a bit in my household, and I’ve had to do more explaining about bombs, racism, terrorism, and kidnapping to a kindergartner than I ever thought I would have to. Several times in the past few months I’ve had to switch off NPR when the stories came on about people blowing themselves up, and prisoners being bound and gagged. But I don’t think we should hide what’s happening in the world and how we are impacted by the nature of war.

The march was fabulous. It such an amazing feeling to be surrounded by like-minded people; all compassionate citizens who feel like I do, that our country is being seized by a handful of self-righteous, power hungry leaders who have sold us a pack of lies about why men, women and children are dying everyday in Iraq. The march coordinators spoke about human rights, about justice and about freedom. Organizers sang Vietnam era songs, and the crowed joined in on the chorus. I watched my daughter holding her sign that read, “Peace and Love” trying to mouth the words. It’s hard to believe in the year 2006 with all the progress we’ve made in technology, life-saving medical procedures, and incredible scientific discoveries that we still have to drop bombs on people to solve problems. What kind of message do we send to our children who we tell from toddler age on, “no hitting” and “be gentle?”

People in the crowd were kind, and strangers offered to help me pull my wagon with a two year old in tow. I saw familiar faces from past social justice demonstrations, and new worried faces of other young families and teenagers with their saggy jeans and pierced bodies. I saw young and old, black and white, Muslim, Christian, and Jew. I saw people called together to speak out against a mission for which they do not agree; about which they can no longer be silent. My daughter sounded out the words on the signs, “God loves Iraqi children too”, “Wage Peace”, “Get Out Now.”

I don’t think my kids understood most of what the speakers had to say, and they did get tired and grumpy mid-way through the march, but I do believe they felt as I felt the power of the people at that gathering. I hope that they got an idea of the kind of voice a small group of people can have when they stand together. I hope that felt inspired as I did that there are many people in this city, in this country, in this world, who care about what is happening to the reputation of the U.S. around the globe and who want to make a change. I hope I have taught them not to be complacent, but to stand up for what they believe in.

When we finally made our way back to the car hours later with jelly stained faces and freezing fingers, I ask my children, “What do we want?” “Peace,” they answered.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Who am I?

This is a difficult entry requested by a reader, that I have postponed for long enough. Yes, who is stuntmom?

I'm Jennifer Albright-Wilson, mother of two girls ages 3 and 1.5 , with another baby on the way. Former corporate working mom, that one day woke up and realized my kids were growing up too fast. I thought if I quit my job, then time would slow down. Life would slow down. It did slow down.

My husband and I would argue during the week about who would do the daycare drop off in the morning. The mornings were so rushed, we were constantly saying "hurry hurry hurry" to our little children. We would argue about who had more important things going on at work, or who could find the time to devote to putting in our hours at the co-op daycare. We struggled for 3 years trying to figure out how to make it all work. I really liked working, I loved our daycare, and I couldn't picture staying at home full time, really I felt we should keep things the way they were. My husband felt differently. He won (no, I'm not a push over at all, but more often than not, he knows me better than I know myself). I quit my job in May, and started staying at home with my kids. Now I think I'm the real winner, since I love it. No, I don't love it everyday, but most of the time I do. It did take me about 6 months to snap out of the working mode, but now that I have realistic expectations, I have trouble thinking of returning to work one day. This makes me think I really should thank my husband more often for giving me this opportunity to spend more time with the girls while they are so young.

Mommy's Going to Jail

Not really, but I had a funny thing happen to me down in Portland last Friday. The kids and I went down to pick up my friend at the airport, and did some shopping before her flight arrived. We went to Filenes, as they are going out of business, and most of their stock is now 80% off. We needed a new down comforter for Jimmy's bed, so we tried our luck. After we found a comforter, I took the kids to the women's department, where I decided to try on some pants and skirts. We all piled into the dressing room, I took off my shoes, and started trying on clothes. The kids started singing, "Mommy's going to jail, Mommy's going to jail" over and over again. Don't even think about it, I was not filling my purse and stroller with unpurchased merchandise! I realized that, in their eyes, I had broken a cardinal rule, in taking my shoes off in a public place. (For some odd reason, they always want to take their shoes off in restaurants. I don't understand this desire.) So I loudly explained that it was allowed, to remove your shoes in dressing rooms, when trying on clothes. They didn't believe me, and kept singing their little song. I'm sure everyone else in the general area thought I was shoplifting. I quickly decided on a pair of pants ($4) and left.

How is everyone? What's new? Our family has just learned what croup is all about, as Jimmy's been suffering with it for the past few days.

Friday, March 10, 2006

OOT (Out of Touch)

My sister, StuntMom, commented to me yesterday that I've been a bit out of touch with It's true, and I apologize. In the colorful events of this past week, I've actually thought a lot about the StuntMom community, and how much I appreciate that although we come from such different backgrounds, we are all very committed to actively raising our children. So while the rest of the house sleeps, I'll give you an update.

First, I've been interviewing for a teaching job, just a couple of hours a week, similar to what I had going when I lived in Portland. I miss my teaching so much. So I've been sweating out updates to my resume, calling directors of Adult Education, and interviewing. Now I've landed a couple of classes, English Brush-Up (starts March 21, runs for 6 weeks), and another right here in Rockland, a writing class for students working for their high school diploma, that starts in September. So once a week, I'll be talking grammar and sentence structure (and more) for a couple of hours. I'll be able to ride my bike to class, it's so close. The classes both meet just once a week, so it's perfect. So, that's one big time-eater, this interviewing process.

Next, my daughter has started taking an art class once a week, every Wednesday. It's been so wonderful for her. This is the first time I've taken her somewhere and left her in the charge of an unrelated adult. On the first day, I figured she'd be a little anxious, but no. She saw the paint, and it was "see ya, Mom." The class goes from 2-3:30, and the teachers are so great. She gets to do painting and creating without me "directing." It's really good for both of us. And what do I do for the hour and a half? I stay down the hall, in the studio of these teachers, where there are comfortable chairs, colorful artwork, a pot of tasty coffee, and quiet. It's as close to a spa atmosphere as I've ever had. I sit quietly and work on my knitting. What with my fiber arts get-together every Tuesday from 2-4, and this, I feel like I lead a life of luxury. (Just in case you're wondering, my husband watches the two younger boys for both of these events.) Since the start of the art class, I've become a much more "at peace" mother; knock on wood, no bouts of frustration or funks.

What else? Oh, I've been working frantically, in my spare time (ha ha), on hand quilting a queen sized star quilt that I started years ago. I've got it on a frame in my parlor - the kids actually like it there, as it acts as a sort of fort, under which they can play. I didn't realize it took so much time to hand quilt something. I've only done baby quilts in the past. What's the rush? I plan on raffling this quilt as a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer 60 mile Walk for a Cure that I'm doing at the beginning of August. My fingers are calloused from the needlework I've been doing. My goal was to have the quilt off the frame by the end of February. Now I'm hoping it will be done by the end of March. We'll see.

And here's where I've been thinking of StuntMom and the readers with such fondness. We may quibble about the finer points of being a stay at home mom, but really, I think we're all on the same page. United we stand. Well, last week, I got together with a mom I knew years ago, back when my first child was born. She too had a newborn, and we hung out together every once in a while. At the time, I was in graduate school, and commuted up to Orono 4 days a week (hour and a half drive). I didn't have much hang out time then, but I saw her from time to time. Anyway, her child is a few months younger than my daughter - so that makes him 4 1/2. This mom is also a stay at home mom. Last week, we met at the library, where he proceeded to run around and yell, as if he were at the playground. Monkey see, monkey do, my 2 1/2 year old son started charging around. So I called all of the kids together, and explained (in front of my friend) that this was a library, and what they were doing was absolutely not library behavior. My long lost acquaintance then told me that she'd been after the library to set up a sort of door, to shut off the children's section. Then the kids could be as loud as they wanted. She was serious. I am just old school, you go to a library to look at books, not be loud. As the behavior of her son was embarrassing me, and setting a poor example for my kids, I suggested we take a walk down Main Street, and stop in at the bakery/cafe in town. I was going to take the kids there for lunch, anyway, as my husband had some clients coming over to our house. Anyway, I could go on and on about this outing, but I won't. Let's just say that afterwards, my son mentioned to me that "that boy had bad manners." And my acquaintance - she told me that she really needed to have another child soon, or else once kindergarten started, she'd have to look for a job. Okay, I'm being judgemental here. Can't help it.

And then, I received a call from a long lost relative (she has been OOT since before the birth of her daughter - I haven't heard from her in over 6 months). Shocked that she called, I made chit-chat, and asked her how being a stay at home mom was treating her. "It's so mundane" was her reply. Wow. So I told her about StuntMom, that it might inspire her, give her some ideas, give her a place to vent her feelings. She cut me short, and told me she was far too busy to use the computer, and anyway, she already has 5 great friends she can vent with. She said this right on the heels of telling me that she has one child in daycare full time, one that goes 2 days a week, and has her six month old full time at home. Okay, I confess, I am passing a little bit of judgement here. But only because the word mundane was used to describe her existence. Mundane. What does it mean? Good old Webster: "mundane: common; ordinary; banal; unimaginative." Okay, there are some aspects of being a stay at home mom that are banal: changing diapers, housecleaning, balancing the checkbook. But to pick that word to describe such an important job? Maybe, because I teach writing, I take words too seriously. At any rate, her attitude scandalized me! It made me appreciate and marvel at how amazing it is that the readers and writers on StuntMom do not feel this way about raising their kids.

I guess I better go to bed. We have a big day ahead of us. Tomorrow the kids and I are going down to Portland for a day of fun. We're going to see my good friend and her son, and then pick up a dear friend of mine from Davis, California at the airport. She'll be our houseguest for the next couple of weeks. Sorry to be OOT. I'll work at being a little more regular!

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars

Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother?

I thought this book by Miriam Peskowitz might be of interest to some of our readers. It focuses on the debate between working and staying at home with your children. One thing I found interesting is that the author tends to blames the media for the argument that working moms and stay at home moms don't accept one another. In some cases this might be true, but for the most part, mothers tend to value other mothers figuring they are doing the best the best job they can. Don't we all want what is best for our children in the end? Peskowitz supports this argument with plenty of real stories, which makes for an interesting and quick read.

Also on the topic, here is a New York Times article from yesterday.