Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Jersey Moms Blog Retrospect: Why I blog?

Author's Note: I have been neglecting my duties of chronicling and reading the last reason why made me think I have to start doing this again.
Why I Blog
Besides being a full-time Mom, I am also a full-time public relations executive. As the resident "mommy blogger" at the agency, I am often asked questions concerning blogger relations. Questions like "would you like to attend this event?," "is this product review compelling enough?," and "would you consider doing a product giveaway on this product?" I always answer the best way I can, but truth be told I am probably not the best person to ask these questions they are better off asking the other resident mommy blogger who is WAY more influential than I ever will hope to be. Yes, I will admit it I am not the most popular blogger. I am not even sure what my VPM (viewership per month) is or if I really want to know. My personal site isn't very fancy. In fact, it is the standard polka-dot design on Not very original but I like it. I also don't have advertising on my site - not sure if I could convince a marketer to do so. And here is my biggest confession, I have never done a giveaway. Nope, not one. I guess I'm not considered an influencer. While these truths are a little humbling for me to admit, I still continue to blog.
Why do I blog if not for the fame and glory among my peers? For starters, I entered the blog world by the gentle nudging of a friend and client who told me to "just try it." I did and, low and behold, I loved it and became addicted to it! The same reason I started blogging is the same reason I do it today because I wanted to chronicle the life of my son and keep family and friends informed of the Kamienski's happenings. The "because" is somewhat of my blog's mission statement that I try to adhere to for the most part with a random commentary on other non-related items here and there. The funny thing is the more I blogged, the more reasons why I blogged became apparent.
New Reason Why #1 - Plain and simple, I love to blog because I love to write. From when I was a little girl, I enjoyed the art of writing. The year I entered into seventh grade my best friend and I spent our entire summer vacation writing a romance novel. My love of writing continued throughout high school with published short stories in the school's literary journal. The reason I chose the field of public relations is in large part because I get to write. However, I didn't realize how great my need to write creatively was missing until I started writing my blog. Blogging was like reuniting with a long-lost friend. Maybe I will never publish the "great American" novel, but I do have a really great story about the world's greatest kid.
New Reason Why #2 - I grew up in a home where expressing your feelings was a good thing. Saying the words "I love you" was heard often throughout my childhood home. When celebrating a birthday, anniversary or milestone event, I am known to pour my heart out in the small space given in a store-bought card. Before someone opens a card from me, the receiver can often be heard saying, "is this going to make me cry?" I am a big believer in letting those you care about know how much they mean to you. Blogging has given me the opportunity to create open love letters to my family and friends. Not only do I get to tell someone like my Mom how her unconditional love has shaped my life or how in awe of the kind of father my husband is to my son, I also get to share those feelings with all that read my blog.
New Reason Why #3 - The treasure that I have found blogging is with every post I write about my son, the more I fall in love with the person he is becoming. My son is my miracle and my blog is a constant reminder of just that fact. From my very first blog posts about his adventures at the seashore to my most recent post where I talk about how gaga he is over babies, I just can't help having my heart melt with every word I type about him.
Chances are only my friends and family will continue to read my blog. I may never change the design of my site. I also shouldn't hold my breath waiting for my first giveaway. However, knowing that I keep my friend working in London that I miss desperately up-to-date on things; knowing that after my Uncle read a post on my Dad, his brother, it made him cry; and knowing that my son can one day look back and know what a blessing he is to his Mom and Dad is all the reasons why I blog.
This is an original post for New Jersey Moms Blog. To find more reasons why Jennifer K blogs, check out The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Why is it children get all the praise when potty training?

Author's Note: Benjamin had a major set back and didn't pick up the potty training thing again until he turned 3. I don't miss the diapers - at all. Never did get a pottymoon.
Why is it that children get all the praise when potty training?
Why is it that children get all the praise when potty training? New toys are awarded by grandparents for potty prowess. Spontaneous outbursts of cheers can be heard in bathrooms across America when a toddler relieves themselves on the toilet. High fives are handed out like they are going out of style when number two is found in the potty and not in the diaper. Admiration is constantly bestowed on the potty goer but what about the actual trainer? When do I get my share of the praise? When will someone tell me "good job"?
Don't get me wrong. My son is doing a stellar job at this potty-thing, but how do you think he got to be so good? It wasn't like a potty training fairy came down from above and with one wave of her magic toilet bowl brush my child was diaper free. While that fantasy would have been nice, very nice actually, it is just that -- a fantasy. Nor did my son just wake up one day and say, "hey, Mom and Dad these diapers are so pedestrian, so beneath me. Next time, you are at the store pick me up some big boy underwear - I am so over diapers," and with that turned on his heel headed to the bathroom with a copy of War and Peace. No, not that either. How my son got to his mighty throne is from the blood, sweat and tears my husband and I have put in to make him the Potty King. While I am not looking for a shiny, new toy truck for my hard work, I am looking for a little acknowledgment when I am cleaning the poop up from the bathroom floor that has missed the toilet completely. I think I at least deserve a pat on the back after that humbling task.
Thinking about it now. In my opinion, there should be a section in Hallmark dedicated to just this very thing. Never mind congratulating Little Johnny for not peeing on the floor. Big deal! What about, "Congratulations You Taught Your Child How To Aim High!"? After having gone through this and still not having completely finished the mission, I would love to send a friend in the same predicament words of praise and encouragement like, "I realize you are having a hard time with the training, but know that I am here for you in your time of need." Receiving a card like that would at least give me the strength to face another day in the trenches of training. Or what about a card from my son that says, "Thanks for the wipe, Mom. You always make my bottom feel fresh as a daisy."
How about a Pottymoon? There are honeymoons for celebrating a marriage and babymoons for celebrating the upcoming birth of child but what about a celebration for parents who successfully complete potty training? Maybe that is going too far but if you have ever stepped in a puddle of pee on multiple occasions a vacation is what you deserve!
Maybe my dreams of a Hallmark card or Pottymoon will not be realized in this lifetime, but I don't think it is asking too much to give a small kudos, a "way to go" to the Mom or Dad whose kids went on the potty for the first time. Is it? Being a potty trainer is, for the most part, a dirty, thankless job. Even with hours spent on training a little nugget from time-to-time sneaks into my son's underwear leaving me perplexed, angry, frustrated, defeated and just plain exhausted. However, even if I am not being praised or consoled for my efforts, I can take comfort in the fact that diapers will soon be out of my life forever and that beats a million celebrations, congratulations, words of acknowledgment any day of the week (though a shiny new toy for Mommy wouldn't hurt)!
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. To hear more potty talk from Jennifer K, visit The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: The Day I Realized Parent's Don't Live Forever

Author's Note: I still don't like to think about this subject but who really does?
The Day I Realized Parents Don't Live Forever
When I was a kid, it never even crossed my mind that my parents wouldn't be here one day. Like most, in my childhood days,I saw my parents as invincible, untouchable, protectors of the (and my) universe. My younger-than-most parents would live forever, right?
In my teens, I got my first dose of reality when a friend's mother passed away. Her mother died suddenly one evening of a heart problem. When I attended the wake, I felt as if I was playing a role in movie of the "supportive friend". It seemed to unreal to be real. During that evening, I put on a brave face and held my friend in my lap as she cried but my thoughts weren't about her mother they were about mine. Later that evening as I collapsed into the lap of my Mom, I cried for all that was lost that day. As my mother's arms encircled me, I was confident that my mother would always be there. In my still youthful innocence, I continued to believe in my parents' eternalness.

But, all things most come to an end. Over a year ago, as I attended the funeral of a friend's father, my innocence was finally surrendered. I watched my friend bury her father who was of the same generation as my parents. It hit me. One day, this horrible time would come for me. Morbidly, I thought of what I do and say but more importantly how I could go on without two of my most favorite people in the world. I grieved that day not only for my friend but for innocence lost.
In the past month, I have been reminded of mortality over and over again. From a childhood friend's father dying suddenly to a colleague's mother losing her battle to cancer, I was never more aware until my Dad was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Like a hard smack in the face, I had to admit to myself that my otherwise invincible father is mortal -- a hard fact no Daddy's Little Girl wants to acknowledge. As my Dad sat next to me and said, "looks like I am ready for the boneyard." I told him, "we won't let that happen." I know I have no control over fate and destiny, but for that moment, and now as I type it, I believe it. Maybe I am burying my head in the proverbial sand but I need to believe in innocence.
As I look at my son, I am a tad bit jealous and happy at the same time because he has the sheer joy of not knowing the concept of life and death. However, I believe the emotion of fear has crept in. From time to time, he asks me the question, "will you protect me?" and my response is always, "I will protect you forever." I know now that there is no such thing as forever but I have decided, for the time being, to live vicariously through my son and believe that there is a forever.
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. You can find more writing by Jennifer at The Kamienski Chronicles.

Monday, June 28, 2010

NJ Moms Retrospect: Childless Vacation

Author's Note: Looking for another childless vacation and I still don't feel guilty.
May 18, 2009
Should I Feel Guilty For My Childless Vacation?
My name is Jennifer and I enjoyed my childless vacation. This is my story...
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to travel. Whether it be down the Jersey Shore for a lazy week at the beach or exploring the cobblestone streets of Florence, there hasn't been a vacation I've met that I haven't loved. Even the journeys with lots of mishaps and outright mayhem, like getting apprehended in Prague for riding the subway for free (so much for honoring the honor system) and breaking an antique bed in Block Island, have gained me some of my favorite and funniest memories. So when my son Benjamin came into this world, I made my husband promise me we wouldn't stop traveling with or without Ben.
My husband Wally has made good on his promise. In Ben's two short years of life, we've taken him to Maine, North Carolina and the Jersey Shore with little to no trouble. However, when it came time to book a trip to celebrate our 10th Anniversary Wally started to hedge on his promise. Feelings of guilt started to creep in and he suggested that we take a weekend trip to Vermont with our son instead of a romantic rendezvous in Italy. This mom, wife, anniversary celebrator and traveler was not okay with that suggestion. Instead of the joy I find in planning a vacation, I found myself crying big giant tears and asking my husband, "what happened to us? why are you making me feel guilty for wanting to go away alone with my you?"
After my impassioned plea, Wally took me to Vermont without Ben where we rode in a field of freshly fallen snow in a one-horse open sleigh and ate decadent Vermont-made cheeses by candlelight. Before we left Benjamin for his first overnight at his grandparents, I got to feeling "the guilts." Was Wally the better parent because he wanted to bring Benjamin on our romantic getaway? Should I feel guilty for wanting to go away without my son? To be honest, a little bit of me felt like I was a bad mom for leaving my son for the night to have an indulgent weekend with my husband but mostly I felt okay about our decision. Is that wrong?
Flash forward a few months later, Wally suggests we have a proper anniversary trip one that lasts more than a couple days, and without hesitation I say yes. While planning again, I catch myself thinking, "should I feel guilty for wanting to vacation without my son?" But, the guilt isn't present. Even when friends and colleagues give me the standard line when I mention the childless trip, "oh, you're not bringing Ben." Translation: "oh, you're one of those mothers." Maybe that is paranoia or maybe that is actual guilt but my answer is always, "yes and we'll miss him but I can't wait!"
During my six days in paradise, I cried when I left my son (it would be my longest time away from him); I thought about him every single day; I talked about him a lot finding myself saying, "Wally wouldn't Ben just love this? We really need to bring him here"; and I missed him like crazy. However, I also didn't cry the whole time I was away; I didn't think of him every single moment of every single day; I didn't talk about him all the time; and I didn't feel guilty about it. Maybe you think I am selfish or a terrible mom for these things but the person that matters most got a mom back after those six days that was rested and over-the-moon with happiness to see him. Yes, Ben got a better mom in the end and, to me, there is no reason to feel guilty about that. Isn't that what vacationing is about?
This is an original post for New Jersey Moms Blog. You can also find Jennifer writing about other guilty and non-guilty things at The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Can I ask Apple, what were you thinking?

Author's Note: Upon seeing this on the news, I immediately wrote a post. The post was later cross-posted to all our sister sites.
April 23, 2009
Can I Ask Apple, What Were You Thinking?
Dear Apple,
I thought I might have been hallucinating this morning when I was watching the news but low and behold I was not. Some how, some way your company approved (oh yes let me be fair...then pulled) an application for the iPhone that allows you to shake a baby to a virtual death or the "Baby Shaker" app as it is fondly referred to. Even writing this can you believe the colossal mistake you made? Normally, I think you are a pretty alright company - one of the "good guys" if you will - but after this debacle I'm not really sure what to think.
Can you give me a little insight into how this came about? Were you sitting around a room considering new apps and your team started proposing programs like: "Decaying Animal Gallery" and "Run Over Old Ladies' Skills Game." Did you say, "no way how could we ever promote an application that would show dead animals or an opportunity to run over old ladies crossing the street that is completely insensitive and insane, but shaking babies to a death this I LIKE! Tell me more..."

I'm sure someone or some animal thought this was hysterical. Let me tell you if you were wondering - it is not fun or funny it is just plain wrong. I think you got that notion eventually because you did pull the app. But when the proposed shaken baby idea came up you said, "yeah, we got an app for that." Can I provide you with a statistic about shaken baby syndrome? According to the Web site and organization About Shaken Baby Syndrome, more than 1400 cases are reported each year and 1 out of every 4 babies dies of from being violently shaken. As for the other 3 babies in the statistic, they are left with life altering injuries.
Apple, here is my suggestion for a new application, "The Sensitivity Meter." This application judges whether or not someone is being sensitive to other human beings. Might have been a better choice don't you think? You got that?
This is an original post for New Jersey Moms Blog. When not ranting and raving on NJ Moms Blog, Jennifer can also be found writing on The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: The Real Housewives of New Jersey...Fuggadaboutit

Author's Note: This post was mentioned in a Star-Ledger article about NJ Moms Blog. Oh yes, the Housewives of NJ are in their second season and Dina has left the show. To me it is unwatchable and I love trashy TV.
April 15, 2009
The Real Housewives of New Jersey...Fuggadaboutit
When I hit my thirties my bed time started to get earlier and earlier, now throw in a 2 year old and demanding PR job, I never get to watch the late shows anymore. However, I made myself and husband to stay up until 11 and watch the sneak peek of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. How could I resist my biggest guilty pleasure - reality TV - combined with my favorite state - NJ? Talk about special occasions! No matter what I had to do that night, this "real housewife of NJ" was watching her some trashy TV. While not disappointed one bit by what looks to be the best Real series yet, I want to make sure anyone living outside of New Jersey gets a few things straight about Garden State Girls.
First, we aren't all Italian. While yes many of us do come claim roots in the boot-shaped country, including myself, we don't all have grandparents we call Nonna and Nonno. In fact, New Jersey is a real melting pot of cultures. On any given day, walking through a town in New Jersey, you can find people with ties to China, India, Russia and yes Italy.

Second, I have never uttered the phrase "fuggadaboutit" in my life until I wrote this post. I even had to google it to see if I was spelling it right. If you watch shows like Sopranos or now Real Housewives of NJ, you would think that it might be a New Jersey baby's first word. Wrong. I actually don't know many people that utter that phrase. Come to think about it - I don't know anyone that says that phrase.
Another point I would like to make about New Jersey Housewives, all of our husbands aren't entrepreneurs in the construction business. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of "entrepreneurs" in our fine state, and yes, I have dated men in this line of business who were very nice. However, I ended up marrying a guy who works at an accounting firm not an owner of a sanitation company.
Some of the women in New Jersey tend to wear their hair bigger than most (not much bigger than TX) and have longer, more bedazzled nails, but there are women here that have straight hair and short nails. There are also housewives who prefer the JCrew look to the Bebe look. While we all don't look or act alike, there is one thing for certain that I think I can say about most REAL housewives of NJ -- we don't really give a shit what people from other states think about us. Big hair or bob - Italian or Polish - accountant or entrepreneur -- whether it be big and brash or gentle and quite, we all have an attitude and love it.
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. This real NJ housewife can be found blogging at The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Church, Children and Praying for Survival

Author's Note: While Wally as carrying Benjamin up to communion, Ben said, "hey, Daddy that wasn't so bad."
April 05, 2009
Church, Children and Praying for Survival
Whatever religion you may practice and how ever many times you bring your child to a religious gathering each year, whether it once a year or each week, I think most parents would agree it is not an easy task to undertake. From the "getting ready" part or as it is known in some houses "convincing them to go" part to the actual attending, I sometimes find myself praying for divine intervention at some point during the church going process. However, I don't recall that I was ever a problem for my parents. Maybe they will say something different if asked but I don't think they will since I was the four year old who brought the baby Jesus to the manager at Christmas Eve mass and sat and talked to the priest about my love of God. I was also the teenager who decided to become a lector where I read the scriptures each week to the congregation. I can go on and on but needless to say I was the kid that liked/loved to go to church. I still kind of do but now I have a two year old in tow and that changes the whole experience.
On the other hand, take my brother, his behavior bears more of a resemblance to that of my two year old son Benjamin's attitude towards the church. I can remember each week it being a Battle Royale to get my brother to go to church -- the crying, screaming, stomping, threats and cage match before we got in the car (there wasn't really a cage match but it sometimes felt like it). My most vivid memory was when on Easter Sunday he decided to lock himself in the bathroom at the age of four so he wouldn't have to go. My Father, the world's most tolerant and gentle man, literally busted down the door. The next thing you knew my brother was peeing in his pants. My Mother, of course, yelled out my Dad for scaring her "baby". By the time my family hit the pew, we were all exhausted. He was not only bad getting there but in church I recall him once screaming out during Christmas Eve mass, "MOM when are we leaving for Aunt Lorraine's I want my Tub Time toy!" Yes, my brother turned it up a notch for the holidays.

Now I have a son of my own and I can relate to my Mother more than ever. I am left to wonder how she did it all these years. When my son was a baby, he sat in the carrier like an angel sent from heaven. As he got older, the problems started when he was more mobile. Not only did I need my diaper bag but I needed an arsenal of distracting supplies to keep him occupied. The problems got increasingly worse as he became verbal. One day as we sat in church, my son kept pointing towards the back of the church. It was starting to annoy me because he knew how to speak at this point. I said, "Ben use your words." He used his words alright, "OUTSIDE Mommy! OUTSIDE!" I must have heard "OUTSIDE" about a few more dozen times. My husband leaned over and said to me, "are you happy he used his words?"
Our next big mass disaster came on Christmas Eve. The church was packed to the gills and there was no where or way to really entertain Ben. The outside chant began as soon the homily started. He then started screaming and crying and there was no where to go but outside. I looked at my husband and told him to take him home and just come back to pick me up. I gave up. I just couldn't - I got the knowing faces from all the mothers surrounding me. As the church lights were dimmed and Silent Night began to play, I cried and this time not out of joy but out of exhaustion and defeat. After that, I decided to give God a break for a while.
We started to go back to church again because my parents didn't give up on teaching their kids the importance of church and neither was I! I was pleasantly surprised what a few books and snacks could do to make a kid happy. While we don't make it all the way to the end, it gets better each week. I now leave mass telling Ben what a great boy he was in church. While I know there are set backs, like this week he told me to go to church by myself with Daddy that his Grandma and Poppa would watch him, I believe that every child needs a sense of community in their lives. I'm glad my parents gave it to me and I plan, as much of a battle as it may be, to give that gift to my child. So if you find me praying really hard in mass it might not be for world peace right now but just for peace in my pew.
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. You can find Jennifer Kamienski praying for all sorts of things at The Kamienski Chronicles.