A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hip Slope Mama has become Momasphere!

It’s official. Hip Slope Mama has become Momasphere! Visit us at our new location www.Momasphere.com/blog.

After two and a half years of bringing together an online community for our wonderfully vibrant and creative Park Slope moms, Hip Slope Mama is excited to be moving. We are leaving the blogosphere and entering the Momasphere, an organization that offers the community a way to meet, not just online but also face to face! While we will continue to offer great articles through the Momasphere blog, by the same Park Slope Mom contributors, we will also be adding new mom contributors and features. We look forward to continuing to meet all of you in virtual space, as well as in person at our fun and unique Momasphere events.

Momasphere's mantra is "Whole Women Make Whole Moms" and we're committed to enriching moms’ lives, in virtual space and face to face. Sign-up for the Momasphere Email Newsletter and never miss an article or event. Read more about what Momasphere has to offer:

  • Smart articles written by Park Slope Moms

  • Mommy Needs A Cocktail nights

  • book events & panel discussions

  • wine & food tastings

  • adventure outings

  • art gallery tours

  • cooking classes

  • virtual programs

  • career networking

  • corporate consulting

  • employee enrichment programs

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chocolate Drizzled Pumpkin Shortbread Wedges

Our friends over at Momologie have the perfect Thanksgiving dessert recipe.

Few things are as ubiquitous as pumpkins at this time of year, and we've gone way beyond pie to extend our love of pumpkin desserts to bread, cookies, ice cream, pudding, mousse, butter, and let's not forget our favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Although pumpkin pie is the most common Thanksgiving dessert, we like to think outside the box and came up with an easy recipe for Pumpkin Shortbread Wedges the kids can help make. Served with tea, coffee and ice cream, they are our new favorite treat.

Chocolate Drizzled Pumpkin Shortbread Wedges

1 1/4 Cups All–Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin

1/2 Cup Corn Starch

3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

3/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Cup Unsalted Cold Butter, cut into pieces

2 Tablespoons Cold Milk

6 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Read more at Momologie.

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The Best-Dressed Baby

By Carla Weiss

For years my daughter’s baby clothes sat in boxes in my parents’ house. She had a lot of really nice ones. The moms in my baby group used to call her “Best Dressed Baby in the Slope.” My mother-in-law is a tireless shopper who spent many happy hours buying beautiful bargains to adorn her granddaughters.

Last month my parents shipped the best dressed baby’s wardrobe to my sister’s grateful assistant, due to birth a girl any moment. And though I will not be needing baby clothes until I adorn my own granddaughter, this information has created a small tremor in my emotional wellbeing.

That small tremor started to flutter more powerfully this morning when I noticed that the new brown 6X leggings I purchased last month are officially capris. My daughter is growing so fast I can’t keep her in pants. If my kiss doesn’t make it to her upturned cheek quickly enough, she is already down the stairs to school without so much as a “bye”. I am not welcome in the bathroom anymore – except when she has forgotten her towel or has a hot-bath-induced philosophical question to ask. And there are secrets brewing in her mysterious, mischievous mind that are fervently whispered to her friends but not to me. Who am I anymore? Sometimes I think if a housekeeper replaced me one night, she wouldn’t be that concerned.

Lately I can’t seem to get organized. Maybe it’s my fragile emotional state? Too many pieces of paper shoved into folders hanging around our kitchen. Too many freelance jobs and shmoozey meetings and rushing home to pick up from after-school, holler about homework and slide some dinner on the table. I’m losing track of my center and craving definition.

In the evening we work together at the counter. She does her homework, madly erasing and muttering to herself, while I race to put the finishing touches on some project or write another thank you email. Tonight I realize the counter is moving. Bored and unfocused she is randomly kicking the base while doodling in the margins of her math sheet. I ask her to stop, I tell her I can’t believe she’s doodling on her homework – the conversation escalates and, before I can steady myself, a seismic argument begins. We are at war and she stomps off to her room in a full tweensplosion.

How can I be the mother I want to be when I am still searching for the person I want to be? How can I be sensitive to her increasingly mysterious needs when I am so busy juggling my own increasingly mysterious wants. How do I adjust to this girl/woman in my life when I still feel the best-dressed baby kicking in my arms?

She eats her dinner in silence glancing at a Lands End catalog as if she’s going to whip out her credit card and make a purchase at any moment. I ask her to apologize for her “inappropriate behavior.” She does. I launch into a lengthy analysis of “what went wrong and how we can do better next time.” She stops me and says, “It’s over mom, it’s over.” She’s right.

After bath she gets into her pajamas on her own and climbs into bed with one of her many books. I kiss her goodnight and she barely looks up at me. We are both sore around the edges from the earlier flare-up. I start cleaning up from dinner and returning more emails when I hear her calling me. She asks me to crawl into her bed and cuddle with her for just one minute. I sneak under her covers, misplacing the cat and curl my arm around her. She is warm and smells like my conditioner.

It is very still in her bed, Still and quiet. The world is swirling around out there but here I am on a solid island awash in soft warmth. She turns on her back, sighs, and says, “You made me mom, didn’t you.”

“Yes,” I whisper, “ with dad, I made you.”

“That’s very cool,” she says.

“Yes, very cool.”

Carla Weiss is a creative communications specialist. She just returned from an incredible 4-year stint in Hong Kong where she was a creative director for an experiential marketing company and learned to dragonboat. She spent most of her career developing musicals for the commercial theater. Her delicious husband Peter, delightful daughter Kate, and deranged cat Mowzer miss Hong Kong, love Park Slope, and sing showtunes very loudly. Carla blogs at www.brooklyntohongkong.blogspot.com

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Got Boundaries?

Rahti Gorfien

I talk a lot about boundaries in my work as a coach. Great big boundaries; the image of huge schooner sails comes to mind…great big boundaries soaring high, twice as high as you think you need them, sheltering your work, your passions and your sanity. They include but are not limited to time (twice as much as you think you’ll need), solitude (not to be confused with isolation), space (literally. Physical sacred space, recognized as your own) and respect (of self, and by others).

Great Big Boundaries, (I hereby dub them GBBs) are particularly necessary for artists and freelance professional moms. How can you be successful without time, space and resources? We all know these things are necessities yet repeatedly, I encounter women who think they can produce their visions out of thin air, having acquiesced almost completely to the perceived needs of their loved ones. I say ‘perceived’, because very often clients don’t recognize at first, the capacity of their partners and children to cook, clean, self-moderate and generally reciprocate the kind of support the feminine aspect of a family generates all the time!

Boundary work is not for sissies. Not only must we clearly identify where the lines are lacking; we must draw them in the sand. While we often feel as mothers that we have no control over these matters, this is mostly a defense. If we can’t make time to paint, write, run or whatever, then our self-imposed burdens of excellence and perfectionism are lifted. So, first we need to overcome our own resistance to change, and then the fun really begins. We must find a way to finesse cooperation within our families. If your sense of well-being is all bollixed up with their emotional responses to you, then you’re in for a real challenge. Letting people pout, get mad, or wash the dishes badly (yes, delegating has its perils) may really rock your boat, but believe me, tolerating that brand of discomfort is ultimately rewarding. You write the vomit draft, you attack the canvas, you lose the weight, you experience agency over your destiny once again. And people move past their first reactions. Boundaries are a blessing to everyone. They signal to our loved ones where we begin and end, and in doing so, better acquaint them with their own perimeters and capacities.

This blog topic was suggested to me by my current Freelance/Artist Parents group. I have had the privilege of working with many such teams, and am constantly inspired by their ability individually (and as a group) to prevail in the face of what (at first) seem like impossible odds. I extend my unwavering respect to each of you.

Rahti Gorfien, of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach and Park Slope mom, specializing in creative mothers with universal and yet unique challenges to succeed both personally as mothers and professionally as artists. She is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. Join her Yahoo Group for additional tips and essays.

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Start Talking About Money

Galia Gichon

For those of you that know me, you know that I tend to be a practical person. I worked on Wall Street, I have an MBA and focus on providing lots of practical tips. However, over the last eight years of working with thousands of you, I realize more and more that it takes more than tips to achieve money success. It takes implementing money into our conversation on a weekly basis. Not sure where to begin? A few suggestions.

1) Have one new conversation about money this week. Not a complaint. Try "do you think this is a good time to invest?" or "Are you taking advantage of lower interest rates?"

2) Enlist a friend. Start a money buddy contest between the two of you, sign up for a seminar or class together.

3) Read the business headlines or personal finance headlines on sites. There are many great articles that focus on helping you, not just scaring you. Cnnmoney.com has some great articles!

4) Spend consciously. Take a few minutes and write down the things you REALLY love to do. Is this where your money goes? Or does it go toward items you really can't remember or don't care about.

5) If you are married or in a partnership, schedule a money date. Make it fun and discuss investing styles. If you aren't sure what your styles are, discuss the instant money tips found in "My Money Matters" kit (www.mymoneykit.com).

Galia Gichon has made featured appearances and/or contributed to multiple publications, as well as TV and radio shows, some of which include: The New York Times, MSN Money.com, Working Today, Real Simple Magazine and Bloomberg Radio.

My Money Matters Kit was featured in Newsweek in March 2008. Galia offers teleclasses and live teleconferences at Down-to-Earth Finance Events. You can purchase a teleclass or teleconference from anywhere in the world! Seminar topics range from Find More Money Just By Getting Organized to 4 Weeks to Financial Sanity.

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Motherhood and Body Image

Ellen Bari

Of course we can blame it on our mothers. It’s all their fault. It always is. Pretty much any conversation about women’s negative body image issues, and obsessions with weight, point back to two sources: our screwed up mothers and the prevailing media. So now that we’re the mothers, and smart enough to know that the media is intentionally manipulating us, shouldn’t we be past all of that? And how can we insure that we pass on healthy ideas about body image to our kids?

These, and a number of other issues about body image and motherhood, were the subject of a fascinating panel discussion last month, at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Sitting among artifacts from the American Revolution, a group of local moms were privy to a book reading and panel discussion around Claire Mysko’s book, Does this Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat: The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby. The book title- which relates to a woman’s body image starting with pregnancy and throughout her life as a mother- is clearly meant to highlight the absurd disconnect between most women’s body images and reality. The event was hosted by Momasphere, a new organization whose mantra, ‘whole women make whole moms,’ carries out its commitment to ‘building strong families one mom at a time’ by creating innovative programs and events for moms while the kids are left at home under the watchful eye of… anyone else.

Ms. Mysko’s familiarity and knowledge of the subject is quite impressive, as she has a degree in gender studies from the New School for Social Research, has spent her life working as a beauty activist and interviewed some 400 women for the book. Joined by a panel of four seasoned experts in their fields, Ms. Mysko was able to turn to a fitness expert, sex educator, psychotherapist and journalist to probe a little deeper into some of the more pressing issues in the book. Many of the issues were obvious, but I thought a few less apparent ones were worth sharing.

Clearly, the media is filled with unrealistic images of women, from mommy stars whose bodies are shaped and molded 24/7, aided and abetted by a legion of trainers, dieticians, surgeons, therapists and personal chefs, to models who don’t even recognize themselves after the Photoshop artists are done with them. But when terms like ‘bump watch’ are part of the vernacular, and all eyes are focused on a star’s ‘postbaby body,’ is it possible to completely turn the other intelligent cheek? Meredith Lopez (Huffington Posts’s very own mommy blogger) admitted that it’s actually not that simple, and her feelings were corroborated by most of the women in attendance. As women who do not read the tabloids, follow star news reporting, or even succumb to the latest fashion fads, it seems that as a group, we should be above all that, but in fact, we are still very much affected by what we see. What’s worse is that now, in addition to feeling bad that we’re not able get ‘our pre-baby bodies back,’ we also feel embarrassed that we’re dumb enough to succumb to the media’s barrage, knowing full well it’s wrong.

what’s even more absurd, is that the new bump fixation has extended to women actually comparing the size, shape and location of each other’s pregnancy bellies, deeming some more aesthetically acceptable than others. It seems when women get together as a group, the pressure they put on each other and its negative impact can sometimes be more destructive than the support they offer.

So what do we do? Admit that all is lost, and that our kids are doomed to be as screwed up about this as our mothers were? Psychotherapist Barbara Kass strongly believes it doesn’t have to be this way, but it means each of us has to stand strong against the tides, and champion healthy attitudes and behaviors. With two grown girls of her own, she described a situation when her daughters were young, where she literally had to tell a friend not to ‘talk that way in front of the kids.’ It was not that the conversation was lewd or crude in any way, but rather the obsession with weight and fat content that was being discussed was not something she wanted her kids to hear, or ever buy into. Modeling positive body image awareness and normal healthy eating habits absolutely starts at home.

Personal trainer Zoe Bowick Levine described a new paradigm that she uses when working with mothers. She will not even discuss body fat, inches or weight goals with new moms until after a good nine months, but instead focuses on feeling good in your body and noticing positive changes over weeks of working out- perhaps increased strength in some areas or simply a reduction in body aches and pains. She used the metaphor of the in-flight oxygen mask- in case of an emergency, always save yourself first so you can save your kids.

The message, again corroborated by the panel on many different levels was the importance of giving yourself time. This translates into giving your body time to heal, giving your system time to process the extreme loss of control, and allowing yourself to savor your new bundle of joy instead of being fixated on the shape of your body. It’s no surprise that being obsessed with weight loss and a past image of oneself does not help one’s sex life either. Sex educator, Claire Cavanaugh, offered some tips on how to keep intimacy alive, even when your own body issues may be getting in the way of your natural feelings of excitement. First and foremost, she stressed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication. She also said that contrary to her ‘feminist’ belief that women have to be able to clearly state when “NO means NO,” Ms. Cavanaugh explained that if one’s partner is feeling amorous, going with the flow can go a long way in bringing one back to a healthy sex life and a positive body image.

It’s really a kind of ‘just say no’ to the forces around you, and then stick to your guns with your kids. Girls Inc, a national organization that’ inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold,’ was on hand, reminding us that if we don’t get a grip, we will continue to pass on these really messed up messages to our kids. While it’s very hard to stand strong against the pressure, it seems that there are ways we can respond positively. As with any behavior, being aware of the underlying forces is crucial.

During the Q&A, one mom complained that in the two plus years since she gave birth, her stomach has not retreated to its previously board flat state, and it makes her want to cry. She said it’s so bad that she’s been asked on more than one occasion if she’s pregnant. In response to her comment, another woman, shared the following: the other day on the subway, someone offered her a seat because they thought she was pregnant. She did not take the seat, but went home smiling from ear to ear. At 55, for anyone to think she could be pregnant was a huge compliment!

Beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder. It’s critical that we allow ourselves to embrace some of the changes that come with motherhood instead of trying to fight them like they’re the forces of evil. And as Ms. Kass said : If you can’t do it for yourself, then at least do it for your kids!

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Interview with Jen Lee, Author of Take Me With You - A Journal for the Journey

Our sister event site, Momasphere will be offering "Make Room For Mom's Voice", a journaling, storytelling and interactive writing workshop especially customized for moms on Sunday, Dec 6th, 2009 at Birth Day Presence in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

To find out more about the workshop on Sun, Dec 6th and to sign up click here. There are only a few spaces available so sign-up TODAY!

Motherhood can be both a challenging and a transformative experience. We may uncover new dreams for our lives, or sides of ourselves we haven't before experienced. At other times, we may struggle to keep a strong sense of ourselves in the chorus of voices calling for our attention. We recently talked to Jen Lee, writer, mom and teacher of the upcoming workshop "Make Room For Mom's Voice" about finding clarity about life and motherhood through writing.

Q. What do you think is the connection between writing and finding your voice?
A. Jen Lee: Writing is like picking up a phone line to the parts of yourself you haven't been listening to. If you're unhappy or lost or living someone else's dream for your life, it's likely to slip out if you have a practice of free writing or if you work with thoughtful prompts. There are things you can ignore or deny when they are thoughts floating consciously or unconsciously through your mind, but once you see them in black and white, written on the page, they become very real. And it's enlightening to know what kind of thoughts are running the show in life, especially if they are thoughts you weren't aware you even had.

Q.What has that thought discovery part been like in your experience?
A. Jen Lee: A few years ago I was doing a prompted writing exercise and I wrote something like, "It's okay that I'm playing it safe because my girls will grow up to be brave and they'll go live in exciting cities someday." I didn't know how much I was settling for something besides my wildest dreams before that. I didn't know that I was starting already to do that common thing of trying to pursue my dreams through my kids, and that made me slam on the brakes of my life right then and there. I could see in that moment that the only way they'd learn to be brave was to watch me be brave. I could see that I needed to follow my own dream and live in an exciting city if that's what I wanted so much, so my girls could have and follow dreams all their own. And we moved to Brooklyn a short time later. Life has never been the same, in a way that I appreciate so deeply. Before writing, I was living without this kind of awareness, kind of like rolling through on auto pilot.

Q. We are thrilled to be presenting a workshop that you will be teaching called "Make Room for Mom's Voice". Who is that event for?
A. Jen Lee: This workshop is for mothers and mothers-to-be who want to develop or maintain a clear connection to themselves, who want to make space for their memories and thoughts, to-do lists and deep hopes. It's for women who want to express themselves more freely, who are looking for simple practices that will help them navigate the path as they develop new facets of themselves and uncover new dreams.

Jen Lee is a Brooklyn-based writer and a collector of stories, many of which unfold in her vibrant neighborhood or in the lives of her closest friends. A performer in NYC's storytelling scene, Jen is also the author of Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark (click the link to listen to the audio), Fortunes, and Take Me With You: A Journal for the Journey.

Jen leads workshops and retreats on storytelling, writing and the creative life. She believes everyone has a story worth telling, and she would be delighted to hear yours. Send your stories, requests, comments and questions to Jen at: jen (at) jenlee (dot) net. She invites you to follow her on Twitter, and to download The Story Catcher.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Park Slope Civic Council Halloween Parade Oct. 31, 2009 at 6:30pm!

Park Slope is known for it's amazing Halloween Parade. This year the Park Slope Civic Council Halloween Parade will take place on Oct. 31, 2009 at 6:30pm. I'm so excited for this family-friendly treat! It promises to be extra special this year. The route has changed slightly from prior years and their will be a musical performance before the parade starts, as well as at the end of the parade.

Below is an agenda of the evening. If you are wondering when Trick or Treating officially starts many of the businesses on
7th Avenue start at 4pm (some earlier, some later)…

Here’s more information about the other Goings On during Halloween in the Slope:

The 2009 Costume Contest Categories for The Park Slope Civic Council Costume Contest!

  • The Spooky Sea Award (best overall theme)
  • Best in Show- Adults
  • Best in Show-Kid's Scariest Sea
  • Monster Best “Small-Fry” (baby)
  • Best Pop Culture Best Cat-or-Dogfish (best pet)
  • Craftiest Seafarin’ Craft (best stroller/wagon)
  • Best in a “School “(group/ensemble)
  • 12:45- 3:00 The Halloween Pups on Parade at Washington Park (5th Ave btw 3rd and 4th)
  • 3:00- 6:30 Free Photos in front of John Jay High School (7th Ave btw 3rd and 4th)
  • 3:00--3: 55 Registration for the Costume Contest
  • 4:00--5:00 Costume Contest
  • 5:00--6:00 Musical Performance by Ethan’s Motley Rockin’ Show (in front of John Jay
  • 6:30 The Park Slope Civic Council Halloween Parade

The parade will include bands, giant puppets, and other fun things. After the parade highlights have passed, feel free to join the parade at the end (so as not to trip puppets, band members, etc). Let's keep everyone safe and able to see the puppets!

  • Start at 14th st and 7th ave
  • Turn left onto 3rd st
  • Turn left onto 5th ave
  • Into Washington Park (formerly JJ Byrne Park) to end with some music!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Body Image & Motherhood: Interview w/Claire Mysko, Co-author of "Does This Pregnancy Makes Me Look Fat?" Discussion at the Old Stone House 10/29

Hip Slope Mama's brand new sister site Momasphere had the chance to talk to Claire Mysko, a feminist and writer who co-authored the newly released book called Does This Pregnancy Make Mee Look Fat? The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby with Magali Amadei. In it they surveyed more than 400 women, including those who are considering starting a family, moms-to-be, and mothers. They offer a much-needed forewarning on what to expect from your changing body, exposing the myths, challenges, and insecurities you’ll face throughout. Claire writes books, blogs, leads workshops, and consults with companies and organizations that want to reach girls and women with empowering messages. She has served as the director of the American Anorexia Bulimia Association, the Executive Editor of SmartGirl, and the Assistant Director of Communications for Girls Inc. She is also the co-founder of Inside Beauty, an outreach program dedicated to promoting healthy body image. The following is Momasphere's exclusive interview with author Claire Mysko:
Q. Momasphere: You have been working for years with girls across the country on issues of body image and self-esteem. What inspired you to begin this book project, which I understand involved interviewing more than 400 women?
A. Claire Mysko: My co-author Magali Amadei and I started talking about the idea for this book when she was pregnant with her daughter. Suddenly it became clear that pregnancy and new motherhood are times of tremendous body image insecurity for women. Our bodies goes through major changes, yet there's not a lot of support to help us process those changes in a healthy way. From the doctor's office to the newsstand to the playground, there's plenty of talk about weight gain and weight loss, but we weren't hearing anything about how women were really dealing with all those pressures. So we started asking.

Q. Momasphere: The nature of the questions you asked the interviewees was quite personal. Was it difficult to get women to open up about such intimate subjects?
A. Claire Mysko: It wasn't hard at all, actually. Women did not hold back with us, but what we did find is that they're often not talking to anyone else. While nearly 80% of women expressed concerns about the body changes of pregnancy and motherhood, less than half of them said they discuss those concerns with their partners and their friends. Many women admitted they felt ashamed that they were worried about something so "superficial" as weight (even though that worry is reinforced everywhere around around us). Others said they feared they would be seen as selfish mothers for having such deep insecurities about their bodies.

Q. Momasphere: From Annie Leibovitz’s groundbreaking 1991 Vanity Fair cover photo of a pregnant, naked Demi Moore, to today’s ‘bump watch’ of pregnant celebrities, has Hollywood’s attitude towards pregnant women’s bodies made it harder or easier for the average mom to deal with her own body changes?
A. Claire Mysko: I think there is an upside and a downside to the Hollywood coverage. It's positive in the sense that the pregnant body is no longer something to be hidden away or covered up. We now get to see many examples of women who are proudly and stylishly pregnant. But it can be hard to keep a realistic perspective on all those those Hollywood images and messages, especially when they set up the ridiculous expectation that we should all be striving for a "red carpet-ready body after baby." At the end of the day, we have to remember that celebrity media is in the business of selling. Ultimately, these stories are all touting the It baby gear, designer diets and workout plans--which most moms can't afford. And none of that has nothing to do with the day-to-day reality of being a mother.

Q. Momasphere:
In the book you talk about how ‘getting your pre-baby body back’ often sets women up for great disappointment and sometimes unhealthy food and exercise practices. Can you give our readers some advice about how to develop realistic, healthy goals for ourselves?
A. Claire Mysko: This is where we really do need to shut out the Hollywood stories about stars who are back in their skinny jeans right after childbirth. For new moms, the most important thing you can do is give yourself time to heal and adjust to life with a newborn. We talked to women who regretted that they were instantly focused on losing weight and and working out because it took away from the experience of bonding with their babies.

Your goals should not involve stepping into a time machine to get your body back. Instead, focus on moving forward and remember to stop and appreciate the amazing feat your body has accomplished! Strive for body confidence, which we define as the belief that you are your most beautiful when you are healthy in body and mind. It's not about molding or shaping--it's about taking care of yourself so you can pass along healthy attitudes to your children.

Q. Momasphere: What was the most surprising thing you learned while doing the research for this book?
A. Claire Mysko: There is a huge gap in prenatal and postpartum care when it comes to healthcare providers' awareness of and sensitivity to the fears and anxieties women have about weight and body image. There are millions of women who have been diagnosed with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. In addition, recent research shows that two thirds of all women deal with some form of disordered eating (chronic dieting, emotional eating, overexercise, etc.). It's just common sense that many of these women are or will some day become mothers. Unfortunately, we heard story after story from women whose doctors said or did things to exacerbate their weight worries. And the scale is still the centerpiece of most prenatal appointments, which is a problem when the act of weighing in can be an unhealthy and triggering experience for many moms-to-be.

Doctors need to take more responsibility to educate themselves about these widespread issues; women need to be more proactive in discussing our histories of eating disorders, disordered eating and poor body image with our healthcare providers so we can find doctors who are equipped to support us and treat us with compassion.

Q. Momasphere: Is there a story behind the book title? Though ‘Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?’ always seems to get a smile, it may be somewhat deceptive since the book really deals with women's body issues throughout their lives. How did you choose the title?
A. Claire Mysko: We chose the title because we wanted something that was lighthearted, but also pointed to just how extreme our body obsessions have become. And you're right--though the title highlights pregnancy, we are really offering advice about how to confront your body image issues when you start planning a family (which is where I was when we researched and wrote the book), during pregnancy and beyond. The women we interviewed reflect that range of experiences. We talked to those who were just starting to think about motherhood, women at all stages of pregnancy, and mothers of infants, kids, and adults.
Momasphere events is hosting a book reading/signing/panel discussion event with Claire Mysko on Thursday Oct 29th at the The Old Stone House in Parke Slope, Brooklyn. Find out more about the details at Momasphere Events.

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Creator of Hip Slope Mama & Momasphere Interviewed by The Huffington Post!

By Melissa Lopata

I am so excited to have been interviewed by one of my favorite online publications, The Huffington Post! My interview was one of a three-part series on "Super Moms".

Wow, I'm a "Super Mom"! I don't always feel like a super mom, especially when I'm barely functioning on 3 hrs of sleep and running around my apartment at the last minute looking for my son's other shoe. Ultimately, I think this series of interviews is more about letting mom's know that all mothers are "super moms", especially if they are striving to build an identity and find a purpose while managing a family. Whether you are a stay at home or working mom, it's important to look for ways to be fulfilled beyond being a wife and mother. There are always growing pains involved w/self-realization, but, in the end, this benefits everyone in the family. Topics included in my interview were: being a mom-trepeuner, the mission of Momasphere (Hip Slope Mama's new national sister site) and it's mantra "Whole Women Make Whole Moms", how I manage to balance Momasphere and family, being a multicultural family and advice on how to connect with other moms. Here are some excerpts (you can read the complete interview on The Huffington Post HERE):

What inspired you to start Momasphere?
I had left corporate America and a very high-pressured position as a VP of marketing. I had made a decision, before I went on maternity leave, to just leave corporate America for at least a little while and stay home with Baby Sphere. It was definitely an economic sacrifice for my family, to lose one very good household income. [Laughs] But we made the decision together.

I think in the back of my mind I always had the DNA of an entrepreneur simmering in me. So I also decided to use that time away to do a bit of soul-searching and figure out what my calling was. I think in the course of that time period when I was with Baby Sphere and doing all this soul-searching...you know, motherhood just becomes so all-encompassing in your life!

It really does!
I don't think moms, or moms-to-be realize how completely all-encompassing it is, what an incredible change of lifestyle it is. It's a different way of thinking about your whole life.

It was interesting to me, and I felt like my transition into the world of motherhood was kind of daunting. I felt like I had to reinvent myself. It became a little overwhelming. For me, I couldn't quite find my niche. [At this point our two boys decide to have a screaming match.] I [didn't really feel like a] stay-at-home mom. Especially, a lot of moms in the city have their babies a little later in life. I had my child when I was almost 40, so I feel like I had developed this character, this personality and way of living that was so embedded in me, so deep, so well-formed, that I didn't really know what to do with myself. I didn't really feel like I fit into the whole "mommy meet-up" environment. [Laughs] I felt like there really wasn't an environment that dealt with the mother in her whole spectrum of being. It seemed like the mommy blogs that were out there, and the mommy meet-up groups, and playgroups, all focused around the child. Very baby-centric. Click Here>

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Bubbles and Bubbly Contest: Win a Maytag Bravo HE washer/dryer, or a year’s supply of WiskHE detergent!

By Ellen Bari

I recently went to an event in a gorgeous loft in the West 20’s called Bubbles and Bubbly. I got certified as a Bubble & HE Expert. Now as a mom, being a bubble expert might seem like no big deal: I use bubble baths to soothe away the blues, megasized bubble jars to amuse, tearless bubbles in our shampoos, bubble wrap for Cinderella’s glass shoes, and a little bubbly to invite the muse….but me, an HE expert?! (With a daughter, and a new venture that creates programs and events for moms, I’m probably more of an SHE expert.)

So I learned that HE stands for high efficiency, as in household appliances and laundry detergents. HE in appliances is actually a good thing because it saves energy and water. It turns out HE washers use 20% to 66% less water than traditional washers and as little as 20 to 50 percent of the energy because there’s much less water to heat. So it’s a win/win- save money and the environment at the same time. These machines do best with HE detergents.

So to get the aforementioned certification, in white lab coats, we tested the results ourselves, and were able to see how less is more when it comes to bubbles, and HE detergents. At the other end of the spectrum, we also got to test champagne, and learned that the more pinheaded bubbles in your glass, the better the champagne quality. I also had my bubbles read, and learned that my future looks, well…bubbly.

So if this makes you think that maybe your washer is not as efficient as you’d like it to be, or that you’re not using the best detergent for your HE machine, enter this contest and you can win a pair of gorgeous red HE washer/dryer, or a year’s supply of WiskHE detergent. http://laundryhe.com/contest/. If you’re really determined, you can sign in everyday!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recap of the Park Slope Parents Career Networking/HipSlopeMama ‘Meet & Greet Panel Discussion’

By Ellen Bari

Last Thursday evening, the Park Slope Parents Career Networking group, in conjunction with HipSlopemama, held its first event, a panel discussion featuring three successful working moms with three very different career paths. Had there been a dull moment in the discussion, guests would have had the opportunity to peruse the huge selection of glass frames hanging from the walls of the evening’s gracious venue host, the Park Slope Eye. But the panelists, whose careers range from scenic painter to career coach, kept the audience engaged with personal reflections on their individual career choices and triumphs. Though none of the women left with a new pair of glasses, all were no doubt able to see clearly that ‘there’s more (to career choices) than meets the eye.’

Joyce Szuflita spent approximately 25 years working as a scenic painter for theater and film, launching a variety of art-related side-businesses along the way. Recently, Joyce started NYC School Help, a successful private consultancy that helps Brooklyn families with their public and private school search, nursery through high school. Joyce said one of the things that made this business successful was that she “finally had the good sense to take out a small loan to get started.” While helping families sort out their school options and choices might seem like a far cry from her former life as a professional working artist, Joyce said it actually taps into three of her strengths that do not get full play in the artist realm: ‘her ability to research information, public speaking and talking someone down off a ledge.’ Joyce also said that she has become a whiz at SEO (search engine optimization) without spending a penny, and shared some of her tips with the group. Her website is www.nycschoolhelp.com and she contributes to many popular blogs, including: www.mysidewalkchalk.blogspot.com.

Stephanie Hill Wilcroft, formerly with public radio for many years, is a full-time, working mother at Sesame Workshop and founder of the popular blog, MAMA BEE. Stephanie acknowledged that while the corporate world does not offer women everything they need in order to be successful and happy, many women do not have the financial security to opt out. She talked about the current study released by Maria Shriver which has shown for the first time in our history that half of all U.S. workers are women and that mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. The study also confirmed that women today earn an average of 77 cents to every dollar a man earns. Until society offers more flexible work schedules, comprehensive child care policies, redesigned family and medical leave, equal pay and policies that encourage fathers to be involved, the situation in corporate America will continue to create an environment that that does not help working mothers thrive. At the same time, Stephanie does not advocate a full scale walkout. She is concerned that if all talented, high level women leave the corporate world, the organizations will have zero incentive to improve the situation for working women. Stephanie writes an anonymous (mostly) blog about women in the workforce, for her own personal satisfaction and enjoyment, which has become more political over time.

Nancy Collamer is a professional career coach and founder of the Jobs and Moms Career Center. Nancy started her career at AT&T, moved to corporate HR, then recruiting and after getting a masters degree in Career Development starting running workshops that explored ‘part-time careers for full-time mothers.’ Nancy attested to the value of ‘volunteer’ work, having written dutifully for an online column for no pay, finding its financial rewards at the end of the rainbow two years later, when it was bought by the Oxygen network. In order to find your work calling, Nancy recommends a four step process: 1. Discovery- find out who you are and what your natural talents are, 2. Exploration- see what’s out there, 3. Method of Delivery- decide how you would deliver your services, 4. Action Plan- describe how will you implement your plan. Nancy pointed to Weight Watcher’s as a good model to follow if you are embarking on a new challenge. It’s a program with built-in support, accountability, group sharing, published tips and techniques and it values of progress in small increments. Nancy pointed to low self-confidence as one of the major stumbling blocks for returning-to-work mothers, and gave some tips on how to overcome this including getting involved in projects that stretch you a little, continuing education classes, taking on small project work, and slowly dipping your toes back in the water.

Though the three panelists have chosen very different paths, each of them was clear on one issue. In order to find happiness and balance with one’s work life, it is incumbent upon each of us to find our bliss in some way…even if it takes 25 years to uncover, is an endeavor of love over and above a full-time job, and part of your services are performed for free. The message from the panelists was quite optimistic- if you find something that matches your interests and skill set, that you truly enjoy, you will likely find a way to make it work.

This informative event was for members of Park Slope Parents Career Networking group. If you are interested in joining, please contact LB Eisen, one of the co-founders. There is a fee associated with membership. Email: lbeisen@mac.com

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Motherhood Is The New MBA" Interview with Author Shari Storm

Interview by Ellen Bari

Shari Storm’s new book, Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to Be a Better Boss, offers wise, funny, practical advice on how to take basic mothering skills and translate them into successful management in the office. Shari is currently the VP, Chief Marketing Officer at Verity Credit Union, a $400 million financial institution. She has an MBA from Seattle University, teaches at the University of Washington’s Experimental College and mentors graduate students at Seattle University. In addition to work on her own blog, www.sharistorm.com, Shari contributes online to Working Mother Magazine, MomLogic and her company’s blog. Shari lives with her husband and three young daughters near Seattle, Washington. Ellen Bari, Co-Founder of Momasphere (Hip Slope Mama's sister site) took the opportunity to ask Shari a few questions about her new book and how she manages to do it all.

Q. Ellen B. In reading your new book, Motherhood is the New MBA, I couldn’t help but feel : Now why didn’t I write this book. It seems so obvious, but the truth is, it’s never really been framed quite this way. What inspired you to write the book?
A. Shari S. I knew I wanted to write something about how great motherhood is. When I became a mother, I felt more creative, more effective, and more energized at the office. But what I found to read on the topic of working and motherhood was more about how hard it is. There is a lot to read about the challenges of work life balance, the unfairness of the wage gap, the dangers of post-partum depression. All of these are of course, real and important issues. They just are not what I was experiencing personally.

Q: Ellen B. I know that sometimes we have an idea rolling around in our heads, until one particular experience brings the concept front and center. Was there a specific incident at work or at home that sparked the writing of this book?
A. Shari S. One day, when my oldest daughter was about 2 years old, we had some drama going on at work, and I suspected a co-worker of something. When I asked her about it, she started to answer me and it occurred to me that she was giving me the same type of answer I got from my two year old when I ask her, “Did you put your sneakers in the toilet?” It’s the look she gives me when she is lying!

It occurred to me at that point that human nature is human nature, whether we are 2 or 62. We are basically hard wired the same way and parents get in-depth, long term practice in human nature. We learn quickly, through parenting, how to get others to act in a way that we want them to.

Q. Ellen B. Not to give it all away, because our readers should first plan to come see you in your only New York appearance on November 5th at the Park Slope Eye, and then they should read the book. But in the interim, can you share the four most important things a good mom can bring to her role as a good manager?
A. Shari S:

  • Don’t try to be everyone’s friend. Moms and bosses play a very unique role. It is our duty to guide people. That sometimes means having difficult conversations or making unpopular decisions. It’s tough to do that if you are buddies with your kids or your employees. You can be kind, personable and likable, but be clear on boundaries.
  • Set a good example. Good parents know they are always on stage. Managers should remember this too. You can tell your employees how to act until you are blue in the face. But if your behavior doesn’t match your words, they will follow your example, not your verbal mandates. If you tell your staff to work with urgency and then you come in late and leave early every day, you will not get the results you want.
  • Remember the magic words. Saying “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry” are one of the fundamental things we teach our children. It’s amazing how often these simple acts of kindness are forgotten at the office. Never underestimate the power of good manners.
  • Keep your house in order. Good parents don’t tolerate behavior that endangers their children or others. When your kid runs out into the street or throws a golf ball at their siblings, you take care of it – immediately. Good managers act with the same swiftness when an employee is acting disruptively and compromising the effectiveness of the team.

Q. Ellen B. It seems to me that many of the practices you talk about in the book can relate to people other than moms…and even other than parents? Is there also a message here for managers who don’t have kids?
A. Shari S. My entire career I’ve heard sports analogies when it comes to business and I’ve heard war analogies when it comes to business. These are metaphors that are not relatable for most women, and for many men, frankly. The family dynamic is a framework that many people intuitively understand, whether they have children or not. Surprisingly, I’ve had tremendous support for the book from men and from non-parents. One journalist who interviewed me for the book said, “I just enjoyed reading the stories and the concepts all made perfect sense to me.” She does not have kids.

In light of all the talk days about work/life balance, I just can’t resist asking you how you manage to juggle everything so effectively. You have a full-time job as an executive at a credit union , are raising three young children under the age of seven AND manage to write a book? What’s your secret?

I’ve got a few secrets. The first is, there are lots of things I don’t do (like keep a clean house, write thank you notes, pay my bills on time or paint my fingernails).

Secondly, I dedicated one hour a day to this project. It took four years. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do something for one hour each day. I committed to working on it from 4 am to 5 am every day.

Thirdly, I’ve got amazing support from my family, friends and co-workers. My husband, sisters and mothers help a great deal. My job has a 37.5 hour work week and I work from home on Fridays. It’s been a godsend for the crunch times on the book.

Momasphere events is hosting Shari’s only New York appearance on Thursday Nov.5th at the Park Slope Eye. Find out more about the details at Momasphere Events.

Ellen Bari, a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, mom and creative consultant, curates and produces award-winning programs and exhibits for children and adults. She is the Co-Founder of Momasphere, a organization based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that creates innovative evening events for moms of all ages, while also giving back to the community. Her upcoming children’s book Jumping Jenny (Lerner Publishing) is about a passionate little girl whose bouyant bounce, truly knows no bounds. Ellen’s ‘creative compass’ navigates her life as a mom, globe trekker, and designer of one-of-a-kind ceramics and jewelry- her necklaces are on display at Proteus Gowanus Gallery. She is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. Current exhibits in NYC include The Future Beneath Us @ the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL/NYPL), Transit Museum Gallery @ Grand Central; American Express Tower in the World Financial Center lobby.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?" Body Image & Motherhood - Book Reading & Panel Discussion on Oct 29, 2009 at The Old Stone House

Momasphere Events and Bump are presenting a great reading and discussion in Park Slope for women of all ages that examines body image and motherhood! Whether you want to become pregnant for the first time, you're currently pregnant, 4 months out of pregnancy or 10 years out of pregnancy, the book deals with body image and fitness issues that last a lifetime. Beauty activists Claire Mysko and Magali Amadei surveyed more than 400 women, including those who are considering starting a family, moms-to-be, and mothers. They offer a much-needed forewarning on what to expect from your changing body, exposing the myths, challenges, and insecurities you’ll face throughout pregnancy and beyond—and what to do about them. With startling confessions of women’s unspoken fears and advice on how to remedy them, this essential compendium of girl-friendly advice will help champion any woman to feel her best about her body, herself, and her role as a mom.

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2009
7-9 pm
Place: The Old Stone House
336 3rd St (bet. 4th & 5th Ave), Brooklyn, NY 11215

Price: Tickets are $10 online & $15 at the door

Space is limited so please RSVP by purchasing tickets online HERE. Tickets are available for sale at the door for $15.00 on a first-come-first-served basis. Cash only to purchase tickets at the door.

Panel Discussion and Book Reading: Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby (co-authored by Claire Mysko and Magali Amadei) is the first guide to help women deal with the body changes of pregnancy and motherhood, providing valuable advice on how to pass along healthy attitudes about food and weight to our children. Publishers Weekly says, “[t]he concepts and solidarity offered here should prove valuable for millions of American women.

After the reading, a panel discussion that probes body image issues related to motherhood will follow. Topics that will be covered include self-esteem, sexuality, fitness and health as they relate to our changing bodies as mothers.

Body Image and Motherhood Reading and Discussion Includes the Following Panelists:

Claire Mysko and Magali Amadei co-authered Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby. In it they surveyed more than 400 women, including those who are considering starting a family, moms-to-be, and mothers. They offer a much-needed forewarning on what to expect from your changing body, exposing the myths, challenges, and insecurities you’ll face throughout. Claire writes books, blogs, leads workshops, and consults with companies and organizations that want to reach girls and women with empowering messages. She has served as the director of the American Anorexia Bulimia Association, the Executive Editor of SmartGirl, and the Assistant Director of Communications for Girls Inc. She is also the co-founder of Inside Beauty, an outreach program dedicated to promoting healthy body image. Claire received her M.A. in Gender Studies from The New School for Social Research.

Meredith Lopez is a stay-at-home writer and mother. She is one of the main mom bloggers on The Huffington Post. Her short stories and creative non-fiction have been published in Heart By Heart: Mothers and Daughters Listening to Each Other, The Dovetail Journal for Interfaith Families, Morbid Outlook, and The Rose & Thorn e-Zine. In 1999 she graduated from NYU with a degree in Dramatic Literature, Cinema Studies and Theatre History, with an emphasis on American film studies. She is also a veteran of several office day jobs, where she learned to multi-task, be proactive, have synergy, and think outside the box, all qualities that now come in handy as a mom. Meredith was born and raised in Miami, and now lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY with her husband and their son, the Juban Princeling.

Claire Cavanah is a mother, Co-Founder of Babeland and the co-author of Sex Toys 101. She has a bachelor's degree from Brown University. After attending an alternative high school in Vermont, Claire enrolled at Brown University. Brown's thriving feminist community offered Claire a new way to think about the world and led directly to her current career. Her studies were focused in both the "Gender Studies and Modern Culture" and the "Media" departments. She was also an active member of the campus Women's Center. After college, Claire moved to Seattle to begin work in the publishing field. During that time she also worked as a researcher, charting the second wave of feminism for a documentary film. It was shortly after this, that Claire joined with Rachel Venning and founded Babeland (originally known as Toys in Babeland).

Barbara Kass, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She has a specialty working with new mothers, women in transition, and couples dealing with the changes that parenthood brings. She has worked extensively with women on issues of body image and has led numerous workshops on motherhood and mothering. Barbara is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Hunter College School of Social Work and has a Post Masters Certificate in Advanced Clinical Practice in Social Work from NYU. Barbara is an adjunct faculty member of the New York University School of Social Work, has taught at Columbia University School of Social Work, and continues to provide training and supervision for social workers and psychotherapists.

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