Friday, September 12, 2008

Where's Your Village?

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I only wanted a few mom friends. Today's village is a lot different than previous generations. Today's neighbors are shy to say hello to one another and their cars speed out of their garages as the sun comes up and speed in as the sun goes down.

I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars to join a mom's group. However, after realizing the amount of work it takes to develop a community of moms - I would say the money is a small price to pay for the rewards it can provide.

I did create a mom's group that I love. I went to the weekly support group put on by the hospital where I gave birth (Alta Bates Hospital). After some time had passed, I collected email addresses and set up an online yahoo group. People began to post photos, chat, ask questions, and develop events. It is now a thriving group with regular play dates, toy & food swaps, babysitting trades, exercise clubs, and a monthly mom's night out.

That brings me to today. As my son has gotten older, his need for routines have increased; especially nap time. It is crucial for us to be home for naps now. Since most of my group lives in the Berkeley & Oakland region, most of our outings are out that direction. I often have to decide whether the outing is worth the "commute" and/or sacrifice to naptime. That being said, I am still on a quest to find or create another group close to home. Although, I still appreciate and want to maintain the friendships I have formed in my original group.

I recently signed up for the Berkeley Parents Network Newsletter. Included was a support group that I had never heard of before. I thought I would share.
It's called PRAM:
I will definitely be checking this one out. They are a regional support group targeting the greater Richmond Area.

Another support group for West Contra Costa County:
Mocha Moms:
This group has regular play groups in Hercules & moms outings across the bay area.

If you are in the market for another ethnicity based group, this one serves the greater bay area and is targeted to multiracial families.
Bay Area Multiracial Families:

A neighborhood based support group for Alameda & Contra Costa County:
Support Group For Mothers:
There is a North Berkeley section of this group, but I have yet to see a group form for West CCC. Maybe if enough moms from the West CCC are willing to spend a little extra $ to join this group, there will be a more thriving mom culture in our side of the county.

So, if you've never had the pleasure of driving away from your house in the non-cheerio filled car, picking up your food with two hands, sipping a cool drink while your baby happily plays with other babies, or going to the bathroom while someone else watches your child - YOU NEED A MOM'S GROUP! :) It's definitely worth the extra effort.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My "Anti-List" List

Top Three Reasons NOT To Make A List
  1. It brings to mind all the things I want to do, but don't have time to.
  2. It allows me to procrastinate doing the things I don't want to do.
  3. It gives the illusion of perfection which can never be reached. There will always be more things to add to the list. As one item gets crossed off the list, another one can always be added.
Instead, I am trying to do one thing at a time. The idea is this: As something occurs to me to do - I do it. (some of the time) I try to ignore the fifty other tasks that are brewing. It takes less energy to do this, rather than to add it to a list or let it marinate in my head.

A friend of mine told me a story of a child who was overwhelmed by a school "bird report". His mother told him, "Just do it bird by bird". Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I try to think of this story. After each "bird" is complete - I feel more accomplished, and less out of control. This is something making a list can never do!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bubblin' Over About Gymboree!

For those of you who don't know about Gymboree in El Cerrito, it's one of the well-hidden gems in the El Cerrito Plaza. Just find the Trader Joe's and walk between GNC and TJ's, you will see an elevator that will take you up the the 2nd Floor - Mezzanine level. You come out of the elevator, hang a quick right, go through a set of doors and there, discrete as can be, is Gymboree! It has a large play area that is colorful, clean, and developmentally appropriate. The instructors are bubbly and equipped with actual bubbles! They have a small selection of Gymboree toys for sale that have been a big hit in our home. This particular Gymboree is part of a franchise that includes El Cerrito, Oakland, and Lafayette. For the summer, we go to unlimited classes, at any location, for $69 a month...during the fall it goes to $89. In addition to gym classses, they also have art, music, and open gym times. Having something to do everyday with a little one on the move is essential to my sanity. Well worth the $$, if you ask me. They will do a preview class for free before you sign up. The class includes songs, exercises, finger plays, independent play, parachute games, & bubbles of course! I love doing the 45 minute class, chatting before and after with the moms, dads, grandparents, & caretakers. We also do a little shopping before or after at the nearby shops. There has also been a farmer's market going this summer on Tuesdays in the plaza. We often have lunch afterward at the Rubio's where there is eye-candy for the babies under a straw hut cabana equipped with lights and dangly fish. I can't say enough great things about the Gymboree experience...we love it and find ourselves singing the songs at night and again when we wake up in the morning. I have already seen my son gain confidence and independently join in the songs. If loving Gymboree is wrong, I don't want to be right!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Google "West Contra Costa County Mom"

So...when I looked up "west contra costa county mom" in google today, I scanned the results only to find articles about how to transfer out of your west ccc school district, a mom who was killed, moms convicted of child abuse, and government sponsored reading programs. Decidedly, this was not what I hoped to find. When I initially googled, I was looking for nearby activities and resources for my baby and I. I am a stay-at-home mom looking for mom's groups, story-times, parks, baby-friendly establishments, etc. in my area. My quest is due to the fact that I am tired of driving through the maze or over a bridge when I want to do something fun. Since, the google results were far from hopeful - I decided to write a West Contra Costa County focused "mom blog". I would like to know what resources are available in my community. I have been inspired by other mom blogs out there...especially I'm not saying that there won't be posts about Berkeley, Oakland, and Marin too. This blog is about places we go and things we do. However, I will try to focus in on resources for families in San Pablo, Pinole, El Sobrante, Richmond, El Cerrito, and Hercules (to name a few).

P.S. I am new to this whole blogging thing. Forgive my spelling and grammar. I have yet to take advantage of the government funded reading programs in my area. :)