Author Archives: Skye

About Skye

I am a mom to three busy and energetic boys! I love to read and write and spend time with my family and friends. I have been blessed to be the author of the One Step Ahead blog, Stepping Stones.

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Running Was Making Me Unhealthy

By Skye Ziemke

Last night while shopping at a local big box store, the picture shown above caught my eye. Now, I know that the picture was not meant to be humorous but for some reason it made me laugh.  My eldest son was with me and felt it was a fairly accurate portrayal of the potential danger caused when a Christmas tree is shoved into a doorway and blocks an exit. I can see his point. For me it was just one of those funny and ironic moments. A friend and I had just recently discussed the growing number of moms who were taking up the sport of running. I had stated to my friend that I did not enjoy running and couldn’t be made to do it for any reason. Yet, as I looked at this sign, I realized my statement had been untrue. If my doorway ever looked like that, with flames pouring out at me, I would run just like that little stickman!

It is true though, isn’t it? This passion for running has enveloped our nation. A group of women in my neighborhood now all train together. They even have a name, like My Neighborhood Mamas Who Run. It’s cute, if not cliquish. I am happy for (and only slightly envious of) them. I could tell you how a fall on ice when I was 5 months pregnant with my middle son, ruptured my quad tendon, requiring emergency surgery and leaving me with permanent knee issues to explain why I don’t run. Actually, I did just tell you. But to be honest, I just don’t think running is fun. It isn’t my thing.

If you are a runner, that is great and I am as proud of you as I am of these neighborhood mamas. Not so long ago, I realized how much I have allowed things like not becoming a runner to diminish my self-worth. Silly, isn’t it? It was nothing anyone said to me, just something in my own heart. Many of my friends also do not care to spend their days training to run the Chicago marathon and I am pretty sure they don’t feel like lesser women for it. But there are other things that I know get to them sometimes. Maybe they aren’t as crafty as others (curse you, Pinterest!), can’t bake to save a life, or are all thumbs with the knitting needles.

We need to give ourselves a break and the freedom to find our “thing”.

It is so easy to be swallowed up by the role of parent. For me it has been very important to remind myself that I am allowed to keep my own identity and not just be “Mom”.  I also want to show my children that I have goals and dreams still. If your dream is to run a triathlon, well then, color me impressed!

As I work on finding my own niche, my own goals and dreams (a process I hope is ever evolving and developing) I need to work on how I view the goals and dreams of those around me. I want to applaud and value the strengths I see in others, not use them to harshly judge myself.

So, good job running-mamas across the nation! Sorry to hear about your days of blisters, ill-fitting shoes, and bad weather. I am proud of you! I also promise that I too will run if needed. If, for example, that Christmas-tree-shaped fire in the doorway becomes a reality, watch out! I will be setting land speed records on my way down those stairs!

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Why Healthier Children Can Be A Laughing Matter

By Skye Ziemke

“Humor is a very important component of emotional health, maintaining relationships, developing cognitive [brain] function and perhaps even medical health,” -Dr. Allan Reiss, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford.

I make lists all the time, I love them. Sometimes, I write a “To Do” list and add things I have already done, just so I can cross them out right away. I thought today I would treat you to a sort of blog post/list mash up:

Things My Children Do That Drive Me Completely Crazy  Do Not Amuse Me:

  • Leave LEGOs on the floor
  • Wrestle each other and then try to pretend they were hugging
  • Refuse to eat any food not formed into a nugget shape or flavored like pizza

Things My Children Do Which Amuse Me:

  • Sing 80’s songs they barely know, and guess at the words (“Don’t Stop Beeeee-lieving! Hold on to the ceiling!”)
  • Tell stories to me, lose their place, and start completely over from the beginning of the story
  • Trip, misstep, or roll across the floor. Now, I know this sounds horrible, unless you recall I am the mom of three boys. Boys will never: walk if they can run, go around something they can jump over, or simply enter through a door if they can run/walk/scale up the door jam and flip into a room. Much of the time my boys can turn entering a store into an aerobatic thing of beauty. The other times, the slightly failed attempts, make me laugh (unless stitches are involved).

Things I Do Which Amuse My Children:

  • Attempt to play ANY video game.
  • Feel a need to urgently stop them in their tracks but not finding time for real words “EY! TSH-TSH-TSH-TSH-TSH..NUH, UH!”
  • Try to make my husband laugh by doing a kitchen imitation of Nicki Minaj which involves dancing, making dinner, and rapping.

A recent article published in U.S. News and World Report outlined a study which tested the impact of humor on a child’s development. The results showed that children need humor and laughter to become emotionally healthy, positive, and more resilient. Some time and effort might have been saved by asking parents what the study would find. I suppose it is nice to have confirmation. They discovered what I think most of us knew all along: laughing children are healthy children.

The following “To Do” list seems slightly daunting to me:

  • Build Child’s Brain Function
  • Improve Childs Health
  • Help Child become resilient and emotionally healthy

However, I think I could totally handle this one:

  • Spend time laughing with my child
  • Laugh at myself today
  • Tell my child he is funny

So I will be going with the second list, and I am going to text my husband right now to let him know I will be forgoing laundry duty today and goofing off instead. Surely he wants healthier children more than he wants clean shirts, right?

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A Childhood Illness You Should Be Aware Of

By Skye Ziemke

I am trying to recall what I once spent my days thinking about pre-children. Before thoughts of bottles, diapers, and naps took over I must have focused on other things. I can almost guarantee that my thoughts didn’t usually involve the health of others except maybe the occasional “I cannot believe it’s humanly possible to perform your job functions given your obvious gastro-intestinal distress! So glad you decided to tough out that stomach bug, Germ-Guy!”

At some point this changes, doesn’t it? The carefree thoughts of our non-parenting selves disappear when the neurotic parent brain takes over.

Before becoming a mom I did not wonder if my TV was secured to the wall as it should be, if my all natural cleaner was truly all natural or if I needed window guards for the weird half windows in my basement. Much of my thoughts now involve all manner of child health, illness and symptoms.

Last night when my youngest complained of “really bad stomach pain” I immediately panicked. My thought: appendicitis.

I sent a text to my friend – I will just call her Jenny because, well, because her name is Jenny (I am not good with creative pseudonyms) – and asked for her input.
Jenny’s slightly less distressing thought: abdominal hernia.

This text-diagnosing continued for forty-five minutes. It is great to have a friend who senses panic and responds like a doctor in a triage unit. Meanwhile, my son drifted off to sleep and at some point my husband kissed him goodnight, walked past me (sitting on my son’s floor in a texting/web searching frenzy) and headed downstairs.

It was a simple stomach ache, and my son was fine by morning. Thinking about it today I wanted to understand the difference between the reaction of my husband and my own. It is clear that I suffer from a “childhood” illness myself: Parenting-itis. It seems the main symptom of this debilitating illness is the detrimental effect it has on my ability to trust my instincts. Do you perhaps suffer from this ailment as well? This is one childhood illness no book ever mentions. At the first sign of sickness in my offspring Parenting-itis sets in, and I begin the frantic search through books and websites to determine what is going on. Usually I will forget to check the resource that matters most: my child. My husband does not suffer from Parenting-itis so last night he talked with our son, snuggled a bit, noted that the pain had eased, saw that sleep was imminent, and then followed his instincts to our couch and our remote control.

There are many items we can have on hand to help ease our little ones through the sniffles and the viruses. If you have not seen the BabyComfyNose carried by One Step Ahead you should check it out and – after you stop laughing and showing the picture to everyone near you – consider getting one because it seriously works! However, there will certainly be moments when a cough isn’t just a cough, a fever has spiked too high, or when we just know something isn’t right and doctors are needed. Recognizing the moment when professional care is needed is not likely to require too much more than simply focusing on our children, and trusting our instincts.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Parenting-itis (not a big shock really, since I made it up) but I think I know a few steps we can take towards prevention; love on our babies even more than normal, spend more time with them, learn what is and is not their “norm”, cuddle often, and spend time trusting ourselves as parents.

It may be a made-up illness but at least the preventative measures will provide for a pain and bruise-free experience – completely unlike the flu shot I had to get last month!

African Lion

A Cure For The Lonely Parent: Find Your Pride

By Skye Ziemke

The next time your children are sleeping peacefully, and you are awake with time to fill (yes that was a joke) type the following question into Google: “Why do parents need other parents?”

I tried this, thinking I would find article after article outlining what happens to a parent who doesn’t have a support network. Surprisingly, I found very little.

Perhaps I am just a bad web “surfer” (this could be true actually; every time I try to self-diagnose an illness or injury in my family I conclude that a trip to the ER is our only recourse). Or perhaps, there is not enough research being done on the importance of having other parents in our lives.

I sat there wondering what to do. I knew I desperately wanted to drive home this message for you and for myself, but I wasn’t sure how to convey it.

From somewhere inside came the words “lion pride”. Never one to shy away from that inner voice (even when it says things like “Oreos” at ten o’clock at night) I decided to take heed and do some reading.

Thanks to the fine lion pride researchers who had risked their lives observing in the wild, I was able to learn a lot sitting at my computer, munching on Oreos:

Lions are the only cats which form social groups – looks like my inner voice has steered me correctly! Social groups are exactly what we need. You may not need a buddy to go zebra hunting with, but this is about support and knowing you have backup.
Female lions in prides give birth to cubs around the same time – playmates! I will never underestimate the gift of having friends with experience and older children but maybe this one is about “time”. Having friends with children around the age of my own, means they can play together providing grownups time to talk.
When a hunting party heads out from the pride, the non-party goers care for all the cubs– help when needed! We are all going to need help at some point. Life guarantees that the unplanned events will happen and we need to know there are loving adults in our inner circle who can care for our children when we cannot.
Lions can reach speeds of around 50 mph but cannot sustain this for long – we need help for the long haul! So many times I have wrongly believed I could run the race of parenting, working, and managing three little lives without making it a relay race. We can all run hard-for a short while-right before we suddenly cannot. At some point we have to hand off the baton to someone else for a bit. The moment we feel we can’t take a break to catch our breath is the moment parenting begins to seem very lonely. Why? Because we need to find our pride! Or at least, find a pride to be a part of. We need friends to tell us everything is okay and to assure us that we have support.

One last fact I learned and thought I would share is that lions are largely nocturnal. I did not find any great gem of truth to apply to our lives from this, it just made me laugh to think about how quickly a newborn entering our home changes us into ‘nocturnal creatures’ who growl, roar, and bite a little bit while trying to rouse ourselves during daylight hours.