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Sarah's Favorite Things
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Friday
Jun292012

Sarah's Favorite Things

I know it's a million degrees outside and a hot drink seems crazy. HOWEVER, this combines my actual favorite drink with my imaginary favorite drink. Amazing.

A lovely tribute.

My friend Veronica lays down some serious truths while putting the SMACK. DOWN.

Y'all, I struggle with this so bad. 

I was a huge Gone With The Wind fan as a child. I laughed my butt off at these

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Friday
Jun292012

The Everyday

 

Thursday
Jun282012

Why Women Still Can't Have It All

 

Here we go again. Another day. Another controversial headline on parenting riling everybody up.

Well, almost.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece for The Atlantic is no puff piece aimed at selling magazines (although I’m sure it has). It is a six-page essay from the former Policy Director of the State Department on the impossibility of pursuing a demanding career and parenthood at the same time. I found it emotional but authoritative. I found it insightful and forward-thinking. More than that, I connected with it on a deeply personal level.

Remember I also left behind a career in D.C. - heck, I even wrote something with a similar title. Of course, let’s not fool ourselves. I am no Anne-Marie Slaughter. I am not a tenured professor at Princeton. I teach part-time at a community college. I was not a higher up at the State Department. I was merely a legislative correspondent - about as low as you go on Capitol Hill. 

However, I found myself nodding passionately while reading her piece and I left D.C. because I agree with her wholeheartedly. As a young female staffer, I saw the writing on the wall. Most of my bosses were men. One female boss was childless and the one who did have children eventually left to find a more flexible schedule. My friends in law firms fared little better working long hours and weekends. 

I couldn’t do it. I had read The Feminine Mistake. I knew the economic and professional risk I was taking by stepping out of the workforce and leaving D.C. behind but I didn’t see any another option. 

Of course, as she points out, this is only an issue for a select group of women. Most careers don’t require the type of 24/7 devotion of which Slaughter speaks. More importantly, for a huge number of women who work one (or more) hourly wage jobs it doesn’t really matter either way. Opting out is not even a choice. They work long and hard to feed their children. Period.

So, if what she is saying doesn’t apply to everyone, why does it matter at all? Because while I don’t believe in trickle down economics, I do believe in trickle down policy. If the people in power don’t include women and mothers, then the priorities and issues important to us will never be a part of the discussion. Of course, how do we get to the table if we’re forced to give up what we hold dear in order to pull up a chair? 

Hopefully, we start having these discussions elsewhere in our everyday lives. We have them loudly. We have them often. We keep having them until things start to change. I think Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece starts us down that road and I’m thankful...controversial headline aside. 

We’d love to start a discussion with all of you. What do you think? Is it possible to have it all?

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

 

 

Wednesday
Jun272012

Imagine Choosing Between Food and Diapers

Earlier this month, Salt & Nectar introduced some of LA’s talented mom bloggers to one of its favorite local charities Baby2Baby at the first-ever Blogger2Baby event to kick off a summer of giving.

For those of you who live outside of Southern California or aren’t familiar with the charity, let me take a moment to share with you about Baby2Baby’s crucial mission.  The organization supplies families in need with essential baby gear and clothing for their children up to age 12. By distributing new and gently used items to over 40 non-profit partner organizations, Baby2Baby reaches over 50,000 children per year. Thanks to donations from families like yours and pledges from corporate donors Huggies and Million Dollar Baby, Baby2Baby will distribute over 1 million diapers over the next year and 2,013 cribs by 2013. Many of the children Baby2Baby serves are at risk of entering the foster care system because they don’t have a safe place to sleep at home. Other families they work with are struggling with the burden of choosing between food and diapers, escaping domestic violence, or overcoming homelessness and leave all of their day-to-day items behind to come to a shelter. Baby2Baby helps these families stay together for the well being of their children. 

While Baby2Baby’s mission is motivation enough, two things also inspired my decision to organize the event.

The first: The community aspect of blogging. When I left law firm life in DC in favor of being a stay- and then work-at home mom in LA, I naturally didn’t quite feel like myself as I made this transition. And it was through the connections I made and the support I received through this virtual community that I found my footing faster. Then and now, other bloggers’ words, storytelling, confessionals, advocacy, and causes near and dear to their hearts inspire me. Their work—like a virtual hug, sage advice, or a reminder that I am not failing miserably as a mom—encourages me to be a better writer, person, and parent; sparks me to think about things differently; and moves me to give back to this online tribe and share what inspires me too.

The second: The now famous (and rightly so) documentary Caine’s Arcade. Not only is Caine’s story and dedication to his visionary cardboard arcade inspirational, but filmmaker Nirvan’s success at using social media to raise six figures for Caine’s college scholarship fund and a foundation in a week is simply amazing. Watching Caine’s story go viral and bring together a community of strangers to support innovative children and their dreams made me realize how impactful bloggers can by using our platforms to raise social awareness and hopefully inspire philanthropy.

With these two things in mind, I thought it great to connect our virtual community with real community organizations to learn about causes impacting our city and its families, spread the good word, and encourage a summer of giving. And, as Courtney Lewis of Santa Monica Macaroni Kid pointed out to me, just like it’s great to get out from behind our computer screens to put faces to names, it’s great to really get to know about a charity and its mission in person.

During our time at Baby2Baby, co-president Norah Weinstein and Program Director Jacqui Khastoo shared about the charity’s beginnings and how it’s steadily grown to serve the city, that they are always in need of diapers and umbrella strollers (the latter because many moms rely on buses to get to and from work), and that any donation big or small makes a difference. The Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic and Prototypes also shared how the items they receive from Baby2Baby positively impacts their client’s lives, reminding me how much I take for granted, how much an item like a bouncer can bring a single mother of three relief so she can have a safe place for her baby when caring for her older children and home, and how much the social programs need such donations to support their mission of helping families stay on their feet as they work to overcome the barriers, challenges, and injustices they face.

If you’re like us and find that you have clothes or gear that your child outgrew in a nanosecond, believe in green living and want to encourage reuse, or want to participate in the cycle of giving, we encourage you to donate to Baby2Baby or find a nearby drop-off location. We also think volunteering with your children or friends to prepare donations and care packages with everyday essentials from soap to socks for families in need makes a great summer activity. And if you live afar but would like to get involved, you can make an online donation, organize a virtual drive or baby shower, or find a similar charity in your hometown.

We hope you’re inspired to join us in a summer of giving, either here, in your hometown, and for a cause that is close to your heart. (Please feel free to grab the badge from our sidebar if you'd like to rasie awareness and support Baby2Baby's efforts.)

To read about other bloggers's experiences at Blogger2Baby, visit Silver Lake Mom.

~ The Other Sarah

Tuesday
Jun262012

The Time I cried to get into a pool 

Since I'm at the peak of my reproductive years, I always have about nine friends who are pregnant at any given time. No matter where I am, one of them is there. With her swollen belly, she insists she is the biggest pregnant woman to walk the earth. I smile. I promise her I was bigger...MUCH bigger. She smiles—sure I'm just trying to make her feel better.

Then, I pull up this picture on my phone.

I tell her about the time I cried due to my belly so I could swim in a hotel pool. You see, a belly that size makes you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do. My aunt used to insist Griffin was sitting with his back to my back and his feet sticking straight out. It was enormous. It was heavy. It was pushing me to my brink.

Towards the end of my first pregnancy, I knew I couldn't carry that belly one step further (or for one more loop around Surplus City). Everyone had told me going swimming was the best. thing. ever. You felt weightless! You could actually breath! It sounded like heaven.

The only problem was in early May it was too cold to swim outside. Even as miserable as I was, I wasn't looking for the polar bear plunge. I knew an indoor pool was my only option. We had just moved back to Paducah and the only places I could think to go to in my hormone -nduced stupor were hotels.

There were about five national chains lined up next to each other near my house so I picked an afternoon, put on a bikini (God save me, it was my only option!), and headed over. The first place I stopped was a huge hotel chain. To protect their reputation, let's just say it rhymed with Drury Inn. (It was Drury Inn, y'all!) I waddled inside and saw a nice, older lady behind the desk. Maybe I should have known that since a hair on her head didn't budge, she probably wouldn't either. I explained that I was very pregnant, very miserable, and I would be eternally grateful and pay whatever it costs to go for a swim in the hotel pool. She said she couldn't help me. That hotel policy strictly forbid it and sent me on my way.

My eyes were filling with tears before I was through the revolving door.

I was already a hormonal mess. I was already frustrated and stressed and emotional. It didn't take much. By the time I got to my car, I was sobbing. I drove to the next hotel and scoped out the entrance to the pool to see if I could just sneak in. I walked around and around and decided the only thing worse than being that pregnant was to be that pregnant and in jail.

I went to the front desk. I was still sniffling. I kept my sunglasses on but the young man behind the counter could tell I was upset. I tried to keep the emotion out of my voice as I asked if I could please, please, please swim in their indoor pool. He said they weren't supposed to let anyone but guests swim in the pool but he would go get his manager. He seemed a bit panicked. I think the size of my belly freaked him out and he didn't want a weeping pregnant lady on his hands. Smart kid.

His manager came out. It was a woman, only a few years older than myself and I was instantly relieved. The moment she saw me she picked up her pace and came quickly to my side. She put her hand on my shoulder, smiled at me, and said the words I will never forget.

"Oh honey, I've got three of my own. Go on in and take as long as you need." 

Turns out that wasn't the last time I would cry over my belly because her kindness in my moment of need still brings tears to my eyes. 

~ Sarah Stewart Holland