VANESSA BRONDER ALWARD My kids really eat this.

AGE   43

HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Grew up in Connecticut but lived many years in New Zealand. Now back in the town Mark Twain last lived, Redding, CT.

@TWITTER @mykdsrllyeatths

ON THE WEB   www.mykidsreallyeatthis.com

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   Three

DAY JOB   Work from home as investment advisor; mom to 3 aged 10 and under; blogger and consultant; too many volunteer jobs including Cooking Club President, Park & Rec Commission member and PTA “Food Service Liaison”. Daydreaming of the day when the laundry is finally done and when floors will be self-cleaning.

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married

FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK   Slinki Malinki by Lynley Dodd. It is a fun, exciting book to read with all my kids. The language is rich and the illustrations made my kids add after “opened the door” … “to the _____” (bedroom, bathroom, office, living room, kitchen, etc). It has two naughty animals making a mess in the house and they get a surprise at the last door they open. (We love so many of Lynley Dodd’s books. She’s from New Zealand.)

My eldest is reading a family favorite right now, The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read it and it was my brothers’ favorite. Soon it will be released as a movie which will show off my other home, New Zealand.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?

Combining work and parenting so it all actually works is very hard.

I try to concentrate mornings after kids have gone to school on my “work” work, then I delve into housework, volunteering and blogging. I am an investment advisor, which is fairly easy to do from home with current clients, but getting new clients is near impossible.

I am viewed as a mother and not a business person and I don’t have child coverage to network in evenings. My husband is a chef and works long hours including nights, weekends and holidays. I lost clients because of kids in the background when they’d call. (Murphy’s Law—kids don’t make noise until you’re on an important phone call.) One client would say, “Why don’t you call me when you’re not so busy.” Not good. I lost another because we’d play phone tag—he’d always call when I definitely could not answer the phone (kids crying) and he was never available when I’d call him back.

But, it was my fault that I wasn’t available. Now I’m trying to start a business based off my blog to help families get kids to eat well. It’s my passion and I feel that having kids is an advantage in this case — not the disadvantage as it’s viewed by my current company and some clients.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

Tolerance. For others, especially children. It also taught humility when I realized we can’t have perfect children or perfect parents.

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

My relationship with my husband is stronger in some ways—we’re a team and yet, parenthood definitely can hamper our sex life. We just have to try to make time now, whereas before we didn’t need to make time, it just happened.

WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?

My strengths are getting kids to eat good food, being pragmatic and loving. My weaknesses as a parent and in general are organization and time management.

WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?

My husband easily overreacts and won’t let kids figure things out themselves. But he is loving, dependable, firm, and a good role model.

WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

My mother is our main babysitter. She comes to my house often and is so generous with her time. I need to make sure I don’t take advantage of her generosity. She looked after my first son full time when I went back to work from the time he was 6 months to 2 years old. They have a very close relationship I think because of this time spent together.

DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?

Yes, my eldest has Asperger’s. I have to explain to people sometimes when he doesn’t look someone in the eye, answer right away or can’t control his impulses in large groups. I feel it’s better to explain than people thinking he’s being rude or I’m a bad parent that can’t control my child.

I try to find ways to get him doing the right thing without losing it. And I’ve come to hate homework as much as he does… so figuring out how to lighten the homework load on all children.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

When I lose it. I call them my Mommy Dearest moments. I just yell too much in those times. I hate it. It’s when the kids don’t listen and I’ve got way too much on my plate and they’re just not helping. I don’t want my kids knowing me as a screeching nag. Luckily the moments don’t last long and I talk to them afterwards to get them to help me not get there again.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

When I advocate for my eldest son who has Asperger’s. I will do whatever I can to help him succeed.

Also when I snuggle with my boys. There is so much love and they really know it. They know no matter what, I will always love them.

And I think I was so proud when my eldest son wrote at school during a debate lesson that the number one reason against junkfood was “My Mom!!!!!!” Then soon after my middle son won the recipe contest at school. (It means they’re actually learning from me.)

Lisa Duggan

Lisa Duggan is the Founder and CEO of The Modern Village, and publisher of TheParentduJour.com and TheMotherHoodBlog.com.

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