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Parents We Love: Motherhood WHAT?! Explore Uptown, Chicago Mother, Taylor Wood's, Perspective


By Danielle Echols

“Making it through motherhood with the grace of a camel on ice skates”

Let me start by saying this-ALL mothers should win awards for being masters of ALL things…EVER!  As Community Partnerships Coordinator, I have the pleasure of meeting amazing moms all the time.  They are teachers/care providers/counselors/coaches…the list could go on.  How they manage it all is beyond me!  Mothers are tasked to care for these little people who come into the world and switch everything up.  Within months, I am sure every parent has enough stories to last a lifetime.  If only some of those random crazy moments could be captured and revisited…

Well, look no further than the blog Motherhood-WHAT?!  Uptown (Chicago) mother Taylor Wood, has created a hilariously witty and insightful blog about the joys and trials of motherhood.  Her blog offers a peek into the world of her, her husband, her 2 year old son Connor, and her future daughter Daphne.   Her quirky sensibility quickly engages the reader; whether you have children or not, you are bound to find joy in Taylor’s vivacious tales of everyday life.  After a few articles, you will feel like you’ve known Taylor and her family forever!  Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to Taylor about motherhood and her growing blog.  See some of our conversation below:

Name/Writer: Taylor Wood

Blog: Motherhood-WHAT?!

Children: 1 son (Connor) he’s 2-21/2 and Daphne is due April 4th


DD: What made you decide to write a blog?

It started out just writing random things when I was pregnant and putting them online, and people just started reading them and it just kept growing.  Midway through my pregnancy, I decided I was going to stay home with him (Connor) and that’s when I just kept writing.  

DD:  Had you written before?

I majored in communication studies, I started out computer science, but majored in communication studies and that’s about as close as I got to any kind of formal training.

DD: When you started writing, what was the angle you wanted to take?

I think that’s what surprised me most about writing the blog, was finding what to write about.  I started off with personal stories and then I tried to do a lot of sponsored stuff and giveaways and contest. It was a lot of experimentation at first.  I thought I was going to do a lot of product reviews, but it turned out to be not as much about that and just my random musings on parenthood in general.  Those are the posts that actually work best on my blog personally.  It turned out to be me just talking about my life.  I thought those would be the least interesting, but it turns out those are the most successful.  

DD: Do you find it easy to incorporate your voice in your writing?

I always try to write as I speak.  When people read my stuff they feel like it’s me talking.  I always strive to have that dynamic.  The type of things I write about, are the types of things I would say to you in real life.

DD: What are some of your more memorable parenting stories?

The incredible apoopcalyses (diapers).  I think there’s the standard cliché like the first steps or when he starts talking. I think the first time that Connor actually wanted to hug me instead of me cuddling him.  The first time he came to me and said “Hug,” it’s just a little moment, just a tiny little moment, but it was so so so nice to have that affection back. To know this little person I’ve put so much time into, actually loves me back…(wow!) not just me loving him so much.

DD: Do you see yourself diversifying your writing?

I could see it evolving… parenting is the topic that I’m interested in. I really like reading books about parenting.  I would love to write a book about the Mommy-Wars one day. (DD: What is that?) Any choice you make is apparently a part of a Mommy-War: breastfeeding vs. formula, strollers vs. baby wearing…moms are just tearing each other down.  We’re more alike than we are different, but these issues seem to divide moms.

DD:   What are your top 3 parenting tips?

The first one I would say is go with your instincts. If you like something or you want to do something go with what feels right. The second one is it’s probably a good idea to limit your input, your intake of information: whether that’s from mom groups or books…you can easily overload yourself and go crazy. It’s hard to hear yourself if there are too many voices in the room. Give yourself some slack. Take a breather everything will work out for the best.

DD:  What was the best advice someone gave you?

I think the best parenting tip I got was that you are your own person.  That you aren’t defined by being a parent, that is only part of you. And that part of you is being an adult person.  A lot of times it’s almost seen as a bad thing if you take that time for yourself…go for a run…recharge. You’re still the people you were before children and you will still be people after they fly the nest. Don’t lose yourself in just being a parent.  There’s a lot of interesting things about you, not just being a parent and remember what they are.

Taylor Wood’s articles can also be found in Chicago Parent Magazine. She is a Florida native, who has made her home in Chicago.

Facebook: @motherhoodwhat

Twitter: @motherhoodwhat

Instagram: motherhoodwhat

Interviewed and written by Danielle Echols


Creativity in the Community: Cultivating Courage and Creativity at Galileo Learning


Creativity in the Community: Cultivating Courage and Creativity at Galileo Learning

Cultivating Courage and Creativity at Galileo Learning

By Jonathan Lazatin

“Developing your child’s innovator’s mindset is really important, no matter what age. Ultimately, for kids to use the knowledge they hold and apply it to any creative process, they need to see themselves as an actor in the world--a changemaker. Being visionary, determined, courageous, collaborative and reflective are elements of the mindset we believe are instrumental.”

As an educator and community builder with Design Dance, I am constantly in pursuit of ways to connect the vast amount of community knowledge to the work we do in fostering connection, courage and self-awareness in our students. Part of this search means finding other organizations doing amazing work expanding educational opportunities for Chicago’s youth. One such organization that’s new to the area, but has been doing this work for a long time in California is Galileo Learning.

Galileo operates over 70 innovation summer camps in locations across the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California and now the Chicagoland area.  They host approximately 25,000 campers each summer--1,500 in their first summer in Chicago alone. During weeklong sessions, campers explore art, science, and outdoors while focusing on instilling the innovator’s mindset, the confidence to create, the self-awareness to follow their own path, and the ability to tackle challenges by learning an innovator’s design process. And, of course having a ridiculous amount of fun. To learn a little more about the ways they cultivate courage and creativity in their campers, we spoke with Tajalli Horvat, the Senior Vice President of Midwest Operations at Galileo.

What makes a courageous and innovative kid?

First, all kids have the capacity to be courageous and innovative. What they define to be courageous looks different for each person. For one kid, sharing their own idea is being courageous. For another, it’s persevering through a challenge. It’s up to the individual to identify what it means to be courageous.  Galileo teaches what they call the Galileo Innovation Approach, or GIA, which has 3 components: knowledge, mindset, and process. Campers learn information and skills in different areas, they practice the various elements of the innovator’s mindset, and use an iterative process to bring an idea to reality.

Developing your child’s innovator’s mindset is really important, no matter what age. Ultimately, for kids to use the knowledge they hold and apply it to any creative process, they need to see themselves as an actor in the world--a changemaker. Being visionary, determined, courageous, collaborative and reflective are elements of the mindset we believe are instrumental.

This doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice just like anything else. It’s amazing to see what is possible even within a week.

What can parents do to encourage their kids to be innovative?

One thing you can do is praise your child’s effort vs. focusing on the results. For many, it’s an easy default to praise the outcome of something, catching a ball, painting a portrait, or completing a difficult dance move. However, just praising results can have negative consequences as kids can link their value and self-esteem to those results, often relating outcomes to innate ability rather than effort.

You can help your child reflect on their process by praising how hard they worked, how long they stuck with a project, and asking what went right and wrong and what can be done differently next time. This kind of praise can help kids build confidence in their ability to exert effort rather than in having or not having innate abilities. It is also critical to communicate with teachers and school staff to see how effort and process is being praised in their classroom to reinforce this perspective at school and at home. This supports the development of a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset. If you want to learn more about this concept, read Mindset by Carol Dweck.

Another powerful resource is storytelling. You can use examples from your own life that highlight when you’ve made a mistake and learned something from it. Share it with your child. We all know that being a changemaker is not easy and to get to your end goal, you have to persevere through challenges and multiple failures… but this failure can be turned into amazing possibilities and we want kids to know that failure is normal and part of the process.  We want them to try again instead of giving up. There are a lot of great books that also highlight this like, Rosie Revere, Engineer that are great ways to highlight this.

What have you learned about building courage, collaboration and forward thinking?

First, create the right environment for kids. They need a really safe and comfortable space that encourages them to be themselves and express themselves in whatever way is important to them. Second, having the right people to nurture and support that environment. No matter what age a child is, role models are crucial to cheer kids and to be consistently positive, supportive and encouraging while kids experience challenges. Third, being intentional with activities to help develop those skills and mindsets and reinforce them on a daily basis. Finally, help kids think critically by asking questions instead of giving the answers. See yourself as a coach and teacher in the appropriate situation.

There are plenty of ways to cultivate and empower courage and creativity in kids. Parents can enlist the support of programs like Galileo Learning and Design Dance to create these experiences for kids. They can also create spaces at home for making and creation as well. The key is creating an environment that allows kids to feel safe in being themselves, empowers them to be change makers in the world, and encourages them to reflect upon their work so that they can constantly improve. Check out more resources head to The Groove and learn more about our friends at Galileo’s Bright Ideas Blog.

Galileo Learning is on a mission to create a world of fearless innovators and they are constantly looking for people to help make this happen. If you’re a recent college grad, an educator,artist, grad student, tech buff or seasoned professional, Galileo is inviting you to join the team. Check out opportunities on their website.