Friday, October 27, 2023

New ‘Rookie Mama’ columnist shares unique take on motherhood

The Windham Eagle will introduce a new monthly column next week about a topic that everyone has had some experience with – motherhood. Whether you are a parent or a child, we all have mothers, and this new column provides a look at the day-to-day life of being a mother operating without an instruction manual.

Michelle Cote's column "Rookie Mama' will
debut in next week's edition of The Windham
Eagle newspaper and examines the experience
of being a mother operating without an
instruction manual. SUBMITTED PHOTO. 
Michelle Cote is the “Rookie Mama” and her column was originally launched in 2015 to promote a Maine daily newspaper’s Sunday section, but quickly gained a devoted following and became syndicated, appearing in newspapers across America. Since her column last appeared in 2018, her mothering experience has grown significantly and now she is reviving her column for The Windham Eagle.

“I’ve been a big fan of Michelle’s column and know how she relates to readers,” said Ed Pierce, Managing Editor of The Windham Eagle. “If you don’t know about Michelle, you soon will through her writing, and I predict this column is going to be widely read and talked about in this community.”

Cote says she’s thrilled to revive her column for a new audience here in Windham and Raymond.

“The best thing about writing this column is once again having the opportunity to humbly share what I've learned – and continue to learn – about raising a bunch of boys,” she said. “The most challenging aspect is finding time to write – because I'm raising a bunch of boys! Although my perspective has evolved from mama-of-a-newborn to mama-to-four, I hope to use this wonderful opportunity to share helpful frugal living tips, crafting hacks, relatable stories, and lots of puns.”

Writing the “Rookie Mama” column as a regular series sort of happened by accident.

“My publisher at the time asked for me to write one introductory article to accompany a family-focused

section of a new Sunday newspaper, not because I was a writer – far from it,” Cote said “I was creative director in the graphics department – but because I was a new mama. His wife liked to bake cakes for the office, which I truly appreciated, so I happily obliged. He received positive feedback and asked that I continue.”

She graduated from Catherine McAuley High School in 2001 and received bachelor's degrees in both Graphic Design and Communications Media from Salve Regina University in 2005, where she was a founding member of its AIGA (American Institute for Graphic Arts) student group.

“I served as creative director of a daily newspaper for 13 years, and my 'Rookie Mama' column received recognition from the Maine Press Association before being picked up for national syndication for a period of time,” Cote said. “Five years ago, I accepted a position in interprofessional education at the University of New England, using my communications, marketing and design background to help coordinate events and programming for students from a wide variety of healthcare disciplines.”

According to Cote, the things she’s learned the most about being a mother are things other moms can relate to.

“The old quote is as profound as it is true – Motherhood is deciding to forever let your heart go walking around outside your body,” she said. “I've learned to appreciate my own mother in ways I couldn't understand before. Oh, and I've learned to navigate multiple conversations at the same time, eat an entire meal in under a minute, and get dressed in even less time.”

In writing the column, Cote found that in some ways she’s different from her own mother and yet similar in many ways.

“My own mother is a classically trained musician, loves to knit, and has a tremendous amount of patience,” Cote said. “My lifestyle with my children is highly focused in our garden, in the kitchen, sports and creative arts. My mother comes from a large family; I'm raising one! She raised all girls; my husband and I are raising all boys. My mother and I are both very creative and abundantly affectionate toward our kids, despite raising children in different generations.”

Of all the columns that Cote has written, she says that her favorite is an unlikely one.

“I once wrote a Christmastime column about our French-Canadian family tradition of eating tourtiere – pork pie – during the holiday season,” she said. “While most people eat this with ketchup, I prefer mustard, far superior. Of all topics I'd written about, this proved to be the most controversial. I received several emails – even handwritten 'P.S.' notes in Christmas cards – from horrified readers who were outraged by my preference for mustard on pork pie. My husband loves it, too. And we're very much in the minority among those who share our heritage!”

Starting with the Nov. 3 edition, Cote’s “The Rookie Mama” column will appear monthly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. <

Friday, October 20, 2023

Windham resident realizes dream of helping children and families

By Ed Pierce

Serving as a childcare provider can be one the most rewarding careers and at the same time, one of the most challenging. It’s something that Julia Preston Glaude of Windham has always wanted to do and now she’s able to realize her dreams and work with children every day as the co-owner of a childcare facility in Windham.

Julia Preston Glaude of Windham
grew up with hopes of working
some day in childcare and that
dream became a reality this
past summer when she and her
husband opened a new childcare
facility in North Windham.
Glaude, 25, grew up in Windham and says she always loved helping others, finding that helping adults and children at the same time is personally and professionally rewarding.

“I started to babysit in high school and absolutely loved being with the children,” Glaude said. “I started to see that just taking care of a child is not about feeding them and changing a diaper, but to actually do things that enhance their cognitive abilities.”

After graduating from Windham High School in 2016, she went on to attend the University of Maine at Farmington, earning her bachelor’s degree in 2021. Now married to Nathaniel and the mother of a young son, Glaude made her dream come true this summer when she and her husband opened A Step Ahead Child Care in North Windham.

“I knew I wanted to own my own childcare facility when I was in college,” she said. “I took many courses about administration and the special skills I would need. Once we had our son, Henry, we knew now was the time to pursue this.”

Balancing motherhood and putting the time in to make her business successful is not without some obstacles and long hours to be overcome though.

“I wake up at 5:30 every morning and I pack the three bags I need for the day,” Glaude said. “Right now, I’m bouncing between the infant and toddler classroom until we get our construction done. So, I’m doing engaging activities and playing outside with the children, and then working with every infant’s individual schedule and providing them with engaging activities as well. Usually on my lunch break, I do administrative work since that’s the only time I have for it right now.”

Her administrative duties are varied and plentiful including managing the company’s finances, maintaining licenses, business standards, scheduling state inspections, and dealing with families who have arranged for childcare services.

“As the director, I need to be credentialed through Maine Roads to Quality,” Glaude said. “You also need to at least have a bachelor’s degree in education.”
According to Glaude, the average age of children she works with are anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 years old and she says that the hardest part of working in childcare is making sure that all of her customer’s needs are met to the highest standard.

“A lot of people believe that childcare is all about changing diapers and playing with the kids” she said. “The parents’ biggest question is the price of tuition and what kind of curriculum we have. A Montessori curriculum is my favorite way for children to learn, through play and play that focuses on skills children would need in the real world.”

She says that to be a great childcare provider, one must have plenty of patience, demonstrate a flexibility to move between tasks and experiences, and show a willingness to continue to learn about children.

“The best thing about working in childcare is watching each child grow and achieve their goals as individuals,” Glaude said.

Her secrets to comforting a child when they are upset are simple.

“Asking a child if they need a hug and respecting their choice, talking through a problem, or redirecting their emotion helps,” Glaude said.

Although she loves reading, learning, and being creative in her free time, Glaude finds it hard to stay away from her work.

“I find watching videos on Facebook about new things I can do with the kiddos or learning about new studies that have been done with children fascinating,” she said. “I love learning about how a child develops, so reading new studies about how the child’s brain works, or other things of that nature are so interesting. I also just love to be a kid and have fun with my son, Henry. Drawing, dancing, singing, and playing outside are so fun.” <

Friday, October 13, 2023

Fall cleanup an essential element of garden preparation

By Kendra Raymond

One of the best gifts you can give your garden (and yourself) is a thorough fall cleanup of dead plant material and debris to reduce the possibility of diseases and pests.

The author's vegetable garden in Raymond is prepared for
winter by covering it with a dark green tarp or simple 
black plastic secured with garden pins. When uncovered
in the spring, the soil is weed-free and ready to work.
It may not be as exciting as planting in the spring, but the time you invest in preparing your garden for winter will pay dividends in the overall health of your garden for years to come. By the time spring arrives in our area, many gardeners with spring fever are anxious to run to the local greenhouse. Think of the snow melting away and looking forward to a neat, manicured garden bed ready for you to start digging!

Whether you’re a serious home gardener or weekend warrior, let’s explore the basic recommended maintenance for your garden.

The Vegetable Garden

Cutting back most plant material in your garden is a great way to prepare for winter. Begin by removing all remaining vegetables from summer crops such as tomatoes and zucchini. Next, pull up any dead or dying plants. This is a great time to grab any pesky weeds before they spread excessive weed seed into the area.

Fall crops such as carrots, beets, and winter squash may remain in the fall garden. By the time a frost has hit, these crops will soon be ready for harvest and plant removal. Our garden in Raymond has been plagued the past few years by stem rot, a soil-borne fungal disease that attacks plants that grow on vines and is usually caused by excessive moisture. It is difficult to eradicate, and the only real solution is to discontinue growing vine crops for the foreseeable future. In this case especially, it is essential to remove all rotted plant material from the property, by placing it in a sealed trash bag. Another solution to this problem can involve moving your garden to a different spot on the property.

We also battle a fair number of weeds as our garden is situated on an old piece of lawn. Instead of choosing to till the soil in the spring, we like to cover our garden with a dark green tarp or simple black plastic secured with garden pins. When we uncover the garden in spring, the soil is weed free and ready to work. I am not a fan of tilling weeds in, as even chopped segments of weeds can reproduce and take over quickly.

The Perennial Garden

Perennials are flower plants that come back from the base every year. This type of garden requires an entirely different maintenance approach in fall. I like to wait until my perennials have stopped flowering and the foliage looks less vigorous. At this point, it is easiest to cut the plants back to the ground, leaving about an inch or two at the crown. I like to remove the stalks from the area, though some gardeners believe in leaving the debris as mulch to protect the plants over winter. It is also personal choice to leave the dead stalks entirely and trim them in spring. Plants like Aster and Coneflower provide seeds for birds and nesting areas for bees. Some gardeners like to spread straw, but in our area of the state, the winters aren’t particularly severe, and the plants are well insulated under the snow.

Mary Wicklund, a Home Horticulture coordinator with the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension says that one of the first things you should do at the end of the season is remove the dead vegetable plants.

“This is especially important if your plants have experienced insect or disease pressure,” Wicklund said. “A fall garden clean up can make a big difference with managing problems next year.”

The Maine Home Garden News September 2023 issue additionally recommends that gardeners divide late summer blooming perennials, dig up bulbs that are not winter hardy such as dahlia and gladiolus, stop watering and fertilizing established plants and trees, and take some time to sharpen and store your gardening tools properly.

My dear neighbor Mrs. Logan visited me as I was completing my fall clean up last weekend. “It’s a sad-happy time when fall comes,” she told me. I would say she is right. < 

Friday, October 6, 2023

Homemade jewelry a labor of love for Windham resident

By Masha Yurkevich

From food to gifts, some things just don’t get any better than homemade. Knowing that something was made with love, care, and passion is exactly what Maire Trombley of Catmint Crafts values when she makes her homemade jewelry by hand.

Maire Trombley of Windham makes polymer
clay and embroidered jewelry, primarily
3D hand-sculpted miniature foods and
floral embroidered earrings.
Maire Trombley, crafter/owner/artisan behind Catmint Crafts, is originally from New Hampshire. She came to Maine to study at Saint Joseph’s College in 2004. She and her husband, Michael, got married in college and stayed in southern Maine, moving back to the Windham area in 2018.

Trombley formerly was a classroom teacher in Scarborough for 14 years while the couple raised their three kids, but in 2022, she switched to working as an educational technician in special education at Windham High School for more of a work/life balance.

“Last summer, at the encouragement of my husband, I decided to get a table at the Windham Farmer’s Market,” says Trombley. “I had always been a crafter and enjoyed making things with and for my children, students, and friends. I dabbled in lots of different art but that was my first time selling my work. From going to markets and starting to sell my work at some local stores, Catmint Crafts took off.”

Trombley makes her own polymer clay and embroidered jewelry, primarily 3D hand-sculpted miniature foods and floral embroidered earrings. She has also done some wheel-thrown pottery, growing, drying, and arranging flowers and hand-sewn home decor.

“I have always loved making things since I was a child,” she says. “I’ve been embroidering since about age of 10, played around with jewelry making among other hobbies and collected craft supplies and vintage fabrics or piece work once I knew what went into them. I started specifically making food jewelry just for fun after seeing some French fry earrings but not buying them,” she said. “I seriously regretted that for months and then got clay the next Christmas and immediately made a burger and fries. As a teacher, it was a fun way to surprise and connect with the kids and there was a definite Mrs. Frizzle vibe to my earrings, so I loved wearing and sharing them, and people started noticing.”

Her colleagues, family and friends have encouraged Trombley to keep going in her work of jewelry. Her inspirations are food, holidays or seasons, doll house miniatures and beautiful old fabrics and fiber arts, as well as seeing what other people can create.
“Honestly, I just have always loved giving and receiving homemade gifts and have always appreciated women’s handiwork, so much was made by hand out of necessity but there is an art to it as well,” she says. “I love putting my own spin on this tradition and making my own pieces one at a time by hand.”

During the summer, Trombley often sells her work at the Portland Farmer’s Market or First Friday Art Walk in person along with seasonal craft fairs in the area.

If people want to try their hand at miniature clay pieces, Trombley teaches polymer clay classes, and she has one coming up at the MEow Lounge in Westbrook in September.

She says that she absolutely loves what she does and encourages everyone to have fun at making whatever they choose, even if clay isn’t your thing.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect or even purposeful. There is value in creating just because and so much joy to be had in knowing it’s been handmade,” she says. “And if you aren’t feeling like a maker, you should always go and support local artists and value that time they put in to make beautiful work.” <