Ethan's Age

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Toddler Town- 3rd Edition

Every couple of months, my in-laws attempt the task of watching Ethan for a weekend.  I'm pretty sure it's like labor, where you forget about how harrowing it was... because they continue to ask to watch him.  I can't figure out any other explanation.  So, before he goes, I write a guide to the operation of a toddler, called Toddler Town.  This edition is written by my toddler himself.  He's obviously reading Honest Toddler a bit too much.

Enjoy!


Typically my parents write this letter.  I feel that they miss the mark sometimes all the time with what is truly important to me while I stay away from home.  Hopefully, I can clear up some misconceptions.  I’ve broken it down to my basic needs.

Work
I have a large affinity for learning about the weather.  Sometimes mom puts on the weather channel. I’ve decided my destiny is to be a meteorologist, since most of them don’t have a clue.  It’s either sky wet, or sweaty bright.  It’s not rocket science. Why can’t they get this right?  So while my mom loafs around the house doing stupid things like putting clothes in that wet clothes spinner, and crashing plates together with water, I’m thinking of more lofty goals.

Secondarily to that, I’ve taken it upon myself to take on a weather internship.  My office is in the living room at mom’s house.  My favorite phenomenon in weather is a tornado. (I call it a nanado.)  I recreate what I think wind would do, and use my toys to represent the destruction that might happen from a super cell. 

Take note of the following discoveries, soon to be out in several, if not all, peer reviewed scientific journals. 
1.  The blocks.  You can see several marks on the wall where the blocks impacted.  This shows the velocity of the nanandos in the NW. 
 
2.  You’ll also note the wide spread animal relocation caused by nanandos. Note the bear in the bottom right corner.  Bears live in China.  And in large stores in the mall.  (Those ones talk, which is creepy, and you have to stuff them yourself?  It’s like a horrific taxidermist.)  Obviously all monkeys are green.  My parents took me to this place where there were a bunch of animals behind baby gates and in jails like the one you have me sleep in.  They filled me full of vicious lies, saying that monkeys are all brown, and my monkey is green only because it’s fake. Since you bought the zoo pass, I can only assume you condone these lies.*
  *You can make it up to me by feeding me cake.

 
3.  Do not try to clean up my nanando.  This will only bring about justified anger. I plan out and re-enact several types, severity and compositions of nanandos an hour.   This is my life’s work we are talking about.  You want me to be smart and win lots of Nobel and Cracker Jack prizes?  LEAVE MY EXPERIMENTS ALONE.
 
4.  As is evidenced by all things I do, perspective is everything.  Mom hasn’t any perspective, and tends to make me do stupid things, like wear socks, zip up my sweater or not wear my diaper on my head.  Try not to make the same mistake.  Genius can’t be forced. Along those lines, I like to get a clear view of my destruction.  Obviously, I need to get up to your head level to see.  Don’t freak out when I climb on the counters.  I’m the expert, let me do my work.


Sleeping
Contrary to popular belief, I actually like sleeping.  This baby jail thing though seems cruel and unusual.  Mom says Green Monkeys are unusual, but she is full of lies.  I counter with “who puts their precious pride and joy in a netted, oversized grocery bag and expects them to sleep there?  Give me some blankets with buttons to eat, at least.”  She shakes her head and talks about playing with my poop to make sure she finds the button I stored there.  She’s gross like that.

I tend to sleep from 8:30-8:30… but will plot my escape from jail from around 7:15 pm until I drop from exhaustion, and when I finally regain consciousness until I start yelling for help in the morning. Take your time though; I’m really having quite a fine time with being alone.  It helps me gather my thoughts and strength. 

Lately I’ve also been less than thrilled for my mid-day captivity.  Sometimes I stay awake the entire time, plotting how to escape during daylight hours.  On these days my mom gives me extra time in jail at night, putting me to bed an hour early.  This is not what I intended, and is totally unfair. 



Talking
Let’s preface this with “Mama’s an idiot.”  I talk and I talk all day about the physics of atoms and the possible outcomes of the big bang theory.  She keeps telling me to go get the block with the banana on it.  First off, MAMA, who do you think I am?  Here I am, pouring out the breadth of my wisdom and you want some stupid block? Why don’t YOU find it?  Plus, NANANANAAS are for eating (no more than 3 bites though) and for visiting with.  Nana comes and visits me once a week* now that school is out.  She is not a block.  Mama needs to go back to school. 
*Side note: nana doesn’t give me cake.  You have a real opportunity to get ahead in the standings here and be the best peopleotherthanmyparents. Take this challenge seriously.)

Where was I? Talking!  So, I have plenty to say, and if you’d just listen you’d maybe even learn something.  I drop some knowledge every couple of seconds.  Pay attention.  Ask questions.  I say the word ‘car’ realllly well.  It’s because that’s the only word y’all repeat back.  I feel like that’s the only thing they understand.  It’s like talking to a cave man. ”Yes. Car.  Very good mama. “ I can only hope your conversational interludes are more stimulating.

I was in that huge store where mama buys 94857934875 toilet paper rolls and decided I was hungry.  I yelled out “CRACKER!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Mama’s face got a funny color.  She looked around a lot, and still didn’t give me food.  What gives, Papa?

Emotional Expression
There are times when talking just isn’t enough.  When mom is obviously missing the mark in understanding what I’m talking about.  As you’d imagine, it’s incredibly frustrating when someone is not hearing what I’m saying.  Often, I emote to help the tall people understand me better.  Here is a bit of a key to my emotional expressions.

1.  Emphasis (mom calls it whining) is often the way I express myself.  You can find me putting emphasis on my vocals when I can’t fit the gallon jug in my play kitchen’s microwave.  I continue to try, and am convinced it is possible.   Don’t make me give up my dreams like mom does.  She makes me sign help (did I really need to spell it out, Gaga?) and then finally helps me.  (Also, hiding the gallon jug is like hiding my dreams away.  Not nice.  But for her, I pretend I forget about it for a while then try again.  I’m persistent.  Mom calls it stubborn.)





2.  Dramatic Flair (mom calls it crying) is when I get to the tipping point of lack of understanding.  Typical circumstances for dramatic flair are when I’m asking for the 498745th cracker, wanting the other sippy cup (color matters) or when I sense you are going to put me into the baby jail all by myself in the office of doom.  Mom tries, she really does, but when she tries all the solutions and I still feel unheard, she puts me into the toddler crate.  After more dramatic flair of frustration, unconsciousness will happen. 







Eating

Like all toddlers, I’m obviously starved of the major food groups.  Cake (cakes in cups are also acceptable), Juice, Ritz Bitz and liquid smashed apples. Feel free to remedy this.  Other options that may be acceptable, but I just don’t know how I feel about until you make it and put it in front of me may be: Hotdogs, Potatoes, Chicken Nuggets, Fish Sticks, Yogurt, Pasta, Apple Sauce, Waffles (Don’t get confused with this being on my acceptable list… I could throw you a curve ball and hate it.) and anything that is not green in color.  Try your luck with one or all 600 foods in your fridge.  I enjoy a challenge.  I like to eat at all times.  My favorite meals are ones that last for hours and involve only one bite every five minutes as I run around perfecting my nanado. Officially, I only really tolerate being wheeled up to the table for breakfast and dinner. Otherwise, I can’t be bothered with your primitive restrains.

My servant at home also gives me a sippy cup of coolness, filled with melted unflavored ice-cream in the morning and at night. Feel free to skip a step and just give me ice cream.  Milk is a hoax, they are just trying to sell the defective ice cream. Don’t waste your money, go straight to the ice cream.  (Mom note: Don’t listen to Ethan here.) I recently went to the dr and they told me I’m starving to death.  (They used the adult code “He’s in the 25th percentile for weight.”)  They don’t feed me here.  I like crackers that are filled with chocolate or peanut butter.  Or cake.  Frosting from a jar will work in a pinch, since your fridge is already full of the 600 foods I might eat.  Sheet cake is large.  I will tolerate this until you purchase a third fridge exclusively for cakes and ice cream.  October is coming fast, Papa, start saving.

In the middle of the day I drink waterjuice.  Mom thinks I don’t know when she “forgets” to put juice in there. Don’t be like that.  Give me a hefty splash of juice, and we will be best friends until bedtime when I will hate you again.   Don’t take it personal. I also test my sippy cups by banging them on various objects.  You can thank me later, I’m like a home inspector, testing out the strength of your vases, glass tables and Palm Springs watches (why are you spending your money on those? You need to be saving for that cake fridge.) Keep your receipt so I can eat that too.


Walking
I walk everywhere.  I take fitness very seriously, Michelle Obama and I are working on a 10 point fitness and wellness plan for toddlers.  I tend to throw in bouts of full-out running.  In the toddler fitness world we call this interval training. Mom calls it insanity*.  But being that she eats plants and doesn’t like it when I color with crayon on the mantle, her opinion is as good as the dog’s.  Be prepared.  I don’t even know when I will be asked by the voice in my head to run.  So, be ready to think on your feet.  And by think, I mean run.

*Don’t give me the choice to walk then throw me in the metal cart with wheels in the store.  This is torture, and outlawed by the Geneva Convention (Paragraph 5635 subsection 2, Toddler Bi-Laws and Proper Treatment There-of.)  Gooooo-gle that.




Thanks again, Gaga and Papa.  I appreciate how you feed me and make me the center of attention.  Maybe you can teach mama and dada to love me.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Effort to CTFD

Throughout my life, I’ve had a penchant to CONTROL ALL THE THINGS!!

This focus reared it’s ugly head when my birth plan of a pretty, quiet, candlelit water-birth went all to hell, and I found myself getting a C-Section.  It was a HUGE awakening which led to me starting to embrace the unpredictability of life with children.

I joined a mom and me group and realized there was a whole new realm to wound parenting.
  • Suddenly, I was surrounded by other first-time parents who avoided disposable diapers like they would personally cause the demise of all landfill controls. (THE TREES, Julia, THINK OF THE TREES, THE TRUFULLA TREES!! Do you hate rainbows?)
  • People shunned television like it boiled your brains, while I was hooked on the latest trial airing on HLN. (It’s wrong to watch Grey’s Anatomy with your toddler?  It’s EDUCATIONAL!  Don’t go out with McSteamy!!!!!!)
  • They read no less than 39485749 parenting books, and I was uneducated because I hadn’t. (CIO CAUSES DETACHMENT AND SERIAL KILLERS!!)
  • Formula was the devil, causing cancer, 6 toes and deformed eyeballs, while I broke out my Kirkland brand bottle.  (YOU DON’T BUY DONOR BREASTMILK????)
  • I gave my son cheerios, but ZOMG IT ISN’T ORGANIC!!!! (And not PRE-CHEWED????)
  • They avoiding giving their children finger paint because the WHITE ONESIES WILL BE RUINED. (Not to mention SKIN CANCER!)
  • “My child is the only kid not sitting up yet, she will be the only kid in college in a bumbo!!!” (Direct mommy quote from group.  Thankfully, 90% in jest.)
Suddenly moms were super worried because their 1 year old wasn’t walking, or saying two word sentences… or able to finish a simple calculus problem.  They had their kids in six different enrichment classes but worried that perhaps it isn’t to early to start Latin.  I bring up these points as a sort of irony.  These were the things I rolled my eyes at when I was a “young parent.”

Then I realized that my need for C’ing the FD was less apparent, a quiet and isolating one.
  • I was nervous to take my son out (What if he misses his nap window?)
  • I was concerned that he wasn’t saying any actual words at one (SPEECH THERAPY MUST BE NEEDED?!?!)
  • I didn’t want anyone to come babysit, because my dog is kind of a jerk and likes to jump in the fountain.
  • I hated having my mother up, because I felt I had to manage her, and also my son.  (And good god, when will I have time to clean the guest bathroom?)
This lead to a life of solitude for a long while. I didn’t want to go out… I didn’t want people over…  I found that my ability to form complex sentences (read; more than 2 words long) was severely diminished. My wit, developed from a couple decades of interactions with creative and fun people… died.

One day my husband sat down and told me “Julia, I don’t feel like I can invite my friends over, because I know how anxious you get… and it makes me sad.”

*BLINK*

That was a light bulb moment for me.  We sat down and had a very long talk about why I was so anxious in all areas of my life.  It boiled down to one thought:
“Things could go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.” 
 
This thought dominated so many parts of my life, and until I put a name to it, I just had no idea how much control it had over me.  Anxiety runs through my family, and I didn’t even realize I was anxious.  Anxiousness was a state of being, one that I didn’t know there was a way out of.
Relationships are messy.  Parenting is messy.

I needed to Calm the F*ck Down.

This mantra has been a turning point in my life.  My husband says that I have become a brand new person… One whom can acknowledge when things are going to be crazy, and embrace it.

I’m a mom who knows that at any point, Things Could Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.  Chances are, nothing I do (or don’t do) will scar my toddler for life.  However, the absence of a moderately sane mom could cost me thousands in therapy bills.
*****
In what areas do you need to “CTFD?” 
What things do you worry about going “terribly horribly wrong?”
What are some of the silly things you worried about early on?  
What are some of the silly things you worry about now?

(Originally posted on the glorious PAIL Bloggers Website)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Chapters

I've been absent from the blog for a while.  And though I thoroughly enjoy the Toddler Town Updates (fear not, another is coming) I have something more serious to talk about today.  The state of the Uterus Address is back.

We've been trying since the new year for our second child.  We've kept it fairly quiet, as the pressure from family and friends of "Are you pregnant yet" took a VERY big toll on me emotionally and physically when we were trying for Ethan.  So, we've quietly been plugging along, hoping to have a second child.  My heart has been aching every 40 days as we learned yet again I wasn't expecting, and I'd have to go through yet ANOTHER round of hoping and disappointment. It seemed like everyone in my moms group was expecting again, and I just felt... so left behind. 

We put a limit of trying for one year for baby #2.  Neither of us wanted to go down the road of cascading infertility interventions, and NOBODY wants to see me on Clomid again.  My poor husband lived with an overheated girl in the middle of winter.  Snow was on the ground, and I had to keep the windows open.  But we both felt like we "should" try for another.

We kept it secret, except for a very small group of friends and family... because I didn't want to pressure of "you're drinking water... IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO TELL US?"  "Well you've had one, so the second will be easy!"  "You're SO YOUNG."  (Can we all have a collective sigh here?  *SIGH.*)  A co-worker even said "Well, you can just adopt! And plus you've had one, so the second will be easier!!"  I wanted to cry.  But instead, I smiled and said something like "Yeah, that's not how it works. But thanks."  She went off to teach her class, and I sat and cried.

When I originally read this article, we were in the midst of trying.  I related with so many of the stages of grief listed in relation to IF that it hurt.  Since then, the course of our lives has changed. 

DENIAL: 6 cycles passed with us trying. Obviously, HPT #50 is wrong, I must pee on another "non-faulty" stick!!!!  I'm sure that's just spotting from implantation, right?  Those crampy feelings must be that too.  And the sick feelings? Definitely NOT from overeating sushi.  Nope.

ANGER: The highs and lows of hopes going up and being dashed again and again started to take their toll.  As a sexual assault survivor, trying for a baby is triggering, and the idea of intervention again was also triggering... and then one day, we both just sat down, and the topic of baby #2 came up.  We waffled between trying and not trying for so long, I'm sure my friends in my mom group were sick of the "yes we are-no we aren't" game... so I loathed to change again... but something happened.
We both sat down and said simultaneously  "I don't think we should have another."  We went through all the reasons why Ethan was enough to complete our family. 

And this time it was so... easy to make the choice.

BARGAINING:  When we decided to try for baby #2, we went through many reasons in our mind as to why it was a fantastic idea.  "Ethan will have a brother!  We LOVE kids!  Won't it be cool when it's Christmas and we hear two sets of pattering feet?  Permanent playmates are awesome!  Only children are spoiled and lonelyyyyyyyy!*"   (*I was silly to buy into this one, I'm an only and neither lonely nor spoiled.)

But this time it was so... easy to make the choice.

DEPRESSION: Perhaps the guilt of it being so hard to have Ethan got me thinking that I HAD to try for another.  All that work, and stopping only at one?  You are supposed to have a brood to make up for all the medication, the trials, the ultrasounds, the surgery, the miscarriages... YOU MUST YOU MUST. YOU SHOULD YOU SHOULD.

But, it was so... easy.

ACCEPTANCE: For the past two years, I had been interested in being a Doula.  The "maybe" of #2 was keeping this dream on the back-burner.  Things just kept popping up, as if the Universe was saying "Julia, you CAN stop.  It's okay." 

- Moms in my moms group started talking about wanting me as their Doula... I could get my practicum birth requirements completed. 
-A Doula friend of mine had potential room to include me in her Doula business, giving me immediate access to clients, a friend in the business, a mentor, a partner... 
-My birthday money would be almost to the penny what I'd need to get the required workshops paid for. 
-A mom friend wanted to give me her library of birthing books. 

It went on and on. 

Nothing my husband and I have ever done has been the battle that baby #2 was. Nothing that has ever worked out for us  was this struggle and back and forth we endured.  We strongly both feel that the Universe gives us the path, and sometimes we just have to surrender to it instead of battling it. Though I spent a while mourning the loss of the baby that would never be, it was different.  More of an acknowledgement of my feelings, and excitement about the next phase in my life. 

And it was so... easy.

I can't tell you enough about the peace I now feel.  Knowing that at least for the next few years, but possibly forever, the pressure of tracking every cycle, scrutinizing every feeling I had, is over.  I look at Ethan in a new way.  In a "this is the only time I will have a child this age."  I don't believe in the Carpe Diem motto of parenting (because I don't want to carpe today's diem of him grabbing his diaper, pulling it above his head and smearing poop on his face... can you blame me?) However, I have a new focus on him.  I'm no longer planning for the baby that might not be, I've refocused on the one I have. Our family is complete, and I finally realized it.

It is a page I've turned.

And it was the best thing I've ever done.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Toddler Town Volume II

Once again my suicidal In-Laws are taking Ethan for a weekend next week.  I scripted his general care into his Toddler Times email.  You get to read it.  If you missed it, there is a Volume I HERE.


Dear Chris and Steve,
When operating a Toddler, it's great to have an informational manual guiding you along. 

First off:  His schedule is the same-ish.  But here's a "Brief" Recap.

WAKE UP: Ethan wakes at between 8-9.  He vacillates between being thrilled to be in his crib and being angry like a swarm of bees.  The tone of your day will be decided between Bees or Happiness.  Obviously, hope is for happy. Recovery is slightly possible with Breakfast. Change him and get him dressed in a gorgeous outfit. We want our son looking sharp at all times.  He has quite a few talent scouts following his progress and they need to know that he is a sophisticated and advance toddler that maintains a spotless appearance when in public.

BREAKFAST- Ethan loves to eat waffles.  He will generally eat two.  Sometimes he will humor me and eat some oatmeal first.  So, if you are in the mood to eat oatmeal yourself, feel free to offer it.  Odds are slightly higher of getting the Powerball Jackpot than him eating a lot of oatmeal... but I know I tend to purchase a ticket from time to time.  If you feel as though he hasn't had a lot (a lot = at least two waffles.) then feel free to throw some fruit at him.  Not in the Italian tomato way.  That's child abuse. And a waste of tomatoes.  He drinks milk at breakfast in his sippy cup.  I have nothing clever to say here, but assume I made some sort of cow reference and move along.  Have a water/juice sippy available for his part time job of playing. (See next section.)

PLAYTIME- He likes to play.  This is his primary job. (He loafs around while I do laundry, clean, change his pants... he's truly a drain on our resources.)   Some of his favorite activities currently include putting poker chips in coffee cans (or wipes boxes, of which I'll include in your collection of toys, or his mouth, which we tend to discourage.)  His latest feats include climbing on top of tables, sofas, and ceiling fans.) I've discouraged this very sternly, but his grinning face seems to contradict the impact I think I'm having. Feel free to advise with any strategies that may work for you.  I'm currently looking into a straight-jacket lease. He also likes walking.  So, anywhere you can walk (playgrounds, parking lots, malls, large abandoned fields, swamps) will be a win for him.  He does like going to our local playground and climbing the structures and going down slides.  Your guess is as good as mine as to what will amuse this toddler.  Self deprecating humor liking falling down and/or hitting your head will always be successful.

PRENAPTIME SNACK: Once you've worn yourself out, it will be time for his pre-nap snack. Sippy cup of water with a splash of Apple Juice. Whatever sounds good for food is fine.  (Our Mary Poppins bag of snacks include: Graham Cracker, Fruit Cups, Bananas, Goldfish, Hotdogs, cereal bars, cherrios, tatertots etc.)  He will try most anything IF you eat it first.  I'm sure this ritual dates back to the ancient times where the King had official testers for the food.  Ethan will wait to see if you die, then eat the food. He's very sophisticated like that.  I've given up all attempts to poison him (poison= any green veggie) long ago. Once he spends a half an hour or so putting off the inevitable nap, feel free to place him in his jail of horrors where he will lose consciousness. Often times, consciousness will be fleeting and it will sounds remarkably like a bunch of cats are being murdered in there.  Don't worry... this, for the most part, is normal.  Unless of course there are cats in there.  I always suspected that you two were cat hoarders, but have yet to prove it.

NAPTIME lasts NEVERENOUGHTIME.  Somewhere between 1-3 hours, usually about 4ish hours after he gets up.  It tends to be around noon/1.  He wakes up angry, typically.  (See WAKE UP for strategies and explanations.) Start countdown clock to bed time.  (NEVERCLOSEENOUGH.)  There are no jokes for this section.  Naptime is very serious.  Make yourself a lunch, and when you sit down to it, Ethan will awaken.  He's like a bear, smelling fear, food, and tired grandparents.  ...Don't let him see you cry.
POSTNAP SNACK: Same bag of tricks as the PRENAP Snack.  He's really at a 2 large meals a day routine.  So the pre/post nap snacks are just that.  His main meals are Breakfast and Dinner.

PLAYTIME: See PLAYTIME. Obviously.  His post nap playtime is when he will reveal his interest in drawers (nothing new here.)   He also will decide that he has not seen the view of your kitchen table from above.  He will seek out and exploit any way to get to the proper vantage point.  Throw pillows have been safety rated.  I will undoubtedly forget his bubble wrap suit and helmet, I can't always be a perfect mom.  Consider it a test.  Return my son in one piece, or at least with casts on. 

DINNER- Usually around 5/5:30.  He eats anything really.  He likes meat, noodles, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, potato, carrots, hot dogs, fruit, yogurt, apple sauce.  He also has his last milk sippy cup. 

PLAYTIME- Really?  Do I have I have to spell it out? He likes to read books at this time too.

YO GABBA GABBA- at 6:30.  He will dance.  Watch out.  He flails. (Give him an option of more water/juice or martinis.)

BATH/BED- 7 PM.  Drink wine.  Not with Ethan.  After he goes to bed.  (Or give it to Ethan, whatever. He will sleep like a dream.)  He will want his rain CD playing and the monitor on the computer on.  He's very demanding.  I blame Jon.

Rinse and Repeat. Survival rate decreases daily from Typhoid Fever to the equivalent of Ebola.


Other Notes:

Swimming: Feel free to take him!  I've packed his swim diaper.  He just needs that under his swim trunks, and he's good to go.  I'd recommend having him wear one of his water shirts (kinda nylon-y) as you can keep a better grasp on him.  Since the pool isn't heated (Or is it?) he may get cold quickly.  Please remember that the swim diaper CAN be washed, but can't be put in the dryer.  (It will melt, like his hopes and dreams of being able to swim again.)

Tantrums:  Yup.  He has them.  These usually occur when he's frustrated, or can't put off nap any longer. I tend to ignore him, or remind him to "ask" for help.  I also video record them.  I plan to use these in my future child-neglect trial, and/or play them for his prom date later on.  At a minimum, I laugh at his tantrums, as he is the most pathetic kid EVER. I will be awaiting your "Mom of the Year" award.  Make it out to Cash.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Welcome to Toddler Town, Population... you!

My lovely in-laws, for reasons still a mystery to me, offer to take Ethan for a weekend every couple of months.  This is SO glorious to me, as it really is the only time I feel really "off duty."  (Side note: Jon doesn't feel the same, he mopes about all weekend "bored.")

Every time these totally nutso people sign up for yet ANOTHER weekend, I write up a little informational email, similar to the State of the Union Address... to tell them what they are committing to.  I also tend to email them close enough to the weekend that they can't read the email and back out in horror.

I thought I'd let you all see what I wrote this month.

Chris and Steve,
Hey guys!  Just a quick email to refresh your thoughts about Ethan's routine.
He is about the same as last time, but with more food pickiness and attitude.  And awesomeness.  AND TODDLERNESSSSSS!

General routine:
Wakes around 9-10
Breakfast
Snack
Nap 3/3.5 hours after waking
Lunch/Snack
Dinner around 530.
Yo Gabba Gabba
Bath
Bed around 7:30

Ethan is a riddle.  He sometimes loves to eat certain foods, then hates them.  So, your guess is as good as mine.
Our go-to's are:
-Breakfast: (Milk in a sippy cup) waffles, fruit, he SOMETIMES will eat oatmeal, but you have to lead with that.  He'll eat like 5 bites then be done. He usually will eat 1-2 waffles though... so that's something at least.

-Snacks: (Juice/Water mix in a sippy cup) yogurt, crackers, goldfish, bread with jam, fruit, applesauce, hot dog, nutragrain bars, insert anything here.  Again, he's random.  HE LOVES GRAHAM CRACKERS.  This is always a win.

-Dinner: (Milk in a sippy cup) Chicken nuggets, meatballs, fruit, yogurt, fish sticks, etc. If it's green, he won't eat it.
Period. He will look at you in total and utter shock that you even suggested the idea.
- Bottle of left over milk/or juice with Yo Gabba Gabba.

He signs "all-done" with reckless abandon, and 9 times out of 10 he doesn't mean it.  Reasons he might be signing all done on a pie chart:
- He's all done:  10 %
- He's all done with that food: 20 %
- His mouth is full: 30 %
- He's finished for 5 seconds while you put away the food and get another, but he really wanted that original food and is on the verge of freaking out because it's now put away and you are offering a lesser food in exchange: 30%

Try not to worry if he's gotten enough food.  There have been days where I thought he was going to try out for survivor and was just practicing for the lack of food.  He tends to average out.  I offer him stuff until I get annoyed, or until I run out of options.  (Or tupperware. OR SANITY.)

Lately his most enjoyable activities include
-putting objects where he can't get them, make you get it, then put them back to where he can't get them.  This is really REALLY fun.
- Walks outside.  Throw him in a jacket and go for a walk, he will be happy as a clam. 
- playgrounds!  (He loves the slides.)  But this is a high impact, gotta be with him sort of thing.
- Generally playing with his toys.
- beach balls.
- smashing his fingers in drawers.  This is a leisure activity for him, best enjoyed while you are making food or equally focused on a task that needs your attention. 
- The sign "Help."  This is no joke.  He does it ALLLLL day long.  I am working on him showing me "Show me what you need help with" and not assuming I know (though most of the time I do.)  
- Hitting stuff with objects.  You don't have a dog, so the biggest fear you might have is him hitting you with stuff.  He doesn't tend to do that much. 
- His stomach.  He will walk around a lot, with his shirt up, patting his tummy.  I'm leaning towards "it's interesting" but it could be a sign of future eating disorders.  I'll keep an eye on it and report back.
-Eyeballs. He does have a fascination with eyeballs right now.  He is ninja-like in his speed and stealth when it comes to poking your eyeball.  Be aware.  Thankfully we have two, right?

He's in actual shoes now!  I'll pack a pair.  These are the right size, but a bit harder to put on.  I'm contemplating removing a few of his toes to ease the putting on of said shoes.

He also tends to be wet in the morning after getting up (because he drinks milk and a bottle near the end of the day.)... this isn't a problem with our bed situation, as I just change the sheets... but it would be with the pack and play.  I'd advise a good wipe down of the pad, and then sticking it outside to dry and air out in the sun.  If the sun is not answering your call for an appointment, I guess just airing it out under a covered area would work as a back up idea. 

Hope that helps!  Thanks again.  I'll be hiding in Tahiti when the weekend is over..., I'll pack some extra diapers so you can get your affairs in order so you can take care of him full time.

~Julia


PS.  This letter is going on the blog.  It was one of my favorites to you guys thus far.  Hope you don't mind.  I will omit your address so other people don't drop their kids off with you too.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where the hell is the "Quilt" button?

Over the past few years, I've talked a good talk about how much I'd like to have a sewing machine. 

"All the things I could do!!"  I'd say, with my finger clicking all over Pinterest. 

My mother has a sewing machine I've asked about a few times, wondering if she still used it.  She replied that she does... though the crafting apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I recently obtained a machine from a free site... and I looked at it, envisioning what I could do with it.  (Still, to this day, I don't even know if it worked.)

My mother came by last week for lunch and to hang out with the little guy.  She popped open the trunk of her car, and what did I see but a brand new, in-box sewing machine. 


I've been looking at it, a bit intimidated.  I'm not Julia-Homemaker.  I can't cook (though I can follow a recipe), I don't scrapbook... or whatever else you need a Cricut for...  I don't know where to begin with this thing.

HELP ME. Where do I start here?

(***I've still not found the "make a shirt" button.  They need to label this thing better.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

CPR/1st Aid

A picture is usually worth a thousand words.  This picture is worth 6.

Get CPR & First Aid Trained.

This face is the face my son made after he choked today.  

We've all had the minor coughing on food issues... it's typical for us a couple times a day. (Especially when he's SUPER hungry.)  Ethan loves to emulate his idol, the cookie monster and shovel every bit of food out on the tray into his mouth.

Today, my son was eating some lunch, a piece of chicken which I had cut into small pieces.  He's never had issues with this food before.  I always sit next to him while he eats, and just give him a couple pieces at a time. 

Today, I was sitting with him, and he started to choke.  Choking is a silent thing.  The signs being leaning forward, maybe kicking, a quickly reddening face.  But the biggest sign is the look of terror on his face, which was immediately mirrored on mine.  Typically, I can lean him forward over his tray and pat his back and he's ok.  

After doing that he still was not making any sounds (which is the indicator of a child not getting any air.)  I threw off his tray onto the floor and put him stomach down, head towards the floor on my leg and did several back blows.  These did not work either.  

So I stood him up on his feet and did the full out Heimlich manuever on his tiny little body.  Thankfully, the chicken dislodged and he began to breathe. 

Working with children, I've done this a couple of times, but not on my own child.  After a mom in my mom's group had a scary seizure incident with her son (leading to them having to do CPR) I printed off a CPR and Choking infographic which is posted on each floor.  Though I didn't need it for this incident (muscle memory just kicked in) I was thankful to have it. My previous CPR/1st Aid classes (which I've taken probably a dozen times) were in my mind.  

I am thankful that I've learned over the years to recognize the signs of actual choking, and practiced those skills.. as well as the fact that I never leave the area when Ethan is eating. 

Please, if you've not taken a lifesaving course, look into what classes are offered through your local hospital or Red Cross.  At the very least, please print off pictures on how to do CPR/Heimlich in the case of an emergency and make sure all caregivers know where that information is. You may have taken a class before, but it's a huge comfort to know that the information is there in case I panic or there is another caregiver in the home that day. 

Before you get off the computer, 
print off the information.  

Here are some quick links to pictures and information!
Heimlich Manuever Infographic - Child
Heimlich Infographic- Infant
CPR Infographic

I was able to save my son's life today.  This is a sentence I never hoped to have to write, but it's better than the alternative.  I had the information to save him.  Now, you do too. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

22 Thing Happy People Do Differently

I came across this article today, and it really spoke to me.  I will be implementing some of these practices into my daily life.

By Chiara Fucarino
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, walking around with a spring in every step. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?
It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

1. Don’t hold grudges.
Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.
Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges.
The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.
There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big.
People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others.
Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present.
Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning.
Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

11. Avoid social comparison.
Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

12. Choose friends wisely.
Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

13. Never seek approval from others.
Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

14. Take the time to listen.
Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

15. Nurture social relationships.
A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

16. Meditate.
Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

17. Eat well.
Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

18. Exercise.
Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your Self Improvement and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

19. Live minimally.
Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

20. Tell the truth.
Lying stresses you out, corrodes your Self Improvement, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

21. Establish personal control.
Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed.
Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

My 24 Hour a Day Job

This morning, upon my daily peruse of the Huff Post Parenting Blog, I stumbled upon this article titled "The Retro Wife Opts Out."

It got me thinking about what brought me from my full time job to my current "more than full time job" at home.  This quote sums it up:

"If you have lots of career-development opportunities, and you have a real prospect of getting promoted, you feel that you are on track and surging forward and have the respect of your colleagues and control over your work, then you are much more likely to not be tempted to take time off with that second child," says Hewlett. "You figure it out. If on the other hand, you get passed over for a promotion, or it's made clear to you that you are marginalized, or you are working all the time for no appreciation, then your 2-year-old looks a lot more appealing." 

This is not to say that staying home wasn't my first choice.  It totally was.  In fact, when my former employer refused to work with me on an ADA request due to a medication I couldn't take in my third trimester impacting the hours I was available to work, I was more than thrilled to take my leave early, rather than fight their decision (and win, as I would have.)

I worked in an internationally known non-profit, molding the young minds of children and managing a handful of programs.  My resume, at 30, was impressive, and I could have continued up the ladder of non-profit management, though not through that organization.  I worked in an unhealthy office, with gossip and backbiting being the norm.  Why?  It was an office FULL of women. They fit the stereotype of working women to a T.  The pay for the long hours we worked (often 12 hour + days) was atrocious.  The only thing that kept me there was the daily opportunity to work with children, and some awesome staff.  (That was also the thing that kept me from leaving a toxic office environment.)  The pay was atrocious, the environment toxic, the item on the resume impressive. 

That being said, when we learned we were expecting, we started planning for my departure, and having an end date gave me so much peace.  In that last trimester, I actually lost weight and gained a sense of self that I lost in my job.  

Note: this is not a post about whether I think it's better to stay home or work for any parent.  I realize that some people can't afford to have a parent stay home, and also that some prefer to be working.  If it works for you and your family, that's fantastic!

One day, I might return to the work force (thankfully, my skills will always be applicable, and finding work when I chose to return won't be an issue) but for now, I am very happy being at home daily with my son.  I've learned to stimulate my mind by keeping up with the news, reading and writing.

In the meantime, I can't think of any job or pay that could beat this.









Wednesday, March 13, 2013

RSS Readers?

Apparently Google Reader is retiring.

What do you use to organize your rss feeds?

Let Me be the One Who Says it Out Loud

Just today I was told by a family member to "enjoy every moment."  (Pretty sure, though I can't shouldn't use quotes, it was followed by "They are so precious."  
Ironically, during this exchange on the phone this happened:
Precious, right?
Uh huh. Yeah.  That just happened.  Thankfully this act of paper product destruction didn't phase me much.  This is just one moment in the life of a destructatron who cries because his nose smells... or he can't slide his wood board puzzle on the door mat.


Or there was that one time he couldn't get the colors off the blanket.  
 

That being shown, obviously there are times that parenthood is like the piece of gum in your hair.  The one that won't come out, pulls at your hair and won't leave you alone so you can pee in peace. 

Ok, that last part doesn't make sense, but you get the idea.

And then comes along, through the fog of sippy cups, sleepless nights, reading the same book 385793485 times (slipping in a child-friendly-pitched profanity here and there)... a glimmer of internet hope.  My dear friend Rose sends me a link:

You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out a way for your children to eat as healthy as your friend’s children do. She’s obviously using a bizarre and probably illegal form of hypnotism.

You are not a terrible parent if you yell at your kids sometimes. You have little dictators living in your house. If someone else talked to you like that, they’d be put in prison.


Cut yourself a break.  Cut other mom's a break.  Before you say "awww, love every moment of it," offer them a coffee with extra caffeine, and maybe spike it with a mood stabilizer instead. (Sanity Rufie, anybody?)

 Maybe before saying "Cherish it all, you'll never get this time back," let a mom know that:

  • Breastfeeding isn't easy for lots.  
  • Formula isn't going to kill your baby/make them obese/make them dumb.  Carry around chopsticks to stab judgy mom's in the eye.  You'll get a glare for using it, no matter what.  At least earn the glare. STAB!
  • Sleep deprivation can lead to you putting dish soap on your waffle instead of syrup.  (Note to self, move the dish soap.)
  • Cameras are good for catching the crying moments, if only to give yourself a bit of perspective, and a break from the insanity.
  • it's totally normal for the first few months/years/decades of parenthood to suck.  A lot. I can't even be quippy with this one. It's a standalone truth.
  • Bribing kiddos with cherrios will not cause them to be 48574 lbs.  And it will allow your pediatrician to finally look in their ears.
  • Going with your gut usually works the best.  (This is also applicable after nights of heavy drinking.)  If you think you should call the advice nurse for the umpteenth time, do it.  If you think that feeding them fish sticks just this once, do it.
To read more about the things you shouldn't tell a new parent, check out the link below. 

http://www.stevewiens.com/2013/03/12/to-parents-of-small-children-let-me-be-the-one-who-says-it-out-loud/

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Uncontrollable

Perhaps one of the biggest struggles I have in life, is my desire need to control pretty much everything.

Most of the time, this need rears it's head with funny things. 
  • I can't leave the car with the window wipers up. I turn it back on, make them go down, and then exit.  My reasoning?  They are more apt to break off that way.  (All my reasons will be ridiculous, bear with me.)
  • I don't go through car-washes because one time I missed the channel you have to drive in, and my car got a bit caught.  I then, once I drove away, lost a hub cap.  Obviously, this made my car look off balance.  So, the logical conclusion is that I can't drive into car washes.  I make Jon do it.  Not kidding.
  • I reorganize the fridge on almost a daily basis.  Critical points of interest are making sure items that are small are not down below (where Ethan can grab them), Jon's nalgenes are not cluttering up the top shelf, ect.  Reason?  I have to get in that damn thing multiple times a day, and I can't be shoving things around all the time. And WHY CAN'T HE JUST PUT HIS NALGENES IN ONE PLACE??
  • Speaking of Nalgenes, Jon is ALWAYS leaving them open where Ethan can get to them.  I am constantly screwing the cap on, despite me asking him to do it.  Reason?  Obviously Ethan will pull it down on himself, soak his clothes, make him cry, and make everything wet.  Also, 87% likely that the nalgene's water will also destroy at least one expensive electronic device.
  • I refill Ethan's diaper box so it's always full.  Because, nothing is worse than needing one, and it being empty.  Jon doesn't refill things, and it drives me batty.  (This refill policy applies to diapers, q-tips, bottled water, wipes, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.)
  • I never allow my car to get below a quarter of a tank.  The reasoning being that I might have an emergency, might be stuck on the freeway for god knows how long, I might be snowed in, there might be a fuel crisis, (And for a while it was because I didn't know how to pump my own gas, so I'd always have enough to make the 5 mile journey down to Oregon where they do it for me.)

All of these things are minor.  Most are talking points of amusement in my marriage.  However, last night I had to realize how deep my control issues go.

As a result of a sexual assault in 2000, I've aquired some control issues that are less humorous. 
  • I don't like people walking right behind me
  • I'm not a fan of most churches, it took me a decade to go back to one.
  • I watch people with knives VERY carefully.
  • Sneaking up on me/scaring me will result in an immediate breaking off of a friendship.
  • I'm hyper-vigilant in most situations, but extremely so in new ones.
Which brings us to last night.  The way my husband and I "recharge" is different.  I like to go out (since the home is basically my job) and he likes to stay in.  Not only does he like to stay in, but he also likes to have people over.  This kicks my control issues into overdrive.  There are SO many variables. 
  • Will Ethan be upset with new people in the house?  
  • Will our ginormous dog cause people to be on edge?  
  • Will I be able to maintain Ethan's routine while still entertaining guests?
  • What if I don't have time to clean the bathroom before they get here?
  • Are we supposed to feed them?  
  • SO MANY THINGS.
To a normal person, these things are just not a concern.  But for me, it gets me ramped into a crazy person.  So, when my husband says "hey, I'm going to have so and so over," I immediately go into triage mode.  I'm not excited, I'm not really even happy, and to be honest the first thing I try to do is find a way to be out of the house when it happens.  The CHAOS (or potential chaos, the unpredictability more-so) is so stressful.  It's ironic that the thing that relaxes my husband the most, is the one that makes me the most tense. 

I haven't learned how to deal with this completely.  However, I'm documenting this to say, I finally get it.  I understand the root of it.  I want to work on it... because adding another kiddo will mean I want more help, and there will be MORE CHAOS as a result.  If I don't figure out how to deal with this now, it will get way worse. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A second look, a second baby, a second thought.

Last night I caught myself second guessing our choice to try for another.

I carefully analyzed where that was coming from, and managed to talk myself into thinking I was being selfish. 

  • I wanted more time to myself
  • I wanted to continue to get my body back
  • I wanted to continue with my yoga
  • I didn't want to have to go through the intense first year again.
I, I, I.

But I then realized what was behind it all.

I was scared.  I AM scared.

For years, we tried for Ethan.  Years.  That journey was exhausting, emotionally draining, physically hard on me... the list goes on.  I dread going through this process again.  I got a message from my RE to give my body 6 months of trying before coming back to her... and the idea of needing to again just breaks my spirit a little bit.  I hope that it will not end up being like this, but secondary infertility is so common.

I am on the train to a destination called baby, but feel like it might take the long way around.

Friday, March 1, 2013

20 Questions- PAIL Link Up Style

PAIL is doing a 20 questions link-up... so here is my submission! 
Les Questions
.
  1. What was the last thing you threw in the garbage/recycling?
 I just threw away my list of things to pack for Ethan's visit to the In-laws.  My Inlaws are the most fantastic inlaws ever.  Every month or so, they take Ethan for a weekend.  They find this fun.  And they purchase clothes for him.  (Either they feel I don't dress him ever, or they really like clothes shopping.  I've had to avoid the clothes section, because I'd buy the entire store.  So now, I think I'll plan the weekend sleep overs to match up with when I need some new outfits ;)  )

2. What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
I had to look this up, because I didn't even have a guess. The first place winner goes to "Ambient Rain," which we used for Ethan's white noise for a while until we moved him into his own room with a noise machine.  Weirdly enough, it is 79 plays, and he only spent around 2.5 weeks in our room listening to it.  79!  (Second place goes to Paramore's "We are Broken," Third to  "Never Alone" by Winter Park, Fourth to "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch, and rounding out the top five is "Trees" by Twenty-One Pilots- which is incidentally my cousin's band who was recently featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live.)

3. What is your favorite quote?
"Why chose failure when success is an option?" ~Jillian Michaels.  This mantra goes through my mind over and over in different situations.  Lately, the quote has gotten me through some tough mind over body moments in my Hot Hatha Yoga class.

4. What chore do you absolutely hate doing?
I hate doing laundry. Which I have to do a LOT of with a young one.  

5. What is your favorite form of exercise?
Currently, I'm a yoga addict.  I purchased a one month unlimited pass for a third of the regular price on Living Social.  But it's not just regular yoga, it's hot hatha yoga. 105 degrees, 40% humidity.  It hurts SO good. 

6. What is your favorite time of day?
Favorite time of the day is when I pull Ethan out of the bath and we just stand with him wrapped in a towel and snuggle.  He doesn't tend to snuggle much, so I relish this time with him.

7. What is on your bedside table?
Uber boring.  Nothing currently.  At night, my laptop. 

8. What is your favorite body part?
My legs are getting VERY toned from yoga.  So, at this moment I'm loving my thighs. 

9. Would you use the power of invisibility for good or evil? Elaborate.
Both.  I'd sit in on some conversations I wish I could hear, and also get the chance to do some good deeds unseen. 

10. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?
If the question also allows me to have the body I had at that time, 21. Otherwise, I'm pleased with where I am now. 

11. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
Pay off our house and cars.  Then pay off my mother's house, my in-laws house, and my brother in laws house.  Then a huge part into Ethan's college fund.  After that, I'd want to travel and invest in some charities. 

12. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Dishonesty.  In all it's forms.  Included is being fake or judgmental. Also, when people use their religion to promote hate towards a group or individual. 

13. If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?
Will my son turn into an amazing upstanding citizen? (Secondarily followed up by "Is god in the form I currently believe he is?")

14. At what age did you become an adult?
At 18, by a traumatic event, not by age. 

15. Recommend a book, movie, or television show in three sentences or less.
Stiff, the Curious Lives of Human Cadaveors.  A book about what happens when you donate your body to science.  An important read, make sure you delineate what your body can be used for, since there are some weird things science can do with you. 

16. What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?
Dishonest actions.  In so many ways.  I was a very troubled little lady.  Thankfully, I've gotten over it. 

17. What was the first album you bought with your own money?
Whitney Houston's "Bodyguard."  (Fun Fact- followed quickly by Weird Al Yankovich's "Amish Paradise," an album of which I still know every word. 

18. If someone wrote a book about you, what would be the title?
"Seeking Resolute Composure."

19. What story do you wish your family would stop telling about you?
I find stories about things I did with my father when I was young tough to hear.  We are both in such different places... and neither one of us knows anything about the other person's life.  Sadly, not by my choice. As I continue to raise my son, I am flabergasted that my own father doesn't want to know me or put in the work to mend some of the damage he caused. 

20. True or false: The unicorn is the greatest mythical creature. State your case.
Obviously.  Is there even anything to say to argue against this?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Back on the Fertility Train Again

Over the past few months, my husband and I have been talking about 2.0.  You know, baby number 2.  Between the two of us, one was not on board.  At first Jon didn't want a second, then I got intimidated by the idea... and then over the holidays we both had an epiphany that we'd like to increase our family to include one more child.

For a while, I didn't want to share this with anyone.  When people knew we were hoping to have our first, I felt a lot of pressure.  Well meaning friends and family members would ask in their own way how that was going.  If I were at an event and I was choosing to drink water, I'd get looks or questions about whether I was expecting.  In the first couple of months of trying, this wasn't too much of a big deal...

Months turned to years... and still we were struggling.  Until, almost 2 years ago we got pregnant.  Then lost that pregnancy.  And then got pregnant the very next cycle.

So, I was nervous to tell people that we were expanding our family.  But one side effect of that choice was not saying anything here on the blog.  This community, though I don't know any of you in person, pulled me through some of the toughest times we had.  Though, I hope that I'm not going to have issues with 2.0, I know that if I do... I can come here. 

So there it is.  A run for 2.0.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Applying Myself

I have a huge passion for working with youth.  For the past 15 years, I've worked with them in one way another... volunteering, running programs, supervising programs, working at camps, and now being at home with my son.  If there is one thing I know how to do well, it's having a positive influence on our young people.

Several weeks ago, I contacted my local church leader to see if I could be involved with the youth group.  He was enthusiastic, and willing to get an application from me.  I picked it up the next week.

It is a very thorough application... character references and such (I threatened my friends with TP-ing their house if they spoke ill of me, naturally.)  But for the past 2 weeks my youth group application has sat on the top of my desk, one section unfilled.



The section is: "Please share your Christian Testimony and experience."

When I applied to bible school, there was a similar section asking to talk about how I knew I was full of the Holy Spirit.  I took my Bible School application to my then youth pastor and asked him what it meant.  Weirdly enough, he didn't really have a good answer for me.  So, I filled it out the best I could, trying to explain that I had some spiritual gifts and such, so of course they'd want me to go to their school.  (Side note: I did send that application to bible school in, and got accepted.  Apparently I was holy-spirited enough for them?)

The battle I wage about this application is whether to tell my story.  I can't imagine they'd want to have me on as a volunteer if they knew.  I've heard rumors that they connect being abused to being a future abuser.  Heaven forbid I classify what happened as abuse (Side Note: Which I didn't, when they asked earlier in the application in the midst of the "yes or no" questions.)  I don't consider what happened to be to be abuse, but rather a one time criminal act in which I was the victim.  But, perhaps it will be classified as abuse, and my application, along with my ability to work with youth in a church setting will be thrown out.

I've let this application sit on my desk, taunting me to either fill it out with my full story, or recycle it and forget about it.  I'd hate for my ability to connect with youth to be connected to this act that will forever be a part of who I am.  If I were to turn it in, and be denied the chance to do something I love would be so frustrating.  I'd feel defeated. I'm pretty sure I couldn't take the rejection. 

Plus, I'd be out all the money I spent on Starbucks cards to bribe my character references. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Losing Our Religion

In my old age, I've taken to listening to oldies (which for me includes the wonderful genre of 90's pop girl groups... Hellllllo Spice Girls, I'm talking to you!) but also to listening to NPR.

I tend to forget about NPR unless I'm zipping about in my husband's car.  Typically this only happens on Sundays, on the way to church.  Nothing better than hearing a banter about abortion or collaborative fiscal management on the way to church (or if I get up early enough I can laugh along with Car Talk with Click and Clack.)

Today I discovered an interesting series which actually caused me to be late to my 1 pm service.  Ironically, enough, entitled "Losing Our Religion."  If you happen to be able to spare about 45 minutes, you can listen to the entire 6 part series. 

One of the basic premises that this series is based on is the fact that the amount of people who are unaffiliated with organized religion has grown in the past decade, rising up to 20% in general, and 33% in young adults (people under 30.)

I recently started to attend church again.  I posted a blog post a few days ago, sharing my story... but it felt so raw that I decided to bring it back down.  I'm unsure if my story is ready to be out there in the permanence of the  internet, but suffice it to say... I was strong affected by an act of violence in the church, followed by several acts of spiritual violence and the cutting of familiar ties of a parent. 

Going back to church was facing my demons, literally.  After I left the church (where I was planning to make my career as a pastor of youth) I struggled with my identity as a spiritual person without a safe home to practice. Upon walking into church just a few months ago, I was full of trepidation.  I had (and still have) my guard up.  I can't feel safe  going anywhere alone.  I have major anxiety with anyone sitting right behind me.  I facebook chat with a friend during the entire time just to keep me grounded, every Sunday. 

My former youth pastor is one of the key reasons I struggle so much with religion.  The sad part of belonging to a church is often the pastor becomes the voice of god.  This sets them up to be a failure in anyone's eyes, because who could honestly live up to that sort of stature?  But put them up on a pedestal, we do.. and fail they will. The cycle continues.

I sit in each sermon with a feeling of skepticism.  I miss the days of my early faith when I embraced it all... but since then major life changes occurred.  My innocence was stolen in one act, and my belief in several others.  Three people, including my best friend Chelsea, have died since I left the church.  One from Leukemia, two from CF.  All of them in their mid-twenties, and all way before their time.  Today in church they showed a video of a couple who lost their 8 year old to cancer.  This evening I listened to a friend talk about her loss of her mother and how she couldn't figure out how could god allow this to happen? Hell, honey, me either.

I have no answers.  I don't know.  And I sure as hell don't buy the basic answers of "god's plan" or anything in that vein. 

I battle with my belief.  I battle with the basic tenants of my faith.  I question whether I do, or have believed... and if there is a Scantron belief test at the end, should I just attempt to draw a picture with the dots?  I'm pretty sure I'd be just as accurate at guessing that way. 

Another reason I find it hard to fit into a church, is that I'm not a typical churchy person.  Here are just a few reasons:
  • I am pro-choice, and have made that choice.
  • I am pro-gay marriage, and by gosh I will argue that point.
  • I am democratic.
  • I swear and I'm generally argumentative and contrary.
  • I'm married happily.... to a non-believer (GASP)
  • I'm married happily to a non-believer whom I will never attempt to convert ( DOUBLE GASP!)
  • I'm mother to a child whom I will also not convert.  In fact, I'll take him to any religious service he'd like to try. (Barring groups that are blatantly not helping the general good of humanity.)
  • I sit and critique every sermon I hear and pick apart the catch phrases and keep the gold nuggets of love and acceptance.
  • I HATE "Love the sinner, hate the sin," "Tolerance," and any other line that causes social strata.  
 I think that I have a long way to go.  But, I also think that I'm the typical non-church goer. 

I leave you with this quote, from the NPR series:

"If the church was known more for our efforts to welcome the stranger than keep them out, I think the church would have greater credibility with rising generations," says Baughman. "For example, on immigration policies, we've taken the wrong stance on that, and they know. The thing is they're smart enough. A lot of them have grown up in the church and then rejected it. They've read the scriptures that talk about the importance of welcoming the stranger, they've read the scriptures about the importance of caring for the poor, and when they see that no longer on the lips of those who are in religious authority, they see that the God we present is bankrupt, and that we're theologically thin in our ability to even speak our own story."