Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Guest Post: Finding a Special Someone . . . For Your Hair

Today's guest post is by Brittany. She's has a super tall husband, two awesome kids, a dog, and a part time grad school habit she's trying to kick. You can read more of her awesome and funny adventures on her blog.

There is nothing more daunting, more perilous, more necessary than finding a good hair dresser. It is the difference between feeling like a rockin’ super star and feeling like Britney Spears circa 2007 (Google it. It’s not pretty).

About a year ago my go-to salon closed down and I was devastated. I’d rather walk across burning coals than go through the trial and error of finding that one special someone who gets me. 
Case-in-terrible-point: After said salon closure, I went to a hair dresser who came highly, if not unreliably, recommended. Let’s do this, I thought to myself. How bad could a hair dresser really be? 
(Hint: Really bad)

All I wanted was my dark hair to be a little lighter. A nice, light brown. Is that so much to ask?! (Hint: Yes. It is.)

What I got was bright yellow streaks throughout my still-dark hair. There are few words to describe how terrible it looked. 

It gets better…

My hair was so over-processed it literally just started falling out. Running my hand through my hair produced such a large amount of fried hair in the palm of my hand that it was absolutely panic-inducing.

Did I mention I was 8.5 months pregnant? And that the purpose of my appointment was to make myself look fabulous for the impending birth of my second kid. 

Total. Failure.

Enter my personal hair-angel. A neighbor revealed to me that she did hair out of her house and she could take a look at it.

Not only did she save my hair (save? Salvage? It took 5 months before my hair grew out enough for me to sport my trademark blunt bangs. My BANGS FELL OFF.), but she restored my faith in hair-doing-humanity.

And today, 1 year and 2 months after what I call “that one time my hair died and I looked balding-ly terrible right before having a baby” I finally was brave enough to ask her to make my dark hair just a little bit lighter.

Not only is it THE PERFECT COLOR, but my hair isn’t even damaged. And my bangs. They’re still there!

My confidence is through the roof and I’m feeling not at all like having panic attack when I look in the mirror.

Total. Success.

My advice to you? Find your special somebody. Find the person that knows you, and loves you for you…find your perfect hair dresser.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Being Good Enough

A couple of months ago, I was having one of those nights that I'm pretty sure most new mothers have at least once every couple of weeks. (Actually, I'm not sure how long this period lasts, but I'm pretty sure right now I can still lump it officially in with normal baby blues.) I was sobbing to my husband about how I was failing at everything and not doing enough, and I hated that I could never get everything done, and who knows when the last time I managed to vacuum was, and now that the baby is crawling she'll probably find something I didn't vacuum up off the floor and choke on it, but she's just so clingy right now and she hates the noise of the vacuum, and so on and so forth.

And after I'd collected myself a little, my kind husband said, "Meg. Think about what you did today. You got up and nursed the baby. You ate breakfast. We played with the baby. You worked on your lesson for church tomorrow. You nursed the baby again. You took half an hour off to read a book while the baby napped. We went to babysit your brother's kids. You came back, put the baby to bed, finished working on your lesson, and cleaned up the kitchen. Just when were you going to do something else?"

He then went on to tell me that if I was feeling overwhelmed and he wasn't, clearly we needed to reexamine our division of labor. (For the record, my husband is a rock star. He cooks dinner at least as often as I do, is great about taking care of the baby, changes his share of diapers when he isn't at work, and is really good about picking up after himself and doing the dishes without me nagging him about it. I wasn't feeling overwhelmed because he is a bum - just because we're still figuring our lives out.) We talked about adjustments we could make to help me feel more in control of my life, but also talked about how ultimately, I might also need to adjust my expectations about what success entails at this point in my life.

Because honestly, I'm still pretty new at this whole, "My life revolves around a tiny person now" thing. I don't know why I assumed that less than a year in I should have the whole thing figured out. When my daughter is learning something new, I never get frustrated at her because she doesn't do it perfectly at first. I clapped for her the first time she rolled over, even though it took another two months before she could do it on purpose every time. I watched with delight as she tried to sit up and would fold in half and tip over while she tried to grab her feet. I relished her ridiculously ungraceful army crawl with her legs flying in the air for no apparent reason. And then one day, she suddenly had all of these skills mastered.

Except it wasn't sudden, because it took weeks of less-successful practice before she figured out that skill. And now she'll move on to learning to walk and talk and pee in a toilet and a myriad of other skills that she will take some time to master, and I will celebrate her progress along the way - not just when she's totally grown up and has her act together.

So why don't I celebrate my own growth the same way? I may not get the vacuuming done very regularly right now, but I am very good at making my baby laugh. I've figured out how to make baby food; nursing is something that has become completely second nature; I read my baby's cues and know when she is tired, hungry, overstimulated, or just lonesome for Mommy. I've gotten very good at a lot of things that I didn't have a single clue about twelve months ago. And right now, that's more than good enough.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Staff Picks: Sounds of Summer

There are a few quintessential things that trigger memories of summer: smells (sunscreen, freshly cut grass, tomato plants, warm rain after a storm, watermelon, campfires), sights (fireworks, warm sunsets, pool or lake splashes, sandals, sunburns...), and sounds (thunderstorms, soft rain, motorcycles, bicycle chains & gears shifting, and, of course, music).  Here are some of our favorite sounds of summer if you're working on your road trip playlists for summer adventures!

(c) Cara Beth Stone

For me, nothing says “summer” more than a few familiar tunes. Every time I hear any of the following songs I’m immediately transported back to memories of warm temps, sunshine, and thunderstorms. Sometimes it’s just because I discovered a particular artist during the summer (usually resulting in me listening to their album nonstop in my car during road trips). Most of the time, however, it is because I heard the song while having a blast with friends during summer adventures. Here are a few, in no particular order:
I could go on forever, but if you’d like to hear all of these tunes together, check out this playlist.

Growing up (in the days before iTunes) my dad would make a summer soundtrack to take us across miles and miles of road trip fun. To this day there are certain songs that conjure memories of California coastline or the smell of sulfur in Yellowstone. Some of those songs are included in this list, others are new editions as I make my own memories with my children. Truthfully, my summer playlist isn't complete without a whole lot of country music. Nothing says summer like the sound of a guitar and the poetry of pick up trucks and broken hearts.

The summer playlists of my youth are kind of like Melissa's in that they involve a lot of things my parents listened to (The Limeliters, The Kingston Trio, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel etc.) But I do remember that summer music took on a whole new meaning when I could drive and therefore pick the music, and there are some artists that I listen to almost exclusively in the summer. Here are a few favorite songs for driving around with my teenage/college self. Of these, I have to say that I barely listen to Vampire Weekend, Panic at the Disco, or Mika the rest of the year, but I listen to them ALL SUMMER LONG. They are just happy pop fantastic, and as soon as I can roll the windows down, I start feeling like listening to them. (Disclosure - I linked to videos where you can listen to these on Youtube, but didn't watch the videos all the way through once I was sure it was a good verson of the song, so don't yell at me if the videos are randomly offensive.)

Is it weird if my contribution to this list is an audiobook? Because I honestly can't think of any songs that I really associate with summer, and it was actually a thing this past year that every time I walk around Orem, Utah, it makes me remember last summer when I was listening to all the Harry Potter audiobooks while running. Even before I listened to the audio, I always associated Harry Potter with summer; the books always start out at the end of summer, and summer is when I always start feeling the itch to reread them. Listening to the audiobooks was a whole new Harry Potter experience, and now it is associated with summer, too.

Before summer starts, I get the hankering for new music.  That's usually when I splurge and buy a few CDs to carry me through till Fall.  Summer usually means popular music.  I've been known to buy a CD or two and just listen to them over and over.  My first summer CD (once I made it past listening to Disney songs on tapes with my mom) was Semisonic.  Other favorites were Maroon 5, Rooney, Weezer, and Vampire Weekend.  Of course, there's always some Top 40 and 80s songs thrown in there.  Here's what I've been addicted to this summer. Warning: I'm real random.
  • My Name is Jonas by Weezer
  • Surf Wax America by Weezer
  • I Love It by Icona Pop
  • Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
  • Stickshifts and Safetybelts by Cake
  • Sister Christian by Night Ranger
  • You and I by Ingrid Michaelson
  • Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys
  • Give Your Heart A Break by Demi Lovato
  • Anything Could Happen by Ellie Golden
  • Bulletproof by La Roux
  • Big Parade by The Lumineers
  • Love Somebody by Maroon 5
  • Come & Get It by Selena Gomez
  • A-Punk by Vampire Weekend
  • Just What I Needed by The Cars
Yeah.  I just wrote this all out and realized there are too many former Disney Channel starts on this list for a 30-year-old woman. But I don't care. I love it.

I love to roll down the windows in the car, turn up the bass, and blast some musicals or movie soundtracks. I bet all the punk rockers and rappers think it's pretty lame, but I'm having fun and that's what matters! I love to sing along to Newsies, That Thing You Do, Shrek, or Enchanted to name a few. For the cloudy and dark days I go more for Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, or Aida. It's fun to sing along and picture the scenes in my head.

I didn't get my drivers license until I was 19 and it had a few downsides (not being the captain of my own destiny wasn't that awesome) but it had some upsides, one of which was the fact that I always had company when I was in the car. Most of this company came in the form of my friends and we always had music playing. I can't remember what we listened to specifically, but the songs we enjoyed the most were the ones that made you giddy when you sang them at the top of your lungs. These songs bring back a little of that feeling (regardless of how trashy the song may be--I'm looking at you Miley Cyrus!):
  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet
  • Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
  • Island in the Sun by Weezer
  • Everything by Michael Buble
  • Cave In by Owl City
  • Rhythm of Love by Plain White T's

My dad is a road trip fiend. He always has been. In fact, he already has the entire first year of his life post-retirement planned out and that plan involves an RV and a cross-country road trip. From the earliest days of our family we have been epic road trippers (think: a three-day, non-stop drive from Mexico City to my grandma's house in Utah) and, like many families, most of those road trips happened during summer break. For years, our go-to soundtrack on these summertime adventures were a series of cassette tapes called "Cruisin' Classics." We have longs since lost the actual tapes and I have had to work hard to try and recreate them in playlist form (my parents and sisters and I aren't known for have great memories). We still have a long way to go before we have them all, but what we have so far still makes me want to hop in the car and drive!
  • He's So Fine by The Chiffon's
  • Crocodile Rock by Elton John
  • My Girl by The Temptations
  • That'll be the Day by Buddy Holly
  • Travelin' Man by Ricky Nelson
  • Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis (fun fact: for years I thought that Elvis sang this song and I was utterly crushed when I found out it was him singin. CRUSHED, people!)
  • Uptown Girl by Billy Joel
  • Fishin' in the Dark by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Roasanna by Toto
  • Sherry by The Four Seasons
  • Your Mama Don't Dance by Loggins and Messina
  • Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Barry
  • Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac
  • All I Have to do is Dream by The Everly Brothers
  • Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino
P.S. If there are any other Cruisin' Classics fans out there who can remember more songs, by all means- send them my way!

What are you listening to this summer?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Confessions of a Screen Addict

I always swore I would never get a smart phone.

I don't have anything against smart phones. I think they're neat. I like playing Fruit Ninja and Pudding Monsters and Toca Band. I think it's cool that people can answer my emails without actually having to go to their computers. (Side note: the first time one of my professors sent me an email "sent from my iPhone" when I was in college, it blew my mind a little bit. Why on earth was my professor answering me when she was clearly not sitting at her desk during working hours? But I digress.)

My problem with smart phones is actually just my personal problem with being a screen addict. Even with just a laptop I checked facebook and my email more than is strictly necessary for anyone who isn't an extremely narcissistic teenager. And seriously, do you know what I get in my email? About a million different mailers from companies who have my email address because I entered a contest on facebook by signing up for their email list. All of which I delete without reading. And yet.

But then my baby drooled on my faux-Blackberry with no actual features, and I had to get a new one, and honestly, the smart phones were just neat and not that expensive compared to the really terrible flip phones and . . . well, there you have it.

Which is great except that I am a stay-at-home mom, and sometimes my days get a little boring because I spend them with someone who doesn't talk yet, and I need someone to talk to. Plus, I take about a million pictures of her a day, and it seems a shame not to show them to people - message them to my mom, upload them to Instagram and Facebook, make a collage of her eating bananas, etc. (My life. It is one big roller coaster of excitement.)

Which brings us to my screen-free week challenge a few weeks ago. I set very specific rules for myself, and honestly, it started out great. On Sunday, after a nice day of spending time with my family, going to church, cooking a nice dinner and putting the baby to bed, Eric and I played Zombie Fluxx, followed by a round of Scrabble where, because they were on our minds, we got extra points for words that could be linked to zombies.

Can you find "eater," "alone," "meaty," "ax," "goon," and other words that got me extra zombie points?

And on Monday, I cleaned my house while my baby was napping, because I wasn't getting sucked into reading some article someone posted on Facebook while I was "making sure she was asleep." And I cleaned faster because I didn't have Netflix going on the iPad! I did laundry! I did dishes! I mopped the floor! I baked bread! The angels rejoiced! When the baby was awake, we went and played in the grass and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. All was good in the world.

And then a cold front came in on Tuesday and we were stuck inside for the rest of the week. Of course.

By about Wednesday, it was starting to get a little old. I was sneaking a few extra looks at Facebook while I was nursing the baby. I was looking completely unnecessary things up on Wikipedia. (Yes, this children's book that Eric brought home from the thrift shop because of the illustrations WAS written by James Carville the political strategist! What do you mean I could have just gotten out the CD player and listened to the reading to see if it was him?) I was sick of my Pandora stations. (Okay, people need to stop making recordings of Les Mis. You can't listen to a Broadway-themed station (especially when your tastes in musicals tend the way mine do) without hearing "One Day More" about 14,000 times from every different recording.) I was out of podcasts (which I figured I could listen to when I set the phone aside, because that totally worked). And on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, my husband was gone late because he was filming a conference of green dentists. (Do you know how bad dentistry can be for the environment? Apparently it's really bad.) Thursday I was a good girl and read Watership Down while I waited for him to get home at 10:30. But by Friday I was just lonely, and it was quiet, and the rabbits were talking about something boring with a seagull, and I caved. I watched an episode of The West Wing while I ate dinner. I scrolled through pictures of my baby on my phone. I looked at Facebook without commenting on anything in the hopes that no one would notice I'd been online.

Just writing it out like this, I feel a little like I am confessing that I am a crack addict.

I really enjoyed limiting my screen time for the first few days. I felt liberated. I accomplished more. I was happier. I just haven't figured out how to translate it all into my every day life except to say that apparently I need more to do than clean my house and play with my baby, because once the house is clean, I need some interaction, and it doesn't always feel like I can just run over to a neighbor's house for it.

BUT. When the weather is good, CB and I go outside and sit in the sun where I can't see my smartphone screen. And sometimes a neighbor comes and talks to us, and sometimes we just look at grass and bugs and feel the wind and check the mail and try to keep CB from eating the mail. So maybe that's a start.

Melissa felt inspired by my goal, probably because she hadn't talked to me yet. Here are her thoughts about her experience, which seems remarkably similar to mine.


Inspired by Meg’s endeavor, I too decided to participate in a Screen Free week. I mostly wanted to do it for the sake of my children. My three year old has an affinity for my iPod and my husband’s Nexus tablet. She can also peruse Netflix with the best of them. I’ll admit, I have used the TV or other screens as a babysitter so that I could shower, clean, cook, or fall into an exhausted stupor. In fact, I’m doing it right now as I write this with my kids beside me, watching Doc McStuffins.

I decided I needed to prepare my family because it was going to come as a huge blow to them, except apparently it really wasn’t. I told my oldest daughter that we were doing a screen free week and she was pretty stoked. Sure, the removal of screens would be hard at first (she thought it was because she was in trouble) but she was looking forward to playing more and reading more and talking more. She became the screen police, watching me every time I’d text message someone ("A phone has a screen, Mom!").

Was our week a success? Yes and no. I failed in that we didn’t make it 24/7 without the aid of a screen. On Friday my husband went out of town for three days and I just HAD to hand over my iPod a few times, or turn on a movie because being a single mom for a weekend was too exhausting (it also made me appreciate actual single mothers). 

This week opened my eyes to how often I actually defer to a screen. I take my kids to the park three or four times a week. We go to the library and Discovery Museum at least once during the week. We also do some sort of play date or something or other at some point. I’m not entirely neglectful, but I find when I’m not schlepping my children off to some adventure, much of our down time takes place in front of a screen.

I also realized that a huge part of life plays out online. It’s great to be nostalgic and long for the days of face to face interaction, but who would I experience that kind of life with if most people are socializing on Facebook?

Meg: I confess that I give technology the power to take over my life more often than I should. I confess that even though this experience was eye-opening for me, I still do. But I also confess that it fills me with so much joy that my baby loves flipping through books and playing outside more than she likes playing with my phone right now, and I'd like to keep it that way, so I'm going to keep fighting my addiction.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My "Fitspiration"

Look, there's a lot of stuff out there about health and fitness. "Fitspo" is a thing now, and if that floats your boat, more power to you. All that matters is that you feel really, honestly good about it. If you do, then that is awesome, no questions asked. 

You may be shocked to learn that fitspo doesn't work for me (but then again... Yeah, you're probably not). This article explains the problems I have with the fitspo trend, and you should read it, because it was also the inspiration for the image I created and shared at the bottom of this post. To sum up:

So I compiled some inspirational images that do work for me, and thought I would share them with you.

(Needing your body to be fit so you can love it = the same thing.)

(Maybe it's none of anyone's business either way.)
(Also, I know several people this size who do run marathons.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Friday Friday!

I've really been coming across some lovely links lately (alliteration!) and I'm super happy Friday is finally here so I can share.

This has been floating around Facebook, and it might be my favorite.  25 Common Phrases That You're Saying Wrong.  Read it, memorize it, share it with your friends.

I'm sorry, friends, but I hate The Bachelor and all related shows.  I can't handle it.  This letter a mother wrote to her daughter after watching The Bachelor makes some wonderful points.

This TED talk is fascinating.  Two minutes and you can change the way people think of you and the way you think about yourself.  Look powerful and be powerful. I love when she changes "fake it till you make it" to fake it till you believe it.  Such a great thing.

The Bronte Sisters are awesome.  Check this out in case you have forgotten or never quite enjoyed this enough.

Finally, I am addicted to this Tumblr, Humans of New York.  I can't stop reading it.  This photographer walks around and takes photos of people he sees.  He asks them questions like what's the saddest/happiest you've ever been and what advice would you give a large group of people?  Or people just tell him things unsolicited.

It's sweet and beautiful and kind of heart-breaking.  Have you ever stopped to think about all the things that have happened to all the people around you?  It boggles the mind.  Humans are just beautiful.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Confessions of an Embarrassed Mother

 So I realize that babies are well, babies. And they don't really have manners yet, nor does anyone expect them to. But for some reason my son's lack of manners in public really embarrass me sometimes. I was sort of unprepared for all the public attention you receive when you're toting a baby. But sometimes that attention isn't always positive...

So, I confess that while I love my son Cooper very much, he is a complete public humiliation.

I confess that I am embarrassed when Cooper STARES at African Americans. We're talking full on drop what you're holding, open your mouth in awe, wide eyed, no blinking, cannot tear your eyes away for anything kind of staring. One day at a hamburger stand while waiting for our food Cooper was obviously ogling a very particular stranger if you know what I mean. This nice man could tell Cooper was enthralled with him and came over to say hi. I tried to casually play it off like, "Oh he just really seems to love you!" Hahaha, faint nervous laughter.... I didn't add it's because you're black afterwards. Seriously, it's such a problem that I've taken to constantly showing him pictures of black people at home so that he can get over it. I call it diversity training. Look Cooper, it's Quincy Jones.

Speaking of non-discreet staring, I confess it also embarrasses me when Cooper goes into a full on trance watching people eat food. It's such an intense, humorless stare too, like the stare of a serial killer or something. One day as he was staring down some lady in a restaurant I overheard her telling her friend, "Um is this baby seriously going to watch me eat my entire meal?" Um, yeah lady, he sure is. 

I confess that this kid has a lot of awkward social problems at restaurants. Like the time we were out with the family and Cooper was at the end of a long table in his high chair- the waiter came over and stood next to Cooper as he filled our water glasses. After a minute or so I looked over at Cooper to see he had his entire arm wrapped around this guy's upper thigh. Just sitting there, clinging to this man's upper thigh. Mortifying.

I confess that my son has some humiliating food jealousy issues. I went to lunch with a friend who isn't around kids too often and was probably caught off guard by Cooper's lack of manners. She was holding him on her lap when the waiter brought the bread, she took a piece and brought it to her mouth when Cooper reached up and grabbed her hand out of her mouth and shoved the bread into his mouth instead.

I confess that my son is often abusive to children and the elderly. Like the time I took him to the petting zoo, I was holding him up to the fence to see the piggies and I was concentrating on not letting him fall into the pig pen when I heard the little girl next to us let out a big scream and then start to cry. I looked over to see her holding her head and Cooper holding a fistful of her hair. She was pretty mad that she got scalped. As was the lady sitting next to us at church when Cooper spent the last part of the meeting banging his block on her peg leg. I'm sorry that it took me three dirty looks to realize my son was banging on your peg leg...

I confess that Cooper tends to reserve these moments of no manners for when some stranger is paying total attention to him. Like the time I was changing his diaper on a changing table in a rest stop during a road trip. Some sweet little old lady flocked over to fawn at my sweet angel baby. As she was fawning over him, he made a bee-line straight for his little boy wee-wee as soon as I took his diaper off and I had to have the rest of my small talk with this lady as my son double-fisted his junk so tightly that his face turned purple. 

I confess that Cooper doesn't seem to understand the whole taboo of "private parts" in public. Like the time I took him to my friend's bridal shower and he decided to motorboat me in front of everyone. There's nothing like trying to pry your son's face out of your boobs while a bunch of strangers stare at you.

So there you have it, my son is officially a public nuisance. I hope he's not the only one. Please share some of your kid's special moments that have made you wish you had an invisibility cloak. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

How do we cope?

I have had a really good life. That isn't any kind of farewell statement or anything (I intend for this life to go on for many more years), but what I have lived so far has been pretty great. Like anybody, however, there have been a few bumps and twists in my road that I have had to deal with. Everyone deals with these bumps and twists in their own way, but for a long time I tried to deal with mine by telling myself that there are always people out there who are worse off than I am.

I am sorry to say that I think it is high time to admit that that particular method, while valid and true, just plain does not work for me. I wish it did, but I am not nearly selfless enough to glean comfort from such sentiments.

About a week ago I was informed that that my soon-to-be-born baby's head was still lodged somewhere in the vicinity of my rib cage- the opposite of where it should be. While not dire, it is still something that will require attention and possibly intervention in the next couple weeks. Are there worse things in life than a breech baby? Most definitely. Has telling myself that over and over again done a lick of good? Not one bit.

I have gone through the past week putting myself through the paces that one does to try and convince a stubborn baby to hang out upside-down for a few weeks. Meanwhile, the date of the C-section the midwife made me schedule ("just in case!") looms in my near future, staring me down menacingly. Because shoving a baby out of my body for the first time ever isn't daunting enough- lets throw major surgery into the mix, shall we?

All in all, my husband and I are handling this new twist fairly well and we have all sorts of competent and understanding people helping us make the necessary decisions. All the love and support in the world, however, hasn't stopped me from bemoaning, "why me?" Why is my stubborn boy one of 4% of babies who don't just do what's natural and turn upside down? It's not fair.

I needed my coping mechanism.

For about two days last week I thought that this little guy had flipped. I was thrilled and terrified when I woke up one morning and couldn't feel his head where it always had been and my hopes tentatively creeped up. I held my breath and couldn't keep my hands off of the top of my round tummy, obsessively checking the spot where his solid little head had resided for so many months now. The day wore on without the head resurfacing and one might think that I would be thrilled, right? Wrong. I desperately missed it.

That night as I laid in bed and poked the now squishy and empty spot on my stomach, I realized that because my boy had refused to conform to the norm, I was one of only four percent of women who got to reach up and touch, poke, wiggle, and tickle her baby's head whenever she wanted. I am certain that the other 96% of women still bond fantastically with their bottoms-up babies, but I can't help but feel that having my boy cuddled up next to my chest like that was actually something quite special and I desperately missed it when it was gone.

The next morning I woke up to a baby head poking me in the ribs. My immediate reaction was frustration, but shining through the disappointment of the return of my breech baby I felt a glimmer of relief. My boy was back, for better or for worse.

There is only so much I can do to change the situation I find myself in. There is a good chance I will end up on an operating table, and I need to come to terms with that, but no matter what happens in the next two weeks, I will always cherish the feeling of that little head bumping up against my hand.

I have found my silver lining. I have found my coping mechanism.

No one is going to get through life without unexpected bumps and turns, but I promise you that there is a way to make it through- just remember that your way is not my way and my way is not your way. Go find your coping mechanism, because I promise you it is out there.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


To my baby girl on her first birthday:

A year ago, you were placed in my arms all tiny and wrinkly and screaming, and I was shaking so hard that I had to give you back to your dad after a minute because 1) I had just given birth like two seconds before, 2) apparently epidurals give you the residual shakes, especially when you push the button for the first time right after the baby is born because 3) you need some stitches and the epidural wasn't that strong so you can feel said stitches, causing you to squeeze your tiny baby a little harder than your new mother self feels is safe.


Once the shakiness and stitching were over, I got to hold you again. You hadn't had a bath yet, so your hair was still a little sticky and your eyes had that goop on them. You had the tiniest little lips and the tiniest little nose and the tiniest little fingers, and after months of crazy pregnancy dreams about  you coming out as a toddler with a mouth full of teeth or being born on the floor accidentally, somehow this was more surreal than any of that. You were the little person I'd been wondering about while you elbowed me in the ribs, bounced when I listened to music, kicked when your dad put his hand on my tummy. It was nothing like I imagined it would be and everything I didn't know I wanted it to be, even with the stickiness and goopiness and shakiness. You were so beautiful and amazing, and I didn't know even a tiny fraction of how beautiful and amazing you were actually going to be. I'm sure I still don't.

Alert from the beginning. The smiles came a few weeks later.
The weird thing about waiting for a baby to be born, for me, was that I imagined what you would be like as a newborn, and I imagined what you would be like as an older kid, but I had no idea that what happens during the rest of a baby's first year is the most amazing thing, except possibly what happens to a mother during her first year.

Since you aren't old enough to make wishes for yourself, I thought I'd like to make a few for you. You don't need that much right now, so these are wishes you can save for later.

  • I hope that someday you decide to be a mother, and that you get to experience the sheer wonder that comes from looking at a tiny person and seeing elements of yourself and your spouse in her, but also seeing a personality that you know is entirely her own. You can't imagine how incredible it is to realize just how individual a baby is, even at a ridiculously young age. I'm reminded of your individuality whenever we play with other babies or I talk to other mothers and I find myself thinking things like, "Oh, that baby hasn't made up her own dance moves yet, but does give her mom kisses. Fascinating." 
  • I hope that you have a husband who is as supportive as your dad is, who may not totally understand how you can feel so much joy and so much frustration with your life at the same time, but who knows that sometimes you need him to tell you to go read a book while he takes the baby and does the dishes, and who supports whatever you decide you need to do to feel like a happy and productive adult, and who trusts your judgment as a mother. I can't imagine what this year would have been like without him. 
  • I hope that someday you will understand why I have pictures of your baby self in the snow and the grass and on the merry-go-round and at the beach, even though you will have no memory of any of these things, because you will also feel the need to show your baby all of the wonderful things in the world and experience them through her eyes. 
  • I hope that someday your baby will be crying  until the moment that you pick her up, and you'll realize that you are more important to her than you ever realized you could be to anyone. And you'll realize this is right, because she is more important to you than you ever realized was possible too. 
  • I hope someday you'll be rocking your baby and suddenly she'll put her head on your shoulder and fall asleep, because your arms are her favorite place to be. 
  • I hope that becoming a mother will help you realize just how little it matters whether you have snot all over your favorite shirt, as long as you are there to snuggle your sick child. 
  • I hope that having your own child will someday help you realize just how much your own mother loves you. 
  • I hope that in spite of all of the wishes I will surely have for you throughout your life, you will always know that I believe in your potential to be anything you want to be. I hope you know that I am here to pick you up when you fall and cheer for you when you succeed.  
Happy birthday, little one. I can't wait to see more of who you're going to become, and what your own wishes will be as you grow up.  



I love that you put this on your own head. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Diamond Personalities

Personalities are like diamonds, there are many facets to each. Best friends tend to have many common facets. Sometimes you see an unusual pairing of two friends, and it may be that they have only one facet in common but it is a big facet. Or their one similar facet was cut from the same experience.

I am good friends with some people who are good friends with others that I am not good friends with. My friends and I have similar facets, but they also have other facets in common with their friends that I don't share. It's not a bad thing, it just is.

Recently I was able to talk more in depth with someone who I thought didn't share many facets with me. We found out that we both have a big reading facet and so formed a friendship based on that. She is friends with people that I don't have any major facets in common with and so won't be friends (not enemies, but more acquaintances), but she and I found a big common facet that we can share.

Facets cut from the same experience can forge life long friendships between two people who have almost no other facets in common. This happens frequently in movies. Two or more people go through a harrowing experience together and come out friends for life, though they may not have much else in common.

Sometimes a small facet can become a temporarily significant facet. When people are in a new, unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable situation (new job, new school, new neighborhood, new church, a conference or convention, in a foreign place), and they meet someone who was a mere acquaintance before, a small facet of common past background becomes a temporarily large facet to help establish familiarity until they both become comfortable in new surroundings and meet others that have more facets in common.

Meeting someone new can be a daunting process but looking for common facets will help establish a friendship quickly. There may be a surprising facet you didn't know about before with those you already know. People can get new facets as life progresses too. Remembering that people are multifaceted diamonds helps make life easier, funner, and full of interesting potential friends.

Friday, July 5, 2013

When things aren't so lovely

In a world dominated by social media I often find myself comparing my everyday life to everyone's "highlight reel."

Comparing ourselves to others isn't new, our mothers did it, our grandmothers did it...but I do think it happens more often when you get a constant barrage of Facebook status updates, Instagram pictures, and tweets.

I think that makes it especially difficult when you have a rough day.

Today was rough.

Today I found lice in my daughter's hair.

Nobody ever updates their Facebook status when they find lice in their child's hair. For all I know, she is the first person on earth to get lice.

I was horrified. Those who know me personally, know that I have a higher than average borderline obsessive compulsive pull towards cleanliness and hygiene... so understand I was relieved to discover that proper hygiene has no baring on the discovery of lice. LET THAT BE KNOWN.

Where did she get it? I have no earthly idea. We go to the library a couple times a week, the children's museum every couple of weeks, the water park, the actual park, she spends a lot of time over at friends houses and vice verse. There are literally dozens of places she could have picked it up (she is very affectionate and often hugs strangers which is a theory I have--also she likes to play dress up at the children's museum which is equally likely).

Anyway, the point is I was discouraged and distraught. Lice being extremely taboo and disgusting, I have no experience with it other than what I've seen in the movies. I spent the better part of my day cleaning my home from top to bottom (for the third time in a week) and shampooing/nit combing the bugs out of her very long and beautiful hair.

Was I chomping at the bit to post my discovery and subsequent removal on various social media networks? Actually I wanted to crawl in a hole and die and no I didn't tell anyone except my out of state family and friends. (I don't THINK she passed it on to anyone...this post is being published a few months after the fact and we were extremely cautious with her exposure to anyone until we were sure she was absolutely clear. Plus, nobody else in our family got it so that's awesome.)

There is absolutely a thing as over-sharing through social media. I've probably been guilty of it (you know you post too much on Facebook when you start thinking in status updates--I've tried to be better in recent years). But I think we sometimes under-share for fear of being judged. We fear that the life we've portrayed would be jeopardized if we allowed ourselves to show weakness. I also think there is a taboo associated when we complain on social if we post that we have a bad day we are fishing for sympathy, rather than reaching out because we truly need a friend.

Other examples of under-sharing might be:

I post when my husband surprises me with something sweet, or takes me out on a date but I don't post about how I felt after we got in a fight. 

I posted when I got a request for my full manuscript after seeking agents but I didn't post the two rejections I got on the same day. 

I posted when we paid off all our debt but I didn't mention the stress and anxiety and YEARS of struggling with a limited income. 

I post when I'm being a good mom but I don't post on the days when I'm so tired I just let them watch TV and feed them junk.  

I post pictures of going to the water park or discovery museum, or various vacations but I never post pictures of grocery, shopping, laundry, or toilet scrubbing. 

I post pictures of my accomplishments but I never post a picture of myself after sobbing because I feel like a failure. 

To be fair, if I posted about every mundane moment in my life nobody would want to be my friend. We don't need to know the details of everyday life. However I have found that I'm much more prone to be down about something when I compare, and expect my life to be like the ones I see on Facebook or Instagram. We need to be better at showing our weaknesses, as well as our strengths. We need to accept them as part of life, rather than being ashamed of them. Our weaknesses and moments of self doubt (and lets face it--sometimes loathing) give us texture and depth. Through our sorrows and tough times we learn compassion and love.

I challenge everyone (including myself) to be more transparent so that we may all recognize that it's okay to reach out for help. Life isn't perfect, and it's alright to acknowledge that not everything is going to be lovely all the time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Why Holidays are Not My Thing

My least favorite section of Target is the back seasonal section. I can handle it when it's Back to School or Summertime, but I otherwise avoid it. It's not that I don't enjoy tiny stuffed bunnies or anything green. I just hate holidays.

My mother was the queen of holidays. We had Santa and his reindeer flying from a tree to the roof of our house. We had an army of spooky plywood creatures that took over our yard every Halloween. I could sit inside my Easter basket.

I am more like my father. His favorite Christmas phrase was Bah Humbug.

The year I was pretty sure I could be a minimalist or those two years I was too poor to buy gifts for anyone and ended up with this are only part of the reason for my dislike.

While Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are high on my list of holidays to hate, the two at the top of my list are Mother's and Father's Day. While I understand that these days are parent-focused, I am usually forced to suck it up and play the dutiful child.

On July 2nd 2011, I woke to a phone call from my mother. My father had died of a heart attack. I was not surprised. This was not his first heart attack. Two weeks prior, he had married my step-mother. My father had become a different person since dating his future third wife. He was less angry, less abusive, and less mean. I was proud to sing at their wedding.

Like most children, a little bit of my personality comes from both of my parents. Unlike most children, I have no genes from my father or my mother. My parents flew to Brazil to pick me up when I was three weeks old. My birth mother was 17 years old and was unaware that she was carrying a child for most of her pregnancy.

A loving child remembers to celebrate Mother's and Father's Day. I have a birth mother, a mom, a step-mom and a mother-in-law. I have a birth father, a deceased dad, a step-dad, and a father-in-law. I have never seen two of my parents. I don't know whose nose I have.

It's unfair for my mother to not receive a proper Mother's Day because I am too distracted by the fact that I am still missing one of mine. It's unfair for my step-father to not get a call on Father's Day because I am doing my best to forget the day even exists.

About a month after my dad died it finally hit me that he was gone forever. I was listening to this and tears finally left my eyes.

Thanks, Katy Perry. Now I don't hate the 4th of July.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Women of Worth

Coincidentally (as far as I know), I saw all three of these things on Pinterest the other night:

The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away. ― Alysia Harris

So I'll admit, I swooned over the Fitzgerald quote like the rest of you did, and I don't know who Alysia Harris is. Maybe she isn't someone I'd normally want to quote (I couldn't find much about her, so I don't know). But when I saw that quote, I'd already been thinking something along the same lines—namely, that I don't love the idea of talking about women who are "worth" something—because that implies that there are women who aren't. 

No one's actually trying to say that, I know. And the description of that L'Oreal program is obviously great ("L'Or√©al Paris launched the Women of Worth program to celebrate everyday women who follow their true passion to make a difference in the world... Every year, ten women are selected and recognized for their extraordinary efforts to serve their communities. These Women of Worth selflessly give their time, energy and passion to causes close to their hearts"). I appreciate the sentiment that's intended here. I just think these are words we might want to think about a little more closely. 

There are no worthless women. All human beings have worth and value, and we all deserve to know that. We need to know it about ourselves, and we need to know it about everyone else.