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Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Mother Wins Out

Today, the mother in me and the budding environmentalist were at odds this evening. My son fell and skinned both his knees at the playground. They were filled with dirt and rock, so we had to shower and clean out the wounds. We've all been there. It HURTS and it's scary knowing it's going to hurt. There were many tears, lots of coaxing and explaining, much sympathy until he finally fell asleep in my lap on the shower floor. It was only after he was sleeping that I was able to clean out his owies. After he woke up, he still needed loves and cuddles, so we stayed there for an hour and a half just enjoying the closeness, the comfort, the warmth, and the white noise of the water. As it should, the mother in me won out over all other voices in my head.

I will always listen to that mother voice and make no apologies for doing so.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

30 Things Series #8: 5 Passions

My ongoing series, 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me, continues with this post about five of my passions.

passion (n): a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

you - You, my little lovey, are my passion. Every day you are more so. You're my passion, my best buddy, my favorite person of all time, the coolest being in the history and future of the known and unknown universe. That pretty much covers it. You are everything good and right in the world and in my life. Why? Because you're you.

human rights - I'm going to miss something here, but let's see if I can cover the majority: breastfeeding support (anywhere, anytime, anyhow - there are not 'buts' to my support), LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) rights, children's rights (to have their needs attended to - not be left to cry it out, to be treated with the respect they deserve as full-fledged humans, not the subhumans they are too often treated as), birth rights (your body, your baby, your choice), the right to die when ill (why are we affording our animals this right, but not our brothers and sisters?), the right not to be spanked (because it is abuse plain and simple), the right to have one's body left to oneself (including one's genitals - cutting off a piece of valuable, functioning flesh belonging to someone other than oneself is simply wrong), feminism (yep, and all that entails), victims' rights (for example, did you know that in our state, if I were raped and impregnanted as a result, the rapist could sue and get parental rights - not OK), patient rights (my experience in the hospital after you were born lit a fire under me), and more. I could go on and on and on, but as we long ago started to have these conversations, I know we'll continue and we'll help each other flesh out our ideas.

education - Regardless of whether or not I'm still teaching in a classroom, I'll always be a teacher. That's true literally and figuratively, as you'll be home with me for your education. Aside from being your mom, there was no other time more meaningful and life-changing for me than my years spent as a teacher, specifically my first two years.

my loved ones - I don't get to be around them often, so I hope they don't interpret my physical absence as a lack of passion for them. Nothing could be further from the truth. My Bug, Aunt Julie, Grandma Bray, Uncle Toby, the precious few close friends I have, my cousins, my students, and your dad - all of them and all the others there isn't space enough to name, I miss them, I love them, they are my home, my happy, my passions.

awareness - Perhaps this is a passion of mine because for so long I don't believe I was aware. I didn't grow up hearing about politics, so I never cared about them. I didn't grow up learning about the world outside of my own, so I didn't consider them. I was never aware of myself in my entirety. I was told my flaws, which I took to heart and carry those words with me still. I was told my superficial, cosmetic attributes, which I never really believed because of the flaws. I am now well aware of both my pros and cons. I am proud of the former and working on the latter. I am not, however, ashamed. You are already so aware of yourself and others. You astound me. We'll grow together talking and learning about the rest of the world around us. We'll travel, not just watch the world from afar. We'll experience to gain empathy. The world is so much bigger than us and it's vital to be aware of that.

You're so much better than I could ever hope to be, sweetheart. You already care so much about so much. I want to be just like you when I grow up. You're my hero. You're my Fiderman.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

30 Things Series #7: Dream Job

As part of my ongoing series 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me, I present to you my dream job.

I'm already doing it. When I was young, I always thought I'd work outside the home whether or not I needed to financially, because that's what "real" women did. WRONG. I had some ass-backwards ideas (probably still do, though I'm trying to become more aware every day). When I got a little older, I figured it was a pipe-dream to be able to stay home with my children and that I'd likely have to work for financial reasons. Now that I'm here, I realize that for me, you, and our family, me being home with you is what is best. So, we sold things, we gave up things, we altered our lives and I'm here. We're not wealthy. We have to do some pretty fancy footwork to pay every bill. We don't have a lot left over. I've started my own business to help supplement our income. It's hard.

And I love every last bit of it. I love that I get to see your shining face every morning and I don't have to rush it off to daycare. I love that I don't feel the guilt I KNOW I'd feel if I was away from you as you rolled over the first time, took your first step, said "Mama" at first, or just did any number of hilarious, wonderful, awe-inspiring things you do each and every day.

I loved teaching. Loved it. And I do miss it. I did not love it as much as I love you. I do not miss it more than I would miss you.

Let me be clear here, though I slightly resent feeling that I have to write this disclaimer on a post to my son, I do not think staying home is the "right" thing. Nor do I think it's "right" to work for pay. I think this is the right thing for us. Being here, with you, my phenomenal son, is being in my dream job. Thank you for giving me that gift. Thank you to your dada for helping make it a reality.

Monday, February 24, 2014

In Memory of Rissa

Jessica and I went to high school together. We had classes together, we enjoyed each other, we reconnected and continued our respectful friendship thanks to social media. I had the pleasure of "watching" her marry her love, Rocky, and grow through her pregnancy with Carissa.

Rissa (or Rissa Bear and Warrior Angel), as she was most often called, can be seen here with her family in these videos put together by her maternal grandpa:

As you can see, she was special. From my own perspective, though I never had the honor of meeting her in person, there was not a picture Jessica posted that didn't bring joy to my heart. Rissa's spirit was bigger than her petite body. She exuded happy and love.

After her body grew weary and had to give up its fight, she left this world after only two short, but powerful years. Her parents tried to donate her organs, but due to a chromosome deletion, they were unable. They did donate her corneas, though, so that a part of her can live on in doing such good for another. Like I said, this is an amazing family.

Rissa's Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, February 28th, 2014 at 2:00pm at Eastlake Church in Chula Vista, CA.

The Quintanillas are asking that, in lieu of flowers, you consider making a donation in Rissa's name to Unique, The Rare Chromosome Disorder Support Group. Rissa was born with
arr 7q22.1q32.1(101,349,057-127,686,728)x1
It has no syndrome name and there are no other documented cases.

From the family:

"People could be asked to make a check out, payable to Unique. Checks can be
sent to our US post box:

PO Box 594
Forest Park

Alternatively, donations can be made in US Dollars securely through our
website at http://www.rarechromo.org/html/DonateNow.asp (scroll down to
'Make a Donation Online'). If those making donations could subsequently
email Jenny Knight, Unique's Family Support Officer at jenny@rarechromo.org
to tell her, she will ensure their donation has been received and that they
are thanked appropriately."

Also and perhaps fittingly, February 28th happens to be World Rare Disease Day. Check the link to see what else you can do for people like precious Rissa.

Lastly, I leave this information for those who feel as helpless as I do from The Compassionate Friends, a support organization for families whose children have passed:

How Can I Help?
A child has died. Regardless of the child’s age or the circumstances of death, as a person wishing to give support, you feel empty and helpless. What can you say or do that will ease the pain and help mend the hurts?

What Can You Do to Help?

There are no easy answers, no standard approaches that are universally helpful. There are no magic formulas that will make the pain go away. It is natural to feel helpless when the child of a friend or relative dies. Remember that showing your loving concern can be very comforting to a grieving family. Please don’t avoid them because you feel inadequate. Families are more likely to reach a healthy, positive resolution of their grief if they receive continuing support and understanding. The following suggestions may help you provide that support:

— Don’t try to find magic words that will take away the pain. There aren’t any. A hug, a touch, and a simple, “I’m so sorry,” offer real comfort and support.

— Don’t be afraid to cry. Your tears are a tribute to both child and parents. Yes, the parents may cry with you, but their tears can be a healthy release.

— Avoid saying, “I know how you feel.” It is very difficult to comprehend the depth of the loss when a child dies, and to say you do may seem presumptuous to the parents.

— Avoid using “It was God’s will” and other clich├ęs that attempt to minimize or explain the death. Don’t try to find something positive in the child’s death, such as, “At least you have other children.” There are no words that make it all right that their child has died.

— Listen! Let them express the anger, the questions, the pain, the disbelief, and the guilt they may be experiencing. Understand that parents often have a need to talk about their child and the circumstances of the death over and over again. It may be helpful to encourage them to talk by asking a gentle question such as, “Can you tell me about it?”

— Avoid judgments of any kind. “You should . . .” or “You shouldn’t . . .” is not appropriate or helpful. Decisions and behaviors related to displaying or removing photographs, reliving the death, idealizing the child, or expressing anger, depression, or guilt may appear extreme in many cases. These behavior patterns are normal, particularly in the first years following the child’s death.

— Be aware that, for parents with religious convictions, their child’s death may raise serious questions about God’s role in this event. Do not presume to offer answers. If the parents raise the issue, it would be better to listen and allow them to explore their own feelings. They will need to arrive at an individual philosophy about this.

— Be there. Run errands, help with household chores, provide child care, and help in whatever way is needed. Don’t say, “Call me if there is anything I can do.” That call will probably never come. Be aware of what needs to be done and offer to do specific tasks.

— Give special attention to surviving children. They are hurt, confused, and often ignored. Don’t assume they are not hurting because they do not express their feelings. Many times siblings will suppress their grief to avoid adding to their parents’ pain. Talk to them and acknowledge their loss.

— Mention the name of the child who has died. Don’t fear that talking about the child will cause the parents additional pain. The opposite is usually true. Using the child’s name lets parents know that they are not alone in remembering their child.

— Be patient. Understand that grieving family members respond differently to their pain. Some verbalize, others may seem unable or unwilling to talk, some withdraw, and others strike out angrily.

— Sharing fond memories of the child through statements such as “I remember when she . . .” or “He had a wonderful gift for . . .” can be reassuring to parents and show that you appreciated their child and are aware of their sense of loss. Relate amusing anecdotes about the child. Don’t be afraid of laughter. It helps to heal the hurt.

— Remember the family on important days such as the child’s birthday and death anniversaries. Send a card, call, or visit. Let them know you remember, too.

— Gently encourage a return to outside activities. Suggest a lunch or movie as relief from the isolation of grief. If your invitation is declined, don’t give up! Ask again and again, if necessary. The third or fourth time you call may be just the day that an outing would be welcome if someone took the initiative.

— There is no standard timetable for recovery. Grief usually lasts far longer than anyone expects. Encourage bereaved families to be patient with themselves. They often hear, “Get on with your life; it’s time you got over this!” Those demands are unfair and unrealistic. When parents express concern about being tired, depressed, angry, tearful, unable to concentrate, or are unwilling to get back into life’s routines, reassure them that grief work takes time and that they may be expecting too much of themselves too soon.

— Be sensitive to the changes a bereaved family experiences. Family members will adopt new behaviors and roles as they learn to live without the child. This is a painful and lengthy process. Don’t expect your friends to be unchanged by this experience.

— Refer a grieving family to The Compassionate Friends, which has more than 640 U.S. chapters providing friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved families. Online, many types of support are available including TCF's comprehensive website at www.compassionatefriends.org (that includes an Online Support Community), as well as TCF's Facebook and Twitter pages. Call TCF's National Office toll-free at 877-969-0010 for chapter referral information and to request a no-charge customized bereavement packet.

— Continue your contact with the family. Grief does not end at the funeral or on the first anniversary. Stay in touch often, and in conversation, as easily as you would mention any other member of the family, don’t forget to mention the name of the child who died.

With that, streaming tears, and a broken heart, I say farewell Rissa. You are already terribly missed.

UPDATE: Jessica just spoke with a representative from Unique who said that $650 in donations came to them in Rissa's honor. The Quintanillas and I wish to thank all who donated in Rissa's name. What a lovely gift.

Also, I was given the profound honor of crafting this quilt for the Quintanilla family out of Rissa's clothes. Jessica says they sleep under it every night and have it spread on their bed all during the day. How wonderful to be wrapped in memories of their beloved. It pleases me to no end to have been able to help in even the smallest of ways.

Finally, this is Rissa's final physical resting place. Apropos, given that she was an angel here on earth. Jessica changes her Facebook profile picture daily to another photo of her Warrior Angel. I know I'm not alone in looking forward to watching her grow all over again. Her little face is a light in the hearts of all who loved her.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

30 Things Series #6: Three Wishes

As part of my ongoing series 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me, I give you the three things for which I'd wish if I could.

1. To have enough money to get out of student loan and mortgage debt and to pay for your future endeavors in college or trade school, if that's what you choose to do, as well as enough to travel the world with you and your dad. There's so much I want to show you and so much I want to see for the first time with you both.

2. That you'd always be happy, healthy, and safe for the rest of your very long life.

3. That your father and I are happy, healthy, and safe as well, so that we can be with you through much of that very long life of yours.

That's it. I don't want much. I don't need diamonds and pearls. I don't want fancy homes or cars. I just want us and I have that already, so I'm happy living my dream right here, right now.

Worth the Fight

My parents got divorced when I was six and my brother was four. Before that, there were many separations and reconciliations. We never knew when Dad was going to be living with us and when he wasn't and we certainly didn't know why. When it finally happened, it was shocking, because we had, unfortunately, grown used to the norm that was our lives in flux. Such was our life.

After it happened, our dad was quite good at visiting and having us visit him. My brother and I each had our own night with him every week and we spent every other weekend with him. Then, things changed.

He got remarried and when he got a new family, his old family fell by the wayside. I now have three half-sisters who I adore. I don't blame them in any way. I don't really even blame my step-mother, though, my dad once told me she didn't like the fact that he had kids, because she didn't like being "second banana." (Why he would tell me that, I'll never know.) No, my dad's actions are squarely on my dad's shoulders.

Over the years, I've been told by myriad family members that I have to cut him a break, because it was "hard" to see us. Evidently, my mother made it "too difficult" for him to keep up his end of the parenting bargain. Let me be clear, I would bet my mom did make it hard. I know her well. Aside from her good qualities, she's also vengeful, spiteful, and downright mean sometimes. So what? They both used us over and over again through the years to hurt one another. (Divorcing couples - word of advice - do NOT use your children as pawns. It will come back to bite you in the butt and your relationships will suffer, though it may take time to feel those consequences.) I don't care if she built a moat around our house to keep us from him, he should've built a bridge, ridden across on the back of a crocodile, or rented SCUBA gear to get to us. The message we got loud and clear by him giving up - we're not worth the fight.

I've felt that for the rest of my life. I'm not worth it. It has colored every aspect of my life. If even your parent doesn't think you're worth the effort and inconvenience, why should anyone else?

And what the heck, folks? Why is everyone in his life defending him for abandoning us? Because they know my mom did make it hard? SO WHAT? I know it, too. She was wrong. So was he. Let me say it again, his actions are his responsibility. He bailed on us because it got hard. We weren't worth the hard. And that feels shitty. Really shitty.

Why am I writing this? In part, I'm venting. After years of therapy, I'm still not over it, because my feelings on the matter are still being dismissed. I hurt and I still struggle with not being worth it. In larger part, I want my son, who will someday read my blog entries, to know that no matter what - he's worth it. There is not a set of circumstances in the world that could keep me from you. There just isn't. You're worth the fight. You're worth everything to me. And if there is anyone out there who doesn't feel that way about you, they're not worth the heartache, sweet boy. You're worth it to me.

30 Things Series #5: 5 Things That Make Me Happy

As part of my 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series, I give you the five things that make me most happy right now.

Gah! I hate narrowing things down to these little numbers. I always feel like I'm going to leave something important out. All right...here goes nothin'.

1. You. You are my happy now, for the past three years, and for the rest of time. I always knew you would be, but I never had any idea to what extent.

2. The weather. Winter in Arizona ROCKS. Summer blows. You know what I mean. You live here. Unfortunately, summer is a'comin' and it'll be here WAY too fast. I'm sorry.

3. All your ideas. Let's see, we have:

- Me: Honey, your options are to brush your teeth yourself or I can do it for you.
You: Mama, I understand what you're saying, but I choose no option.

- "I don't have boobs. These are my pectorlals."

- "Let's draw Dada. You better put his hearing aids on him so he can listen to me."

- "That freaks my cheeks out!"

- "Dada, there's no tooting in the house!"

- You must've had genitalia on the brain, because as your dad gave you a drink, you immediately said, "Penis!" instead of "Thank you."

- Recently, after the dog licked you, you complained that she left "Caboodle sauce" on you.

- To your dad while helping make dinner, "I'm the coolest kid ever. I don't need your help, bro."

- "Aaaah, Mama, you're messing up my coffee-nation!" (I had to really think before coming up with 'concentration.')

- "I HATE Dada at school! Not literally. I don't mean I hate Dada. I hate Dada working at school." Dude, you're three. Who uses "literally" appropriately at three??!

4. This project. I'm truly enjoying writing all this for you. I hope, someday, you'll enjoy reading it.

5. Who I'm becoming. As I grow, I am liking more and more who I am becoming. I wish this for you, above all else.

Bonus: This clip. It is comedy. I may have peed a little watching it.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

30 Things Series #4: 10 Things I Would Tell My 16 Year Old Self

As part of my 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series, I give you 10 things I would tell my 16 year old self, if I could go back in time.

1. That you haven't yet had your first kiss is NOT that big a deal. It'll happen and you won't be any different than you were the day before, so just relax. You're a so-called late bloomer, but I'd rather that than you rush things.

2. Your first boyfriend will suck. He'll cheat on you, compulsively lie to you, mooch off you, and basically suck you dry for a couple of years. Skip him. He's not vital to your growth or your ongoing journey in this life.

3. Don't follow Heather Kilday too closely on Yucaipa Blvd. just past 4th St. You're going to rear-end her with Meg in the car, your parents are going to put the kibosh on you having friends in your car at all, Heather is going to claim she's terribly injured (but then go to a school dance the next night and whip her hair around like she's a precursor to Willow Smith), and you're going to feel guilty for years to come.

4. Take your senior year and AP test opportunities more seriously. You killed yourself being a rock-star student your whole life. In fact, you probably overdid it, which is why you burned out early. However, if you can just stick it out a little longer, you won't have to take a great many college classes. Other than that, you still graduate with honors and you're still a rock-star, so either way, I'm proud of you.

5. You are not too good for junior college. It's not the 13th grade. Get over yourself.

6. Wear sunscreen religiously. You have nearly see-through skin, have had blistering burns in the past, and your mom is going to get malignant melanoma in the future - all these put you at high risk for the same.

7. Things are not so black and white. There's a whole world of gray.

8. Don't quit volleyball. Yes, that coach is an ass, but he'll be fired and you can go on having fun with the rest of your team.

9. Stop trying to gain everyone's approval. You're never going to get it, which will leave you with constant feelings of inadequacy and a continued need to please. It's an ugly cycle and a complete waste of time. You're pretty rad as you are.

10. Those singing lessons you want - take them. Don't let anyone laugh you out of them. You have a good voice.

I can't go back, baby, but maybe, just maybe, you can learn from a couple of my missteps. If nothing else, dude, wear your sunscreen!

Friday, February 21, 2014

30 Things Series #3: My Relationship with My Husband

As part of my 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series, I give to you the description of my relationship with my husband, your dada.

This is a hard one for me. I love your dad - that's the biggest thing. I love him AND I like him. To describe our marriage, though, is tough. I mean, it changes all the time. Sometimes, we're on cloud nine. Sometimes, we could easily smother the other while they sleep. Sometimes, we're just going through the motions as we coast on until the next day, the next high, the next low. I mean, is that a marriage? It is for us.

I suspect that whatever I write here won't matter as much as your observations over the years. You could likely describe our relationship with a lot more honesty than I ever could. I wonder what you see. Do you see the years of hurts we've spent more years working to heal? Do you see the emotional holes from our childhoods we try to fill in one another now? Do you see the years of laughter shared over the most ridiculous and absurd moments? Do you see the times we are hanging on by a thread? Do you see the adoration in our eyes? Do you see how impossible it is to describe a relationship filled with such complexities in one little blog post?

I don't know that it can be done - leastwise, not by me. I think you could do it better. All I hope is that we give you something to look forward to in your own relationships, lessons of what to avoid, and a sense of warmth and comfort when you come home to our loving arms and home as the years go by.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

30 Things Series #2: Three Legitimate Fears I Have and How They Became Fears

As part of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series, I give you the second post - three of my legitimate fears and how they became such.

1. Fear of dying and leaving you alone or of you dying and me losing you.
I wrote about my postpartum anxiety in THIS blog post. It was gnarly and it took a lot of therapy and time to get over. The anxiety I never had before now rears its ugly head only occasionally, but when it does, I now have the tools to deal with it better. Your dad struggled with anxiety before I met him and at the beginning of our relationship. I never understood it until I went through it myself. If nothing else, it was at least good for giving me sympathy.

2. Being involved in a serious car accident or, of course, you being involved in one when I'm not with you.
Work in law enforcement for any length of time and you'll run into gnarly car accidents. I've walked over dead bodies thrown from vehicles, had to take aerial photos of scenes too large to be seen from the ground, stepped in pools of blood. It's ugly and terrifying and a lot more likely to happen than most of the things I envisioned in my anxiety-stricken moments above. I wrote more about the reality HERE. Read this and understand you are not invincible. Do all that you can to stay safe, my little love.

3. (I'm cheating on this one a bit, because it's a fear I no longer have, but had for a the vast majority of my life.) Lightning.
When I was a little kid, I used to spend every summer, from the day after school ended to the day before it started again, at my grandparents' house in northern Utah. I flew by myself for the first time when I was six years old. I stopped going when I was 17. Each year, there were at least a couple summer thunderstorms. I was terrified. I was terrified and alone. I couldn't go in to my grandparents' bed as I would've my mom's. I couldn't turn on the lights as I would've at home. I couldn't go into my brother's room for company as he was not with me. I huddled under the covers with pillows pressed over my head until I eventually fell asleep from exhaustion. Then, when I did finally sleep, I had a recurring nightmare every single time. I won't describe it here, because it won't sound as horrifying as it was and I don't want it minimized (not that you would do that - I'm just preemptively defensive here because of the reactions I've gotten when describing it to others in the past). Suffice it to say, it was a nightmare. At some point, I wasn't sure what was more terrifying - the lighting and thunder or the knowledge that "Lightning Man" was coming.
It wasn't until I had you, my little savior, that I forced myself to get over it. I knew I did not want you to experience that fear and I was sure not going to be the one to put that fear into you. Now, whenever there is a thunderstorm, you and I observe it, gawk at it, marvel and coo. We enjoy it together and that thrills me in a way I will never be able to describe to you. That you are not afraid is a blissful feeling to me.

You're going to have fears, my sweet. You already have some. You're going to learn to work through them on your own. You already have. If I can help, I will. If I cannot, I will simply be there for you as you help yourself. I will leave you with this, though - my favorite quote: "You can't test courage cautiously" said Annie Dillard. Use it as you wish.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

30 Things Series #1: 20 Random Facts About Myself

As part of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series, I give you the first post - 20 random facts about myself.

1. Sometimes, if I have a gnarly boog and you're still latched on but asleep (read: I cannot move), I'll pick and flick. That's right, I started with a grody one.

2. I believe I could live on cheese and bread only.

3. I sometimes look at those little shoes on the shoe rack and just melt, because there was a time not too long ago when I never thought I'd see such things in my home.

4. Fuck is my favorite swear word.

5. I can touch my tongue to my nose. I practiced long and hard to attain that skill. When I'll ever need it, no one knows.

6. I don't miss Zen Parenting on Facebook.

7. I've given away a few of your books that I especially loathed reading. There was nothing wrong with them, I just didn't like them. Sorry.

8. I can make a mean dinner, but I suck at making breakfast.

9. I wish I didn't have as bad a temper as I do. I'm working on it, but probably not enough.

10. I worry. Often. About too many things to list.

11. In regards to #10, I'm sorry, in advance, that you have to carry the load of caring for us in our old age all on your own. Siblings would've made this much easier.

12. I started running, loved it, got injured, cried because I feared I'd lose my motivation and, yup, sure enough...it's gone. I'm actively searching.

13. I brush your teeth more often than I brush mine.

14. I know I'm not the best I could be and I'm so sorry.

15. One of my favorite things is doing chores with you.

16. I often feel guilty, because now that I have you, I'm not as good an aunt as I used to be. I wouldn't change anything with you, but I wish we could be closer to your cousins.

17. I just noticed how often I feel guilty about myriad things. Huh...

18. Tired + PMS + hungry = Lucifer-mama

19. I have no very few real friends.

20. My heart grew three sizes the day you were born.

There you have it. Post one. Check! And now you know...

30 Things My Son Should Know About Me

I was surfing the interweb and came upon Baby Making Machine and Jennifer's post on this topic. What a brilliant idea! I'm stealing and running with it.

My son and I are talkers already. Yes, he's only three, but we talk all the time and not just about the mundane toddler-y stuff like peanut butter sandwiches and keeping his pee in the potty instead of letting his penis follow his gaze as he checks out all the stuff in the bathroom that catches his interest. I want to make sure we always talk. (I also want to make sure we don't always have to talk about the pee thing, but I'm not holding my breath.) I want us to truly know each other. I'm sure that'll happen through a great many conversations in the years to come, but, just in case we miss something, here are some things I'd like him to know. I'll write a blog detailing each topic and, as I write, I'll add the link to the list below.

Update: It is now not quite 8 months later and I've finished the series. It's been quite an experience. I challenge you to write something similar for your own child(ren). It's worth it, I promise.

So, my sweet son (and the rest of the world), here's me in a 30 nutshells:

1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
3. Describe your relationship with your spouse.
4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?
7. What is your dream job, and why?
8. What are 5 passions you have?
9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.
11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
13. What’s the hardest part of growing up?
14. Describe 5 strengths and weaknesses you have.
15. Describe when you knew your spouse was the one or how I fell in love.
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
18. What do you think your spouse loves most about you?
19. How did you feel the moment you became a parent?
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
21. Describe your relationship with your parents.
22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
23. What’s your favorite holiday and why?
24. What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about parenthood?
25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
28. What’s your favorite quality in your spouse?
29. What are your hopes and dreams for your prosperity?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Oh, You're Gonna Be Green...

My husband's and my 5th anniversary is coming up in April. I decided to go big. I commissioned a painting of our family from the supremely talented Katie M. Berggren. Of course, once it got here, I was absolutely unable to contain myself or find any semblance of patience, so within 1/2 hour of its arrival, I presented it to my husband and am now free to reveal it to you. With that, I give you "Everything to Me." Voila!

As gorgeous as it is here, it's even more so on our wall. I'm in love with it and the family in it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Breastfeeding While Ovulating

Sweet fancy Francis, it is taking all my strength to not end up on the ceiling like an unnerved cat in a cartoon. I am ovulating. I am breastfeeding. In and of themselves, these are no big things. Together, they make for my personal equivalent of listening to nails on a chalkboard - a room full of chalkboards being scratched by a room full of scraggly-nailed witches and warlocks. Add to that the sound of my husband eating (I don't know...the guy eats louder than any person I've ever known) while snoring and throw in a recording of my mother-in-law and you have yet to touch the irritation I experience when breastfeeding during ovulation.

Here's the thing, too: it has taken me this long to figure out the issue. I've been breastfeeding him for more than three years now. For a smart woman, my powers of deductive reasoning sure failed me this time. Not that I will do anything about it. I'm still going to ovulate (though, as we're having no more children, there's really no reason and I think there should be some sort of off-switch for those like me...someone write a strongly worded letter about that to Nature...I'll sign that petition). I'm still going to breastfeed until the young lad wishes to stop (sometime around the time he gets his first job, I'm guessing). At least, though, I now know why every month I about lose my mind trying to keep my son's hand off my other nipple while he's breastfeeding. [Insert angelic "ahhhhh" sound here.]

Turns out, I'm not alone. I had no idea! It's a hormonal thing. Well, duh, that makes sense. According to KellyMom.com,
"the hormonal changes [during ovulation and just before menstruation] can cause sore nipples for a few days. Typically, both sides will be sore. Many moms of older babies are more bothered with latch on during these times, and it may feel as if baby is clamping down or scraping his teeth on the nipple, even though he doesn’t seem to have changed his latch. Mom may also feel generally uncomfortable and even irritated with nursing. Some moms get relief from the soreness by taking evening primrose oil or a calcium/magnesium supplement." Cut to me running, not walking, to the cabinet to see if I still have these pills. Damn it! Now, cue the inner debate as to whether or not it's worth it to get dressed and go to the store at 9:30 p.m. I know not which I dislike more vehemently, ovulation-nips or clothes. As my son would say, "Decisions, decisions..."

What's the point of all this? I don't know. I needed to vent. I needed to share my revelation. I needed to save for posterity's sake that it's not just me being ludicrous. I needed to let you know you're not alone.