Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm Moving!

Hey folks - Just giving you a heads up that I am planning on switching domains. For now everything is going to stay in place, but there will be big changes coming up! Keep your eyes peeled!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Garden

I wrote this poem when I was in high school. I was very emotional about something going on with someone very close to me. I'm having some issues dealing with a current situation someone close to me is going through right now, and looking back on this poem, although the situations are very different, they align so well in these words.

The Garden

Show me where your garden is
Oh so deep inside.
Show me where she's forced to live -
Where she's forced to hide.
Show me where you keep her,
Her casket and her tomb.
Tell me where does your garden go when
It's only scars that fill your womb?

Is This Still Considered Awards Season?

I know the Acadamy Awards and all that are all over... but is it still considered awards season? I hope so - because I got one! My good bloggy friend Kim over at Beautiful Wreck gave me the Beautiful Blogger Award.

Edit: I just checked my comments on another post, and another friend has given me the same award. So here's a thank you to Michelle at La Vita e bella for the award too. I am honored by both of you.

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award. (Kim - You rock, darling.)
2. Copy the award and place in on my blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated me. (See link above - although she's switching domains soon, so keep an eye on my blogroll.)
4. Share 7 interesting things about yourself.
5. Nominate 7 other beautiful bloggers.

7 Interesting Things About Me

1. When I was a kid I used to memorize commercial jingles. It wasn't ever anything I did on purpose - I just had a good memory for jingles. I still remember quite a bit of them - including, but not limited to Alka Seltzer, Fritos, Dum Dums suckers, and Mr. Clean.

2. I quit smoking cigarettes in April of '08. While it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be, I did turn into an uber-bitch for a couple months. I even called out a 300 lb prison inmate (he was on work release at my place of employment) to a fist fight. He didn't want to fight, but I sure as hell did. One of these days, I might post that story.

3. I'm only 3 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

4. I really enjoy movie soundtracks, particularly those that are scored rather than just a group of artists random songs thrown together. I listen to the Finding Nemo soundtrack when I'm really, REALLY stressed out and need to calm down *right the eff now*

5. I have a really big ego in a really weird way. I often feel like I have to prove myself in ways I know I don't. I like to be able to say that I can run with the big dogs, even though I know it's not really that important. I've gotten a LOT better about it, but I see it rearing its ugly head every now and again.

6. I have a strange habit of doing things in multiples of threes - although sometimes eights. It really bothers me if I can't find three of the same color candies in my M&Ms or Skittles, and things like that. I've almost always been like this.

7. I pace when I talk on the phone. If you happen to see me doing this, check to see if I'm walking on a tiled floor. If so, watch the pattern I step in. 9 times out of 10, I will be moving the way a knight in chess moves. (3 up, 1 over)

Lucky 7's

1. Sarah from One Starry Night is awesome. She's got some of the coolest pictures and she's always posting helpful hints on how to run your blog better. She's also a really down to earth parent and she posts lots of stuff on attachment parenting. She's so relateable.

2. Taryn's Spirited Doula is an amazing resource for pregnancy and birth information. She keeps up with the latest news and helps keep her readers informed. As a birth doula, she writes her experiences in beautiful prose. I've never read birth stories from a perspective other than the mother's, but she does a wonderful job.

3. I'm saving this spot for my friend Kristine. Her blog is called Cora's Story and she is fighting for awareness of Congenital Heard Disease/Defect and working diligently to make the pulse oximetry test done just after birth mandatory in all hospitals. This test doesn't detect all CHDs but it does detect the worst of them. Her blog is temporarily down, but the moment it is back up I will post a link.

4. Andrea, owner of the Little Squigglers shop writes a blog on the side that deals with cloth diaper care, personal resolutions (like her personal boycott on Wal-Mart), and lots and lots of other stuff.

5. Our Life Upstate chronicles the life of a beautiful family and their journeys through adoption, breastfeeding, baby wearing, home schooling, cloth diapering, and hockey loving.

6. Amber at is such a cool mom. She's always got a funny story about what her kids are up to. I love reading how her family is growing and where they are going. She's also a member of BlogHer and I see her comments EVERYWHERE. I think that's what originally drew me to her site. She's great at sharing the love.

7. I just started reading Kristi at Live and Love Out Loud. I haven't read enough about her yet to post a bio, but I do know that I like what I've read and I hope to get to know her better through our blogs and Twitter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brenda and Jolene

I don't know if you remember, but a few months ago at Kairi's 6 month check-up, shortly after Kairi started eating solid foods, her pediatrician told me that I only needed to be breastfeeding her at a maximum of 4 times daily. Shocked and dismayed, I chose to switch from this doctor to the nurse practitioner in the same practice who has been seeing Gracie since she was 3 months old.

Our NP is named Brenda and she is amazing. I have always loved the way she and her staff have treated Gracie (she has different nurses than others in the practice) and I. They have always been very sweet, very knowledgeable and if I ever had a question that they couldn't answer, they would refer me to someone who could. Upon walking into our first appointment with her for Kairi in the beginning of January I already felt at ease with my decision to switch care providers. With Dr. A we would sit in the waiting room for what seemed like forever whereas with Brenda we were greeted within minutes. We've had to meet with her a few times for both Kairi and Gracie over the couple months, what with pneumonia, bronchialitis and ear infections running amok and each time has been, aside from the ailments causing the meetings, extremely pleasant.

Recently, I decided to buy some Vitamin B drops for myself. Some days I just feel like crap and my mom suggested them to me. I'd tried them before getting pregnant with Kairi and they worked great then, so I thought I'd give it another go. But before taking a drop I thought I had better call and make sure it was okay while breastfeeding. I realize it's vitamins, but it's a pretty hefty dose of vitamin and I just wasn't 100% certain. So I called and the receptionist sent a note back to Brenda. A while later I got a call back, but not from the nurse that I normally speak with.

"Hi, is this Erin?" the voice spoke over the phone.

"Yup, you've got me!" I replied. I recognized the number and wanted to be friendly.

"This is Jolene with Brenda's office. I'm calling about the Vitamin B supplement. Brenda said it is perfectly okay to take them. If you notice Kairi acting any differently be sure to stop, but it really shouldn't give you any problems."

I was relieved to hear this. I'd taken one dose without really thinking it through a few days ago. "Thanks so much," I said back to her.

"So, how are you doing?" Jolene asked me. The question sounded more social than concerned.

"I'm doing fine, thanks. How are you?"

"Great!" Jolene answered. Then she asked, "So, how is breastfeeding going for you?" It sounded like she might have been asking as if I was nursing a newborn and wanting to offer support.

"Oh, it's going GREAT! Thanks! We're at 10 months and going strong!"

"Okay - good! Well, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us any time, okay? Thanks! Bye now!"

After we hung up the phone I thought to myself how different my experiences have been with Brenda as opposed to Dr. A. This last experience really did it for me and made me feel even more confident in my decision. I have run into Dr. A a few times while in the office and have felt a bit like I couldn't look him in the eye. But after today I know for certain that I made the absolute best choice for my family.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Did you know that congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect? I bet your OB/GYN didn't share that with you, huh? Did you also know that a pulse oximetry test, a quick, non-invasive test that can be done in the hospital, is the best way to quickly detect CHD? Unfortunately for a friend of mine on Twitter, @kristinebrite, she didn't know either of those little facts and because of that, she lost her daughter Cora just days after she was born.

It's so senseless that so many babies die because of this. Why don't hospitals make the test mandatory? I mean, they spend hours pricking babies' feet with needles to take blood for testing, why can't they attach something to their finger for a few seconds to test the oxygenation of hemoglobin? It's so simple - even more so than doing a finger prick to test blood sugar.

This week is Congenital Heart Disease Awareness week, so I want to spread the word about it. If you or someone you know is pregnant, please ask for this test (the pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, test) before being discharged from the hospital. It takes seconds and can save lives.

Also, be sure to check out Cora's Story. Kristine is working hard to turn the social media world upside down to raise awareness. Spread the link and spread the love.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kairi Noms Volume 1

Hi, Momma!
What'chu got there?
...Is noms?
...Noms is good.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Eleven Words

Hi, my name is Erin and I am a recovering drug addict.

11 words never felt so heavy. What a mouthful. Last night I posted the story about losing custody of my daughter for 10 months because my husband and I were selling drugs in our home while she was there. It's a very important story to me, a pivotal point in my life. Everything changed because of that. I posted the link to the story on Twitter, stating that the story's importance and 7 people clicked it. 7. My heart sank. Then, just as I was writing a tweet about my disappointment (vaguely, that is) "1 new tweet" popped up. Normally I wait until I'm done typing and sending before I click to refresh, but I went ahead and it was addressed to me. A friend told me that she was reading my story and found it compelling and amazing. Then I got another saying that I should be proud of how far we've come. And another telling me how brave I am. As it stands now, the link has been clicked 18 times. But I'm okay with that. It will get read eventually.

Just as I was coming around and beginning to feel better I read this tweet via @looneytunes:

"One of the most powerful posts ever. "

I clicked the link (and you should too!) and read the story about this woman, this blogger who is beginning her journey to become sober. She wrote her story so eloquently and personified alcohol, her drug of choice, so well:

"Alcohol is one of my oldest friends, one of my best. She is always there for me, right there, here, her breath hot on my neck, her whispers hissing in my ear. She slides a warm soft hand over my shoulder and down my chest, cups a breast and breathes into my hair You are mine. You are nothing without me. You can’t write without me. You cannot play with your children without me. You are not interesting without me. You are not a desirable wife without me. You cannot meet your deadlines without me. You cannot meet their expectations without me. You cannot carry their stories without me. You cannot cope, cannot deal, cannot face, cannot fight, without me. You are mine and I am yours and it is good, it is safe, it is warm, it is secret, it is ours. Stay. And for some reason I turn into her, not away, even though she cruelly names my biggest fears aloud. Or, maybe, because she’s the only one who does."*

She tells her story and explains that very few know of her addiction. Tears are streaming down my face as I read. I think to myself, "I know how that feels. I've kept quiet about my addiction and it's eating me up from the inside out." I want to keep it a secret, keep it in the closet, because I've come so far away from it. I celebrate 5 years of sobriety on March 1st and in those 5 years I have become a different person - a person I am not ashamed of.

It's time to come clean. For now I don't have much to say about what I've gone through, but I will, in time. Today is about making the first step into the light by making my admission: My name is Erin and I am a recovering drug addict. My drug of choice? Meth.

*Edit: I feel incredibly ridiculous adding this, and I realize that it will probably take away from what I've written, but I need to note that, as I am still pretty much a newb to blogging in many ways and thus am still ignorant to how to do some stuff, I have not posted a trackback on the quoted text above. I would greatly appreciate is someone wiser in the ways of blogging would help me out here and send me some easy instructions on how to post a trackback so that I can properly credit the person who wrote the quoted text. Please help me so that I can remove this edit note.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Even Shady Pasts Can Lead to Bright Futures

This post has been a long time in the making. The story is hard for me to look back on and harder to tell, so please bare with me and be gentle in judgment.

In a lot of ways I'm like a first time mom with Kairi. There are a lot of very public ways, like that I breastfeed Kairi and I didn't with Gracie, I babywear, I co-sleep... There are a lot of very different mothering techniques (I guess) that I am using this time round. But there is also one very big, very private way that I am a first time mom...

When I was in high school I liked to party. I skipped school to go smoke pot until the principal threatened to suspend me for skipping one more time. Even then I still left campus to get high at lunch. Just after I got out of school Jason and I got together. I was 17 at the time and still smoking. He smoked then too. It wasn't a huge part of our relationship, but it was there. We moved in together after 8 months with no savings and crap jobs.

After a few months of living together, things were getting rough financially. The job Jason had been working for the past 6 years (on and off, mostly on though) refused to give him a raise. When the state raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $5.85 his boss told him to consider that his raise. One day, Jason found an easy fix to our money situation. He had bought an ounce of pot off a friend for $80 and had another friend who wanted to buy half of it from him for $50. This friend had another friend who wanted to buy the other half for $50 as well. Jason made $20 out of the deal and went back for another. And that's how it started.

At first Jason and I both kept our jobs. Over time I traded up jobs and was making more money, and over time he was making bigger deals - eventually quitting his job and becoming a full time pot dealer. For a time it was fun. We constantly had friends coming over, we always had money, and we were always partying. But over time I began to develop an allergy to THC, so smoking was no longer fun for me. And the constant flow of people coming over was no longer close friends, but distant strangers who didn't want to visit and have fun - they wanted what they came for and then wanted to leave. Not only that, but they had no respect for any kind of house rules. Looking back, I don't know how I expected them to, but at the time I was pretty worked up over it. But we still always had money and I still enjoyed spending it. After a while Jason was making enough selling that I was able to quit my job and never look back. This went on for 3 years.

When I was 20 I got pregnant with Gracie. During my pregnancy I tried to talk Jason into quitting and getting a job. He kept saying that he was trying to save up enough money that we could make due on it for a while before having to go back to work, but the money kept getting stolen, or a deal would go bad and we'd be out $500 for it. It was always 1 step forward and 2 back where the saving was concerned.

Gracie was born in the end of January '05. While I was in the hospital my family asked me how we were going to make due. They didn't come right out and say it, but they urged me to try to get Jason to find a job, and for me to do the same once I was able to. I talked to Jason until I was blue in the face about it, but he had just lost a big chunk of the savings in a bad deal and thought he could for sure get it back within a couple of months.

I know what everyone must be thinking. I know what I am thinking in hindsight: Why didn't I just leave? Take Gracie and flee? It's not that I didn't love her enough - I just kept believing that Jason would quit after "this next deal." Finally one night in April I made a decision: if he doesn't get a job within 2 weeks, I'm gone. That's it.

10:00 am, April 12, 2005 - The next morning....


The loud, hard knocks at the door shot my out of my bed like a bullet from a gun. I had had it up to here with all these inconsiderate druggies waking me up! I didn't even put on my glasses. I looked out the window in the door and saw several people standing on the porch. As I went to unlock the deadbolt the banging on the door started again, this time shaking the house. I stepped back just in time to see the door fly open sending splinters from the door frame across my living room, one slicing my hand open as it flew through the air.

"Get on the ground! Get on the ground NOW!," screamed the 6'5" 300 lb policeman in the front. Immediately I was on my stomach with his knee hard in my back as he was putting handcuffs on me. I had just barely missed the swing where Gracie, then 2 months, was sleeping when I hurled myself to the ground. Within seconds there were 8 men in black in my house rummaging through my things. One policeman went to the bedroom and gently and politely asked Jason to roll over onto his belly on the bed so he could cuff him.

Almost right off the bat they took Jason to the police station. I stayed behind to stay with Gracie until a Child Protection agent could come get her. I begged the officer in charge to remove my cuffs so I could feed her and change her diaper. He said he was already doing more than he should by letting me do those things in cuffs, so it was definitely a  no-go on taking them off.

You know those movies where there is an explosion and everything goes in slow motion? The ones where you see everything slightly blurred, debris flying everywhere, blinding light bending your perception on things? That's what those moments felt like to me. The only completely clear thing I remember from that whole morning was sitting in my rocking chair, holding my daughter who through the whole thing did nothing but smile at me. She had the biggest smile on her face the whole time, even as I handed her off to the social worker. The memory of that beautiful, bright, toothless grin will always be tainted by the hazy memories of that morning.

Immediately my mother made arrangements to move back to town so that she could become the guarrdian of her granddaughter. I thank my lucky stars every single day that my mother dropped everything in her life and spent her entire retirement to get here so Gracie wouldn't have to be in a foster home with strangers.

Gracie lived with my mom, her Mimi, for 10 months while Jason and I worked hard to complete the treatment plan laid out by the social worker assigned to our case. Jason had to go to rehab for a month, we both had to go to group counseling for drug addicts and abusers, I had to go to counseling to work through my enabling issues, we went to parenting classes and additionally attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings every night we were able. We worked hard to turn our lives around.

But our social worker was new - we were her first case. Prior to becoming a social worker she was a foster parent. She got the kids who were in the worst conditions and as such was out for blood on her first run. She needed to make an example out of someone, and we were that someone. Now, I'm not trying to play the victim here. We wouldn't have had to deal with her like we did had we not gotten ourselves in the position in the first place, and I will be the first one to admit that. That being said, the woman really was out for blood. She kept our case open for 2 years. After the initial 10 months of work we had to do to get Gracie back home with us, we were subjected to another 14 months of hoop jumping. She even removed Gracie from our house for a month again because we had it sprayed for bugs.

One night we were at a friend's house eating dinner when I got a call on my cell phone. It was Carol, our worker. She called to tell me that a woman within CPS, but not in her department had audited her cases and told her that our case was to be closed effective the following week. When we went to court to close the case Carol was not there, but her supervisor was there in her place. She apologized on behalf of CPS for keeping our case open so long (it is customary to keep cases open once the child returns home for 6 months. Some have to stay open longer, but only those who aren't cooperating.)

Since then we've been working hard to keep turning our lives in the right direction. We got a foot up in the process of getting Gracie back, but that was only the beginning. Since then Jason has stayed at the same job for 4 years, a job that gives him raises as deserved (for the most part). I got the first job I could get my hands on while we were trying to get Gracie back. I worked for over a year and a half at McDonalds, working to become a manager. Then I went to work at Chili's where I stayed for 2 years until I started school and found out I was pregnant with Kairi.

It's been a long, hard road and we missed a lot of the parenting experience with Gracie as a baby. She lived with my mom from the time she was 2 months old until the week after her first birthday and then for a month the following summer. A friend of mine is constantly laughing at me on Facebook because I'm always making comments about what new things Kairi is doing. "You sound like such a new mom!" she tells me.

And in a lot of ways I am. But I am loving the experiences I am going through with my kids. I have learned from my mistakes and because of them I know that I will never take my children for granted like so many parents do. I am cherishing every single moment I have with them because I know what it's like to go without. A friend of mine told me throughout the whole ordeal, "I don't know how you do it. If that happened to me, if I was separated from my daughter, I'd go crazy. I'd either be in a mental facility or I'd kill myself." At the time all I could tell her was that I knew I had to be strong for my daughter so I could get her back. Recently someone sent me an email with a picture in it. The picture said, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have."

In my life I have few regrets. In a way I don't regret what happened because the change made us better parents and better partners to one another. I think that we are amazing now. (Not to be cocky or anything, but I really do.) But the most heartbreaking regret I have is how the change came about.

I realize that my story will turn some people away. Some people just can't get past what we did to get where we are or how we've lived our lives. I would love to say that it's fine with me, that I don't care. But I do. In a lot of ways it makes it feel like all the work we've done to better ourselves for our family has been in vain, that we're still nothing but a couple of pot-peddling druggies. But in the same respect I can understand. A lot of people have not walked in the same neighborhood as what I've gone through, let alone the same path or shoes and it is hard for them to see what motivated me at the time. I'm in no way defending my actions at the time or trying to say that I had the right motivations, but I have always ALWAYS loved my daughters and so has Jason. We have lived through one of the most heartbreaking, life-altering experiences we will probably ever go through (fingers crossed) and we are better parents for it.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my story. I've tried writing this out time and time again and just have never found the right words. Even now I'm hesitant. But I over the past few years I have met families that have been in the same type of situation and sharing my story has seemed to help, to give hope or if nothing else to give a sense that they're not alone in the battle. I hope that maybe someone in need of help will see this and see that it can be done, it's not a neverending battle (even when your social worker has a personal vendetta against you) and in the end there is hope for change and strength.

This post was originally featured in Her Bad Mother's Basement

Hey - You're the One Who Called Me, Remember?

I hate getting sales calls and I know I'm not alone in that hate. Most of the people I talk to about them tell me that they either don't answer or they hang up. Some stick around on the line to mess with them.

One friend says, "When I get calls from unknown numbers, I answer and either act weird as hell or rude as f*ck. They never call back, so it seems to work!"

"When I lived at home and they would call for my mom, we would have so much fun with them. If they would say, 'Is your mother there?' I would pretend to cry and be like, 'No... Have you seen her? She went to the bar and hasn't been home for days. She loves the whiskey.' My mom would be in the background just laughing to death!" another friend tells me.

Personally, I answer the calls and tell them I want to be on their company's Do Not Call list. Sure, it would be hilarious to mess with them, but it really doesn't get the job done.

We just got a home phone. On Saturday it was turned on. The first call we got was from a place called GE Money asking for Jason Main*. I was confused at first when the caller asked for him because I didn't understand the last name. He had to repeat it a couple times, then spell it out for me to understand what he was saying. I explained to him that there is a Jason living here, but his last name is not Main. He apologized and hung up. The next day I got a call from the same company but a different representative. I explained the same to him as well and asked to be put on the Do Not Call list.

Today I got a call from an unknown number. I answered the phone and a woman responded, "Hi. Let me talk to Jason."

"I'm sorry - Jason who?" I asked. My husband has a bit of a temper and once he flies off the handle, as he would if he had to talk to a sales rep/bill collector for no reason, he'd be in a bad mood all day.

The woman seemed miffed. "Ma'am, is there a Jason at your residence?" she asked.

"Maybe," I responded, "but Jason WHO?"

"There is obviously a Jason there, so you just need to put him on the line and let this one go," she told me.

"Look, I'm not going to put him on until you give me a last name," I started to explain why, but she interrupted me.

"Whatever. I'll just call back in the morning when YOU AIN'T THERE." *click*

The line went dead. She had not only been extremely rude to me, but she also hung up on me.

I'm sorry.... but you were the one calling me, weren't you? I mean, technically not, but this phone line is in my name, so yeah. You're calling me.

I wonder what makes her think I won't be here in the morning. I'm a stay at home mom. Of course I'm going to be here. And of course I'm going to be the one answering the phone.

How would you respond to this? What do you suggest I do in the morning when/if she calls back?

*Last name changed for privacy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Post Where I Ask Advice

Hi guys. I am in need of some advice from some more experienced bloggers. Well, that might not even be true. I need advice from more experienced BlogHers. I really really really want to go to the BlogHer conference this year in New York City and I am in the process of trying to convince Jason to let me go. Currently, the cost of it is really all that is standing in my way. I am looking at needing, all in all, around $1000 - that would cover flight, rooms (assuming 1: I have a roommate, and 2: that I am staying Thursday night as well - but more on that later.) , the cost of registration, with about $200 spending money.

Edit: This just in: Another thing standing in my way is that Jason says, "If you're going to New York, I'm going to New York too. Don't think you're leaving me behind for THAT kind of a trip." So I asked him if he wants to go to New York. His response? "Hell no! I hate New York." ....Great.

Okay - so, assuming I can convince Jason to let me go, I have some questions.

  1. The conference is Friday, August 6th - Saturday, August 7th. Should I fly in and arrive on Friday, or do I want to get there a day early? Is there any benefit to arriving a day early? Do I really need to get settled that much?
  2. How many of you bring your husbands/significant others? If you bring them, do you
    a) bring your kids too? - or - b) get your husband registered and attend the actual conference with him in tow?
  3. Also related to 2, if you bring your spouse and not the kids and he is not registered for the event, is there a group of spouses to hang with, or does everyone just kind of do their own thing in the city/stay in their room? If I bring Jason and he doesn't register or have the kids I'm really worried that he'll just sit, fuming in the room.
I have so many more questions than that, but that's all I can think of offhand. Aside from that, if you have any other tips or suggestions, please share them with me. I'm also pummeling my Twitter friends with these questions, so feel free to approach me there. I'm @babybeatnik.