Monday, November 14, 2011


I was never one of those little girls who had the dream wedding and dream family... the big plans for the exact whens wheres whats and how of my future life, but I've always kind of had it my mind that having two girls would be nice. I guess since I was raised as an only child (both of my half brothers are significantly older than I am and both were raised elsewhere) and I always wanted a sister to share my childhood with.

Almost immediately after having Gracie, Jason was ready for more. At that time though, things were really hard. We were just getting over all the trouble we'd gotten into, we were stuck in a house that had horrible memories and was too small to house all of our stuff, let alone another child, and since we had pretty much just gotten Gracie back, I really wanted to be selfish with her and have her as an only child for a while since we'd missed out on so much.

When Gracie was 3, we moved into a new house - the one we're in now. It's bigger, it's nicer, and life instantly became so much better once we moved in. We moved here in May. In July, Jason and I began talking about the possibility of trying for another baby. Enough time had passed that we had our feet under us with Gracie, and the house situation was better, which cleared up both of my reasons for saying no. (Just to clarify, we had a pregnancy scare while still at the old house just before finding out we were moving. I cried and cried and cried, thinking that I never wanted to bring another baby into that house. I was DESPERATE to not have another baby while living there.)

Within a few days, I started feeling gross. I had the worst heartburn ever. I had just taken a pregnancy test though because I was late (which is what sparked the conversation about having another baby), so I knew it wasn't because I was pregnant. (The only time I've ever had heartburn before this was when I was pregnant with Gracie.) I figured maybe I had just eaten something that didn't sit right and it would go away soon. But it didn't. It kept on, and kept getting worse. It got to the point where I couldn't eat. The pain was so bad that it kept me from feeling hunger.

The first weekend in August we went to visit my mom in Tulsa. One of the reasons for the trip was to go to the mall and get some new jeans. I had just quit smoking in April which caused me to put on about 20 pounds. I felt awful the whole time. I barely got off my mom's couch. We even went to my favorite Italian restaurant, the place where there's no such thing as left-overs because the food is so delicious I'd rather literally bust my gut open than not finish my food, and I could barely eat. I decided that on Monday I'd call the doctor. Something was WRONG with me.

We came home on Sunday and Jason immediately had to go to work. After dropping Jason off at work, Gracie and I decided to go to Wal-Mart to do some spur of the moment grocery shopping. While there, I remembered that we needed shampoo, so I headed to the back of the store. The main row was incredibly crowded, so we decided to walk along the back wall, and while back there, a little purple and white box caught my eye. For some reason, the 2-pack of Equate brand pregnancy tests were on sale. I KNEW I wasn't pregnant, but I figured that when I called the doctor they'd want to test me, just in case, so I figured I'd grab a couple of tests for my own peace of mind beforehand.

After shopping, Gracie and I came home, put our groceries away and sat down to watch a movie. I'd stopped at McDonald's for a large sweet tea on my way home, so by the time the movie was over, I was ready to go. I remembered the pregnancy test and figured I'd better go ahead and take it, just to show myself that these doubts I was having were ridiculous.

The moment I set the test on the sink, the first line started showing up. No big deal - that's the line that is simply there to tell you the test is working. The second line started showing up, which was no big deal either since it's supposed to be a plus sign. I looked up for a second to check my hair in the mirror and when I looked back down, that second line had gone from being simply vertical to being a plus sign. My doubts, as it turned out, were not ridiculous. I was pregnant.

I grabbed Gracie and ran straight to Chili's to tell Jason the news. I went to the kitchen where he was working and asked him to come talk to me. He was incredibly busy and it was obvious that he was annoyed that I'd pulled him from his work at such a busy time, but this was important.

"I'm pregnant," I told him.

A smile swept across his face. "Baby, you just made my night."

Gracie and I ran home so I could start making my phone calls. I called my mom who was ecstatic, and I called my best friend Natalie who was pregnant with her first child. I was so happy.

My pregnancy progressed very much in the same way it did when I was pregnant with Gracie. I had a lot more heartburn and my mood swings were more drastic, but aside from that it was a very easy pregnancy.

I was so excited when I found out we were having another girl. The small differences in this pregnancy like the more intense heartburn made me think I was having a boy. I was convinced. I already had a name picked out: Oliver Phin. What a goofy sounding name, right?! It's a good thing we wound up with a girl, because that kid probably had a world of hurt coming to him for his name alone.

Jason and I fought and fought and fought over what we were going to name this little girl. He'd tell me, "You pick the name." But then I'd pick a name and he'd hate it. Delilah was out because of Sampson and Delilah, and so was Lilah. Lorelei was out for no given reason. Amelia Rose got the boot too, as did EVERY name I suggested. I even threw in some curveball names I'd never want to name my child just to see what he'd say. (I'm not listing the names here though, because chances are one of you out there has a child with one of my curveball names.)

Finally, I remembered a game that Jason and I had played a few years before Gracie was born. The game was called Kingdom Hearts, and there was a little girl on the game named Kairi. I remember Jason and I both remarking about what a pretty name that was and joking about maybe naming a daughter after the character. Before bringing it up though, I needed the perfect middle name. After some careful consideration, I decided to pitch the name Kairi Blake, Blake being after Jason's little brother. Jason loved the name. It was perfect.

I knew that I'd want my tubes tied once Kairi was born. My friends all told me how much different it is raising two children than just one, how hard it is. I was reminded that beyond the basic cost of having two children, we'd also have four proms, two colleges, and two weddings to pay for. And I thought about myself as an only child wishing for just one sister to share my secrets with. I was secure and happy with my decision.

For the first several months, things were really easy. So easy that I began to doubt my decision to have my tubes tied. I thought, "Man, everyone said this would be SO hard and it's NOT! I could do this with another child...." But then Kairi started crawling, then walking, then running. Kairi is very much a full-speed-ahead kind of girl, and I love it. But I knew that I couldn't handle any more kids once Kairi gained mobility.

Kairi is two now and Gracie is six. Our lives are so very different than they were when I found out I was pregnant, but I am confident that my family is complete and I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back to Square One

Six years ago, after Jason and I got into trouble, we both had to go out and find work. I found my job first in June at McDonald's. In August, Jason found his job at Chili's.

I had been working for McDonald's for a year and a half, and I had worked my way up to being a shift manager when, while waiting for Jason to get off work one late evening, I was talking with his manager. His manager was having an incredibly tough time; he was in the middle of an incredibly nasty divorce and his kitchen crew was falling apart. He didn't have a dishwasher to work the next several shifts, and although that's not as big a deal as he was making it, considering all the stress he was under at the time, I got why he was so distraught.

I was really hating my job at McDonald's. Sure, I got to work with one of my best friends, but the job itself was stressful, paid pennies, and I just wasn't cut out for it. As I sat there talking with Jason's manager, I made the offer to come and help out. In my mind, I thought I'd be a dishwasher for a month or so, just long enough for him to find someone more permanent, and then I'd just go find another job. That's not exactly what happened.

The next day, I came in to officially apply. I was hired on the spot, making $1.00 more per hour to wash dishes than I had been making to manage shifts at the Wal-Mart McDonald's. I began working the next day, and while I knew it wasn't something I enjoyed, it was also considerably less stressful than my previous job.

I continued to wash dishes over the next two months, until a new daytime dishwasher had been hired. He worked circles around me, and as such managed to get most of the hours. I still needed work, and I knew I wouldn't find a job that would pay me the money I was used to making at Chili's, so I decided to train to become a cook.

For a year, I worked as the Salad/Nacho cook, and some days I was lucky enough to work alongside my husband. I still knew that I wasn't really cut out for this type of work though, and although I had long since decided that I'd never wait tables again after doing HORRIBLY at it when I was younger, I decided to give it a chance.

I started out as a server just a couple of days each week, still maintaining some hours in the kitchen, in case it didn't work out. But over the next month, I realized that I'd found something that I was not only good at, but I enjoyed. I learned all the front-of-house positions, like food expediter (QA), host, and to-go.

I decided to take some time off after I found out I was pregnant with Kairi. I had started school, so I'd cut my hours anyway, and since my prenatal vitamins made me sick, standing on my feet for an entire shift was making me light-headed. My plan was to return a couple of months after Kairi was born, but instead I took off until she was nearly two.

About six months after my return, I began working a position called the Key. I basically walked around and talked to each table, making sure that everything was tasting great, letting everyone know about our survey that is on our receipt, and just generally helping out wherever needed to make sure the shift runs smoothly. I had a manager card so I could help the managers out by comping and discounting food. I was really enjoying the job I was doing and had decided to try to go for a management position after I was done with school this May. My manager had just started working with me to get me ready for that.

Then, last Saturday night something unexpected happened. I can't go into very much detail yet, although I'm sure I will at some point, but Jason and I were completely and unexpectedly let go. Jason's termination, I guess, is a little bit more understandable, but he has reasons for doing what he did that I believe will hold up in court, should we decide to go that route. My termination, however, was completely unexpected. I did nothing wrong, unless you consider being married to Jason wrong. I'm being told that I behaved in a way that I most certainly did not behave, and despite all of my plans to move forward within the company, all ties are now severed.

Jason and I are now left flailing... He'd worked there for six years, and I had been there for 3 of the last 5. We had worked out a five year plan, in which I'd go into management to support our family so that Jason could go to trade school and become an electrician. And now we're left searching for minimum wage jobs, which will more than likely leave us searching for a smaller house. We've taken five steps back and are left basically exactly where we were when we were first starting over after getting in trouble.

We're back to square one, except now we have a bigger house that costs more and two children instead of one. We're used to a more expensive lifestyle, and while it's not anything extravagant, it's still something that I am going to miss.

We'll be fine, but it's going to take some time. I have hopes that this will move us forward instead of back, but we'll just have to see where it goes once we get there. Until then, I guess we'll just be hanging out back here at square one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are you one of the 99%?

I had a post lined up for yesterday about the Occupy Wall Street movement, but the more I learn about the movement, the more ignorant I'd feel about posting it. I'm working on getting a firmer grasp on my feelings on the subject before I write a (hopefully) more intelligent post, but in the meantime, I'd like to invite you to share with me your stance and thoughts about it.

Are you one of the 99%? Or do you think they're crazy?

More to come in a few days!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

8 Months Drama-Free

I don't know about you guys, but for me, Facebook used to be a near-constant source of drama in my life. (As evidenced by the number of posts regarding my Facebook drama.) For a long time it seemed like I couldn't go a month without some sort of controversy taking up space in my brain. Someone would get offended by a post about breastfeeding, threads were getting hijacked out of nowhere over any random assortment of issues you can think of, names were called, and all the other fun forms of havoc caused by internet drama were all taking place on my wall.

I am incredibly happy to say that the last bout of drama was back in February. I am thankful to say that there has been very little drama of any sort in my life since then. I've spent some time thinking about the reasons for this, what changes I might have made, in order to understand better where the drama was coming from in the first place.

But the more I look, the more confused I am. I haven't changed much in the past eight months, and neither has my social networking. I don't post quite as frequently, but I still do post on Facebook multiple times each day. I don't post a lot about breastfeeding anymore, but I do still talk about it there from time to time. I've edited my friends list over the past several months, but I've really only eliminated 15-20 people.

One thing I do know I can attribute to the lack of drama is that I have placed a stricter filter on the way I respond to people. I still say what I want to say, but I try to be more tactful and respectful of other's feelings. I'm not saying that before I would just say whatever I wanted without any regard at all for others, but I can definitely see where a lot of the times I had problems could be caused by my lack of consideration that something might be taken the wrong way.

But that still doesn't account for the random, drive-by hijacking of posts. Don't get me wrong, just because I don't know why that's stopped doesn't mean I'm not appreciative of the fact. It's definitely no fun getting blind-sided like that.

I guess though, it probably just comes down to the people that I allow in my life, on Facebook as well as otherwise. One of the biggest complaints among the people I had it out with was that I posted too much: too much about breastfeeding, about cloth diapering, pictures of my kids, what I'm doing for the day, what I'm making for dinner, etc. ...You know, the kind of stuff that interests me. See, I always thought that the point in social networking was to share these details, the things that interest you, and to experience the interests of those you care about. My mother joined Facebook so that she could see pictures of my kids and read about what my family is up to. Should I stop sharing that information because a few people think I'm clogging the feed with my posts? Or should I get rid of the people who obviously aren't interested? I think, in the end that's the question I found myself facing. And when it's put in terms like that, I think it's fairly easy to figure out what steps to take.

I don't know how many of you experience Facebook drama the way that I have, but it's really not worth the time. I find myself breathing a sigh of relief every now and again when I realize I've made it another day/week/month without that kind of drama. Real life is dramatic enough. Facebook should be the least of your worries.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October is...

It's that time of year again, folks! It's the time of year when the weather starts to chill, the trees start to turn pretty colors, and we all take the time to slow down in preparation for winter.

It's also important that we slow down and take some time to learn how to prevent, prepare, and learn how to deal with a few other things.

As most of you know, I'm sure, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the month when we'll see rampant "awareness campaigns" all over Facebook where women boast the color of their bras, where they like to keep their purses, and more recently, how far "along" they are and what they're craving based upon their birthday.

Now, don't get me wrong, copy and paste status games can be fun, but let's get real here. How much are these games really helping? Are you aware of how much they're hurting? I'm not here to preach about that, but if you think these posts are harmless, please go read this post before participating in another copy/paste awareness campaign.

Personally, I think that it's more fun and helpful to go out and find information to share about breast cancer and its prevention. Last year I posted a few facts each week on my Facebook page, and I was astounded to find that I knew several women who had no idea that you're supposed to do a monthly self-check. So even the most seemingly trivial information can be incredibly helpful.

Here's a short list of a few places to get some information to share:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

The World Health Oranization's Cancer Info Page

Also, for those breastfeeding mamas out there, there is a game that you can take part in to help spread the word! Last year, some friends of mine started a game to help spread the word that for each year you breastfeed, you reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by 4.3%. If you'd like to read more about it, you can do so here.

A little lesser known fact is that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

According to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project,

Domestic Violence is best understood as a pattern of abusive behaviors -- including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion -- used by one intimate partner against another (adult or  adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure, and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.

Did you know that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? Yeah, it's rampant, people. Someone you know is experiencing it as you are reading this. That is why it is SO important to know the signs and what you can to do help.

A few good places to turn for this information are:

The Domestic Violence Awareness Project

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (pdf)

The Domestic Violence Resource Center (Be sure to check out the drop-down menu under "Resources.")

Sunday, October 9, 2011

On School, Religion, Protest, and Music

Hey guys! I've got a lot to update on today, so pardon the fact that this post isn't really one set topic. It's more of just an update; I'll be back on track with the more regular postings later.

As many of you know, I am in school, and MAN is it kicking my butt this semester. Let me tell you - college algebra is no joke, folks. That crap is HARD! I can handle math, don't get me wrong, but it just takes me a while to get into the groove of it. I'm working hard, but I'll be happy to make it out of that class with a C.

I'm really enjoying my other classes so far though. I've got Interpersonal Communications, which I'm really interested in to begin with. The fact that it gets me out of having to take a public speaking course for the next few semesters is definitely a bonus though. The instructor is awesome as well. I've had him for both of my comp classes, and I've known him for a long time. He used to work with my mom and two of my aunts at various different times. I also just found out that a girl I went to school with and work with now is his oldest daughter! Yes, I live in a small town, and paths really do cross that many times around here.

My Computer Concepts class is pretty cool. We do about 90% of our coursework in class, so it's an easy A, which is always welcome. And then there's Music Appreciation... I already appreciate music, but I get to learn a little more of the in's and out's of why that is, so that's alright. 

The girls are doing well. Kairi is crazy as usual (I say that in a loving and endearing way, I promise!), and Gracie is still really enjoying school. A friend from school stopped by last Wednesday night and asked if Gracie would like to join him at church. She wanted to, and while I've stated that Jason and I aren't religious, I'm not going to keep her from learning about different religions, so of course I let her go. I've been hesitant to let her go to church because I don't want her to believe in something just because that's what everyone she knows believes, but I also understand that she's only 6 and she's not really mature enough to understand that she can question authority and go against the grain - if she wants to. 

I've thought a lot about this over the past couple of weeks and I've come to the conclusion that I've just got to let go and trust that my brilliant daughter will figure it out for herself. After all, whatever she chooses to believe should be just that: her choice. It's not fair for me to impose my doubts upon her just because I struggle with faith in something I can't see or recognize. I'm sure that one day she will begin to question things, especially as adamantly atheist as her father is, and I want her to feel respected enough by me that she can come to me to help find her answers. 

I've also spent a lot of time lately looking at the Occupy Wallstreet Tumblr page. I can relate in so many ways and some of the posts make me really, really sad. But it's important to be aware of what's going on no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I could very well be one of those people holding up one of those signs. I'm really hoping that the 5-year plan that Jason and I are working on will keep us afloat enough that we won't end up there as well. I'm really hoping that the government will figure out something to do with their budget and start creating more jobs, and make the changes necessary to keep all these wonderful people off the streets and out of debt. How awful is it that I am considering postponing finishing school until I have some money in savings so that I don't fall so far into debt for merely trying to better myself and my future for my family?

Music has played a big part in the last several weeks of my life. I used to spend a lot of time listening to music and it was a big part of how I identified myself. I slowly began disconnecting from that as I've gotten older, and that's something that I've really regretted. I recently got a Spotify account and have begun finding my feet again where that's concerned. I love that I can find any song I want to add to my playlist(s) and I can share that with my friends. I highly suggest checking out this program (it is something you'll have to download, but it's super cool and you can connect it to your Facebook page to see what your friends are listening to as well!). And when you do go get it, or if you already have it, be sure to follow me and see what new stuff I'm listening to!

Follow me on Spotify

Friday, September 30, 2011

You're Lucky You're So Skinny!

I'm fairly certain I've wrote about this topic before, but it came up in conversation recently and I'd like to touch on it again.

All my life I've been skinny. The fact that I'm incredibly tall for a woman emphasizes that fact even more. When I was a teenager, my average weight was around 115-125 pounds. For a girl who stands 6'1", that's pretty thin.
My friend Nathan and I when I was 17. (OMG - Look my belly! I'd kill for that now!!!)
I weighed right around 120 pounds when I got pregnant with Gracie. I gained a little over 80 pounds over the course of my pregnancy, but by my 6 week check-up I weighed 135 and from there my weight fluctuated between that and 145.
Jason and I shortly after Gracie's second birthday.
I began to notice that my metabolism was slowing down after I had Gracie, but it was never really a problem. I'd make mention of it here and there, but never in complaint, rather just in passing.

In April of 2008, I quit smoking and one of the many changes your body goes through when you quit smoking is weight gain. Everyone says you gain about 20 pounds, and that was as true for me as it was for everyone who told me it would happen. I began having a hard time fitting into my jeans and found myself more squeezing and cramming myself in them than simply putting them on. I said something about it at work a couple of times and was generally met with comments about how skinny I was and how I needed to put on a few pounds anyway.

In the beginning of August, just two days after buying myself some better fitting jeans (two sizes larger than what I had grown accustomed to wearing) I found out that I was pregnant with Kairi. I got a lot of comments that the weight had to have been from that, but I was really only a few weeks along, so I'm still certain the weight gain was from quitting smoking.

With Kairi, I shot back up to 194 pounds, just like with Gracie, however at my postpartum visit I was surprised to find that I hadn't lost as much weight as I did the first time around. I still weighed 165 pounds, which was the most I'd ever weighed without being pregnant. It took me a year to get down to 155 and another year still to drop down to 145. Within two months of getting to 145, I gained that ten pounds back and have remained at 155 pounds since, give or take a few pounds. 

The most recent standing pic I could find; February '10.
As you can see, even at 155, I still have no room to complain about being fat. But every time I mention how I have to buy new pants because I've gained a few pounds, I get the same old comments of how I could use to gain a few pounds and how I shouldn't call myself fat (which I have never once actually said). I also get lumped into the category of "skinny bitches who think they're fat," and I get told I'm lucky that I'm so skinny.

Well, let me clue you in to a few facts. I know I'm not fat. I have never had to struggle with my weight and I am so incredibly thankful for that. So first of all, please don't categorize me as a skinny bitch who thinks she's fat. A skinny bitch I may be, but I would NEVER presume that by BMI of 20 is anything but as healthy as it gets.

Regarding the remark that I am lucky to be so skinny, I'm sorry, but I don't feel that lucky. I don't own a single pair of pants that fits me right because guess what? They don't make pants for women with no ass. Instead, I get pants with droopy butt. And let me tell you, that makes me feel attractive. Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a little flat chested. Granted, I was less so after having Gracie, and even less after Kairi, but considering that I am breastfeeding, that fullness is only temporary. This is something that has bothered me since I was 12 years old and all the girls in my class started wearing bras. I was actually mistaken for a boy at one point when I was 13 years old. That's really fun.

I also don't find myself very lucky that my chicken legs prevent me from wearing shorts or dresses 99% of the summertime. I feel like I look like I'm on stilts instead of walking on legs. I am SO jealous of girls who have some weight on their legs.

And the name calling isn't reserved for the bigger girls. Bean-pole and daddy long legs are among the most popular, but probably the most hurtful remark, which I'll note that I've heard more times than I'd like to count, is that apparently I look like a Holocaust victim. Really?! I mean.... REALLY?! That's insulting on SO many levels. And just to clear things up, I do not, nor have I ever, struggled with an eating disorder.

Anyway, I'm not complaining. Really. Generally speaking, I am pretty happy with the way I look. I just get bothered by the misconceptions that any time I mention my weight, or wanting to go to the gym (because working out can be good for you whether you're skinny or not, you know), I'm saying that I'm fat, and also that I'm lucky to be skinny. No, I don't have it as hard as I would if I weighed 50 pounds more, but it's still not easy, nor is it lucky.

We all have problems with our body image, I think. The grass is always greener, except that it's not. I share this information with you all not to brag about myself, nor as a 'woe is me' kind of tale, but just in the hopes that it will open some eyes and perhaps allow us to grant each other a little more tolerance. Is it not a valid complaint to say, "Man, I gained a little weight and have to spend the money I don't have to buy clothes that fit?" Whether you weigh 100 pounds or 300, I think that's completely justifiable, and having been there, far be it for me to pass judgment.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dividing Attention

I don't know about you, but having two kids has been kind of tough on me as a parent. Before Kairi, my youngest, was born, I spent a lot of time with Gracie. We did everything together. We had movie nights where we'd just lay in bed all night watching movies, dance party nights, we did makeovers, all kinds of stuff. I used to take all kinds of pictures of Gracie and basically just showered tons of attention on her.

Since Kairi has been born, I've had to divide my attention, and since Kairi is younger and significantly less independent, she gets the majority of my attention. Most of the pictures I take now are of Kairi, as I'm constantly having to follow her around and make sure she's not getting into stuff, and Gracie is usually off doing her own thing.

Every now and again though, I try to make some time to spend specifically with Gracie. I want her to still feel important. She's been great about not being too jealous of her sister, but she still deserves just as much of my time.

I got some really good shots of Gracie a few nights ago at my sister-in-law's house. I miss taking as many pictures of Gracie as I used to, so it's nice to get some cool, candid shots of her from time to time.

So, friends with multiple kids, what do you do to make sure you've got some one on one time with each child? Do you give them extra attention while one is taking a nap, or split up time between the other parent? Any other suggestions?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baby Gluton and Our Roles in Society

I'd like to preface this post in saying that yes, I am writing again about breastfeeding, however, this post is not just about breastfeeding. A friend of mine posted a picture of the breastfeeding doll Baby Gluton on his Facebook page and asked, "Any thoughts about this doll, or the appropriateness of this doll, or the appropriateness of subjecting girls to doll toys which may reinforce their place in society at such an early age?"
Baby Gluton, the breastfeeding doll
So far, his post has drawn in a lot of responses. One woman said, "Breastfeeding is a primal human function. It does not place us anywhere in society. My issue is with an advertisement which focuses on childrens breasts."

I agreed, also stating that my children already use their dolls as breastfeeding dolls, as they recognize that as how we feed babies. While I understand and appreciate the idea behind promoting breastfeeding, I don't see the point in the doll. Every doll we have is a breastfeeding doll.

My friend then asked me whether or not I have problems giving my girls dolls to play with. "I do take issue with giving a girl anything that reinforces where society thinks her place in it should be. Girls are more than milk containers and incubators. ... I think females deserve a greater role in life than to be subservient to their man in marriage, and to be a home-school teacher. :)," he said.

"I'm fine with giving my girls dolls to play with. I see no problem in nurturing their want to nurture something else. They also have a play workbench with hammers and nails and screws, etc, Tonka trucks, etc. My girls play Batman and Spiderman.

"I get what you're saying here, sir, in that perhaps by giving girls dolls that we're pressuring them or brainwashing them into thinking that this is what their job will be when they grow up and that it's wrong to think otherwise. I agree to a degree, but I also think that when children are treated with consideration and support and are accepted as what they are and what they want to become, they are less likely to be browbeaten into thinking that they have a "place in society." My girls don't BELONG in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, but if they choose that path, I will accept them just as much as if they choose to run for President or want to become a firefighter or a teacher or whatever else. I intend to raise them to know and understand that, so no, I see no problem in my girls dolls."

Another notable response in the thread came from a woman who was bothered by the doll:

"This doll infuriates me. Breast feeding is not natural and not everyone can do it. Mom and baby have to learn how to do it, and I know from several girlfriends that the process can be frustrating and draining and maddening. Especially when you've been told your entire life by everyone you know that it is natural. Aside from that, not everyone can do it. There are any number of reasons why some women cannot breast feed. From the anatomical to the practical.. And if your mother and/ or your sisters had issues breastfeeding, the chance that you will have the same or similar issues increases dramatically. For instance, my sister had numerous infections the first two times she tried to breastfeed. So when I got pregnant, I discussed this with both my pediatrician and my ob/gyn. We decided that I probably shouldn't even try. Ultimately, it didn't matter anyway because my milk never came in. So I think giving a doll like this to a child simply reinforces society's expectations and can only lead to incredible disappointment later if she us unable to breastfeed."

For a long time, I've been trying to hold my tongue when it comes to commenting about breastfeeding on Facebook. I've posted about some of the drama that I've encountered there regarding the issue, and while I feel that it is important to try to dispel some of the myths about breastfeeding that cause the most misunderstanding, I also find it incredibly important to hang on to a level of sanity that I can't maintain when faced with that amount of opposition. However, it's comments like these, as well as a few other things that have been said in the past, that will bring me to jump up on my soap box.

"It's not breastfeeding that bothers me in the slightest, nor is it the promotion of breastfeeding. I think that the idea behind it is good, that we as society should be more supportive of breastfeeding than we are - because although everyone says, 'Oh, EVERYONE says you should breastfeed,' when I announced my plans to breastfeed, everyone from my mother to my OB to my friends and co-workers advised against it. 'It's hard! It's gross! It hurts!' I heard every excuse in the book for why I shouldn't do it, while only two people told me that they thought it was a good idea.

We tout the health benefits for both mother and child, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, we're all perfectly okay with not doing it. 'It's great for you, but so is exercising and we all know how often we actually make it to the gym.'

I get that there are a lot of women who can't - but generally speaking it's because there are so many myths about breastfeeding that women buy into because they're so widely spread. For instance, statistically speaking, only about 2% of women have actual medical reasons for having supply issues. Breast milk runs on supply and demand and if you never even put your baby to your breast, your body is going to see that as zero demand for milk and thus, your milk is not going to come in.

I also get that there are all kinds of infections, ranging from thrush (I'm sure it's fun having a yeast infection on your boobs) to mastitis (which, having been lucky enough to never suffer from, I can say that I can DEFINITELY see where that would probably deter me from continuing to breastfeed).

There are also other reasons that breastfeeding isn't always the best option for the family, like the working mother (and I don't give a crap about all the laws passed allowing working moms space and time to pump - as a working waitress, I can say from experience that even though it is within my legal right to take that time to pump milk while I am at work, I am going to lose money if I practice that right.)

What I am saying is that I get that there are reasons to not breastfeed and I am not trying to pass judgment on those who do not - what works best for your family to make a healthy baby and a healthy mother is your own personal decision - but please don't tell me that breastfeeding is not natural because it is something that has to be learned. I am glad that was brought up, that is does have to be learned, but just because mother and baby have to both learn how to do it, that does not make it unnatural. It's no more unnatural than any other learned task we, as animals, do. Would you say walking is unnatural? Or chewing and swallowing solid food?

Breastfeeding is NATURAL (whether you like it or not), should be promoted (although perhaps not with this doll), and supported wholly. And just because we may choose to breastfeed, that does not mean that we are picking our place in society or bowing down to what we think that we, as women, are SUPPOSED to do. In choosing to breastfeed, we are choosing to feed our children the very best thing we possibly can - a food that is made SPECIFICALLY for them.

I'm sorry to make this so long, sir (referring back to the original poster), but while to a degree I get where you're going with your arguments, I am also a little bothered by the assumption that we're bowing down to the societal roles that we're supposed to follow by educating ourselves and taking the time to choose our children over ourselves while they are young.

I don't know if you've ever seen the movie Mona Lisa Smile, and not to give any spoilers, but there is a point in time when one of the girls in the class chose to be married and raise a family instead of going to law school. The professor went to her house to speak with her about it, telling her that she can choose both. The girl responds, 'Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer? ... Not as much as I'd regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart. This must seem terrible to you... You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don't. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You're the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.' I feel that that best sums up my feelings towards the time that I put my childrens' benefit over my own career or personal life."

I'm hoping that my words won't come across as harsh, but I was really bothered by the statement that just because breastfeeding is a learned process it's unnatural.

So what do you guys think? Do you think that a doll specifically designed for pretend breastfeeding is okay? How do you feel about giving girls dolls to play with? Any responses to those who posted above?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Motivator

I've always had problems with my alarm clocks. I'm one of those people that has to hit the snooze button a million times before getting up, and I'm sure if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have nearly as many problems as I do.

Generally speaking, the problems I have with my clocks make me wake up late. There have been multiple occasions that I've hit snooze and the alarm has never gone off again after that. And yes, I've double checked to make sure I didn't actually turn the thing off instead of just hitting snooze. It just quit working.

There have also been times that I've had what I like to call interactive dreams. Have you ever been dreaming, and all of a sudden there's a song playing in your dream? You wake up to find out that the radio is on. Well, these dreams are like that. The best example I can give of that type of dream is what I call the race dream. In my dream I was running a sort of race. I was running around the block, and just as I'd get back around, a buzzer would go off and I'd have to hit it to start my time over. I was two hours late for work that day.

My last alarm clock was the one that quit going off after snoozing. That happened to me three times in one week and luckily I just happened to wake up with about ten minutes to get ready. The first couple of times I thought it might just be a fluke, or that I did something wrong like turning the alarm off instead of hitting snooze, but like I said above, I did check, and I did not turn it off. So after the third time in one week of having the same problem, I threw that sucker away and bought a new one.

I like my new alarm clock. It was cheap and it doesn't have a radio, which means it doesn't have a volume control either. I just get a super loud, "ANK ANK ANK ANK ANK!" when it's time to get up and around. But, as with every alarm I've ever owned, this one has its own unique set of problems. The buttons which are used to set the time are right next to the snooze button on this clock, and although you have to hold the "time" button to reset the time on the clock, somehow, in hitting snooze in the mornings, I manage to bump the "hour" button. The next time I hit the snooze button, I look at the clock and it's an hour past the time I'm supposed to be at work, which forces me to jump up out of bed and run to the living room, only to see that I've got an hour to get ready. I'm already up and around, so there's no going back to bed. Plus, I honestly do have good intentions of getting up that early when I set the alarm that early, I just don't have the motivation to actually get up until the last minute. I think I'm going to rename my clock, "The Motivator."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Chain

When you're a mom, there's something about looking down at your sleeping child that sometimes fills you with the most intense sense of gratification. There's a certain peace in knowing that you've done your job. All of the worry and stress of the day is washed away and you're left feeling full of nothing but, as cheesy as it sounds, pure love for your child, a love so strong that it feels like it could literally burst out of you at any second. 

At one point in time after I had Gracie, I want to say she was three or so, she was napping while I was on the phone with my mom. I looked down at her and she was so peaceful and everything just seemed so right with the world in that moment. That feeling washed over me, that rush of oxytocin. I asked my mother if that feeling ever goes away, if it fades with time as your child grows older. 

Her response was that, no, it never goes away or fades with time, that she still feels that feeling for me. Like so many other children, for many years I had taken for granted the love of my parents, as it had never occurred to me until that moment exactly how much love was felt for me, even as an adult. 

As I look on at my two sleeping daughters right now, I feel that feeling still. I never would have thought that it could be bigger than it already was, but every time that feeling washes over me, I remember that someone out there feels the same way for me and it doubles. There's no real way to describe it, other than a never-ending flow of energy that runs from mother to child, and is now channeled from one mother's child to her own children. I hope my girls can share this chain of love with their own children one day. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Mom

I consider myself to be incredibly lucky that I've been able to make a friend out of my mother now that we're both adults. Like most girls, we hit a rough patch when I was a teenager - a really rough patch I guess would be a more appropriate term for it.

Our relationship remained rocky for a few years after I moved out. There were various stressors that kept our relationship strained, but thankfully, through a lot of very hard work, things were worked through and we were in a good place to get to know one another again when I became pregnant with Gracie. 

I was 20 and I still had a lot to learn when it came to living my adult life. (Not to say that I still don't have a lot to learn - but looking back, I'm incredibly surprised I survived on my own.) So when I became pregnant, I really needed some additional support. 

I was the first of my close friends to get pregnant, so the natural choice of people to turn to when I had questions or just wanted to commiserate with when I had morning sickness was my mother. At the time, she was living in Wichita, KS, so our relationship grew by daily phone calls. (Let's not kid ourselves here - sometimes we talked multiple times a day.) 

We talked about all kinds of stuff. First we talked about my pregnancy, then we talked about her pregnancy with me and how things were compared and contrasted between the two. We talked about her childhood and my childhood and the eventual childhood of the baby in my belly. And over the course of those 38 weeks, my mother and I became friends. 

A few months after Gracie was born, my husband and I got into some trouble and my mom moved here to take Gracie so we could turn things around. In the two years that she lived here, we became even closer, seeing each other nearly every day. She also formed an intensely deep bond with Gracie - a bond so deep that sometimes Gracie randomly gets upset because she misses her Mimi. 

Just before Gracie's second birthday, my mom moved to Tulsa and has been there since. It was really hard to go without having my mom around, but it was also a freeing experience, as having her here also meant having a safety net I'd never had before and going without that meant I had to learn how to be a real adult (one who is a productive member of society rather than a drain on it). 

We try to visit as often as we can, and we still talk on the phone almost daily. I'm not really sure why I started writing this post, or where I'm going with it from here - I guess I just realized that I haven't talked much about my mom on here and figured it's time. I love my mom very much and I am so thankful that she and I have both been able to work through our own personal issues in order to create a bond together. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Is That Kid on a Leash?

I've talked about my youngest daughter Kairi here before, and how she can be a little unruly. My husband Jason and I have been to parenting classes, we've worked really hard with her to try to improve her behavior, and we are getting ready to start family counseling to hopefully get a few more tools to utilize when Kairi's behavior gets out of hand. 

Gracie was nothing like Kairi. Gracie was incredibly mild mannered in comparison. Don't get me wrong - Gracie threw some fits and got a little crazy from time to time, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to Kairi. Kairi's fits are like nothing I've ever seen. She hits, kicks, screams, pulls hair, scratches, pinches, and bites herself so hard she brings up bruises. She also has a tendency to run off the moment we set her down. 

We've tried everything we can think of. Really. And like I said above, we're about to start counseling to hopefully get things under control before she gets much older. I know she's two, and a lot of people would say that it's just a phase, just the "terrible twos," but let me just say that this is the "terrible twos" on CRACK and we need HELP.

So, while we were on vacation, we decided to finally employ the monkey backpack/leash that a friend gave us for the kids to play with. We got it several months ago and never really intended on using it. I tried it on Kairi when we first got it, but she flipped out and hid it. But, we decided to give it another go, considering that we'd be in various airports, a major league baseball game, and a great number of other crowded locations where the idea of losing sight of our 2 year old, even for a second or two, is terrifying. 

As it turned out, this thing was a Godsend. I have never been more thankful for an accessory than I was for Kairi's monkey backpack. 

Prior to having kids, however, the idea of "leashing" my child really freaked me out. Admittedly, I was pretty judgmental of the whole idea. Having lived through mothering a child who will run off the moment you set her down, however, I totally get the need for this product. But it still draws in a lot of judgment.

One girl at the airport in Memphis made a comment in passing that really got to me. We were in the middle of our layover and we were hunting down a smoking area for Jason. We've got our 6 year old, our 2 year old, a carry-on, a tote bag, and a toddler carseat all in tow, and we're trying to navigate this incredibly busy airport. We're all tired, and Jason is incredibly cranky because he hasn't had a cigarette in hours. His crankiness made me cranky, which in turn made me snap at the girls probably significantly more than necessary or normal... It just wasn't a great situation. So, we're walking along when Kairi decides she wants me to carry her. Only I'm carrying the carseat as well as pulling the carry on behind me. So she just lays down and starts crying. And here comes little miss judgment, a girl who probably doesn't have kids, one of those people who would say, "Well, I babysit a lot so I know a lot about kids." As she's passing by, she says, "Well that's good planning. A lot of good that leash is doing you, huh?"

While actually in Florida, we passed a lot of people who said, only once they thought we were out of earshot, "Is that kid on a leash?" At one point in time, we passed a couple who made that remark, then immediately came upon a woman trying to buckle her screaming daughter into a stroller. She looked up at us after she saw Kairi skip past her and said, "Man... I could REALLY use one of those." 

So, in response to anyone who wants to pass judgment, yes. My kid is on a leash. But you know what? At least they're not locking down Wal-Mart to search for the child I lost, and at least her picture isn't going up on the lost child wall in the entry way. 

And to anyone who thinks I'm lazy for choosing to use a "leash," you try chasing my two year old around for a couple of hours, then we'll talk. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back From Vacation

Wow - It's been a little while since I last posted. Apologies all around, folks. I haven't had many ideas on topics to write about, but I've decided that perhaps if I even just use my blog as a platform for an online public diary of sorts, perhaps by writing more frequently even just about our everyday happenings, maybe that will help get the ball rolling.

So, a lot has happened since I last wrote. School is out and summer vacation is in! So far I've been very busy this summer. I started a new part time job working at this really cool local coffee and sandwich shop. I used to go in just about every morning for coffee and a breakfast quesadilla before class (and oh my goodness, are their breakfast quesadillas the best ever! *drools*) They had just begun staying open over the weekend and business was finally picking up enough that the owner felt she could justify hiring someone to work the weekend shifts so she could have some time off and she offered me the job. It came at a perfect time too, because although I was working weekends at Chili's and making decent money, that money was also cash in hand - which slipped right through my fingers the moment it hit them.

Since my family was planning a vacation - a real vacation - I needed to save all the money I could, and putting a lump-summed paycheck in the back was a lot easier than depositing a slow trickle of cash. Plus, did I mention that this place is super cool and I love all the people that work there? It's an awesome job for me.

I am still working at Chili's too, though. I love my job at Chili's, and since my coffee shop job was only for weekends, I decided it would be in my best interest to keep my position at Chili's open so I can work there during the week while I'm not in school. It might sound like a lot, but really it's just two part time jobs that don't really equal a full-time job. I get in about 30 hours a week or so.

I'm just getting back into working however, because we just got back from our above-mentioned vacation. We took a trip to St. Petersburg, Florida, and it was AMAZING! My husband Jason and I celebrated 10 years together while we were there by taking the girls to the Sunken Gardens. I know, it doesn't really sound that spectacular, but it was a lot of fun.

We did a lot of stuff while we were there. The whole reason behind choosing St. Petersburg was because we have some very close friends who live there. Jennifer, the girl I grew up with, and her mom, one of my Mom's best friends, moved there 9 years ago, so we thought it would be a good place to visit. And boy, was it! I think we had the best time together as a family.

I'll be posting pictures soon, and giving more updates as they come - I'm hoping to write a new post at least twice a week, so keep your eyes peeled as there is more to come!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thoughts on Celebration

Today I am celebrating, but not because a man is dead. You see, I don't believe in the celebration of death, no matter how much of a monster the person who died was. Instead, I believe on the celebration of life, and that is what I am celebrating today.

Today, I am celebrating the countless lives that have surely been spared by the absence of a man. It is not important how this absence came about, as it could have just as easily come by imprisonment.

I also realize that we still have a long way to go, a long fight ahead of us, and so I keep my celebration short and reserved. I know that there are still men and women out there putting their lives on the line, putting themselves at risk - probably at greater risk for what I hope to be only a short time longer. Until these men and women are home safe with their families, I will reserve my energy, for when that day comes, the celebration will be great!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bible Thumped in Oklahoma

I just got finished writing a query to a very popular advice column. I doubt if I'll get any kind of a response from that venue, but I'd like to share my letter here and see what advice you all might have to offer.


Neither my husband or I are religious, and we decided before having children that we would give our kids a well rounded religious education once they were old enough to understand that they have a choice in their beliefs.

That being said, our oldest daughter is 6 years old and is in kindergarten. A few weeks ago, she came home from school and told me that she'd asked her teacher about her cross necklace and her teacher responded that the cross reminds her of Jesus and how he died on the cross to be the one true lord and savior. While I disagreed with the fact that her teacher shared that with her, I understood that my daughter asked the question to begin with, inviting that answer.

Today, on Good Friday, my daughter came home from school and told me all about Easter and how Jesus died to absolve our sins and how we should praise God for sending us his only begotten son, etc. etc. etc. Her teacher told the entire class the story of Easter with her own religious belief embellishments added in. (I'd like to note that my daughter goes to public school.)

I'm angry and upset that such an authority figure would take time out of class to push her own religious agenda upon a group of impressionable 5 and 6 year olds, none of whom are old enough to realize that they can question her authority. I would like to take this issue up with the school, but I am not sure what exactly I should do.

Some friends have suggested obeying the chain of command and talking directly with the teacher first. I am afraid that if I do this, my daughter will be singled out as the kid with Hellbound parents. Other friends have suggested going directly to the principal or even the school board, but I don't want to get the teacher fired. Aside from this incident, we've never had any issue with the teacher and my daughter loves her.

I'm afraid that no matter what I do, the situation may not be resolved, as I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt and most people around here take complaints against their public religious beliefs as a personal offense or something to be shrugged off and laughed at.

So what do I do?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Beatnik's Beat on Feet Giveaway Winner

Congratulations, Marci J! You've won a custom pair of fuzzy flip flops! Keep an eye on your inbox to claim your prize! :)

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in my giveaway! It was my first one ever and while it didn't go as well as I'd hoped, I was able to reach my goal and come up with a reasonable pricing system for selling my flip flops.

I've decided to sell adult pairs for $10 and childrens pairs for $7 with exceptions made for more difficult or expensive customs.

Again, if you'd like to place an order with me send an email to baby.beatnik (at) att (dot) net!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Introducing: A Beatnik's Beat on Feet

Okay, okay. I realize that my giveaway should probably be considered the introduction of my new project, "A Beatnik's Beat on Feet,"  but now that I've made my first actual sale, I feel like it's more official, and thus deserves a more official introduction.

I am making and selling custom fuzzy and/or furry flip flops, sizes ranging from children's small (3-4 year olds) to women's large (10.5), colors ranging from one side of the rainbow to the other in any combination you can think up.

Here are a few examples:

Tinsel Town
Bubble Gum
Red Shoe Society
Soft Rainbow
Vivid Rainbow
Ice Ice Baby
Summer Sherbert
School Spirit: OU
School Spirit: OSU

If you'd like to place an order, please email me at baby.beatnik (at) att (dot) net and let me know what size and color flip flop you'd like and what color and style of yarn.

Pricing is tentatively set at $10 per adult pair, $7 per child pair, and may change based on results from the name your price giveaway I am currently holding.

So, if you'd like to win a free pair of these custom flip flops, click the link above and comment there to enter!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Beatnik's Beat on Feet: Giveaway!

I am SO excited to announce that I am starting a small business of sorts! I am making custom fuzzy flip flops - and just in time for spring and summer! I've just started, but here's what I've got so far:

Soft Rainbow
Grape Crush (child size)
School Spirit: OU
Tinsel Town
School Spirit: OSU
Bubble Gum
Red Shoe Society
Vivid Rainbow
I'm still working on some different colored flip flops and will have lots of varying styles coming up, so definitely keep your eyes open for that. 

In the meantime, I could use some help. I'm not sure how to price these things! I've come up with a few prices, but I'm getting varying opinions - some think I'll charge too little, some say there's no way they'd pay that much for a pair of flip flops. 

So, I am giving away one pair of custom flip flops - your choice of color and style. 

Here are the ways you can  enter:

  • Comment telling me how much you could realistically see yourself paying for a pair of these shoes. This entry is mandatory - the rest are optional extra entries. 
  • Go Like my Facebook page!
  • Follow me on Twitter!
Rules of participation:

  • Must live within the continental US. 
  • Leave your name and email address in each entry comment. 
  • A winner will be chosen at random via in one week. (April 15, 2011) The winner will have 2 days to respond once contacted. If I receive no response from the winner, I will choose another. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Years

It's hard to believe that in two short years, we've gone from this:

....To this:

...And now to this:

My girl is getting so big, and while it doesn't seem like it should already be time for her to be learning the things she's learning (how to ride a tricycle, how to use the big girl potty, etc), it also seems like that day two years ago when she was so tiny is a distant memory.

Kairi's birthday isn't actually until Saturday, and I will (I'm sure) be posting pictures and updates soon thereafter, but I was just sitting here thinking about the past two years and how they've flown by.

Friday, March 18, 2011