30 December, 2010

Bed-sharing and Why We Do It

I don't have anything against the way people parent their children, unless they are making obviously bad choices or abusing their children. Other than that, any parent is welcome to parent their children any way that they see fit. We have chosen to parent our children a certain way, even though some people may not agree. It's fine if you don't, but this is the way we have decided to raise our children.

Whenever a couple is expecting a baby, there are a few key things that they generally discuss about the upbringing of the child before the baby is born. The rest of it is all just trial and error, and hopefully, some research along the way.

What is most discussed before babies come home? Well, to be honest, not a whole lot. Usually its where baby is going to sleep and how baby is going to be fed. More "crunchy" parents will discuss vaccinations, cloth diapering, circumcision...those types of things. Unfortunately, the norm in the United States is baby sleeps in a crib in his/her own room, with disposable diapers and formula.  But we've chosen to raise our kids a different way, and go about things that are "against the norm". Sadly enough, the way we chose to raise our kids USED to be normal, but now...its seen as "weird" or "off the wall".

So I'm doing a couple blogs about the things we do that are "off the wall" and why we do them. Lucky for me, Brad and I are both pretty much on the same page when it comes to parenting. We do disagree on little things. I'm not a big fan of the spankings, but in certain situations, it works. And Brad handles that part of the discipline. And it took awhile for Brad to be okay with the cloth diapers and baby wipes, but we seemed to have crossed that hurdle and now we're all on the same page. There are other things we have and will disagree on, but we both know when to call it quits and just let the other person do what they want (for instance, he stepped aside on the cloth diaper debate and I stepped aside when he told me he didn't want a doula)

First on the agenda is co-sleeping. Or rather, bed-sharing. We bed-share in our house. This actually wasn't really something that came up while I was pregnant. We had talked about co-sleeping and having Ophelia sleep in a play pen in our room. And we bought the play pen. And eventually it will be used. But while I was in the hospital, Ophelia slept with me. The only time she was in her little bassinet was while I was going to the bathroom and was alone. Or while the nurses/doctors were looking at her. Any other time she was sleeping, she was in my arms or in my bed. Surprisingly, the nursing staff never said a word to me about it. Maybe that's because she was sleeping the right way (on her back all swaddled up). Since she's been home, she's slept in our bed, either in between us, or on my side of the bed (with a bed rail in place now that she's going to start rolling soon).

And while I'm on this topic, I'm going to admit to a big no-no that I do. I let my baby sleep on her stomach. I did it with Reilly. I'm doing it with Ophelia. Neither one of my kids have been huge on the swaddling. And while its a nice idea to keep them from startling, my girls just didn't tolerate it well. It was a huge fight and I just wasn't going to be a part of it. So I've let both girls sleep on their stomachs from day one. Call me a bad mom if you must, but I take every precaution that I can to ensure that nothing bad happens to them while we are all sleeping. I have the added bonus of being a light sleeper when either one of my girls is sleeping soundly next to me, and if things aren't right, I wake up.

Back to the topic. Not only do I love bed-sharing, but Brad does too. He likes being able to wake up and cuddle with Ophelia in the morning. And she's such a happy morning baby, anyone who didn't love it would be crazy. And bed-sharing has its benefits too, especially for breastfeeding mommies. Personally, I don't think that getting up 2-3 times in the middle of the night to get up out of bed and grab a baby, sit down, and feed them sounds like much fun. Not that getting up 2-3 times in the middle of the night is fun mind you, but not having to get up, walk around, get the baby, change her, then feed her...well, that just isn't my cup of tea.

There are added benefits to bed-sharing as well. It's been proven that mom's and babies sleep better. Baby can smell mom's scent, hear her breathing, and feel her close. There have also been studies that show that baby's heart rates and breathing patterns are regulated by sleeping close to mom. They share the same sleep patterns making sleep more efficient and beneficial for everyone. It makes breastfeeding much easier. A lot of women have learned the side feeding position (though honestly, I've never been able to master it. I sit up a little bit, get Ophelia latched on, have a pillow on whatever side I'm feeding her on, and lightly doze while feeding her) and sometimes mom and baby feed/eat without ever waking up. Babies naturally drift closer to their parents during sleep. I notice it all the time. Ophelia will start off closer to the middle of the bed, and by the time I wake up in the morning, she's snuggled up close to me. Co-sleeping is especially beneficial to breastfeeding moms. They sleep lighter, which means they wake up when baby starts stirring. For some reason, though I'm not sure exactly why, mom's who formula feed are less likely to be as aware of their babies, but I haven't actually read anything that says why. But we aren't talking about bed-sharing when formula feeding babies. By the time Reilly switched to formula, she was sleeping through the night and even the rare occasion where she did get up in the middle of the night, I was so trained that it didn't even matter.

I understand some parents want their space. I get that sometimes having a baby in the bed with you can make people anxious. They are so obsessed with their babies breathing and all the little noises that babies make that they don't take the time to just relax, calm down, and fall asleep. So they move their baby to another bed, or another room. I'm the exact opposite. I freak if my babies are far away from me sleeping. Hell, I still had a baby monitor in Reilly's room until she turned 4 and Brad had to all but physically force me to take it out of her room. I still make him sleep with the door open, even though he hates it, just in case she wakes up in the middle of the night. I don't handle my girls being far away from me very well. I get anxious and worry and check on them constantly. And eventually Ophelia will move out of our bed. It'll probably be in the next 3 months or so. It worked really well with Reilly, and she was in a crib, in her own room by her first birthday.

Bed-sharing is obviously one of those things that need done correctly. But honestly, its more common sense than anything. Don't have lots of blankets and pillows that can cover or fall on your baby. Don't bed-share when you are taking drugs (prescription or otherwise), or you've been drinking. Problems can be created if you are overweight as well. And honestly, if you know for a fact that you or your spouse are heavy sleepers and won't wake up if you roll on a baby, then you probably shouldn't bed-share. But it can and is done safetly and in a healthy way that benefits mom, dad and baby. 

It's a little more common now to co-sleep (baby in the same room) than it has been. But it's even less common that parents bed share. A lot of parents think and can get stuck with their kids in their beds for years. It happens. It hasn't happened to me...when I decided it was time to move Reilly to her own bed, it happened, and that was that. Some people think they are spoiling their baby by letting them sleep in bed with mom and dad. Simply not true. Some people think that their child will have sleep issues later on in life. Reilly doesn't. Reilly is a perfect sleeper. The only time she wakes is when she has an accident (which is rare) or when she gets scared for one reason or another (also rare. In total, it probably happens 2-3 times a month. At the most). Some people think that their bed is specifically for the parents (ie. sex). But seriously ladies and gents, it's the 21st century. Get creative. Your baby is sleeping in your bed? Well, how many other rooms in the house do you have?! It can be done. A lot of mom's say "I'll never let my baby sleep in my bed"....and then comes that night, where you've been up until 1am, and just when you think the baby is asleep, BAM, it's sad baby island. And you've tried everything, and nothing is working, and you climb into bed with your little one, and magically....it just works.

So to close -- we bed-share because we want to. We have taken the necessary steps to create a safe bed for our baby. There will come a time where we want our bed back, and we both know that and have discussed it. And as long as we are on the same page, we will probably continue to bed-share with our subsequent children. Because that's how we roll. You may not bed-share or co-sleep. You may even think that its dangerous. But shit, our baby is almost 4 months old now, and she's perfect.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

26 December, 2010

Wordless Sunday -- Christmas edition

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! We sure did. Opened presents will all the girls and then had friends over since none of our family was here. I'll be posting more this upcoming week...was taking a break for the holidays, but I have some stuff I was working on. 

My favorite pictures of the girls opening presents

Ophelia wanted that toy SO BAD!

I just love this. The excitement is just flowing!

15 December, 2010

It's an actual update!

Not just me rattling on about my beliefs and how I raise my kids! I feel like I'm getting caught up in the ho-hum of being a birth advocate and a parent. I didn't used to be like this, I swear. Back in my "blogging days" -- which, was just me spewing bullshit from my fingers on livejournal and myspace -- I would write posts that were short, sweet, and very much to the point (along with very rude, judgmental, and littered with dislike). Blogging, to me, used to be about just getting something off of my chest, and as a 18-21 year old, I had a lot of shit that bothered me. In the past I've actually gone back and read my blogs and you can just see my life wasn't going anywhere fun. I tried to be silly and witty, but all I did was come off as a big asshole.

But now that I actually blog for value, I feel like I'm missing out on that care free blogging that I used to do, where I just talked about my day and what's going on in my life. So THAT'S what we're going to do today!

Where to start?! I guess I'll start back in the middle of November. Brad's birthday was November 15th. He got Call of Duty: Black Ops from me. I mean, he actually bought and paid for it himself, because while he was so excited about the game he was practically pissing his pants, I had other things to do, like keep two little girls occupied and shop for breast pads. We didn't really do anything special for his birthday. I'm not even sure I cooked him a nice, fancy, "you're getting so old" birthday dinner. NO! I didn't. I went and got pizza instead. And the only reason I remember that for a fact is because I was sneaky and bought him an ice cream cake at Baskin Robbins that is right next to the pizza place. So I win brownie points for that one. Extra points because the colors on the small (but oh so yummy) ice cream cake were Bengals (orange and black) colors. And as my husband is from Ohio, it was only fitting for his 28th birthday. (See? Old.)

November 16th was our 3 year anniversary. No, we didn't do anything special that day. In fact, the things we did do had nothing to do with us celebrating our anniversary what-so-ever! We took Ophelia to her 2 month check up. We showed the doctor that her skin condition was gone (thank goodness! That was horrible), she weighed in a whooping 12lbs 12oz and 23" long. Now real quick, I'm gonna go ahead and put some information out there. My two kids are completely different. They will always be individuals, blah blah blah. But Reilly...well...she was and still is, a small kid. My "skinny minnie" if you will. I actually went back and found HER two month check up paper work. She weighted 10lbs and 4 oz or so. Ophelia had TWO POUNDS on Reilly and at least an inch and a half. Okay, back to the story...Ophelia was in the 80th percentile for weight and I think 57th for height. My fat baby. (Currently, if I weigh her on my scale with me, she's clocking in at 15lbs!)

Then, Brad went and picked up his mom at the airport. She stayed with us for two weeks so she could visit since..well...there was a baby now. Unfortunately, she got sick in the middle of her trip, which, lets face it, is NEVER fun. I felt bad. We didn't get to go do anything really fun...I mean, we got to go to the beach and Ophelia got to go in the ocean for the first time, which was exciting. We had Thanksgiving here with friends and my mother in law, and it was almost like being home. I love having people in my house for big events....makes me feel all lovey and homey.

So we said goodbye to my mother in law on November 30th. The weekend after that, we went and got our Christmas tree and trimmings and decorated the house! I love Christmas time. And having a tree and lights up makes it feel a little more like back home. Makes me remember cuddling up in the house under a blanket with candles and watchin a movie.

Anyway! So here we are, 9 days before Christmas (YAY!!). Ophelia is officially three months old now. It just seems like time has gone by wayyy too fast. She's holdin her head up, she wants to sit up so bad. I got my first laugh the other day! It's just amazing that the time has gone by so fast. She isn't my little new born anymore, she's my baby. I do miss her sleeping all day though. I think she's getting close to a growth spurt. Trouble sleeping, wanting to nurse almost all day...or maybe her personality is just starting to come out and she isn't the easy baby we thought we had.

After Christmas is my birthday. I'll be 26. (January 20) It'll be the first time that Brad is with me for my birthday since we've been married. So to be blunt, it better be an awesome birthday. Then its tax return time. Which I always love. We never save it, which we probably should, but this year we have to pay our landlord our deposit on our place (which we never did...thankfully, I'm not sure where we would have pulled that $2400 out of), we're buying me a car so I can actually leave the house with the girls during the day, and I don't have to rely on Brad to get off of work and come get us when we need to go somewhere. I'll also be able to get stuff done during the day, like grocery shopping or whatever. I'm pretty excited about that. We're also PLANNING (nothing is set in stone yet) on buying plane tickets to go visit BOTH our families in Washington and Ohio NEXT December. I've been looking at plane tickets, even though I can't look for December, I just plug in October to get an idea of what we're going to have to pay. For all 4 of us (since Ophelia will be a lap baby) it'll cost about $3000 just to fly everywhere. We'd be renting a car in Ohio I'm sure, since *hopefully* my parents would be cool with us using their car for a couple weeks. (But I don't want to assume, so I'll have to ask) so somewhere around $3500. Which, really, doesn't seem that bad. I still haven't decided the order. At first I figured we'd fly to Washington first, but the last Christmas we spent somewhere, was Ohio, and I haven't spent Christmas with my family since then....so we'll see. One of my only stipulations though is that I want a connecting flight from the west coast to Ohio so we don't have to have the girls on the plane for a ridiculous amount of time. Granted, Ophelia will be one already, and that should be a little easier than flying with her as an infant, and Reilly will be 5 and a half.

Ohhhhh shit. Reilly will be 5 and a half and IN SCHOOL. Well, just something we'll have to work around. Maybe we'll just have to make visits before school starts. Fuck.

So, that's a long update. But it's been awhile. I just haven't really thought about making an actual life update! I've been so busy thinking about other stuff and busy with the kids.

More to come soon. <3

12 December, 2010

09 December, 2010

I Am Advocate, Hear Me Roar!

As I've mentioned, Ophelia's birth has changed me. I took an entirely different approach to my pregnancy, labor, and delivery with her and it's changed my views on pregnancy and labor/delivery. I am an advocate. I am an advocate for natural, normal, intervention free childbirth. Some of my friends are hard core into politics. Some of my friends, including my bestie, are all about living the super green life and begin vegan/vegetarian. I am hard core into childbirth.

I wasn't always this way. I have always been passionate about woman's rights, and I've always felt that we, as women, should be able to have a say in what happens to our body, but I wasn't like that with pregnancy and childbirth. With Reilly, I didn't inform myself very much. I was scared to death of the pain and while I said "I'm going to try to go natural", I'm very aware that in the back of my mind I knew I was going to end up getting an epidural. My biggest fear was (and still is) having a c-section with one of my babies.

Please note that I do understand that intervention is sometimes necessary, and so are c-sections. But I am talking about a very normal, no to low-risk pregnancy and birth. 

 The more I read, and hear about women who make uninformed choices, the more I want to do something. And since I am not in a position to really DO anything right now other than write on my blog and direct people to good resources, the one thing I really want to do is shake women and tell them that they need to advocate for themselves and BE INFORMED about their pregnancies and the birth of their children. They need to know that our bodies are made to give birth. They were made to labor. Yes its painful. It's nothing even close to comfortable. Rainbows and unicorns don't come barreling out of your vagina when you have a baby. But the fact of the matter is, most women fear childbirth. The pain, the unknown, the after math...it's all scary. Every pregnancy and every birth is scary and worrisome at some point, and that's normal. But doctors pound into our heads that everything we are doing is wrong, and they know what's going on. Some doctors have never seen a fully natural childbirth, with no interventions, no surgery, no medication. Most doctors only see a few in their practicing years. That's scary! The national c-section rate is 32% (as of March 2010, according to the CDC website.) That's the highest its ever been. A lot of the time it's because a woman goes into the hospital, uneducated, and doctors spew "word vomit" (if I may take a quote from Mean Girls) about the baby being "too big to fit" or "failure to progress". And women listen to them because they are "all knowing" doctors, when in reality, rarely is it ever the case that a woman cannot have a baby naturally because of these reasons. I recently posted on  my facebook a link to a website called My OB Said WHAT!?! and how much it irritates me. (Except for their Thoughtful Thursdays) Some of the things that are on this website are ridiculous. Here, let me indulge you:

“Well, if you want me to be your doctor, you will schedule your cesarean right now.” – OB to mother at a prenatal early in the a VBAC pregnancy.  (Unfortunately, a lot of hospitals have now banned VBAC's - vaginal birth after cesarean)

“We’ll just make sure you deliver by 40 weeks! Don’t worry, almost *EVERY* woman gives birth before her due date!” – OB to mother. (Due dates are JUST estimates. Unless you know the EXACT DATE you ovulated, it is very rare that your due date is actually 40 weeks. And no, not EVERY woman gives birth before her due date. Especially first time moms.)

“If you don’t let me break your water, the baby won’t have a way to get out.” – OB to mother being induced. (The baby can come out IN the bag of water. Its called being born in the caul -- caution, actual birth pictures at that link. It's rare, but it happens.)

“Babies over 40 weeks get ‘sick’ (inside the womb.)” – OB to mother at a prenatal appointment. (Wrong again doc. Babies are perfectly fine over 40 weeks)

“You can refuse, but you’ll kill your baby.” – Nurse to mother during her 32 week prenatal, who stated she wanted to refuse an induction. (Wrong again! Refusing induction will NOT kill your baby.)

“You have only a 20% chance of birthing this baby vaginally. You might as well have your epidural now for your cesarean section later.” – OB to mother. (Blah blah blah.)

“Your baby will die if you don’t have a cesarean by 40 weeks.” – OB to mother who had refused the three hour Gestational Diabetes test. (No. No no no.)

Isn't that scary? Don't you want to run away from childbirth RIGHT THIS SECOND?! This is what women hear every day from their doctors and nurses...and hell, even some midwives. But then you watch something like this: (Yes it is a video of a natural childbirth. Yes there are vagina shots. You've been warned.)

And yes...she's in pain, but listen to the encouragement she's getting from her (I assume) midwives. Don't even look at the video...just close your eyes AND LISTEN. THIS is how childbirth should be the majority of the time.

Not like this (which, while funny, is sadly what childbirth is getting towards):

So ladies, please educate yourselves about childbirth. The doctors are not always right. Gain knowledge about yourself, your body and your baby. Please.

I am a natural childbirth advocate. Here me fucking roar!!

Note: Again, I understand that interventions are sometimes necessary. I don't judge a woman based on how she decides to have her own child. It is her body, her choice. I just want women to understand that our bodies were made for this, no matter what.

05 December, 2010

Wordless Sunday

We set up our Christmas tree and lights this weekend!

My ladies. Ophelia's first Christmas!

03 December, 2010

Its Christmas Time...

We do all the normal Christmas family things. We put up a Christmas tree and let Reilly help decorate. We put up lights and little things here and there. We fill stockings. We wake up early (sorta?) on Christmas morning and unwrap gifts. We hang around in our jammies for hours. We listen to Christmas music. We do ALL those things.

What we don't do, is push Santa on the kids. I know a lot of families do the Santa thing, and for them, that's okay. I don't want Reilly and Ophelia to grow up thinking that some magical man comes into our house early in the morning on Christmas and leaves us all presents. That's not how it works. Mommy and daddy (well, mostly mommy this year) spend time trying to pick out the perfect gifts for our girls, frantically wrapping them at the last minute because I forgot, or was too lazy, or didn't have time before hand, and nicely placing them under the Christmas tree for them to tear into on Christmas morning.

I don't know where I got the notion to tell my kids that Santa isn't real. I was told he was...I figured out for myself that he wasn't one year when I woke up at night, only to hear my parents talking and wrapping presents. I remember being not heart broken, but a little upset. I wasn't devastated, but I wasn't exactly happy about my discovery. When I was pregnant with Reilly, I figured I'd do all the normal things that parents normally do...Santa, the Easter bunny, etc. But when she got to the age of understanding Christmas, and being excited about it, I decided against Santa. And the Easter bunny. I decided that I wouldn't lie to my kids about that. I'll tell them little white lies all through their lives...like "No, sorry, we can't go to the store right now. It's closed" (at noon). "Boys are icky, they have cooties"...ya know, things that they WANT to do, but I really don't want to do and well...to keep icky boys away from my baby girls until they are 30. But telling my kids that this magic guy brings them presents every year until they figure it out themselves or are told the truth on the play ground? No thanks.

And this isn't to say that I don't think that other parents shouldn't let their kids believe in Santa. It's okay. It's a magical belief...it really is. It's fun! I just don't think its for my kids and my family.

Plus. Dude, I spent all my valuable time shopping for these presents that my kids are going to love. I should TOTALLY get credit for it. ;)

02 December, 2010


So I know I'm late for my Thanksgiving Day post, but sue me...its been a long week. (Okay, not really, but sheesh...give me a break please!)

So Thanksgiving is the time of year when we're supposed to be thankful for the things we have in our lives. And year after year, I find things to be even more thankful for than the previous year. This year was full of wonderful surprises. 2010 was really a good year for me, and our family. (I hope...I mean, I know it was for me, but I can't speak for everyone in our family).

In January of 2010, just two days after Brad left for Maldives for work, I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying for 7 months when I got pregnant, but I didn't find out I was pregnant until I was about 5 weeks along (like Reilly). I got to celebrate my birthday 3 days early with that positive pregnancy test. Both Brad and I were ecstatic, even though he was half way across the world. He got to come home 2 months later to my bulging belly and no morning sickness!

Shortly after he came home, we celebrated Reilly's fourth birthday with our closest friends and family. I enjoyed so much watching my little girl go from a toddler to a pre-schooler...even though she wanted to be 3 for just a couple more days after she turned 4. (We obliged her with that one).

In April we found out that our little bundle of joy was going to be another daughter to add to our growing family. Despite being upset that it wasn't a boy, Brad was ridiculously happy with that. I saw it in his eyes.

In June, we got to say goodbye to our friends and family and July 3rd, we started a new chapter in our lives by moving to Hawaii for the next three years. Unfortunately, we also lost a friend of ours in Afghanistan. I think about him every once in awhile, and I still tear up. But he fought strong and proud for his country, and I am very thankful to have known him. (RIP AJ) Also in July, I had a total breakdown about moving to Hawaii. But I got over it.

In September, two days before my scheduled due date, we went to the hospital, and I gave birth, naturally, to our beautiful daughter Ophelia. My daughters complete my life. I am so thankful that we had friends who took Reilly over night for us when our families weren't here. I'm thankful that Ophelia decided to come as fast as she did (because if you'll recall from this post I had asked for an epidural during my transition phase) and I am thankful that I got the natural birth I wanted. I'm thankful for my amazing husband who supported me in birth when he had never been through it before.

During my pregnancy, I questioned everything, even if it was just to myself, and my pregnancy with Ophelia helped me decide on what I ultimately want to do in my life, when before I had no clue. And I'm thankful that I have a supportive husband who will stand behind me on my journey to become a doula and a midwife.

In October we got to visit with my parents, who came out to visit for a little over a week to see us and their new granddaughter. In October, we got to dress up the girls and go trick or treating, and celebrated Halloween as a family.

In November, we celebrated Brad's 28th birthday and our 3 year anniversary. We also got to visit with my mother in law, who came out for two weeks to see her new (and first biological) granddaughter. We got to celebrate Thanksgiving with a fantastic group of friends because our families don't live here. I'm thankful that we have such amazing people in our lives. And I'm thankful that I get along with Brad's friends so well!

December has just started, but after getting almost all my Christmas shopping done, I can honestly say that I'm thankful that we can provide things for our daughters. I'm thankful that we can get them presents for Christmas, and their birthdays, and spoil them...because I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm so thankful for my daughters. I'm thankful for my loving husband. Without them, I don't know what I would do. I'm also thankful that my girls have such an amazing father. Not every child needs a daddy (because lets face it, there are a ton of single moms doing it and doing an AMAZING job), but every child who has a daddy in their life DESERVES an amazing man to look after them. And my girls have that. I'm so thankful for my family. My birth family and my extended families...including my best friend and her husband and kids and my in-laws. Brooklyn is like my sister, her kids are my kids, her husband...not my husband...but he's like a brother (in law. Otherwise that would be creepy). My in-laws are basically an extension of my parents and brother/sister-in-law. I miss them all so much living in Hawaii and away from them. There are days when all I want to do is call Brooklyn up and have her come over for coffee while the kids are in school so we can gossip and be in the company of each other. And I hope one day that I can do that again. And even if I can't, I am happy for the fact that no matter how far apart we live, she is still my best friend and I love her to bits. And another person I am very thankful for is Rob. Though he lives thousands of miles away, and though we've never actually met in person, I have known him for many, many years. He is one of the only men (besides Brad) who I trust fully in my life and I love him to pieces. He's been there for me through everything, sharing my happy times and my sad times. And I don't know what I'd do without him either.

I'm thankful for my husbands job. And I am doubly thankful in this economy. He has a steady paycheck that we can depend on. We have health insurance. We have money to put gas in our car and food in our fridge, and I know a lot of people struggle to do even that. And I'm thankful that we can afford for me to stay home with our girls and it doesn't kill us financially. I'm thankful that we are all happy and healthy.

I'm thankful for a lot of things. And I think this year, I am thankful to close the chapter on 2010 and see what 2011 brings us. Its been a roller coaster of a year. Brad and I have had our ups and downs like any married couple, but we've made it through the last couple years relatively unscathed. We've grown as individuals, as a couple and as parents.

A *virtual* toast to the end of this year and all that I am thankful for. And to a fantastic 2011. To Reilly starting kindergarten. To Ophelia turning 1. To me turning 25 (again ;) just kidding, I'm turning 26). To Brad being one year closer to 30 (and him being a good sport when I poke fun at him about it). To our 4 year anniversary. To being on year closer to moving out of Hawaii. (HA!) To all our friends and family who we love dearly.

Readers: What are you thankful for? Let me know! Even though I relatively dislike the holiday season, tis the season to be thankful and enjoy what you have, even in the most stressful of times.

29 November, 2010

Breastfeeding...Totally Disgusting!

I was being sarcastic up there in the title. I've been all over the intrawebz reading how disgusting it is to breastfeed a baby, and how no one should have to look at someone feeding their child in public. I'm astonished to be quite honest. Of course, I see breastfeeding advocates all over the place. And while I have a little bit of a problem with the "boob nazis", that isn't what this post is about.

I have many mommy friends. Mommy friends who, as all mommies do, need to feed their babies. I have mommy friends who have chosen to breastfeed for long periods of time. I have friends who have breastfed for a shorter amount of time. I have friends who have started to breastfeed and then had to stop for one reason or another. And I've had friends who have just never breastfed and went straight to formula. I don't judge my friends for their choices and never will. They do what is best for their children, their families and their situation, and that's what all of us should do.

A little background on my experience with breastfeeding. With Reilly, I chose to breastfeed to begin with. I had a very hard time with it. I was too stressed out and emotionally and mentally exhausted, and breastfeeding wasn't working for me. I stopped after three months. I felt it was the best choice for both of us. And it was! We were both much happier. With Ophelia, I decided that I would try again with breastfeeding. It was cheaper, and much greener! And of course its good for baby! I made myself some short and long term goals. Short term is three months. I figure that if I can make it to three months, and still feel good about breastfeeding, then I'll continue. My next goal after three months is six months. And so on until I reach a year, or I decide that it isn't working out for our family.

feeding her baby
So since I'm exclusively breastfeeding (with the exception of Thanksgiving, where I drank a liiiiittle too much, and ended up giving Ophelia formula. But that neither here nor there) I have to breastfeed where ever I am. I don't pump. I tried to make a point to do it for the first month or so of Ophelia's life, but it was too hard. It's time consuming, and it hurts my hand (I have a manual pump) and really...its just NOT the same as breastfeeding. I feel like its a big waste of my time. So I never have a bottle for her. I always make sure I have something to cover myself up with. Breastfeeding isn't disgusting. Unfortunately, it has become the norm in our society to formula feed. And that's fine! If it works for you, more power to you. If you don't like breastfeeding for one reason or another, that's fine too. I won't judge. But to think that doing something as natural as breastfeeding is disgusting is ridiculous. Women have been breastfeeding for as long as humans have been on this planet. It was the only source of food for babies for a very, very long time. People didn't think it was disgusting back then! In fact, women still walk around topless in some third world countries. It makes me sad that, especially in America, breasts are such a sexual thing that we are disgusted when they are used for what they were MADE to be used for. Breasts weren't sexual first. They were sexual second. They are there for food and comfort for our children. Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, bonding experience for both mother and child, and hopefully fathers as well, even though they can't feed their children from their chest. I hope that the fathers out there understand and are grateful to their wives who breastfeed. I hope that they can see the true beauty of what their wife is doing. And I hope they can appreciate it with all their hearts.

For those of you (which, I hope if you're reading my blog, you aren't like this, but even if you are, take the time to learn something) who don't like seeing a woman breastfeed, especially in public, I have some advise for you. Suck it up. Avert your eyes. Leave the area. Or just deal with it and go on like nothing is even happening. That's what we do. I don't draw attention to myself when I'm feeding my child in public. I cover up, and she lays there quietly and eats. And when she's done, I put my boobs away and go on with life. Hell, you may have seen me in a restaurant and didn't even know I was breastfeeding. While my parents were in town, we went down to Waikiki to go to dinner. I didn't bring my wrap with me, which I normally wear if I'm going to be breastfeeding, but daddy decided he wanted to carry Ophelia. So I had to hold her and feed her. All while walking down the strip. Most people didn't even notice. And to my absolute amazement, the people who did smiled politely and nodded at me. I was waiting for someone to tell me to take that somewhere else. But no one did! I was WAITING to tell someone that if they wanted to listen to my child cry, that was fine, but I certainly didn't...I certainly don't want to deprive her of her food source just for someone elses comfort. And I certainly never will.  

feeding my baby
I'm lucky. I have an amazingly supportive husband. He tries to do and suggest what is best for me and our daughter. The week after we got out of the hospital, he took Reilly to gymnastics, I was having a really hard time breastfeeding. I had sore, cracked, bleeding nipples that hurt every time Ophelia ate. He offered to buy formula so I could have a break. It was sweet. I mean, I broke down crying on the phone and told him that I would stick it out, but it was a sweet gesture. He helps me cover up when I need it when we're out in public. He is just fantastic. Granted, he still oogles my boobs whenever they are out, but I'm okay with that. He is my husband after all. I have amazing friends and family who are also super supportive. My mom breastfed my brother and I up until we were about a year old (I forget exactly how long) and she did so while she went back to work! I also have an amazing daughter who knows its okay to feed a baby from a bottle or a boob. I made sure to drill that into her head before Ophelia was born. Reilly had never seen a baby breastfeeding...and now she copies me. I have more than one picture of her breastfeeding her baby dolls. And it makes me happy. No matter what she decides to do with her own children, I will stand by her, of course...and I will make sure that she has all the right information. And that she knows that she can do whatever she thinks is best for her and her family. And I will instill those values in Ophelia, and any other daughter(s) that Brad and I may have. And I'll teach our boy(s) about the importance of breastfeeding too...because hopefully one day, they will be parents as well, and they need to know the importance of supporting their wife and child in that way.

So for all of you who are anti-breastfeeding...please...talk to a mommy who has breastfed. Talk to a mommy who has been so desperate to breastfeed that she could cry, but for one reason or another can't. Talk to a mommy who loves the bond between herself and her child. Talk to those mommies and support them. Talk to those mommies who have chose to formula feed their child and support them too. And talk to the daddies who are so proud of their spouses for doing that for their child.

28 November, 2010

Most effective way to be a parent....it isn't what you think...

While reading over ridiculous stories about whatever the fuck it is the TSA is doing now (more on that later), I ran into this link. It is a news style blog written by a mommy in the bay area. The gist of the story is that every single time we parents turn around, there is another thing we're doing wrong. We're punishing our children too harshly, or not harsh enough. We're giving them complexes. We're ruining them by letting them sleep in our bed, our room, their own bed, or their own room. It seems that everyone has an idea of what is best for our children. And everything we as parents are doing is wrong. According to books, professionals, other parents...hell, even our OWN parents sometimes, we are ruining the lives of our most precious little things.

As I wrote about in this post, I tend to have a different style of parenting than most people. Not everyone...but most people. I honestly believe that if you have some common sense, and you aren't out there abusing substances, or beating your children, you have every right to parent however you see fit. Obviously, you shouldn't be leaving your children out in cars by themselves. You shouldn't leave them alone when they are little. Common sense.

The lady who wrote that article had a list of 10 ways to be an effective parents, and I agree with them whole-heartedly. Apparently it was in the November/December issue of Scientific American.

1. Love and affection. You support and accept the child, are physically affectionate, and spend quality one-on-one time together.
2. Stress management.
You take steps to reduce stress for yourself and your child, practice relaxation techniques and promote positive interpretations of events.
3. Relationship skills.
You maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse, significant other or co-parent and model effective relationship skills with other people.
4. Autonomy and independence.
You treat your child with respect and encourage him or her to become self-sufficient and self-reliant.
5. Education and learning.
You promote and model learning and open-mindedness for your child.
6. Life skills.
You provide for your child, have a steady income and plan for the future.
7. Behavior management.
You make extensive use of positive reinforcement and punish only when other methods of managing behavior have failed.
8. Health.
You model a healthy lifestyle and good habits, such as regular exercise and proper nutrition, for your child.
9. Religion.
You support spiritual or religious development and participate in spiritual or religious activities. (This one I don't agree with. I believe you need to answer your child's questions honestly and with an open mind/heart, and love them no matter what. I don't believe that we, as parents and families, need to participate in spiritual or religious activities.)
10. Safety.
You take precautions to protect your child and maintain awareness of the child's activities and friends.
I believe that with following these ten, very simple, very basic guidelines, we can all have amazing children, but still parent how we see fit. As I believe I've mentioned, I frequent (okay, not so much anymore) a baby forum where the women there belittle and berate moms because of the choices they make. These choices are simple...formula vs breastfeeding. Co-sleeping vs not. Vaccinations vs no vaccinations. These choices don't hurt the child (with the possibility of no vaccinations...but more on that later), nor do they hurt anyone else who seems to be concerned with them. People stick their noses in where they don't belong and it ends up making people feel that they aren't cutting it as a parent. 

In a nut shell -- don't judge people on how they parent if they are making the effort to do these 10 things. If their child is happy and healthy, who cares if they get their child vaccinated or not? Who cares if they let their child stay up late if they have nothing to do the next day? Who cares? It isn't your child. I have AMAZING mommy friends who's families aren't "normal" (I use that term very loosely), but I think they are some of the most amazing parents with the most fantastic kids, and I am a very lucky person to have such great families in my life. We don't need to own all the latest parenting books, or listen to nut jobs like Dr. Phil just because we don't parent the way that they do. Really. Just follow those rules up there. I promise.

And if you don't like it...well....go suck an egg. 

With Love, 
Mrs. Obie

Wordless Sunday

Ophelia's first trip to the beach

26 November, 2010

Sugar cookies part 2; decoration

As promised, here is part two of the sugar cookie making! The decoration! Now, I made the frosting. It was pretty sticky and messy, but Reilly got to mix up the colors. We  made 5 different colors; green, yellow, red, purple and "brown" (which, to be honest, was more of a greenish-black color). Recipe follows. All you do is mix it up. I didn't even chill anything in the fridge, and once on the cookie, the frosting hardened up pretty good, which is what I was going for.

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbs light corn syrup
  • 2 tbs water
  • 10 drops food coloring

The idea was to give Reilly and her friends something to do while they were here to keep out of the grownups hair. It worked! They seemed to have a total blast decorating the cookies, which made me happy.  Pretty easy little project for them to do I thought! They each got to take what they made home. I highly recommend putting something down under the cookies to prevent frosting spills...I put tin foil down, and I still have frosting to clean off the table.  I'm glad the kids enjoyed making the cookies! It was something artsy fartsy that I don't really do very often, but they seriously enjoyed it. 
finished cookies!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with their families! I completely enjoyed my time with my family and friends this Thanksgiving. Stay tuned for a Thanksgiving day post, even though it'll be late. 

24 November, 2010

Sugar Cookies! Part 1

So today, while thinking of all the things that we have to do tomorrow, I was put in the mood to make something for the kids to do tomorrow while they were waiting for dinner to be done, and to keep them occupied and out of our hair. Since I don't have much in the way of "artsy fartsy" craft supplies, I decided, the next best thing?

Why, decorating cookies of course!

 So Reilly and I (but mostly Reilly) decided to make some cookies to decorate tomorrow! We found a recipe on allrecipes.com and worked on it this morning. First, I laid out all the ingredients:
mixing the dry ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter

 Mix together flour and salt in a bowl. Easy right?

We softened our butter in the microwave for 45 seconds. Then in a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (sugar, egg, vanilla, butter and sugar). The recipe says to use an actual mixer, but I just used a whisk.  It was just as easy.
wet ingredients
mixing them together

After whisking the wet ingredients together, add them to the dry ingredients and mix until they form a smooth dough. We just used our hands! After mixing it together really well, you need to wrap it up in saran wrap and chill for 1 hour in the fridge.

form the dough
dough out of the fridge
cutting the cookies
After an hour, take your dough out of the fridge. This is when you should pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and get out your cookie sheets. I recommend using either a silicone baking mat or parchment paper....if not then just use an ungreased cooking sheet. Roll out your dough to the thickness you like. I try to keep my cookies a little on the thicker side to avoid tears and holes in the cookies. But whatever floats your boat. THEN! Bust out your trusty cookie cutters. We decided to use Christmas cookie cutters...mostly because those are the only kind we have. Plus, Thanksgiving is the gateway holiday to Christmas! Also, take time to get pictures of your child, or yourself posing. Bake at 325 for 13-15 minutes. I did 14 and they came out just right. Let them cool and then move to a sealable container if you aren't going to decorate them right away. Other wise, decorate them as you like!

my mini chef
The follow up post will be tomorrow after the kids decorate them. I figure this is an excellent way to keep them busy and out of trouble while the adults mingle, drink beer, and cook! I'm very excited for tomorrow!

Stay tuned for the follow up post on decorating and my ever-famous, Thanksgiving post!

I hope everyone has an AMAZING turkey day! Take the time to be thankful for your friends and family.

20 November, 2010

15 November, 2010

Wordless Sunday

another day late...again....whoops! we've been busy getting ready for my mother in laws arrival!

squishy face

08 November, 2010

Wordless Sunday

One day late. I'll be better I promise!

Reilly and her new BFF Lucy at the fair

Trouble in Paradise (aka Why I Don't Like Living in Hawaii)

Okay. I lied. I didn't realize at the time that I was lying but I lied none the less. About a year ago, when Bradford was reenlisting, and we were deciding where to go, blue sunny skies where what popped into my head. He reenlisted to go to Hawaii. I was giddy over it. Who wouldn't want to move to an island, especially one where so many people wish they could go, where it was sunny and 85 degrees every day?! After living 25 years in Washington, with the rain and the cold, I couldn't get to Hawaii fast enough. I talked almost every day about how I was so stoked to get to Hawaii and go to the beach and sit in the sun and enjoy minimal rain and no snow!

Well now, after 4 months of living here, I regret even thinking that this would be the best place to live. What the hell was I thinking?! Okay, okay, there are some good things to living in Hawaii. Its gorgeous here. It really is. They have the most gorgeous flowers here, and some of the trees are so huge and awesomely weird, you can't help but love them. This time of the year (aka, the rainy season), the temperature drops down to the upper 70's, which is perfect weather. Its only muggy and gross after it rains now instead of the majority of the time. But there are some things I seriously hate about this state. Really. I would love to vacation here, and some day, after we leave here...years and years down the road, I will probably visit again.

Things I Hate About Hawaii:
-Its an island. There is only so much to do, and it isn't all that big. We could (and have) driven to the opposite side of the island in a short amount of time. I'm pretty sure it takes longer to drive to Seattle from Olympia than it does to drive from our house to the opposite side of the island.

-The skunk plants. We have a row of them outside of our house. And they smell HORRIBLE. I never go out my front door unless I have to because I hate smelling them.

-The bugs. A friend of ours told me "you don't REALLY live in Hawaii unless you have bugs in your house". Unfortunately, its true. And not to mention disgusting. The bug of choice for Hawaii? Cockroaches. I always imagined cockroaches filling up a tiny New York apartment when it was filthy. My house isn't filthy. Or in New York. One night, I came downstairs to put pumped milk in the fridge and had a panic attack because there were five...yes...FIVE cockroaches in our kitchen. I had seen six that night, one was in our bathroom. I squished as many as I could, but 3 of them got away. Mother fuckers. Luckily, I haven't run into the dreaded centipedes yet. I've gotten a lot better with mentally dealing with the cockroaches, but they still make me wanna throw up.

Artists rendering of my cockroach infested kitchen. Not to scale.
-The weather. Now, I'm not horribly irritated by the weather, especially since it isn't as hot as it was when I was big and pregnant. What irritates me more is the fact that I can't wear my long sleeve shirts and my boots. I'm barely wearing long jeans and the majority of the time I wear capri's and flip flops. It makes me sad that I can't cuddle up under a blanket and watch a movie because its chilly outside. And light candles. I think what I miss most is the FEELING of fall or winter. Its November and we went to a fair last night. It was gorgeous outside. 80 degrees. IN NOVEMBER. We're just a couple weeks away from Thanksgiving. I could go lay out in my backyard and get a tan. IN NOVEMBER. But I digress.

What sucks the most about Hawaii? Being sooooo far away from everyone I know. Although, I do love the fact that they don't observe Day Light Savings Time. I think that's a stupid thing. In fact, if I were president, I would do away with DLST. UNNECESSARY!!!!!!

02 November, 2010

Wordless Sunday

I'm so behind on my blog. The last couple weeks I've been racking my brain trying to think of things to write about and apparently my pregnancy brain has followed me...I now have postpartum brain. So since I'm so late, there will be two pictures for Oct. 31 (three days late....). I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!
My beefcakes first Halloween

My pretty pretty princess

17 October, 2010

Wordless Sunday

this is love

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This is a question I have asked myself over, and over, and over, and over, and....well, you get it. I've asked myself that question A LOT. Sometimes I wonder how high school kids know what they want to do, and then go to school for 4+ years...they are still babies. What happens if they don't want to go to school for the same thing a couple years down the road? A waste of money I think. When I graduated high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Zero. Nil. Nada. So I went to community college to try to figure it out. I dropped out within the first year. Not just because I was in a rebellious stage of my life, with a shitty boyfriend, but also because I wasn't ready to make that kind of decision about my life. I had no idea what would really make me happy...what I could imagine doing for the rest of my life. Aimlessly taking classes here and there wasn't going to get me anywhere except wasting my parents money.

So now, 7 years after I graduated high school, after a wide variety of ideas of what I wanted to have as my career, ranging from teacher, to accountant, to chef, to marine biologist, specializing in the study of sharks, back to chef, I think I've finally found something I am passionate enough about to tackle. A year ago, two years ago, three years ago, the thought of going back to school, while I really wanted to do it, seemed really overwhelming to me. Going back and doing all the stuff that I did already and just....blllehhhhh. I didn't know where I was going to fit going to school into my schedule, even with just one kid...now I have another one that I have to figure out what to do with! I don't trust myself doing online school. I don't learn like that. I learn by reading and by physically being in a teacher presence, take notes, etc. I can't afford to throw both girls in daycare while I go to school...not to mention another car and all the expenses for school. I don't WANT to take out a student loan, but I'm sure it will eventually happen, and that also frustrates me. So I'm glad I've been waiting for so long to go back to school...I just couldn't bring myself to do all of that to myself and the family for something I wasn't 100% on.

But now, I figured it out. I did it. I found something that I am passionate about. And it's all thanks to my little Ocho! When I was pregnant with her, I had wanted a doula. We didn't have one, but that's neither here nor there...we did fine without one. So again, not the point. But adding to the fact that I wanted a doula, and that I was scared about having a baby where I wasn't familiar with the hospital, or doctors, and didn't have any family, and also that I frequent a baby website with a forum where there are so many mis- and uninformed women, and women who wanted certain things out of their births, I decided that what I would really love to do, and could really get passionate about and stick to is becoming a doula and a midwife.

For those of you who are unsure of what a doula is: A Doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

I have been so let down by all the negative stories I've heard about birthing and birth experiences. I've been let down by my own nerves and my own understandings and basically mistrust in doctors. I have grown a lot in the last 4 years since I gave birth the first time. My views have changed drastically. Giving birth with OB's who I don't know and will probably never see again scared the shit out of me. It still makes me nervous. I haven't decided what I'm going to do when we have our next baby in a couple of years because while this birth wasn't inherently bad, my next birth may not go the route that this one went, and I want to be comfortable and feel like I can trust whoever is involved in my birth. I know a lot of women can't do that. They can't pick their provider. They can't ever feel comfortable. They can't do what they want to do...and what they should be able to do. And I want to be apart of the solution and HELP those women.

I've done some research about becoming a doula and I think that's the route I'll go first. To be a midwife, I will have to go to nursing school, and honestly, that isn't something I'm quite ready to do yet. I have a small baby at home, and I want to at least have Reilly in school full time before I start on that venture. I don't want to miss the last year or so that I have at home with her. So doula training is first. The steps that you have to take to become a certified doula really aren't THAT difficult. Read some books, take some classes, sit in on some births. Easy peasy. And hell, I'm in the military community. I know what happens and how we end up with re-deployment babies. I know whats up *wink wink nudge nudge*. I'm sure there would be tons of women who would let me sit in on a birth. And once your certified it lasts for so many years before you have to re-certify, and that's always easier after you've done it the first time.

I hope that this is something that I can be good at. I hope that this is something that I can do, not only to be an advocate to women and couples, but that I can be happy doing it, and I can make at least a contribution to the family income with it. It'll be hard when I actually become a certified doula because as we all know, birth is in a league totally of its own. We don't know when a birth is going to start, or finish, unless you obviously have a scheduled induction or c-section. So it'll be hard with the two little ones and Bradford in the military and having a schedule that he needs to keep. But we'll figure it out. One thing at a time Mrs. Obie...just one thing at a time.

16 October, 2010

You know what I love?

There are few things that I really, truly love in life. You can say, I love that shirt, but you don't REALLY love that shirt. Your life wouldn't end because that shirt wasn't in your life...you just like it a whole bunch.

There aren't many things that I love more than my friends, my family, my husband, and my children. That's ascending order by the way. My girls (and subsequent children) will always be #1 in my book. I would do anything for them. I would die to protect them. I would get thrown in jail if it meant keeping them out of harms way. My husband, obviously, is very important to me too. He's my soul mate and my best friend. My family, and my friends who are like family, mean the world to me. And I only have a couple people who I really, truly consider to be "like family". My friends that I have are all amazing. I love them all to bits.

But do you know what I love just as much as all of those people? Peace and quiet. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "But Mrs. Obie! You have two kids and a husband! How do you ever get any peace and quiet?!" I know, it doesn't happen very often. But every once in a great, GREAT while, I wake up before anyone else does. Or at least before the kids do if Brad is at work.

So what do I do when I'm the only one up? Well, it depends. When I was a smoker, I'd go outside and enjoy a cigarette all by myself. The best was when it was the middle of fall or winter (and it wasn't 20 degrees outside) and I'd get to sit out on the back porch in Washington and just enjoy the crisp cold air and not have to worry about anything. I could think my own thoughts. I could just sit and be quiet.

I also relish taking a shower. When everyone is quiet. I feel rushed otherwise, and generally speaking, the shower is the only place I REALLY and TRULY get to be alone, except on the off chance that I'm taking a shower with the hubs.

A friend of mine on facebook recently made a status update about understanding why mom always got up at the crack of dawn. Some coffee, a little food, maybe a hot shower are all reasons to be sleep deprived. And I couldn't agree with her more. As you get older, and have more responsibilities....a husband, kids, a job, the house, they all take precedent over you. Everyone else comes first. Your needs, wants and desires are all put on the back burner. Now, that isn't always a bad thing! But we are human after all, and have the desire to do things for ourselves. So every once in awhile, when it happens, I seriously enjoy my alone time. I enjoy the time I spend with my husband and my girls, but really...I enjoy my 'me' time.

This is what my family looks like
My family is my first priority. Myself is my second. And I'm very much okay with that. But mama's, take some time for yourself. You will seriously go crazy taking care of everyone else and not sneaking in a little bit of YOU time.

11 October, 2010

Body Image

Being a female, body image is something I know about all too well, and something that I have struggled with on almost a daily basis for many, many years. It started late in middle school, and continued through high school. A couple different times in my life, I have suffered from anorexia, especially my senior year in high school. I think the only time I really ate was around my parents. That lasted until I got pregnant with Reilly. Then around the time I went back to work, I was eating maybe one small meal a day, and basically living off of coffee, cigarettes, and the occasional alcoholic beverage.

Honestly, I don't know why my self image was so bad in high school. I mean, I wasn't over weight or anything. I had a bit of pudge around the face, but most of that had worn off by my senior year. One of the many, many trials people go through as a teenager. There is always someone skinnier and prettier than you are. It took me a very long time to realize that there will always be someone skinnier and prettier than I am. It's just the facts of life. There will also always be someone bigger and uglier than I am.

I'm a member of a certain website online, which includes a decent number of teenage mothers or moms to be. I read their posts about how the baby weight just makes them feel horrible, or they want to be a size ___ again. And while I do want to lose some baby weight, it isn't because I feel ugly. Sure, I feel a little fat, but its a little fat that I can handle. A lot has changed since I was in my early 20's. Which is funny considering I'm only 25, but even after Reilly was born, I had a lot of body image issues. I think it took me finding the right person to love me for me, no matter what I looked like for me to finally accept that I was who I was. And yes, I can change how much I weigh and my general physical appearance, but there are still some things that I can't change. I can take a look at it in a healthy way and change my diet with better foods, and exercise, not starving myself.

The things I can't change? Dun dun dun...the dreaded stretch marks. Can anyone name someone who really, REALLY likes having stretch marks? I can't. I don't like them. But I've become accustomed and actually proud of them now. When I first started developing the bazingas (aka, my boobs), I got stretch marks. I did everything I could to hide them because they were so embarrassing. That was part of the reason I never dressed like a girly girl until later in high school. I despised them. I didn't feel very good about myself because of them. I later got stretch marks when I was pregnant with Reilly, though they weren't horrible. I still didn't like them, but I wasn't embarrassed by them as much. I got more during my pregnancy with Ocho, in different places than during my pregnancy with Reilly. A lot changed during my pregnancy with Ocho -- a lot. I became more aware of myself as a woman, and I hold my stretch marks, even though they still aren't pretty, and I still don't like them, but I hold them as badges of triumph...badges of honor..."Mommy Marks". I have them because my body was busy making my two amazing daughters.

Its hard being a girl. We have so many thing that we have to deal with...pregnancy, periods, sagging boobs, menopause...and that's just the physical stuff. Not to mention having to live up to standards that are ridiculous. Women back in the 40's and 50's and such didn't have the kind of pressure we do now. Men want skinny women with skinny waists and boobs and butts that look awesome. At least that's what is portrayed in magazines and the media. What isn't portrayed is the millions of NOT skinny women, or the overweight women, who have boyfriends and husbands who love and adore every curve of their body. They don't portray the flat chested women who have husbands who love their small chest. They portray the "perfect" woman, which, most of us are not.

Its important to me that I continue to be accepting of my flaws, and make healthy choices for the things that I want to change, simply because I have two small girls who depend on me to make them feel amazing about themselves. I have a duty to encourage them to make smart choices. I have a duty to make sure they understand that they don't have to be a size 0 to be beautiful. I have A DUTY to make sure that they love themselves, inside AND out, and love who they are because THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL no matter what. As long as they have a good heart and a good mind, it doesn't matter what marks you have where, or where you have a little extra.

I've decided to do something a little...not embarrassing...but not like me. I feel comfortable enough with my body to post a couple pictures. My acceptance of who I am. I am putting it out for those who read my blog (the dozen of you or so) with the hopes that you can also feel comfortable in your own skin, and realize that yes, while being super skinny and odd mark free would be awesome, we are who we are.

We are all beautiful in one way or another. So please, women AND men, embrace yourself. Embrace your body and who you are. We all want something to be different...but that doesn't mean that we can't embrace who we are TODAY.

for your information: 25 years old. 2 pregnancies. 2 children. 4 weeks postpartum.

10 October, 2010

Wordless Sunday

So many blogs I follow have a "wordless" day. Just simply a picture to describe life. So we're gonna go ahead and start that on Sundays. Unless I have something better to say, which is always possible...but for now, we'll just say that from here on out, Sundays, will in fact, be wordless.

08 October, 2010

Being An Alterna-Parent

I have to admit, my parenting style is...well...alternative.

I also have to admit that I don't treat my 4 year old like a 4 year old. She's much more grown up to me.

I know everyone has their own parenting styles. I know that no one raises their children by the book. But there are things that I like to consider as alternative parenting. And not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but this is my version of being an alternative parent. Also, there are different ways to be an alterna-parent.

With Ri-baby, like I said, I treat her as a mini-adult. She is just as capable of making her own choices and suffering consequences as an older child. She understands a lot more than kids her age. I don't know many parents who would let their child watch Kick Ass, let alone have a copy of it on their iPod. I don't know many parents who would let -- yes, I said let -- their child cuss (on occasion and when appropriate). I don't know many parents who lets their child be who THEY want to be.

Reilly is a smart girl. She asks A LOT of questions. She learns A LOT about things that many parents are squeemish talking to their kids about at such a young age; periods, sex, drinking, killing and death. A lot of parents don't feel that their child is up to handling the "adultness" of those topics. I do. I know my child is. My daughter doesn't have a violent streak in her, but we let her own toy guns NERF guns, she understands that people do kill people, and that those are bad people. She knows about jail. She knows about sex. Not in detail, but she knows the fundamentals. I've never made it a point to hide information from my daughter, and because of that, I feel that she is one of the most well rounded children on the planet.

Things that bother me to no end about parents is when they try to lie or give their children obscure answers about important questions. Calling a vagina a flower or a penis a pee pee isn't a good way to build a well rounded child. I'm sorry, but its not. Telling your child that their baby sister just appeared one day? Give me a break. Hiding 'fuck shit ass cunt' from your child seems silly to me because they WILL learn those words eventually, and honestly, wouldn't you rather it come from you? (Maybe not cunt, but you get the picture).

Setting boundaries, is still obviously needed. Reilly may be smart, but she's still four. She still needs laws laid down for her. She still needs to be put her in place. But I feel she also needs to be able to explore the world around her and figure out her place in it. She needs to be encouraged to make something of herself and express herself in a healthy and safe environment where she can ask anything that she wants and learn about anything that she wants. Sometimes I also consider myself a push over. Yea, I kinda let her get away with some things, but all in all, I don't have to worry about her too much. Yes, she's still a kid, but she's a good kid. I go out to a store or restaurant and I wonder sometimes what the hell some of these parents are thinking when their child is screaming bloody murder in the middle of said place. I wonder why these parents can't get a handle on their children, and how I got so lucky to have a mostly well behaved child. And then I realize that her personality, her character, her charm, is all because of how Bradford and I have encouraged her to expand her horizon, become her own person, and hopefully thrive.

I applaud myself for having a long conversation with my daughter after watching the video for one of her favorite songs, Love The Way You Lie, by Eminem. If you are unsure of what the song is about, it is about domestic violence. We watched the video
and we had a long conversation about what to do if someone ever hits her. Who she can come to, what she needs to do, all of those things. How many parents talk to their kids about domestic violence?

Reilly is everything I could have ever hoped for in a young child. Literally everything. She's an easy child. Really she is. Sure, she has her bad moments, because for fucks sake, she's four. But 90% of the time, she is amazing. She has started to develop her own taste in music because we let her. Her favorite artists include Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Dora, Spongebob, The Beatles and B.O.B. Some of her favorite movies? Zombieland, Kick Ass, Coraline, Chicken Little, and anything having to do with Elmo. She love sushi and raw green peppers, along with ice cream and candy.

She's expanding her palette of the things offered in life. Because we, as parents, let her.

So yes, I am an "alterna-parent". I am open and honest with my child. I let her be her own person. I watch her learn every day. I get to watch her be older and still a youngin, all at the same time.

I'm proud to NOT follow the rules.

And most of all...I have no worries about my child going out into the world and experiencing life. She is going to be an amazing person.

picture #1 is Reilly rocking out with Daddy on Guitar Hero
picture #2 is what KISS does (yup, the band, another of Reilly's favorites)