Thursday, September 14, 2017

Monday Adventures (alternate title: Shoulda Gone Venti)

Fun breastfeeding photos done at Baby + Co by Amanda at Raleigh Birth Photography, scroll quick if that's not your thing! 







I don't know guys. They say it's just a season, but I don't know if I'll ever sleep again. Granted, I did sneak a shower today during "nap time" and my deodorant finally came in the mail, and turns out my black leggings were in the clean basket after all, so I'm feeling like 110% better about life than I did this morning. But this is how my week started. Let me set the stage for you:

It was a chilly, rainy day. There was a hurricane somewhere nearby which created this amazing napmosphere which worked on neither of my children. I picked the big kid up from preschool at 1:15pm (because at 1:16pm they start charging you extra) and hightailed to the Starbucks because I am a twenty nine year old white female and mother of two small kids and that is what I do when I don't know what else to do. The entirety of the time he was at preschool was spent trying to get the little redheaded one to take a freaking nap. The whole time zone had basically become a rain sound machine and she was not having any of it. Not even in the Ergo, not even in the Solly, not even in the swing, only on my boob while I moved. Literally. The only way she would not scream was if I was standing up, swaying while holding her with both arms. She can scream while she nurses. It's unreal. I couldn't even trick her into nursing in one of my seven carriers so I could use both my hands to do some work. So yeah, heading into that Starbucks drive thru I felt really accomplished and like I was rocking it. Not. I am pretty sure the barista sensed the regret in my voice when I said "tall" and "half caff" like I was trying not to go all out with a venti americano at 1:30pm on a Monday. I got my coffee and took a sip and it was glorious. You know that episode of Friends where Chandler smokes? Yeah, that was pretty much me.

Lincoln then started asking where his coffee was, so before I drove away I had to awkwardly wave down the barista with a dollar bill from my wallet and I asked for a small cup with a lid so my two year old could pretend to drink coffee. He didn't really understand what was happening but it was cute how quickly and awkwardly he found an empty "tall" cup for me to give to my toddler who was pumped. We took that Starbucks cup home and put some almond milk in it and read a book at the kitchen table while we drank our coffee and for about three minutes I did not feel like a complete failure. It was awesome. The baby napped in the carseat on the floor with the earth sound machine going and also the little iPhone sound machine playing for her and my Lincoln felt like the coolest most important kid in the world for those few minutes and it was everything. And then I told him the three words no two year old ever wants to hear: "It's nap time."

Basically I could have told him "hey buddy, we're selling all your toys and you have to go to school only in your undies and sandals for the rest of all time!" because he lost his mind at a volume that was ever so slightly louder than the sound machines keeping the world spinning Emmeline asleep, so naturally she started expressing her distaste for nap time as well. Even worse, she was mad she got tricked into it in the car and with the sound machines, so she was super pissed. I ran Lincoln upstairs and in my haste forgot the most important detail of them all: potty. Mistake one. I slapped some comfy pants on him out of the clean clothes basket in his room (mistake two), and turned on his sleep sounds (he's an ocean kinda guy) and hightailed downstairs to deal with the little screaming one. I grabbed the monitor and watched him wind down and read a book so I figured he would be asleep in a few minutes like he usually is. Mistake three.

Finally the combination of all the sound machines and breastmilk and swaying got her to go back to sleep and by some miracle she stayed asleep even when I swayed her into the swing which was also swaying. Say that three times fast. She was asleep, Lincoln was almost asleep. Finally, I could do some work. I got my laptop open, all my tabs open in Chrome, all my spreadsheets open and I was ready to roll with four days of grading that had been neglected since the previous Thursday and then.... I woke up. The laptop was sliding off my lap. Man, those sound machines are effective. And also, I haven't slept for longer than 2 hours in a row in over a month. Basically I can sleep anytime, anywhere. Do not invite me to the movies. Or on a car ride. Or basically, anywhere.

Oh, but wait, what is that weird sound? Sounds like a baby crying? That's weird, she's asleep in the swing. It's coming from upstairs. I didn't even check the monitor, I bolted upstairs in my nap hungover state, not aware of what time it was, what day it was but managing to get one foot in front of the other to Lincoln's door, not sure what I'd find on the other side. I swung the door open and found my sweet blond babe head first in the laundry basket (see mistake two, up there) but feet still on his bed, perched at this awkward angle where he was clearly stuck and didn't have the upper or lower body strength to push himself out of it. Because I had been sleeping I have no idea how long he had been like that, and no idea how long he had been screaming and crying. But basically, the kid had wet his bed, (see mistake one) and I am pretty sure he was looking for some clean pants. In the excitement of being stuck in the laundry basket he had peed some more, and was wet from his ankles to his shoulders. His shirt and undies were completely soaked. He apologized (Mommy, I so sorry) and my heart broke in half as I dressed him in warm dry clothes and wiped the snot and tears off his face and he told me, "Mommy, I so sleepy" and crawled onto his pillow with a clean, dry blanket off the floor and fell asleep. So, that's one way to get your kid to nap. At three forty five, he fell asleep on a bed with no sheets. I laid down with him and stroked his hair, told him I loved him approximately 3859208590205 times and apologized for not hearing him crying. And then I heard those ginger shrieks from downstairs. The swing sound machine had stopped. Ran downstairs and she had pooped all up her back.

So, when people have asked me lately "how is it with two kids?" or "how's work going?" or "do you want to hang out one day this week?" I kind of just smile like a lunatic and say "things are exciting! I'll text you!" because I literally have no idea. I don't know how it is. I don't know how work's going. I don't know if I want to hang out. Basically just keeping everyone alive. Self included. Fistfuls of dairy free chocolate chips at a time.

You know, it's kinda great though. I have a flair for the dramatic when I'm telling my stories, but really it's so freaking good. You know, when the big independent almost three year old asks to sit with you and wants to snuggle. Or when the four month old unlatches to smile at you because you are her whole world. Or those moments when the big brother disappears from the breakfast table to sit thisclose to his sister and tell her about his toys or ask her what kind of food she likes (oh? you like baby milk?) There are days where I feel like a total failure, but I know better, you know? I'm doing okay. They are both happy and healthy, fed and clothed (note that I am excluding 'bathed' or 'clean'). They know they are loved and they keep crying because they know I'll always come, arms ready. That feels good.

Am I completely failing at cleaning and laundry and eating well and getting enough rest? Absolutely. Is work stressing me out a ton? Absofreakinglutely. Is there any sort of boundary between work life and life life right now? NOPE. I am feeding a baby while I teach classes, I'm answering text messages from students while I play trains and more often than not I respond to work emails while I poop. It's a hot mess. It's my mess though. And I love it. When my circus is grown and has circuses of their own, I can't wait to tell them about the crazy days I had with them. They are crazy for sure, but crazy special. And they are ours.

And you bet your jellybeans that today at Starbucks (Thursday? How the eff is it just Thursday?!?) when I ordered a tall while my kids were screaming in the backseat, that I wised up really quick and changed that to a venti. It's 8pm and I'm still drinking it. The way I see it, what's the worst that will happen? I won't sleep tonight? Probably not.

Friday, August 18, 2017

It's In Your Hands, Black Lives Matter, and Comfort in The Church


I typically avoid politics and related discussion, mostly because I big fat don't care and I have no apologies for that. Relationships with people are more important to me than being right about something. I do not enjoy a spirited debate, in Facebook or real life. I research around election time, make my decisions, cast my vote (love rocking that 19th amendment, baby!) and I live my life the way I believe things should be lived. Voting is important, but the older I get the more I really believe the way that we live our lives daily is way more important than how we vote, where we identify politically or what we post to Facebook. Shocker, right? The way we speak to people, the way we treat strangers we meet at the grocery store, and the things we say in our heads about people when we see them are way more important. Those things start the shift. Simple words and thoughts are what start the movement.

So, me and diversity, in short(ish):

I grew up in Durham, I went to preschool through my senior year of high school with people that looked different from me and I never noticed. It was normal. It was so normal that it was a non-issue for me. Whenever people talked about racism I was sincerely puzzled, thinking it was a thing of the 1950s segregated days that we grew up learning about each February. I always had friends that were not white. It was not until I started college at a private women's school in Raleigh that I noticed the absence of women of color. It was weird. I remember my freshman year finally making friends with a black girl and thinking how strange it was that I actually had to look for a friend that was different than me. Over time though, I became closer friends with the girls that lived near me or that were in classes with me and maintaining a racially diverse friend group became less of a priority. Before I knew it, I was graduated and working at a high school in rural North Carolina that literally had one black staff member that was not part of the custodial staff, and she was a teacher's assistant. It was beyond bizarre to me. My second job literally had ZERO staff members at my campus that were not white until halfway through my second year. It was like living in a parallel universe. Both public schools, one in the country, one in the city, in 2010 and beyond-- nearly completely white.

Once I started working at home and was knee deep in diapers, I really didn't have any friends that weren't middle class white moms. In June of 2015 when the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston happened, my world was rocked. It was so sad. It was so hard to believe that now, so far removed from the civil rights movement, that crap like that was still happening. Kind of the same way that it's hard  for me to believe that people still smoke (helloooo didn't you see that video in middle school health class that talked through the hole in her throat?) it's hard for me to really believe that people truly think that they are superior to others just because their skin is white. It blows my mind that that kind of ignorance still exists and that it is a motivator for violence for people. Insane. It's even more insane to me that a lot of these people associate themselves with my same Jesus. Completely insane.

As a middle class white lady teetering on the edge of my twenties, I don't know what it's like to be black. I don't know what it's like to be hispanic. I don't know what it's like to be anything than a white woman. I've had a few "out of my comfort zone" trips where I was a student in foreign country, but both times I was able to easily blend in with my European features (it wasn't until I started speaking Spanish that people would get annoyed with my American-ness) but other than some sexist comments here or there, or people assuming that I'm racist because I'm white in various work or school situations I've not dealt with systematic discrimination or racism in my day to day life. I can really, truly only imagine what that is like. I can't apologize for being white, much in the same way I can't apologize for being American or a woman, or a Scorpio-- it was one hundred percent out of my control. It just happened.

This sermon rocked me (Link: It's In Your Hands, Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church June 21, 2015). I was a new mama, working at home, holding my brand new baby imagining what it would be like if we were black in today's society and it broke my heart. This message was before we were going to Elevation Church, we started going there about a month later, actually. After listening to it, creating opportunities for our son to meet, grow, learn and live with people different from us became a top priority. A lot of our neighbors were black and we didn't know their names. Most of our church family/our entire small group at the the time was white, and that needed to change for us. I literally could not name a single black person that I had spoken to more than once since Lincoln had been born or whose name I knew (other than friends from school on social media). That was 100% not okay for me. And so, we began looking for a new church. Not that our old church was bad in any way, or racist in any way, in fact they were 100% committed to missions and were very active in the discussion on diversity in the church. But for us, it was time for more than a discussion-- it was time for action. Our baby was growing up and would soon be watching us. It was time for a change. And as ridiculous as it sounds to say out loud, it was time to be friends with some black people.

This is just one area where we felt we needed to change. I'm not saying we're awesome for doing it. I'm not saying you're racist because you're not doing it. But I think it's worth examining your level of comfort in your current church situation. Are you choosing your level of comfort over the level of impact your family could have?  Examine your life as your kids would see it. What conclusions would they come to about black people by the way you live your life in front of them? Are they normal people just like you? Or are they just people you see and pass in the grocery store? Do they see and interact with kids that are different from them on a regular basis? Do you seek out parks to play in "white" neighborhoods? What stereotypes have you accepted as the norm from your parents or your spouse or your culture? QUESTION THEM. Where do these stereotypes come from? Hate? Misunderstanding? Do they come from God? Are they biblical?

What is an area you can change in? It's in your hands. Racism can end with our generation, it's just up to us. I think even sometimes we get so fixated on sending and missions we neglect the implications of the great commission here: go and make disciples doesn't necessarily mean move to China and convert all the people. What if it could mean, meet people here, be in relationships with them, grow with them in the Lord. Do black people live in your neighborhood? Cool, meet them. If they don't, maybe you need to try a little harder to diversify your circle. Ever drive out of your way to go to Target or Starbucks? Same concept. If it's worth it to you, you'll make it happen. You have to make it worth it.

So, hey, Christians: Look at your life. Before you post on Facebook about whatever whatever whatever political whatever, look at your life. Are you living out what you believe or what you say you believe? When you post on Instagram #blacklivesmatter, are you living that? Are you teaching your kids with your relationships and your friends and your interactions with strangers in front of them that black lives matter? How can you live your daily life, outside of your "statement" on social media, that black lives truly matter? Or are you just being trendy and hashtagging and reposting and living your comfortable white life? How can you demonstrate love for your brothers and sisters in a real way?

And hey, Christians: is America the source from which your freedom comes or is it Jesus? Was it founding fathers that died on the cross for you or was it Jesus? Yeah. We have freedoms here that we wouldn't have in other places in the world, but what is more important? Your freedom to offend people with your speech or the freedom and grace given to you by Jesus that you should be extending to others? It's okay, and GREAT to be thankful and appreciative that we have the freedom and rights that we do but under no circumstances does our freedom of speech become an excuse to intentionally offend, hurt, or belittle others. That is not the message of Jesus in any way shape or form.

And hey, Christians. People can be so involved on social media that they feel like calling out those that are "silent". Maybe those people aren't silent because they are complicit to the racism and atrocious acts happening. Maybe they are "silent" on social media because they aren't on their phones or their computers living their lives. Maybe they are out living and loving.

The cure isn't a hashtag, or another Facebook post "discussion" or a viral graphic or video to be liked and shared. The cure is living it. Examine your life, make a change, live it up. (And also, watch this sermon even if sermons aren't your thing-- it will challenge your perspective on many things).





Saturday, July 1, 2017

July Goals | 2017



This July is all about getting rid of JUNK. Junk in my diet, junk in my house, junk in our days– buh bye! As a teacher, I am an unashamed fan of alliteration, so the official hashtag for this de-junking endeavor is going to be #junkfreejuly. Yep. Total nerd and I don't even care.

Diet: My intentions were to be strict paleo postpartum for the first few weeks/months depending on the stability of my skin, and we did a great– and I mean great job preparing freezer meals, but I was not anticipating that I would be constantly hungry around the clock with breastfeeding. I did not remember that from last time. Within two days I had eaten entire bags of tortilla chips, boxes of Lara Bars, gluten free pretzels, gluten free cookies... you name it, I ate it. In general my eczema hasn't been too bad, but it is definitely flaring up in a few places and so I've reinstated light therapy twice a week (I had weaned down to once a week for most of my pregnancy) and am avoiding gluten and dairy at all costs. My sugar sweet tooth is out of control though, so doing a hard reset in July to reign that back in with only a few exceptions (like, almond milk coffee creamer, and some other things that have less than 10g sugar per serving). I probably should eliminate coffee also but I can't. Newborn and toddler life. I have to have coffee. Non negotiable. Caffeine is what really opens my eyes in the mornings.

  • Meal plan for three meals a day + snacks, not just dinners. 
  • Make ahead/batch cook when applicable.
  • Minimal stops at drive thrus, no more Chick Fil A fries-- just fruit cups. 
House: I am shocked at how much stuff we have accumulated since our last major clean out when we got rid of bags and bags and boxes and boxes of stuff. I have a detailed comprehensive list in my bullet journal of things that need de-junking but the gist:
    • baby/toddler clothes– organize in boxes, get rid of ones that do not spark joy (or that don't fit, aren't useful, not seasonally appropriate, etc) and come up with an effective storage plan and DONATE what's left. (A friend of mine volunteers weekly at a crisis pregnancy center that takes baby clothes so I LOVE that I know that it's going to a great place where it will be used!) 
    • my clothes-- go through maternity clothes and get rid of things that I absolutely will not wear if I get pregnant again (probably not happening) and return borrowed items. Store in attic and donate/give away items I don't need/want.
    • toys-- holy cow the toys! I packed up at least 75% of the kid toys into the closet and plan to donate a good chunk of them. Less is so much moore. 
    • attic-- there are a few boxes up there of my childhood items and some other things that I don't even know what they are. Go through, keep and organize or purge. 
    • an array of cabinets and drawers and closets throughout that just need a general walk through with a trash bag. It's time to say goodbye to many many things! 
    • digital-- I have a few external hard drives and cds with photos that need to be put on our personal smug mug. Once they are uploaded, toss! 
Days: Without work in my life, I've been waaaayyyy loose about routine around here. Sleeping until the last possible minute, endless stream of Netflix while I sit and feed the baby. The teacher in me knows that routine minimizes meltdowns for little people (and big people-- ha!) so we have to get a rhythm back before work starts back for me in August. 
    • Limiting us to ONE show on Netflix a day (preferably before lunch or nap, not before bedtime). Movies on Friday only. 
    • Me, waking up at 6 when I feed Emmeline and getting up, getting dressed, getting ready. Our days run so much smoother when I get a head start before the toddler awakes. I can handle him much better if I have something in my belly before his toes hit the floor. Also, I'm up early and have the day's chores handled I can nap when the kids nap. 
    • Limit playdates to 3 days a week. We are LOVING summer schedule and time with friends, but there's quite a bit of chores and errands that have to take place to keep this place running smoothly, and we need some justthethreeofus time. 
So, the overarching goal is essentially Get My Life Back Together Because Real Life is Coming Back Soon. This month of summer fun/maternity leave/postpartum recovery has been sweet, but I'm ready for some more structure.

Some fun things on my summer fun list, though....

  • go to the pool with cousins
  • go to the beach (still talking daddy into this one)
  • make (paleo) apple pie
  • play in the kiddie pool in the front yard
  • eat popsicles for snack
  • see fireworks
  • participate in LOVE WEEK 2017! 
  • visit splash pad again 
  • write more
  • shoot at church some
  • document a day at home