Shorty Story: doctor’s visit

I started to title this “Short Story”, but I accidentally typed “Shorty Story,” and now I like that way more.  Sometimes I don’t blog because I feel like it needs to be long and thoughtful, or long and spiritual, or long and hilarious.  Sometimes it just needs to be shorty.

 

So, this handsome kid turned FOUR last month!

IMG_0476We had his well-child visit scheduled with his big brother’s, since their birthdays are one day apart. (Super fun, awesome, not-coincidence.)  But it was near the end of the school day, so I had to bring all three angels to the pediatrician’s office.  FUN!  Nothing like trapping three wild kids in a 6×6 room for extended and uncertain period of time.

Sidenote: our little Thai man has been CRAZY healthy since he came home. Seriously, it is SUCH a blessing.  He’s only had a fever twice, I think, and a handful of colds.  That is it.  I’m so terribly grateful!  I don’t know what is in that Thai baby formula that he was drinking 8 times a day–yes, even at age 22 months–but this preschooler is strong and sturdy like an ox.  He is in the 95% for both weight and height, continuing to shatter racial stereotypes.  😉

I have learned in our few doctor visits that he is DEATHLY afraid of shots.  I don’t know if this is a psychological trigger from his time in Thailand, but he almost gave the nurse a bloody lip last year when she tried to give him the flu mist.  THE MIST.  No needles involved, but he didn’t care.  PETRIFIED.

I debated my choices, and despite the disapproval from my 9 year old, I didn’t tell Asher he would be getting shots at this visit.  I figured that just meant 3 hours of panic, rather than 3 minutes.  When our favorite nurse came in the room at the end of the visit, he figured out what was about to go down and he?  Was TICKED.   It took ALL of my strength to hold him down on the table.  The nurse paused and said we might have to bring in another nurse to help hold him still.  But she went for it, despite this 45 pound child screaming BLOODY MURDER and kicking and writhing.

It was done in a flash, and she left, leaving me to clean up the emotional wreckage, and the two anxious siblings.  Asher could NOT calm down.  He was so very upset.  UGH.  It was heart-breaking.  He just kept saying “It HURT!  It HURT!”  and looking at me like I had betrayed him.  He screamed so hard that he gave himself a bloody nose, which is not uncommon.  But he was so upset with me, he wouldn’t let me help him with the bloody nose, so it got all over his face and shirt and hands.  I decided it was time to get the HECK out of dodge, so I gave him a tissue that he half-heartedly held to his gushing nose, and instructed the older two to start walking.

As we were leaving the inner office into the waiting room, the nurse was with us, and called the next patient.  “Ashley? Ashley?”  Well, Ashley took one look at the screaming child with blood all over his face and shirt and she promptly hopped up and RAN.  She BOLTED in the opposite direction with impressive speed.  Her mom barely knew what happened, because she too, was staring at the horror scene exiting the office.

I felt a little bad, but I had my own problems, so I took my circus out to the car and let Ashley’s mom deal with her own traumatized kid.  Sorry, Ashley’s mom.

Friday Favorites: Truly Remarkable

kristenOne of my favorite things is bragging on my people.  And today I want to shout out to every person on the interwebs that I am SO STINKING PROUD of my friend KRISTEN BAUGHER!

Yep, that’s her.

<————-

I can picture exactly where we were on a late summer day when Kristen told a couple of us that she was pregnant with her third kid.  TOTAL surprise.  [For everyone.] We screamed and dropped our jaws and encouraged her through the morning sickness and exhaustion that even though this child was not in her plans, God obviously wanted this kiddo born into this family and HE must have an even better plan than we could imagine.

Fast forward to the following spring when a phone call changed their lives forever.  Their beautiful, slightly jaundiced baby girl, Emmery, was diagnosed with a life long genetic disorder, called Alagille Syndrome.   The complications affect her liver, kidneys, heart, brain, spine and more.  Read Emmery’s story HERE. em on tubes

Since that day, Kristen and her husband Erik have had to learn what it means to parent a child with a serious medical disorder.  The daily symptoms affecting her ability to eat, sleep and move, the frequent doctor visits, blood draws, and more procedures and tests than many of us have in a lifetime.

But Kristen found herself unwilling to let this diagnosis define her daughter or their family.  She knew from day one that Emmery would look to her mom and dad to learn how to face Alagille’s, and how to find her own identity.  And she didn’t like the labels being tossed around, like “mutation” or “abnormal.”  Kristen wanted to spin the diagnosis on its head, and to make Emmery and other children with special medical needs feel worthy, special and WHOLE.

victoriousThroughout this last summer, Kristen was dreaming and scheming, showing us mock-ups and ideas of a new small business that was burning a hole in her heart.  She wanted to sell clothing to EMPOWER and ENCOURAGE children and families.  Not just kids with Alagilles, but all kind of other situations that get lumped under “special needs.”  Much research was required to figure out how to bring it to reality, but you guys?

SHE DID IT!

On August 31st, Remarkably Rare Designs was launched into existence, and the products are flying!

I hope you will visit their website; follow them on Facebook: Remarkably Rare Designs; and on Instagram: @remarkablyrare.

An opportunity to help children and families feel empowered, beautiful and valued.  And all inspired by this little person:

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Emmery Rae

 

 

Friday Favorites–Jonah. Yep–Jonah.

With my track record, I must say I’m pretty proud of myself for two Friday Favorites in a row.  [picture me doing closed eyes, overbite and pumping fist in air]  And I KNOW.  It may seem strange to YOU that I can write about my underwear one day and God’s Word the next day, but you know what?  Life is strange and beautiful and complex and hilarious, and I love that there is room for tree sap and Scripture.  We don’t have to be deep and serious all the time, nor should we always be flippant and silly.

Today I want to tell you about a Bible Study I stumbled on and really loved!  I volunteer in women’s ministry, I love planning women’s retreats, and I love speaking and hearing good female Christian speakers, so I look into that kind of thing sometimes.   And a couple years ago I was googling and found Nicole Unice (www.nicoleunice.com).   I liked her immediately and began reading her blog and following her on Facebook.  She’s not yet uber-famous, like some other Bible teachers, but I think she really has her stuff together.

photo (7)So when she published a new Bible study called The Divine Pursuit, a Study of Jonah, I decided to buy a copy.  I was knee-deep in some other studies last year, so I didn’t have time to work through it until this summer.  And it was a perfect summer study!   She’s a very natural writer, using funny stories from her own life and pop-culture to make connections to the story (but not in a distracting way). The daily work is only about 10-15 minutes, but requires you to be introspective and also to dive into Scripture–and not just the book of Jonah!   I had never studied Jonah before, and I loved that she showed me where he was talked about in other places.  One of my favorite techniques that writers use is to use God’s Word to help us understand God’s Word.  She has us looking up verses all over the Old and New Testament and using those passages to further understand Jonah and the whole premise of the study, which is that God relentlessly pursues us.

Relentlessly pursues YOU. Relentlessly pursues ME.  For a girl who’s been a believer for a long time, it took a fresh look at this concept for it to really sink in.  Sometimes I feel like God and I are an old married couple–comfortably secure in our relationship, but not much spark left.  WRONG!  UNTRUE!  God’s passionate about wooing and pursuing me, and wants to FIGHT for me and our relationship to be exciting and real.  He wants me to feel wonderfully adored every minute of every day. Because I am.   It was a great word for me, and helped me feel a renewal in my passion for HIM!  Good, good stuff.

If you are like me, and your time in the Word is so much more consistent when you are working with a study, then this is a great choice.  (However, if you go to Morningstar with me, then you should SAVE this study and come do Restless by Jennie Allen with us!)  I would truly love to hear your thoughts on other Bible studies you have enjoyed.  Feel free to talk back!  And I hope you go check out Nicole’s stuff.

Top Four Embarrassing Summer Moments

IMG_0280BONUS  Moment #5: I never, ever, EVER remember that there are two “r’s” in the word embarrassing until spell check reminds me.  Never.

#4:  Because of their frustratingly similar packaging–darn you, Target UP brand!–I literally opened and touched a glue stick to my face instead of the kids sunscreen face stick.  (Yes, I use theirs sometimes.  It’s convenient–don’t judge.)  Fortunately, I caught myself just before I smeared it all around like a toddler Sunday school project.

IMG_7033#3:  We went on our annual 4th of July camping trip with our big ol’ family, where we rough it with no showers, we have to pump our own water and take a bit of a hike to the outhouse.  In the middle of the night, rather than walk by myself in the pitch black to the “bathroom,” I have mastered the art of….going outside.  (It’s 2 am and we’re in a tent on top of Mt. Hood.  Don’t judge.) When done well, it can be no problem at all.  It involves me leaning on a tree behind our tent. This year it also involved me getting a bunch of tree sap on my bare butt, which caused major annoyance and discomfort for the next three days until I could get home and shower.

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#2  On Labor Day weekend, we go to a family camp at the coast.  It’s all kinds of fun.  Sydney actually lost her first tooth there!  (It’s the best pic I have of the weekend and has nothing to do with my story.)  My brother leads worship and I get to help sing.  Well, on the last evening I put on my only remaining pair of clean jeans, wore them for a few hours, then showered late and went to bed.  The next morning, I slept a little too long and got dressed quickly, wearing the jeans again, because they were the cleanest pair I had.  (It’s CAMP.  Don’t judge.)  And as I was standing on the stage that morning, getting ready to sing for Jesus, I felt something in the leg of my pants.  Sure enough, it was my undies from the night before, sliding down my pant leg.  As soon as we got off stage, I awkwardly walked to the bathroom without majorly revealing my mishap to anyone, and tossed the bonus unders in the trash.  No harm, no foul.

#1  On August 7, my dad has his first and what we pray is his last heart attack.   We didn’t know it was a heart attack for IMG_5082
almost 24 hours, but that whole day was very disconcerting.  While we waited for official news, I wanted to see him, so I took the kids to the hospital for a visit.  I was pretty discombobulated about my dad, the kids were whining in the back, and I went straight to the hospital’s parking garage before I remembered that this year we decided to leave the CARGO BOX on all summer.  I heard this ungodly SCRAPING sound, as I confidently drove towards the entrance.  Fortunately, it was the heavy metal bar they use to remind forgetful visitors of their own clearance, not the actual cement ceiling.  UNfortunately, there was already enough room for TWO CARS to have pulled in behind me, and others waiting to turn in.  I had to put the van into reverse, and wait for everyone to back up and get out of the way so I could do the same.   (My dad was in the HOSPITAL!  Don’t judge.)   BUT, he is A-OK!  And that’s worth a hundred more embarrassing moments.

So, what did you do this summer to embarrass yourself?

Friday Favorites, take 1.

Name-Tag-Hello-My-Name-is-Jen TWell, hello there!  My name is Jen T.

You may remember me as an ambitious mama who had great intentions of blogging, like ALL THE TIME last spring.  And then summer came, and situations arose, not the least of which being I had three adorable and needy children at my feet ALL THE LIVELONG DAY.   Seriously, I’ve come to the realization that I have the blessing of three kids who still WANT me and my attention, pretty much every minute.  We have to try to find some balance, because I insist that I pee alone.   Plus the older ones were staying up late and the youngest one was waking up early, so my alone/writing time dwindled to nothing. I had to choose between attempting to blog and losing my sanity, or giving in to the embarrassment of no posts and just be a little bit better mommy.  I chose the latter.   I’ve never pursued trying to get ads or sponsors for my blog, because I don’t think I could handle the pressure of knowing I HAD to blog.  So, yeah, I want it to be regular, it might sometimes be sporadic.  I’m sure you’ll live.

HOWEVER, I’ve been sitting on this idea all summer and I want to pull the trigger today.   I’m sure I’m about the 5308th person to use this phrase, but I want to start a series called Friday Favorites, and tell you about something–anything that I love or am excited about.  Right now I’m thinking of non-profits, people, food, events, books, web sites—all kinds of stuff gets me pumped up and I think all 12 of my readers should know about.  Will it happen every Friday?  Bahahaha!  No, of course not.  But I hope it will happen on plenty of Fridays.  They’ll be short and sweet.2014Fall.JessicasPicks-5

Today, on this Friday Favorites, I want to tell you about an organization that I’ve known about for a few years and LOVE.   It is Noonday.   Noonday is a company that sells incredible jewelry and accessories to create economic opportunity for vulnerable women around the world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses.  They work with over 2000 artisans in over 10 countries.   A portion of their sales also help adoptive families bring their kiddos home.  And also?  It was started by an adoptive mom.  I KNOW!blog-2014-09-02-d

So, basically, awesome, awesome stuff.  I love this quote from their website: “We offer you the opportunity to use your purchasing power to create change in the world {while looking really good along the way}.”

You guys, here’s the thing.  Their products are IN.CREDIBLE.  Cute, stylish, on trend.  At least that’s what I’m told.  You should probably not trust someone who’s entire wardrobe is based on items from Target and Costco.  But I’m on pinterest enough to know what is good, and this?  IS GOOD!  But also–not cheap.  I’ll just give you that heads up.  This is an investment of your cash.  Yes, you might be able to buy three necklaces at Forever 21 for the price of one Noonday necklace, but where would you rather have your resources going?  And also, the quality of Noonday products are excellent.

noonday necklace My most recent purchase has been on my wishlist for a LONG time.   OK, forgive me, I hate selfies, partly because they feel terribly narcissistic and party because I’m horrible at them, but you have to see this killer necklace I got this summer.  (to the left, to the left)  I adore it!   I bought it to support my friend Rory‘s adoption.  Rory is also a Noonday Ambassador, as is my friend Kristen, and I’m going to put links for both of them down below.

That’s it.  Short and sweet.  I love Noonday and you should too.  Go check out Kristen or Rory’s links, drool over the stylin’ products, read about their impact, and USE your purchasing power to make a difference in this world.

The End.

RORY’s link.    KRISTEN’s link. 

Diaper Change from Hell

Wow, summer is kicking my booty!  The whole “stay busy” strategy is working to avoid boredom, but not working to allow me any writing time.   But I’ve had two specific requests for this old story, so I thought I’d use a re-post to make sure this new shiny paisley blog doesn’t get dusty.    It’s a good reminder to me than even when my kids are driving me crazy, no one is in diapers anymore.  HALLELUJAH!

supersmile cropped
This story is about this little stinker.

 

I’ve often heard the phrase “I need another hand” or something along those lines when someone refers to a specific task. Well, I’ve thought that before, but never truly, TRULY ached with the feeling until recently in my life. I’ve run it by a few other moms of toddlers, and they too feel my pain. Imagine first, if you will, a toddler who is so lacking in reason and logic that he is worse than the most annoying and clueless reality show contestants ever. You know the ones. You yell at them through your TV set because they are beyond the touch of common sense. Also, aforementioned toddler is freakishly strong with an attitude to rival the most rebellious teens. Now imagine the RANKEST smelling poopy diaper, which makes up in QUANTITY what it lacks in pleasant odor. To continue painting this pretty picture, you need to know that said toddler fights diaper changes like I am causing intense physical harm to his person. And one more thing, I’m sorry, but if you are really walking in my shoes you need to know: this is no solid poop. I have lots of fun sentences to describe the consistency made more horrifying by its mere mass, but I will spare you my fancy wording this time. You get the idea.  This child loves plums and berries.  OH. And one more thing. This is a BOY toddler, whose favorite new pastime is innocently–yet comprehensively–exploring his newly discovered body part between his legs.

Now, when you dive into a battle situation like this, it’s not like you haven’t pulled out all the stops. Bribes. Promises.

But it could also be about this little stinker. (Except the boy part part.)

Threats. Tears. But it’s like putting out a fire with a squirt gun. It just continues to rage. So, you buck up, camper, and just do it.  First, pants and shoes off.  (His, not mine.) I’ve learned from past experience that trying to save time by keeping those on just backfires, and who needs poo on their Nikes? Next, hold toddler down with left arm, and unfasten diaper with right hand. Then while toddler is squirming, no: writhing, no: FLAILING with shocking strength, I am trying to hold his ankles with my left hand (you have no idea how strong my left fingers have become in the last year) and keep his twisting to a minimum with my left elbow. I am holding those little legs so tight that I’m praying there are no bruises. With the right hand, I take the actual diaper, which seems to weigh as much as this child did when he came out of me, and try to use the small, untainted portion of the front of the diaper to wipe as much of the offending substance off the bum as possible. This is PRECISELY when screaming, thrashing toddler decides to explore–DOWN THERE.

Or this one.
Or this one.

“NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” I scream, dropping the diaper on the changing table in my hurry, smearing fecal matter on at least the following: changing pad, clean diaper waiting to be worn, child’s leg, container of wipes, baby powder, cute little basket holding clean diapers, AND MY OWN ARM. My frustration is quickly evident and transferred to my offspring, because he resumes his physical protest of the current situation. (Like I WANT to be here?) I’m in the middle of a sumo wrestling match, and all I can concentrate on are his hands, because his expedition is in a land that is UNCLEAN, people. I abandon all hope of doing something remotely resembling the initial objective with my right hand (although left hand still has death grip on kicking ankles in the air) and dive for the wipes. New objective: must. clean. little. hands. before. going. in. mouth. And then?  The tipping point of my sanity.

One of three things happen.  A) and most common: one wipe comes out of the little container, and the rest fall down to the very bottom of the box, and can only be retrieved by pressing a clasp and unfolding the wipes, which I don’t have to tell you requires both hands. B) While trying to take one wipe, I get about ten, and they are all connected to each other in a long line, like old school dot-matrix printer paper. Again–need both hands to separate. or C) NO wipes left. At this point “I need another hand” is an understatement like when I read that contractions are like a “slight tightening” in my abdomen.

Doesn’t quite cover it.

Forget another hand, I need ten hands, a new diaper, new clothes for both of us, a stiff drink and a nanny. My frustration and anxiety completely erupts, but by the grace of God (and I’m truly not using that term flippantly) I decide that a room covered in caca is better than an abused child or an alcoholic mother. I let go of my death grip, thus getting poopy bottom over changing pad, shirt, me and everything else. I let the child squirm, smearing even more poop, and I do whatever necessary to get those golden tickets: a handful of clean wipes. Or, as has occasionally happened, I ditch the room altogether in whatever state it is in and head for the shower to hose this kid off. (BTW–multiply this horror by 10 if you are on the floor of a changing-table-less bathroom in Starbucks.)

As maddening as scenes like this are, there’s usually a very sweet one to follow later so I don’t completely lose my marbles. Like the other day when I was absent-mindedly singing a song in the car, and when I stopped singing, Carson erupted in applause, yelling, “Yeah, Mommy!” And it’s moments like that when I remember another phrase like “I love you” that is also a tremendous understatement and it keeps me going through the rest.  But I still plan to give the kid some more bananas, ifyaknowwhatimean.

Mental Snapshots Only, Please

My obsession with capturing moments on film began long before smart phones and Instagram and Facebook.

In high school, I would spend way too much money buying film to take to summer camp.  While at camp, I was the annoying girl forcing my friends and any Cute Boy that crossed out paths to pose, or asking a passerby to snap a pic of us.  Then, in hopeful anticipation that ONE of those 36 exposures was THE perfect photo that included me and Cute Boy, I would again pay too much money for DOUBLE PRINTS.  Of the 72 printed pictures, you know only 14 were actually in focus, 4 were good and usually in that ONE picture of Cute Boy, my eyes were closed or worse: his arm was around another girl.  And that single disappointing photo only cost me $8.50.

But that did not deter my innate need to capture life with my camera.   All through college I continued buying film in bulk (yes, I realize that ages me), and paying for double exposures so I’d have an extra copy when one of them was a gem.  Who wants to go through the negatives and go back to the store and have that one exposure copied?   Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been very good at photography, but it hasn’t really mattered.  One time I took an entire roll of my roommates making funny faces for a project in my communications class about Emotional Intelligence.  They posed expressions for every emotion from disgusted to elated to drunk.  Why I thought we could include “drunk” as an emotion is still not clear.  I still have those proofs, but I’ve pinky sworn never to post them publicly.

pumpkin patch 030
Fyoosh! Someone else brought their camera.

Fortunately, with the advent of digital cameras–which became mainstream just in time for my first pregnancy–my obsession with being behind the lens has become a little less costly.  However, the fact that I had a brand new baby with his huge, beautiful bald head AND unlimited exposures on my digital camera was a recipe for photo obsession.  Throw into the mix a growing scrapbooking hobby (you guys, don’t mock: it was totally popular back then), and I was rarely without my little camera.  I began noticing a panicky feeling in my gut when something cute was happening and I wasn’t capturing it.  If we went to the pumpkin patch and I forgot diapers and a camera, I’d be way more concerned about the camera.  “It’s only his third time here!  How will he ever remember this trip?!  We’re all wearing matching outfits for the specific purpose of getting a family picture!  This day is RUINED!”

IMG_2686
I ditched the tripod and just took pictures. I couldn’t stand it!

I’m not sure if my deep need to take pictures is helped or hindered by the fact that my husband doesn’t really feel strongly about “capturing the moment.”  He’s fine to just be in the moment.  Sometimes I admire this and try to relax a little with the constant clicking, and other times I realize that if I had his same mentality, there would be ZERO pictures of our family of five over the last 10 years.   The epitome of our two philosophies collided on June 3, 2012, when we first met our long-awaited son in Bangkok, Thailand.   I knew this was one of the most important moments of our lives, of Asher’s life, and I had been told that if we didn’t get it on camera, we would regret it forever.  So I had a camcorder set up and it was recording our (sadly torturous) first meeting with Asher.  As we were first seeing and interacting with him, I was very aware of where the camcorder was, but Trent was not.  He was moving around on the floor, and he kept moving directly in front of the camera, completely blocking any view of our son.  I was hyper aware of the problem, but he was oblivious–or more accurately, he didn’t see it as a problem.  After the third time I asked him to move, he told me I needed to just let it go and focus on our son.   Even two plus years later, I definitely see his point, but still think I’m right.  😉

IMG_6901Today, with the ease of taking quick, cheap pictures, the need is not to take the picture to print it out and put it in a photo album.  For some reason, it seems that we feel like an event had not occurred unless we have a photo of it AND shared that photo with our 400 closest friends.  I use the word “event” loosely, and so do you all, judging by the number of pictures in my facebook feed of your face, your food and your kids in car seats.  I’m not casting stones here; I’m the worst.  If anything non-boring is happening (the kids built a fort!  Trent’s playing soccer with the kids in the sprinklers!) then I feel you all MUST know about it and maybe you won’t believe me!  So I must post a picture.  Which often turns into me interrupting the fun to shout “Wait!  Come back!  Re-do that last play.  No no no, the one with Carson.  Yes!  Oh, nope.  Didn’t get it.  No, stop playing and come back to so you’re in the frame.”

I realize this is demented.  Maybe we can find a balance?  Maybe we can still take great pics of our family without being obsessive about it.  Maybe we can still bring our camera on vacation or in the backyard, but not interrupt the fun or be so focused how the shot will look in Instagram that we aren’t paying attention to our kids.  In all honesty, having more kids is a big help, because you get so busy and tired that you are often too lazy to walk across the kitchen and pick up your phone, let alone walk into the other room to get the good camera.

Last weekend we were staying at a house near the coast with family.  The kids found a ton of water balloons and would not let the idea go.  So, my sister-in-law and I spent 45 minutes filling up a ton of water balloons, while the kids checked our progress every .7 seconds.  But just as we finished, it started to rain.   Postponing was out of the question, so we made some targets on the patio and let the kids stand in the doorway and throw.  This soon turned into them standing on the patio to throw.  I went out in barefeet and a raincoat to adjust the targets, and this soon turned into me standing in the rain, becoming the target.  Which then turned into me being soaking wet and all of us laughing as little kids pelted me (or missed me) with water balloons.  I don’t usually have the opportunity to be the “fun parent” so you know I was dying to get photo evidence!  But I decided the memory would suffice and you’ll all just have to take my word for it.

That’s what we call baby steps.

no-photo symbol

How I learned to love my muffin top

OK: confession.  I need to edit the title already, because that was kind of a lie.  The rest of this post will be filed under:

How I learned to love accept my muffin top.

And to be honest, even the accepting part is an ongoing commitment, not a done deal.  (And in case you live in a cave and don’t know what I’m talking about, yes, a muffin top is a common body issue for women who are larger than a size 4.)  It’s really just a catchy phrase to cover all the ways my body is different than it was 10 years ago.  It comes with all kinds of padding and softening and having awesome moments like when your three year old pokes your stomach, laughs, and asks if you have a baby in there.  To punish him for that snide little remark, I explained what a “vasectomy” is.  That’ll teach him.

Ironically, the main reason I HAVE a muffin top and the main reason I’m OKAY with my muffin top are one in themuffin top, love my muffin top, okay with my muffin top same.  She’s the little redhead to the right, running around in the waves in her swimming suit, splashing with glee.  Sydney was my second tummy baby, and the pregnancy kind of did a number on my body. She’s also my only daughter.  She’s almost 6 and weighs something like 40 pounds soaking wet. We can’t get her pants to stay up because she has no waist or hips.  She runs around in Rapunzel undies or a Superman cape and never thinks about how she looks.  She wrestles with her brothers and does fake ballet routines with pride.  She has no idea that her body will ever be scrutinized and compared, by herself and others.  And I already hear her picking up some of my mannerisms and attitudes about life. It’s what little girls do; they mimic their mommies.  And although my body image issues are still a work in progress, I REFUSE to pass them on to my daughter.  Soon enough she’ll enter the cruel world of of adolescence and she’ll have enough outside influences telling her she’s not good enough for whatever reason.

I recently read this quote by actress Kate Winslet, and it haunted me a little bit:

“As a child, I never heard one woman say to me, ‘I love my body.’  Not my mother, my elder sister, my best friend–not one woman has ever said ‘I am so proud of my body.'”

I realized that I absolutely want my daughter to grow up loving her body and accepting its beauty despite any flaws.  But how can I expect her to develop that mindset if I’m not modeling it?  I actually think my mom and dad instilled in me a very healthy body image growing up, and even despite that positive foundation, as soon as I looked around the “real world” I was schooled in what was desirable and what was not.

In a random coincidence, two Australian women recently had great impact on my resolve.  Have you heard about the documentary, Embrace?  In the teaser, the director asks women to describe their bodies in one word.  What word would you use?  Mine would not be positive.  Also, this article, also by an Australian,  describes the unhealthy way body issues were handled in her family and how it has affected her as an adult.  It is a must read, in my opinion.

So I’ve drawn a line in the sand.  

I’ve written two basic rules for myself as I live and eat and work and parent.  I believe our culture is harsher on girls and women, but these rules absolutely apply to raising sons as well.  Boys have their own comparison and body image issues.  I may not be able to honestly say “I love my body,” but we will abide by these two rules in our home:

IMG_05051. NO negative body talk. Even if I have negative thoughts about my body or anyone else’s body, I hold my tongue.  I try to hold myself to this rule even when my kids aren’t around.  I want to train myself to stop being my own biggest bully!   I cannot say “I love my body” out loud to my daughter and mean it [yet?], but she will never hear me berating myself either.  This body may not look the way I want it to, but it is healthy and able.  I’m grateful for this body.

If you have had more than two tummy babies and still have some proof on your body, you may be thinking, “Well, I’ve given birth _______ times!  You should see MY body!”  Or maybe you haven’t given birth and still struggle with weight and are about to play “I’m heavier than ______.”  And I say STOP IT!  We must stop comparing our bodies.  Period.  Talking about how your body is bigger/flabbier than mine or hers is just as bad as my skinny friends pointing out that their body is smaller/tighter than mine.  And none of us would ever stand for that!  (I love you, skinny friends.  I promise.)

2. Focus on healthy and strong. Here’s the thing: “not hating my body” is not the same as “not taking care of myIMG_0441 body.”  It means that I should strive to be healthier, but that I will not despise myself or my body between today and the magical day when I decide I am fit enough, which we all know means “thin enough.”  It means I will get over myself when family togetherness involves water and a bathing suit, and I will get out there and play in the sand and surf, even if I’m a little more covered up than I was 10 years ago.   (It does not, however, mean I will post a full body bathing suit shot on the world wide web.)

It means that I will have seasons where I work harder to be healthy, which might mean losing weight,  but I will not use words like “Mommy’s going on a diet.”  It means I never use the word FAT to describe anyone, especially myself.  It means my kids will see me go on hikes and bike rides and walks with them, and talk about how grateful I am for this body that can do so many things.  It means we will sweat together as a family!

IMG_0535I also want my kids to hear me comment on their bodies and what a GIFT they are!   Many children have illnesses that prevent them from doing the daily activities that my kids participate in without a thought.  I want to be excited and rave when they try something brave and new with their bodies, like going higher on the rock climbing wall, riding without training wheels or mastering the monkey bars.  And I want them to see and hear that I’m proud of myself when I work hard physically, reach a goal or try something new.IMG_0507

Sometimes I get giddy with excitement over the potential each of my children has.  I see in them hints of things to come, and may I just say, they are very likely going to be amazing world changers.  But I’m keenly aware that as their mama, I am co-laboring with my husband and God to lay the deep foundation of their hearts and minds.  How they view the world and themselves will forever be tied into how I view the world and MYself.  This is so often overlooked!  We believe they will only listen to the edification we lather on THEM, but they are not deaf to negative self talk we aim at ourselves.  These little people will only be my captive audience for a few precious years, and I’m determined to fill them up with confidence.

 

I want my daughter growing up believing she is strong and beautiful, because SHE IS.

And she needs a mama who is strong and beautiful too.  I’m determined to be that mama, and believe it.

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5 Stages of Summer Break Acceptance

As a mostly stay-at-home-mom with two kids in school, I have mixed feelings about summer vacation.  I adore my kids, and love spending time with them.  They are three of the most funny, creative and energetic people in earth.  But during the hours and hours of unstructured free time at home from mid-June to the beginning of September, a mystical fog descends upon our home, and it has a bewitching influence.  The symptoms of the fog-induced behavior include excessive whining, heightened sibling rivalry, loss of creativity and constant requests for snacks.   I’ve had a front row seat to this summer show for a few years now, and I’ve noticed a progression of emotions in myself and other moms as June rolls around.

The Five Stages of Summer Vacation Acceptance*

(*Any similarity to the five stages of grief are merely coincidental.)

  1. Denial. 

Denial occurs after spring break in the weeks leading up to summer vacation.  By April, mothers have become very accustomed to the routine of dropping off one or more children at the local school in the morning and trusting their well-being to other professional adults for 3-7 hours.   During this time we accomplish many tasks, from caring for younger siblings to running errands, working part-time, preparing meals, making necessary phone calls, cleaning houses and checking our Instagram feed.  We fully realize that ALL of these tasks are much more difficult when the children are home all day long, but we are not yet ready to face reality.  We barely acknowledge that this structured schedule will abruptly come to an end in mere weeks.  We definitely do not think about mothers who work full-time AND do all of these tasks or the homeschooling mothers.   We’re in denial.

  1. Excitement

In late May, denial gives way for excitement.  We have one or two really warm days in a row, and the kids play together happily in the sprinkler for hours, while we sit on the porch watching with a smile on our face and an iced coffee in our hands.  They really are great kids.  Maybe we find our plastic popsicle mold and have visions of making fresh, healthy all-fruit popsicles for our wonderful kids and their friends.  The evenings get longer and warmer, and deck furniture comes out of hibernation.  When the first wonderful backyard dinner from the grill fills my nostrils with happy smells, I am really coming around to the whole “summer” idea.   It’s gonna be awesome.IMG_4908

The stage of excitement is spurred on not merely by the positive aspects of summer, but also by the increasingly annoying aspects of the daily school grind.  Everyone is staying up later during those warm evenings, so getting the whole crew up, fed, dressed and out the door in time for school becomes increasingly difficult.  Homework gets forgotten much more often, permission slips get lost and I’m counting down with irritation how many more times I have to fill a little snack baggie with small items that begin with letters of the alphabet, because now we are down to U, Q and X and no one remembers they are due on Wednesday morning until Wednesday morning.   We haven’t filled out a second grade reading log since Valentine’s Day, and haven’t bothered to feel guilty about it since Easter.   Lazy mornings with nowhere to be and nothing to remember are starting to sound very, very nice.  OK, summer, I permit you to approach.

  1. Bargaining/Scheduling

IMG_5273As the inevitable LDOS (last day of school) approaches, we make unspoken deals with our children.  In our family, the kids know that I will allow a little more screen time than usual, they’ll get to stay up late playing in the yard and will eat their weight in Otter Pops. I expect that by loosening the reins a bit, we’ll have a rip-roaring great time and all get along.   We also begin planning how we will keep busy, which we proclaim is for their benefit, but it’s really to preserve our own sanity.  We get the calendars out and mark them up the ying-yang.  Swimming lessons, playdates, VBS and sports camps.  You name it, we’re signing up for it.  The bargaining comes when we have too many empty weeks, but the budget is gone and something FREE comes along.  “Soccer camp!  You LOVE soccer!  It’s so fun!  You’ll love it.  Please love it.  Please try it.  I’ll find a friend to go with you.  Well, WE’RE DOING IT. Get your shin guards.“golf boys

Now, I know what you are thinking.   Don’t overschedule your children!  Give them lots of free time to just PLAY and be children!  They need to build up their imagination and creativity.  I know, I read those articles too.  That is such a great parenting method IN THEORY.  Or maybe it’s perfect for your family.  In our family, if we don’t have anything planned at all, by 8:15 am the children are destroying the house and each other.   We need a reason to get out of the house each day.  Each of these events is a mere 1-2 hours, which leaves PLENTY of unstructured boredom–I mean playtime.   Believe me, we’ve tried both and in this family?  Some structure > no structure.

  1. Panic

Just as we’re starting to really look forward to being with these precious angels all the livelong day, and we’re so excited about the warm weather and laid-back mornings, inevitably we’ll have what I like to call a “summer preview” day.  This is often the last early release school day of the year, when the kids and neighbors are all home by 12:30 pm, and I assume they will frolic in the sun with their like-minded playmates.  But then, by 12:55, someone has clocked someone else in the face with a light saber, the brand-new sprinkler is broken because of rough play, the bickering and tattling can clearly be heard two streets over and when I offer some ideas for re-direct, the only response I get is constant complaints of boredom and our lack of exciting yard toys.   And it’s only 1:15.   Summer now scares me.

This loud drama of ONE AFTERNOON sends my blood pressure through the roof, and when I think of repeating this scenario for 91 days, I go into a slight panic.  I DO want my kids to learn how to deal with their boredom.  I DO want my kids to be forced to be creative.  I DO want them to have fun experiences at home and not remember summer as the time mom was such a grouch.   But how can I give them freedom and not give myself a stress-induced heart-acarwashattack?  In my panic, I go to the wise source of parenting knowledge that has all the answers for new millennium moms:  Pinterest.

I c9799c6fc947fb50f8344ba18f588ddcknow I’m not alone in this.  We stay up late to scour all pins associated with “summer fun activities” or “summer crafts” or “summer boredom busters.”  In a matter of moments we can be convinced that the salvation for summer
chaos will be provided by the perfect backyard activity.  All you need is some PVC pipe, pool noodles, windmills, drill bits, a saw, a tarp and a general contractor at your disposal.  According to Pinterest, in order to keep my kids occupied, I will also need to be fully stocked with glow sticks, chalk paint, mural-sized butcher paper,  mason jars and burlap.  And outdoor movie screen and projector with a hanging pallet loveseat would also be helpful.  But then it’s midnight, and I’m depressed and go cry myself to sleep, because I know I’ll never get that crap together, and my poor kids will have to suffice with bubbles and an old swing set.

  1. Acceptance

The first few days of summer are usually a little rocky as we adjust to the constant presence of each other.  For instance, maybe you take your kids to the library on the first day of summer and after breaking up a huge fight between your kids at the self-check-out machine, you find out you have to go to the big check out desk in the middle of the quiet grown-up section because you owe THIRTY EIGHT DOLLARS in late fees, and as you are trying to quietly check out, your youngest child throws a massive kicking-and-screaming meltdown, pees his pants (even though you were in the restroom with him three minutes earlier) and the librarian tells you he needs to be quiet.  (So helpful.) Or maybe that was just me last Friday.

But other things happen too.  Maybe a middle child sets up a very creative stuffed-animal kennel in her room, and the other children kindly drop off and pick up multiple animals.  Or an older brother plays basketball with a younger IMG_3379brother without being asked and without causing physical injury.  Or everyone sits around playing Battleship and no one accuses anyone of cheating.  Or we find the perfect u-pick cherry place 10 minutes away or have a rocking playdate.  Or free soccer camp turns out to be a huge hit.  And somewhere in June, the panic fades and a mostly-contented exhaustion sets in.   We accept the summer season and all it has to offer.  The sibling rivalry and emotional meltdowns still exist, but we learn to CO-exist for those 14 waking hours.  Yes, it’s a LOT more work having three little bodies desiring entertainment and engagement allstinkingday, but it can also be a lot of fun.   So we banish the bewitching fog and re-claim our backyards, where bubbles and an old school swing set really are enough.


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Little Ansel Adams

Most of the time, my good camera is off-limits to the kids, but there are some days when you just really need to get dinner made.  Sydney asks to use it almost every day. So, one evening, I threw the littlest one (child, not camera) in the tub and gave the middle one my prized possession, hung it securely around her neck and put the fear of God into her about dropping it.   And here, I present Sydney’s most recent collection: 5:15 on a Weekday.

First, a loving portrait of mother.  Actually, this is much more realistic than that pic over to the right or anything else I post online.

Toy box.  (Anyone having visions of these things coming to life a la Toy Story?  That doll makes sucking and cooing noises if her arm is touching her torso.  We learned this the hard way, after having the crap spooked out of us on several occasions.)

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Still life of legos.

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Maker of legos.  Such a polite young man.

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Nostalgic rendering of my Mother’s Day cards.  Yes, they are still hanging up, even though it’s been over a month and it’s almost Father’s Day.

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I did ask the photographer to go check on Asher in the bathtub, even though I could hear him singing and talking.  And yes, I did fear for my camera’s life in that dangerous environment, but I was up to my elbows in raw chicken, so I couldn’t leave.

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Ok, so apparently Asher eats bar soap when I leave him alone. (He’s almost 4, guys.  Don’t call CPS just yet.)

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And evidently Asher plays with the plunger in the bath when I walk out of the room. FANTASTIC. (If you call CPS now, I really can’t blame you.)

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Have you heard those theories about how art forgers always find a way to sign their work?  Busted!

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Stay tuned for Sydney’s next and most popular drawing series: stick figures that all look the same and lots and lots of circle flowers.