Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ella & Annie - My Pride and Joy

Since my last kid update, Ella turned 6 years old and Annie is now 9 months old!  I know I say this every time, but where is the time going?!  It definitely seems like it goes by even faster with the second child.  I can't believe in three months I won't have a baby anymore.  And Ella, she will be starting 1st grade in a couple months (and then Stephen and I will be turning 32 and 31 respectively)!  OMW!!

So, over the past few months, Ella has definitely moved from her Kindergarten days into a young girl who has shown her blossoming interests and talents.  Late spring she finished her final swim class.  She has aspirations of being on a dive team, but yet this summer she wanted to take a break.  But, I am very proud of her and her accomplishments and her abilities.  She is a great swimmer and has every stroke down (except for the butterfly). 

She also had another great soccer season and scored three or four goals over the course of 6 games.  She has turned into a great team player and finally doesn't think that she has to score a goal every game to be successful.  We aren't sure what's next for her.  She is interested in starting dance or maybe going back to gymnastics, but I'm not sure I (or she) can handle both.  Until then, her summer has been filled with lots of play dates and running around the 'hood with her friends.  She has a little more freedom this summer as she is allowed to ride her scooter or bike (she is officially off training wheels - which I feel took longer for her since we really only ride bikes about 5 months out of the year) to her friends house's as most of them live in the front of the neighborhood like we do.  She definitely thinks she's hot-stuff and it reminds me of when I was her age and I was riding my bike everywhere and into OTHER neighborhoods to visit friends.  But, not only is that not possible as neighborhoods aren't connected or really close to ours, but I seriously doubt I would even let her if that was an option.  It's sad to think about.  Our world is making us all crazy and limiting the fun and freedom kids used to have outside.  Anyway, she loves hanging out in neighbors' blow-up pools and using her slip-n-slide.  

She has also spent a lot of time reading which I love!  It's amazing how much her reading has progressed even over this short summer since school ended.  We take weekly trips to the library where she gets to pick out two books and a DVD.  And she also loves reading to Annie!  Ella has also become a techie...she loves her iPod Nano, which is Stephen's old one.  So no, we did NOT buy her an iPod.  But, she does take over my new iPod Touch that I was finally able to upgrade to.  I'm pretty sure she knows how to use it better than I do.  All of a sudden I saw her on Netflix the other day and I thought she had bought something accidentally, but no, she was just watching some cartoons that she put in the Watch Now queue....seriously.  AND she knows how to use Stephen's iPad.  Come on!!

Oh, as for Ella's (my petite one) 6 year stats...She is a mere 44" tall (23rd percentile) and 43.4 pounds (39th percentile).  For some reason she is very sensitive about being small.  Not sure what to do about that one.  She's kinda screwed since she has me and her daddy's genes.

Now onto Annie.  My chunky monkey is now 9 months old.  Her stats right now show she is 29" long (91st percentile) and 20.5 pounds (76th percentile).  She decided to start crawling the day she turned 7 months old.  She first started out doing a military crawl, but within a month weeks finally got onto her hands and knees.  She also loves music and head bangs to her favorites songs.  She also claps when she gets excited.  She continues to teeth...constantly.  She has at least 9 teeth, if not more.  It's crazy.  Since she has so many teeth we started her on table foods around 8 months.  She loves black beans, cheese, tomatoes, watermelon, french fries...she would eat more if we let her.  She finally started babbling around 8 1/2 months.  I was getting a little worried there as it seemed our pediatrician was going to send us to a speech therapist if she wasn't babbling by her 9 month check up.  Thankfully, she finally started vocalizing some b's and d's...but she is still not saying ''mama' or 'dada'.  Oh well.  I think we're just a loud and talkative family that she's just listening and taking it all in.  I fear to think of what her first words or phrase might be!!  :)

While in Florida Annie was able to experience the water for the first time.  She was able to go swimming at her aunt's house and she also went to Blizzard Beach at Disney.  She also went to Blue Springs and handled the 72 degree water like a champ, unlike her mommy who screamed like a little girl when she jumped in.  Just like her sister, she LOVES the water.  She could stay in it all day.

I'm happy also to brag that both my girls love church and their children's department.  Ella is about to graduate from Waumba Land (birth to Kindergarten) and jump to UpStreet (1st-5th grade).  She is very excited about that, but she is also sad that she will be leaving her teachers that she has been around since she was 2.  And Annie loves the nursery!  Ms. Val is the best and Annie has blossomed.  I'm also happy that the nursery seems to be the only place where Annie doesn't cling to me!

I can't imagine what my girls will be doing during the next update.  I suppose the next one will be in a couple months when Ella starts 1st grade and then again in three months when Annie turns 1.  OMW!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I miss my G'ma.

This is nothing new.  Missing G'ma.  I think about her every day in just about every situation that's going on around me.  I know this is normal and to be honest, it does not make me as sad as it used to.  I'm able to reminisce without tears, but sometimes those tears do fall.  Ella misses her 'grammy' a lot, too.  We talk about her a lot and we end up having dreams about her on the same nights.  I think that's neat.

I have never really been able to put into words exactly what G'ma meant to me or to our family has a whole.  G'ma and I weren't the kind of people who were too lovey dovey, we just knew how much we loved each other and left it at that.  Her passing came too fast and I was definitely not able to talk at her memorial service, although I had the opportunity.  Besides the fact that I knew I wouldn't be able to speak without sobbing, I just couldn't put any words together or memories in a cohesive thought.  I don't regret not taking advantage of that moment, but again, I think about her all the time and miss her like crazy and I try my best to honor her memory and make her proud.  I also want to be able to describe her to Annie when she gets older since she didn't really get to know her.  So, while I was finishing up "Bittersweet" this evening, one of the final chapters is called "Blueberries" and right from the beginning it reminded me of G'ma.  Now, the chapter is about the author's G'ma and clearly there are some differences in hobbies, etc. but the overall thoughts and memories that she wrote about her G'ma and how she will remember her are the exact words I've been looking for.  I guess I'm sort of plagiarizing her thoughts, but I've never been an original.  :)

Once again, I want to transcribe the chapter for you.  I hope you take the time to read it as I'm sure it will be uplifting for those who have had any type of loss in their lives.

An excerpt from "Bittersweet" by Shauna Niequist

My Grandma Hybels passed away on Sunday night with on of her daughters at her side.  Earlier that day, she'd been surrounded by all five of her children and her pastor, and they prayed together, kissed her, held her hands.  She was not afraid, and she was not alone.

At her eighty-fifth birthday party this summer, it was apparent to all of us that the cancer had returned and that it was overtaking her body, even thought she didn't want to admit it to anyone.  As the fall progressed, so did the cancer, and just after Christmas, she was moved to a hospice center.  Her last weeks were filled with visits from her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, until late one night, she passed way gently in her sleep.

When, in the weeks before her death, the cousins shared some of our childhood memories with Grandma, there were three things that came up over and over: blueberries, cinnamon toast and beach glass.  Grandma made the very best blueberry pie, and when my cousin Cameron learned that Grandma recently passed her recipe on to his little sister Melody, he told Mel that he expected Grandma's blueberry pie every time he comes to Chicago.  We all remember picking blueberries with Grandma at DeGrandchamp's in South Haven, which, for out-of-towner's, is widely known as the Blueberry Capital of the World, complete with a Blueberry Festival, Blueberry Parade and Blueberry Queen.

At Grandma's cottage we ate blueberries straight out of the bowl in the mornings, and in muffins all day long, but our favorite was her fresh blueberry pie, with a scoop of Sherman's Ice Cream - the second most famous export to come out of South Haven, right behind the blueberries.

In the last days of Grandma's life, she had no appetite and everyone who visited her worked hard to find something the sounded good to her - macaroni or pudding, something.  At a certain point, nothing worked.  And then my Aunt Marilyn found one last bag of frozen blueberries in Grandma's freezer and brought it to the hospice center.  Grandma said that she'd been saving that bag for her great-grandchildren, but admitted that they did sound good, and she'd just have a few.  For the last few days of her life, those frozen blueberries were the only things she ate, and for anyone who knew her, that doesn't surprise us a bit.

My brother remembers sitting on the carpet watching Dukes of Hazzard at the cottage, because the rule was that if you had already been swimming, you had to sit on the green shag carpet - no wet buns on the couch.  When we were done at the beach for the day, Grandma would line us all up in the front yard and spray us all off in one fell swoop, first all our fronts and then all our backs.  She was forever fighting against sand in the cottage, but with so many little feet, I think the sand generally won.

We fought over who would get to sleep in Grandma's bed with her, the big brass bed, and in the mornings, we all loved having cinnamon bread from Bunde's Bakery in the sunroom, the toaster and the butter dish in the corner always ready for us.

One of our favorite things to do at Grandma's cottage was to search for beach glass, because Grandma collected it in jars like a precious treasure.  Every few days we'd take out all the pieces and spread them out on the dining room table with her and she acted as though we'd found gold every time.

When we came to visit Grandma for the last time, she gave each of us a box, one for each child and grandchild.  In each of our boxes, she had packed up every baby picture, every card we'd given her, and an assortment of family memories and newspaper clippings.  Late one night I  spread the contents of the box all over my dining room table  - baby pictures of my dad that look just like Henry, an invitation to my parent's wedding, and another invitation to my grandparent's wedding.  I found a note that my dad wrote to his dad, who passed away when I was two.  The contents of that box helped piece together childhood memories long forgotten and bits of a past I never knew.

One thing that brought her great joy in the last several years of her life was the time with her great-grandchildren.  Grandma held them and soothed them, played with them on the floor, and collected pictures of them to show her friends and sisters.  It was a very moving thing to watch Grandma care for our children in much the same way she cared for us when we were small.

Luka was born less than two months ago, and my cousin Larissa and her husband, Matt, knew, in the first terrifying hours of Luka's life, when he was hooked up to  monitors and things seemed to change from moment to moment, that Grandma was praying consistently for Luka's health.  And even though she was very sick, she insisted on visiting Luka, and wanted to hold him every chance she got, even when he was fussing.

Just last week, after Grandma had moed to the hospice center, her health declining by the day, she was delighted to hear the my cousin Jake's wife, Sara, gave birth to a son named Logan.  While Grandma never wanted to bother anyone about anything, that morning, she wanted to make phone calls to tell people about the birth of baby Logan.  In many ways, that's all you need to know about my Grandma, that days before the end of her life, her greatest concern was not for herself, but for a child, and for the health and safety of her family.

Above all else, even above the blueberries and the cinnamon bread, what we remember about Grandma, what we knew was most important to her, was her faith.  She prayed for us consistently and asked us pointedly about where we were going to church and what we were learning from our Bible reading.  She modeled for us, more than anything, her deep belief that faith is the center of everything, the foundation upon which all else is built.

At the heart of Grandma's faith was servanthood.  She didn't want to be the center of attention and didn't ask hardly anything of anyone.  Even at the very end of her life, when she needed something from the nurses, she'd ask, "Would that be too much trouble for you?"  They teased her and finally started telling her, "Jerry, this is about you!"  Anyone who knew he knows that she never, ever thought it was about her.

On the last afternoon Todd and I spent with her, we talked about the importance of faith.  She told us that all she wanted at the end of her life was to know that each one of her children and grandchildren trusted Christ with their lives.  I don't think she cared a bit if we went to good colleges or not, or how we looked, or if we made a lot of money.  She cared about our spiritual well-being and prayed fervently and consistently for each one of us.

If you opened Grandma's refrigerator, t looked like and she ate was yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream.  But if you took a closer look you realized that there were odds and ends of all sors of things in those reused containers - bits of casserole, leftovers, slices of pie all stored in rinsed-out yogurt and cottage cheese containers.  She also took crackers and sugar packets from restaurants, and used bread bags to store almost anything.  Grandma never wasted a thing and was never extravagant.  She didn't spend on herself and lived with great frugality, preferring to give to her church, to missions, and to her family.

Although she lived simply, she gave generously to us.  And possibly even more important, she modeled to us her deeply held belief that money doesn't buy happiness, that it isn't ours in the first place, and that wastefulness and extravagance lead to bad ends.  In a world where financial mismanagement and recklessness seem to be the norm, we consider it a gift to have learned another way from Grandma.

In my last conversation with Grandma, we talked a lot about heaven.  She told me she was so excited to go there and that she felt like it was taking a long time.  One of the reasons she was most excited about heaven is because there she'll be reunited with her husband.  For a woman who had been widowed for more than thirty years, I can't imagine the sweetness of that reunion.  She spoke in great detail about wanting to see her sisters and brothers and looking forward to a time when age and disease and pain are gone.

We'll miss Grandma terribly.  We'll think of her every time we eat blueberries or find a piece of beach glass in South Haven.  But we know, with as much certainty as we know anything, that she is in heaven, free from pain and disease, reunited with Christ, with a husband she's missed for three decades, and with sisters and brothers she loved dearly.  And for that, we're so thankful.

The best way to honor my grandma's life, I believe, is to live with the faith, simplicity, prayerfulness and kindness that she lived with every day.  When any of us - her children, her grandchildren, the many people she touched and walked with - live simply in order to give generously, when we serve without wanting recognition, when we put the needs of others above our own, when we pray for the people we love, we will honor the legacy of this tiny, lovely, godly woman, my grandma, Gertrude Hybles.

Well, if you've made it down this far, I hope that touched you as much as it did me.  I felt like I was talking with my G'ma again while reading this as we had those same conversations in her last days and faith was so important to her as well.  I miss knowing that G'ma was praying for me and my family every day.  I want/need to be like that...I want to be like her.  I hope when we see each other again that I will have made her proud.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Yes, I know.  It's been a while since I last blogged...probably close to a month.  The last time I was bragging about our soon-to-happen vacation to FL.  Well, that came and went and a lovely time was had by all.  I could recap the trip, but I think we've spoken to most of you and the pics are posted on Facebook.  Needless to say, it was a much needed vacation and I did not want to leave.  FL will forever be my home and the beach and just about any pool will always be the best relaxor for me. I look forward to either moving back some day or at least having a vacation home there.  

I could brag about the girls, but since they are both a few days away from check-ups I will wait to write a separate blog about their growth/milestones and achievements.  

We've all been dealing with sickness for the past few months.  It seems like a never-ending cycle.  Ella has been sick, I swear, for the past three months on and off.  I thought things would get better after school got out and she wasn't around other nasty kids, but to no avail.  I got sick right before FL and it hung on for a couple weeks to the point where Stephen had to call me in a Z-Pak while we were in FL.  Upon our return, Stephen got really sick.  He NEVER gets sick and usually when he does it's strep and he gets antibiotics and he's good in a few days.  Well, this seemed a lot like what I had before FL and it got him down pretty bad and because he was working so much when we got back he really didn't have time to rest and recoup.  Unfortunately, Ella got sick because she doesn't know how to stay away from sick people and surprise, surprise...Annie and I are now sick because I, of course, am the caretaker and again, Ella can't stay away from anybody when SHE is sick!!  UGH!  I'm so over this.  I have decided that I will turn into an old person every time someone gets sick in this house, meaning if Stephen is sick, I will sleep in another room, if Ella gets sick, she will stay in her room.  I know that sounds old-school, but it works.

I've been trying to read more lately since I was able to get back to this passion of mine since we were in FL.  I used to read all the time.  Kids don't really let that happen, too often...unless of course we're talking about Curious George, Dr. Seuss, Clifford, etc. and those are not my passions!  :)  I'm just about done with "Bittersweet", the second book by Shauna Niequist who I posted previously an excerpt from her first book "Cold Tangerines".  I have to say, I do not like this book as much as the first, but I am in love with the way she writes and I hope she comes out with a new book soon!  I am also reading "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell who also wrote "The Tipping Point" and "blink".  I'm not really into this book, but Stephen and I like to read together and he wanted to read this one.  I'm looking forward to starting Tim Tebow's book "Through My Eyes" and also Emily Giffin's most recent book "Heart of the Matter".  I used to only be able to read one book at a time, but I find if the two books are different styles I can handle reading two at a time.  Have any of y'all read any of these?  What did you think?

Anyway, you'll be hearing from me sooner rather than later, but just wanted to chat a little today.

Monday, June 06, 2011

7 days and counting!

In case it's not totally obvious, I am super-stoked about our trip to FL coming up in a week!  Yes, we go to FL at least once a year anyway, but this time it will be different and bittersweet...for many reasons.  Again, in case I haven't made it abundantly clear, Stephen and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and will be able to drop the girls off at his sister's and spend a few days in Captiva Island, just to the two of us!  This will be the first vacation in a l-o-n-g time for us and really the first time we have gone to FL to have a real vacation and not just visit family.  Now, don't get me wrong, we are very excited to see family this time around, we just won't be bound to traveling from one city to another to get certain time in with everyone.  But, this will also be my first trip to FL not seeing my G'ma.  I'm not really sure how I will feel when I cross the state line because usually as soon as we see the Welcome to Florida sign I feel at home.  Will I still feel that this time?  I'm afraid I will feel like a visitor/tourist this time because part of my 'home'...a big part.. is gone.  Then, what will happen when I walk through her house for the first time since she passed?  I'm either going to be emotional or I'm not and then I have a feeling if I'm not emotional I'll overthink that and think something is wrong.  Anyway, I am thoroughly excited to go home and to see family and friends.  And I hope that being at G'ma's house will be nice and healing and not overly sad.

This will also be the first time I'll be away from Annie for an extended period of time.  Don't get me wrong, I am not worried at all about her caregiver(s).  Angela is a w-a-y better mother than me, so again, no worries there.  But, I'm hoping that Annie won't really realize that I'm not there, but how can she not?  She's with me 24/7!  I'll be with her for about 24 hours at Angela's house before we leave, so hopefully she'll get comfortable fast.  

For those of you who read this and I will see in FL, I can't wait!  I miss you all and I can't wait to party!  For those of you I will leave behind in MI, I wish you could come with me and we could have a big fiesta on the beach!  I haven't decided whether I will post pictures and updates while in FL or just go completely unplugged and then post everything when we get back.  I guess we'll all know in a week or so!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Still waiting for the rapture...from MI to FL!

OK...so we've passed the crazy May 21st prediction(s) of the Mayans and some crazy man in California.  I have yet to pass the craziness that our family has been enduring since April!  Since my last unplanned trip to FL in March, our family has been going non-stop and I'm ready to get off the speeding train.  Stephen has been working non-stop in the NICU making up time he had to take off for my G'ma's passing/memorial service and getting through extra calls so we can enjoy a two-week vacation mid-June (hence, our rapture from MI to FL).  

What's keeping me so busy you ask?  Well, I've started a new transcription job and it continues to pick up and I LOVE it!  But, since Annie is more mobile these days (more on that in a few), I can really only work during her naps which extends my work days sometimes late into the evening after the girls have gone to bed.  That's made even worse on the days that Stephen is on-call because if he isn't home to at least give him an hour break, I pretty much go to bed when the girls do and then I just finish work early the next morning before California wakes up (where my account is located).  Now, as mentioned above, Annie is now mobile.  She started crawling on her 7 month birthday!  UGH!!  I was not ready for this.  Ella didn't start crawling until she was 9 months old and even then, we lived in a 800 square foot box in Boston and she didn't have a lot of places to go.  So, this has definitely been an awakening for me and we need to get on the baby-proofing STAT!  Annie definitely loves her freedom and thankfully has not gotten into any 'trouble', but unfortunately, she eats a lot of dog hair (extra fiber, right?).  With two dogs, I definitely don't vacuum as much as I should.  Ella is enjoying the mor mobile Annie, too and is still in a rush for her to walk and talk so they can gang up on me.   Ella has also kept me busy with end-of-the-year activities, being sick every 3 to 4 weeks since March and preparing for her 6th birthday.  Yes, I just said 6!!!  No, I can't believe it myself.  I feel old.  

The feeling old part doesn't get any better as Stephen and I get ready to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on June 23rd.  This is where our rapture to FL comes into play.  Stephen and I have not been on a real vacation, let alone a vacation for just the two of us, since 2004 when we went to the Keys for our 3rd anniversary.  Oh the days when we weren't tied down and didn't have a many responsibilities and we definitely had more money!  But, thanks to my awesome sister-in-law and my husband doing a crap-load of moonlighting to make some extra bucks, we are heading to FL on June 13th where we will promptly drop the girls off in Lakeland at my sister-in-law's and then proceed to check into the South Seas Resort in Captiva Island!!!  Can you say 'Hell Yeah'?!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Not my normal post

As the title suggests, I don't usually blog about things I covet.  But, considering most of the people who read my blog are female and most females  love shoes, I HAD to share this find that was in my most recent (May) RealSimple magazine.  It's an ottoman that also has shoe-storage inside!!!  And not only that, it's made by one of my favorite designers - Lilly Pulitzer!  Her beautiful clothes and colors are one of the things I miss most about south Florida (yes, there are stores here in MI, but it just doesn't seem right).  Now to find out there will be a Lilly Pulitzer furniture line is totally making me drool!  I just have to figure out how I'm going to afford it.  Donations are welcome!  Ha, ha!  Enjoy and tell me what you think.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Annie's 6 month stats

My baby is six months old today!  Where is the time going?  These past couple months have been such a blur to me and I feel like I'm missing out on what most likely is my last baby.  It seems to be going by so much faster than it did with Ella.  When Ella was a baby we had so much one-on-one time together and Stephen wasn't as busy then so we also had a lot of family time together. This time around, Stephen is super-busy and I clearly have more things that need my attention.  All that aside, I love having a baby in the house.  My favorite time of the day is when Annie wakes up in the morning and is babbling to herself and when I walk in she gives me the biggest smile she possibly can showing me those two cute little teeth she has.

Anyway, onto her stats.  Today she weighed 17 lb, 6 oz (72nd percentile) and her length was 28" (98th percentile)!!  She is pretty much on par with Ella's stats except for the fact that she is an inch taller than Ella was at 6 months.  I can't get over how big she is.  She is already wearing 9 mo. sleepers because if not she pops her snaps when she moves around!  And speaking of moving around, that's all this girl does.  She is not crawling, thank goodness, but she rolls and scoots to get wherever she wants to be.  She loves being on our wood floor more than the carpet.  And if she is sick of being on her play mat she'll scoot and roll over to her exersaucer to let me know that's where she wants to be now.  

She is still making her "chewbaca" sound effects and blowing raspberries, but not much "mama"or "dada" yet.  We'll see what the next couple weeks will hold.  She hasn't really been herself lately as she has been dealing with a little cold and I think she might be teething again.  Her eating habits have even been a little haywire.  She was so into her solids last month and then in the past two weeks she has not wanted anything to do with them!  

I'm looking forward to the weather finally warming up (consistently) so we can be outside more and enjoy nature.  When we were in FL taking care of my G'ma, I was able to take Annie on walks every day and it was so amazing to see her expressions and interests in the outdoors and seeing GREEN trees and grass and colorful flowers.  I hope we get to do that up here sooner rather than later.  Annie likes being outside when she gets the chance and she loves watching her big sister ride her scooter or bike and play out back on her play structure.  Before I know it, Annie will be doing those things, too!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Blessings and Curses

Over the past year I've been reading and re-reading a book called "Cold Tangerines" by Shauna Niequist.  

I started reading this book as part of my women's group, but have since gone back to reread a few passages that really meant a lot to me and some that have new meaning.  The excerpt that I want to share with you actually should have had a lot of meaning to me the first I read it, but I think something inside me just didn't want to admit how much it was talking to me!  As I've faced another loss in my life and realize that I need to go seek help/advice/support, this passage has made me realize what I've probably known all along...even though I see many blessings that have come from the many tragedies in my life, I still consider myself "cursed".

Blessings and Curses

There are things that happen to us, and when they happen, they give us two options.  Either way, we will never be the same, and we shouldn't.  These things can either strip us down to the bone and allow us to become strong and honest, or they can be reasons we use to behave poorly indefinitely, the justification for all manner of broken relationships and broken ideals.  It could be the things that allows everything else to turn, that allows the lock of our lives to finally spring open and our pent-up selves to blossom like preening flowers.  Or it can be the reason we use to justify our anger and the sharp tones in our voices for the rest of our lives.*  

One of my dearest and oldest friends, Jon, married a girl I grew up with.  In the middle of the night two years later, Jon called me because he had just found emails that made it clear to him that his wife was cheating on him.  Soon after, she left and never came back.  Less than a year later, they were divorced, and the day they went to court, we threw a party for Jon, not to celebrate the fact of the divorce, but because it didn't seem right that he would go home to their empty apartment after the courthouse.  We grilled out and drank icy margaritas with salty rims, and sat on the back steps of our townhouse, watching the bugs circle the porch light.

Jon had every right, you could say, to let his life be defined by that day, by that year, by that woman, by that betrayal.  But what he did instead was a marvelous thing to watch.  He laid himself open and vulnerable to life and God and therapy and close friends, and began the breathtaking process of becoming more than what he had been in a thousand different ways.  He is softer, in the best possible way, and when you talk to him, you know that he's been down to the bottom and fought his way back up.  He listens more closely and prays like he's talking to a best friend.  I knew him well for years before she left, and although I would never wish upon anyone the searing pain I saw written on his face during that season, what God did in his life through that event makes me believe God's goodness even more than I did before.

In May, three years ago, I stood at the back of a church and cried great big happy tears as he married Christina, a beautiful and smart woman who loves him with a steadiness that feels like a sailboat's keel.  There's something immovable about her, and it feels like just the right thing for the zig-zag path of his life.  Their sons, Gabe and Will, are darling grey-eyed miracles, and when I see Jon with them, I know that it seemed like God was being cruel that year, that middle of the night when he called me.  But he was not.  What I know now is that his kindness burns through even the deepest betrayals and invites life from death every chance we let him.  There are things that explode into our lives and we call them curses, and then one day, a year later or ten years later, we realize that they are actually something else.  They are the very most precious kinds of blessings.

It's dark today, almost like night and cool and rainy.  It always seems in the  dead of summer that it will be summer forever, that it couldn't possibly ever get cold again.  And then there are days like today that remind you that it will.  The leaves are starting to change, and the clouds have decidedly different presence than the one they had all summer.  They are brighter, more aggressive, fighting the sun more directly than the summer clouds who seemed more content to let the sun lead the way.  These clouds mean business.

The slight turn of seasons reminds me of last fall, and it strikes me that my life as changed almost beyond recognition since then.  In the process of breaking my heart, life or God or something - not that I don't believe God moves in these ways, I just don't want to immediately blame him for a crime he didn't commit - also delivered me to the life I've been wanting.  And I can spend all my life and all my soul and all my words on the pain of what happened to me, or I can take this glimmering gift and run.

The day I left my job at the church was the darkest day of my life so far.  It felt like a curse, a punch in the face, a slice to the core.  It made me feel like my luck had run out cosmically, and from then on, all I could expect was rain.

But the only person who decided my life was turned to dust was me.  The only  person who is still deeply troubled about what I've lost, even in the face of what I've gained, is me.  I would never have wanted it this way, but something bright and beautiful has been given to me, and I'm in grave danger of losing it, squandering it, becoming a person who cannot find the goodness that's right in front of her because of the sadness that she chooses to let obscure it.*

Now we're talking about celebration.  Celebration when you think you're calling the shots?  Easy.  Celebration when your plan is working?  Anyone can do that.  But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that's when you start to learn what celebration is.  When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that's celebration.

When you can invest yourself deeply and unremittingly in the life that surrounds you instead of declaring yourself out of the game once and for all, because what's happened to you is too bad, too deep, too ugly for anyone to expect you to move on from, that's that good, rich place.  That's the place where the things that looked for all intents and purposes like curses start to stand up and shimmer and dance, and you realize with a gasp that they may have been blessings all along.  Or maybe not.  Maybe they were curses, in fact, but the force of your belief and your hope and your desperate love for life as it is actually unfolding, has brought a blessing from a curse, like water from a stone, like life from a tomb, like the actual story of God over and over.

I would never try and tell you that every bad thing is really a good thing, just waiting to be gazed at with pretty new eyes, just waiting to be shined up and - ta da! - discovered as fantastic.  But what I know is that for me, and for my friend Jon, and for a lot of people I love, we're discovering that lots of times, not every time, maybe, but more often than not, there is something just past the heartbreak, just past the curse, just past the despair, and that thing is beautiful.  You don't want it to be beautiful, at first.  You want to stay in the pain and the blackness because it feels familiar, an because you're not done feeling victimized and smashed up.  But one day you'll wake up surprised and humbled, staring at something you thought for sure was a curse and has revealed itself to be a blessing - a beautiful, delicate blessing.

There have been a thousand moments when I have felt the weight and the sadness of this season, appropriately. But then there have been some moments where I have felt the blessing and beauty of it, too.  Seeing our baby's face on the ultrasound, eating ice cream with Aaron, having breakfast at Annette's and taking Spence for a walk, walking on the pier by myself today after lunch at the Phoenix Street Cafe'.  There is a particular beauty to this season, not the obvious everything-is-perfect beauty, but a strange slanted pleasantness that surprises me and catches in my throat like a sob or a song.

Nothing good comes easily.  You have to lose things you thought you loved, give up things you thought you needed.  You have to get over yourself, beyond your past, out from under the weight of your future.  The good stuff never comes when things are easy.  It comes when things are all heavily weighted down like moving trucks.  It comes just when you think it never will, like a shimmering Las Vegas rising up out of the desert, sparkling and humming with energy, a blessing that rose up out of a bone-dry, dusty curse.

When I lived in Santa Barbara, every time I drove to Las Vegas, I always got scared that I was lost, that I would die in the desert, eaten by a coyote.  The road was desolate and the truck stops eerie and silent, and I always began to lose hope - there was no Vegas, no city in this bleak desert.  We were sure to die, right on the side of the Pearblossom Freeway.  And then, every time, there it was, like a mirage, like a happy ending.

We become who we are in these moments.  I have a friend who falls back, whenever things are too hard, to an event in her life that happened over a decade ago.  It's the thing that she uses to justify cruel behavior, wrecked relationships, terrifying swings of emotion.*  But wouldn't it be great, wouldn't it be just like God, if that terrible thing could be the thing that lifts her up and delivers her to her best, truest self?  I know it can, because it happens all the time, because it happened to my friend Jon, and because it happened to me.

*(Ding, ding, ding!  That's me!!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An update on life

Dude...what a last couple of weeks THAT was?!?!  I really don't want to relive the last two weeks as I'm sure most of you know about it, but briefly, my G'ma got a surprising diagnosis of metastatic cancer and not surprisingly decided to forego treatment.  Thankfully she did not have to deal with the illness for long as she passed on March 11th.  I know she is in a better place and I am at total peace.  I just have to get through those first few times when I want to call her and then realize that I can't.  

What I really want to write about in this post is my girls.  I am so very proud of them and all the changes and experiences they've gone through in the past couple weeks.  I'll start with Ella as I was more worried and sad for her throughout these past weeks more than anything.  Ella has had a very close relationship with G'ma from the moment she was born.  G'ma was there for her birth and then spent three weeks with Stephen and I as we transitioned into our new lives as parents.  I truly cannot imagine what I would've done without her, but that's another story.  Anyway, Ella and her 'grammy' have shared numerous memories and moments that will always mean a lot to Ella and to me, so it broke my heart to have to tell her that 'grammy' was ill and was going to go to heaven soon.  G'ma had a few conversations with Ella in the past about her going to heaven someday and what that meant and although at the time I didn't really want to hear my G'ma talking like that and also didn't want Ella to be scared or sad earlier than necessary, it ended up making this whole situation a lot easier!  Ella obviously was sad, but faced the news with bravery and asked a few questions and our answers seemed to comfort her.  As we went down to FL to help G'ma in her final days, Ella spent the first week with her cousins (and awesome Aunt and Uncle, who without them everything would've been 100 times more stressful and difficult) as I wasn't sure how hectic things would be or how sick G'ma was.  It was clear when I got there that G'ma didn't have much time, so I definitely wanted Ella to have some final moments with her.  We ended up staying another week and Ella was able to stay with me and she and 'grammy' had more special moments together that we will always treasure.  Ella was so sweet and so understanding and didn't let the changes in G'ma scare her.  The night G'ma passed Ella was spending some time with some friends from college and when we brought her back to G'ma's we sat her down and told her G'ma had gone to heaven.  I could not imagine what it was a like for her to have seen her earlier that day and have  had a conversation with her and then after leaving for a few hours 'grammy' being gone.  Ella again was very sad and it broke my heart because she said, "Now I won't have a grandma anymore."  I know she still had questions, but wasn't quite ready to ask them.  She still has her sad moments from time to time and says she wants to "talk to grammy" or wants to "see grammy" and all I can say is, "Me too".  She and I are grieving together, but I still am in awe of her innocence, bravery, love, faith and courage.  I hope that she and I can keep G'ma's legacy alive and that I can raise her as well as G'ma raised me.

Now Annie of course is too young to know what's going on, but I am so glad that there are memories and pictures that I can share with her about her short time with G'ma.  And I would also like to brag about how much of an angel she was on this 2 1/2 week journey.  It all started on our plane ride down that she slept all the way through...even through horrible turbulence where I was sure we might be meeting Jesus before G'ma.  Her sweetness continued through the trip as she gave G'ma tons of smiles and squeals of delight and would always reach for and hold one of G'ma's fingers...sweet, sweet memories I will always cherish.  Also within those 2 1/2 weeks, Annie reached several milestones all before turning 5 months old the day before we left FL.  The main event was that she cut not only one, but two teeth (the front two bottom).  I was truly shocked that she had her first two teeth before 5 months of age.  She was definitely more cranky than usual, but it could've been a lot worse.  For her, who really only cries when she's hungry or overly tired, her crankiness from cutting two teeth really wasn't as bad as it could've been.  We stocked up on Tylenol and Ambasol and she took a lot more naps!  She is now a big fan of her Sophie giraffe to chew on.  She is not a fan of the teethers that you put in the freezer.  She is also now rolling over completely front to back and back to front and pretty much gets around by scooting on her back.  She definitely doesn't sit still anymore.  I can't leave her on the couch for a few seconds anymore.  She also reaches for everything.  At first it was just the dangling toys on her playmat, but now it's pretty much everything in sight.  Cups, utensils, hair, jewelry, dogs, paper...nothing is safe! :)  The girl is also growing like a weed.  I know I say this every month, but I'm really curious what her 6 month check up stats will show.  As for eating, we weren't really able to continue with solids while in FL, but as soon as we got back we started with avocados.  They are so simple to prepare and so yummy for mommy to snack on, too!  Anyway, I definitely think she liked it better than the rice cereal we tried her on (once) at 4 months.  I was a little overzealous then with starting solids.  She definitely wasn't ready, but I was curious.  Now, I'm looking forward to making as many homemade foods for her as possible.  We're going to stick with the avocados for a couple more days and then move to sweet potatoes.  I can't wait!  I'm also hoping my hubby will let me get one of those baby food makers.  I know, I know...they're not necessary, but the self-steaming option and pureeing, etc. is so much easier in an all-in-one gizmo in my opinion.

I know there will most likely be at least one more post regarding me and my grieving of my G'ma, but for right now I am still thinking about what we all went through those 2 1/2 weeks and the memories that were made, milestones achieved and growing experiences for a 5 y.o. and the adults that were had.  I'm proud of my family and proud of our faith.  Our God was with us every step of the way and showed His mercy, grace, love and strength in every situation.  

Before I end this post, I also have to give props to my awesome husband. He drove down from MI a week after I had already been in FL knowing that G'ma didn't have much time left and wanting to be there to support me and say goodbye to G'ma.  But more amazingly than that, he took care of my G'ma in more than just a doctorly way.  I don't really know how to explain it, but I truly could not see another man being comfortable in an uncomfortable situation and so selfless to take the night shift, have difficult conversations, help prepare end of life needs, make several phone calls and have to tell people off to get the job done that should've already been done, write the obituary and many other things all while being there for me and the girls and our needs.  I'm still in awe of him and always will be.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I will try very hard for this post to not be political and I ask that as you read it you focus on why I think this is absurd and then you can agree or disagree based on the actual purpose of me writing this, not because it's Democrat vs. Republican...vs. Tea Party (puh-lease!).

I came across an article this morning (Mother's milk stirs unlikely political debate - CNN.com) that really ticked me off! I hope you will take the time to read it and even research other articles if you would like more information to base your opinion on. The "debate" is over the IRS now accepting breast pumps as medical equipment and therefore can be a write-off. (Just that part in itself being an 'issue' is absurd to me). It then becomes more of a "debate" because the First Lady has promoted breast-feeding recently during her "Let's Move" campaign stating that it could help in childhood obesity. According to a few Republicans/Tea Party-ers, the IRS decided to change this part of the tax code just because Michelle Obama has promoted breast-feeding recently even though this has been an issue for the IRS (and others) since at least last Fall when the IRS actually stated breast pumps WERE NOT medical equipment. Numerous people/groups were in disagreement with the ruling including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). All of this to say, what is wrong with breast pumps being considered medical equipment? There are thousands of women who could not get through breast-feeding if it weren't for a pump and if it's for the betterment of someone's health (i.e, the child) how does it not constitute the same tax break as say hearing aids, contact lenses, eyeglasses, etc.?

The issue becomes even more ridiculous when people start blaming the First Lady herself for sticking her nose into 'our' business. Really? Childhood obesity can only be talked about in our own homes? Maybe that's the real problem, because I highly doubt the majority of families with weight issues are sitting around their dinner table talking about what they could do to change their lives for the better...or maybe they are, it's just while eating a huge serving of creamy pasta or a big bowl of ice cream. Heaven help us if someone offers advice or if some state-led or federally-led program(s) can offer kids a healthy start to life or help them lose weight. We should just let them do what they want and govern their own lives because if they decide one day that they're too fat and finally want some assistance all they need to do is find the right surgeon to get a little nip and tuck and then they can possibly write THAT off (seriously...look it up)! And why is it wrong for the First Lady to have a "voice"? Nancy Reagan had "Just Say No" and Laura Bush had a literacy program. Every First Lady has an issue that they speak for so this should not be a surprise or a problem to others.

I find these days that silly things are becoming "debates" between the parties that don't need to be and the real issues are being sidelined or lost in the shuffle. If the real issue is the tax code, then talk about the tax code as a whole and what needs to be fixed, but obviously there will still be medical write offs and I honestly believe this is a legitimate one. I tried REALLY hard to not name names in this post and give my real opinion on some of the people talking crap about stuff they don't know about. But, I ask that if you the reader do not agree with me, please take the time to tell me and why, but please do not make it a party issue and start saying which party is right and which is wrong. I would like this to be a civil conversation...not a moronic one that is played out daily on the cable news networks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thought I would pass this along...

The 10 Most Irritating, Least Helpful Parenting Tips Ever

by Redbook, on Fri Feb 4, 2011 7:39am PST

I have nothing against friends and family offering advice when you come to them with a dilemma. It's the people who pipe up, unbidden, because they see you with a child and assume you have no idea what you're doing. Too often these people are elderly great-aunts. Fortunately those ladies are afraid of the Internet, so I can rail against them and they'll be none the wiser! Thanks, ladies.

1. "Sleep now, because once that baby comes you'll never sleep again." Technically this is a pregnancy tip, of course, but I'm shoving it in here anyway. Yes, Great-Aunt Hildy, I will sleep throughout my entire third trimester. Because I am part bear.

2. "Sleep when the baby sleeps." Everyone gives you this one — annoying relatives, pediatricians, the cashier at the drugstore where you were buying newborn diapers. Are these people all robots, capable of instantly dropping off to sleep whenever their child is unconscious? Do they not have other things to do, like bathe, or simply relish the rare moments of silence you get when you have an infant?

3. "I think your baby's hungry." Whether you're nursing or bottle-feeding, everyone assumes you don't know how to feed your child. And every time your child cries, whines, grimaces, or squirms, they are going to assume you are starving your poor baby and you need reminders to feed it. Lest you forget! This advice is especially maddening when they turn out to be correct.

4. "Relish every moment of your baby's first years, because they'll be grown before you know it."You mean, time only moves forward? I had no idea! I thought we'd be like this forever and ever! This sort of advice, obvious and innocuous as it seems, always put me on the defensive, as if I had just been carrying my baby under my arm like a football, muttering, "Grow up already, why don't you. Just GROW UP."

5. "I hope you're sleep training that child. Do you WANT him to be spoiled?" Oh, distant relative/person whose aisle I shared at the supermarket, I'm so glad you know exactly my child needs. And that you know, from your years of scientific research, that any child not allowed to cry it out will be a horrible waste of flesh! (See #6 for this parenting tip's counterpart.)

6. "I hope you're not doing that 'crying it out' thing. It's so barbaric. Enjoy your baby all through the night!" Again, kudos to you, whoever you are, for knowing what's best for our unique family situation! I will be calling you at 4 a.m., so you can enjoy our baby as well.

7. "Why are you bringing your child outside when it's so cold out?" It never ceased to amaze me that, no matter what my child's age, total strangers will express alarm and revulsion that I dared expose him to the elements. "And WHY ISN'T BE WEARING MITTENS? He's going to get consumption!"

8. "Your child isn't really sad/angry/injured. He's just manipulating you." There's no doubt that children can push our buttons as if they've had professional training in it, but the notion that my kid's authentic feelings are in fact manufactured to elicit a reaction really chaps my hide. If that were always true, he'd be a pint-sized sociopath.  I'm pretty sure that's not the case.

9. "Schools are just glorified prisons. If you loved your child, you'd homeschool." Oh, if only I loved my child enough to abandon my livelihood, tear him away from the community he so enjoys, separate him from the professionals who have dedicated their careers to childhood education, and forced him to stay home all day with me, where we'd be at each other's throats for hours! If only! Please note: I am not opposed to homeschooling, at all — in fact I wish it would work for us, but it would not.

10. "If I were you, I'd just—" OH NO YOU DON'T. I know where this is going. Listen, unnamed distant acquaintance who last parented in the 19th century (it's true — I often get my unwanted advice from ghosts) you don't know diddly about my kid, and our relationship, and what works for us.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Annie's 4 month stats

Happy Valentine's Day 2011!  A year ago today, in the very early morning hours of which I couldn't sleep since Stephen was on-call, I found out I was pregnant with Annie.  I was pretty surprised because we hadn't been trying very long.  And look at her now...4 months old and reaching one milestone after another - too fast in my opinion.  I am really wanting Annie to stay her small, baby self for as long as possible.  But, after her 4 month check up today I'm reminded again how fast she is growing and once again her stats made me laugh.  She is my chunky monkey and then around 18 mo. she'll slow dramatically and be my petite, skinny girl (just like her sister).

Today she weighed in at 14 lb, 8.5 oz. (70th percentile) and she was 26 inches long (96th percentile).  Her head circumference is still up there at 16 7/8" (90th percentile).  She got the same vaccines she got at her 2 month check up and was a champ once again.  If only that would last.  Ella became deathly afraid of shots around 4 and now we have to sit on top of her just for her to get a flu shot!!  I don't look forward to having to sit on top of both of them at some point in the future.

As for milestones, she can roll over from her tummy to her back, but not vice versa yet.  She can roll over on her side from her back, but not completely over onto her tummy.  (Again, I'm in no hurry for that.)  She is reaching for everything...toys, glasses, noses, necklaces, hair, etc.  And she loves to exercise her vocal chords - in a good, happy way.  She loves babbling and hearing herself making high-pitched noises.  It's very cute, for now anyway.  She also loves scooting on her back and lately we've been finding her in the morning lying in a completely different direction than we laid her down the night before.  And no, pediatrician friends, I am not taking off the bumper!  :)

We're going to try and start her on some solid food this week, but if she isn't into it we won't rush it.  I haven't decided whether I'm going to try rice cereal first or oatmeal.  I can't remember what I started Ella on first (guess I should look back in my blog).  We don't have any problem with food allergies, so it really doesn't matter.  So, let the messiness begin!!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I don't know where to start...

...so, I'll start here (and sorry in advance if this isn't very eloquent).  These past few days I have had the curse and privilege to indirectly experience my worst nightmare as a mother and a wife.  This past Saturday, 2/5/11, our area had a little freak snow storm that was not expected by most, if anyone.  We were called to have about an inch or two of snow, mostly coming in the evening.  Well, snow started around 1p and it was falling faster and heavier than predicted.  I was driving it in as it started falling, thankfully not on the interstate, but I was shocked by the intensity and lack of visibility and was nervous as I was just driving a couple miles to a friend's house.  Little did I know at this same time a family was traveling on I-94 where conditions quickly worsened to whiteout conditions.  Apparently they had just pulled to the side of the interstate as they saw cars ahead of them getting into accidents.  Their van was then hit by a semi truck.  A 37-week pregnant woman was sitting in the back seat of the van with her husband and her parents were in the front.  The pregnant mother was transported to a nearby hospital where she died and her baby was delivered, but had no heart beat.  The baby was able to be revived and ventilated.  For the past three days numerous people have been praying for this family and the father (who had minor injuries) and had just lost his wife and now had to stay strong for his little one and pray for a miracle.  Sadly, after three days there was no improvement or brain activity.

Thankfully this family has a deep faith.  The father has been keeping a blog since he found out he was going to be a father last June and he continued to update it after the accident.  His deep faith and trust in God and the way he was able to get through these last few days is absolutely amazing to me.  I can not imagine going through what he has gone through and dealing with it with such grace.  He has praised God every day and was able to sing hymns last night after he took his precious baby off life support and held her while she went to be with her mother and Jesus in Heaven.  

I am well aware that there are tragedies like this every day.  This is not the first time I've shed tears over a patient's story.  For some reason though this particular story and family have really impacted me and my husband.  I've tried to chalk it up to the fact that it's because I'm a mother and wife and again, could not imagine dealing with that type of pain and loss.  It's definitely made me hug my kids a little tighter and say 'I love you' a little more.  But, like I said earlier, this IS my worst nightmare.  If you know me, you know I have abandonment issues and the thought of being alone (for life, not for a few hours...or days) freaks me out to no end.  

This father and husband has amazed me and shown me what trusting God in every situation really means.  I hope I will never have to understand this man's pain, yet I hope I can also learn from this tragedy and not only live every day like it's my last, but also to not sweat the small stuff like I almost always do and remember to praise God in the good times and the bad.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Need a laugh?

OK, so this might be silly, but I like a good joke and I think most people like hearing a good joke.  I love watching/listening to all kinds of comedy...child-like humor, redneck humor, adult humor...even comedy from Kathy Griffin (every once in a while).  My favorite comedian is Ricky Gervais...in case you were wondering. All of this to say is that I came across a few jokes in my January Glamour.  There aren't usually jokes in this magazine, so I was pleasantly surprised to not only see some, but they were actually funny and I thought I would share them with you just so you could have a chuckle or a laugh-out-loud moment.  I know I needed one this morning and so I read the jokes over again!  :)

1)  Two weasels are sitting on a bar stool.  One starts to insult the other one.  He screams, "I slept with your mother!"  The bar gets quiet as everyone listens to see what the other weasel will do.  The first again yells, "I SLEPT with your MOTHER!"  The other weasel says, "Go home, Dad, you're drunk."

*The following is a little more adult, but there are no children reading this blog.

2)  A chicken and an egg are lying in bed.  The chicken is smoking a cigarette with a very satisfied smile.  The egg is frowning and looking frustrated.  The egg says, "Guess we answered THAT question."

3)  A married couple in their early sixties were celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary in a romantic restaurant.  Suddenly, a fairy godmother appeared.  She said, "For being such an exemplary married couple, I will grant you each a wish."  The wife answered, "I want to travel around the world with my darling husband."  The fairy waved her magic wand and poof! - two tickets for the Queen Mary 2 appeared.  The husband though for a moment, and then said, "Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again.  I'm sorry sweetheart, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me."  The wife and the fairy godmother were  deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish.  So the fairy waved her magic wand and poof! - the husband became 92 years old.  The moral of this story: Men who are ungrateful should remember that fairy godmothers are female.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Mommy-Fight Site: Welcome to the D.C. Urban Moms message board. And by the way, your kid's stroller sucks.

So, I came across this article (The Mommy-Fight Site: Welcome to the D.C. Urban Moms message board. And by the way, your kid's stroller sucks.) during my slow work day that is called Monday. I found it via one of my favorite blogs: AdequateParenting.com. As I'm typing this I'm trying to decide whether I should full-out rant or just let you read the article for yourself and pick a side. But, that right there is what I think is the real problem - picking sides. Why as moms do we feel like we need to pick a side(s) on everything that has to do with motherhood and raising children?

When we are engaged, newly married and/or pregnant, there are numerous people giving us unwanted advice that drives us absolutely insane, right? I mean, we may find out at some point that their advice was good advice, but whether it ends up being good or not, most of us do not like unsolicited advice (i.e. "enjoy the first year of marriage, it's all downhill from there!" or "You need to go home and have lots of sex to get that baby out!") So, why on earth would we indirectly (or directly) do that to other mothers when we know from our own experience they are just as worried, confused and learning as they go as we are?! And why would we judge them for their decisions?

The article above talks about this, yet on a more extreme level. Briefly, it talks about a blog for mothers in D.C. to offer insight, advice, etc. on life as a mom in D.C. Unfortunately it has morphed into name-calling, judging and all out war between moms! This is sad, but I will admit I have done some judging of my own, not on whether you're ruining your kid's life by not breastfeeding or going back to work, not about what school you choose to send your kid(s) and not about what car you drive or what house you live in. The article talks about mothers judging each other by what stroller they use and I suddenly felt a twinge in my side. I do this, I admit, BUT only on one front and that would be those crazy $800-$1000 strollers I see being pushed around! Why on earth would you spend that much money on a stroller?!?! Unless they can soothe your child when they start fussing, feed them and wipe their butts, there is no reason to spend that much money on them whether you can afford them or not. Now, if you can afford them it is totally your prerogative to purchase one, but again I say, why? That could be a few car payments or better yet, put that aside for your kid's college tuition or even their current school's tuition if they're going to a private school! And I could be wrong in saying this, but I've never seen a toddler in these expensive strollers? Is that possible? Before I end this rant/confession, in the article it talks about these mothers judging your stroller this way: Buggaboo owners are rich and fad-oriented, Maclaren owners are upper middle-class and highly educated, while Graco owners are poor. So, I own a Maclaren AND a Graco...so what does that say about me?! So yes, I am judgmental when I feel like people are wasting their money on things that don't really improve their lives or have any worth for a long period of time. While that is my opinion, I would not call someone a name or insinuate they were rich, poor or otherwise from certain gear they own because we all know people who buy things they CAN'T afford and then there are those who will say that "it was a gift", so then I can say the gift-giver is wasting money! :)

All joking and sarcasm aside, I wanted to blog about this because I truly feel that we need to lift each other up as mother's and be there for each other when we do have the courage to ask for help/advice. I am one of those people who don't like to ask for help, so it takes a lot for me to ask and when I finally do, I don't want to be judged or made to feel stupid. And who are we to judge someone's choice(s) when it comes to raising our kids? Who cares if you send your child to public or private school? My husband went to a public school and got a w-a-y better education than I did at a private school, but if you can afford to send your kid to a private school, go for it (and if you can't, it's not a big deal. There are GREAT public schools out there!). Who cares what stroller you decide to push around? Everyone has their preferences. The only reason I own a Maclaren on top of a Graco travel system is because it's lighter and easier to use. Travel systems are not shopping-friendly! Who cares whether you live in the city or in the suburbs? Does that really means anything in grand scheme of things (or the not-so-grand scheme of things)?

Being a mommy is a wonderful, hard, time-consuming, tiring, intense, fun, magical, never-ending, awesome ride that most of us all have in common!  So, unless you see two toddlers running around the airport barefoot while drinking Coke from a bottle, there is no need to judge!