Monday, June 27, 2011

no judgement here

When Archer was born, I stayed at home for the first year. It was a year of turbulence, to say the least, but I had just graduated from college the year before and started my first semester of graduate school. At that point I began pursuing my teaching certification, and was just trying to decide what would be the most efficient way to help provide for my family.

I absolutely loved my year with him as a baby. I would sit and snuggle with him for hours on end. For the first five months of his life, I was also able to breast feed. I truly enjoyed those months and wish I had been able to do it longer, especially knowing that would be the only time I would be able to stay at home with a baby. I can't say how long I would have done it, but I can only say I think that's a decision that's up to each individual mother. What works best for your family, for you and baby. No one else knows what it's like at your house, or what your baby really needs when you're out in public.

I also know that lots of people actually think they do know what's best for you and your family. That's clear from the unsolicited advice we as moms get and give constantly. We all hate it, so I'm not sure why we think it's our job to dole it out. Maybe it's the desire to help others, maybe it's wanting others to know you've been there, maybe it's knowing that one thing that really worked for you, that does not in fact work for everyone.

I came across the blog of Mayim Bialik today, the actress who played Blossom. I actually was just googling her, and a blog post about her breast feeding popped up. I will honestly admit that at one point in my life, I would have judged someone for breast feeding a toddler. But, now I'm to the point that, 1) I'm no longer egocentric enough to think that my opinion matters that much. 2) It's in no way harming her child, so why should I care and 3) What exactly would my caring do?

She made a few points in the post that I really liked though, so just in case you don't click the link you can still read them. :)

If he’s old enough to ask for it, isn’t he too old to have it?

Well, my son is not verbal yet, and although he has been signing for milk since he was 11 months old, he still needs to nurse. Whoever decided that “when they can ask for it, they should wean” must not have wanted to keep nursing, and that’s fine for them, but it is working for us, verbalized or signed! (Love that, she's not defensive, and points out that parenting is not one size fits all.)

Isn’t it weird having a walking talking thinking LARGE child nursing?

I will admit that nursing a newborn or even a 1 year old is very different from nursing a child in boots and a raincoat. But I struggle to understand why it’s not accepted. Besides the fact that it’s not “typical,” I don’t see that there is anything inherently wrong with it, other than people thinking it’s wrong.

But you don’t nurse him at night, do you???

In our family, we let our children nurse until they’re done, and the earth’s position relative to the sun does not change our philosophy. (Love this too.)

What do your family/friends/the public at large think?

Most everyone in my family thinks this party should have been shut down yesterday. My Ph.D. in Neuroscience as well as my recent certification as a Lactation Educator/Counselor has quieted many of their attempts to reason with me, since I have a lot of research, support, and education on my side, and most of what they have – with all due respect- is uninformed hunches, personal uncomfortableness with nursing, and just plan old “I didn’t do that, so why are you?” reasoning. Most of my close friends in our community nursed their kids into the toddler years. (My most favorite response of all, as I just don't value so much what the "world at large" thinks when it comes to my parenting. I'm the only one in my shoes, my family is the only family I'm concerned about and as long as my kids are ok, no one else needs to care about what I'm doing.)

There is more, but I'll stop. Mostly the point of this post is, parents who are doing the best for their children deserve support and not judgement. It's not our place to assume that what we are doing is the only way to do it. It works for you, great, doesn't mean it works for anyone else. When asked for a suggestion, please share, other wise, please don't.

I ask this, the next time you hear of a parenting practice that makes you curl your nose, do a little research. Find out why said parent is doing it and instead of judging them, offer your support. If there's one thing I've learned from being a parent is that a kind word can make a bad day better.

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Vote for a friend

Have you ever had a dream? Well, my friend Nobody's younger sister Kasey has a dream to be a model. She's already signed with a modeling company; but she's currently in the Maxim Hometown Hotties competition. Why am I posting this? Because I think you should go vote for her!!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Incident, not so Curious

If you don't know me in real life, you might not know what type of work I do. I currently work in special education, in a large public school. Through my training and work I have come into contact with many students (middle school and early childhood) with a diagnosis of autism.

My book club and I recently read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon. This book is basically about a boy with autism, though after reading the book I debate whether it is truly autism or actually Asperger's syndrome. I digress. The publisher review calls it a mystery, a heart breaker, and "a novel of exceptional literary merit." I question all but the heart breaker part.

Christopher (the narrator, who is writing his own first person novel that the story is told through) is 15 years old and lives with his Dad. The story is written, again first person, as Christopher thinks. At many times in the book I felt this point of view was possibly over emphasized, and one reviewer stated the author seemed to be pushing you to the point that he imagined parents of children with autism felt. There were several pictures, diagrams, and math problems that I truly could have lived without.

There are really only two true plot twists, which I'll admit I didn't see one coming. The other I did. After both twists are revealed, Christopher begins a journey that is very difficult for a person with his difficulties in the large social world. He begins his journey, ends it, and from there the book dwindles down very quickly.

One review of the book from goodreads that I felt truly summarized the book states, "Haddon does a pretty good job overall at presenting you his story through the eyes of an autist, which is to say the prose isn't the most graceful. It's not supposed to be. It's supposed to strike you with it's stiltedness and make you think about how the thought process of your narrator differs from your own. This is an effective technique, but one wonders if it's the best narrative choice for an entire novel. The story actually comes to a rather abrupt finish in the last twenty pages or so, which almost suggests that Haddon himself got tired of generating a story in this voice and wanted to put the book down himself."

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was an extremely quick read, I finished it in two sittings of one day. It was one I had on my to read list, but had it not been a book club book, I probably would not have finished it. If you don't have any perspective of children with autism/asperger's, it might be a great read for some perspective; but other than that there wasn't a whole lot to the story and I didn't get anything out of it. It didn't leave me with that feeling of, "Wow, I want to read that and relive it all again!"

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Blah

Whew. You would expect that summer school would be a little less intense than the other semesters, no? This summer is killing me. I have to drive to class about 45 minutes once a week, instead of doing tele-classes at a satellite site at USAO. I go two days in a row for five hours each day. That's really not the worst part, it's just not as easy to take as my normal 20 minute drive with 3 hours of class time.

One of my classes is really overwhelming, as it feels a little like the teacher is unaware of exactly what is to be expected of her. Some of the things she is asking are things no other teacher has asked. Again, not the worst part, just new and uncomfortable; you know, like a new pair of shoes that take forever to break in. Except, with this experience, I don't get new shoes, so not nearly as much fun.

Really, the worst part is not getting to fully enjoy my summer break without missing time away from my family. Without having to constantly turn down plans or miss out on things because I'm in class for 5 hours at odd times. The worst part is being in class all summer long when I would much rather be swimming in the pool with my little fish.

BUT, I will not lose faith. I am almost done, so close, too close to give up. School is really not that bad, and if you are considering going back to school, I say DO IT! So many more doors will open, and you can achieve your dreams. It's NEVER too late.

Now to dream of fonder things, family reunions, grilled burgers with fresh veggies, and all the awesome fresh things that come along with spring. Those are the things I want to go to bed thinking of, not school. ;)

My Fish!

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Search Term Win!!

Today, the term searched to find my blog was........"to the guy who wears the pants in the family".

Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right, wrong blog pal.

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Lots of praying around here

If you follow my personal facebook page, which I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this blog does, you'll know I was begging all day Sunday and most of Monday for prayers.

I'll tell you why, again, just in case you were on vacation or something, and missed it on facebook. I will add a few more details that maybe (unless your my mom, who also reads) you havevn't heard yet.

Sunday morning, as I'm simultaneously frosting and filling cupcakes, drying my hair, dressing myself, and the kid, my mom calls to tell me there is a fire near my cousins house. At this point in the story, let me fill in a gap. My family lives on a mile section that my Nanny's family bought many, many years ago when they first came to Oklahoma. However my cousin and his wife bought a house on the next mile section down.

My mom was a little freaked out because it's barely a mile away and the wind was blowing toward my family's land at a steady 30 MPH, with gusts over 40. That's nothing here in Oklahoma, if you've ever heard the song, but it definitely sucks when it's pushing a fire toward the two homes you grew up in. Two being, my grandparents house and my parents house.

We were sitting at my grandpa's house for Father's Day dinner, fully aware of the fire as we were met at the bottom of the dirt road with fire trucks and smoke. I actually could see the smoke the entire drive out. Before you yell at me for taking pictures while driving, I assure you, I was stopped on the edge of the road. My phone does not take pictures while moving well.

What I saw from about 4 miles away, the smoke is blowing right toward my destination.

What I saw when I pulled up in my grandpa's yard.

Anyway, we managed to eat our lunch in peace, but before we could really take a moment to enjoy it, my dad who had been on fire watch all day came in freaked out wanting my mom to go pack some things up at their house, just in case. By this time, I was near the point of an anxiety attack and could not enjoy my cupcakes. But, the point, my dad and other men in the family drove down closer to the fire to look at what was happening before packing and my female relatives gathered up pictures from my grandpa's house, just in case. We spent about an hour looking through them and reminiscing, which we should definitely do again because I was way to stressed to enjoy the moment. My dad came in again, saying that the fire was about to cross the main road between the two sections, and we really needed to go pack up at my parents, as the only thing between that road and their house was open fields of grass and wheat, and my grandpa's house. :\

What my Aunt saw while we were packing at my mom's.

We quickly drove the quarter mile to my mom's and ran in. I went straight to my parents room where my mom and sister were grabbing clothes from the closet. From there we started grabbing pictures and we tried to grab the TV, but we couldn't so I ran to my car, kid in tow and tore up the road toward my sister's house.

We found out later that my grandpa was refusing to leave. He took his dog to my cousin's house a few miles away, but he needed to be there and watch what happened. He went back and sat in his driveway, in the awful smoke all evening. My aunts and uncles were there, and eventually, after dropping the goat off at my sisters, he went back with my husband to watch the fire. Because my mom is her mother's daughter, her allergies forced her to stay at my sister's. If you knew my Nanny, you could just imagine her yelling about the smoke, and I assure you my grandpa would not have been there watching. She would not have had that.

When I got to my sister's, I found my sister, her kids, and husband there, along with her best friend, and my mom. We sat there for a few minutes and in walked my mom's best friend, who had gotten a call from my mom while at walmart and came straight to be at my mom's side to wait with us. I'm sure she knows how much my mom needed that, but I don't think I would have known it if she hadn't come.

So there we sat in limbo for hours, getting picture updates from my aunt, text updates from my aunt, and praying. That was the worst part, the not knowing.

The fire across the main road, taken from my family's side of the fence.

My mom couldn't take the waiting any longer, so she and I went to take my dad's medication to him at my grandpa's. When we pulled into my grandpa's driveway we saw that the fire was flaring up again, from the somewhat contained state it had been in. While we were there, a transformer even blew up at a house across the road. We quickly had to leave because the smoke was unbearable for me, and I don't have the worst allergies ever like my mom.

After that, I went home. I couldn't just sit at my sister's anymore. It wasn't her house, it was the just sitting. I needed to either be doing something or not even be thinking about it at all. I went home and took a bath, tried to destress, no luck. After that I just kept my phone as close as I could, updating everyone and trying to get updates from my parents. I was up until after 2 waiting for any kind of news, and eventually crashed. I woke up intermittently and was still texting my mom trying to find out what was happening. When my mom said about 6 that my dad had gone to bed at 4, I went to sleep and stayed that way. I went about my day as normal as possible until I got another call from my mom saying that the fire had rekindled at both ends of the road and my dad was going to find someone to put it out.

Monday's fire ended up burning my Uncle's old empty house that had been protected the day before. While that is really sad, it is a least a blessing that it wasn't a home that someone was living in, or even my Uncle's other house that he had built when I was growing up which was being used for storage by my cousin.

Where my Uncle's house used to be.
All in all, it was a pretty stressful few days for my entire family. I feel ripped off that we didn't really get to enjoy Father's Day, but so blessed and so grateful that it wasn't any worse.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chivalry? I'll pass, but thanks.

Several of my friends posted this photo on pinterest saying that if we want to have men who are more chivalrous, we must be more feminine, in the recent past, and I have to admit in my feminist perspective, I have a really hard time stomaching it. Firstly, "chivalry" is defined by as: the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.
Those knights those values were modeled after, while may have been sworn by a code of honor to be chivalrous to the women of their own country, often found ways of pillaging, raping, killing, and enslaving women of other countries.

In a small discussion on facebook about the pin, one of the posters said she didn't mean chivalry from it's origins, but the more contemporary view. The idea of the Southern Gentleman. You know, the guy who opens the doors, who refuses to let a woman even think of paying for dinner, the guy who works hard to provide for his wife so she doesn't have to work and can instead stay home taking care of their children. That guy. That guy who was probably one in a million in those days. That same guy who always made a show of opening the door for his wife in public and talked down to her and treated her as property, while the nation allowed her to be treated as such. That guy who would never be with a woman who might have more money than him, that guy who would never let his wife work. That guy who doesn't have time for his wife and children, but instead comes home and goes to his study or out with friends while he drinks whiskey. That guy who only has time for his wife when he expects her to submit to him in bed. That's what the vast majority of women married to "Southern Gentlemen" with chivalrous values experienced. Those dependent women were miserable in their lives but had no other option, as the men in their family, chivalrous gentlemen controlled every aspect of it.

This isn't to say that some men aren't real gentlemen. Not all men who open doors and pay for dinner are jerks. But the men those ideals were based on, most likely were. I know of men who work hard to provide for their wives and children. Who work extra hours to ensure that their wives and children have nice, new clothes while theirs might be last years and a little worn. Those guys do exist, I've seen it.

It doesn't happen that way in my house. My husband worked hard when I was in college to provide for our future, even if that meant I would be the bread winner. I'm fine with that. He's fine with that. I wouldn't trade being financially mutual, feeling accomplished in my job and education, being able to share the feeling of equally providing for our family; I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Remember though, I was a stay at home mom for over a year, I've seen both sides of the coin and I prefer the one I'm on now.

Here's a quote on chivalry I can get down with, "We are told that men protect us; that they are generous, even chivalric in their protection. Gentlemen, if your protectors were women, and they took all your property and your children, and paid you half as much for your work, though as well or better done than your own, would you think much of chivalry?" -Mary B Clay

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pictures of Mi Familia

A few weeks back I won a free photo shoot. It was 30 minutes with a free copy right free cd. I wanted some pictures of the whole family, and then I wanted some pictures of just Chance and I. There are like 5, and they are the kind where one of you holds the camera. I wanted real pictures of us.

Here are the results.

(All photos taken by Wild Horse Run Photography)

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

One more time

I'm feeling sorry for myself one more time. I promise.

Because I have been in a weekend class (Friday-Sunday) twice this summer, my nine hours of coursework will consist of two classes. Because Summer session is only 8 weeks, classes count as double. But really, I go five hours Wednesday and Thursday. It doesn't sound that bad.

Except, I get to my class tonight only to find out that for absolutely no reason at all whatsoever may I miss a class period. Not such a major deal, but you just never know what may come up. Second, there are several hefty assignments, plus readings, and just basically being knowledgeable about all course materials at any given time. My teacher is teaching adjunct for the first time ever, and I personally think her expectations are a bit high. But here's the kicker. We have to go to a conference, required. Or do an alternate assignment. I look up the conference. It's $30 for students. Not a major deal. Except you have to pay $40 to buy a student membership before you can attend. And the conference is in two weeks. While $70 isn't a ton of money, it's a bit more than I have budgeted extra. And I'd have to have a babysitter. Oh, and the alternate assignment, it's no big deal, just a 20 page paper. :\

She told us she expects us to spend ten-fifteen hours outside of class on our assignments. Based on that, I would be in class or working on classwork more than I work, if I did the same for both classes. I'm just really overwhelmed by this class and all that's required. And if that weren't enough, there are some major occupational changes on the horizon with the husband, so I'm in a state of limbo that's just about to push me over the edge.

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I don't know how I do it

After yesterday's blog post, I thought this was quite fitting.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

just say no

Am I a horrible parent? I frequently ponder this. I'm probably not a good wife either.

I frequently feel that my attempts at solitude negatively affect those around me. During the school year, I work, commute, and have class a few nights a week, and possibly a weekend or two. When I get home, I just want ten minutes of silence to relax. Rest my weary mind. But when you're married, balancing a home a home life, marriage and toddler, that's just not an option. I feel guilty for wanting to mindlessly sit in front of the computer or tv, read a book, or take a hot bath. I know that my demands are no more great than anyone else's, so I don't even like talking about it. But really, it's just really stressful sometimes.

I don't down a stay at home mom, I was one. But sometimes, I get so fed up with hearing about how difficult it is to deal with every thing that involves being a stay at home mom, when I'm dealing with all of that too, plus a full time job, two hour commute round trip, and 9 hours a week of graduate classes. In addition to the classes, I have papers to write and a steady flow of homework that never seems to end. I still cook dinner for my family, do laundry, dishes, and all of the other mundane daily life aspects, just in less time. I cannot imagine being a single parent or having less support from my family than I do.

My mommy guilt kicks in full swing, when like today, I get home from class and my kid wants to play, and all I want to do is be alone long enough to compose a coherent thought. I feel guilty at sending my kid to his room to watch tv just so I can write a blog. But honestly, I need a place to vent. Someone to understand, and just tell me I'm not really a bad parent.

If you made it this far, I didn't piss you off, and you still care, thanks. It's much appreciated.

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