Playing Politics With Women's Rights Makes Me Nervous About Having a Daughter

When you're a mom of two boys pregnant with a third child whose gender is a mystery you get really used to people hoping/cheering/praying/keeping their fingers crossed that you'll have a girl. I get it. People have good intentions, but I also find it annoying. Honestly, I'm not losing sleep over whether I'll have a girl and I really don't care about the baby's gender. There are many, many reasons I'm fine with having another boy. I won't go into all of them, but I was reminded of one while reading The Bloodletter's Daughter by Linda Lafferty: We live in a dangerous world for young girls.

Much smarter and eloquent people than me have written about the ways young girls and women are objectified. We see if every day, I don't have to go over all the details. But, what scares me most is how in 2012 we seem to be taking massive steps back for women in this country. In the last few months our rights to birth control, reproduction, abortion, health care access, domestic violence protection, workplace rights, and equal pay have been used as pawns in political campaigns. And all of this really scares me.

I have faith that we have enough smart people in this country to make sure we don't go much further down this road, but we're kidding ourselves if we pretend that women are sitting pretty. This NewYork Times article does a nice job of laying out some basic examples... examples that I have a feeling the vast majority of women have no idea are real.

Beyond all of this what infuriates me the most is the fact that women are even being used in this regard. This is 2012, not 1960. I studied women's studies in college and I haven't felt like this subject has been as present in my mind since. These aren't women's issues. These are all of our issues. Women's health, equality, and rights affect men and children as much as they do women. If poor women don't have access to cancer screening at Planned Parenthood what becomes of the family members who will have to care for them and may be left behind? It's that simple.

I want to be sure I am the most empowered, healthy, productive woman I can be, which will make me the best mom possible. Most of all I want to know that if I bring a daughter into this world her rights and choices will be guaranteed, not threatened for political gain.

Inspired by a real-life murder that threatened to topple the powerful Hapsburg dynasty in the 17th century, The Bloodletter's Daughter imagines how one young woman holds more power than she thought possible. Join From Left to Write on September 25 as we discuss the The Bloodletter's Daughter. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


A Very Different First Hair Cut

Our first hair cut with W was a total reflection of being rookie parents... We went to an old barber shop (because I thought I was too cool for a kid's hair place), got plenty of videos and photos and then had special lunch plans. W was his normal sweet self. They cut his hair too short. There were no toys or bright colors, no movies or fire trucks to sit in. And we learned quickly that they have kid's salons FOR A REASON. We've been using them for W ever since.

So, today we took B for his first hair cut. Let's just say it went a little different:

"This bin of crap is cool and all, but I have a feeling we're here for something different."

"Get me out of this f-ing fire truck! Have you met me? Nothing about this is a good idea!"

"Stop taking pictures of me and get me out of this chair! I'll rip this place apart!"

"No! That comb! The horror! Get it away from me!"

"Awww, man, this kid's drama is making me look AWESOME!"
So, yeah... I think it's safe to say it didn't go well. After trying to put B in a fire truck seat we resorted to sitting in my lap. We couldn't even get a smock on either of us. No video was taken, the photos are limited. It was as bad as it looks. And was a great reflection of their personalities.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 38 Animal Store Alphabet Book

Good Deed: Supported Kickstarter program for The Animal Store Alphabet Book by Susan Bearman and Rebecca Hamlin.

Have you heard of Kickstarter? I had, but had no idea what it really was and this is how Kickstarter is defined on the website:  "Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Since our launch on April 28, 2009, over $350 million has been pledged by more than 2.5 million people, funding nearly 30,000 creative projects."

Cool, huh? So, another local blogger wrote The Animal Store Alphabet Book, a children's book that needs support through Kickstarter. It's basically a way to pre-order your book (or more) and support their project. The book looks awesome and I ordered my first Christmas gift! Win/win, right?

W loves animals and thinks visiting our local pet store is an exciting way to spend an afternoon. Check out the book and get your first holiday gift. They need to raise $2,700 more in the next 14 days. I would love to get my copy, so order yours!


Just Another Morning With Two Working Parents & A Surprise

Today should have been one of those days that fell into place. I stayed up late last night and marinated chicken and chopped veggies for a Greek salad for tonight's dinner. I woke up a half hour early this morning to make lunches for Matt and me and make sure I could get showered and dressed early enough to help W with his new morning routine (make bed, go to the bathroom, brush teeth). I put on an outfit I liked, put on makeup, and then went in to wake up W. He likes to take his time getting out of bed and - though I always do - it feels wrong to rush him in the morning. So, I gave him extra time this morning and didn't turn on the light to get him moving as I usually do.

We got into the bathroom, started brushing his teeth, and in the light I realized that his eye was swollen. Like really swollen. I asked W if he fell at preschool or remembered anything hitting him in the eye. He said no. And then I remembered that the evening before, as our nanny was getting ready to leave, W called us into his room to show us something (can't remember what it was) and ended up pulling a curtain rod down on his head... with his mom and nanny watching. At first we were concerned, but he yelled out: "Take that curtain to someone else's house. It's bad!" So, we ended up laughing and he didn't seem hurt. He ate a really good dinner, had a bath, played, and acted totally normal after the rod incident. But, that had to be source of the swollen eye. I touched the side of his head where I suspected a bruise was forming and the rod had hit him, he confirmed it hurt. Bingo.

One of the more unspoken moments of two working parents is deciding who stays home. Matt and I usually stare at each other for a minute, mentally review our day and the other's stress level, and then one of us offers to stay home. It had to be me today. Matt took one for the team when I was traveling a couple weeks ago and B spiked a fever. So, with my bag packed, all dressed and ready to go, I jumped on my computer to see what would have to be moved on my calendar and emailed my understanding bosses (how they are still understanding, I don't know) that I would have to work from home.

Our nanny arrived as I was sending the email and B ran to me and held on tight, clearly freaked out by the excitement in our house. I decided to drive Matt to the train. Matt gave W a hug good bye and a complete breakdown followed. Full on tears, open mouth crying, snot... Clearly the kid was in pain and dad leaving was the trigger. So, I told him that if he stopped crying he could come with me to the train station, which worked. Until B figured out what was going on (the kid understands everything, but says very little) and got hysterical as well, which made W hysterical and insist that we couldn't leave B at home. So, there Matt and I stood, defeated by a swollen eye or curtain rod or whatever triggered this morning. By now Matt had missed our normal train, so we each grabbed a kid and headed for the train station. Meanwhile, our nanny was left to hang out with Howie. Poor thing.

Anyway, it all worked out fine. I called the doctor as soon as they opened, scored a late morning appointment, headed down to my basement office and crossed a couple of things off my to-do list. I took W to the doctor who mentioned he might have a black eye when he wakes up tomorrow and confirmed he seemed fine otherwise. I even managed to hold him down long enough to get a flu shot. I stopped and had a special lunch on the way home with him, capped off with a special cookie (flu shot bribery). Then the boys spent the afternoon with our nanny at the park and I got back to work. Our nanny stayed a little late so I could catch up. I entertained the boys, started dinner (much easier given the prep work), and then strapped the boys in the car to pick up Matt from the train station. I felt like I had somehow found a balance. I made both my mom and work responsibilities happen today only because I work for and with people who are understanding and value my work.

But I'd be lying if there wasn't a voice in the back of my head that kept repeating what Matt said on the way to the train station: "How are we going to juggle all of this with three?"


We're Staying Put

When we first moved into our house it was a 3-5 year plan. We knew we would quickly grow out of our little ranch. We bought our house based on location. We knew it needed a lot of work. But, we had to move to a desirable, expensive area with incredibly low real estate inventory, so we didn't have a lot of choices. We also bought the house as a couple pregnant with a baby. We came from living in our condo and the space seemed totally fine. But, things have changed and four years later we're getting ready to bring home baby #3 and started to consider our options.

So, we had a neighborhood realtor come over and give us her honest opinion of whether selling now would be a good idea. She didn't say no, but she gave us a list of things we would have to do first. Most of the things we knew, like redoing the kitchen. So, we did them. We redid the kitchen, reorganized and fixed up our basement, replaced a few window treatments, and packed up some clutter. The changes made us happy. So happy that we decided we'd table moving and stay put for another year.

And then the phone rang. It was said realtor who had a client who was looking for a house in our area. Our house met her needs, but was a little out of her price range. Would you be interested in showing your house, she asked. We thought about it and discussed the pro's and con's and ultimately decided to agree to a showing. So, we de-cluttered more, rearranged some furniture, and bought fresh flowers. We set a price and walked out the door kind of hoping we wouldn't get an offer.

The buyer was interested, but ultimately didn't pursue it. It's a little out of her price range and doesn't have the master bathroom that she wants. It was a relief, honestly. But, then the realtor said: "Your house shows really well. There is very little like it on the market right now and a high demand. I know I can sell your house right now."

So, we considered it. We really did. This is not our dream house, nor is it the house we see ourselves in a few years down the road. But, we have no idea where we would go. We don't know what our next step should be. We're comfortable, so we're staying put. Check back in with us in a year. I'm hoping the "we're not sure" will be replaced with a plan.


My Mom Voice Won Over My Reader Voice

I've been a member of the From Left To Write Book Club for a while. It has consistently been one of my favorite online communities and has inspired what I feel are some of my best posts on this blog. And, oh yeah, we get to read a great list of diverse books... Except I didn't read this one. The point of the book club is not to write reviews of books, but to allow the book to inspire a post. And though I didn't read January First by Michael Shofield, it inspired this post.

Being a mom changes something in you. Every four year old is as innocent as your own. Difficult stories, diagnoses, painful experiences all take on a new layer of severity. It could be your child. What would you do if it were? How would you survive? These thoughts now touch me deeply. They reach deep down to a place of emotion I didn't even know was there before I became a mom.

I don't like to get emotional. I'd rather keep my emotions at bay and avoid crying as much as possible. I find myself avoiding sad movies. I skim over articles about victimized children. I refrain from reading blogs about tragedy. I try to keep myself safe.

I signed up to read January First with some hesitance. The story begs me to read it. But, I was conflicted about whether it would be good timing with being as pregnant as I am these days. Take this line from the cover, for instance: A Child's Descent Into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her... Might not be in the best interest of my emotions to read that book right now, said my inner mom voice.

But, my reader voice encouraged me to open it and give it a chance. Go read the description of the book. Looks fascinating, right? But, should I read a father's memoir about his young daughter's struggle with severe schizophrenia? I received the book, turned it over, read the back and was torn. Then I talked to my BFF, who knows me all too well, and encouraged me to put the book aside and read it later.

I was torn. I was dying to read the story, but it scared the hell out of me. And, ultimately, I decided to skip the book and protect myself. I made a choice as a mom and a reader. I love reading. I treasure books. Being a reader is a big part of who I am, but I allowed my mom voice to speak a little louder to me this time.

One day I'll read this book. But, for now it's going to sit on my bookshelf waiting for me to get through the next seven weeks of pregnancy and those first few emotional weeks of having an infant. Then my reader voice will be heard.

How far would you go to advocate for your child? In January First, father Michael Shofield and his family struggle to find the right treatment for his daughter Jani, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at six years old. Join From Left to Write on September as we discuss the Shofield's memoir January First. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Lessons Learned From Kids With a Stomach Bug

First, the lessons:

1. You can do eight loads of laundry in one day.
2. Pillows are machine washable.
3. A "dry clean only" tag on quilts and duvet covers does not have to be followed.
4. Pedialite is totally gross.
5. Vomit is not as gross when it's your kid's vomit.

Now, the back story:

On Sunday night we got home late after a long drive home from a family reunion in Iowa. We had stopped late for dinner. We were all exhausted. Around 3 am W woke up yelling for me and by the time I got to his room he had already thrown up. I swept him into the bathroom, calmed him down, cleaned him up, and Matt took care of stripping his bed and putting his sheets in the wash. By the time he was done, W and I were curled up in our bed.

I really thought it was just the late burger that made him sick. But, around 5 am he started throwing up again. Matt and I both resumed our roles and B started calling from his crib where we found that he too had gotten sick. Another mattress was stripped and so began our day of carrying laundry baskets up and down the basement stairs.

We're pretty sure it was food poisoning. W got sick again after he had lunch and the two of them hardly ate or drank anything for the rest of the day. We stayed in the house and spent a hot Labor Day quarantined. I gave each boy his own super bubbly, warm bath. I scrubbed the bathroom. I grocery shopped and planned for this week's meals. I made a couple future dinners. And did I mention the laundry?

Things are better today. We took it slow and they both seem to have bounced back. Labor Day was a long day in our house.


A Stomach Bug Inspires This Week's Meal Plan

The boys both came down with a stomach bug around 3:00 am last night. W had the worse case by far. We had to skip a BBQ this afternoon at my sister's house and spend the entire day at home, so it gave me some time (in between EIGHT loads of laundry and trying to hydrate the boys) to make a meal plan and go grocery shopping. Here it is...

Monday: Penne with pesto, peas, and tomatoes for Mom and Dad, Mrs. Grass Noodles for the boys
Tuesday: Toasty Mac & Cheese* with broccoli
Wednesday: Taco Night
Thursday: Pizza with Green Salad
Friday: Whitefish with Greek Salad

*This mac & cheese recipe is a make ahead that is divided into two meals. I made it tonight while I was making dinner and now I have another ready to go for the future. I tasted it and it's great. Hope the boys' stomachs are back to normal so they can enjoy it tomorrow.