What we should really worry about teaching our kids in the after math of Trump’s win

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This election has been ugly.

We have a country so divided by who should lead our free world that riots, violence, and intolerance have lined the campaign trail.  This morning I woke up to a Facebook page full of uncertainty, disbelief, gloating, anger, resentment, and celebration.

As a young mo
m myself, my friends list is also chalk full of other young parents as well as young educators worried about the message we are sending our children by electing a man who has made sexist, racist, and bigoted comments through out his campaign.  While I surely empathize with their concern, I think a bigger issue is being overlooked.

I am most heartbroken by the sides of my friends this election has brought out.  I have seen more name calling, disrespect for one another, and utterly embarrassing interactions between grown adults than I can ever remember happening in my life before this point.

Our children don’t watch the behavior of the president day in and day out.  Yes, his choices and behaviors shape the world in which we live, but we need to choose how much to expose our children to the very adult issues that have come up during this election.

Just this morning I have seen the same nude (but thankfully censored) photo of our next first lady twice, I have read the name calling, bashing of one’s values and opinions, attacking one another for voting for our chosen candidate, and those are just the people I know.  Open up a news outlet’s post for the election results and people are more or less threatening each other’s lives.

I am far more worried right now about raising my children to respect differences, to respect all people, to love others despite the differences, and to be cautious with their judgements based on the way people I interact with everyday are behaving.

Do I worry about what a Trump presidency could mean?  I think it would be naive not to be concerned – this is a new type of presidency after all.  But I would have been concerned had I woken up with the converse results, the fact that it came down to these two individuals as the most qualified individuals in the land for the job worries me.  Each individual has qualities that potentially open our country up to vulnerabilities that I am frankly uncomfortable with.

I certainly don’t think our future president and first lady emulate the class with which I wish to raise my children.  I also don’t wish to raise a child who behaves the way Clinton does either.  I don’t want my children to engage in digging up dirt, bullying, or character assassination when they are trying to win a competition.  It is hard to separate the person from such a position as ‘leader of the free world’ because your individual values, character, and beliefs shape the way you will do any job, especially where the ‘right’ move is so subjective based on what you hold to be true.

The fact is I am tired.

I am tired of each party bad mouthing the other.

I am tired of opening Facebook to catch up on the happenings in the lives of friends and family just to see venom and disrespectful disagreement.

I am tried of having to be extra cautious to sensor basically every form of media so my children aren’t seeing images of our future first lady that are less than savory.

I am tired of seeing, reading, and hearing people abuse the candidates and their families for having differing opinions, for past indiscretions, and for generally being human.
I am even more tired of seeing, reading, and hearing people who were once friends abuse each other because they support different candidates.

In my heart of hearts, I didn’t support either candidate because there most certainly are more qualified people.  But we are still a ‘representative democracy’ and my hope is that it will be enough to keep the major concerns about this presidency in check.  I do recognize that our major system of checks and balances are majority representative of the presidents own party and that may undermine the system, but my hope is that where we actually end up is somewhere between the more extreme measures Trump has supported and where we are now, a compromise of sorts I suppose.

I also hope that as a nation we can stop lamenting the messages that electing Trump sends to our children over the messages we are sending to our children with the way we are disrespecting one another over this campaign.  I also hope that the majority of this nation can see why individuals are concerned about this coming term.  We are in a climate of particular racial tension and we are ushering in a presidential term that has helped to fuel that tension.

I can only imagine the feeling that oppressed minorities have facing the coming presidential term, and I don’t think we should be overlooking that, but the reality is we don’t truly have control over the fact that Trump has become the president elect and will begin serving our nation as our leader in the coming months.  What we can control is how we choose to treat one another, what we let our children see through all forms of media, and how we choose to conduct ourselves in this particular political climate.

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5 Things That Changed In My Year As A SAHM

It is so hard to believer that I have been home full time for just over a year now.  To recap, last year I had been working a corporate job that I didn’t so much love, struggling with what to do next in life, and trying to finish a degree … all while being a mom and a wife.

After talking it over with my husband, I decided to leave my less than fulfilling corporate job to finish my degree and pursue a fulfilling life.  Also it didn’t hurt that we didn’t have to pay for child care.

New Year’s Eve night – well actually in the wee hours of New Year’s Day – I started wondering what really changed in the last year.  There I was, sitting in a recliner with a sleeping baby crocheting a hat at 5:30 in the morning … and my sleep deprived brain (I was getting concerningly close to a 24 hour day since my last sleep) wanted to try and suss out all the things that have – or haven’t – happened in the last year.

So, without further ado, here are the things that changed this year:

I Often Forget The Day Of The Week

Is today Friday or Tuesday?  What day did I last shower? Did I actually put on clothes today or is this what I slept in last night?

These sound like silly questions.  For crying out loud I am home all day long, I should be able to shower and get dressed and have a general idea of what day in the week it happens to be.  But here I am sitting in bed, wearing my new favorite perfume having to remind myself that today is Saturday – and that matters because my husband goes back to work Monday.

I Traded In My Fancy Body Spray For A New Fragrance 

Being home and not having to get up and get ready for work has its benefits – but that new favorite perfume aforementioned?  Basically I walk around smelling like a human spit up rag.  Those showers I forget if I have taken or not?  I have a 4 month old with the uncanny ability to wait to spit up on me until right after I shower … and then it isn’t my clothes he spits up on – it’s my freshly washed hair.  Did I shower today?  I think so, but the pungent and persistent sour milk smell makes me doubt myself.

I Traded In One Boss For Two 

Instead of having an adult supervise my progress at work, I now have two tiny micromanaging dictators lording over my days … and nights.  My three year old has 100% hit threenagerhood.  Slammed doors, mommy I don’t like you’s and demanding I ‘talk like twilight sparkle’ are all full force in this house.  I can’t tell if I am playing with a sweet toddler or fighting with a talking back teenager.  And she is the ‘easy’ boss …

Boss #2 is rather demanding with the screams to be fed, the constant need for being held, and of course his refusal to sleep like a normal human being – hence the reason I was up until 5:30 in the morning yesterday.  Add to that the fact that my boss poops his pants and requires that I change it and I think it is safe to say on a bad day, my little bosses could contend with the worst of them out there.

And of course there is no clocking out – hence the reason I am up at 2 am today.  Of course part of my job is to keep the house in order but while I was working on that (instead of sleeping) the older boss woke up and demanded story time – but refused to let me read to her.  Indecisiveness, is that my three year old or her future teenage self shining through?

I Don’t Pay Money For Childcare 

Notice I didn’t say I don’t pay for childcare.  Instead the currency when payment is required is my sanity.  Not that I had much of that to begin with but what little I had certainly gets given away.

I Traded In My Own Pay Check

We’ve all heard what ‘just a mom’ would be paid if she was given a pay check for the work she does in the home (working mom’s do the same things but they spend time in a magical land where they get to have adult interaction and get paid for it … so no one seems to get too upset about the cost of all the things they do for their children on top of the job they already have).  While those numbers with a dollar sign in front sounds nice, I certainly feel like the richest person in the world when boss #1 tells me ‘mommy, you’re a good mommy’.  No amount of money or recognition at some other job would ever compare – and hugs and kisses, when they are flowing freely, almost offset my lost mind.

 

I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.

‘That’ mom

I have been thinking about this for the past few days.  I have even been meaning to write it down – but until today, it seemed like one of those crazy thoughts that come with motherhood.

I have mentioned before that the day I became a mom is the same day that the world became something to fear.  Not to say I didn’t have fears before my little girl was placed in my arms, but there were always safe places.  As soon as that little girl was placed in my arms, even my safe places became areas of suspected danger lurking just out of sight.  How do you protect such a precious little one from the possible dangers?

I used to fear things like the dark, storms, and being murdered one day by a member of my immediate family.  Each of these things are primarily irrational based on the likelihood that one of them would actually be my demise.  I should say that my fear of being murdered by a family member is in no way a reflection on any particular person in my life.  I just think the only thing worse than dying at the hands of an other human being is having that human being be someone you love/trust.

While none of those things are my favorite things, I am more terrified of something that seems much worse.  I don’t ever want to be that mom.  Being that mom can have a ton of meanings, but in this context it means being the mom who makes their child(ren) feel as though she never has enough for them, their concerns, or their problems.  I can think of nothing worse than learning that my child had been dealing with an issue alone because they didn’t think they could come to me.

As I near the uncomfortable stage of this pregnancy, am often consumed by intense tiredness following nights full of difficult sleep, any my 2 year old seems to think she is going on 14, I find somedays it is easy to believe I am communicating to my child that I have other more important things going on … like a serious nap.

Today was absolutely one of those days.

I normally function fine on little sleep, but this little girl is testing boundaries and won’t nap if we don’t stick to our tried and true routine … making the beach this morning with auntie a fun adventure that mommy has to pay for dearly in the end.  I am upset with my lack of patients and understanding for my 2 year old during her refusal to take a decent nap.  And at the same time I understand that mommy needs to take care of herself a little bit before she can be a mommy worthy of my little girl.

I really just wanted her to nap for 20 minutes.  Just long enough for me to hop in the shower and wash off the lake.  Bonus if I also got to take a little (much needed) nap.  But instead of laying down and resting, she kept putting her feet in my face.  Feet sort of bother me to begin with, having them in my face doesn’t help that and her complete joy and glee in something I find so disruptive and unappealing is that much worse.

I hope that instead of teaching my daughter to be afraid to come to me, I am handling these days in a way that teaches her that we all have bad days and we all make mistakes.  I hope she learns that mommy might just need 5 minutes here and there but that when push comes to shove there is nothing I wouldn’t give up for her.

Most important for her and her future, I hope I am teaching her boundaries.

I hope she is learning their value, how to set her own, and how to respect the boundaries of others.

Being mom makes it so easy to get lost in your role.  It is easy to no longer be able to identify what makes you who you are and to no longer have a life outside of your family.  It is even more true for me now that I am home with my little girl all day everyday.

Many of us define ourselves by our chosen career paths.

I haven’t been on a first date since I was a senior in high school, so I might be totally off about this, but I believe when someone wants you to ‘tell them about yourself’ one of the first things we say is ‘I am a ______ (insert career here)’.  In my opinion that is sad to start with because it doesn’t tell me much about you, just allows me to make generic assumptions based on what I know about the career in general.  But as a stay at home mom for the moment, my story goes something like this ‘I am a stay at home mom.  I have 1 kid with another on the way.  My daughter is 2 …’.  Basically everything is about the family.  At least when I was working I could lead with something not related to my family.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t happy and I most definitely was not avoiding being that mom.  In fact, I think I was actually more likely to communicate to my daughter that something (in this case work) came first.  Primarily because of the amount of time I spent away between my commute and my work day, never being the one to do daycare pick up or drop off and always needing to spend my time away from work working on other things like the house or school work that just didn’t get done during the week.

I couldn’t be happier with the decisions my husband and I have made in the past 6 months for our family.  And I couldn’t be more proud of the way we have handled such a major change and the unexpected news of adding to our family at the same time.  Lucky for me he has been the strong one when I have doubted the wisdom of my decision.

After 6 months being at home, I am still not sure this is the right choice long term for me and my family. While I may not be able to say being home is the best decision ever, I can say with complete confidence that leaving the corporate world and a career path that I didn’t ever see making me happy in exchange for time with my family and to figure out my next move was the best decision we could have ever made.

Superman Inspired Diaper Cover

I have been totally obsessed with these adorable crocheted diaper covers inspired by superheroes.  I wasn’t able to find a pattern that turned out the way I wanted it and the few patterns I found were either not right or just weren’t easy to follow … and since my daughter was a larger baby, I am planning on this little guy being less than little making the sizing on most of the covers a little questionable as a fit for my son.  I ended up developing my own pattern (to be posted at a later date).

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Since my husband has taught my daughter about all the comic and superheroes I can think of, so it fits.  The images would lead you to believe the front and back are different colors – but they aren’t.  Something about photography still ends up leaving so much to the imagination.  Since these are fairly quick and easy to make, I ended up with extras and will be selling them and the other superhero variations I end up making, online.

What are some really great photo prop ideas for little boys during their newborn photo shoots?

Laundry soap update #2

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I posted a recipe for homemade laundry soap in November of 2013.  I am always striving for improvements and I have tried many different options for ingredients so far. I still most like the Dr. Bronner’s – I posted in the past but really have a hard time finding all the the need ingredients in one place.  It seems like if the store I am in carried Bronner’s they don’t carry washing soda or they have the washing soda but are missing the bar of soap.  I tried ivory with my last batch because I had some on hand, and while it seems to clean the same, I just don’t like it.

One thing I have never really cared for about my soap was the consistency and appearance – but it really didn’t matter.  But this weekend I was at my mom’s house and washed some fabric while I was there.  I used her soap – which happened to be a batch of homemade laundry soap I made for her using Fels-Naptha for the bar of soap.  I have never used this soap for my own laundry soap but the consistency of my mom’s soap was far above mine.

So to try and adjust my own supply I am trying yet another bar of laundry soap.

Materials:

1 bar zote (I am using the white bar)

1/2 cup borax

1/2 cup of oxiclean (an addition)

1 cup of washing soda

Water

5 gal bucket

Grater – I like to use my food processor for speed

Directions:

1.) Grate the bar of soap.

2.) Dissolve the soap in about 2 – 3 cups of water on the stove top.

3.) Pour the melted soap and water mixture into a 5 gallon bucket with lid.

4.) Add the washing soda, oxiclean and borax.

5.) Fill the bucket about 3 – 4 inches from the top of the bucket with HOT water.

6.) Stir well, cover and let sit over night.

7.) In the morning stir well to break up the gel

When you transfer your soap from the bucket to whatever receptacle you choose to use for your immediate needs (I use an over-sided mason jar with a spout, my mom uses an empty commercial container) make sure you mix well to break up the film on top and remember you should be filling half the container with water and the other half with soap.  If you do it this way, you will be using the mixture as you would a regular commercial soap.  If you choose to keep it in the concentrated form, you half as much soap as you would for regular commercial laundry soap.

As has always been this is a huge money saver.  And using the bar of Zote instead of Dr. Bronner’s will actually save even more money since there is about a $3 discrepancy in price.  I will be making two 5 gallon buckets of this stuff in the next few weeks so I know I will have more than enough laundry soap to make it through the first year of baby’s life.  Each bucket will last our family at least 8 months and cost about $3 to make (you can see the price breakdown including the cost of time in this first laundry soap update).  I do still purchase Dreft for the baby clothes and use that until my stock pile is gone.  But I can’t actually tell you the last time I bought commercial soap for mine and my husband’s clothing.  It has saved us hundreds of dollars over the past few years.

An open letter to the man in Walmart who lost his manners

Dr Sir,

Yes, you.  The jerk who made a snide remark to the Walmart employee about the crying child at the front of the store.

I am not sure when you decided it was okay to ask an employee to ‘tell that woman to get her kid under control’ when her daughter was clearly upset and mom had been trying to calm her down.  As a mother of a young girl myself, I am pretty sure that in the same situation I would have left the store because as obnoxious as that child may have been to you, I promise you the mom was likely much more uncomfortable about the situation than you were.  And frankly, she may have been dealing with crying and screaming all day as it was.

Maybe mom was waiting with the child while dad picked up a medication – mail order pharmacy isn’t instantaneous, and if the child needs an antibiotic, well that could cause the fit you were so easily irritated with.  Maybe the child was crying because mom told her ‘no’.  I guess in that situation there is an easy solve, mom could just give in … but then you would be upset because mom raised a self-entitled child who was draining all of societies resources or being a productive member of society.

Here is the thing – parent’s can’t win.

No matter what we do, or how we parent, someone like you is waiting around the corner to make sure we know how badly we are failing.  And almost without fail it will be in a moment when we already feel like we are the biggest failures that have existed in parenthood.

Here is my snide suggestion for you: at your age, you should probably not wear shorts that were clearly designed to be deemed hip to the late teen early twenty-something crowd.  But since that isn’t useful (sucks when someone cuts you down without offering help doesn’t it?), let me give you a serious suggestion:

Look around, you are in Walmart.  Families shop there.  Beyond that Walmart is known for some silly things … like the behavior and people that can be seen there.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this site.  Sure you can see that kind of craziness pretty much anywhere … but usually not in great enough quantities that a whole website is dedicated to the oddities seen in one location.  My point is that maybe you should adjust your expectations.  Between families and the crazy stuff that can go on, you should count your blessings that the biggest disruption to your shopping experience was at checkout where a little girl was crying.

Secondly, you are in a public place.  And I am pretty sure you don’t own Walmart.  If you really have such an issue getting along with others, there is this crazy little invention that has been helping out the most antisocial of us since 1991.  Actually, online shopping was ‘invented‘ in 1979 … so it has been around for awhile.  It just took some time for it to become commercially available.  Today, you can even shop online for your groceries and have them delivered to your door … crying kids not included.

Just so we are clear, I know you don’t and won’t have any shame in your disgraceful behavior.  I am not disillusioned enough to believe that my words will make you snap out of your poor behavior and change the way you treat others.  I don’t expect this will ever even fall under your judgmental glare – but it sure makes me feel better.

I do hope that if I should ever knowingly cross your path again, your behavior has upgraded from matching that of a tantruming two year old to that of at least a semi-respectful seven year old.

Sincerely,

The mother of a sometimes less than well behaved 2 year old.

Flannel burp rag how to

The things you think you know about having a baby before one is born is such a stark contrast to reality. One thing that stands out for me is my need/desire to have those adorable one layer flannel blankets and my need (or what I thought to be a need) for specific burp rags … because of course baby’s spit up.  I can remember the birth of each of my siblings and each of their different ‘stages’.  You’d think I would have known better.  Especially on the burp cloth front – but I didn’t and all the ‘experts’ and registry builders tell you that you need all these things for a new baby. Turns out those cute little flannel blankets were frequently used for catching spit up instead of wrapping my baby up tight.  Let’s face it, new recommendations say blankets are sort of a thing of the past and should be replaced with sleep sacks and specialized wraps any way. The only exception to this was the ridiculously over priced special burp cloths I bought that formed just right to your shoulder and were supposed to convert of a ridiculous looking bib.  But they fit so nice on the shoulder and were smaller (better for the diaper bag) than carrying a full size flannel receiving blanket. But they are made out of some sort of muslin fabric that just don’t absorb as well as the flannel.  And at $9.99 for each one, the cost just doesn’t really make a ton of sense. So, based on my insane flannel stock pile (why does it always have to have major sales on holidays/big shopping sales and be so darn cute?) and my impending need for plenty of rags to soak up new baby spit up, I thought I would make my own version. I combined the best of both worlds.

Flannel burp rag tutorial - DIY - great shape for staying in place.

What you’ll need:

Flannel – to pieces per rag.  I imagine 1/2 yard of fabric will get you at least 2 clothes

I started by folding the fabric and tracing a kidney bean pattern about 19&1/2″ at it’s longest point 10″ at both ends and about 7&1/2″ at it’s most narrow point on both the printed flannel and a complementary color flannel.  I actually used a chip box to make a pattern so I could make many of these.  I folded the pattern in half when I cut it so that each side would be symmetrical.

Next I placed the cut fabric right sides together.

I sewed around the edge with about a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Remember to leave an opening to flip the rag inside right.

I folded in the material from the opening and sewed a top stitch around the cloth.  The seam allowance was about 1/4 of an inch.