Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gearing up for fall: My autumn bucket list

In California, autumn isn’t quite like the autumn I grew up with in Michigan, but it’s still my favorite season by far. Despite the eighty-degree heat in the afternoons, I will bust out my fall boots and colorful scarves, because post-baby body or not, boots and scarves always fit.

Even though I am ridiculously busy right now with my new SAHM/WAHM/WOHM employment status, I have fun fall activities planned. Here is my Autumn Bucket List for 2014.

  1. Decorate! First and foremost, you know I do it up right with the fall decorations. Even though I’m just itching to paint something, I know I won’t have time for a new fall décor project this year. So I will try my hardest to avoid Pinterest and just put up my fall décor awesomeness from previous years.
  2. Visit the Pumpkin Patch! One of my favorite fall activities is taking Quinn to the pumpkin patch. My friends and I have done this every year since our preschoolers were babies. The kids wear their costumes while we go on hay rides, run through the pumpkins, and take a bazillion photos, in which not a single child is looking at the camera. We all have second babies now, so this year should be extra interesting. Even if we have to plop down into a pile of dirty hay to nurse the babies, we’re doing this! And if we can get a group photo of the “Bigs” and “Littles” in their costumes, it will be a Halloween miracle.

Monday, September 22, 2014

On work release from baby jail

If there was a "Mommy Insanity Quiz,"
might look something like this...

I love being a SAHM. I feel very lucky to have the option to stay home with my kiddos and play trains, jump in puddles, swing at the park, sing silly songs, and make up elaborate stories at nap time.

I hear every hilarious thing Quinn says, and I witness every new thing Reid learns. We don't have to deal with the weekend crowds at the zoo or the aquarium or the children's museum. I get to see everything inside of Q's great big imagination, and sometimes Reid will still fall asleep in my arms. I kiss all the boo-boos and soak up all the snuggles. These moments of tiny feet and giggles are fleeting, and I get to be there for it all. Yeah, being a SAHM is pretty rad.

Until it isn’t.

There are days when the screams far outnumber the giggles, and the temper tantrums are constant and unpreventable. There are days when the 3YO refuses to listen and the baby refuses to nap. There are days when Quinn thinks everything is an eff-ing travesty (My toy
fell on the floor, now I can NEVER PLAY WITH IT AGAIN!),
and Reid thinks I'm abandoning him forever and ever when I leave the room for 90 seconds to make his bottle. There are days when the baby wakes up early and Hubs leaves for work early, and whether I can even take a shower is entirely decided by other people.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Feminism is important because…

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I recently found out that there is a whole social media movement against feminism… by women. Proponents of #WomenAgainstFeminism apparently think that since a woman almost became president and boys now get into trouble at school for snapping girls’ bra straps that our fight to be treated like equal humans is over. They think feminism is insulting and that feminists play the victim. They think feminists hate men and want supremacy over equality. 

I want to make it clear that feminism doesn't mean any of these things, although it can mean different things to different women. Here’s why feminism is still important to me:

Feminism is important to me…
… because strange men still feel entitled to put their hands on me.
… because daughters are taught to walk through dark parking lots with their keys like this. ---->
… because street harassment makes me feel small, powerless and terrified, NOT flattered.
… because even if I pretend to be flattered, he might hurt me.
… because even if I ignore him, he might hurt me.
… because strange men have followed me to my car on several occasions.
… because nursing mothers are hassled and told to cover up.
… because Bratz dolls.
… because I was the only girl in my high school physics class.
… because having ten white men on a board of directors is not a coincidence.*
… because at 52% of the population, we are not a special interest group.*
… because you never hear of a man taking his wife’s last name.
… because Maxim, strippers and porn.
... because boys learn early on to objectify women and that they need to "man up."
… because many college guys (and girls!) don’t understand that a drunk girl can’t give consent.
… because women are taught to prevent rape, and men are not taught to not rape.
… because being a little girl in Africa is the scariest thing ever.
… because sex trafficking is a worldwide problem.
… because way too many us have received a picture of some dude’s penis.
… because sexist plot lines are still prevalent in almost every American sitcom.
… because the term “bitch” gets thrown around a bit too freely.
… because I'm trying to raise two boys to become kind, compassionate and respectful men.
… because living in fear is no way to live.
… because too many women mistakenly believe feminism equals victimhood.
… because my voice alone won't make a difference - men and women need to fight for change together.

*These two are paraphrased quotes from the clever, witty Kara Swisher from her on-stage interview with Melissa Barnes at #BlogHer14 . 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

If you don’t think cliques exist in adulthood, you’re probably in one.

Our blog tribe taking a selfie with DJ Run in the background at the
  #BlogHer14 closing party.
(Photo courtesy of Neil Kramer. Used with permission.)
Usually when one thinks of cliques, images from high school resurface. You envision the Mean Girl Lunch Table with its captain holding court. You recall her “Uh, why is she even trying to talk to us?” face and their nasty giggles as you walked away. You see hair flipping in your face as the cool girls breeze by you and your non-existence. The term “clique” doesn’t have a positive connotation.

As adults, we tell ourselves that the sting from those experiences is gone. We’re all better than that now, right? It’s been like twenty years, so can we all move on? Well, not necessarily.

If you don’t think cliques exist in adulthood, you’re probably in one. That’s not a slam against anyone – it’s hard to see a thing for what it is when you’re in the middle of it. Maybe you’ve always been part of the cool crowd, so you’ve never experienced the exclusion. Or maybe you were the one excluded in high school, so now you can’t fathom treating someone else that way and don’t realize that you do it. Either way, you probably don’t mean to be a clique because it goes against your definition of self. Most of us are not very self-aware.

My definition of a clique is a circle of friends that is exclusive – or wants others to believe they are exclusive – and they exclude others because they have to. I believe people on the inside of cliques are just as insecure as those whom they are excluding. A new person might threaten the status of an existing member, and if the group gets too big, small groups might splinter off. New members endanger the precarious thread of security that holds the clique together.

I’m not saying all groups of friends are cliques. I run in several circles: I have my group of college friends that live in Michigan and Boston. I have my local “mommy friends” (although I no longer think that term defines us) whom I met after Quinn was born and have been my lifeline for the past three and half years. And thanks to BlogHer, I have my new Blog Tribe. I don’t think of any of us as exclusive, but I’m on the inside of these circles, so who knows what people on the outside are feeling.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My first #BlogHer went a little sumthin’ like this…

The alternate title for this post is “I got a three-day furlough from baby jail.” … Hmmm, there’s a chance I’ve been watching a little too much #OITNB.

BlogHer ‘14 celebrated its tenth annual conference in my backyard (er, twenty minutes away from my backyard). I’ve only attended one other blogging conference. I’ve read so much about BlogHer over the years that the event was really built up in my head… and it did not disappoint. Here’s how it all went down.

White people can and SHOULD talk about race issues.
Whoa! Yeah, that’s right. I busted out with that doozy right outta the gate because that was my biggest take-away. In fact, I’m going to write a whole separate post about it because I feel like I have permission to talk about it now. No, more than permission – an expectation. Racism is a human problem, not just a people-of-color-problem. You’re a human. I’m a human. So I’m going to lend my voice and share all of your voices to help educate the masses. The closing keynote was a panel of extraordinary, diverse women talking about this very topic, and my note taking was fast and furious.

Herein lies the power of blogging. My little corner of the blogosphere is so small, yet I still write. Because words have meaning. Because if anyone happens to stumble upon my tiny corner, I want them to leave a different person. Or at least have more to think about. Whether I’m talking about our adventures in potty training (which I still need to share with you) or how male entitlement in our society still burns me, I want readers to walk away thinking that reading my words was time well spent.

Amazing women graced the stage
Friday morning started out with a keynote from Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess herself. She is hysterical. I’ve already read her hilarious memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but then I found out that she narrates her own audio book. The only thing funnier than reading her book would be listening to her personally recount the stories from it. So, yeah, I’m now buying the audio book of a book I already read.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Have a #Selfiebration

I was never a big fan of selfies. I would see the same people posting them almost every day, always with the same pose – arm stretched out over their heads off to the side, looking up at the camera, sometimes with duck lips, sometimes with sultry eyes, always looking unnaturally natural with their bathroom as the backdrop. Seriously, who feels that sultry in the bathroom on a Tuesday morning?

I wondered how many selfies they took to get that perfect, Instagram-worthy expression. It all felt like narcissistic nonsense, and it kind of annoyed me.

But then I realized I was really just being a hater. I rarely like photos of myself (except for my driver’s license photo). I critique my huge nose, dark circles, unruly hair, giant pores, crooked teeth, wrinkles, and what is up with that gnarly vein in the middle of my forehead?

And that’s just from the neck up, people. No one is better at tearing my appearance apart than I am. So the idea of posting a photo of just myself, especially a close up of my face? Nuh uh. No way.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Are sleepovers safe anymore?

I recently came across this article by Tim Challies saying he doesn’t allow his kids to attend sleepovers. He argues that children are vulnerable at bedtime and should be at home in their own beds.

At first, I thought the article was ridiculous. Some of my best childhood memories are of sleepovers – playing “Truth or Dare,” belting out pop songs into hairbrush microphones, blushing about cute boys, and giggling until the wee hours. My best friend, Kelly, slept over at my house almost every weekend, and I had a slumber party for my birthday every year until junior high. 

Sleeping at friends’ houses exposed me to how other families lived and taught me to respect their rules and values. I definitely got away with stuff I wouldn’t have gotten away with at home – like staying up late, watching scary movies, and wearing makeup – but I gained independence and learned to be responsible for my own behavior and decisions. What parent would shelter their children to such an extent and deny them these experiences?

But then I remembered that not all of my sleepover experiences were positive ones... 

Once, when I was in either kindergarten or first grade, my friend’s older sister had a birthday sleepover, and my friend got to bring me along. Everything was great until bedtime. I always had trouble falling asleep, and a couple of the older girls thought my being awake was spoiling their fun. They stole my pillow and threw me a tiny heart-shaped pillow smaller than my head. They kept telling me all the terrible things they would do to me if I didn’t fall asleep. Then they told me all the terrible things they would do to me if I did fall asleep. I wanted to call my mom and go home, but I didn’t want to look like a baby, so I laid awake all night staring at the wall.

But as it turns out, bullying wasn’t the worst thing that would ever happen to me at a sleepover…