Monday, May 30, 2016

6th Annual 30 Day Photography Challenge - June 1-30, 2016

It's the 6th year of this challenge???

It's the 6th year of this challenge!!!

Let's do this, people.

Here are the prompts for this year, in the image below. Each day of the challenge corresponds with the date in June. For example, Day 1 is for June 1st, and pictures should be posted on the 1st. Ideally, you will add the picture directly into the album designated for each day in the challenge. Please try to get them into the correct albums. With this many people, it's going to be impossible for me to move all the pictures that aren't put in the right place.

All pictures are going to be shared in the group on Facebook. If you aren't a member yet, please request to be added to it here. It is DeBie Hive's Project 52+ Photo Group.

When you post a picture, please be sure to tag it with the number of the day in the challenge and any pertinent information you'd like us to know about the picture.

We will be utilizing the hashtag #30dayphoto this year. Please add it to the images you post so that they will all be searchable with the hashtag.

Please remember that the group is a public group on Facebook. All images posted will be viewable by anyone.

The Rules

  1. One picture per day per person. Please stick to this rule during the 30 day challenge. There are hundreds of people in the group now. Thanks in advance.
  2. Please try to add the pictures directly to the albums that will be set up for each day. If you can't add them to the album, no biggie, but it would be preferred.
  3. There is no requirement that you participate every day to be eligible for the contest.
  4. You MUST email me your pictures to have them considered for the contest. There is a strict limit of 5 entries per person, and the pictures MUST be sent to me at by midnight on June 30th.
  5. What is chosen for the contest is entirely at my discretion.
  6. I will remove photos I deem offensive, and reserve the right to do so.
  7. Only post pictures of people you have permission to post images of.
  8. The idea is to take NEW pictures. You may not re-use pictures submitted in past years.
  9. The contest runs after the challenge ends, hosted on my blog, for seven days. It will start July 7th.
  10. The prize is never that exciting, so you're mostly playing for bragging rights.
  11. HAVE FUN!!!! I love photography and started doing these to get people out there experimenting with their cameras.
Tips for taking self-portraits

1. Pay attention to the lighting. Avoid using the flash whenever possible
2. Decide what your best angle is - makes faces at yourself in the mirror if you don't already know.
3. Look just up and to the side of the lens, not directly at it.
4. If you have double chins that you'd like to pretend don't exist (not that you do, of course LOL), look slightly up to take the picture, hold the camera a tiny bit higher than you normally would.
5. Make sure there isn't anything messing up your background, or giving you bunny ears, or growing out of the top of your head.
6. Take more than one picture, with slightly different expressions. Then you can pick the best one.
7. Try to laugh naturally so your smile doesn't look forced.
8. Remember you can always zoom in, but you can't zoom out once the picture is taken.

Changes from last year

I will not be posting blog posts with the prompt each day this year. I will post each day's picture in the group and on my Facebook page. They will all be posted to Instagram and Twitter as well. If you aren't following me there, Twitter and Instagram are FAR better at showing people the things I post.

My Instagram profile can be found here. 

My Twitter profile can be found here. 

Finally, if you would like to offer up a prize for the contest, please let me know ASAP. Your link and a picture of the item submitted will be added to the contest post, which is seen by thousands of people each year. My email is

Have fun with it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Poster Totally Worked and Other Things We Learned This Year

Dear Oldest Child,

I made the mistake of asking you a question last night. I asked if you still wanted me to write you a birthday letter. Your sad face immediately told me that I shouldn't have asked and I should just keep on doing these things until you beg me to stop.

Hey. Want to play Axis and Allies???
It only takes 47 hours.

Stoooooop, Mom.

So, here's your letter. It's early.

Don't get used to that.

I can't believe that you're already done with a year of high school. At some point in the coming weeks or days or seconds even, you'll get your driver's permit, which is impossible because I swear that you were just getting on the bus for Kindergarten yesterday. I knew that I'd have to be the one to teach you to drive, and so far it's been less cringe inducing than I thought it would. You have a bit of a lead foot and a lot of work to do when it comes to parking...but I promise you with every ounce of my soul that I will make you learn to do it correctly.

That, and I will totally laugh at you in the process.

You'd think there was something wrong if I didn't.

Oh wait, I'm laughing with you not at you. Mmhmmm.

One of my all time favorites.
It's what we do here. Support each other whilst laughing.

But never while making videos that will live on forever, because that would be crazy.

You've made some hard decisions this year about life, the types of decisions that I certainly wouldn't have been capable of making at your age. Choices that told me that you're far more mature than I was, more than your father was. You knew that this was the year you'd have to get serious about finishing your Eagle Scout, and you chose to forgo winter drumline to do it. Instead of doing the thing you love the most right now, you chose to do the thing you should. You want to finish it. You knew it would be hard, if not impossible, to get there if you were doing drumline too. And you're almost there. All that stands between you and the finish line are little bits of two merit badges and your project.

I know that you agonized about it.

I know that you regretted stepping back from drumline almost every day, even if was just for this year.

The drums are waiting.
I know that you hated watching so many of your friends head to worlds, while you were here, working.

I know.

I know how hard it all was for you, but you did it anyway.

Drumline will be there next year, but the chance to finish your Eagle would have faded a little bit with each passing day if you hadn't seized this opportunity. And you did it.

Everything is percussion.
Life is percussion.
There really aren't enough words in the world for me to tell you how proud I am of you for making that choice, for sticking it out, for working so hard to finish it all.

It wasn't just that, though.


You stepped up, offered to help your father run your little brother's cub scout den. You took on more responsibility than you needed to. This time you've spent with your brother will be something he will remember for the rest of his life. I hope you know how special this is.

Den Chief
You have historically had a hard time pushing through the spring months in school. Forgetting to turn stuff in became a bit of an epidemic each March. I joked (sort of but not really) that I always needed to lecture you about it, at the same time, every year. I even asked the moms I know with kids older than you if this was normal. I hoped and hoped and hoped that at some point you'd outgrow it. I forced you to be accountable for missing assignments, I refused to go to bat for you with teachers over grades. I made you do it, and still...every March, the lecture would get dusted off and presented. I even made you a poster as a joke (sort of but not really), telling you to, "Get your shit together, Love, Mom", hoping that maybe someday I wouldn't have to repeat myself like a broken record every spring.

Then you know what happened???

April came and was nearly over this year before I realized that I hadn't needed to have that conversation with you this time around. You've just done it all, turned everything in, been accountable to yourself.

At the dia de los muertos exhibit, leaving messages
for your grandparents. 
You signed up to volunteer at the hospital again, asked if you could work at Comic Con. You're even helping your middle school band teacher wrangle the incoming 6th graders this summer, not because you have to or even because you were asked...but because you offered to help.

It's what you do. You help.

You're a giver.

You were put on this earth to share your abilities and your talents and your skills and your passions with other people.

You have a grand vision already laid out for your life, one that will take you, unsurprisingly, towards helping others. You want to be a nurse practitioner, one focused on under served areas. In your free time, you'll be a full time hippie homesteader, and I have no one to blame for that but myself.

Yet another instrument.
I could just as easily see you teaching music in a classroom someday. Music is just a part of who you are. I see it when you leap at the chance to learn a new instrument. I see it when you are picking out songs by ear on the piano then moving them to the guitars. I see it when you spend hours working on the drums. I see it when you gather up your baby brother in your lap and introduce him to the music of Fantasia, when you take him over to the piano and play with him.

I can't wait to see where you land.

You passed me up a very long time ago, but now you're about to outgrow your father too. Try not to tease him too much about it once you tower over him for good.

There are times that I look at you and I still see the little boy waiting for that Kindergarten bus. He still shows up sometimes. He's here when you aren't feeling well. You bring him along to the park. Whenever you are nervous or uncertain about something, he's there in the shadows. Looking for me, still.

The actual first day of Kindergarten.
Mostly now, though, you're a young man, one growing and maturing more and more with each passing day. I wonder all the time how you got to be 15 already, I wonder who that guy is when I see you across a room and then realize it's you. It stops me in my tracks sometimes.

You get in the car after school still eager to tell me whatever you're learning. You share the fun, the scary, the difficult. You ask questions. You don't just listen to what I say, you hear me, which is something else altogether.

You pay attention.

You strive to understand the things you know you don't understand.

You are still always asking questions.

You have great compassion for others.

Keep helping. Keep making those tough choices. Keep learning more about yourself, about others, about the world. Keep pursuing your passions.

How is this possible?
While you're at it, stay weird. Stay open. Stay honest. Stay true to who you are.

At this point it your life, you're light years ahead of where I was. You already know who you are. You're comfortable in your skin. You don't try to be anyone you aren't. You have sought out and found friends who get you, who accept you, who compliment you.

If you think about it, though, it makes sense that you'd be light years ahead.

You always did love Buzz Lightyear.

To Infinity and Beyond, Space Ranger.

When you were 2.
I can't even.
To Infinity and Beyond.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I'm proud of you.

(Mom, Mom, Mama, Mommy)

p.s. that video will never die. never.

p.p.s. I know that we haven't yet been in a Willy Wonka elevator, but I'm holding out hope that we find one someday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the distraction edition


I'm in a mood, and I've totally been an asshole all week, so consider yourselves warned. I hate when I'm like this...when I know that I've got a short fuse and I know that everything is going to set me off. I hate when I get sucked into internet drama and comment on things I shouldn't comment on. I HATE IT.

I need a week in the mountains.


Very soon.

Until then, though, this is what you get. I'd say sorry but I'm really not all that sorry actually and I stopped apologizing for things I'm not actually sorry about a while back.

Pay attention to the things you aren't paying attention to
We really don't need to keep talking about bathrooms. Trans people aren't the threat and they never were. This whole thing being used to distract you. Marginalizing them is a political move.

There's another oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Congress wants a raise.

Zika is coming.

I got yelled at yesterday
I was already in this preexisting shitty mood when the doorbell rang. It was a guy trying to sell magazine subscriptions for one of those well documented scam organizations that takes advantage of people in order to elicit sympathy but doesn't actually ever do any of the stuff it claims to do. Those ones.

I'm pretty familiar with them after working around nonprofits for basically my entire adult life.

Anyway, I was in a mood because it's May and it was 5pm and my toddler was raging around the house and the dog was hobbling around and my knees hurt because it was raining and a whole bunch of other stuff. I was not in the mood. I was polite, I said I was not interested. I said I was busy, wished the guy a good day.

Then he proceeded to yell at me, accuse me of not caring about helping people in need, telling me that he knows all about me and the people like me. Walked off in a rage screaming that I should know that black lives matter too.

I was in a bad mood and I know how this scam works. My refusal to just hand you a check because you're playing on my suburban guilt isn't a confession about how I feel or what I think or what I do. I can promise you that I am BY FAR the most vocal advocate for the BLM movement in this neighborhood and I bust my ass trying to open eyes all the time about privilege and race and reality and oppression. You don't know where I spend my time or where I give my extra money. You don't know.

Don't make assumptions about me.


For the love.

Mama drama
Ah, the internet.

So fun sometimes.

One mommy blogger wrote an obscenity laden post telling all the other mommy bloggers that their blogs suck, that they should stop now and give up. I'm not linking to it or to the 9 million response posts or the 17 thousand open letters on social media.

I'm not, mostly because I'm not participating in this thing where women start bashing one another while refusing to own their role in it all.

If you want to write about your family, do it.
If you want to write sponsored posts, do it. (People will lose interest quickly though, I promise.)
If you want to beg for fans with ploys, realize they aren't legit fans and will bail.

I've been doing this forever.

Get off my lawn.

Some people would consider me a mommy blogger. I was, probably, there for a while. Now, not so much. I'm a writer who sometimes writes about her kids, but I don't do niches or rules and I don't play nicely with others, so I basically suck as a blogger anyway.

If I had to sum up what defines me most in life as a writer, it'd go something like this.

- beer & tacos. tacos are the best.
- adhd, anxiety, ptsd & ppd
- legal analysis
- high kicks & kermit arms & all the swears
- kefir & other hippie things (passes out pamphlets)
- longing for chickens & goats
- nerdy stuff & games
- kids I like most of the time, homeschooling
- bearded husband, one that I also like most of the time

I'm not writing saccharin posts about my family, at least not too often.

I'm not tossing anyone under the bus with humiliating stories for the sake of 15 minutes of fame.

I'm not trying to sell you vag cream or scrapbooking materials. Unless you want me to sell you vag cream. DO YOU WANT ME TO SELL YOU VAG CREAM???? (Please say no.)

I'm doing my thing. The pay is virtually nonexistent and it's weird that strangers know who I am sometimes. This ain't the path to fame and fortune, my friends.

Do your thing. If the people out there in the internets like

If they don't, they will stop reading.

If you care, care.

If you don't, fine.

No need to shit on someone else in the process.

Baby Bison and stupid people and that part that you didn't think about that I just made you think about and now you're all mad at me....
Some clearly misguided tourists in Yellowstone picked up a baby bison and put it in their car because they allegedly thought it was cold.

I'm digressing. Hang on a second.

This is fucking why we need science education in 
schools, people. This is why common core and 
the idea of certain subjects being covered in 
every state in the country at certain ages is a good thing. 

Okay, hi. I'm back.

Anyway, these tourists did this and the calf ended up being euthanized after mama bison refused to take care of it because those humans touched the baby. Don't touch the babies.

Few things.

- I'm sure they meant well. Intentions don't always line up with how this stuff plays out, though, and saying "but they meant well" isn't going to magically resurrect this baby bison.

- People online shared the post (the first one before the baby died) mostly to laugh at the stupidity of other people. Because this is what happens when you watch reality tv for a generation and your main source of entertainment is the ignorance of others. I'll let you guess which presidential candidate is also a consequence of this generation of reality tv.

- People are now uniformly outraged about this one dead bison, and it's certainly tragic, don't get me wrong...but pay attention to those people who are expressing outrage when they talk about other things, like food know, things that affect human babies.

***runs away from the pitchforks that are coming for me***

With that, I'm going to quit writing for the day because I am already totally being an asshole.

Have a good day, hive.

I'll just be here, trying to make sure my blog doesn't suck. ;)

Friday, May 13, 2016

I can't finish anything and it's groundhog day

I'm officially giving up on this writing challenge. I made a mediocre effort. Pats self, half-heartedly, on back.

Pat. Pat. Pat.

There was a time, not too long ago that I would have obsessed about not finishing this. I don't finish much, truth be told. It's a character flaw, for sure, but one that I've accepted about myself after this many years circling the sun.

I don't beat myself up about it anymore, well at least not as much as I used to.

I do still lecture myself in the shower, but that's totally normal, right?

Nevermind. Don't answer that.


This is what mid-life looks like. Side eye and everything.
I saw some friends yesterday for the first time in too long, and it wasn't the kind of get together you actually look forward to. It was more of a "shit, we need to do this grown up stuff, so let's rip the bandaid off together because I've got your back...."

Because being a grown up can suck a nut.

For real.

After hours of doing the things required in grown up land, I got to just sit and talk for a while. The baby was asleep. A friend was still hanging out on my couch. The kids were all gone.

And we mused about mid life.

About how we got here.

Here, the land of groundhog day, where you get up and do the same fucking thing every single day, and you do it for so long that you start to forget a little bit about who you are and what you might like to do and what you might want. You get disconnected from your friends, your spouse, yourself, because you're too busy doing the things that need done.

And don't go lecturing me on the joys of having children or how we're supposed to enjoy everything and appreciate what we have, because that isn't what this is about. We do all those things, and we lose a little bit of ourselves (or a lot of ourselves) along the way.

Then one day, you wake up and you're 40. You don't recognize yourself much anymore, you wonder who this person you've been living with for all these years is. You aren't doing the things you thought you wanted to do, and you don't even know what you want anymore because you have 14 loads of laundry to fold and a floor to mop and a recital to get to.

It happens to most of us, I think, at least in some capacity and to some degree.

Then we wake up one morning, not too long after the holy shit I'm 40 and how did I get here realization, and we wonder why everyone else is happy and we aren't.

Spoiler alert.

No one is.

No one is nearly as happy as they'd like the world to believe. When people gather around the break room lunch table, no one is sharing the story about how they picked up dog shit for 2 hours over the weekend because no one else in the family would do it even though they swore up and down they would because they really really really wanted a dog. No one is talking about how they had to spend 94 minutes tearing apart the house and both cars looking for a rogue shinguard because the kid who loses everything lost everything again even though you told them a million times to put it in the bag and then you argued with your spouse over the damn shinguard too. No one is talking about how they applied for that promotion last week and quietly were passed over for the younger, more peppy asskisser in the office, even though they have way more experience and knowledge.


People are raving about the dinner they went out to or how that kid who couldn't find a shinguard scored a goal or how they were able to finally take a vacation with their bonus this year.

People leave out the bad.

We only hear the good.

We live all of it personally, though, so our perspective is skewed.

We think our lives are abysmal failures. We think everyone else is happy.

Social media is the literal worst at perpetuating this.

So we're over here, scrolling through those highly edited posts and pictures of our friends, wondering why we aren't as happy as we feel like we're supposed to be, not doing what we feel like we're supposed to do, watching everyone else appear happy and secure and supported.

It's just all perception.

Not much of it is ever real.'s overrated.

Hear me out.

Happiness is fleeting and temporary. If you could archive your life up to this point and tell me the 5 or 10 things that made you the happiest, I can guarantee you'd give me specific events. Births of your kids, wedding days, graduations, etc. You wouldn't make some claim that the years 2008-2010 were the happiest. Nope. Because life isn't happy. 

Life is mostly monotony, 
occasionally awful,
with moments of glorious happiness.

Hopefully the happy moments outnumber the bad ones.

But this idea that we're supposed to be "happy"? Nah. We aren't doing ourselves any favors by believing it. We should instead strive for content. Okay.

Accept where you are. Accept who you are. If you don't know, figure it out. Figure out who your spouse is now. Realize that what you thought you wanted at 18 might not even be relevant anymore, so you should stop comparing your imagined future self to your actual current self. Realize that all those people our age in those new and fun and exciting relationships might seem happy now, but eventually, the new and shiny will wear off of that too. The new and shiny doesn't last, and if you can't hold it together once you're dull and need polished every so often, another new and shiny version might not work out any better.

This is midlife, you guys.

It's mostly monotony, full of unfinished visions of what we thought we wanted, occasionally awful, with moments of glorious happiness.

If you stop comparing what you have to everyone else, you'd realize it's actually pretty amazing.

Now, get off my lawn.

I've got laundry to fold.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the lull in May edition

Howdy. It's May. More specifically, it's the only day remaining in this school year that I don't have at least one, if not several, place to which I'm obligated to be in the afternoon/evening hours. The last few weeks of school are always like this, with the concerts and the performances and the meetings and the awards. This year, my husband has also landed himself back in school, just to make things more interesting. Throw in all the scout stuff, baseball season, fishing classes and comic con training and we are never idle.

It's chaos, but it is actually a chaos that I embrace because it keeps me distracted. Mother's Day is complicated for me. The days leading up to and after it aren't really much better, and these days in the middle of May are ones where I'd wander around a little bit lost if I didn't have a million things to do. Her birthday is the 29th, the same day as my oldest son. Was the 29th.


Semantics are such an asshole sometimes.

Anyhow, I welcome the overbooked schedules this time of year. Distraction is highly underrated in this society.

I digress. We're here to scream and throw stuff, so let's do that.

Speaking of Mother's Day....
Raise your hand if you are a mom and you had an hour's worth of dishes to do and an entire kitchen to clean up the day after Mother's Day.

The downside to "taking the day off" is that it just means twice the amount of work the next day. #truth

I wasn't actually online much this weekend, which isn't actually accidental. I take the requests for the music marathon and schedule them, then walk away from it all for the day. I do it for my own reasons, but it has the added bonus effect of insulating me from all the people arguing online. Yesterday, though, I saw some of it. The arguments that get dragged out into the light every year between Mother's Day and Father's Day. The open letters. You've seen them, I'm sure.

- it's all manufactured to sell greeting cards and jewelry (it totally is)
- it's horribly painful for people with complicated relationships with their moms/kids or for people who've dealt with infertility, etc. (it totally is)
- it's the biggest humblebrag day on the internet where the women who get expensive things and spa days then post a million pictures that are all hashtagged #blessed (it totally is)
- it's not fair to the single dads/single moms/dog moms/insert any group who feels marginalized here (if the shoe fits, by all means wear it...)

I'm sure I'm missing a few, but you get the point. Everyone has to argue about everything anymore and it's exhausting.

My current favorite argument is the one about how dads are held up on pedestals for doing totally ordinary parenting things and moms are nitpicked for every excruciating detail of what they do. Yay. Internet. (this one is totally true too, btw)

What would be awesome is if people could just do whatever they need to do on that day. If you have a great Mother's Day, awesome. If you want to crawl into a hole and avoid everything for the weekend, that's fine too. No good ever comes from comparing ourselves to anyone else. Life is not a competition for either the best or the worst or the most #blessed or the hardest. There aren't gold stars being handed out here, folks. People get to feel however they feel. What's not cool is trying to make other people feel like shit because your life situation is different than someone else's.

Now get off my lawn.

Prince didn't die because of pain meds. I repeat, Prince did not die because of pills.
God I hate the media sometimes. They've become so adept at generating sensationalism and so horrifically bad at accurate reporting that I'm starting to think they all need their press passes pulled permanently. For real.

The dialogue surrounding Prince's death shifted dramatically when news started coming out about the fact that he was taking pain medication, that he was scheduled to meet with a doctor about the issue, that there are investigations now into where he obtained the meds and so on and so forth.

So, in the eyes of the media and PLENTY of people out there now, he's just another druggie who wasted his life because of his selfishness.


Do not do this, people. You're better than this.

It's well known that he suffered from some pretty significant pain for a very long time. He had serious issues with his hips, and if anyone out there has ever had problems with their hips, you already know that that pain travels up and down your body. It affects everything about your legs and back and neck. All of it.

Though I don't have personal information about his conditions or what he did or didn't do to try and treat the pain, I can guess. I can guess because it's a pretty typical path that people walk all the time, and not just the famous musicians.

  • Something is wrong with their body physically.
  • It can't be fixed easily or completely or the cause isn't discovered or treated.
  • Medication is tossed at the pain, an effective, but short term bandaid, but one that does nothing to treat the cause of the pain itself.
  • Pain meds become less effective over time, patient needs more to achieve pain control.
  • Vicious cycle begins of trying different meds or doses just to deal with pain.
  • Underlying issue still never dealt with.
  • Patient becomes "addicted" (I hate that word)

No one talks about why.
No one gets ugly with the reason people end up in this situation.
No one wants to admit that we're terrible at treating pain in this society, that we often don't even try to remedy the cause of it in the first place. 

It's easier to point a finger, climb up on that soapbox and condemn the dead, blame them for their fate.

It's easier, sure.

It's just wrong.

The West Point "controversy"
A group of black female West Point graduating cadets posed for a picture. In one of the shots, they each raised a fist. One blogger took this personally, said it was a political gesture tied to the #blacklivesmatter movement, and there's now an investigation into the situation.

For real.

This "controversy" all started because one white blogger pushed his agenda, claiming that the women in the picture were tied to a movement he doesn't even seem to understand. 

This shouldn't be an issue.

A fist in the air isn't new, isn't novel, isn't irretrievably tied to the BLM movement, and isn't inherently political in nature. It's a symbol of strength, of pride, of solidarity, of unity, of completing a task. Maybe it's something that this white blogger doesn't understand, but that's not the fault of the women in the picture.

If you see something else when you look at that picture, then you need to take a step back and realize that your perception is what is tainting it, not their actions.

It's just a picture.

Moving on.

When the GOP went boom
The presumptive nomination of Trump has heads spinning all over the world, with most people outside our shores wondering what the hell is happening here. I'm wondering that myself pretty frequently.

What occurred yesterday left me speechless though, made my face do that thing where it scrunches up all weird and stays that way because I'm trying to figure out what just happened.

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, said that he'd step away from chairing the convention if Trump asks him to. Even though he won't support him.

Wait. What?

The sitting GOP leader with the most authority in this nation is willing to just step aside at the will of a presumptive nominee that he can't even personally support?

The same dude totally unwilling to even entertain the SCOTUS nominee put forth by the actual sitting and elected president?

He'll get out of the way for Trump???

What is happening?

I honestly think we're seeing the beginning of the end for the GOP as we know it, a splintering of the party.

All I know is that I don't want Trump anywhere near missile launch codes.

Loretta Lynch, superstar
While it would have been possible for the Governor in North Carolina to veto the bathroom bill, he didn't. He issued some executive orders after it passed, mostly in response to the backlash against both him and the state, trying to rectify some of the very wrongs he legalized. It wasn't enough.

Loretta Lynch isn't having it.

She's filing a federal civil rights lawsuit, and she just did it in the most refreshing way.

All the claps.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

What We Need To Tell New Mothers

As a doula, people ask me all the time for advice about pregnancy, labor, parenting. On this Mother's Day weekend, the brief summary of most of everything I say, especially for the new and expectant mothers out there.

Our society likes to tell new mothers how to feed their babies, how to clothe their babies, how to diaper their babies, how to transport their babies, how to raise their babies. We like to tell new mothers how they should act, how they should feel, how quickly they should be back in that pre-pregnancy body.

We're not doing anyone any favors by telling new mothers any of that. Not even a little bit. 

We're hurting them by insisting they should do any of these things in any one way. 

These are the things we should be telling new mothers instead. 

Trust your instincts
They exist for a reason. 
We forget sometimes that we humans are animals, 
we forget sometimes that we're programmed 
with instincts to care for ourselves and our children. 
They exist for a reason. 
Listen to them.

Trust your intuition
If something feels wrong, 
if something seems inappropriate, 
if something seems unnatural, 
there is often a reason. 
Listen to the voice in your head that tells you when something is wrong. 
All the experts in the world can't tell you how to raise this child.

Trust your body
The work of parenting is taxing, 
from pregnancy through labor and years beyond. 
It is physically demanding. 
Nursing is especially a time when you need to trust in your body, 
when you need to surround yourself with 
people who understand the process, 
when you need to ignore anyone without the 
knowledge and the skills associated with it all.

Trust your strength
Parenting will test you in ways you could never possibly be prepared for. 
There will be times when you are afraid, 
when you are scared, 
when you are confused, 
when you are unsure. 
You will get through them all, 
and you will do it while smiling and singing a song to calm your child. 
You will cry and rage and scream when they can't see
in hallways and parking lots and basements
and hospital waiting rooms
and then you will find that inner strength all over again. 
And again. 
And again.

Listen to your heart
So often, we want to rely on logic 
and reason when making decisions about our children. 
There are times when the answers aren't there, 
but instead in what feels right. 

Learn from your own childhood
You already know a tremendous amount about parenting, 
rightly or wrongly, 
from your childhood. 
Remember those lessons, 
whether to apply them again or do 
everything possible to avoid repeating them.

Ask for help when you need it
Recognize when you can't do it all without help. 
We all need help sometimes. 
Every single one of us
Build a community and call on it when necessary. 
Reach out and help others in return.
Wherever you are,
no matter how scary it might be,
you aren't alone.
I promise.

There is (almost always) time
One of the biggest lies people tell and believe about 
all aspects of child rearing, from labor to sending 
them to college is that decisions need to be made now. 
There is almost always time to ask for more information, 
to think about it, 
to reflect on options, 
to see what else might work. 
Almost always. 
Give yourself time.
Give your partner time.
Give your kids time.

There are as many ways to raise a child 
as there are children in the world
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for any aspect of parenting. 
There is no simple answer that applies to everyone. 
There is no one best way to do anything. 
There are abundant options and you will find what works for you, 
for your partner, for your child, for your family.

Showing up truly is 90%
This stays true no matter how old your children get. 
Just be there. 
Just be in the audience. 
Be in the crowd. 
Be at the recitals and the performances. 
Watch the games. 
Just show up. 
This applies even when they're grown. 

We all screw up
None of us knows exactly what we are doing.
We do the best we can with the information we have at the time.
Sometimes that means we do things different with each child.
Sometimes that means we do things different than our parents did.
Learn from those mistakes, own the times you screw up. 

Don't avoid the hard stuff
Have the difficult conversations. 
Be honest. 
Be open. 
Start when they are young and never ever stop. 
You'll thank me for this when you have teenagers.

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Youth and Age and Boundaries and Saying No

This past weekend, we went to the Botanic Gardens here locally. They were hosting a Children's Day celebration, which meant that there were amazing activities and experiences planned all day. It was also snowing, which meant that we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I joined my husband and 7 year old there after dropping my daughters both off at college for the day. GASP. That's a whole different story, one that still induces a bit of panic and denial, but they were there to attend a STEM program for girls put on by the university students.

Breathes into paper bag for a moment.

Anyhow, while we were at the Gardens, one of the events was foil art. I'll be doing this with the rest of my kids at some point this summer and will share it with you guys when I get around to it. Squirrel!

Jesus. All the distractions.

(This is Kelly's brain on ADD. I'd say ADHD but we all know I'm not hyperactive because at least then I could probably get more shit done.)

Anyway. The kids (and I say kids because I'm old now) manning the table for the foil art were college students. One a junior, the other in his first year of grad school. Both accounting majors. We got to talking about accounting, which ended up being like an awkward cautionary tale of shared life experience. My husband, a CPA, has worked in the field for over 20 years (gasp. again.) We relayed almost everything we've learned about the profession to the sponges on the other side of the table. They were grateful for the wisdom we'd so willingly shared, but I was left wondering exactly how and when we got so old that we're the people on this side of the table now.

I don't feel like I'm old enough to advise 20 somethings on anything, and yet there we were. Pushing 40. Telling it like it is.

Hard eyeroll.

Later in the week, a few panicked messages from my new job. Last minute subs were needed to fill in for some people.

I am literally the worst person in this situation, the least able to drop everything at a moment's notice. Because five kids.

I reluctantly said that I was unable to help out, after racking my brain of all the ways that I might be able. I really tried, too.

One by one, seemingly everyone else did too. I don't know if the spots were covered or not. I hope they were. I can't worry too much about that, I suppose, but the fact that I am worried about it tells me that I need to write this post.

Many of my cohorts are single.

Most of my cohorts are much younger than I am. Over a decade in most cases. They're practically kids. Get off my lawn.

Most of my cohorts don't have kids of their own, let alone enough for a basketball team.

They don't seem phased when they are unable to do something. They just say no and move on.

Why don't I?

Why can't I?

Why does this bother me?

Why was there a part of me wondering if we could swing coaching baseball too in the event that someone else didn't step up soon? Why was I even contemplating that on top of all the other things we already do? Why?

Why are the busiest people the ones who can't say no?

Maybe because they just don't say no?

What I'm saying is.....SAY NO.


Say no.

Say it and move on and don't worry about it. If you can't do something, you just can't do it.

My boundary maker is broken. I've been working on repairing it for years now, but I'm just hardwired to do all the things.

You know what though?

Saying no is pretty fucking fantastic. I'm getting better at it. I highly recommend it to all the over committed people out there.

Say it with me.




You can learn a lot from kids these days.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Pet Peeves and A Bulleted List of My Day

I'm trying to get this list done. Two posts at a time, apparently. And it's May now, so I'm officially terrible about this challenge.

The 15th prompt wants me to tell you three pet peeves.

1. People who comment without reading what they are commenting on.
2. People who blame me for what people write in response to things I post.
3. Basically the entire fucking internet right now.

That was quick. Heh.

The 16th prompt wants me to make a bulleted list of what my day looks like. OH NOW THIS WILL BE FUN.

Should I number it? Would that make it weirder? Here's what a typical weekday looks like, minus all the overthinking and anxiety stuff.

  1. Feed baby at 3am or whatever time he wakes up.
  2. Wrestle with baby as he attempts to perfect 16 different yoga poses after eating.
  3. Celebrate wildly when husband puts baby back in his crib after he kicks Dad in the head while doing yoga.
  4. Wake up when the birds start chirping outside. Attempt to go back to sleep, which may or may not work depending on which conversations from the day before are being relived in my head at the moment.
  5. Wake up precisely 7 minutes before alarm goes off. Give up sleeping.
  6. Get up. Pee. Ask husband if he wants a smoothie even though he always wants a smoothie and the question is a waste of time.
  7. If someone is coming over in the morning, maybe put a bra on. Maybe. Depends on who it is.
  8. Go downstairs. Tell older kids to clean up after themselves before the leave for school. Did you eat? Do you have a lunch? Good luck on your test. Make good choices. Bye. Love you.
  9. Let dog out. Again.
  10. Laugh at 7 year old sleeping on the couch, again, after he "woke" up early to watch tv.
  11. Make smoothie. Switch kefir. Grumble under breath at the pile of dishes. 
  12. Coffee. Smoothie first, then coffee. These are the rules, people.
  13. Kiss husband goodbye. Love you.
  14. Check FB, schedule stuff. Roll eyes.
  15. Switch the laundry because there is always laundry to switch.
  16. Do dishes because there are always dishes to be done.
  17. Twiddle thumbs until 7 year old wakes up.
  18. When 7 year old wakes up, get him fed and working on schoolwork before his sister wakes up.
  20. Read all the news. Scan fb. Lose faith in humanity. Briefly regain it.
  21. 11 year old wakes up. Beg her to eat something that doesn't require an hour of nibbling.
  22. Try to get as much work done as humanly possible before baby wakes up.
  23. Baby wakes up, roars like Godzilla, leaves path of destruction. Feed Godzilla.
  24. Put him in highchair and throw food at him until he pretends to poop just so he can get out of the highchair.
  25. Send them outside to play for a while.
  26. Schedule some stuff on Facebook. Check email. Moderate comments. Roll eyes at the internet.
  27. Try to get work done while Godzilla baby does everything possible to prevent that.
  28. Lunch. Feed baby, then nap. Yay.
  29. Finish whatever isn't done. Do more dishes. Do more laundry. Watch some Bill Nye.
  30. Wait until last possible minute to shower in time to leave to pick up older kids and carpool kids.
  31. Drive around town for a solid 90 minutes. Laugh at people trying to back into parking spaces. Wait in parking lots. 
  32. Curse under breath at road construction by the house.
  33. Curse under breath at a specific neighbor.
  34. Do your homework. Get ready for whatever we have to do this afternoon/tonight. Feed baby.
  35. Make dinner. Do more dishes. Do more laundry. Sweep kitchen floor.
  36. Feed the people. 
  37. Usually, play a game or something after dinner unless someone has to go somewhere. Or catch up on episodes of Flash or Arrow or Dancing with the Stars.
  38. Wrangle baby. Feed baby. Goodnight baby.
  39. Go to bed. Brush your teeth. Kisses. Love you. No really, go to bed.
  40. Husband: "want a drink?" Me: "yes".
  41. Someone falls asleep on the couch about half the time while trying to catch up on Game of Thrones or Daredevil.
  42. Go upstairs, lay down. LAYING DOWN IS THE BEST.
  43. Replay entire day, over analyze everything I did and said and thought. That thing that happened 20 years ago - worry about that too. 
  44. Eventually fall asleep, knowing that Groundhog Day awaits tomorrow.

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