Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Glass half full?

So, I saw one of those "Had Enough Vote Republican" signs this morning that had "Had" covered with "Dumb". And I thought "hey, that isn't nice..."

So I was thinking...

I love lots of Democrats and lots of Republican. I don't consider any of them bad. Or dumb. (Well, okay, maybe some...on both sides, but maybe not dumb, maybe just uninformed/uneducated. Educated with a small "e" not a big "E").

So I started thinking: What is the major difference between the Democrats and Republicans I know?

And I think I have it figured out.

Half full or half empty?
Most of the Democrats I know are optimists.

They think people are generally good, and that people using welfare just need some help and won't abuse the system.

They think that God and Jesus love us and aren't out to smite us at every turn.

They think that universal health care is to protect us and care for us, not to sentence us to death panels.

They trust that women will make the right decisions when given the choice.

They think love is love and that just because someone loves differently than them, doesn't mean every one else is going to go to hell in a hand basket.

They trust that teachers and school systems will take resources given to them and make the best decisions with only the welfare of our children forefront in their mind.

And most of the Republicans I know are pessimists.

They think people are generally going to take advantage of the system when given the opportunity. 

They think that God and Jesus are great punishers and that we are all going to hell for our sinful ways.

They think that universal health care is a scheme to kill off old people and deny people the care they need.

They think that giving women access to abortion and/or birth control is going to destroy our population because no one will get pregnant, and when they do they'll just go have an abortion.

They think that legally allowing gays to love one another will affect every one else's family.

They think that teachers are lazy and won't really work unless we force them by having mandatory check ups (standardized tests).

Don't look at the issues... take your own personal feelings out of it for a second. And just examine the polarity of each idea. It seems to me (admittedly a Democrat) that it's not about someone being dumb or not. It's not about whether they love god enough or are a "real America". It seems that Democrats just seem to be a little more optimistic about the world and Pollyanna about the people in it. And Republicans just seem to be a little more pessimistic about the world and Schopenhauer about the people in it.

So maybe if we can think of one another as optimists and pessimists, instead of idiots and assholes...maybe we can all just get along!

Or at least quit putting one another down. :(

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's my choice

I'm sick of all this rhetoric surrounding abortion that focuses in on exceptions for rape and incest, because the fact of the matter is the majority of women I know have admitted to me that they, at one point in their life, have had an abortion, and not one of the women I personally know told me it was a result of rape or incest. 

Yes, women and girls who are victim of rape and incest sometimes end up pregnant and sometimes that pregnancy will end in an abortion. And those women should be protected. No questions. However, I feel like this defense always subtly implies that those are the only truly valid and legitimate reasons to terminate a pregnancy. I believe in my heart that there are many, many, many legitimate reasons to terminate. #1 Because the pregnancy is detrimental to the mother's health and/or puts the mother's life at risk. #2 Because there is something very wrong with the baby. #3 The mother isn't financially, emotionally, or mentally capable of having the baby. #4 The mother simply doesn't want to have a/another child. (And I'm sure plenty other good reasons I don't even know about.)

Let me be very frank: I have had two abortions. I had one in the Spring of 1995 when I was 16 years old. And because not only was I young and dumb enough to think it "can't happen to me", I was young and dumb enough to think lightening wouldn't strike twice...so I had another one in the Spring of 1996 when I was 17 years old.

Many pro-life activists insist abortions are unhealthy for women because they affect their mental health due to living with terrible regret and guilt for the rest of their lives. Let me make this clear: I do not, and have never regretted my abortions. I did not regret them when I graduated high school (which statistically I would not have). I did not regret them when I graduated college (which statistically I would not have). I did not regret them when I graduated graduate school (which statistically I would not have). I did not regret them when I married my husband (who I never would have traveled to grad school and met) and went on to have two beautiful little boys (which I would not have if I had not met my husband).

What I DO regret...being in the position to have to make that decision in the first place. I do regret that I was not responsible using birth control. When I was a teenager, my boyfriend and I used condoms, most of the time. My mother knew I was sexually active (I actually did tell her myself), but her strategy wasn't to take me to the OBGYN and get me on the pill, it was to tell me not to do it again. P.S. Note to other mothers: that didn't work! Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming her. My actions are my own, but I guarantee you I will approach birth control differently with my children. Even if I have to drive my sons' girlfriends to Planned Parenthood myself!

When I was 18 years old, I went to the OBGYN myself and got on the pill. And for almost 10 years I was on the pill and had NOT ONE pregnancy scare. When I was 27 years old, I went off the pill, and two months later I found out I was pregnant with twins. Birth control WORKS people!! (Don't let me get started on the whole birth control debate going on right now!)

Returning to my first statement, about the number of women I know who've had abortions: My point is it's more common than you think. I know many women who I would never dream would have had one, have whisperedly told me "I had one..." It's like this deep dark secret people don't discuss. And why would they? It's a PERSONAL matter. I don't discuss my other personal medical matters with people, so why would I discuss that?

This blog is the first time I'm going "public" with my abortions because for the sake of women's reproductive rights, maybe we need to start putting faces and stories to abortions. While I want to protect abortion rights for rape and incest victims and women facing health issues; I also want to protect that 16 year old honor student, who is captain of the debate team, plays varsity softball, and wants to be the first person in her family to go to college, who also just happens to find time to get a little frisky with her 17 year old boyfriend when she's not busy with all of her other extra curricular activities...and finds herself in a very frightening situation.

Am I saying that is what every person in my situation should do? NO! Every woman (or teenager) has to decide for HERSELF what she wants to do when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Being pro-choice doesn't mean you are pro-abortion, it's means you are pro-CHOICE. You are pro a woman/teenager being able to say 1. I want to continue this pregnancy and parent, 2. I want to continue this pregnancy and put up the baby for adoption, and 3. I do not want to continue this pregnancy. It should be HER CHOICE that she should make with her partner and her doctor.

Someone close to me who didn't know about my abortions (but will now if they read my blog) once said to me that teenage girls who got pregnant out of wedlock had to "deal with the consequences of their actions." I can't tell you how much statements like these blow my mind. You know that bumper sticker that says "It's not a choice, it's a baby"? Well how about, "It's not a consequence, it's a baby." If someone fails their driver's ed class, do you give them a brand new car? Because someone "fails" their birth control, you don't hand them a child. A life. Here, let me punish your irresponsibility by giving you a child to care for. That logic is as clear as mud!

Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty good mom. I'm not perfect by any means, but I'm pretty darn devoted to the health, happiness, and well being of my children. I was a pretty good teenager too, but I was still incredibly selfish and self-centered. I WAS NOT ready to be a mom. Not emotionally or mentally, and damn well not financially. I pity the child who would have been raised by 16 year old Amber. (And most likely not with the help of 16 year old Amber's 17 year old boyfriend. Don't get me wrong, he grew up to become a fine dad when he was much older, but would have been a "dead beat" back then for sure.)

Have plenty of other teenagers in my position made different decisions? Sure. That's their prerogative. Not everyone has to agree. But just as I can't force my will that teenagers should not have babies, and instead graduate high school, college, grad school, and then get married in their late 20s only after they have started their own career.... No one can force their belief that forces someone else to carry through with an unwanted, unhealthy, or unsupported pregnancy. This is America. We have freedoms. We have choices. And for god's sake...quit trying to take them away!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mom on a mission

Do. Not. Mess. With. My. Kids.

Our neighborhood is not perfect.  There are no sidewalks.  I hate that the speed limit is 30 MPH.  And there are just way too many rentals for my taste.

But I have some great neighbors!  They watch out for our house when we are out of town. They have dog-sat in a pinch when we needed to go out of town last minute.  And I love that there are lots of kids in the neighborhood.  And kids that play outside!!  In the day and age where people moan and complain that all their kids want to do is watch tv and play video games, I have two kids that are constantly playing outside with their neighbor friends.

The problem: I have one neighbor couple who likes to speed.  And I'm not talking goes 5 miles over the posted 30. I'm talking he likes to get his 4 wheeler out (illegal on our neighborhood streets BTW) and go full throttle up and down our street.  He likes to burn out when pulling out of his driveway.  And rip up and down the street in his new used-BMW going easily 50 mph.

She drives fast too, but just fast, not aggressive and obnoxious like he does.  But she still probably whips up our road going at least 40 mph.

I have no problem with this couple other than their speeding.  I have even went and talked to them about it twice.  Asking them to PLEASE slow down and obey the speed limit for the safety of the neighborhood kids and dogs that sometimes escape off leash (including HIS!).  To my face he says okay.  But actions speak louder than words, and his actions say that I can kiss his ass.

Well guess what dude? I'm pulling out some action of my own! First thing this morning, I headed down to city hall and picked up an application and petition for getting speed bumps put in our street.  Because if you can't stop being an jerk on your own, I'll get the government on my side to stop you.

And guess what jerk?  I'm not taking no for an answer!  Because I'm stopping this nonsense before someone gets hurt!

I hate that it has had to come to this.  I feel like this could have all been settled with some civil conversation and understanding (they are young and don't have kids yet, so I get why maybe they didn't realize how it would bother us old-parent-people), but the guy just isn't listening.


And if you are wondering if we've called the police first, why yes we have.  In fact, the police were called just last night.  As I'm standing in my neighbor's yard, preparing to take a family walk, I heard a screeching sound and revving engine.  Then saw his car ripping around the corner and up our road.  He whipped into his drive way.  A few seconds later, he whipped back out, then burned out back down the street.  Another bold mother stood in the middle of the street with her hand up, yelling at him to slow down.  He actually ACCELERATED!  Then SLAMMED on this breaks.  Luckily, she jumped out of the way, otherwise he would have hit her.  Then, he jumps out of his car and starts running towards her with clenched fists shouting "I can drive as fast as I fucking want to!" and then smacks her hard, causing her mail to fly all over the road. At this point, some men from down the road started running towards him and yelling.  So he jumped back in the car and sped off, actually swerving at them as if threatening to hit them.  Then the woman he hit called the police.

When the cops got there about 10 minutes later, I gave them his name and address.  And then gave my statement for what I saw.  Then, I began my plan to get speed bumps installed.  Because if asking nicely doesn't work.  If calling the cops doesn't work.  Then by-golly freaking speed bumps should slow this creep down!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Embrace the camera

Click here to learn more about Embrace the camera Thursdays.

Early last week, I got the unfortunate news that one of my cousins's sons died.  23 years old.  Too young.  So sad.

I hadn't seen my cousin since our last family reunion in July 2010, and I had seen her son since the 2006 family reunion, but I knew I wanted to go to the funeral, to pay my respects and show my support. So on Thursday morning we packed up the car and trekked over to the Show-Me state for a few days.

We decided that while we were there we should take advantage of the nice weather and the few days off work...so we took our funeral lemons and made some sight-seeing lemonade.

First up: I took my boys to visit my grandma and grandpa's grave. She's been gone 9 years now, and I still cry every time I visit her grave.

Then: We took the boys to the zoo with my Aunt and my cousin's kids.

St. Louis has a fabulous zoo, and y'all should go because it's free admission!  You just have to pay for parking and any extras you want, like the train.  Speaking of the train...  My boys can't see a train and not want to ride it.  

Then we took the boys up in the Arch.  While we were waiting in line, I took a moment to explain to Thing 1 and Thing 2 that their grandpa was one of the electricians that helped build the arch, and that their uncle worked on it's construction too.  They weren't that interested.  But they'll think it's cooler when they are older, I'm sure.

It was all smiles until the tram actually started moving up.  Then there were a lot of seriously concerned faces.  (Oh, and Thing 2 refused to look out of the windows at the top.  Or let anyone pick him up.  Or walk.  That was fun.)  (P.S. As soon as we got back to the bottom, he wanted to go right back up. ?!?!?!)

Then we ventured down to the riverbank and dipped our toes in the mighty Mississippi.  A first for all of us, even me, and I lived in St. Louis for a few years when I was a kid.

Finally, a trip to St. Louis wouldn't be complete without taking in an afternoon Cardinal's game.

Thanks to Stubhub.com for the amazing $7 tickets!  I about died when the box office said all they had left were $50 tickets.  Uh, no way!!  Not with two 5 year olds that may or may not sit through a whole game!

On stubhub I was able to buy 4 tickets plus tax and fees for $38!  And they stand by the authenticity of their tickets.   I will be using them again.  (No, stubhub did not pay me to say that.  But they should! ;)

This was the view from our seats!  Gorgeous, right?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spank you very much

A facebook friend recently posted this:

Let me begin by saying: I got my butt smacked and survived.

Heck, I have a very sarcastic mouth, so I got much more than my butt smacked!  And I still survived.  And I still love my parents.

But I choose not to use corporal punishment with my children.  And here is why:

#1 I don't want my children seeing violence as a solution.

When Thing 1 and 2 get upset and hit one another, one of my first responses is "DO NOT HIT YOUR BROTHER!"  And we make the boys come together and talk through their issues.  We discuss that if someone is doing something to bother you, you should 1. ask them to stop,  2. tell them you need some space,  3. walk away from them if they won't walk away from you,  4. get a grown up.  In that order.

Does it work all of the time?  No.  But it does work most of the time.

But what about me?  I (along with Superman) am their #1 role model.  What do they learn if I get ticked at something they do and instead of talking it out with them, I reach over and smack their hand or whack their butt.  What have I taught them?

My lips are saying "do not hit people when they do something you don't like" but my actions are saying "it's okay to hit people when they do something you don't like."

Is it hard not to spank?  YES!!  Good god!  Lord knows I have a temper (thanks dad!) and when I get mad at them for being little butts, you'd better believe I want to haul off and smack those rear ends!  In fact, a time or two, I have been so upset and frustrated and mad that I have.

But I know in my heart that that reaction isn't right for me.  It is allowing my anger to control my actions, rather than controlling my anger and dealing rationally with the situation.

#2 I don't think it works.

My parents were spankers.  Spankers, slappers, whippers...nothing abusive, but lets just say my butt was no stranger to the hand or another available object (yes, there was a wire hanger incident).  And I even got backhanded across the face a few times for sarcastic comments. (P.S. Moms and Dads, if you yourself are sarcastic, there is a more than good chance that your kids will learn to be sarcastic too.  Heads up!)

But let me tell you this.  Spanking hurts...for a few minutes.  (My parents never really hit me hard enough to cause major bruising or long lasting pain.)  Then it's over.  You go in your room, cry for a few minutes, then pick up a book.  You give your parents the silent treatment for a few hours, but mostly...no big deal.  Back to life as normal.

But you know what was torture?  Being grounded.  Or being grounded from the tv.  Or the worst of the worst: Having my phone privileges taken away.  Ah man!  I can remember it now, getting a phone call from one of my best friends and hearing my dad say "No, Amber can't come to the phone right now. She is grounded from the phone." Torture!

So when Thing 1 purposefully hit Thing 2 the other day with his new tee-ball bat because "he wasn't moving out of my way and I didn't like that", we didn't spank him.  We took away his bat, put him in time out for 5 minutes while we tended to Thing 2.  Then we told Thing 2 to tell Thing 1 how being hit with the bat made him feel.  And then we told Thing 1 "no baseball for 3 days."  Good grief, the crying that ensued.  You'd have thought I beat the kid with the baseball bat myself.  And over the next 3 days, almost every time he asked to go play ball or went to pick up a bat, ball, or glove, it was evident that this long term punishment effected him much greater than had I done what I really wanted to do (which was spank his little butt!!).


Look, I'm not saying my way is right and the other way is wrong.  Two of my closest friends are some of the best moms I know, and they both spank their kids with no regrets. I would never say about them "oh, they just don't know how to control their anger" or "they just take the easy way out and spank their kid" or "they are teaching their kids to be violent."  We have had discussions about spanking and they have their justifications for doing it, and I have voiced my justifications for why we don't (or try not to ;).  But in the end, we all have to make the decisions that feel right for us and our families.

I would just encourage parents to think thoughtfully about why you choose the discipline measures you choose.  Because if you thoughtfully consider which method you most believe in and feel works best for your family, then that is the right decision!

Oh, and P.S. to go back to the original comment...Superman was never spanked a day in his life.  He was a model kid (a parent's dream!) and has turned out to be an ace teacher, a fantastic father, and committed husband.  So, I refute the insinuation that kids who aren't spanked are undisciplined and not respectful. Superman is proof that you can discipline without corporal punishment and still raise a lovely, law-abiding, rule following, respectful, contributing member of society. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I apologize in advance

For nearly five years, whenever anyone has asked how to tell my boys apart, I have given them this cheat:

We typically dress Thing 1 in blue, because his name has 4 letters and blue has 4 letters.
We typically dress Thing 2 in red, because his name has 3 letters and red has 3 letters.

Sometimes we slightly deviated from this (not all boys' clothes come in a choice or red or blue), like Thing 1 would wear green.  Thing 2 would wear orange...  But for the most part, we tried to stick to this color coding when we knew we were going to be around people who couldn't tell them apart (my parents, my friends, etc).

But as of May 29th (Superman's first day of summer break), the days of Thing 1 and Thing 2 dressing in coordinating outfits is over.

He is the one who "dresses" them in the morning, and he has begun letting them pick out their own clothes.  Which means Thing 1 typically comes out in a pair of athletic shorts and some kind of sports tee or jersey, a ball cap, and tennis shoes with no socks.  And Thing 2 usually comes out in some really bright shorts with some kind of train, animal, or music shirt, and his crocs.

But WARNING: Don't try to memorize that!  Because that is not a consistent as my red and blue.

Yep, it's just time for all y'all to finally learn how to tell them apart on your own.  They have different personalities, different interests, they talk differently...just put in a little effort when you are around them, and I'm sure you'll be able to tell them apart in no time, and wonder why you ever depended on the color coded clothing crutch.
P.S. They actually dressed themselves in this pic...sometimes it just works out that way. :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

I should clarify

Regarding my last blog:  Do Unto Others

I should clarify, because I don't think this was made clear the way I wrote it (based on some feedback)...

I was not upset DURING my pregnancy/post-pregnancy.  Honestly, I'm very independent, so I really just assumed we'd be doing everything ourselves without help.  It was only after my pregnancy/had the boys and that I noticed all of these request for other people that I started to think Why do I need to make a casserole for someone just because they had a baby...no one made casseroles for us, and we still managed to eat.  And then before I knew it, it seemed like everyone I knew was getting meal trains for everything.  THAT is when I started feeling jealous and wondering why it seemed like everyone in the world got them but me.

And with the baby showers, again, I just assumed we'd be getting the things our kids needed, so I didn't care at the time that I wasn't thrown a shower.  (And for the record, I did have a registry online and I had lots of friends and family send us gifts either from the registry or hand me downs of things they had on the registry, I just didn't get the joyous party with cake part).  It wasn't until long after, seeing most everyone else not only getting one shower, but showers with every baby.  When I would go to showers, I just get jealous that I never had that special experience.

(Oh, and I maintain not liking showers for subsequent babies, except of course in cases like a big gap between children, or oops pregnancies after you thought you were done and had gotten rid of your baby stuff.  But just because I don't like them doesn't mean I judge you if you've had one.  And, p.s. I always give my friends presents for the subsequent babies too...I just don't like the idea of showering them with all new expensive equipment and stuff just because they want a different color, etc. It just seems like wasteful and unnecessary to me.  But that is obviously just my opinion.  And opinions are like assholes. )

The only thing I wished differently DURING the actual process was that more people would come visit...but that was just because I was crazy lonely.  Like almost literally going crazy from laying in the bed all day.  Superman even wrote a blog post (that he wisely did not show me until much later) that he was becoming concerned for my mental health.  The RATIONAL part of me understood why my friends and family who lived hundreds miles away didn't come visit but instead supported me through countless phone calls, emails, cards, care packages, sending flowers, etc...  But it was that other side.  The poor-me, selfish, ungrateful side that wanted them there in the flesh, regardless of the cost or inconvenience.  I can sit here and rationally understand why they didn't...but that doesn't mean I wanted it any less.  Or that I love them any less because they didn't.

I guess the point of my blog is that we all have demons.  Just a few of mine are these terrible thoughts I have (I have used this blog to openly discuss others in the past also)...but it's what we DO with them.  Instead of letting those evil thoughts take hold and not doing anything for others because I'm jealous those things weren't done for me...I still GLADLY make the casseroles or attend the baby showers, etc.  I don't do it out of obligation or because I feel like I owe it to anyone for any reason, I do it because I genuinely want to help and support them, and I know that anyone in their same situation would appreciate it.

So, in closing:  I love my friends.  They are wonderful and were wonderfully supportive of me the best way they could be at the time (especially the ones who were themselves pregnant at the time).  But it doesn't mean I don't have the occasional pity party that I had had all of the things that I now see other women having.  I'm only human.

But the main take away I was trying to leave was this: Don't be a jerk.  Just because something wasn't done for you, don't begrudge other people for it.  Don't NOT do something for someone just because no one did it for you.  Make sure to do it because you know its the right thing to do, and you know it would make them happy, as you know it would have made you.

Don't get mad at people for having what you didn't have.  Especially if you call them a friend.  You should just be happy for them that they have (at least one thing) easier than you did!! :)

Do unto others

Sometimes I astound myself with my selfish and ungrateful thoughts.

Whenever I get an email asking for volunteers to help someone in a time of need, my first thought is “I should help.”  Then my second thought is usually: “Actually why should I?  No one helped me when I was in the similar situation.”  Then my next thought is “You are a terrible person! You should do onto others as you would have liked others to do onto you.

It like when I was on bedrest… I was on bedrest for 4 months.  That is 16 weeks.  115 days to be precise.  I couldn’t get up to make myself a sandwich.  Heck I was barely allowed to use the bathroom.  Yet do you know how many visitors I got?  8.  (Well, 14 if you count spouses and children.)

  1. Superman of course was there for the 4 weeks I was at home, and came to the hospital every day.  (Although he never once stayed the night with me…not even on the weekends) 
  2. My aunt and uncle came to stay with me for a weekend when I was still at home while Superman had to go out of town. 
  3. My friend from college came to visit me at home when she was in town for business. 
  4. My MIL and FIL visited once at home and three times when I was in the hospital.
  5.  A friend from grad school/colleague came to the hospital twice, each time she brought one of the following women with her: 
  6. A friend/colleague 
  7. A friend/colleague
  8.  My cousin and his wife and their three kids (including their set of twin boys) showed up as a surprise on Easter day, because they were in town visiting her family.

I get that people are busy and that travel is expensive and time consuming, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was really disappointed that over a course of 16 weeks laid up in bed, not being able to go anywhere or do anything, that I only had 8 visitors.

So now whenever I hear of someone going on bedrest for a pregnancy, even if I don’t know them.  I try to help some way.  If they live far away, I send them a message of support (with ideas of things I did to help pass the time and keep from going crazy).  But if they live nearby, I offer to come visit them.  In fact, last year someone I knew on facebook set up a meal delivery calendar for her friend, and I signed up to bring them a meal.  I signed up to bring a perfect stranger a meal, and I ended up sitting and talking with her for about an hour.  Because rather than give into my selfish feelings of “no one made any meals for us when I was on bedrest” I decided to do unto others as I would have liked them to do unto me.

Once I had my babies, it didn’t get any better.  I had even less visitors!  Visitors I had when/after the baby was born:
  1.  My parents and brother came for the birth
  2.  MIL and FIL came for the birth and about came about once a month for the next 6 months or so
  3. My aunt came for the birth
  4.  My sister came for a week when they were 6 weeks old

That’s it.  Forget people dropping by with casseroles or presents.  That was it.
So again, when I hear of someone organizing a meal train for a friend or acquaintance that just had a baby, I think: “Are you kidding me?!?! I had TWINS and no one ever brought us dinner over.” But then I have to silence that little selfish voice and remember that I have to do onto others as I would have liked others to do unto me.

And I have to remind myself to quit being ungrateful, and instead of focusing on who didn’t come…focus instead on who did!  Really appreciate them and let them know I appreciated them.

Oh, and don’t get me started on baby showers.  Never had one.  No one even offered.  Now, most of the time, this doesn't bother me, because honestly I was extremely blessed with hand-me downs (special thanks to my cousin and his wife who had twins two years before us) and have a shop-aholic and yard sale crazy MIL who was more than happy to buy every matching outfits she came across. And really, I preferred receiving hand me downs on baby items that you only use for a few weeks/months over anyone (even if it isn’t me) spending $100s of dollars on them new.  But it’s not the thought of the actual presents so much as the fact that NO ONE OFFERED.

A friend of mine from college had a baby a few years after Thing 1 and Thing 2 were born.  Like me, she lived in an area far away from friends and family…so her friends threw her a virtual baby shower online.  It was very unique and definitely incredibly thoughtful.  I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been jealous no one had offered to do something similar for me.

So when I see women being super picky on their baby shower registries.  Must be this brand.  Must be this color. Must be this theme.  Blah blah blah. I’m like “Bitch, just be happy I’m buying you ANYTHING because lord knows you didn’t buy me jack-shit when I had my TWO babies.”  (Sorry, cursing is necessary, because this is what goes through my head.)

And don’t get me started on second baby showers.  The whole point of showers is to shower new parents with things to get them ready for a baby…you’ve never had a baby before so you don’t have a crib, or a high chair, or diapers, etc.  But once you’ve had one baby…you don’t need another shower.  You got your shower.  You had people buy you hundreds of dollars’ worth of new (because you are too good for used) baby shit.  USE THAT!  Yes, you can use that same crib.  Yes, you can put your baby girl into a blue car seat/highchair/stroller…if you are worried about people “not being able to tell it’s a girl” how about #1 covering her head to toe with pink or #2 not giving a fuck (do you think little Susie will be scarred for life if people mistakenly say “he is such a pretty baby” when she is less than 1 years old and can’t even talk yet?  Hint: she won’t be, because she #1 Doesn't understand English and #2 WON’T REMEMBER IT!

So obviously I still have these feelings of selfishness, ungratefulness, and being judgmental.  I’m dealing with them.  And I’m also dealing with the question of “Am I just a sucky friend/person that my friends and family don’t care enough to offer to do things for me the way that other people do for their friends and family?”  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe the problem is me...

Meanwhile, I keep trying to suppress these unhealthy feelings and focus on not doing to others as was done to me, but instead doing unto others as I would have liked have been done for me.  Maybe in the end it will make me a better person and friend.  Maybe it will encourage others to pass on kindness shown to them.  Or maybe it won’t do anything, except make me feel better helping someone else out during their time of need.  I'd be okay with that.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Embrace the camera (again)

Click here to learn more about Embrace the camera Thursdays.

So, I've been terrible at embracing the camera lately.  The last time I did it was in March!  Egads!

Part of the problem is that I've been terrible at blogging lately period.  I am an idiot who bit off way more than I could chew this summer.  Between the normal hustle and bustle of being a working mom with two young kids, I also signed Superman and I up for a co-ed softball team (the first time I've played since college!).  Then, Superman encouraged me to sign up for a class I've been talking about taking for 3 years (but never doing anything about).  It's an online grad class, and it's kicking my butt.  It feels like it requires so much more effort than my last grad class.  7 years ago.  Before I was married.  Before I had kids.  Before I had a 4 bedroom house to keep clean.  And a lawn with landscaping.  And a garden.  Really...what was I thinking?!?!

The other problem is that I am still so camera shy.  I know that Embrace the camera encourages you to ignore what you look like, and just get in front of the camera because your kids will want to remember you and won't notice if you didn't look your best.  But that is so much harder to do when you are really really unhappy with the way you look. :(

For Mother's Day, we took the kids to a local indoor water park.  And while I took about 100 pictures of them, I had to really force myself to take one of me.  Because if there is anything harder than taking a picture of yourself when you are unhappy with your weight, it's taking a pictures of yourself in a bathing suit when you are unhappy with your weight.

My signature pose: trying to hide behind a kid, so you don't notice how fat I am.

But I am making a new promise to myself...I will start embracing the camera again.  Because I have decided I am going to get this weight off.  And every week I'm going to force myself to get in front of the camera so that #1 I can't live in denial about my problem and #2 I can watch myself making progress as I am adopting healthier habits and losing weight.

For now, my plan involves following Weight Watcher eating religiously (I know HOW, I just need to commit to it), doing DDP Yoga in the mornings, and taking evening walks (and eventually jogs).  I have a short term goal of being able to job the Persimmon Festival 5K this September.

Now those are pictures I'm looking forward to posting!  Sweat, nasty, and all!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hey y'all!

When I was in college, I decided I didn't like two things that I said: y'all (the widely accepted Southern form of the 2nd person plural) and warsh (the word wash with the intrusive r).

Warsh (other forms include dishwarsher, George Warshington, car warsh, etc) didn't really both me until I got to college.  Actually, for the most part, I didn't even realize that I was doing it or what I was doing.  My mom said warsh.  My dad said warsh.  My brother and sister said warsh.  It was normal to me.

It's wasn't until I took a Linguistics course on American dialects that I learned of the linguistic phenomenon known as the intrusive r, which is prominently found in the midwest, specifically in the word wash, that I even realized that I did it.

Now, as I've mentioned, I didn't grow up in the midwest, though I live here now.  I did live briefly in the midwest as a wee-one, but mostly I grew up on the east coast, because my dad was in the Navy.  (Generally Navy dudes have to live near water.) But environmental influences are only one factor for determining one's pronunciation.  A very influential factor is the pronunciation of your family.  My mom is from St. Louis and my dad is from Indianapolis.  They both exhibit the intrusive r, and thus all three of their vagabond children picked it up as well.

It wasn't that hard to purge my pronunciation of the intrusive r.  I just thought very consciously whenever I said the word wash and very deliberately did not include an r.  It probably sounded a little like "waaaash".  It took a few months, but then it was gone, and it's never come back.  Not even since moving to the midwest 10 years ago.

Now the y'all...

I have always been aware of the y'all.  Y'all is synonymous with southern living.  "Howdy y'all"  "Y'all come back now y'hear".  Everyone knows if you want to sound southern, all you have to do is say y'all.  Just like everybody knows if you want to sound like you are from Boston, all you have to do is say "Cawfee tawk" or "Pak the cah".

But for a long time, I did not want to embrace my southern roots.  Whenever someone would hear I was from Virginia, they'd say "oh, a southern girl" or "oh, yea, I can hear it in your accent."  But the thing was, I didn't feel like a southern girl and I definitely didn't have a southern accent, well, a traditional southern accent anyway.  You see, when you live in rural areas of Virginia you do tend to follow the linguistic features of southern dialects, however when you live in an urban area like I grew up, especially one populated by military personnel...who come from all over the U.S., you do not.

Between Virginia Beach not being a heavy southern dialect influence, and both of my parents being a heavy midwestern dialect influence, my accent usually fell much more inline with the North midland (midwestern) accent....except for y'all.  I most definitely said y'all.  A lot.

In my sophomore year of college, I went to a midwestern cousin's wedding.  I hadn't seen that part of my family in almost a decade, not since my grandma had passed away.  And know what I noticed?  No one said y'all.  They all said you guys.  Right then, I decided that I was was going to purge myself of y'all, just like I had of warsh.  In fact, you could say I was going to wash y'all out of my dialect.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)  And I did.

And for about 10 years, it stuck.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it would have stuck forever, just like warsh/wash has, except a funny thing happened.  The longer I've been living in the midwest, the more I miss my coastal southern home.  The more I missed hearing the "Hey y'all".  So much so, that I consciously decided to replace my you guys with y'all.  And just like when I trained myself to stop saying it, pausing and mentally correcting myself to say you guys instead, I was now pausing and correcting myself to say y'all.

But unlike training myself to say you guys, the reverting to y'all thing took much much less effort and much less time.  In fact, it came back so easily, it was almost like it'd never even been gone.  Like it had just been sitting there in my brain, waiting to be re-released all of this time. So, I guess I really am a southern girl after all.  It just took being away for a few years to really appreciate my home and my southern roots.

I guess what they say is true...absence really does make the heart grow fonder, y'all.

P.S. My little grammar lesson for the day: It's y'all.  Not ya'll.  Y'all is a contraction for you all.  Ya'll is a contraction for ya will, which is not a thing.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

All I wanted for Mother's Day was to have a super fun day with my kids, not doing any work, not cleaning, not telling anyone to pick anything up...

So we are headed to an indoor water park for the day.  (Shh...don't tell Thing 1 and Thing 2, because it's going to be a surprise!)

Meanwhile, yesterday I got an early Mother's Day present.  I just love things like these questionnaires, where the teachers ask the kids the questions, and then write down exactly what the children say.

I'll have to remember to do some for Superman for Father's Day.  The kids are always out of school for the summer, so he kind of gets hosed.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

They are amazingly accurate.  Thing 1 does call me Mom.  Thing 2 does call me Amber and Mommy.  My favorite color is red.  And while I'm no Ron Swanson, I have discussed with Thing 1 that we are not vegetarians because we like meat too much. :)

I do think it's funny how one thinks I'm short and one thinks I'm tall.  Tall compared to them, short compared to daddy. :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bring you brat to work day

I had an incredibly bad morning.

I'm not naming names, but one of my sons was being so grouchy and grumpy this morning that I wanted to drop kick him off the back porch.

All I could think of was I can't wait to drop this kid off at preschool and get him away from me.

Instead, I filled his back pack with books and crayons and said "You are going to work with me today."

The other one immediately said "Hey, I wanna go to work with you."  But I told him that he was going to school, and only his brother would be coming with me.

I don't know if this is the answer to an overly grumpy child.  But I'm doing what my intuition as a mom told me to do.  I feel like part of this kid's issue is that maybe he just wants some attention.  One problem with having twins is that they almost always do everything together.  Usually when I give their dad a break, I do something with BOTH of them.  And vice versa.  It's much more rare for us to set aside specific one on one time.  It usually only happens in the form of grocery shopping.

Okay, so bringing him to work is not the most fun one on one time.  But I'm trying to make it fun for him.

On the way in, we stopped at the convenience store and I let him pick out a Hostess snack and a jug of milk (of course he picked strawberry).  Now he's sitting and "reading" while I work.  Later on just the two of us will go eat lunch where ever he wants.  And this afternoon I'll probably let him put some quarters in the junk food machine. (Which I've never let him do before).

I'm disappointed at myself for losing my temper with him this morning.  But I'm proud of myself for deciding to handle this situation by not punishing him, but trying to figure out what the real problem is (his need for attention) and fixing it by giving him something he is needing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why my kids will ride the bus

Last night, Superman and I went to Kindergarten Open House at our sons' soon-to-be-Elementary-school.

We were very happy to meet the principal and their future teachers, and learn more about the school where Thing 1 and Thing 2 will be attending in the fall. And they were beyond excited to meet their future classmates and do lots of activities and play games.

But one thing that happened struck me as very odd.  During the school tour, the principal took us to the school entrance and proceeded to spend nearly 20 minutes explaining the complicated pick up/drop off procedure.  Superman and I kept looking at each other, wondering if we were missing something.  Did we have to pick up the kids every day?  She was talking to us as if it was assumed we'd all be picking up and dropping off.

Finally, we raised our hands and said "What about the kids riding the bus?"  And then she spent about 3 minutes explaining the bus procedure.  And we were happy with the explanation.

Afterwards, another parent came up to me, and this was the gist of our conversation:

Concerned Parent: Are you going to let your child ride the bus?
Me: Yes.
CP: We thought about it, but I just don't know....How would he know what bus to get on, or where the bus stop is?
Me: Well, um, I imagine the kids will follow the other elementary kids in the neighborhood and get on with them.
Superman: Also, you can call the school and ask.
CP: They know other kids who ride the bus?
Me: Yes, our neighbors' kids ride the bus.  They play outside with them almost everyday, so they know them pretty well.
CP: Aren't you afraid they'll get on the wrong bus in the afternoon?
Me: Not really. Kids learn pretty quickly who their bus driver is. If they started to get on a bus and didn't recognize the driver, or the other kids on the bus, I'm pretty sure they'd get off.
CP: I'm just afraid my son would get on the wrong bus and get dropped off at the wrong place and be wandering the neighborhood frightened and alone.  (I should mention the Kindergarten has an older brother who will be in the 1st grade next year.)
Me: Did you not ride the bus as a child?
CP: Oh, I did.
Me: Did you ever get on the wrong bus and get dropped off at the wrong neighborhood?
CP: No.
Me: Neither did I, so I'm not too worried.

And I'm not.  I rode the bus from Kindergarten through 1st grade.  Then we moved, and from 2nd grade until 5th grade, my brother (one year older) and I were walkers.  Not only did we walk about 6 blocks everyday to school unsupervised, but our parents left for work way before we left for school, so we were responsible for getting dressed, eating breakfast, and leaving in time so that we weren't late for school.  Then we moved again, and from 6th grade through 8th grade I rode the bus again. And I never worried about getting on the bus, I just worried about missing it!  Because if we missed the bus, we had to walk.  And it was a long walk with a heavy book bag.

Can bad things sometimes happen on the bus?  Do bad things happen sometimes when kids are walking to school?  Yes and yes.  Bad things can and sometimes do happen.  And when they do, they make the national news.  Why?  Because it's RARE!  That is what makes it news!  You never see a headline: Kindergartner successfully rides the school bus back and forth everyday to school with no incident because it isn't newsworthy. It happens everyday.  MUCH more often than a bus getting into an accident or a kid getting abducted.

What my kids will learn from riding the bus: Courage. Independence. Responsibility.

What my kids would learn from me dropping them off everyday at school because I am afraid of them getting hurt/lost/abducted/made fun of/picked on/etc: Fear.

To me, the choice is very easy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Our family is growing...

by 4 feet!

And no, we aren't having another set of twins....

We are getting a dog!  Actually, the plan was to get a dog, but it turns out that we are getting a puppy.

For the last few weeks I've been scouring the local shelters for an adult medium sized non-terrier, non-pitbull mix, but I've been unsuccessful.  Then a friend told me about someone she knew who had some cocker spaniel puppies who needed good homes.  She sent me a few pics and I was hooked!!

Meet McGarrett! (Can you tell we are Hawaii 5.0 fans?)

We bring him home on May 25th.  What a perfect way to start off the boys' summer break.

P.S. I'm pretty sure all this cuteness combined with the hassle of puppy potty training should sufficiently quell any baby-pains I might be having now that my "babies" are turning 5 years old in June and starting kindergarten in the fall.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Batter Up: 2nd Inning

Thing 2's baseball quilt is now all pieced together.

Next step: quilting both quilts.

Warning: this is going to take a while. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Batter Up: Update

After seeing the first draft (pre-quilted) version of Thing 1's quilt, Superman insisted I make one addition.

And when I say he insisted, I mean he insisted.

At first, I just thought he was kidding.  But then he made it very clear that he was 100% dead serious.

So I made the addition.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Batter up!

Most of my craft projects lately seem to be projects I'm doing for somebody else.  Either because they are paying me to do it (Yay!) or because I'm making it as a gift.

So I'm happy to take a break and work on a project for me (well, really for my kids, but still...).

My twin sons will be turning 5 in June.  And their room is still decorated using the theme we chose for their nursery.

We have finally decided the time has come to update their room to a little more mature theme.  We (with their help) chose: baseball.

A few months ago, I started looking for baseball linens for their bed, but I was disappointed that I could only find either a specific team or general sports together (baseball, basketball and football).  But I wanted something that was just general baseball.

It was also around this time that I started making t-shirt quilts.  So Superman, being the brainiac he is, suggested I make them t-shirt quilts using all baseball shirts.


I started by raiding his closet.  Then surveying shirts that Thing 1 and Thing 2 had almost outgrown (unfortunately I'd already given away all of their smaller size shirts).  Then, I hit up our local Goodwills.  Multiple times.

And finally, I had enough t-shirts to make two twin size quilts.  So this past week, after I finished Laya's quilt, I started cutting and laying out both quilts.

So far I have only sewn together the top for Thing 1's quilt:

Next I will work on Thing 2s.

And then, my favorite (for creativity) and least favorite (time-consuming) step: quilting.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I love my job

While evaluating some text books yesterday, I came across an excerpt in a chapter dealing with working/careers in the United States.  The main point of the article was that more and more Americans choose careers not based on how much money they'll make, but rather jobs that interest them and make them feel personally fulfilled.

According to the author's study, the following are the most important things most Americans say they value in a job:

1. I'm treated with respect and shown confidence in my abilities.
2. There is variety in my daily work.
3. I find challenge in my work.
4. There is an opportunity for advancement.
5. The work I do contributes to society.

Reading through this list, I was reminded once again why I hate my job. When complaining to Superman or my best friends about why I hate my job, I tend to focus on the little monotonous issues I have with my colleagues.  But really, it is these broader issues that have nothing to do with anyone else (well I guess except #1, which feeds into the issues I have with my colleagues) which are the real heart of my problems.  Of everything on that list, the only one I can say I have at my current job is #5.  And even that I feel is a stretch.

I'm still hopeful that 2012 brings a change for me.  I know it's possible to love your job.  I have had jobs that I loved.  And I hope to one day (SOON!) be again able to say "My name is Amber, and I love my job."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My name is Amber

There are few things more precious in the world to me than hearing my sons call for me.  Thing 1 calls me "Mom".  Thing 2 calls me "Mommy".

But for 27+ years, I was not "Mom" or "Mommy" or "Ma-ma" or "Thing 1 & Thing 2's mom", I was just Amber.

For the first few years of my sons' lives, I think I was fairly typical of many of today's parents, allowing my whole life to be consumed by loving my kids.  I worked full time, but when I wasn't at work, I was at home with my kids. Taking care of my kids.  Loving my kids. Playing with my kids.

My scrapbooking supplies went untouched.  My sewing machine gathered dust.  My softball mitt languished somewhere in a box in the garage.  Forgotten.  Probably more than 75% of my Facebook posts had something to do with my kids or parenting.  (Much to the annoyance of I'm sure about 99% of my Facebook friends.)

It makes sense in many ways really.  Becoming a parent truly changes your life.  The who you were before becomes transformed.  Suddenly things that seemed important before no longer seem important.  You have new priorities.  A new identity.  New prerogatives.  Add that to a hearty dose of working mother's guilt, and you have a recipe for a woman who begins to spend every spare moment with or about her children, not feeling she deserves any time for herself.

But now my boys are older.  They will be 5 soon.  They attend preschool.  They have friends.  They are incredibly more independent.  I can see that they are slowly developing lives outside of me, outside of my husband, and our little family.

And this is a good thing.  Watching their independence reassures to me that they deserve their little lives away from me, away from being the sons.  And that I deserve some time away from them, away from being the mom.

Over the last year, I have started scrapbooking again.  I have started sewing again.  I have gone to crafting workshops on a Saturday.  I've even looked into weekend long scrapbook retreats.  I joined a co-ed softball team.  I have un-apologetically been getting involved with activities that are just for me. Me.

And on a sunny afternoon when Superman takes the boys over to the baseball game, and he calls and asks if I want to meet them there on my way home from work.  And then he tries to guilty me into saying yes by putting Thing 2 on the phone and saying "Please mommy, we want you to come watch baseball with us."  I feel perfectly fine saying "No thanks.  Maybe next time honey." And maybe next time I will go.  But this time, I will use that free time to do something I want to do instead.

Because while I'm still Thing 1's "Mom" and Thing 2's "Mommy", I'm also Amber. And I can't forget about her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What do you do when you don't like a kid?

Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers posted a blog about having a nanny.  And one of the things I thought was interesting about her justification for being a stay-at-home-mom with a nanny is that only in the United States do we have this "my child, my problems" mentality.  Almost everywhere else still lives by the "it takes a village approach."

It got me thinking: As an American, I am very careful about reprimanding other people's children, because you never know when a parent will go ape-shit on you.

"Oh no you didn't just tell my child to stop kicking that kid!"

The next thing I know I'd be in a youtube video titled "Moms get in cat fight at playground."

So what do you do when a little kid is being a jerk?  

Really, at a playground is the easiest place to deal with this situation.  Tell your kid to stay away from the kid that is hitting/pushing/calling names/spitting/acting a fool.  If he doesn't, just leave.  You will most likely never see that little jerk again.

And while all kids can be little jerks once in a while, what do you do when there is a kid you know that is just generally a little jerk most of the time?

If it is a friend's kid, we just stop hanging out with that friend when the kids are involved.

But what do you do when the kid, the one that you see as a negative influence, is a more permanent fixture in your child's life that you can't simply weed out? What do you do if they are in their class at school, or go to the same church, or are on the same tee-ball team, or live on the same block.  Are you going to have them change classes?  Switch churches?  Transfer leagues?  Move!?!?  Even if you would/could do any of those things, in all likelihood, you'd just run into a new, different problem kid there, too.  You can't just keep moving.

And let me interrupt for a second to say that we in no way think our kids are perfect. All you have to do is read my blog to know that I know my kids can be loud and unruly. They can be mean (but usually only to each other).  But #1 we acknowledge our children's imperfections, and we are constantly working on positive reinforcement and constructive discipline to curb these behaviors. But most parents with the kids I can't stand think that their kid wears a halo and poops rainbows.  (You can't fix it if you can't/won't admit there is something wrong.) #2 I don't want them picking up any more bad behaviors while we are trying to correct the ones they already have!

Am I the only one with these dilemmas?  Are other parents facing similar situations?  What do you do???

Or am I just a jerk for thinking little kids can be jerks?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Process of Becoming a Mom (Guest Blogger)

A few weeks ago, I asked one of my best friends if she would be willing to write a guest blog. She'd never written a blog before, and didn't really know what to write about. I said "Just write about a hard aspect of parenting. Something you think another mother in your shoes could relate to."  I suggested she tackle what it was like to be a Navy wife. Or why she longs for a big family (she is currently a mom of three and she wants one more!)  But she felt something else in her heart, and I think you'll love the topic she picked.  Even if you can't exactly relate, it's a touching, inspiring, and moving story.  Let's welcome Christie...

“Wow! That guy is hot!”  That is what I thought when I first saw my husband.

There was definitely an instant physical attraction, but there was also great conversation. His ability to make me laugh was unstoppable. We were practically inseparable from the moment we met.

From very early on, I knew in my heart he was my future, no matter what my friends said or the warnings from my parents.

My friends thought we argued too much, but I saw it as our passion for each other.

My parents said to stay away from Navy guys, because they leave you for months at a time.  But I knew I could handle it, since I had grown up watching my mom go through it with my dad always being deployed as a naval captain.

And it turned out that none of those things were what I struggled with. No, I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t the only girl in his life...and never would be.

She was beautiful, sweet, and at 2 years old, already very determined.  Zoë was his daughter, and I adored her the moment I met her.

Phil had just separated from his wife of two years and was moving to Virginia to stay. Zoë would be joining him as soon as he was settled in, and she would be living with him the majority of the time.

I was only 24, and still used to being a carefree party girl.  It was going to be a major adjustment.  And fast.  But I knew in my heart that my future was with Phil.  And I knew that if my future was with him, then it was also with her, and I needed to find a way to make it work.

It wasn’t easy.

And not only did I have an instant daughter, but I also now had an ex-wife to deal with. I put my mind to it to make it work, and decided the only thing to do was make nice with his ex. I figured the least I could do was be friendly and compassionate towards her.  Because she wasn't just Phil's ex, she was also Zoë's mother.  I tried putting myself in her shoes. I tried to imagine what she was probably going through. I knew losing her husband and her baby girl must have been devastating.

Making the effort to be nice and understanding with Zoë's mother one of the best decisions I ever made.  It really does make things so much easier for Zoë, and she is the one who matters. We continue to have a very friendly relationship to this day. I really do like who she is and respect her for what she has been through and persevered.

Nearly a year and a half after we met, Phil proposed to me on Christmas Day. I didn't have to pause for even 1 second.  I immediately said Yes! I had known for a good while that he was the one, I was just waiting patiently for him to figure it out, too! Luckily, he didn’t make me too wait long.

We married 8 months later and moved into our first place together. Less than a month after our wedding, he left for his first deployment of our marriage. He also left behind Zoë. She only stayed with me a short while before she left to stay with her mom for the rest of the deployment. I went from a family of three to being a single woman again. I couldn't believe how much I missed them both, and anxiously awaited their return.

It seemed like an eternity, but after a few months they both came back and I fell right back into my roles as wife and mother.

It wasn't easy.  I often struggled, to say the least, and questioned myself many times. But I realized that I struggled most because I was jealous of her. She got all of his attention, and I had to fight for a simple moment alone with my newly wed husband. I felt cheated that here I was wanting to be a normal newlywed, but my role as mom took precedence. I started to resent her and take it out on her.

Looking back now, I am sorry that in those days I was too quick to anger, yelled a lot, and forgot how to just have fun and love her. I was hard on her to eat perfectly, clean up after herself, behave in daycare, etc. I know now that I was being very unrealistic.

I didn't have that maternal bond with her, and I desperately wanted it. I prayed every night that I could let my frustration go and just love her. I couldn’t vent about my feelings to my husband either because it seemed he always defended her, and I needed his support. He couldn’t understand what I was going through.  He had never been a stepparent. I felt love for her, but knew I’d never be able to love her like he did.

Or so I thought at the time.

As the years went by, I found that with time and lots of patience that I did indeed grow to love her more than anything.

I now have two of my own biological children, two little boys. And I can say with certainty that my love for my daughter is no different than my love for my sons.

And I'm so thankful to Zoë.  Because she taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own about patience and unconditional love. She helped me learn when to put my foot down and when I needed to stop and just enjoy the moment. She helped me loosen up about the house. Helped me see that it's okay to let it be messy sometimes, because it can always be cleaned up later. In fact, she will help. She really is an amazing little person and I feel so blessed to have her in my life.

Zoë taught me how to be a mom.

And be a better person in general.

I can't even express how much I LOVE being a mom.  I feel like it's been my true calling all along. And I credit a lot of the kind of mom I am now to this little girl. Even though we struggled at first, and she didn’t deserve my short comings in those early years, she still loved me back unconditionally.

And I have realized that she didn’t ask for me either, but she made the most of it as well. She grew with me as I did with her. She makes my life complete and I wouldn’t want to imagine my life without her in it.

Now that my oldest son is 3 years old, I can remember back to many of the struggles I had when she was 3, and I am having the same struggles with him today. I see so clearly now that it's just the way 3 year olds are, and I was the one setting unrealistic demands on her.

But thanks to her, and the amazing relationship we now have, I know that this too shall pass and that these struggles are all worth it!

Can I just add that I am so glad Phil brought this little girl into our lives!!