birth stories · Mama · Uncategorized

Part 2: Jolie Charlene

I can’t believe I actually had the gall to this a summary.  This is legit longer than any actual birth story that I have read! For the 3 (optimistic estimate) of you who are actually still reading this, my apologies.  I have deceived you.

I clearly had to make a Part 2, though, bc how depressing would it be to end my birth story summary (lololol) with the words, “I saw a very blue, eerily quiet baby.”  Bad Mom Award Winner Forever.

I think about 20 minutes passed, of which I have absolutely no memory as I was flying high on the aforementioned anxiety medicine. Shaine was with Jolie in a different room so there’s no one to tell me if I started belting show-tunes or challenged the cadaver-nurse to a sword fight or whatever.  My best guess is I slept.  Eventually, they wheeled me into a room that blessedly held no trays full of knives and torches and other such instruments and I lay there for a few minutes until someone wheeled her in.  My baby.  My Jolie.

She’s in this little cradle thing and I reach my hand out to her and she actually (honestly, not making this up) reaches her little hand back out to me and it’s this wonderful, miraculous moment that I will never ever forget.  I ask the nurse if I can hold her, as I have literally not even touched her at this point, and she goes, “um, you’re kinda shaky.” Which is an understatement.  The uncontrollable flapping has ceased, thanks be to God, but now I’m trembling from head to foot, teeth chattering and all.  But still. Give me my baby, lady! She tentatively hands her to me and right away Jolie starts making this fishy-gulping movement with her mouth and I say, “I think she wants to nurse,” to which the aforementioned emotional robot/nurse replies, “She’s never going to nurse right now.  She’s way too groggy.” A statement I flatly ignore, pulling down my robe, and bam! Contact is made, baby nurses, and continues nursing for the next hour or so.  Casey 1, Robot Nurse 0.

The more I think about this birth, the more I realize how truly awful it was.  I spent the next 3 days in a recovery room with a handful of other newly made mothers, none of whom I saw even once as we were all separated by curtains. I was not once cleaned, given a way to brush my teeth (I couldn’t really walk due to the c section so I couldn’t get to a sink), or had any of the multitudes of sticky hospital pads attached to me removed.  When I was finally released to go home, I was still covered (covered) in dry blood from the labor and my husband had to get in the shower with me and scrub it all off as I had limited mobility from the C section.  The first night I spent in the recovery room they did not want to leave Jolie with me (still not sure why) so I told them to bring her to me every time she cried so I could nurse her.  I hate myself now for not being more assertive about keeping her with me.  This hospital was seriously over-crowded so who knows how quick they were to bring her me when she cried.  She could have cried for hours and I never would have known.  Also, there was no point in separating us if the reason was to let me rest after all the trauma as I can never sleep after I’ve had a baby and so I just laid there, alone (there was nowhere for Shaine to sleep and he was exhausted, having barely slept for 2 days), obsessing over the fear that someone might steal my baby.

I know, I know, it could have been worse.  We’re both alive.  I suppose I could have given birth in a pig pen underneath a bucking rodeo bull, but still.  It was hardly ideal.  Jolie has always had this grit about her, like she could survive anything.  Maybe her terrible entry into this world has something to do with that. Anyway, that’s my birth novella. Stay tuned for birth 2, which thankfully does not occur in a Soviet-era Russian hospital (aka Sacramento, CA).

jo birth

One hour

bb

One week.

1yr

One year

2yr

2 years

3yr

3 years

4tr

4 years

5yr

5 years

6yr

6 years

7yr

7 years

8yr

8 years

So so so so so worth it.  My special angel.  My gift from God.  My Jolie Charlene.

birth stories · Mama

Jolie Charlene

Part 1

mama1

So, I was 23 when I had my numero uno and Shaine was one week shy of 21.  (yesiliketorobcradles.  Ask me again, pls.) We were basically 2 and 5 years old and were like, alright! Let’s have a baaaaaabyy! Woo hoo!  Well, not exactly, but, looking back now it kinda feels like that.  I was about 38 weeks and his mother, brother, and mom’s boyfriend flew in from OKC to CA to be with us, bc, surely I would be having this baby any day now.  Surely.  Welp.  Maybe not.  Let me tell you, having your in-laws travel thousands of miles to meet their first grandchild and then failing to deliver said grandchild adds no pressure to the whole experience what. so. ever.

So, the due date comes…and goes.  My in-laws come…and go.  Shaine’s time off work comes…and goes.  My sanity comes…and goes.  (We planned things well, didn’t we?) Baby girl still happily crushing my innards all the while.  A week past my due date and I go in to get the stress test where they check the baby’s heartbeat and level of amniotic fluid to make sure everything’s still a-ok.  Well, I guess her heartbeat was a bit lower than they wanted it to be so, a call to my husband and off we go to the hospital to finally evict our little baby squatter.  On the way to the hospital, ish got real.  Not as in I started to actually go into labor.  LOLOLOL, please. Don’t be ridiculous. No, ish got real like I realized, (maybe, unnervingly?) for the first time that I was actually about to become a mother.  Up to this point, I had ZERO experience with babies.  I didn’t really even have any experience with little kids besides my brother who is autistic and a Martian and in no way prepared me to deal with other, non-martian children (yes, I am allowed to say that.  He’s my brother, for crying out loud.) I looked at Shaine at one point on the drive down and said, “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.” To which he replied, like the sage that he is, “You better get ready.”

We get to the hospital and I’m checked into a broom closet that will surely, surely only be temporary (it wasn’t), and the doctor (nurse? midwife? janitor? I can’t remember) asks me about my birth plan.  Of course, OF COURSE, I was going have a completely drug-free, vaginal birth! Did I look like one of those women who selfishly drug their babies? And, no, the fact that this birth would be induced with large amounts of torturous Pitocin made absolutely no difference whatsoever.  Why should it? Pe. Shaw. This convo is taking place literally (and you should know I only use literally in its correct usage as a rule) as a woman down the hall is screaming and I’m all “what’s going on with her?” and the doc says she is having a natural labor also and this does not faze me AT ALL.  I’m just like, oh good for her!

Fast forward to an hour later and I’m hunched over while an anesthesiologist is prepping my back, praying that the needle will just freaking get in there and GIVE ME THE JUICE! At one point the nurse mentions the so-recently hated, currently-beloved and coveted-above-all-riches epidural might not work and she officially becomes my Most Hated Person for the next 20 min or so.

Hallelujahx5billion, the epidural does take, the nurse, along with every person who has ever wronged me in my life, is pardoned in my mind, and all I say for the next 3 hours, over and over again in my mind, is thank You, God, thank You, God, thank You, God.

I could bore you with the next 20 or so hours of nothingness (sleep, watch TV, pee in a bag, sleep, watch TV, pee in a bag) but let’s fast forward to the next day when I’m finally getting ready to push (still in the broom closet! I’m not even joking about this.  I mean, it probably wasn’t an actual broom closet but I’m positive it was not meant to be used as a labor and delivery room. It was literally (again, correct usage) the size of a broom closet and how my husband, mom, and sister all slept in there with me overnight defies logic (though it’s seriously the sweetest thing ever, right? I think they slept on the floor!).

(Side note apology: that paragraph belongs in the run on sentence Hall of Shame.  How many parentheses did I manage to squeeze in there?  So sorry you had to suffer through that.)

I push through a few contractions.  A few more.  A half hour goes by.  An hour.  2 hours.  The world turns.  10 women in China deliver babies effortlessly.  I push. I push. I push.  Nada.

Suddenly, a horrid buzzing noise goes off on the baby monitor and every doctor, nurse, and cafeteria worker in the hospital crams into my minuscule room at once.  An oxygen mask is pushed on my face and one of the multitudes of doctors tells me the baby’s in distress and I need to get a C section NOW.  I look over at my husband in shock and he is kneeling on the ground, praying his heart out, God bless him.  The crowd files out to get the OR room ready and I just start to bawl.  This was so NOT how my labor was supposed to go.  This was so NOT how I was supposed to meet my baby.  I was supposed to give birth naturally, easily.  This was supposed to be the first of many, many children I would give birth to naturally and easily.  My husband and I had wanted a large family.  We calculated that, God willing all went smoothly, we could manage to have at least 12 (!!!!) children before I went through menopause.  I knew you couldn’t have 12 children if you had c-sections.  I think I’d heard the max was 4.  I felt like such a failure.  I felt like I had let my husband down, like I was this lemon that he was stuck with the rest of his life when he should have married a baby machine instead.  Of course, he didn’t feel that way and was amazingly sweet and wonderful and affirming, but I was crushed.  I was also exhausted.  My body had been in forced labor for over 24 hours and I hadn’t been allowed to eat anything in all that time.  I was beyond done.

Enter Dr. Crazy Pants.  A doctor I have never seen before bursts into the room at some point during my breakdown, thrusts her giant hands inside me, and shouts (really! shouts! and laughs! I’m not making this up!) that a woman “my size” will never give birth naturally.  My mom kinda gives her the stink eye and says something like, cool it, lady.  This is a girl who wants a large family. To which Dr. CPants hoots, What?! Why?! I’ve got 2 and that’s too many! Then she whisks me away to OR.

I’m not 100% sure how C-sections go for those who are not in emergency situations, but for me they somehow fixed it so the epidural affected my whole body rather than just below my hips.  For some reason, this amount of epidural didn’t sit well with my system and my head and arms started flapping uncontrollably, which was as wonderful as you can imagine.  Dr. CPants is still there, haunting me, and has now started shouting, “LAWD JEEEESUS! LAWD JEEEEESUS!” I’m unsure whether she is cursing or praying but, honestly, neither explanation is very comforting.  They’re prepping me and pulling the big sheet between my face and horror show that will soon be behind it, when I feel a panic attack coming on.  I’ve only had one other panic attack in my life (while being forced to run the mile in high school on a 110+ day which I still maintain is straight up child abuse), but the feeling is unmistakable.  I’m trying to distract myself, to think of anything but the fact that my body will be cut open in less than 2 minutes so I desperately try to strike up a conversation with the closest person to me, who (I think?) is a nurse.

“Are you reading anything these days?” I ask in a scary, high pitched voice, pretending to be totally casual.

“Huh?” she says and looks at me like she’s suddenly realized I’m not a cadaver.

“Books!” I squeak.  “What books are you reading?” The panic in my voice is obvious.

“Uh…” Still looking at me like she can’t figure out how the cadaver is talking. “Medical books, I guess…” She throws me this little scrap of human conversation then goes back to sharpening knives or whatever else device of torture she’s planning on slicing me open with.

Thanks be to God, Shaine (who unlike some ppl actually has the skill of speech) is allowed into the room.  He takes one look at me and sees I’m spiraling.  “Tell me about the Hobbit!” I yell, right off, like the truly insane person I am. And Shaine, just like the absolutely heavenly creature that he is, says, without any weird looks or eyebrow raises or anything, “Once there was a wizard named Gandalf…”

Oh my gosh, I’m loling writing this right now because I’m realizing what a crazy, awkward, nonsensical birth story this really is.

I don’t know how far he got into the story bc I actually did have the dreaded attack once the smell of burning flesh hit my uncontrollably flapping head.  I remember someone showing me a very blue, eerily quiet baby then I think they gave me some anxiety medicine bc everything’s a little blurry after that.

To be continued…

birth stories · Mama

Birthin Babies

(Remember what I said about no g’s at the end of words in summer?  I was serious about that.)

So, my new hobby is scouring the internet for mom blogs and reading every birth story I can find.  Can’t imagine why.  And because I’m nothing if not a copy cat, I’ve kinda been feeling like I want to write my birth stories down too…buuuut, the problem with that is all my stories happened at least 2 years ago and I’m for sure not going to remember all the gory little details that I know you all are just dying to read (emiright?).

My solution is this: I’ll write a summary about each of the births! Yay!  I’m a genius, right? No one could see that coming, could they?  And then AND THEN when little bb boy is born, I will write his birth story down with every last mind-numbing detail that no one but me and maybe my mother could possibly ever care about.  I should add a disclaimer here, though, that, as I’ve made it my life’s motto to not undertake any task unless it be on a spontaneous whim (a very efficient way to live, btw), it’s entirely possible that I’ll have the boy (did I mention I’m having a boy? oh, 1000x? ok) and then be all, “meh, blog smlog,” thus maintaining my reign as World’s Biggest Flake.  We will see.

Alright, let’s get started! I think, in an effort to be a legit blogger, I’ll just put the links (links prove you know what you’re doing) below and you can click on the one you want to read.  Good?

Jolie Charlene

August 19, 2008

new

more to come…

family · Mama · personality types

7 Quick Takes

Again, yes, it’s been forever.  Again, sorry.

Ok, let’s just dive right in.

  1. Pregnancy Numero Cinco

IMG_5706

Yes, I’m pregnant!  Yes, again! And, yes!  With a boy!!! I’m well into my 6th month actually and seeing as how I was talking about how I was not pregnant in my last post, it’s clearly been wayyyy too long between now and then.

This pregnancy has honestly been one of my toughest.  I don’t feel like I’ve done any of my pregnancies that gracefully but this baby has just sapped allllll my strength.  Thus far, we’ve made 3 trips to the ER for IV fluids and I’ve had to get 2 root canals.  TWO! (insert dying face emoji here). Let me tell you, hanging out basically upside down for an hour or so in a dental chair while pregnant (with a dentist who btw keeps pulling down his face mask and breathing his yucky man breath down your way too open mouth) is just delightful.  Just.

But, in some other key ways, this pregnancy’s actually been one of my most peaceful, too.  Mentally, I mean, not physically.  I’ve been told by large families that once you hit the 4 kid mark, things get noticeably easier.  I don’t know if I would agree that things have gotten easier (ahem, laundry, ahem, food), or if just have.  Normally, during my 3rd trimester, I’m freaking out about how the current baby is going to adjust and how we’re going to handle it financially and will my older kids be neglected, blah blah blah.  But with this little guy, the only thing I’m really thinking about is how awesome it will be to have a newborn again.  I honestly CANNOT wait to hold him and smell him and just cart him around.

2. Ages and Stages

Ok, I’ve said this before but I’m seriously in love with the 2-year-old stage.  Which I know is crazy bc it has this terrible rep as being just awful but I honestly find it to be the most magical, enchanting, cutesy patootsie stage ever.

Zoe has transformed from a demanding, Lt General of a baby to this sweet little counselor-tot.  She has this thing where, if any of us gets hurt or says they have a stomachache or whatever, she holds her arms out and says in this tiny but totally self-assured voice, “Come ere, come ere.  I got choo,” and then she wraps her arms around you and pats your back.  It’s the most precious thing in the world.  I could have a limb hacked off and be like, ok, I’m good, after one of her counsel seshes.

z

(Resistance is futile)

3.  Worries

That being said, 4: not my favorite age.  I’ve gone through this enough with my older girls to know that 4 just has bad juju all around it, but I re-heally find this stage challenging. Is it just my kids or are all 4-year-olds the most emotionally fragile people on the planet?  The list of things that make Ruby cry are endless and include everything from not being able to find her hat to not being sure if she has to go to the bathroom to thinking I’m giving her a stink eye when, in reality, something has gotten under my contact.  Anna, who is now 6, was the same way at that age and is pleasantly stoic now so I know that this is, in fact, a stage, but still, Ruby is def the child currently holding the title of Child I Am Most Worried About.  Check back in a few months when she is 5, fingers crossed.

r.jpg

(Don’t even think about borrowing one of those stuffed animals)

(Mom guilt add on: Ruby is honestly the sweetest child, who bursts into tears (shocker) whenever her sister puts roller skates on bc she’s afraid she’s going to fall.  I love her and her massive bleeding heart.  The constant breakdowns are just slowly killing me rn.)

4.   Books

Wonder

81zdSFzJh+L

This book has been awesome so far.  We’re about 3/4 of the way through it. It’s about a little boy with a serious facial deformity and how he and all the people around him cope with it.  It has chapters written from different characters’ points of view, like his sister and even his bully, which makes it even more interesting.

Full disclosure:  My 8-year-old LOVES this book.  My more sensitive 6-year-old has had a few nightmares from it, though, and has asked me more than once if there is any possible way for her face to suddenly become deformed.  Maybe best for older kids.

5. IN Parents. (Warning: if you are not a huge Personality Type geek, you may want to skip to number 6.)

I as in Introverted, N as in Intuitive.  If you were wondering if my Myers Briggs obsession is still going strong, wonder no more.  Shaine and I are both IN’s (I’m an INTP, he’s an INTJ).  IN’s are very very big about respecting other’s personal space, big on day dreaming, big on individuality, big on unconditional love and acceptance.  We pretty much hate being pushed into things by other ppl so make it a point not to do that to others.  I have generally considered this to be a plus, parenting-wise, and it’s probably not hard to figure out why 2 IN’s have embraced unschooling.  Lately, though, I was reading about ES’s.  They’re the opposite of IN’s.  Extraverted rather than Introverted, Sensory rather than Intuitive.  (An easy way to summarize the difference between an S and an N is to say an S understands the world through their senses while an N understands it through their thoughts.  An S experiences the mountains by climbing them.  An N understands the mountains by looking at them and thinking about them.) Anyways, as I was reading about ES’s I saw that their great strength when it comes to parenting is that they are engaging.  They play.  I am with my kids almost all the time.  And I think I am playful.  But I don’t really play.  I don’t like to play.  I like to watch them play, and I feel like I’ve given them enough siblings/free time that they shouldn’t really even need me to play.  But I know they want me to.  They want me to swim with them, to dance with them, ride bikes with them, etc.  And I’m not really very good at all that.   Tbh, I’m never going to be that mom who mountain bikes with the baby strapped on the back of her bike, but I’m trying to be at least a little more present.  Maybe, gasp, even swim with them every once in a while when really really all I want to do is sit and watch.

swim

(Are you coming, Mom?

Nope.)

6. Grillin

Ok, this 7 Quick Takes is starting to feel like 7 Agonizingly Long Takes so let me just say I am married to the Grill Master.  Like, for real.  And we be grillin all the time these days.  Right now bb boy is feasting on carne asada tacos with grilled onions and tomato and, let me tell you, he ain’t complainin. (you don’t need g’s at the end of words in the summer, did you know?)

7. Spam

arfgjaajmmamamefg1ponypoolzsashowspthemzpool

That’s all for now! See ya’ll later!

 

 

family · Mama · Uncategorized

Catching Up

Guys, I don’t know what it is but I’ve been running catch up alllll year. I mean, I’m not even pregnant!  I actually think I might be more productive when I’m pregnant as, in the in-between pregnancy stage, I always have a needy 1-year-old running around like an escaped chimpanzee from the zoo.

z1

No pants, no problem.  (Yes, that is a hideous stain on my carpet, thanks for asking.)

zoe2

Not seen: Anna climbing on the back of the couch to escape an attack by pictured drumstick in said needy baby’s hands.

Side note:  You might not know this if your husband’s not a drummer like mine is, and thus do not have dozens of drumsticks laying around your home, but they (drumsticks) are basically the most painful things on earth.

Ok, case in point of how behind I am this year:  We celebrated St Nick day on December 7th.  In case you don’t know, St Nick day is December 6th, but I was too whatever to get my crap together (AND Trader Joe’s sold out of golden coins AGAIN this year before I could get my hands on any.  I blame all this on you, TJ’s.) So, I lied, gulp, and told my kids that this year it was being celebrated on the 7th.  Going to Hell, fo sho.  It gets worse.  As I said, we were sans chocolate coins and I obviously had done ZERO planning so I had no holy cards or icons or religious whatever on hand, so we filled their boots with TROLL BOOKS.  Troll freaking books.  If you were wondering who gets the prize for worst Orthodox convert this year, wonder no longer.

(I would insert a sweet picture of their boots lined up here but SURPRISE I took zero pictures.)  (Help)

I probably don’t have to tell you I’m not doing a Jesse Tree this year, but I’m not.  I’m going to be honest with you for a moment here.  I know the Jesse Tree is like The THING to Christian homeschooling families everywhere, but…I don’t really get it.  No judgment.  If you’re into it, power to you.  But, I don’t know.  The cute little story, the Bible verse everyone is too distracted to listen to, the little camel/donkey/candle ornament to color?  Eyeroll forever.

Is this post too negative?  Probably.  Sorry, peeps!

Ok, I’m going to end this with some positivity.  Here we go.  My three fav things right now.  Why?  Because.

  1. Praise Babies.

Oh, Praise Babies, how I do love thee.  In case you don’t know, Praise Babies is kinda like a Christian version of those Baby Einstein videos where pretty pictures float dreamily by only worship music is played in the background instead of Mozart or Bach or whatever.  Said needy baby is determined to cling to my leg (or preferably, breast) every minute of every day besides the thirteen minutes or so she is napping UNLESS Praise Babies is on, and then I am free for a whole mind-blowing 35 minutes.  Guess what is playing as I am typing at this very moment?  Praise Babies, friends.  Praise Babies.

2. Having an 8-year-old.

(Side note: Do you guys have these little cartoon cars at your mall, too?  Bc my kids almost crash into innocent shoppers about 10 times every time they ride them. How is this legal?)

jo1

What?  You can hang up your own clothes?  What? You can empty the dishwasher?  What?  You can take your little sister to the bathroom at the restaurant?  What? You can basically be my own personal slave?  (kidding kidding)  But, seriously, my girl, I love every inch of your moderately independent self.  I always thought that I would love the baby stage the most and be kinda sad when my kids grew out of that and were official Kids, but I gotta say, official kid age has major major perks.  I still love the niblets out of the baby stage, but there is soooooo much to love about the older stages too, I’m finding out.

3. Instagram Stories

How lame am I?  Very very lame, apparently.  But, I’m addicted.  I love watching ppl’s little home movies.  Movies of their kids, their cats, their burritos, whatever.  Bring it on.  Oversharers of the world, I love you.

Welllll, that’s about it for now.  Another random aimless post brought to you by Yours Truly.  As it is fairly unlikely I’ll get it together to put up another post before Christmas, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas!!! right now.

Oh!  On the Christmas note, I’m going to add one more thing.  I would just copy the video and paste it here so you could watch it but, as I’m cheap and have the most basic of basic plans, WordPress won’t let me (cheers, WP):

4. Carrie Underwood singing How Great Thou Art.  Have you guys seen this?  It is A-MA-ZING.  I love it.  I weep over it.  It’s just…the best.  Do yourself a favor and goggle it now, k?

 

family

Why am I even writing this?

OK, so I’ve been MIA for a while now…like, the little internet window at the top of the screen (what is that called?) didn’t even predictive type this site when I started typing it in kind-of-while.

And, realistically, I’m never going to consistently write on this thing.  It’s just a fact.  Consistency is not part of my DNA.  I could blame it on the four young barnacles that are stuck to me every moment of EVERY DAY, but I probably wouldn’t be consistent even if I lived on a deserted island with no children and great wi-fi.  It just ain’t gonna happen, folks.

So, why?  Why write this right now? I don’t know.  Maybe because I get crushed with guilt every time I get notified when someone has just checked out this site for the first time, or, worse, someone new has actually subscribed.  Gulp.  I mean, they thought they were signing up for some dependable, humorous, maybe (mostly) semi-lame posts about parenting and homeschooling and such.  Little did they know they’d stumbled across the biggest flake on the internet (ok, ok, I can’t really claim that title because, hello, INTERNET, but still) and they didn’t know they were NEVER going to get that email signaling them to new bloggy goodness.

Or maybe I just want to overshare in a safe place i.e. where no high school friends will see i.e. judge.  IDK.  But here is a new post.  Enjoy (or not.  I don’t want new ppl to think I’m pushy).

First things first: if anyone has subscribed to this blog bc they think I’m an expert on unschooling or homeschooling or parenting, I need to tell you right here and now: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.

Homeschooling: NO IDEA.

Parenting: NO IDEA.

Marriage: NO IDEA.

Life in general: NO IDEA.

Ok? Ok.

Second things second: what’s up?

Third things third: I have a confession. I have kinda sorta deviated from the unschooling path.  BUT I’M ON MY WAY BACK.  I think the hardest thing about homeschooling is the way all my grand ideals are crushed to fine powder by reality.  I mean, I think to myself, we’re going to read the Hobbit!  It’s going to be great!  They’re going to love it!  They’ll tell their children one day how much they loved it and then their children will love it too!  LA LA LA!!!

And then, we start to read it.  And they’re like “meh.”

And then I cry.  In my closet.  Alone.

This is how I began to deviate.  Bc I thought hell no, they have to read the Hobbit.  THEY HAVE TO LOVE THE HOBBIT.  And the friendly unschooling mom was quickly replaced by the Sit Your Rear Down and Shut Up While I Read This Beautiful Piece of Literature mom.  Good times.  By the way, if you were wondering how best to warp an enjoyable activity into a terrible experience, pm me later.

So, we walked down that path for a while, and by walk I mean I dragged us all.  And now, thanks to the wisdom of my wonderful husband, we are trying to find our way back to unschooling.

There, that is all for now.  Aren’t you glad you subscribed??

And now the portion of the blog where I force you to stare at and admire my children…

allhpthronerbpiratesjo-horsejoorthhorse-annahalannaducks

Christianity · family · Mama · Uncategorized

The Simple Post

*I wrote the following to myself because I can’t seem to remember it.  Maybe if I publish it, I’ll feel too much a hypocrite to forget it again.

wild

The only thing children need is love.  If we want to prepare our children for what really matters, then we will love them unconditionally.  We will forgive them.  We will see the best in them.  What truly matters will always matter and the only thing that will always matter is love.  “The greatest of these is love.”  “Only love will remain.”

If it is possible to love too much, then we do not know God.  God loves when it is stupid to love.  God forgives when no one would forgive.  The reason we are alive, that we even exist, is because God loves when it is stupid to love.  Of course, I’m talking as a man.  Men think there is a line where love should not cross.  God doesn’t know about this line.

romans

The thing that homeschoolers talk about, think about, obsess, blog and read about is how to prepare our children for the future.  But we forget that the future is God.  We can’t push love aside and take care of it after the scholarships are earned and the mortgage is paid. Those things don’t even exist.  Not really.  We will not be grateful if we forget love and pursue these things.  We will not say, “I’m so glad I took care of that.  Now I can bother with the religious stuff.”

If handwriting or math or saying, “yes, ma’am” is the focus of every day of my children’s lives then they will grow up and they will not know that God is love.  If the focus of every day of my children’s lives is coerced prayers and forced readings of Scripture and “keep quiet during church”, then they will grow up and they will not know that God is love.  And they will not believe me if I tell them, though they might believe it if God tells them.

If the only thing I did all day, every single day of my children’s lives was love and forgive them, that would be enough.  That would be everything.

por

 

family · personality types

Hmm, not so much…

I’ll be lecturing a class on Creative Blog Posts titles at Harvard later this month if you’re interested.

We’re all given a lot of advice throughout our lives, right?  Some good, some not so much (see what I did there?).  Anyway, I was just obsessing over insignificant things in the shower, as you do, and I realized that a lot of things I have been told in my life, that I have taken for granted as hard, cold truths, are not actually true at all.  And so, since I possess that rare gift of oversharing, I’ve made a little (long, rambling, endless) list of them for your viewing pleasure.

  1. It is good to be a perfectionist.

I am NOT a perfectionist.  At all.  No one has ever accused me of being one (my nickname for years was Spacey Casey) and I am fairly certain no one ever will.  Example: I was late every single day of my junior year of high school. Every. Day.  Example 2: While changing my baby’s diaper yesterday, I wiped her with a damp bib  because I had run out of 1. wet wipes as well as 2. paper towels as well 3. toilet paper.  Now, most of my life I considered this a weakness.  It was certainly a weakness while in school.  But now that I am an adult, honestly, I’m starting to see it as a strength.  There are a number of studies out that say perfectionism can lead to depression because, while it may be possible to fill out a scantron perfectly, it’s not possible to argue with your husband perfectly. Or teach your kids perfectly.  Or pray perfectly.  It’s just not.  Not being a perfectionist has allowed me to be an optimist.  Yes, I might screw up here and there, my kids might be crazy, feral beasts off and on throughout the day, and my husband might be gone working and doing homework more often than I would like him to be, but, at the end of the day, we all love and forgive each other and that is enough.  That is more than enough!

sleep

(excuse me while I earn my nickname)

2. I would get used to waking up early.

Nope. Never.  Never.  Ever.  Mornings = death.  (I think the above picture was taken before 9 am)

3. I would miss working once I became a stay at home mom.

I remember being told this when I was pregnant with my first daughter, by virtually every woman I knew, and thinking inwardly, “For real?!” Now, just to clarify as my former boss aka Dad will be reading this: I had a great job.  My heart just wasn’t there.  I think this is true for many girls though it’s unpopular to say so.  I have met so many young girls who aren’t sure what they want to do with their lives.  They say maybe they’d like to go into creative arts or open a bakery or just travel a bit.  I wonder if maybe, like me, their true heart’s desire is to be a wife and mother.  I used to feel ashamed about how little ambition I had in school and work.  I thought maybe I was inherently lazy or stupid.  I can tell you now, after having/chasing/cooking for/cleaning up after four small children (and still hoping and praying for more!), I am neither lazy nor stupid (proof: I used nor in a sentence).  I’m actually pleased (and  a bit surprised) to say I can be quite the hard worker.  I just needed a vocation.  I needed a purpose.  Working couldn’t give me that, but motherhood and wifehood (is that a word??) has.

baby jo

(sweet dreams, you beautiful excuse not to work)

4.  Even if I did get used to the SAHM gig, I’d be dying for playdates so I could have “grown up” conversations.

Ahh, playdates.  Save me.  Please.  Playdates = death.  Contrary to what I had been told, children are fascinating as well as hilarious company and are, gasp, also capable of conversation.

5. If I didn’t succeed in high school, I’d never make it in college.

Blatant lie.  I barely graduated high school.  In fact, there was some controversy over whether or not I should be allowed to walk on stage during the graduation ceremony.  I did great in college.  I actually earned straight A’s one semester, and close to straight A’s all the other ones.  Yes, I did end up leaving college before I graduated but that was not because I couldn’t handle the workload.  I went full-time every semester while also working and even joined the debate team.

6.  I would regret dropping out of college.

While I am not against college in the slightest, I am against the idea of “finding yourself” in college. College is a horrible place to find yourself.  If you are lost, you will be more lost on a college campus.  I was very very lost in college and, upon reflection, probably depressed.  I had no clue as to what I wanted to do for a career.   Though I did enjoy my classes and received grades my high school self never dreamed of, I was floundering in my personal life.  I decided to take some time off to travel with my sister and get my head straight.  Within two years, I had a passionate faith, a beautiful husband, and a pregnant belly.  I have never, ever, for a moment, regretted dropping out of college.  Actually, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.

p and c

(Hong Kong)

7. Getting married young is a mistake.

I was 21 when I got married.  My husband was 19 (yes.i.am.a.cradle.robber.  Seriously, what would happen if this joke was not made every single time it’s mentioned I’m older than my husband?  Would the Universe implode?)  We’ve been married nine years now.  In a lot of ways, we ‘ve grown up together.  We’ve made foolish, youthful mistakes together.  We’ve been poor together.  We’ve quit careers and started careers together.  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Going through all the ups and downs of life has truly made us partners. It’s made us One.   There’s a scene in “Letters to Juliet” where the grandmother, who is searching for her long lost love, pulls up to the giant mansion  where she thinks he’s living and her grandson turns to her and says, “Well, looks like you got to skip the messy bits.” To which she quietly replies, “Life is the messy bits.”  Word.

c and s

(babies)

8. My kids wouldn’t connect to the Faith in an Orthodox church.

Okay, no one actually said this to me, it was more something I said to myself.  In our seeker friendly culture, I was afraid my kids wouldn’t be able to find meaning in a 2-hour service full of chanting, incense, and standing.  Didn’t they need Veggie Tales and a rocking worship band to engage?  Wouldn’t they dread the services, as there are so many of them?  Wouldn’t they find the priests and the icons and the hymns strange?  No, no, and no.  It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to see my children grow in Orthodoxy.  They get it. They just Get. It.

st anna

Btw, kids LOVE icons.  And prostrations.  Who knew?

Okay, there you have it.  I could have written more but I assume you have better things to do with your time to read my endless rants, right?  I’ll just end with this: there is a certain mold people are expected to fit into; in school, work, adulthood.  When you don’t fit that mold, it can be scary. I don’t fit that mold.  I never did.  And, for many years, that truth really did scare me. I remember crying myself to sleep one night, calling out to God, begging Him to give me a future, pleading with Him to set me on a path, because I couldn’t imagine how I would walk the one the world had laid out for me.

And He did.  He gave me an awesome life.  He gave me purpose.  He gave me a future.  It’s okay that I didn’t fit the mold.  I think one of the reasons I am so grateful for my present life is because I always assumed my life would suck.  How could it not?  If you’re a terrible student and unmotivated worker, your life will inevitably be a giant failure,right?  As it turns out, No.  That’s not right.  There is more than one version of a Great Life.

9. This is only one version of a Great Life.

Until next time.

 

family · Mama · unschool

Food and Stuff

 

I know, I know. I’m supposed to be writing Why, Part 3 (you didn’t know my conversion story had more sequels than The Land Before Time, did you?) but I’m going to take a break from that for a bit and discuss something a bit more unschooly.  (I love that that term is still so new my computer autocorrects it every time.  Get with it, Grammarly!)

There are a few articles circulating around Facebook about how totally awesome it is to be a “mean mom”(their choice of words, not mine).  We’re all somewhat familiar with these and, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing we have a similar reaction: something along the lines of “WHAT? whyyyyyy????” One article I read actually said, “If your child tells you you’re mean, take it as a compliment.”  I really really REALLY don’t get this line of thinking.  I mean, I guess it makes sense in an extreme circumstance, “No, Billy, you can’t go to the Black Mass tonight.”  “Awwww, Mom, why are you so mean!?”  But, honestly, if you’re at that point I think it’s safe to say you’ve already lost the battle.

*I personally think that if you wouldn’t dream of saying or doing something to anybody in the whole wide world other than your child, you probably shouldn’t say or do it to them either.  That’s just my IMO.*

Anyway, I could rant and rant and rant discuss a million points on which I disagree with these so-called “mean moms”, but I’m just going to elaborate on one today, as I feel I have a unique perspective on it.  In case you weren’t able to decipher the obscure title of this post, it’s the Food Issue.

bday

You know what I mean, right?

The “no dessert until veggies are gone,” issue.  The “desserts are only for the weekends,” issue.  The “I don’t care how full you are, finish your hamburger,” issue.

I’m going to tell you something shocking.  I did not grow up in a house with the above rules.  This is going to make my mom wince a bit (Hi, Mom!) but I could have eaten bowls of pebbles all day and that would have been perfectly fine.  I remember days where I ate nothing but an entire box of Count Chocula, and other days of nothing but giant quantities of goldfish crackers.  I never NEVER had Halloween candy taken away before I was through with it, was allowed as many pieces of birthday cake that I desired, at any time of the day that I desired, and drank Diet Coke happily out of a baby bottle until I was waaaaaayyyy past the appropriate bottle-drinking-age (I don’t really get why there is a cut off age for bottles, btw…).

4482314-1347708-good_vampires_count_chocula

(My BFF)

No, I was not neglected.  No, my parents were not conducting a mini Super Size Me experiment on their unsuspecting children.  No, we were not unschooled.  So how in the world was all this culinary craziness allowed, you ask??  Well, I’ve thought about that and I think the answer is some mash up of a mom who didn’t like to cook, an autistic brother’s obsession with McDonald’s (we literally ate there every.single.day.), and (and this, I think is the real reason, the important reason) parents who were just not that interested in micro-managing their kids.

I have wonderful parents.  My mom and dad are two of my very best friends in the world.  Though they were strict in some ways (rolling eyes at mom equaled instant death), they mainly treated my sister and I like little adults.  I can’t ever remember my parents telling me to go to bed, or looking over my homework (unless I asked), or even to clean my room (my mom, who may be the cleanest person that has ever lived, would just tell me to shut the door so she wouldn’t have to look at the mess).  I do remember, however, long discussions about politics, talking late into the night about nothing and everything, and my dad (an incredibly smart man) asking my opinion over money matters at his business.  I don’t think it ever even occurred to my parents that they were supposed to be pestering us about all those other little things.  They saw as us intelligent, interesting people and treated us as such. (At least, it seemed that way to me.)

Ok, I’m going to conclude this post (which, I promise, was supposed to be brief!) with the inevitable outcome of children who are allowed to eat whatever they want, whenever they want: Morbid Obesity.

Just kidding.  No, really, when I went off to college and was blessed with the unspeakable joy of an in-house cafeteria (“You mean, there’s food here?  Like, real, cooked food?  All the time????”), I noticed most of my peers had NO idea how to eat.  My roommates and I would go off to dinner together, eat a nice meal, and then, a few hours later, they’d go back.  And eat another meal.  And sometimes again after that.  They’d also skip breakfast a lot.  I became the opposite of my parents, pestering them about their eating habits, (“You know it’s not a good idea to eat chicken strips and ranch at 2 am, right???”)  These were girls who’d had home cooked meals all their lives, who felt crushing guilt over each sesame seed that tumbled off their hamburger bun, who’d never been allowed double scoops on their ice cream cones, and who had no idea how to organize their meals on their own.  I, on the other hand, had been in charge of my own meals my whole life.  I knew what I was doing.  As an adult, I lead a very healthy lifestyle, eat healthy foods almost nearly close to all of the time, and the same could be said of my sister and my husband (a fellow childhood fridge forager).

So there you have it.  The experiment has been conducted and the guinea pig came out loving organics and spurning Flaming Hot Cheetos (most of the time).  Fear the unwanted crust of your child’s sandwich no longer!  I guess the moral of this post, as could be the moral of all of unschooling, is: relationship is more important.  Maybe its just me, but I can’t imagine how a relationship wouldn’t be damaged by a lifetime of forced feedings.  I’m not suggesting you go out and buy your kid a lifetime’s supply of Count Chocula (in true hypocrite’s fashion, I would never buy that for my kids), I’m just saying…the “mean moms” are wrong.  Forcing your kids to eat stuff they hate or reserving awesome foods for just some days is a bad move.  Honestly, its stupid.  Don’t do it.  There, my moral:

Don’t do it.

Also, enjoy food.  Food is good.

Also, nobody but lunatics only eat dessert on weekends.  You don’t want your kid to be a lunatic, do you?

Until next time.

christian · Christianity · family

Why, Part 2

So, as mentioned in the previous post, God completely rocked my world for no reason at all and I, in return:

a) became a saint;

b) didn’t become a saint necessarily, but altered my life drastically;

c)  was a total jerk and changed absolutely nothing about my life.

If you answered c, you are the winner! And clearly don’t think very highly of me, thanks A LOT.

It wasn’t until about 4 years later that my life truly turned around.  My sister, recently graduated from college, and I, recently dropped out of college (go ME!), decided to go on a backpacking trip through Mexico.  Which meant one thing to this deeply sensitive soul: FIESTA.

Bailar, burritos, and borracho todos las dias (how many of you just sang “Bailamos” in your heads?).  Imagine my dismay when my sister, my supposed partner in crime, suddenly became alarmingly (in my mind) devout about one week before our trip.

images

I remember on the plane ride down she was gently trying to talk to me about God and how much He loved me, and, at one point I looked at her and said, “So what? I’m lovable.”

steve

Please PLEASE someone invent a time machine so I can go back to this moment and slap myself in the face. PLEASE.

It’s a credit to the saintliness of my sister that she didn’t abandon me at the customs gate after that, but, thank God, she didn’t. She actually went out with me, never having more than one drink or so herself, just to keep an eye out.  Waking up, hungover and miserable, and seeing her drinking her coffee, journaling her prayers, filled with a happiness and peace that had become totally alien to my life, was an incredible witness. The contrast between her and I was overwhelming.  Embarrassingly so.  I was not happy at this point in my life, how could I be? But I had come to accept it as part of my growing up.  Joy, innocence, zeal for life, those were things for children.  So how was it my sister suddenly seemed so joyful?  So innocent even? She was older than I was, after all! It wasn’t long after that I followed in her footsteps, trading in my drunken nights for her holy mornings.  It was a shockingly easy thing to do.

Looking back now at how quickly my conversion was completed while traveling alone with my freshly illuminated sister, the Parable of the Sower comes to mind:

“The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed…(some) seed fell among the thorns;  and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.”

For most of my life, I was the seed among the thorns.  Friends, fun times, parties; these were my thorns.  Once they were removed, those precious seeds planted by my parents and by God Himself grew quickly and nearly effortlessly.  I’ve tried to think back, to pinpoint exactly what it was that changed me, but it wasn’t a what. It was a Who.  The Holy Spirit finally had more than a crumb of my attention, He had two or three crumbs. Luckily for me, He doesn’t need any more than that.  He changed me from the inside out.  A total 180.

To be honest, it was a fairly traumatic experience.  Day was suddenly night. Down was up. Church was good.  Beer was bad (ok, ok, beer’s not bad but maybe it shouldn’t be our main hobby?) I’d always been a person with a weak moral compass. Rather than due North and South, my compass fluctuated between Fun! and meh.  This didn’t necessarily change just because I was suddenly a card-carrying Christian (where is that card?), I was simply made aware of it.  Scripture tells us that repentance is a gift, and it is, certainly, but it can be a pokey gift.  How can I describe this?  I suddenly saw the world through the eyes of Love, and the difference between how He who is Love saw things, particularly people, and the way I saw things, was stark.  I did not love people.  Let me say that again.  I did NOT love people.  It’s funny how non-Christians often view Christians as unloving and judgemental.  We certainly can be that, and probably have earned that view, sadly, but God, God is NOT unloving and judgemental.  God loves to the breaking point.  God loves so much more, and on such a deeper level than any man, though some come closer than others.  God loves on a level that men find insane.

I remember walking through the streets of some Mexican city, looking at the street vendors, and seeing clearly for the first time what I thought of all these people.  I won’t go too deep into the actual words that went through my mind, but they were not loving words.  Btw, this wasn’t some racist, I don’t like Mexican people thing.  Mine was a very inclusive kind of dislike.  All people groups were included.  Even the people I thought I surely did like, even love, I was often cruel and petty toward.  While I was having this self-realization, or, I should say, the reason I was even having this realization, I was becoming aware of God’s feeling toward these people.  Unlike me, He liked them.  He more than liked them. He LOVED them.  He had flooded the Universe with His love for them.  All of them.  The two knowings, side by side, His nature next to my own, was more than I could bear.  This God I had decided to follow, this Jesus I now proudly confessed, I was NOTHING like Him.  And the knowledge of this absolutely and totally crushed me.

George MacDonald, in one of his Unspoken Sermons, talks about how God told the Hebrews not to even touch Mt Sinai while He spoke to Moses or they would be destroyed, and, according to MacDonald what He meant was, everything they thought they were would be destroyed.  Everything that Egypt had taught them to value would be destroyed.  Everything that they had learned to identify with as their very selves would be destroyed.  And this is what happened to me.  I valued bawdiness.  Christ is pure.  I valued cruel humor.  Christ is kind.  I valued conceit.  Christ is humble.  I had come to see myself as all of these things, had come to believe that these traits were what gave me value. Gave me personhood.  Because who would like me if I didn’t possess all these things?  Not my friends. Not the boys at my college.  And, if they didn’t like me, why would I like myself?

He did just as I feared, you know.  He made it impossible for me to live that life anymore.  He made me uncool.  He fully WRECKED MY LIFE.  He loved me enough to do that.

Jesus-Wrecked-My-Life