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Magic Dust

13 May

I walk out of the kids’ bedroom, having just put Bode to sleep for nap. Dagny is laying on the floor, halfway into the hallway from the “quiet room.” She queries, “Mama?”

“Yes?” I say, walking over to her and a plush horse with a rainbow mane and tail. Some of us know this horse as Starlight, Rainbow Bright’s beloved steed.

“I was just thinking we could get some magic dust to make this horse big and can talk.”

“I love your imagination.” I crooned, as I brushed back her hair and kissed her on the forehead, “but I don’t think horses can talk.”

“But where can we get some magic dust?” she continued. I confided that  I wasn’t sure that magic dust existed but she was determined. “But how can we make this horse big and can do things regular horses do?”

“You can do anything in your imagination, sweetie.” It was at this point that her precious face crumpled and she began to dissolve. I crouched down to embrace her, and she sniffed, “But I’m not magic, I’m just an ordinary girl!”

“That’s the best thing you could be sweetie.” She was not to be consoled, but agreed to try to fall asleep, that maybe she could dream of where to find the magic dust.

Funny thing is, these little moments are indeed full of magic, and despite myself, it breaks my heart that magic can’t quite bring her horse to life. But it does infuse me with it, and today, like most days, I badly needed an infusion.

Dags & Starlight

Sigh.

18 Sep

 

Yet another cool thing to do with our chalkboard wall. My little sweetie went off to preschool today. She wouldn’t have even remembered to say goodbye if her teacher hadn’t reminded her. On her end the day was a success. I showed up 5 minutes late to pick her up and she was already asleep on her nap mat.

For my part, I sort of milled around the living room for 5 hours, wondering what to do with myself in her absence. It was so quiet. And Bode was so…needy. He missed her terribly, and I was made very aware of how much she entertains him during the day. Nonetheless, we’ll find our mode.

Kitchen, Chalkboard Mostly Complete

11 Jun

Well, the chalkboard is completed to my satisfaction. I think some people might have gripes with it, but I’ve love it. I think it looks great, reminds me of the many chalkboards I stared at in college. I was taken by surprise that it reminded me most of college, particularly my time at Mines. There was also a strong memory of a chalkboard from fourth grade that surfaced as well. But hey, I’m getting off track.

I chose green probably because I hate doing things the way everyone else does them. Maybe it could be considered rebellious…or more likely just contrarian. Maybe it also had some kind of sub-conscious mid-century feel for me too, I have no idea. I did not know green chalkboards were mid-century until I did a little reading about their history. And that only underscored my desire for green. I also was really scared to add dark colors (this will prove to be ironic when I share my next project with you) like black because of how much I struggle with the weeks long stretches of days without sunshine. I thought green would be a splash of summer (in a way) that would last all year. Although my green looks very much like a standard chalkboard green, I chose it from the wall of green samples at Lowe’s based on my own preferences. I was trying to achieve that look, I admit…but I chose a color I thought was a bit more verdant than standard  chalkboard green. I went brighter than I originally thought I would. And I am SO glad I did. The chalk definitely mutes it. The green made me super happy as soon as the first stroke was brushed. It was so rich and leafy. And since I can almost hear you yelling at me to tell what the color was, it was Balsam EB44-4 by Valspar Signature, OK?!

I followed Martha Stewart’s instructions for custom color chalkboard paint. I had some problems with trying to use just one coat not being thick enough. When I tried to sand it smooth with a random orbital sander, a lot of the paint came right off, all the way down to the wall.

To achieve the look that I ended up with, I used about four coats of paint, which worked out to about 2.5 cups of paint I would estimate. I let each coat dry for at least 8 hours. Then I waited 3 days after the last coat was finished and sanded it by hand. I had plans to take the orbital sander to it as well, but decided to scrap that at the last minute for fear of it breaking through to the wall again. Plus, it looked pretty cool the way it was and it was already smooth. I decided not to fix something that wasn’t broken.

There are definitely imperfections but you know what I realized…it’s going to be covered in chalk dust anyway. If you want your chalkboard to look like it’s just been washed all the time…well, why do you want a chalkboard at all? There are little white dots here and there where tiny bits of grout did not get perfectly mixed in.

Martha says to carefully break up clumps and I didn’t get serious about that until the last cup I mixed. For that I used a small strainer to sift the grout in and slowly mixed and sifted. It probably took me 10 minutes to get 2 tablespoons of grout sifted and mixed into the paint, but OH WAS IT WORTH IT. The texture of the sifted mixed paint was MUCH smoother than the previous batches. Had I done that from the outset, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have nearly as many tiny white dots. Which are completely and totally camouflaged by the chalky dusty look of a conditioned chalkboard.

Other than that, my lines are not perfect and the cheaper painters tape (Blue Hawk brand, I believe) I used pulled some of the paint off my wall. Easily remedied with some deep breathing and touch-up paint. I also noticed what looks like hairline scratches on the chalkboard that showed up after the conditioning step. I don’t know if it was the chalk I used, (Rose Art Washable…which is the only kind I could find at my Target,) or what. Again, totally blends in and doesn’t bother me at this point. Adds to the look of a well-used chalkboard…which brings me to my next point. Ghosting. A lot of people complain about ghosting on homemade chalkboards apparently. There is definitely some mild ghosting, but I thought it looked totally normal and about on par with ghosting I’ve seen on MANY commercial chalkboards. What chalkboard does not have some mild ghosting? I don’t know of any. If I firmly erase it (I’ve been using an old cloth diaper) there is a very faint ghost left, but you can’t really see it unless you get really close, which is fine with me. I think of the layers of faint writing as the patina of an authentic chalkboard, nomesay? Oh yeah! I skipped the step of wiping the “conditioning” chalk off with a barely damp sponge. I just sort of wiped over it all with the old cloth diaper and called it good.

I could not be happier with how this turned out. The kids seem to like it, although apparently having an entire freaking wall is not enough canvas to preclude the need for testing the chalk on every surface within reach…such as the carpet, moulding, adjacent walls, cabinetry, tile floor and so on. I am optimistic they will someday grow out of that.

The finished product will still be more refined in that I am planning to touch up the edges, maybe put up a wooden border and hopefully conceive of some clever way to store chalk that is accessible and looks cute at the same time. Currently I’m envisioning a small basket that will hang from the pot rack that I intend to install above the whiteboard that I intend to install above the chalkboard.

So there you have it! Chalkboard painting phase is done. Lots of touch up and additional details before my kitchen project is complete. I’m super excited about it and rejuvenated by my success with the chalkboard! Onward!

 

Good Samaritan at Giant Eagle

14 May

So. Today someone called the cops on me.

I took the kiddos out to run an errand and we had to stop for gas. We stopped at our local GetGo which is at our local grocery because I had 60 cents off a gallon. Then I parked the car and ran into the grocery to get supplies for dinner. I asked Dags if she’d rather come in with me or wait in the car. She asked to wait in the car and I ran in, leaving her in the car with Bode.

I walked directly to the broccoli, brushing my hand across a mango on display as I passed. I chose a large, firm bunch of broccoli, placed it in a bag, and quickly walked to the bread aisle. I scanned the hot dog bun selection and decided I was likely to find healthier options in the bakery so I sped over to the bakery. All bakery buns had high fructose corn syrup so I rushed back to the bread aisle and read several labels until I found hot dog buns without high fructose corn syrup. From there I sped to the meat case, taking a 5-second pause to look at a tea cup lid display and trade my white buns for some HFCS-free whole wheat buns on a display table in front of the meat counter. There was no “Nature’s Basket” beef in the case so I had to go over to the meat counter. I was immediately waited on and ordered a pound of ground sirloin and then rushed over to the hot dogs. I read 5 or 6 packages looking for a natural option without a bunch of added crap. I selected Coleman Natural All Beef Hotdogs, grabbed a bag of shredded pizza cheese and headed for the checkouts. I paused to scan the health and beauty sale bin and passed through one of the makeup aisles scanning for waterproof eyeliner. Not seeing any, I headed for the shortest checkout lane. Thinking of the kids, I grabbed a package of Twizzlers and quickly checked myself out.

I rushed out to the car and Bode flashed me a huge grin as soon as he saw me approaching. But then my joy was shattered because once I got within a stone’s throw from the car, a lady several cars away begins yelling at me, “Why did you leave your kids in the car?!” I just shook my head, put my groceries in the trunk and got into my car. She continued to yell at me, “You can’t do that!” Something was mentioned about waiting for me for 15 minutes and by the time I had buckled myself, checked the kids and put the car in reverse, she had parked her car behind mine, blocking me into my parking space. She was visibly taking down my license plate number and had her cell phone to her ear. I watched for a few seconds and when she appeared to stop talking I got out and said, “Would you please move so I can get out?” She said something to the effect of, “Oh no, I called the police, you’re not going anywhere.” I could tell she was on the verge of tears. At this point an elderly lady parked next to me chimed in with, “What? We can’t leave?” The good samaritan moved her car so the elderly lady could leave but carefully blocked mine in. I sat in my car trying to figure out if I could squeeze out somehow, blocking out the nervous voice in my head that was wondering if they could take my babies away. My heart was jumping out of my chest with every beat and I was fighting tears and a level of fury that was vibrating my entire body.

The officer arrived and I could see the good Samaritan waving him over in my rear-view mirror. By this time I was on the phone informing James what was going on, and I had to disconnect when the officer arrived at my driver’s side door. I stepped out and he asked me what happened. I managed to get out that I ran into the store for 10 minutes, although she says I was in there for 15, I came out and this lady is berating me, then she blocked my car in and called you. Wait a minute, he says, she blocked you in? Uh, yes. She did. He walks over to her vehicle and I can hear her affirm that she did in fact block me in, and then he gave her a little talking to about how that is illegal. To say I was shocked would be a huge understatement. I stood there, waiting for whatever was next. Wishing wishing wishing he would hurry up and get it over with. Ironically, I wanted to go over to the good Samaritan and thank her for caring so much about my precious children. Indeed she cared deeply for my two kids to go to such lengths. In the end I did not have the chance to do that. I thought it unwise to approach from behind the officer.

And in time, he did return. He informed me that it is in fact illegal to leave my children unattended in the car like that. I told him I had no idea. That is the truth. I had no idea. ILLEGAL. Against the law. Not up to the parent’s discretion. As in, not just a parenting fail, the parent could in some cases go to jail. A conversation ensued and I can’t remember all the details now, a mere 4 hours later. He asked me why I left them in there. And, incredulously I asked if he seriously wanted me to give him some kind of excuse. I told him of how Dagny chose to stay in the car and he told me that is a parenting decision and kids cannot decide such things for themselves. OK, yes, that’s true, you’re right, I said. Admittedly I was exasperated. My mind was reeling. I was angry at being judged, I was terrified of the impending punishment. He said some other things, things that are foggy now. Things like, we just want your kids safe with you. We want you to come out to safe healthy kids just like you do. He told me that the safest place for them was with me and that they get called out to parking lots ALL THE TIME where elderly people have run into parked cars. He expressed how awful it would be if some old person had hit my car while my kids were in it, and truly, he was right. I had never thought of that. My pride, my armor crumbled to my feet. He asked for my address and I gave it to him, then he wanted my driver’s license, which I also produced. I presume he ran my motor vehicle record, but he disappeared into his SUV with it and returned to give it back.

In the end, I received a blessed, blessed warning. I was not given a citation. I did not have to shriek hysterically in the parking lot of my local grocery as some public servant pried my precious babies from my desperate arms. Of course, that blessing was not nearly enough to keep me from reliving those moments over and over in my mind today. Not enough to stop me from replaying every possible scenario and outcome and all of the things I should have done or said differently, starting with my decision to leave them alone and ending with my… never ending.

I’ve cried so many tears of shame today. So so many. I’ve thought of all of you, and how many of you might offer me kindly support, but still feel appalled at what I did. Or perhaps just silently dismiss me as a friend, quietly withdraw from our relationship.  I thought of my mom, who would either say well that’s what you get or equally as plausibly (and slightly more probable) tear into that nebby good Samaritan’s credibility with the ferociousness of the infamous mama bear. I thought of all my loved ones who wished me Happy Mother’s Day yesterday, and how I failed them, and even more crucially, failed my beloved babes. My sweet sweet baby girl, who brought me a giant stuffed giraffe to snuggle as I sobbed into James’s shoulder when we got home. Who also gobbled down her peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I salted with abundant tears and then asked for another one. Sigh.  Shame has a loud, boorish heckle once I invite it in. Oh yes, and nothing is spared. Every fiber of my existence is saturated.

Who do you think you are, putting on mascara today? Do you think you deserve mascara? Look at your hair, you take better care of your hair than your children. Disgusting. And you thought you looked pretty. You’re pathetic. Everyone saw you, what a spectacle that was with the police car, the woman’s yelling and you, with your makeup and your curly hair. No one that saw that is gonna forget your face, or your car. Everywhere you go…you might as well put a decal on your car that says I leave my kids in the car while I go shopping. They deserve better. They deserve a better woman, a better person as their mother. Oh and now you’re going to stuff your face with food. Slovenly, fat pig. You should be nauseous. You should be so nauseous you can’t even THINK about eating and you’re shoving Twizzlers in your mouth like it’s your job. You make me sick. But not sick enough to stop gorging myself on fried rice and candy. Speaking of candy, how completely transparent you are, giving the kids candy after lunch. Oh yes, try to assuage your guilt by giving them treats. THAT’S good parenting. Stellar. Five Star. And all this because you are taking your night off tonight and not even cooking dinner for them before you go. You don’t deserve time off. You’re checked out the whole time you’re with them any way, why do you need time off? How utterly vain.

I wanted to drown all that out with… well, pills to be completely honest. Back from my pharmaceutically medicated days. But those are long gone. So I tried the next best thing, a nap. But all those scenarios and maybes and what-ifs were just too loud. So I’m giving it to the internet, though I’m pretty sure the noise will not abate, whether I hit publish or not.

And so, in conclusion let me send a quick message to you, good Samaritan. I don’t know what you think of me, but I can almost guarantee you are making assumptions about me that are untrue. Nonetheless, I receive your love for my children and I deeply appreciate it, in spite of my fury. I hope there are bold, caring people like you around when creepy men are stalking my daughter at the mall 10 years from now. Or when my son rebelliously bolts away from me in a crowded amusement park some day. I love my children more than anything else in my existence, I really do. There are moments when I get caught up in the daily grind and there are issues about which I am ignorant. I do my ABSOLUTE best, and today has been a painful reminder that one can not become complacent. One must always strive for the highest standard. I promise you, I will NEVER leave my kids unattended in the car again. So, to you and everyone else out there keeping score, please cut me some slack the next time my kids are shrieking through the grocery, knocking down the tower of oranges and driving me to scream and holler and/or ply them into submission with my iPhone. And if you see a woman pushing a cart full of groceries, with a toddler buried under half of them and carseat perched on top…please, please…don’t lecture her about how it’s wrong. Offer to carry something. She is doing the best she can.

For those of your curious as to what the weather conditions were…warm drizzle.

And today’s moral of the story is don’t leave your kids in the car unattended. But, if you want to spank them, or feed them Burger King day and night, or smoke in the house, or smoke in the car for that matter, or market your unhealthy food directly to children, that is all fine. Carry on, warrior.

Napping in the City Select

13 May

Well, we braved Ikea today. On a weekend. A holiday weekend. But that is another rant altogether. I just wanted to share a picture of a nice configuration of the city select that we used today. Dags is sleeping in the “downstairs” chair (as we call it) and in this pic she is not even fully reclined. The “upstairs” chair is reclined partially and can recline even more in this configuration but it was bending Dagny’s sunshade so I put it up a notch. With the sunshade stowed the upper seat could’ve blocked the lights, but I didn’t want to mess with a sleeping baby, nomesay?

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My New Favorite Bubbles

11 May

My brother’s fiancée gave us a 4oz bottle (and another gigantic bottle) of Gymboree Bubble Oodles and a bubble blower pipe for Christmas. These bubbles are awesome. The “bubble sauce” is very potent so a little goes a very long way. Our blower makes very small bubbles that stay up in the air hovering for a looooong time. The bubbles also have unexpected resilience. They will frequently land on hair, clothes, fingers, furniture, walls, carpet and whatnot, staying intact as long as they’re left undisturbed. We’ve had absolutely no trouble with these marring our things either. I’ve found bubbles clinging to the wall DAYS later. I’ve never seen bubbles like this, that are so easy to interact with. They float down slowly enough for the kids to catch them on their fingers, then they hang around on said fingers for waaaay longer than expected. Dagny pretends they are butterflies or soot sprites (from the movie Totoro) walking around with several bubbles that she caught perched on her fingers.

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Travel Tips, Part 1

1 May

Lots of my friends are posting their travel tips so I thought I’d throw my iron in the fire. We travel several times a year with both kids and I have done a solo trip with both kids when Bode was around 5 months old and Dagny was 23 months. So.

To start off I thought I’d post a checklist of things to do before you leave the house for an extended period, i.e. more than a couple of days.

1. Take out the trash. All of it. Diaper pail too if you have one.

2. Run the dishwasher, empty it if you have time.

3. Unplug your video monitors and stuff like electric blankets, space heaters, etc.

4. Check your oven. It sounds weird but I just came home to a week old pan of sweet potato fries in my oven.

5. Check your washing machine. Wet clothes do not ripen well in the washer over the course of a week.

6. FLUSH ALL TOILETS. If it’s yellow do you let it mellow? After a week in the pot, it’s no longer mellow. TRUST ME ON THIS.

7. Double check that you have everyone’s ID or birth certificate. Everything else you need can be bought at your destination if necessary. But you don’t want to remember that you forgot your lap child’s birth certificate halfway to the airport like I did.

So, yeah…more on my harebrained travelling adventures with 2 toddlers when the inspiration strikes. In the hopper: my thoughts on travelling with strollers/car seats. Travel-saavy friends, I’d love to discuss this further. Message me on FB if you feel like sharing your approach. TN, I’m looking at you ;)

What do you all think? Do you like using a stroller in the airport? Do you check it and use a baby carrier like the Ergo or something similar? Do you like to bring your carseat on the plane? Have you ever used CARES, which is what we’ve been using with Dags lately? Leave all of your pearls of wisdom in the comments.

 

Sensory Park

26 Apr

Sensory Park is a really cool accessible playground in Westminster, CO at 103rd & Church Ranch Blvd. I didn’t think to take any pictures of the accessible features because I was engrossed in my kiddos. I now remember why we don’t do much of this kind of thing at home. It is a nightmare trying to wrangle 2 toddlers in public by yourself. One runs off into the distance at full tilt while the other tries climbing up a deathtrap of a ladder. Moms of multiples, you have my UNDYING admiration. But they have a long sidewalk with some rolling hills, swings with full body support, an accessible sand table, and even the equipment can accommodate wheelchairs in many places. You can get an idea of the equipment from one of my pictures at least. Dags was scared to pieces on those elevated paths and would not let go of the railing. I have a suspicion that she gets a bit of vertigo, like her mama.

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Briefly, My Experiences with Early Potty Learning

6 Apr

Let me just start out by saying I could not care less how anyone else potty trains. To each his or her own, whatever works for you, do it. I am not emotionally invested in anything potty training related beyond my own personal hope that I will be done handling human feces as soon as humanly possible. That said, I had pretty good success with my first child, my daughter. I attributed that success to the fact that she was an early talker and a very good communicator. I simply told her what we were going to start doing and then we did it. She caught on very quickly with the help of lots of naked time and readily told me when she had to go, whether we were home or in public. Yes, I did clean up several poop logs and pee puddles from my (at the time) hardwood floors. I also changed lots of outfits and learned that the beanbag chair combined with the TV was an enthusiastic invitation to pee one’s pants. But my point being, I thought my daughter was just a fast learner.

I had also been told by many people that boys are more difficult to potty train. So, when I first realized I would be potty training one, I lowered my expectations drastically. Then my son turned out to be a late talker. In fact, he is almost 15 months old as of this writing and his vocabularly consists primarily of “uh oh,” “cracker,” and a lot of grunting and pointing. Although we have tried to sign with him, he REFUSES to use the sign for anything in plain sight that he can grunt and point at. I can sometimes get him to sign milk. His signs for cracker, more, grapes, sit, and time are all identical, but I know he has a rather extensive signing vocabulary because he responds to my attempts by looking at the item in question or more frequently by grunting. Communication has been…frustrating. So I really didn’t expect much and sort of lost my enthusiasm for trying to potty train him early. I figured all along that I would start once he started talking. As it turns out, speaking is not a necessity for potty training. Yay!

We have a potty in our kitchen. It’s for Dagny to use because all of our 2 toilets are upstairs and it can be tricky getting her butt onto the toilet in time…at least it used to be back when Bode was still nursing and just learning to crawl. Life was somewhat hectic back then. Anyway. He has been fascinated with her use of the potty for as long as I can remember. And he started sitting on it and imitating her a while back. I starting thinking maybe all the opportunities for him to watch and learn might pay off. And pay off they did! My almost 15 month old is autonomously going to the potty and depositing both number ones and number twos. (Tangent… The first time I used that terminology to refer to human waste in front of Dagny, she immediately asked me, “What’s number three?” I still get a chuckle every time I think about it.) Anyway. So how did I get him to do that?

I took his pants off.

Yep, that’s pretty much it.

A couple months ago B got a pretty bad yeast rash on his belly. I was treating it and treating it but nothing was happening so I moved on to supervised naked time. What that means is I would take off his diaper and promptly get on Facebook. Usually my Facebook time would get rudely interrupted by Dagny yelling, “BODE PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!” So I would drag myself away from the computer and clean it up, put him on the potty and tell him to pee in the potty. I am not going to lie. There were a couple of times when instead of PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED, Dagny yelled POOOOOOOOOOOOPED. Those times were not so fun. One time in particular was very messy. That time Bode actually notified me himself. He has a special grunt that means, “Come here and see this RIGHT NOW!!!!” Either that or I have a psychic connection with him and I suppose either option is equally plausible.  Anyway. There were maybe 3 such instances where he basically told me he pooped and a couple where I actually saw him get “the look.” (See I’m not ALWAYS on the computer.) The key here is what happens next, I think. I grab him and run him over and sit him down on the potty. Then I take the logs and place them in the potty, tell him we put the poop in the potty, then I clean up everything while keeping him from touching said logs. The most effective teaching moments (I think) are when you can catch them between their “oh shit” moment and the poop actually hitting the floor. If you are lucky you get them to the potty and the poop ends up there as well. Then you throw a huge fanfare, cheering them and congratulating. I can tell you, my son LOVES being praised for going potty. He loves praise, PERIOD. Nonetheless, you can imagine my surprise when one day he was running around naked and ran up and interrupted my phone conversation with his “Come! Look! Now!” grunt, accompanied by POINTING, which translates to very urgent, only to find him pointing at the potty. I followed him over and to my continued surprise he pointed into it rather than sat down. And sure enough, there was a tiny little log in there. After I picked my jaw up off of the floor I cheered and snuggled and spun him around…all without touching his poopy butt, mind you. We wiped him and that was that. He has continued to poop and pee in the potty all by himself as long as he is naked. He has also continued to notify me of his exploits so he can get his loving praise. And he has started trying to bring the potty bowl to me sometimes, which has resulted in a spontaneous manifestation of ESP on my part. If he has a diaper on he will pee in the diaper most of the time, but occasionally he will come to me (or whoever is nearby) and point at his crotch. Or he will go sit on the potty fully clothed and void into the diaper. I cannot really explain how thrilled I am about all these developments. I had lost hope of getting him out of diapers before 3 years old and here we are at 14 months and he is  doing great! I’m not really sure how to make the leap to having him tell me about diaper “accidents” and public pee moments, but that is my next goal. I bought him some briefs, so we might have to endure a rough period of lots of outfit changes until it sinks in. Or should I say soaks in? But here we are, my non-verbal son is on pace to potty train earlier than my daughter did.

Now, I have some opinions on potty learning readiness that I know not everyone will agree with. I firmly believe (especially now) that kiddos are “ready” as soon as they can walk. Some people would say they are ready much sooner, such as 6 months but I don’t really count anything that is not somewhat autonomous. I think that if you miss this early window, you are in for a potentially complicated potty training experience. I’ve heard a lot of grief from friends who trained a bit later, and I’ve also heard from friends who waited until the last possible minute and their kid trained in a matter of days. When kids are 1 year old, they are still doing everything you tell them for the most part and desperately seeking your approval. At 2-3 years they begin to assert independence and that means they defy, defy, defy to see what you will do. They also start to find your exasperation VERY entertaining. So one can begin to speculate as to how developmentally this could create a rather unpleasant circumstance for teaching toilet training skills. Now to counter that, at least in my experience a few poops on the floor seem to be par for the course along the learning curve. It just happens that for me, I’d rather clean a log (or even 5 or 6 logs) from the floor than change another 2 years worth of diapers. And for that matter, buy another 2 years worth of diapers. For some people it’s the other way around. As parents we choose our battles. But it’s nice to know that there are alternative battles on the potty training frontlines, and that is why I share this with you today. Best of luck, fellow parents, and remember…no matter how hopeless it seems right now, eventually they will be out of diapers, even if it takes peer pressure to teach them.

Letting Go of Fear So I Can Begin Grasping

26 Mar

There were lots of “signs” indicating that today is maybe the day to write this post. I don’t even know what this post is. But let’s start with these. Trayvon Martin. Rage. Undercurrents of racism. Riptides of racism. Prejudice. Hopelessness. Hopefulness. Motherhood.

Oh boy. I am not even going to pretend that this is going to come out eloquently with coherent theme or message. I just hope that at the end, most of you still think I’m a good person. What I’ve been wrestling with, for many years, boils down to this. I am aware of and do not like racism. I recognize that I am prejudiced and I loathe it. Now before you burn me alive, know that although I concede prejudice, I fight it. I fight it within myself. There is internal dialogue, I actively examine my reflexive thoughts and try to correct and replace them. I’ve never read a more perfect description of how I feel than Glennon Melton’s post today on Momastery…which was the final straw that pushed me to write all this here.

Let me back up and “establish credibility.” I am a white female in my early thirties, in case that isn’t obvious yet. I grew up in a white, Catholic, middle-class family, and have rarely come into contact with (what do I say here?) black people in my short life. I have no black friends. I have one friend on Facebook, a person I know from high school, who is black. But although I adore that person, I wouldn’t call our relationship anything more than acquaintances right now. I would love for it to be more (hello Facebook friend!). I admire that person and would welcome a friendship if one develops. I have two (that I know of) friends that I’ve met through the local social media scene that have mixed children. I have one neighbor who is black and another who is a self-described mulatto. I once slept with someone who is black. These relationships embody all of my worldly experience of black people. And then there is the popular media and our social culture, and in general the social norms I learned in childhood. And that all leads me where? I don’t know. A pretty heavy fog of confusion from where I’m sitting.

All I know is that my heart is absolutely BROKEN about this whole Trayvon Martin case. I believe that as mothers we are bound together by that transcendental experience of bringing children into our hearts. Or are they placed there by God? Whatever you conceive God to be. Or hormones? In any case, I look at the pictures, I read the stories and I see my own son, my own daughter and I grieve for the pain my sister in motherhood is suffering. My absolute greatest fear in life is that I will lose a child. I literally don’t know what to do with myself right now…with this incredible empathy that has been placed in me. I just spent 20 minutes milling around in circles in my kitchen trying to decide if I should blog about this. Maybe I should write a letter to my one black aquaintence/friend? WHAT DO I DO!? How do I, little old, insignificant me, add my own stitch to mend together this awful injustice and the collective broken heart of our nation?

You know, months and months ago I went in circles with myself about posting something about the internal conflict I abide that is my reflexive prejudice and my desire to eradicate it from my mind. I went on Amazon and looked for books about black-white relations, and you know what? I was so put off by the venom in the comments that I never bought a single one. It makes me sick to my stomach. I want to reach out and know what to do but I get this overwhelming impression (from those comments and the random things I’ve seen & heard) that black people do not want to have to educate me. And really, should they have to? It irritates them that I don’t completely understand black culture, black history and the fine (or even obvious) details of the black experience. And all I know to do is beg from this stupid blog. I don’t know. How can I ever learn if I am shamed for wondering?

Overwhelmingly, I feel that this case, this Trayvon Martin tragedy is a huge call for society to join hands. I want to join my hands with yours, all of yours and be friends, be advocates for one another. It seems ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous that I could be so ignorant about something seemingly as basic as black culture, black people, everything. I mean, I should know all that, right? The civil rights movement? Desegregation? I should in this day and age, by default, be up to my eyeballs in my deep understanding of what it’s like to be black. I mean, I listen to rap music. (That was a joke, people. Although I do like some rap) The fact is, I think it’s taboo to discuss. So taboo, in fact, that I have never had the balls to discuss it other than once. I was a flight attendant at the time and I attempted to discuss a race relations current event with a black crew member. It did not go well. Suffice to say that she was very polite and although we had a really cool connection about something BEFORE I went out on the talking about racism limb, she never called me to host that “toy party” we discussed. I don’t blame her. I’m sure most people don’t really want a “project friend.” They just want to be normal, like there’s no weird tension there. So, yeah, haven’t done that again because I was clearly a complete tool about it, although I’m not exactly sure how. So better to stay safe and not drive away any more potential friends. Which I seem to be pretty good at, regardless of whether they are black, white or whatever. So yeah, maybe not a good idea to write a letter to that Facebook friend about all this.

But there IS that tension for me. I am ashamed of it. I want to get past it, but I don’t know how other than by the grace of others who are willing to set me straight and not dump me like yesterday’s garbage if I make a misstep. There is so much fear in me of saying or doing the wrong thing, I never reach out to get to know people in the first place. Like that mom at the mall playground I wanted to introduce myself to.  It’s so sad and pathetic. And yet here is this blinding beacon of a sign that I need to force myself to grow, force myself to go back out on that limb, and as one person begin to mend part of that national broken heart.

My heart is holding Ms. Fulton.

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