#LikeAGirl

I guess deep down, I’ve always known I’m a feminist. I’m not talking about a bra-burning, anti-makeup, dresses like a guy, “butch” feminist. I’m a feminist by definition: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of political, social, and economic equality to men. I had a mom who raised me to know that I could do anything. I had my own opinions, and I shared them. I didn’t have to play with dolls or read girly books, although I did those things. But I also went to Space Camp (yeah, call me a nerd, why don’t you?!), climbed trees, went hiking in the woods behind my house, and read about the Hardy Boys alongside my beloved Nancy Drew. I collected Hot Wheels and played with Legos, then turned right around and dressed up my brother in princess outfits. I’d say I’m a well-balanced human.

But this morning, up (way too) early nursing J, I was playing around on Facebook and saw this video that my dear friend Sydney (her amazing blog is here) had just reposted from Good Housekeeping (original article and video are here). She has a little girl a few months younger than EK, and she went to the same women’s college I did – she was my little sister in fact! *proud big sis moment* I teared up as I watched girls fall into gender roles, and boys perpetuate them, as the director asked them to demonstrate running (and throwing and hitting) “like a girl”. The initial responses were all the same – running as though you were in high heels, arms flung out to the side, tiny steps, hair tosses.

Finally, the youngest girls of all come out, and redefine everything. A girl in a frilly pink dress, who looks to be about first grade age, is asked, “What do you think it means to run like a girl?” and she responds “…run as fast as you can.” That’s it, folks. The moral of the story is do everything the best you can. Girls, young women, old women, ladies, gals, you are every bit as good as guys are, and oftentimes better.

My little girl will hear that every day. EK will grow up knowing that she can do anything and be anything she wants to. She will know her gender has no bearing on how good she will be at any activity. She can try anything she wants, she can form her own opinions and learn about any subject she is curious about. If that’s fairy tales and ballet, fabulous. If it’s muscle cars and rugby, I’ll be thrilled. I just want to raise her as a strong, confident girl. Anything she does, she’ll do it like a girl. Anything she does, she’ll do it with her own spin. Anything she does will be amazing and I’ll be a proud mama.

What are your thoughts about the #LikeAGirl campaign? Do you agree that we are on the cusp of breaking gender roles and empowering our girls?

Parenting Plight #4: Fingernails and Toenails

Are they cutting his finger off?! Photo cred: www.whattoexpect.com
Are they cutting his finger off?! Photo cred: http://www.whattoexpect.com

Now, this doesn’t seem all that bad, right? Just clipping a few fingernails and toenails every once in a while, right? No. Absolutely not. There is no way to describe the magnificent torture that is making sure your babies/kids’ fingernails and toenails are groomed appropriately. Not only do they have to be short, but they also have to be rounded, with no snagged edges or corners. Otherwise, it looks like your kid pissed off Edward Scissorhands.

The jury is still out on the best way to trim these flimsy but sharp daggers on the ends of our sweeties’ fingers and toes. I have friends who bite them off, but that still churns my stomach to think about. They tell me, “You can feel their skin better that way, and it’s easier not to cut them while you’re doing it.” What I hear is, “You put your kid’s fingers/toes in your mouth, bite down really hard, and hope you don’t taste blood.” It’s a bummer that however you do it. I just take a pair of those “Safety 1st” clippers and pray.

You know what else is a bummer? The fact that, like everything else on a baby, those nails grow with supernatural speed. If I want to “grow out my nails” – something I occasionally want to do to prove my femininity – it takes me weeks. EK and J both seem to need their nails cut every three days. (Note: It’s possible that part of the reason for the too-often need to cut their nails stems from the fact that I can never seem to cut all twenty in one sitting.) I should probably do EK’s about that often, because nowadays it seems there is always gunk underneath them: dirt, food, and ????

If I can manage it, I pass the job of nail cutting to someone else. Grandparents, Hubby, and probably strangers do a better job than I do at keeping those nails groomed. My mom can somehow get the job done if the kid is in a highchair. Why this makes a difference, I’m not sure. I have tried it, and I still have the same amount of success I would if they were on a roller coaster. Maybe they can tell how nervous I am?

Do you have tips on how to get my least favorite dirty job done? Powers of distraction or methods to calm, perhaps?

His Best For Us

CS LEWIS 1

How often do you pray for what you want? A friendship to mend. A job opportunity to work out. A boyfriend to pop the question.

I bet those things don’t work out like we plan as often as we wish. We lose touch with the friend. We don’t get the job. The boyfriend says things “aren’t working out”. And we are left hurting.

It sucks down there in the pit… the pit in which we feel we’re stuck after every situation that ends a different way than we plan. How will you ever forgive that friend? What will you do since you couldn’t get your dream job? Will you find a love as good as the one you had?

Friends, these are valid questions. I won’t tell you they’ve never crossed my mind, or that they shouldn’t cross yours. It’s the human experience, wondering these things. But listen to this: That isn’t what God has for you.

There are incredible plans for you. He knows what you need. Isn’t that comforting? What a relief! Even when you’ve had the wrong idea all this time, He’s had the right one. God has fashioned a perfect journey, and you’re already on it. It might not be easy. It might not be safe in our personal bubble. But it is GOOD. His highest for you is so much more wishing and wondering. He has a perfect place for you to be. He has the perfect way and time for you to get there. He will lead you to the perfect brothers and sisters in His name.

There are so many clichés that non-empathetic people love to use… mostly ones that we don’t want to hear. God’s timing is perfect. Hindsight is 20/20. When God closes a door, He opens a window. Blah blah blah. Of course they’re true. They wouldn’t be clichés if they weren’t true. But who wants to hear that?! I want someone to say, “Yeah, that’s an awful feeling. I’ve been there.” and then pray for me. I know that God has a plan. But that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t hurt. I know an amazing future is ahead – but that doesn’t mean I’m not totally impatient waiting on it!

Take heart, right now. His best is on its way. I promise. He promises. Pick your head up, trudge up from the pit, and shout to Him, “I’m ready! I want to trust You and move on!” He will pick you up and help you onward. And if you need a sister to pray with you and for you and hold your hand, I’m your gal. Or connect with a church. Or find a fellowship. Reach out. I can’t do it for you (believe me I would if I could). If you can’t muster up the faith that He has your best, call on someone to believe it for you. He has it. His best. For you. Always.

Parenting Plight #3: Laundry

Everyone does it. Whether they do it at home, out in public with the masses of other people doing it, or downstairs in the basement of their apartment complex, we all do it. Yep. Laundry. In our home, this chore can quickly become the bane of our very existence. For one, neither Hubby nor I are very good at it. Yes, we understand the mechanics. Yes, we can do each step involved in the process correctly. However, we aren’t great at completing all the steps in a reasonable amount of time. Hubby packs the washer, but the clothes don’t usually get into the dryer. I pack the washer, move them to the dryer, and even get them out onto the guest bed (Official Hsu House Laundry Station), but I very rarely fold them. I walk downstairs to the guest room to find my underwear, my favorite jeans, or the kids’ pajamas on a regular basis.

Joseph atop the aptly named "Laundry Mountain"
Joseph atop the aptly named “Laundry Mountain”

So Hubby and I created (on the spot, of course, because we are he is super witty) a little thing we call “Laundry Blitz”. It’s when we put on some music or a movie on the laptop, and wash/dry/fold as many clothes as we possibly can. Sometimes, if things aren’t that bad, it takes us about 30 minutes to get everything folded, separated into the room it should be taken, to put away. Every once in a while Once a month or so, it’s so bad that it takes the two of us a couple of hours (or several shorter sessions) to get everything done. More often than that, I bring up a basket of clean clothes, and never put them away. Then, you guessed it. Those baskets sit until we’ve worn all the clothes in them and they go back downstairs to be loaded again.

I know we have four people, but we all wear more than one outfit a day pretty often, especially the kids, and theirs aren’t often re-wearable. Does anyone else have this problem? Anyone have any great ideas about how to tackle and keep track of the laundry situation?

EDIT 07-02-14: A friend sent me this pic, and I had to add it! Enjoy the irony.
funny-Never-Ending-Story-adult

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

I love consignment stores.  Specifically, I love the consignment stores in Winston.  Our house is furnished almost entirely with furniture from these various stores, sometimes fixed up, sometimes changed a bit, and sometimes looking exactly like it did when we bought it.

Yesterday, I bought two old, wooden filing cabinets. They are sturdy, made of solid wood, painted white and distressed (probably from actual use). Right when I saw them, I immediately thought of the storage they would provide in my son’s room. The general idea is toys in the bottom drawers, clothes and blankets in the upper drawers. His room has mostly dark furniture, so I saw the white cabinets as an opportunity to brighten up (add some color to?) his room.

New cabinets! They come up to my chin... see what I mean about storage?!
New cabinets! They come up to my chin… see what I mean about storage?!

Right away, I knew that even if I didn’t do anything else, I’d have to find new drawer pulls. Those look like filing cabinet pulls, don’t they? They look a little too industrial to use in my 6 month old son’s room. I texted Hubby’s cousin Elizabeth, who is an artist and master of restorations (her blog is here). She is my go-to for advice on projects and furniture design, if I’m looking to change/update something (and also to have a cocktail with). She told me if I didn’t want to paint the fronts, I’d better keep moving and find something else. Well, I liked the storage and space so much that I figured painting the fronts was doable. I’m also thinking about putting a thick coat of lacquer on the inside of the drawers so they don’t snag clothes, blankets, etc. So here I am, with a new project. Good thing I have Elizabeth to call and ask a million questions of.

Today, all I have managed to do is clean them with a wet cloth and remove the drawer pulls. They’re currently spread all over my living room, drawers out, the pulls and screws collected inside one of the drawers. Since it’s already close to my bedtime, I’ll be starting on the next thing tomorrow… you know, like picking colors and designs and such. Didn’t want to overwhelm myself by doing everything at once!

Any suggestions on an easy fixer-upper? Or a suggestion on paint or lacquer for me?

Parenting Plight #2: Babysitters

Let me make this clear before I get started: the plight of which I speak isn’t the babysitters themselves. Oh no, our family is blessed with wonderful, sweet babysitters who love and take good care of our kids, including several family members. No, the plight is a different beast altogether.

The plight is the leaving. The preparing for every possible scenario that might occur. The feeling that your phone must be on loud and in a visible spot at all times during whatever it is that you are doing away from the kids. The hoping you don’t get the phone call you’re waiting for. The sneaking out (I know- sneaking causes a whole set of issues- we don’t always do it) while they are distracted doing something else. The feeling that you’ve forgotten to mention something, or forgot to leave a certain item in plain view, or forgot to get cash to pay the sitter with. You know what I mean.

The plight of leaving your kids with someone else must get more comfortable at some point, right? I mean, beyond the missing them and hoping they sleep well, it must get easier the older they are. I remember as a kid, my parents leaving meant that I could probably play board games and watch movies and eat cookies and stay up late with a sweet older girl who would serve, for several years, as a role model and favorite person to see on the occasional weekend my parents went out. But right now, with my two year old and six month old, leaving means that I better have my daughter fed or she won’t eat. And Frozen in the DVD player. And a swaddle (she will NOT sleep without one) ready for emergencies or bedtime. And I better have my son in a happy mood, in his pajamas, with everything he needs for bed already in his crib. And several bottles made and ready to go, because if I only leave one, he will wake up every two hours till I get home and need one. Hubby can’t relate to this, because I have self-diagnosed OCD and he is as laid back as they come. See why we fit together so nicely?

Often, we are lucky enough for our babysitters to be grandparents. They know routines. They know what to do in case of a meltdown. They know where everything is in the house (or in some cases, baby stuff is all there in their own houses). They are familiar, safe faces and personalities. And praise the Lord, they are free. But lately, even they have a little resistance from the too-smart-for-her-own-good toddler. My mom doesn’t like to do bedtime with her right now because she gets up so many times before she is finally down for good, and when she gets up and all she finds is my mom, she is likely going to melt down. Why? No good reason. She loves my mom. She knows Hubby and I are coming home. She has everything she needs (full belly, clean diaper, swaddle, animal friends, etc). She just needs extra love right now, in this stage of her life.

Now, I will say two things, and they are in no way supposed to sound pushy. They are simply my opinion. First of all, the plight of leaving shouldn’t make you feel like you can’t have a date night, or go out with the girls, or even just see a movie by yourself if that’s your thing. We all need a little sanity, a little freedom, and a little time where the company can form complete sentences and drink a glass of wine. Secondly, if you’re in a committed relationship, it is really, REALLY important for you to have some time with your significant other alone… by yourselves. A revolutionary thought, i know. This is my opinion, but I’m also sure it’s true. Your relationship needs time that isn’t interrupted by kids’ meals, baths, naps and bedtimes. Make your person a priority. Don’t read that as “neglect your kids for that person”, but read it as a call to not neglect that person for your kids, if your person is important to you. Hubby and I love spending time together with the kids. We love spending time together at home after the kids are in bed, by ourselves or with friends. But we really appreciate a night out, just the two of us, slowing down, reconnecting, and getting to know each other better. It’s a time to see him as Hubby instead of Dad, for me to be a wife instead of just Mom, and to revisit hopes and dreams and careers and thoughts on life in general, instead of schedules, kids, bills and housework. Remember that time? Yeah. We were living the crazy life. We were doing what we wanted to, when we wanted to. We don’t really want to go back there, but a few hours of doing just that is exactly the therapy we needed.

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Dinner at The Porch, drinks at Recreation Billiards and music at Bull’s Tavern was our perfect date night.
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