Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Knocked Out

Yesterday my daughter had a doctor's appointment with her dermatologist. We have been seeing one and many other types of doctors since she was 3 months old for her severe eczema. For over 10 years I have been researching, trying any and all medications, natural remedies and even crazy witch doctor remedies. We have tried bleach baths, oatmeal baths, less baths, more baths. We tried every lotion you can think of. Even the ones at the fair that claim to have healing emu oils. We have done light therapy, steroids and immunization suppression medication that is made for transplant patients. We have tried it all.

Yesterday I went in hoping that they would lower the amount of medication she is on. Instead I came home with 4 more. I walked out of there feeling completely drained. Like I had been fighting for so long and I got knocked down for the last time. I just can't do it anymore. I'm tired of consulting with doctors and driving to appointments and dragging my kid to blood draws. I'm sick of fighting with my kid everyday to take care of her skin. I'm tired of worrying about getting prescriptions refilled and then having to remember to pick them up. I'm tired of nothing ever really working.

I am trying to get past these feelings. To brush myself off and get back up for another round. And I will. But today it feels impossible. I can't even see where I can draw the strength from.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Kid Can't Stand Pre-Puberty Chats

I have a nine year old who rather stab himself in the eye with a sharp pencil than talk about "cute girls." I am not the one to ask about him liking girls, but people do, and this is when painful awkwardness unravels. I wonder if this simply comes with his age. At nine years old, my son is oddly still my baby, but also he's not. I am well aware that he's growing up.

Next year, he'll have the school-provided "sex class" and though my husband plans to tackle the topic this year, I often do my best to hint at my openness and availability on all things sex, puberty, and anatomy. Sadly, my son wants nothing to do with me during these exchanges.

He's the type that hides behind a couch pillow if anything remotely intimate develops on TV. Sometimes I'll kiss his dad and he randomly proclaims, "stop it." Just the other day, I said a word he mistook for gay and he was up in arms about it. In the end, I found out his teacher defined the term for his entire class and that he knows next year he'll get the "puberty chat" in school. 

However, to get this much out of him was like pulling teeth. I had to carefully measure each and every word. Plus, he was just oozing painful uncomfortability.  Personally, I don't get why he's not more comfortable with me.

My parents were anti-communication. They were close-minded and judgey. My husband and I like to pride ourselves on being open-minded, understanding parents. We will shower acceptance all over our children, their questions, and lifestyle choices. Nevertheless, my son has a hard time being a part of any conversation he deems remotely touchy.

The other day as I poked around very subtly he seemed to get emotional when I asked if he was uncomfortable chatting about these preteen topics because of how I would see him? Fighting back tears and hiding his face he answered, "yes" then water works began! In the end, my preteen boy is somehow embarrassed that in my eyes, he'll change. Boy, do I get that. 

There's no turning back on growing up. Change is tough and our parents' opinion of us or lack thereof is pretty significant during our preteen years. I assured my sweet kid that I'd never judge him or label his natural changes in any way. I just want him to know I'm here to listen, accept, and support him. 

In the end, I hope my message got through and I sure as heck hope he's serious when he claims, "when the time comes, I'll be good, and I'll talk to daddy."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Strong is Beautiful

We all love the commercials during the Super Bowl. While scrolling through Facebook during the big game a Pantene ad video come up on my feed. The video was absolutely adorable with a message that means a whole lot to me.

How cute are these football player Poppas combing their daughters hair? Growing up my Mom would never send us to school without our hair perfectly combed. Never a hair out of place. Our braids never unraveled and our parts were perfectly center and straight. I can remember one time for some reason or another my Pops had to comb our hair. Let's just say that we looked very different that day. I can remember my teaching asking me if my Mom was okay.

In our house that is a daily occurrence. My husband has our girls in the morning and he combs our 5 years old hair every weekday. Our Louie has very very long hair. And I have to admit it he is better at it than I am. His braids never unravel and his parts are on point. He is the ultimate in Dad-Dos.

But behind the cuteness is a really powerful message. Girls who spend more time with their Dads become stronger women. Our girls have grown up with their Dad as their primary caregiver. He spends the most time at home taking care of the girls. As a Mom who sees herself as a strong woman I am very conscious about how my actions are being watched by my daughters. This commercial was a great reminder that my husbandand his actions are just as important in raising strong women. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

One couple's biggest regrets after a decade of marriage!

His (1-5):

1. Not vacationing sooner with my wife. I met a woman who loved travel. This defined her. My sweetheart stopped traveling when we got married and began having children. I hadn't realized she was sacrificing part of her for us. Now, we travel at least once annually (sometimes up to three times a year). What's important to her, is important to me.

2. Not admitting we needed help sooner. Once the newlywed haze faded, my marriage had issues I thought we alone could fix. I didn't think we needed outside help. Eventually I understood our church, friends, family, and even own self-improvement (books, retreats, etc.) was meant to make us better at this whole marriage thing and the struggles that came with it.

3. Not understanding sooner that my wife wasn't here to cater to my needs and my needs alone. Everyone has their own messy life to get through, it isn't her job to fix me. It's my job to fix me. 

4. Fighting about the fight! How many times does a fight start and the reason it started gets lost mid-fight? Before you know it, you're fighting about crazy things said during a fight, someone's tone, or even their silence. This is an exercise in futility. You end up going in circles likely escalating an issue and losing sight of why it began.

5. Not embracing sooner the work it takes to really make a marriage work. Dating folks and newlyweds have it easy (or at least it's suppose to come easy in the beginning), but hard work is required to make marriage last over the long haul. It took me too long to understand this, and once I did, I was better at being the best I could be for me, my wife, and our children.

Hers (6-10):

6. Trying to change my husband! At first, I didn't realize I was always trying to make my husband "more like me". I had to stop demanding he be anything other than himself. For instance, he HATES washing dishes. Nothing I do or say will change that. If that's so then why the hell did I spend years fighting about dishes? This is the same man who would gladly do 8 hours of any labor intensive work. Screw having him do dishes like I always do. We are different and that's good in so many ways.

7. Making my husband the bad guy after every fight. I often wanted to place blame on my husband when things went wrong or we disagreed. It was a sad reaction. A reaction I wish I was aware of sooner. Now, I stop when arguments get heated and do my darnedest to admit when I am wrong.

8. Not consistently showing my husband how much I desire him. It feels like he wants sex all the time. Truth is that's not the case. He wants to feel desired and I can damn well show him often how much I love and desire him with not only sex, but my words and actions. Authentically expressing my desires for him keeps him happier, more connected, and connection is one of my biggest needs. It's a win-win! 

9. Pretending we were something we weren't when things were hard. Early on I wanted to hide every detail of what went wrong with us. There was no need to hide it and become alienated from loved ones because of it. I am now proud of our battle wounds. After I began sharing the real struggles of our marriage with confidants, I felt more sincere in my life, and how we lived it. Plus, our lessons can help others going through similar challenges. Oddly enough some challenges began to go away the more transparent we became. There's a lot of growth in honesty.

10. YELLING! I've done plenty through the years. It never ever works or ends well. I still yell from time to time, but I sure as hell understand I am hurting communication instead of helping it.

What have you regretted through the years?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

You ruined that crying baby by picking them up...

or did you? New research debunks the theory that picking up crying babies will spoil them. A researcher from Notre Dame studied 600 hundred adults and concluded: "cuddles matter." Babies who were cuddled grow up to be healthier, happier, more well adjusted adults.

Interestingly enough my roomie-mother-in-law and I were talking about how great we believe it is for children to witness affection among their parents to learn connection firsthand. During this chat, I began to ponder my family structure. My parents were NOT close or cuddly people. In fact, they were troubled and violence was prevalent in their marriage. In turn, my siblings aren't very outwardly affectionate from what I see in their longstanding relationships. I'd say some are even troubled in adulthood due to the lack of loving connections in our youth. 

To that point, I wondered what made me different? I am the cuddle queen usually all over my hubby. To me, it doesn't matter who's around, I love PDA. Yet, I was raised in the same family as my less affectionate siblings.

realize now this difference could come down to birthorder. I am the youngest of six. I can remember feeling totally embraced and cuddled by five older siblings and two parents. Little did I know this was creating the future well-adjusted me. I cried a lot like any other baby, however, in my home there was no shortage of helpful hands willing to cuddle me. This in turn made me a cuddlier. My children are huggers, kissers, and all together mushy with those they feel close to likely because this was a part of my upbringing. Luckily, research shows this is a good problem to have.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

15 lessons learned after 10 years of marriage...

1. Marriage is fucking hard until it's not. Don't give up on it. You'll never know if you were "two feet from gold." Early in my marriage, I literally hated my husband (and myself) after plenty of kicked out, dragged out fights. We both acted like our previously unmarried, immature selves, and until we got the immaturity out of our systems, marriage was taxing. 

2. Sex is important. Don't stop having it or being good at it. Life will try to sneak up on you and steal your intimacy. Fight back tooth and nail. That bitch doesn't deserve a moment of YOUR orgasmic bliss.

3. Stay sexy! This isn't about being something you're not. Be you. Doesn't matter the skin you're in so long as you love the shit out of you. This love of you gives you the confidence to love hard outside of you too.

4. Haters gonna hate, especially on love. If you've worked hard on your marriage to make it look easy, then you're doing it right. Through it all, you'll be complimented and criticized (of course, the latter usually happening behind your back). Be attached to none of it. The haters will hate and the cheerleaders will cheer. Do you, do each other, and leave it at that.

5. Eventually I had to accept it, I am not always right. I come from a strong family of hardheaded mo-fos! Marriage taught me to drop my cool and stop trying to win every debate. Things got easier when I stopped closing out the world from my righteous bubble.

6. Marriage isn't a fairytale, but I won't settle for anything less than GREAT. It is never selfish to get consistently better at marriage. Sure, you could have a good marriage, but good is the enemy of great. Go for great, always.

7. Kids consuming your life kills sex drive and intimacy, so keep those boogers at bay. Do whatever it takes for them... feed, cloth, love, protect, and all that jazz, but never EVER make them the center of your marriage. You and your spouse come first.

8. Throughout marriage you'll lose friends, not to worry. Marriage will take your time and focus. It will disconnect you from some and connect you to others. Go with what feels right. Now, I don't mean to say become friendless, but friendships WILL change. Find authentic friends who will influence your marriage positively even if that means having a smaller circle of great friends. 

9. When "push comes to shove" be the real you... the most "ugly" and vulnerable you. In that rawness, marriage gets bigger and better. It's okay to emotionally fall apart with each other, if not with one another, then with who? Plus, it's this breakthrough in connection that takes weakening unions to the next level.

10. Protect boundaries: sexual, emotional, and physical boundaries alike. Pushing boundaries can be dangerous for the sanctity of good love. Proceed with caution. 

11. Everyone pushes their OWN little red wagon. This isn't 1952, men AND women do housework in 2016. Together they made those babies, so they sure as hell get to raise them TOGETHER. Besides, to me, there's nothing hotter than a guy doing handy work. Today, I witnessed my hubby bathe our son while simultaneously hosting a tea party and reading session with our daughter. SWOON!

12. Safeguard against contention. You know that couple that passive aggressively snaps at each other and sucks the air out of the room? Yeah, don't be them. They're headed towards Splitsville. Studies  have shown that contentious marriages are deteriorating marriages with a high probability of divorce. Project yours from such a slow and malicious death.

13. Don't compare yourself to other couples. Avoid looking outward for validation or direction. Look inside yourselves where your unique struggles and strengths lead to the perfect rhythm for a lasting relationship.

14. Your children will marry their parents. Be the best example for them. Those little sponges are watching where your union is weak and where it is strong, so be very careful not to model disaster. They deserve better after all. If you don't settle for a crummy marriage they won't settle for one either.

15. We're never done learning or changing. My marriage is only ten years young. As it evolves and changes, so will we. With that, I embrace change with every passing day. Still change is often uncomfortable and hard. That doesn't make it bad, so I'll accept it as it comes and evolve alongside it.

What are the lessons you've learned in love?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cheap Dates: Valentine's Day on a Budget

I remember the days my hubby and I didn't have much discretionary income. We lived paycheck to paycheck, but a girl like me still expected a nice gift and/or date night especially around holidays. In these situations cheap dates were better than no dates at all. For a Valentine's Day on a budget, keep things simple, but romantic options open:

• Sunset or Sunrise Hike: surprise your loved one with a romantic trek along a local/scenic trail. Bring along $2 buck chuck (wine) from Trader Joes and other delicious Trader Joes snackems. There's so many good deals on seasonal fruit and veggies. Bring a nice journal along that you've kept moving up to this date... add all of your feelings and all that mushy stuff that makes for a great sentimental gift. You can also address the journal and gift it with the caveat that once it's filled it is returned you - the gifter!

•'Volunteer together: there's nothing better than giving back. Use Valentine's Day to give to great causes. This is not only cheap, but worthy of your time. Fun volunteer activities include beautifying a local community garden, creating care packages for troops via local nonprofit orgs., or picking fruit together at local apple orchards. These fruits are often donated to local inner city groups. What a great way to share love and give back.

•Lavish dessert: a great way to enjoy a fancy venue is to visit without any intention of paying for a pricy meal. For instance, cook a great brunch at home then make plans to share dessert at a five star joint. This works well at a casual 5 star hotel bar known for impressive cityscapes or beach front views. Enjoy the romantic ambiance while saving on a pricy full course meal. This is an especially cost effective plan if you celebrate one day early or late (avoiding Valentine's Day crowds is an added plus).

What are your cheap date ideas???