A Little Light From This Week’s Dark Tunnel

All over my Facebook feed you’ll find every other post about politics or some reference to the “cash me ousside” girl. It’s so unbearable so I’ve decided to do a little interview with my six year old. I asked her to tell me ten things that she was looking forward to when she becomes an adult. She is such a hoot so why not put some smiles back on our faces?!

2017 (1 of 1)-2.jpg

  1. I want to be an artist. I want to make a lot of minions for little kids. I want to teach an art class and show kids how to make a girl and a boy the right way.
  2. I want to be a doctor. I want to pull out babies. I’m going to tell their parents that they have to tell me what they’re naming their kid. I’ll tell them if it’s a boy or a girl, too.
    **Mom note: I’ve told her time and time again to say ‘OB’ instead of ‘pull-out-baby-doctor’.**
  3. I want to be a recycler. I’m going to get more people to recycle and keep the Earth clean. Planet Earth needs a lot of birthdays. So if someone throws trash on the ground, I’ll clean it up and find people to do it with me. I think they are teenagers or something.
  4. I want to be an aunt. I want to be an aunt because if Savanna has kids, I want to help my sister. I’ll be next door to her house, I think. I’m going to give them healthy food because Savanna doesn’t like healthy food.
  5. I want to make flowers when I grow up. I’m going to make the flowers, different colors. First you have to put the seeds down so when it’s a rainy day, there will be water on it.
    **Mom note: I’m just as confused.**
  6. I want to drink a lot of Starbucks. I want to drink an Iced Chai Tea Latte with eight pumps. I also want a cake pop there and I’ll help you get your 7 pump drink.
  7. I want to be on my adult cell phone sometimes. I will bring it with me when I go somewhere. I’m going to call you all of the time. I want to put pictures all over my adult Facebook.
  8. I want to help you go to the store. So if you want to go to TJ Maxx, I’ll just do it for you. I’ll pick up whatever you need. If you need a toy for someone’s birthday, I will get it.
  9. I WANT TO BE A SOCCER COACH. I’m going to help the kids learn how to play. They better not touch the ball with their hands.
  10. I want to go to college. I want to go to the one that is in Virginia. The one that Uncle Charlie wears on his hat. It’s blue and orange.
    2017 (1 of 1)-35.jpgI feel like when I was six years old, I worried about when the next time I was going to be eating pizza was. But this kid is so excited about her future and I’m hopeful that it will stay that way. She is so bright and caring and I truly envy her kind heart. When I first sat down and planned this blog, I wanted to compare what my answers would be as a six year old but I really just can’t take away the spotlight from her. If the feelings in Madison’s heart are comparable to other kids her age, we won’t have so much hate in the world twenty years from now. Let’s teach our kids right from wrong, good from bad, and just how to be a freakin’ awesome person, ya know?

SO, I’m challenging you, friends, to ask your kids to tell you ten things that they want to do as an adult. Let’s see what our future looks like!

My Chemical (Free) Romance

The older I get the more conscious I become of what we are putting into our bodies. It’s hard, though, especially with food. There are so many contradictory statements about what you should or shouldn’t eat. Every time someone comes out with a new study claiming something is good for you, someone else comes up with a study saying it’s not. It’s so confusing. When my husband and I first started trying to get pregnant, we decided to make the switch to organic food. I was already dabbling in it but the price increase made me nervous. When I thought about what went into my body fueling the life of our child, I was persuaded to spend the extra bucks and maybe just shop a little smarter. While I’m not perfect by any means, I try to purchase only organic food, with the exception of a few things that my husband won’t give up (ie: Pringles and Quaker oatmeal!) and my ultimate weakness- Twizzlers.

Aside from food, I have really been trying to rid our lives of chemicals that aren’t necessary. I’m not quite to the point where I will use essential oils for everything and making everything from scratch, but I’m making changes here and there. Here are some of my favorite products and foods that we use on a daily basis and make me feel a little better about how we live our life and raise our child. These products certainly aren’t chemical “free” as much as they are free of chemicals that aren’t necessary and have been proven to cause damage to the human body.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dryer Sheets in Basil Scent

91jjswgi6il-_sl1500_

One of the downsides to living in an old building that hasn’t been updated in forever is yucky water. I mean, GROSS, iron filled water. It wreaks havoc on my hair, dishes, and clothes. The water just smells bad when it gets on our clothes and since our laundry detergent is free of perfumes, I had to get rid of the smell somehow! But I didn’t want to undo the work of a free and clear detergent by using just any dryer sheets. Enter the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day dryer sheets in basil scent. Oh. My. Heaven. These little sheets smell sooo wonderful. They are made with essential oils and without phthalates and they leave our laundry room smelling like a perfect little laundry cloud of awesomeness. Now, these are not the $2 for 100 count dryer sheets you’re used to- they do cost a bit more, but I’ll pay it every time for that delightful scent.

SO Delicious Almond Milk

almond_48oz_unsweet1

So this one isn’t organic, and when I purchase milk I ALWAYS buy organic, but almond milk brands are few and far between and what is important is that it is made without carrageenan. Read here about what exactly carrageenan is, but basically it’s a thickening agent that can wreak havoc on your digestive system. SO carrageenan free almond milk is a great alternative for those who can’t have dairy. Not to mention all the research on why dairy is not so wonderful. I also love SO Delicious Mini Mocha Almond Fudge Bars. Since I can’t really have ice cream because it makes me feel like death, this is a super yummy alternative. Too bad my local Kroger stopped carrying them…I’m lookin’ at you Kroger at Towers…

mocha-almond-bars-big

Babyganics Baby Wipes, Honest Diapers

screen-shot-2016-01-29-at-8-51-35-am

We use Babyganics wipes and Honest Company diapers. We love that both companies are chlorine free, free of lotions and fragrances, and don’t contain latex. I’m not crazy about the Babyganics diapers- when Wyatt used them they left this strange residue all over him- like little pieces of the diaper flaked off almost. And he leaked through almost every time. For diapers we stick with Honest Company, and in a pinch will use Seventh Generation (which has a great line of products, we just prefer Honest). The only downside to Honest over Babyganics is that they don’t have the wetness indicator, but since they’re all unscented, you can just put your nose up to the diaper and instantly smell if there is pee. You can read a great comparison from Hooked on Beauty, who compared all three brands of diapers.

Shea Moisture

764302901402

I LOVE this baby body wash/shampoo and also use their clarifying shampoo. Shea Moisture products are made with no parabens, phthalates, paraffin, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, synthetic color, DEA, petroleum, and never test on animals. They smell great, though I do think the scent is a little strong, but that’s because they use essential oils for the scent instead of synthetic fragrance. My kiddos eczema prone skin does well with this

Better Life Stain and Odor Eliminator, Eucalyptus & Lemongrass

51k0qsxx62l-_sy679_

I was very hesitant about making this change. Shout just does such a good job! But I was using it a lot to get out poop stains from Wyatt’s clothes and every time I sprayed that nozzle I was overwhelmed with the strong chemical scent. I decided when that bottle ran out I would try something new. I found the Better Life brand while perusing the aisles of Target (SHOCK!) and I’m happy to report it did just as good of a job as Shout! Now, I haven’t tried it on anything other than poo, so the jury’s still out on other stains, but “it works if you work it, it’s worth it” (name that movie!).

I’m definitely not perfect when it comes to living a chemical free life. I cringe whenever I buy organic whipped cream because it is SO expensive. I don’t want to smell like all of the all natural deodorants on the market. And I have a weakness for soda. But I’m trying, little by little, to adjust our lifestyle so we live a little healthier.

*all pictures are from Amazon.com or from the product’s website*

Why There’s No Such Thing As “Mr. Mom”

1404550_10200441387791078_1764611206_o.jpg
(3 year old picture)

I was on Facebook this morning and I saw a post that I had written three years ago. To sum it up, it basically said that I couldn’t understand why wives and girlfriends praise their children’s father for doing what they are supposed to be doing anyway. Getting up with kids, giving them baths, making them breakfast, I could go on and on about what the job of a parent is. Three years later, and I still feel the same. Because truth be told, a mother and a father are both equally their parent. In our house, we divide things up pretty evenly, or at least we try to. My husband is gone all of the time either doing training or a deployment, so when he is home, he understands that he has to pick up where he left off with the kids. In fact, he is excited about it.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MR. MOM

I remember what ignited me to make that Facebook status. An acquaintance of mine had made a status saying that she woke up to her baby already fed and changed and she was so thankful for her husband that particular day because he had done it for her. Because on a normal day, that was her job. She was responsible for feeding and waking up with the child and he was only responsible for earning their household income and making sure he keeps his video games in order. I remember feeling so sorry for her. Maybe she just didn’t want to stick up for herself or maybe she just thought that was her purpose, like the reason she was born was to only raise children. Old fashioned ways of living only work if you don’t complain about doing everything yourself with the kids or even complain that women make less than men. Because you are feeding into the stereotype. If you really just WANT to be at home with your kids all of the time, then I praise you. It is not an awful thing to want to be there for everything. But please make sure that your husband or children’s father is included also. Just because you stay at home and he works, doesn’t mean he gets away with not changing a diaper or making a bottle.

12034345_10203939027229878_4350223445659421899_o.jpg
Brittany Besaw Photography

Gosh, I remember when Madison was a baby and Michael and I would get up together in the middle of the night and one would change her and one would feed her. We would switch the next time she woke up. We worked together as a team to make sure both of us are being the parents that we want to be. Now I will admit, ever since Madison got tubes in her ears almost two years ago, I won’t let anyone else give her a shower because I’m so cautious about her ears getting wet so I prefer to just do it myself. I’ll add that only because I give Madison her shower, I go ahead and do Savanna’s also because it just makes more sense. So because I do all of the bathing, he is responsible for doing something else to make it fair.

 

RAISING CHILDREN IS NOT A CHORE, IT’S A BLESSING

I truly think that the best thing you can do for your child is to show them that it’s not a woman’s job to do all of the parenting. Michael and I usually switch up who takes who to what sport. We take turns pretty much doing everything, and we are showing our children that that’s what it means to parent. To be equal with the other raiser. There is only once a year that we can go on vacation together as a family and that’s in the summer. Michael takes them places without me and I do the same. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t taking the kids anywhere longer than three days (refer back to the washing hair issue) without me. Michael has the whole “let the kids be kids” mentality that I’m honestly jealous of sometimes. But because I’m the worry-wart and scheduling freak, there is balance within our family. Anyways, I know this is a short and sweet blog tonight, not going to lie, I have a huge cut on the tip of my finger that’s killing me as I type. But I hope any mom that’s reading this takes away something from it. Know that balance is the key for success…and that fathers are not babysitters, but parents. Happy living!

New Year: Less Guilt.

This post started as a light-hearted recalling of the things I feel guilty about as a mother. “Mom Guilt”. It is so real and every mother feels it in some way. But the more I thought about writing this post, the more I thought about how this is so much more than Mom Guilt.

My husband almost always thinks that underneath a seemingly silly feeling (being upset about something little and pointless) is just the tip of the iceberg- that there’s really more going on under the surface and I just don’t want to say it. And while most of the time he’s wrong (sometimes having to run the laundry again after forgetting there was already a load in the washing machine really IS that big of a deal!), this time there is.

I’ve always had a guilty heart. I bring it upon myself and carry it’s heavy load like the 10 grocery bags you insist on carrying inside to avoid multiple trips. I’ve been riddled with guilt since I was young. I wish I could say that I was an inspiration- that I clamored my way out of a bad situation and was a story you would see on an episode of Ellen. As all four of us squeeze onto the same couch Ellen dotes on how great of a provider I was for my siblings when they needed it most and now they all get a scholarship to college. Enter four giant checks. But I wasn’t. I was weak. I was fragile. I was broken. I was a child myself. I wanted so badly to be that big sister that took care of her siblings when they needed it. But I couldn’t. I escaped instead, leaving them behind to deal with the reality of the situation. And I am weighed down with guilt every single day for not being who they needed me to be. For not being braver. For not sticking it out with them. For running away. You don’t need to know the details to understand the feeling. To understand the heaviness I feel in my chest when I think about how I let them down.

Guilt is my burden to carry as their big sister. And it’s so interesting how easily that translates into motherhood. How seamlessly the guilt flows back and forth between them and my child. I know I’m not alone in this motherhood guilt. I know all mothers feel it in some way and it really starts the minute you find out you’re expecting- when every choice you make has an impact on someone who has no say. It’s a lot of pressure and it certainly doesn’t stop when the baby comes- it only intensifies and becomes more scary.

I wrestle with it every day in some way but I push it to the side and let it build and build and build until one day something happens and it triggers a volcanic explosion of emotions. The guilt I feel is, I think it’s safe to say, what every mother feels. I know the guilt is internal only and is not rooted in anything factual, but it is real and it is strong and it makes you feel that heaviness in your heart when faced with making choices.

It’s not like I came out of my childhood unscathed. The scars run deep, singeing like a lightening bolt scar when danger gets too close. I can’t be carefree. I can’t be reckless. I never really could be even when, for a brief period, I tried to be. But the burdens of my siblings become my burdens. Their hurt becomes my hurt. Their struggle sits heavy on my heart. And that guilt transfers into motherhood, compounded with the natural guilt a parent feels about the choices they make. I worry, probably too much, about whether or not my son will feel fulfilled. I worry that he won’t feel my love and protection from the hurt of the world. That I won’t be his safe haven. I know I can’t, and shouldn’t, protect him from everything. But I worry that he won’t know how hard I would try.

Is his hurt too big?

Do I look at my phone too much?

Do I not teach him enough?

Do I not read him enough stories or sing him enough songs?

Do I protect him enough?

Do I hold him enough?

Do I hold him too much?

Mom Guilt. It starts as a funny meme and turns into something bigger. When did just being his mom, loving him, and taking care of him not be enough?

When did just being their sister and not their protector not be enough?

I know I will always, ALWAYS wonder and worry that I’m making the right choices and doing the right thing. But honestly, sometimes the right choices are hard to make. And then there’s the guilt of not being able to make a decision at all.

Being a mom is hard, ya’ll, but not in the way I thought it would be. Changing diapers and waking up in the middle of the night and cleaning up messes and when he only wants to be held- that’s not hard. It’s the constant self-doubt. The always second guessing whether or not I’m doing enough. Whether or not I’m living up to my end of it all.

I have been blessed, and cursed, with an incredible amount of empathy. I feel the pain of others so deeply that I tend to take that pain onto myself. Whether that’s my husband, my child, my siblings, or strangers. I feel their pain so intensely that it’s as if it’s my own to carry like a backpack of stones.

His smiles let me know I’m doing ok. His kisses, mouth wide open, tongue sticking out, let me know he feels my love. His loud belly laugh when his dad tickles his belly remind me of how smart I was to choose this man. How lucky I was that he chose me.

The truth is, we’re all doing ok. Each one of us moms. Each one of us dads. Each one of us daughters and sons and sisters and brothers. We’re doing the best we can. And maybe that’s what our resolution should be going into 2017- put down the guilt. Take the burden off and and give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing ok. lisa-jo-baker