December 9, 2016

I'm Still Here

I sat down to write this after a long but not awful bedtime. I'm all by myself tonight and while I wish it wasn't 9:00 already as I'm completely exhausted (but still have so much to do) I felt the urge to write something here. As Liz Gilbert might say, when that urge takes you, you do not simply press pause or you risk losing the idea. So, I write. Warning: it's long. But it'll probably be the last thing I write for a long time so maybe bookmark it and come back later? ;)

Tonight, as I went back into the room (for the fourth time) where my almost 2.5 year old twins were kicking each other in the toddler bed they insist on sharing (despite having two perfectly usable beds), I took a deep breath and promised not to lose my cool on them, no matter what. I had already yelled once about 20 minutes prior and look where that had gotten me - no closer to them sleeping or me getting to the list of things I still had to do.

As I held their hands and listened to them point out each other's body parts, I chose to smile along rather than think about the time I was "wasting." This was not easy, but eventually they hit a lull and I offered to sing a song. "Let it Go," Viv quietly demanded. So I sang, trying my best to channel Idina/Elsa without stirring them as they finally became still, their little chests rising and falling heavily. I couldn't help but notice how incredibly poetic it all was.

You see, for a little while there, I lost myself. By lost I mean down the rabbit hole, searching for a life preserver, on a cliff lost. I don't share much about my mental health struggles with anyone, especially not online (hence the whole radio silence for 6 months thing) but this one was a doozy. I haven't felt that way in a very, very long time.

The hardest part was being honest with myself. But I didn't want to do this again and fought it as hard as I could.  It didn't even make any sense to me. I had taken up meditation, started journaling again and it was summer! How could I feel this way? Why now?! But honestly, for a long time, I was absolutely miserable.

I told myself all the things you say: You'll be fine. This is just a hard time, you'll get through it like always. Get over it! I forced myself to smile and hoped that it would just catch on. I got pretty good at faking it for a bit. But I've been on this ride before and I know how it ends and, at some point, it was do or die. Other people started to notice and my kids started to feel the affects and I realized that by avoiding the issue I was quickly becoming the very person I worked so hard to change. Bad habits started cropping back up, I lost my ability to just feel good. One day, I decided just to stop running away. I needed to face this, head on, or I was going to be lost forever in the tiny space between ok and not ok. It was hard freaking work, but three months later, I am still here. And significantly happier, I might add.

It was a meditation that finally changed everything for me. I actually just remembered that. It was back in September. It's not my favorite meditation but the message for me was loud and clear:

"There is nothing wrong with you." 

Yes, I was currently troubled. Shit was kind of bad for a bit and we were worried. I talked about medication, seeing someone. There were options, but none of them felt like the right path for me.

Backstory: I was 17 when I saw my first Psychiatrist. He was kind and genuine, actually let me believe that I had borderline personality disorder and then prescribed me some not so great medication, then another and then sent me on my way to college and the resident social worker who would continue my talk therapy work. Five years later I was still on the pills, albeit the best of them all, when I aged out of my parent's insurance, got a job I loved and met CJ. That was ten years ago and I haven't been to therapy or taken a pill since. I chalked it all up to simply being a lost, lonely and impressionable teenager (Girl, Interrupted is one of my favorite movies of all time).

Imagine my surprise when all the same bs started cropping up again ten years later while I'm elbow-deep in raising two toddlers and trying to keep my infant nephew (and my marriage) alive at the same time? Worse, when you've been there already, you really, really don't want to go back - so you fight.

You see, your life is picture perfect and since no one else can see behind the scenes you start to wonder if it really is all in your head. You convince yourself it can't be real so it's not real and there is nothing wrong with you because you're fine ok bye. All while you're screaming/crying/dying inside but you do not break (yet).

Thankfully, I did learn quite a bit over those years in therapy (as well as from my little-used Psych degree) and I knew exactly what to do.

For me, the core issue was a matter of finding peace with the fact that this was my life, no matter what I felt or wanted to change about it. No, I don't regret my babies or husband, but often dwell on our finances and the future. The choices we made and where they led us. The things that can incite my anxiety at all hours of day and night even though there is literally nothing I can do about any of it right that second.

I finally realized, there is nothing wrong with me. It's my plans, and expectations and wants and desires and inability to just accept and go with the flow.

Medicating would not fix it. Talking to someone else might help but would be just one more thing on my list. I needed to do the work, clear out the chaos and just be. More so, I needed to prioritize the things that really mattered: self-care, my closest relationships and positive, mindful motherhood. I needed to trust that this journey, no matter how difficult, was meant for me, while focusing my energy on the areas that I could change.

So I let things go.

I gave up my dream of buying a house next year or even moving to a bigger apartment. I started seeing my backyard as an oasis, despite being smack in the middle of a neighborhood near an intersection. I cleared out the clutter and transformed our living spaces into places I enjoy spending time, rather than just living, in.

I gave up even thinking about potty training or teaching the girls anything, really. They'll get there. And they have. They're brilliant and wonderful and sweet. I completely stopped mentioning the fact that they seemed to only want to survive on cheese and bread. They're pretty into carrots and apples right now, though. I'll take it!

I gave up on my goal to have the house clean "enough." If I got to it, it got done, if I didn't, CJ did it, and with no complaints ever. I used that time and energy to actually play with and enjoy my kids every single day - hard as it was at first, even (especially?) for me. My mind still wanders to that to-do list but meditation is helping with that.

Finally, I gave up my aspirations to write for all the mom sites everywhere, even this blog. For months I thought, if I only get published or featured once at one of these big places (other than at Twinversity who I love and will continue to write for) then I can call myself a "real" writer. I tried so damn hard and even pitched a few awful articles (seriously, I won't even share them here they're just bad) and got turned down or ignored and I felt like crap. I finally realized that it's not me who sucks (well, not entirely) but that the market is completely over saturated with all these amazing writers whose lives I myself follow every day. If I ever wanted to do anything meaningful, it needed to be something different.

The second I let that one go, I felt better. No more wracking my brain and wasting hours a night trying to come up with a short AND funny AND compelling BUT sometimes hypocritical OR sanctimonious (inciting) piece for a few thousand shares on facebook and a couple blog hits. Plus, these women are so much better at it than I am, I don't even want to compete against them.

Instead, I started a few book ideas and actually wrote a poem or two. That's as far as I've gotten but it's a work in progress, right?

In the span of 8 months, I filled two journals, got up to two meditations a day totaling 30 minutes of straight up me time, cleared out a ton of clutter and cried my way through a lot of very hard days. I almost lost my best friend, almost went back to work and almost walked out the door a few times. But every day, by the grace of whoever runs this big mess, I kept on doing the work. I tuned in, slowed down and softened. All the while reaffirming my belief that while I might not be ok right now, this was just another part of my incredible journey.

I focused my energy on enjoying my life, exactly as it was, without manipulation or filters or guilt (let me tell you that is the hardest thing to let go).

Then, four days ago I signed up for a Mama Mini Retreat, hosted by Mothering Arts. The purpose was to create intentions and rhythms while clarifying our focus on what we wanted and needed the next month to be for ourselves and our families. I just happened upon it on Facebook and joined - it turned out to be one of the best things I've done for my mental health. The courses and prompts were short and simple yet deep and thought-provoking and I felt both challenged and inspired. These three days changed the way I plan our routines and commitments and helped me bridge the gap between wanting to be present and actually noticing and participating in my own life, something I've worked so hard on for so long.

These words changed it all for me:

"The Art of Mothering is to embrace your authentic, imperfect, unique self. By doing this with gentleness and grace, we offer a living model of self-love to our child." - Kerry Ingram

I am still here. There is nothing wrong with me.

As a result of this course, I have a clear intention for the month of December: to embrace the spirit of the season in exactly the way that is going to serve my family best.

This means closeness with our loved ones, sharing the warmth of blankets and Christmas lights, indulging in cookies and savoring the stillness of a snowy afternoon.

It means reliving memories through decorations and music and putting real thought into selecting the gifts we will give to our closest ones to show how much they mean to us.

It means letting go of the we-should-dos and I-want-tos while enduring every trying tantrum or ruined Kodak moment or insanely long bedtime with love, compassion and grace.

It also means closing out an intense year on a high note and with the best of intentions for 2017. Which has a 7 in it and that's my favorite number, plus CJ is working his butt off and got a raise, so I have high hopes that it will be a good year.

And to 2016? Well, you were a jerk. In so, so many ways for me and so many others. But I thank you for the lessons you provided me and my family and the fact that I now know if we can survive a year like you then we're pretty much good for life

I am happy to say that I have won a year-long course provided by Mothering Arts. So at least I can thank 2016 for being the year that I finally won something! I've always believed that everything happens for a reason and this just shows me that staying true to my own path will always work out in the end.

I probably won't be writing again any time soon as I simply don't have time (seriously, how do the legit Mommy Bloggers do this?) but I'll be keeping the blog live for the heck of it. Oh and here's a pic of our not-so baby girls wearing purple to celebrate World Prematurity Day last month (Nov. 17th).

Follow us on Instagram (@beau_leo_twins) to keep up with us!

Thank you all for being a part of this journey with me, for supporting and loving me when I needed it most and for caring so damn much about these beautiful girls. I am sending all of you my best hopes for a magical season of love and kindness and wish you all the very happiest of new years!


June 17, 2016

How I'm Learning to Live My Best Life at 32 Years Old (Part 1)

I started reading a book about living your most creative life and all of a sudden I lost my blogging mojo. Maybe it's as the book says, it's Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (affiliate) by the way: the force behind this idea, to write a blog about being a twin mom, up and left me when I stopped nurturing and playing with it. That sounds so sad!

Really though, it's that I've taken on a huge challenge right now that takes up so much of my energy every day that my blog has been put on the back burner for a bit. I do still write, just not here. I've gone back to the art of paper and pen and I'm not just writing rants or lists, but stories and poems and prose and boredom pages - for the first time in years. It's all part of my plan to live my best life as I turn 32 years old. That happened last week, by the way (June 7th to be exact), in case you want to send a gift.

As I faced turning 32, I realized that, at my core, I felt unfulfilled, despite being busy and far from bored much of the time. It felt like my life was something happening to me, rather than something I was actually experiencing. I love my life and my children, but it was time for some changes. So I've spent the last few weeks finding resources to help with that and doing the work to check things off my list. I truly want this year to be my best yet and so far, I'm on a roll. Here's what I've been up to:

Getting Organized and Actually Getting Things Done

I like lists and journals and collections of thoughts. I also like to keep all my stuff together but my previous method of six notebooks assigned to every aspect of my life just wasn't practical anymore (it hasn't been since graduating college really, but old habits die hard). I should have a planner but none have ever worked out for me. It always becomes a disorganized mess of empty calendars, chicken scratch collections of thoughts with a few forgotten to-do lists peppered in.

Enter the Bullet Journal.

I am officially obsessed and although I still have far too many lists and random rambling thoughts, I can now organize and find them easily, thanks to the key and the index, while also being constantly reminded of the important things I need to do. I prioritize my to-do lists and limit myself to only 3 or 4 items total so I don't get overwhelmed. I keep an inspirational bookmark on my daily page so it's the first thing I see in the morning.

Don't you love my throwback to middle school with love, peace and happiness? That's always made me feel good so it had to be included.

Every night I take a minute to check off my to-do list and migrate things I didn't get done, then I write down a few things from the day, a few that I am grateful for and the things I want to do tomorrow. Rather than having things running through my brain, keeping me awake at night, I'm able to get it all out and sleep so much better.

The best part of a BuJo is that it has space for everything! There are no dividers so no risk of running out of room, just flip to the next page and mark it in your index. This way I can jot down any and all thoughts that stream through my head without hunting for the right notebook, so when my next big idea to strikes, I won't miss it.

My BuJo is also home to a lot of collections - books I want to read, blog and article ideas, inspirations I need to remember, recipes I want to try, day trip ideas and fun things do in our community. My favorite collection is a list of ways to play and connect with the kids - rather than trying to rack my brain for a way to lighten the mood or turning to google or pinterest, I just flip open my BuJo and inspiration is at my fingertips. Every time we discover or invent a new way to play or laugh, it goes in the book.

Since I just started, I'm trying to work out the logistics before focusing on decor, so mine is severely lacking in the pretty you see if you google bullet journal. Also, my handwriting is a mess so I'm kind of embarrassed to share it with everyone but it's mine and it's perfect and man has it made my life easier.

If you want to know more about Bullet Journals, start here. And then check here, here and here and go crazy like I did.

Feeling Clear Headed and More Focused

Meditation is one of those things that sounds so easy but is actually a total pain when you try to do it. I can easily drop into the zone during a yoga session, but to just sit and breathe seemed impossible to me. My thoughts would just bounce around my head, getting louder and louder. My eyelids start to flutter, like my eyes are begging to look at something more interesting and my breathing would actually become more labored and forced. For a long time I thought meditation was a hoax.

Really, I just needed to learn how to do it properly. My Dad invited me to join Headspace - an app that walks you through it in small steps through daily training sessions.  In each of these ten 10-minute sessions you practice relaxing, breathing and paying attention to your body with gradually decreasing guidance. It's kind of amazing how easily I can do it myself now after just those 10 sessions. I'm too cheap to pay for the rest of the app's functions (but you should!) so I now rely on free guided meditations or I just do it myself.

I've also gotten the kids started on their own practice. Every day we do some deep breathing, talk about what we're grateful for and spend a few minutes just quietly thinking. It's like hitting the reset button on a bad day and I know I'm helping them create a lifetime habit that they can always turn to.

I've finally learned how to disengage with the world and just be with myself for a few minutes and it feels incredible.  Totally weird and still hard to do, but whenever I can I practice and I can actually feel the weight of my worries being lifted. I wish I had figured this out 20 years ago!

Reading More, Scrolling Less

My kids don't need this - I did. They don't touch phones or tablets and in a day they watch maybe an episode of Tumble Leaf or a Sia music video.  I was addicted to my phone and I knew it. Over time it's become my easy release, my only break from my life. I hated that and was desperate to change it but nothing I tried was working.

So, I downloaded an app to see just how much I used my phone. In just one day Quality Time showed me how vital it was that I start making real changes.

On that normal day at home with the kids I spent almost seven hours looking at or using my phone between 7am and 11pm. That's insane and it's not even including time spent in front of the computer or TV. Even worse, most of it was freaking Facebook and not the ebook I was "reading"! I noticed the patterns; Whenever I felt overwhelmed, anxious or just needed to tune out, I'd Facebook it up, scrolling mindlessly until I found something interesting to read or a dramatic comment thread to get lost in.

That night I unfollowed almost all of my friends (no offense guys, you were just taking up too much space in my head), left most of the mom groups I was in and unliked a million pages. Next, I tailored my Facebook to inspire, educate or bore me, rather than entertain me or kill my good mood over all the bad news, drama and stupidity. I set a 1 hour a day limit and although I don't always stick to it, it's never over 90 minutes and that includes reading blogs and articles in the app.

I deleted all games from my phone except for one escape game and stopped googling damn near everything that drifted into my head. Instead, I keep a list of things to look up in my BuJo and pencil it in as Research on to my to-do list. Unless it's an answer to a kid's question that I really want to know, I get to it when I have time. Same thing with blog and article ideas.

Quality Time also helps to schedule breaks, turning off apps and notifications, except for phone calls from important people. I physically put my phone away for hours at a time now and after just a few days I barely even noticed. If I get bored, I read a chapter in my book, like I did 10 years ago, before I had a phone glued to my hand all the time.

I'm down to an average of less than 4 hours of using my phone and most of that is listening to music, meditations or podcasts, using the apps helping me on this journey and reading things that I actually enjoy.

I swear, it's like someone finally turned the volume down inside my head. My eyes don't feel strained by 6pm and colors seem more vibrant. I make the conscious effort a million times a day to look up instead of down and I can actually feel the difference. It's great having the world at our fingertips but much like booze or gambling - it's all better in moderation.

So that's what I've been up to for the last month. Aside from feeling less distracted, I have a sense of real accomplishment for the first time in years. It's hard to be "just a stay-at-home Mom" or "just a babysitter." Even though I'm super busy all the time, I feel like I never really get anything done. It's like my brain has been on autopilot since the day the girls were born - wake, keep them alive and the house semi-habitable, sleep when you can. Even the easy, mundane goals (like cleaning up my family history files) have sat around gathering dust for 2 years.

Now, thanks to an organized life, a clearer mind and what actually feels like more hours in the day, I'm able to set and accomplish not just day-to-day tasks, but future goals too. A big one is to start making money freelance writing. I've already been published over at Twiniversity a few times and this year I'm shooting for Scary Mommy and MamaLode.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn how I've completely transformed the way I see, talk to and listen to my kids and finally started taking care of myself.


May 13, 2016

Soooo... How About That Weather We've Been Having?

Ok, so my last post was... out of the ordinary... for this blog at least. It was more like a personal journal entry that I was just pissed off enough over to actually publish online. I learned two things from this post: 1) People love drama - it has received the most hits ever had on my blog and in just two days. That is after 2 years of writing and over 160 published posts (I'd guess the inflammatory title had something to do with that) and 2) I'm better than that.

I have to admit, my Dad helped me see it tonight (although I didn't admit it to him just then, I had to think on it more), that is not what this blog is about. It has always been a place where I can safely voice and work through my feelings, concerns and views while hopefully helping at least someone out there, without the drama and negativity that held me down so often in the past.

If I had left it at just the blood =/= family stuff then it would have been fine, but instead, I made it personal and it got nasty. Which, in a way, made me no better than the person it was directed towards. Not cool. Especially since I've been trying for years to be better than that.

So, I'm sorry for that. For not being authentic to my blog. Instead of satisfying my own desire for some sort of revenge, i should focus on keeping with the interests of my readers (all two of you!). I will never unpublish it, but it is definitely time to move on.

I thought I'd lighten things up a bit with a picture heavy post of the fun we've been having this Spring. I know this post will only get about 1/4 of the hits as the last one, but I'm totally ok with that, because at least it's happy. I'd rather be known for the fun I share with my kids than the angry rants I hurl into the abyss of the interwebz.

I hope you've been able to get out and enjoy the sunshine as we have. Here are some of our favorite things to do this time of year:

Dirt and Mud Play

Scooping, piling, plopping and, of course, digging - dirt play is the best! It's full of different sights, smells and textures and while it can be messy, it's pretty much a guaranteed fun time for anyone - except Mom who gets to strip off those messy clothes and do the laundry later. But that doesn't stop me - I love playing in the rain or creating puddles of mud with the hose. We don't do it every day, but when we do, it's so much fun.


Water Play

Who doesn't love water play? It's like mud play, only cleaner! Unless you're my kids, of course - they always manage to come away as wet as if they'd gone swimming. I have a stash of cups, scoops, utensils, rags and more that I randomly throw in, but mostly they just splash and try to drink the hose water (don't worry, Mom, I don't let them!). On rainy days I just pour some water into bins and let them have at it on a shower curtain and towels. It's by far one of their favorites!

Painting Outside

This has been one of my favorite activities for as long as I can remember. We did it last fall and painted all the leaves and twigs we could find. This time around I tried some homemade watercolor paint (a 10 second squirt of crayola washable paint mixed with about a cup of water).  Since it dries so fast in the sun, it creates layers of color on the page and adds a whole new element to mixing colors. Do not make the same mistake I did and allow your kids to paint your unsealed concrete patio - while I am in love with our new tye-dye backyard, I'm not so sure our landlord will be.

Playdough Outside


I love bringing indoor art mediums outside. With playdough, we've always enjoyed poking it with and molding it around sticks, rocks and pinecones or making faces with nature items. This time though, I just wanted to get rid of this batch of dough so I let them do whatever they wanted. It wasn't long before it was being stuck to everything from the fence to the trees.  Lo and behold they discovered a whole new way to work with it: imprints.

It was even cooler because you never knew what was going to stick. For example, the pine tree branches left these beautifully detailed and tiny illustrations of themselves. The grass just left a bunch of slants and dead ants. The cherry blossom tree was by far the coolest - the bark looks so smooth but in reality it's full of tiny dots. I was too busy exploring with them to get good pics but you get the idea. We still use The Imagination Tree's recipe for our playdough, try it, you'll love it!

Painting Flowerpots and Planting Seeds

I got these cute little pots at my bff's baby shower and knew we had to paint them. We set up outside and the kids went at it. Later, I mod-podged them to protect the paint from water. I picked up some potting soil and seed mix and waited for a nice day to get out and plant something.

Of course, then came the week of torrential downpours so we did it inside. They played and poked until we added some seeds and water and said a little poem to help them grow. In hindsight, dirt inside was not the best idea - but they loved it. R gave his flowers to his Mom for Mother's day and I'm still praying the girls' will start to grow at some point.

Exploring Everything

My absolute favorite part of Spring is just getting out and soaking up the beauty of the new world, watching the rebirth after the long, cold winter.  My backyard is a fantastic spot, filled with all sorts of trees, vines, flowers, birds and other woodland creatures. If it wasn't smack in the middle of a small city it would be perfect, but at least right now my kids can learn all about the city sounds of cars honking and sirens wailing (bright side, I'm really working on that optimism over here after my last post).

Mostly they just roam around, pointing as I answer their inquiries and experimenting with their environment. Even the baby absolutely loves just chilling out, staring up at the trees and the clouds. I can't wait to get a second gate so I can trust putting him on a blanket on the ground but with 3 big kids running around it's not safe yet.

The other day we watched as 3 squirrels ventured into the yard, unaware of our presence as we ate snack at the opposite end. They hopped and ran and tackled each other while we looked on, the kids stunned into silence and awe. They were just a few feet away before the saw us and hightailed it up the telephone pole, but it was magical for me and for them. And far better than any TV show.

The Cherry Blossom Saga


I wouldn't feel right if I didn't include this in the tale of our Spring. Every year since we moved in I have loved watching and waiting for our huge cherry blossom tree to make its blooming debut. It starts as hairy gray buds and then one day they burst open and fill the sky with pink and white, right outside my kitchen window. Last year, I took some beautiful pictures of the girls in front of it and couldn't wait to do a comparison shot in the same spot this year.

Except this year, it bloomed too early. Who can blame it, what with the 75 degree temps in mid-March? But then, the very next day, the temperature dropped and the ground was covered in 3 inches of snow for only the second time all winter. And all those innocent, pure, beautiful blooms died.

I hadn't even taken a picture yet since I knew it would only get better.

And it never came back.

I cried.

It wouldn't be so sad if they were just buds - but all that brown, those are dead blooms :(

But then, just yesterday, I noticed it. One single white bloom amidst a sea of green leaves. As if it were there just for me. I made sure all the kids got as close as they could to check it out.

It seemed to be just another reminder that even when it seems so, all is never lost. Somehow, light has a way of shining even in the coldest of darkness. Even after everything else has been torched - there is always a way to survive. I can't help but think of how ironic it is in relation to my previous post.

Anyway, Spring is truly here and Summer is on its way. I hope you have a chance to get out and take in all the beauty that our world is giving us right now!


May 10, 2016

Hey Jerk Who Tried To Ruin My Mother's Day - I Hope You're Happy.

We went to the wedding last weekend and it was wonderful. I am so so glad I went. It was a beautiful, simple ceremony overlooking a lake in CJ's hometown. We are so happy for the bride and groom and had so much fun reconnecting with family, many of whom we haven't seen in years. We danced and drank and even went out afterwards - I'm pretty proud of myself for making it to 2am for the first time in years!

We missed the girls but they had a fabulous weekend, making tons of memories (and even a mother's day gift for me) with some of their favorite people. When we got home we spent the afternoon relaxing and laughing with our babies in celebration of Mother's Day. It was truly a wonderful weekend for all of us!

But, because I'm me, it all had to end in some twisted effing way that left me on a low note rather than a high one. I got to spend Sunday night being verbally harassed through text message, for hours, by a total freaking wacko who I have only had the displeasure of meeting once in my life. I won't even bother giving her the satisfaction of more attention than she is worth by telling you who she is or all the awful things she said. Suffice it to say she's out of our lives now.

However, in its own messed up way, this experience, coupled with the events of the weekend, helped truly solidify my belief that the bonds of love are much stronger than bloodlines.

You see, we spent our weekend surrounded by the most loving, supportive people I have ever known, aside from my own family. There is so much joy in our gatherings with them. Even though it is technically CJ's "side," I feel just as comfortable with them as I do with my own. My relationship with them is something I truly cherish and one of my favorite parts of our marriage. And yet, CJ is only biologically "related" to one single person in the whole group - his mom, who was adopted as an infant.

I've never really been close to anyone who was adopted and I'll admit as a family historian, I was curious about it at first. It was always so important to me to know where I came from, in terms of both geography and genealogy. And yet, my own husband and mother-in-law do not really know. But that means very little when you see the bonds that they have with every member of their family. The love, support and laughs they share is all the evidence you need to know that biology does not determine who is part of our true family.

This fact was made even more clear to me when, while relaxing after a wonderful weekend, I was berated out of nowhere for not presenting my children like a set of show ponies to a group of relatives, who are biologically related to them but who have no more of a relationship with us than that of a casual acquaintance.

Without saying too much (it's not really my story to tell, or it wasn't, rather, until this person saw reason to drag me into it), I will say that there is a lifetime of history between these people and my husband and much that even I do not know.

It's a story like many others, of young love, a bitter divorce, and a young child stuck in the middle. I watched many friends struggle with this over the years, but it's different being on this side of it. My own parents split, amicably, when I was 21. I never knew the heartbreak of having to choose, of feeling like a failure for not doing enough to maintain a relationship with a parent. I never experienced the pain of your blood tugging you in one direction, while your heart, in an attempt to protect your soul, led you in the other.

Over our years together, I have watched my husband's relationships with these relatives go through some ups and downs, but mostly it's been radio silence on both ends. I have aided in repair attempts a few times, only to then see months go by without a word from either side. I have watched the person I love most in the world pine for a closeness that will never be with the only people he is biologically related to aside from his mother, and now his children. And it kills me, every single time, to know that it was all out of his hands long before he could even walk.

We are who we are. There is no changing someone's true nature. You can blame time, distance and other circumstance, but at the end of the day, you either try, or you don't. You either care enough to give a part of yourself, facing the risk of rejection, or you don't. And eventually, the people who are supposed to give a damn, who are supposed to stick with you through and through, will realize this, and give up.

And who can blame them? After all, when it's all they've ever known, why wouldn't they?

But sometimes, the kids grow up, they are able to take control, make their own choices and, in the best cases, a shift in the relationship occurs. Words are exchanged, forgiveness is granted for mistakes of the past and there is hope for a future. All is not lost.

Except when someone takes it upon themselves to interject, throwing off the delicate balance of this new-found acceptance. This person, taking the information they have garnered through drunken conversations, the rumor mill of a small town and their own imagination, becomes angry and resentful over something that has nothing to do with them. Then, in a fit of bitter, drunken anger, reeling from their own pain, they open their mouth and target the entirely wrong person. And all hell breaks loose.

Old wounds are reopened. More people are hurt. And those relationships that just a bit ago were on the mend are now being thrown into the fire at the hand of a stranger.

I know you're reading this, so, I hope you're happy. With your misguided accusations, disgusting lack of tact, incredibly hurtful and angry words, you single-handedly destroyed something that took years to rebuild. Up until that night, you had our sympathy, for we all know the hell you've been through. But you chose to take your pain and attack me in an attempt to make me feel sorry for things that are completely out of my control.

Thanks to your inability to control your tongue (or your alcohol) you managed to hurt the one the person you claim to care so much for, as well as the truly innocent in this situation: the great grandparents of my children, who, through no fault of their own are now going to miss out on getting to know two of the best little people in the world.

All because you feel as though you have some sort of right to try and forcefully fix this relationship that you are not a part of. Worse, you go about it in the worst possible way. As if shaming, humiliating and berating us is going to do the trick. As if we don't already know how difficult it is, for everyone involved. All because you seem to think you have some semblance of an idea about the events that transpired decades before your time in his life.

As if you have no idea that you are the very reason we have stayed away for so long. Or does your brain simply choose not to remember the last time you did this to us?

Here's the thing: you don't know us. You have no idea of what we have been though. You don't know me, and you certainly don't know my children or how I parent them. And now, thanks to your profuse word-vomit, you never will. I can only hope that you feel the regret of this choice and that it hurts, as you hurt me, although after that night I am not sure you have a heart with which to feel that pain.

We, on the other hand, we will be just fine. Better, even. For now we know: blood does not make you family. True family is built with love, respect, patience and kindness. It's giving of yourself because you want to, even if it is inconvenient or hard. Going out of your way to build trust and strengthening bonds through communication and time. It cannot be forced and it does not simply exist because 30 years ago two people made a baby together.

We know what true family is and I thank God every single day that we are surrounded by it. And now, I thank God that it will never, ever include you. In a way, I should say thank you, for taking the choice out of my hands.

Like I said, I hope you're happy. I know I am.


May 4, 2016

I don't want to go. But I do. And I don't.

Growing up with anxious tendencies, a brain that would never shut up and a heart that felt everything way too much, I was a wreck most of the time. The most common phrases used to describe me have always been "worrywart," "dramatic," and "crazy." Yeah, I was fun to be around.

I've spent a long time trying to fix these less than awesome aspects of my personality and have it pretty under control. Until I'm faced with something totally new and unknown and usually a little scary. Then I get sent into orbit.

This weekend we're going to a wedding about 4 hours away. We'll stay overnight and be home mid-day Sunday. It's going to be fun and I'm excited to go. But I'm also freaking the hell out about my babies who will be staying behind. It's safe to say I'm in full-blown crazy mode, feeling like bundle of nerves, bursting into tears and talking to myself at random.

It's a fun game that I know all too well.

My stupid body cannot get it together and is pulling me in both directions. It's like one side knows that it will be good for us to get away. It's a great time to do it and they will be fine with my parents. The other side is like, "What in the eff are you thinking? This is the worst idea ever and you will regret it. Do not go, stay home!"

Because I'm not ready. Because I'm afraid that they're not ready. Because it's Mother's Day.

Nowadays, nine times out of 10 I'm able to trust the more reasonable side and get over my issues. I deal with the emotions of it all and just let it go. I learned somewhere along the way that whenever I don't listen to the logical side, I regret it. But even the pain of past regrets isn't enough to stop the war in my brain this past week.

Going to the wedding is the rational, sane thing to do. But it is hurting my heart and I really don't want to. Except that I do. It will be fun and we need it and we're already committed so that's not cool. Part of me is terrified that I'll fall back into my old ways and just not go. It would be so easy and so typical of me, but disappointing to many, including CJ.

It brings me back. I'm 18 years old, sitting on the floor of my dorm room, a hot mess of sweat and tears and begging my Dad to pack all my crap up because there was no way in hell I was staying there.

He almost did it, but instead, he waited for and helped me deal with my stress - to process it and breathe. And then it was over. Two hours later I was having dinner with my "new friends."

I can't even being to fathom right now how different my life would be if I had actually gone home that day.

Today, I pretty much decided I wasn't going. I was loving on my babies and telling myself that people would understand, we've got twins, I'm still nursing, it would be too hard. But then I realized I was doing it again. I was about to miss out on something simply because I was terrified of the what-ifs and unknowns.

So, I cried. And then, I went out and bought new shoes. I spent $35 on myself at Target and bought a cute pair of shoes to go with my fabulous Jude Connally dress. I even bought nail polish since I should have gotten a pedicure (needed a hair cut and color too) but I just kept putting it off as part of not wanting to go. 

But I am going, too-long gray hair and all. And I will have fun because if there is anything in this world I need right now it is a night away. Even if it means I will miss my babies so incredibly much that I'll probably cry a few hundred times and try to facetime them every ten minutes during the reception.

I finally realized something today: they need this as much as I do. It's supposed to be hard because we are each others world right now, but we can't be everything for each other, not forever at least.

They need to see that it's ok to get dressed up and go out and have fun. Even when you're a Mom. Especially when you're a Mom.

They need to see that it's ok to be nervous about something new but not to let it ruin what could be a perfectly wonderful experience.

They need to experience making memories with their grandparents without Mom nearby. It's one of the best parts of childhood, especially with my awesome parents. They will get spoiled and probably be nightmares for us but it will be worth it.

They need to know that when I leave, I will come back and that bad things do not always happen when someone goes away for a bit. This is something I still struggle with. Considering we haven't been apart for more than 8 hours since they came home from the NICU 21 months ago, I'd say it's time.

Wish me luck and pray I don't wake up Saturday "sick" or flat-out refuse to get dressed like I used to do when I was a kid/last year.


April 29, 2016

Twin Toddler Obsessions Part 2: Where the Wild Things Are!

I read somewhere that the average parent has at least 5 picture books memorized by the time their kid is a year old. I'm up to eight at 21 months (these are affiliate links. I'm a book snob so they are all decent books, I promise):

Peekaboo Baby
Goodnight Moon
Touch and Feel Farm
Llama Llama, Red Pajama
One Love
That's Not My Owl
The Big Book of Happy 

and most recently, Where The Wild Things Are

This simple story, by Maurice Sendak, is 53 years old and has just over 300 words. It's a classic, topping tons of "best of" lists. It reads like a poem and the detailed images keep even the busiest kids entranced. And it is the first book that my toddlers have really fallen in love/become obsessed with. I'm proud.

That said, I have read WTWTA so many times now that I am actually dreaming about it. Weird, freaky dreams that don't end well for me - that's fun.

Getting ready to show me her terrible claws!
But they love it so much. I'm sure my dramatic readings (which are Oscar-worthy) have something to do with it, though they might be slowly driving CJ insane.

We no longer hear "SHOES!" in our house. In fact, we haven't watched a PTX video in weeks. I'm not gonna lie, I might have claimed YouTube went away for a little while. They'll be fine.

Now, Jules carries this large paperback book everywhere and just throws it at me and growls when she wants me to read it.

"I'll eat you up!" 

You can't read this book from a mom's perspective. Read it like you're Max. You're 8 years old and pissed because your mom won't play along with your fun and nobody really understands you and this is the only way you know how to express your love for and frustration with her. Keep up the rhythm of the words at the pace of a kid who's just making it all up as he goes along.

Get excited because you're on the adventure of a lifetime.

It's magical.

And then there are the messages woven into the story. Yeah, I've gotta put a boring adult spin on it and read way too much into the complexities of a made-up 8 year old's psyche, but there is so much that my girls could learn from this simple tale:

Love is complicated and can make you feel all sorts of crazy. Like you want to eat someone up. That's ok. In fact, it's awesome. You should embrace that and run with it. Just don't really eat them.

We all have different ways of expressing our frustrations and we need to be patient with each other. We should try to hear beyond people's words and listen to what they're feeling.

Imagination is a powerful tool. It has the ability to distract us from and help us process our struggles as well as help us heal.

"Be still." It's one of the best ways to feel calm and centered amidst chaos. 

Friends can come in all shapes and sizes; you should never judge someone based on their appearance.

Sometimes you just need to let loose and be wild in order to gain some perspective and feel better. Dancing in the moonlight is pretty much one of the best ways to do this.

Even when you have all you ever wanted, you'll still want to be "where someone loves you best of all." 

Because there really is no place like home. Wherever or whoever that happens to be.

Even when she makes mistakes, Mom will usually come through for you in the end. Be patient with her too.

Feed your kids.

Really, what an awesome first book to be obsessed with, right? Hell, even if it didn't give me all kinds of feelings, I'd happily read it all day every day just to hear those giggles and see those little claws come out.

But then, the unthinkable (not) happened.

After six straight weeks of 10 times a day readings (a shockingly long time for a paperback book to survive in the hands of twin toddlers), WTWTA finally suffered an unfortunate death by toddler. Jules' excitement got the better of her and she shredded it during nap time.

This threw Viv, who might suffer from some of her Dad's obsessive neat-freak tendencies, into a full-blown tizzy every time we tried to read what was left. She couldn't even look at the book without trying to "fix" the broken pages. They would battle it out until someone moved on or the book went away. It was a nightmare.

What was left of their beloved book had to "get lost" for a few days until I could order another. I did my best to tell the story without the pages and read all their other old favorites but it just wasn't the same.

Then last night, while picking out books for bedtime, Jules chose this huge one filled with 20 picture books. She opened it up and there they were, on the first page she flipped to, her wild things.

Her tiny face lit up as she pointed and shouted, "AHHH! Dis! Tis!? Rrrraaaa?!" It's the first time I've seen her truly excited for something other than my boobs or her Dad.

I still know it by heart so I played my part while she flipped through the pages with a fervor, zeroing in on her favorite images: the dog, the ocean and the dance in the moonlight. We roared and showed our claws and she squealed with glee.

They repeated the last word with me like they always do. "Hot!"

But then it was bedtime and she wanted to take this huge, gorgeous, expensive book to bed with her. I couldn't let her. Not after what she did to the one I got for a buck at a consignment store. We "found" old faithful and she happily traded. All was well! Good night!

Then her sister spotted it and lost her mind at the sight of those torn pages. I ended up basically ripping the book in half. Viv got the few pages that were whole and Jules got the torn ones. Half an hour and 3 more readings later they happily went to bed, each with their half in hand.  Peace - for now.

Needless to say I already ordered few more copies. Although, considering how fast the PTX obsession died they'll move on by the time my prime shipping gets them here. Either way, I'm definitely going to hold on to the shreds of the original to share with them one day. I think they'll get a kick out of it.

What was the first book your children fell in love with? Did it survive your obsessive toddlers?


April 24, 2016

And for this, I am grateful.

My 2 month old nephew started coming here when my sister went back to work a few weeks ago. It's been an adjustment for all of us, especially the girls and R, the 4 year old boy I watch. While I am by no means a "baby person," I much prefer toddlers and preschoolers, I am kind of loving having him here. He is satisfying my baby fever but I get to sleep all night (well some, at least.) 

Little man Zack is so chill and already gives the best smiles. I love just hanging out with him when all the other kids are resting. He is still pretty much in the eat, poop, sleep phase but when he's awake he loves to snuggle and then have some intense hang out time in his little yes space we have set up. He's a mover and so smart, already grabbing things and trying to roll over. I love caring for him and watching him grow. But it's kind of killing me too.

It's not the stress of caring for a baby on top of the other kids. This was my life for years in daycare, mixed ages and mayhem. I can't even lie and say that caring for one baby is just as hard as caring for two (it's really, really a lot easier), but again, that's all I know. So that's not it either.

Oh hey, look who mastered feeding 3 kids under 2 at once!

It's the sadness I feel when I connect with him during those special, quiet moments - when he lights up as I change his diaper or when he just relaxes and is content lying on me after a bottle.

It breaks my heart because I know my own babies so rarely had those same experiences. It wasn't for lack of trying - I know the importance of those moments - it was because it seemed like every single time I wanted to stop everything and just love and see and feel my baby, the other one needed me too.

I have very few solid, seared-in memories from those early days. I remember the first time I felt them on my cheek and bits of seeing and holding them for the first time. But the moment that I will forever remember was the very first time I was feeding Jules and Viv woke up too early.

They were in the NICU and on staggered feeds at the time. They were each awake for exactly half an hour every 3 hours and we had just that much time to change, temp, feed and snuggle with Jules before it was Viv's turn. They were taking forever to get through just a few milliliters at this time and the threat of going back to the feeding tube was real.

It was one of those days already, I had missed Jules' kidney ultrasound that morning and then Viv kept pulling off one of her leads, setting off that freaking awful alarm while I sat there and wondered if she had just died until someone finally came in and said, "Oh, no big deal, just needs some more tape!"

Anyway, I was feeding Jules. She had like .5 ml to go and it was getting close to Viv's time. I knew we could push Viv off a bit but I was alone and didn't want to risk someone else getting to do anything with her. I was actually begging Jules to just eat faster so we could snuggle before Viv woke up. And then I heard it. Viv stretched out her arms and let out a tiny little sound. I looked up and there she was, 3 feet away in her little box, eyes wide open, totally awake and alert. Staring right at me. They didn't cry out back then, not in the way people think babies do. She just looked at me, I swear she was willing me to go to her, and I felt this surge of helplessness. I looked at her, and back down at Jules, in my arms and still with a bit of bottle to go, and I knew: this would be the story of their life.

They would never know the feeling of having my 100% undivided attention at their beck and call. Sure, I can say almost 2 years in that they've gotten plenty of one-on-one quality time. I think? I don't really know because I'll never be the mom who knows what it's like to devote 100% of my attention to one of my children.  I will always be thinking of or wondering about the well-being of the other one. There's never not been "the other one" for any of us.

In a way, they're lucky. It's all they know. If I were to ask them in 5, 10 or even 50 years what it's like to be a twin, they wouldn't be able to answer the question - because they have nothing to compare it to.

For me, I see it, I feel it every day, the pull to be there for my child, to do everything to make her feel safe and secure and make her feel like the most important thing in my world. And more often than I would have ever liked, I've needed to ignore that feeling, as I was too busy making sure the other one knew that she was also the most important thing in my world.

I missed things. Like the first time Jules rolled over. And when one of them took their first steps - worse, I can't even remember for sure who I missed and it's only been 8 months. I have forgotten so much already because there is so much more to remember.

These things seem so petty but I guarantee singleton moms know. There is no question. The little big things that make up every day with your child. A mom of one child knows. There is never any confusion over who did what and when. Or who is crying or hurt before she gets there.

She doesn't ever have to wonder if she put the right kid in the right crib last night.

Or if she is seriously damaging her teeny tiny infants because one is starving and has been crying for a few minutes longer than she's comfortable with while she is trying to get the other, supposedly easier one, to latch.

The entire first year was so hard and scary and so, so rushed. Everything. There was so little time to talk to them, to connect with and really slow down and see them. It was diapers, bottles/boobs, burp, squeezing in some not-so-quality time, sleep, wake and repeat. For months on end.

By the time they were more alert and we were all better adjusted,  this was just our routine and it worked so we never questioned it. Until, all of a sudden, they're almost two years old and things are finally slowing down and we're all like, "Who are you people!?" 

It's like we're just starting to get to know them. Because I'm not always distracted or busy or stressed so I get to sit and watch and actually see what they are really all about.

I feel like I'm just getting the hang of actually snuggling and cuddling them, because I'm not always trying to juggle them or keep two floppy babies safe in my arms at once.

I don't have to rush through baths or diaper changes because no one is screaming to be fed or put to sleep in the background.

I can enjoy outings and get-togethers again, as they will play and eat real food and sit with others and I can just hang out.

And, of course, they have each other. To play with, to snuggle, and just talk to. 

I can finally breathe.

But with those deep breaths, the ones that come with no longer having to hurry and keep everyone happy, there also comes this intense regret.

For letting the day-to-day tasks of care-giving get in the way of actually caring for my children.

For not giving them the peace and calm and connection that I think babies need in those early days.

Mostly, for the fact that I tried so hard to do everything right that I mucked up the most important thing - just being a new mother and embracing the madness that came with it.

I focused so much on keeping everyone alive and happy that I forgot to be grateful for, and bask in the amazingness that was becoming a mother of twins.

It's hard not to dwell on this but I'm reminding myself that I'm the only one who even gives a damn and that they are fine. Even if I doubt every single day that it was enough, I'm smart enough to know that they are fantastic, that they love me and I love them and that is all that matters.

In a sense, I'm grateful for the regret. It's making me, 21 months in, be much more mindful of all the little things. Our first little conversations that we're having and all the words they try to say and mispronounce. When they look at me with joy as they discover something new. Every single time they offer me a hug and a kiss without me doing it first.

Maybe I'm just hoping to make up for lost time and attention, but a part of me believes that all is not really lost. I know now that while the bond of those first few months is super important, it is hardly going to define our relationship as mother and daughters.

Because now the connection is two-sided. We not only see, but hear and understand each other. We are bridging the gaps that opened when I was just trying to survive.

Every time we connect over something silly that I could have easily missed or they grab my hand just because, I know I'm succeeding. I'm filling those spaces where those early memories should have been. And for this I am grateful. For this awareness, this new found appreciation and my ability to forgive myself for just not knowing at the time.

All is not lost. There are still thousands of moments to share and love and connect. And this is when it really matters.

At least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself.


April 4, 2016

General Hospital Tackled Public Breastfeeding and It Was Amazing

Yes, this post is about a soap opera. And breastfeeding in public. Have I officially hit housewife status or what?

I remember when I was about 10 years old I thought for sure I had a brain tumor. I did not have any symptoms of one, but I was convinced it was there. Because Dominique Baldwin, a character on my favorite show, General Hospital, had one. Yeah, I was that kid. I thank Vada from My Girl for that personality quirk of mine.

By age 9, I was hooked and learned quite a bit about life from GH, including how to kill someone, fall in love, have an affair, what to do if an evil Russian woman cursed you and that people can come back from the dead multiple times.  I watched religiously for 12 years until I graduated from college and had to get a real job which got in the way of my habit. Luckily soap operas are just like old friends and after almost 10 years off I was able to pick right back up where I left off when I stopped working while pregnant with the girls.

Little has changed in Port Charles and many of my favorite characters are still alive and up to their same antics. The dead just keep on rising and even veteran characters who were long gone have returned. I was devastated to find out that Luke and Laura Spencer had since parted ways but, despite Luke leaving the show last year, I'm pretty sure even that is only temporary.

Now that I am older I have a better appreciation for the real-life issues that GH portrays. While it can be a hotbed of fantasy with a healthy dose of paranormal, the writers have never shied away from tackling tough subjects such as rape, breast cancer, HIV, homosexuality, alcohol and drug abuse, infertility and domestic violence. And lately, finally the point of this post, public breastfeeding.

Here's a recap in case you missed it (which you did because you're not me):

Olivia is meeting with the Mayor of Port Charles, known only as Lomax, in the restaurant of her hotel when her baby gets hungry. She starts to feed him, much to the mayor's horror. Instead of excusing herself or just looking away, the mayor makes a huge fuss, using her power to belittle Olivia and essentially bully her into either making her child wait to eat or ending the meeting because she "shouldn't have to see that."

Olivia refuses to stop trying to feed baby Leo, despite being humiliated and told that she "shouldn't be doing that in public where people are eating." That's when the Mayor threatens to have her arrested for public indecency. If you know anything about public breastfeeding you probably know it's perfectly legal. Olivia knows that too. She gets up to leave in a huff and accidentally bumps the table, which is when she's arrested for assaulting a public official.

Olivia's baby-daddy, Julian, is married to superstar lawyer, Alexis Davis, (my favorite GH character of all time/Nancy Lee Grahan). While Julian, a local media mogul, is able to convince the mayor to drop the charges in order to avoid a public scandal, Alexis announces that she and Olivia are now suing her for assault. The mayor clearly provoked Olivia and forced her into leaving through shame and humiliation. She created the issue herself when she berated a woman for feeding her baby, which she is legally allowed to do. And when she realized she had no legal ground to stand on, she had Olivia arrested, because she's the mayor and she felt threatened

Last week the case went to court. I watched in tears while I nursed my own babies  as one side battled for a woman's right to feed her child anytime anywhere and the other actually fought for the public's right to not be exposed to "that kind of stuff." After two breastfeeding women entered the courtroom all hell broke loose and the mayor even went so far as to proclaim that, "What's natural to them is inappropriate and offensive to most others!"

Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of Olivia, but not before the women of Port Charles bared it all for every woman's right to not feel shame or judgement for feeding their babies. Several women in the crowd tore open their shirts in solidarity with Olivia (which is perfectly legal to do! You don't even need to have a kid on your boob!) It was incredible.

I feel like I should reward some of you for reading a soap opera recap.. So here's a cute pic of my crazy kids.

I have to admit, this means so much to me because I've never breastfed in public. I could blame the fact that they're twins who always want to eat at the same time or because we don't get out much but really it's because I don't feel comfortable doing it. Because I don't like making other people feel uncomfortable, almost to a fault. I care so much about what others are thinking that I'll stay home or excuse myself to another room when my girls are hungry, rather than risk putting someone else out of their comfort zone.

It's the reason I've never shared a pic of myself breastfeeding. Well, I'll change that now.

My first public breastfeeding selfie!
That's why this story matters. Because I shouldn't have to feel that way at all. I should feel confident feeding my kids in front of anyone - strangers, my father, my best friend's husband or my landlord, without even a second thought. I shouldn't think twice about sharing a picture of something so natural online. Because they're my kids and they need to eat and that's how they do it. Because it's what I think is best for them.

But I don't, because I have learned that people aren't comfortable with it and that it's wrong to make people feel bad. Never mind that my kids suffer for it.

I hate that I care more about what other people think than my kids' needs and I have to wonder, how would I feel if people weren't allowed to berate us for it? No, I can't be arrested, but I can be judged. What if the tables were turned and I could call the cops on you for side-eying me? 

I'm not allowed to walk up to strangers and ask them to stop eating because I don't like the meal they are having. I'd probably get beat up if I told a woman to cover up her earlobes because I found them offensive. And god forbid I ever vocalize my disgust to a mother doing anything with HER children that I disagree with, unless she was actually hurting them. Sure, I'm legally allowed to do all of those things but I'd be insane to and society would likely shun me.

And yet people are constantly insulting women who nurse in public. Some times it's with blatant threats and shame. But more often than not it's simply a look of disgust, a tsk-tsk, a sigh or a huff. Or a rant on social media. Just enough to make the woman know you disapprove but not enough for her to say or do anything about, let alone file a law suit.

I wonder if, unless you're a breastfeeding mother, it might be hard to understand why this GH story was so awe-inspiring. Obviously it's a soap opera, so it's over the top and dramatic. Plus, if it's already the law, who cares if people complain? They can't stop you and you don't have to listen to it, right? You might even say, just ignore them or walk away, it doesn't matter since you have rights.

But it does matter. Especially if you're not a breastfeeding mother. This story was written because there are still so many people who just don't get it, who continue to perpetuate lies about breastfeeding or the idea that it should be hidden away, like some shameful secret. These people who just can't seem to grasp that it's not about sex or nudity or indecency. And it's not about what makes you comfortable or what you don't want to see. It's about a mother, feeding her child, the way she was literally born to do. Plain and simple.

Isn't that something we all want, no matter where or when it happens? Fed babies?

I've seen people turn a blind eye to abuse of all kinds, to outright racism and hate, to poverty, to the plight of the environment, etc. People can pretend to see past all sorts of terrible things, and yet these same people will go out of their way to berate a mother for feeding her child. How backwards is that?

I have to wonder how people would react to if they actually saw it on a regular basis? Breasts being used for their intended purpose and not just to sell everything under the sun or in porn? I mean, it's not like there are droves of women going out to dinner and target at the exact moment their child needs to eat. When a woman does nurse in public, she's not usually doing it just for fun or even because she wants to. Even my husband admits I'm the only person he's ever actually seen breastfeed. It's not like it's everywhere. But if it was, would people finally just see right past it and stop this crap?

Whatever happened to, if you don't have anything nice to say then just shut up? Or, even, live and let live?

Thankfully it seems the tide is turning. We are seeing more stories like the one on GH and hearing more about people accepting and standing up for nursing moms everywhere. Multiple "Nurse-ins" are being held in protest after a woman is shamed by a business or employee. Alyssa Milano stood up for all nursing moms against Wendy Williams on national television. #Normalizebreastfeeding is booming. Brelfies (breastfeeding selfies shared on social media) are a thing. It's happening. Women are feeding their babies, regardless of who might see or say something.

So, bravo, General Hospital for holding nothing back (literally) and helping empower breastfeeding women. I am an incredibly proud fan these days, even if it does make me the ultimate housewife.

Here's another, more updated, #brelfie, just for good measure.

To watch scenes from this epic General Hospital storyline click here, here here and here.

To learn more about breastfeeding in public click here.

If you're a nursing mom and you need to know where you can and should breastfeed check out this amazing video by Latched Mama.

And if you're not a nursing mom but want to support acceptance of public breastfeeding just be a decent human being and keep your opinions and looks to yourself. Have your friends do the same and the world will be a better place.


March 21, 2016

Twin Toddler Obsessions: Freaking Pentatonix

"I have created a monster."

Many parents said that to me while we tried to figure out how to channel their kid's newest obsession.  Obsessions, or fixations, are a natural part of life with toddlers. It's why they throw tantrums over the color of a cup or why you have to read the same book 17 times a day. Sometimes they are innocent, other times they can be dangerous, but they are always totally normal.

Toddlers are crazy. And what's the definition of crazy? Doing something over and over and expecting different results. In the case of a toddler, though, it's a good crazy since they are learning, exercising their sense of control and it can be a comfort to them.  But that doesn't mean it's not annoying as hell for busy parents and caregivers.

I once cared for a girl who absolutely had to be the one to open and close any door or cabinet within a 15 food radius. If she saw you close even a drawer she'd start stomping her feet and demand to do it. I then had to sit and watch her do it over and over and over until she was ready to move on. It was cute and usually not a big deal but in a room of 12 kids it was not the most convenient obsession.

We are in this fun little phase and while it's mostly great, they are learning so much and I love letting them explore, there is one thing I am sooo sick of:  Pentatonix. YouTube them if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Super random but here's a little backstory:

I wrote before how I want to help them develop a love for not just music but singing as well. Music is a big part of our days and I love browsing for good instrumental lists that match the feel of our day or just putting on some RadioDisney for an impromptu dance party. But my favorite thing is to put on songs that I love to sing along to - don't judge me, it's all I have some days! So around Christmas I played all my favorites around the clock including Pentatonix's PTXmas and That's Christmas to Me albums. Then one day I discovered I could use YouTube on the TV and found the PTX videos.  They were immediately sucked in, more than anything I'd ever put on the TV before, even though it's just people they don't even know standing around and singing.

And that's the day I signed my life away to a semi-famous acapella group. PTX has played almost non-stop in my house for a good three months and as much as I loved them I now want to cut my own ears off. 

They can't see my phone or computer or TV without patting their chests and ooooooohing or shouting "SHOES!" at the top of their lungs. Because their most favorite songs are White Winter Hymnal, a beautiful arrangement of the Fleet Foxes song (which they hate by the way) and The Wizard of Ahhhs, a mash-up musical type thing based on the Wizard of Oz by Todrick Hall and Pentatonix. It includes samples of everything from Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Daughtry to Kanye and Motley Crue. It's totally not something I ever thought a kid would be into but they absolutely love it.

So why are they walking around yelling "Shoes!" you ask? Well aside from their other recent obsession with wearing shoes ALL THE TIME, that's the one part of this video they have glommed on to. Remember in the movie, when the first Wicked Witch dies and Glinda the Good Witch gets those ruby red shoes for Dorothy? This scene is summed up in just the repetition of one word (guess which one) inspired by Kelly and her shoes. (Warning: Language! This is not a kid's song! My children do not know this video exists although I'm sure they will someday.) So when they need their fix it's all about the "SHOES!" Also, I guess shoes is probably easier for them to say than Pentatonix.


I love that they love to dance and hum and ooooh and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to using it as a distraction when I need to pee in peace on a rough day or when they need a pick me up. But this is getting ridiculous. They won't watch regular kids shows (although Mr. Rogers does work sometimes, until they realize his singing isn't exactly up to their standards.) We've tried putting on the music videos of our favorites but they did not share our appreciation for classic rock or country. Now when we try to play something else we just get "the look," some chest patting and "SHOOOOOES!" Usually I just give in and play it once so they're happy and we can move on with our day.

I'm treating it like I have always dealt with quirky toddler obsessions: embracing and allowing it since it's mostly harmless (to them, I might go insane), setting limits and using it as a chance for them to learn. What are they learning? Well, I'm not exactly sure but maybe they have a future in musical theater? Maybe they'll win a singing competition and be semi-superstars! For now I'm just hoping to catch an adorable video of them dancing and singing along to PTX - hey, maybe we'll go viral! That just might make it worth it, right?

What are some of your kids' obsessions or quirks that were tolerable at times but eventually drove you crazy? Share in the comments or let us know on our Facebook page!