Thursday, June 30, 2016

Food Not Lawns

Iris
I love gardening. You just can't beat the taste and nutrition you get from growing your own produce or the beauty of growing your own flowers. It just makes so much more sense, too. Instead of wasting precious resources (water, land, time) growing lawns, we should be growing food! Grass makes little sense. If you live somewhere dry, like Nevada, it requires a ton of water. And even here in the Northwest where we have tons of water, it gets completely overrun with weeds, crab grass, clover, vines, blackberry bushes, pretty much everything except the grass you want. The only way to keep it nice is to spend hours pulling weeds or spraying it with toxic crap. I'd much rather spend time, money, and water on a garden.

Mini Calla Lily
For years we've done what we could with container gardening. We've done okay but still had the urge to grow more. This year we got approval from the landlord to build a raised bed in the front yard. It turned out to be a very easy and cheap project. We read a few tutorials, but I think this one helped the most. We spent about $25 on wood and had them cut it to size at the store. We spent maybe $20 on several bags of organic soil and mixed it with soil we found for free off Craigslist.

The finished bed
May 9th

This weekend we added a drip system to save water and make our lives much easier. Figuring out what to buy took a bit since there are a ton of options, but we went with the simplest and cheapest and it turned out really good. If we hadn't done this in the heat of the day it would've been easy!

Drip line through the bed
A dripper for each plant

Homemade trellis for pumpkin plants... made out of sticks... because we're cool ;)
June 29th... grow baby grow
I just love coming home to see my garden instead of a tiny patch of weed overrun grass!  So next time, think twice before you buy sod or grass seed, and make sure your lawn wouldn't actually be better off as a garden!
Nasturtium

Monday, June 27, 2016

Love is Enough


A few weeks ago I was chatting on the phone with my dad.

"You both are doing such a great job with the boys," Dad said happily.

"Brian is, not sure about me. Most of the time I feel like I'm a bitch to them. I don't have Brian's patience, ya know," I admitted.

"No you're not. You're doing a great job and I'll tell you why. You love them. Some days that's all I did right with you girls, was love you," Dad said.

Wow! I've said more than once that I might write a book of all the (mostly crazy) things my dad says, but that one tops them all, and not for being crazy. It really hit home and reminded me of the most important thing you do as a parent: loving your children.

In today's world, (or maybe it's always been this way), parenting has been turned into some twisted competition. Let's see who can do everything for their children and have them turn out perfect! Give me a break. NOBODY! That's who. Parenting shouldn't be treated as a contest to see who can do it the best. Some of the shittiest parents in the world end up with amazing children, and vice versa. Parents love to take all the credit for their children's accomplishments but also all of the blame for their failures. You know what I think? What we do as parents matters, it does. But it's not everything. Our children are their own, unique human beings with free will and the ability to use it! Every mistake we make as parents will not necessarily ruin them as people. They're here for their own reasons, their own journey, and they make their own choices, even as children, that shape who they are and who they will be someday. That's something we parents need to keep in mind when we want to blame ourselves for every little mistake they make or take credit for all the awesome things they do. Some of those things may be our doing, but many are not.

Sometimes we feel like a shitty parent for nagging too much, missing a school event or milestone because we had to work, or missing dinner because we stole an hour to ourselves to go to yoga. All things that currently make me feel like an imperfect mother. But when I'm feeling less somehow, if I remember to flip that around I instantly feel better. I do all those things because I love them with all of my being. I nag because I want them to learn what I'm trying to teach them! I work because I want to feed them healthy food and give them a safe place to live. And I steal time for myself because I want them to have a sane and happy mother. I love them and put them first in everything I do, even when it might look like I'm doing something selfish or being a bitch. Don't get me wrong, I'm still working hard on getting them to listen without being a bitch, but it would be nice to feel less guilt during the learning process.

The other thing this reminded me of is the importance of love over everything else. New toys, the latest technology, glamorous vacations, and expensive higher education... parents feel like this is all our responsibility and we worry if our kids don't have the best of everything. But I can think of so many other things that are much more important. Spending time with them. Teaching them what's really important in life. Letting them be a real part of your life, and not something you're always too busy for. If you love your children, really love them, and take the time to show them that, that is worth more than anything you could ever buy them.

So some days, loving your children is all you do right. But that's ok, because it is definitely the most important thing you will ever do as a parent.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Depression After Your Child's Diagnosis


I have been seriously slacking on blog posts lately, but for a good reason. I've been working on another post for The Mighty about dealing with depression after your child receives a diagnosis, not just for NF, but any medical condition. Parents don't often like to talk about the depression they might experience over their children, but like all mental illness, I think it's important we all start discussing these things. So give it a read and let me know your thoughts!

http://themighty.com/2016/06/experiencing-depression-after-your-childs-diagnosis/

Last day of Kindergarten

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Gratitude for NF

Today is World NF Awareness day. Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a neurological disorder caused by a mutation in the NF1 gene. This is caused by either a parent with NF passing on the mutation (a 50% chance) or a new random mutation. NF happens to 1 in 3000 births, making it a "rare" condition. But it is more common than cystic fibrosis, muscular distrophy, and Huntington's Disease combined. For more information, visit ctf.org. 


For NF Awareness day, I want to express my gratitude for something I never thought I would be thankful for. I am thankful for whatever caused my son's random genetic mutation in his NF1 gene. I know I haven't always been grateful, in fact, I'm usually quite the opposite. Usually I'm saying why him? It's not fair. And it still isn't fair, but neither are many things that happen in this world. Fair is an illusion we all wish was real.

But I am grateful for this experience, as unfair as it is. Before having children, I never gave much thought to what it would be like to raise a child with special needs of any kind. Those types of things always happen to other people right? Wrong. These types of things happen to anyone, indiscriminate of pretty much all factors.

Having a child with this diagnosis is never easy. Sometimes it's downright frightening. But my eyes have been opened to so many things they never would have been otherwise. The level of compassion and understanding I now have for anyone with a chronic illness or disability, or child with either, is not something I would have achieved without this experience. There are some things, many things actually, in life you just can't understand until you experience them yourself.

So I am grateful for the compassion, patience, and empathy I have learned through this experience. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help raise awareness for NF. I'm grateful to be a part of the NF community, a group of people who truly care for one another. And most of all, I'm grateful for the amazing support we have received from our family and friends along this journey. Sometimes the world can be cruel and ugly, but when you receive real support from people you love, it's much easier to see past all of that and into the staggering beauty in the world.

So my thanks goes out into the universe, bringing me one step further on my journey of acceptance of my beautiful son's condition. Because of it, our family will be able to make a difference in the world in a way I never imagined.

If you would like to join us in spreading awareness, the NF Walk will be happening in Portland on July 24th. You can join Team Sebastian here: http://nfwalk.org/portland
 If you'd like to make a donation instead, you can do that here: https://join.ctf.org/fundraise/team?ftid=75933

Monday, May 2, 2016

Solo Vacation


Hello dear readers! I just spent the last several days in sunny San Diego visiting one of my best friends, Lindsay. Do you ever take a vacation without your kids or spouse? This was my first time. About a year ago, Brian and I realized we had never vacationed apart. When you have little kids, and no family super close by, it makes sense to take separate vacations sometimes so you can take turns and not have to pay for babysitting. Family vacations are wonderful, but sometimes you need a break. Nothing makes me appreciate my family more than that deep ache you get when you miss them most.

Beach in La Jolla
I've never done this before because I felt guilty about leaving them with Brian since he's already with them so much. Last year he went to a musical festival with a friend and it was the first time either of us had tried the separate vacation thing. He had a great time and I also had a fun weekend with the kids. Prior to that, I was honestly afraid I couldn't handle them both by myself for several days. I know that's a weird thing for a mom to say, but after Oscar was born, it took me awhile to feel confident that I could take good care of 2 kids on my own. I'm not the most patient mother and I was worried I would lose my cool and not have anyone around to give me a 5 minute break when I needed it (I know, I'm spoiled). It turned out just fine of course and I realized that overwhelming feeling is normal, for me anyway, while having a baby. Now that Oscar's not a baby anymore, I don't feel overwhelmed. Or maybe it's just the confidence that comes with time and practice.

What kind of flower is this?!
So after Brian's trip last year I told myself I needed to stop feeling guilty and take my own trip. It took me the better part of a year to actually plan something, but I'm so glad I did. It's hard to relax at home, even if the kids aren't home, there's so much to do around the house all the time. Cleaning, cooking, organizing, etc. Sitting around always makes me feel like I'm wasting time. It's hard for me to find the balance of allowing myself to relax without feeling lazy or guilty about it. Being away from all of that for a few days is amazingly refreshing. Brian wanted me to take this break so I have no reason to feel guilty. And I'm not in the house staring at all the things to do so there's no reason to feel bad about relaxing and doing nothing.

More beach
Nothing included sleeping in, nice walks around the beach towns and by the ocean, eating out at delicious restaurants, especially seafood (mmm I love being by the ocean), sitting in the sun, laying on the beach, and going to hot yoga for only the second time in my life. It felt so great to sweat that much. That's what I've been missing with my lack of cardio the last few months. Never underestimate the value of a good sweat and how detoxifying it is for your body. Friday was a night out with drinks and food and friends and I had such a great time, it was well worth the mild hangover and sore joints from too much wine. Although I did lay off the alcohol for the rest of the trip.

Am I drunken texting?!
So to all my parent readers, don't be afraid to leave your kids with your spouse for a few days and take a real vacation. The kind with friends and no work and lots of sleep and relaxation. Don't feel guilty because you will be such a better parent when you return. Your kids will appreciate the refreshed you versus the tired, stressed, and overworked you. When I get really stressed out, I am not a very good parent. I get depressed, impatient, and allow life to get too busy to spend quality time with them. That's not the mom I want them to have, so if taking a real break sometimes is what I need to do to be the best mom I can be, then I'm going to do it. And you should too! :)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Woman Redefined

I am a woman, strong and fragile, soul-searching, striving for equality, struggling to rid myself of perfectionism. And I am not alone. Most women I know are fighting the same battle, fighting to defend women, wishing the world would quit telling us who we are. What does define a woman? Is it how feminine she is? How well she abides by her society's gender roles? How pretty she is? How skinny? How nice her tits and ass are? What is it?

I have issues with gender roles (clearly). I make jokes about not being very girly, but really I'm plenty girly. I just have a different definition of what makes a woman a woman. Thankfully my mother did her best to teach us what is important about being a woman. She taught us to be strong and independent. She taught us not to waste too much time on the frivolous things that girls do, to not be too wrapped up in our appearance. She never had destructive literature laying around (a.k.a. beauty magazines), she never watched trash TV, and she encouraged me to wear less make-up and not dress like a skank. Like many teenager girls, I fought her on these things. For a time, I just didn't understand how important it was to learn what she was trying to instill in me. It wasn't that being a girl was bad, it was that all the things the world is trying to make you think you need to do to be accepted as a girl are bullshit. Think for yourself.

Thankfully I did learn this eventually, but not without plenty of issues and heartbreak in the process, the biggest being body image issues. These are so prevalent in women in our society. I used to argue that blaming it on the media was a cop-out. And while I still think there are a lot of other factors, the media sure doesn't help. They are giving us what sells. If so many people didn't like that shit, they wouldn't show it. If more people demanded things were different, then they would be. But for now, the majority of what you see, hear, and read in the media is telling you how you should look and what you need to be doing about it. I do my best to ignore all that because I want to be happy with who I am and how I look. I want it to be ok that I have small boobs and a small ass and a less than perfect body. It should be ok that I don't wear make-up most of the time, don't spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on my hair, nails, or clothes. That I'm happy to not slather chemical-laden creams and sprays and gunk all over myself. Why? Because I'm super confident? Not at all, I'm just as self-conscious as the next girl. It's because I know the truth. All of that shit they push on you will not change you. It will not make you younger, prettier, or happier. Some of it might change your appearance temporarily or give you a fleeting moment of happiness. But if you have body image issues, no amount of make-up, hair product, fake nails, designer clothes, or plastic surgery will fix that.

How would I know? When I was in the midst of battling anorexia, it did not matter how skinny I got, how much weight I lost, how much I worked out, or how little I ate. It was NEVER enough. I always saw myself as fat and ugly. No matter what anyone said, compliments, reassuring, support to get better, none of that made me stop. The change had to happen in me. Not external, perception is a lot more than just physical. It was all a mental battle. As are all body image issues. If you feel bad about your looks, you can do something about it, and I don't mean get a make over. I mean you can get help to fight the mental battle and issues that are causing it. And you can help yourself. I've worked very hard over the years to rid myself of the things that do not help my body image issues. I still have my moments, but it's a lot better than it used to be. I find that reducing my time around things (TV, social media, magazines, etc.) and people that make me feel bad about my appearance really helps. Instead I try to surround myself with people that love me for who I am. It's hard for me to be around women that talk mostly about their appearance and how much time and money they're spending on these things they think will make them feel better. It makes me sad because I know how it feels to believe you need to look and be different than you are. You don't ladies. You can look like you really do, be who you really are. You don't have to cover yourself up with products. You can be happy without all that.

So what does define a woman? To me, it's about beauty beyond the physical exterior. Who she is, what she does, her actions, these things define her, not how she looks. A beautiful woman is confident, compassionate, and caring. She's strong and independent. She stands up for what she believes. She makes up her own mind about who she is, she doesn't let anyone tell her who to be, what to do, or how she should look. She doesn't worry about what the world thinks of her or how much of a woman she is. She knows who she is and she doesn't hide it. That's the woman I hope to be someday. That's a woman redefined.