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On Budgeting and Monthly Menus

We’ve been getting our business going at full throttle here lately and because of this we’ve had to do some serious budgeting.  I’m not sure if any of you have ever started a business, but those of you who have know what I’m talking about.  New business = Ramen noodles and cold cuts.  Unless, of course, you were like… born into money.  In which case, send some of that cash-flow over our way.

At any rate, we’ve been cutting back here and there where we can.  I took this as an opportunity to cut back on grocery shopping because: A) I loathe Wal-Mart, but it’s the only grocery store around here that doesn’t price gouge and, B) I’ve been meaning to start a monthly menu that doesn’t completely revolve around grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and applesauce cups (don’t judge… at least I was feeding them.  Right?).

So I seized the day.. er.. Pinterest boards… and we’ve been monthly menu-ing it since February.  Let me just say… I freaking love it.  I go to the store ONCE, that’s right — ONCE, for our “big grocery shopping trip”.  I go with list in hand and buy only what’s on that list.  Nothing else.  The only things I go back for are milk, bread, and weekly produce, which I get on the weekends.  I’m in complete love with this system.  It’s infinitely cheaper (you would not believe how much money we were spending at Wal-Hell) and so much easier for all of us.  I typically go on the last Thursday of the month while Gabe is at OT & speech therapy.  I’m in and out in an hour.  Until February, I believed there was some unspoken law that no one could get out of Wal-Mart alive before his or her two and a half hour time slot.  It was something that I’d do on a Saturday morning, and by morning I mean 3:30.  PM., which would completely ruin the day and moods for all involved.  I’d grocery shop and would pick up take-out because hell no I’m not cooking for you heathens right now.

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Anyway.  It works like a charm and I’m a little embarrassed that I never did this before.  Some days we veer a little off track.  Like a few weeks back we were with the kids at the ER for various sick-ish reasons and I was not cooking Monterey Jack Chicken at midnight.  Sonic really stepped up their game that night.  And, really… who doesn’t love a late-night grilled cheese?  Just me?  Hmm.

I even stepped up my game and made an Excel spreadsheet of item costs.  A little above and beyond, you say?  Did you miss the part about budget?  I’ve allotted us a $350 grocery budget for the month.  And, truth be told, that’s a little extreme.  Because for the four of us for the month, weekend produce/milk/and bread trips included, I’ve been coming in well below that.  Like, ~$200 – $250 kind of below that.  It’s amazing.  If prices change (excluding sale and coupon costs), I simply change the amount on my spreadsheet.  I always know exactly how much I’m going to be out-of-pocket before I even make it to the register.  Seriously, y’all… if you haven’t tried this system, you really ought to give it a look-see.  It’s wonderful.  And for those of you who have been using this method for years?  Why haven’t you helped a girl out?  Secrets don’t make friends, guys.

Because this little venture turned out so beautifully, I’m branching out to other ideas and household organization tools.  This weekend I’m working on a chore chart/reward system for the kids.  Yes, kids.  If Connor, the 1.5 year old, can go put his plate in the trash and clean his tray by himself, then he can do other little things around the house.  Plus, I’m beyond tired of hearing, “Moooooom!  I’m bored!”  Trust me, they’ll never know what hit ’em.  And maybe my baseboards will stay clean.  Hashtag: wishful thinking.

Mommy Porn? More Like Fifty Shades of Red.

I’m a little late to this controversial Fifty Shades discussion.  But, having been referred to earlier this week as a “stupid Christian pro-lifer” because I stated that I didn’t care to see the film, I feel I must defend myself.  And perhaps “defend” is the wrong word choice.  Guess we’ll see.

I am a Christian.  Anyone who has eyes and has read my blog knows that I am staunchly pro-life.  However, I fail to see how either my religious or political/moral stances can vouch for my personal conviction for watching or not watching a movie.  Initially, I found myself somewhat offended by the lady’s remark.  That passed quickly and moved on to agitation.  I was with my oldest for a doctor’s appointment when the statement was made, and I was flabbergasted at how unprofessional and militant her attitude became when she realized that I had not read the books and did not plan on sitting in a cold, dark theater with thirty other lonely women for the movie.

Usually, I do not talk with office staff if for no other reason than they have other things to do than to occupy me.  However, on that particular day, Gabe and I had been in the waiting room for three hours and we were both antsy.  The receptionist turned on TV for Gabe, and since I don’t personally care for Doc McStuffins, I opted to speak to another adult who was literally staring at her desk.  Not paperwork — just her desk.  So we talked.  We talked about The Hobbit and other entertainment news that I actually knew something about.  Enter Fifty Shades.  I should have known better, I guess.  But I didn’t, and proceeded with our formerly pleasant conversation.

When I say the gears changed, I mean they changed faster than you could blink.  She turned hostile, quickly.  According to her, I didn’t know the character back-story (I do, too. But whatever.), and I was basing my opinion off my POLITICAL PARTY’S CONSERVATIVE SPECTRUM.  Um, what?  How many Republican senators, governors, etc. have cheated on their wives and hooked up with prostitutes?  Sexual morality/purity/conservatism has no party.  But instead of allowing myself to deliver an angry response in front of my son and the rest of the waiting room, I smiled and wished her well (through gritted teeth) and we left.  I’ve had some time to think of a rational response, and here is my reason for not watching ‘Fifty Shades of Grey':

I have two little boys.  I have two little boys that I am raising to be kind, sweet, courteous, and gentle, but also tough, masculine, and strong.  I want my little guys to grow up to be good men.  Men who are not stepped on by women, or anyone for that matter, but who are good to women.  I’m bringing up little boys who will hopefully be supportive and not emasculated by a strong mind in women.  I want them to stand their ground and be the man in their future relationships.  However, I do not want them to confuse “being the man” in a relationship with being cruel and vicious, or unsupportive and cold.  I don’t want them confusing “strong man” with sexism and rigidity.  I am “training”, for lack of a better word, my boys to be good men.  I am doing this not only for them and their personal future, but also so that they will in turn find a good woman.

I am not a perfect mom.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.  But I do not do things in front of my kids that I wouldn’t want them to do when they’re young or older adults.  I try to not do those things when they’re not around.  If I would or could become embarrassed by my actions if Gabe or Connor walked in and saw me… oh, I don’t know.  Being obliterated-drunk.  Or watching or looking at porn.  Or…. whatever.  If I think I’d be embarrassed or would have to come up with an excuse… I try to avoid doing whatever it is.  I’m not always successful.  They see me overeat.  They hear me swear.  They’ve witnessed my awful road rage.  They’ve seen me do things that aren’t necessarily damning, but they’re things I wouldn’t want them to do.  I don’t dress provocatively or behave inappropriately in front of them, or without them, because I want them to grow up respecting a respectable image.

I’m not bashing anyone for their sexual preferences.  I’m not downing anyone for how they derive pleasure.  That’s none of my business.  You’re into sadomasochism?  Good for you; I’m not.  Obviously, my young kids aren’t either.  While I would never watch that in front of my kids, and I’m pretty sure most parents wouldn’t either, I have a hard time watching it without my kids.  Because I’m a mom.  And because I see my kids both as babies and future young men.  And the image that Christian Grey portrays is not an image that I would ever want my children to imitate.  Mr. Grey is, from what I can tell, a predator towards this specific (virginal) young lady.  The fact that he’s into S&M isn’t an issue for me.  Again, it’s all about preference.  The fact that his “partner” is a young, inexperienced girl… that’s a big issue for me.  And it’s big for me not only because I have two young boys, but it’s an issue for me because I have nieces.  And because I was that young, naive girl at one point.  And because of the on-going issues of sex trafficking and sexual abuse.  To me. . . . the hype of the hit books and movie is a bit of a double standard.  Not because of the sex — but because of the horribly mismatched “partnership”.  Here you have a barely out of adolescence young lady and lurking, sexually charged older guy.  How this has not hit everyone in the face like a brick is beyond me.

I’m not saying the author intended the story to pan out creepy or victimizing — but in my opinion, it’s exactly that.  There are romance novels, and then there’s this.  My point in all of this is not to offend.  My point is that I wish to produce and raise good, upstanding little boys so they will grow into good men.  Decent men.  Who would never raise a hand to a lady, but who won’t back down from their dreams and allow themselves to be stepped on.  If one day my kids are into S&M, fine.  I hope to God that they will be decent enough to not tell their momma.  I also hope that whomever they are involved with is on equal footing with that.. preference.  That’s all I’m saying.  So, out of respect for myself, my boys, and their future spouses — I won’t be watching, or reading, Fifty Shades.  Take it how you will.  This is just my preference.

I See, You See, We… ADHD

Most of you know by now that for a little over a year we’ve been trying to help Gabe get “straightened out” academically.  I say straightened out like it’s a bad thing — it hasn’t been, entirely.  It has been frustrating and at times I’ve felt a complete parental fail.  But it has been a learning process and has gifted our house with a different insight.  So, in short, not entirely bad.

At any rate, Gabe had officially-unofficially been diagnosed with SPD.  After seeing a few, in my momma bear-like opinion, quacks, we finally decided to hear out the “unbelievable” and give God’s hand in this a chance.

Gabe has “officially” been diagnosed with ADHD/ODD.  I have been so admittedly against an ADD/ADHD diagnosis because I believe that it is a “trendy diagnosis”.  Now, don’t get to hating on me, y’all.  I’m not saying ADD/ADHD isn’t a real thing, and I’m not saying some people don’t actually suffer from it.  But I have personally met some parents who have diagnosed his or her kid with that particular source of inattention, when, in fact, it is not always the case.  So, not trying to offend or disregard.  Just another opinion I happen to have.  Moving on.

Like I said, I have been staunchly against that particular diagnosis in Gabe, because even though he has shown a handful of symptoms as shown in ADHD kiddos, he definitely doesn’t display even half of them.  And ODD?  Absolutely not.  He may be a lot of things, but he most certainly is not the poster child for conduct disorders of any sort.  I have spent most of his life trying to figure him out — what makes him tick.  Granted, I don’t have a PhD in medicine or child psychiatrics.  But I know my boy like the back of my hand.  And I know that what makes that little brain tick is breathtaking — albeit, exhausting.  But things were not going well for my Gabe.  His inattention grew worse and his frustration with himself was pitiful.  To even look me in the eye, he had to hold both of his little hands up to his face.  Broke my heart every time.  So, I set aside my pride and “parenting skill”.  And it took every ounce of me to sit down, look that quack child psych in the eye, and tell him, “We’ll try a low dosage.  The lowest dosage you have.”

adhdHe’s an older guy, and right off the bat suggested Ritalin.  I’ve heard horror stories of that particular drug, and have even had the opportunity to witness what it’s capable of — regardless of the “1%”.  I swung back and said, “Absolutely no Ritalin.  If that’s all you’ve got, then this is completely off the table.”  There was another stimulant that could take it’s place, and, because I’d conversed with Gabe’s pediatrician previously about the second choice, I agreed.  As his relief shown through as what I’m sure he dubbed “an easy case,” a lump in my throat grew that I hope to never feel again.

Those of you who know me know that I don’t even give my kids Tylenol unless they’re on death’s doorstep.  So, pretty much never.  My kids have been blessed with excellent health, and I’m pretty much anti medicine unless it’s absolutely necessary.  No sense in botching up a perfectly good immune system.  So this medicine really sent me over the edge.  I felt I’d failed Gabe and that I pretty much needed to turn in my momma-card.  We left, and I cried all the way home.  No one could console me, and I wanted no consoling.  Not because I wanted to be pitiful and pathetic.  After all, this wasn’t, AND ISN’T, about me.  But I didn’t want my guilt swept under the rug, either.  I’d let down my boy — and he had no idea.

You’re probably shaking your head thinking I’m a complete idiot.  And you’d be right.  “She’s taking this too seriously.”  Maybe I am.  But maybe not.  Before criticisms begin to take flight, I need you PARENTS to sit down and think about anything you’ve ever done, no matter how petty or seemingly insignificant, to or for your child that afterward left you feeling worthless.  It could be not making it to a tee ball game, or telling your daughter for the fiftieth time, “No!  You cannot wear that to…wherever.”  Or canceling plans because work gets in the way.  Or sickness.  Or whatever.  And no matter how stupid it is to the rest of the world, it’s SOMETHING to you.  It’s not stupid.  It’s not silly.  And it hurts you to your very core.

That’s how I felt about this situation with Gabe.  I’ve sworn never to medicate for the sake of medicating.  I swore never to medicate if there were other options available.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  We absolutely vaccinate our kids.  I feel that is important for my own reasons — reasons that I’m not nearly in the mood to get into right now.  But medicating for the sake of it… giving Tylenol every five seconds for a sneeze?  Nope.  Not my style.

Also not my style?  Not being able to figure things out for my kids on my own.  I’m the momma.  It’s my job to figure things out.  It’s my job to handle up on things.  Because they can’t right now.  And I should be able to.  So telling myself that going gluten-free wasn’t working, and OT heavy work wasn’t working, and running off energy at home wasn’t working, or prize boxes, behavior charts, begging, pleading, crying, removing red-dye… none of it worked.  I’d failed.  I’d crashed, burned, and drowned in failure.  All of my great ideas… they bombed.  As a result, Gabe is exceedingly far behind in kindergarten.  We’re holding him back a year so he can catch up before actual testing begins.  I’ve made some bad choices with good intentions.  And, ultimately, because of my stubborness and fear, I’ve let him down all over again.  Trial after trial.  Error upon error.  I’ve failed him.  And, per usual, it hurts me to my core.  I love that kid.  And I swear, I never meant for this to go on so long.

Oddly enough, Gabe’s speech therapist coaxed me into giving meds a shot.  I trust her implicitly… and Gabe loves Ms. “Anee”.  Other people have suggested the same, and I’ve shot them down for various reasons.  But this kind lady has had many one-on-one meetings with this kiddo.  Some good, some not so great.  And I believe that she, as much as an acquaintance can, loves my boy.  So I took a daunting leap of faith.  And I’m not going to lie — it’s been hard.  Gabe is still adjusting to it all.  His emotions are all over the place for a bit after it leaves his system.  He sleeps a little more restlessly.  But, overall, he is okay.  And, as far as one can tell, he is doing fine.  His grades and attention have improved.  His attitude has taken a turn for better.  And it doesn’t hurt that I’m keeping serious tabs on him by way of his teachers (sorry, ladies!).  And I’m slightly pained to say I was wrong.  I was wrong.  So far.  I’m still watching for things like a hawk — but only because I’ve researched the meds.  And I’m learning new things about my little guy that I’ve never known.. and better yet, relearning things about him, and myself, that I’ve let slip to the bottom.

No, I’m not 100% sold on the diagnosis.  I’m still convinced that it’s an over-used thing because it’s easiest to pinpoint.  But I’m dealing.  And I’m trying to let go of my stubbornness — which is challenging in-and-of-itself. And I’m not nearly happy with my decision.  But I’m coming around.  And I’m enjoying Gabe coming home ecstatic that he received five A+’s in a row.  And, as luck would have it, he still loves his momma.

And Lord Almighty… I love that little boy of mine.

The Unfathomable Gift

It’s Christmastime once again.  Hardly feels that way, though.  Unlike our bitterly cold winter last year, this year has been unseasonably warm for winter’s sake — yet, seasonably normal for Louisiana.  Louisiana Christmas usually equals cool-ish and rainy…. much like today, as a matter of fact.

Also unlike last year, Ev and I have two little guys who are simply Christmas-ravished instead of just Gabe who, last year, could not figure out why Connor was so ambivalent about all the festivities.  Both boys are excited for different reasons;  Connor is in awe of the lights and all the pretties in the house (he’s still pretty blase` about the whole gift thing — you’ve seen one rowdy toy, you’ve seen ’em all), while Gabe has finally set his sights on Santa Claus and gift-getting.  I am pleased to say, though, that he is generous minded and is just as excited about giving gifts as he is receiving.  Every time we pass a Salvation Army bell-ringer he begs to drop a coin in their bright red pail — even if it’s something as small as a penny.  A mere token to most is super-gratifying for him; he beams a shy grin every time he hears, “thank you & merry Christmas!” from whomever is manning the post.

I’m not overly concerned yet that my kids will become so infatuated with gift-getting.  We don’t spoil them throughout the year, and even at Christmas they are not over-whelmed with gifts.  As much as we enjoy doing for them, we know that over-loading would be detrimental to their childlike spirit of Christmas and try to keep everything at a minimum.  We decorate the tree and this year we painted our first advent calendar; there are decorations in the house and lights strung around it; gifts under the tree, Frost on TV and hot cocoa to be had.  We keep it festive, for sure.  But we also keep it real.  Since Gabe is old enough to sort-of comprehend the real meaning of Christmas this year, I’ve really been preaching it even more than Santa Claus.  He’s learned so far that candy canes were originally made to resemble both the “J” of Jesus (ask Gabe what “J” stands for and he’ll gladly yell, “Ummm, JESUS!”) and the shepherd’s staff.  He also learned that the bold red stripes symbolize his blood and the white stripes signify that because of the red stripes, we are washed “white as snow” (he really liked that part).  We watched a kid-friendly movie earlier that (here’s the link if you’re interested) really described all the details put into Christmas… from the origin of Christmas to the reason we use Christmas trees, etc.  He is excited to learn all these new (to him) things, and I’m pretty excited to share them with him.

I’m so glad that he is beginning to understand that, while it’s okay to believe in Santa and have holiday fun, the true meaning of Christmas was a gift so unfathomable to us all.  Something that, even as Christians, we cannot fully comprehend.  I, for one, could not imagine allowing one of my kids to die for a world that most definitely would not do likewise for one of them.  And I most selfishly could not give one of them up for my own good — I carried them in my body nine months.  I carried them in my arms when they could not walk — and still do when they are tired or sad.  I will carry them in my heart until it ceases to beat.  I could not and would not give them to a world who, I feel, does not deserve their innocence.  So it is hard for me to understand why Mary — or, greater still, God — gave their Son to die a death so undeserved to him.  Why he would feel every pain and every dark moment from the time he was put on the cross and to times far beyond that.  I cannot understand.  And, frankly, I don’t want to.  Some things are better left alone.  Right?

Anyway.  I heard something on the radio this morning that I want to share with you guys, and then I’m going to jet.  There is a passage in John 8:1 – 30 that tells of a woman brought before Jesus for adultery.  By Old Testament law, she was to be stoned for her crimes — an experience I’m afraid she would have endured if the Pharisees would have had their way.  The Pharisees said, “…this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  And do you know what he said?  He said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

And it hit me right there in my car like a brick to the face.  Not one of the Pharisees could cast stones; they were not without blame.  But there was one there blameless.  One who had a right to cast stones.  But he did not.  Instead, he forgave her by saying this, “Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, right?  Hang in there.

Her not being stoned is not exactly our greatest gift.  But right there, in that very moment, she experienced her own greatest moment of Grace.  She was pardoned.  She was set free.  And of course she would go forth and sin — she was human.  But at that moment, she was set free.  Really, she had been set free the day of his birth.  We all were.  Christmas is a day of giving.  We were given the ultimate and unfathomable gift of new life from a little one who would do no harm — who would commit no wrong.  It’s a beautiful story that I am proud to tell my kids.  It’s a story that I hope, one day, they will tell their own children.  We celebrate Christmas (or Christ’s Mass) for the most incomparable gift that can never be returned and that always fits: Hope.manger-to-the-cross

Merry Christmas, y’all.  And in case I’m not back in touch before January, Happy New Year.

Pocket Protein Kidz — and a Promo Code!

Recently, I was contacted by Pocket Protein to help launch their new campaign: Pocket Protein Kidz — a convenient, great tasting protein drink.  An added plus for our family?  It is also gluten and lactose free.

You may or may not know that our oldest, Gabe, has Sensory Processing Disorder.  We have decided to go a natural-route to help put at bay the “side-effects” of SPD, and one of the more obvious natural remedies is to cancel out gluten products from his diet.  We have seen significant changes in his behavior, and even his speech, so we are pretty pumped to keep him on the diet.  There are food choices available that any five year old loves (gluten-free chicken nuggets, for example), but sometimes the prices can be substantially more expensive or the products are just hard to find.  GF products are relatively hard to find around this area, so I’m beyond excited to have this opportunity to dish on a snack food that is not only healthy, but also gluten-free!

We received our “for adults” test product  last night and I was so pumpedDSC_0210 to try it out.  Gabe was, too, because it’s not often I let him snack before dinner.  He loved it — and begged me for another!  The taste is great — not overly protein-y tasting (it has 15g of protein!) and the pouch design is ideal for Gabe’s lunchbox or even just a snack on the go.  Bonus points: it’s only 60 calories.  Hear that, moms?  60 calories!

Pocket Protein Kidz has 7g of protein and only 15 calories!  Perfect for post-sporting event and after school snacks.  Additionally, Pocket Protein Kidz is never sweetened with artificial sweeteners.  Instead, it is made with real apple juice and all-natural sweeteners: stevia and erythritol.pack-fruit

The makers at Pocket Protein are so excited to launch this new, healthy product that they have given me a special promo code for a 15% discount*!  Just click on the following ling and use promo code MOMMA while placing your order!

What are you waiting for?  Give your kids an added boost in school and a pep in their step on the soccer field.  Plus, with the cool packaging and great taste, you’ll be the coolest mom around!  Remember — Pocket Protein is not only healthy and protein packed, but it’s also gluten, lactose, and nut free!  Finally, a snack that all kiddos (and their mommas!) can agree on.

*THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: RECEIVE 20% OFF USING PROMO CODE, MOMMA.

**Plus, buy six, donate six; all pre-orders help a needy child and you will be entered to win a $500 Visa giftcard.  Click here.

-Sarah

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T-Pain, Exit Stage Left

Even when my self-esteem was at its lowest, I’ve always respected myself.  I’ve always demanded respect for myself.  Not as a bitchy girl or woman, but just as someone who had a firm enough handle on reality and a lack of self-loathing.  Because I demanded respect, I always had a handful of great guy friends.  I guess they were drawn to my lack of bullshit drama, and they always protected me like they would their kid sister.  I can’t think of a time when I ever felt threatened in any situation — shifty or otherwise.  I have always dressed modestly and playing “hook up” was never my thing.  I was never good at that whole scene.  Oddly enough, I’ve listened to rap and could-be definitely is raunchy pop since I was a teenager.  I’ve always liked the beat and, until lately, the lyrics made me laugh.

I marvel at girls today just like I did when I was a kid; how they demand to be respected but can shake their ass with the best of ’em to the musical styling’s of T-Pain and Chris Brown, openly offended when guys aren’t lined up playing grab ass.  Too, I’ve made several arguments against these so-called hipster feminists who claim that, “men are pigs,” and “chivalry is dead,” yadda yadda.  Maybe some men are pigs because we’ve allowed it.  Maybe some men are pigs because we’re yelling at them for not opening a door (or for opening a door) all while pulling a Miley and twerking all over God’s creation.  Yeah.  The point trying to be made is pretty much null-and-void.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too, you double standard user, you.

But I’ve veered slightly off track and that is another topic for another day.

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I’ve made a personal choice just recently to not only limit but to completely cut off raunchy tunes from my playlists.  Not because I’m personally offended by the lyrics, because I’m not.  I’ve never allowed any guy to call me his bitch or his hoe, and I’ve certainly never twerked (you can all thank me later).  I’ve altered my music choices because I have two small boys in my charge.  Two little guys that I love with every fiber of my being and I’d hate to whip some butts because they disrespect people — women or otherwise.  Of course, I couldn’t very well be angry with them if they’re picking up their wit and charm because of Pitbull blaring from Pandora or Spotify.  I guess that would be what you’d call my issue.  I’m not condemning anyone for listening to secular music.  Swear it.  I still listen to secular artists.  I just don’t listen to the horny ones, is all.  I said earlier in the post that this is a recent development.  By that, I mean yesterday I was blaring Ludacris and Savage in my car.  I finally really listened to some of the lyrics and realized I’d become embarrassed.  The kids weren’t even with me at the time and all I could think was, “Gah.  I don’t want my kids talking to young women this way.”  And so that’s when I made my decision.

When they’re older I won’t be able to control what they watch and hear to a point.  When they’re in my house, there will be mine and Evan’s rules.  I’m not naïve enough to believe that whenever they’re outside of our home that temptation and peer pressure won’t be a problem, though.  Absolutely it will be.  I was a good kid, but I did some boneheaded things outside my parent’s view because I knew I could.  Nothing I’d take to the grave, now.  But then I felt rebellious.  I felt “alive”.  I was dumb, but it happened.  And I’d be ten-fold more stupid if I believed now, as a parent, that my kids will be the picture of perfection outside of the house.  They may not be complete heathens, but they’ll do some dumb shit.  Stuff they better hope to God I never find out and, to be honest, I won’t want to know about.  All I can do is teach ’em the best I can.  And part of our lesson, just like not burping at the table and always remembering our please and thank you’s, is to be respectful of every living thing.  Women, that includes you.

I want my boys to grow up and find respectable, RESPECTFUL, young women; ladies who beam class, modesty, & a quick wit.  Those girls will not be “them bitches and hoes” that are so characterized in popular music.  I don’t want Gabe or Connor finding their spouse because of how low she can drop it.  Both my little guys will learn at a young age how to treat a young lady; lessons they can only be taught from Evan and me.  This is only a personal conviction.  I have plenty of friends who love those tunes and their kids are fantastic.  Their girls respect themselves.  I will say that’s a rarity.  I’ll also say that I’m glad those individuals have taught their kids — both boys and girls — how to respect and be respected.  But it’s rare.  Because I also know too many little ones who shake their collective asses with the skill of a thousand strippers.  And it’s pretty sad.

So call it what you may; silly, what have you.  But there are far too few respectful guys left in the world.  I got a good one after I’d long given up hope.  I’m just trying to do my part the only ways I know how; I just want my little ones to be gentlemen.  I brought them in this world and I’d hate to have to take ’em out for pulling a Chris Brown.

On That Day|A Blog Dare Post

I was twenty-one when I first-born, Gabe, made his mark on the world and on my heart August 20, 2009.  Twenty-one when my life as I knew it changed.  Twenty-one when my first experience with depression was triggered.

I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will write about it again.  You see, I fought an emotion-shattering & mentally monstrous case of postpartum depression.  All my life I heard of women’s true love stories over their small ones.  Positive emotions that seemed to ooze from their every pore and tired eyes.  A sweetest love that seemed so genuine it was almost nauseating.  I hoped that I would feel those things.. the simplest form of adoration.  But, no matter my dream or intent, I did not feel those things.  No; instead of happiness I felt terror.  For the first time in my own short life I was petrified… of an infant.

To this day I believe that a series of poor lifestyle choices and awful “mojo,” if you will, contributed to my PPD.  I’m sure my poor relationship, terrible self-esteem, and even weight issues were absolute set-backs.  The raging hormones that weren’t doing their job was just the icing on the cake.  At that time I was certain that I was the only one being affected and tormented by my constant mood swings and sleepless nights; the only one even remotely damaged by the depression.  Now, looking back, I realize what a selfish thought process I had.  Until on that day… I realized I had to get help.  My son needed me to get help.  My parents — the only other people in my life aware of the problem– needed me to get help.  Not just for me, but for them… and not at all selfishly.

It was on that day, in my grandpa’s old leather chair, at 4:30 in the morning that I sat stock-still, eyes closed, praying for the previous nights’ agony end.  On that day, I promised myself and my boy that I would get help.  Because the terrorizing thoughts of violence and grief were just too much the night before.  I’d been in that chair from the time my parents called it a night until my mother woke up the next morning.  The chair was my safe place. A familiar place.  The only place in the entire house where I knew no harm would come to my Gabe, or to myself.  It was in that chair on that long-exhausted morning that I told my mom I needed to be seen and heard.  I didn’t know by whom — frankly, I didn’t care.  So on that day, now 2010,  I let go of my fears and sought help.

As if the mindset of PPD isn’t scary enough, the seeking of help is twice as agonizing.  It was for me, anyway.  I had waited a year to get help… and by that point I feared my mind was long gone.  I just knew they’d lock me away or, worse, take away my boy.  A psychologist’s waiting room always has certain marks, I’ve noticed.  In my experience they’ve always smelled of old books and put off a bleak and dismal feel — as if to really hone in on one’s already magnified problem.  And there I sat, alone; my thoughts amplified and fears on instant replay in my mind.  I sat there for what seemed like hours.  And then my name was called.  I got up and considered heading for the door.  Instead, my common sense finally kicked in and I walked back through a corridor that was, if possible, even more dreary than the lobby.  I finally found myself alone in a room once more.. patiently waiting on whoever was coming to strap me in to a straitjacket.  And then the kindest face walked in.  As if on cue, my fears of the visit lifted.  I talked until I thought I could speak no more and cried until my face was sore.  And the thing she did next stunned me into an almost painful silence; she hugged me the tightest I had ever been hugged.  She assured me that everything would be fine.  That it could be fixed — that could be fixed.  To tell you the relief that I felt is virtually impossible.  But a wave of thankfulness washed over me… and a wave of regret because I had not sought help sooner.

We continued to meet and I was given a strong anti-depressant.  As time went on, we met less and my dosage finally depleted.  And on that day, we celebrated a new start and a new-found, long sought after love that I would not trade for the world.

ppd

Postpartum depression is real and horrifying.  It is also still taboo.  But there is help and hope.  For more information on PPD, follow this link.  If you or anyone you know is suffering from or could suffer from this problem, please seek help and encouragement.

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