Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Obama's Letter to His Daughters vs. Trump's Letter to American Daughters

As a mother of 2 young girls, I'd like to take the time to type out the words President Barack Obama wrote as a letter to his daughters, in the book "Of Thee I Sing," and juxtapose them to Donald Trump's actual quotes. Please try to understand why, not only as a woman, but as a mother raising strong young women, I am still horrified that this man has been elected to be the leader of our country. I cannot allow his morals or words or anybody who condones them, permeate my home or my family.

"Have I told you lately how wonderful you are? How the sound of your feet running rom afar brings dancing rhythms to my day? How you laugh and sunshine spills into the room?"
-President Obama

“It doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
—Donald Trump to Esquire in 1991 

"Have I told you that you are creative?....Have I told you that you are smart...brave? Have I told you that you are a healer? Have I told you that you have your own song? Have I told you that you are strong?" 
-President Obama

"If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?" 
-Donald Trump, on his Twitter account, 4/16/15 @ 5:22 PM 

"Have I told you how important it is to honor others' sacrifices? Have I told you that you are kind? Have I told you that you don't give up? Have I told you that you are an explorer? Have I told you that you are inspiring?" 
-President Obama

"(Lindsay Lohan)'s probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed. How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they're always the best in bed? You don't want to be with them for long term, but for the short term there's nothing like it."
-Donald Trump on the Howard Stern show, December 2004

"Have I told you that you are part of a family? A man named Abraham Lincoln knew that all of America should work together. He kept our nation one and promised freedom to enslaved sisters and brothers. This man of the people, simple and plain, asked more of our country-that we behave as kin. Have I told you to be proud to be American? Our first president, George Washington, believed in liberty and justice for all....Have I told you that America is made up of people of every kind? People of all races, religions, and beliefs. People from the coastlines and the mountains. People who have made bright lights shine by sharing their unique gifts and giving us the courage to lift one another up, to keep up the fight, to work and build upon all that is good in our nation." 
-President Obama

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything...Grab them by the pussy." -Donald Trump, Access Hollywood with Billy Bush, 2005

"Have I told you that they (Americans) are all a part of you? Have I told you that you are one of them, and that you are the future? And have I told you that I love you?"
-President Obama
I don't know what to tell my daughters. I don't know where to go from here. This is not a difference of political persuasion. This is electing a dangerously misogynistic man in office. There are literally dozens more quotes that are equally (if not more) offensive to women. This doesn't even include the statements he's made about minorities. 
For those people who don't understand why Americans are still upset about this election, maybe this clears it up. We are downgrading, big time. Put all politics aside for just a moment. Look at President Obama: the man, the husband, the father. Look at him as the leader of this country and this world. His values. His morals. Look at what we'll have for the next four years with Trump. I will do my best to shelter my children from his words + actions. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't deeply worried. How ironic, the party that touted "family values" and claimed to be the party of Christianity, elected Trump. Never have I felt so conservative in my life. I'm worried for my daughters. I'm worried for women. I'm worried for minorities. I'm worried about America's future, and I'm grieving the loss of President Obama. 


Friday, November 4, 2016

Dear Daughters,

Sweet Girls,

You have been rockin' my world lately. We are definitely in a sweet spot. Lilah Grace, you're 3 1/2 years old and you have me laughing on the daily. Everleigh Rose, you're 10 months old, and your personality has really been emerging! You girls are my world. I find it difficult to get my mind off of you for more than an hour. When I'm at work, I'm constantly showing off your pictures to co-workers and patients. When Dad and I go on dates, we talk about you. Our favorite people to be with are our family members, so we can all obsess over yall. They get it. Strangers would be bored to tears.

For as long as I can remember, my greatest fear in life has been losing my people. But a close second has been losing my memories. I've had such awful short-term memory loss after Evy was born; this motivated me to document as much as I can now, to save for later.

Fortunately, we have dear friends and family members who are extraordinary professional photographers. Aunt Yana came over the other day, and served as a "fly on the wall" to document a typical afternoon so we can remember what life was like for us now. I hope when you look back on your childhood, you smile and feel warm + fuzzy like I do with mine, and like I know I will when I think back on raising yall. These truly are "the good 'ol days."

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to work, but on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we spend the days together, just us girls. The weekends with dad are sacred.

A typical Monday/Wednesday/Friday starts when Everleigh cries in her crib. Either Dad or I will go get you, and bring you into our bed. I am still breastfeeding you, even though I don't think I'm making any milk anymore. We both still enjoy the snuggles, and it buys me a slower wake-up time. Hehe. Shortly after, we hear Stella's collar jingling, and Lilah Grace, you're headed straight to the pantry for your granola (("canola")) bar. You ask Dad for chocolate milk (("the sweet kind")) as if he hasn't done this before, and he gets you your milk and my coffee. The four of us snuggle in bed, and usually watch an episode of "My Little Pony." LG, your favorite is Rainbow Dash. Dad's is Twilight Sparkle. Mine is Princess Celestia. Everleigh's is, umm, my boobs.

After my coffee kicks in, I put Evy in the highchair with finger foods and make LG's lunch. We get you both dressed, and it's off to school. I drop you off in the drop-off line and you go in there like a champ. You love school. Evy naps immediately after ((usually) and I catch up on groceries/laundry/cooking/cleaning. After what seems like a couple of minutes, I go back to pick you up, and the three of us come home. Home..I absolutely love our home. I hope you both do, too. It's definitely more than just a house; this place feels like home to me, and I never want to move.

After school, we go straight to the kitchen and have snacks // Everleigh eats lunch. When my phone isn't broken, you both are begging to play with one of your apps. I usually let you, because I pick my battles. :)

Evy, you are a CHOWHOUND. I have never seen a baby eat as much as you. You eat basically everything I do, and honestly, more, just in tiny pieces. When you're fussy, I throw food at you, and that usually does the trick. Lilah Grace, you used to eat basically anything, but you've been pickier lately.

After snack, if Evy is a mess, we'll do a sink bath. Honestly, we sometimes do three sink baths a day. I just let you get totally messy feeding yourself, and then straight to the sink we go. Sometimes you hang with us, LG, and sometimes you go to your playroom and play for a bit. Sometimes I put you in your high chair and give you paints. You've been really into painting lately, and I've been really proud of your masterpieces. Your favorite game on my phone is this vet game, where you get to "fix" the animals. The game helped you overcome your fear of spiders, and taught you all about the purpose of x-rays. You love fixing the animals, and seeing them "party" after you "fix" them all. I know people have their judgments on screen time, but honestly, in moderation, I think it's fine, and you're adorable and so excited when you get to play with it!

Evy, after filling up your tummy and cleaning you off, we make our way to the nursery. I put either clothes or PJs on you ((it's never too early for pajamas)), and put you down for your afternoon nap. Lilah Grace, after I put Evy down for rest, while she's crying it out, I'll read you a book and/or tell you a story. You've been really into stories from when we were kids, or "tall tales," where we make up stories that are just pretend. You've definitely figured out how to stall. You probably actually take your afternoon nap 50% of the time, but if you aren't sleeping, you're at least quiet, and having some downtime while I have some, too.

The simultaneous afternoon nap is rare, but a treat for me. I love my time with you girls when we're reading, laughing, eating, or playing, but it's nice to turn my brain off for a little while, and have some "me" time. The first thing I always do is straighten up the house. I like the house to be tidy before I unwind. After straightening up, I'll do something for myself. I try to go inward. I'll meditate, play with Tarot cards, or journal. My favorite gratitude practice is writing thank you notes. I've also been enjoying getting a little bit of time in on my yoga mat and stretching out. Sometimes I just drink coffee in bed and watch a "grown up show" to decompress. I usually always do laundry and prep for dinner. Usually, it's not too long until one of you is awake!

Evy, your crawl is cute + funky. You pull yourself with one leg and drag the other and it looks like an army crawl. You're getting faster everyday. You're pulling yourself up and can even balance on both feet without help for a second or two! It won't be long before you're walking. You have 4 teeth completely in ((top two + bottom two)) and are currently cutting two more on top and two more on bottom for a total of 8! You're a little irritable, but we caved and got you an amber necklace, which I swear has been helping! We give you teething tablets and ice rings, too. Lilah Grace, you've been learning how to cut with scissors in school, which reminds me, I need to buy kid scissors for the house. You know all letters and numbers up to 30. You got an outstanding report card just a couple weeks ago! You are seriously a genius; I want to continue to foster your inquisitive nature ((your questions are never-ending)) + love of the human body + interest in animals. You've considered yourself to be a "mama wolf" for the past couple of months, and howl at the moon. You ask me what's inside your body at least three times a week, and we go through organs, muscles, and bones.

I usually call Dad around 5:30 and ask for his ETA. When he comes home, we feel complete. I really look forward to his arrival, because he's my best friend, and I love the energy he brings to our home. We eat dinner together around our cheap kitchen table after we each say what we're grateful for. Lately the sun has been setting earlier, and with the darkness comes the nighttime routine. Sometimes yall rock the sister bath, but if Evy had a sinkbath in the afternoon and is still clean, sometimes you fly solo, LG. I've been weaning the nighttime feedings for Evy, so I'll read her a book in the rocking chair and then put her in the crib while Dad does story and bedtime with LG. Everleigh still loves her Gentle Baby oil every night, and Lilah Grace still loves sleeping with Stella. 

My favorite part of each day is when you both are safe + sound + asleep in bed, and your dad and I can Netflix and Chill. I love yall something fierce, but he is still my favorite person.

I usually fall asleep within 30 minutes. 


I've become more interested in the elements since realizing Everleigh Rose is a "Fire" sign. Once I realized this, I had an "aha moment." You two girls are so different. And I love you each so much, in such different ways! There is more than enough love to go around. I'm a sucker for personality typing, so I did a little research, and found that Lilah Grace and Dad are "Earth" + I'm "Air" which means our little family is "Earth, Wind, and Fire," hehe. This also means I'm on a quest to have more "Water" signs in our home to help cool things off a bit! 

What I've found to be consistent with both Lilah Grace and Dad, is "Earth" people tend to be grounded + practical. They thrive with a dependable routine. They are loyal and they ((unsurprisingly)) have a deep personal connection with the earth.

Everleigh, my "Fire" girl, is enthusiastic, humorous, dramatic, and fun. Much like other "Fire" people, you are a natural performer with your dancing and singing. You are always reaching for an instrument. You also easily swing from one extreme to the other, and I believe as you learn to talk, you will speak straight from the heart. You're not even a year old, but you are so passionate. 

"Air" people are curious, independent, observant, and impractical. Thankfully, I have my practical "Earth" partner to keep me in check. "Air" people are described as intellectuals always on a quest for new information. We are apparently the best storytellers ((I do love writing; but I think Dad does a better job in the "tall-tale" department at bedtime)). We often struggle with grounding ourselves and can be fickle. 

Element info paraphrased from Debra Silverman Astrology.


To my sister-in-law, Yana, thank you from the bottom of my heart for capturing our daily grind. This is exactly what I want to remember. I know I'll blink and these precious girls will be grown and out of the house, and I'll want to look back and remember these moments. My favorite days are ones without plans, without a disruption to the routine, so I can totally soak up the Here and Now. You made our minutia look beautiful, and you saw my family the way I do, and that is truly a gift. Thank you for sharing your gift with me.

And to my babies... I still can't believe we made you! You're both pure magic. I hope you know my love for you is unconditional and unwavering. I absolutely love being your mom. I think Mary Oliver said it best:

“Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even

to float a little
above this difficult world.” 

Thank you for dazzling me by being the most authentic human beings I've ever known. When I'm with yall, I'm able to float.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Sad Relief

"She has a really big head. Does your husband have a big head? Did your first have a big head?" the pediatrician probes.
"Yes, actually, we all have big heads. I had the biggest hat measurement on drill team in high school, which is saying a lot since I'm only 5'4". My husband has a big head, and I think part of why I needed a c-section with my first was because of the size of her head." I defensively respond.
"Ok, well, she might just have a big head. We'll keep an eye on it."

I reassure myself that a big head is a sign of a big brain, and my 6 month old baby is a genius.

Photo Credit: Yana's Photos

That was a few months ago. Fast forward to Wednesday of last week, with a less than ideal colored bowel movement in my baby's diaper. I don't freak out, I don't panic. I remain calm, but I think that a black stool is a sign of internal bleeding. I place the stinky stool in a Ziploc bag, toss it in my purse, and go to the doctor's office with my 3 year old holding my hand and my 8.5 month old on my hip. I acknowledge this is a new low, lugging my child's shit around in a sandwich bag in my purse.

Tests are run, I'm reassured, it's just the beets and blueberries she's been eating. But, while we're here, I ask the pediatrician, "Quick question, does her head look normal to you? I know we said a couple months ago we'd keep an eye on it. It seems to me like the bottom of her head is bulging more so than it used to. I just want to be sure everything's fine." My concern is more of an after-thought. The professional runs her hands over her head and inquisitively looks at my baby's head from different angles.

"You know, this is more alarming to me than the concern about the poop. I think we need to get her in with a craniofacial specialist just to be sure her skull is forming properly. I'll get you a referral, go ahead and call to make the appointment today."

Surprisingly, I'm still calm. I call the specialist, and tell them my most convenient time for an appointment, which is in a few weeks, when my oldest is in school and I'm off work. I check it off my list, and go on about my day.

I am an operating room nurse, and the surgeon I work for has experience in craniofacial surgery. I nonchalantly discuss my day yesterday (with the black poop and the specialist referral) when all of my co-workers are catching up about past weekend and upcoming weekend plans. My boss asks me more questions about my baby's head. In between cases, he shows me some textbooks he has in his office about something called "scaphocephaly." He tries not to worry me, but urges me to move up my baby's appointment. I get on Google and look up "scaphocephaly" and "sagital craniosynostosis."

I now understand that my baby's brain is growing abnormally, it has been for the past 9 months and I'm WAY past due on this diagnosis, she might be brain damaged, might have congenital heart defects later in life, and most definitely will require an ear to ear incision during her upcoming neurosurgery. I call and have her appointment moved up to Monday morning. Until then, I'm waiting, and waiting makes me anxious.

It's now the weekend before our Monday appointment, and I stumble upon the #scaphocephaly on Instagram. That leads me to mom-blogs who have bravely paved the path before me. Will my blog content change now? Will I go from blogging about spirituality, feminism, motherhood, and the merge of those topics, to blogging about special needs? Reading their words, I fall apart. I realize that Everleigh definitely has this condition, and I deep down knew it all along. She was born with a bigger forehead than Lilah (I always just thought she inherited my fivehead). I hold her and caress her head and feel the prominent bulge in the back and kiss all over her, assuring her and myself that she will be loved, that we will get through this and at the end of this, we will be her supportive, strong, loving foundation. I anxiously await for George to come home so he can be the "parent" while I morph into the "person" who has stuffed her fears deep down while role-playing "Mom."

Sidenote, the "Mom Mask" sucks. The "Mom Mask" is the costume I feel I need to put on to show my kids that everything is okay. If I'm okay, they're okay. I should know better. I should know that they're still young enough to be intuitive and know I'm faking it. But I feel an obligation to be strong, even if it's fake, and then I feel self-judgment about being a fraud with my kids. Self-judgment sucks. As an additional sidenote to this sidenote, can we all agree that the world is far too judgmental, and most of us already judge ourselves enough? Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't do, don't try to change me, I ALREADY KNOW MY FLAWS, thank you very much.

George comes home, I put Everleigh in his arms, and say "I'm going to be sick." I dramatically run outside, and hyperventilate. I put my bare feet on the dirt, my arms around my legs, and my head between my knees. "Breathe" is what I tell myself. The scary visions of this upcoming surgery, the fear of the unknown, the dread of Monday when the specialist confirms my fears, all of it comes rushing in like a huge wave and I'm a weak amateur who just wanted to be in the sand. How the hell did I get in this ocean with the waves? I want to watch people surf, and feel bad for those who fall down, and encourage those who stay up, but I want to be in the sand, on a towel, with a cocktail. The parenting metaphor persists. I want to be a mom of two healthy kids. When I hear of tragic tales, scary illnesses and diseases, my heart physically aches for those parents. I feel too much as it is. This doesn't happen to me, this happens to other parents, and when it does, my heart breaks for them. I hold them in Light, I send prayers their way, I donate to their KickStarter pages. If they are close enough, I'll bring over lasagna. But I'm not the parent of the child with a condition. I'm the observer. The sympathetic observer. I'll toss out a life preserver from time to time, but I'm not the one who is drowning. I'm not the one riding the wave.

I flashback to when Lilah Grace was exactly this age and she had a 9 minute long seizure. As we awaited a diagnosis in the hospital, I was in this same purgatory. The waiting. The waiting that makes me anxious. "What chronic condition are we about to uncover?" I thought about Epilepsy, Type One Diabetes, Infantile Seizures. My mind was racing. I was scared. I was so scared. When the news came back she had the flu, and it was a one-time febrile seizure from a fever, I was beyond relieved. I just knew we wouldn't be that lucky again. I just knew it was our turn, that life is random, and we just can't keep getting lucky.

I felt as though I received the diagnosis early, and my job was to mentally + emotionally prepare for the official diagnosis Monday morning. To do that, I needed to face my fear head on. G did the girls' bedtime routine, and I filled the bathtub with Stress Away oil and Epsom salt. I turned out the lights. It was pitch black. I put on the song that I dedicated to myself from God three years ago, on repeat. I imagined a Mother God singing the words to me:

"...I will show you, you're so much better than you know. When you're lost, and you're alone, and you can't get back again, I will find you, Darlin', and I'll bring you Home....And if you want to cry, I am here to dry your eyes. And in no time, you'll be fine. You think I'd leave your side, Baby? You know Me better than that...." 

After my panic attack, bath, and crawling into bed, I told G, "Thanks for being strong for me tonight. I'll be strong Monday, and you can be the one panicking. I know we both can't panic at the same time, and I got all my panic out, so now I'll be the strong one. I am certain she has this condition, and this news will be hard to hear, and I'd like to you to be there when it comes out of his mouth." He took a half day off work, and we met at the specialist's office in Dallas.

Fast forward to today. This morning.

In the waiting room, I was surprisingly calm. I really did get most of my fear out the couple nights before. I went to the restroom, and before I came back in, I stared at the doctor's name and credentials outside the door. I wondered how many times we would be coming back here. How many follow-ups, how many check-ups.

I envisioned our oldest being a big sister to a little sister with special needs. She's already such a nurturer; she refers to herself as the "Mama Wolf" and to Evy as her "cublet." Yes, Lilah will be great at this. Her role will be protective and caring, and she will excel at that. George will be great, too. He has Type One diabetes, so he knows what it's like to live life with a condition that requires extra effort. He will be a great resource for our daughter. How will I be?

I thought about my life as a story, and myself as the protagonist. If I were reading a book about this, I would appreciate the mother in this story to be solid. Rock solid. Strong. Loving. Unwavering. Loyal. I would be all of those things. Everleigh wouldn't even know she was "different" until somebody one day in the real world brought it to her attention, and when they did, I would cut them up into pieces and end them. Obviously. I could do this.

Then, I realized, I was making this about me. ALL of this, I was making about me. I was the protagonist? No. She is the protagonist. I'm a supporting role. My role is not the main character in this journey; she is the lead. This is her journey, I believe she chose to live this life, and I was merely the vessel to bring her to this plane. My role wouldn't be anything other than loving and supporting her; taking her to necessary appointments, and finding the most qualified professionals to help her with her journey. Supporting role. I found this oddly comforting. I could do this.

"Everleigh?" the doctor called us from the waiting room before we were done with the paperwork. Why was the doctor pulling us back, and not a nurse? He introduced us to two visiting surgeons from two different countries and asked if they could join us. Deep breath. "Of course!" I reply with a smile. Strong. Confident. Loving. I am in the supportive, yet strong and loving, role now.

Thankfully, he doesn't beat around the bush. He doesn't waste much time. He tells us we won't be needing his help; that she definitely does not have scaphocephaly. He knows because "X,Y, and Z." I wish I could remember those reasons, but after I heard the good news, I tuned out. I was crying. I was relieved. My fears that I'd completely convinced myself were absolutely true, were not. I had been that annoying, high-strung mom who spent too much time online, and worked herself up.  We walked out of the office, with big smiles on our faces. The lady taking our co-payment smiled and told us, "I'm happy for your good news."

In the elevator on our way out of the building, we both cried. But this time, not out of relief. We were crying for the parents who do not receive the "good news." For the parents who are forced to be strong in the face of danger, fear, and the unknown. Why??? How did we get so lucky again? And why do those other parents not have the same luck? Isn't it all just luck? This Universe is so random. I don't believe we are "blessed," or that God spared us. How insensitive of a belief, because that insinuates that those who get bad news are handed it by God, that they some how deserve it. What?? No. That doesn't feel right. After feeling the deep sadness, fear, and panic for days, knowing there is not a "relief" for some, just an adjustment to the "new normal" is painful. I feel guilty for receiving good news. I feel spared, fortunate, lucky, and grateful, but if I were in the other position, I know I'd resent the parent who received good news a little bit. It's just not fair.

We went to get coffee in a little cafe in a garden after the appointment to decompress. G left to return to work, and Evy and I stayed back and visited with our waitress for a long time. I told her a super brief version of this story; that we had an appointment with a specialist today, and were very scared prior, but received excellent news. We were celebrating, but I felt a little guilty, because I know how many people don't receive the good news. She then told me how her sister lost her 2 1/2 year old to an uncommon brain condition diagnosed at birth, and how they set up a non-profit organization that distributes medical products to people in need. I silently felt the tears fall down my cheeks. She told me not to cry, that she would start crying, and then, alone in this cafe, we both found ourselves bonding and loving and living. Her sister was exactly the person I was talking about. The warrior who receives bad news, and rather than getting a relief, has to learn to adjust to a new normal.

It was during this exchange I felt a renewed sense of something Higher and Bigger than me. I've been dabbling in doubt + cynicism with my spirituality lately. My connection with our waitress drew me in closer to The One. I took my time leaving the cafe, taking in the art on the walls, and the plants in the nursery. I buckled our baby safely in my car, and drove to pick up my oldest from school. I listened to my audiobook on the commute. Life was back to normal.

Life isn't fair. Life is hard, and it's filled with good news and bad news, and we don't know when we will be on the receiving end of either of those. What I'm learning is to be prepared for the bad news, to rejoice with the good, and to realize that at any moment, it could change. Nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed, and it is absolutely terrifying to let that sink in. I think the waiting period, the time of not knowing, is awful. The mind races for something to hold on to, and it self-judges. Assuming the worst is giving up hope, and negative. Assuming the best is naive and aloof. There is no "right" way to wait for news. This is a universal truth applicable to far more than child-rearing.

I'm learning, and loving, and sometimes I'm really strong, and sometimes I'm scared shitless. Well, except for the questionable one in the Ziploc bag in my purse.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Why I Love Al

I met Albert Berman through my husband and his family. I met Al sometime in 2005-2006, when I was about 18 years old.

Al and my father-in-law worked together. Al even lived with my in-laws for a portion of George’s childhood. I recall a few stories I’ve heard from those days, including my mother-in-law encouraging Al to “stretch” (in reference to changing a diaper), and my husband endearingly saying, “I lub you, Owl.”

Of course little George loved “Owl.” Loving Al is easy. He is generous. He is hilarious. He is passionate. He is so, so thoughtful! 

Though I don’t remember the first time I met Al, I have a feeling it revolved around a car repair. Al is a self-taught doctor for cars. I can honestly say I don’t know anybody as determined as Al. If he doesn’t know how to fix something, he will camp out at the Dallas Public Library, eBay, and even online car mechanic chatrooms to figure it out. 

I went north out of my Texas bubble to the University of Oklahoma for college. George and I were a 2.5 hour long distance couple for that period of time. Reliable transportation was key for our relationship. Unfortunately, George’s car had countless problems. Al helped fix every one. And, when I bought my first car (shortly after landing my first “big girl job” out of college), I chose a used BMW, which was beautiful and fun to drive, and totally dependable because of all the free maintenance Al poured into it. I literally never had to pay the exorbitant prices the dealer charges because I could depend on good ‘ol Al to come through. Usually, I would get special treatment, and he would return it detailed and looking brand new, even after it was 10 years old.

Al’s handiwork is not limited to cars, and not limited to me. He helped us install beautiful French doors in our first home, he has helped my in-laws with various home + car projects, and I know he has even helped his ex-wife around her home with necessary maintenance and repairs. 

Anytime Al works on anything of mine, he explains in detail what he is doing, and truth-be-told, I typically tune him out. That sounds really rude, but let me explain. 

First of all, I have zero desire to learn, secondly, the subject material is always over my head, and finally (and most importantly), I trust Al to complete the job better than anybody else, eventually. I have absolute faith that no obstacle will ever hold him back from a beautiful completion of a project, because I have seen him overcome every single problem, every single time. So when he is explaining the reason a circuit is shorting, or an angle isn't just right, I nod and smile, and then ask him to stick around for dinner. I make him a hot plate, and he tells me how delicious it is, and I tell him how grateful I am for his help. This is our dance. 

Al is not only generous with his time, he is also generous with his money. He SPOILS my daughters! And I love it! Lilah Grace and I go to Target multiple times a week, and every time, I allow her to look at and hold the toys, and every time she has to put them back. When she goes to Target with “Fantasy GrandDad,” (he named himself this so he doesn’t have to follow our parenting rules) she gets to take home the toys. He doesn’t even look at the price tag. Last time we went to Target together, he also got me a Target gift card. I told him, “No, I can’t accept this, you’re already too generous,” and the cashier told me, “Let him do this. I wish I had my dad so I could let him do it. He wants to.” She was choked up, and I’m pretty sure Al was, too. I felt like she was an angel reminding us to give and receive love while we have one another on this planet. Al and I talked about how it was a spiritually moving experience, and I’m so grateful we had that moment together.

I didn’t know a person could be generous in so many different ways until I knew Al. He is generous with his time and money, but also with his compliments and support. Anybody who has a Facebook knows this to be true. Albert Berman has NO PROBLEM DOTING ON A PURDY, PURDY WOMAN WITH A WOWEE-KEE-FLOWEE and a HOLY BAZOLY to make her feel good about herself. Or, if I make a controversial political post, while I can count on many people to “unfollow” me, and a few people to banter with me, I can always count on Albert Berman to remind me HOW MANY FRIENDS I HAVE and HOW SMART I am. We laugh about Al’s ALL CAPS but the truth is, I couldn’t feel more supported or more loved. And honestly, when I’m 80, if I can keep up with the technology as well as he has, I will be damn proud of myself. I think my favorite Facebook post Al has made was of a black and white Gina Lollobrigida, tagging my mom, telling her Gina Lollobrigida would have been jealous of her.

Everyone who knows Al knows he has a love for jazz music. He introduced me to Sarah Vaughn, and when he played a song for me (probably 5 years ago or so), I teared up at the lyrics. He knew I would! Sarah Vaughn started singing in her sultry voice, "In this world of ordinary people, and extraordinary people, I'm glad there is you." For our first dance at our wedding, George and I chose to dance to this song as an ode to Al. I'll always think of Al when I hear old jazz music, or see old black and white photos of New York. Al just got back from visiting his daughter and grandson in NYC, and he scooped me up a bag and scarf from the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. So thoughtful. So New York. So Al.

I love Albert Berman. I have such a warm spot in my heart for him. He has shown me so much love, support, and generosity over the past 11 or so years that I’ve been fortunate enough to know him. When I look at Al, I always forget his age. He turned 80 this month. EIGHTY YEARS OLD. What?! I feel like I need to double check that again, and I must be wrong. He has never looked better. What other 80 year old do you know who is so forward thinking and so open to learning from the younger generations? He has such a zest and passion for life. He is the perfect blend of old school masculine + hip progressivism. I know his children and grandchildren make his world go ‘round. He brags on them all the time! And I know Al and I aren’t related by blood, but when I think of my family and when I refer to “the village,” Al is definitely part of it. He has showered me and my family with love, and I just hope to do the same now for him. 

I lub you, Owl. Happy 80th birthday. 



Monday, February 29, 2016

Everleigh Rose's Social Media Debut

Everleigh Rose is 11 weeks tomorrow. She received her Osage Eagle Feather + Cedar Blessing from her great grandfather over a week ago, and once she met the last of her immediate family, we felt comfortable sharing her with the rest of our world on the online hemisphere. We waited 3 months before sharing Big Sister's face (we had our reasons). Now that we've been through this before, one of those reasons still resonates:

I don't want photos to be subjected to "likes." Something feels weird about putting my daughter out there on social media, and getting notifications that people "like" it, when she doesn't even know she's online. It's kind of creepy if you think about it... or maybe that's just me being a weird mom again.

My sentiment a couple years ago still rings true:

I want to share photos of her through an artistic medium. When taken with a certain amount of taste, photos capture beautiful (and everyday!) life moments, and often times, memories are only retained through photography. We are lucky to have technology and I should be grateful I will have many memories documented for our daughter.

We also wanted the photos to be the thoughtful ones taken by our closest friends//family...Greer and Yana are such talented photographers and captured Everleigh so beautifully.  Professional photos over grainy cellphone pics. EVERY TIME. So a huge thank you to those creative + artistic women. 

Photo Credits:

Here are pics that we captured from her birth and first few weeks. There will be many more to follow. And of course, for the most access, tap into Instagram @LindsayVM and check out her hashtag, #EverleighRoseTinker . 

Everleigh Rose, you are such a special person. Your smile has me melting. You are so snugly and perfect. I love your chubby cheeks and every single roll on your perfect little body. I wish I could freeze time and keep you this innocent and tiny, but I promise to love you forever, in every chapter of your life. You have completed our family. Life is even more wonderful now with you on the planet.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dear Baby ((36 weeks)),

Dear Sweet Baby,

I can't stop thinking about you! I am so excited for your arrival, and even feel a little bit guilty wishing you'd come before December 15th. I realize that's horrible. You stay in there and cook, get nice and chubby. BUT if you decide to come early, I am READY to hold you with my arms instead of my belly, and I know your dad is ready to hold you for the first time.

Photo by Greer Inez
((A while back...I'm definitely a lot bigger now!))

I was having some fear with the upcoming c-section, only because I remember the previous one felt like torture. I don't remember the recovery with your big sister; I only remember cherishing those first precious days with her ((and that gives me SO much excitement for YOUR arrival!)). However, I remember the procedure in detail, the burning of the cautery, the ripping and tearing ((not expected)) and pulling and pressure ((expected)). I talked to Heather ((our midwife)) about this, and she was very reassuring. With your cesarean being planned, I will have a SPINAL rather than an EPIDURAL, which will provide much more of a numbing sensation. Apparently, 1 in 5 women with an epidural during cesarean have an experience similar to mine.

When I was pregnant with your sister, I assumed I would have the natural birth I envisioned hundreds of times. I never visualized a cesarean, and even skipped that part of the birthing class. I associated c-section with failure and fear before I ever had it, so I think in a way, I manifested that for myself.

This time, I've been working on visualizing "the perfect c-section." I envision waking up early, knowing it's your BIRTHDAY, and even getting ready with hair and make-up. This will make me feel excited + confident. Then, we will walk into the hospital, check in, and go to pre-op. I know that nurse will get my IV on her first time because I'm a badass IV-starter, and the good karma I put out at my work will definitely come back to me. Hehe. Then, when the anesthesiologist puts in the spinal, I will barely feel a poke, and then feel completely numb. In the operating room, I'll have your dad by my side, as I feel nothing but excitement for seeing your face. I'll get to hold you immediately after you're out, and letting you go out of my arms and sharing you will be the hardest part of my day.

And so it is!

I have a lot more inner peace than I did with the previous pregnancy. Life is far more stable for us now, and I haven't had extreme mood swings. In fact, your dad even said he wished I was pregnant all the time. Ha! I'm just so pleased with how life is going for us right now. Daddy is doing so well at work, having fun and passionately engaging with his clients, while bringing home that bacon. I still love going to work 3 days a week. We love our modest home, and I absolutely love making small improvements here and there to make it even more enjoyable ((see nesting, below, hehe)).

((Not a recent pic...this was at 31 weeks, about a month ago))

Position: Last week, Heather said she felt a head up near my left breast, and predicts you're breech ((head up rather than the typical head down position)). We didn't verify with a sonogram, because nothing changes for us; you're a scheduled cesarean either way. Honestly, I think it gives you character. I don't mind. When you were transverse, it was more uncomfortable for me ((horizontal, head on the left, feet on the right)).

That Weird Extra Fluid Thing We Had: The polyhydramnios has completely cleared up. No extra fluid! You're swallowing and peeing like a champ. It was just one of those weird things that went away on it's own.

Fun Pregnancy Symptom: I've been NESTING, which has been so fun for me. The outside of our house is being painted today and tomorrow. I absolutely love it. I busted out cloth diaper hand-me-downs from Cousin Molly and figured out what all I need to be successful with these at our home. We will get your bassinet from Binky and Papa's very soon, and set it up in our room. I've ordered your matching Christmas pj's with your sissy ((and maybe me and daddy, too...sorry in advance, we are kind of nerdy parents)). I've placed your little tiny newborn clothes on my bump and just pictured your beautiful face so many times. I can't wait to hold you!

Size: I have gained a little over 40 pounds so far. I've consistently been measuring at larger than average, but while it used to be a few weeks ahead, now it's only 1 week ahead. Even my maternity scrubs are tight. I've been loving the sh*t out of my maternity leggings and oversized sweaters//shirts.

Names: Vivienne Rose, Everleigh Rose, Norah Rose. You'll likely be one of those. We'll wait to see your face. For more thoughts on naming you, reference this post.

Cravings: Have kind of settled down. I definitely was on a dairy kick for a while, wanting every flavor of cream cheese, even eating ricotta cheese straight from the tub. Any and all childhood cereals. A new cinnamon roll shop opened in the city I work, and I've frequented too many times. They know me as the "cute pregnant lady who wept when she ate her first Cinnaholic roll" which is sadly, true. Even more sad, I haven't cried at much at all this pregnancy. I've not really been too emotional, but the cinnamon roll seemed to evoke tears. Haha. Anyway, I've been a huge fan of food and eating whatever//whenever, but nothing out of the ordinary lately.

Movement: I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks now. You've been moving around constantly. I am confident this is the last time I'll be pregnant, and I know in the future when other women describe their pregnancies, I'll have a little bit of envy. This is such a sacred time, and I know it. I'll miss feeling you move the most. I'm never alone. I have two hearts in my one body. I have an angel dwelling spirit-side contained in my flawed, earth-side body. I am so grateful to be carrying you, but I'm even more ready to meet you and see what changes you bring to our family. We knew we wanted you before you were even created. And life will be forever changed, for the better, in 2 1/2 weeks.

I might not get a chance to blog again before your arrival, and I know I'll go back and read this, thinking, "I can't believe I hadn't even seen her or known her then. That seems like a lifetime ago!"

Just know that no matter what happens, on any day, at any given moment, I LOVE YOU. I love you so much I can barely stand it. You're my DAUGHTER! My BABY! I'll love you forever no matter what. My sweet, sweet, baby. Come on down. I'm ready for you.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sweet Baby, What Will We Call You?

A little over two years ago, I wrote a post about names and how they define our personalities, per Pierre Le Rouzic from his international bestseller, "The Name Book." I shared the "personality types" based off our names, for our little family of three. Now that we are expanding to a family of four, we are taking this new baby's name quite seriously! My mother-in-law owns this book, and literally, pages are falling out now because of how often we look through it. It's currently in our home, as we ponder names for this precious baby, due exactly four weeks from today!

When Lilah Grace was born, we had 3 names in mind for her: Ardyn Brooke, Everleigh Joy, and Lilah Grace.

As soon as George held her for the first time (my arms were still strapped down to the OR table), I anxiously asked him, "What's her name!?" He looked at our crying newborn and asked her, "Are you Everleigh Joy?" as she continued to wail. Then, he asked, "Are you Lilah Grace?" and she stopped crying, as if she had heard her name for the first time. So, basically, she named herself. We don't know that we will have that situation repeat itself, but we want to see this little baby's face before deciding on her name.

This go around, we have 3 names in mind, with Everleigh making a comeback, only with a different middle name. "Rose" is my late grandmother's name, my mother's middle name, and my sister's middle name. Since we don't know that my sister is going to have girls, I want to be sure the name lives on. I also love that both our girls will have classic, one-syllable, timeless names. Grace and Rose.

Our three potential names for this baby (as of late) are: Everleigh Rose, Vivienne Rose, and Norah Rose.

I am so unbelievably excited to meet this baby. Literally, I think about her and holding her, and kissing her and nursing her and nuzzling her and smelling her, at least one hundred times a day. Everytime she moves, I get butterflies and a warm wave floods my body with excitement and anticipation. I know once we name her, it will seem so obvious, like "she's always been a (Everleigh//Vivienne//Norah)," but until then, I'm not so sure. I had a dream that we named her Norah Lynn a few weeks ago, for whatever that's worth. I also dreamt I had her early at 35 weeks. I turned 35 weeks yesterday, so assuming I go these next 5 days without going into labor, my dreams haven't necessarily been premonitions.

Here are the "Personality Types" of each of these names. Norah has two, which honestly, I don't really get, but there ya have it.

Everly (Everleigh)
"Bringer of Hope"
Element: Fire
Mineral: Antimony
Animal: Turtle Dove
Plant: Chestnut Tree
Color: Red

  • You know what you want 
  • High morals, a self-assurance that comes from your unabiding faith, and your capacity for self-denial in order to reach your goals
  • You are able to dedicate yourself to your community or to a cause, and even though you can be convincingly enthusiastic, you are essentially reserved

  • Both an extrovert and an introvert, and sometimes it is difficult to tell which is more important to you-your need to be active in the world, or your need to protect your private life
  • You have a very strong will, but you tend to conceal it so that your reactions to situations are somewhat restrained and understated

  • In every way, you are a (wo)man of deeds and not words 
  • You influence others
  • You're not interested in establishing your own reputation or a great name for yourself, but in doing things well
  • Most likely, you decide early on in life what it is that you want to do. You are able to devote yourself to a cause, body and soul, but without becoming fanatical
  • You are slow to anger, and rare is the day that you find reason to let go with a biting word or an angry outburst

  • You have a very good intuition, but it is so well integrated in your whole personality that it doesn't seem like intuition
  • Your imagination is rich and well-disciplined, and your subdued attractiveness is captivating

  • More holistic than it is analytic
  • Your astonishing memory retains not only great moments, but the details of things
  • You tend to be selective in what you want to learn, though you are a marvelous student

  • You are a warm and gentle lover, but you hardly ever allow your emotions to get out of control
  • There is something self-assured about you which attracts people to you, and because you are not at all possessive, you allow others to express their affections openly

  • In general, your health is excellent
  • You rarely tire and are at your healthy best when you take the time every day to walk in the fresh air

  • Genuine friendliness that makes people think they've been taken into your family once they meet you
  • You have a special gift for communicating your warmth; and part of it is that it would never cross your mind to belittle another person for any reason
  • You are a gracious, giving host, and though perhaps not the life of the party, you're certainly its soul. When you do take time to relax among a gathering of friends, you give off a warm, secure feeling-a feeling of peacefulness, and home for tomorrow.

Vivian (Vivienne)
"Woman of Quiet Force"
Element: Earth
Mineral: Seleniate
Animal: Sole
Plant: Fern
Color: Red

  • Your strong emotions and positive morality, in combination with your will, make you a resourceful and goal-directed person. 
  • Though you often appear quiet and sober on the outside, you are motivated by a forceful combination of intellect, principles, and purpose. 
  • You're a faithful, dedicated worker and friend with an unobtrusive charm and high ideals.

  • Natural introversion
  • You lean toward shyness, yet are perfectly capable of lashing out with ferocity should your personal universe be threatened 
  • You are quick to anger over emotional issues
  • You are not easily discouraged from pursuing a course which you've chosen

  • Meticulous and well-organized
  • It takes you a little while to adapt to a new situation, though once you have made the adjustment, you become dedicated to the job

  • There is something captivating about your intuition-all the more pity that you do not heed your inner voice more often than you do
  • It is penetrating and effective, but you tend not to put much faith in it.

  • Your mind works systematically and methodically, and yet it is lively. 
  • Analytical
  • Your memory, like your intellect, is well-structured and vast.

  • You tend to restrain yourself when it comes to expressing your feelings, partly because of a natural distrust of others' affections. 
  • Great declarations of love are downright distasteful to you-too theatrical and pretentious to be real. Still, you can be a most endearing and faithful lover.

  • Although you tire easily and your health can suffer from nervous strain, you enjoy generally good vitality and health. 
  • You need fresh air and some sort of regular exercise in order to keep from succumbing to mental exhaustion.

  • Small circle of faithful friends whom you entertain with a quiet charm. 
  • A surprise party is a horror to you.
  • Often you become upset by the superficiality of large gatherings and tend to shy away from a demanding social schedule.

actually has TWO Personality Types:
"Perfect Beauty" and "Bearer of Good Fortune"

"Perfect Beauty"
Element: Air
Mineral: Jade
Animal: Codfish
Plant: Orchid
Color: Yellow

  • It is almost as if you are ruled by your emotions
  • Very sentimental
  • Emotional at heart, with the capacity to distance yourself from the world and assume a mask of regality
  • Innate sense of poetry, of beauty and elegance
  • Fragile and need to have tenderness returned in order to thrive

  • Rely upon beauty and charm to get you through
  • Postpone things, and highly sentimental nature runs the risk of carrying you into fantasy rather than action into the real world 
  • Introvert, but even withdrawn, you can rely on your will power to overcome adverse situations
  • That powerful will can turn to stubbornness 
  • As slow to forgive as you are quick to anger
  • Need for discipline
  • Once you establish structure, you can be a good student, especially if your studies have to do with tradition-the classics, art, or history.
  • Great appreciation for wealth and luxury, tend to prefer careers in which there is a side of glamor
  • Independence is very important for you and routine work would be offensive to your fine sensibilities
  • What makes you so enchantingly beautiful is your powerful intuition. It is so effective that it seems at times as if you have the gift of prophecy.
  • Your inner self lends you a sort of other-worldliness which people find charming and irresistibly attractive.
  • Very holistic; not going to bother yourself with details
  • You see a situation all at once, as a competent picture
  • Your curiosity is intense, and your verbal gifts are splendid
  • Boundless emotions
  • Affection and love are highest on your list of life's priorities
  • You need a lot of tenderness and affection, which you can return twofold. 
  • Your taste for comfort might lead you to a permanent relationship with an older man-someone who can give you the stability you so need
  • Fragile constitution, a strict regimen is essential for your good health
  • Acute sensitivity makes you prone to certain psychosomatic illnesses, but nothing major
  • Charming and graceful
  • Dazzling hostess
  • There is something in you that craves ritual and ceremony; most of your entertaining is likely to be rather formal and traditional
  • More men than women in your close circle of friends

Personality Type #2 
"Bearer of Good Fortune"
Element: Air
Mineral: Marble
Animal: Doe
Plant: Linden tree
Color: Orange
  • Fascinating woman with an illuminating tenderness and deep dedication to the higher qualities of life
  • Anything selfish and false in the world offends you to the core
  • Rigorous principles and sense of honor that comes from the heart
  • Strong emotions, but you tend to keep them channeled in useful activity that is of service to other people
  • Tend to excuse others' behavior and make too many demands on yourself
  • Emotions become taxed, so temper can flare up and explode
  • Terrible fear of being betrayed
  • Natural extrovert; you act with great self-confidence when you have a mission to perform, but otherwise, tend to be fairly timid
  • Astonishing quality of will; you have a great influence on people, transforming their attitudes and evoking their humanity and responsiveness to the ills of their fellow man
  • Happiest when you are sharing and giving of yourself
  • Attentive to needs of others; likely to pursue activities involving service to humanity
  • You plan well for your career and are not afraid of lengthy study or apprenticeship
  • Admirable mother, understanding and nurturing. Would also be an excellent doctor or nurse, or a field worker for social service agencies. Whatever you do, you seem to bring light and better awareness to all those around you.
  • For someone with so much empathy, you put little trust in your inner voice
  • You put your faith in reason and your own code of conduct
  • Mind is quick and alert
  • Able to get a broad perspective on a problem quickly and can confront complex situations 
  • Fine memory, especially for events with emotional charge to them
  • Curiosity is active but never invades the privacy of others
  • You need a tender, sensitive love which will match your own
  • Very emotional by nature, but your morals do not allow you to be flippant about your affections
  • Faithful, dedicated lover and wife 
  • Vitality is excellent
  • Zest for life helps you overcome illness
  • Radiant personality shines on those around you; charming and cheerful
  • Excellent and discreet hostess, always sure that everyone is happy and has what (s)he needs
  • Loud or brassy parties usually appall you, as does anything that is superficial and insincere
  • Happiest with a small group of loving friends who can share your warmth and generosity of spirit with genuine appreciation


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