Monday, March 31, 2014

Lilah Grace's Cake Smash


video

I was SO excited to finally collaborate with my friend from Norman, Greer ((of Mama Hussy)), for some first-birthday-themed photos of our little LG. Sadly, the dates didn't work out as we had both hoped, and I needed to get invitations printed, so the anticipation will continue to build until we can finally have our shoot with the very talented, very badass Greer Inez...

But meanwhile, I knew I had to hunker down and do this thing myself. I had a vision and needed to make it happen. 

The theme of LG's party was surprisingly organic ((not at all like the cake))... 
It just came to me after listening to some Disney classics months ago during her bath time...

"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes."

Getting to create a set in our own kitchen for Lilah Grace was so fun. My creative juices were flowing, my house smelled like birthday cake, and best of all, when Lilah woke up from her afternoon nap, she got to indulge in a lot of fun with her mama and Aunt Roo.

During her first nap, I baked a cake and finished up her dreamcatcher ((while catching up on the DVR)). It was a perfect morning of baking and crafting.

I used a white cake mix, added violet food dye, and poured the batter in two mini pans. 

After the purple cakes baked, I stacked them and frosted them with white frosting, also mixed with violet food dye. Then I covered the frosting with edible sprinkles. The dye and sprinkles were from Hobby Lobby, both purchased before I was aware of the latest Supreme Court news. Dadgummit. Oh well, turned out cute.

I will make a DIY Dreamcatcher post later. This was fun, easy, and inexpensive.


I placed the cake in a wreath of succulents that was about to see it's last day. Topped with a star, and surrounded by feathers and glitter.
I hung the dreamcatcher, and hot glued two additional stars to the backdrop.
The set was created on butcher paper, compliments of my mom and her friend from the elementary school. It made clean up a breeze.
((Great idea, Mommy! Thanks!))
Behind the butcher paper were twinkle lights, and around the butcher paper was white tulle. That was thanks to Mama Vajda, who we ran into at Hobby Lobby, and was kind enough to let us borrow for the day!!!


Our little angel...scopin' the scene! Hahaha.
Watching LG dig in was absolutely adorable. She required encouragement! I think she thought it was too pretty to eat at first! Once she started eating...Aunt Roo and I started helping her. That was fun, too. 





...gettin' after it...

We sent off the party invitations today!! It will be a family-only affair, since our family is HUGE. We are so looking forward to celebrating one year of absolute bliss with our little angel. She has made our lives SO different, and SO much better! 

xoxo,
L




Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hobby Lobby, World Vision, The Bible, and Easter.

With the recent news of both Hobby Lobby and World Vision, and Easter around the corner, I have found myself completely obsessed with religious topics as of late. These are two organizations I have personally funded with literally, thousands of dollars in my lifetime, and have absolutely disgusted me with their political games.

Hobby Lobby thinks government mandating health care coverage for oral contraceptives ((for their employees)) is a violation of church and state. Some people believe that preventing an egg from ovulating is essentially the same thing as an abortion. I will throw in for good measure, Viagra is currently covered. So a pill that helps men emit their sperm is okay, but a pill that prevents women from emitting their egg is not. Hmmm...




World Vision decided they would hire Christians in same-sex marriages, but then reversed their decision, because too many Christians withdrew child sponsorship in protest of the decision.

Yes, that's correct, it was worth it to some people to no longer feed hungry children, because the charity stated they would hire married gay people. And that goes against Christian teachings in the Bible.



After all, Leviticus 18:22 clearly states:

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."

It is suspected Moses is the author of the first five books of the Old Testament ((which includes Leviticus)).  Moses. Not God. Not Jesus. Moses. These are referred to as The Pentateuch, or the Torah, or the Book of Law.

I was raised in the church, and currently have my Bible in my lap. That is where I got this information. My Bible. I've studied this book since I was a kid. I'm INTERESTED in what it has to say.

Christians that cling to The Torah ((the first five books of the Bible)) and impose it on this country through money, power, and legislature, are not only abandoning separation of church and state...they are also neglecting the teachings of Jesus Christ.



He NEVER spoke against women or homosexuality. Which is what extreme-Christians in 2014 are fighting against.

I know a lot of really good hearted Christian people. I have to think they must either not read the Bible, or they disregard verses as no longer being "culturally relevant." Leviticus is "outdated." Surely these Christians are not hateful enough, or ignorant enough, to believe that every word in the Bible is the WORD OF GOD and must still be followed in 2014. If they DO believe that, then they must be consistent...

The Bible Bans:

ROUND HAIRCUTS or FACIAL HAIR SHAPING. Leviticus 19:27: "You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads no harm the edges of your beard."

Dammit. You mean THIS guy won't be in Heaven with me one day?! Lookin' good, Brad. Lookin' good.


FOOTBALL. Leviticus 11:8: "You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you." ((Just to be fair...let me put this "in context." We shouldn't carry rabbit feet on our keychains either, because the verse before states: "The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you." So no bacon, either, Bible-followers.))

And all the football players that are good Christian men are violating the Good Book, too??? What?!


........My guess is people who want to believe that The Bible should still be followed literally, excuse these verses as "it was different back then." Yes. It was. So why cling to the verses that spew hate toward a group of people, but let go the ones that seem out dated?

Perhaps all of it is outdated.

TATTOOS. Leviticus 19:28: "You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord." I have seen more Bible verses and cross tattoos than any other. The hypocrisy!

"I believe in Philippians 4:13, but not Leviticus 19:28." 


I could keep going. The Bible denounces wearing blended fabrics. Divorce. Wearing gold. Or pearls! Eating shellfish!!!! That includes the beloved California roll, people!!!! Leviticus 11:10: "But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you." 

Dammit.

I understand that I am doing the very same thing that irritates me about religious extremists...I am taking Bible verses and using them to make a point, rather than using the entire context.

Here's my complaint...if someone is going to take a Bible verse, and try to manipulate it to get their way, isn't it worse to use the Bible to discriminate against people? At least I am trying to use the Bible to make sure all of God's children are loved, and included. If we can throw out verses as "outdated" or "that was only directed toward the Israelites" then why can't we throw out the hurtful ones that cause WAR? Or that motivate Christians to withdraw funding for hungry kids?? Or ones that tell battered women to stay in their marriage because they are supposed to be submissive, and divorce is banned??



 "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;  in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."
-1 Timothy 2:8

((The author of this book was Paul. Written 63-65 AD. Paul wrote this to Timothy in letter form. Paul considered Timothy his good friend, even stating "my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord" (1 Cor. 4:17). I am including all of this information because I think it's important to realize who is saying what... if you're going to make it your religion and the way you live your entire life, you ought to know who is making the rules! I'm sorry, but Paul is not my Savior. Paul's letters to Timothy are definitely interesting from a historical context, and there is rich material in the Pastoral Epistles. But these are not the words of Jesus. These are the words of common men.))

There is no denying that the Bible is loaded with sexism. And if somebody legitimately believes that every word in the Bible is "God's word," than that same person believes that God is sexist. To say that you believe the Bible is the word of God, and not the collective words of men, is to say that you believe God is sexist, racist, and homophobic. If we believe God is sexist, racist, and homophobic, why SHOULDN'T we mirror that image?

I believe Jesus came to CHANGE that image. That is why I don't take anything in the Old Testament seriously. Not to mention, the Old Testament has more in common with Judaism and Islam than Christians want to admit!!! It's as though Christians forgot why Christ came.
*************************************************************


"God"

Many people read the Bible, thinking that God wrote it. Like God is an old man in the clouds, and He personally wrote this book. That is not an opinion. That is choosing to disregard facts. Facts that even the Bible has, if they read it! Here is what I know is true (or at least, what my Bible says):

MOSES is the assumed author of most of the first five books of the Old Testament.

"Moses"


Conservative estimates believe these books were written either the 15th or 13th century B.C... or roughly, 3500 years ago.  As a planet, we have only been recording history for about 5000 years. But the planet has been in existence for 4.6 BILLION YEARS.

Why are we more trusting of men that heard the voice of God thousands of years ago? I know the answer of most Christians is "faith." I think these people are truly afraid of God, so they cling to their old-school thinking "just in case" those passages ARE the word of God...so they don't burn in hell for eternity.

Ezekial, Paul, Moses...they are not my Gods. They are just men who say they knew God, and wrote it down in some form, and that was translated multiple times, and many pieces were omitted when the Church created the first "Bible."And that book has a lot of good in it. But when it's manipulated by a group of people to hold on to power, it's doing more harm than good. When we read the Bible, if we claim to hear God ((ie: "God spoke to me in this passage" or "I really heard the Word of God while reading this...")), I hope it is a message of love.

Today, if a man prays to God, he is faithful. If he HEARS God, he is schizophrenic.

"Stillness is the language God speaks; everything else is a bad translation." 
-Eckhart Tolle


When you think about how old the world is ((4.6 BILLION YEARS?!!?)), it's not ridiculous to think about Greek and Roman mythology as being relatively recent! And a Christian would laugh if you were to ask him/her if they believe in Zeus? Or Aphrodite?

"Zeus"

When I think about God, Jesus, religion, spirituality...I have to look within, rather than outside. And I believe that there is something greater than me, pulsing through my veins, in my heart, and eternal. Something nameless, even. To call it "God" limits it, whatever "it" is. And I think that all people of all religions could come to that common denominator, if they were willing to have the conversation.

But most people who are fundamental in their religions are afraid to ask questions. I think they are afraid because it insinuates doubt, and just in case God and Jesus and Heaven and Hell are real, they had better be on God's good side.

Based on some of the Bible verses I've read, I understand wanting to stay on God's good side. Based on the Old Testament, if you upset God, He killed you. In truly horrific ways. Noah's Ark isn't a cute child's nursery theme ((like I once believed!)). 


God was mad at the world, and according to Genesis 7:4, "For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made." This includes puppies, kittens, and babies.

*******************************************************************

For years, Easter was my favorite holiday.

I used to believe the resurrection of Christ was more important than the birth of Christ. I thought that anybody could be born, but overcoming death was what made Him the Savior.

Now? I don't know. And that's not easy for me to type out, or put out into the world. I wouldn't consider myself among the outspoken atheists like Bill Maher, who ridicule people believing in a certain religion...I still revere the sanctity of religion and respect the majority of people who practice a ((still somewhat sane)) religion. But to say that at this point in my life ((or if I get real, the past 5-8 years of my life)) I believe that a man was buried in a tomb and rose from the dead would be a lie. I don't claim to believe that like I once did, but I also don't say that I know it didn't happen. I just don't know.

And I think the words "I don't know" are far more powerful than "I know" on either end of the religious debate, because in reality, nobody knows what happens when we die.

I do know that my morality is not hinged on His resurrection. Nor do my values depend on if He was born to a Virgin. It doesn't matter to me; Jesus lead a life that was noble, progressive, inspiring, and filled with love, and he was persecuted for it. The time is NOW for churches to shift the focus from The Bible ((written by men other than "the Savior" of the religion)) to the life of Jesus Christ.


This Easter, I will still celebrate the metaphorical resurrection of Jesus Christ. I will celebrate the new season of Spring! And all of the rebirth around me. I will watch the rain pour down on days like today, and thank God that he is nurturing the planet ((and not flooding it)). Spring! New life! I feel reenergized just typing that! My hope is that "believers" who have created quite the controversy as of late, can feel the renewal, too. In a new way, perhaps. In a more loving, accepting way. In the way Jesus actually lived his life. Maybe this spring, they can open their eyes to loving mankind. Accepting all people...men and women. Straight and gay.

The God that I believe in gave me a brain with free will, and an incessantly curious nature. I just have these questions within. I don't go looking for them, I don't want to stir the pot, I just have it in me. And I believe that the Greater Power wants me to explore, and see what I find, and I just can't envision a God punishing me for that.

I sincerely hope this hasn't offended anybody, and that it spoke to somebody. If even one person has felt a veil lifted, I'll be happy. If even one person sees the world today the way Jesus Christ did, I will feel used by a Greater Good for something that I otherwise couldn't have done by myself.

xo,
L

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2 Years

As our 2 year anniversary approaches tomorrow, I've been thinking about all I have to be grateful for with Georgie. Since switching roles as primary income provider, my basic needs are now met by him. Food, shelter...Also, perhaps even more importantly, love, a sense of belonging, and laughter. But also, tears. And growing pains.





For obvious reasons, I rarely air dirty laundry online (with WIFE STRIKE being my exception), but I think all couples can relate to disagreements, and hurt feelings. George and I argue regularly. Luckily, we are usually quick to resolve our disputes, and can find the humor in the fights. But when I'm in a neutral space, I can realize that one (if not both) of us are growing when we argue.



When I was alone, be it in Oklahoma while still in a relationship with G, or during one of our breaks, I had time by myself. This alone time allowed me to find out more about who I was (am). It provided spiritual growth through solitude. I'm so grateful for those times. Now, living with G and our daughter, I rarely have time to myself (and I ought to work at scheduling alone time, because I really miss it). But being in a marriage has taught me a lot about myself. When we argue, we are each pointing out the dysfunction in the other. Living with somebody provides a sort of exhibit for emotions and behaviors.

When I say I'm grateful for my partner, I acknowledge that I'm grateful for all of him. The good, bad, and ugly. As long as I continue to improve as a person (which I presently define as the alignment of my soul with my personality), I know this relationship is serving me for my Highest Good. I believe that is the point of a partnership...spiritual upliftment and growth. I fear stagnation and complacency more than I fear a passionate disagreement.

I love you, Georgie. I'm grateful for all the times we've shared, and all we have taught each other. I look forward to a life time of learning and growing with you.

I'm proud of our 2 year wedding anniversary, and 9 years of loving eachother. I don't take our love for granted. You're my best friend, and I'm lucky to get to do life with you. You're fun, and make me laugh. You're a wonderful husband, and a loving father. Thanks for being who you are.




xoxo,
L

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm a Believer

This song takes me right back to my FIRST strolls with Lilah Grace, as a tiny newborn. It was summer, in my parents' neighborhood...early mornings, hot days, and cool nights after dipping in the community pool. 







This song came on shuffle today on my stroll with our sweet angel baby, and maybe it was the song...maybe it was the gorgeous blue sky (not a cloud in sight, 68 degrees)...maybe it was our sweet daughter hanging on to the cupholders of her stroller, engaging in every person, animal, tree...engaging with every soul on our walk....but this song touched me again. I heard it in a new way, and had to go home and look up the words, and share.

I dedicate this song to you, my sweet baby. You're my utmost happy, my ultimate muse. You are why I am a Believer!!!


My favorite lines are in bold. I'll shut up and let the lyrics speak for themselves.




"I Believe In Everything"

JJ Grey and Mofro

"I believe in everything 
from a river running backwards
to a bee when it stings
and I believe 
in the voices out here
telling me to hold on
but let go of my fear

a childhood imagination
has been my salvation
one cloud at a time
lord I'm dreaming
let me look upon her 
one more time
this beauty that I love - she's why

I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer

I believe in what I can't change
in a hard lesson learned
and the strength from my pain
and I believe
in what I can't prove
in the joy of not knowing
and the misunderstood


let go of my past
let go of my future
one cloud at a time
yes I'm dreaming
let me look upon her 
one more time
this beauty that I love
before she's gone, before she's gone

I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer
I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer

the memory of one moment
is the beginning and the end of who I am


I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer
I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer
I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer
I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer

tell me about something tell me about something you believe in
tell me about something tell me about something you believe in
tell me about something tell me about something you believe in"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Love and Vulnerability

Thanks to Oprah and her Super Soul Sundays, I discovered Dr. Brene Brown a few months ago. She has become incredibly famous from her TED talk on vulnerability, which has received over 11 million views (and counting).



Around the time that I started this post, I re-posted the "Whole-Hearted Parenting Manifesto" as a short-and-sweet entry. I absolutely love reading Dr. Brene Brown's words, and thinking how I can apply them to my daughter, and our family.

I have learned that vulnerability is the key to experiencing life's greatest joys. We all feel vulnerability, just in different circumstances. Sometimes vulnerability is necessary to ask for a raise. Or interview for a new job. Vulnerability is always necessary in a loving relationship.

When we mess up (which we all do, all the time), there is a huge difference in how we perceive our mistakes. This plays a huge role in our life behaviors. According to Dr. Brown, it's all about if we consciously choose to feel guilt, rather than shame, about something we have done or said. The difference between shame and guilt is "I am bad" and "I did something bad." The focus either being on  "self" or "behavior." (ex: Say you make a mistake at work, and it costs the company money. The way you process this can be either "I am a bad employee"....or "That was a stupid thing to do.") Interesting statistic...shame is highly coordinated with addiction, depression, eating disorders, aggression, and bullying. However, people who feel guilt rather than shame have far better outcomes in all of those measures.

Sometimes being vulnerable means being willing to feel like a relationship is one-sided, which is also a totally embarrassing feeling. What I constantly fear is growing too attached to my people, and then having my loved ones taken from me. Just the act of LOVING requires VULNERABILITY. Relationships can end by choice, or by death...and choosing to love, you are risking that love ending when you're not ready for the relationship to come to an end. But imagine the consequences of not loving at all....like the old expression says, "tis better to have loved and lost than never to love at all."

Without vulnerability, there is no risk. There is no wager. But, there is no joy.

Art by Katie Daisy


Being willing to stand in vulnerability is being willing to experience the greatest joys in life.

I can't think about losing these two people for even a second without having heart palpitations. But if I allow that fear to take over, I lose the moment. I accept vulnerability in exchange for the joy. 


ANYTIME I feel vulnerable, it comes with some anxiety. I posted recently about my "nursing letdown" and the mixed feelings that have come with weaning. I even opened up, ONLINE, about my issue with body image since having a baby. And what I have found MOST interesting about that vulnerable experience, is I have had more blog-views and more private messages about THAT BODY IMAGE post than almost any other post I've made...and what I have gathered is that people would literally rather read about my vulnerable musings on body image, than the birth of my daughter. Or her social media debut. Or my wedding. Wow. But then again, is this really that hard to believe?

I think vulnerability is REFRESHING online. I think people wanted to read about a girl who was once skinny, struggling with an image she sees in the mirror after a transformative life experience. Maybe old "frenemies" from my high school days read that post and snickered. But I think the majority of people read it because they could RELATE to it. And when people bond over mutual vulnerability, they open the door to bond on a very deep level.

Well yeah this day was PERFECT! It was PLANNED OUT! And I had hours to get ready! And we had a professional photographer! And florist! And all that jazz! If wedding pictures DON'T look good, something fishy is going on. 

And of course she looks perfect! BECAUSE SHE IS. Hehehe.



I get online and see dozens of baby pictures. Insane amounts of wedding pics. And a lot of work out pics, cute outfit pics, and posing with friends-looking-all-dolled-up pics. I rarely get online and see pics of people looking vulnerable.

***Sidenote, I don't think sexy-airbrushed-naked pics are "vulnerable" expressions just because the subject is lacking clothes. These images add to the collective insecurity of the female consciousness in this country... I'll elaborate on that some other time...

I don't know about yall, but when I open the Facebook or Instagram browser in my phone, I see a LOT of narcissism.

"Hitting up the gym!"
"Day 5 of my juice cleanse!"
"#nofilterneeded"

I'm not trying to be an extremist...of course, sometimes awesome life experiences occur, and in the world we live in now, it is totally appropriate to share those online! But are they balanced with the bad days? How often do we see posts like-

"Skipping the work out because my DVR is filling up!"
"Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits FTW"
"I got dumped but I know in the long run I'll be better off!"

(I know I see some posts like that sometimes, and when I do, I always love the person posting the status a little bit more...It's like comparing Angelina Jolie to Lena Dunham. When I see interviews with Lena Dunham, I fall more in love with her because her willingness to be vulnerable is just SO refreshing! Just this morning, she said "she wished she could say her hobbies were quilting and historical reenactments, but in reality, they consist of Netflix, the dog park, and eating. I LOVE HER FOR THAT!!!!)

I think we are craving vulnerability in one another, but it takes willing participants, and courage, to be vulnerable. I hope that I see more of it in my social media feeds. I am always more impressed with authenticity than mere compliment-seeking.

My main objective in posting pics like THIS is to show my friends/family what I am up to (being a mom to the light of my life), and also so that when I see people in REAL life and I look LIKE THIS, they don't take a second look, wondering if it's me! Haha! 


Like everything, moderation is key. If every post I ever made was super vulnerable, I'd be slipping into a god-awful Fall Out Boy emo-phase, and would need somebody to bring me back to life. But now and then, it's kind of nice. It makes being online feel a little more like real life, instead of this pretend life we are all living behind the glowing screen.

xoxo,
L

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Complexities of Pregnancy.

I typed up a blogpost shortly after discovering we were expecting a baby...and never published. It just didn't feel right. But I found it, and thought it would be a good one to add in my new "pregnancy" post tab :)

POST STARTS HERE:

After finding out we were expecting a baby, we thought long and hard about how we would share with friends. We actually waited a while before sharing the news...I wanted to announce the news in a clever and creative way online, of course! But George didn't feel right about it, and I respected his decision (even though I was excited about the various photoshoots including: headphones around my belly connected to George playing his guitar, an actual 'bun' in the actual 'oven,' or just a cropped image of me holding a bikini in one hand, a sign in the other stating, "WILL TRADE FOR CRIB").

So, I went inward. Which is different, since I have enjoyed this blog, and definitely enjoy interacting through social media, be it Instagram or Facebook. But I think it's been a healthy decision for me and our growing family. My journal is getting thicker with handwritten pages, and I've found that the journal is more authentic. Nobody reads it, and I don't have to filter anything.

But I've been reading a lot, too, and with reading insightful books comes this need for me to spread the message! And while journaling is beneficial for me, I think blogging about my discoveries could be beneficial for others going through similar situations. It might be that the kind of audience who would be interested in my musings on pregnancy won't find them applicable for a few years... but these will still be accessible then, so here I go.

....................................................................................................................................

I've received a few books from friends and family, and am very grateful for their thoughtfulness and generosity. One thing I've noticed about myself is that I have a short attention span when it involves somebody else's thoughts or passions, and a very long focus when it involves my own.

 **(This will have to change when the baby comes. I'm hoping that will come more naturally than it does now.) 

With that being said, I've not been able to put down two different books, and I have two coming in the mail any day now by legendary midwife, Ina May Gaskin.

My two favorite reads as of late have been "Why Have Kids," by one of my favorite authors, Jessica Valenti, and "Misconceptions" by Naomi Wolf.

Ironically, I was on a waiting list at the Grapevine Public Library for "Why Have Kids" before we found out we were expecting a baby. I didn't know anything about it, other than it was Valenti's latest book, and I knew I loved "The Purity Myth" and "Full Frontal Feminism." About two days after we found out the news, the library called me to tell me the book had come in. I wondered if I should read it, and went ahead. I now think that was Divine Intervention.

Both books were such inspirational, thought-provoking, outside-of-the-box, honest reads about first-time moms. I think back on my elementary school days and learning the different styles of writing...persuasive, how-to, narrative....these books are not your typical pregnancy books, which I find to be very "how-to". These are biographical narratives with a global focus.

.......................................................................................................................................

What I've found in these books, is that everything I'm thinking and feeling is to be expected. Not only because of my individual situation, but because of our nation's situation. Many people have comfortingly said, "If you wait to have enough money, you'll never have kids," and "When you're young you have the energy but no money, when you're old you have the money but no desire."

I've felt myself wondering why we can be a country where both political parties tout "family values" but neither seem to be implementing policies that help women with healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries (of their choice), and postpartum healing/bonding time. Sure, a woman who is lucky enough to have a job with FMLA as a benefit might be able to take 12 weeks off, but that's not guaranteed to be paid time off, and in this economy, most couples are both working outside of the home. This doesn't take into account the high cost of childcare and healthcare (for the baby AND the family).

I've always been interested in politics (in high school I was smart to keep my mouth shut most of the time...being really involved in FCA and Young Life, I knew my liberal viewpoints were not shared by most of my peers). I was extremely involved in Obama's campaign on OU's campus, and started a feminist collective after moving back to Texas. Yet so often during this pregnancy, I've felt as though the energy it takes to engage in political discourse is too draining. On the other hand, it really matters. So while I want to make a difference, stand up, fight for what's fair and just...I also just want to be this little cocoon, providing a safe, warm, serene environment for my baby to grow and develop and not be exposed to stress hormones and chemicals that aren't absolutely necessary.

Even in my relationship with George, I've found myself slipping into more of a passive arguing partner. Years ago, I threw a chicken parmesan meal like a frisbee in his yard in the midst of my anger. I flushed his phone one time! I feel like I wouldn't even recognize that version of myself anymore. Now when he angers me, I try (and I think I'm successful 90% of the time) to breathe in and out, and let it go. I am comforted by our marriage, and trust that even though an argument is uncomfortable, it will pass. This isn't always easy, but I feel it is necessary.

I know that our baby can smell, sense light, and hear. I'm avoiding things I ENJOY (red wine and Shiner Cheer are among the first that come to mind) for the sake of the baby, so why would I partake in things I DON'T ENJOY when I know it is harmful for the baby?

I don't know how single moms do it. And I haven't even BIRTHED HER YET. But I must say, despite my desire to be an independent female who doesn't need a man...I now need mine more than ever. I find myself clinging to his arm a little tighter than usual on our walks. On some subconscious level, I think I realize I'm more vulnerable now and he's not, and I need his protection. Even if it is crossing the street, or getting down from a higher platform. I need to be touched more often than I did before. He tells me often how proud he is of me, and how beautiful he thinks I am, which honestly, HELPS A LOT! More often than not I brush him off with a "whatever," or "I know I don't look pretty, I just woke up." But deep down, I'm grateful for his attention.

I'm 21 weeks pregnant now (and will be 22 weeks in 2 days!), and I have to say I love being pregnant. There are definitely ups and downs, but I think in my case, the hardest part has been the psychological adjustment. Physically, I've been fortunate in that I never got morning sickness. I've been putting on weight like I never dreamed possible, but it's actually kind of fun, because I know it's worthwhile. I figure there will never be another time where I get on the scales and WANT the number to be higher than last time, so I might as well enjoy the process.

I felt her move a few weeks ago, and now enjoy feeling her everyday. My favorite times are those when it's just the two of us (me and baby, that is) in the bath, and I can sing to her and feel her dance. I remember one of my first drives to work after finding out the news (and months before I could feel her move), thinking I wasn't alone in the car ride. That feeling has lingered.

Knowing I'm responsible for another human being with every decision I make every day is daunting. It's no easy task. But I also feel united to every other mom that has ever been through this process. I've realized that we are just MAMMALS and animals have been doing this birth/pregnancy process forever. I feel lucky to be experiencing this process.

xoxo,
L







Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DIY: Reclaimed Wood Accent Wall

So, we have an awesome accent wall now! And I am forever indebted to my badass mother-in-law for the countless hours she put in BEFORE we even started this project! This would've cost us AT LEAST $500 in labor (probably closer to $1000) and probably a few hundred bucks in materials. But our cost was $29...which was a Starbucks drink to butter her up in the morning, lunch at Rosa's, and milkshakes in the afternoon. Hehehe.

My husband's parents bought a piece of property in the country from an elusive man who worked construction. I don't know all the details, but I do know that when they started renovating that place, they turned it from a dump into a cozy cabin in the country. The property had an abandoned barn that they turned into a fully-functioning music studio. There was an old Rambler, a LOT of clothes, wood, and miscellaneous JUNK. Some of that wood, along with pieces that made the move from their Flower Mound home, is now our accent wall :)

This is me in the music studio, taking my first posed-preggo pic...and this is where our inspiration was born (pun intended)...they covered the ENTIRE room with vertical reclaimed wood...and I respect this so much more now!!!!!

Andrew and George building the top outer deck of the music studio

George, Jacob, and Richard texturizing the dry wall

If only my mother-in-law had a blog....she is the Queen of DIY. 
Anyway, Papa G's mama took out pieces of wood and created a "wall" on the ground outside her property. She had to find pieces that were the same width, which was no easy task. A lot of time passed by, so the wood inevitably warped from being outside, but it wasn't a problem, and if anything, adds to the character of our wall.

A couple weeks ago, we dusted off that wood, and loaded up the car. With the saw, measuring tape, stud finder, screws, and heavy-duty glue, we made our wall!

Car loaded up and ready to go!

This was the first piece of wood. Each piece was put up individually, and screwed in. We used a level often, to make sure the wood was straight! 

The most important part was making sure each horizontal row was the same WIDTH. This was done ahead of time by Papa G and his mama. Then, we would measure and saw off the extra on the end. Then, screw in the wood to the wall. Sometimes we used glue on the back of the wood first, but I don't know if that was entirely necessary. Since we used the studfinder, we were fairly certain the screws were sufficient for holding it up. So far, so good! Hehehe.

The little miss enjoyed watching us work together to make this house a home!!!!

George and his mama with the finished project!!!! Oh, notice the electrical outlet. That part required extra attention and measuring. Thanks to my M.I.L. for that!

We considered dropping the electrical cords BEHIND the wood, but if we ever need to fix these vintage sconces, we would have to remove the wall (OMG NEVER). So, one day, hopefully sooner than later, we will drop them in metal piping, to match the zinc letters, and give that "industrial" vibe.

Before (above) and After!!!!!!!!!

We are loving our wall so much!!!! The best advice I can give is to plan ahead of time and lay out the wood the way you want it remembering if the wall is horizontal, each horizontal row must be the same width. USE A LEVEL! And lots of screws. It's a big task (took us about 10-12 hours the day of...not including the pre-planning that my MIL did), but totally do-able. And it DEFINITELY makes our house feel more like "home". WE ARE LOVING IT!


Thanks again to Papa G and his sweet mama for making this dream a reality!

xoxo,
L
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