Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Made a connection with my late friend, John, at the Spirit Fair in OKC.

Papa G became a proud Prius owner.

The Tinkers bid farewell to a long-time family friend, Walter Hardts.


Lilah had a 9 minute long febrile seizure. She had ((unbeknownst to us)) caught the flu, and spiked a 104 temp out of nowhere. It was the most terrifying day we've endured as parents. She bounced back like a champ. We learned that life is fragile, we were lucky, and to count our blessings. Ever since this day, I've been the thermoregulating mama goddess, with my arsenal of Tylenol, Motrin, and Peppermint Oil.

Thoroughly enjoyed nibbling on my sweetheart on her first Valentine's Day

We installed our restored wood wall, with wood from George's family's homestead! My favorite home improvement project to date.

On pretty days, we played outside.

On cold + rainy days, we longed to be outside.
Lilah Grace saw her first rainbow, and it was a double, full-arch, rainbow. Because she's magical.

I learned how to make a floral crown, thanks to my favorite flower-child, Rocky.

My sister said "yes" to the dress!

We celebrated LG's 1st Easter!

May 6th: LG turned 1.

Our love-muffin, Dunkin Donut Tinker, suffered a severe trauma injury ((suspected car)) and we braced ourselves for the potential of him losing a leg. Thanks to great vet care, a good amount of money, and a whole lot of luck, he is now back to 110%.

My golden birthday! Turned 27 on the 27th.

Enjoyed being with my family, and checking out the Perot Museum in Dallas. May 29th was a memorable day. I had to reshape my thoughts, and really work on applying the spiritual principles I've studied and applied rather seamlessly until then. I'm still reminding myself that while I can't change or control news I don't like, I can change and control my reaction.     
Attended our cousin Catherine and Thomas' wedding in Bartlesville//Tulsa, OK.

Attended Mr. Ryan's funeral with my friend, Erin. We were in his AP US History class in high school. He was one of the best teachers I ever had. 
LG tried her first snowcone.
Papa G is a show producer for a national fireworks and special effects company, so needless to say, we don't get to hang out with him on the 4th of July! But we are so grateful for his hard work, passion, and drive.

We spent A LOT of time swimming. Either in the $4 garage sale site pool in our backyard, or the Dwyer's pool for swim lessons!

LG went on her first flight, met the ocean, and was a flower girl for the first time at our cousin Isabel and Chris' wedding in Cape May, NJ!
My sister's bridal shower ((which was actually on her birthday))!!! And then, the next day, she moved to Houston. I'm happy for her, but immediately missed her being nearby.

Jessica's Bachelorette Party in Cancun!
Saw these two loves of my life in Oklahoma. Love those Norman day-trips. Miss my soul-sissy and her precious Jude-boy all the time! Look at that face. Darling.

Georgie tackled the front yard like a boss. Scalped it. It was loaded with goathead stickers. He put in new sod himself. The front yard was a huge ((metaphorical + physical)) learning experience and project. I'm proud of my hubby for this one. 

Jessica's Bridal Shower!

Bud's Bachelorette Party!
Papa & Binky gave us THE BURLEY!

We enjoyed amazing seats while being entertained by our talented friends at Rocky Horror, and then enjoyed a rooftop open-bar party because we were with Danny & Cade. Lucky us!

ACL 2014. Reunited with O'Shiz. My favorite shows included Outkast, Eminem, Lorde, Avett Brothers, and Jenny Lewis.
OCTOBER 18: MY SISTER TIED THE KNOT! Her boyfriend-turned-fiance-turned-husband is now my BROTHER! And of course, LG made a perfect flower girl!

Lilah Grace enjoyed fireworks for the first time. Now, if you ask her what Daddy does for work, she'll tell you "sparkles in the sky...green-blue."

NOVEMBER 1: Jessica and Shek got hitched!!! LG made her 3rd and final 2014 flower girl appearance, and was then whisked away by my parents, so I could enjoy a night of partying with some of my favorite people.

Hammy and Elise got engaged on a fun surprise trip to ATX. So happy for them! The cutest lovebirds ever!

My friend and photographer-extraordinaire, Greer, came to town and captured my family's bliss. I got to second-shoot a wedding in Dallas! We talked for hours at the table before going to bed. She then slept on a P.O.S. air mattress with a hole in it, and we now have a daybed ((Christmas gift from my folks)). My apologies! And thank you, Greer!

Thanksgiving. Another beautiful table and delicious meal made by my mother.


Lilah developed an intense love affair with SNOWMEN (("nami")) and her SPARKLE TREE (("spah-kah tee")). The magic of Christmas was felt the entire month of December, thanks to our precious daughter.

I took another solo-weekend trip to Oklahoma. I caught up with friends, received another amazing message ((this time from my late grandparents)), and stayed at a gorgeous modern loft-style hotel my friend's dad project-managed. I returned to Texas feeling rejuvenated, connected, and happy. I saw a double rainbow and a cross in the sky on my drive home.

Christmas Morning. Santa brought Lilah a light-up turtle ((her friend, Dillon, has one, and she LOVES both Dillon and the toy!)) and a harmonica for LG. We spent Christmas Eve with Georgie's parents and maternal grandparents, and had a wonderful time in their home with their presence and presents, and at their church, singing for the family service! Christmas morning, we woke up in our own home, and enjoyed a nice morning just the 3 of us, before going to my folks' house for the rest of the day. We loved the sticky buns, eggs, biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and homemade sauce with Christmas lasagna for dinner. We enjoyed gifts and playing The Game of Life with my sis and brother-in-law. That night, we sang karaoke at our friends' house across the street, and came in at 1st runner up ((we are STILL gloating!)). The next morning, we went to Bartlesville, and celebrated my father-in law's FATHER's 90th birthday, and 70th wedding anniversary. We also met a new baby in the family! And fell in love with him! Big time! We enjoyed a snowy drive home on the 27th, and finally celebrated Christmas with my paternal grandparents. A delicious meal prepared by my Mimi, and George stabbing his hand while opening one of LG's presents, were the highlights. All kidding aside, a lot of wonderful memories were made.


To everything || turn, turn, turn...
There is a season || turn, turn, turn...
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sow
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it's not too late!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Convergence of Conservative Values and Feminists in the Natural Parenting Movement

I think it's interesting to see mamas on both ends of the political spectrum embracing the cloth diaper, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, baby-food-making, and sadly, often, anti-vaxxing. I never thought some of my dreadlocked hippy friends from college would have so much in common with some of my super conservative Christian friends from high school! What gives??

One of my favorite feminist authors, Valenti, said in an interview ((about how the natural parenting movement can be the point of convergence for conservative values and anti-consumerist feminism)),

"At the core of it, I think, is a distrust of institutions – which for women, makes a lot of sense to me. The feminism at the heart of the homebirth movement, for example, is women being fed up with their bodies being pathologized and being told that they need all of these medical interventions to give birth. I get that. The medical establishment – and the government – has spent forever telling women they don’t know what is up with their own bodies, so it’s understandable that there’s a backlash against that. But there’s a difference between having a healthy skepticism of traditionally sexist institutions and believing that your “instinct” trumps science and established fact – which is what the anti-vaccination movement is very much about...." -Jessica Valenti

Image Source

This recent post circulating my FB minifeed caught my attention, and just as I was starting to "share" it as a status, I realized my commentary evolved from a status update to a blogpost. So here goes.

In 2011, when the US saw the largest measles outbreak in 15 years, the CDC attributed it to small groups of unvaccinated children.

Typically, the pockets of outbreaks occur in either upper-middle-class, white neighborhoods, or extremely religious communities.

An alternative private school in Floyd County, Virginia, had to shut down because half of its students got whooping cough in April 2011. ALL of the students who contracted the virus were unvaccinated. A resurgence of pertussis also cropped up in California in 2010 because of unvaccinated kids-it was the worst outbreak in over 60 years. Rich kids. Hippie kids. Religious kids. So what's the common denominator?

Is it the need to feel validation? Is it the need to reject "Big Brother"? Is it rebellion? Mother's intuition? What is it???

Image Source

In Why Have Kids, author Jessica Valenti explains the reason Jenny McCarthy had so much success establishing a following of moms against vaccines ((out of fear of autism)):

"When McCarthy was confronted with a statement from the CDC during her 2007 Oprah appearance that pointed out the overwhelming scientific evidence against her, her response perfectly captured the sentiment of moms across the country, 

"My science is Evan. He's at home. That's my science."
-Jenny McCarthy

So for a generation of parents-mothers especially-who are extremely uncomfortable with not feeling in control and increasingly more interested in trusting their own knowledge over experts, the anti-vaccination movement is perfect. 

When a cause comes along that says: "You do the research, trust yourself, Big Pharma is trying to get one over on you," that's a very seductive message to a population that is sick and tired of not being respected. That's why, in part, women tend to be more anti-vaccination than men. They're more vocal not only because they tend to be the ones that are making decision about children, but they're also the ones who are more invested in the idea of their own knowledge as expertise....

What many parents don't realize is the way in which Internet searches are based. Google, for example, learns what you're interested in and will give you search results according to those interests. So let's say you search for 'vaccine autism' and you click on a website that claims to show a connection between the disorder and vaccinations, the next time you do a similar search, Google will remember what you clicked on and show you like-minded results in your follow-up searches....

Doing research on Google does not put us on par with an inoculation researcher, and staying on top of the minutiae of our children's lives does not mean that we don't need help and support from actual experts." 
-Jessica Valenti

To function healthily as a society, we have to think about the community, not just ourselves. Assuming the anti-vaxxers truly believe that vaccines are poisonous//dangerous, despite the experts saying otherwise, how does not vaccinating your kid help your community? It doesn't. Where as, on the other side of the argument, pro-vaxxers not only see themselves as protecting their child, but also their community. I know that by vaccinating Lilah Grace, I've not only done my part to keep her safe, but I also have eliminated the risk of her being a threat to the immunocompromised population in my community.

Another example of natural parenting sometimes going to an extreme...opting out of public school because you don't like the education system, and you think your kid deserves better. I know how important education is. Arguably, the most important and modifiable factor in a child's future. So while I understand the desire to home school, or even send to private school, the bleeding heart in me just has to ask...

Why not volunteer in the PTA? Offer help to your child's teacher? Make suggestions to the principal that improve the school as a whole! Why not make your public school better?

What good is it if you raise this "perfectly educated child" at home, or at an expensive private school ((per your individualized, unique standards)) if when they enter the "real world," everybody else has been in the shitty school system? Do you think your one kid is going to trump the majority? IMPROVE THE MAJORITY!!
*obligatory disclaimer...I withdraw these statements for kids with special needs. I'm talking about the average kid, at the average public school. If you have a child with special needs, and you're fortunate enough to be able to provide them with a specialized education to help them have an equal opportunity in life, I get it. 100%.

I wish more people had the desire to improve their tribe, community, and even the world, instead of just their kid.

"I believe that the community - in the fullest sense: a place and all its creatures - is the smallest unit of health and that to speak of the health of an isolated individual is a contradiction in terms." -Wendell Berry

We live online now. I am acutely aware of the time I spend consuming social media. And I don't think it's going anywhere! One of my favorite functions of Instagram is feeling like I'm constantly in contact with other moms, doing the same thing as me. I have to say, I often feel like social media is a positive outlet for me, because I am inspired by other women, and feel a connection to other women. When my mom used to stay home with me, she was alone. Completely alone. All day, with a baby. Then, all day, with a 3 year old and a baby. I feel plugged in with other moms, and I feel this sense of feminine community. I don't want to disconnect from that. But, I also see how some people don't use social media in the same way that I do. Some people get really stressed out!

What's worse, some people think that by clicking on a certain number of hashtags, or googling a phrase enough times, they have more knowledge than somebody who actually received a degree in the subject matter. That is when social media becomes not just a nuisance, but actually dangerous. We are now living in a time when people make life-altering decisions based on information they found online, rather than trusting professionals.

Photo Source: @aquarian_dawn

I know that you can find "scientific posts" ((via Google...hehe)) that back up the anti-vaxx stance. I know that this is a heated topic, and people take it personally, because in the end, we all want to be good parents. I want to be clear, I don't think anti-vaxxers are bad parents. I think they want what's best for their kids, and they think they know what's best for their kids. My objection to the stance, is maybe they don't know what's best. Maybe the experts do. And maybe it's okay to defer to experts; it doesn't make intuition flawed, and it doesn't mean parents are naive to trust the experts.

On that note, I find myself feeling way less smug and judgmental when an expert has an opinion that goes against mainstream. For example, if I were to meet a medical doctor ((I have worked alongside them daily for 6 years now, and have yet to find one, but I remain open minded!)) who was anti-vaxx, I would be very interested in hearing their perspective. They have knowledge that I don't. The same argument would apply for a teacher who decides to home school her children. In short, I respect the professionals, and I defer to the experts.

While I am completely aware that this blogpost isn't likely to sway any opinions, or change anybody's mind, I do hope to expand the conversation.

I want the conversation to include what is best for the community, because it DOES matter. If we can't agree on that, I don't think the conversation is worth being had in the first place.