Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dear Lilah Grace || A Letter to my 20-Month Old AFTER Her First Time-Out.

Dear Lilah Grace,

You are 20 months now, but as far as I'm concerned, you are definitely 2. Your vocabulary has me in complete awe. You definitely say over 100 words, and tell me all about the animals, what sounds they make, what colors they are...you know shapes ((circle, square, triangle)), letters ((B, D, G, L, M, P, S)), and can count to 8. You say "please" and "thank you," and you clearly communicate what you want. Everything is in the 3rd person, and I find it rather endearing//adorable that even when you're being difficult, you still haven't discovered the word "my" or "mine" yet.

ie: "Lilah's bread," or "Lilah's Baby Jesus," but never "mine." Hehe. 

Which leads me to a "first" for us!

Yesterday when I picked you up from the nanny, she told me you had to sit in time-out. Twice! What the heck?! That was a first. I asked where time-out was, and how long you were there. It's just the ottoman in the living room, and for about 2 minutes.

You brought 4 toy ducks with you to the nanny, and the rule is you must share your toys, otherwise they get taken up. Well, you didn't want to share (("No! Lilah's!")) so the nanny put them away. Then, no surprise, you threw a fit. So you were placed in time out. Later, you didn't share again, and according to the nanny, you even pushed a little boy! That last part surprised me. I know you don't like sharing, but I've never seen you push or hit.

Hearing this information was interesting, because it was a first for me. I've never been a mom until you, and I've never heard about you being disciplined until now! So, I became immediately aware of what I was feeling and thinking.

I cannot control your environment 24/7. TRUST ME, I TOTALLY WANT TO.

Had I been in control of the environment yesterday, I would have turned off the TV at the nanny's house, and gone into a different room so I could have your undivided attention. It even kind of irks me that you were disciplined in an environment where the TV was on, and you might not have even really understood what was going on. But at the end of the day? It's the nanny's house, her rules, and I stand by the rule of sharing. Some day, you'll be in public school, where I can't control the environment. God knows you'll one day go to parties, and I will SO BADLY want to control that environment, but no, I'll be at home biting my nails until you arrive safely at home, under my roof, when I will once again deep breathe and count my blessings.

So...since I can't control the environment all the time, I CAN control the environment when we're at OUR house ((so I'm uppin' my game)) and I CAN discuss with you what I like and dislike about other places. On our drive home from the nanny yesterday, I talked to you about time-out, and sharing. I told you that this was completely normal behavior for a 2 year old, and I wasn't disappointed in you for being a normal 2 year old. I said you would have the chance to show everybody how quickly you learned your lesson in sharing on Thursday, and reminded you that I loved you.

I realized once we got home that I probably spent way too much time talking about it, and you probably tuned out 90% of it. That was another great awareness for me. Like I said, I'm learning, too. I'll be patient with you, you be patient with me. We've got this.

I know for certain that you thrive with limited iPad//computer//TV ((I'm all for these devices, just in moderation, and with a warning when it's the "last time" before putting it away)). I like to see you paint, build with blocks, and use your imagination with your puppets. I like seeing you play with chalk, and pretend to cook at your kitchen. I like building snowmen out of play-doh with you. I see a light in your eye when we engage in these activities, and I love knowing that what I'm doing is so important in helping your inner self emerge. I don't expect the nanny to give you the same one-on-one attention. She has a few kids, and her job is tough. So, I'll just make sure to make the most of our days together, engaging you, and asking you to share your toys with me. Hehe.

I know for certain that you thrive being outside on pretty weather days. Today, you ran around in our backyard for about an hour and let off a ton of energy. I laid out on a quilt, with my phone inside ((because I'm easily distracted, too)), and admired you and your free spirit. You sang Jingle Bells while patting on a bench as your drum. You teased Stella with your peanut butter sandwich. You were happy, and free, and I want you to feel that as often as possible.

I think you'll ultimately be a better person by learning how to adapt in different environments. I want to see you running and playing drums outside, but it's also important for you to learn how to respect authority, and play nicely with other kids, and I think those days when I'm at work are perfect for learning those lessons.

We will continue to have play dates on my days off, and I'll continue to show you how wonderful sharing can be. Your friend, Dillon, has shared his toys so generously with you. I'm excited for you to share your toys with him next time! I'm really proud of who you are, who you're becoming, and who I'm becoming because of you.

As always, I affirm that you are:


Every conscious parenting move I make will be in an attempt to keep you thriving, evolving, and becoming who you are meant to be. 

I love being your mama.

I love who you are, forever, no matter what. And next time, share your damn toys. Stinker.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Musings From Another Mother: Janelle.

Since becoming a mom, I've felt more spiritual, and definitely more connected with other women. I wanted to pick the brains of some of my friends, and share their musings here on this blog! I believe that if we collaborate, with the intention to grow, we can all benefit. I am constantly inspired by the women I surround myself with, both in the "real" world and the "virtual" world.

One of my New Year's intentions is to share thoughts and opinions from a diverse group of women on this blog.  Of course, to be cohesive with the subject matter, I will invite women who identify themselves either as feminists, spiritual entities, or mothers. Ideally, all three. Hehe.

My musings can be repetitive. I'm opening the conversation to include musings from other women.

First up, Janelle.

I am inspired time and time again by my friend, Janelle. We went to high school together, and have rekindled thanks to social media, despite the geographical distance. She is a mother to 3, a wife, an entrepreneur, a Christian and a feminist. I asked her some questions, and she gave me some answers.

Thank you for bravely sharing your musings, Janelle! I hope anybody reading this with young kids checks out your business!

*If you think you could provide thought provoking responses to these questions, I encourage you to reach out to me. Click "Contact" at the top of the page! Thanks, and happy reading!


What's your definition of a "feminist"?
A feminist is someone who is genuinely interested in the equal and fair treatment of women. By my definition a feminist is not only classified as a woman but a father, a brother, a son or a husband.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?

As a woman, and the mother of a little girl, it would be an atrocity for me not to consider myself a feminist!

How has empowering yourself as a woman made you a better mother?

Yes, I believe self-empowerment causes an inevitable improvement in all roles you occupy. Before you were a mother, wife, student, career woman etc. you were first an individual. If you empower that individual everything else will naturally grow as well.

Do you feel closer to whatever you call the Higher Power since a having a "feminist awakening"? Further from? Ambivalent? Do you think feminism and spirituality are related, or have nothing to do with one another?

As a woman, having children (or the conscious decision not to) changes how you view your own feminism; it helps you to realize and step into your greatness. Having children also causes a reflection that changes how you see your Creator. I am sure there is some sort of awakening for men, but as a woman—the physical vessel in which life passes through—this little person growing inside of you becomes a miraculous phenomenon (between bouts of morning sickness). The older I am the more real God becomes to me; He is less of a character in a really old story book but more a benevolent friend.
This question is a bit tricky as I feel like the Bible is one of the most chauvinistic and sexist books known to man. However, with that said I also do not believe in the Bible as it is written. Feminism is not represented in the Bible, as women are only portrayed as “helpers” rather than “initiators” and if a woman is mentioned in a leading role it was usually in a negative light (Jezebel, Delilah, the daughter of Herodias to name a few). We are ordered to be submissive to our husbands and to obey. I could go on…but I’ll step off my soap box for now.

What encouraged you to start your own business?

I was 6 months pregnant and excited to finally go shopping for my son. After 2 hours of exasperation and frustration I realized that there is a clear bias in favor of little girls in retail. The girls had 6 racks of pretty little frilly things and perfectly coordinated outfits while the boys had 1 table of ugly brown onesies. To make it worse, we were getting triplicates of baby gifts because the options for little boys are so scarce. So in an act of sheer desperation—and boredom from being on bedrest—I bought a sewing machine and discovered I was actually good at it! In addition, I was so sick of tiny teddy bears or bouncing bottles on ALL MY STUFF! If I had to carry it then I wanted it to be cute!

What's your greatest struggle being a female entrepreneur?

Balancing it all. I am always coming up short in some role that I occupy. If I’m fully engrossed in a new pattern or a new project then I am neglecting time with my children. If I am playing with my kids and creating memories then I am forsaking time I could dedicate to expanding and growing my business. I think that this is further highlighted by the fact that I am a Stay at Home Mom. It would be easier if I took them to daycare to go to a traditional 9-5 as it would lend itself to out of sight, out of mind (out of guilt) but when I am sticking my one year old in front of Disney Jr. to start a project or listening to my 2 month old scream because I’m just at the tail end of a project then I feel like the worst mom in history. I wrestle with maintaining my business or dedicating my time to my children every hour.

How do you market your business?

Twenty-Nine E11even LLC. offers handmade gifts and custom creations. Founded on the scripture of the same reference: Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans that I have for you..." Everyone has a purpose and it is for that purpose we bring you items of the highest quality at the most affordable prices. There are very few things greater than a customized gift from the heart; it is the perfect way to say "I love you" and "I care." Allow us to help you express that love as only the best can do! It is a blessing to be a part of your purpose at Twenty-Nine E11even!

How does your spirituality impact your business-making decisions?

I try to do honest business, business with integrity and create items that I would be proud to represent. The fact that I am a Christian holds me to a higher standard meaning I do not take shortcuts in quality in order to positively impact my bottom line nor do I upcharge just to “discount” in order to make a sale.

What spiritual practices//habits//routines do you incorporate into your life? How do you bring spirituality to your family life?

My spirituality is based on a relationship with God and His son Jesus. As with any relationship constant communication is needed in order for it to grow and flourish. I do not practice daily meditative prayer in a formal sense, but I do talk to God/Jesus on a daily basis. This is usually accomplished during cleaning (which I find very meditative in itself), early in the morning before the kids are up and late at night once they have gone to bed. This is not a formal “most kind heavenly Father, Lord I am thankful for your many blessings…” kind of prayer just a normal conversation with my Creator. I talk to him like I talk to my friends, I express my gratitude, and I ask for His protection.
Because my children’s spirituality is predicated on my example, I do not hide the moments in which I openly have conversations with God. I usually have these converstations aloud anyways. In addition, we go to church (most Sundays… I do not want them to think that perfect church attendance is required for their salvation), we say grace before meals (whether we are in public or not) and we pray before school and work every day as a family. My daughter will remind us if we don’t make it a priority in the morning.

Are you raising your kids the same way you were raised, from a religious standpoint? What are you keeping the same and what are you consciously changing?

Ummmmmm no! I was raised in a Pentecostal church (in our sect of Pentecostalism our churches all end in Church of God in Christ or C.O.G.I.C) by a father who was on track to be a Pentecostal Pastor. This meant we were to be the example of Godliness which in the COGIC church meant the strict adherence to a million rules. For example, we were not allowed to play games that had dice, could not listen to secular music, could not wear pants, dye our hair, wear red nail polish or lipstick or open toed shoes (just to name a few). All of these were justified and validated by scripture of course. We were also required to memorize countless scriptures, had to be the first to join every organization and could be found in church every day that ended in “Y”. Our spirituality was defined by religion; the continuous repetition of an act.
Though I appreciate the fact that my parents introduced me to God at an early age, taught us how to pray before they taught us our “ABC’s” and shielded us from some aspects of the world I do not agree with the manner in which they went about it. I want my children to build a relationship with God based on a desire to gain an understanding, love and respect; I do not want them to blindly follow for the sake of religion.

What is the difference between religion and spirituality? 

Religion is a habitual act; we brush our teeth and wipe our butts religiously. Spirituality is based on a relationship built upon understanding. When you love someone you go out of your way to learn about their past, their preferences and their beliefs. If you love Christ wouldn’t you do the same?  

What do you think happens when we die?

I do believe that there is a heaven. Its funny when I was little I was told that heaven was like going to church all day every day for eternity. This sounded like hell to me and I wanted nothing to do with it lol. Some people have told me that we will not have relationships in heaven because there would be no need for them. But what kind of heaven would it be if I didn’t know my aunts, grandmas, mother, father husband or children? I would rather live my trying to get to heaven than to die and wish I was there.  Just as there is a heaven I also believe there is a hell and I am not trying to discover that place!

How do you talk to your kids about the big questions?

I try to give them the version of the truth that I feel is appropriate for them to understand. I do not lie to them and I am not good with euphemisms, but I do at least try and make it age appropriate. I also do not believe that I have to have all the answers and I am not afraid, or ashamed, to admit to my kids that I do not know everything.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Quick Trip to Bartlesville for Christmas

This past Christmas was one for the books. One of the highlights was our stay at the Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK. We were going north to visit the Tinker Tribe...Grandpa T turned 90, Grandma and Grandpa T celebrated 70 years of marriage, and of course, Christmas! So, George's mom decided she would treat us all to rooms at the historic skyscraper.

The building is AWESOME, yall.

Price Tower is Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper. Originally planned to be in NYC, but ended up on the Oklahoma plains, it is commonly referred to as "the tree that escaped the crowded forest."


Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique architecture is obvious throughout the building. One of the more interesting features to me was the "taproot" design. Inspired by trees, he created a solid central foundation, like a trunk of a tree ((with the elevator shafts)), then designed the floors cantilevered out from the central core.

And of course, the turquoise, copper, and mid-century modern design had my jaw on the floor. I wanted to take a million pictures ((not allowed)) and incorporate these ideas into our home! The heated turquoise tiles in the bathroom will one day find their way under my feet again...under our roof...I am certain.


Uncle Phil treated us to a round of drinks in the Copper Bar. The ambiance was incredible...as were the Sugar Cookie Martinis. I discovered Rumchata, and have been a changed woman ever since. Now I have to remind myself I can't add it to my coffee before work. Hehe.

Papa G and his clone, admiring one another on our bed at the Price Tower.

My man and his bros at the Copper Bar.

We missed the tour ((hey, we traveled 5 hours with a 20 month old!)), but when we arrived, LG quickly found herself cozied up to her GrandDad.

LG got to bond with her fellow Tinkers! Here she is bonding with Uncle Stink!

The cutest interaction, bar none. LG meeting her cousin, Jake. He was the most mellow, happy, good-natured baby! And what you can't see beneath that precious Santa hat is a head full of beautiful dark hair. He's a looker! I fell in love BIG TIME. I definitely want to offer LG a sibling one day.

These went along for the trip. I heard an interesting show on the Diane Rehm show about the importance of "tapping into the familiar in a new setting, and the opposite, finding new things in your routine." Supposedly, the practice strengthens neural connections. So for example, discovering a house you've never noticed on your every day drive to work. And, when we were exploring this brand new ((to me)), beautiful piece of ART that is Price Tower, I had my familiar lavender oil on my wrists and earlobes. I swear by Thieves while traveling to prevent sickness. LG had this annoying cold-coughy thing going on, so I'd been using the R.C. on her chest at night ((similar to Vick's Vapor Rub)). And then, ever since her febrile seizure a year ago, I go nowhere without Advil//Tylenol//Peppermint oil to ward off a fever.

My reading material for the trip! I wish I had more time to read!! I started with Lena Dunham's book. So far, it's hilarious and addicting! The Conscious Parent has been on my list for over a year. I saw Dr. Tsefali on Super Soul Sunday and everything she said seemed like what I already believed to be true. So, I didn't feel an urgency to read it, because I think I'm already parenting in this way, but I definitely wanted to see what material didn't make the interview.

A snowy drive home to Texas rounded out the trip just perfectly.

NOT FEATURED on this blogpost: our amazing Christmas Eve in Copper Canyon, also singing at the family church service...waking up on Christmas Day in our home, just the 3 of us...Christmas at the Van Meter homestead, complete with a delicious breakfast, board games, and my mom's homemade Italian sauce + Christmas lasagna, the karaoke showdown across the street, and a lovely New Year's dinner at my paternal grandparents' home. We are so grateful for our supportive and loving families. They all make life meaningful. And then of course, Lilah just makes it magical.

Happy 2015!