Category Archives: Uncategorized

It isn’t just a party

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Norah My youngest child, Norah, turned a year old today. The cliché of how it doesn’t seem plausible isn’t so cliché now. I blinked somewhere in October and now we’re here.

A first birthday has always been bittersweet for me with my girls. It’s an acknowledgement that as parents, we were okay enough to navigate through the year of their lives in which they’re the most vulnerable. For the child—it’s an “I can’t believe I survived with those idiots as my parents” celebration. It’s also saying farewell to babyhood. Bottles, sleepless nights (unless you have my zombie children), onesies, baths in little tubs shaped like whales, counting ages by months vs. years, giant diaper bags; it’s all quickly behind you while the joys (note the sarcasm there) and trials of life as a toddler loom ahead.

With Norah, this melancholy that is a first birthday is enhanced. She’s my last baby. I chose to have a tubal ligation after her birth due to pregnancies racked with medical issues and the realization that financially, we couldn’t support another (or Norah, for that matter). I knew as soon as I was pregnant with her that she was it. I never flinched or hesitated the million times my OB/GYN asked me during prenatal appointments if I was sure. Uh, of course I was sure—go look at my house with its flooring of smashed up Cheerios, piles waist deep of dirty laundry and children whose lack of hygiene rival the kids on TV you can sponsor for $9.95 a month. I certainly had NO business having another baby. Nor did I want one.

The finality of it all was what I failed to realize a year ago. It cannot biologically happen again. The chapter of our lives that involved weekly trips to hear heartbeats, picking out coming home outfits and first pictures, oohing and awing over tiny feet and hands—it’s a thing of the past. I don’t want another baby, what I do wish is that I had decided against the tubal because I liked having the option. Without options, you must accept reality and push ahead. My reality is that I’m be thrust forward towards sleepovers, sports practice, after school activities and dances.

However, this time, I refuse to blink.

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Taking a stand

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If you’ve been on Facebook for the last day or so, you’ve seen the sea of red equal signs in your newsfeed signaling people who believe that anyone should be able to get married—regardless if they are gay, straight, transgendered, etc. I saw so many of my friends’ profile pictures change in support of the and was shocked by the across-the-board support—even many of my conservative friends agreed with a couple’s right to marry, regardless of their sexuality. It was amazing to see such a united front.

I’ve never really taken a stance, and I must say I’m ashamed of that. Honestly, I felt like it didn’t really affect me in any way until yesterday, when the topic was all over the internet and social media. I had to take notice and think about it.

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My brother is gay. My older brother who was my hero growing up; he protected me, loved me and more than anything put up with me. He loved me unconditionally—the way a sibling should. When I look at my two little girls I think of my own childhood and my own relationships with my siblings and how they molded me, made me a better person and shaped in some way everything I believe in. I love them in a way I can never love anyone else and I thank God every day that Rory and Molly will have that with each other. My older brother has a life partner, Seth – someone he’s settled down with, bought a house with, and, as they live in California, registered as a domestic partner with, hyphenated last names and all. They both came out to visit in January and they showered my girls with love, affection and attention. Rory speaks often of how much she loves and misses them. That struck me yesterday—what am I teaching her if I don’t stand up for her uncle, whom I love? What does that say to her about the love of a sibling? That it’s only love if it’s convenient or easy or what I believe is right? That’s not love. That’s not what I want to teach her—I want her to love Molly wholeheartedly—I want them to protect each other and sacrifice for each other and care for each other regardless.

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Perhaps I’ll see some backlash from “friends” for this. Perhaps some will call into question my faith in God, but at the end of the day I believe that the God I love blessed me with a brother that I would lay down my life for (and he’d do for me) and it doesn’t matter what I think or don’t think about homosexuality, because judgment was not why I was placed on this earth. I am here to love him freely and deeply and to teach my children to do the same. Scripture teaches to seek justice – not just for my brother, but for everyone, and that’s what I plan on doing. I hope many of you will join us because it won’t be easy—nothing worth fighting for ever is (think suffrage movement, abolitionist, and civil rights movements). This is our moment, our fight and our chance to show our children what we stand for and whom we’ll stand for.

Talkin’ Bout My Generation

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 Lately, I’ve read a few articles about my generation. I was born in 1982, making me the first of what has been dubbed the “Millennial Generation” or “Generation Y” (it roughly includes those born between 1982-2004). Like all generations,—certain “traits” and “characterizations” have been attributed to the people born within it. In the 2007 book Generation Me, author Jean Twenge attributes confidence, tolerance, and a sense of entitlement, narcissism and a rejection of social conventions to the Millennials. In fact, I’ve often heard people in older generations (Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers) talk about how all these young people feel “entitled” to everything.

 

Let’s look at a couple things before I circle round to address that remark.

– Millennials are the generation that grew up with the computer. I was in 1st Grade and had weekly “computer lab” time spent playing Oregon Trail and similar games. I was the generation that grew up with the Internet in my home, the first to have pagers and cell phones readily available.

– We are the generation that statistically has dealt the most with divorce and single parent families. Something that wasn’t “the norm” for the generations prior.  

– We also saw the birth of the “helicopter parent” that pushed many of us into every sport, every club and every extracurricular with the thought that it’d make us look better on college applications. Our entire childhoods centered on getting into the best university we possibly could.

– Because we were told throughout our childhood that college was of the utmost importance and getting into the best one possible was key, we were so focused on getting in that we never considered how we’d pay for college. Because of the insane cost of education and our parents’ desires for us to attend no matter what, we’ve assumed more student loan debt than any generation before us.

– Due to this inherent need to be an overachiever for the purposes of college and our helicopter parents putting us into every extracurricular activity imaginable (regardless of our ability or desire), we became the “participation generation” in which everyone was played, everyone was told they were great, everyone was rewarded at the end of the year (I have a trophy from when I played t-ball at age five. The highlight of my t-ball season was me running to 3rd base instead of 1st—not really a trophy-worthy achievement. I also have a crap ton of “Certificate of Participation” awards in a box somewhere collecting dust).

– In childhood and adolescence we experienced/witnessed the following events: the AIDS epidemic, Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine and other gun violence in schools and perhaps the most impactful—9/11.

– We are now coming to age during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We’ve graduated college/high school to record unemployment and a housing market that has collapsed, all after watching big corporations that, through unwise decisions, had to be bailed out by the government in order to stay open.

So back to that whole feeling of “entitlement” that supposedly plagues my generation. When you as parents helicopter over us, give us a blue ribbon for some crap artwork we made with macaroni, push us into every activity possible for the sake of a “good education” but fail to mention that the cost of said education will hang on our backs for the rest of our lives, what do you expect? Factor in that as adults many of us are struggling to find a job (with that “good education” we received), find affordable homes we can buy and make payments on the education that apparently was pointless, as we’ve been unable to secure employment with it. It puts many, many of my generation in a no-win bind. It’s the reason why we’re the generation that has in staggering numbers pushed back moving out of our parents’ homes, getting married and starting families—we simply can’t afford it. We are the generation that everyone keeps saying will be worse off than our parents. It’s not pleasant for many of my fellow Millennials. I’m fortunate enough to count myself among the “lucky” because I do have gainful employment, I am able to afford to have a family and I do own a home—but I attribute that one to having married someone from the generation before me whom makes quite a deal more than I do. When I look at all the negative comments and statistics regarding the Millennials, it’s quite easy to feel a bit hopeless, but there is a silver lining I believe around this generation that people don’t always see—our parenting.

Now, I’m not trying to say that parents prior got it all wrong; what I will say is after having stood back and looked at how parenting has changed by generations, I am happy to be a part of this generation. Let’s look at a few “popular” parenting ideas/methods nowadays:

– Breastfeeding. It was a relic of parenting not too long ago. In the late 1980’s it was in a decline (59.7% of woman initiated breastfeeding) whereas by 2009 we see that number all the way up to 76.9%. Whether you do it or not, there is absolutely no denying that it’s the healthier option for your baby.

– Cloth diapers. Again, a relic of parenting has made quite a resurgence. Disposable diaper sales almost never drop, but in these tough economic times we’ve seen a drop in the birth rate (which is part of the reason) and an influx of parents going cloth in order to save money (and for many, to help the environment).

– Attachment parenting. In the past we’ve had the latch key kids, the helicopter parent (all of which we’ll still see), and in the 2000’s we saw the rise of the AP parents (which is based on attachment theory in behavioral psychology). These are the parents that follow some or all of “the eight principles” which basically teach parents to increase their sensitivity towards their baby’s needs/desires/signals, thus increasing the child’s security.

– Along with attachment parenting we’ve seen a number of other things: home birth, baby wearing, and co-sleeping have all popped up in our culture this decade, while other countries have been rather openly practicing these methods for years.

– Organic food movement – something that basically did not exist when I was growing up (the era of Kraft Mac N Cheese, microwave dinners, pizza, ramen and hot dogs) is now EVERYWHERE. We see entire stores based solely on the purpose of providing our families with healthy, nutritious food. We’ve seen a surge in homemade baby food (which is also a sign of the decline in our economy) and we’ve seen schools re-examining their practices (the soda machines of my era are being replaced with water/Gatorade).

 

Now, I won’t deny that some of this is a product of the economy we’ve inherited in our early adulthood. But, I also think this generation is looking at the materialism that overwhelmed in the 1980’s-1990 and saying that’s not where our priorities lie. We know we have inherited a much tougher world than our parents—we simply aren’t going to be able to “keep up with the Jones’” but there are areas where we can improve: loving our children without regard to accomplishments, accolades and test scores; providing them security and comfort; trying to be healthier examples of how to take care of yourself and the world around you.

So, for your early Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers that produced us, the Millennial Generation—before you criticize, take a moment to look at your grandchildren (in some cases it’s great-grandchildren) and see what we’re doing with them and be proud.

What To Do When You Lose Your Wallet

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1. Always assume it’s stolen. You may waste precious time thinking it’ll turn up when someone may already be making purchases. You have time after you start reporting things lost/stolen to back track and call friends, etc. If you find it the only harm is new cards. 

2. Cancel EVERYTHING immediately. This one is a no-brainer. Cancel all credit/debit cards. Notify places like your gym, library, etc. if they are also taken. If they took a debit card or checks it’s usually best (although a total pain) to cancel the account and open a new one.

3. Report it to the credit bureaus. Make sure you contact all three: Experian, Transunion and Equifax. You will want to complete a “Security Freeze” on your file. A security freeze is designed to prevent the information in your credit file from being reported to others, such as credit grantors and other companies, except those exempted by law or those for whom you contacted us and requested that we temporarily lift the security freeze or those that access during a period of time when you requested we temporarily lift the security freeze. It’s just an additional security measure for the next 90 days to ensure that identity theft cannot take place. You may also want to call them just so they know it was stolen (you can put a freeze on for any reason, it’s nice for them to know exactly why). 

4. Report it to the police. I know it’s somewhat pointless–the likelihood you’ll be returned anything is minimal BUT if you were the victim of ID theft or if someone who took your drivers license or ID card committed a crime and used your name you have a bit of protection. As far as ID theft is concerned it’s the first step is seeking out the help of the credit bureaus. 

5. Call the utilities companies and let them know someone may try to open an account under your name.

6. Report your drivers license stolen to your DMV and request a replacement. 

7. If your keys are stolen, change the locks on your home. Remember, they know where you live if they have your wallet. 

 

Tip: This will take you five minutes and will save you the mental stress of trying to remember everything that was in your wallet and looking up phone numbers to call. Photo copy all of your cards that you keep in your wallet (front and back) and keep in a secure location. That way if they are stolen you have the card numbers and phone numbers needed to contact companies and have them cancelled immediately.