Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yes, All Women

On Sunday, the hashtag YesAllWomen exploded on Twitter. Women began sharing ways that they have been harmed, threatened, harassed, belittled by men. The point (which was missed by a lot of folks) is that not all men are leering jerks or abusive monsters, but that all women have had bad, often scary - too often violent - experiences. Story after story spilled out. I lost track of the number of Twitter friends who posted that they'd been groped, molested, assaulted, raped. I recalled a close friend in college who was roofied and raped and felt she had no recourse to report it because she couldn't remember anything for certain. Another friend who was physically cornered in a van on a school-sanctioned trip and aggressively propositioned by a popular professor. Afterward, my friend was brave enough to report the incident to the English department, only to have the whole thing excused and dismissed because he was drunk, he was harmless, everyone knew he was "just like that" and "didn't mean anything by it." I have always felt "lucky" that I've made it this far without any seriously awful stories to tell, and also nervous to even admit it out loud lest I somehow invite misfortune. Yes, men have flirted in gross and / or inappropriate ways. Yes, I have had a guy stand literally six inches behind me while I used an ATM in an enclosed bank lobby at night. Yes, I feel a tiny spike of nervousness when I pass a man in a parking lot at night by myself or let a guy into the house for a repair while home alone with my kids.

And one night while MB and I were walking a few blocks from a gas station back to our hotel in Ohio, a carload of guys in an SUV made a U-turn and followed us. I should've been safe - I was with my husband on a well-lit road in a small upper-class suburb. There were at least three of them. They didn't say anything to us, but the threat was clear and very intentional. They didn't take off until they watched us go back into the hotel. And no, I don't think they were psychopathic killers. I think it was worse. I think they were three more or less ordinary guys who decided that they were entitled to something. At best, they felt it was within their rights to menace people they didn't even know, which is pretty bad. Years later, I don't want to even consider what the worst could've been. I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about what might've happened if our hotel had been a little farther away, if they'd been a little bit more aggressive, if we had been more aggressive or called them on their crap, if I'd gone alone. Plus, it's really fucked up to feel like I'm lucky because I was only almost in grave danger.

Now I have little boys. These wonderful, sweet, loving little boys. And it scares the shit out of me that no matter how hard their father and I try to teach them that all people are deserving of respect, that it's more important to be good than to be popular, that standing up for someone in trouble is the right thing to do, they will be bombarded with messages telling them they can take, they can use, they can make someone else's child feel like she doesn't matter. I don't pray often, but I do sometimes offer up a plea that first, no one ever abuses or harms them and second, that they never abuse or harm someone else. Not all men do, I know this. Not all men. But yes, all women have experienced some level of degradation or mistreatment. It's terrifying, it's frustrating, and it's honestly infuriating. I have no wise answers or pat, neat wrap-up here. I just hope, I pray, that the world my boys and all their friends - boys and girls - grow up into is better than the one we've got now. For the sake of all women, all of them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shopping trip conversations

(after leaving our second stop)

Nico: Mommy, you wore me out.

Me: I wore you out? How?

N: By spending so much money.

Me: I'm hungry. Are you hungry?

Nico: I'm hungry.

Me: Where do you think we should eat?

N: Panera.

Me: I don't know, buddy. We should probably go somewhere less expensive.

N: But I want to go to Panera.

Me: That's not really an option, buddy.

N, grimly: Well, it's my option.

(we ended up going to Panera)

Nico: What's this song called?

Me: Black Dog.

N: Is it about a black dog?

Me: No, I don't know why it's called Black Dog. I think it's about a lady.

N: Why is this lady singing about a black dog?

Me: It's not a lady singing, it's a guy. A man.

N: Why does he sound like a lady?

Nico: Look! Look at that blue truck!

Me: Yes, I see it.

N: Are we going to buy that?

Me: No, we are not buying that PowerWheels.

N: Why not?

Me: Because it's expensive and you don't need one.

Nico: That little boy next door, why does he have one? Where did he buy it?

Me: I'm pretty sure someone bought it for him.

Nico: Why?

Me: I guess he's just lucky.

N: But how are we going to get it home? Will it fit in your car?

Me: Will what fit in my car?

N: That blue truck right there.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

question & answer

I lifted this one from Just Expressive. I haven't done a meme in forever, but it seems like a fun way to get some words on the screen.

1. What is your favorite type of cheese? Gouda, for sure.

2. What are you excited about? Our trip to Memphis at the end of the month.

3. How did you celebrate your last birthday? I went out to dinner with friends and then we came back to my place to eat carrot cake and play dominoes.

4. What’s on your bedside table? Miscellaneous notebooks, books, bottles of forgotten lotion, a too-big lamp, basic nightstand junk.

5. What do you order from the movie concession stand? Usually nothing, because movies are expensive! Get off my lawn! But I like to get salty popcorn to share with MB and Twizzlers.

6. Do you have a garden? What’s growing? I do! I am trying to reclaim it after a year of baby-related neglect. I have it mostly cleaned up and have planted a cherry tomato, a slicer tomato (Big Boy, maybe?), a zucchini, a habanero, a jalapeƱo, a red hot cherry pepper, a serrano, and two sweet banana peppers. I also have a respectable strawberry patch that I started two summers ago, two small but growing blueberry bushes, and a healthy-looking tangle of blackberry vines.

7. Any summer plans? We will run four weeks of summer camp at work, so it's not really a relaxation season for me. Plus it's too hot to do much of anything. I hope to have some fun with the kids, but when I think of vacationy stuff I think of the camping trips I'm hoping to take in the fall. Nico will be doing a week of half-day nature camp at work with me, half-day big truck camp and construction camp at the YMCA (which had better live up to my expectations after last year's crappy no-warning cancellation), and Kindermusik once a week for five weeks.

8. Which TV couple(s) are you rooting for? The only shows I'm watching that are actually currently on TV are Deadliest Catch, (previously) Project Runway, and Cosmos. We have a really crappy cable package, so we basically get local channels, Discovery, and a bunch of crap. We watch PR and Cosmos online. So...uh...pick your favorite, I guess.

9. What’s the last thing you bought? Other than food, I bought Nico a T-shirt at the zoo yesterday after I realized halfway through his and Elliott's romp through the splash fountains that we'd taken the bin of spare kid clothes out of the car when we went camping and never put it back in. Mea culpa, son! So he went home in the spare underpants from the diaper bag and a cute new zoo shirt.

10. What’s one thing you are passionate about? I have been really fired up about my work lately, and I feel like I'm doing a really good job right now. Hopefully that'll continue.

11. What are you grateful for this week? My amazing little boys. They are truly a gift and I am thankful for them every single day.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Things Done / Things To Do

We are leaving in twelve days to spend almost a week in Memphis visiting BoMB and Nie, and I am feeling overwhelmed with the number of tasks I need to accomplish before we go. I'm hoping that posting a big to-do list will help keep me on track and accountable. A few pre-trip / start of summer things have already been accomplished, so I thought I'd list those also, to make me feel like I'm not SO far behind.


Two backyard bushes cut down / cut up - MB and three helpers did this yesterday while I was at work. The yard looks 1/3 bigger and I'm so glad we decided to get rid of them. I briefly felt a little bad about taking down the big magnolia right behind the house, but after spending an hour bagging up the last pile of leaves and twigs, I no longer feel bad. Good riddance, bush!

Five of six raised garden beds weeded and mulched.

Nico's outgrown 3T, out-of-season 4T, and next-in-line 5T clothes sorted into bins and labeled.

4T and 5T bins put away in Nico's closet.

Email Nie to decide what cool places we want to visit during our trip.

Take 3T clothes and Easter stuff up to attic.

Clear off / declutter dining room buffet

Clean up clutter in upstairs hallway

Make haircut / brow wax appointment

Buy postcard stamps and make family address list in phone


Take pile of big limbs / sticks to the dump, along with however many of the 42 bags of bush pieces we can fit in the truck. FORTY TWO BAGS. Our carport is completely full of bags right now. This has to be done by the end of the week, because we're hosting a Memorial Day cookout in the backyard.

Weed last raised bed and path around it. Mulch bed and spread wood chip pile to cover thin areas where grass is breaking through in the garden paths.

Wash out leaky sand / water table and take it to work to use as a corn dig during summer camp.

Finish or dismantle giant K'Nex roller coaster track in Nico's room. (and buy a bin to store the K'Nex)

Move furniture and mop wood floors

Get car auxiliary audio port fixed

Load Nico shows onto iPad

Friday, May 09, 2014


I have always been committed to nursing Elliott as long as he wants to continue or until he turns two, whichever comes first. We struggled so much to overcome my supply issues and latch issues caused by his long-undiagnosed upper lip tie. I swallowed handfuls of supplements and went off caffeine and pumped four times a day and drove him to St Louis to get his lip fixed. I was all in.

Just before Elliott turned one, I decided I would commit to pumping until he hit 18 months. With Nico I was able to ditch the pump as soon as he turned one and he continued to nurse at bedtime until he was almost 22 months old. I didn't trust my body to keep my supply up for Elliott with him only nursing in the mornings, so since his birthday I've been pumping every morning. It's not a huge burden and feels like a break after formerly pumping 3 - 4 times a day. But now, at 14 1/2 months, I think Elliott is weaning himself. He has only nursed one morning this week. I'm getting a paltry two ounces when I pump, which is starting to feel not quite worth the trouble. I'm torn between wanting him to continue to have the benefits of breastmilk until 18 months and thinking maybe I should just follow his lead and let our nursing time end.

Complicating things is how much easier our vacation at the end of the month will be if I don't have to pump every morning. I feel terribly selfish even considering ditching the pump when he's only 15 months old, but...if he doesn't care about the boob anymore, is it time to move on together? I just don't know. For now I'm still pumping each day, still holding out hope it's a nursing strike and my sweet fuzzy-headed boy will decide he wants to be a baby a little bit longer.

Monday, May 05, 2014

into the woods

We took the kids camping this past weekend, along with a few friends. The weather was absolutely perfect - cool enough for a campfire in the evenings, warm but not hot during the days. Other than some dramatics during a hike due to overtiredness (Nico) and some over-the-top but good-natured bedtime sass (Elliott), the kids were well-behaved and seemed to have a good time. Nico was curious and more confident than he was on past trips; Elliott was cheerful and up for everything we threw at him. We went to Shades State Park and got the same campsite we had last time, tucked away on the sheltered end of a tiny loop of road. There were thousands of stars, frogs singing in the trees, an owl hooting and coyotes calling.

On Saturday morning we drove over to Turkey Run State Park and Nico got to make a bird feeder out of a little milk carton. After that we went on a short geology hike and looked for fossils on the riverbank. Nico picked out a few rocks that he liked, I found some crinoids and an awesome tiny geode, and MB spotted a little bryozoan. We went back to camp for lunch, then MB and Nico laid down in the tent for a nap. Elliott was tired, but I knew he would never nap willingly, so I packed him up in his carrier and we went on a hike with Danger, MacGyver, and Evilducky. It was a really great hike, probably one of my top ten or fifteen ever. The land was so beautiful and the company was great and the weather was magnificent and I felt so lucky to be able to share it with Elliott even though he'll never remember it.

On Saturday evening we went to a reptile program and got to meet a gorgeous little garter snake. Nico was charming and chatty and polite to the naturalist and when we went up to talk to her afterward, he touched the snake with two fingers, first on its back and then on its belly. He wouldn't touch the snake that I showed him on his class field trip to my workplace last week, so I was pretty pumped that he tried it. I told Nico that night that we could stop by Turkey Run on the way home Sunday morning and try for a pony ride, and he was all over it. He hadn't been on one since our trip to Turkey Run when he was eighteen months old, but my usually-reluctant child was very keen to go. I half expected him to change his mind once we got to the park and met the pony, but he didn't. He went for it and seemed to enjoy himself very much. The girl running the stable didn't seem to think Elliott was too young to try, but I didn't trust him to hold on, so he stayed grounded. He was mostly patient while waiting, though, and I promised him he could go next time.

I've had a few people (including my own mom) react with surprise that we take our boys on trips like this at their ages, but I'm so glad that we have. It's hard to tell what will stick in their memories and end up being significant in the stories of their lives, but my fourteen-month-old has three tent camping trips under his tiny belt and my four-year-old is already asking when we get to go camping again. I'm sure our success depends a lot on their particular personalities, but even if I can't take credit for it, I'm so happy that we get to have these little adventures.

giant marshmallow, porcupine S'mores shirt

a little fireside chat

exploring the tiny trail next to our campsite

the handsome little garter snake we met

on the fossil hike

wicked cross-bedding

tiniest geode

showing his fossils and rocks to Uncle MacGyver

intrepid explorer with tiny hairs blowing in the wind

Friday, May 02, 2014

avant garde

This morning I was standing at the sink rinsing my pump parts before heading out with the kids. Nico was at the kitchen window messing around and suddenly turned to me. "Look, Mommy! I made a picture on the window! I used my tongue. Isn't it beautiful?"

And sure enough, there was a smeary smudge of spit on the glass. I asked him, didn't the window taste funny? He looked at it, then licked it and cheerfully said, "I don't think so!"

Kids are so adorably weird.