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This week The Chad traveled yet again for work. A trade show in Tampa, really rough gig; shaking hands and kissing babies to the various vendors and clients. While this week is really no different from any other time he travels I personally am feeling rather “under the weather” to say the least, call it a funk. So in true fashion of a funk, my loving children have decided this is the week to test every boundary, push every limit, skirt every envelope. At the end of the day I just don’t have anything left. I hit the bed at 8:30 every evening and praise the Lord for that moment. Quiet. In that quiet I contemplate what am I doing wrong in raising my children, I judge myself in my solitude. Am I not stern enough? Hard to believe, I am a ball buster….or maybe I’m not with my kids. Maybe I am not nice enough? Should I raise my voice? I am not a screamer or one to yell, but maybe I could raise my tone another octave, that should do it right? Am I really being a good parent?

IMG 1455 225x300 Being a Good Parent: Practicing Parenthood and HumanityStruggling on where I am going wrong, I dismantle my parenting, myself and judge my ability. Even though I have small winning moments where I think I am doing things right when my children pray before dinner, thanking God for the nourishment of the food, thanking Him for their siblings, parents, grandparents, great grandparents; they show the most amazing kindness and love for strangers, exuding a strength in their quest for equality, standing up for what is right. All to be toppled upon by the simple act of defiance and disrespect towards me, I judge myself harshly in that moment. Am I really doing parenthood right?

Looking at professional fields, they seem to provide some form of training and formal education. Becoming a doctor is an arduous task with over eight years of schooling, then residency, all before landing at a local health facility. Annual training, certifications, re-certifications, more conferences, more training; I am always amazed at level of education and continuing education provided to professional fields. We often judge the accomplishment of a practicing physician based on their training and accolades, awards scattered throughout the office. One professional field I believe is always the most neglected is the parent. Scoff all you want, however I feel that this career path, because this is a lifelong career, provides the least amount of resources yet is judged and evaluated the most harshly. I stumbled across an article this week about how inhumane parents are to let a child cry themselves to sleep and learn to self soothe. When I hear inhumane I often think of the ill treatment of pets and not the ill treatment of children, to which I would correlate the word abuse as opposed to inhumane. I suppose someone was trying not to upset their readership. Why do we have such intense training and rigorous standards for the paid career paths but we lack proper training and education for the job of parenting, the basis for the future of humanity. We judge and criticize the ability to parent as if there is some grand handbook and training we are provided before, during and after birth.

At best, my first round of training came from a deaf nurse who groped my breasts shortly after I birthed my oldest son to show me how to properly feed my child and that if I didn’t breast feed I was a failure. Spectacular. Bar one had been set in my quest for perfect parenthood. Along came many other milestones, coaching from others who were clearly far more superior in their parenting, strangers in parking lots, Costco’s and even friends who had yet to rear children. All of which afforded me nothing, but more feelings of failure and made me question my ability as a parent, was I really going about this all wrong?

Where did the criterion for perfect parenting come about? Basic common sense tells me that we want the best for our children. Treat them with love, respect, no malice; we want to comfort them and ensure their safety, encourage their growth and development mentally, emotionally, physically. Somehow we don’t provide any basic training to parents on their emotional involvement of parenthood. At 25 when I became a first time mother I can look back now and think of how unprepared I was for the spirited toll to raising a child, a strong intelligent child, then add strong, intelligent twins later in life. The true meaning of double trouble. Our society has reared an ugly head in recent days that certain actions could be perceived as abuse, even called out for such actions when no harm or malice was displayed to the child.

CIMG0275 300x224 Being a Good Parent: Practicing Parenthood and HumanityTake for instance the new phenomenon of children who are left to play outside by themselves without adult supervision. Apparently this is the newest form of child abuse, to let your older children roam their neighborhoods on bikes and on foot to explore and play with their friends. The application of imagination is completely devoid, we must hold our children hostage to our homes. The daft choice of letting a child under the age of six (more specifically age two) roaming neighborhoods and parks unattended, this is unacceptable and a result of poor education, poor choices, and an invitational extreme where other parents (or people) take a singular event and are applying house arrest to all children. Even children who understand right and wrong and who have been afforded such freedoms to be about their neighborhood are at risk of confinement. Myself, I have let my children run like a gang of hellions. Each armed with their bicycle, helmet, and knowledge of our neighborhood and its inhabitants, their imagination the fuel for such adventure.

Call me reckless but I see a great joy and freedom for my children to be about their community, that the neighbors know my children, we have an understood respect for one another that in the event one of our children is injured or in need we would call to come to their aid. Not call the authorities. Humanity.

So why do we judge parenthood and create such unobtainable standards when we have no apparent bar for metrics? If we do have a temperature why is it that when I Google “parenting classes” and “education on becoming a parent” each result yielded advocacy, abuse prevention and my personal favorite consultation, not a single result offered simple classes on dealing with emotional tolls, psychological tolls, coping skills or even basic diaper changing. As a parent I judge myself with the utmost harshness, the last I need is some other parent with similar, or less than adequate coping skills determining my quality as a parent.

I berate myself on how poor of a job I must be doing as I compare myself to some imaginary standard. I tear myself down that I am not doing enough. I don’t volunteer enough in class. I don’t provide sushi in their box lunches on Fridays. I do not always read to my children. I do not always save my children, aid and abet them in a time where they need to learn for themselves how to complete a task and understand the value of singular or team effort. I guess I am not doing this mothering thing right. I must be a horrible mother for subjecting my twins to the walk in cooler at Costco when they were infants, in order to purchase organic milk, because I should have left them with the strange woman who accosted me before entering. I must be a horrible mother for loving my children unconditionally, no matter what choices they make and guiding them with love as they struggle emotionally. I must be a horrible mother by limiting screens in their lives and forcing them to play outside. I must be a horrible mother for wanting more for my children. I must be a horrible mother for waking early each morning to make my children’s lunches because I choose not to subject them to the poor food standards of public schools. I must be a horrible mother for enforcing rules and issuing personal restraint to not yell, scream, or inflict physical or emotional harm.

God help me that I am broken. God help others that they are broken too.  By no means am I perfect, while I strive for IMG 1550 e1414085618871 300x224 Being a Good Parent: Practicing Parenthood and Humanityimprovement everyday, raising my children a different way than my parents, raising the imaginary bar. Parents, even people who are not parents, should be reminded that we are doing the best we can with the tools in which we have been provided. Some have become parents way before their intended time and were not even prepared for adult life let alone the responsibility of a child as they were still a child themselves. Others are dealing with truly unique situations, because parenting is not a one-size fits all standard. We tend to blanket or umbrella the imaginary parenting standard across anyone who has taken on the role as parent, blinded by the individuality that may exist and applying our standards or the imaginary standards to everyone.

Sometimes I wonder if we should apply the career of physician to parenting. Practicing medicine; practicing parenthood. Doctors do not always have the answer nor are they the utmost authority. As technology and information progresses they conduct themselves in an improved manner. Maybe parents should be the same way. As information is shared and provided in a manner that is loving and helpful we can continue to practice to be better, ending previous cycles of bad operations, seeking enlightenment and not entitlement. Instead of prancing around in a demonstrative manner of our accomplishments. Being a parent is not easy. Issuing myself mental lashings to be feared by the most nefarious villains. How different parenting would be if we banded together as a community. Lifting each other and speaking life into one another and supporting each other as opposed to applying our personal judgment of the other. Unbeknownst to their battle, their struggle, their situation. Being a good parent is not something we learned before we had children, I am finding being a good parent is something I work at each day, with no manual, no formal education, no training. So the next time  you think to judge a parent, consider what tools, education, training you received or maybe the ones they did not receive. Maybe offer that parent a moment of assistance or a friendly smile, pay forward practicing humanity instead of practicing judgment.

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Chicken Chorizo Recipe

spices, seasonings

Many of you may have read my post about Sweet Potato Hash and Scrambled Eggs. Inside that post I boasted about some amazing chicken chorizo I have picked up from my local butcher at Sprouts market. I love chicken chorizo. Heck I tend to favor all chorizo. As a native to Arizona and the southwest if I did not have an affection for spicy culinary dishes I might begin to question my authenticity. For those of you who love the taste of the southwest like I do, but may not have the resources at your local butcher to obtain these goods I am going to assist you in your culinary quest to obtain the needed ingredients to make your very own chicken chorizo recipe, a deliciously authentic version of a famed spicy, southwest sausage.

KitchenAid Meat Grinder 200x300 Chicken Chorizo RecipeWhat you will need to start with is chicken. As little as one pound of chicken should do it and you can have it as a mixture of ground chicken breast and chicken thighs. Call me sexist but I love some really good thighs; tender, juicy, and full of amazing flavor. Your local butcher can also assist you in this as he might be doing the majority of the work for you. However, if you happen to have a meat grinder at home, voila, you can accomplish this at home on your own. The butcher will be more than happy to grind this for you upon your request, they are one of the least utilized experts in stores. If you can wrangle a butcher they will share with you a great deal of secrets, if you befriend one, well then you have additional added benefits.

One you have your ground chicken this is where the fun begins, we will begin to season said chicken with the chorizo mixture. You see chorizo is just the smorgasbord of spices used to season the meat, think adobo. Here are the warm spices that will really kick up your chorizo and provide an amazing flavor. I prefer organic, but the list is all the same:

Chorizo Seasoning Recipe Ingredients List


 

1 tsp Ancho chili
3/4 tsp sweet paprika Chicken Chorizo Recipe
1/2 tsp coriander or cumin
1/
4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 clove
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
(you can use Sea Salt, I love pink salt for all the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and the taste is very mild and adds a sumthin-sumthin to your cooking)
1 tsp garlic
(you can opt for fresh diced 3 cloves if you like, this really deepens the flavor)


Now that you have all these fabulous ingredients you will need to mix them altogether. Again, I am a bit old fashioned and I buy some of my seasons whole, a mortar and pestle will be your greatest ally to grind these amazing flavors together. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, reach for your food processor to grind away. Be sure not to heat these up or you will lose integrity with the flavor. Once all of your seasonings are fully blended together we will add to the meat. Again if you are grinding at home with a meat grinder lets go ahead and grind, while the rest of us who have opted for the butcher to do our dirty work, we will be elbow deep in meat. If you have an aversion to touching raw meat please grab some marigolds.

Ground Chicken 300x198 Chicken Chorizo RecipeLightly sprinkle the seasonings across the top of the meat, leave some aside as you will begin to turn the meat and sprinkle alternately so that all of your chicken is evenly coated. Continue to do this until all of your meat is thoroughly covered and mixed together. Feel free to continue to mix if need be to ensure all of your chicken is clad in these warm spices. Once you have encased all of the meat in the chorizo seasoning mix, place in a separate container to be refrigerated overnight. Your seasonings will begin to soak in and enhance the chicken for that authentic chorizo taste. You can roll into a ball and wrap with saran wrap, butcher paper, freezer paper, or place in Tupperware. After sitting at least overnight, we prefer a solid 24 hours, your chicken chorizo is ready to serve up.

Cook the chicken as you would any other normal ground meat product. Be sure to apply traditional food safety so that the chicken is cooked thoroughly or at least 165 degrees.

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Sweet Potato Hash and Scrambled Eggs

Sprouts, Sprouts Farmers Market

Breakfast is by far my most favorite meal of the day. I wake up starving. Sounds completely foreign to most, but honestly I have trained my body to eat within the first hour of waking. For you fitness guru’s – fist and chest bump. Carbs are also a devilish delight, but when you are eating clean certain carbohydrates are totally off limits and not friendly to your food regimen. I personally love me some beak filling carbohydrates. Toast…bane of my breakfast existence. Roasted potatoes and eggs…a close second for some fabulous food to nosh on with my coffee. Best of both worlds is sweet potato hash and scrambled egg whites, coupled with chicken chorizo.

So last night while contemplating what to whip up for dinner I opted for brinner (breakfast+dinner). I knew I had a tough crowd to serve, The Chad and my four footers. Each of the four foot people provided little feedback as to my culinary adventure for menu options of the evening. Being the head of household, or I’m delusional enough to believe so, I opted for brinner. Luckily I had all my ingredients ready. A trip to my local Sprouts just a few days prior proved fruitful as I picked up a fresh batch of chicken chorizo. If you have yet to try some, please do so. Rivaling the traditional pork and beef chorizo the chicken has amazing flavor and leaner. Great for those calorie counters and clean eaters like myself, no added sugars or fats.

yams sweet potatoes is there a difference 3 300x199 Sweet Potato Hash and Scrambled EggsFrying up my chorizo and scrambling some egg whites I wanted a carb. Knowing full well I was headed tot he gym for some weights and cardio I wanted to prep my body for the nutrients needed to sustain 90 minutes of intense exercise. I opted for some sweet potatoes. None like the sweet potatoes we have all been accustomed to at Thanksgiving dinners. You see those are called a yam, we however, interchangeably use the term sweet potatoes because they taste sweet. Sweet potatoes can have a hannah white, pale flesh and are loaded in vitamin A, biotin, vitamin C, they help regulate your blood sugar and are a healthy carbohydrate because of the amount of fiber and your body will thank you for all the anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal properties. I digress on the health aspect. The sweet potatoes and chorizo might be a meal to scoff, but please leave the guffaws until after you whet your palette with this sweet and spicy fall dish. Better yet, have it any time of the year if you happen to have a local butcher who would be kind enough to whip up a batch of chicken chorizo for you.

Taking these blond beauties I merely shredded them on a cheese grater. Some of you may opt for a food processor, I like the extra workout you get in shredding these bad boys by hand as I am reminded of cooking in the kitchen with my mother. Feeding a crowd like mine for brinner, breakfast or to make some tasty latkes I would suggest at least 5-6 medium sized potatoes. My kids love sweet potatoes so I had to use more, you be the judge based on your families appetite.latkes 640x426 300x199 Sweet Potato Hash and Scrambled Eggs After shredding I tossed them into a large frying pan that had been coated with coconut oil. Another super food I absolutely adore that you can use for anything and everything. Smoothies, baking, frying, or if you are like me a shot all by itself, but I am a fan of coconut so I don’t mind the taste or the smell I have found it to really accentuate my cooking on all levels when used properly.

Moving past the wonders of coconut oil as I can digress again, we have shredded the potatoes, they are in the pan that is coated with coconut oil, just make sure that your potatoes are evenly spread out across the pan for even cooking. This will ensure every inch of your potatoes become a hash as they brown and crisp. I cooked mine over medium-low heat for about 20-30 minutes to guarantee they were nice and crispy all the way around but still had enough sweet, soft, fleshy bites in the middle. Toss those into a serving dish or right onto your plates, sided with scrambled egg whites and chicken chorizo and you have yourself a sweet and spicy meal that is out of this world. Enjoy!

Utensils Needed:

2, 10-12 inch skillets (one for potatoes, other for chorizo and eggs)

cheese grater or food processor

whisk for beating eggs and egg whites


 

Ingredient List:

1 pound ground chicken chorizo ( or make your own chicken chorizo recipe)

5-6 hannah, or white, sweet potatoes

1 TBSP coconut oil

3 eggs and 1 + 2/3 c. egg whites

Lots of love and patience.

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USDA Organic, organic, Karie Herring, thefivefish.com

We have all been lied to. A world where everything we eat, drink, sleep and breathe is completely fine. Fukushima, well that was ionizing radiation as a cancer preventative. Genetically modified (GMO) foods are completely fine and have no negative lasting impact on our bodies. For years, farmers have been cross breeding plants for hardiness and for food variety so the splicing of genomes in a laboratory to create a new tomato that is immune to Roundup is no different. Organic, its a scam. The new bottled water fad and sure to die a slow and painful death much like global warming.

the new tomato GMO is Bullshit and Organic is a Scam

Dinner’s New Tomato

Angry yet? You should be. For the second time in a month I have had a troll Scandinavian dwarf strongly suggest to me on Facebook how ridiculously wrong I was for supporting the organic movement and opposing GMO’s.

Let me be clear though on my stance with GMO food products; I AM in favor of a farmers agricultural tactic to cross breed plants in a field (nature does this on her own too), I AM NOT in favor of Dr. Kevorkian playing test tube roulette with a new breed of tomato for my dinner. I support the organic movement because I was educated about organic. I did not hop on some fad toting, band wagon of the newfangled fashion called organic. I did not wake up one day and make the Laissez-Faire decision to just up and rid my pantry and fridge of conventionally farmed, GMO laced foods.  Did I clean out my pantry of the majority of those products? Absolutely, maybe not all at once, but I eventually did.

Why you ask?

In 2008 I delivered my twins and found a support group later that year for mothers of multiples. Among our group was a very well educated woman who yielded a fancy science degree, I will spare you her details, however she explained the facts and science of genetic modification (present state), organic foods, farming, how you become USDA organic certified, blah, blah blah. I soaked up every minute. Why? Because why not? I had nothing to gain or lose from her sharing her knowledge, or did I? What I had not mentioned to this point is this amazing woman’s journey defeating breast cancer. She defeated her progressive breast cancer and has been cancer free during the time I have been honored to call her friend. Her battle also included a diet rich in organic fruits, vegetables and meat and dairy products free of hormones or additives. While I am not a doctor and make no claim of the science, I did apply common sense and hear a truly movingorganics for kids 300x116 GMO is Bullshit and Organic is a Scam situation.I also applied this new found knowledge to another friend who also had breast cancer. A survivor or Stage IV, double mastectomy, reconstruction and lymph removal. She DOES NOT eat an organic rich diet, staying her course she still frequents all fast food joints, drinks large quantities of diet soft drinks, and just 18 months ago underwent another round of cancer treatment for a form of oral cancer found in her mouth and lymph nodes. She has continued failing health including joint inflammation, thyroid, diabetes, and a gamut of other ailments.

Which path would common sense direct you to choose?

Imagine my surprise when in 2011 I receive a phone call from my physician alerting me to an abnormal pap. Her phone call included “biopsy”, “cancerous cells of the cervix”, “advancing cancerous tissue.” I was in a panic. While my family had integrated organic into our diet, we still fancied some fast food and I still partook in an occasional Starbucks; I had not completely overhauled my lifestyle. November of that year, while undergoing a very painful surgical procedure to remove the cancerous cells and tissue I vowed to change my life for the complete good. My family went full organic. While we already had integrated the fruits and vegetables and milk, meat purchases were still from traditional farming, until that day.While nothing is wrong with traditional farming I could not support this mode of food production. The chemicals, the hormones, the pesticides, none of it seemed right or natural to me as someone who had been touched by cancer and as a mother. From that day forward I have been cancer free and my paps have all been normal every six months.

A little over a year ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer. Her treatment was and is aggressive. When we spoke shortly after her diagnosis she mentioned how doctors said if she was going to eat certain foods they had to be organic due to the pesticide interaction with her chemotherapy. I found great irony in that statement. So I went further and researched chemotherapy and an organic diet. At best I found the naturopathic and alternative healing methods like the Gerson Institute and the Breville Method, all supported an organic rich diet of fruits, vegetables and pesticide free proteins. Nowhere did any of the well known cancer sites indicate that cancer patients should be eating a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, in spite of the fact that each of these people I know, all strangers to one another shared the same simple fact of eating an organic diet during their cancer treatment. For the conservatives out there I beg the question, what does a doctor gain from making this medical suggestion? If organic is purely a ploy for higher taxation and a fascist movement towards primitivism then why not exploit this venture, especially when physicians and the medical field are supported so heavily by big Pharm and the liberals?

OrganicPint 198x300 GMO is Bullshit and Organic is a ScamQuite alright, we can save the Ayn Rand style debate for another day.

Do I dream of one day a world where we are free of harmful chemicals in our foods? Positively yes. My Rogerian beliefs is that we are all inherently good, so I favor for optimism in any outcome. Do I claim any health benefits that organic foods are more nutritious? Absolutely not. I am merely making an educated decision for myself and my family based on the research and real life experience of the effects of a diet with conventional farming versus organic farming; cancer or no cancer. I am a protagonist for a diet free of laboratory created, genetically modified foods and substances. When science tinkers around in the genomes and the DNA structure of plants for “improved” purposes I wonder what happens when that DNA is introduced into our environment outside of a lab. My personal research found that children with food allergies, autism, digestive disorders, chronic illnesses and cancer increased dramatically with the introduction of GMO foods.  Here is the timeline:

1975 was when DNA was lobbied to be engineered

1980 the first GMO was patented for the use to “gobble up oil spills,” because you know that has been a HUGE success

1982 an insulin produced by genetically modifying E.coli bacteria is on the market

1994 the Flavr Savr tomato is approved by the FDA for sale on grocery shelves and promoted for its delayed ripening and longer shelf life than conventional tomatoes

1996 the GMO resistant super weeds appear, weeds are found to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate

1999 over 100 million acres worldwide are dominated by GMO

2011 Bt toxins (a soil bacteria GMO, engineered to be kill insects such as moths, butterflies, caterpillars) found in humans, specifically the blood of pregnant women being transferred to the fetuses.

From 1997 to 2011 the CDC reported that children with food allergies, digestive problems, chronic illness and skin disorders increased by 50%. Based on the above timeline, I can correlate that negative effects of GMO to our health. The FDA approves drugs on a daily basis that have a side-effect list as long as an ingredient list on a processed food box laden with GMO. Proven fact, Prozac which was and is the most highly prescribed anti-depressant starting in the late 80s has had the longest clinical study, spanning 20 years and is still being studied, continues to releases new and harmful side-effect which include the following: suicidal thoughts and behavior, birth defects, premature labor, severe skin reaction, insomnia, stuffy nose, sneezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, tremors, dry mouth, low libido, dizziness. Oh and my personal favorites: heart defects in newborns, lung problems in newborns resulting in improper adaptation to breathing outside the womb, and last but not least, an increased risk of the baby developing AN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER.

Argue that GMO is perfectly safe, despite the fact we do not have enough research, hence the Prozac reference. Argue that organic may be more expensive and it’s a scam. But when adults result to insults, personal attack, and the “if you don’t listen to what I am saying” since I think “I am right” attitude, I just stop responding. Now this is about you and your feelings, not respecting my choice of which I respect yours. I have no problem with anyone’s choice regarding organic, and I am not opposed to hearing their side, especially if new information of some compelling nature is shared. Maybe I am wrong. I am okay with that, but for now, until I have concrete scientific proof that the long term effects of GMO, herbicides, pesticides and hormones are safe and the whole ban GMO is bullshit, organic is always my choice.

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I Prayed to Become a Mom

Prayer is a powerful tool, Amen. While I was dressing today, I realized how prayer has really transformed many of my life events. My most recent prayer was to escape the confines of my ever oppressive boss….and then I was fired.  Prayer answered. Needless to say God has a way of keeping us on our toes with answering prayer. I began to timeline my prayers and how God is working in my life and that of my children. Only thinking about this topic as my grandmother posted a wonderful article to my Facebook timeline and from my recent attendance at a women’s conference. Over the years I never really stopped praying. Despite the fact that I did not welcome the divinely love of God and his son Jesus, I still managed to say prayers here and there, you know, being spiritual and karma and all. For years I prayed to become a mom, asking God, very specifically to allow me to become a mom and to be pregnant with twins so that I can “get it over with.”

Babies at 10 weeks 300x229 I Prayed to Become a MomAs I mentioned earlier, He has a way to keep us on our toes, and specificity plus repetition equals passion. Oh did I have a lot of passion to become a mother. For three years I prayed. I prayed and prayed, I threw pennies in wishing wells, baited those same pleas on falling stars, you name it. Until one day in 2007, many years after I had prayed and after I had already birthed my oldest child, God answered my prayer to become pregnant with twins. God also answered me to become a mother.

I know this makes no sense considering my oldest was toddling and on the verge of entering kindergarten by the time my twins arrived in 2008, but I did not feel like a mother despite carrying him in my belly for ten months and delivering him in 2003.

For those early years I struggled to still be me. I struggled to be a mother. What is being a mom anyway? I changed my sons diapers, I fed him, rocked him, I loved and still love him with all my heart, I provided for him. Somehow I did not feel like I was a mother, I did not feel like mom. Going about my day-to-day I did not dwell on this feeling, but I know it nagged at my soul. Praying for strength, praying for wisdom, praying for the crying to please stop so I can sleep and praying for him to be potty trained so I could stop changing diapers. But those prayers went unanswered, for a bit, because I had the specificity and repetition to ask to become a mother. I asked for twins. I asked to get it over with. As I said, I asked for years because I struggled to get pregnant. God answered my prayer, my many prayers within a prayer.

In 2008 I delivered Seth and Sara via c-section in the throes of cold and flu season. My stint in the hospital was lonely, even though The Chad came to visit I did not have G with me to share in the love and experience of his new siblings. I could not talk with him and I could not share with him all of the happenings. I could feel his fear and sadness on my heart. At that moment I knew I had become a mom. I could feel the love transcend time and space for all three of my children. I knew my place in their life, I knew what they needed, I knew how they felt, I knew their voices, and I knew I was a mother. God answered my prayer to become a mom and to have twins, admittedly one boy and one girl and when I prayed to “get it over with” well that landed squarely on The Chad when he got a vasectomy.

Short of sounding crazy, delivering my twins changed my life in many ways; I stopped acting like a mom and became IMG 2222 300x225 I Prayed to Become a Momone. I was so busy trying to act like a mom and trying to be a mom. I was not grasping that being a mom, wife, and woman was all one person. I thought I had to sacrifice a part of myself , sacrifice one of those people to be the other. We talk about sacrifice as a parent that we would do anything for our kids, but a selfish part of us cannot let go completely. The sacrifice is that we let go of who we used to be, our former selves before parenthood. My evolution allowed me to let go…completely. I let go the ideal that this was about me and what I did for them and I accepted that this was about Him, them, and what I did for all of us in the name of love. Inconveniences of the kids bickering was not about their fight, but more about what was at the root of the argument between my children. The whining was no longer an inconvenience to my mood, but about showing my kids to speak assertively, stating what they needed and I was here to help fulfill their needs. Respect was no longer about what was right and if they liked the individual, myself included, but respect became about love, that respect is love.

God had a plan for me. His plan was more about self discovery, sacrifice, and above all else love. Today I pray for my children and their plans. I pray that He guides them in His divine plan and that He shows them the same humor he has bestowed upon me. I also pray for other moms. I pray for dads. I pray for those mothers who want to be moms without holding onto who they think they have to be rather than who they are becoming. I pray for those dads to become fathers and love their children without regret. His plan just happened to be different from my plan and the way I prayed to be a mom.

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Saving Giants – Talking with Tweens

G the Giant

Talking with tweens is just another job moms carryout in our career. Nanny, maid, personal chef, short order cook, educator, project manager, team leader, manager, chauffeur, accountant, and double agent also come to mind on the short list of multifaceted careers as a parent. Double agent only came to mind as I crept into my six year old son’s room, like a thief in the night. Ever so carefully to not eek out a sound, plastering myself against the flat surface of a wall as not to be seen; which is ridiculous anyway when you have boobs and bright blond hair. All in the name of swapping a snarly tooth for various coins in an effort to challenge his knowledge and counting abilities. Alas I am the Tooth Fairy. I digress on the double agent job, if only it were sexier with firearms and thigh high stockings. Yet this is one of the the many careers we hold as parents.

Anyway, this rewarding career I currently hold as mom. I never really wanted to become a parent; mostly because I was a spiteful child to my mother’s threats of “just wait until you have your own kids,” I thought depriving my mother of the joy of becoming a grandmother was the way to go. I’m glad I was a bonehead and figured that dumb-ass move in my twenties was not a wise choice. Now that I am a parent, I really could not imagine life without my kids. My eldest just crossed into the tween years this year as he turned 11. Being at home again, I am really learning more and more about my kids and the people they are, who they are becoming. I am in full amazement and awe as these small individuals evolve, learning so much about life from them; learning a bit about myself on our journey as well. G as a now 11 year young man is like taming a giant, or a rhino,  sometimes both depending on the day.

IMG 2849 225x300 Saving Giants   Talking with TweensThe boy is massive in every respect. He is a lean, muscular kid, who lacks solid coordination but makes up for it with the heart of a hero. Like I said, MASSIVE, even his heart. G has always been a sensitive boy; my family has no shortage of emotions, we wear them like badges of honor to a four star general, exposed on our sleeves, loud and proud. The Chad, while he will deny such accusations, is also a sensitive man; though the harsh reality of society and family of origin issues we all succumb to suppressing such humane gifts.

So last night when I cornered the boy to have him finally sit down and write out his thank you notes to friends and family for his birthday gifts, I saw the twinge of tween. The boy got a little snappy at me, call it attitude. I don’t do attitude. But I’m a parent, this is not about being right and this is not about me. Strapping on my sweet mommy voice that would charm any viper, but with the stern assertiveness of a Clydesdale I fired back. “Dude, why am I getting attitude, what’s wrong? Do you have something bothering you?”

THAT.

In that simple question a world of opportunity opened for any adult to see what they were like at 11, remembering fifth or sixth grade, saving a giant of emotions. We huddled around the kitchen island as I pressed harder, like any good investigator (check, add that to the resume) and created a safe bubble for my son to share what he was experiencing. Free of expectation, I let my gentle giant unleash a barrage of daggers;

“I don’t feel accepted. I don’t want to be at school. I don’t want to be at home. My friends are good, my family is good. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Sweet Jesus. How DOES one explain this. So I went backwards, we initiated the discussion with the topic of his friends. No bullying, nothing alarming that would require an educator intervention, no name calling. Got it. Friends equal solid. Now onto the family unit. The Chad is good, twins…well they are who they are, and that’s all good, he is good with me. Solid. Home? Home is good, he wants to be here but something is nagging at him. Listening to his voice I fought back a rage of tears. When your kid is hurting you hurt. I don’t give a damn who you are; a pain sets off in you that causes your jaw to clench, your eyes burn with tears that you wish your inner super hero could dry away, and the muscles of your bottom lip curl and flex to maintain the stoic power of parent.  Cue super hero music,I always think of the margarine commercial, Parkay. Now that we have excavated into the bowels of emotion, I clawed at my own scars when we addressed acceptance.

By this time my inner 11 year old girl was a blubbering mess. Recalling the pain of that age. The emotional turmoil. I watched the giant fall before me into tears as he rebuked his intelligence, his self-worth and his overall being based on grades he had received in his class. I felt my soul fall to her knees. Tears pour down my face now, but that moment they only welled in their ducts and I exercised parental stoicism to continue to listen to my boy, this young man, struggle with new emotions. New feelings. The new person he was evolving into, I couldn’t do anything to make this rite-of-passage into mid-adolescents any easier for him.

Coaxing my giant out from behind the island I hugged him with all I had. Pushing my love from my soul as it radiated into his arms and back, encapsulated him like a bubble, and smothered him until his tears had faded away. Sharing with him my timely story about failure, I related to him how I purposely failed pre-algebra. My parents were officially divorced, I now had a one year old half brother and newborn half sister to contend with, puberty that was very unkind to me with acne and school acquaintances that took great pleasure to lambast me at any opportunity. I reassured him that his “A minus” that he was so distraught over was a soaring accomplishment, his “D” that he received was not his lack of ability but his lack of interest to put forth solid effort and he failed to follow directions his instructor set out in the assignment. By no means do grades define who you are as a person.  Constructive feedback is done lovingly, knowing his teacher, she knew he could rope the moon, she was giving him the lasso to do so. Reassuring G that he is intelligent, smart, talented, loving, able-bodied, and I could not be more proud of him.

My giant began to wield his rhinoceros style strength again as the tears melted into his cheeks and his sweet dimples appeared again. We both exposed our vulnerability, more so mine as a parent, relating to his struggles. Struggles I still encounter to this day as a grown woman. Part of me today ponders of the outcome had we not had this discussion after school, had I not taken the opportunity to talk to my tween. Had I been busy making a life for myself, engrossed in the delusional and empty corporate career path, I might have missed a career making opportunity of a lifetime talking with my son. Pondering other kids, who maybe lacked the emotional support of a parental unit/figure in their lives, to just ask, “how are you?” We forget how powerful our words impact lives, children and adults. How profound a simple, loving, truly genuine question like “how are you” can unlock a garden a vulnerability in anyone. How are you today?

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Not Yet Rated

NotYetRated

Gripping at the final credits as the film winds through the reels, waiting patiently in the dark for the next teaser. Some trailer or scene, spoilers for a sequel. All that is the left is the on location references and music acknowledgments, bore fest. My life was turning into that same scene of musical contributions and location listings, only the equivalency was a historical ledger, best known as a resume, of career moves and an epic failure.Funny thing, this newfangled feeling called failure. The connotation and idealism of failure is so negative. As if your state of being and existence is somehow judged, rated and hinges based on two words: success and failure. Why do we have to have either? Do we not have some existential realm of in between? I like to consider my life and accomplishments as that trailer before the movie indicating, “This film has not yet been rated.”

For the last few months I placed myself into rating. Day-in and day-out I would berate myself and who I was, am, based on one small blip on my timeline. A critic of the worst kind, uncovering every fault, shadow, crease, and flaw as part of my self torture. I made excuses to deal with my shame; my position was eliminated, my boss was/is an asshole (well he is, but I cannot place the sole blame on him, I had a hand in my outcome), and then one day I finally forgave myself and accepted the situation.

But lets backup a bit so the genesis really is understood. The day I was terminated I was totally good with the event itself, being in that moment. I was relieved! I felt a tremendous burden lifted from me when I was told, “we are terminating your current employment.” I was so excited I forgot I left my phone at my desk to text everyone my horrible news. So excited, I kept my professional composure instead of blurting out, “Hells yes! Let’s blow this Popsicle joint;” I smiled like someone who was told the biggest secret of the universe, shook the bastards hand and simply said, “thanks.” Who does that? I did. Yet I let that moment define me. I was arrogant, egotistical, and a super star employee. Knowing no one knew more than me or could get the job done better, faster and with extra miles, I got cocky, and it showed. That prima-donna got herself fired by being all those traits, for lacking humility. I was also letting those traits and my personal shame, for that solitary moment, define who I was, who I am, and who I was to become.

One day, in Plinian fashion, my emotions came rushing forth like hot magma under surmountable pressure. Beating off what began to feel like an onset of depression, locking myself away in the house, retiring from social engagements, avoidance; I embraced my full hysteria. My cheeks were burning with blood, as I flexed unknown facial muscles trying to hold back my feelings, tears of pain, hurt, resent, love, spoils of pride and humiliation. Screaming. Crying. Anger. Sadness. Defeat. Elation. Relief. Shame. Fear. A true smorgasbord rainbow of emotions. Mind you, this could not be done alone. Without the unconditional love and support of The Chad I might have slipped into a reckless and silent doom. But at the end of it all, I grabbed the girl of failure and hugged her. I held her tight and brought her back into me, loving her, appreciating her, consoling her shame. Telling her that one moment, in almost forty years, does not beget my entire lifetime.  I accepted failure. I accepted that I failed. Failing my family as a provider, as a rock of emotional stability, failing as a successful corporate business woman. Breaking the chains of emotional oppression. Failure was not in my ability, but failure to evolve and rise above belittlement, to remain humble, to let someone else have a win. Parents especially, you know what I am talking about, that moment where you pretend to lose in order to boost another person’s ego….yes that moment. I chocked up my short lifetime into one moment, giving new life and definition. Or was I?

Recently I was required to complete a short bio on a webpage that defines me. I quite simply answered that I am an enigma. Most of us should be considered enigma’s. We do not understand each other, we haven’t quite solved our puzzles of life, whilst we have clues and insight based on personal experiences and inter-relational tidings we simply don’t have the answers. So if we don’t have the answers, why do we draw borders, definitions, conclusions? Why put so much weight on living? I am enjoying the notion that I am not always cut out for certain tasks and its okay to fail, as long as I didn’t go at it half ass, put your whole heart into it, fail at epic proportions. I, we, are not defined or rated by accomplishments or by failures. I’m a woman, a mother, a business woman, a Christian, a college graduate, a wife, an athlete, a writer, a chef, b-positive blood type, an artist and now a failure. In my failure I found a beautiful calm, a peace in knowing that I am at the corner of awesome and greatness with who I am to become. By no means am I boastful, arrogant, or proud, I have become more thankful, humbled, and welcoming to whatever God brings my way. I am going to continue to embrace my faults, love my brokenness and swoon in being me and the person I am to become. Moments can help shape us into who we want to become, better parents, better people. Until then, I’m not yet rated.

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