Love Shouldn’t Have to be Won

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In 2009 my mothers passed away. On June 26, 2015 gay marriage was legalized, forever too late. From the time I was four, when my biological mother and father got a divorce and my mum started dating another woman, I knew three things: some people hated lesbians, my moms couldn’t get married, and this woman was my other mother.

Somehow, I never questioned their love, or how my mother could love another woman. Even at four years of age, I grasped that love was love. The important thing was that I had a parent who cared for me, taught me things my biological parents couldn’t, and accepted me as her own. I remember once, when I was in Kindergarten, that an older girl on the playground once told me my parents were disgusting because they were lesbians. I went home and asked my moms what she had meant. I didn’t understand how two people in love, who loved me, could ever be disgusting or wrong.

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For a heterosexual couple in 1999, dating and getting married was just what happened. No one questioned it, and no one thought of it as wrong. That marriage allotted them privileges that weren’t available to homosexual couples. Unlike a stepfather, my other mother couldn’t adopt me. She had no legal right to me. My mothers couldn’t get married and my biological mum couldn’t take my other mom’s last name, nor could I. My mum had many health problems and Ramona, my other mother, didn’t have the ability to walk in and say, “I’m her spouse, I have a right to see her, and I can make the decisions for her care.” No heterosexual couple goes through these problems. These basic rights -things that should be based on true love instead of religion and politics- were kept from my mothers, and the results were devastating for our family.

At the time, Vermont had already legalized gay marriage. Both of my moms loved visiting Vermont, often doing so while I was at visitations with my father, and desired to move there. Legally, because of me, they weren’t able to. My father had partial custody of me, and the law said I couldn’t be moved that far away. Despite how much my other mother loved me, not being able to move and live her life happily caused resentment for me to grow inside of her. I found this out slowly, but surely.

I’ve been asked how I can still love, forgive, and think so highly of them despite knowing how they resented me. I never felt the need to ask myself this question, but now that I’ve found love I have an answer. The first few years that I was dating my fiance we were unable to see each other regularly. We were kids, but our love was and seven years later still is strong.The fact that I had to get up each morning knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see him, touch him, or publicly show my deep love for him hurt, yet I knew that one day I would be able to marry, move in with, and create a child with him without any law or prejudice stopping me. If that pain didn’t have the light to keep us going, and if everyone around me had no problem receiving those things while I didn’t, I don’t know what I would have done, but I do know that I’d be miserable and no where near as kind to the people around me. My mothers felt that pain constantly for ten years. For seven of those years, I had no idea.

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With all the issues they faced, both of my moms became very depressed. Our family physician at the time prescribed them both high doses of antidepressants. Unfortunately, these drugs didn’t mix well with the medication each of them were on; my other mother was on medication for epilepsy and my mum was on pain and anti-anxiety medications. The toxic mix of high potency drugs led to a dependency when I was in the sixth grade and only eleven years old. As they became more addicted, with me around during their stupors, I learned of their inner pain and resentment towards me. It was a rough time for all of us. My other mother’s parents were very homophobic and had made her feel crazy as a youth, going so far as to institutionalize her during her senior year of high school in an attempt to “make her straight.” With that, the inability to marry her true love, and the hatred our society showered her with led to an overdose and the end of her life.  Two months and two days later my mum, in a rehabilitation center, also passed. Our family truly believes that once her love died she just gave up to move on to the afterlife with her. How did we get to the point where dying is preferable to living?

We have made progress. Through rallies, education, celebrities using their privilege to speak out, and by electing a supportive president we have gotten this country on the right track. We aren’t, however, finished. Forty percent of homeless youth are part of the LGBT community. Thirty-three percent of LGBT students attempt suicide. These numbers are so high, and that’s because we are not yet part of a society that wholeheartedly accepts who people love. The day after gay marriage was legalized, my other mother’s mom posted on her facebook wall a message protesting it. Even after her own daughter died because of that hate, she still posted such an ignorant and disrespectful thing. There is more we need to do to turn this world into a place where love is understood. You can tell me that we’ll never get there, that people are entitled to their religious beliefs, and that hate will always exist. I disagree. No one is entitled to hate, or bully, another human being because of what they may or may not believe.

So, as happy and grateful as I am for gay marriage now being legal nationwide, and the shift society has taken towards less hate and more acceptance, I am angry. I’m angry that because of prejudice, because someone at some point decided they could tell us all what love was, and that love between the same sex was wrong, my parents had to leave me so soon. I’m angry that they didn’t have the chance to give me the love they wanted to, because in the back of their mind there was always that resentment. I’m angry that my son won’t be able to meet his grandmothers. I’m angry they never saw me graduate, won’t be able to dance with me at my wedding, and I’ll never be able to go to theirs. I’m angry that if only love had won sooner, or rightfully didn’t need to be won in the first place, my mothers would be here today, legally married, with the rights of every heterosexual couple, and finally happy. Love shouldn’t have to be won.

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Don’t Take Now for Granted

Imagine everything in your life being perfect. Your parents are happy, after months/years of fighting to get there, everything just falls into place. They paid off their truck, got the job of their dreams, received their passport, and ordered a sweet new pug dog, all in one magical day. You’re getting the chance to make good money, and doing so in a way that makes you happy. It’s the day before Valentine’s day, and everyone is thinking about dates, but not you. You’re just happy to spend your night watching Degrassi and sleeping with a sweet puppy all while keeping an eye on two sweet kiddos. Not a care in the world, no idea that anything could go wrong. You don’t thank anyone for this great day. It’s just another day, and tomorrow will be even better, you are so sure of this.

Until it’s not. Suddenly your world crumbles. No one will tell you what happened until you beg. Your mother tells you that your other parent has died. You ask how, but you don’t really want to know, because you already do. You pray that it was an accident, but it wasn’t. You don’t know what comes next, but you can never get yesterday back, and you want it. You want to go back and make today impossible, but you just can’t…

Every year around her birthday I can feel the wave of depression fold over me, but I try my best to ignore it all. Today, the emotions are just pouring out. When I woke up and jumped on Facebook I stumbled across two different posts, and both make me ugly cry like I haven’t in apparently not long enough. The stories were sad of course, but it was the underlying message that’s really kicking my emotional butt today.

The message was how easy it is to take what we have for granted. Of course it is though. We don’t know what comes next, we don’t know what others are going through or have been through, and we don’t know what we’ll one day miss either. It’s easy to be envious of others. It’s easy to only see what is now. Most of the time, I’m all for that. Today I just can’t stop thinking, man I miss it. I miss having these incredible people be in my life. I can’t help myself from missing my moms. I can’t help myself from wishing that there was a way to have them here now.

Here’s the thing though, I really have to add a big however to this whole thing. As much as I miss my moms, and as much as I wish they were in my current life, I don’t regret anything. I don’t wish that I could go back and change things, because my life would be very different today. I wouldn’t have met Corey, I wouldn’t have Caleb, and my life wouldn’t be on this incredibly rewarding path. Everything really happens for a reason. Everything. It doesn’t mean you aren’t going to feel pain. It doesn’t mean you won’t be angry or sad. It just means we have to really cherish every single person and thing in our lives, because in the next moment they could be gone. It’s cliched, I know, but it’s so true.

Today I’m going to snuggle Caleb just a little bit tighter. I’m going to make the most of today, and try to remember to thank the people I care about for being in my life more often. I’m going to try to be thankful that I have all of these amazing blessings around. I am so privileged to be alive… but gosh do I miss my mothers.

Happy New Year!

New Years is known as a time to make resolutions, but I think other than the obvious (get healthy, do better, be a better parent, make money) things, New Year’s Day is a time for looking back on life. The one thing I’m sure of today, is I have no regrets.

For those of you following my life, you know there has been a whole lot wrong with it. Things that you’d probably change if you had the chance. Today I want to paint a picture of how my life would be today if I could change everything.

In sixth grade my parents started doing drugs, and my grades started slipping. I became the adult, and they were still my parents, but weren’t taking care of me the way I’d desire. Instead, lets imagine that they never needed the medication that got them hooked in the first place. Imagine I had asked them not to take it, and they didn’t. They went to physical therapy, acupuncture, and smoked pot to make themselves well.

Now if that happened, they wouldn’t have died. I would have lived a normal childhood, kept my perfect grades up, and gone to Gordon college (which I had a full scholarship to in real life, and chose not to  go to). That sounds great and all, but I would never have met Corey. He was a senior, a few days away from graduating, when I moved in with my aunt and uncle and changed schools. I met him by chance on my first day at the new school.

So, if I never met Corey, I wouldn’t have run away with him to Virginia, I wouldn’t have Caleb, and I probably wouldn’t be on the same educational path. Before we met I was planning to be a youth pastor, hence going to the Christian college, Gordon. I made that choice to run away, and I can’t regret that either. I don’t know how I would be without making it. I was so miserable, and it was my release.

Today, I’m so happy. I have a beautiful family, know that within the next three years (once I finish school) I’ll be married, and I’m happy with what I’ve gotten to give back to my community. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been perfect in the typical sense, but it’s been perfect for me.

Every little tragedy, every problem, every stumble, every sacrifice… has led to today. It has led to love. It has led to following my true passion. It has led to true, honest happiness. I have grown, I have been shown my destiny… and for that? I don’t regret anything.

Respect Begets Respect

I strongly believe that the word respect has two very different meanings. Some people use the word in the context of treating others compassionately, or as they would like to be treated no matter what their sexual orientation, gender, race, or economic status is. The other definition, one that is truly cruel, is that some people deserve to be treated better than others, and if they aren’t treated that way, they will then in turn not treat others as even human.

I refuse to let my son grow up believing the second. How will I do that? By respecting him. I will show him what respect truly looks like, because I don’t want him growing up feeling like he is ever worth less than the next person.

In our home, respect is simple. Before anyone does anything, we think of how it will effect someone else. We show a little compassion, and with it comes respect. Manners also play a big part in how we treat one another. If Caleb says please, the chances of us doing something for him go up. We never had to teach him to say please, but instead from day one when we wanted something from him we would say please and thank you as well. His fourth word, was really two words, and was “thank you.” That says a lot.

We also respect his autonomy. He’s still working on that with us, but I have great faith that by us giving it to him, he will in turn give it to us. If he doesn’t want hugs or kisses, we don’t force them. He doesn’t need to sit next to us if he doesn’t want to. We ask, or in important and much needed cases explain why we have to, before diaper changes. Giving him that respect, we’re teaching him that he has control over his own body. In the future that can only aid him when it comes time for romance, or the unfortunate sexual attack. Teaching him to respect his own body as well as others starts from infancy.

Another area we work hard on to show respect is during discipline. We try as hard as possible not to yell, and we do not hit. You can’t teach a child not to do these things by turning around and doing them. Children learn by example. Instead, as we would with any adult, if Caleb has done something wrong we pull him to the side, remove him from the area he’s misbehaving in, and explain what he’s doing wrong. We do not shout, we do not hit, but instead we change the circumstance and ability to get into trouble. Occasionally there will be a tantrum. We pick him up and give him a hug until he’s able to calm himself down and talk about why he can’t do what he’s been doing. Sometimes he doesn’t want that talk, so we let him lay on the ground or sit in a chair until he calms himself. The beauty of it all, is that it works. He learns, not because he’s afraid of us, but because we took the time to explain. We don’t judge him as bad because he’s doing something we don’t like. Instead, we take the time to teach him what to do instead. These fits or moments in general are so rare, because of the mutual respect we have for each other.

Respect means that every person (big or small, black or white, poor or rich) deserves to be treated the same way we would like to be treated. Not only is it respectful, but the only way to be truly ethical.

Water Beads ROCK!

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Look at that smile! This was a total win. Yesterday we went to the Dollar Tree, and I finally grabbed water beads. They are in the garden/craft section. They come with a vase, and the two packs I got came with three packs of beads. You soak these beads in water over night and they become little jelly balls. Non-toxic, not sticky, easy to clean up… it’s the perfect activity for kids and toddlers!

For us, Caleb is such a water and sensory loving kid that I knew we needed these. He will play in water all day long if we let him, but it ends up with him, my floor, and often me being soaked. These water beads, however, give the feelings of playing in water without actually getting wet.

Talking about fine motor skills though, there is a never ending amount of possible activities you can do with water beads. We spent over an hour playing with them when Caleb first woke up today. We started with them in the pub mix container (yay for recycling) where he could reach in just to check out how they feel. Then I grabbed a bowl and asked him to pour some in. I grabbed a little puppy toy, showed it to him, then hid it beneath the beads in the bowl, and asked him to find it. That was fun. Puppy is one of his favorite words. Then he grabbed cars and started driving in the bowl. That was really cool to watch actually. The beads moved like waves and would cover his hands or the car. Last but not least, I asked him to help pick the ones from the bowl up and put them back into the container. Talk about fine motor skills. Picking up slippery little balls is hard work! He did great though.

I wanted to share a few other activities we are planning with them. One is taking different containers to scoop and transfer the beads with and to. Tubes are a lot of fun. Pour some in one side and have your kiddo at the other end. It’ll be messy, since they’ll bounce everywhere, but so much fun. You can take bottles, with the smaller lid holes, and have your kiddo drop beads into them. Sorting, counting, working the motor skills… I really recommend having these on hand!

Gentle, Peaceful, and Attached Parenting through Life

When you hear attached parenting you think of infants and toddlers. You think breastfeeding, baby wearing, co sleeping… The truth though, is that is is so much more than that.
I attend a class called PLTI (Parent Leadership Training Institute) and the group is a truly fabulous group of people. We are all there for the common goal of making a better and more supportive world for children. Last night we were asked to list the things children need from us at all different parts of life and to create an emblem or logo that would distinguish each group. After we finished I looked back over them and saw the perfect answer to, “How do you gently/attached parent wen after toddlerhood?” I asked the group if I could post these answers and they all thankfully said yes so here it is my dear readers.

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One of the biggest things I got from this is that in a class of about ten (it depends on the week) we could all very easily agree that these things were common sense. If you were to take 100 people off the street you would find many people who disagree. Let’s aim to change that. Let’s put parents back in charge of raising their children. Let’s give them the responsibility of providing all of these things. It’s not easy, it’s nearly impossible, but it is absolutely vital that we do our best to create the best next generation of adults that we can!

Thanks for reading my lovelies.

A Simple Joy that Fills My Life

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 Time and again my son reminds me of the good things in life.

Last night I was sitting in my “easy chair” whining because I had cramps and I was tired and I just didn’t feel like doing anything. Then this little ball of awesome, also known as Caleb, crawled on over to me like he tends to do, with his truck, and stood against me. He started screaming aka talking to me and driving his car all over my legs. Anyone who could stay grumpy with a cute little man paying so much attention to them is a very silly person. I just burst out laughing and he handed me his truck so I could drive on him as well. I realized then that all I needed was to stop focusing on all the negatives and remember how blessed I am.

When I was growing up, and living with my aunt and uncle, I was kind of a sour puss at times. Every single morning, four in the morning when I’d just woken up to be more specific, my uncle would essentially yell to me, “If you act enthusiastic, you’ll be enthusiastic!” Of course like any teenager I just looked at him like he was the most annoying thing in the world. Since getting out on my own though, I have been enlightened. That really is the way to be. Just smiling releases endorphins that will make you feel better. When you focus on the good, you can see the good and you stop seeing all the bad. The best thing in my life though is my son. He makes me all the kinds of happy that there are.

So I suppose the thing you should all get from this little story is to start focusing on the good rather than the bad. Being bitter, looking at the world in a cynical way, just isn’t worth all the negative feelings that come from it. Being happy FEELS good. So, remember, “If you act enthusiastic, you’ll be enthusiastic.”

This sign hangs above my kitchen table .

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The Dirty Truth About Menstruation after Childbirth

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EDIT: This is just one case. No, not everyone has a period like this once they give birth. This was written because many women have this experience and it can be scary. Everyone is different. Do not take this as, YOU WILL HAVE THIS.

Oh my goodness. They don’t warn you about this. No one talks about it. No one wants to talk about it but gosh do I wish I had known what would or even could happen once I finally got my period back. Let me just tell you, this is not the kind of post you want to read if you have a sensitive stomach or you are squeamish but it is something you should read if you are or soon will be pregnant.

Thanks to breastfeeding I got a wonderful extra seven months of no period. It was wonderful. When I finally did get it though I had no idea what was going on and found myself in the ER. I was convinced I had internal bleeding or even that I had been pregnant some how and was miscarrying. Thankfully neither were true, which we found out after four hours, and it was just a period.

Here’s what you can expect:

-VERY heavy bleeding; don’t be surprised if you soak a pad within two hours

-An insane amount of clotting; it’s like you’ve just given birth and the clots are still coming out

-Watery gushes of blood

-Extreme cramping

It might be scary, and I can guarantee it will be gross and a pain in the neck, but it’s normal and will eventually get better. Sadly tampons tend not to work anymore (they either soak too fast or they fall out) and pads have to be the super kind. The worst thing for me is sleep. I have to get up every few hours just to go to the bathroom, gush blood into the toilet because my body doesn’t let it all out while I sleep, and change my pad.

Some things I’ve found that helps:

-Take Ibuprofen every few hours to slow down the bleeding and help cramps

-Take a short walk

-Relax; take a nap when your little one naps

-Eat foods that are less gassy; avoid dairy and some vegetables

If anything seems off to you, don’t be afraid to go into the doctors though. Just know that it is NORMAL to bleed so much and to pass so many clots. Also, it can last MUCH longer. My second period lasted almost three weeks and was terrible. My first only lasted two weeks and this third one I’m hoping for a much shorter time till the bleeding stops but thankfully Ibuprofen makes it much more bearable.

Thanks For Reading Everyone! Hope This Helps!

How to Not Raise a Princess (or in my case, Prince)

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^^ My Friend’s ADORABLE 13 month Princess ^^

Children do not spoil, food does. That doesn’t mean you can’t accidentally entitle children causing them to believe the world revolves around them and that they will always get exactly what they want. Here are three easy steps to avoiding this.

1) Don’t make your child share and don’t let them expect other children to share with them. I went on a play date recently and Caleb’s friend, who is two and a half, was playing with a doll. Caleb wanted it and went to grab it from her. Her mother jumped to tell her to share and I said no. Don’t worry about it. It’s her’s. I don’t want Caleb to think that just because he wants something, he will get it. That isn’t how life works. You don’t get a car that belongs to someone else just because you want it. There were plenty of other toys so I just redirected him and he was fine. She was a happy little girl because her toy, that belongs to her, wasn’t taken away from her. She was already sharing all of her other toys and that is going above and beyond to be gracious in my mind. I wouldn’t want my one special thing taken away either.

2) Don’t be afraid to say no. I know, shocking after my introducing the idea of no post. It’s true though. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down. Times for that are like when you’re in a store. If your child is screaming for a cookie, and they’ve already had enough sugar, tell them no. Don’t reward screaming and disrespect. Instead, because we all know that the screaming doesn’t stop just because you say no, redirect. I talk about it again and again. Offer something healthy if you can afford it. Oh look at this super awesome apple. Honey you can pick out something yourself if you want but it can’t be a cookie and you can’t eat it right now. This way, their want is understood but you are leading to a better decision.

3) Money is not the only thing that makes a child happy and more over it shouldn’t be the main source of their happiness. Sadly, so many parents use money to stop crying and to make up for lost time. That’s the best way to make a child spoiled because they will forever need more to fill a much more important spot in their life. Kids don’t naturally want stuff. They just want you! The more QUALITY you time they have the less material items will mean. This means that even if you work, the time you have with them matters. Cuddling, talking, asking questions, can make your child feel loved and wanted and that need for things doesn’t even come up.

 Thank You for Reading and Good Luck My Lovely Readers

Music is an Amazing Tool

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A woman named Sharon Novak, who is a children’s song writer and performer, post a great article on her website that inspired me. Her article was about the value of group music classes for toddlers. I will link to her post at the end but I’m writing today because I’ve been inspired. Music has a great teaching value on Toddlers, but also has an amazing affect on milestones for babies.

The picture above is a great example of this. Corey sat on one side of the bongo, Caleb on the other, and Corey would hit his side. After watching his daddy made the sounds, Corey would copy him. He was still so little then and it helped him learn how to use his hands. It was a real cause and effect and a great bonding moment for them as well.

Even from birth music helps with the littlest, most important things. There was this amazing study done on premature babies. When given a pacifier it would activate lullabies to be played. They would calm considerably. These babies that were played the music had an even more amazing result though. They began to gain weight much quicker than their NICU counterparts.

Playing music has been shown to improve math skills. The best time to try getting a person into learning something new is when they are a baby and their interests are just now being developed. This can be as simple as a toy guitar or drum. It’s something to make them interested in learning the real thing in the future.

Another bonus is speech development. Lullabies are great because they often show simple rhyming patterns and have a lot of repetition. Like with anything, repetition is the way to learn how to speak. When a child hears the word moon over and over they start trying to say this interesting and wonderfully sung word. I personally learned how to sign through songs. I would pick a song, learn the signs to it, and later I’d remember the signs because of the song. It’s like learning a dance. It’s always easier with the music.

The real point is, bring music into your baby’s life. It can be a great way to bond and soothe your child. Caleb HATES being on changing tables. Sometimes in public we have to use them. The only way I can keep him calm is by singing Let it Go. He will smile up at me and I can get the job done.

Thank You for Reading!

http://www.musicforkidswithsharonnovak.com/news-from-sharon/the-value-of-group-classes-for-toddlers/