Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2nd Hand Nudity

Ugh. I am ready to rant ladies, and since I have already admitted it lets just jump right in. I was in the Target check out line with my kids yesterday and out of the corner of my eye I saw the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition. Why don't they just call it what it is, the soft porn edition. They don't even wear swimsuits anymore! They've been steadily going this direction for a while. It started out kind of sporty, maybe a little bit? It rapidly became more and more seductive, and when barely there bikinis weren't enough to satisfy what  C.S. Lewis described as "an ever increasing craving for an ever dimensioning pleasure" they went nude. Sometimes they will be holding a bikini, or have one painted on, I will give them that. So yesterday when I saw on the cover were three topless girls wearing thong bikini bottoms and embracing each other I thought Is that a Girls Gone Wild magazine? I am in Target right? Did I make a wrong turn somewhere and end up in an erotica store? But of course I knew better. This was Sport Illustrated. And when it comes to objectifying women and you've already stripped all their clothes, what more can you do to feed men's insatiable appetites? That's right, add more women. Let's just layer more and more women like a club sandwich. Sounds tasty!

That's kind of what I said in my letter to the magazine. I was more articulate than that (hopefully).

Here's the thing. I am training up my sons to be men of conviction that honor God, respect women, and guard their hearts. I am raising my daughter to be a woman of strength, character, wisdom and beauty that sees past the lies that our society will constantly bombard her with. I don't expect the media to do me any favors in this task. I understand that it is my job to teach them to be in and not of the world.

HOWEVER, and this a big however, there is a line that goes past personal convictions and into common sense. I believe that common sense would suggest that pornographic images are not appropriate for children. In this progressive first world society that we live in we protect kids from dangerous highly addictive habits like smoking, drinking, pornography, and gambling. There are laws against it. You can choose not to drink or gamble with your children. You can certainly choose not to take your kids to a rated R movie, but you can't make them un-see the provocative images that they just saw in what should be a family friendly environment. The closest thing I can compare it to is second hand smoke, which is still somewhat of an epidemic that health departments are trying to solve. How do we protect non smoker's health from harmed by smoker's choices. We've removed the option of smoking almost anywhere indoors. For the most part my children don't have to worry about second hand smoke because no one is allowed to smoke at my grocery store. What they do have to worry about is a magazine about sports that chose to make an issue that has NOTHING to do with sports, other than the stereo type that men like sports and sex. It is merely an effort to keep interest during sports slowest season by serving up a bunch of sexually arousing women for their consumers, and unfortunately anyone that needs groceries.

I know I am conservative, but I am not the only one bothered by this. I hear the same sentiments from  blogger Erica Voll who was featured on Huffington post last year. She claims she is not a prude and listens to Howard Stern and reads Fifty Shades of Grey and yet still doesn't appreciate the sexualization of grocery stores. She says this in reference to the questions her 4 year old had about the SI cover from 2013.

"... why do I need to have boobs in my face and the face of my kids at the GROCERY STORE?
Really, this is not a conversation I felt like having at the grocery store. Not only do I need to find a way to explain to my daughter why this woman is freezing her boobs off on an apparent Alaskan cruise, I need to find a way to tell her -- SOMEHOW -- that no woman looks like this. This was an airbrushed to hell photo that is in no way representative of what real women look like."
What this other blogger and I also have in common is that we did something about it. We wrote letters. 
I was able to contact Sports Illustrated through the One Million Moms website. I also sent an email to Target corporate headquarters that said (among other things) " I understand that you have swimsuits in the issue, but they are obviously not good enough for the cover models or they might be COVERED. I thought Target was a place where families could shop together, try on cute clothes, and get school supplies. Maybe not. " 
 I understand that this is no big deal in the day and age we live in. This magazine has had covers that were just as bad or arguable worse and still it continues to grow in popularity. Even then, I am not about to let my voice be stifled by the greedy companies that feel they are entitled to blow their second hand smoke in my kid's face!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mother Son Date Knight

I am so anxious to share what a great time Z and I had on our first "date" that I am blogging about it the night of. I always figured J would do the cute little daddy daughter dance and all that business, but the thought of anything comparable with my boys never crossed my mind. That was until I was chowing down on waffle fries and literally saw a knight in shining armor. Well, it wasn't a real knight, but it was a life size suit of armor inviting mother's to make reservations for a medieval themed evening with their sons at Chic Fil A.

Z usually rides the bus, but J was able to help so that I could pick him up from school today. He looked so handsome with his shirt tucked in and his hair gelled. 

He has been talking about this outing since I first brought it up a couple weeks ago. Last night when I tucked him in he said "I love you mom" and I said "I love you son" and then he replied in his little Charlie Brown voice "speaking of son, tomorrow is mother son date night!" It was sweet.

I know this product placement of Chic Fil A next to Dave Ramsey could not be anymore "white christian", but we are, so whatever. Z brought his money in his spend envelope so he could pay for our meal.

 When our waitress gave me the bill Z handed the whole envelope over and she brought the change back. I have had a lot of people ask me about Financial Peace Jr. and I have a future blog post in the works. We've been doing it for a year and a half now and I am so pleased with the lessons it teaches. 

Chic Fil A does such a great job bringing families together and they make it so easy. The meal costed less than 10 dollars and the perks were…

 The medieval ambiance

A visit from the royal cow. 

There was also a craft, goodie bags, and face paint. The placemats had conversation starters and Z actually LOVED this part. One example question is, who is the bravest person you know? His answer was New York's bravest fire fighter. He doesn't know this person per se, but he read a book about it. The book by the way is New York's Bravest and it's great, but I wish I would have known I was going to cry during the bedtime story when I read it! There were also some silly questions like, would you rather be a spider for a week or an elephant for a year? Z said spider and when I asked him why, he said because it would be the shortest amount of time. I have to agree with him on that one, and we both agreed that flying power trumped super strength. 

After dinner we had organic yogurt at Frozen in West Chester. It was yumazing. That part was my treat (in more ways than one). 

The first 2 and a half years of Z's life it was just him and I (and J, but I was around him all the time), then of course sis and bro came along and we rarely have alone time. Even when we do have alone time together it's brief, like when SJ's in school and Ezie's napping, or a quick trip to the store. This was intentional time just the two of us. I am so glad we did it and I will definitely plan on doing it again. Thank you Chic Fil A, for the delicious meal and the reminder of how important this bond is. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014 Has Not Been Kind

I have been keeping a little bit of a secret from my blog. I didn't want to complain all month long, but now that I am feeling better it's not really complaining, it's more like documenting. Basically, we started the winter strong and our family was healthy. I was giving kids vitamins and making them drink orange juice. I even bragged about escaping the flu when so many others had it over the holidays, but I must have jinxed it because at least one of us has been sick ever since! It has been RIDICULOUS.

First Z, then SJ, then me. We were dropping like flies. One after the other week after week. Everyone hates to see their children sick and I've noticed many comments online that say things like "I wish I could be sick and not them, it just breaks my heart".  I said the same thing, only I realized two things about that statement.

1. Kids are much more resilient and what was a 5 day minor bug for them was a 3 week desolation period for me.

2. When your kids are sick you can take care of them. When you are sick they don't take care of you. In fact they still need you to take care of them. So everyone looses.

It's a nice sentiment, but as long as we are "wishing" for things, I think I will just "wish", or better yet pray for everyone to be well.

Now for those wondering what in the world attacked my body and had me down for 3 weeks plus, I will torture you with all the gorey details. The first week was flu like symptoms, and just when my fever broke and I thought I was on the mend, I started coughing my head off. So after a week of this I got Google and social media to get remedies.

I tried everything from honey and cinnamon, to lemon ginger tea, to gargling salt water, and yes I did resort to plain old over the counter medications. On one of the many sleepless nights of relentless coughing I had a fever and I ended up throwing up from all the drainage, so I decided I had better get my butt into an urgent care. They immediately put me on a breathing treatment and conducted an X-ray. It turned out to be a really bad case of bronchitis. They gave me 4 different prescriptions including a steroid, cough syrup, an antibiotic, and an inhaler.

About three days later I still felt like garbage and I couldn't ignore the painful stitch in my side. Overnight it felt like it wrapped around my chest and became very difficult to breath and coughing was even worse. The pressure and pain was almost unbearable. I called the Doctor and although it was extremely inconvenient I was advised to come in again. I ended up having (and I am still at the tail end of) PLEURISY. Not fun. I know one other person that has ever experienced this and they commiserated with me. Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs. If you look up "sharp stabbing pain in the chest" you will find Pleurisy. Literally.

When I saw a picture of a knife on one of these medical websites, I almost laughed at how perfectly the description fit, but laughing would hurt so I just smirked. I also smirked about this description from wikipedia

"The defining symptom of pleurisy is a sudden sharp, stabbing, burning or dull pain in the right or left side of the chest during breathing, especially when one inhales and exhales" 

Don't worry, it's mostly just painful when YOU BREATH! Do you see why that might be a bit debilitating? Anyway, it's caused by an infection, and to treat the pleurisy you have to treat the underlying cause of the infection, which I had already been doing. The Doctor gave me another prescription (long story short I ended up not filling it). I took pain medicine to get through the worst of it, and as my coughing and other symptoms subsided I became a functioning contributing citizen again.

I like to take a natural approach to treatment whenever I can and I embarrassed, but grateful for all the ways the pharmaceutical companies have helped me this year, but I really hope I don't have to go down that road again. I can't take any more sickness. I quit. I am done. We have been dealing with all of this since 2014 began and I am just going to declare in faith that the worst is absolutely behind us! I hope you all are well. If not, you can gripe to me. I will feel your pain, and potentially a sharp stabbing sensation in my side.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


There are a lot of big events coming up for our family, which means we are entering into one of those crazy fun seasons. You know, the kind where you are overwhelmed, but at least it's all for the right reasons? I can sum up most of our calendar with pictures of invitations

For starters. I just finished designing SJ's Donut Party invitation and I am so excited to be in party planning mode.

That is not what the invite says. I censored the details.  

 I already gave a disclaimer to my family, but this will be the only big theme party this year because it is SJ's "golden birthday". She is turning 4 on the 4th. When Z turned 4 on the 4th we threw a whopper of a Veggie Tales party and it was the bomb diggity (or insert more current trendy word that describes a really fun party).

People are still going crazy over this party on Pinterest, which makes me smile almost as much as a silly song with Larry.

In other SJ news, her school has an annual Gala, where philanthropists from all corners of the metroplex get gussied up in order to raise donations and awareness for her school.

It's quite the occasion, one I didn't plan on ever participating in until we reached a much, much different place in our lives. However, the opportunity has presented itself for me to be the photographer which would allow J and I to attend at no cost. Not only that, but J gets a free tux rental which he will is getting fitted for TODAY. Boy oh boy, I can't wait to see that guy in his black tie ensemble. And I am looking forward to get my glam on as well. Obviously photos will follow, but we still have 10 more days before they roll out the red carpet.

Almost as exciting, but not quite as extravagant is the mother son date "knight' at Chic Fil A.

I was at our local CFA a couple days ago and saw the invite for mom's to take out their boys for a special medieval evening and Z was thrilled with the idea. When I went to RSVP the spots were all sold out, but I hated to disappoint my little man because he was so looking forward to the one on one time. As it turns out I could book a reservation for one that is a little further out. My plan is to pick him up from school the day of and go straight there. J and Z have gone out to ball games, restaurants, and nature walks as father and son before, but I have never had any intentional alone time with Z, so I think this will be really special and long overdue.

The final invitation is for the valentine's party at Z's school.

This is the first year for any of my kiddos to exchange Valentine's. Z has worked hard at filling his name and 22 classmates names on each individual Valentine.

 I am hoping his "cards" are well received. They are McDonald's Valentine's. To be honest, I am not a McDonald's lover at all, but we usually go there  once a week because it's the closest play land and with the weather being the way it is it's our best chance for exercise. The valentines are actually coupons for free items (i.e. apples, juice or milk, ice cream).

They were 12 for a dollar and that leaves two extra coupons that we can use when we go in for our weekly exercise and therefor the pack of valentine's ends up paying for itself. It's a frugal kind of love.

I can't believe February is already half over, and the rest of the month will fly by even faster no doubt. Do you have any plans for this short, but LOVABLE month? Did you purchase or make valentines this year?  I want to hear about it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ebb And Flow

We've had a little bit of a lull as far as dialogue with princess SJ lately. It's not that big of a deal. After a year of the cochlear implant thing I have learned about the natural fluctuation of the process.

I usually meet with SJ's teachers every other week for a parent education meeting to discuss where she is and get some insight about what I can be doing with her at home. I have mentioned before about the team of people that it takes to help SJ learn to listen and talk. Her preschool teacher and speech therapist coordinate with each other and then the school exchanges information with me. Communication amongst the team is critical to ensure that we are all on the same page.

At this last meeting I mentioned that I have not noticed a lot of change in the past month. We agreed that between the snow days and the illnesses there have been some minor set backs. Plateaus are to be expected, so we are just going to sit on the same vocabulary for an extra week before they begin introducing more. When I look at SJ's progress I feel like it has come in waves.

In October we had the biggest vocabulary breakthrough that I've seen up to this point. She went from mostly imitating words to suddenly saying a ton of words on her own, including our names. Then in  December we took another big step forward and I noticed a lot more two word combinations and saw her go from just labeling things to using her words more frequently to vocalize her needs and make requests.

The next month is looking pretty busy between holidays, doctor appointments, and a big fundraiser coming up at her school. I am wondering though, if maybe, after her birthday at the beginning of March we will see another increase in her interest and understanding of language.

I make it all sound very calculated and structured, and the efforts that go on behind the scenes often are, but in my world, as the mom, the one in which I live every day, she/we are just conducting fairly normal lives.

She loves yogurt and Super V apple juice. She loves McDonald's or Chic Fil A play land. She loves gathering all the blankets together and building forts or making a bed for her stuffed animals. She loves bubble baths and she adores her family. On a different note she is still very opinionated and strong willed about a lot of things, but especially her shoes and what she wears. Lately she has had me pulling my hair out at night just trying to get her to sleep! Then there is the constant bickering amongst the siblings. A lot of her latest words and phrases all go hand in hand with the sibling rivalry. "Z hit" "Z push, fall down" "Baby share" "My Turn!" "NO""That's mine". I don't take it for granted though. Even when she screams MOMMY 40 times because she can't reach a puzzle and I am too busy to get it right then. I still do not take it for granted.

From speech, to play and everything in-between that's life with our little SJ. She keeps us on our toes.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Next Time Someone Flips Me Off This is What I'll Do (video response)

Last night was a lot of fun. We took the kids to a special Frozen party at my sister in law's office in Cincinnati. On the way in traffic was bad, the roads were bad, and people were, er… um… cranky? I admit to not being the best driver. I make mistakes and I usually sign sorry in ASL to the other drivers, but then realize hardly anyone knows what that means. People probably yell at me and potentially do select gestures, but if so, I am completely oblivious. Between watching the road and my kids I certainly do not have time to engage in that kind of nonsense. So I have never seen anyone give me the finger, however, I was not the one driving last night. J was, and he is a good driver. Not perfect though, and he did cut off a shiny black Escalade. I really didn't think anything of it until a few minute later when the guy comes charging up behind us waving his middle finger. Luckily all three kids were asleep in the back (this is rare, and thank you Jesus that they were protected because it got worse).

Then the car comes ripping up right next to us with the window rolled down and the driver's gracious middle aged wife is hanging out the window in the freezing cold, speeding down the HIGHWAY, waving her middle fingers at us and shouting obscenities that fortunately we couldn't hear. All I could do in that moment was give her an SJ face and mutter that's not nice.

However, seconds later I started signing that she should learn some real ASL (and I did sign dummy, which was not appropriate). I told J next time that's what I would do.

 The "road rager" would probably just be confused, but there is a slight chance that it could diffuse their anger and they are the smarty pants that initiated the conversation with their hands. For me signing is a very natural response to bad behavior, because I sign "no no no, not nice, stop that..." all day long when I am correcting my children. So if someone wants to say bad words with their hands, bring it on. The messy mom is ready. In all seriousness though, we all have ways we vent our emotions. For some of us it's blogging about our experience the next day, for others it's cursing at a beat up car carrying young children to see a free Disney movie. Which I still think is not very nice.

Hopefully, I won't have anymore encounters like this again, but if so, I'll be ready.

For those wondering, I did mess up my signs a little bit in the video above, but it's better than the interpreter at Nelson Mandela's funeral I can tell you that! Here is what I said-
"You need to be careful! I have my kids in the car with me. Stop. Stop it now. That's bad. You are a very bad lady. What's wrong with you!?" 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

He's A Toddler Now

I have not posted an update on Ezie in a loooong time. He hasn't really changed in dramatic ways that I can easily pinpoint, but boy has he changed. He's a toddler now! A climbing, running, hiding, dancing, talking, mischievous, kissy toddler.

In addition to the 8 words I listed 3 months ago he can now verbally identify eyes, nose, and hat with little accuracy, but a lot of effort pointing at his head. He says many two word combinations like

all done
good job
here go (for here you go)
tickle tickle (well, I guess that's the same word twice, but that's how he says it)
thank you

He has also started saying hot, shoe, duck, ow, hi, yay, juice and probably several others that are not coming to mind right now. So he is off to a pretty good start for 15 months, but in all fairness, most of the time I have to resist the urge to call him my little minion. I would never want to label any of my children that way, but he talks just like one of the characters from Despicable Me.

He's grown a lot in three months too. I don't have all the exact stats. In fact, that's part of why I fail to do monthly updates for the littlest one because I don't have any decent pictures or measurements, so I decide to wait and then it just never happens. Anyway, I do have this photos comparison of a shot that I have from November and January. I remember in the first one he could barely make contact no matter how hard he stretched.

Now he can palm the door knob and it is his daily mission to escape.

The most memorable thing about Ezie at this stage is his singing. He loves music. Ezie started singing his own melodies at 9 months old. Then at 12 months he could sing a word or two from 3 different songs that he heard us singing (one Veggie Tales song, one called Ezie that we made up, and lastly "What Does The Fox Say") I know it's too soon to call, but I would put money (if I gabled and/or had any money) on Ezie being some form a musician when he is older. He just loves to sing and dance, and is very perceptive to any rhythm or tone that he hears. Even if I have a timer go off, he will bob his head and go "ba deep beep beep, ba deep beep beep" I posted this video on instagram the other day of him scatting

It is a VERY fun stage that he is at. His siblings love playing with him now. They all bicker and get along marvelously.

His hair is getting longer and curling up in the back. When the humidity is right he has the perfect spiral curls that I love to watch bounce all day long. Z and SJ were the same way, it's just baby curls and they go away after a couple years, but they are fun while they last. 

 I promise to take some photos on my real camera, not just for the blog, it just seriously needs to happen. Until then this is our little Ezie pie.