Monday, April 30, 2012

100 Things All Parents Should Teach Their Children: Part 1

I like to go into anything I do with a certain level of preparation.

When I make large purchases, I usually read consumer reports, online reviews, compare the pros and cons of pretty much every little aspect of the device and then, finally, make my (totally well-informed!!) decision.  Personally, I don't see any difference between parenthood and making a large purchase... okay, so there are roughly a million differences, but what I mean to say is parenthood is like entering into a constant stream of research before making countless (totally well-informed??) decisions.

One thing I find myself researching fairly regularly: What sorts of things should I be sure to teach you in the short 18 years that I have your undivided attention?  This prompts Google searches like, "What should mothers teach their daughters?" or "What do good parents teach their kids?" or "How best to NOT gloss over the important learning opportunities when you're super busy getting chewing gum out of your kids hair?"  Google may not be good for everything (like ACTUAL scholarly research.  As a Research Help Desk professional, your mama will lose her gourd if she catches you citing Google or Wikipedia on ANYTHING!), but Google is good at one thing: opinions.  

And that's the thing... the lists of things you should do as a parent to ensure you've taught your child everything they need to know is merely someone else's opinion.  There is no right or wrong "list" of things to impart on your child, but it can seem overwhelming when considering where you could possibly begin?  I assume as things "pop up" throughout the years we will make every effort to turn these surprises into learning opportunities, but until then, Google actually helped me out a bit by leading me to a blog with a list I actually liked of the 100 things all parents should teach their children!  I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks (or longer if I take a break here and there) outlining these magical 100 things and my own personal opinion on each thing.  

Without further ado: Items 100-91 of the 100 things all parents should teach their children!

100. Listen: I started from the top and I'm working my way back down to number one because number one hundred was the word LISTEN.  Honestly, this may be the most important thing on the entire list.  It can mean many things!  It can mean that we, as awesome parents, must cultivate the habit of listening to you, our beloved daughter.  It can mean that you, our beloved daughter, must cultivate the habit of listening to us, your awesome parents.  It can also mean that you, our beloved daughter, must cultivate the habit of listening to YOURSELF when you know something is amiss in a situation or if you hear opportunities knocking that you simply must not pass up!  Lastly, it can mean listening to your environment and taking everything in before you make important decisions.  Regardless of who is doing the listening and who is being listened to, listening is a VERY important skill.  If your mouth is going constantly, your ability to listen will be impaired.  Know when to be quiet and listen!

99. Look on the bright side:  Your mama is a total "glass half full" kind of optimist.  I try to take sour lemons and make delightful lemonade out of nearly every situation.  It's so bad that your dad, likely, gets really annoyed at my implications that things aren't nearly as bad as they seem (when sometimes they certainly are).  The thing is, I'm proud of that view of things.  As I said before, I will never be disappointed in you if any number of things don't turn out the way either of us want them to, but I will be disappointed if you have a bad attitude about it or you give up.  You can make your own happiness in life simply by choosing to behave a certain way in the face of adversity.  You can be that person everyone looks to for comfort and a drop of sunshine or you can be that person that people don't even want to be around when times are at their best (and every place in the spectrum between).  Make a conscious decision to look on the bright side and things won't seem as bad as they could be.

98. Pick a piece of fruit that's ripe:  This seems odd to include on the list, but if you're going to make better food decisions than either your father or I did at a young age, you need to be sure you know how to find a ripe piece of fruit to eat!  Truly wonderful ripe fruits are one of the greatest things about our lovely planet!  A juicy ripe peach is better than eating candy on a hot summer day!  A perfectly ripe banana is a wonderful complex set of flavors!  Getting the perfect avocado can make or break your awesome sandwich!  Since you're going to do a TON of the grocery shopping with me, you will learn what to look for, listen for, and smell for when choosing pieces of fruit to buy.  It will be fun AND delicious!

97. Pitch a tent: Luckily you won't have to make the same mistake your mama made the first time she attempted to pitch a tent by herself... when it was practically already dark outside!  PLAN AHEAD WHEN CAMPING!  You want to be at your campsite early in the day!  Pitching a tent is more than just the know-how of setting the thing up.  You'll need to do things like: check the terrain, which way is the wind blowing?, how close do you want to build the fire?, etc.  Then, you'll need to know how to take it all down and shove it back in that tiny little bag it came from until you need it again!  Don't worry, we'll go camping often enough to ensure your place as the alpha-female among your friends!

96. Bake a cake:  Your mama doesn't know everything there is to know, but she knows how to bake!  We will do all sorts of baking together and you will learn why it is important to follow baking recipes, except when it isn't!  Experimentation is half of the fun when you're in the kitchen!

95. Use a fire extinguisher: We have them throughout the house in various places.  They are not toys, but you need to play around with one at some point so you know how to use it.  How many other kids do you know who will get the opportunity to empty an entire fire extinguisher?  Not nearly enough, I'd say!  Heck, I haven't even done that!  How does anyone expect to automatically be good at something like that if they haven't had the means to practice it?  Well, someday when you're old enough we will do that very thing... probably while we're out camping and need to put out the raging bonfire your dad built!

94. Parallel park with ease: This is another thing your mama excels at!  When I lived in the Scholarship Halls on campus we ONLY had parallel parking.  Not only that, they oversold our parking permits so we often had to fight each other arena-style to get any sort of parking.  Those with tiny compact cars, like mine, got REALLY good at shoving them in the smallest of spaces left by people who "stupid parked" their land yachts.  Any parallel parking job can be done with a three-point turn.  Learning how to instinctively calculate your parking geometry comes with practice.  Mark my words, when you are of driving age you will do a LOT of parallel parking practice.  You will do it until I'm happy with it and my bar is set REALLY high.  You want that driving permit?  Fine.  This is what you have to prove to me before you get the real thing because it is one of the hardest aspects of driving to master.  If you can do it while snatching the pebble from my hand at the same time, you will truly be the Parking Kung-Fu master! (Just kidding, keep your eyes on the damn road!)

93. Change a flat tire:  My answer to this may surprise you... I have a very hard time changing flat tires by myself.  The reason? Even though I know my way around a car and know HOW to change a flat, it's made a lot harder by the use of those air guns on the lug nuts at mechanic's shops when you go to get your tires rotated (or if they have to pull the wheels to check for other issues).  I've had problems in the past getting the lug nuts to break by even JUMPING on the tire iron!  I will teach you how to change a tire because it is important to know how to do it, but I will also teach you how to flag down help if you're having a problem with the lug nuts (it's called "calling the tow truck companies on your super holographic smart phone and seeing if someone could come and assist you if neither of us are near enough to help.")  You can totally charge it to our credit card if they make you pay... just as long as you're safe and sound!

92. Drive a stick shift:  I can drive a stick shift, I'm just not good at it.  It takes a certain level of practice to figure out the finesse to shift your car without grinding the gears.  Also, you'll need to practice the delicate art of lowering and lifting your left and right feet so as to apply proper pressure to the clutch and the gas/brakes at any given time.  None of these things are things I am good at, sadly.  BUT, your Uncle J knows a thing or two about shifting so if I ever get over my distrust of him teaching you terrible things, I may make him help out on this one... or not... because he's a really bad influence!

91. Parallel park: Ha!  It's so important they put it on the list TWICE!  Honestly, you won't be the scourge of the streets if you don't parallel park perfectly, but you will double your chances of finding a really good parking spot if you do know how to do it.  You'd be surprised the number of people I've been with who will pass up a perfectly good parking spot simply because they don't want to run the risk of embarrassing themselves with their lack of parallel parking skills.  I've even gotten out of the car and done it for them.  Don't be like that.  Learn how to do it properly!

(to be continued)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Parental Secret Service

So, you may have noticed that I hijacked your blog last week to post about a missing 14 year old girl from the Wichita area.  Your Aunt Em works with this little girl's mom, which is how I found out about her.  Em and some other friends from the area posted the information on Facebook along with the plea I posted in your blog.  I posted it here because I was trying to get the information out to people beyond Facebook and since this blog is connected to the Google Search Engine, I figured more people would see it here.  I was blown away by how many people found the information via this blog (I have the option to see page view stats).

Thankfully, you may have also noticed that the little girl was found alive and made her way back safely to her worried family.  I don't know all of the details surrounding her disappearance or her reappearance, but the important thing to take away from all of this... this girl was VERY lucky.  Not every story ends happily like this one did.  Many children disappear and quickly find themselves in over their heads, wishing they had not left in the first place. Regardless of the reasons the girl disappeared, she was definitely in danger during her absence.  

When you get to be older and start thinking you have all of the answers to life there may come a time when you think your dad and I are being unreasonable in some fashion.  You may even decide you don't want to come back home OR that you want to leave home.  You may decide that our refusal to let you go out to some sort of event stems from us "not being cool" or "not understanding what it's like to be a teenager" and you may decide to sneak out and attend without our knowledge.  There may be any number of events/variables/circumstances in which you do not agree with what we have to say to you and you may think that it would "teach us a lesson" if you went ahead and left without permission.

Go back and re-read that plea for help from someone who loves that girl very much.  Read the desperation.  Read the heartache.  Read how that little girl's aunt is BEGGING someone... anyone... to find out the truth about what happened to that child.  Little girl, you are not an island.  Your actions have real consequences; both for you and for the people who love you.  

You might think it won't harm anyone to sneak out of the house and you may even think we will never find out as long as you get back before we notice you're missing.  What if the people you're meeting up with do not have your best interests in mind?  What if those people, the people you thought you could trust, treat you poorly once you're with them?  What if they prevent you from leaving a situation that is quickly escalating beyond your control?  We would have NO IDEA where you are and possibly not even realize you're in danger until hours after the fact.  We, your parents... your Secret Service agents... we would be clueless as to how to help you all because you felt like your way was the better way to do things.

I'm sorry, but I simply cannot go through something like this.  If you went missing, I would be lost, too.  If we tell you "no" it won't be because we want to ruin your social life.  We will not tell you "no" without good reason.  It may seem insane to you that your dad and I were once teenagers, too.  Well, we were.  We had things we wanted to do that our parents wouldn't let us do, too.  Did it seem unfair?  Sometimes.  Did I disobey them?  A couple of times.  Guess what?  I usually had some sort of consequence that I wasn't expecting stem from my act of rebellion.  

That one time at summer camp when my mom told me to stay the hell away from the rope swing and I waited until she wasn't around and did it anyway?  Sprained ankle and a ruined camp experience.  That other time when I wandered farther away from home than I was supposed to and found ANOTHER rope swing to play on, completely forgetting my first rope swing incident?  Ruined brand new outfit and a huge 5 inch gash on my leg from the 2x4 with the nail sticking out of it that was just beneath the surface of the muddy murky water.  Don't believe me?  Look at my scar on my right leg.  I will have that as proof of my stupidity for the rest of my life.  (Also, take my word on rope swings.  Those things are killers.  Stay away from them!!!)

Then, there was another time in either junior high or high school where my dad and I got into some sort of fight over something (it was soooo important that I don't even remember what it was about!) and I went to youth group at my church determined that I wasn't going to go home that night.  I hadn't planned on where I was going to go (because teenagers aren't usually awesome at that whole "planning" thing), but I knew I wasn't going to go home that night... no matter what.  All it took was an adult talking to me and letting me know how upset my dad would be to help put things into perspective.  There were times as a child that I didn't know where some adults in my life were at any given time and it scared me.  I didn't want to inflict that same feeling on people I loved so I went home that night.  

I want you to know that no matter how angry you are at us, your parents, you need to come home to us.  You need to always come home so we can keep track of you and help keep you safe.  The Secret Service would be no kind of Secret Service if the President were allowed to run off willy-nilly at his or her own whim.  We are your Secret Service.  It is our job to know where you are at all times and make sure you aren't putting yourself in harm's way.  Please let us do our job.  Please let us use our experience in this world to help keep you safe.  You don't have to agree with all of our decisions, but you do have to understand that we aren't in the business of keeping you from things just to ruin your life.  We have been around long enough to know when something sounds like something bad.  You may be willing to take risks with your safety and well-being, but we're not.  There are MANY parents out there who would give ANYTHING to go back in time and say these things to their own kids... kids who have either gone missing or had something bad happen to them simply because they felt like they knew more than their parents.

I never want to scare you and I never want you to become paranoid about the dark and scary things that lurk in the shadows, but I DO WANT YOU TO TRUST US!  Go back and re-read that plea again... and again... and again... until you understand that decisions made in the heat of the moment rarely manifest what you want them to manifest.  Be smart, think about the consequences of your actions, and above all else...

Come home.  Always come home.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Missing girl found alive!

Apologies for not getting to log on this weekend to post this sooner (as I know other people were following this closely), but the missing 14 year old girl, Dana Phiri, has been found alive and is back home safely with her family!

The details weren't made clear to me, nor do they need to be since I don't know the family, but the important thing is she is safe.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by and took notice!  The family surely appreciates your efforts!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Missing 14 year old girl from the Wichita Area!

Posted from for people without Facebook profiles! 

  Sincerely BEGGING everyone for your help!!! This is my highschool classmate's missing daughter! PLEASE, if you know anything about this girl or case, I urge you to contact the police immediatley! 

Here is a plea and letter from Dana's aunt: Hello Everyone, As you may know, my niece, Dana Phiri, is missing. We are doing everything we can to bring her home without much cooperation from the police. I have enclosed a letter which details the situation. I intend to send the letter out to the Lt. governor, the Kansas Legislature, and all of Wichita's news stations. Many of you have said that you are more than willing to help if we need it. We have reached a point where we need all the help we can get. I fully believe that there is power in numbers. Please, please take 5 minutes out of your day to copy and paste my letter and send it to the following e-mail addresses with "Dana Phiri age 14" listed in your subject box. It may not seem like much, but the impact of hundreds of e-mails with the same subject heading and same content has to get noticed by someone! We are desperate for help and believe that Dana's life is in jeopardy!! Please, please have compassion and help bring her home! If you know anyone who would be interested in helping to bring this child to safety, please forward this e-mail to them. There IS power in numbers! Please stand up for her safety and well being and forward this message! Thank you in advance for your help! Krystal Quillin,,,,, To Whom It May Concern: 

 On the morning of Sunday, April 15, 2012, my sister-in-law, Daneil Quillin, awoke at 6 a.m. to discover that her daughter, 14-year-old Dana Phiri, was missing from her bed. After trying to call Dana, Daneil then reported Dana missing to the Wichita Police Department at 7:00 a.m. During that morning, Daneil discovered that Dana had snuck out in the night with a girl named Diamond Tatum in order to meet up with some older male teens. Due to the fact that Dana did not take any money or a change of clothes and has absolutely no history of running away, we truly believe that she intended to sneak out, meet some friends, and be home before her mom discovered she was ever gone. All day Sunday, Daneil searched friend’s homes, retrieved numbers from Dana’s cell phone records, and made contacts through Dana’s Facebook page in an attempt to locate Dana. The police refused to put a trace on Dana’s phone because she left the home of her own free will so they are treating the case as a runaway versus an Amber Alert. 

Through her own research, Daneil was able to discover the name of one of the male teens Dana had intended to meet up with. He was later arrested for breaking and entering and denied having any knowledge of Dana’s whereabouts. He is a known gang member in the Wichita area. On Wednesday morning, Dana attempted to use her cell phone to call her grandmother. When her grandmother answered, the line went dead. Daneil went straight to the police to see if they would trace the phone. They declined and said it was not a priority. Through a family member who is employed at the Ark City, KS police department, Daneil was able to get attempt the trace. No new information was obtained during this attempt. However, upon learning that the Ark City Police Department was aiding Daneil by attempting the trace, the Wichita Police Department became upset and accused the Ark City PD of stepping on their toes in their investigation even though they have told Daneil time and again that this investigation is not a priority. 

 It is now 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19th. Dana is nowhere to be found. Diamond Tatum has been posting on her Facebook page, but the police have made no attempt to locate the source of these Facebook posts. We have no word from Dana. What we do know is that it is highly likely that a sex trafficking ring abducted her. We have strong evidence supporting this. The Wichita EMCU has made statements to the effect that it is very common for young girls to think they are meeting up with a boy of romantic interest, only to find themselves abducted into the sex trafficking industry. Oklahoma City PD has also been contacted as it is believed that girls from Wichita often get taken to Oklahoma City through this particular ring. 

 As far as we know, Dana’s phone could be the key to locating her and saving her. However, T-Mobile will not manually turn it on and trace it until the police issue an Amber Alert or say that she is in imminent danger. She is a 14-year-old girl who has been missing for 4 days with no extra clothes, food, or money in a large city with a known sex trafficking ring!! Is this not imminent danger? Also, we are unable to put this information out to the media because they refuse to report on it without the Amber Alert. The Amber Alert system was designed to help save lives and it is the very thing that is inhibiting us from finding Dana!! Please help us reform this system in time to find her! Please help us get this information out. Her life is at stake and we cannot afford to waste another day, hour, or even minute! 

 Sincerely, Krystal Quillin

I don't care if you succeed, but please try!

I don't usually toot my own horn, but if there's one thing your mama is pretty good at in life it would have to be my ability to TRY things.  I may not always succeed in everything I try (if you find that hard to believe, just ask your dad about the time I made Indian food when we were dating!), but the fact that I put myself out there and allow myself the opportunity to either succeed or fail without remorse... I feel like it makes me a better person that I would be otherwise.  I have a lot of high hopes for you, like every mother has for her little one, but one of my highest hopes is that you will have enough confidence in yourself to run the risk of failure in pursuit of success.  

It doesn't matter how MANY times you fail, it only matters that you keep trying.  You've never actually failed until you succumb to your failure and quit trying to make it right.  I will never be disappointed in you for "falling short" of what you wanted to accomplish, but I will be terribly sad if you throw in the towel and quit doggedly fighting your way to your hopes and dreams.  It may take time, it may take inconvenience, it may cause heartache, it may even take sacrifice (note: it will usually take sacrifice), but nothing is out of your reach if you set your mind to it.  As the old saying goes: If at first you don't succeed... try, try again!

No one likes to fail.  It hurts to feel like we aren't good enough.  The way you react when you've failed at something is just as important in the grand scheme of things as the number of times you try something.  Failure and I go way back.  You could probably even say that most of the time I have set out to try something, I probably failed in some small way before I ever tasted the sweet nectar of success.  I can probably count on zero fingers the number of times I set out to do something new and nailed it on the first try.  In your first year of life you've already upstaged me by getting several things right on the first try! (Example: The first time you attempted the stairs in the house you made it all the way to the top without stopping and/or face-planting!) 

If we were tallying up my successes and plotting them on some sort of pie chart I'm guessing my life would look pretty grim!  I don't feel that way, though.  Instead, I see each time something didn't go as I had planned it to go or didn't turn out as I had intended it to turn out as an opportunity to tweak something the NEXT time I attempt it.  This process actually excites me now!  When you stop fearing failure it opens your mind up to the excitement of the learning process as a whole!  Now when a recipe I make doesn't pan out like I had hoped, I immediately begin brainstorming all of the reasons why it didn't work and begin planning a way to remedy those issues for the next attempt.  Instead of saying, "Well, this was a massive mistake!" I try to say, "Hmm... you know what, I can totally do better!"

This is what I want for you!

You might only be a year old right now, but I already see a fiery spirit in you that will not be contained!  You are active, brave, daring, curious, and unafraid of tackling new things.  All of these attributes will take you a long way in life!  However, I also see a sensitive soul in you.  I see a little girl who doesn't like to be told no, not necessarily because you REALLY wanted to do that thing I didn't want you to do, but because it looks like it hurts your feelings to have us reprimand you in any sort of way.  You don't just throw a fit when told no, you actually cry real tears and look and sound SO sad!  I know you're very young right now and learning about how the world works, but I do hope when you're older that you won't internalize your "wrongs" to the point where they make you sad and angry.  Instead, I want for you to step back, re-evaluate, learn from those things and try, try again!

To take a page from my own life's book, you know that I am currently trying to re-lose the weight I gained during my pregnancy with you that I had already lost once prior to becoming pregnant.  I lost over 100 lbs through diet and exercise and gained back over 80 of it.  Losing that 100 lbs was A LOT of work!  I don't think anyone would have faulted me fully if I decided to put off trying to lose that weight again, especially with a new baby, but it felt like giving up to put off trying again indefinitely.  Instead, I jumped back on the bandwagon as soon as I felt like I could balance it all and I am currently in the process of trying again.  

So, what happens if your dad and I decide to give you a brother or sister and I've already re-lost all of my weight again?  Well, I'll probably gain some of it back again and will have to try and re-lose it a THIRD time!  The point I'm trying to make?  Gaining my weight back at any point in my life isn't true failure.  It's a total setback, for sure!  But, it isn't actual failure until my mind says, "Yeah, I'm done.  I'm never going to be able to stay at my goal so I'm going to quit trying."  Setbacks and mistakes happen.  Deal with them by trying a different approach.  If that approach doesn't work, try another one... and another one... and another one!  Always keep an open mind to new solutions to your problem.  Inspiration can come from anywhere!  

Life is a series of decisions... a giant pool of trials and errors.  The attitude you choose to have when dealing with these decisions and the results of those decisions will go a long way toward your overall happiness in life.  I can guarantee that you will be a happier person if you take the bad stuff as a chance to "do better next time" than you will be if you get too down on yourself for "failing."  As I said before, I won't be disappointed in you for not succeeding, but I will be disappointed if you give up or have a bad attitude about it.  

But honestly, all of this has no real relevance to you right now anyway!  You're just starting to spread your wings and try new things!  We are going to keep encouraging you to do that very thing because the last thing we want to do is crush your spirits or make you think you shouldn't put yourself out there. To take a line from something that DOES hold relevance with you, right now... Yo Gabba Gabba:  Keep trying!  Keep trying!  Don't give up!  Never give up!  Don't stop now, don't stop now, you'll get it right!  You'll get it right!  Don't stop now, don't stop now, you'll figure it out! You'll figure it out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tonight's top story: Everything will kill your child!

Your dad and I live in constant fear of something awful happening to you. It occupies more of our thoughts than either of us wish to admit. The news is full of terrible stories about kids getting hurt by strangers, being involved in accidents, or (the worst thing of all) being hurt by the people they were supposed to trust to keep them safe. It hurts our hearts so badly to see this news reports that we have a rule in our home not to share the sad stories we hear with each other to prevent the other person from dwelling on the horrors of such things.

Slightly less horrifying (but still paranoia-inducing) than news reports about actual children being hurt are the ones that spew out all of the many seemingly common ways your child could hypothetically be hurt/killed/maimed. Back when I was little the only things that were really drilled into our heads were these two statements: "Don't speak to strangers" and "Stop, Drop, and Roll" (you know, for all of those times you find yourself on fire). The underlying message of these warnings implies as long as you follow these TWO simple rules, you should live to see tomorrow. Everything else is a go!

This was easy enough to remember. I specifically remember when I was around 8 or 9 years old getting to put my training into real-life use when I was out riding my bike around in my small hometown. It was near night-fall and I was headed back home when a car pulled up next to me and the driver asked if I needed a ride home. I immediately freaked out in my head because I was like, "THIS IS IT! I'M GETTING ABDUCTED!! MAN THE BATTLE STATIONS!" But, instead of screaming, "YOU AREN'T MY MOMMY!!!" at her, I politely declined and pedaled away quickly. I found out later that she was just someone who knew my dad and she recognized me, but she was proud of me for not accepting a ride from a person I didn't know even though she was just trying to help. Clearly my stranger-danger training worked. (Note: I haven't had a chance to use my Stop, Drop, and Roll training yet as I've managed to make it through 31 successful not-being-on-fire years so far. YAY!)

Ah, if only the simple times could last. It seems that a lot has changed during the years which have passed since I was a kid and now when I actually have one of my own. Everything is CRAZY scary now! Not only do you have the "Don't talk to strangers" and the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" but you have a billion other tiny little rules about what you should or shouldn't teach/do with your children to keep them safe. My mind is spinning! What if I forget to teach you something and you go into the world unprepared??? How terrible would I feel if something happened to you and it was because I let you down in your Jedi safety training???

These thoughts are my new constant companions.

Just this morning I was listening to NPR on the way to work and heard a story about something called "The Choking Game" that kids are playing as a free way to get a high-like rush. It basically involves strangulation as a means of depriving the brain the oxygen it needs to, you know... live. The kids either use their hands to strangle their friends until they nearly pass or they do it alone by wrapping something around their necks and tying the other end to something else so they can strangle themselves. The idea, of course, is to STOP right before something bad happens. It turns out that kids aren't as good at pinpointing when that bad stuff happens as they thought they would be. Kids are freaking DYING from this crap!

I swear, when I was a kid, NO ONE had to tell us not to strange ourselves for fun! If someone said that to me as a kid I would have been like, "Um... yeah... do you think I'm some sort of idiot? Why are you telling me this?" But, now I feel compelled to have this talk with you when you're older because apparently kids ARE some sorts of idiots! It won't mean I think you're an idiot, but it will mean I don't want you to fall under the pressure of your idiot friends who want you to do the idiot things they come up with. I'm guessing by the time you're a teenager The Choking Game will be a thing of the past, but kids are adventurous and dumb so I am sure something equally ridiculous will take its place. "Tonight on News at 11: Is your child playing the Shish-Kabob Game? It involves taking sharp Hepatitis-covered bamboo skewers and stabbing them through several levels of children to create a Shish-Kabob of bloody, diseased, screaming teenagers! Why your child might be at risk!!" Absolute insanity!

Here is a short list of things I worry (worried) about because of newspaper articles, news reports, or general run-of-the-mill old wives tales:

*Magnets: Apparently if a kid swallows more than one magnet they can wind up with life-threatening injuries when those magnets stick together as they work their way through the intestinal tract. Kids and pets have lost parts of their bowels or even DIED simply because kids and pets eat every frickin' thing that isn't nailed down. I know this is true because I ate blanket fuzz and a couple of metal ball-bearings when I was a kid. Hey, don't judge me! You are ALWAYS trying to put things in your mouth before dad and I stop you! You try to eat wood-chips, for heaven's sake!

*Hot dogs: I hesitate to feed you even the smallest particle of hot dogs, not because they're gross and made of pig anus (okay, maybe partly that) but because everyone tells you not to feed small kids hot dogs because they're a terrible choking risk. My brain tells me that they aren't any more dangerous cut up into small non-choking-sized pieces than anything else I give you, but for some reason it is stuck in my brain that giving you even a small amount of hot dog increases the chances that I'll get to practice the Heimlich on you. I found out you had some hot dogs at your grandma's house this weekend and felt every part of my body pucker all at once (not a pleasant feeling, mind you) until I realized that I was being wholly unreasonable.

*Crib bumpers: All of the SIDS groups tell you not to put anything in the crib except the baby and a mattress, if you're lucky. Crib bumpers are akin to putting knives and grenades in the crib with your baby because of the risk of suffocation. We were diligent parents and didn't put the crib bumpers in your crib... right up until we almost broke your arm trying to get it unstuck from however you managed to contort your body to get it stuck in the crib slats in the first place. That night, the bumpers went on! We figured you were aware enough NOT to let yourself get suffocated (which made you about 1,000% smarter than those teenagers I mentioned who play that Choking Game, at the ripe old age of 6 months old). Still, the news reports and SIDS groups have made parents think that their babies are the world's most helpless little creatures until you enroll them in kindergarten that parents are nearly unable to make those decisions for themselves anymore. Logic told us that we KNEW you and we KNEW you were able to move yourself away from any sort of danger in your crib, but parents aren't encouraged to make those decisions for themselves anymore based on their own kid. We're programmed almost immediately to follow every single guideline put forth and how DARE we not follow it to the max!

Now, I am still genuinely terrified of the whole "stranger" thing and for good reason! There are so many nutjobs out there who would have no qualms about hurting you. For that reason we intend on educating the crap out of you about what to do when you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation because those things are REAL and PERVASIVE in our society, like they've always been. I'm putting your little butt into some sort of martial arts training as soon as you're old enough to yell "HEE-YAWWWW!!!" We're going to have secret family passwords so you know if someone can be trusted. We're going to talk about how to spot a safe-place if you feel like you're in danger. We're going to teach you that it is absolutely okay to say "NO" to someone if you don't trust them and that we'd never be mad at you for hurting someone if you do so while trying to defend yourself. These are skills you can take with you your entire life.

As far as all of the other insane things go, I just hope that we have a close enough relationship that you feel like you can come to us and tell us if someone is pressuring you to do something you aren't comfortable doing. It might seem like we're all over your life, butting in when you don't want us to, but please know that we will do this because we love you and we don't want to see anything bad happen to you. I won't lie, there are a lot of very dangerous things out there. Some of these dangerous things are known to us and we can teach you how to avoid them. Some of these dangerous things are unknown to us and we will rely on your wisdom, common sense, and faith in us as your parents to help get you through them. Until then, we will do our best to walk that fine line between safety and discovery because we respect your lack of fear when it comes to trying new things, even if it terrifies US a bit!

Oh, and if/when you have a child someday... don't read or watch or listen to the news. It will slowly tear away any hope you have for humanity and it is totally not representative of the world as a whole. Most of the people you will meet will be good folks and not deranged psychopaths. It's our job to teach you how to tell the difference... and how to tear their eyes from their face if they try to do anything to hurt you.


Monday, April 9, 2012

We should all be more like babies

It is really interesting to see the world through your eyes.

Mundane things become exciting and new again when you see them through the eyes of a baby who is just trying to figure out the world around her. Bubbles? AWESOME! Hopping birds begging for food in an outdoor market? FASCINATING! Plants that show up in the Spring? AMAZING!

As we grow older the majesty and splendor of the world seems to disappear into the background noise of our daily lives. Being a parent and watching you discover things for the first time is like being given a golden ticket to relive your own childhood! Because of you, I have noticed more flowers, birds, bugs, trees, animals, and other children than I ever would have without you! You give me license to make silly faces, funny noises, and dance around like a weirdo because it makes you happy!

Watching you navigate your way through life has made me realize that age does not necessarily beget wisdom. In fact, we would probably all be a whole lot better off if we did things the way that babies do. I have learned that it is better to take more time getting from point A to point B (sometimes making trips to point C and D, in the process!) if it means you get to touch a freshly bloomed iris or closely inspect the tiny baby in the stroller nearby. I have learned that babies have no point of reference in determining whether they should interact with someone because EVERYONE is a friend at that exact moment. Babies just ARE. They soak up everything around them and cherish all of it for what it is with absolutely NO pre-existing prejudice. It's actually quite beautiful to watch it all unfold.

It's so much fun going out to parks (or anywhere!) with you because you thrive on the energy of the other children! It's awesome to watch your little head whip around when you hear the distinctive sounds of other children nearby and to see your face light up when you get the chance to play with other kids. Even if we're walking along you take every opportunity possible to wave at other people and greet them with a hearty, "HI!" I'm happy to report that most of the time people respond back to you in similar fashion, which makes you grin from ear to ear.

If you're down on the ground walking around on your own, we often follow you over to someone sitting on a bench, minding their own business, until you walk up to them and start your baby-magic. You usually greet them and either try to give them a hug or hand them something. You've done this with people we wouldn't necessarily have been comfortable greeting ourselves (let alone let you interact with them) but watching you do this and seeing their responses to you has made me drop my guard slightly. In the end, even if someone looks like a creepy old man or someone who *may* have just escaped from prison that day; you don't care. Everyone gets a "Hi!" and a wave from you.

I struggle with this a little bit because I need you to understand when you're older that not all strangers will love and cherish you as much as you will love and cherish them; in fact, some could hurt you. But at the same time, it really is amazing to see someone with a sour grumpy face turn it all around just because you wandered over to them to say "hi" and give them a hug. Maybe, in the end, that's what's wrong with this world. Maybe we would be a happier bunch of people if it were less scary to approach strange sour-looking people and just say "hi" to them? Maybe those people are sour-looking because they haven't gotten a hug in a long time? How on earth do we raise you to have a healthy respect for stranger-danger, but NOT squelch your desire to interact with people who may very well need your particular brand of friendliness?

Maybe babies have it right? Maybe babies represent how we are supposed to be with each other? Maybe we all start out wide-eyed and full of wonder and somewhere along the way it is taken from us. I honestly have no idea how it happens. I just need to figure out how I'm going to model the whole "being social" thing so I don't take away any of your genuine desire to interact with others in the loving way you do so. Man... parenting is hard!

Last night you made a very-best-friend-in-the-entire-world at the park. For the 15 or 20 minutes you two played together, you were the only other person in each other's world. Her name was Maddie and she was 4 years old. She, apparently, has a little brother your age, but both your dad and I figure that she must have actually wanted a little sister because she took to you immediately! She helped feed you some cheese for a snack, she handed you her baby doll (which must have been very important to her because she brought it all the way to the park with her), she wanted to dig in the wood chips with you, and you both played on the teeter-totter together. She was very gentle with you.

When it came time for her to leave, she gave you a big hug (you gave her one back). Sadly, we may never see Maddie again. However, it didn't matter to either of you that you had just met each other or that you may never cross paths again. For that brief window of time two complete strangers were completely devoted to spending time with each other in a way that adults just can't comprehend. We, of course, thought it was totally adorable.

This is what I'm talking about! Babies just ARE. At any given moment, they are completely enthralled and devoted to whatever happens to be in their radar. The little details like getting somewhere on time or not knowing the person you're hugging are inconsequential. If there is something to be explored or someone to spend some time with, you are only interested in those things. As a result, your day is filled with exciting awesome things! As your mom, I get to experience those exciting awesome things with you! You know what? It's really fun! I love watching you get excited when a butterfly lands nearby or when you find a great crunchy leaf to tear apart!

It makes me want to be more like YOU! I wish we were all more like babies. Babies have just as much to teach us as we have to teach them!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Year... New mom: Update!

Well, if you remember correctly, mama is trying her hardest to drop the weight she gained while she was pregnant with you.

If you also remember, I had successfully lost over 100 lbs back in 2009/2010 using the Metabolic Research Center diet program and hadn't quite made it to my original goal weight by the time I discovered we were having you (I was about 20 lbs away from where I wanted to ultimately end up). Over the course of my pregnancy, I gained back nearly 80 lbs of that 100 I had lost! Right out of the hospital I dropped about 40 of those pounds in about three weeks (20 lbs lost in the 3 day stay at the hospital alone!)

I was happy to lose all that weight at the time, but I realize now that the original 20 lbs was made up of your weight plus the weight of all the amniotic fluid and some of my own water weight and the next 20 lbs was lost due to losing the remainder of my water weight PLUS only eating granola bars and pop-tarts once a day for three weeks. I was so tired and not-hungry for the first month after you were born that I MAYBE took in 500-700 calories on any given day. Looking back on that, it was AWFUL because I wasn't eating enough to make good milk supplies for you, which is part of why breastfeeding failed, I believe. If I had to do it all over again, I would do so many things differently.

I gained that 40 lbs back over the course of your first year of life until I was back up to my highest PREGNANCY weight... and I sure as heck wasn't pregnant! I didn't make it back up to my all-time highest weight, but only because I finally buckled down and did something about it before I got there again. I re-joined MRC on January 27th with the hopes that I will drop 115 lbs altogether to get down to even lower than my original goal used to be. If I lose more than that, even better! My non-scale goal is to get to my goal weight before you have a chance to remember me being overweight. I know we'll have pictures to prove I was, but I hope you look at those pictures and barely recognize me at some point. I don't want to be a bad influence on you and let my own issues get transferred to you. This is my way of making my life better by trying to keep you from experiencing what I've experienced as an overweight person for the majority of my life.

As of today, April 4th 2012, I have lost 30 lbs of the 115 lbs I want to lose! That means I am 26% of the way to my goal; over 1/4 of the way there! Here are some examples of things that weigh 30 lbs:

30 lbs of watermelon!
30 lbs of ugly fish!

30 lbs of delicious bacon!

And you... little girl... don't even weigh 30 lbs yet! That means whenever I carry you around now, I STILL don't weigh as much with you as I weighed without you back in late January!

Mama is doin' it, kiddo! I know you can't say it yet, but I'm pretty sure you're proud of me! Hee hee...