Thursday, December 20, 2012

What "Worth It" Means

This post is for one of my oldest friends who was due to have her baby yesterday.  Apparently everyone has been filling her in on how hard and awful and exhausting having a baby is. And all they say in the positive is, "But it's worth it..."

After a long night with a feverish baby waking up every 20-45 minutes, I'd like to (in my sleep-deprived state) share what my "worth it" is.

It's worth it when your baby recognizes your voice the instant she enters this world.

It's worth it when she then recognizes her Daddy's voice a few seconds later.

It's worth it when you see she has your eyes and her Daddy's cheeks.

It's worth it when you watch her little body and fingers and eyelashes uncurl from those cramped months like a flower blooming.

It's worth it when you see her smile for the first time. And the second. And the third...

It's worth it when she turns her head towards you when you enter the room because she can smell you.

It's worth it when you're the only one she wants.

It's worth it when it's 3 am and you doze off while nursing and then wake to find her just watching you.

It's worth it when you see her roll onto her tummy reaching for a toy.

It's worth it when you sneak up to her crib and watch her sleeping so peacefully, a binkie halfway in her mouth.

It's worth it when she figures out how to shimmy/slither/crawl in order to get to you.

It's worth it when you get to dress her up in the cutest outfits EVER.

It's worth it when you hear that most wonderful name, "Mama."

It's worth it when she lays her head on your chest, snuggled right up under your chin.

It's worth it when you watch her play in the sprinklers for the first time.

It's worth it when she laughs every time you fake sneeze. 52 times in a row.

It's worth it when you watch her smile make strangers light up on a daily basis.

It's worth it when she grabs onto your butt and wants to play choo-choo.

It's worth it when you get to watch her open presents. And it is SO much more fun than getting present ever was.

It's worth it when she's been ornery all day and when you're kneeling and cleaning up spilled cereal, she attacks your back with a bear hug and says "aawwwwww!"

It's worth it when she kisses you. For no reason.

Those are a few "worth it" moment off the top of my foggy head. Yeah, they may be cliche, but for good reason.  They do, ever so, make the late nights and spit up and everything horrible you hear...worth it.

Oh, and it's worth it when she does hilarious things like deciding to make your dog the toy box while he sleeps.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Favorite Moment

My favorite moment of the day started when I heard Tatum calling "Mama!" as Matt was bringing her to the bedroom.

Then my favorite moment of the day was seeing her practice using a spoon with her oatmeal and making a grand old mess.

My next favorite moment was when I was watching her dance to Bob Marley, and she danced her little booty over to me and leaned back with her chocolate-covered face pressed against mine.

But then Matt came home and my favorite moment was watching her try to count "One, two, THREE!" with him as he would shoot her into the air and then pretend to wear her like a hat as she dissolved in giggles.

It's a good thing when there are too many favorite moments in a day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Chocolate Pickle

Halloween is approaching, and as a Christian I'm faced with a few issues.

One is I know that for many people, witches and ghosts aren't cute decorations to put up in your yard.  There are real, satanic roots there, and demons from a dark past (or present) do haunt many that night.  

I grew up knowing there really are witches and there really is much evil that goes on in the world and especially on that night. (I still love Harry Potter...but that's a different blog...) I'm grateful for that exposure and that I wasn't given a pat "Halloween is bad" excuse, and we still managed to have a "Harvest Celebration" and not feel like sticks-in-the-mud.

But that is not the issue I want to focus on today.

A year ago I read an article about child slave labor in the cocoa industry. And once you learn something, you can't unlearn it.

Granted, I love me some M&M's. Favorite candy, hands down.

But every time I've bitten into that wonderful crunch I've had this nagging voice in the back of my head, and I know for a fact my consumption of Hershey's or Nestle products has decreased in the past year because of that awareness.

This is the first year in our own home, and the first Halloween we are even able to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. And as I pass the shelves and shelves of jumbo bags of bite-sized chocolates I just can't bring myself to buy one.

When I hear the word "abolitionist" I think of 19th century parchments and hoop skirts and other things long out of style. I think of great men and women like William Wilberforce and Harriet Tubman.

But then I consider the fact that according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) there are between 20-30 million slaves currently in the world. More than at any other time in history. Not only that but the value of a slave has increased drastically. In 1809 a slave was worth about $40,000 in today's currency. The average today is $90. You can see more stats here.

Cocoa isn't the largest group by far, and there are slaves closer to the door of your home than you may imagine.

But let's focus on cocoa for the moment. Here are a few facts:

Two West African countries, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, supply 75% of the world’s cocoa market.

report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture finds that there were 284,000 children working on such farms, often in dangerous conditions, often in some form of indentured servitude.

Some children are “sold” by their own relatives to traffickers or to the farm owners.

 Traffickers often abduct young boys from small villages in neighboring African countries, such as Burkina Faso and Mali.

Most of the children are between the ages of 12-16, but children as young as 7 have been filmed working on the farms.

In recent years, cases have been documented in which children and adults on cocoa farms were retained against their will and forced to work.

Cases often involve acts of physical violence, such as being whipped for working slowly or trying to escape.

The point of this post isn't to make you feel guilty.

It is to make you aware.

Having recently watched the movie Amazing Grace it stood out to me that most of the people who helped bring the brute force behind the movement were common people. People who listened to someone or read something and gave up sugar and signed a partition...and that was mostly it. Most were not the spearhead of the drive for abolition, they did their minor parts and collectively helped drive the initiative.

Both Nestle and Hershey have tried to downplay the percentage of cocoa that is obtained through child labor, saying most cocoa is from small family farms (doesn't that paint a cozy image?). And both have now signed they will exclusively use Fair Trade certified cocoa by 2020. Hmm, good thing it's such a small problem it will only take eight years to fix.

I'm not hereby vowing to never eat another bite of Godiva again or put out any ultimatum like that. I know I won't be able to adhere to that. But I am trying to make a more conscious decision about what and how much chocolate we consume. I'd love to take a bite of frozen yogurt and crunch into those frozen M&M's without that nagging voice in the back of my head.

So back to the cute four-year-old Captain America at your door saying "trick or treat!" What do you do?

There's a few alternatives. There's Fair Trade certified chocolate, organic chocolate which--according to an article on UCSD's website--is OK because organic farms are subject to independent monitoring, and there are alternative to chocolate altogether.

You can do something like Annie's Organic Gummies, bags of chips or HERE is a great list of more alternatives.

Tatum is still going to be an adorable little bumble bee this year as we hand out candy because locking your doors and pulling the shades on the darkest night of the year is probably not the best way to let your light so shine so that Christ may be glorified. Greater is He who is within us than he who is in the world. But this year, maybe be a little more aware of what you are consuming, and what you might can do about it.

If you're looking for more information on this topic, a quick Google search can provide loads of information, but here are a few sites I pulled information from (all of these are credible sources, not blogs):

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The World's Fastest Melting Ice Cream Cone

This afternoon Tatum and I went to the mall. While there, she managed to dump nearly her entire sippy cup of goat milk on herself in her stroller (while I was checking out at Dillards). 

Oh, and let me mention she is teething like mad and her nose is a faucet. So I use the precious last kleenexes to try and sop up the goat milk and make a dignified exit.

We head to the play area and I let her run around and dry off a bit, but when it's time to go I can't put her in the sopping wet stroller, and she won't follow me wearing her little giraffe backpack/leash. 

So I'm carrying her, wearing 4 inch heels, through the mall to a bathroom where I can get my stinky little girl cleaned up. With much difficulty, wriggling (she wants to push the I'm carrying the china department), and squawks of disapproval from her (and me) we make it to the car. 

Figuring I deserved a little treat for that wrestling match, I decide to treat myself to a dip cone at a drive through.  Perhaps I should have had a premonition when the man handed me a wad of napkins...

I pull away, the chocolate still wet on the ice cream when I feel a drip running down my hand.

I quickly lick it away.

Then another.

I look and now there are four steady streams of ice cream running from beneath the chocolate ensconced cone.

Down my hand. Down my arm. Into my lap.

I place the wad of napkins in my lap and hold my hand over it as the pool collects.

I'm beginning to eat the ice cream quickly now, biting into it and slurping up the ice cream as fast as I can. I have to switch hands and now my right hand becomes covered in the rivers of sticky mess and the steering wheel is sticky to boot.

Furiously I begin eating with abandon. I'm two years old and trying to give myself an ice cream headache.

Then a whole half of the chocolate shell drops into my lap. I flip it over and use it as a cup for the dripping ice cream, only now that ice cream is pouring out the open side.

Then I see I need to merge lanes. And I'm surrounded by big rigs.  Whilst bathing in ice cream.

I try to pull into a neighborhood but see it is gated, so I manage to merge and am still licking away.

Looking down I notice that the warmth from my lap is melting the chocolate shell, adding to the sweet swamp in the middle of the napkin wad.

I'm nearing the end now. Chocolate is embedded in my fingernails and ice cream has dripped clear down to my elbows. I look in the mirror and have a chocolate smudge on my face.  Thanking the good sweet Lord I have a fresh supply of baby wipes and I promptly go through five to begin the clean up, pulling into my garage as I wipe down the steering wheel.

Once inside I had to scrub up like a surgeon, but I think I've learned my lesson.

Next time I'll just go to froyo...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Hairy Tale

Hi y'all. I know I've been MIA for a month or so (okay, almost two).  Let's leave all the excuses of a job and a kid and busyness aside and jump back in.

I've thought about what I want this public notebook to be, and I want to get back to the basics. I don't have the time or energy to be the next super-crafty mama, or recipe junkie, or aspire to be another Pioneer Woman. 

This is snapshots of my life and what I learn, sharing along the way.

So to dive back into the self-effacement with both feet, I present to you the story of me dyeing my hair.

Now, I've dyed my hair off and on for the past 4 or 5 years...more consistently when I moved to Seattle since there was no SUNSHINE to make my hair that radiant beach blonde it's always been. 

When I moved to Oklahoma I going to Sally Beauty and mixing my own concoctions--and usually they turn out great. So I set out a few weeks ago to dye my hair a shade or two darker blonde.

The irony of this, lest it be lost on you, is I was dying my hair a tad darker so to be closer to my natural shade and I wouldn't have to worry about dyeing it anymore. Just stick with natural stuff like chamomile and lemon and things like that and avoid those nasty chemicals that can't be good for anyone.

Just a shade or two darker was all I needed. That's what I was going for.

Then I made the mistake of trying a different additive to keep the red and brassy tones out. It was Ardel case you are crazy like me and whip up your own hair recipes.

THIS is what I was left with.

Oh heavens. I was a brunette. A brunette with charcoal undertones.

It faded down a bit...well, turned more (ironically) reddish...

Thank the Lord for color corrector...this was Round #1

It was still a bit darker than I wanted it so Round #2 of color corrector...

Isn't this a nice, dried out shade of...straw? (tongue in cheek)

Then a plain old box of hair dye...twice...

By now my bathroom reeked of chemicals. Keep in mind I had started all this to avoid pouring more chemicals on my head...but at least it is now back to blonde. And actually not that much worse for wear.

What's even more funny is this ended up pretty darn close to my natural just took a very circuitous route.

As for Tatum and Roy they are constant companions. Well, Tatum is constantly with him and Roy seems to tolerate it. She "loves" on him now, giving him hugs, laying on him, using him as a pillow while she drinks from her sippy cup. He gets nearly half of every meal she eats, and she gets to mercilessly chase him around the house with her walker squealing in enjoyment.

I think it's a fair deal.

That's all for today. I'll leave you with this parting shot of my little dancer...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cake Smash...or Sampling

This is the part you've been waiting to see, right?

Baby girl going crazy in a cake?

We'll get to that later, here's quick overview of the small family party we had.

Dad and Auntie Katie

Ammah, my mom, me and Tatum--four generations of baby girls.

We started opening presents but Miss Tate would open a book...and be totally absorbed. Goodbye world, I have a new book. Not that I have a problem with that...but we had a lot of presents to get through. Basically we shifted all her toys from baby stuff to toddler-age toys...and it took awhile! Luckily she'll be too little to remember how many presents she got at her first birthday and do any sort of comparison...

She learned how fun tissue paper could be...

And that Pops could juggle blocks...

That she'll really get to keep the drum and musical instruments that I've drug out of the closet during times of desperation to keep her occupied...

And that singing cards were sometimes more fun than presents.

But one of the best presents of all was a long cardboard box that she could "ride." She rides Roy, toys at Gymboree, and now there's this...does life get any better?

Oh yes. The cake.

We stripped her down for the smash, presented her with the cake, sang "Happy Birthday," and waited.

With a look of disgust she ever so delicately began moving small portions of the frosting into the cup holder on her tray.

So Nonnie started into the cake to show her how it's done...

She still wasn't interested, and being a smart girl who had to go potty she took her diaper off...

And proceeded to pee in her high chair.

With that out of the way, Grandma decided to try the cake with a spoon...

Oh, so THAT'S what you do!

Daddy tried to get her to dig in with both hands with minimal luck.

But she did start eating it. We kept waiting for her to do a faceplant or something...

She just continued with her dainty bites...

Gradually she got more excited about it...getting rid of the hat and using the frosting as mousse for her hair.

YAY for the big girl!

So while it wasn't quite the smash we expected, she did seem to enjoy herself, and thoroughly painted herself with the frosting and whatever pee was left on her legs...

And headed straight for a bath!

My original plan was to have her outdoors on the grass, but what with it being 111 degrees and all I thought I'd spare the family and have it inside.

Even though it was way past her bedtime at this point, how many first birthdays do you have? We let her stay up, turned on some music and watched her dance to the rhythm.

After she finally went down I snapped a few pics of the decorations. It was a "You are my sunshine" theme, with lots of yellow and orange strung about.

In fact, it feels so festive with everything bobbing in the fan breeze that all the lanterns and crepe paper are still up!

And there to the left of the TV are all the weekly photos side by side. It's really quite amazing to see how much she changed week to week, and to see her become not just a baby but a little girl.

It was a ton of fun, and I'm glad that we kept it small and just family. We took our time, enjoyed Tatum exploring so many new and fun things, and reminisced about one year ago when, after taking her precious time entering this world, she came and turned our lives upside down.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Her First Birthday

With the actual birth day so fresh in my mind, I can hardly believe that a year has blinked by.

A year ago the only one left from our families was my mom. Everyone else had to leave, and I was beginning to think I was just going to be massively pregnant forever. And ever. Amen.

But my midwife, Tatum and God had other plans, and so after less than six hours of furiously fast labor Tatum Keturah came into this world at 8:52 pm. 

Wrinkled and pink and squawking at the world the second she hit the air, but calming within seconds from the sound of my voice.

As she's grown and we've been able to discover more of her personality, it seems my premonition that this kid would be a spitfire was right. Kicking in the womb and still making her opinions known.

 And now, after nearly a year of weekly pictures (34 out of 52 isn't bad...I gave up when I couldn't keep her bottom planted on the fabric anymore), I give you...(drumroll)

Tatum Week by Week

Hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory alley (it's too short to be a lane)!

Obligatory pictures of a baby smashing her face in cake coming soon!