Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How do I recap a perfect week in moments? With pictures of course! But first the memories that were not caught on  "film." Such as: Starting the first Olympic underwater handstand team, discovering that talking in a fake British accent all of the time is not only contagious, but extremely hilarious, drinking  piña coladas while floating on rafts and almost getting blown out to sea, games around the campfire, thinking about how delicious spaghetti and meatballs would taste for dinner while walking home from the light house, and then actually making it with great success!  Amazingly fulfilling naps, falling asleep to the sound of the waves and getting even closer with close friends.

This year, our good friend Dustin accompanied us on our Michigan vacation.  We stayed in our friend Jason's parent's house with Jason and a variety of other people (friends of Jason and Alex- Alex and Jason have known each other since high school) At one point we had a total of 12 people and one extremely smart dog named Maddie, in the house!

And now for the pictures that never seem to do it justice, but are always such a comfort to go back and look at in those cold winter months.  Until next time, Harrisville!  You really are the prettiest little place on the "sunshine side."

First stop was family time with the Goldmans.  Aren't they adorable?  Thanks for reading my blog Carol! I picked the picture where you look the prettiest and Marc looks the silliest.

And then, before we knew it, we were here:

Coastal Living, my new favorite magazine.  (Seriously guys, I'm totally subscribing).  Ice cream at the Ole Dairy Dome was a very important part of this trip.

And finally, a little rain wasn't going to ruin our trip to Mackinac island or our Canoe and Kayak trip!


Monday, July 30, 2012


Hi everyone! It feels good to be back.  I hope you all enjoyed my Women and Children Series while I was away, brought to you by an amazing group of guest bloggers.  If the comments tell me anything, then I think you have.  Yay! I had so much fun putting that series together and was so inspired by all of the amazing women who contributed.  So thank you everyone- writers AND readers for contributing, it means so much to me.

And now I am back in Brooklyn and rested and a little darker in skin tone- but both Alex and I managed to avoid getting sunburned all week :)  Before I post pictures and a recap of my trip, I had to write up a book review of what my nose was stuck in for the entire week we were away.

I found Tiny Sunbirds Far Away completely randomly, while browsing the shelves in the library before my trip.  I think that having found this book through my public library, without ever having heard anything about it before to affect my opinion, made me love it even more.  I was intrigued by the inside cover which describes the life of a Nigerian family, living in the Niger Delta told through the eyes of a twelve year daughter and granddaughter, (I say that because the grandmother was my favorite character) Blessing. But it was this quote on the back of the book that made me decide check it out:
So good I had to lie down after reading it.- Trezza Azzopardi
And, guess what? It really was!!  I feel such a hunger to learn more about Nigeria after reading this book, and luckily the author (did I mention this was her first novel)  lists some suggested books in the afterword.

But I want to stress that this book is an amazing novel and while it centers around a real place and real facts, it's the story of the family that sucked me in.  I became a member of Blessing's family within the first pages of her starting her story, and even though I finished the book several days ago, I'm still thinking about it all the time.

This book is like a good friend that you just want to call up and say hello to.  It is gripping, devastating, and horrific but also funny, thoughtful and full of love.  I don't often write up book reviews, because I find them boring to read and hard to write a lot of the time, but I could not resist blogging about this book.  And with the Grandmother being such an inspiring character, I couldn't help but think about how I would have bought this book for my grandmother for us to talk about.  (Mama loved reading just as much as I do).

So that's my gush about what I read while I was away- the perfect vacation book! I feel so lucky to have found it.  Let me know if you decide to or already have read it in the comments!

Be back tomorrow with Michigan pictures!

Friday, July 27, 2012

If you should happen to find my 8th grade graduation scrapbook you would discover that my life has not turned out as I expected it to when I was thirteen. My English teacher, Mrs. Cox, gave us various assignments throughout the year which would be put into our scrapbook due upon graduation. Poems, essays, reflections on middle school and our hopes for high school fill the pages, but the only assignment I actually remember was a story I wrote about myself at the age of 25. At the age of 25 I would be living in Italy, Greece or Turkey. I would be single, I wrote, though that might have been because my parents were sure to read it. My primary companion would by my dog who I somehow believed would be able to accompany me on all my adventures. I would be working on my doctorate in anthropology. I would be an expert on something important and historic like a previously lost European empire or Sumerian head-dresses. I would be brilliant and beautiful and capable with no husband and absolutely NO BABIES.

I vehemently did not want children.

I thought my friends who picked out their future babies’ names were crazy. I was quite the feminist, or so I thought. And, I’m afraid to say, I actually began to think a bit poorly of my own mother. I didn’t understand how she could resign herself being a stay-at-home-mom. Wasn’t it bleak and awful? Wasn’t she ruining all the work women had done to break into the workforce? Wasn’t it something only unintelligent people did?

I remained staunchly opposed to having children through most of high school until two things happened. The first was that I started college. I met the most amazing female professors. They were brilliant and beautiful and feminists and wives and mothers and professionals. With them, it somehow all balanced. (It might’ve helped that I was becoming a tad more open minded!). I realized feminism isn’t what I thought it was. I realized my mother was a feminist in her own way. She wanted to have children, she felt lucky she didn’t have to work for a paycheck and raising my sister and I was her fulltime job. And what’s the point of feminism anyway if women can’t be who they want to be?

The second thing that changed my mind was my boyfriend who I knew would definitely become my husband. He loved children and had always wanted to be a father. I saw him with kids and he was amazing. He was seriously born to be a dad. And I realized a major component of having children (for me) is someone to have them with! I couldn’t imagine myself a mother until I imagined us as parents. I didn’t want to have children with a vague imaginary “future husband”. But I definitely wanted children with this amazing man whom I loved.

Of course, coming to that decision doesn’t make it less scary. I’m a planner and a worrier. I don’t know when my husband and I will have children, but I’m already planning for them and worrying about them! I worry about the same things Sarah does, the same things many of us do. What will my children’s lives be like? What challenges will they face? Is my genetic material even worth creating a new human being with?!

Ultimately, I’ve come to the same conclusion many of us do: Having children is a selfish, self centered, ridiculous thing to do. And I will probably do it anyway. I selfishly want my own children whom I will name and nurture and make all major decisions for. I self-centeredly believe that somehow my children will be important in this world, that they will be smart and do great things and make the world a better place. I ridiculously want to experience childbirth, tantrums, picky eating and permanent marker scribbled on my belongings.

In recent years my husband and I started seriously thinking about adoption and have decided it’s definitely the way to go for us. I still selfishly, self-centeredly and ridiculously want children... but maybe through our decision to adopt, I’m being a tiny bit less self-centered about it? That’s my hope at least. With so many children in the world whose parents are unable to care for them, it seems the least I could do as a woman who wants and is able to care for a child. We hope to start the adoption process in the coming year!

Finally, I’d like to leave you with this dire warning from one of my favorite movies:

If you’d like to read more about us and our adoption plans, take a look at my blog Motu Viget  Many thanks to Sarah for asking me to contribute my thoughts!

My bladder woke me up before my alarm. On most days, this is annoying, but this particular morning was different. I was two days past-due for my period and was eager to go pee on a stick. A year or so before, I had bought a small stockpile of ovulation and pregnancy test sticks and I was down to one last test. It was going to work perfectly; my last pregnancy test was going to be my first positive. It had to be. I needed it to be. It wasn't.

My husband Jamie and I have been trying to start our family for three years now. We have put forth every level of effort from charting my daily temperature and using ovulation predictors to following the exhausted "don't try so hard and it will happen" advice that we so often receive, all to no avail.

We recently completed some testing to clear us of any potential fertility issues. I can't say that I was 100% relieved when everything came back positive as it may have been easier to decide what to do next if we knew why we were having such trouble conceiving. Since we are both "good to go", we fall into the increasingly frustrating inexplicable infertility category. For the time being, we have yet to decide what to do next. It might be time soon to go back to the doctor and see what he suggests. It may just be that I go on an ovulatory stimulant to better our chances of conceiving during each cycle, however, I can't keep myself from thinking that it won't be enough and that we'll need to move on to intrauterine insemination (IUI) or even in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The thought of using IUI or IVF sits a little uncomfortably with me for a few reasons. Firstly, Jamie and I both have some health concerns to take into consideration. I have a hereditary blood clotting disorder caused by a mutated gene that puts me at higher risk for blood clots. While most women with this disorder (Factor V Leiden) can have multiple successful pregnancies without issue, it does put me at risk for some complications due to clotting development in varying locations. As for Jamie, he was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis when he was a child. This is "a rare multi-system genetic disease that causes non-malignant tumors to grow in the brain and on other vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, eyes, lungs, and skin." (source)  Jamie's Tuberous Sclerosis is asymptomatic and doesn't have an effect on his daily life. If it were to be passed down to our child, it could be much worse causing seizures or developmental disabilities.

While the chances of our conditions causing complications in my pregnancy or our child's development and overall health is very low, it's still a major concern for us. Because of these concerns, we've discussed and are widely open to adoption. As much as I yearn to be pregnant and produce a life that will combine the best and worst of our features, I can't help but feel that it's a little selfish. What makes me uncomfortable about advanced fertility treatments is kind of the thought of forcing nature. Why should we be forcing conception when we have the risk of passing and possibly multiplying these health complications onto our offspring? There are so many babies being born that cannot be cared for, so why should we force a pregnancy? While an adoptive child won't inherit our specific physical and personality traits, an adoptive child will still learn and be molded by how we live and teach and grow with each other. This allows me to understand that adoption isn't the lesser option for starting a family.

This isn't to say that I feel IUI or IVF should not be used by a couple to grow their family; we still haven't ruled it out ourselves. It's something that I am very grateful to have as an option and is very well still in our minds. Starting a family is scary, and infertility only amplifies that feeling. In the end, it doesn't matter if we use fertility treatment to get pregnant or adopt. What is important is that Jamie and I are still working together, supporting and loving each other to create the best relationship and environment for our future baby.

Read more of Sam's writing over at her blog The Ellison Family Expansion Plan.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Being a parent is challenging.  When your children are born, the ultimate goal is to give your child a happy upbringing and hopefully give them the tools to be capable of handling their future. I felt the enormity of that responsibility the moment I held my daughter in my hands for the first time 16 years ago. I realized that my world had now ceased to revolve solely around me. Now it was time to really grow up. It was make it or break it time and the "thing" I was going to make or break was this baby that I decided to bring into this world.  My daughter would forevermore look to my husband and me for everything she needed, be it food and water, shelter and warmth, love and support.  It was all on us.

I have always been a big believer in setting high standards for kids.  I believe that kids will generally live up to the expectations put upon them.  I've been witness to many slacker parents who don't put any interest or faith into their children's abilities, resulting in the children themselves being uninspired and insecure.  Needless to say, I set the bar high for my daughter. These days, schools scare the hell out of parents, telling them that if they want their kids to be accepted into a good college they have to have nearly perfect high school records.  Starting in middle school, I enrolled her in an extra college-prep course that she would take in addition to all of her other classes all the way through to her senior year in high school. We stressed the importance of getting straight A's in all her classes, so she would qualify for scholarships in the future.  If any subject in high school was offered in advanced or AP classes, we had her sign up for them with the encouragement of her school counselor.  She is a 1st degree black belt in TaeKwonDo and was volunteering twice a week after school to help teach the sport to elementary kids in order to get community service hours for her college-prep class, which requires 40 hours or more each school year.  It was a challenging work load.  She seemed to be handling it well, though. She even had time to start her own business at school selling wallets and rings out of duct tape to her fellow students and made a nice profit doing it.

As a mother, I was patting myself on the back.  My kids (I also have an 11 year old son) were star students, they were responsible and respectable, getting consistent praise from adults and teachers. I had multiple people joke to me that I should write a book on parenting. Talk about an ego boost! This is easy, I thought. I have this parenting thing in the bag. Piece of cake.  Soon, though, I was about to be enlightened. Even actions that have the best of intentions fueling them can go astray and make us lose sight of what is really important.

By the end of her freshman year, my daughter's grades in Geometry and Advanced Biology began to slip.  Concerned, I sent her to tutoring and encouraged her to work through her frustrations with the classes and the teachers.  She did not get straight A's at the end of that year.  Again, her father and I reinforced the importance of her grades on college admission applications and scholarships.  I knew that her AP classes would give her extra GPA points to make up for the lower grades, so I didn't panic yet.  We told her that sophomore year would probably be better and we would start with extra tutoring earlier if she needed it.  Fast forward to the end of this school year, sophomore year, when she realized too late that she was in hot water in Algebra II and Advanced Chemistry.  She had hidden her problems in these classes from me, thinking she could work it all out by the end of the year, but her grades had just dropped lower and lower.  When I learned of the situation from her school and brought it to her attention during spring break, she had a full scale panic attack.  Over the next couple of days, she revealed to me how much she hated school, how she had no interest in college because she had no real passion for a specific career, how she was convinced she was "stupid" because no matter how hard she tried she couldn't keep up in science and math, how she was scared of disappointing her father and me, and how embarrassed she was because she believed that our relatives and friends thought she was so perfect when in reality she was a "failure"(her words).

It saddens me that it took a total breakdown of a person who I love most in the world for me to see that my parental guidance could have such devastating results.  I had put so much pressure on this child that she was actually exploding with pain.  Seeing this, I told her that I released her from my expectations.  That I was wrong.  That I was sorry.  That life was not about grades and monetary success, but about love and enjoyment and fulfillment.  That not everyone was good at everything, that it was wrong of me to expect that from her, and it doesn't make her stupid.  I told her that I was sorry I had not valued her creativity as much as I had valued her grades.  That there is not only one road to success.  That she had her own path to follow and I had no right to try to plan her future through my eyes.  I was totally to blame.  It was hard for me to come to the realization that I had taken ownership over my daughter's life during the exact time when she needed to claim it as her own.  And claim it with confidence.

Next year, my daughter won't be taking any advanced classes.  She also dropped the college-prep course which was becoming redundant.  This is going to be the year where she finds her balance.  She is caring, responsible, mature, resourceful, creative, and capable of great things.  With gentle guidance and input, I'm going to let her take the lead in her own life.

There are no perfect parents.  All kids are different.  All situations will be different.  There is no definitive right or wrong way to help a child prepare for life as an adult.  The thing is, if there is love, it is easier to rectify a mistake.  If you end up making a wrong decision, you just need to make another one.  A better one, hopefully.  A decision led by love and understanding.

Read more of Heather's writing over at her blog Zest of Life and Lemons.

Deciding to become a parent was an easy thing for me, for I had always known I wanted to be a mother. In fact, it is the one role I always knew I wanted to fill and the only role I knew I would truly be good at.  At the same time, I was a bit aimless and unsure in the rest of my life and had an idea in my head that I would become a bit more settled once I turned thirty, that maybe then I would be ready to find someone to build my life with, would be ready to have a settled home and begin growing a family and filling that motherly role.

Little did I know that at the age of twenty-two I would meet the man that would become my husband and the father to my children by the time I turned twenty-seven.  Truthfully, from the moment we met I knew my old ideas were things of the past and that there was a new plan in store for me, and while that new plan has been incredible and filled my life with more love and more stability than I could have ever imagined, fear has also wiggled its way into my plans.

The fear comes with the changes. Having lived together for four years now, my love and I have had a good dose of just-the-two-of-us time, yet I fear what will happen once our baby arrives. I fear losing the intimacy we share, fear not finding time for each other to nurture our love, fear growing apart as we become buried in diapers and burp clothes. You hear about it so often and it breaks my heart every time, the couples that send their kids off to college, are left with an echoing home, and realize they no longer know each other. Realistically I know our love is strong, we know each other well and we have promised to make a conscious effort to keep our love alive and strong as we begin this new journey, so I take comfort in that even though we really have no idea what we are in for come September and the arrival of our first-born.

Another fear creeps in with the logistics of that very arrival. Books have been read, birth stories devoured, midwives talked to, and birth classes scheduled, yet I do not know the feeling of a contraction, do not know what it is like to go in to labor and to push another human being from my body.  I feel capable and know that my body was uniquely made for this kind of job, that it will lead the way, yet there is no way for me to know what that job will require of me until I am in the moment, and I can admit to that being a little scary.

And once she’s here? Once she’s here my life is no longer strictly my own. Another human life will become entirely dependent on my partner and myself and I don’t know how anyone can face that fact without feeling a bit of anxiety. I am looking forward to her arrival more than I can accurately describe. I am looking forward to protecting her, teaching her, guiding her through life, yet with those roles comes a huge amount of responsibility and I think it’s okay to admit that it’s a little scary.

These fears have not stopped me and I know they are ones that are realistic and probably quite normal, but so often we are faced with images of glowing pregnant women with perfectly round bellies and gigantic smiles on their faces. We are told that to be pregnant is a blessing and that we should be thankful, and while I do believe those things to be true and while my ability to become pregnant is not something I will ever take for granted, I think it’s also okay to admit that it scares me more than I can imagine.  I think it’s okay to admit that we have fears and insecurities and that it is okay to have those feelings. Everyone sends congratulations and asks how you are feeling, but I can only imagine the looks if I were to share that carrying our child has been fascinating and incredible and something I feel so thankful to get to do, yet it also has brought up fears and anxieties I could have never imagined, that my thoughts often wonder to mistakes of my past and hopes that those won’t affect my unborn child, that I worry more about car accidents and being injured or abducted more than ever, that I look at everything differently than before. People want the smiles and the round bellies, they want the “I feel great” and “What a blessing”.  It’s a rarer person who wants to know what’s happening a bit deeper in your soul.

Yes, a much greater portion of my time is spent smiling, dreaming, and glowing with love for my daughter-to-be, but I do not ignore those other feelings of anxiety and fear or try to push them aside. I welcome them in and I sit with them as well, taking the time to work through them and live with them, for I know they will prepare me for my new role in a way that I need just as much as the joyful feelings. Choosing to become a mother was an easy decision, but the journey there has taken me into uncharted territory, one for which I am without maps. Since I have never been such a good navigator I’ll just continue to do my best feeling my way along and looking forward to the unknown.  For now, I am filled with hope and fear and an enormous amount of love. All of those things combined have created a joy I have never felt before and confirmed my choice to become a mother, even if I start my new job with a little fear tucked in my pocket.

Read more of Sara's writing over at her blog Berries and Graphite.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

There has been some lively debate centered around an article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter called "Why Women Still Can't Have It All". Slaughter talks about leaving a high responsibility government position for a job at Princeton so that she could spend more time with her teenage children. She talks about how quite often women who have dependent children are seen as "less professional" by male counterparts because they are unable to stay until midnight working on a deadline when there is an orchestra performance/soccer game/family dinner awaiting. She says:
"A female reporter wrote to me after reading the article yesterday and said, 'For almost 30 years, I've been feeling guilty for leaving at 6 to try to catch that last inning of my son's baseball game, and my editors think I'm just not as committed to my job as my male peers, but the other parents think I'm not that committed to my child, and I feel like a failure in both places,' " she says. "Whereas if you let women work when they need to get the work done — when they leave the office but then go back to their computers later, they'll get the job done. But they'll do it when they need to do it, juggling what's most important."
This is the dude centered construct that women with high profile careers are forced to navigate often resulting in sadness, anger, and perceived defeat. The issue is of course as complex as the next and warrants the question "Well, what if your definition of having it all is different?"

Third wave feminism was centered around many issues, one of which was redefining feminism. Redefining as in: allowing women to choose what it personally means to them. I love this because I believe that a Feminist isn't necessarily a woman who acts in a traditional male role (though some choose this and that's rad)... but a woman who is empowered to choose what she want her life to look like. Whatever that may be.

I don't have all the answers and I certainly don't have them for you. Every person is individual and has their own set of needs to fill. Right now I am choosing to build a career and be a kitty mom. This could change in 10 years and I may decide that a family is what I want to invest my time in, I don't know. I hope that if that becomes my priority, society will have evolved enough by then that the option of doing both will be available if I want it. This economic shift is causing more women to work for ends to meet, so maybe it will. Who knows?

As for right now, it's still a man's world and goddamn if that doesn't suck. Lets fix it, okay? Until then, try creating your own world by making the personal decision of what "having it all" means to you. Then make it happen. Find that pearl in the grossly deformed oyster ladies... I know you can do it.

Read more of Jes's writing over at her blog The Militant Baker.

Growing up I always assumed that my life wouldn’t be much different than other women in my family spanning back for generations. You get married young and you have babies even younger. Okay, maybe it’s not that intense, but my mother had my brother at the age of 19 and I came along two years later. My mom had four siblings, most of whom followed the same pattern, and we all lived within a two-mile radius of my grandparents. None of us traveled very far. I grew up within close proximity to all of my cousins, most of which inevitably would follow the same pattern: Have kids early, don’t travel too far from home. I always assumed I would follow the same pattern, until the age of 24 rolled around and I’d somehow meandered all the way from Texas to New York, childless.

As a kid, there were always babies around. Always. My brother and I were the oldest, along with one other cousin, and everyone else seemed to be in a constant state of infancy. Once one baby grew into a regular-sized child, another baby would replace it. Once I grew out of playing with dolls, they were replaced with real live babies. I was changing diapers on top of my homework for as long as I could remember. I didn’t know the state capital of Nebraska, but I knew how to change a diaper, how to bathe a baby, the correct temperature to warm a bottle, and how to pack the world’s best diaper bag.

At the age of 19, I nannied for my niece and nephew for a while. My nephew, a two year old who was somehow cursed with the same exact sense of humor as me, and my niece, a three month old, who, like my cat, just wanted to sleep all day. We got along well and I loved them, and I had it in my head that, like my cousins and me, they too, would need cousins within the same age range. Hopefully by the age of 22 I’d have a few kids of my own and they’d have some kids to play with and life would be perfect. These thoughts arose naturally. Babies! It’s sort of all I’d ever known. I couldn’t wait to have babies, even though I was convinced I’d be the worst mother possible. After dropping the kids off at home one night, I asked my boyfriend at the time if he thought I’d make a good mother. His only response was hysterical laughter followed by “Dude, you’d make a terrible mother.”

“Better a terrible mother than no mother at all”, I thought as I opened another beer, lit a joint, and put on another pan of Hamburger Helper.

The idea of a planned pregnancy seemed strange to me until a few years ago. Who gets pregnant because they want to? Isn’t it supposed to be a surprise? Guess what you guys? I’m having a baby! I’m pregnant! Let me explain. I am extremely pro-choice. However, the majority of people in my hometown are not. I’d never heard the word abortion until the age of 16 when I watched a movie staring Cher called If These Walls Could Talk at a friend’s house who was lucky enough to have HBO. In the ridiculously religious town that I grew up in, you can’t even get an abortion unless you drive three hours to a larger city, and you will more than likely be talked out of it before you’ve had a chance to establish a thought of your own by any number of men and women who think they know their way around your body as well as they know their way around the mall walkers’ route, which is probably the furthest they’ve ever ventured from home less that brief time they were stationed overseas while in the military.

When I was 25, my friends and I joked at the fact that we hadn’t ever been pregnant. “Why are we so lucky?” we’d laugh. I worked in a café in Park Slope, Brooklyn, at the height of the influx of babies in the neighborhood. On Tuesday mornings all of the neighborhood mommies would meet with their babies while unknowingly creating a stroller corral around the espresso machine and me. I once cleaned a table with an all-natural spray cleanser in the vicinity of a newly-pregnant woman who was meeting with her doula, only to have the doula yell at me, “Could you please stop poisoning my friend’s unborn child?” I apologized and went back behind the counter. I had no idea I could be so selfish and careless as to poison a woman’s unborn child who I didn’t even realize was pregnant. How would I ever be capable of caring for my own pregnancy? Never mind the fact that the air in Brooklyn is far more toxic than the spray cleaner we used at the café. More importantly, what the hell was a doula and would I ever need one? Would I be able to afford one? I Googled the shit out of it. I watched a documentary on the health care system in the United States. I mentally prepared my tiny apartment for an at home birth because the idea of having my child’s first life experience happen inside of a Fire in the Sky-esque hospital terrified me. I wondered if water birthing tubs were allowed in a fourth floor walk-up. I hoped that I’d be able to handle a natural birth so that I could experience the release of Oxytocin. Then I came back to reality and realized that I was no where near ready for a baby and I became pissed off at my body for trying to trick me, again, into thinking it was something that I needed. I made the pregnant woman a cappuccino and wondered if caffeine and pastries were worse for your pregnancy than breathing in vinegar mixed with water.

There are plenty of babies in the world. There are plenty of babies without homes and even more adults who won’t even consider adoption. Don’t you want to know what your baby would look like? I’ve often thought myself and heard other women say. It seems like a ridiculously selfish way to view life, having a baby over adopting one because you want to see what it would "look like." I remember sharing with a family member at one point that I didn’t think I’d want to ever have children. “That seems so selfish to me,” she said. Selfish to not want a child? My brain lies on the other end of the spectrum. I always thought it was selfish to want to have a baby. There’s so much suffering and pain in the world. Why bring something into it knowing that it will experience all of that? We’re trashing the planet and we’re going to leave it behind for all of these babies that we mindlessly carry around in color coordinated Bjorns and $600 Maclaren strollers. I picture a desolate wasteland with random chaos fires covered with garbage, huts made of the pieces of strollers that ended up in landfills. At least the baby was at some point comfortable and can now, 30 years later, trapped in a chemically-induced state of infancy, use the robin’s egg blue and chocolate colored cloth of the organic cotton Bjorn to sew an attractive loin cloth that might get them through one more nuclear winter.

At 27, I found out that I had high grade Cervical Dysplasia, or precancerous cells on my cervix. I looked at images in the doctor’s office as we talked about the process of removing them, a surgical procedure called LEEP where an electric current is passed through a wire loop to remove the tissue, a fairly common procedure. It was explained to me that the cells may or may not come back at any given point in my life, and that the procedure could only be done several times before making the cervical wall so thin that it couldn’t possibly carry the weight of a growing fetus. I was shown in a comical way on a plastic representation of a vagina that a baby would literally just keep falling out before growing to full term. This was a lot to think about on top of worrying that my body would continue to breed cancerous cells and that I would eventually die of cervical cancer. Having a baby would continue to be the last thing on my mind, after punishing myself with guilt that I’d somehow created this busted baby machine that would never produce something that could make my family proud, because improv comedy wasn’t cutting it.

I called my mom and explained to her that my baby machine was, in fact, “busted”, and that I’d never have a grandchild to offer her besides my amazing cat. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “I’m sure it works fine.” She was glad I was okay, but still convinced that a baby was surely on it’s way.

Cut to 5 days before I turn 30: I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m okay with not having children, mainly because I’d rather spend my time selfishly drawing comics, eating ice cream, and mentally jotting down ideas for the world’s worst screenplays. Despite all of this, lately I feel something happening inside of me when I see a baby on the subway. It’s not the usual cringe that I’d experience before, or the fear brewing in my stomach that the thing might accidentally touch me. It’s in my chest. No, not my breasts, unless producing milk feels like a warm tingly “I want to hug that thing” feeling. It’s this shift in my body and mind that I have this desire to care for something other than myself, my boyfriend, and our cat. To share love with something. To “take care” of something. This feeling that I might actually have what it takes to be a good mother and that I’m wasting my time here if I’m not taking care of someone. It’s a scary feeling, mainly because I can’t force it to go away. Even if I think having children isn’t something that I want, I can’t force the desire to have one to go away. I even noticed the other day how beautiful pregnant women look. In the past, I remember hearing various women talk about how afraid they are of gaining weight while pregnant, or complaining about how much weight they gained during pregnancies. I once read a blog written by a woman complaining that her first son had “practically ruined her body”. I imagined how terrible I’d feel if I overheard my mother saying that I had ruined her body.

My current mental state raises a whole new list of questions. When I was twenty, my thoughts broadly unaware, imagining having kids, it was “which car seat would look best in the back of the Hyundai?” and “What brand of baby formula will I use?”and now it’s “Will I breast feed in the park like that woman I silently judge every morning? Is adoption a better choice for me? Could I raise a kid in the city? Would I rather have a house with a yard as far away from NYC as possible?  How will I have time to make my own organic baby food? Will my juicer still be in good enough condition to make baby food? Is making your own baby food crazy? Will my cat feel neglected with a baby around? Will I use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones? How could I ever afford anything other than a 1 bedroom if I stayed in Brooklyn? Should I start gathering all of the baby stuff that I see on Freecycle? Do I keep this pair of pants that are too big “just in case”? Do I spend time worrying about Crib Death or shift my attention to starting a metal band called Crib Death? If I wanted to, how could I even afford to adopt? Could I love an adopted baby as much as I’d love my own? Am I a terrible person for even thinking that? How could I ever love a baby as much as I love my cat? Will my cat get jealous of my child? Will my child get jealous of my cat? What if my baby cries on a flight? What if I can’t handle it? How will I discipline them on the subway without being “that guy”? Will I even live near a subway? Which car seat pattern would look best with the upholstery in the Pacific Blue Hyundai? Oh, wait, I sold the Hyundai six years ago and I ride a bike. I can’t even afford a toddler seat for the back of my bike, how the hell can I afford to take care of a baby? What if my cervix can’t support the weight of a baby? What if I can’t support the weight of a baby? What am I going to do if my child behaves the way that I behaved? What if my child listens to a band called Crib Death and I just don’t understand? Is it time to trade in that old bicycle for a Subaru Outback? What are you doing Friday night? I really need to get out of the house for a little while to clear my head and I was wondering if you might want to watch my cat for a while. She’s potty trained but she will definitely wake you up for a 4 a.m. feeding. Don’t give her treats past 9 pm, even if she “cutes” you into it. And don’t close the bedroom door because she gets scared and then roams around the apartment crying for an hour. And don’t under any circumstances let her watch Fire in the Sky.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hi new friends! I’m Emily and I blog over at Peck Life. I was flattered Sarah asked me to be a guest on her blog while she’s enjoying vacation and the topic couldn't be more perfect! I am a 30 year old mama to a 2 1/2 year old boy, Schuyler (pronounced “Sky-ler” but it’s an old family spelling) and wife to my high school sweetie, Josh.

Us circa 2009

It’s a hard thing…this whole “having kids” business. On one hand, they really are a life changing gift. Not only do you get a nurture and teach a little human being all about the world, re-live your childhood, and enjoy the simple pleasures of kiddie pools, the zoo, lemonade stands, and seeing the world through little eyes, but I don’t think there is any other single experience in this entire world that will make you grow and discover who you truly are more than becoming a mother.

When I went to the doctor recently, I asked if I could have my thyroid checked….and my iron levels…and anything else they think might be important….because GOSH am I tired, and burnt out, and maybe there is some reason, medically, why I feel like it’s hard to keep up. Lucky for me, I’m as healthy as they come. I guess it’s just called “HAVING A KID”.

Which brings me to my next point: the downside.

Pregnancy aches and pains, the trauma {physically and emotionally} of giving birth, post-partum anxiety and depression, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding {although a true gift, it was hard and I did not enjoy cleaning pump parts 3x a day for a year}, stress on relationships, tantrums, little free time, exhaustion, and a constant feeling of being stressed, overwhelmed and never “caught up” on bills, errands, groceries, laundry, cleaning, dishes….ALL OF IT*. Compound this with 2 parents who both work full time, and it can really make one think long and hard about having a second go around.

Do we really want to do this AGAIN? We’re barely making it now….what happens where there is TWO? Am I going to go crazy?

When it comes down to it, here are a few things that have helped us with our decision {which ultimately is YES…there will be another baby at some point in the future….}:

1. If you often envision your future with two+ vs. one, that’s probably good intuition to follow. Listen to your gut!
2. Sky deserves a sibling and will be a wonderful big brother. There are a handful of life lessons you can only get via sibling rivalry.
3. There will always be bad with the good but one day it will pay off {right?} The low parts need to be in there somewhere in order to make the good shine through. Having kids is not a cake walk, but I’m keeping my eye on the prize that one day, it will all feel worth it. Because Sky is only 2 ½, it’s hard at this juncture to feel like this “job” we’ve been given is super rewarding. In some ways it is, but I’m trying to remember that he's only barely a toddler and isn't able to show how much he appreciates all that we do for him. I know one day it won’t be like that.
4. Everyone says it gets better. I’m putting my trust in you people!

The right number of kids is different for everyone, so there is no one way to decide if what’s best for your family. Trust your instincts, talk with your spouse, and do what you feel is right!

*NOTE: Not all mothers experience these side effects of children; I’m just speaking from my own experience. I envy people who love mothering so much that they don’t let these things get under their skin or just chalk them up as being small annoyances. Unfortunately for me, I sometimes have a hard time coping and welcome any tips on the best way to manage ANY of this.

Read more of  Emily's writing over at her blog Peck Life.

I recently got together with my “old” friend Sarah to catch up on life and discuss the possibility of writing a blog post for this series. It had been 12+ years since we’ve seen each other, although we have kept in contact and up-to-date on one another’s lives via Facebook. Needless to say, what my husband expected would be an hour out for a drink turned into over 4 hours of intense conversation (and some delicious beers!). That night brought me much happiness because it reminded me how far I have come during my journey into adulthood, and more specifically motherhood.

It is safe to say that I am one of those women who always knew I would be a mother. As an elementary and middle school music teacher, I have seen the various phases of childhood. Even the possibility of having a tantrum throwing preschooler or a bratty teenage girl of my own one day didn’t stop me from dreaming of pregnancy. My child would be different (hahaha). So, after 6 years of work, travel, and fun with my better half (two of them in marriage), we decided to try for a baby.

Remember when you were in high school health class and they tried to to convince you that if a penis was near you-not even inside, just next to you-that you could get pregnant? That’s bullshit. Seriously. Show me the woman who gets knocked up that way and gives birth to a healthy baby and I will slap her. And I know that there are women who will read this and think to themselves “girl, you have no idea”. As hard as our journey into parenthood was, I know of 100 other women (seriously, I know them now through my support groups) who had it way worse. I think that was a huge factor in my PPD. I felt like I was given such a beautiful gift and I was failing.

Before I go much further, let me explain the terms that have dominated my life since 2009. I joined a message board for women who were trying to get pregnant and I’ve maintained a close connection with many of them. When you join these online communities, you need to know the lingo:
PPD- Postpartum Depression
PPA- Postpartum Anxiety
TTC- Trying to Conceive
TTTC- Trouble Trying to Conceive
TTCAL- Trying to Conceive After a Loss
MC/PL- Miscarriage/ Pregnancy Loss
CP- Chemical Pregnancy
D&C- Dilation and curettage (removal of a missed or incomplete miscarriage)
BBT- Basal Body Temperature/Thermometer
FF- Fertility Friend.com (website to monitor fertility predictors)
KTFU- Knocked-the-fuck-up
BFN- Big Fat Negative (negative pregnancy test)
BFP- Big Fat Positive (positive pregnancy test)
BH- Braxton Hicks Contractions (non-productive contractions, sometimes referred to as fake ones)
BF- Breast Feeding

So, as I was saying, pregnancy is hard. I could write a novel about this experience and maybe one day I will, but for now, I will just say that it can be very hard. It took a few months of BFNs and then I had a CP, followed by another CP, finally followed a BFP. Hooray, I was KTFU!!!! The fact that I had already had two positive tests that didn’t work out barely phased me. I felt that this was it. At 11 weeks I had a MC that had to be removed by a D&C, in the hospital where my mother-in-law was being treated for lung cancer. I can’t explain that week. I don’t know if I could possibly express the sadness of finding out that the baby whose heartbeat I had seen only a few weeks earlier was gone. Or the feeling of hopelessness when I woke up from the procedure with an empty uterus. Or the defeat in telling my mother-in-law that she was never going to hold that baby. I thought that was the lowest I would ever feel. Unfortunately, I was very wrong.

My mother-in-law passed away two months later. I got my period the day after her funeral. I took it as a sign and began to chart- took my BBT every morning and logged onto FF to put in my temperature, listed my various fertility signs and waited to the computer to tell me that I was ovulating. Getting pregnant was THE goal and we were having sex for the purpose of making a baby. One afternoon I was sure I was ovulating and since we were going to visit friends, I said we had to have sex before we left. It’s pretty sad that I know my son was conceived during an afternoon quickie, after which my husband told me he felt like I had used him! I wish it was more romantic. I wish many things were different.

I thought getting pregnant was hard and staying pregnant was no walk in the park either. I spent the first trimester on progesterone supplements and on bed rest because of spotting and cramping. The second trimester was fairly uneventful although the cramping did continue. By the summer, I was in the midst of the third trimester and a pretty rough time. I was having lots of BH and was back on bed rest after two trips to the hospital for pre-term labor. I had to go on medication to stop the contractions. My friends and family came over to entertain me and help us prepare for the birth of our son. The day my prescription ran out was also the first day of school. I went in to hand over my lesson plans to my maternity replacement and went into labor at 37 weeks. Twenty-seven hours later, my dreams of an unmedicated natural birth resulted in an emergency c-section. The downward spiral had begun.

When you leave the hospital, they make you take a quiz to help figure out if you are experiencing PPD. I answered every question the “right way” in order to get out. Meanwhile, I was dying inside. My baby was small, the physical pain from hours of labor followed by surgery was unbearable, we were having problems with breast feeding and they wanted me to supplement, the doctors discovered he had a heart defect (a heart murmur that he will outgrow). It was too much. I told the nurse that my doctor wanted me to stay an extra day- he had not said that, but let he it slide. God bless that man. On the day I was supposed to leave I cried so hard they had to bring two nurses and a social worker to talk me down. I pulled it together and we left. That night I asked my husband if we could bring our son back to the hospital or put him up for adoption. I was serious. It hurts to admit that I ever said such a thing, but I was so scared. I spent hours everyday lying on the floor in tears. I didn’t shower. I wouldn’t be able eat during day, but would binge in the middle of the night. The biggest problem was my fear of putting my son down, so I held him all the time.

I became so fixed on my son’s safety that I really began to lose it. I would wake up in the middle of the night to nurse him, put him back to sleep, go downstairs and pump (he was losing weight and we had to supplement his feedings) and then try to fall asleep for a half hour or so before he got up again. In my sleep I would mold our comforter into a “baby” and wake up thinking I was holding my son only to find a pile of blankets. The terror I felt was indescribable. I was convinced he was going to die. Then I began to reason with myself that if that happened, he would be better off. The thoughts turned to my wellbeing, or lack-there-of, and I felt that maybe he would be better off without me. I started to plan how I would do it, never for a moment considering anything that would hurt my son. I wanted it to be in a way where he would be found safe and I wouldn’t be suffering anymore. I felt like a complete failure. I had wanted more than anything to be a mother and after all the loss, I couldn’t do it. Surely he and my husband deserved a better mother and wife. Someone who could hold it together, take care of her family, bond with her child and for goodness sakes, get back into shape. As I type this out, I can’t believe I’m writing about me. It seems so foreign, yet it took place in this very house.

When I seriously began to consider my plans for suicide, something clicked and I told my husband. He called my doctor immediately and I was put on Zoloft, which was safe for BF. I felt very strongly that I needed to continue nursing my son after all we had gone through. I began to see a therapist and soon added a psychiatrist to the mix to help monitor the medication. I was diagnosed with severe PPD and PPA. I started blogging about my experiences and made sure to post accomplishments of both myself and my son. No matter how small it seemed, I made sure to celebrate each step toward recovery.

My son will turn two in September but this all seems like a lifetime ago. I can’t say I’m “normal”, but I don’t think I have to. I have accepted that this experience is a part of my life and it shaped me into who I am and what kind of mother I have become. I am very open about my experience because I can’t stand the image of easy motherhood that we are bombarded with everyday. The magazine covers with the celebrities who are “back in bikini shape after only 7 weeks”, the TV shows with the perfectly quirky moms who keep their homes clean and cook healthy meals- even the Wall Street Journal with the story on the new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and her plans for working during her maternity leave (in all honesty, I wish her the best and hope it works out). The expectations for mothers are unrealistic and I think it encourages many women to look at themselves as a failure if they have a hard time or make mistakes. I say make mistakes and make them often. That is the only way you learn to be a good parent! Also, ask for help if you need it. Find someone you trust who can guide you in the right direction and be a positive force in your life. You need someone to advocate for you and your wellbeing. In my case, my husband saved me. It’s something I will never be able to thank him for, but I don’t think he’s expecting a thank you either. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and realized that my friends and family only want me to be happy and healthy and would do anything to help me get there. I am a lucky woman.

Thank you Sarah, for letting me share my story.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I am 29 years old, married and have no children. Well, unless you count our three cats as babies, we are childless. No little ones that look like us running around, giving us tax breaks, filling up photo albums or giving a reason for our parents to come over. Are we sad? Are we desperately trying to have children? No, not at all. I love children and have been stricken with baby fever in the past. But I have grown to understand that if it is meant to be, it will happen. If we need to pursue it more aggressively, the right time to do that will be obvious. My mother’s response to any disappointment I had as a child, was that it just wasn’t meant to be. I used to grit my teeth and roll my eyes whenever she uttered the expression. But now here I am! Saying it myself!

It is not from a lack of trying. We are no Fred and Ethel, a childless and bickering couple living vicariously though Ricky and Lucy’s parenthood. We are quite happy and in love! We haven’t made the decision to never have children, but aren’t beating ourselves up over it not happening yet. We have so much more to offer to each other to make our relationship solid and fruitful. Not that having children is a bad choice! But not having children should be just as respected and celebrated. Nobody is throwing us a party for our 10 year anniversary but if I had a bun in the oven, I would be sure to have a baby shower and endless celebrations to look forward to. Go figure!

My doctor used to ask me the same questions every time I visited her. “Do you have children? Are you pregnant? Are you trying to get pregnant?” Depending on my answers, she wanted to know why, like I owed her an explanation for living my life in such an unconventional manner. One time she went on to tell me how her niece was younger than me and having her 3rd child and looked at me with pity, waiting for me to offer up a lament of how I wasn’t pregnant yet. I wanted to say, “Look lady, it isn’t your freaking business. Lay off!” It was impossible for her to grasp that not every female on the planet was trying to get pregnant and have 12 kids. That people can get married because they love each other, not to fill an obligation. I wasn’t looking to get a guilt trip every year so I quickly dropped her as my doctor.

I am far from my clock stopping but it is ticking. People have stopped asking about when we are going to have kids but it is something that still hangs over my head. But here is the deal, not everyone is destined to have children. It doesn’t feel like a failure to me. It doesn’t seem wrong to spend my life with the person I love and being a family the way we are now. We have gone through rough times and I am glad that there wasn’t a child to complicate things. We have been able to focus on ourselves and each other when we needed it the most. I won’t get it into details to respect my partner, but I am thankful every day that we were given this chance in our lives to be without children so that our well-being and health could come first.

There are positives on both sides of the children question. For us, the positives are that we can sleep in late on the weekend. My sister has two kids and she is always jealous of our 11 AM wake up time. We can go on last minute trips, movies and concerts. In a hard economy, we have only had to worry about feeding ourselves and not any extra mouths. When you don’t have kids, you have an opportunity to grow your self-confidence and express your talents. Really find out what you believe in and the type of person you want to be. One day, if we do have miniature people in our lives, hopefully we will be able to provide for them and teach them to be strong and loving adults one day. Maybe the time we have been without children will have better prepared us. Or maybe we will grow old together and have some grand-kitties. Either way is fine with me. So take that, Dr. Snoopy-Pants!

Read more of Rachele's writing over at her blog The Nearsighted Owl.

When I was 'big as a house pregnant' or when I am pushing Jack and Mark around in their stroller I am often asked by strangers, "Do twins run in your family?"  Although simple on the surface, this loaded question brings up so much emotion.  My response is usually, "Yeah, they run in my husband's family.".  This is true (in Adam's extended family), but has nothing to do with Jack and Mark.  Twins who occur based on heredity run on the mother's blood line.  Jack and Mark are a true blessing, the outcome of IVF.  How do you respond to someone's simple question of "do twins run in your family?" by saying, "No, after a year and a half of pure agony, heartbreak, and physical and emotional turmoil they are the outcome of IVF."  It's not what people want to hear.  Most of my close friends and family know what Adam and I went through, but there are still some close friends who have never asked and I have unfortunately never had the chance to tell them the details.  It's so emotional, but that journey is a part of who I am.  I am not ashamed of the decisions Adam and I have made and feel that the reason we experienced fertility problems is because we were meant to have twins.  Jack and Mark are the absolute best things that could have happened to us.

I always wanted to be a mom.  It was more important to me than a career, but I wanted to do things "right" in my mind.  I wanted a college education, a strong, happy, fulfilling marriage, a successful career, and then children.  After a few wonderful years of marriage my husband and I said, ok lets have some kids.  I finished up my pills and that was that.  I've always been healthy, I was in my late 20s (young in my mind), why would there be any problems?  My body didn't quite go back to normal after I stopped taking my birth control pills.  After 3 months of things not quite being right, I talked to my doctor and she said that some women take longer to adjust back to normal.  She gave me a prescription to jump start things and get me to ovulate.  The medication worked well and we continued trying.  When the medicine ran out, my body still didn't adjust.  I could ovulate fine on the meds, so what is the trouble?  No one knew.  The gave me a refill and sent me on my way.  More trying, no luck, negative test, negative test, negative test.  Eventually my OB/GYN suggested seeing a reproductive endocrinologist.  She said they could test me out a little more and see what was going on.

The meeting with our fertility doctor went well.  Both Adam and I were sent for a lot of tests and everything came back fine.  Besides my body not wanting to ovulate without medication, we were both in great health.  We were thrown into the "Unexplained Infertility" category.  Basically they didn't know what was wrong, but those with unexplained infertility have the highest success rate of conceiving vs.other fertility issues.  Our doctor suggested IUI (an insemination) to increase our chances of conceiving since the old fashioned way wasn't getting us anywhere.  This seemed sooooo intrusive and I was a wreck.  Yes, I wanted a child, but I didn't need this...I am young, I am healthy.  "We have no reason to believe this won't work," they told us.  Three attempts later and still no luck, negative test, negative test, negative test and a call from my doctor saying, we need to try IVF.

I was devastated.  I had never felt so much pain.  How did it come to this?  I am young, I am healthy, there is nothing wrong.  Why do we have to go to such trouble to have a child?  This sucks!  It took a while for everything to sink in, but I wanted to be a mom more than anything in the world, so eventually I said, let's go for it.  "We have no reason to believe this won't work," they told us.

IVF is intense.  I won't get into all of the ugly details, but for a couple of weeks, I had to have my husband stab me with a couple of needles of medicine in my abdomen (sometimes a couple of times a day) and every single morning I would drive 20 mins to the doctor's office, get blood taken and get probed to see how my eggs were growing, then i would drive 20 mins to get to work on time.  For the egg retrieval, you are given general anesthesia and end up asleep most of the day while it wears off.  Then you get a phone call everyday telling you how your embryos are growing.  Finally a transfer is scheduled and a few days after the retrieval you go back into surgery for the embryo to be transferred.  A week and a half later blood work told us, sorry....negative test.  Talk about hitting an all time low.

Looking back, I think we were crazy jumping right back into a second round of IVF immediately after the first one failed.  It is essentially a two month process, so at the beginning of November 2010, we started over.  So many needles stabbing me, hoping our neighbors didn't see our trash and think we had become drug addicts.  So many early mornings to the doctors office.  Ugh.  The whole thing was so draining.  Adam and I insisted we transfer two embryos this time.  Sure, we might have twins, but we didn't know how much more of this journey, of the excruciating heartache of bad news we could take.  We needed to increase our chances, despite the risk.

I went in for my pregnancy test on Dec. 23rd 2010.  After they took my blood we jumped in the car to go spend a week of Christmas vacation with our families.  While we were in the car my nurse called.  "I have good news.  You're pregnant."  We were so elated.  I couldn't believe we finally had this bumpy road behind us.  It was all worth it.  Our Christmas miracle.

It wasn't until a couple of doctor's appointments later that they realized that Jack and Mark were in there.  That's another story.

But when acquaintances or strangers ask me straight out if my boys are the outcome of IVF or if twins run in my family, I don't get into it.  How can I casually talk about it when I had days sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of my bedroom wondering if I would ever get to be a mom.  Having twins is the best and most unexpected thing that could have ever happened in my life. If we would have changed any decision along our journey Jack and Mark may not have been the outcome and they are the most amazing little guys. Do you have twins in your family? Well, we do now!

Friday, July 20, 2012


Tomorrow I'm leaving to spend 10 entire days relaxing on Lake Huron.  Alex and I have been taking this vacation every summer for a long time now, and sometimes it feels like our entire year is always just leading up to this one amazing week.  In Harrisville Michigan, there isn't much of anything but one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire world.  We spend our days swimming, snorkeling, playing in the canoe, kayak and sailboat, reading, having fires, playing board games, cooking good food and drinking good beer and wine.

Our cell phones don't work up there.  There is no internet in beautiful house that we stay in.  We fall asleep every night to the sound of the lake's waves washing up on the shore and wake up every morning to a big orange sun rising up over it's waters.

So, I'm saying farewell to my blogging world for the next ten days, but I hope you will continue to stop by.  Inspired by all of the comments and feedback I received on my post on having kids, I thought I would put together a series of guest bloggers for the week that I'm away talking about the topic of "women and children."  This is what I wrote in my emails:

My idea is to feature women without children and also mothers.  I often feel like the discussion of having kids is a little bit us against them sometimes (mothers vs non-mothers) when I don't feel like it has to be at all, since thoughts about children is something I'm pretty sure all women think about.  Topics I'm thinking about are thoughts on whether you want to have kids or not (like the post I wrote) feminism and motherhood, body image issues and pregnancy, breast feeding, adoption, infertility, parenting philosophies, how having a child has changed someone's life, working moms, stay at home moms and anything else people may suggest.  My main criteria is that I want the posts to be personal not just fluff, I want people to get real in the vein of my "things I'm afraid to tell you," posts.
I'm so excited to share the posts I received from my amazing contributors.  I was blown away by everyone's honesty and how well spoken we all are.  I love that my bloggy friends are a bunch of super cool smarty pants!

So please stay tuned for Monday where I will be sharing our first topic from Kate on infertility and IVF. It's a tear-jerker and so inspirational - you and your uterus won't want to miss it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lake Michigan, Chicago, by Daniel Seung Lee 20x200

I thought I'd do a random post this morning (does anyone else ever want to type "this smorning?") letting you know about my normal life.  So first in news is the fact that I am leaving for a 10 day vacation to Lake Huron on Saturday!!! Oh lordy, I can't even contain myself.  And just as exciting, while I'm away, I will have a series of guest posters keeping my blog updated that I will tell you more about on Friday, but here's a hint: they are all super amazing.  Yay!  Organizing a series of guest posts on your blog is kind of a lot of work, but also so much fun.  And such a great way to become closer to blog readers and other blogs that I'm a fan of.  Have you ever done one on your blog? I highly recommend it!

So, I keep telling myself that I'm going to get started packing early this year- as in not wait until Friday night, but we'll see how that goes.  Today I should really do laundry, start packing up some of that laundry once it is clean and neatly folded and tidy up the apartment.  I don't know about you, but I always try to clean my apartment right before a long vacation, that way it feels extra good to be home and sleeping in my own clean-sheeted bed when I return.

I'm also waiting for a guy to come and pick up our old table and desk today (I posted them on the "free stuff" section of Craigslist) because my dad is coming with my grandma's furniture in his van tomorrow! I know, I'm spoiled.  I can't help it if my dad loves me SO MUCH! Thanks dad!

In exercising news, I've taken a break from yoga this week, for no apparent reason, and have started doing my Jillian Michaels DVD Ripped in 30 again.  I guess I was craving something a little more cardio-centric.  I've come to realize with exercising that I just need to change it up when I'm feeling it. I know this DVD will get old eventually (hopefully in more than 30 days though) and then I just have to move on to something else.  I think I'm starting to learn the way I like to exercise, which is to do something for a while, a lot of days in a row and then try something new!

In blogging news, I've noticed with the new Bloglovin' design that my blog and a lot of others aren't loading as new posts! Hoping that will change soon.  I'm curious, if you read my blog through bloglovin', could you let me know in the comments?  I think Bloglovin's biggest flaw is that you can't see who your readers are, only how many you have, and I really love finding new blogs to read based on who is reading mine.  So if you've never introduced yourself before, please say hey!

I'm thinking about changing up the design of my blog as well.  Any thoughts on this, readers? Again, tell me in the comments!  I like my current layout, but am wondering if it isn't professional looking enough and if I should have a banner.  I've been looking at some really inexpensive pre-made templates on etsy, and might give one of those a try since I'm a little web designingly challenged and am not really in a place to pay someone to do a custom blog design (although I dream about it while clicking through Freckled Nest ALL THE TIME).  So far, this is the main template I'm considering. Thoughts?  Do you think using a pre-made template isn't the way to go, and that I should just save up for a custom design, or do you like it the way it is?    Would love some advice on this!

And I think that's about it!  I have my writing class tonight, which has been going pretty well.  Oh, and I'm reading a really good book that I found randomly in the library (yay libraries!)  Alright, I'm going to go eat breakfast and start the laundry.  Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

After dinner, in our apartment, Alex and I could hear the faint sound of live music playing, and I remembered that someone had posted on my Facebook that they were going to a Counting Crows concert in Williamsburg Park tonight.  Do you think that's what we're hearing? I asked.  It seemed unlikely since the park is about a mile and a half away.  But we put on our sneakers and decided to investigate anyway.

It turned out it was Counting Crows we were hearing!  They were one of my all time favorite bands in high school and college and I still know all the words to August and Everything After.  We showed up right when they started playing Mr. Jones!  And while it was sold out and we couldn't go into the park, we weren't the only ones who'd wandered over for a listen.  These iphone photos do no justice, but the view was pretty good, and the sound was perfect.

What a well and cheaply summer Tuesday night.  I think 16 year old me would be proud.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The country has graffiti too, you know!
Yesterday, Alex, our good friend Dustin and I, piled into the car and went in search for a good old fashioned swimming hole.  We got a late start, due to the late night we had before (rock star husband) but woke up with a good attitude and can do spirit!

And it's a good thing too, because leaving the city is HARD! We had to deal with traffic, accidents and then closed roads when we finally got to the country.  Our final hurdle was a thunderstorm.  But we persevered, stuck it out in the car, and finally found this little piece of swimming hole heaven:

There's nothing like diving into cool water with slippery rocks that help you slide right in, to know that getting there was worth it.  We also found a hole the size of a jacuzzi with natural jets, and a natural water slide that went into a pool so deep we couldn't touch the bottom.

Oh, and we also saw a snake.

On the way home, we stopped at a drive in diner called the Chatterbox.  We will definitely be having this adventure again.  If you're looking for an amazing swimming hole to spend the day acting like an enchanted wood sprite at, here's how you get there:

Type in your starting point to this location on Google Maps

Once you are on Rt 2001, we followed our directions from Swimmingholes.org:

Turn at the Cliff Park Inn sign on the left (east) side and follow this road until you see the symbol for the hiking trails then follow the dirt road to the parking area (Cliff Park Trailhead) where there is a map and a vault toilet (LAT,LON of parking place: lat=41.3039,lon= -74.8329(source: measured) (accuracy: exact) LINK TO GOOGLE MAP.) (Depending which direction you are coming from you may actually have to pass thru the country club parking lot before you get here.) Hike on the trail (begin on red blazed trail then take yellow blazed trail) here about 1 miles and you will see the Hackers Falls and the large pool below.

Do you enjoy a good swimming hole, readers? Or are you a beach, lake or pool person?  For me personally, I love to swim so give me some water and I'll probably be the first one in.