Monday, December 29, 2014

Learning to Savor the Now

2014 is coming to an end. I can't quite figure out how I feel about this year. On one hand it has been the absolute hardest of my life and I have found myself questioning time and time again exactly HOW much God expects us to deal with before we completely break. On the other hand, I look back and I think of all the good, amazing things that have happened and I am overwhelmed with a flood of gratitude in my heart.
I've learned in this crazy roller coaster that we call life we have no choice but to accept the good with the bad. It's not always easy. Sometimes it even feels a bit unfair. But in the end it all amounts to be the same thing: life.
This was my first full year navigating my new role of mother, What a ride. I truly feel this is my calling in life and I pray that we will be able to continue to add to our little family, hopefully sooner rather than later. Jon and I have always had a home bursting with life as we have thrown ourselves into our breeding program, but Chase has brought a joy to our home we never even knew was possible.
He has come so far since his traumatic entrance into this world at an itty bitty 2lbs 9oz. As much as I'd love to take credit for his progress, he is undoubtedly his own person. I'm not sure what on Earth I did to deserve this sweet boy in my life but I am immensely and eternally thankful for him. He teaches me every day. Sometimes I feel under-qualified for this role. How can someone as simple as myself possibly teach him all he needs to know and give him all he needs to have? But on a constant basis I am reminded that I am not in this alone. We have an incredible family and support system there every step of the way. He is coming along just fine. He is delayed in some motor skills, as many preemies are. He is almost 15 months old. He is not crawling yet and only recently started army crawling. He is not walking yet but can cruise furniture with the best of them. He does not say words, but it is so very clear that he understands so much about the world around him and is so responsive. He will do all he needs to in his own time. Life is not a race, and he is teaching me how to slow down and just enjoy the ride. Someday he will walk, and talk and I will miss this time to just let him be a baby. Someday he will flash his grin my way and his sweet dimples will be hidden beneath a 5 o'clock shadow and I will wonder where the time went.
I am guilty of being caught up in my own rat race. It's not that I feel I must compete with those around me- I dropped out of that race a long time ago. I am a planner by nature and often times find myself so focused on the future that I lose sight of the now.
Losing Grandpa Albert this year was a blow I could not even fathom before. I have never felt a loss so deeply or had a void so gaping and empty before. He has been a pillar of light and knowledge in my life since the beginning. His influence and example bleed into every corner of my life. I've lost loved ones before, but never someone so present in my life. Every memory, every birthday, Christmas, Summer vacation, baptism, wedding.... everything that ever happened in our family, there he is. Not having him here in the flesh is honestly something that even now, seven months later feels foreign. I believe that this loss is one that we will never truly go back from. Things will never be the same but we are discovering a new normal. I feel his influence so strongly, possibly even stronger than when he was here with us. It has brought a new perspective on death and the eternal plan.
Yes, no doubt 2014 has been a roller coaster. It has brought the highest highs and the lowest lows my life has ever experienced. Through all the pain, the sorrow, the laughter, the smiles, the ache, and the joy one thing has never wavered and that is my love and appreciation for my family. I know everyone thinks their family is just the greatest but mine really is. For real. I look at all we've been through, all the tests and trials and nothing means more to me than not even having to question if I have their love and support. I don't know how people even make it though life without that. I have such a wonderful husband whose patience knows no bounds. We celebrated five years of marriage this month. He's put up with me for FIVE years! But even beyond Jon and Chase, my siblings, my mom, my grandma... they mean the world to me and there's no one I'd rather spend my time with.
So, I'm looking forward to 2015. I have high hopes for the next year. I am sure it will bring with it its own set of trials and triumphs. One thing I know for sure, is who will be standing with me in the end.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Teachers in Life

I believe we are all teachers and students in life. We learn from those around us and are generally unaware of how much we teach in return. Jon and I have learned a few things from each other over the last (almost) 6 years. I'm an awesome teacher *cue sarcasm* and sometimes wonder how Jon ever got by without me! (Okay, truthfully I'm just really darn lucky that he puts up with my super weird self.)

What I've Taught my Husband
* There absolutely is a right and wrong way to vacuum, and the lines left on the floor make or break it. They matter. In fact, if the lines are wrong, you might as well not even vacuum.
* Socks are indeed monogamous creatures. Even after several trips through the laundry through wear and tear and stains, with a little help they can find their original mate again. Promiscuity among socks is completely unacceptable.
* "whites" and "colors" are only the tip of the iceberg, laundry must be sorted down WAY beyond that. There's blacks/ dark blues, then there's reds/pinks/orange, whites, garments (they're separate. Always) lights (light grey. beige) and depending on the lot, there may be more. And never, under any circumstances, do towels get washed with clothes.
* There is a whole world of cheese out there beyond cheddar and mozzarella. We have had many lessons around the Harmon's cheese counter, and probably spent a small fortune in the process.
* Dishwashers are really just a formality. Dishes should be scrubbed completely clean by hand (with soap. and the only acceptable kind is blue Dawn.) rinsed well, and THEN put through the machine. Then put away.
* Gravy is not ever made from something in a packet. Ever. There is absolutely no excuse for such abominations.
* One does not simply go to CostCo "just to grab one thing" ever.

Really, it's only after you live with someone that you learn how weird YOU really are. I was horrified when Jon tried to put presents under our tree early one year, I mean who DOES that?! Doesn't the whole world know the must go under late Christmas Eve!? It's funny how when two worlds collide you discover that no, the whole universe does not do things exactly the same.

5 Years and Counting

December is such a magical time. I just love the holiday season, I always have. I guess it should be no surprise that our wedding anniversary falls into this time of the year as well. On Dec. 18th Jon and I celebrated five years of marriage together. I look back and seriously can not believe the things our marriage has withstood. Indeed we have had our share of trials, but with each other I am convinced we can get through absolutely anything. My heart is filled with gratitude and warmth when I think of the people we have in our lives who have taught us so much and lead by example. Grandparents, parents, siblings. We would not be the people we are now if it weren't for the people in our lives. I am thankful to have such fabulous family, both mine AND Jon's, who have supported us along the way.
We have been through a lot these last five years. No doubt we have seen our fair share of highs and lows and then some! We have moved several times, both in and out of state. We've ventured into business ownership without a clue as to what we are doing. We've had pets. We've had a son who spent two months in NICU. This year Jon supported me through the greatest loss my heart has ever felt when we lost Grandpa in May.
But here we are, together. And we've learned so much about each other, about life, about everything. I could not be more thankful to have such a wonderful man in my life. Jon truly lives a life of service and he is one of the most respectable, inspiring people I am privileged to know. And what a fabulous daddy he is to our little Chase. I love him more and more every day. There's no one else I'd rather take on eternity with.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Won't Give It Up. Will Not.

Jon and I live a pretty reasonably healthy lifestyle. This means taking many elements of daily life into our own hands and making choices that might be against the mainstream. I don't think everything we do is right, but it's right for us and that's what matters. 
Nutrition is very important to both of us, and we take our health pretty seriously. I started making our food a priority before I ever got pregnant with Chase, and then it just got bumped that much further up the list when we got that positive pregnancy test. 
Animal ethics also rank pretty high in our home. I am not opposed to eating meat at all. I LOVE me some steak, dangit. My kid is practically a carnivore. We also seem to eat a lot of dairy. Cheese and yogurt particularly, but also milk and ice cream. Because, yum. But how the animals are raised and treated is really important to us. Their quality of life matters and in many ways impacts the nutritional value of the food, anyway. 
We also try to a avoid harsh chemicals when realistic and tend to lean towards more alternative medicines, cleaning products, and solutions. 
Reusable products are also big in our house. From shopping bags to diapers to unpaper towels to ziplock bags, we opt for reusable/ washable versions almost every time. I feel a responsibility to do what little I can to cut back on the waste. 
Yes, many of our choices have labeled us "crunchy" but there are just a few things I am not willing to give up. So this is me, turning in my crunchy card. 

1. Tide. I'm borderline obsessed with Tide. I love how well it works, I REALLY love the smell. I intentionally use too much and never extra rinse, because I want to smell it all day. Yes, it's a chemical concoction that is probably slowly killing us all. I guess I could start cleaning with borax and lemon juice and hope for the best, but I never will. I even clean my living room rug with it. Hi, my name is Linsey and I am a Tide junkie. This isn't even a new thing. I remember when I was younger shopping with my mom I'd love to go down the laundry detergent aisle and sniiiiiiiif. Nothing has changed, except the addition of Downy Unstoppables, which also rank pretty high on my list. Little chemical beads that smell like happiness. Speaking of Downy... dryer sheets. No such thing as too many. 

2. CheezIts. We spend a good chunk on groceries every month. Raw whole milk, organic cheese, pasture raised eggs, local pasture raised meats, organic produce. But among the lentil chips and organic rice in the pantry, you will also find a CostCo sized box of bright orange artificial squares of cheesy cracker goodness. I will not stop. 

3. Buying new clothes. I know, thrifting is all the rage, and oh so eco friendly. I have bought plenty of things used, from furniture (I looooooove my old school hutch, even if it is still empty because I have no actual use for it) to cloth diapers, to a diaper bag. I did buy one pair of jeans secondhand. But, I can't bring myself to dig through the thrift store racks of clothes. I like the organized and uniform shopping experience of new clothes from stores I like. I've never been one to care about name brand this and that but I find my taste in clothes is quite specific and though I could care less about what's 'in style' I do know what I like and where to get it. 

4. Family cloth. (cloth toilet paper) It's a crunchy thing, and I will not conform! I am so on board with cloth diapers, and even 'mama cloth' but I draw the line at adult poop. I won't do it now. I won't do it later. I won't do it ever. No thank you, there's Charmin for that in this house. 

So that's it. I am turning in my crunchy card, because I can not give up my mainstream tastes and preferences. I am going to do sit on my bed, which smells strongly of Tide, feed my kid some CheezIts (because, yum) and take inventory of my DoTERRA bag, because I know I'm low on several. I am indeed a walking contradiction. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Month of Gratitude

For the month of November, I have participated in the 30 days of thanks, posting each day something I am thankful for. The month isn't over yet, so not all of these have made it on my wall, and I will continue to do so through the end of the month, but I wanted to compile my list here, too. I think it's important to reflect on the things we are thankful for on a regular basis. I know that literally counting and listing my blessings, naming them one by one as the song goes, has helped me get back to a positive outlook on more than one occasion.

I am guilty of falling into negative thoughts fairly easily. I sometimes get bitter than Jon is away so much when really I should be thankful he has a job and is so willing to work hard to support us. I sometimes get overwhelmed at the task of unpacking and moving back into our home when really I should be expressing gratitude that we have everything we need AND a place to call home. I sometimes feel angry at the NICU related bills that have flooded our mailbox this year, when really I am so thankful for my little miracle boy. Negative thoughts come easy to me, I am not an optimist by nature and it's something within myself that I have to constantly work on.
Day 1: I am thankful for my affection and passion for dogs. It is through that interest that I have met some if my dearest friends in my adult life. My dogs, particularly the Danes, have brought me in contact with some pretty incredible people. From the breeders who have helped me along the way, to the ones I've simply looked up to from afar, to the people we have placed puppies with, to enthusiasts of other breeds. When I rattle through the list of "folks I like a lot" aside from family, nearly ALL of them I met because of a common love of canines. It's been a blessing in my life, no doubt. The dog community can be brutal. Nasty. Judgemental. But for me, it's brought precious gems into my life I can't imagine being without. New friendships and old, they wouldn't be mine without that common ground. For someone who has a pretty tough time relating to people, that's priceless. 

Day 2: I am thankful for modern technology that make fulfilling my designated role in our family easier. I can't imagine doing my mountains of laundry by hand all the time, and am even spoiled enough to not be able to imagine life without a dishwasher. These seem like such simple things, and in today's world are, but I'm thankful they allow me to spend more time doing things I love. 
Confession: I enjoy doing laundry.

Day 3: I am thankful for Ben & Jerry's cake batter ice cream. And that's all I've got to say about that.

Day 4: I'm thankful for my house. It isn't anything special. It's old, it needs a lot of work, but it's home. It's where I put my son to sleep each night, it's where my family comes together each night to recharge to face the world again tomorrow. It is my safe zone, my space. I'm thankful for these old walls.

Day 5: I'm thankful for Jon's job. Not only for the obvious income it provides, but that he's actually doing something he really enjoys and the flexibility it has given him. I was skeptical to say the least when he took the job but remained supportive. I am thankful that in the economy we have, he has been able to move forward and up in his career path.

Day 6: I am thankful for good music that helps me get my butt in gear and be productive when really all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch chickens explore the back yard. Kenny chesney and blake shelton will get me through this just-wanna-be-lazy day.

Day 7: I am thankful for my car, I can not imagine not having my own reliable transportation and truthfully have never had that inconvenience in my adult life. 

Day 8: I am thankful for my property. It's not much, just a 1/4 acre corner postage stamp smack in the middle of town, but it is ours. We have molded it into what works for us: a yard for the dogs, a chicken run, a yard for us, a big garden. we grow our food on this property. We make memories here. We are raising our family, two legged and four legged alike. In a world so many live without even a roof over their head I recognized how blessed to have that AND ground to use.

Day 9: I am thankful to live in the proximity to my family that we do. I do not love Utah County. Heck, I do not love Utah... , but for as long as family is here, this is home and I embrace it. (though I can not deny a chunk of my heart will always long for N. Idaho. 

Day 10: I am thankful for my chickens! Entertainment and eggs. Though... one is a rooster and soon I will indeed rip his head off when he starts making noise. But don't let that fool you, I like him.

Day 11: I am thankful for my bed, and the mere fact that I am blessed and lucky enough to have a safe cozy place to sleep each night. 

Day 12: I am thankful for Facebook and how easy it makes it to keep contact with our Dane family. I love to watch them settle into their families and be adored and loved. 

Day 13: I'm thankful for my holiday decorations and the simple joy they bring to my home. 

Day 14: I am thankful for my genuine love of cooking. Even if I didn't love it, I would still prepare healthy meals to nourish my family but it's quite convenient that I enjoy it so much. Even if I'm not great at it. 

Day 15: I am thankful for soft water. Perhaps it falls under the category of simple pleasures but it's something I appreciate. And so does my hair. And my plumbing. And my appliances.

Day 16: I am thankful to live in a place that going to church is as simple as walking less than a block, where many travel great distances every Sunday.

Day 17: in light of World Prematurity Day, I am thankful for the team of NICU nurses, doctors, and specialists that kept Chase safe and progressing during our two month stay last year. 

Day 18: I'm thankful to have incredible examples of motherhood around me, and to call so many of them family. Spent the day with Tanya, Grandma, and Sharlyn yesterday doing nothing important or exciting and yet, it was a great day. They are just three of the many amazing women in my life but quality time with them makes ME a better wife and mother, and I am thankful for that. 

Day 19: I am thankful for Tide. Yup. Tide.

Day 20: Jon asked me to make a wishlist on Amazon for Christmas shopping. I'm sitting here and truthfully.... there's not one thing I need. I'm in purging mode, getting rid of things left and right and I just have no need or want for anything. I am thankful to have the things I need to adequately care for my family in a time many do not. 
Well. Except I can always use more cloth diapers for Chase, right?

Day 21: I'm thankful to have the family that I do. It's special. Yes, we get angry sometimes and have small disagreements but never in my lifetime has there been a family feud. We don't stop talking to each other, or pick sides, or get ugly with one another. I thought family drama was something in movies until I realized how very special it is that not once has mine ever turned their backs on one another over a disagreement. Ever. 
Family is all you can truly rely on and I can't think of a better one to be a part of.

Day 22: our economy is not so hot lately. I'm thankful for Jon's jobs. Sometimes I get grumpy because he's gone so much but truthfully I recognized how blessed that he even has not one but two jobs to help support our little family.

Day 23: I am thankful for delicious home cooked food. We had Thanksgiving dinner as a family last night at my Grandma's last night, and I can't help but think my family's food is just a little more delicious than everyone else's. Ok, a lot.

Day 24: as we go into Thanksgiving week I can't help but feel it appropriate to recognize some of the absolute MOST important people in my life. 
Starting with my husband Jon. I don't know how I got so lucky to have the unconditional love of such a respectable, amazing man. I met Jon at a turning point in my life, and he accepted me and my past without judgement. Even from the beginning before we had the history to hold us together he was patient while I pieced my life back together. Every single day he makes me want to be a better person and doesn't give up on me when I make mistakes. Our marriage has been through more bumps than anyone realizes and I'm convinced that together we can get through absolutely anything. Of all the things in this world, of all the things I have listed this month, there is nothing I am more thankful for than the dedication of my eternal companion. I love you, Jonathan Lanman.

Day 25: Over the course of this week I'm recognizing with gratitude some of the people in my life that have been most influential to me. I can not dream up a better mother if I tried. When I think of all I put my mother through, it is truly a wonder how she managed to not ever give up on me. She's been through more than anyone I know, and is one of the strongest, most beautiful women inside and out than I've ever met. We did not always have a close relationship, and it makes me sad to think of the years I missed out on that because of my own selfishness and attitude. But now, she's truly one of my very best friends and there's few people whose company I enjoy so much. 

Day 26: I can not even put into words how much I love my siblings. I am thankful for the role they have played in my life, and I am endlessly thankful for the friendships I have with them now. When I hear of people who "haven't spoken to their brother(s)/sister(s) in years" it truly boggles my mind. We've been through some pretty tough stuff together, but even in my darkest days I've ALWAYS known I could count on these three incredible people. And it's not just a generic "yay for siblings" I am thankful to have the EXACT ones I do.
Tanya, is undoubtedly one of the most giving people on this planet. Her generosity and willingness to serve those around her is inspirational. Her home is bursting with love and you can truly FEEL it when you walk in the door. She's one of very few people who asks how you're doing, and genuinely cares to hear the answer. I aspire to be a little more like her. 

Shelly embodies nearly every trait I wish to foster in myself. I watch in awe as she stands strong for her family. I don't know how she does it with such little help and so far away. She's an amazing wife, mother, and friend to all those around her. So very talented, and so beautiful in so many ways. I have always admired and looked up to her, even as a kid but moreso now. 
Mitch will never know what an anchor he is in my life. Even when I was the screwed up teenager I was, I could always turn to my big brother. Now in my adult life, when things go wrong or we need help with something he's one of the first people I can call. I'm so thankful for his influence, I'm thankful that he's always been so honest with me, he can tell it to me like it is and I still know he loves me. Yes, I am thankful for my brother. 

Day 27: Happy Thanksgiving. As I reflect on the meaning of this lifetime, and our purpose here, my heart is filled with gratitude for perhaps the MOST consistent positive influence in my life: my grandparents. He's not with my family in the flesh today, but I know Grandpa Albert is so very close, and I am so thankful to have my sweet Grandma here with us still. When I think of my most cherished memories growing up, they are right there in the middle of them all. Oh how I always looked forward to Summertime when we would spend weeks and months at a time with them, I will never forget the excitement I felt when I'd be sitting in class and hear the recognizable horn of the motor home as they'd roll past, letting us know they were here, and we'd literally run the whole mile home to see them after school. When my life his ROCK BOTTOM in 2009, I showed up on their doorstep after years of pushing them away, drinking, substance abuse, promiscuity, and do you know what they did? They took me in. They lifted me up. They opened their home and hearts to me and helped me rebuild myself and my life. I knew they would, I knew I could count on them. They're just that kind of people. Albert and Billie don't just believe in the gospel, they live it. Their marriage is beautiful, and such a shining example to everyone around them. I have absolutely no doubt that my life would be nowhere near as joyful as it is without their guidance, example, and love. 

Day 28: It's no secret, family is so important to me. I am so blessed. I am thankful that after three years of trying, we were blessed with our little Chase. What an incredible little boy. No doubt he was meant to be ours. this little boy has filled our home, hearts, and lives with so much joy. I don't know what I could have possibly done to deserve him but dangit, I am thankful. He's beaten the odds more than once and has proven to be so very strong. I can't imagine life without my little buddy. 

Day 29: I am thankful for my knowledge of the gospel. I don't know how people manage to keep a positive outlook or cope with loss without it. It has been hard this year, dealing with the loss of Albert, the cornerstone to our family, and the only thing that has made it even kind of bearable is knowing without any doubt that I will indeed see him again, him and everyone else that has gone before me. I am thankful to know of the Plan of Salvation. Knowing my purpose here on Earth, and knowing the things I need to do brings me comfort and security. 

Day 30: I am thankful for the employees at Ruff House, for being honest, hard workers and making it the place that it is. I watch closer than any of them may think, and am constantly impressed by their dedication to those dogs. I know when I leave my own dogs there, they are in good hands and that is a priceless comfort to have! I appreciate each and every one of them for their hard work, and I recognize that without a fantastic staff, I would not be able to be home and present for my family. I am not the best business owner, oh no, not by a long shot. I have so much to learn still, always room for improvement no doubt. I'm thankful for their patience with me. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wrestling Alligators

I wish I had more confidence. I wish I wasn't so socially inept and could actually make friends and relate to people. I wish it were that simple. It doesn't make sense to me. It's not logical. I don't like it. I know deep down I am just as good as anyone else. I know that this is MY problem, not everyone else's.
The thing is, I truly could sit here and list off a million things I genuinely like about myself. I think I'm a good person. Sure, there have been chapters of my life I am less than proud of, and choices that I would like to forget I ever made. But, the person I am today, though I am not without flaws, I believe is a pretty darn good person. I am a good wife, a good mother, and a good friend. I have many good qualities about me.
I don't know why I struggle so much with my own self confidence. I don't know why these feelings of "not good enough" take over in so many social situations. I had two experiences yesterday with feeling unreasonably small.
The first was in CostCo. I spotted in line a local mama that I have been Facebook friends with for about a year now. Our babies were in the same NICU and we connected in a group of preemie moms. I've watched her darling little boy grow up through pictures. I can relate so much to her story, we've fought many of the same battles. She is kind, her family is beautiful. We've never met in person. The idea of approaching her was instantly paralyzing. And there was my mom, "Go say hi! Go introduce yourself!" As if it were that simple. The mere idea made my stomach turn, created a lump in my throat that could not be swallowed. Why? I don't know. I really don't know.
The second was at Buckle. I've coveted their jeans for a solid eight years. I went in to try some on. For some reason in a high end store, surrounded by beautiful people, there I was shrinking. Smaller. Smaller. Smaller. Everyone was so nice. I got no rude glares. No stares. No comments. No one treated me poorly, no one was unwelcoming. And yet, I could not shake this feeling that I didn't belong, that I was not good enough or didn't deserve these beautiful, well made clothes. The lady helping me was nice as could be, and full of compliments. Genuine compliments. Why then I stood in the dressing room, fighting tears and wrestling with the idea that I did not belong there, I don't know. There I stood, slipping effortlessly the smallest size that the store carried, watching as they easily slipped over my slim thighs, buttoning with ease around my hips and flat belly.... and yet, in my mind, I was the 250lb obese woman getting mocked and ridiculed and told I can't try on clothes because my fat body might ruin them in a clothing store in India. I go back to that humiliation every. single. time. And it's not just clothes shopping, I go back to being that person in all social settings.
At church, I go back to being that black sheep, feeling like everyone knows my past. I go back to feeling like I don't belong, like I'm not good enough, like everyone knows my deepest secrets. I go back to being 16 and sitting in the pew wondering WHY I couldn't stay on track, WHY did I make the same mistakes over and over? I wanted to do good, why was that so hard for me? I could feel the stares of my peers on me, as if they were wondering why I was even there. They knew. I had a reputation. One I had earned. I didn't belong at church. Now, ten years later, I still battle those feelings. I made my peace. I made it worthily to the temple with my husband. And yet, I wrestle that alligator every Sunday morning. Palms sweating, I walk to church. I sit in the back. Everyone is so nice. And yet... I don't belong.
I look at these groups of moms connecting, having play day dates, doing things that I WANT to do. I watch as friendships build around me knowing that I only have myself to blame for not fitting in. Knowing that if I could get past my absolutely baseless fears I could have that too. I could have play dates. I could have friends. I could do that. If I could bring myself to not be so weird.
I am not sure why social anxiety plagues every corner of my life. I am not sure how to overcome this. I am not sure how to make friends, or how to stop feeling not good enough. I AM good enough. I know that. I just don't know how to LIVE that. How to let that worthiness bleed into my image of myself. I don't know how to let that belief apply to my day-to-day life and become the confidence I so desperately want it to be. I don't know how to stop FEELING like the weird, ugly middle school kid with frizzy hair. I don't know how to stop feeling like the promiscuous teenager desperately seeking validation. I don't know how to stop feeling like the obese young adult trying to be invisible. That's NOT who I am, but it's who I feel like.
I don't know how to stop wrestling the same alligators every day.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Just Shut Up, Mr. President

I will preface this with a disclaimer. I know right now it's all the rage to embrace everyone for every single decision they make and to actually have an opinion on right and wrong makes me a straight up first class jackass. The thing is... I do believe most cases come with a pretty clear cut right and wrong,  or at the very least obvious superior choices, so I am fully loaded with opinions on pretty much everything whether I am entitled to them or not.
Also, I think Obama is an idiot with an agenda against the family unit, possessing no moral compass or common sense, and undoubtedly the most un American president in the history of this country.
Also, I hate the current feminism movement. War on women? How about war on family, folks.
So, there's also that. But at least my general bias is out in the open.

In a speech this week, he gave us this lovely gem:

"And sometimes someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay at home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. That’s not a choice we want Americans to make."
The speech in its entirety was a fairly pointless ramble about child care costs and how women are forced to leave the work force and how dare we make women choose between a lucrative career and actually *gasp* being mothers. Ladies can have it all! And apparently should. Or something.

"He's totally not saying women shouldn't stay home and raise babies, he's saying they shouldn't have to choose."
On the surface, this annoys me. Life is about making choices. Here's the thing: you aren't entitled to the fruits of another person's labors. If a woman leaves the workforce to raise babies for 18, 20, 30 years be it because she WANTS to, or has no choice, her value in a professional capacity goes down. It's a natural consequence of her choice. This notion that she should be able to jump back into the game with the same wage/ salary as her peers who have years or even decades of experience is pure hogwash. Women who have less years invested in a company SHOULD make less money than those who have put in the time. You know what also makes an employee more valuable? Experience. Flexibility. An open schedule. NOT having to call out of work because your kids have an appointment/ need a ride/ are sick/ don't have a babysitter. These are consequences of parenthood that tend to fall more on mothers than fathers (obviously as with everything there are exceptions) that make mothers as a whole less valuable employees than their childless peers. It's reality, and it's OK.
But let's force companies to pay everyone the same, regardless of what they have to offer the company because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy and then watch as we all go out of business for being idiots and then wonder why it happened. This simply does not work applied to real life. Women (and men) can NOT have it all. We all have to make choices, some out of preference and some out of necessity but in the end it's the same.

"Child care is too expensive."
Child care SHOULD be expensive. It's hard work and it one of the most important jobs in the world. It shouldn't be cheap and it shouldn't be subsidized by the government, even a little bit. The government didn't make you get pregnant. Your choices did. -Unless of course the objective here is to make it easy to ignore the importance of the family unit and how literally EVERYTHING becomes more complicated and/ or goes to Hell when we make choices that clearly go against that. Oh, wait..... 21

"But women should better themselves through education and career and staying home is a waste of their talents and skills and they will never reach their full potential sitting around raising kids!"
If you believe this, there is simply no hope for you. I can't even entertain it with a response other than expressing a genuine hope that these people don't ever reproduce if they place that little value in parenthood. How sad.

Our choices have consequences. Some positive. Some negative. Some both. That's just the reality of this little thing called life. LIFE. That thing we all live that is one big decision-making fest.
Sure, I have an opinion on what mothers SHOULD do, but I have an even stronger opinion on that fact that she should own the consequences of whatever she decides.

And I can't miss the opportunity to shine a light on how incredibly well the family unit as designed by God works. I believe The Family: A Proclamation to the World is the single most valuable piece of literature pertaining to our salvation second only to the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible (which work hand in hand, contrary to popular belief) You do NOT have to be LDS to appreciate the words that so clearly lay out God's intention for women as mothers and men as fathers. Indeed, when we live our lives in a way that applies these principles many of these problems- childcare costs, pay inequality, the imaginary war on women, government assistance programs- they all become nearly irrelevant. Within his structure it clearly states "Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation." What gets dangerous, is when we start laying out exceptions not based on disability, death, or other circumstances which may be out of our control, but rather to accommodate people's choices. Because we live in a society that likes to think that no matter what we choose for ourselves, other people should pick up the slack and accommodate us because LOVE, EQUALITY, PEACE. Stupid.

I could really go on and on but I won't. DO I think working moms are bad moms? Hell. No. Some of the best. It's not that black and white. Do I think when at all POSSIBLE women should stay at home with their babies, even if it means making huge lifestyle sacrifices and giving up an enjoyable career? I absolutely, positively do. Hands down. 100% of the time. Does it annoy me to no end to hear how moms "have to work" because they "just can't afford not to" because they really "need the money to pay the bills and get by" and they could "not even survive on their husband's salary." YES. Because 99.9% of the time it's simply not true, they just want to believe that it is to justify decisions. If you have more than one modest economy car, go on vacation, own recreational toys, have the latest technology gadget, buy designer clothes, accessories, toys, etc.... congratulations, you are working to support a lifestyle, not to survive. Kindly stop fooling yourself.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Just a Pet

Let's talk about dogs for a moment. To be more specific, let's talk about purchasing dogs.
I am a member of a handful of dog groups across the internet- most pertaining specifically to Great Danes but some general groups as well. Often times, a member will post a photo of a puppy and ask if they should buy it. There will almost always be something questionable about the puppy, be it the parents being in poor condition, puppies not having "papers" or kept in dirty conditions, or an obvious defect the product of a spot x spot breeding which is known to produce puppies with sensory defects. Without fail, the masses chime in and a hugely popular response starts of with "If you just want a pet.... [insert justification of problem here.]"

The thing is, even if you want "just a pet" you need to put some thought into where you get your puppy. When you give a breeder money in exchange for an animal, you're doing more than just taking a cute, wiggly puppy home. You're saying "I approve what you're doing, and not only do I encourage you to keep doing what you're doing, but I'm going to give you money to be able to do just that." I see all too often folks who think they rescued their puppy from the cruel, dirty conditions and awful breeder they bought them from. If they would just stop for one second and get control of their bleeding heart long enough to realize that's great that THEIR puppy now has a loving home... but what about the rest? What about the next litter? And the one after that?
Raising puppies the right way is very demanding of time, money, and resources. If these shady breeders aren't able to sell their puppies quickly, their cost goes up every single day, and if it proves to be a more costly endeavor than they had planned they might think twice before doing it again.

"Papers don't matter if you just want a pet."
TRUTH: I don't ever send in registration on my pet dogs. It's a waste of money, there's no point. But even so, I'd still not consider buying a dog that can't be registered. The papers themselves mean nothing, but the information on them CAN mean a whole lot. Having a registered dog means being able to trace where they came from. Health testing results are available online, you can trace issues that your dog's parents, grandparents, great grandparents might have had. Common bloodlines are easier to gather information on. If a puppy came from unregistered parents, not only can you not look into what health issues your puppy may be predisposed to, but your breeder can't either. And if they don't even have documented history on their dogs, what other corners are they cutting? Is that really something you can support?

Health testing isn't a guarantee- for the most part. Just because both parents have been OFA Heart tested it does not mean their puppies will never develop a heart condition. Just because the parent's shave great PennHIP scores it does not mean the puppies will never suffer orthopedic issues. BUT, the only reasons for a breeder to *NOT* health test their dogs is 1. they are afraid they won't pass, in which case they have no business being bred anyway or 2. They don't want to spend the money because it hurts their bottom line, in which case... what other shortcuts are they taking and is that something you really want to support? I hear breeders say all the time that they don't do it because they bought a puppy from parents with xyz testing and the puppy still developed 123 problem so they think it's a waste of money and/ or misleading to buyers. Guess what? It is not that difficult to educate people when they come to buy a puppy. It's not that hard to say "We did xyz testing, and that is no guarantee or promise but hey, we did what we could with the tools available to us to hopefully provide you with a healthy puppy. We did our part and we are here for support, come what may." That's not misleading. It's not making promises. It's doing the right dang thing.

I love Great Danes. They suit my lifestyle. We mesh well together. Their exercise and training needs are on par with what we easily accommodate and keep everyone happy. I admire their appearance. I enjoy their temperament. Their laid back disposition fits nicely into our family. I enjoy their novelty size and am realistically equipped to maintain them. I love their clown-like antics that keep us on our toes. I enjoy the fact they aren't a terribly vocal breed. I also mesh well with their minimal grooming needs. Ethical and conscientious breeding preserves the integrity of what these dogs should be. It doesn't take many generations to go from dogs that embody what a Dane should, to hyper lab-like temperaments, whispy greyhound-like conformation with hound-like ears and schnauzer vocals. Granted, these things can pop up in good breeding programs, absolutely- but they shouldn't be the norm, and those puppies should be placed with that disclosure as well. If you love Great Danes, and you want a Great Dane for all the reasons that you love them, it's vital to find a breeder who is interested in preserving those traits and can tell you HOW they are going about doing that.

There's so many controversial topics when it comes to breeding- particularly in my breed of choice. Color families, ear cropping, heat patterns to breed, how many litters a female should have and when, acceptable puppy visitation, diet and nutrition, conformation showing, what health testing is necessary... the list goes on. Do your research, know where you stand on these issues and find a compatible breeder. If these things aren't important to you, there are HUNDREDS of dogs in the system waiting to be rescued. If you don't care about history, health testing, etc. that's OK! You don't have to, we are all different! But, if that's the case, rescue! Give a homeless dog a warm, safe place to sleep and be loved. There is just NO justifying supporting a crummy breeder. It is a disservice to the breed as a whole.

But Linsey! What do you know about ethics?! You breed against the GDCA color standard. How dare you!
You're right. I do. I bred a fawn merle to a brindle. I bred a classic merle to a chocolate. I have every intention of pairing my fawn merle with a chocolate next year. I have twice now produced litters with brindle merles, fawn merles, and some drop-dead-gorgeous fawns and brindles. I can not give my support to a group that discourages healthy dogs being paired on the premise of color, while applauding pairs that are known to produce defective puppies. Never in my breeding program will a harl be paired with a fellow harl (something the GDCA is all kinds of hunky-dory with) I do not believe the color makes the dog. In fact, color has nothing to do with the things that matter- health, temperament, conformation, type- or any of the things that made me fall in love with the breed. I stand by what we do here. I have made mistakes in the past. I have seen where I went wrong, and we strive to always be improving. At the end of the day, I can say I TRUTHFULLY did my best with the tools I have available, we have some healthy Danes out there, and I'm proud of them. Color be damned. Until someone can give me a reason other than "The GDCA says so" I'm going to continue doing what I do. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Splish Splash, Birthday Bash

Chase is one. I can't even believe it. I don't know where the last year went. I can't even figure out where Summer went. It seems like we were JUST planning our trips to Powell and anticipating Timber's litter and getting excited about all that and now it's just... over. I never understood what the heck adults meant when they'd say having kids makes time go by so far. Dude. I get it now.
We had a small party for his birthday- just family really. Well... and Jim and Becki, who really might as well be family. They count.
We did a simple casual lunch/ dinner thing with an under the sea theme. It was a lot of fun, if not a little stressful, to plan and put together. I have never felt like I'm any good and throwing parties, I tend to forget the most basic things, but I am pretty pleased with how it all came together. It was particularly nice to have so much of the family together.
We especially appreciated that so much of Jon's family made the LONG trek all the way from Vegas just to celebrate with us. What a heart-warming reminder of how much love and support this little man has around him. I did a lot of reflecting on the past year but ESPECIALLY on those first months. I don't think as a mom I will ever stop worrying about him, but those were especially tender times. It's hard to think that there was ever a time that I didn't know what a PICC line was. I had never even heard of bradychardia, and apnea was something I only associated with older men. Now I have machines stored away in the closet, extra infant leads under the sink in the bathroom and I can trace a total of 17 tiny silver blemishes from needles that pepper his otherwise creamy baby skin, including the one right smack dab in the middle of his back- a reminder of the day we thought he had spinal meningitis.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Not just for the fact that my son was one of the lucky ones who came home, but for the flood of love and support that came our way during that time. He had quite the prayer army, and that really carried our family through those days. As if simply being new, first-time parents wasn't intimidating enough, no matter how much thought and effort goes into meticulously planning, NO ONE includes the NICU in their birth plan, and we certainly didn't. I figured if Timber could give birth in my living room, surely I could too. And I still believe I can, it just didn't go that way this time.
And now, one year later, I look at this happy, smiling, bouncy 17lb boy who has come into my life and made EVERYTHING have purpose. He's incredible. I can't believe how far he has come and that's no doubt partially thanks to his vast support system that only starts with Jon and I but is infinite beyond that. He's got Grandamas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends rooting for him. And I can not think "family support" without my mind going to Grandpa Albert who has always been the rock of our family, and though he's not here in the flesh any more, I have no doubt he keeps an eye on all of us- including his little namesake, Chase Albert, from the other side. No doubts.
As the day went on, we ate, we talked, we laughed. We sang Happy Birthday to our little 2lb wonder, and we had a blast. Though, I think Chase would have preferred we skip the singing. Apparently our talents were not up to par and it was quite upsetting to him. Luckily he got over that quickly.
I feel so lucky to have this boy in my life. I am lucky to be his mama.
We took him to his official one-year checkup with his pediatrician, and he was pretty happy with his progress. As many preemies (and plenty of full-term babies, too!) do, he does have some developmental delays, particularly regarding gross motor skills and communication. We have been referred to Kids on the Move to have him evaluated and get some pointers on things we can be doing at home to help him, and also some therapies we may consider enrolling him in just for peace of mind. There's nothing we won't do for him if needed.
1. has one tooth, with two not far behind
2. his favorite foods are yogurt, meat, green beans, and cheese
3. absolutely, positively will not take any bottle we have tried- and we've tried them all
4. can drink from a regular cup, with help
5. can wave buh bye
6. says Mama
7. can pull up from a sitting position
8. has advanced fine motor skills
9. has never had a babysitter
10. is in a stranger danger phase, but somehow we're simply OK with this.
11. Has exactly zero interest in crawling
12. Is so close to cruising on furniture. So so close.
13. Wants to eat anything and everything we are, but has nothing to do with being spoon-fed puree baby food.
14. genuinely enjoys the dogs, and thinks it's super fun to feed them from his tray- something I am sure he will do the rest of his life!
15. Loves bath time, and boating, and anything else involving water
16. is officially on an Ergo strike, which is hugely inconvenient.
17. Is a mama's boy. Oh... darn. *sarcasm*
18. Has no interest in other babies. At all.
19. Is down to one nap/ day, but sleeps well through the night.
20. Is nowhere near even CONSIDERING weaning.

Because, Danes.

It's that time again. I've raised our fourth litter, and I'm so proud of them. They're eight weeks old now so that means I'm sending them off to their forever families. It's very bittersweet. On one hand I am excited to get my routine back- you know.... the one that keeps my house clean and dinner on the table when Jon comes home. On the other, I love these little guys and I miss them when they go. It is so rewarding to get to see them settle into their new families though. It's my hope they bring as much joy to their new homes as our pack has to our home. They're part of our family- a part I can't IMAGINE being without. Every couch needs a Dane.
I've been dong a lot of reflecting on what I want Velcro Danes to be. What do I want to DO with it? Where do I want it to go? I've always been so hesitant to network or deal much with other breeders because it's so political and can get so ugly. I don't have room for that in my life. I just don't. But at the same time- I believe in what we are putting out there. I BELIEVE that the color families are NOT in the best interest of the breed. I believe in utilizing the health testing tools available to me to do my part. Of course I can't guarantee that our PennHIP or OFA results will mean my puppies will never have any orthopedic issues, but I can at least say that I did my part, and that if our families DO encounter problems, I'll still be here for support.
I care about this breed- not just for the ones I share my home, bed, and life with- but for the integrity of the breed as a whole... I know there are plenty of nay sayers who point fingers and criticize breeding programs that include "off colors" and break down the walls between color families. While I respect this view, I can not agree with it, and the day I make my ethical decisions in breeding based on what someone else thinks EVEN if it goes against what I feel is the right thing to do is the day I swear to quit. It's my goal to never EVER lose sight of why I started doing this in the first place. Because I love the dogs. Because I want to be a part of their future. Because I look at what they've given my home and family and I want to share it with the world. The truth is, when I read half truths and lies about myself or my program on the internet- it bothers me. To read that I don't care about my animals, or that I am only concerned with making money, because why else would I possibly breed the colors I do? But I let it roll off my back because I know the truth. I know where my heart and intentions are at. Those who know me and know my dogs know how much they mean to me.
Since I was a little girl I've had a passion for animals- all animals- but particularly dogs. The moment I lose that passion is when I'm done with Velcro Danes. That much I know.
Raising litters, losing sleep, agonizing over every little decision, keeping in contact with their families, offering support... none of that would be worth the minuscule monetary gain we somethings bring in... a gain we know we are just one c-section, stepped-on puppy, or parvo outbreak away from losing... if not for the pure and genuine love of the dogs. It's exhausting. It's stressful. It's BUSY. But nothing worthwhile is easy, that much I know for sure.
So we wrap up litter #4. It will go down in our records as our "Breakfast cereal" litter. A success. And we look forward to litter #5 next year. We will go on this crazy adventure again, we will meet new people, find new homes, and fall in love with a dozen or so new little furry beings. I've known my entire life I wanted to "work" with animals. I ruled out veterinary care a long time ago- it hurt my heart too much. I ruled out working with exotic animals, the interest just wasn't there. I thought I had found "it" with doggy daycare, and I do enjoy that, but having a regular work schedule is not for me and luckily I have a husband very supportive of my staying home and being a full time Mom to my little man. Breeding is not a job, but it's a whole lot of work, and it gives me purpose. I have at last pinned down exactly where I belong and exactly how I want to be involved in dogs.
There's a lot of back stabbing, double-crossing, lying, and gossip involved in the Dane world. Moreso than any other breed I've ever cared to be involved with. (Boxer people can get pretty ugly, but not like THIS. Corgi people are awesome.) I refuse to take part in this, and I am immensely thankful for the people who have helped me along the way and been patient as I learn to navigate this whole world of Danes. For Jon and Natalie for showing me that I didn't need a massive house and massive yard to foster my massive love of Danes. For Whitney for not taking complete advantage of my inexperience and scatter-brained ways as of late. For Keri and Renee for trusting me to do right by our Danes, and giving me the opportunity to get started on this venture. For every single family we have ever placed a puppy with- for keeping in contact, providing amazing, loving homes, and becoming a part of our extended family. For Shannon for having extreme patience with me as we work out our first-ever co ownership, allowing us to expand our program. I've met so many wonderful people involved with this breed, and that makes all the rest worth it. We have exciting plans for next year, and we can't wait to share them. In time.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Antisocial Media

Social media is in nearly every home these days. I applaud those who have kept it out. Sometimes I wish I had. 
I love how easy it makes it to connect with people. I have a sister in Texas that I keep in good contact with very easily. Jon's family in Vegas are all on Facebook. I have a wonderful, supportive group of ladies with babies close to Chase's age that I've connected with that have been a huge help to me the last year. Old friends, new friends, family... it's all easy communication. Social media is like an open window into our lives, where we can share as much or as little as we wish. 
But sometimes I feel like our lives could use some time with the curtains drawn. I find myself stressing over things that normally wouldn't matter. Moreso lately than usual I have found myself debating if I would make different decisions if I was not concerned what everyone would think. You see, I'm feeling a bit stretched thin these days. Overextended. Overwhelmed. I feel like I'm trying to maintain my dogs, be a Mom, be a good wife, a good friend, prepare the house to sell, raise these puppies right, and deal with the huge crisis that our nuclear family is going through and it's proven to be a bit much. I often find myself laying awake at night for hours on end with my mind racing until my body gives in to exhaustion and I fall into a restless, anxious sleep.
When will the house sell? When will the puppies sell? Where will we live? Am I going to lose my car? Will the dogs be ok extended boarding AGAIN? Are people judging me poorly for them being in this situation? Is this going to hurt my business? I don't want to be a burden on those around me. Are Chase's delays more than just delays? Am I doing things right with him? I feel like people blame me for his not hitting his milestones on time. 
There's so much good that can come with social media. Unfortunately it also allows for a lot of unnecessary transparency that gives way to people's judgement and opinion. Likely, this is happening more in my head than in reality but it doesn't change the fact that too often I am weighing what people will think- how our choices will be perceived by the outside world- when making decisions for our family and I think sometimes it gets in the way of what's best for us.
The truth is, I'm an introvert by nature and though I limit my interactions with people because I find it truly exhausting, I still have this childish need for acceptance. This need has led to me overextending myself and my resources. And, if I'm being totally honest with myself it's had more of a negative impact on my family than I'd like to admit. I try to be a people pleaser and it really effects me when I think people are mad at me or doubt my intentions. It shouldn't, but it does, and I feel like social media makes it easier to worry about the things that don't matter because they're so easily brought to the forefront of everything.
I feel like it's time to really refocus my priorities and figure out what I want out of this chapter of life. Jon and I are going to be moving this winter- something we did not plan or want but we have no choice in the matter due to circumstances- and I feel like though it's a huge cause of stress right now maybe the opportunity to start over is exactly what we need. We really have been though so much. Very few people know what our marriage has weathered. There's a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now but I am thankful to know for absolute certain that no matter what comes our way, we will face it together. I am immensely blessed to have him in my life and though there have been times in the past we have taken each other for granted, (and really, what married couple hasn't?) he's my rock. I would not have chosen to be in the situation we are in, not in a million years, but it's starting to make sense. I am seeing a silver lining ahead. A fresh start. A new beginning. And all we have to do is brave this storm to get there.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Garden Noms!

I can not believe that Summertime is coming to an end. Mostly, I can't believe Chase is almost a year old. We've had some really good times and made some really good memories this season. Our family has been through some tough stuff, and continues to endure through the storm, but all in all, I can't make too many complaints.
One of the things I've really enjoyed this Summer has been our first year gardening. When we ultimately made the decision to NOT move last year, there were a few things that had to change on this property- one of which was finding space for a garden. We didn't want to give up any of our backyard space because it's already so limited and we have so many darn dogs that like to run and play, so Jon built 6 6'x6' garden boxes that we plopped right into the front yard. I didn't know how it would turn out. I am not an experienced gardener by any means.
We learned a lot about what we will do differently next time around. Everything got planted while Jon's mom was in town and I was spending most of my time with my family as Grandpa Albert's passing was so fresh we were still processing together. When Jon told me we had 12 tomato plants in one box I knew things would be interesting... and they have been!
Our peas were planted about two weeks late, and had a rough start but they did end up producing for quite a long time and I loved every single one of them. Our green beans for some reason boomed but have failed to actually produce beans yet. I'm not sure if they WILL or if we goofed up on them somehow. For sure something to troubleshoot and sort out for next year. Our cauliflower went in way too late and we knew it. We knew when we planted it that the chances of it making it were slim- and we were right.
We are at the peak of the season now and enjoying our daily haul. Fresh onions, carrots, cabbage, two kinds of lettuce, bell peppers, cucumbers... and when my tomatoes begin to ripen we will indeed be swimming in romas and beefsteak. I am pretty proud of the success we've had because we started everything from seeds, outdoors.
We have not used ANY weed spray or pesticides in our garden whatsoever. I weed the earth by hand. We have lost some leaves and whatnot to bugs but so far the produce has been left alone and has tasted wonderful.
If we were staying in this house, we would spend the winter smothering the grass in preparation for a jigsaw of garden boxes to cover the entire front yard. I have learned that though it is hot, tiring work sometimes I really enjoy gardening a lot. After sunset when Chase goes down for an evening nap I am just itching to get out there and see what the garden has to offer for that day. It's a time that brings me a lot of mental clarity, too. I often times get overrun by my busy mind that I struggle to shut off, but something about being in the garden helps me to think more clearly.
I have always felt a certain level of responsibility to become as self-sufficient as possible. It just makes no sense to me to be watering lawn just because that's what society has decided is the ideal use of ground space in the suburbs here. My garden isn't costing me anything other than what I was already spending. The difference is that I am picking delicious veggies rather than mowing that much more lawn. I can't help but wonder how many less hungry kids there would be if everyone adopted a front yard garden in place of turf. I feel good about being able to provide something so valuable for my family and friends. It is my hope that when we move we can find room for another garden, and implement all the lesson we've learned and make it that much more successful. I have hopes of being able to feed my family and a few others from what our new ground will have to offer.
It is important to me to be contributing positively not only to my nuclear family, but to extended family and my community as well. I feel like this is one way I can do that, and the fact I find it so healing to my mind is a huge, huge bonus. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lost Bodies

Bodies. We all have one. We are often taught that our bodies are temples and to take care of them. I mean, after all you only get one! Our bodies can do some incredible things, and when you really stop and think about every system and process we are capable of, and how it all works it can be really mind-blowing. Pregnancy in particular is fascinating. The ability for a whole new life to form, grow, and be birthed. Honestly, I think it's incredible. I mean, not that turning a taco into poop isn't totally impressive too, it is- but of all the bodily functions I do find reproduction to be one of the more impressive and intriguing.
Thanks to my browsing history, many of the ads and articles that come up on my laptop are baby and postpartum related... well, that and Great Dane. I'm often times put off by how many of those are related to "getting your body back after pregnancy." Now, I know I am probably being a little nit picky on wording here but... what the heck does that even mean anyway? I mean, do people actually LOSE their bodies when they become pregnant and then have to go out and search for them to get them back? Does this actually happen? NO!
In fact- pregnancy made me more aware of my body than ever before. No way was I misplacing it. Not even a limb or two. No doubt pregnancy changed my body. I have stretch marks I didn't have before. (Don't worry, they just blend in with the roadmap of the ones that were there already. Thank you non-elastic skin type!) My belly which once grew my sweet boy is now squishy like Jell-O. Like, seriously squishy. I'm totally rocking what in the cat world is known as a spay sway. My boobs aren't quite what they used to be. In fact, first thing in the morning I have awesome boobs and feel like maybe I don't want that boob job after all. But, as the day goes on they deflate and sport the rock-in-a-sock look. My c-section scar which is bigger than most due to the emergency nature of my surgery will always be there. But you know what? These are signs, physical reminders, of the life my body created.
We as a society put so much value in pretty bodies we neglect to recognize the pure beauty in a body that has created life- one that has gone through the most divine transformation a human body can possibly go through. My postpartum body isn't what most consider pretty. It's not what you see on a tabloid. But it's mine. And I am learning to love it.
My body has been through many chapters of life. It's been abused by alcohol and drugs. It's been marked by ink. I was that teenager that never actually was overweight but thought I was fat anyway. I've been 258 lbs. I've been 107lbs (my low last year- it was NOT pretty, or intentional. That's what having a baby in NICU does...) I now reside at a healthy weight for my body, but battle a very sensitive digestive system. I have skin so sensitive that shaving my legs means being covered in painful red spots. So guess what? Sometimes, I go WEEKS without doing it. Being body positive is something I've always struggled with. No matter what I've looked like I've been able to find something wrong with myself- something worth hating. Until now. Now, through all those imperfections and "uglies" I see a body that did something UH MA ZING. I see these bodies all around me. And I see women hating themselves, constantly commenting on the baby weight, the wide hips, the bigger clothing.
I guess my point is... to all the mamas out there who somehow lost their bodies while incubating an entire human being, I hope you are able to find them. And when you do, relish in the beautiful changes. (And then freaking put a GPS locator on that thing. Never again should you be running around without a body.) And then pat yourself on the back because you made a freaking PERSON. And that's really damn impressive. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Freedom and Business

Freedom is a funny thing. We love to have it. Many have died for it. We take pride in it. Oh yes, we Americans sure do love freedom... until someone does something crazy like... oh, I dunno, exercise it.
Last week it was Hobby Lobby, and this week it's CostCo.
Honestly, it didn't surprise me that the Hobby Lobby court case caused a huge uproar. It's *REALLY* easy to make Democrats cry victim. Somehow their refusal to cover certain contraceptives translated into them denying contraceptives to their employees. Which, let's just back up for a quick minute here. I'm NOT going to buy you a new car. Ever. Does that mean I am denying you the "right" to own a car? No. It means I'm not giving it to you, go buy your own. Problem solved. For some reason this big chunk of the population is sadly under the impression that 1. contraceptives are a human right, and that 2. everything in the world should be given to you. Neither of which are true. So, Hobby Lobby is no longer forced under Obamacare to provide "contraceptives" that interfere with the progression of an already fertilized egg- such as the plan B pill, but they still provide 16 out of 20 available methods of birth control. Go them. Not to mention their employees are treated very well and paid more than most retail jobs. Go ahead, liberals, cry that you might have to pay for your own abortions. *eyeroll* Yeesh, if you don't like the terms of employment- work for a different company! Find work elsewhere. If it's SUPER important to you that your employer provide you the morning after pill every time you screw up then work for one who does. It's really that simple. And if you're all in a tizzy that Hobby Lobby can't do this because it's none of their business... guess what? Your healthcare is none of their business, either. They don't have to provide ANY insurance, but they do. For a company that large they;d be better off paying the fees/ taxes and not providing any at all, but that's not what they did because they're not assholes.
What DID surprise me a bit here recently is that CostCo pulled a book with conservative views from the shelves and Republicans freaked out about it. Um. What? A business has a right to sell or not sell any product they want. Again, CostCo not selling XYZ book is NOT censorship. It's a business deciding they don't want to stock something because of sales, morals, or any slew of reasons. Guess what? In my storefront I refuse to carry poor quality crappy dog foods like Purina, Iams, and Pedigree. I, as the business owner, have made that decision- that products that don't meet *MY* standard in quality won't have a space on our shelves. I have a right to do that. I am in no way infringing on your right to buy whatever the heck you want, you will just have to go to another store to poison your animal. CostCo can choose to carry or not carry whatever they want. I see people commenting how they're going to boycott CostCo and go sign up for Sam's Club. Because, you know, the sister company to Wal Mart in NO WAY presents moral and ethical conflicts of their own. CostCo treats their employees well (overall rated one of the best companies to work for) and presents reasonable prices on quality products. Plus, their bacon is freaking delicious. Whether them pulling the book actually had to do with sales, or if it was the head honcho's bias that led to it- it doesn't matter. All these people crying censorship and complaining about their rights are idiots. Id. I. Ots.

I'm sure as heck not boycotting Hobby Lobby for the owners having a moral conflict with certain forms of birth control, and defending their right to not pay for them. There's a lot of things I have moral issues with. I don't support rodeos- so I don't give my money to them. I don't support abortion- so I don't donate to Planned Parenthood. I don't support animal abuse an exploitation- so I don't donate to PETA or HSUS. (oh, snap!) People can choose to take part in these things all they want. I will not stand in someone's way to jump in line for a rodeo ticket. I don't get in the way of people's murders abortions. I don't stop people from donating to whatever scam charity they wish. But, I want nothing to do with it and forcing me to contribute to it would be unethical. So, good for Hobby Lobby. You don't have to agree with their stance on the issue to see that they have every right to not pay for something like that.
I'm also not boycotting CostCo for their decisions to pull a book from the shelves- even a book that I probably support more than not. (I can't say for sure, I haven't read it) Why? Because that's their prerogative and if I want to read that book there's a million other places I can get it. If the owners of CostCo want to pull a product due to sales or morals, go them. I don't care. I will keep going. I will keep buying bacon.
I also have to chuckle to myself because I know most of these people are all talk. History shows that very few people ACTUALLY will inconvenience themselves or change habits just for the principle of the matter. If someone is pissed at CostCo, but it's a close, convenient store... they're not going to stop going.

Also, people suck.