Love is Love … Even 10 Years Later

I know I spend time talking about how marriage equality would do wonders for my family. How it negatively impacts my family and my daughter that my partner and I aren’t married.  Also, previously, I talked about how my work’s insurance would be changing and going to an IRS governed type plan. That it would affect my health insurance for K and how we would get her to her doctor’s appointments and pay for her myriad of prescriptions. It’s been a worry that’s been on my shoulders for quite some time. Because, K isn’t my ‘tax dependant’ because we can’t get married, she doesn’t qualify for my insurance.

It’s been tough, trying to figure out what we will do.

Then this happened:

All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes

I sent the article straight to my HR department and work and asked if she could please research how this will effect our new healthcare next year. I am very anxious to hear back. From what I am reading, and I could be very wrong, I’m tentatively hopeful, it could make K my tax dependant, which means she will qualify for my insurance!

I really hope that’s what it means.

What does that mean for K and I?

It means, 10  years into this relationship and 1 baby girl later, we are going to make a drive to Iowa and get married … legally! We are taking the next step to make it official. I always said i didn’t want to get married more than once, and I meant it. I wasn’t interested in having a “commitment ceremony”  when it didn’t mean anything other than our love and commitment to each other. We already  have that.

What we need is a legal marriage. It really does make a difference. People just don’t understand if they aren’t affected by it. I am over the moon by the way. I am excited to be ‘wife’ and not girlfriend, partner, blah blah. At this point, I’m not really as interested in the ceremony part as the legal part. I really hope my work is going to be able to recognize for healthcare, because that’s really the most important part of this!

I don’t have much to talk about other than this. We are making plans to get married and that’s a big deal. Once we have the paper to make it legal, we can have the ceremony that everyone gets. Punky will look adorable in a flower girl tutu!!

In the end, this little girl is going to have legally married parents.

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Picture-Perfect Weekend

God, I do hate password protected posts. I will just say it. I hate the stupid spam codes and I hate passwords I have to try and remember. While I totally know they are necessary. I still hate them. I especially hate that I have now had to put one on this blog!

Ugh.

Anyway, onto more fun things. AND the reason this post is password-protected.

I got a free camera on Friday. Well, let’s back up, so my camera, that my good best friend got me for my birthday … oh … three/four years ago, it has decided it wants to die. It hasn’t quite died yet, but it makes documenting every single, solitary moment of my daughter’s life very difficult when it just doesn’t want to get the pictures right. They are sometimes blurry, sometimes dark, and sometimes the lens doesn’t come out of hiding at all and there are moments, when my poor … very ill camera doesn’t shutter at all, or shutters too much.

So, my trusted camera has been on life support for some time. Frankly, I find taking pictures with my phone just inadequate. SO, what’s a girl to do when she NEEDS to take pictures of the cutest damn kid in the universe? She searches for a camera.

Where did I get a free camera? Well, I will tell you. I am a member of Freecycle. If you aren’t a member, you really should look up the local group in your area. I’m sure they are all over, well, at least, I’m sure they are in the US. Not so sure about internationally.  Basically, you sign up for the group, linked to YAHOO.com and you post for things you would like to have. All for free. You can also post things you want to get rid of. All for free.

I took a chance and asked if anyone had a digital camera that they just might be interested in giving me. For free. Now, look, I didn’t actually expect someone to give me a camera. But, I took a shot. And guess what? A very nice man contacted me about a camera. ARE YOU KIDDING? I’ve seen things like clothes or books or toys and such on the site, never something as great and wonderful as a digital camera. I mean seriously, we know how much these things cost.

So, the camera isn’t anything special. Not really, but it’s new to me. I am now in possession of a camera AND a 32 GB SD card (Which will hold … wait for it … 9,999 pictures!) for which I just had to use immediately.

I took Punky to a beautiful little place we like to take pictures from time to time and they turned out awesome. I also figured out, after editing these pictures, that my nearly 18 month old baby, just isn’t a baby anymore. She is getting too big. Getting too big, too fast!

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Punky is also in a very “Huggy” phase right now. AND I love it. She’s just too damn cute for words. Of course, I’m biased, so I will let you be the judge! Hugs and sweet baby “Aww” that comes out of her mouth, just makes me want to melt.

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After we got home, I gave her a hula hoop and we ran around the courtyard of our apartment complex. I just had to shoot her there too. By the end of the day, yesterday, she was just too sick and tired of the camera, but I did get some excellent pictures.

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This post is really just rambling and not worth much of anything – except the pictures that I took of my precious daughter with my free camera. And, as I look at the pictures and I look back at all the pictures I have of her life thus far, I am reminded – just how lucky K and I are. To have her, to even have her here. Through all the emotionally draining and physically exhausting times we have had over the last 10 years, THIS is what we have to show for it. We may not have a lot of money, but we have happiness well beyond anything we imagined we would have in that college dorm 10 years ago when we met in a little piece of internet history.

And in the end, it’s worth it. I mean really, when you think about, nothing else matters, but this moment. Oh, and this one, where you started using spoons……

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Take care everyone, there’s not much happening in our little corner of the internet. I hope things are all well with everyone who has followed. AND, I really appreciate you all, especially those of you who have followed along despite the stupid password!

Rachael

Hey Parents, Let’s Stop Parenting With Fear

I’m not sure I will ever understand the idea of parenting with fear. The media and the ‘research’ out there is geared towards fear and scaring the shit out of new moms and dads. We are in a constant state of fear when it comes to our kids. Making sure they are eating right, sleeping right, playing right, talking right, walking right, freaking blinking right. Or if you are a Whovian, you teach that kid not to blink at all.

Where is the line drawn?

In the end, does it really matter what the research says? No two kids are the same. No two techniques work for the same child nor for the same family. Why then, are we letting ourselves get all worked up about what the media says is the right way to parent? Why are we up in arms if the mother next to us isn’t doing the same thing we are.

Are there great benefits to breastfeeding? Absolutely! However, there are some women who can’t breastfeed and frankly, formula feeding your baby is just fine. They get the same nutrients, the same nurturing from a bottle as they do the breast.  I did both. I breastfed and yet, my baby didn’t latch properly – ever. It was never something we were really in sync with, Punky and I. So, I pumped. I hated it, but I pumped because I felt like I was obligated to, because I wasn’t a good mother if I didn’t give my child breast milk.

You know what I learned? Punky loved me either way. Punky just wanted milk and her Mommy. She didn’t necessarily need the two together from the same body. She was perfectly content to have formula as well, when I made the decision to stop pumping, because my breasts were getting mastitis from not being able to pump regularly when I went back to work. Punky didn’t mind. AND, frankly, I’m sure she would rather her Mommy feel better and not be in constant pain that drink breast milk.

Is it possible that crying it out can be stressful for a baby’s little brain? Absolutely! However, there are women who need to sleep in order to be better for their child. I was one of those women. I let my baby cry it out. I did in fact sleep train my baby. You know what the results were? One night of Mommy and baby crying it out and then …. a very happy, well adjusted toddler, who takes naps like a champ and doesn’t have a problem sleeping through the night from 8:30 PM until 10 AM.

It’s absolutely bullshit to sit there and say that ‘research’ says that crying it out has adverse effects on EVERY child. I refuse to believe that. Do I think excessive crying can be stressful for a baby? Yes. I do, but in the same token, we all know it’s more stressful for Mommies. The argument “If you hear your child crying and it doesn’t pull at you like a heartache, there’s something wrong with you” is accurate. However, it really pisses me off when people assume that I’m a heartless mother because I let my child cry it out for 1 night. Let’s get something straight right now, I read the research for both sides and let me tell you something, both sides blow each other out of the water. In the end, the conclusion in, it doesn’t matter if you use the sleep train method, the crying out method, the rocking method. Use what works for YOUR kid and stop assuming things about people you know nothing about.

Is organic the purest way to eat? That’s what we hear. It is likely better than fast food, well, duh, of course it is. However, if organic seller were really concerned with our health, they would make their foods more affordable. Period. What’s really the difference between organic apples and regular old apples? I’m not sure, I simply don’t know. I’m not afraid to admit that. The major difference I see is the price tag. So, in the end of the day, Punky can have the apples that have the same look and taste at a fraction of the cost. There’s no way I think it’s appropriate to tell my daughter that she has to rape her wallet just to eat an apple. If you can afford organic, I think that’s awesome, but let’s not forget that most of America is struggling to make ends meet. They don’t need to be made to feel bad that they can’t give their child the ‘right’ fruits and veggies.

In regards to the fast food debate, Punky gets fast food. We eat fast food in this house. A chicken nugget is not going to kill anyone. Is it likely not as healthy as some carrot sticks, yes, that’s right, it’s not the healthiest food out there to give your kid. However, after a very long day at work, shockingly some parents work, we don’t have time or energy to cook a full meal and still have time to spend time with our kid. So, would I rather sacrifice a few carrot sticks for precious time with my daughter? You bet I would. At the end of the day, don’t let someone make you feel bad for the food choices you give your child. Organic, regular, fast food, is your kid getting fed? Yes. Are they healthy weight? Yes. Then who gives a damn what others think!

Can it be a reality that spanking your child can hurt? Yes, you better believe it. I know from personal experience that a good spanking can sting like hell. However, are there really adverse effects to a little smack on the hand or diapered rear? I guess it depends on the child, doesn’t it? There’s a great big difference between spanking and beating your child. I will be the first to say that I don’t think spanking should be used as a scare tactic for controlling children. However, there are some times when a child needs more than a shake of the finger and a raised voice to get their attention.

I’m not advocating one way or another, because we do both timeout and smacks on the hand around here. If Punky is getting into something she’s not supposed to be, after a resounding “No.” if she doesn’t listen, it’s possible she will get a smack on her hand to show her that it’s unacceptable to touch whatever her fingers are reaching for. If she is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the living room, I remove her from the situation and place her in an area where she can’t get attention for her behavior. Let’s just remember that a spanking doesn’t mean you are beating your child. We should all know the difference, seriously.

I could go on and on about the things we parents let others dictate is right or wrong. What we allow the media to drive fear into us. TV or no TV? Front facing carseats or not? Cutting their hair or not? Gender stereotypes, gender roles, and much much more.

What’s the moral of my story here?

Kids don’t come with a manual, parenting doesn’t come with a training class.  Stop stressing yourself out. Stop stressing your kid out. Shit, stop stressing ME out.

Do what’s right for you. Do what’s right for your child. We have enough going on in our lives now, too much in fact, to allow someone who isn’t living in our home to dictate how we raise our children. Do you love your kid? Do you show your kid you love them? Are they fed, dressed, bathed, and healthy? Do your children have a roof over their heads and parents who love them? If so, forget the fear tactics and the ‘rules’. Do what’s best for your kid and stop judging others for a choice that may or may not be the same as yours.

Happy parenting, you all!

Punky Monster is Getting Too Big, Too Fast!

So, Punky is becoming a little person. She is still not saying a whole lot of ‘whole’ words – in fact, I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s a horse. NAY. However, she is independent and pretty darn strong-willed. She knows what she wants and wants it when she wants it. Basically, she’s a toddler that wants things.

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I have heard about the terrible twos, but she’s not even quite a year and a half yet. But, true to form, this kid is all me and I am very certain my mom cursed me to have a child 10X worse than I ever was. So, Punky is starting the attitude early.

But, she she’s sweet. She’s just so darn sweet.

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I have been yearning for the moments when she will stop being so busy and sit with me. When she will just cuddle on the couch with me and watch Bubble Guppies. Or sit in my lap and dance to the Fresh Beat Band. That time has come. She snuggles now and periodically hangs out ‘near’ me for moments at a time. She’s not content to be sitting for long, before she’s tip toed across the living room another activity that strikes her fancy.

She is mimicking more and that’s promising. As soon as I can communicate the potty concept, we are going to work on getting that diaper done. We live in a small apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer. We can pay to wash clothes, which is fine, but well, it’s expensive. So, while I could do the conventional ways of putting panties on her and letting it go, I just don’t have the laundry patience for all that right now.

Punky’s hair is getting LONG. So long, in fact, that people have suggested that I get it cut. That just breaks my heart. I don’t want to do it. So, I am torn. Her hair is all in her eyes and that makes me feel guilty. But, the back of her hair is so cute with curls started and I am afraid to cut off those lovely locks. So, if I cut the bangs and not the back, she will be rockin’ a not so awesome baby mullet. Not really my idea of a good parenting choice.

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In true Punky fashion, she hates when I touch her hair, so those cute little pigtails I have been able to get into her hair? Well, it’s a battle and a pain in the ass to sit through, for both of us. Lots of squealing and hollering … not just from the toddler. So, we have come up with a small compromise.

Barrettes.

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They look adorable and it keeps her bangs out of her eyes. It’s still a battle, but only for a moment and then as long as I distract her, she forgets there’s something in her hair and she doesn’t touch them. Unless something or someone reminds her they are in there.

So, she’s still climbing and she’s still eating like a champ. I just think it’s awesome how much she is growing and it still astonishes me that we have a toddler.

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Now, if we can check eating with utensils and potty training off the list. But, I am not rushing things. I want her to stay just as small as she is now, without the attitude! 😉

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. I know I am. And, now I really need to get ready to attend a Harry Potter themed wedding. This should be awesome!

Rachael

The Roles of Parents In A New Generation

I do realize that being a two mom family out in the open is something a bit new to our society. With the Supreme Court ruling in the US, while our families existed, there are some who are being recognized and for that, I am grateful. However, there are times that I am reminded the typical stereotype of a family cannot be changed overnight. LGBT families have existed for years, they are in history, hidden in the shadows and they are finally getting a chance to come out in the open.

Families like ours are redefining what it means to be a family, but it’s no different than single mothers, adoptive parents, divorced families, or families headed by grandparents or aunts and uncles. Family dynamics are not just black and white. Parents are not simply made up of a man and a woman, a mother and a father.

So, why then, do the first things out of people’s mouths consist of gender specific roles in family. When people see pictures of my family, especially my daughter, this is usually how the conversation goes:

Them: “Are you married?”

Me: “No, but we’ve been together for 10 years.”

Them: “Is she laying on Daddy’s shoulder, there?”

Me: “That’s my partner, yes, she’s laying on her mom’s shoulder.”

**Cue embarrassed look from the other person**

This makes me feel like shit. Why? Because I don’t come out the gate with my sexuality. My sexuality is not what makes me a person. It’s not what makes me a mother. It’s not what makes me who I am. My sexuality is not about anything that affects anyone else. My sexuality has nothing to do with sex, frankly, it has to do with who I love and who loves me. Who has loved me for 10 years and who I have walked through fire with for the last 10 years. And, that person happens to be another woman.

Why is it my fault that that this person assumes there’s a man in my house. I don’t fault them, I’m not offended by the question. I’m offended by the reaction. Don’t make me feel bad because you can’t think about your words before you say them. It’s not my fault that you have not yet figured out that there are different kinds of families.

What if I had been a single mother? What if my child was sitting on my sister’s lap? Or my brother’s? How is it that we have been so programmed in society to think of families in simply one way? The world is changing and I know change is scary – but let’s get with the times. Not for my sake but for theirs. I hope these people who meet me and realize I am not my label will think about their word choices next time they ask about someone’s family.

No two families are the same. My daughter doesn’t have a Daddy. She doesn’t realize that yet, but she will soon. I am not concerned about this because we will teach her about the different types of families and the different way that families are made. She will not feel any different or less important than anyone else she knows with a mom and a dad.

I’m waiting for the day when someone mentions something to her about her Daddy. What will she say, how will she respond. I’m certain this will spark questions for her and we will have answers for those tough questions. We are teaching our daughter to think about things and question things, she’s still too little to make her own choices and decisions, but she’s curious and she has inquiry behind those big brown eyes.

Gender doesn’t matter in this house and in the end, my daughter will be enlightened and more aware of her surroundings. She will not be caught off guard or embarrassed when she asks another child about their parents. She will not be confined to a rigid set of rules that define a family. For that, I am grateful. She really can be anything she wants to be.

So, Punky doesn’t have a Dad. I don’t have a Husband. Before you ask about someone’s situation or family, think about what you say. Change the wording to make it less specific to the ‘norm’, because in the end, what’s normal? Really? In the end, there is only family. Save yourself the embarrassment and uncomfortable silence by choosing your words more carefully. You don’t offend me when you ask these things, but it sure does make the conversation awkward when I have to correct you.

Mornings with Punky and Me

With the change in shift at work has finally gotten to be a little more settled. I’m told that I will be in the position for a little longer than I anticipated. I’m A-OK with it. I have never enjoyed my job more than I do right now. I thought I enjoyed being a senior, but in all truthfulness, I was a mini-supervisor.

Now, I have a full schedule of one on ones with my own people on my team and development and time management and keeping busy. I miss my little one a ton and I have been so sleepy, working 3 to midnight that I haven’t gone to many of our meetups with the group. We were able to make it to a playdate on Monday and today. It was pretty cool.

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Punky and I had a nice toe painting before I went to work a week or so ago. That was great. She went with her Mama to a fancy Italian restaurant and we learned that she may not like hot dogs but she will devour calamari. This kid did not get my taste buds, for sure! She has been living on fish sticks and popcorn shrimp this week from what I am told.

Monday we went to a playdate at a play place in town. We went with our playgroup and got to hang out with other moms and toddlers of her same age. I love taking her to this place because there are so many things to do. This time, she got to play at the water table – AND BECOME SOAKED – and paint her own face. She had a blast.

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This morning we hung out at the local fitness gym. They hold an open gym for toddlers and we have only gone one other time. This time, she went all over the place and was really adventurous. Punky has just learned how to jump, kind of … so the trampoline was the place she wanted to me. She did wade around in the foam pit for a bit, which was a little out of my reach, so as usual, I was anxious the entire time, but she had fun.

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The best decision I made in my parenting so far this last 17 months was to join this group and take Punky out places. It makes things incredibly fun for her, it exposes her to all sorts of things and we get to bond one on one. No matter what my work schedule looks like, I always have the mornings with my Punky. ❤

Take Care until next time!

Rachael