2014 Christmas Countdown Day 4,5,6 And the headless wise man…

Yep, I suck at blogging this year when it comes to the Christmas Countdown this year.

Day 4 – Making Christmas Cards for family and friends. She got to color all the cards and then we put wallet sized pictures of her and Santa inside and will mail them to our family and friends. Mostly, my family who is out of town and we don’t see them as much as we do Kim’s side of the family.

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Day 5 – Write a letter to Santa.

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I think she really enjoyed the letter writing to Santa. This year, she’s really getting interactive and that’s why the activities that I picked for this year’s countdown was more interactive and meaningful. If you notice, she asked Santa for … TWO bikes. I also love that she made her squiggles on the lines, like she was really writing a letter.

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Day 6 – Christmas Movie Night with Moms. We watched a movie on Netflix called Little Brother, Big Trouble. About a little reindeer who has to come to terms with his family being different than he wanted. His dad was Prancer and he lived with his mom. His mom was getting married again and the new step reindeer dad had a son. He was not happy about a new ‘dad figure’ or a ‘little brother’. It was kind of touching and nice to see a family with divorced and remarried parents. I don’t remember seeing much of that, reflecting my own family dynamic growing up.

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So far the countdown has been quite the success – and its awesome because she’s sooo interactive. She’s so excited about Christmas and since its my favorite holiday, I’m excited share it with her.

Of course, with this holiday, comes the beginning of the questions that haven’t been asked yet, but I am mentally preparing myself. She loves all the decorations, all the fun stuff around the house, and thus far, she hasn’t really caught on that Christmas, to some people, is not just about baking cookies and getting presents from a jolly fat man who flies the world. To some people its something more. Something we don’t necessarily believe in – her mama and I.

I’ve been bracing myself for the questions. For the why and who and what for that kids always have – and maybe this isn’t the year that will happen. Maybe this year, it will be simply having fun and celebrating with her moms.

She loves all the decorations, especially the talking Santa.

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But, she also loves the Nativity that Grammy has out right now. Complete with Mary, Joseph, the wise men and baby jesus. She likes to play with the little figurines, so much so that the heads have been popped off of the porcelain people.

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She knows that the baby in the manger is baby jesus and she isn’t supposed to hide him. She knows that the two people next to baby jesus are his parents, Mary and Joseph. That’s the extent of what she knows. She likes to hold the baby jesus – even though she hid him that one time. She likes to hold them. So far, she hasn’t asked why Grammy has a Nativity or what its for. She just knows its fun decorations for Christmas time.

I know, the time will come – when she wants to know the story behind that Nativity. And its a story I know well – I can recite it in my sleep. But, Kim and I have not really discussed how we will approach the subject when it comes up.

I mean do we proactively tell her the story that other people believe or do we wait until she asks. Is she really too young to have that discussion? We have lots of different faiths in the family right now. Our own family – her moms – are atheist. We don’t really believe in the ‘spirit of Christmas’ in the same way that Grammy and Papa do. Of course, we also have a set of cousins that are Jewish converts, they are celebrating Hanukkah this year and won’t be having Santa visit their house.

With all the different beliefs in our blended family – what is the appropriate way to approach the subject? Or, maybe I’m just making it too complicated.

I’m so on guard about how we will discuss it. I’ve just recently, in the last few years, myself been more in tune with my non-believing side and what that comes with. I have grown up as a Christian – listening to the story of Jesus’ birth every Christmas Eve, listening to the Christmas carols and thinking of the Christ who saved us, and attending or participating in the Christmas pageants at church.

So, like all things that come with the religious upbringing that has been put in my head from a very young age, it still creeps up. It also makes it difficult to decide how we should approach the subject with our own daughter. The daughter we want to make her own choices, ask her own questions, think her own beliefs.

But, she’s two. She’s interested in tutus and fairies (that’s what she calls the angels around the house) and Santa. So why complicate it with another story, about another imaginary man in the sky?

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I suppose I will enjoy the innocence. The oblivion to the religious undertones that surround her during this holiday. The history and the stories – the beliefs and non-beliefs of her family and friends. She just thinks its a pretty holiday – one filled with magic and presents, and soon with our countdown it will be one of giving as well as receiving, so in the end, that’s all that matters.

But, I struggle with the anxiety of what to say, when the questions come. Because they will come. She’s a smart cookie. She has questions. She’s full of curiosities. It is going to be inevitable. My anxiety disorder is starting to dampen my on Christmas spirit, with the whys and what ifs and the questions that are soon to be coming. I just have to keep reminding myself that I have to enjoy the non-questions this year, and simply wait until they come.

Until that time, we will spend time with our daughter and celebrate the magic and joy of Christmas.

A Monster is Visiting Our House

With being a parent comes the fun and exciting world of “How the hell do you react to that?” moments. I’m having  a few of those lately. I mean, there’s no magical handbook to parenting that comes with your kid. It doesn’t come flying out with the placenta to say, “Here’s how to raise this kid.” and has the perfect guide to every possible situation you will encounter. If it did, I would need to read up on the chapter of “When a Monster Visits Your Toddler.”

Yesterday was a very looooooooong day. And it started as my only day off in the week. And ended with me falling asleep at 7PM, before Punky’s bedtime and getting no cuddle time at bedtime. SAD DAY.

Let’s start at the beginning.

This cute face showed up at the top of the basement steps at 6:30AM yesterday.

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I had fallen asleep around 3-3:30AM after working til midnight. I was shocked and a little disoriented to find her standing at the top of the steps. This picture is actually from a few days ago, at the top of the living room steps, but its the same effect, without the ARMFUL of babies.

According to Grammy, she came down stairs, crying from her room, about how she had a monster in her room and she was afraid. Of course, Grammy tried to comfort her and she was having none of it. Instead, she promptly went down the stairs and found our room in the basement.

She just broke my heart with her little cries of fear and she climbed into my bed and cuddled. “Mommy I cried.” “Mommy I afraid.” “Mommy there a monster in my room.”

Now, I’m a believer of all things, this includes things like ghosts and other assorted things. Yes, for a woman who’s not a religious believer, I do believe there are things that kids may or may not be able to see that we can’t see. So, while I know that monsters are a normal part of a kid’s developing brain, and it was likely just a nightmare.

To Punky, its a real thing.

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To confuse the matter, I’ve noticed in our efforts to help calm her and keep her our ever so presently sweet baby girl, we are all in the house, suggesting different things to her. Giving her many ideas about the monsters that does or doesn’t live in her room. Sometimes we tell her that there are no such thing as monsters. Sometimes we tell her that there are no monsters at this particular house. Sometimes tell her the monster just wants to be her friend. Sometimes telling her that it was a bad dream. At some points we tell her its nothing. In the end, to a two year old, I can’t imagine all the conflicting information is easy to process for her little brain.

And I struggle with what to say at all. I don’t want to discount her fears. I don’t want to tell her she’s wrong. Because to her, its was a very real experience. It was something that very much happened to her. And she was pretty darn vocal about it. I didn’t even know she knew what “being afraid” meant. I didn’t know she knew what that word was. She continues to astonish me with her language skills and the way she expresses herself.

I want her to know that its okay – that she is safe and no one is going to let anything bad happen to her. In the end, the goal for me – is not to discount her experience or if imagination is at work here, to discourage that type of creativity (albeit scary to her at the moment.)

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Its not our job to tell her what is real and what isn’t real. To her this was a very real experience. And I would never want her to think I didn’t believe her. I would like to think I could help her think through the process of determining for herself what it is this monster represents or this monster is to her. What it really means. Because – as a Mommy, I don’t know if I believe one way or another that there is a monster hanging out in her room. I’m undecided. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean its not a real thing to her.

So, I am struggling with the complex nature of the situation, and at such a rapid pace. While she was sitting on my bed, cuddling with me, telling me about the monster in her room, dried tears on her cheeks, I felt helpless. Like I was failing somehow as her mother in that moment, because what do you say? How do you respond? How do you keep her innocent and sweet and so very much content in that moment?

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I want to convey that she is safe. I want her to know that she is loved. I want her to know she can come to me when she is scared, upset, angry. I don’t want to discount her feelings. I don’t want to minimize the very real fear she had in that moment.

And perhaps not all parents think this hard about how the reaction to a real or imaginary monster, a dream or a nightmare, a spirit or a shadow is going to effect their child’s life. I do.

Its the type of parent I am. I want her to think about it, I want her to deduce her own conclusions. I want her to know I will follow her down the path she is on and we can seek the knowledge together. On all sorts of things. This monster included.

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For the time being. I am not discouraging the idea that monsters are real. I am very much open to the possibility that it is something she experienced. Dream or no dream, shadow of a stray toy on the floor or  a creak she heard in the house – it was  real to her. I don’t have the answers.

What I do have is a new identity. An identity as Mommy. And in my little girl’s eyes that means all things will be better with Mommy’s hugs and kisses. And I will always stand by that identity. The more she grows, the more I grow in that role and the more I fall down in the moment, but pick myself up after the fact. The initial response to this monster in her room was not executed as flawlessly as I would have liked. Most things aren’t when it comes to this mothering thing.

But, I feel comfortable in my decision to instead expose her to what is a possible alternative. Monsters may  or may not be around, but she is safe and there is nothing that will harm her, not while I’m around. Not while her Mama’s around.

Because in the end, I want her to be creative. I want her to use that imagination of hers and sometimes creativity and imagination can be scary. I forget that she’s two sometimes  and that doesn’t discount that she is still growing and learning. Her concept of things are still being shaped. I want her to shape them for herself. I want her to be the person she is and think about the world from her own unique perspective.

And hopefully, since last night, she went to bed with no problems. NO need to search the room for monsters I am told (remember, I passed out before bedtime) and no real issues. When she wakes up, I suppose we will see if this was just a passing thing for the day or something we will be encountering more often. I hope for the first one, so that she can go back to building mountains with her Kinetic Sand and riding her trike around the driveway in peace and monster free!

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Have you had to address this monster in the closet yet? Have you been looking under your kids’ beds for things that go bump in the night? I’m all ears on how you handle it. I am am still trying to figure out my own strategy!

Road Trip to Visit The Fam

So with  my uncle having his seizures lately and then as soon as he came out of the hospital my grandpa fell off his lawn mower and broke his leg above the knee – we thought maybe it might be good to go visit. We haven’t visited for some time, my family lives about 3 hours away. So, its always a ‘treat’ to visit.

On the way there, we started with excitement. Two semi trucks had rolled over in the median and then one was splayed across the other highway, luckily we weren’t on that side! The roads were blocked and the cars were stopped for at least 15 exits, it added another 30-45 minutes to our trip.

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With the smell of soybean (my hometown is pretty much the capital of Soybean Production) and this bumper sticker, I knew I was home….

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When we got into town, we got to spend some time at my Grandma’s house waiting for her to get home for dinner from the nursing home. While we waited for her to come home, Miss Punky got out the toys and talked to Grandma “Scotch” (Scott) on the phone. Is it just as weird for you guys as it is for me that Punky won’t really know what that phone is when she’s big enough to use a real one of her own!?

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My grandparents have a lot of land full of just grass and trees. Punky wanted to go outside, so we went out and had a little modeling session. She’s been having a lot of those lately! (before our trip, Miss Punky had the opportunity to get her pictures taken for a local designer’s clothes with a local photographer. I will be plugging both of them on the blog as soon as I get the pictures from the shoot and I am allowed to share them!)

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Then my grandma came home. We actually stayed at her house this weekend. She and my grandpa are usually in Arizona when we visit, so its nice to have a chance to hang out with them and spend some great time with at least my grandma!

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I asked Kim after this picture if she wanted to have two Punkys. We both decided it was a bad idea to inflict this much cuteness and attitude on the world TWICE.

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On Saturday we had a great time a my nephew’s SuperHero Fourth Birthday Party. I helped his mom with the decorations and planning the details. We had some good times, and Punky got to spend some time with her cousins. It was fun all around!

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The newest addition to our cousin clan in this generation is our sweet sweet nephew Archer. He’s the first baby of my brother and the star of the “Littlest Avenger” over at my sister-in-law’s blog. My little Punky Monster took quite the liking to the baby and made her moms nervous that she may start asking for a brother or sister. Not happening. For sure. No, we aren’t changing our minds!

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We had some really cute decorations and it was pretty much a hit.

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After we spent some time at the party, watched my nephew open all his presents and spent some fun times in the photo booth, Punky and I went to visit my grandpa in the nursing home. He broke his leg right above his knee, so it was sad to see him in that wheelchair. He has the onset, or full-blown depending on who you talk to, Alzheimer’s. Last time I went to visit him, he was confused as to who I was, and it makes things a little difficult to figure out how to explain who Kim is – so while she loves my grandpa and would have loved to visit too, she didn’t want to upset him, so she stayed home while Punky and I visited with my grandpa. I don’t really know if he knows who I was, he was pretty quiet, he did a lot of smiling and nodding and I don’t really know how much he retained.

Punky spent most of the time climbing on this particular chair and looking out the window of the very first nursing home she ever visited. All the older people were very excited to see her and she of course charmed them with her smiles. She was wearing her light up shoes, stomping through the dining hall – they just got a kick out of her.

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After the nursing home, yes – we are still on Saturday, and Yes – we did a lot of running this weekend. We headed out to my dad’s house, one of the houses I grew up in and hung out with that side of the family for the rest of the evening. Their air conditioner went out, so it was super hot in their trailer.

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But we had a nice time visiting and hanging out with them, my step mom has Lupos so she’s usually pretty ill and not feeling well, she was sleeping when we got there, but boy did she get up when Punky came in the trailer, because she’s smitten with our kid and that just makes me so very happy!

Punky also met her first rat during this visit. My goodness… she kept wanting to hold the rat, and then when Kim would put it on her or would try and help her feed the rat, she would FREAK out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no room to talk, I wasn’t holding the rat for sure! But, it was kind of hilarious to see her curiosity and then fear and then curiosity again.

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So Saturday down on the very long weekend and Sunday was just another really long day! We love visiting with  my family but by the end of the weekend, it is just sooooo tiring. Sunday was full of more cousins, more parties, more cake and more dinner.

Sunday morning, my friend and fellow blogger over at “A Redhead’s Guide” was so kind to meet us at a local park and take some super awesome pictures of Punky. She chased my spirited kid all over for about an hour and I think we got some great shots. Especially with all the movement she made and the sneak peeks she posted on her Facebook page, makes me super excited to get the disc in the mail!

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Her Aunt Brittany brought that dress home from Florida for her older cousin. Its a maxi dress for a 7/8 kid – like for real? My kid isn’t even wearing a ‘toddler’ dress. Her necklace is also from Florida, brought back from her Aunt Jourdan (godmother) – its a little big for her, so I always tie it shorter around the neck. And of course, she looks beautiful, I’m not at all a modest mommy.

Jeebs, I made a pretty baby with a little work, lots of love, and a tremendous amount of luck!

After her little photo shoot, we did visit with my dad and family again. We had another smaller version of my nephew’s birthday party with that bunch. Which really consisted of my dad riling up all the kids and making sure they were all good and sugared for their moms later.

As you can see, Miss Punky just isn’t sure about all the rough housing. She’s pretty timid when it comes to that stuff and really she’s not really sure how to play like that. Her cousins are wound up most of the time, I’m not sure how my sister doesn’t have a perpetual migraine every day of her life and again, I am reminded why I only one the ONE!

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The end of our trip was full of roast and potatoes at my grandma’s and a ridiculous game of Pictionary with my mom on the Xbox 360. We had a blast over there, as we usually do, hanging out with my. Punky was so very interactive with everyone, but she definitely loves her Grandma Stacie and Grandpa James. It was great to see her interact with them and really get to spend some quality time with them!

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My stepdad introduced her to the spoonful of peanut butter and warheads. Neither of which got the reaction we were expecting! She came back for seconds and thirds of both things.

All and all – our trip was a success, we really had a great time and for the first time in her little life, while there were a lot of names to remember and people to remember  – she did a great job interacting, charming and of course making my family fall even more in love her with spunk and spirit.

Making Traditions that Last

I think its a pretty regular theme of my parenting to give Punky lasting memories and consistency in her childhood.  I think this is why it’s so freaking awesome to be able to actually interact with our child during the holidays.

Of course, we are all about the Easter Bunny in this house. From the mom who sends over 100 letters from Santa to kids everywhere, I am not holding punches when it comes to Easter either.

I have no idea where the ideas of eggs and chocolates and bunnies came into play on a day that was supposed to be reserved for a man who rose from the dead in a really long, time honored tradition throughout the church circuit.

Regardless – I don’t really care why the holiday was given quirks. Much like Christmas and other religious holidays. I am sure people think that the ‘spirit of the day’ is ruined, but I love that it’s more about family and traditions, and the magic of the season.

If you believe people can rise from the dead and walk the Earth, and not eat your brains – more power to you. I don’t think that my traditions of coloring eggs and hiding them through out my house – gathering with my family with a free meal and filling my toddler with a complete and total sugar high is taking away from yours. Really. We can all celebrate the holidays – it doesn’t have to mean the same thing to every where.

So, without further ado – here’s our version of an awesome Easter Eve festivities.

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My mama and my sweet niece are coming to visit me from 3 hours away tomorrow. Which means, I needed to spruce up my apartment a bit. This was my preparation station for the eggs. We dyed eggs last year, but Punky wasn’t really able to participate – so this year was super exciting for me.

However, I got the fake eggs, that look like real eggs, because I was hoping that she could dye them with less mess and possibly less cracks. When we went to dunk them in the vinegar, they didn’t sink! They floated to the top. So … that was a bust.

I had to make a quick trip a block down the street to the grocery store for real eggs, while Kim prepared the boiling water for my return. Miss Punky was less than thrilled to be stopped in the midst of her Easter fun. That was the first of many tantrums this evening.

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Those eggs were ‘making colors’ for what felt like FOREVER. I finally convinced her to pull them out, after another tantrum of course, but we got her to pick them up, gingerly as a two year old can, and transfer to the carton. We only had 1 spill!

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Basically, one of those orange ones was supposed to be yellow and when she pulled it out, she dropped it into the orange bowl and flipped out! I just told her the egg needed a little orange too! The things I make up – I never really noticed all the strange things moms say to their kids until they come out of my mouth.

After a meltdown over bath vs dinner – her mothers did win – a time out and snotty nose later, we ate dinner, had a talk about nice girls getting a visit from the Easter Bunny, she then proceeded to pull her pants down and waddle to the bathroom. “I hafta go potty.”

That’s new. Well, not completely new. But the pulling her pants down was pretty new. She sat on the potty and didn’t do anything, but it seems like more a thing right now for her. We aren’t proactively doing anything, we are still formulating a plan of attack to be honest. The whole thing intimidates the shit out of me. She’s initiating the moments though, so right now, I figure if we keep responding, one of these times she may actually pee in there.

After our overly sensitive two year old was tucked into bed, I got to put together the basket. Since my niece is coming to visit tomorrow, I didn’t want to leave her out of the festivities, even though I know the Easter Bunny is going to visit her house too. I know how it feels to sit in someone else’s house and watch another kid get presents on a day that’s not their birthday and not get anything.

So, she has a ‘bowl’. It’s all I had. I had to borrow the basket I got for Punky! Quick thinking, some Easter grass and a whole ton of chocolate later, and I’m pretty proud of my modest make of Easter this year – when finances are tough and we are pretty much broke. But that’s a post for another day.

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So here’s to starting more traditions with my dear one and making her childhood everything it could ever be. And, I will let the magic of her childhood continue for as long as it absolutely can!!

Easter dress and family fun tomorrow! Sure to be a post on that.

Teaching Through Examples During the Christmas Season

Punky and I were asked a young man outside of Walmart to donate to needy children. I asked if he was affiliated with the Salvation Army. He said yes. I told him “No thank you. We would rather not donate to anyone affiliated with an organization who chose who was needy and who wasn’t. I advised him we would stick with non-discriminatory charities.” I don’t think he was pleased with my answer, as I caught him whispering about me as I put Punky in the cart.

Frankly. I don’t care.

After the last few years, I have read nothing but terrible things about how they treat human beings of gay  and lesbian orientation. I am not okay with supporting them. I don’t begrudge those who do support them and on the surface, they are very caring and they seem to be doing good. But, I will stand up for my family and I will teach my daughter that it’s not okay to say you are a Christian and then pick and choose who you will be helping during the holidays. 

Walmart has an “Angel Tree” and I haven’t heard of anything negative about their tree – so we donate a toy to a needy child in that way. I feel sorry for the children who are being ‘helped’ by the Salvation Army, because they are likely also being brainwashed to think the way this organization does about people.

I won’t allow my daughter to be raised that way. I will not allow her to think that it’s an okay to treat human beings, regardless of their beliefs, wealth, orientation, social status or other labels. People are people. We are all made from the same stuff. We are all created in the same way.

Whether you believe in God or not, which of course, I don’t, in the end of the day, being a Christian is to be like Jesus. Jesus was kind and giving to all those people around him. The needy, the sick, the sinners. This organization claims to be Christian, they claim to be affiliated with the religious church and stand behind the testaments of the ‘Lord”. At the end of the day, they don’t. They don’t come close to showing people what Jesus was really about. They don’t live in the image of their maker or teach the principles that Jesus preached.

They follow, but they do not live by example.

Anyway, enough of my rant. Punky and I went into Walmart and I am beginning to really notice that Punky is really not okay with Santa Claus. The elderly gentleman at the door offered her a Santa sticker, she loves stickers, she flatly told him no. She shook her head when I told her that she could have a sticker on her hand, and again said No.

It’s probably because when she was 9 months old, I plopped her down on Santa’s lap and snapped some pictures. She was pissed.

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So, she probably has some form of baby PTSD when it comes to Santa Claus. We have a book to introduce her to Santa now that she is older and enough to maybe appreciate the spirit and the magic of Christmas. When we say “That’s Santa!” and make a happy time of it, she promptly shuts the book and says “No”.

So, imagine my surprise when the guy on the intercom at Walmart said that Santa was in the garden center and you could stop by and see him. Get a picture with him even. So, of course, I said, “You wanna go see Santa?”

“No.”

“You wanna just go look at him?”

“No.”

“Well, let’s go just watch the other kids and if you want to sit with him you can.” I said. I wheeled the cart to the garden center.

The Santa was sitting on a bench, so she wouldn’t have had to sit on him lap, but when I pulled her out of the cart – she stood right next to me. She watched several kids sit up there with him and he said hi to her and blew her kisses. She wasn’t having it.

In the end, she did say “Bye Bye” and waves to him as we headed home.

I guess that’s a start!

So, since Punky is a little older and is getting to understand things more. I have decided to make an Advent Calendar for Christmas. What that really means, is we will be counting down to Christmas with Punky. I will be making one and we will get to do things with Punky as a family. Like going to Christmas in the Park to see the lights and baking cookies and decorating them together, like I did with my grandma when I was younger.

I’m pretty excited and I will likely post some picture of the advent calendar and the activities that we do with Punky this year. I’m pretty excited. I went to Walmart to get the stuff to make the Advent calendar envelopes and get started making the awesomeness.

We went to a new park that just opened up in the neighborhood and played a little bit. It’s been a while since Punky and I have been out together and I wanted to get her out of the house and spend some time with her. So after Walmart, we headed to the park. She had a blast.

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Also, not sure if anyone else has seen this on Pinterest, but I got this idea from there, and it seems to be working. When I get Punky out of the car, if I need to gather things from the car still or out of the trunk, I ask her to put hand on the “Space Place”. Which is really just the gas door on the car. But, she’s so interested in putting her hands on the car that she isn’t running off into the road or parking lot.

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Letter to Christian Working Mothers

Yet, another article that is beautifully written has been marred by comments by the followers of God. The beginning of this article really spoke to me as a working mom and if you are one, you should read it. Here’s the perfect example of having agreements with those who are in the church about other things besides religion. 

However, there comes a side effect of the religious undertones of articles written like this. Marred in the comments are ‘well meaning’ Christian women who think they know what it’s like to be inside someone’s life. They use “God’s words” to make their veiled guilt-ridden comments and they use “God’s words” to throw a little judgement and a pinch of righteousness into an already guilt-ridden and emotional mother’s mind.

My heart goes out to those women who are shackled to the fear that their decision for their family is somehow inferior to those around them. This post is for you.

Dear Christian Working Mother,

I have known that guilt you feel. People tell you the guilt you feel is God’s way of telling you that you may be doing something wrong. Other Christian women are coming forward to tell you how your decision to work outside the home, may not be a good fit – and you shouldn’t ignore that guilty feeling in your gut.

Let me tell you something, ladies, working mothers feel guilt. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian or Atheist. It doesn’t matter if your child is newborn or young adult. A mother’s instinct is to care and nurture her child with her own two hands. To foster and delight in your child’s learning and teach your child the ways of your beliefs or non-beliefs.

We aren’t that different, you and I. The guilt a working mother feels, has nothing to do with religion. At the end of the day, the guilt you feel in your heart, those achy pangs of sadness come Monday morning has to do with being a mother. Carrying a child for 9 months gives you a special bond with that child – it’s a natural psychological response to want to be close to that child and have a hand in their daily lives.

Don’t let people use God to guilt you into doubting your decision to work outside the home. There are some, most likely just like you, who have no other choice.

Think for a moment, what happens if you give in to your guilt and you quit your job.

Will God put food in your child’s belly? Will He clothe your child and keep her warm from the coming winter fast approaching? Now you can hold your child in your arms all day long, but at what expense? Will you have a roof over your head? Will you have a car to drive him to all the playdates you so desperately want to attend?

I’m calling all Christian Mamas out there who work outside the home. I’m telling you that  you don’t have to feel guilty. This world is based in money. That’s an unfortunate fact and no matter how much you try, at the end of the day, your working puts food on the table and a roof over your child’s head.

It doesn’t mean you love your child any less. It doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It doesn’t speak to your greed or your priorities as a mother or a woman, it simply speaks to the necessity to do what is right for your family.

The harsh reality of this world is that it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not. The bill collectors are still calling. The house payment is still due. The medical bills are still calling out to you from when little Johnny broke his arm last year. Those things are going away, it’s not by some miracle of God going to disappear.

I commend the writer of the original article. She has beautiful words for the working mother. All working mothers can relate to the feelings she describes. Her words are written more eloquently than mine are, because now, I’m more interested in giving you a real good shake.

Don’t let people guilt you. Don’t let people doubt you. Don’t let people tear you down.

And to those women who think they are helping by adding more stress and worry onto women who are only doing what’s necessary for their children and their family. Shame on you. You don’t walk in their shoes, don’t presume to know who they are. Just because you have been stirred with what you call the duty to spread God’s message, doesn’t mean you have to put it on the heart of a fellow woman already struggling.

At the end of the day, what does the Bible say Jesus preached? Love and compassion. Not guilt and judgement. Seek to find the same level of belief and standards you hold these women to. Seek to walk in the way that Jesus walked, or don’t say anything at all.

Working moms, of all beliefs and family dynamics. You are struggling. You are doubting. You are heartbroken. But remember this above all. You are important. You are loved. You are appreciated. Your struggles don’t go unnoticed. Your doubting has no foundation. Your heart will mend each time with the happy smile of your child when you walk through the door. Your heart can withstand, your child is learning valuable lessons from you. Teach your child the idea of standing on your own two feet, doing what is necessary, and caring for the lives you have brought into this world and keeping them safe, warm, and happy!

Let’s all give a little more compassion to our fellow mothers. Regardless of our beliefs. Regardless of our decisions. Regardless of how we raise our families. Regardless of how we got here, we are all mothers. Let’s stop this war against each other. Let’s stop the judgement and start appreciating one another. Let’s stop the guilt and start learning from one another. Let’s stop the advice and start listening to one another.

Let’s just be women. Caring for our children. Doing what is in our heart and our soul to do on pure instinct.

Love one another.

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

Why The Church Lost My Daughter

This article came over on my Facebook feed today. It talks about why millennials are leaving the church. It says in essence that most of the people in my age group or younger are leaving the church because religion has taken on more of a political stance than a faith stance. Instead of teaching their followers to love thy neighbor, they are teaching their followers to ‘hate the sin”. Instead of teaching their followers to have compassion for the whore, they are teaching their followers to condemn and judge, when that is only God’s job according to the Bible.

Of course, we are also leaving the church because we feel like there is a strict line between faith and science and we can’t have both. We can’t ask questions. We can’t be curious. We can’t have doubt. So, basically, instead of feeling bad for having doubt, I just decided that my doubt must be real and it just doesn’t exist.

I’ve felt the after effects of being a loyal church goer and follower of Jesus. I’ve felt the aftermath of leaving the church and suddenly feeling lost and confused. Of course, the followers of the church would say the lost feeling is because you don’t have Jesus in your life anymore and you are feeling it.

Instead, I say, I felt the aftermath of brainwashing. My brain and body was programmed from a very young age how to act, feel, and think. When I rebelled against that, my body went into shock. That’s an emotional response. That’s a physical response. It’s a psychological  response to my damaged brain finally taking control. It’s a kind of battle that will stay forever in my mind. that back and forth kind of battle. So far, I’m winning the war, but the battles … that pit in your stomach. That heavy feeling in your chest. The battle of wills in your mind. All part of the deprogramming of the mind when it comes to any kind of mind control. The church is a great example of mind control.

When you teach a child from the beginning that they are not to ask questions, just have faith. When you teach a child that they only need to trust in the leaders of the church, no need to trust in their own thought. When you teach a child the only way to be ‘saved’ is to follow the teachings and use guilt and fear to make them behave and think a certain way.

Like it or not, this is brainwashing. This mind control. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the beliefs of the church really are, whether they follow the Bible or not. The Bible is the excuse, the ‘teachings of Jesus” are the front for what is real. Church leaders only need to use mind control tactics to make you believe whatever they want. To make you act however they want. By the time they have all the pieces in place, they can tell you that God is going to change the sky from blue to cotton candy pink and if they do their job right, you believe them. You can’t possibly wait for the “miracle”

It’s kind of like when people blame the gays for hurricanes and natural disasters. Yes. God did that. Because of the gays. That’s compassion right there. And how may Christians actually believe this nonsense?  You’d be surprised.

How many church goers use the Bible as their tool, but they don’t really follow the teachings of Jesus that is written plainly in the black and white text?

THIS is why the church has lost my daughter. I refuse to subject her to the mind control of the church. I refuse to let her go through the withdrawal symptoms of mind control. I am seeing an increase of parents in my age group who feel the same way. We are thinking more about teaching our kids to think for themselves and release their kids from the idea of attaching their feelings to a belief in God or church.

I know for me, it’s not worth it to scar Punky with the inevitable. She will be told her parents are not natural, she will be told that she doesn’t have a legit family. I am not about to allow her to be subject to something as damaging as that. Her moms love her just as much as any family headed by a mom and dad. The kinds of thoughts that are taught and embedded in a child’s brain are not something I care to have in my daughter’s head.

We can teach our children morals without any form of church or God to be associated with. Children are taught to believe in something. Children are taught to think how their parents believe. Children are hardwired to please adults. I will not take advantage of her tiny mind. I will not subject her to any of the mind games that we adults play. I will let her question thing. I will let her be curious.

I don’t want topics to be taboo. I don’t want her feelings to be taboo. I don’t want her to be ashamed. I don’t want her to feel guilty for the way she thinks or who she wants to be. Which is why – unlike the church – I will teach her free will. In the Bible, it is taught that God created us with free will. To try and take away a person’s free will is completely backwards.

So instead of focusing on politics and agendas, both sides of the religious debate could learn from each other. Partner with each other. Instead of playing head games and a battle of wills, come together and put differences aside and work on what is important – compassion, love, and kindness to all human beings as we are all the same on the inside.

This is what I’m teaching my daughter, what about you? Regardless of your religious preferences, I promise to teach my kid to treat your children with respect and dignity. If we can all promise to teach the new generation of children to love thy neighbor and withhold judgement when possible, we can achieve a better world.

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Hope you had a great weekend and to those with cycles up in the air, good luck and good vibes are being sent from us to you! ❤

Anxious Toddler in A House Full Of Changes

Recently, as I wrote before, I got promoted temporarily to an interim position as a supervisor in our call center. This comes with the hopefully very real possibility that I will be chosen in the next phase of interviews as a permanent supervisor over the team that I am currently over. It also comes with a shift that is completely opposite to what Punky is used to.

Her entire last year and a half has been Mommy working 8AM-5PM. Now, I am working 3PM-Midnight. Punky has been pretty easy going her entire little life and I had witnessed her change and adapt to changes in her routine pretty easily. I was nervous when accepting this position that she may take a little longer to adjust.

I think we are seeing the anxiety this new change has created in our little one and I’m not sure how to curb it, or how to help her cope with this. I feel terrible that she is having such a hard time with the transition and I’m really not sure how to fix it for her.

Lately, and I just witnessed it this morning, Punky has to be hanging on K all the time. K mentioned it to me the last few days, but I haven’t really noticed while I was home. Well, I noticed it today. Punky will literally stand next to K’s chair and hold onto a piece of her shirt. Or has to be touching her in some way. K says that it escalates when I go to work and Punky needs to be held and whines and wants up and down constantly.

I’m concerned that Punky is afraid that since I’m leaving, she thinks K is leaving. I am afraid she thinks I have abandoned her, even though, she has to know that I am coming home every day and she sees me in the morning. It breaks my heart to think she is anxious about my leaving her. And even moreso, it makes me sad that she is clinging to K like she’s going to be abandoned twice.

I’m hoping this is just a phase, but I don’t know how to help her transition better, because this promotion is a great thing financially for our family and it’s what I want to do at work. We have always had a semi-predictable routine for Punky and I think that may be part of the problem, but it has helped keep her sleep on track and she’s been able to know what is coming next.

I was afraid this would happen when I accepted the position and I had hoped, since she is usually so independent and able to keep to herself, that it wouldn’t be a big deal. We have changed the routine before and she’s adapted quickly to it. Not only that, but I have so much more time to play with her in the day time than I did in the evenings when I worked the day shift. We get to go to play dates and spend time outside the apartment. We get to do things with other kids and she’s not stuck in the apartment with just her moms.

I tried to talk to Punky today and yet, I know she’s too little to really understand. She’s also like a ferret and doesn’t pay attention to what I’m saying unless I have shiny things in my hands. Anyway, I tried. I said, “Punky, you know Mommy loves you. Mommy just goes to work at night and I see you in the morning. You know Mommy isn’t going to stay gone, right?” She just hugged me tight and that made me want to cry! I said, “Mama is not going anywhere, either. You don’t have to hang onto her, she’s right there. She’s going to be right there.” Of course, at that point, my toddler got bored and climbed off my lap, and proceeded to go grab a piece of K’s shirt.

I just wonder if anyone else has these problems. I just wonder if there is anything I can do to ease her mind that her moms aren’t going anywhere. I used to think that these fears of children thinking their parents were abandoning them was really just the moms over thinking and feeling guilty, and maybe that’s what this is. But, I am seeing a definite difference in Punky’s demeanor or the way she interacts with the both of us, together and separately.

Hopefully, this is just a phase and it too will change, because it’s hurting my heart and I know K would love to get some things done without a toddler hanging off her shirt all day. People need personal space, ya know.

Leibster Award What?!

What? You like me! You really, really like me?! Ahem.

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award! Thanks to Charity for her nomination! This is a way for small bloggers to give recognition to other small bloggers (200 followers or less). Here’s how it works:

Copy & Paste This Whole Post and Replace All Your Information — who awarded you, for example.

The rules:

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answering the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.

4. Display the Liebster Award logo.

5. No tag backs meaning you can’t just re nominate the person who nominated you.

As Solo the First put it “The real purpose behind these nominations are not only as an accolade from a fellow blogger and let’s face it, nothing gently strokes our little writer hearts more than someone telling you they appreciate your work.  In addition to the back patting we need to receive from time to time, it also allows us to get a little more personal as we get to know our increasing blogging community. It also helps drive traffic to your site as we reference one another.”

The questions put forth to me (with my answers) are as follows:

1) Tea or coffee? Sweet Tea

2) Who is the most influential person in your life? My little brother, Cody. He’s a damn rockstar and I am so proud to be his sister.

3) What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? The Tempest

4) What is your favorite genre of music? MUSICALS (especially Wicked and Aida)

5) Do you play an instrument? I do not.

6) What’s your favorite state or national park? I’ve never visited a national park and I’ve never really been too far outside of Missouri. So, I pick Missouri.

7) What’s your favorite view, sunrise or sunset? Sunset, only because I’m never up early enough to see the sunrise.

8) Which environment do you enjoy more the grasslands, desert, mountains or the beach? I’m so boring! I have never seen any of those. I will go with grasslands, I live in the midwest, that’s the closest option for me!

9) What is the best movie you ever saw? I could watch the Notebook a million times and never get bored.

10) Who is your favorite author? George R. R. Martin (damn him!)

11) What do you hope others will remember about you when you die? I hope people remember that I stood up for what I believed in, I raised my kid to the best of my ability to think for herself and I love those closest to me with all my heart, regardless of our differences.

Here are my nominations (In no particular order!) I also have no idea how many followers these people currently have, but I love reading them!:

Here are my 11 questions:

1)  Paper Book or Electronic?

2) Who would you have dinner with if you could pick anyone ever?

3) What kitchen utensil would you be?

4) If you met the president, what would you say to him?

5) What’s the hardest lesson you have had to learn in your life?

6) What’s the best decision you ever made?

7) What’s your favorite musical?

8) What’s your biggest pet peeve?

9) What’s your greatest accomplishment?

10) Where do you see yourself in 15 minutes?

11) Where do hope to be in your life by the time you are retired?