Friday, September 30, 2011

Retirement On My Mind

This week, my husband received his retirement orders. In eleven months, he will be just a regular civilian. I’ll be honest- I can’t wait! I am insanely happy!
The Army life is an interesting one, there is no doubt about it. You always get to meet lots of new people throughout all the different cultural, intellectual, and economic backgrounds. You get to see new places frequently. You are forced to get out of your comfort zone on lots of levels. And there is no feeling in the world like welcoming home your spouse after being apart for weeks, months, or even a year (or more)!
However, there are so many things I will not miss. I won’t miss my evenings and weekends being ruined by work calls. I won’t miss not being able to plan anything- be it simple things like activities for the following week or more important things such as where our family will be living next year. I won’t miss Army bureaucracy. I won’t miss Army hospitals. I could go on…
My husband has worked his butt off for almost twenty years. People who hear that he will be retiring at 38 are often in disbelief, saying that they wish they could retire after ‘only’ twenty years. My husband has worked more than any civilian person I have ever known. It was normal for him to work 11-12 hour days. It wasn’t unusual for him to work longer. He was sent to the field for three to four weeks at a time without any breaks. He worked almost non-stop for an entire year in Iraq. I am willing to bet you that if we were to sit down and calculate his hours, he would have enough hours to cover a civilian’s 40 year job.
Not to mention the hardships. The physical and emotional toll the Army takes on a person. Instability in the family life is one of the smaller evils. Working under the threat to your own life and the lives of the people around you is something very few people would choose to do.
My husband is awesome! He has worked so hard for us to ensure our financial stability. He deserves this retirement! Sometimes I wonder how hard it will be for him to transition to a ‘regular’ life; a life in the real world, if you will. I think it will be great. I think he’ll love many things about it. I’m sure every once in a while he will miss the Army and reminisce for a while. But overall, I don’t think either of us will have too hard of a time saying good-bye to the Army.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Perfect Mother

If you think I’m going to tell you about a woman I know who is a perfect mother, I’m afraid I have to disappoint you. There is no such person! In this whole wide world, there is no woman who is perfect at mothering. For some, this may be a relief to hear. For others, this may be a let down because they will never achieve perfection.
Let’s look at this rationally. We have a baby without any mothering experience and then have to learn on the job. However, most of us have nobody to show us the right way to do things- we have to teach ourselves. Thankfully, babies are born with very few needs and are able to loudly tell us when we are doing something wrong. But if we are quite honest, motherhood is an unknown until we are actually right in the middle of it.
Most of us work very hard at perfecting our role as a mommy. Just when we’ve almost perfected it and we feel like we’ve figured it all out, on comes the next stage in your child’s life, demoting us back to amateur status. Some mothers are close to perfect at dealing with a certain age group- personally, I love babies. Others are absolutely lost when it comes to particular ages or stages. I’m willing to bet the teenage years throw most of us completely off track.
When you think about it, you probably don’t know anyone who would call their own mother perfect. They may think that their mother was the best mother ever, but I’m sure no one would claim that their mother was without a flaw or quirk.
No human is without error. Therefore, no mother is without faults. That doesn’t mean that we cannot strive towards perfection. I want to always be the very best mother I can be. I am not often successful, but I refuse to give up. My goal is not to be a perfect mother- my goal is to be the very best mother I can be for my children.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vivien the Fun

Oh my goodness, I just realized how utterly boring my life has become. Not to me- there is no true boredom with two small kids. But how must it look from the outside? I’m sure people without kids want to shoot themselves to relieve themselves of the extreme boredom they feel after listening to what goes on in my life…
My former (not sure if it is former or not- I don’t want think so) best friend doesn’t even call me anymore. We used to talk every day, now it’s been weeks. She doesn’t have children. When she calls me, she tells me about all the interesting men she’s met (she’s single), the parties she’s been to, etc. The last time she called me, both my children were screaming at the top of their lungs. I can’t remember the exact reason, but it was something along the lines of ‘I’m screaming because he’s screaming’ and ‘I’m screaming louder because she’s screaming, too’- parents of siblings, you know what I’m talking about. I literally couldn’t understand a word my friend was saying. Unfortunately, that problem was mutual. Except that she of course was able to hear the unbelievable levels the volume in my house was taking on. I think that my children could easily outperform any siren- I’m willing to take bets. My poor friend was horrified, asking what was the matter. I told her the truth- nothing was the matter, they were just both screaming. I could hear how horrified she was by this. There was true pity in her voice. I haven’t spoken to her since.
I’m not saying I want to be without kids and/or husband again. I absolutely love my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything! However, in the midst of wiping yet another poop covered butt, I sometimes wonder how I got here. I used to go out a lot, have lots of fun with a variety of people, get drunk all the time. The highlight of this past week was that I taught myself how to knit. Nothing fancy, just a basic English knit stitch. I mean, really? Who is this person?!?
There is light at the end of the tunnel. My husband found out today that his retirement was approved. Which means that this time next year we will be somewhere else. Somewhere completely different, that we have chosen all by ourselves to be our new home. With awesome people (here’s hoping) and fantastic places to go. A girl can dream, right?
For now, I am content using my spare time to write a few lines and knit a few rows. Some nights, A and I even get to watch a movie (I thought Bridesmaids was totally overrated; I didn’t laugh like I was going to pee my pants and I totally thought I would…)! My life has lost a lot of its excitement. I think A and I are both ready to get our groove going again and be the fun people we used to be- with kids, of course.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Mother of the Biter

Motherhood is no walk in the park, as we all know. Especially when things happen that we never expected and/or wanted. My daughter has always been very physical in expressing her emotions. Even though R is a very verbally advanced child, she does not use her words much to communicate how she feels. Of course, she is only 2 ½ and verbalizing your emotions is a very difficult task that most grown ups are incapable of…
For a long time, R would hit other children or push them. Normal toddler behavior- she was pushed and hit back. However, I always felt that she displayed this aggression more than other children. Then, a few months ago, I was watching R and her best friend. They had been playing nicely all morning when a quarrel over a crayon began. I was on the other end of the room and before I could get over to the kids to break up the ‘fight’, it happened: R bit her friend! Really hard. Leaving a big bite mark that stayed visible for days.
I felt awful. I didn’t understand why my daughter would do such a thing. And it was under my supervision. I was very shaken by the incident and hoped that it would be a one time occurrence.
Of course, I haven’t been that lucky. R has now bitten on numerous occasions. It’s not a daily or even a weekly thing, but it isn’t infrequent enough to be able to look at it as out of the ordinary. She attempted to bite one other child once, but was stopped before it happened. She also bit her brother once. Other than those two instances, all biting has been directed at the same child- her best friend.
As you know, I tend to get overly worried about things and have to research solutions until my head hurts. This behavior was no exception. It is on my mind constantly. I don’t want my child to bite other children! A lot of you other mothers will know that it is a phase that quite a few toddlers go through. It is nothing alarming- it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with them or that they are bad children. It is just another way that these children are expressing their anger and frustration.
I know all these things in theory. However, when I am told by the ladies at the Moms Morning Out that R goes to twice a week that she tried to bite again, it’s like a punch in the stomach. I don’t want her to hurt other children! I don’t want to be the mother of the child who hurts others! You can't help questioning your own parenting.
But I am that mother. And on top of worrying about the child who keeps ending up on the receiving end of R’s aggression, I also have to worry about my own child. It is also affecting her own well-being. Others are starting to behave differently towards her. There is resentment and distrust in the air- I can feel it and I’m positive so can she. I want to protect her from being the ‘bad’ child that I know she isn’t. She has become increasingly anxious- she has even started biting her nails.
I have a plan in place, with the ultimate solution being to take her out of the Moms Morning Out program. We are trying different approaches with R to help her deal with her emotions better. It isn’t easy being R- she became a big sister at a very young age when she still needed my undivided attention. She is also extremely intelligent, which seems to stand in her way more than benefit her at the moment. Even though she is exhibiting this aggressive behavior, she is actually very sensitive and her emotional world a very delicate one.
We definitely have our work cut out for us. However, I am confident that we will get through this phase just as we have with any other. I honestly can’t wait. Nobody wants to be the mother of a biter…

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Day I Declined A Procedure

Disclaimer: This is an account of our visit to the pediatrician and mentions my son's private parts, amongst other things. If this could offend you, please do not read.

Remember my post about the importance of questioning everything? Well, this week my words got put to the test. I didn’t much enjoy it, but I feel even more strongly about the necessity of being informed and protecting your children.
Unfortunately, my son was sick. He had a fever of 102 on Tuesday. We gave him some Ibuprofen in the evening to help him sleep a little better and the fever was still gone when he woke up on Wednesday morning. I assumed it had just been a little bug and was glad that it had passed so quickly. In the early morning hours on Thursday, E was burning up again with a fever of around 103.
Because the fever had gone away completely and returned, I got a little uneasy. Usually, I like to stay away from the doctor’s office. Not because I don’t like doctors in general, but because I’m always afraid the kids will catch even more nastinesses there. However, with the intermittent fever, I thought it best to have him checked out and made an appointment for the same day.
I loaded both kids in the car and headed over to the practice. We didn’t have to wait long and were seen about ten minutes after our appointment time. So far, so good. The doctor was also a little concerned by the course the illness had taken and wanted to check E’s blood. They pricked his big toe (which is still so little…) and took a small sample. He didn’t even cry.
The doctor came back and informed me that his white blood cell count was high. She said that she wanted to exclude certain infections and said that they would have to take more blood and a urine sample. The first thing out of my mouth was: “How are you going to get urine from a baby?” She informed me that they would put in a urinary catheter to collect the sample. For some reason, I assumed we would have to come back for the tests, but they were to be done right away.
I was completely overwhelmed. I hadn’t really expected much- I thought the doctor would check for ear infections, maybe do a quick strep test, but not more. Also, at this point we had already been at the practice for around 45 minutes and my daughter had started bouncing off the walls, asking to go home (I kept telling her that I wanted to go home, too…) Dr. H saw my despair and comforted me, saying that it would be fine and that I didn’t have to see anything, they would just take him away and I would be waiting outside. Off went my first alarm bells! I told her that I would not be leaving his side under any circumstances. Already, I felt like the difficult parent. At first, the doctor asked what I would do with my daughter in the meantime. When I informed her that I would call someone to watch R, she suddenly offered for one of the nurses to watch R. Dr. H left the room to get the nurse.
My head was literally spinning. (Did I mention that I was also sick? I also had flu like symptoms and was completely exhausted…) I thought about the procedures the doctor had just ordered for E and immediately felt that the catheter was not something I wanted. When the nurse entered, I asked her what the catheter would entail and if there was any retraction of the foreskin involved (my son is intact, i.e. not circumcised) I don’t think she was expecting questions. She explained that there would be some retraction in order to clean the area, followed by the insertion of the catheter. I told her that I did not want his foreskin to be pulled back. Slightly flustered, she went out to get the doctor.
Dr. H came in, visibly irked, and explained the importance of the cleaning procedure. I told her that I just wasn’t comfortable with the thought of it and that I didn’t want it to be done. She told me that they wouldn’t be able to give E an antibiotic shot (which I wouldn’t have wanted anyway) without a sterile urine sample and that the only way they could get it was via catheterization. I told her that that was fine. She was not happy with me, but agreed to have the blood drawn that day and have me bring E back in for a reevaluation the following day.
My relief was only temporary. My poor baby had to have blood drawn. Because of all his beautiful chubbiness, it was really hard for the nurses (there were three) to find a good vein. First they tried in his foot. He cried and cried; all I could do was hold and kiss him. They were unsuccessful. Then they had to try in his hand. After much poking and maneuvering, they finally found a vein and drew the blood they needed. My poor baby was so upset! I nursed him right away and he calmed down relatively quickly. They brought my daughter in to me, we gathered up our things, and got out of there- after an hour and a half of unpleasantries- as fast as we could.
I thought about the catheter for the rest of the day. The threat of it loomed over me. The more I thought about it, the more I disliked the idea. The first thing that occurred to me was the lack of alternatives given. So I tried to come up with some myself. I called the doctor’s office and spoke to the nurse, asking her if we could just collect urine in a sterile cup, like they do for adults. I was more than willing to chase a naked baby around with a cup. She asked me if I meant “one of those bags”. Bags? I didn’t even know that they had bags. As I then found out, they have collection bags for small children that can be taped around the penis to collect urine. I was overjoyed! I asked her if such a sample would be acceptable. She called me back after consulting with the doctor and declined any other collection beside the catheter, stating that any other method was unsterile.
 I did what I always do when I am unsure about something- I talked about it, I read about it, I asked about it. I researched my head off to find some answers. I found out a lot of different things. Among the information I uncovered was the fact that most doctors did in fact use the bags to collect urine samples (why else would they exist, right?) I also found out that retraction was not necessary for the correct insertion of a urinary catheter in infants. The more information I gathered on the subject, the more certain I felt that this was not a procedure I wanted my son to undergo.
As someone who has had a tear in her urethra, I was- and still am- particularly surprised that I was never informed of any possible risks involved in the procedure. Though catheters are mostly put in without any problem, there are risks of injury and infection that I was never made aware of.
I went to bed with the conviction that I was not going to let my son be catheterized for the sole purpose of being able to exclude a urinary tract infection, for which there was no indication. I was equipped with knowledge and alternative suggestions to present to the doctor. It was wonderful to have my husband on my side, who also did not like the idea of the procedure.
Morning came and my son’s fever had gone down to a low 100.2. I was very happy. Then I saw a small rash on his belly. I was even happier. The possible bacterial infection was suddenly looking like just another virus. I went into the doctor’s office and the doctor- who thankfully did not hold a grudge- felt confident that we were dealing with a virus after all. No catheter was ever mentioned again.
I am so happy that I didn’t have to go to battle with my son’s pediatrician today. Even though I was prepared, I really do hate confrontations. I learned a lot from this experience. First and foremost, I learned that my gut feeling can be trusted. If something does not sound right for my child then I am their only defense and it is my duty to speak up, even if it is unpleasant for me. When I spoke to my father, he was very concerned about the procedure, but then said: “At the end of the day, you have to rely on the doctor’s advice. What else can you do?” This mentality has been true for generations and is still widely the same among my age group. However, I am always going to ask questions and get informed. If one opinion doesn’t sound right to me, then I will seek another one. After all, nobody knows my children better than I do. I am their mother and I will always look out for their best interest.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why I Care About Breastfeeding

Some of you may wonder why breastfeeding is so close to my heart. Well, the answer is quite simple. I love babies. I love mommies. The optimal method of feeding for babies and mommies is breastfeeding. The health benefits for mother and child are immense and cannot be ignored. Therefore, I love breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has become an essential part of my life. Not only because this is how I fed both of my children. I have also decided to become a La Leche League leader. And a doula. So breastfeeding has become a huge part of my professional life as well. I may even become a certified lactation consultant one day.
The reason I want to help women with breastfeeding is because it has become a lost art form. Most women- a whopping 75% of them!- start out breastfeeding, but are unsuccessful somewhere along the way. There is hardly any support available to them. Lactation consultants are rare commodities and most health professionals have received little to no lactation education. These women need support and help- I want to provide that for them as best I can.
The so called 'boobie traps' are endless when it comes to successfully nursing your baby. So many ladies run into trouble at some point in their breastfeeding relationship and give up due to lack of support. Formula companies are just ready to help these mothers out, subtly plugging their products from the time the mother first enters the doctor’s office for her prenatal visits...
It is sad to me that most children don’t know how babies are naturally fed. They think babies have to eat from bottles because that is all they see. In every media form available- be it books, television, magazines, etc.-, babies are usually shown drinking milk from a bottle. Even a lot of grown-ups are not familiar with breastfeeding and seeing it makes them uncomfortable.
Part of my mission (I am using this word for lack of a better one…) in life is to change this. I want breastfeeding to be viewed as normal again. I want women to be able to feed their babies without having to fear judgment or harassment. Mostly, I want women to be successful in nursing their children.
This is who I am now. It is not going to go away. I am Vivien, the breastfeeding advocate. I don’t talk about it excessively, I don’t write about it as much as I want to. I would never ask a stranger how they are feeding their babies or if they intend to breastfeed. However, I will always be available to women who need help. I understand that this makes some people uncomfortable, but they will just have to reevaluate their own emotions. There have not been too many things to be proud of in my life, but this is definitely one of them. I care deeply for babies and I will always fight for what is best for them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Question Everything!

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my life is to never accept information as truth without double checking it. People have developed so much respect for certain professions, e.g. doctors, priests, etc. that they have decided to trust them blindly. In my opinion, that is a huge mistake.
Especially when it comes to parenting, don’t just take people’s advice. Do your own research. As my LLL leader always says, gather information from a variety of sources. Don’t just do what everybody else does- society’s norms aren’t always the best way to go. Actually, in our current society, I would say that most norms are not the best choice...
You owe it to yourself and your family to scrutinize everything. I talked to so many parents who either take advice from other parents or from doctors and just follow it without thinking twice. For me, one source is never enough. Read books, articles, studies, blogs, etc. about the subject in question and make a truly informed decision.
If I had listened to my doctors years ago when I had terrible health problems and they told me it was all in my head, who knows where I would be today. Instead, I listened to my gut feeling and knew in my heart that my problems were not psychosomatic. I went from doctor to doctor until I found one who would listen and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I am so glad I didn’t accept the wrong opinions, but searched for the right ones.
Parents, I beg you to ask questions and get informed! Before you consent to procedures that are to be done on you, your baby or your older child, find out all you can about it. Before you use a method of discipline or sleep 'training' that has been recommended to you, research it thoroughly. Just because something has been common practice for decades doesn’t mean that it is the best thing for you or your child. Look at the history, the origins, the studied effects, etc.
Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something seems wrong to you, if it leaves a nasty feeling in the pit of your stomach, don’t do it. Find an alternative that feels right to you. Don’t just conform. Question everything!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The following is a guest post by a wonderful lady from NYC. Please leave a comment- feedback would really be appreciated. If you would like to learn more about the writer, check out @mbneil on Twitter.

Did you ever meet someone you just instantly liked? I mean before the person even spoke or before you knew anything about them? I have someone like that in my building. My neighbor.

I’ll call her Frances.

I met Frances in 2004 when I moved into my building with my new husband. She took the time to welcome me. That can be a rare thing in a place as busy as New York. She immediately started treating me like she’d known me for years.

Frances always has a slight smile on her face. She has beautiful smile lines that say she’s seen a lot, laughed a lot, learned a lot. They make her look wise and happy. She’s not the bubbly type. Her smile seems to be more for herself than anyone else. She’s fairly quiet.  But when she does speak, she looks you directly in the eye and listens to everything you say back to her.

I’m not sure how old Frances is. She has a simple, bobbed hair cut that she’s let go completely grey. It tells you she’s sophisticated but also says “I was at Woodstock and I probably danced in the rain.” I don’t know if she was at Woodstock. I never asked.

She wears drapey clothes that could fit in at a beach party in The Hamptons, but not stand out serving the homeless at a soup kitchen. I don’t know if she goes to The Hamptons, or serves at a soup kitchen. I never asked.

When my daughter was born, Frances showed up at my door with food. She’d made the food herself. It was good food. A wise, thoughtful and very appreciated gift. I let Frances hold my newborn daughter. She handled her so gently. She held her close and looked right in her small face. Frances smiled. She was smiling to herself. I thought to myself, ”What a wonderful grandmother she would be.” Was Frances a grandmother? I never asked.

Our relationship continued pretty much the same. We’d bump into each other coming or leaving the building. We’d make pleasant small talk. We never went very deep with our conversation, but I always liked seeing her.

As my daughter grew to the toddler stage, my husband and I were always looking for places to take her to let her run without danger. One sunny afternoon we took her to a park with wide-open spaces. Seeing as she was a toddler, she bee-lined for the only thing that could possibly pose danger in the area. It was a large cement and steel memorial to New York victims of 9/11. The only thing I thought was. “Great, she’s going to fall and hit her head on cement.” I rushed to steady her.

When I was able to grab her, I noticed names all along the bottom of the memorial. Thousands of names etched in the cement. They circled the whole structure.  They were from every ethnicity, every age, one after another after another. But there in the middle of one of the countless lines, was a name I recognized. I turned to my husband, “Look honey someone on here has the same last name as Frances.” He looked at me stunned and puzzled. “How could you not know?”

That name etched on the cement was Frances’ son. Her only child. He’d gone to a prestigious business school, one I’m sure he worked very hard to get in. He graduated with honors in 2000. He’d moved back home after graduation because his dad, Frances’ husband had just died. It was a good move for him. He could be there for his newly-widowed mom. His mom, who’d spent years caring for her slowly-dying husband and now lived alone.  He could also save money. He was going to buy a place downtown in the Financial District. You see, he’d gotten a great job as a trader for a firm called Cantor Fitzgerald.

If you are a New Yorker, just saying “Cantor Fitzgerald” puts a period on the sentence. No one survived. Every soul, every man and woman who’d worked so hard to make it to that firm vanished when the first plane hit. They were gone in seconds. They’d had bright futures, dreams, loves and their own Frances. At least I hope they all had a Frances.

I saw Frances out the window yesterday. She was walking on the sidewalk in front of our building. She’d been to the grocery store and was carrying a big load of bags. I stepped out of sight and just watched her. She paused for just a moment and looked up. I followed her line of vision and saw a beautiful deep blue sky with one wispy cloud floating by. Frances smiled.

I wonder what she saw when she looked up.

I wonder what she knows that I don’t.

I need to ask.

@mbneil is also a guest blogger over at today with another touching story. Check it out!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Memories of 09/11/2001

It started off as just another day. I actually don’t even remember much of the morning, so it must have gone by without any significant events. At the time, I was still living in Germany and preparing for my move to the US that was supposed to take place in five days. I was staying with my parents- my then husband had already flown to the states. My brothers and I were having lunch. We were watching an episode of Seinfeld on video. One of my brothers had to use the bathroom, so I paused the tape. He told me not to bother waiting for him, but I figured I would briefly check the news.
There it was. One of the World Trade Center towers was burning. At first, it was just a breaking news flash, then it turned to full coverage. Everybody seemed confused. There were people everywhere in the streets just looking up in astonishment. A few eye witnesses reported seeing a plane crashing into the building. It was very strange, thinking a plane could have flown into the tower. People were speculating on how this accident could have happened.
For some reason, I was immediately panic stricken. I called my father at work, crying. He told me not to worry, that it was very probably human error. Maybe a glitch in the air traffic control. I told him that I was afraid the tower might collapse. My father assured me they were built to withstand practically everything.
I continued to watch the news in shock, praying for all the poor people who were trapped in the fire. Surely most would be rescued soon. Suddenly, there was what looked like an explosion in the second tower. Was it caused by the fire in the other tower? Was there a bomb? The camera angle wouldn’t let us see what had happened. But very shortly we saw- a second plane had crashed into the other tower. What was happening? How could this be?
I called my father again, beside myself. He tried to calm me down, still suspecting a glitch somewhere. He must not have been willing to believe that someone could be doing such things on purpose… I was crying hard. I was praying hard. Then the news went crazy- there were reports of dozens of planes missing, possibly hijacked. The American sky was suddenly full of enemies. There was speculation as to the next target. Nobody had to speculate long- the Pentagon was hit. A fourth airplane crashed to the ground in Pennsylvania.
I called my husband in the states. He was angry at me for waking him and couldn’t understand why I was upset. He went back to bed.
We stared at the television in disbelief. There were two burning towers in front of us, full of people who had gotten up in the morning to go to work, expecting just another day. I remember papers flying everywhere. Millions of pieces of paper floating through the air. And smoke. Thick, suffocating smoke that could be seen for miles on the sunny clear day. Human beings started jumping out of the buildings. It was impossible to watch. What scenes must have gone on in the buildings that jumping out was the preferable solution…
Honestly, I still had hope. Though I feared the towers would collapse, I thought that there must be some way of getting everyone out safely. Where were the helicopters, I wondered. There must be a whole fleet of helicopters ready to rescue people. Of course, that was a childish illusion. No helicopters ever came.
My husband called me back and apologized for not having understood the severity of the situation earlier. Since he was in the Army, he was ready to report if necessary.
It was my farewell party at work. Even though my husband had asked me not to go, I felt I needed to get out of the house. I had bought pretzels and drinks for everyone, surely I couldn’t let them go to waste. In a daze, I walked to the bus stop and got on the bus. The people on the bus didn’t know yet. Their world was still normal. The entire trip there, I felt like screaming at them, warning them of what they were about to find out. America had been attacked! And nothing was the same anymore.
I entered the stock exchange. The usually bustling lobby was still, the giant screens full of news broadcasts. Everyone was staring, speechless. The first tower fell.
I made my way up to the office. Everyone was surprised to see me. Why had I come there during this tragedy, with pretzels and drinks? They all hugged me. Sorry for me because this was supposed to be my new home in a few days and it was burning. We stayed in the office together in silence, watching the news. The second tower fell. I collapsed into a chair. It was more than I could take in. Everyone was crying. Then we were evacuated. The stock exchange wasn’t safe- nowhere was safe anymore.
I don’t remember much of the rest of the day. It was all news, every waking moment. More facts were found out. More pictures were shown. People covered in dust, injured. People running in the streets, running for their lives. Beautiful sunshine with thick clouds of death. A gaping hole in New York. Rescue efforts and a few survivors. The severity of it was impossible to digest.
Honestly, I don’t remember the next few days. I said good-bye to everyone I loved and got on the first flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta after the catastrophe. The sense of doom and dread was deep inside of me. I didn’t want to go anymore, wanted to call the whole thing off. But I couldn’t.     
11 September 2001 saw the end of so many precious lives and the world changed forever. It was also the end of my life as I knew it. I didn’t see the sun shine for a very long time afterwards.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Sleeping Arrangements

Remember a few weeks ago when I blogged about The Day I Lost My Mind? Well, thankfully, things have calmed down substantially since then and we have almost settled into a new ‘normal’.
R didn’t want to nap anymore. After reading up on toddlers and naps, I decided to try to push the naps because I felt as though she may still developmentally need them. It was really difficult for our entire family. I was able to get her to take a nice nap almost daily, but I would have to sit outside her door for an hour. Then she suddenly developed difficulties falling asleep at night- it would take us two hours to help her to fall asleep.
My husband and I decided to cut the nap. R didn’t want them anyway and we were tired of coaxing her into them. Instead of napping, we now have an hour of TV time in which we snuggle together. I nurse E down to sleep and either put him in the bed or just hold him while we all cuddle on the couch. At first it was difficult for me not to have the regular nap time because I used to nap, too, and really needed it. But now I enjoy our quiet time together and am just trying to go with the flow.
R has also started waking in the middle of the night and being afraid. At first she would cry for us, now she has learned to come into our bed and go back to sleep. To be honest, I really like it! I like having the whole family together. I asked R to close the door after herself when she comes in, so the cats don’t join us (because Feebee is obnoxious and wakes us on purpose), and she has been doing it ever since. We don’t even wake up when she comes in- at some point in the night I roll over and there is my little girl.
So, our sleeping habits have changed a little again, but we knew that they would. We bought a king sized bed when I was pregnant because we anticipated nightly visitors and I am so glad we did! We all have enough room to sleep comfortably and safely.
I am happy with our new sleeping situation. Hopefully it won’t change too much in the near future- I’ll miss having my babies with me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

DIY Toddler Juice

A few months ago, I saw an ad for this miraculous juice formulated just for young children. Not only did it contain 100% juice, it also promised to somehow have 40% less sugar than regular juices. I was intrigued. Had they found a super special scientific way to remove sugar from fruit juices? If so, that would be groundbreaking!
I checked out the juice in question at the store. I will not tell you the brand name, but I will say that it may or may not rhyme with ‘Spots for Bots’ (Cunning and not obvious, I know…) So, this wonderful beverage was a little steeper in price than its full-sugar counterparts, but I thought that was fair, considering the scientific work they had done to produce this sensational drink. Also, a renowned pediatrician, whom I really respected, endorses the juice.
As with all other foods and drinks I purchase, I read the ingredient list. I almost fainted! As the company had promised, the juice did in fact contain 40% less sugar than its competitors. Because it was DILUTED!!! Here is how they describe their own beverage to customers on their website: “We've blended delicious juice with purified water and 100% vitamin C…”
Are you friggin’ kidding me?!? Are you telling me that you would like consumers to pay more for the juice that you have thinned out with water?!? Ridiculous! An absolute impertinence, I thought to myself. Nobody will ever buy it.
But people are buying it. Parents everywhere are trying to do something good for their children and give them a lower sugar alternative to juice. They are purchasing this rubbish because they don’t usually read labels and they don’t know that they’re being played by this major corporation and swindled out of their hard earned money.
In my opinion, this is unacceptable and immoral. So, I am going to help you make your own toddler juice. It’s very simple: Buy regular apple juice or other juice of your choice; fill your child’s glass or cup with 60% of the juice (a little less than 2/3); fill up the remaining 40% with water. Voila! You have now created a juice that contains 40% less sugar.
Of course, if you do not have enough time to make your own, go ahead and buy the expensive diluted juice. However, if you are like me, I would rather never drink juice again than give my money to these dishonest con-artists. I am choosing to make my own- I hope you will, too! Maybe I’ll even develop a new formula with 50% less sugar! It will be a groundbreaking invention that will earn me millions of Dollars…

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blogging Funk

I love writing my blog. It is such a release for me to get at least some of my thoughts out of my head and onto (virtual) paper. Though I do enjoy the actual writing immensely, I am a little lost at the moment when it comes to the popularity of my posts.
In all honesty, I am not too concerned with the number of followers I have, etc. I realize that my blog is rather eclectic and opinionated, which does not fit into main stream interests. However, I do want to write things that will interest the people who like and read my blog. Recently, I haven’t been terribly successful in doing that.
I’m just confused as to what you want to read and what you’re interested in. My most popular post by far has been a very controversial one (if you are interested in reading it, click here) While I am more than capable of writing similar posts, I am not sure if that is desirable. The before mentioned post lost me one of my friends- I would rather not have another situation like that arise. On the other hand, I have kept my posts pretty mild lately, and I’m wondering if my readers have gotten a little bored.
I wish I could look into your minds and figure out what you would like. Or maybe I am approaching the whole thing from the wrong angle and should instead look to what it is that I really want to write about?
I don’t know. This whole blogging business confuses me a lot. It doesn’t help that I tend to over think things…
Thoughts, anyone?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

We Need A New Feminism

A lot has been happening lately to prove that women are still not equal to men in our society. Though they are afforded the same rights on paper, women are not treated the same as men. I hear all you critics already: ‘But women are equal! What else do you want?’ These are the same people who will assure you that racial equality also exists. In theory, i.e. before the law, etc., we are all the same. However, in reality, sameness is still more than far away when it comes to peoples’ hearts and minds.
The other day, I read about a T-shirt that was for sale at JCPenney. The shirt read "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me." Thanks to an outcry of angry parents, the shirts are no longer available for purchase through their stores. However, I read many people’s comments who basically thought that the shirt was harmless and all in good fun.
I’m sure that whoever it was who came up with the slogan for this T-shirt had no bad intentions and truly believed it to be witty and cute. The problem, however, lies in the values that we are teaching our children. Though the message isn’t blatant, it is still very obviously there: It is more important to be physically attractive than intelligent; attractive girls cannot also be intellectually inclined.
Is this really what you want your daughters to think of themselves and others? I know what my answer to that question is, but I am beginning to question other people’s thoughts on the matter. If you don’t see the sexism in this slogan, try picturing it on a shirt for boys. Would such a statement be made about a boy?
A couple of days later, I came across a Yahoo! story on a photo shoot that was done with Heather Morris, one of the stars of the hit TV show ‘Glee’. In these photos, Morris has a huge black eye and is posing with household items, such as an iron, and is wearing fifties-style clothing, suggesting she is a housewife (or homemaker, etc.- just insert whatever term you find least offensive) In one particular photo, her hands are tied with the cord of the iron, and a male hand is pulling on the iron itself, while Morris is grinning into the camera. Click here to see a few of the pics.
Once again, there was an outcry from people who took offense to these photos, upset by the fact that they obviously make fun of domestic violence. The photographer seems oblivious to any such intent, stating that all he wanted to do was “… to do a bruised-up Barbie shoot and that’s exactly what we did!” I’m not sure what the photographer’s explanation of her black eye would have been- maybe she hurt herself while ironing? Either way, I think the photos are in bad taste, to say the least. Not only are they ridiculing abused women, they are also offering some nice material for abusers to look at and admire.
What I think we as women need is a new kind of feminism. Not the old nutty kind where we sit around and talk about silliness, such as making sure we no longer call members of law enforcement policemen or women, but persons or officers (I hope you know what I mean- I couldn’t think of a better example. I went to a German feminist group a few times and had to stop going because all they wanted to talk about was why words such as ‘the chair’ had a male instead of a female article in German…)
We need to start recognizing our awesomeness and make our marks on this world. All the women I know are just amazing superhero-type ladies, who raise their children, take care of their homes, cook, bake, sew, read, never sleep, etc. all while keeping their families together and looking wonderful! Honestly, the responsibilities of the modern woman far exceed any notions of multi-tasking. We are all superwomen and it is time we owned it!
Dear men, please stop looking down on us women because you think your physical strength makes you superior to us. It doesn’t. If you want to see truly amazing physical strength, watch a woman give birth. You may be able to excel on the football field, but we can make new people. True, we need about three seconds of your participation for that, but I am convinced that one day, with the advancement of science, even that will no longer be necessary.
For centuries, women have stood back and let men handle things. I have been wondering, why?; I have come to the conclusion that women just weren’t all that interested in being a part of man’s world before now. Women have had their priorities in other places. Times are changing, though. And I am sure I am not the only one who is tired of having a ‘Women’s History Month’ and special categories on Jeopardy such as ‘Women Writers’. We make up slightly more than half of the world’s population. It’s time we stopped acting like a minority of inferior creatures. Dear ladies, let’s get into politics, let’s get into religious positions, let’s take charge! It is still a man’s world, but it is ours for the taking…

Disclaimer: I am not implying that only women who have children are awesome. ALL women are fantastic in my opinion. Childbearing just stood out to me as an example and I do not intend to hurt or offend anyone.
I am not trying to degrade men. You, too, are awesome. However, you have oppressed women for centuries- millennia, even. We do not want to push you out of the way- all we want is to finally be on the same level as you guys…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Favorite Albums

I was listening to the radio today and heard one of my all time favorite songs. Which then lead me to think about my all time favorite albums. Which in turn inspired me to share them with you, so that maybe you would share yours with me. I am a music lover, in every sense of the word, and am always open to suggestions.
These albums are all close to my heart for various reasons- be it the memories they bring back or the emotions they evoke. Whatever my personal reasons for liking them, they are fantastic pieces of music and should be listened to at least once by every human being on this Earth. (Too drastic?!?)
Here are my favorite albums of all time (I am unable to assign them numbers, as they are practically equal in their importance and brilliance):

Let It Be – The Beatles
3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days In The Life Of – Arrested Development
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
Achtung Baby – U2
Nevermind – Nirvana
The Chronic – Dr. Dre
Ten – Pearl Jam

Did you notice that there are eight instead of ten? These are the main ones I thought of, so therefore they are my most important ones.
What are your favorite albums?