Friday, February 28, 2014

9/52


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Lucas: He's been a testy little dude this week, but he still shocks me with his sweetness daily.

Avery: Climbing. Climbing on everything. Which I'd be totally fine with if she didn't immediately fall over because she wants to stand on her toes.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tiny Blue Lines - Giveaway!

So yesterday I did a review of Chaunie Marie Brusie's new book Tiny Blue Lines. You should read the review if you want to get a better feel for what it's all about, but in short, it was awesome.

And today, I'm so lucky to get to give away a free copy to one of you lovely readers! The giveaway starts today and ends Sunday at midnight. The winner will be announced Monday morning. Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tiny Blue Lines - Book Review

I've been following Tiny Blue Lines the blog for quite some time now, and although our stories are different, I've always felt an emotional connection to Chaunie. She will say the things that weigh heavy on my heart about the less than perfect days, the chaos and anger that arise in my utter exhaustion, the internal battles that threaten to beat me - and then reminds me that it's going to be okay. And more importantly, she reminds me that I'm not alone.

I have been very lucky to meet many women in this blogging journey who inspire me. Women who I look up to; whose proverbial shoes I hope to grow into as I continue on my career path as a writer. Chaunie inspires while also being an incredibly real comrade in this parenting and blogging journey - and for that reason I consider myself very lucky to have met her.

But enough about my stalkerish feelings towards Chaunie, let's talk about her new book.

I'm going to level with you, even though I was excited to read this book, I wasn't sure it would resonate with me. Tiny Blue Lines is a guide of sorts for the pregnant twenty-something experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Chaunie draws from personal experience from her out-of-wedlock, not even out of college surprise pregnancy to encourage young women in the same position. A position I have never been in.

Our paths to motherhood were quite different. Lucas was planned (like preemptive prenatal routine, bought What To Expect Before You're Expecting planned) and we had our ducks in a row so to speak. While Avery was a surprise, a second unexpected pregnancy doesn't have the same life up-heaving quality as what Chaunie went through as a young, scared first-time mother.

But I'll tell you what, this book made me laugh and cry - a feat I'm not sure any book has done before (and even soliciting either laughter or crying from me in a book is not easily done). The writing was real and emotional. It penetrated through the small differences of our experiences and cut to the core of what we all feel as first time mothers. A little scared and unsure and selfish and looking for someone to tell us it's going to be okay.

Beyond being emotionally resonant, the book provides a practical and informative guide for navigating the often uncertain road of young motherhood. From breaking the news to your parents, to going back to school (not to mention giving you an in-depth guide for making your campus more parent friendly), to reclaiming your identity after motherhood - Chaunie covers so much that the traditional pregnancy books ignore completely.

This is the type of introspective pregnancy guide that I wish every young mother could have to encourage her. It doesn't sugarcoat anything, but it does give hope and inspiration in abundance through the stories of real young mothers who have been in those familiar shoes, who have felt the insecurity and doubt and fear - young mothers who came out the other side stronger and better and more amazing than they had ever dreamed of being before.

Tiny Blue Lines gently takes the hand of the newly pregnant twenty-something and tells her, "This can, this will, be the best thing that ever happens to you."

And it's so, so true.

*Stay tuned for a giveaway of Tiny Blue Lines on the blog tomorrow!

8/52


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Lucas: Hiding in his shop vac. He's had this obsession with vacuums ever since he was really little. Like not even talking little. He's currently saving up all the money in his piggy bank to buiy a new black shop vac he has his eye on. :/

Avery: I lose track of how many times a day I marvel at how big this girl is. She's pulling herself up to standing to play at her activity table and play cube and she can even crawl into this little musical chair now. It's hardly more than two months until her 1st birthday. And no, I'm not planning anything yet, I'm still in total denial.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Made Up, Grown Up

When I was nineteen and newly engaged, I went on a trip to visit family in England - not to celebrate, but because it was already in the plans. My uncle throws a fantastic garden party every summer, and it was the main event of our trip (sidenote: is that not the most delightfully British thing you've ever heard of?)

I hadn't guessed my young engagement would be a topic of lively discussion and debate amongst relatives and random party guests. Everyone and their mothers (especially their mothers) wanted to give me a piece of their mind on how I was too young. Some called me stupid. Some laughed. And I got a lot of the old, "you look like you're twelve."

So midway through the party, I went to the guestroom where my bags were and got out my make-up. I was already wearing make-up, but I needed more. Especially eyeliner. I needed way, way more eyeliner. Because I wanted to look and feel like a grown up. I wanted people to stop telling me I was a child.

The comments only escalated when I went back to the party looking like a Calamity Jane drag queen (did I forget to mention the garden party was a Wild West Cowboy theme?) and I ended up using some choice American language before eventually slugging a guy who stumbled away, too drunk to even register the fact that he had been hit in the face by some Yankee's teenage bride.

The irony of this failed quest for a mature look eluded me for some years to come.

I experienced many encounters during my two year engagement that vexed me to no end. You don't know me, I'd think when strangers would make some quip about my age. You don't know what I'm about. I was angry because they were projecting their experiences, their youth, onto me to judge me unfit for marriage. But furthermore, I was angry because I didn't have the maturity to feel secure in myself when people made assumptions about me.

I thought what I needed was to look older so people would accept me as an adult, when what I was really searching for was acceptance from myself.

I was never uncertain of my decision to marry my husband. And, as a strong willed teenager, I had no qualms about defending my choice to the death. But I was foolish in the way I went about it; the way I fumed and demanded to be right.

I didn't realize then the power of silence - not compliance or weakness, but calm disassociation with those who wished to bait me. I didn't realize then that I had the power to hold the cards when someone else was judging me.

I worried about the clothes I wore and the make-up I carefully applied to look older and wiser. I worried about whether or not I was projecting the sort of image I had of myself in my head. As if maturity and confidence were something that could be purchased and worn.

I don't wear make-up much anymore. I do, some days, but only as a whim of fancy. It's not a trait that defines me as a grown up, but I do feel it speaks to a journey I have made in acceptance of myself. I no longer feel the need for it. I don't feel that compulsion to make myself more beautiful or mature through a means that can't achieve those traits.

I am comfortable in my own skin. I hold the cards to my own perception of self.

And I am, at least in this one small way, grown up. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

7/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014

Lucas & Avery: This Valentine's Day picture just projects love from every angle. It reminds me how tremendously blessed I am to have two healthy beautiful children who are so full of life and love. Our weeks of illness have finally passed, and we're all getting back on our feet.

6/52


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.
 
Avery: Her hair is getting so long now that I have to clip it back every day, which I absolutely love.

Lucas: He's been pretending to be a dog all week, barking incredibly loud, especially when people come to the door. It's...tiring.

P.S. I know, I've fallen behind here. Stay tuned for the 7/52, coming up...um, now.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

So This Is The New Year

I can't believe it's already February. I haven't written a darn thing about the new year (which is always favorite of mine). I feel like I missed the cue to race out of the starting gate, and I'm still playing catch up. We've been sick, it's true, but it's more than that. It's a fogginess in my head I can't shake - a thickness that seems to be obscuring my view of the future. Maybe it is just the sickness. I don't know.

Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the new year. I'm going by the Chinese calendar and this is the week of new beginnings and fresh starts.

I saw some folks picking out words to define their year in 2013, and a few who did the same this year. I chose my word a while ago but never said it out loud. And I think it's important to give voice to this word if it's really going to mean anything. So for 2014, my word is Brave. I'm putting it out there and letting the forces that be hold me accountable to it.

I don't know what it means yet, but I'm hoping by the end of this wild year I'll have a clue as to why Brave was the seed that planted itself in my head. I'm hoping to find a lot of answers this year to questions still forming in their infancy. I continue to have this feeling that 2014 will be transformative - I'm tempted to put on my old mountain man voice and say I feel it in my bones.

There's something waiting out there in the big wide world for me, and I just need to be brave enough to grab hold of it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

5/52

 
A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014
 
Lucas & Avery: This week has been terrible. Both have been down with  bronchitis for a whole week now, and Rob and I are now suffering the same fate. This moment from the beginning of the week seems like a lifetime ago. Excuse me, while I go cry on the couch for a while.
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