Are We Important?

I’m not a religious person. I’m not preachy. I am, however, pretty philosophical. I almost chose it as my college major (I kid you not).

I’ve recently heard from certain non-Internety-type people (who apparently aren’t aware that I have a blog), stated in a general way, “Who cares what you think? Who cares to know every little detail of your life? Where do people get off thinking that every thought that pops into one’s head should be recorded and shared with the world?”

It goes on, but that’s the general gist of the thing. She was speaking in regards to Facebook, but also the idea that people find a need to over-share on the interwebs.

So. Hmm. Okay. The weird thing here is…I don’t completely disagree. Not fully, at least. I fully admit that we are now part of a narcissistic Internet society — a society which, consequently, spans 85% (or more??) of the world’s population for the first time in humankind’s history. It’s both a fascinating time to exist, but also terrifying.

Yes, terrifying.

Terrifying because the world is smaller. Hacking, plagiarism, identity theft, spying, and even the thank-god-it-hasn’t-happened-yet terror attacks to the Internet are scary things. But, even more so, daily Internet use can be a heart-breaking thing.

For soft-shelled individuals (at times, this is me), the negative consequences of online bickering and trolls (I’m clearly not “big” enough; I’m lucky enough not to have experienced trolls firsthand yet!) wrenches my stomach and affects me horribly. But this is because I am a pensive person who considers words, actions, and thoughts deeply. This is a downfall of the information age; the anonymity of comments and the simple act of typing rather than speaking thoughts seems, for many people, to make those words more and less powerful all at the same time.

Wait, what? Yes. More AND less, simultaneously. More powerful because people do seem to think that what they say is the end-all be-all of the conversation; and sometimes they are. Less powerful because there’s less meaning to them; it’s so damn easy to say what you feel that it just comes out and isn’t weighed. Posting without thinking. The epitome of our current age.

See? The power of words is ultimately a very personal thing. You may read something as incredibly hurtful while the person writing it didn’t really give two hoots about the comment and didn’t mean it as extremely as it may have looked. Or, perhaps you write a post that you think will truly resonate with tons of people, and you receive zero comments or feedback. Forget love is a battlefield; the Internet is the real front line.

So, should we be sharing everything from adorable cat memes to highly-charged, ignorant political posts to pictures of our vacation (whilst away)? Should we assume that everyone wants to hear everything we think or that the picture of our cat/sandwich/baby/beach body is worthy to share will billions of people because they’ll be just as impressed with it as we are? Is the selfie not the epitome of self-entitled, narcissistic behavior?

I have the answer, but it’s mine. That’s the thing about today; opinions are rampant, and it’s a glorious thing when properly directed. We are each entitled to an opinion, just as mankind has always been. The most important part is to share it when necessary.

That’s why I blog, and why these statements might have struck me to the core initially, but have since settled into my heart and found a proper place. I don’t subscribe to the “there’s billions of us, why does anyone care what you think?” concept. I don’t believe that children should be seen and not heard.

There was a time not too long ago that women were hushed. I am proud of our heritage, and proud to come from a long line of extremely outspoken women. But, to think that less than 100 years ago, we had no political voice. About 150 years ago, women weren’t respected enough to take part in public forums or listen to a passionate speaker. And we shall say nothing of the consequences for a woman who wished to leave an abusive husband; by today’s standards, barbaric.

I’d like to think that my voice, be it small, be it frivolous while discussing parenting and decor and living green and whatever silly thing else, is important to somebody. I’d like to think that I should be allowed to speak. I’d like to think that I’m relevant to one person. And if one person reads and connects, I will continue. In an attempt to remain humble (as much as possible) and protect some semblance of our privacy, I keep some cherished moments to myself. But if there’s something that someone might find laugh-worthy or thought-provoking or might give them an urge to try out a new food or style of pillow…good.     

Favorite Posts?

Happy Friday! Is it as gorgeous where you are as it is here? Seriously, it’s like late summer here. It’s messing with my mind a bit, actually. I’m jonesin’ for some crisp fall air — just isn’t the same picking apples in shorts, right?

Oh, and between getting over a virus that I caught at school and not having a lot to contribute, I’m not doing a “currently” post this week. Obviously. 😉

So, anyhoo, I was filling out a form for the blog the other day when I found myself perplexed. It asked for a sample of my writing, and since it was with regards to the blog (I could’ve listed some of the Green Child Magazine articles I’ve written), I figured I’d share a few links of my favorite posts.

But. Um. You see. Huh. I’m stumped. I really don’t know what to share.

I’ve got some posts that are purely personal, highly emotional, and probably a tad heavy for just such a purpose. Those are, at times, my favorites. 

Then, there are those stupid, “Wow, why did I write that?” posts. It’s nice to look back and see where my brain was on stuff, but still. Wow.

And, of course, the “that’s one of my favorite posts” posts…the ones that get very little views or feedback, LOL.

There are humorous, kidcentric stories and heavier, “topic”-based discussions. Talks about food and where it comes from, and just little glimpses into our life as a family.

Looking at the “popular” posts as dictated by Blogger’s counting system, I’m kind of surprised. The quality of the writing on them is fine, but between the amateurish photography (I’m currently saving my pennies for a DSLR camera, woohoo!) and random differences in topics, they’re a hodgepodge that don’t really tell a cohesive story. Like my rant about giving up Facebook (update: I’ve cut back, but admittedly could do better), the introduction of our horrible pre-makeover bathroom, my attempts at creating a small mantle shelf since we lack a real mantle to call our own, and a piece I wrote about a terrifying shooting we had locally awhile back. See? Super random!

What do you guys think? Do you have a favorite post or two that you’ve seen here? If you have an idea but can’t remember the title or when it was written or anything, click on the “Archive” link to search by date, or just “search” (there’s a box under all my social media rigamarole and at the top left of the page) and see what pops up.

Also, if you’d rather just take a survey with the “general” topics I cover, here ya go. (Notice there’s an “other” section…’cuz God knows I can’t fit everything I spout off about in a survey.)

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What are your favorite types of posts here at Meg, Acting Out?

Eco-friendly ideas/tips
Parenting/family stuff
Recipes & real food chats
DIY projects
Animal/pet sharing
Personal stories
Eco-friendly ideas/tips0%
Parenting/family stuff0%
Recipes & real food chats0%
DIY projects0%
Animal/pet sharing0%
Personal stories0%
Other: (Please specify)0%

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I’d love to hear what you think the bright points have been on this here blog! And if you’re new around here, take this mini-assignment as a chance to get acquainted with the randomness that is MAO. 🙂 And welcome to all!

To Avoid or Not – Teaching About Death

For many, death is the scariest part of life. It’s not often discussed openly, making it more difficult for people to deal with when it does inevitably strike a loved one. It’s grim, it’s frightening, and there are tons of emotions tied to it, so it’s best just to not talk about it. Right?

Wrong. At least, I think it’s wrong to avoid it. For my family, it was an early fact-of-life lesson. Our dad passed away after a long battle with an aggressive skin cancer in 1986, leaving a wife and four kids broken. I was just shy of four years old, and while I was told what happened, I wish I had been given a better understanding behind it. It wasn’t until months later when Sesame Street taught me via Mr. Hooper’s death that I would never see him again. It was agonizing, but I finally got it.

So, the concept of loss, a general loneliness, and a premature sense of adulthood followed me through my childhood (and quite possibly my siblings, of course). But, because of it, I worked on my issues and became better able to handle the hardest points of life (eventually). I still miss the crap out of my dad and wish I’d known him better than a three-year-old can know someone, but we’re lucky for the family we have.

I decided long ago that, while my wonderfully kind stepfather would be known to Hadley as one of his true grandfathers (“Papa”), he would know and remember that my father, well, existed. Which means that I would inevitably have to discuss with him the topic of death.

And guess what. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.

 

Yes, our son is just over two years old. But, he’s already experienced some loss. My dear, dear grandfather passed away last year, and Had’s grandparents had to put down a beloved dog that used to greet and play with him everyday.

We visited my grandfather regularly, so the night that I drove home from the hospital after witnessing his last breath, I knew I’d have to explain it. At age 7, I was in a tonsillectomy-induced stupor when my great aunt Kate had passed. While my mother insists she told me when it happened, the following summer I asked about it and was shut down immediately. It stung. I didn’t want a repeat when one day, out of the blue, Hadley starts asking about “Mama Gampa.” (My grandpa.)  

The first thing to remember, whether you’re just talking about the general concept of death or a particular person or pet, is to keep it simple. Like, stupid simple. I’ve come to learn that over-talking anything is an easy way to have a kid zone you out and not understand. Hmph. Maybe I should stop over-explaining stuff for you guys when blogging. 😉

I told him in two short sentences, tops. I first made sure he remembered the proper individual I was talking about, then explained that Grandpa had gotten sick and had to go away. Watching it sink in, his head slowly nodding, I then told him that we wouldn’t be seeing him again, but that we can always enjoy the memories we made with him. He totally got it, and even told me he was sorry for ME. Talk about tears — but, that’s actually another important point…

Crying is totally okay. This is more for the grown-ups than the kids, but regardless, it’s important for everyone to remember it. We had family cry sessions after Dad passed away, but it eventually became a very private thing to do. I still cry about him (and Grandpa, actually, who was more than a second father); it’s not a loss you ever get over, nor should one have to, but how we deal with the feelings is what’s important.

So, when I explained to Hadley what had happened with Grandpa, or talk to him about Dad, or when I told him that his poor grandmother had to put down Dawg, I was tearful, openly. I didn’t try to hide it. It was part of the lesson. YES. DEATH IS SAD, AND THAT’S NORMAL AND OKAY.

Kids get it.
They’re more astute about others’ emotions at times than we are as adults. It’s best to respect them enough to be open with the facts and open with those emotions.

Speaking of kids totally being aware, here’s where things get creepy. We’re not super religious. Hadman thinks a cross is the letter “T” (I’m equally embarrassed and proud about that — letter recognition, y’know). But, both times I spoke with him about the deaths were at bedtime, in his crib, in a dark room when he was calming down for the day. Both times, he pointed over my shoulder as if he saw something…or someone. He barked when Dawg was put down. He talked to Grandpa when he passed. “Hi, Gampa! Hi, Gampa!” Both terrifying; both somehow strangely calming.

They know and “see” better than we do sometimes.  

One final word of advice is to help them remember those who have passed. Pretending that the person never existed sometimes makes an individual feel like they need to do the same; that they’re not allowed to ask questions or talk about the person.

I’ve asked a lot about my dad over the years, and there were times I knew my mother wasn’t in the mood to discuss it, but she always answered my questions. Sometimes short responses; sometimes longer. Plus, his picture has always been around our house as a constant welcome reminder, and we helped out at the cemetery all the time.

The tree next to his headstone was quite young when he was buried. Over the years, I took a lot of comfort visiting to help plant new flowers and dusty millers and to clean off the stone. We’d excitedly ask for the empty plastic jug we used to fast-walk (running in a cemetery = not okay) back from the filling spigot. As a teen, I would go to the cemetery to sit at atop a large mausoleum built into a hill to enjoy the peace and feel closer to him.

Today, the tree is matured. Both of my mom’s parents have joined him, just two rows away. But, the peace is still there. So, I feel it’s important to bring Hadley there from time to time so that he realizes how normal death is and that, if he has any questions, it’s totally fine to share them.

Besides, for a stick and rock collecting boy, it makes for an awesome nature walk.

Costume Brain Barf

Well, that’s a graphic title. Hmm. Sorry about that, but my brain is definitely barfing all over this post. Lots of thoughts goin’ on. None too bad, though.

I’m not a big blood-and-guts fan. Scary movies are just unnecessary (to me; if you’re into them, enjoy! We all have our guilty pleasures).  I also try not to expose our little guy to media (movies, TV, music) that isn’t age-appropriate. Maybe I’m that prudish mother I never thought I’d be, or maybe my education background has put my jaw on the floor too many times (watching “Family Guy” in second grade? Seriously?!), but it’s just who we are as a family. Over-the-top or not.

Believe me, though. I enjoy watching him experience things that he’s old enough to wrap his head around, listen to a fun new pop song, and see what interests arise in him. Fascinating, and so fun to be a part of. Really.

I’m also not anti-Halloween. I get a little anxious over the mischievous activities (and excuse for mayhem and law-breaking), but for the little ones, it’s downright awesome. Heck, we’re actors, so it’s in our blood to put on different clothes and pretend to be somebody else. It’s how we do, yo. The candy’s a bit much, but our rest-of-the-time attempts at clean, organic living don’t dictate that we need to forgo the fun; for now, we’ll just go to our relatives and maybe a friendly neighbor or two, leaving us with just a small handful of special sugary treats.

Oh, and my mom set the bar HIGH in the DIY costume realm. I don’t remember ever buying costumes, although we did go to a costume shop annually to get ideas. (Awesome tip right there, folks!) My favorite was the year that I was missing tons of front teeth, when my mother turned a princess costume into a last-minute tooth fairy outfit. Genius. And, the older we got, the greater the competition between my older siblings to see how creative their Phantoms of the Opera could be. We also borrowed awesome dresses and bonnets for “Little House” costumes (even though I was super sick that year and couldn’t actually trick-or-treat), and I swear we all used a black graduation gown as a foundation to many a costume.

Anyhoo, as an infant, Hadman was his spirit animal — a giraffe (which was more of a sweatsuit than anything else, and the pictures of which are lost in a digital avalanche). Last year, he was Charlie Brown. It was perfect.

My goals for Hadman this year are to keep it relatively cute (um, no blood or “over his head” references…as awesome as those may seem, I’m creeped out by a kid dressed up as Chucky), something in his realm of knowledge, and, the big thing, COMFORTABLE, COMFORTABLE, COMFORTABLE. He’s also hit-or-miss with keeping hats on. Hmph.

He’s got a variety of favorite books. He’s allowed to watch TV (and Netflix, sigh), so there are a handful of characters that he knows well. Heck, he’s even familiar with superheroes (Dorky Daddy reads them), although I’m not sure he understands the concepts behind them yet.

When asked what he wants to be, he tends to bluntly say “Apples. And ‘nanas. But apples.” Um. As fun as that sounds, an apple costume is a bitch to put together. And he’s not THAT big of a fan of bananas, so to make him one just seems…cruel, LOL.

Here are a handful of the ideas that I’ve found charming and quite possible for the munchkin. The cool thing about some of them is that they can go to live in a future dress-up trunk for daily use. Plus…oh, the cuteness!

The scarecrow and cowboy costumes are both missing origination links. If you’re the owner, please let me know so I can credit! Oh, and click on the chef link — so many awesome ideas!

 
– He’s not into planes yet, but that pilot costume (probably without the airplane) is awesome, warm, and half the outfit can be made of regular clothes. So cute and classic, right??

– Okay. I’m totally going to make a couple of these no-sew superhero costumes, regardless of our Halloween plans. So simple, so much fun, so “our guys.”

– This is the perfect scarecrow!!! It’s actually comfortable; imagine that! Cloth and yarn instead of the scratchy, hay-filled version? Sign me up.

– Hadley’s pretty enamored by Kermit (he’s the only non-Sesame Street Muppet he knows…well) thanks to Netflix and “The Muppet Movie” in its queue. Although this is a little guy here, it would be easily adaptable for a “big kid” like ours. 😉

– Okay. The idea of “Hadman the Chef” is a stroke of genius. One of his favorite pretend activities is to “cook” and “make soup” with all of his handmade felt food. Much like the hero costumes, I’d like to make a chef’s hat for future use, too.

These are just a few of the super adorable ideas I’m considering. I’m ultimately going to run a few of the ideas Dave has helped me narrow down by the little guy so that he knows what’s going on and it isn’t a huge (unwanted) surprise come Halloween.

What about you? Are you a store-bought costume person? Or a DIYer? What’s a favorite costume of your childhood?

 

Will You Wear My Friendship Bracelet?

For some, this post may apply to you at age 26. For others, maybe age 39. Still others, it may not apply at all. In which case, read away and enjoy being a totally well-adjusted, sociable person. You’re winning at life, and I salute you, my friend. Text me? No? Oh. Okay.

Friends. Buddies. Pals. Besties. Homegirls (or boys). BFFs. Whatever term you use, it seems that there’s a weird shift that happens after a certain age. It tends to happen post-quarterlife crisis (which may last different durations depending on the person and their situation), when finding all the settling-down trappings of life — a sweet spouse, a pet or two (or three), maybe even babies.

When you settle into living with your best friend (the one you want to grow old with; you know the one), your schedules intertwine, your to-dos rely upon the other’s availability (or willingness to watch the munchkin for you while you do your own thing), and you come to find more value in watching your favorite black-and-white movies together in PJs than you do hitting up a local bar.

Or maybe your local bars are overrun by college kids and an environment that simply doesn’t appeal. Or maybe it’s too loud to talk over the noise. Or maybe you gave up that scene long ago. All of the above, please.

So, anyhoo, life takes over. Not an excuse. It just does.

On top of this, socializing is equal parts emotion, sport, entertainment, and game, especially when you first know someone. Playing the game (“When are you free?” That’s half the battle), doing so skillfully while supporting your friend and still enjoying yourself simultaneously? It all needs to be balanced. And it becomes more of a challenge as you grow older and have less time to devote to properly maintaining a friendship, especially while maintaining a career, a happy, fulfilling marriage, a happy, well-adjusted child, and a relatively happy (if not disorderly) home. Toss in hopes and dreams and one’s cup runneth over…and not always in the best of ways.

For some of us, developing new friendships is tough in the first place. We’re not in college anymore, where you could bump into someone from one of your classes in the cafeteria and strike up a pleasant conversation about the tacos. We’re not in high school, where you most likely knew 90% of the people in highly intimate ways (“Remember Angela Farfigneugan who showed her purple polka dotted undies in 2nd grade?”) and felt like you were all kind of related in the first place. Or even the first day of kindergarten where the girl you shared the yummy paste green crayon with would be your BFF for the next ten years.

Making. New. Friends. Sucks. (Generally.) And in the Mom World, first impressions are everything. What can I say? Lots of moms seem…um…judgy. So, yeah. If I’m out at the playground with a particularly hysterical 2-year-old and make eye contact with a possible future BFF, will my parenting/aka personality/aka whole being be questioned? Plus, I’m not great at connecting. 

If you know me in “real life”, you’re probably aware that I’m pretty awkward. Okay, very awkward. I have a hard time not weirding people out during a conversation. I try to look into their eyes but end up doing it too long, then stare at the floor. I do listen well, but I probably give off the impression that I’m not. Or maybe that I’m psychotic. Either/or. I’ve also lost all ability to select appropriate conversational topics. Poop! Let’s talk about poop. Cat poop, baby poop, husband poop; it’s all the same. Aaaand I’ve gone too far.

Now that you know all of my social flaws (hug me), let’s just say that the friendships that I do have are pretty damn important to me. 

This doesn’t mean that I don’t inadvertently, completely unintentionally neglect those highly cherished friends. Might months go by until I call or text? Absolutely. Do we rarely get together? Sure. But, when we do, a simple cup of coffee or meal together recharges me and fills me with such joy — and hopefully my friends feel the same.

So, naturally, I hope to find more connections like these. A little support sharing, back-and-forth, from a like-minded person with a few similarities. Befriending mamas is the easiest way for the other person to realize that, yes, schedule wrangling might be a little tough and, no, we won’t always be available to each other. But, guess what. We have other built-in support to get us through those times. Those husbands for venting and crying (and laughing) with. Those babies for distracting us with heightened levels of awesomeness. Those furbabies for the sincerest form of cuddling known to man. We make it work.

Non-mama friends sometimes get this — and those are truly some of my best friends. But, the older I get, the harder it seems to make those friends. Sometimes it’s even difficult to keep the old ones. I’m not a fan of it, but I can face the grim reality; it does happen. Here you get married and you never think you’ll be dealing with a break-up ever again, and…bam…you find out that there’s a whole other type of break-up that you forgot all about, and it hurts just as much.

I only wish I knew how to juggle it all – work, marriage, motherhood, responsibilities to all of that while also paying bills and maintaining a house. Somewhere in there I try to carve out a little bit of life and time for myself (like this blog). But, I’m not 16 anymore, or 21, or even 27. Those were completely different lifetimes. Now, everything (including friendships) takes more work, more time, and it doesn’t always go the way I’d like. A new person might care less about what I have to say and I never hear or see them again. I may lose touch with an old friend and before I know it, weeks become months become years. It can downright suck when I stop for a moment to come up for air and realize I’ve lost a person who’s been part of my cast since elementary school.

I know I’m not alone, not the first to go through this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to handle or plow through on those days when it hits me, when I reflect on the past, and I see how much has changed. There is no magic answer, no magic word that can make it so. I wish there was. But sometimes I just don’t know. However, the best part of growing older is learning the ability to cope. One can bitch for only so long before recognizing that it doesn’t help the situation and, really, it’s time to find perspective. The life that I have is the one that I chose, and I couldn’t be happier with the family we’ve built and the journey that we’re carving out.  

All this said, I still long for friendships. To know a variety of people. To do fun things. To have people who can come over, understand the messiness of three cats and three people living in less than 1,000 square feet and not care. To have a Millie to my Laura (or vice versa, depending on whether I’m the “wacky friend” or not). To laugh with abandon and say things without fear of it being used against me in the future or to share feelings sans judgment. To be able to check in with funny texts from time to time to ensure that the other’s still alive, or to share a funny “doesn’t matter in the grand scheme” moment. 

I’m not asking for a vast amount of friends, or for friends who can all get together and get along, or for those take-all-afternoon phone calls of junior high. I’m not necessary looking for a fellow mother, but I am looking for someone who understands that my first priority, above all else, is that role (followed closely by the happiness of my husband; I subscribe to “Happy husband, happy life.” Luckily, he’s an easy one to please). And I’m not greedy. Just one, two, three…a dozen BFFs. Too much to ask? 

Really, I just want someone to wear my friendship bracelet. Their choice of color.

Is that too much to ask?

* I’d like to thank Dave for helping me find the words to write this post. As with all things in life, I couldn’t do it without you.

Currently – Sept. 19th

Howdy, folks! How’re things? They’re peachy here. No, really. They are! This week has been a mix of fast and slow, busy and bored, frantic and calm. And it’s been good.



While I’m not usually a “talk on the phone” person (my 13-year-old self is dying laughing at me right now. DYING. How badly did I want my own phone line?), I’m hoping to start calling friends and family for a little chat here and there. My brother’s birthday is tomorrow, so I hope to shoot him a line. I’ve got a long-time friend I want to touch base with. Otherwise, for some strange reason, autumn is the “let’s have people over! Let’s go DO something with someone we love!” time of the year, so we’ll be checking our schedules to see who wants to have some play dates and grown-up get-togethers. Fun!

Is anyone else loving the new Ken Burns’ doc on the Roosevelts? I know I’m not the only one, given how much buzz it’s getting. I just wish I could focus more on it. It comes on right as we’re putting Hadman down for the night (which entails him talking or calling for us for a good hours thereafter), and, of course, I’m immediately exhausted and have a handful of other duties I’d like to perform at the same time. Like Internety stuff. But, I’m still getting lots out of it. Our family has a couple of Roosevelt run-ins (on both sides of the family, egad!), so I tend to perk up for them. Yay, Progressives!

It’s fall, right? So, eating excessive amounts of baked goods and comfort foods is totally acceptable, right? RIGHT?? I’ve made ham and potato soup, banana blueberry muffins, a tenderloin, and more…during a busy workweek. And I haven’t written a single post about any of them. #bloggerfail

While I had hoped that we would be found riding around the countryside doing Fall activities, stocking up on farmers’ market goodies, and generally enjoying family life, the weather looks impeccable and unusually warm. This, of course, means that we’ll be taking advantage of it to do some paint touch-ups, weeding, pulling up of the failed garden, and possibly planting some mums (generally Fall-ification). Y’know, a responsible, not-too-fun, adult weekend. 😛

Given the “fun” ahead this weekend, can you tell that I’m wishing and hoping for a few wonderful family-oriented experiences over the following few weeks? You know it. Hopefully getting some of the un-fun chore stuff done soon will make doing that awesome stuff even nicer. Plus, some of it goes hand-in-hand. Like, this weekend I’ll pull up the weeds and get stuff ready, then when we’re oot and aboot, I’ll grab mums, pumpkins, and other autumny goodness to decorate with to finish it up.

Thanks to the ladies at Harvesting Kale and Ot & Et for hosting Currently! 

He’s All Boy

I have a love-hate relationship with that phrase — “he’s all boy!” From the start, I knew that Hadley was a super strong (like, freakishly strong) little guy. He’s loud when he’s passionate about something and when his energy gets flowing, he’s a bull in a china shop. I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard people say that phrase when observing him. Heck, I’m sure I’ve said it a couple of times, myself.

Maybe I’m just an over-analyzer, but I’m kind of sensitive to gender-specific statements. This one’s clearly not meant in a negative way (even if it is sometimes accompanying some less-than-stellar behavior), but some gender statements can be. Any use of the terms “girlie, sissy, toughen up and be a man/take it like a man, grow a pair, throw like a girl” makes my skin crawl.

We all want the best for our kids, right? We’re going to encourage him to pursue his interests, whether they be sports or music or art or science or animals or reading or…anything safe, really. And in any combination and amount that he’s comfortable with. I was afforded that opportunity, and it’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most about parenting; watching what interests develop and being there for his successes and failures along the way.  

I’m not looking forward to the days when he’s influenced by all the outside factors that promote “manliness.” I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m hoping he doesn’t pick a super high-testosterone, trash-talking sport. If he does, I’ll maintain a poker face and have plenty of open dialogue about acceptable behavior. Oh, and sit him down with his cousin, Matthew. He’s the epitome of what a scholar athlete should look and sound like.

Watching most of the teen boys at school go through a testosterone-driven social dance is a lot like watching a PBS nature special. The unspoken fight for alpha male is palpable. They become overtly physical and aggressive. They spew vulgar and derogatory language at each other under the guise of friendship. They single out the seemingly weaker beings in a show of solidarity between the louder, bigger, most aggressive. It’s not fun, and clearly I speak up, even when it’s what they deem “boys will be boys” behavior.

And this, dear reader, is what I’m concerned about most with raising a boy. He’s sweet. He’s tender. He’s sensitive. But, sure, he’s also got super-human strength and is quite big for his age. What will he do with all of these wonderful traits? What amalgamation will he put forth to the world? What effects will outside factors have on his development?

My biggest hope for him is happiness. Happiness to be whomever he may be. If that be a confident, verbal, strong-willed individual, awesome. If that be a sensitive, introverted intellect (I’ll admit it, he’s smart), equally awesome. But if he ever is made to feel shameful for whatever personality or quirks he may have, I hope we’ll have given him the tools to stand up for himself positively, or at the very least know in his heart and soul that he’s above the nonsense, and that his and our opinions of him are the only ones that matter.

*deep sigh*

Does anyone else have parenting fears like this one? Is it completely irrational, or does it ring true a little bit?

Toddler Threads

Dressing a child is an interesting beast. On one hand, all moms who’ve been through the fray know that the clothes don’t last long and aren’t always cheap. Seriously, between the “me do it!” messes the first day they wear that new adorable outfit (which leave you thinking, “Well, great. That won’t be a hand-me-down now.”) and the fact that they grow faster than weeds, we breeze through clothes. Not that I don’t make our little guy wear a favorite novelty shirt until his tummy peeks out underneath. #notsorry Admittedly, he hates retiring his favorite outfits, too. 

On the other hand, isn’t it SO. MUCH. FUN? Kiddie clothes are so darn cute; almost as cute as the kids themselves. And, these days, it’s not just for mommies with little ladies. We mamas with tiny fellas can get in on the action, too.

But, since I’m not into super graphic superhero shirts (done properly, I love a Batman logo or vintage-style Superman shirt) and skulls and sports themes aren’t my bag, Hadman’s style sways in the classic/old school/vintage/hipster territory.

I love seeing the kiddie fashion shows on some of my favorite blogs, but since our guy is in constant motion and isn’t a huge camera fan at the moment, I figured we’d just check out some outfits he’ll be wearing this fall, along with a couple of tips I have for clothing a toddler without breaking the bank.

First things first. What’s autumn without a sweater vest? According to my husband, it’s boring. So, of course, I stock up on miniature sweater vests at the end of the season (I buy a couple of sizes larger, then put them in plastic bins under the crib for later). Mini Dorky Daddy time!


Oh, and a little secret? The shirt underneath is actually one of our favorite long-sleeve novelty tees. Mix and match, people. No one will know that there’s a graphic tee underneath that adorable vest…well, until he spills gravy-laden turkey down his front at Thanksgiving. Then everyone will find out. And no one will care one bit.

Mmm. Turkey. Gravy. Pie. Black Friday.

Ya lost me. Oh, right. Adorable shirt hiding under preppy vest. 

Now for some casual cool. This is dressy enough for Christmas (button it up) or church, if you’re full of grace (I’m clearly not), but also can work for a fun play date. For the record, this is totally his dad’s style, too, sans cargoes. Ahem.

Wanna hit up a chilly late-season farmers’ market? Stock up on those squash, root veggies, and pumpkins, but be sure to bundle up! We always try to keep it comfy (everyone in jeans) and practical. A fleece will do, but we acquired this handmade hooded sweater that just screams leaf peepin’ and apple pickin’. Cozy!

I’m a jeans girl, so obviously I try to get one nice pair for the Hadman to run into the ground. They’re so versatile I have to have one good better pair.

Oh, and this is the second time we’ve used this fancy, schmancy shirt. He wore it about a year ago, so when my MIL found it on clearance in a bigger size, we were ecstatic. What better way to quickly and comfortably dress the kid up?! Seriously, I’m thinking ahead, but can’t you envision it on New Years’ Eve??


These are my simple tips for decking out your little one’s wardrobe.

– Don’t just buy something at the end of the season for the following year because it’s cheap. That’s a huge pet peeve in our household. Sure, it cost $3, but if it’s ugly or the wrong size for the season or we already have a stack of sweatpants for that season, it’s just not worth it. If you LOVE the thing, though, by all means.

– These are toddlers we’re talking about. I’m a pretty practical person in the first place (ahem, some might argue that), so I always think about comfort in my clothes…why wouldn’t I apply that to my little buddy? So, you’d better know that I stock up on pile of sweatpants, tees, and sweatshirts for day-to-day. And it’s not like he doesn’t look cute in those, either.

– Sure, it’s great to play twinsies (especially with Daddy), but for the most part, we think of Had’s interests when we buy him stuff. He’s hilarious, hence the novelty shirts. He loves animals and Sesame Street and is even starting to get more and more into superheroes, so we keep an eye out for shirts with animals (sharks, chomp chomp), the vintage-looking SS ones (Super Grover! And I don’t mean 2.0), and I’m on the hunt for harmless, less dark/super graphic super hero ones. I love seeing the joy in his face over certain clothes, knowing that he’s expressing himself when he picks even a simple striped shirt. Ah, the simple joy of new-found independence.

– Along with comfort, clothes have to be FUN! We currently have a shirt with a hotdog and hamburger running a race, a hotdog with a “help” sign inside the mouth of a happy shark, and we LOVE the mac ‘n cheese BFF shirt. You can’t get away with wearing hilarious stuff and fun patterns for very long before you have to start acting all adulty and crap, so do it while you can!

– As I said earlier, reign in the buying. It’s not like the outfit will last them 5 years; you’ll be lucky to get 4 months out of it. Keep in mind the pieces that you’d like to have: how many t-shirts, jeans, sweats, PJs, etc. This will keep you from going overboard when you see a stack of jeans on sale. Oh, and a great tip I have is to hit up the consignment/thrift stores for some cheap play clothes. You won’t care if they get dirty or torn, and knowing that they get some extra life definitely gets the ol’ pride flowing.

Anyone else clothing a tot? Any great tips? What’s your favorite thing to dress your real-life doll in? 😉 

Wop, Wop

I haven’t posted a gardening update in awhile. Actually, I think it was this post in late July. So, over a month. But guess what.

You’re not missing much.

The joint looks exactly the same (didn’t even take a final picture), except that I’ve completely neglected it. On purpose.

Know why? The outside cats that hang in our yard. They totally planned a jail break…INTO the garden.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the thought of eating food that has officially been “fertilized” with cat droppings (seriously, head back there and you smell it instantly…sigh) is a bit of a turn-off. And the fact that the Dorky Daddy ate some of the tomatoes and developed a weird infection (possibly impetigo, possibly some other freaky thing) makes us wonder, seriously, if it could have come from this. Maybe. Just maybe.

Luckily, I hate tomatoes and Hadley only ate stuff from the garden when it was perfectly secure and safe from cat crap. Whew. Poor Dave, though. :-\

So, I would call this year a complete bust. Hugest. Sigh. Ever. The cost and energy that goes into creating a garden is so damn frustrating when you think of how little you reap when something like this happens. We did get a small amount of good stuff early in the season, but not enough to call it even, I don’t think.

Let’s just say that since we don’t know where we’ll be laying our heads come next spring, and since our garden has been so hit-and-miss over the years, I’m a tad gun-shy to start planning. I know that an enclosed space is necessary, with rows and paths. But I’m ultimately determined to be successful and learn from our mistakes, even if EVERY SINGLE YEAR we get slammed with a different one.

And the only thing I can say as far as perspective goes is that I’m incredibly lucky. My grandfather’s family relied greatly upon the bounty that their tiny backyard garden provided them (as did many). Everything got canned. Everything got used. Today, we at least have the opportunity to obtain fresh, nutritious fruits and veg all winter long without blinking an eye. In her worst days, she had to scrape for her family’s survival.

So, one literally crappy growing season can’t outweigh the fact that this is just a hobby. One day, I hope to provide more for my own family, not for myself, but for the memory of my great-grandmother. 

And you’d better believe that I’ll be trying out one or two of your recipes when I do, Clara. 

Currently – September 12th

Wait. What? September 12th? Is that even…is that even right? checks calendar Yup.

Oye.

Let’s do this thing, shall we?

The leaves are far from falling quite yet, although there are snippets of mild color changes on the horizon. We are totally a fall family. It’s our favorite season (although I’ve admitted before that just the change of each season is my favorite); so much so that we got married in October. Needless to say, we’re itching to get out for leaf-peeping drives, pick out our pumpkins, drink some cider, and do a million other fall-centric things…SOON.

That said, while this season is our favorite, when you’ve got a wedding to attend and the temperature all week says it MIGHT hit 60…what the hell do you guys suggest wearing?? Is a sleeveless dress with a sweater enough? Stockings are a definite…thanks, Princess Kate. I think it might be an outside one, at that, so…yeah. It’s times like these I’m jealous of my suit-wearing husband. Suggestions in the comments, pleeeeaaaase!

In an attempt to waste less and use up stuff after its prime, I’ve been making lots of creative meals. And, guess what. They’re oftentimes tastier than the norm. Whodathunk?

I find myself smiling at the simple things lately. Namely, Hadley doing…well, almost anything…and our cats. Hadley’s words are so full of emotion, his absent-minded humming that accompanies his new-found imaginative play just melts my heart. Beardslee had a procedure over the summer that will hopefully leave him healthy for many more years, and his boundless energy and very plentiful head-bunts remind us of his deep soulfulness. Winston, well, he’s Winston, and he won’t be ignored. Jasper’s absolute addiction to having attention and being loved reminds me to take moments for him; he’s so easy to forget sometimes.

Learning is the name of the game lately. Hadley is in a constant state of newness, using language in new ways and discovering that actions cause reactions, and stringing more words into sentences. Also, in an attempt to tackle my library lessons to include regular research skills, there was some palpable learning and connection-making to 9/11 this year. Definite teachable moment.

What’s new with you guys?

Linking up to Ot & Et and Harvesting Kale.