We haven’t failed

I’ve always written from a perspective of truth and naked honesty. I don’t try and sugar coat things or only present the side of our reality that looks like rainbows and unicorns. I hope this allows you to find my life relatable and to give you hope that whatever you’re going through you are never alone. Because really we never are even when we feel absolutely and positively abandoned.

We are two weeks away from finding out the gender of our third child and I feel the need to prepare you and us about what may or may not unfold. You see, we have two girls. Two human beings who are sunshine from head to toe, who make us smile even when they make us angry, and who we could never ever part with. They both intrinsically add an important element to the dynamics of our family and we wouldn’t change anything about them. Nothing. Even when they are at their worst we still want them.

My husband and I have spent countless hours mulling over the different possibilities and what it means if it’s a girl and what it means if it’s a boy. The emotional response to both and the constant nagging that we shouldn’t even be discussing this because we should just be happy we can have kids. And we should just want them to be healthy. And, yes, all of that is true. But, most people have preferences one way or another. And the honest truth is that yes, we are hopeful for a boy. My husband more so than me, but I’d be absolutely selfish to be praying that I wouldn’t want that for him. The possibility of raising a son and all of the joy that would entail. And I want it too. To see my husband in mini form and to see how our daughters respond to having a brother.

But, I feel the need to make something very clear. As much as we would love a son, having a girl doesn’t mean we have failed. Having a third girl will be no less joyous for us than the addition of our first son. And yet this heaviness remains between us that people will be sad for us. That having three girls isn’t something people would wish on another human being. I get jokes about buying tampons in bulk and surviving the teenagers years etc. And I laugh and I smile because I don’t want to make the truthful comments inside my heart that will offend them or make them feel awkward.

Our value isn’t found in our gender. Our value is found in simply being human–a creation of God. Which means that a family comprised of all sons or all daughters is not more or less valued than one who has both and vice versa.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  – Genesis 1:27

I don’t want to get into a war over gender or our different roles or equality or religion for that matter. I simply want you (our family and friends and loved ones across the world) to be onboard with us. To celebrate with us in the addition of this life. Regardless of the child’s gender, this life is wanted. This life is valued. And this life will be loved with every square inch of our hearts. Whether male or female this child will serve an important role in our family and the world.

Yes, we will experience a loss of sorts from not having a boy. My husband maybe more than me. And I accept those emotions. I think they are natural and a distinct part of being a human. It’s okay for us to want a boy. But it will not lessen our love or our happiness from our third daughter. If we didn’t want a third girl, guess what–we wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. It’s that simple.

So, my question to you is this…
Will you celebrate with us?
Will you partake in the joy of this life regardless of their gender?
Will you accept that we haven’t failed if we get three girls?

Because we are. We are ready to celebrate. We are ready to partake in the joy of this life. And we adamantly profess that we haven’t failed. We’ve merely perfected the art of making girls.

Be joyful with us!

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Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

I’m going to keep this simple and straight to the point. While using the cinnamon roll dough for my upper and lower crust was a complete random use of my imagination, I’d like to give credit to the original recipe for the pie filling. I found it on allrecipes.com and you can watch a video on the link for more specific directions. Otherwise a shortened version is included below for your use.

Ingredients:

6-8 apples cored and peeled (I used honeycrisp and it was mind blowing)

2 tubes of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls (8 count) with cream cheese frosting

1/2 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup water

3 tbs flour

1/2 cup of unsalted sweet cream butter

9 inch pie pan Continue reading “Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie”

Collapse

My husband turned 32 yesterday. One of those years that slips by like so many others. He celebrated alone, in a foreign country, surrounded by people who don’t speak English. Not one for the books, but one I’m sure he will remember to some degree. The girls’ and I sang him happy birthday over the phone and even had him blow out a candle, but there was no cake to share, no presents exchanged, no balloons or party. It was just another 24 hours marking him a year older.

I asked him several weeks ago what he wanted or if there was anything we could go and do. His reply was quiet and a bit melancholy. “No, not really. I think I’m good.”

Neither one of us are real huge birthday people. We expect each other to acknowledge it in some form and we do celebrate the important decades with more gusto, but generally we go out to dinner and exchange a gift. Nothing too crazy. We like being with our kids and we like enjoying life for its every day value. Holidays are fun, but they don’t fuel us.

Even with that being said I’ve felt strongly for awhile now about wanting to share some words with him. For me, words are one of life’s greatest gifts. If people give me a gift I’m generally most excited about what’s in the card. What they want to share with me. Tell me. Explain to me. A card with nothing but a signature is the ugliest waste of paper. It hurts to see it.

So, I’ve been mulling over so many words this last week. Words of truth. Words of love. Words of pain. All important and necessary and meaningful. I wondered how much I should share and how much I should keep to myself and to what degree my husband would feel comfortable with me sharing this all with you. And you. And you and you. And you. All of you.

So here we go.

This is what I said…

I don’t know what I expected marriage to be when growing up, but this was not it. You were not it. In the beginning–dating, our wedding, the earlier years–everything was perfect. So simple. Flawless even. I thought we were untouchable. When people complained about their husbands I commiserated with the lack of cleaning, the dirty laundry, and the dishes. We all dealt with that. But, when the stories got dark, when things got painful, I was often left feeling lost. I didn’t understand how women could be so angry or how a marriage could already be failing before it even started. Continue reading “Collapse”

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Here we go. The best cake you’ll ever make. Especially for those of you who hate cake. I promise anyone who has tastebuds will enjoy eating this deliciousness. So sit-up. Pay attention. And grab a spoon!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with an Almond Glaze

What you’ll need:

1. Box of yellow cake mix or vanilla. Your preference. If you have something against boxed mix then here is how to make it from scratch: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt,

2. 3 eggs (4 eggs if you’re making your own cake mix from scratch)

3. 2-3 lemons (organic preferred because you use all of the zest)

4. 1/2 -3/4 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)

5. 3/4 cup coconut oil

6. 3/4 cup almond milk

7. 1 tsp vanilla extract

8. 1/3 cup poppy seeds – plus extra for decoration93B806AC-2860-4D8E-BB85-54A08028219E

Almond Glaze:
1. 2 -3 cups powdered sugar

2. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degree.
Mix together the box, the eggs, sugar, coconut oil, almond milk and vanilla extract until well blended. Then add in the juice and zest of one lemon. When you pull the zest make sure you chop it up into tiny pieces before adding it to the cake. Give it a taste test to see how “lemony” it is. If you can taste the lemon than you’re good. If you can’t, add in the zest of another lemon and 1/2 the juice. Keep adding more lemon juice and zest until you are happy with the flavor of the batter. It’s really a personal call. Then add in 1/3 cup poppy seeds. If you can’t see the poppy seeds well enough, add more. I kept adding until I got a good enough visual of poppy seeds in the batter. Continue reading “Lemon Poppy Seed Cake”

Moments

My grandmother has buried two children. The first, my Uncle Ricky, when he was just a baby passed away from SIDS. No rhyme or reason. The second, my Aunt Tammy, passed away on Mother’s Day which was also her fiftieth birthday from an autoimmune disease. I’ve never asked my Grandma which was more painful. I’d venture to say there was an equal form of hell present in each situation. And where having children causes your heart to multiply in size, the loss of a child causes permanent removal. A hole in your heart–bloody, gaping, seeping, never healing.

Of course, this is all speculation being that I haven’t ever lost a child of my own. And I don’t plan on it. That’s the sick concept of losing a child. Death is certain. For all of us. No matter how much money you have or how healthy you live we will all die. There’s no argument. But, logically, death comes with an order of expectations. Children should and are expected to outlive their parents. Unfortunately, we live in a world of infinite possibilities–not for just riches and fame and decadence, but for pain, anger, and brokeness. This is reality.

For everyone.

I hosted a baby shower a few months ago for a close girlfriend of mine and during an intimate portion of the festivities we all shared little bits of advice and or encouragement for her. When it got to me I felt compelled to be honest. Honesty veiled with a bit of morbid truth. And this is what I said:

There will be moments where you will regret your decision to have children. Moments where you will question your sanity in the chaos. Moments where you will say, “WHY THE %^&(! DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?” But the beauty of motherhood is that these are moments. Some moments may last a few seconds, others a few days, and if you’re unfortunate enough to experience postpartum depression, then potentially months of moments. But, like all moments, they fade and as your children grow your love for them does as well. And when you are in the heat of these moments, when you find yourself awake every hour with a puking child, or in a bathroom of steam trying to heal croup or up at 3am with a teething, crying, fussy, inconsolable mess–I want you to stop. I want you to stop stressing, stop the anger, stop the fear, and the frustration of not sleeping and remember this:

Your child is alive. Breathing. Beating. Screaming. Alive. And even though it’s hard, even though it’s exhausting, even though you want to throw in the towel and quit–they will live to see another day and so will you.

There are no guarantees in life. No matter your status or position we have no guarantee that we will get another moment. Another hug. Kiss. Smile. Or its opposite. Another chance to calm a screaming child. Soothe a teething baby. Reason with an emotional teenager.

It’s all a gamble.

And yet we allow ourselves to be burdened, torn down, and emotionally overwhelmed with the moments. The moments that are out of our control and can only be resolved with the quiet allowance and assurance that time will pass. That you will get from one moment to the next and hope that so many of the moments will be filled with love, peace, joy, grace, and freedom. Freedom from the overwhelming sense of all these burdens that encompass life in general.

But I want you to think about the parents who have had the insurmountable task of burying a child. Think about that hole in their heart. The bloody, gaping, seeping, never healing wound that they will now have to accept and ask yourself which you would prefer: The moments or the hole?

Find joy, my friends. Even when it seems lost, continue searching. And to everyone who has lost a child, my heart goes out to you. You will carry a burden far greater than I could ever imagine. A burden only God Himself could understand.

Cover Reveal for Dismantled Sun

I’m well on my way to finishing Dismantled Sun, the second and final book in the Cardboard Hearts duet. The first, Seeds of Hate, was published last July 15th, 2013.

Instead of doing a blurb for the book, I’ve chosen to share a short, unedited excerpt instead:

“Selah, please. Please let me make love to you. It’s our wedding night.”
I sit at the foot of the bed—our bed—my cream wedding dress draping over the edge like a waterfall made of snow.
“I can’t. I need more time. I need forever.”
My husband kneels at my feet and nuzzles his face into my lap, drawing his arms around me, he holds me.
“I have given you forever. The only forever I have.”
I blanch at his words. It’s truth weighing me down. My body slides alongside the foot of the bed and puddles onto the floor. My husband follows, shifting so that he now holds me instead of I, him.
“But, but what if—I can’t finish that if. I won’t.”
He lifts my chin and holds my eyes. I blink at the certainty I see in his, not mirroring the fear I know lives in my own.
“You are not going to kill me, Sey. I promise.”
His fingers clench the edge of my jaw— not painful, but no longer delicate.
“How can you be so certain?”
“Because. Because I was already dead before you found me.”

The cover for Dismantled Sun was designed by Cover It Designs.

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Dear Daughters

You are being raised into a world of choices and opportunity. Opportunities with choices and choices with opportunities. The problem is the world expects certain things from you. The world wants to compartmentalize you and restrict you, but it also wants to see you soar and succeed.

Why?

Because the world has no idea who it is or what it stands for. It is everyone and it stands for everything. It is full of questions with contradictory answers. It hates and it loves. It gives and it takes. So my daughters, rule number one of your life is to not chase the world.

If it must do anything … let it chase you.

There are many other rules you will learn within the Art of Being a Woman and I’d like to warn you ahead of time of the ones you do not have to follow.

1. The Girly Girl
Over the years the idea of being a “Girl” who is in fact girly has somehow grown disdainful. Most women do not endeavor to be viewed as “The Girly Girl”. I do not rightfully know how this came into place, but I dislike it. As I grew up, most of the girls around me strove to be known as  “Tom Boys”. They didn’t like being associated as a weak, ultra feminine, delicate “Girly Girl”. They wanted to be cool with the boys, play sports and get dirty. They felt that losing their femininity made them more powerful. And that my sweet daughters is just not right.

What I want you to know is that you can get dirty, play sports, be aggressive and tough all the while wearing a dress with pink nails. Your femininity is the most beautiful thing about you. Being a girl isn’t a bad thing. It’s the BEST thing. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you graceful. It doesn’t make you dumb, it makes you compassionate. It doesn’t mean you can’t achieve anything your heart desires. Do not let the idea of being beautiful, delicate, graceful, feminine or any other concept of womanliness detour you in life. Let it empower you. Being a woman is a gift. And yes, I will teach you how to change a tire in three inch heels–I do not raise helpless women–but if somewhere along the road you find a man who wants to do it for you, you let him.

2. Slutty is Sexy
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Sex appeal, being sexy, being desired does not come with DD boobs in a crop top or your butt cheeks squeezed into a mini skirt. Confidence is sexy even if you’re in sweatpants three sizes too big. Knowledge is sexy as long as you’re not flaunting it. Flaunting anything is not sexy, it’s a demand for attention. And you do not demand attention. You are given attention without having to ask. Respect is sexy. Kindness is sexy. Being you is sexy. And to the right man, being you will always be sexy. No. matter. what.

3. Biting Your Tongue
You are being raised by a mother who has a large mouth. My lack of self-control growing up got me into trouble many times, but it also kept me out of trouble more times than I could count. Men will try to quiet you. Women too. I will not. I will try and teach you how to control it. How to use it wisely. But more so I will teach you how to voice your opinions, voice your self, so that no one questions who you are. So that no man would consider you a toy to be played with. No woman a tool for her manipulations. That in the darkest moments of your life, in the times when you feel there is no way out, you will feel the words within you, the boldness of your self pour out and not be contained. That you feel safety in using your voice at all times. You have not been given a spirit of timidity and I want to see you soar.

4. Beauty is Everything
You are beautiful. Beyond my wildest dreams you are more beautiful than I could ever have hoped for. But be wary of beauty. The power. The pain. The fickleness of it all. The world has made sport of hunting even the prettiest of eagles. You, even in your innocence and youth, will not be made an exception.

Be wary of the world dear daughters. It only wants to take.

xoxo, mommy

Daisies and Razor Blades

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There are two types of kisses: daisies and razor blades.

When I was young I looked for the daises. Soft and gentle. Safe.
When I got married I found the razor blades.

I’ve never known pleasure without knowing pain.
I’ve never known love with conditions requiring perfection.
A good kiss leaves you feeling pleasant.
The right kiss slices your heart. It mares you infinitely.

You bleed until you die.

I’ve never known pleasure without knowing pain.
I’ve never known love with conditions requiring perfection.

If you’re not bleeding you’ve never known love.
Are you kissing flowers?
Or feeling the pain?

Photo Credit: Cheechchingchong.wordpress.com

Today.

Today I held you. I watched you sleep. I said to hell with my list of errands and my mile long to-do list and hello to your little closed eyes, your tiny lips sucking on your pacifier and your sweaty head laying against my chest.20131023-145027.jpg

I stared at you, smelled you and felt your heart beat against mine. You grasped my finger and I grasped back. Your eyes flickered as you slept–totally unaware that I was memorizing your every breath.

Your perfect little nose.
Your delicate hands.
Your round, pudgy cheeks.
Your double chin.

I didn’t have the luxury of doing this with your sister. I was too depressed. Too concerned with the house being clean. Too exhausted to realize I was throwing away one of the most precious stages of her existence.

But with you I’m making a different choice. I’m not depressed. I don’t care if the house is clean, it can be dirty for a couple days. And I’m not allowing this stage to bring me down.

The days are long, but your first year will be quick. And I’m afraid if I close my eyes that I might miss something. A crooked smile, a gassy giggle, the nuzzling of your slobbery cheek into my neck.

And then it will be over. All of it gone and only the memories to look back on. No more napping in my arms, cooing at my funny faces or midnight diaper changes. No more excuses to spend the day in our pajamas or not shower for a week.

And even though I’m tired.
Roma, my dear sweet girl… I’ve never felt more awake.

 

Stupid Murphy

A few nights ago I found myself chatting it up with a dear mom friend of mine at 2:33am in the morning. Yes, exactly 2:33am. Ask me when’s the last time I showered and I’ll scratch my head and count backwards on my calendar. Ask me how many times my children woke me up and I’ll remember those blaring blood red numbers like Ricki Lake’s naked boobs in The Business of Being Born.

Some things you just can’t unsee.

Anyhow, we were discussing parental disclaimers when having children and how I apparently skipped over the small print on page 578 of The Official Guide to Parenthood that unofficially does not exist. The part where they explain the side effects to bringing a second child into your perfect harmonious world of blissful living.

The part where parenting begins to get really gritty. The part where you really begin to hate Murphy. As in his law. Or her law. I’m not even sure if the law has a gender. But either way… I. Hate. It.

I’ve experienced circumstances outside of children that had me quoting this stupid law as a witty response to an unbelievable occurrence, but you never fully understand the repercussions of such a law until you have kids. Trust me when I say that anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong when you have kids. Even if you have thee best children on the planet (which if you’re reading this than you don’t because Moms with perfect children don’t read Mommy blogs. They read recipes with more than 20 ingredients. They are off showering because they can. They are outside planting that spring garden because the children are playing quietly in their bedrooms. They can enjoy silence because silence doesn’t mean that someone found a misplaced jar of fingerpaint and are now dousing your recently steam-cleaned cream carpets in electric green paint. No. No. No. Moms of perfect children don’t even need the internet. What in the world could they possibly google or post a FB status update about that is worthy of reading if their children are perfect?) Continue reading “Stupid Murphy”