Wednesday, November 9, 2016

To my daughters, after the election:

Over the past couple of weeks, I had envisioned this letter to be different than it will be now. You are too little to understand the magnitude of yesterday's presidential election, but as it turns out, maybe that is for the best. I really wanted to tell you how excited I am that the only world you'll ever know is one where a woman can be president. While that isn't the case now, most of what I wanted to tell you will still hold true.

I want you to know that I voted for the first ever female candidate to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party. And it was such an amazing feeling. I did it for you, and I did it for me, and I did it for every woman who has fought for equality. Now, of course I didn't vote for Hillary solely on the basis that she is a woman. In fact, I did not vote for her in the primaries. I voted for her in the election because I agree with so many of her ideals, including equality, unity, inclusion, and compassion. Her opponent on the other hand had quite a different platform. In my opinion, he is rude, vulgar, vile, and arrogant. His personality is, essentially, the exact opposite of your dear mother's. I am appalled that someone with his (lack of) experience and troubled track record would even be considered for office, and I struggle to understand how he landed there in the first place. But that is not the point of this letter. Donald Trump was chosen as the 45th President of the United States, and I really do wish him the best. I sincerely hope he will be a great leader for our country over the next four years.

I had wanted to tell you that the greatest glass ceiling in the United States has been broken. But unfortunately, it hasn't been -- yet. So instead, I'll tell you that it will be one day; I'm confident in that. And maybe now you'll be old enough to really see it happen. Maybe you'll even get to vote! And still, there were other glass ceilings shattered in this election and in the past decades. Hillary and so many other great women are paving the way for girls in your generation and women in mine to do incredible things. 

Because, my girls, you really can do anything. You can climb ladders, you can break glass ceilings, and you can move mountains - if you want to. Your achievements don't have to be grandiose. You can quietly impact those around you and in your community in a positive way. You can make a difference in the lives of others near or far. You can promote inclusion, kindness, empathy, fairness, and love. You can be good friends, good neighbors, good people. I know you will. You can devote yourself to motherhood or to a fabulous career or to an important cause. You can do it all. Of course it won't be easy; it won't be without hard work and sacrifice. You will have opponents and there will be obstacles in your path. But the pride you'll feel when you achieve your dreams will be so worth it. 

And most importantly, I want you to know that whatever you choose to be or to do, I'll be right there beside you. I'll support you in every way I know how. I wanted to tell you today that a woman has been chosen for president and to express my pride in that event. But instead, I'll tell you now that maybe YOU can be the first ever woman president. Reach for the stars, they'll be within reach.

Love always,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Image result for domestic violence awareness month 2016 profile picture

This is a little outside my usual lighthearted mom-life postings, but October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, so I'm going to share something a bit more serious. 

Studies show that in the United States, more than 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. Think of all the women you know... 27% of them have likely been abused or will be abused by someone they love(d). Isn't that terrifying? Maybe you're thinking... No, not the women I know. The women in my life are smart, strong, educated, and well above the poverty line. That only happens in other places, not in my circle.

Unfortunately, that's probably not the case. Domestic violence happens across many demographics. If could happen to someone you love. It could happen to you. It happened to me. 

Me. Me, with a college education, a loving family, and close friends. Me, who is fully capable of making good decisions, but chose to date someone with a hot temper and substance abuse issues. 


It was a Friday night like any other. He was visiting me from out of town with his dog. Our neighbors invited us over, and after 10 too many rounds of beer pong, I knew I needed to get home and into bed. I pulled an Irish exit (sometimes also called a "Radford") and slipped out undetected. When I got back to my house, I found that my boyfriend's dog had chewed up the bathroom tile and door in our rental house. I was furious, but my boyfriend's attitude was, well nothing we can do about it tonight, let's get back to having fun! He continued to party on while I stewed and stressed about how I would find a way to afford repairs to the bathroom. I crawled into bed and sent a few messages back and forth with an old friend, an old boyfriend to be more specific. We'd kept in touch, and truth be told, I took advantage of the relationship, only using his friendship when it benefited me. He offered to help pay for repairs or whatever I needed, assuring me it would be fine. I was angry, I was alone, and I was intoxicated. Texting an old boyfriend late at night wasn't a good decision, I know. That's the type of dysfunctional relationship I was in... we both did things that shouldn't be done in a healthy, committed relationship.

A short time later, my boyfriend came back over, saw me on my phone, pulled it away and saw who I was texting. In a fury of rants and belligerent yelling, he grabbed me by the arm and yanked me out of bed onto the floor. I screamed and cried out, apologizing, and calling out for my roommates. He left the house in a rage, tearing things off walls as he ran out. His tires screeched as he drove away, but he returned only minutes later. I was terrified when I heard him stomping through the house again. I hid in my bedroom closet under a pile of dirty clothes while he stormed around yelling obscenities and calling me names. I was quiet as a mouse through muffled tears and thank God, he didn't find me. He left the house again, brakes squealing.

By now it was really late, middle of night late, and I was a terrified wreck. My roommate and I went over to our neighbors house to try and hide out in case he came back again, but they were fast asleep and not answering calls. I phoned another friend who drove over immediately and stayed the rest of the night to give us comfort. While we waited, I called my dad. Blubbering and slurring, telling him something about a bruised arm and torn linoleum. I can imagine he probably didn't sleep a wink the rest of the night... I'm sorry, Dad.

When the sun came up the next day, a purple hand print wrapped its way around my forearm. My eyes were red and puffy, and my ego also bruised. Who knows what would have happened had he found me in that closet. I shudder to even think about it.

I didn't talk to him for days, ignoring all calls and messages. But then a letter came in the mail, and l read it. It was a heartfelt apology about mistakes and forgiveness and quitting drinking and blah blah blah. I kept my distance for a couple months, but the apologies kept coming, and one day I found myself driving an hour and a half to see him again. Me, fully capable of making smart decisions, making a terrible decision. This wasn't even the first time he had made a mistake that older, wiser, me would deem an infinite deal-breaker. He cheated on me just a couple months into our relationship. Now he had a much worse offense on his record, and I went back to him. Me, with the college education, the loving family, and close friends. Me, the 1 in 4 statistic. 


So, what can you do? How can you prevent domestic violence?

To start, tell the women and girls you know how special they are, how valued they are, and how much you care about them. Tell them they deserve the absolute best and you won't watch them settle for less. Although slightly less common, domestic violence happens to men as well. It happens in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships. So while you're at it, make sure the guys in your life hear the same message.

Model healthy relationships for your children. Encourage open communication, demonstrate anger management skills, and promote respect. 

If something seems "off" with a friend, co-worker or loved one, inquire! Of course it could be a myriad of things, but maybe they just need someone to open the door to a conversation. Be there to listen without judgement.

Do you get a bad vibe from someone's significant other? Have you witnessed possible indicators of abuse (unpredictable mood swings, jealousy, explosive behavior, controlling behavior, isolation from family/friends, substance abuse)? Or even witnessed actual domestic abuse? As hard as it may be, speak up. Let the victim know you are there for them and you really do have their best interest at heart. Make sure they have your cell phone number and let them know you're always available.

If you do in fact learn of someone who is in an abusive relationship, there are tons and tons of resources out there to help you help them. The National Domestic Violence Hotline would be a great place to start.

And lastly, help spread awareness. Let others know you are against domestic violence and that you will be an advocate for victims. 


Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go squeeze my little girl and remind her that she is incredible, beautiful, smart, talented, and loved more than anything else in this world. When she's older, I'll tell her that anyone worthy of her love will see her exactly the same way and will treat her with the utmost respect because she absolutely 100% deserves it.

And P.S. in case it isn't glaringly obvious, my husband is NOT the boyfriend in my story. My husband is exactly the opposite and he treats me with so much love and respect. I count my blessings every day that I married such an amazing husband and father.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It was the Summer of '16

It doesn't really have the same ring as "summer of 69", I know. But did you know that song isn't actually about the year 1969? I read that somewhere. Bryan Adams was like 8 years old in 1969.

Anyway, this is basically just going to be an update on life lately and what we've been up to this summer since I haven't blogged in a while. I know that summer didn't technically start until mid-June, but in my mind it starts in mid-May. I blame the Texas heat for my confusion!


We kicked off the summer with a second round of Whole30. We didn't do an awesome job, but I'd say we stuck to it about 90% of the time. And that's better than nothin'! My biggest takeaways from this round were:
  1. To stop snacking!! Or at least to stop junk-snacking. Sweets will forever be my downfall, and I'm guilty on more than one occasion of sneaking way way way too many Oreos as soon as I come downstairs from putting Maddie down for her nap.
  2. If it isn't in the pantry, I can't eat it. And since I do the grocery shopping, I'm in control here! Just skip right over the cookie aisle.
  3. Smoked paprika. Random, I know. But have you ever used this spice?? I love foods with a smoky flavor so I could (and do actually) put this on anything!
  4. Here are links to our favorite recipe from this round: taco bowls, these incredible grain-free banana muffins (which are technically not Whole30 compliant even though all the ingredients are approved), and the spice rub in this Grilled Chicken recipe (I didn't make the Chimichurri sauce because I'm lazy)
Enjoy these iPhone photos of poorly staged lunch plates, because food blogger I am not.

Shortly before we ended Whole30, we watched a couple documentaries about being vegan. So in a complete change of direction, I started adding several vegan dinners to our weekly meal plan. I dropped about 7lbs over the summer with essentially no change to my [complete lack of] exercise. It's amazing what clean eating can do!

Tom and I also celebrated our 4th anniversary in May and had a great time on South Congress. I wrote about it here!

We spent Memorial Day weekend bouncing around from our house to the lake house to my parents house. Maddie enjoyed kayaking, swimming, sweets, and sparklers!


In June, we headed down to Port Aransas for a quick summer vacation. We stayed at a cute little place called Seashell Village and enjoyed the pools there. Maddie loved the beach the first day and despised it the next two days. Yay, toddlers!


When we got back from our vacation, we tackled potty training with Maddie. But actually, "tackled" isn't the right word to use because it was basically the easiest thing ever. It required some patience those first few days of 800 trips to the bathroom, but she picked it up so quickly. She was really motivated by the M&Ms... like mother, like daughter. Several months later, she still occasionally asks for an M&M after a bathroom break.

We spent the 4th of July bouncing around again like we did on Memorial Day. It's my favorite holiday of the year, and it didn't disappoint!


Later in July, after many conversations  failed persuasive speeches, I could not convince Tom that we should move into a newer, smaller house with a more practical floor plan in this gorgeous Round Rock neighborhood. I tried my darndest, and I still think my arguments are pretty compelling. But, marriage is about compromise, right? So here we stay. But if we're going to stay, you better believe I started working up a nice honey-do list for my dearest Tom Tom! [Can you hear my evil laugh?]

First, we tackled the downstairs half bath. The previous owner painted it a deep red color that made the already tiny bathroom seem even smaller. We repainted it tan and added crown molding to fancy it up. It seems so much bigger and brighter!


Next, I had Tom cut and install these faux floating shelves in our upstairs toilet closet. I did stain them myself, so I am at least a tiny bit useful ;) The decorations are a work in progress. I've already killed a succulent and I'm looking for a bigger apothecary jar for the cotton balls.


Then, we picked up some furniture from Tom's parents because they sold their home to downsize. We mentally rearranged the front living room wasted space room approximately 50 times and finally decided we just couldn't fit all the furniture. So we swapped out our armoire-turned-bar and replaced it with our new (to us) desk. Isn't it neat!? It was Tom's great grandfather's desk, made in the early 1900s. Tom has been working downstairs at the desk in the evenings after Maddie goes to sleep and its much better for him than the upstairs loft because he doesn't have to worry about being so quiet next to Maddie's room. Also, I'm planning to paint the trim on that mirror and hang it above the desk :)


We also started rearranging the guest bedroom because our current project is a "big girl" room for Maddie. We got this neat little antique vanity and dresser that I'm super excited about it. Also, I ordered this comforter from Target and I'm OBSESSED. I made these paper flowers and hung them above her new big girl bed. I may or may not be living vicariously through my 2 year old.


Then we built these neat little cubbies in her closet for some extra storage space!


Labor Day weekend was another fun one where we spent time with family!


And for an update on Maddie, she is absolutely, so very "2" right now. Terrific twos and terrible twos all at once. But if you ask her, she'll probably tell you that she's "2 and a half"! Her vocabulary and grammar are increasing so rapidly which is awesome, but she has an opinion on everything and now she has the words to voice it! We talk daily about improving her "listening skills" because she completely ignores us a lot of the time and wants to do everything at her own pace... which is never really quick enough to get anywhere on time. She's relatively well behaved and generally pretty sweet, but she tests my patience daily. What seems to be working pretty well, is when I get really frustrated, I just walk away. Maddie will sense that I'm upset and most times immediately do whatever it is I asked her to do. It works so much better than when I lose my temper and get grumpy. Live and learn!


Other summer highlights include but are not limited to: lots and lots of pool time, splash pads, live music, play dates, library story times, arts & crafts, so much ice cream, celebrating National Donut Day, a Home Depot workshop for Maddie, the end of music classes, the start of dance classes, Bubblepalooza, movie nights, a trip to the circus, and lots of family time.


And for another little side note, I initially drafted this post over a month ago. That night, I spilled a bottle of Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy beer all over myself and the couch (because clumsy is my middle name), so I had to remove the covers from all of the cushions (and my sweatpants) at 11pm. It was too late to take a shower (yes, that's how much I spilled on myself) because our hot water heater thumps really loud and its above Maddie's room (that's a complaint for another day)... so I found some baby wipes in the downstairs bathroom and thought to myself, welp, guess this will have to do for tonight. Cheers!

And now, happy first day of fall!