Whether or not they’re vaccinated, your kids are going to die

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Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether you choose to vaccinate or not, your kid is going to die. So is mine. Hopefully, its not until have lived long wonderful lives. But the reality is, my vaccinated child could die in a car accident tomorrow. Your unvaccinated kid could die from measles complications in a few weeks. Both our kids could go to school in a few years and get shot by some pyscho.

Good grief, Bri. Why you gotta be such a buzz kill? Are you trying to freak us out even more? No, I’m not. I’m reminding you that no matter what you do, your child’s life is not in your hands. The way some of these parent’s are talking, you’d think that a decision for or against vaccination was an instant matter of life and death. My son’s days on this earth are not determined by me or my choice to vaccinate. There are determined by God alone. All I can do, all any of us can do, is make the most informed, best possible decision for our families and then live it up. Life is way to short to make decisions based on fear.

Look I get it, fear is easy. Everywhere we look the media is telling us about a horrible kidnapping, and some mom is blogging about mold she found in a Capri Sun. And we love our kids so freaking much. We want to protect them from every possible harm. But we can’t. When we jump at things that go bump in the night, we teach our children to walk through this life afraid instead of empowered. We teach them that it’s their job to control things, not God’s. We teach them that its better to take the safe boring road rather than to take great risks and experience great success and great failure. We build a generation of robots instead of a generation of revolutionaries.

So do your kiddos and fellow moms a favor and stop the fear mongering. Don’t share those over emotional blog posts that lack scientific evidence. But keep sharing those articles that are fact based, because we need more of those! Better yet, do some research and create your own!

Don’t cancel that trip to Disneyland just because there is a slight chance you’ll come in contact with measles (unless of course you have pre existing conditions that would make measles deadly, in which case maybe do Knott’s Berry Farm instead).

When you share your personal experiences, don’t present them as the final word but rather as one possible outcome, and encourage your friends to seek counsel from multiple sources.  While you’re at it, how about finding some moms and bloggers outside your usual circle and getting some advice from them?

And lastly, once a mom, or any person for that matter, has made her decisions don’t use fear and guilt to change her mind. If it bothers you that much that her kids aren’t vaccinated, then don’t invite them to your house (for the record, although I am strongly in the pro vaccination camp, healthy non vaccinated children are welcome in my home.)

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Thoughts after the Michael Brown verdict

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Below is something written by an acquaintance of mine, Donna Simone Johnson. I felt it was compelling and wanted to share. As a white, middle class woman living in Orange County, it is very easy for me to simply not think the Michael Brown case. But I believe the case and the events that are unfolding have major implications for the future of our country. It’s an issue we should all be thinking about, praying about, talking about, doing something about.

“”Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
This is about all of us, no matter where you live or who you are. We all have dogs in this fight, and it’s really as simple as being for us or against us. I still cannot fathom how some of you have stayed silent these last 3 1/2 months. What a luxury. What privilege. Faith without works is dead. Love without action is meaningless. I stand, scream and rage because it’s the RIGHTeous thing to do. No Justice, No Peace.”

I really don’t know what I can do about this issue except to use it as a teaching tool for the Teen and the Tot. I can’t change laws, put camera’s on cops, stop the violence in Ferguson, speak at a rally, or hold the hand of Michael Brown’s mother*. But if I can help raise two more decent people, people who will stand for the oppressed and fight for what’s right and, most importantly, follow the except of Jesus Christ, then Michael Brown’s death has not been in vain.

Remind them to be respectful of everyone they come in contact with. This doesn’t mean they have to be friends with everyone, or that they have to agree with everyone, or that they have to like everyone. But they must be respectful. That means no name calling, no violation of property, no bodily harm. It also means speaking out when you see someone disrespecting someone else. This one is hard for me, I hate confrontation. But the Teen is so good about this, she isn’t afraid to vocally and physically stick up for the oppressed. I hope the Tot learns from her.

Challenge their prejudices.  Everyone has prejudices. It’s how we learn. We put things into categories so that we can make sense of the world. Right now, my tot thinks all four legged creatures are dogs. But soon he will learn that there are also cats, rabbits, iguanas, wolves, lions, etc. As we grow older, our prejudices should become weaker. As we visit more places, talk to more people and experience new things those boxes that we put people into should start to crumble. So as the teen and the tot grow, I will constantly challenge those prejudices and show them people instead of categories.

Work with them against prejudice. I read something the other day, I think it was a quote, that said being prejudice, specifically racially prejudice, was easy. It’s the easiest thing in the world to judge another human simply by their skin color. And it’s true. But it’s not okay. So as I continue to work against my own prejudices, I will help the teen and the tot work against theirs. I will challenge them to ask questions, listen to people’s stories, extend grace, reserve judgement.

Continuously point them to Jesus. He’s the only constant, the only truth, the only example of true goodness and justice.

*If you know of others ways I can be involved in fighting for this issue, let me know!

A Messy Girl’s Guide to Making Your House A Little Less Disgusting

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“Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens and happy kids.”

I love this quote. Not because I think bad moms have clean houses, but because I have yet to master the whole “being a mom, being an employee and keeping a clean house” thing and this quote makes me feel better about myself. But here’s the thing: while sticky floors and piles of laundry are okay, mold on your dishes, muddy dog footprints on your sheets and trash that spills onto the floor are not. Therefore, at some point in life we moms do have to do some sort of cleaning. I’m sure your favorite mom bloggers have been giving you cleaning tips for years. Some of you may actually be using those tips and you might have a decently clean house most of the time. You’re good moms and you have a clean house. Kudos! This post is not for you. This post is for the rest of us. Those of us who have permanently given up on “clean” and instead strive for “a little less disgusting.” Here’s what you’ve got to do.

Prioritize

You will never have time to get all the chores done, so you’ve got to prioritize. Here’s how I determine which chores to do first

  1. I look around my house and think  “If child protective services came right now, what would they consider a health code violation?” Those issues get taken care of first. Hint: that moldy maggot filled apple at the bottom of the toy bin is probably violating some sort of parenting law.
  2. Then I look around my house again and ask myself “If that stuck up mom from play group came over right now, what would she comment on?” It’s not that it’s important to impress the stuck up mom, it’s just that she says what everyone is thinking so if I don’t want my friends to be silently gagging as they hover above my toilet seat, I should probably clean said toilet seat.
  3. If by some miracle you have time to more chores, do something that will make you feel like a good about life. For me, that’s clean sheets. The entire house could look like a tornado rampaged a muddy thrift store, but if I have clean sheets on our bed and the baby’s crib, then its all okay.

Psych yourself up

I usually do my cleaning on Saturdays (oh the joys of being a working mom) but I start mentally preparing myself on Friday night, usually by watching an episode of Hoarders. Nothing will get me to clean my bedroom closet faster than seeing what will happen if I let it spill through the living room and out the front door.

Keep the kids safe and contained

This is pretty important. If you don’t contain the kids, then they will make messes literally seconds after you clean. If you don’t keep them safe, you’ll waste valuable cleaning time with annoying things like bandaids and trips to the ER. But don’t let the kids trick you into thinking that safe and contained means happy and entertained. It doesn’t. You’ve kept those little darlings entertained for a week straight, that’s why your house is a wreck. This is the day ish gets done! If you can find something easy to entertain them, like a movie, then great. If not, just contain them in some sort of fort/prison and clean as fast as you can before they break out.

Find some audio entertainment

Cleaning is sooooooo boring. Gah, just thinking about it makes me nod off. For years I tried having the t.v. on while I cleaned, you know, for background noise. But then I had a kid and realized that I could not take 30 minutes to vacuum, so I had to find some other sort of entertainment. Music, of course, is is great entertainment. And if you dance while you clean then that counts as exercise. I’m also a fan of listening to comedy stations on Pandora, or books on tape. Anything that will keep me from poking my eyes out with the broom handle.

Hire some help

Try as we might, there are just some days, months or years that we can’t do it all. So don’t be afraid to get some help. You could hire a professional housekeeper, but that’s expensive and let’s be real, your standards aren’t that high. Instead, I suggest asking the highschooler down the street or the college kid from church that’s home for the summer. I’ve asked my sister who is nursing school to help out. She enjoys the flexibility and extra money, I enjoy being able to see the beautiful hardwood floors my husband installed. It’s a win win. Another idea is to chore swap with a neighbor. Everyone has those chores that they hate more than others. Maybe your most hated chores don’t seem that bad to your neighbor and their dreaded tasks don’t seem that bad to you. You could go over and clean their windows while they wash their dishes. Granted your still cleaning, but its easier and faster to do chores that don’t feel like Chinese water torture.

8 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Bri

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Remember back in high school when you would email your friends or post to MySpace those random questionnaires? I loved those things. I loved learning random facts about my friends and sharing things about myself. I thought about finding an old one and posting it here, but lets be real, those things were long and I don’t have time to fill one out and you don’t have time to read it. So instead, I’ll just share 8 fun facts you might not know about me. And if you want to share some fun facts about yourself in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

  1. Tree roots freak me out.
  2. I have a fascination with space. When I was in 2nd grade my table won some contest and every one got Skittles. I hated Skittles so my teacher gave me a book about space instead. As a kid I was interested in the science of space, ie learning what the planets are made of, how many miles between here and the son, etc. As I got older, I became more interested in the history of space, specifically the space race. I’m currently watching a documentary about it called When We Left Earth. It’s fascinating
  3. I cannot drink coffee. It makes my stomach hurt. But I love a good cup of tea.
  4. I’ve never traveled outside of North America. Actually, I’ve been to Hawaii, so I guess a more accurate statement would be “I’ve never traveled outside of North America to a place that wasn’t part of the US.” I really hope to go to Kenya and Australia and I think Joe and I could actually make that happen some day. The UK, Ireland and Greece would also be cool, but I’m not sure we’d ever be able to save up for all that.
  5. I hate cilantro. Most people think this is super weird, because most people don’t think cilantro has a strong taste. But if there is even a tiny bit of cilantro in my salsa or on a burrito I can taste it and its nasty.
  6. I’ve always loved writing. My mom read to me and my siblings a lot as kids, and she encouraged us to write in journals and write stories and poems. My siblings aren’t big fans of writing today, but with me it stuck. I was in third grade when I realized that I loved writing. I wrote a poem about my teacher and she gave me so many compliments. I loved that something I had written made someone else feel good. I entered that same poem in a contest and got it published in a book. I would later find out that all poems submitted to that contest got published, but at the time I was so proud of myself. Nothing I’ve ever done has given me such a thrill as writing does.
  7. My favorite Christmas movie is “Home Alone.” It’s followed closely by “Elf” and “A Christmas Story.”
  8. My favorite book series is Anne of Green Gables. I read the entire thing about once every 3 years.

A Letter From The Tot

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IMG_2593Well folks, today is my 10 month birthday. Can you believe I’ve been around for 10 months? Do you even remember what your life was like before I was here? Probably not. Anyways, I know my mom usually writes these updates but having your mom write your monthly updates is for babies, and I’m practically a full grown boy at this point, so I’ve hijacked her blog to tell you what life is like as the Crown Prince of the Alexander household.

First things first, I’m the realest. I don’t know what that means but the teen says it all the time so I’m guessing it’s cool. I’ve got three teeth and the fuzz on my head has gotten thick enough to be considered hair. Very fine hair, but hair nonetheless. I’m about 18lbs and a little under 29 inches long. And my head is huge. I need it to be huge so I can store all my thoughts. Thoughts about that baby that randomly pops up on the wall and does exactly what I do. I also like to think thoughts about how funny my dad is. If he had boobs that dispensed milk he would be cooler than mom. Speaking of mom, I’m trying to figure out how to get her to stop wiping my face after every meal. And then there is the most pressing thought of all, one that consumes my giant head at all hours of the day “how can I get my hands on all the electrical appliances?”

I’ve gotten a lot more mobile this past month. I still don’t crawl in the traditional sense, but I have figure out how to get from point A to point B with rolling, butt scooting and this complicated inchworm maneuver that involves a lot of laying down and sitting back up. A lot of my friends are doing this thing where they use their feet to get around. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I like to use my feet to help me hold things, like my bottle, books and the baby wipe dispenser.

Mom just peaked over my shoulder and told me to tell you guys that I only wake up once during the night and that I take regular naps in my bed now. I think sleep has got to be one of the most boring stupid things to write about, but apparently mom talks to you guys about it quite often. I’m sorry about that. I’ll try to get her to come up with some more interesting material.

Hey have you guys heard of Dr Seuss? That guy is a freakin genius. He gets me. When I read “The Shape of Me and Other Stuff” I’m suddenly so aware of the shapes all around me and I just feel so alive! And, omg, “Mr Brown Can Moo” is so inspiring. If Mr. Brown, a mere mortal, can learn to make all those animal sounds, surely I can learn to drink from a sippy cup.

We have a four legged creature in the house named “dumb.” At least that’s what mom calls her. She’s so funny. I love to pull her fur and her ears. She told me she’d let me do it as long as I drop food for her from my high chair. And not just the vegetables, I have to be sure to give her the good stuff like avocado, banana, blueberries and cheese.

Momma and daddy always tell me that I’m very social. I think that has something to do with how much I like to talk and interact with people. I’m quite the charmer. The other day the whole family went out and momma and uncle Austin got a free cinnamon roll. The waitress said she gave it to them because I was so cute. A few days later I was swinging at the park and struck up a conversation with the toddler next to me. At first she tried talking to me with those silly words that adults always use, but when she realized that I didn’t understand she went back to her native language of coos, screams, grunts and random consonant sounds.  She was a lovely girl and just one of many nice random people I meet on a daily basis.

Well I better wrap this up. Thanks for reading this and for staying up to date on my life these past 10 months. My mom will be back tomorrow sharing who knows what. But hey, if you like an article that she writes, would you do her a solid and share it on your Facebook or Twitter? She’s really trying to make this blog thing happen. Personally, I wish she would focus on other things, like finding a way to change my diaper without forcing me to lay still for 5 seconds. But this blogging thing seems to make her happy, so if you wouldn’t mind sharing an article or two that would be swell. Happy mommies make happy babies. Talk to you later!

-The Tot

I present to you, the dining room

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For months, the dining room looked like this

dining room remodel

 

But today, it looks like this
condo remodel

No more tools and paint cans everywhere! I can actually see the beautiful hardwood floor that Mr installed. Next project is to clean out the cupboards and put in new shelf paper so that we can start tackling the mountain of boxes filled with kitchen stuff.

orange county home remodel

 

Harder Than You Thought and Better Than You Can Imagine

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I was recently talking to a dear friend of mine about having children. Like me, she has a lot of fears and apprehensions. I’m not sure I did a very good job of easing those fears in our discussion, so I decided to write an open letter to her and anyone else who is on the fence about having kids. The reality is, not everyone should have children. However, I think there are a lot of people who would make great parents and are missing out on the experience because our society sheds a negative light on parenthood. It sounds cliche but trust me when I say, it’s worth it. 

Dear Friend,

I understand your fears about having children. I had a lot of fears about having kids and being a parent. I had fears about pregnancy. Would I be sick all the time? Would I be an insane emotional psycho bitch? What if I got stretch marks?  What if that lunch meat I couldn’t resist kills the baby?

I even more fears about delivery. Would I need an episiotomy? What if I felt it? What if I didn’t have the strength to push the baby out? My friend who is super athletic said delivery was the hardest work out of her life. I can’t even run for 5 minutes, how would I push a baby out? What if something goes wrong and the baby is sick or dies?

And then, of course, are the fears about being a parent. What if my kid is annoying? What if the baby cries all the time? I don’t think I could handle one that cries all the time. What if we don’t bond? What if he doesn’t like me? What will I do if he chokes?

The worries are endless.

I wish I could tell you that all of my worries were unwarranted and that everything was perfect. But the truth is, a lot of the things I worried about happened. Pregnancy sucked and I was sick for most of it. Delivery was brutal and I felt that damn episiotomy. My baby doesn’t cry all the time, but he doesn’t sleep much and sometimes that’s just as bad. I’m constantly second guessing my parenting decisions and I’m always worried that some freak accident will kill my son.

So, after all of that, why in the world would I encourage you to have children?

Here’s the thing. It’s easy to talk about the hard stuff. It’s easy to say “I’m so sick of being covered in spit up and poop!” But how do I put into words the love that I feel for my son even when I’m changing his diaper for the 12th time while he screams and wiggles? How do I describe the joy I feel every time he smiles at me? How do I communicate to you the fact that I, a task oriented and career driven woman, now feel that if I never accomplished anything else in life it would be okay because I made one amazing little human being? I can’t. And neither can most other parents. So we tend to keep that stuff to ourselves, and in doing so we paint a thwarted picture for you. I’m sorry. Just trust me when I say that parenting is much better than we make it out to be.

Not everyone should be parents. But you should. You and your husband will be amazing. And yes, it will be just as hard as you think it will be. But it will also be better than you could ever imagine.