Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Me too.

The visual is powerful and the numbers are staggering, but there's an image running through my mind of the same people who normalized the president's speak by referring to it as "locker room talk" seeing all the "me too" posts and rolling their eyes, justifying men's behavior and condemning women for making a mountain out of a mole hill. It's this mindset that kept me silent when approached at the vulnerable age of fourteen. I didn't trust my story. When in reality, my silence meant more victims.

A coach approached me in ninth grade. He was a former collegiate cheerleader and would sporadically show up at cheer practices to stunt with us. As I walked home one day, he slowly pulled up alongside me offering to drive me home. Naively, I jumped in soaking up every bit of the attention. Randomly, he'd drive down Laurel Lane offering to take me home until one day he caught me before I walked out of the school doors. I didn't think twice about walking with him to his car. There was a basketball game that night, and as he asked me if we were cheering for both 'A' and 'B' team, he slid his hand up my thigh and underneath my cheerleading skirt. I didn't flinch. I didn't ask him to stop. I got back in the car with him the next time he asked because nothing had really happened. It was just my leg. He continued to take me home asserting himself each time in the same way. I stayed silent. He introduced me to his wife and new baby, and I remember thinking he couldn't be doing anything inappropriate with me; he had them. He began calling me out of class and up to his classroom when he didn't have students. The last time it happened I walked into his dark classroom. He asked me to come around his desk, and as I approached, he told me to follow him to the coaches office, "it'll be quieter, and we'll be more comfortable." For whatever reason, this was my tipping point. If I went down to that office filled with couches and void of people during the afternoon, I knew I'd be stuck and likely unable to change his course of action. I quickly said no, and when, surprised, he tried to convince me to come with him, I lied and said my teacher didn't like for us to be out of class, and I needed to make up a quiz. I quietly walked the halls back to history class and slipped into my desk. I kept telling myself nothing really happened. I didn't stop his advances, so the responsibility was mine, and if I told my protective family or one of the many teachers I loved and trusted, I'd likely ruin his life. I protected him. Months later, my mom asked if I had any inappropriate interactions with a coach at school. I firmly answered no as she told me he was being let go because he'd assaulted a girl. Bravely, that girl came forward.

Randomly, I'd wonder if this interaction "counted" as harassment, but now I have a benchmark. If Charlie or June ever came home with this story, John and I would wage war. Given the opportunity, my parents would have too. Undoubtedly, it's not the victim's responsibility to relive their assault in order to educate the overwhelming ignorance of our society, but as we've seen in the last few days, there's power in numbers. There's comfort in not being alone. Sexual harassment and abuse are real, everyday battles for so many women and men. What if we created a culture that supported them and ostracized their perpetrators instead of the other way around? No matter if you're a silent me too or ready to shout your story to the masses, I stand with you.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

June - One Month!

Your dad and I stayed home with Charlie, literally didn't leave the house other than for walks, for an entire month, and it's no surprise that by the time Charlie hit the four week mark, we were going absolutely insane. June, you're a whole other story. You tag along for baseball games, dinner clubs at friends' houses, dinners out at restaurants with visiting family, watching your cousins' cheerleading, grocery store runs, lunch dates, etc, and all of our sanity is better because of it. God bless living and learning. Jennifer, Matt, Madi, and Jackson came down, and your uncle Kevin crashed with us for a night; they were all just real happy to meet and squeeze you. GiGi also made her way back down to squeeze you right before you hit the four week mark. Welcome to all the love, girl.

We had your one month appointment this week, and while I was just certain you're a little tiny peanut, Dr. Bell said you're in the 90th percentile for head and height and the 70th percentile for weight; you've officially hit double digits - 10 lbs 4 oz! Everywhere we go people marvel at how tiny and alert you are. You're still firmly holding to the three hour cycles during the day, and unlike your brother, you nap pretty well in your bassinet and will normally give me a few good chunks of time during the day to get the important things done - ya know, like showering, laundry, and washing dishes. We're still in that slow newborn rhythm. Nighttime sleep is still very much fragmented. It's amazing what my brain let me forget. It's like I had a foggy idea of what sleep deprivation was, but I'd forgotten the reality. Oof. I'm reminding myself that these long days are actually fleeting and the sleepless nights won't last forever. This time around I'm not worried about "spoiling you" if I hold you through a nap or pull you into bed with me to eek out a couple more hours of sleep in the morning. There's a lot of freedom in raising your second child.

You've started smiling; of course, your brother was on the receiving end of your first real smile. It's amazing that you already know his voice and are interested in him so much more than your dad and me. How the heck do you know he's a little human too? Whatever is drawing you to him immediately, I can tell you the feeling is mutual. His love affair with you started early in my pregnancy. He hoped so badly that you would be a girl so that our family could "complete the pattern." I have endless stories of his limitless love, but my favorite happened this summer when I waddled into his room after he'd woken up way too early and laid down with him. About a year ago, he'd asked to paint his room golden, so I found a shade of yellow that I thought would do the trick. it turns out that marigold quite frankly accosts the eyes when painted on the wall, but Charlie liked it, so we left it. Since y'all are destined to be roommates in our tiny house, laying in his bed that morning, I gently started to break it to Charlie that we had to change the wall color. He stopped me mid-explanation saying, "Oh mom. I've been thinking about that, and I think you should just paint my room pink. June will love pink, and I like it enough." We ended up picking the lightest shade of blue, but oh sweet June, you've got that boy wrapped so firmly around your extra long fingers. We're all just real in love with you, gal pal. Happy one month.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

June Anne

Sweet gal. Carrying you was one of my bigger challenges. Almost immediately, you made me sicker than I've ever been, and the "morning" (read: all day) sickness lasted well into the second trimester. Basically, I grew you on bagels and goldfish and sometimes nachos for a good 20 weeks. By the time we overcame the nausea, I was gigantic (amazing what an all-carb diet will do for the bod), and we were wading into the dog days of summer. We moved slow, found lots of cold water to wade in, and celebrated all the air-conditioning wherever we could find it. We powered through the summer, but by mid-August I was so ready to see your face. We negotiated with you that if you'd just let us get Charlie settled in kindergarten, you could come any time after, and then it was let us make it to back-to-school night, and then it was Labor Day weekend, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get you out! Dr. Oliver was worried about you getting as big as your brother, so we scheduled a c-section for Sept. 7th, but if you came anytime before that, she was willing to let me VBAC. We'll never know what worked because we literally did all the things - spicy foods, hikes, Evening Primrose, reflexology massages (I'm looking at you Beijing Foot massage), red raspberry tea, trigger-point therapy, labor-inducing chili recipes, etc. etc.

I woke up Sunday morning with a real wonderful energy. It was the most beautiful day, and we spent the morning playing with Charlie, I ducked out for a bit to get a foot massage with Kacie, Charlie headed to Gaga and Papa's house for a cousin playdate, and your dad and I dedicated our afternoon to get-this-baby-out bootcamp. We met the Wahlers' crew for dinner, and then headed home for a real regular kind of night. For the last few months, I've been up a million times in the night, so when I woke up at 1:00 a.m., I figured it was just another trip to the bathroom. When my feet hit the floor, I knew you were gearing up to greet us. I tried to breathe through contractions calmly and quietly like I'd done with Charlie, but it became clear that a calm and quiet shower was not in my future, so I woke your dad up, and immediately contractions were two minutes apart. Your dad called Gaga and Papa so they could hang with Charlie while we took off for the hospital, and as I sat quietly in the car breathing through contractions, their car almost literally flew around the corner of our street. Your grandparents executed their role flawlessly. 

It was a quick trip to Seton Main at two in the morning, and I assured your dad that I could make my way to the maternity ward by myself while he parked the car, and while I really genuinely felt like I could do it at the moment, when the first door was locked, and I had to go around to the ER entrance, giving birth on the helipad seemed like a real good option. Slowly, I made it up to the second floor and was easing into a wheelchair as your dad joined us. They wheeled me back, and the midwife congratulated me on being so far along and promised to get us right back because certainly this baby was coming soon. A quick birth (after an epidural) sounded just magical. True to their word, they got us settled quickly, and the anesthesiologist made quick work of the epidural, but your arrival was anything but quick. 

At five o'clock, I started pushing, at 7:30, without much success, we transitioned nurses, and the amazing Stephanie took over promising she'd see me through a successful VBAC. At some point, I whimpered to your dad that I just wished Tania would get there. I wasn't even sure what I needed from her, but when she peeked around the corner, I felt overcome with relief. As usual, Tania quietly championed me and validated all the things that were going on in that room and then excused herself to give your dad and me some time alone. You'll surely learn this about her in time, but Tania loves her people so well. She shows up in all the right ways always. We continued to push, but by 8:30, the on-call doctor at the end of her 48-hour shift was pushing for a c-section and defeat washed right over me. It was complete deja vu transporting us right back to your big brother's birth - my body did all the right things, but ultimately, he wouldn't budge. I asked for thirty more minutes with you, and as the doctor walked out of the room, your dad and Stephanie and I went back to work. Turning me every which way and pouring all kinds of positivity over me, we worked and worked to get you to stay down. If you ever need someone to champion you, look no further than your dad. I've never felt more supported than the morning of your birth. With every breath, your dad was willing me to push through, pulling me towards the end-goal, and believing in my body's strength. Looking at the clock at 8:45 and knowing I only had 15 minutes left, something overcame me, and I was flooded with the knowledge of my beautiful, strong friends who I knew were praying over you and me all morning - this sisterhood of women that knew exactly what we were working towards. When the doctor walked in at 9:00 looking surprised at our progress, she called in all the reinforcements, and you did it, little girl. You eased right down, and at 9:18, we finally got to see your sweet face. You came out just perfectly beautiful. 

The Labor and Delivery team was shocked at the parade of visitors that were eager to meet you, but most importantly, your brother strolled back like a proud peacock immediately ready to scoop you right up. Your dad helped him get situated, and we watched the most beautiful relationship begin as he sweetly whispered to you, "Good morning, June. How's life outside the belly?" You settled right in cooing back at him, and he happily declared that y'all were already talking to each other. My heart exploded, and I just know your heart will always belong first to your sweet big brother. He loves you fiercely, and that all-consuming, overwhelming kind of love is just real hard to refuse. We bolted from the hospital after one night eager to get you home and settle into our new norm. Tania and GiGi stocked our house with all sorts of goodies, and then just like that we were doing life as a family of four. It all feels just right.  

You've set our family on a whole new beautiful course. Thanks for joining us, sweet gal. 

Friday, September 29, 2017


Kindergarten arrived without too much anxiety or fanfare for you (or your dad). Gigantic surprise, it was steeped in both for me. The days are long (7:45-2:55), and I was struggling with the unknown - how will you adapt to the structured day? how will you feel about it once June arrives? what kind of friends will you make? will your teacher see and understand you? how the heck will you consume enough food to sustain energy throughout the day? - but in true Charlie fashion, you just rolled with all of it.

Rally Day was the Friday before school started, and while you quietly clung so tightly to my hand (cue all the choked back tears) as we walked into school to discover your teacher and class list, as soon as we hit your new classroom, you were eager to explore. You had questions for your teacher about centers and the loft area, and we read through the rules posted on a bulletin board and joked that you were already good at all of them - you were undoubtedly going to rock kindergarten. We spent the weekend living up the last bit of summer, and by the time Monday morning arrived, you were giddy to finally get to break in all of your new clothes and shoes. (I pulled a real mom move and wouldn't let you wear any of them until school started. Oh, the delayed gratification!) We made a deal that if I could pick out your first day of school and picture day outfit, you could pick out your clothes all other days of the year. You're all-sports-gear-all-the-time nowadays. I thought your fancy clothes days were frustrating, but I didn't know how much I'd miss them. 

You woke up with a jolt ready to greet Monday morning, and as we sat down for breakfast, you listened intently as your dad and I read through the back-to-school breakfast placemat we made you the night before reminding you exactly who you are and to honor and be confident in all of it as you step into this new school year. We snapped pics and sprinted through our morning routine - shoot, 7:45 comes quickly. After coaxing you into letting me snap some pictures outside your classroom (moms are so embarrassing), we walked in to find an apple and a gummy worm waiting for you at your seat. Holy moly. "Mom! In kindergarten, you get candy for breakfast." Nevermind this wasn't your breakfast, and I was pretty certain this wouldn't be the everyday norm, I wanted to kiss Ms. Bulluck for the goodies. We turned to go, and you didn't even kind of glance towards us. Your tablemate, Stella, whispered to you that Ms. Bulluck said you could eat your gummy and apple now or save them for later as you were shoving the tail of the worm into your mouth. She sweetly caught herself mid-sentence and said, "Oh. I guess you just want to eat all of it right now." At pick-up you were ecstatic. It had been a great day, and you couldn't believe all the fun stuff you get to do at your new school. Your favorites so far are the two recesses, running the track, PE, music, art, computers, and playing in the centers in your classroom. My theory is that you love the routine and schedule of the day. You love predictability, and since you were a newborn, you've lived by a schedule. Kindergarten is one big routine and constant motion - your two favorite things. God bless a kindergarten teacher. You're only a month in to school, and we've already seen an amazing improvement to your writing, reading, and drawing skills. I'm in awe of your teacher and this sweet school. 

You've settled right in to big-kid school, Charlie boy, and as usual, when I get overwhelmed by all the unknown, you're there to power through it like an enthusiastic, optimistic little champ. We're hoping this is just the start of a long love affair with school. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Summering with the Belly

We try our best to live it up in the summer. There's absolutely no reason to be doing anything outdoors that doesn't involve water in this Texas heat, so we always make a "find water every day" goal and pen a ridiculously long list of summer musts. This summer promised to be a little different because my belly is just unbelievable, but you were so kind and patient with me the entire stretch. We moved at a different (read: slower) pace, but we packed as much in as we possibly could, so that when kindergarten hit and a new baby joins us, we can look back at our last summer alone together with no regrets.

We got in a routine of walking/bike riding every morning, and you found a neighborhood cat, Sunny, that you just had to stop and see each and every loop. Sunny loves to be brushed but will randomly freak out and scratch and bite you, as any wonderful cat will do, but your love never wavers. You walk up to him with the same sweet voice each time certain he's so happy to see you. We started the summer, per usual, with swim lessons, and it's just my very favorite way to jump into the season with you. You get reminded of all the skills you have and quickly build new ones, and then your dad and I spend the rest of the summer in awe of your fish-like abilities. Your uncle Kevin taught you some pretty awesome jumps, and you couldn't wait for your swim teacher to give you the green light on the diving board so you could show off. Your preacher's seat will forever be my favorite. We had a week after swim lessons before we headed to Minnesota, and in the downtime, you started summer tee-ball with the Bears, and we headed north to Dallas to celebrate your uncle Kevin's 40th birthday. You love that guy so dang much and declared on the way up there that you were going to do a performance at his party. You had been hitting an Eminem song (no parental judgement needed) pretty hard and were just certain Kevin needed it sung at his party. The moment never grabbed you, but you lamented on the way home that you got too nervous and missed your chance. The world will never know, Charlie boy. Our annual trek up to Kavanaugh's was next on the list, and in a wonderful moment of luck, your dad was able to join us, and it absolutely made the week. You had wild dreams of going to Colorado and then to New York (thanks, Taylor Swift) right after we left Kavanaugh's, but you dealt with it all pretty well when we told you Minnesota would have to be our last family of three trip before June arrives. And well, Kavanaugh's just never disappoints. We swam and swam and swam, fished, tubed, and worked in some horseback riding - perhaps not my best decision at 8 months pregnant. You run yourself so ragged up there. It's just constant motion - your favorite kind. It's this gigantic cocoon of love and support and positivity and watching all of the cousins move around together this year was so sweet. Y'all are just the best little pack, and I hope all of these yearly trips cement in your minds and hold you close together always.

We came home just in time for the Fourth of July and spent the morning boating around with friends and the night watching your first firework show. You were so in awe of the colors, the sound, and of course, the finale. Why have we never committed to keeping you up late before? Right after the holiday, you took off for Dallas to spend some time with your Gigi, Pops, and Jake and Hudson. Your dad and I ducked away from reality for a little bit while you spent a long weekend doing pretty much whatever the heck you wanted. We finished out July with baseball - we went to your first professional baseball game; you sat there just enamored with the game, the between-innings fanfare, the food, and the $1 sodas. I think you'd go back every night. Your first season of summer (tee) ball ended soon after, and this season your coach nicknamed you Thor because he let you start using one of his bats called the Hammer, and you just kept crushing the ball. Your Poppy Jim, Marge, Jen, Matt, Madi, Jackson, Gaga, and Papa came out for your final game of the season which happened to be played on the swankiest astroTurf field, and at your first at-bat, you CRUSHED a HOMERUN! Holy moly. Jennifer and I cried and cried as you rounded the bases running your dang legs off. You were positively glowing, sweet boy. Just the best way to end the season. Three weeks of gymnastics drove us right into August, and you loved every minute of it. You're not the most limber little person, but what you lack in ability, you make up for in confidence and positivity. On the first day, as they were trying to place the 5-7 year olds in groups by ability, a coach asked you if you'd done gymnastics before, and when you enthusiastically replied, yes! he followed up asking if you could do a cartwheel and another YES! flew right out of your mouth, so he pointed you towards a group of much older kiddos. I cringed at the door. You did two weeks of gymnastics last summer, and there is no way in H-E-L-L you can do a proper cartwheel, but I let it play out. As soon as the groups broke up, the coach asked each of you to demonstrate your cartwheels. You watched all the other boys do their for-real-deal cartwheels and then stepped forward and confidently did a glorified donkey kick certain you had matched their skill set. The coach kindly pointed you over towards a group of your peers at the trampoline, and I really think you thought you got moved right up. I love your confidence. We cleared the calendar for the last two weeks of summer and concentrated on marking all the things off our summer list - swimming, waterslides, diving boards, trampoline parks (with "grip socks!"), waterparks, library stops, bagel dates, kickball...we did it all.

Before we knew it, it was time for Highland Park Rally Day, and while you were excited to start kindergarten after all the build-up, I still can't believe how quickly our 80 days of summer passed. Your dad and I will forever be grateful for this last chunk of time to enjoy all of you. You're the most delightful little human.