Monday, October 16, 2017

#MeToo

The news over the last week has been hard to ignore. A powerful man has been dominating the headlines for his misconduct against women. Over the past day the words "me too" have been trending. The actress, Alyssa Milano, tweeted out yesterday encouraging people to post "me too" if they have been a victim of sexual harassment and assault in an effort to shine a light on how prevalent it is in our society. 
I'm going to jump on this bandwagon and say #MeToo. In 2004 I was 23 and working for CPS in a small county about 30 minutes from where I lived. This particular day I had a court hearing. I had recommended the parental rights of one of my clients be terminated. I was sitting in the judge's chambers with the District Attorney, my client's attorney, the Assistant District Attorney and the children's attorney. We were all discussing what led to my decision and the ADA and children's attorney were explaining why they supported my recommendation. It was a normal, routine hearing. We would meet in the judge's chambers a lot to have hearings. Nothing was out of the ordinary for me. During the course of discussion my client's attorney looked at me and said "If you will go to the side of the building and get naked with me we can settle this matter now and I won't fight it." I was mortified. The judge was laughing. The other people in the room were just sitting there in silence. I didn't know what to say. I was so helpless, embarrassed and uncomfortable that I wanted to crawl out of the room, but I couldn't. The judge continued to laugh. Then, after what felt like hours, but I'm sure was just seconds, the children's attorney (who was the only other female in the room), spoke up and ripped into the attorney and told him how inappropriate he was. He stood his ground and said it would be a "simple solution" to the problem. The judge finally spoke up and decided we should postpone our hearing to another date. I ran out of the courthouse feeling humiliated. I told my supervisor what had happened. She laughed and said "Oh, that sounds like something he would say." I had to continue to see this man for months after this, and had to sit through a trial with him. I left that county a few months after this incident. 
At the time I felt helpless and embarrassed. After all, the judge thought it was funny and didn't seem to see anything wrong with what he had said. Looking back my 36 year old self can't believe my 23 year old self didn't stand up for herself. I am grateful for the other attorney in the room who stood up for me when I didn't know how. I don't know if I ever told her how much I appreciated her that day. She later went on to become the judge in that county. I hope that I can be a voice for someone else in a time when they need one. Unfortunately, I don't believe I was the first or the last person that man said something like that too. Incidents like mine happen to people daily, men and women. But, speaking up, reporting and saying "that's not okay" is the start of change. 







Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Adulting is Hard


It's no secret that being an adult is hard. Being a parent is really hard, especially with the bombardment of social media and other outlets. Everyone has an opinion of what you should or should not be doing, saying, eating, etc. It's exhausting when you have average "normal" by society standards children. Throw in a little boy who is viewed as a little different and things get 10x harder.

A few weeks ago my favorite musician, P!nk, accepted the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music awards. Her speech that evening struck a cord with me. At the time I could not place my finger on why it affected me so much, but this morning something happened, and I understood.

I have made no secret that #3 is different than other kids. He is loving, affectionate, empathetic, and will stand up for anyone he thinks has been wronged. He loves Minecraft, his laser guns, Five Nights at Freddy's, and the color blue. He also loves Queen Elsa, having his fingernails painted and wearing his hot pink shoes. I have blogged previously about #3's differences that you can read here. #3's differences are what make him the beautiful child that he is. If I had my choice I would keep all my children in a bubble and keep them from the outside world forever. I can't do that, so my next best choice is to prepare them for the outside world, and let them know that not everyone will love them. I have taught them from the beginning that they are perfect the way they are and we don't change for anyone. P!nk said it best in her speech--“... we don’t change. We take the gravel in the shell and make a pearl and help other people change so they can see more kinds of beauty." 

I have noticed over the last few months that #3 has become more sensitive to what others say and do. In July we went on a family vacation to Texas. One day we stopped for lunch at a Chick Fil A in New Braunfels, Texas. #3 had on his hot pink Nike shoes that his sister had given him. While Mr. Mayer and I ordered lunch all three kids went to the play area. A few minutes later #1 was at my side crying because a little girl in the play area was making fun of #3 for his pink shoes and #1 didn't know what to do about it. When I went to the play area I heard the little girls words and saw #3's face as this tiny little creature was telling him that boys can't wear pink shoes and it was a girl color. I went Mama Bear. I told the little girl that pink is just a color and anyone can wear any color they want. A few weeks later #3 asked to donate his hot pink shoes because he didn't want them anymore. My heart broke a little. 

Yesterday #3 came home from school upset because a little girl at school had made fun of his painted fingernails. She told him that boys couldn't have painted fingernails. We discussed the issue and I told him that not everyone is going to like the things he does, or understand some of the things he does. That is okay. Anyone can have painted fingernails, and if that little girl didn't like it, that was her problem, not his. My heart broke a little more. 

Then this morning my world shook, and my heart broke in half and I questioned my parenting. Ten minutes after school started the school nurse called me to come pick #3 up because he said he had diarrhea. Initially I was angry. I know that when he is upset about something that saying he has diarrhea is his go to illness. I knew this morning that he was not sick. I was initially angry because it was disrupting what I wanted to do today. Selfish, but that the truth. I go to the school and sign him out. While I am sitting there waiting for him to come up front the school counselor comes to speak to me. A knot formed in my stomach. She sat down and started telling me that a teacher overheard another student making fun of #3 this morning. The teacher stopped it, but the damage had been done and #3 was upset. DING DING DING. That explains his sudden bout of diarrhea. Then I feel terrible because I was upset about my plans getting messed up. The counselor continued to talk and discuss how we can help him, and that in November they will be doing a compassion unit for the whole school. I explained that we discuss with #3 not everyone will understand or accept him, and he is perfect the way he is. I offered to provide a few books for her to read with the kids on differences and she balked at the suggestion. She then starts stumbling on her words and asks "Don't you think there is some counseling, or something available for kids.....kids, um....like him, that think..." this continued and I knew where she was going and I knew the words she was unable to say. I got angry. Really angry. I was not angry at the idea that #3 could be transgendered, gay, bi, or whatever else he may be. Because if and when the time comes we will cross that bridge, and my love for him will never change. My goals are to raise happy, loved, well adjusted children who are not assholes. I was angry that she could not say the words and could not see the real issue, which was not #3. This situation was not his fault. I stopped her and said we weren't there, and that was not the issue. He likes pretty things and having his nails painted. He also has an older sister who he adores, and the only time she ever pays him any attention is when he lets her paint his fingernails or when he plays dress up with her. 

#3 and I came home. I sent him inside and I sat in the car for a few minutes and cried. My heart was broken in half for this beautiful little boy. Then, I put on my big girl panties, went inside, and #3 and I talked about what had happened. I remembered P!nk's speech from a few weeks ago and it felt even more relevant to me in this moment. I told #3 that we don't change for other people, and he is perfect exactly how he is. We then spent 30 minutes looking at pictures of famous boys who like to wear fingernail polish. We listened to David Bowie, Prince, Michael Jackson and some DNCE. Then we looked at #3's favorite "You Tuber" Joey Graceffa who loves color and always has amazing fingernails. #3 was really excited to realize that Joey had painted fingernails, and this Mama, who does not understand her children's fascination with Youtube, is grateful for Joey Graceffa today. We also made plans to go get manicures soon with our cousin, and some of #3's sparkle was back. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Reaching Goals and Defeating the Inner Voice

Guess what happened today?! I completed something I started two years ago!!! I know. I know. Two years seems like a long time. Especially when I started and stopped a million times. But, 9 weeks ago I set a goal for myself, and today I completed it.


I completed a Couch to 5K program, and I am proud of myself for the accomplishment. I have started and stopped this program a dozen times, always around week five or six. I had a million excuses not to finish it. To some this may seem like a pretty minor accomplishment. I know lots of people who could do a 5K in their sleep. However, me, I have never been a runner. I have never considered myself an athlete. Finishing this today felt really great.
Growing up I was never encouraged to participate in sports or extracurricular activities. In fact, I was almost discouraged from participating. If I would say I wanted to try something, like running track, I was told "You can't do that. You aren't a runner." I wanted to do basketball one year and was told that I was not coordinated enough to play basketball, and the other girls were much better than me. One year in middle school I wanted to be a cheerleader. I wanted to be a cheerleader more than anything in the world. I asked my parents if I could try out. My Dad's general response was "Whatever you want to do Jaynabird." Surprisingly, my mother also agreed to let me try out. At the time I babysat a little girl whose older sister was a varsity cheerleader. She helped me practice and I gave it all I had. I was so nervous I didn't talk about it with anyone. I waited patiently for the list of girls who made the team to be posted. My name was on it!!! I was so excited. I told my mother and she said "Oh. I didn't think you would actually make the team. Those girls all have reputations, and you can't be a part of that." Devastated doesn't scratch the surface of how I felt. After that I stopped asking to do things. In high school I half heartedly tried out for the flag team. I was not surprised and a little relieved I did not make the team. During high school I became involved in yearbook and photography. I really enjoyed it, and never gave team sports a second thought. Over the years I convinced myself I wasn't an athlete, and sports were not my thing.
In college students could use the campus fitness facility for free. I had a boyfriend and a good friend who worked out there all the time. I started going with them and discovered I really liked it. It quickly became a habit that I have maintained. A friend of mine teaches spin classes. Six years ago he convinced me to try out one of his classes. I was instantly hooked and have done spin since then. About two years ago I started getting bored with the monotony of my workouts and decided I needed to shake things up. That's when I downloaded the app. I didn't tell anyone for weeks that I was doing it. The first time I made it to week seven and my mother broke her neck, and everything stopped. It took a while, but I started the program over, and quit, a few dozen times. During one restart I mentioned to my mother that I had started running and she laughed and told me I was not a runner. I reverted back to my childhood self and stopped running.
I have been working on inner dialogue a lot lately. I'm learning to stand up for myself more and voice my opinion more. I still have a lot of work to do. But, I have a daughter, who is watching me and I hear myself in her, a lot more than I want to admit. I want her inner dialogue to be "Anything you want to do Jaynabird." 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Who Says Romance is Dead?

While Mr. Mayer was running errands a little while ago he text me....

Mr. Mayer: That's a 15".

Me: Oh no! 13" it is!
        Yes. I like that much better. 
        Wait....That's the 13"? What is the size under that? 

Mr. Mayer: 12"

Me: I like the 12". 

Mr. Mayer: Really? 

Me: Hold on for a second. 

Mr. Mayer: The 13" is quite a bit heavier. Don't know if that matters or not. 

Me: Is the 12" deep? Cause the one I have that I use the most is 12", but not very deep. 

Mr. Mayer: 12" is on the left. These are deeper, and steeper sides too. 

Me: Yes--I like the 12". It's a good size. 

Mr. Mayer: Okay. I might get the 15" later to use. 

We were discussing skillets people!!! Skillets!! Mr. Mayer knows how to woo a girl. He bought me a composter last week. 



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Taking Back Summer

I am a professional at over scheduling and doing too much. I have really been working on this and trying to simplify my life a little. I have been focusing on meaningful relationships and moments, and taking more of a quality over quantity approach to life lately. It has been hard, but has been so worth it. Summer has been a perfect test to my efforts. Last summer I worked and when I wasn't working I had a "fun activity" scheduled. We were so scheduled and busy that we lost the "fun" part somewhere along the way. Mr. Mayer and I took a long weekend together last summer and I was so tired from our "easy summer" that I just wanted to sleep the whole time. That's not fun.

This summer we have played with our neighbors and cousins, swam and slept in. The kids get to pick two camps they can do. The boys had one in June and another one in July. #1 didn't want to do any camps other than her cheer camps she has to do, and I am not making her. We have had time to watch movies, have sleepovers and catch fireflies. I have learned that it is just as fun to stay home and play pretend with the neighbors as it is to drive and hour to see a museum.

It has also been fun to watch the kids form relationships. We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids around the same ages as mine. These kids play until sunset all day everyday. Growing up my best friend stayed at her grandmother's across the street a lot of the time. Her and I, along with several other neighborhood kids, would play all day long. Those are some of my favorite memories, and some of my life long friendships were formed then. I am so happy that my kids get to have some of the same experiences and that they are forming lifelong relationships. #2 has already gotten married twice this summer!! The biggest takeaway I have from this summer so far is how fun the ordinary things can be. The kids love playing and riding their bikes outside. They love movie nights in the living room. Going to get a popsicle for snack time is a really big deal. Today we rode our bikes 1/2 a mile to get lunch, and I have never seen three kids as excited about something.


In addition to trying not to make too many plans, I am not intervening in a lot of their decision making or arguments. #1's best friend is our next door neighbor. Those two girls love each other 90% of the time. However, girls being girls, they have their tiffs, and I do not intervene or offer advice unless directly asked. Even then I am trying to keep it pretty general. I want her to learn how to problem solve and navigate friendships without me hovering over her. I do it with the Dudes as well, but they don't have the same level of drama as their older sister. Their biggest issue has been someone knocked over the other ones Lego tower and they were never speaking to each other again. That never lasts.

Monday, June 12, 2017

We Are Done!!

Whoo Hoo!!!! We have finished our renovation--mostly. We are still going to steam and re-stain the grout on our tile, but that will wait until sometime in the fall. The big renovation is D O N E. I am so relieved, and worn out. Our renovation turned into a much bigger job than I expected.

Getting new floors put in is very similar to moving. Everything was packed and stored in the garage. There was a week we slept on mattresses in the floor. The kids loved that part of the process, and thought we were camping. Our dogs also loved it since they could get closer to us. Initially the install was supposed to take a week. If you read my earlier post, you would know that the install was delayed almost two months before they started. We had everything packed and waited what felt like forever. By the end of the first week of installation it became clear that enough flooring and trim had not been ordered. They were not going to be able to finish the job and had to order more. Grrr....this frustrated me, but what can you do? I want the floor done. So, they order more floor and it would take at least a week to get the shipment in. Two weeks later the flooring and trim are in and the install crew comes back to finish. Guess what? Still not enough flooring. By this point I was to the "you have to be fucking kidding me" stage of the project, and really close to losing my mind. So, we wait another week, and they come back and finally finish the floors. FINALLY!!

Prior to getting the floors put in Mr. Mayer and I began painting. I got everything but trim painted before they began putting in floors. In between the floor install I touched up walls, because these guys were not gentle on a new paint job, and painted trim. Every surface in this house was painted. I hate painting trim as much as I hate painting closets. That's a lot. Mr. Mayer and I got smart about trim though, and used a sprayer. We would tape everything off and spray the trim. That was pretty amazing. Why didn't we think of the sprayer for the walls?! Doh!! There was still some trim that needed to be hand painted, but the bulk we were able to spray and that made life so much easier.

June 1, 2017 the floors were finished. We began this journey on March 16, 2017 thinking it would be a few short weeks and then a distant memory. June 1 we finished. Mr. Mayer and I figured out long ago that if something can go wrong, or become a comedy of errors, it will happen with us. Always. This acceptance has allowed us to just laugh and carry on, and not get to wrapped up in timelines. This project did push my patience, but I didn't throat punch anyone. Our house is like a brand new house. We have beautiful floors and fresh new paint. The dogs are not fans of the floors, but it provides us endless entertainment as they slip around. We have also purchased a robotic vacuum cleaner, and I'm a little appalled at what you can see on the floor now. That used to be on my carpet! Ewww! I am also wondering how my Labrador is no bald with the amount of hair he sheds. We are no longer living out of boxes, and I purged an obscene amount of stuff from this house. It felt really great. Almost as great as having the house done!!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Renovations

Last year Mr. Mayer and I had a pool and patio built, as well as landscaping to the front and back yard. It took nine months, and by the end of the process I was d-o-n-e and over it. Oh! We had the outside of the house painted as well. However, everyday we are so happy we had it done and love our backyard and pool more and more. Well, that was easy, why not another project?! Sure!

Really, this newest project has been in the works for close to three years. We started talking about it and looking at flooring samples and changing our minds a million times over the years. We wanted to do it, but didn't know what kind of floor we wanted. All we knew is that the carpet was gross and had to go. Throw in three small children and three dogs, one being diabetic and no control over his bladder, and the carpet had definitely seen better days. Flooring was pushed back due to the new pool, and we still didn't know what we wanted. Finally in March of this year we had decided what we wanted, and were ready. We went to the Home and Garden Show and found a company we liked (and gave a discount-let's face it-discounts help) and made an appointment with them. They came out the following week for estimates. We picked out flooring, shook hands and made deals. Mr. Mayer and I were under the impression that things would be done in the next couple of weeks. I started packing everything and storing it in the garage. 

Mr. Mayer and I not being the couple to ever half ass anything decided "Hey! Our walls are in terrible shape after ten years. Why don't we go ahead and paint too!!" Sure! 900 paint samples later we decided on a paint color, and since the two weeks had passed and we still didn't have an install date on our floors we decided to start painting. We priced some people, but really, we had spent all our money on floors and couldn't justify paying someone to paint our walls when we were able to do that ourselves. So....here we go!!! Mr. Mayer was able to help on the weekends, but since I had recently quit my job and was home all day, I spent my days painting. I discovered I hate painting closets. And ceilings. Hate. It. Painting was a labor of love no doubt. I hurt in places I didn't know were possible. But, three and a half weeks later and every wall, ceiling and closet has been painted. We opted to hold off on painting trim until after the floors were put in. Which, if you are keeping track we are pushing the six week mark with no install date. The walls look amazing though if I do say so myself.



 I also refinished our fireplace. It was painted to match the taupe walls we had and stood out like a sore thumb after we painted everything a griege color. I was nervous. I had never worked with chalk paint or wax before. I impressed myself on that project, and it turned out better than I could have imagined. 




Until last week the most information we had received from the flooring company was that there was a "hiccup" getting our flooring delivered. A hiccup? I don't want hiccups. I want floors. We have been living out of boxes for weeks and I'm over it. Finally! Finally last week we get a call saying our floors are in and they will start install on Monday!!!! HOORAY!!! It's really going to happen. Monday Juan, his dad and his brother showed up and made short work of moving furniture and getting carpet ripped up. They did it in stages so we have been able to live in the house while it's being done. I hang out upstairs during the day. After school the kids and I go get "special snacks" and play at the park. Luckily this week we have had enough going on after school between chiropractor appointments, karate, cheer and baseball that it hasn't been too bad, and I've been able to keep the kids out of the house while they have been here working. At night we plop a mattress down somewhere and sleep. If you see #2 around town he will tell you we live out of our car now. We don't. Promise! I have just been carrying bags of uniforms for different activities and the kids change in the car. I have not made them sleep in the car--yet. 





Juan says that they will be done by Friday afternoon. These guys have worked hard and fast and the floors look amazing. Mr. Mayer and I are very happy with our choice. I'll admit I woke up with my grumpy pants on this morning, and they are tighter than last time. I'm tired of my house being a construction zone. I want my couch out of my kitchen and to eat something other than drive-thru. There is an end in sight. I know this, and I am excited for this. Next week I will get to move back into my house and a few weeks from now this will all be a distant memory. In the end it will all be worth it. Today, I'm over it. 



Friday, April 7, 2017

Just a Boy and His Sandwich

My children have hated sandwiches since birth. I used to really let it bother me that they refused to eat sandwiches of any type, but over the years I adjusted and did not give it a second thought. When school started last August the Dudes got to start eating in the cafeteria. It is regular conversation for me to ask everyone what they ate for lunch that day when I pick them up. Imagine my surprise when #3 starts telling me daily that he ate "brown bag." Brown bag is a SANDWICH, chips, pickle and usually a fruit. A sandwich. Everyday. #3 was eating a sandwich at school every day, but still refusing to eat them at home.
Fast forward to Monday of this week. I am waiting in my usual spot after school and watching the Dudes run up the sidewalk towards me. #3 was walking slow and eating something. What? As he got closer I could see he was strolling up the sidewalk eating a sandwich. No joke. #3 climbs in the suburban and I ask him what he is eating. He gives me a big grin and says "A sandwich. I had it in my backpack." Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. He missed several days of school last week, and then there was the weekend, and today was his first day back. How long had that sandwich been in his backpack? I needed to investigate further. Cause, gross. So......a few questions later it was determined that it was out of his brown bag at lunch. He did not eat it at lunch, so he saved it in case he got hungry later. Smart kid. So, now he was hungry and eating his sandwich. Whew! It had not been sitting in his backpack for days!!
Not to be left out--the next day #2 came strolling up the sidewalk eating a sandwich he had saved from lunch.

Friday Morning Coffee

The ladies and I met at 918 Coffee this morning at 2446 E. 11th Street in Tulsa. I have missed the last few weeks because of a yucky stomach bug that has been circling around our house. The other's have had coffee at 918 Coffee for the two previous weeks. I asked if we could go one more time so that I could try it out too. They were very willing to go again. 918 Coffee is not a large coffee shop. It is comfortable with tables and chairs scattered throughout. There are two conversational areas with couches and chairs set up in separate corners. It was busy for a Friday morning, with a variety of people in the shop. Some looked like students, others looked like they were professionals there working, and there were several groups of people who looked like they were having a Friday morning coffee like we were. 918 Coffee has an extensive list of coffees and flavors. They also have non coffee options such as teas and hot chocolate, and they serve alcoholic beverages. The food is a variety of muffins, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit. This morning I had a vanilla latte with a yogurt parfait and apple cinnamon muffin. It was delicious, and I ate it all. No regrets.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Coffee....

A couple of months ago I started having Friday morning coffee dates with some of my cousins who live in town. I jokingly call it our Tulsa coffee tour because we have been hitting up a new coffee shop each week. After we all drop our kids off at school for the day we meet up for coffee. Life is so busy for everyone and we have a tendency to get stuck in our routines and not stay in touch. We live in the same city and we can go months without seeing each other. Our Friday morning dates give us an opportunity to see each other, catch up, laugh and stay connected--no kids, no pressures, just time to be. Some weeks we can sit all morning, other mornings we are only able to carve out an hour, but it is always time well spent.

This morning we met at Foolish Things Coffee Company located at 1001 S. Main Street in Tulsa. I have lived in Tulsa for thirteen years and have never been here. It is near the Tulsa Community College downtown campus and was busy for 9am. It is an open area with lots of windows and natural light. There is patio seating on the side of the building, but it's early March and too cold for that just yet. Inside there is a bar with seats lining the front windows, and long tables are scattered around the room. There is a cozy corner with some couches for a more intimate setting. They have a variety of coffees, syrups, and food items. They have a small breakfast menu that serves sandwiches, eggs and pancakes. They also have baked goods and yogurt parfaits. This morning they had some delicious looking scones sitting out. There is also a small lunch menu available that includes hot sandwiches and salads. I'm doing a Whole30 with my cousin Elizabeth, so I just looked at the scones and dreamed, and maybe cried on the inside, cause I love scones. I ordered a plain coffee. You know, just a coffee flavored coffee. Nothing fancy. It was delicious, smooth and very drinkable. I will definitely be making a return trip to this coffee house.