May 2015 - Baby Steps in High Heels

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Even the tiniest ripple: how can we help?

10:31 AM 10
Even the tiniest ripple: how can we help?
What a month May has been in my little community. We’ve had lots of bad news topped off by devastating weather here in Texas these last few days.

It is so easy to become overwhelmed in times like these. It seems that there is no end in sight for the cancer warriors, loss mommies, and flood victims that we call neighbors and friends. Their battles are just beginning, and we want to help without really knowing how or when or where we are most needed.

These are the times when I find myself unsure of my place in it all. I want to help everyone, but I have no idea where to start. I have written about this before, and it is part of my slow-to-start initiative Even the Tiniest Ripple. Today, I’d like to see what we can to do make a few ripples in this sea of overwhelming devastation by discussing specific ways to provide assistance.


Pray. In talking with some of those affected, I can assure you that the most requested mode of help is PRAYER. In whatever way you can, simply lifting up those affected is most appreciated.

Donate. If you are looking for more tangible ways to help those in need, you can make monetary donations to legitimate organizations like the United Way, Red Cross, or local food banks and churches. Some individuals also have Go Fund Me accounts (or the like), but please donate with caution and always verify that the funds will be turned over to the appropriate parties.

Volunteer. There are also many opportunities to directly volunteer your time, resources and efforts. With the recent flooding in Texas, I have seen a wide variety of offers-- everything from bull dozers and chainsaws to glucose and syringes to stuffed animals. These donations are so very much appreciated, but also need to be properly organized. Check social media outlets and call individual City organizations to find out where your efforts can be most beneficial.

Love. Attend and help promote benefits for those affected. I love benefits, because I see them as a way that individual people put their own talents and resources to use – whether those include cooking, singing, organizing, rallying, or even just showing up. Better said, benefits are direct ways to show our love for those around us.  

Remember. It is easy to want to jump in and help when the news first breaks, but most of the people affected by illness or loss or weather devastation will endure these conditions for weeks or months or years to come. Mark your calendar for 6-weeks out, then 3 months, and longer if you would like. Check in as time passes and offer assistance, continued prayers, a friendly shoulder to lean on even as time goes by. These events change lives forever.

If you would like to become involved in helping with any of the recent tragic situations, you can find more information at the links below.



These links are to social media outlets that will connect you to many other area resources for each community. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Preschool Graduation

9:16 AM 1
Preschool Graduation
It's hard to believe how big our little girl is getting.


Last week, we celebrated her preschool graduation, and I could not possibly have a bigger mix of emotions. It's bittersweet to watch your baby grow up, but we have such joy and hope for her future.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

In defense of the princess ...

9:29 AM 8
In defense of the princess ...
This week I read a post that made a plea for rough and tumble boyhood. This is what boys need to be true to themselves. I loved it. Today, I am making a plea for the princess-loving girly girls.

It is the sad truth that our culture has tried to turn dainty princesses into idols. Soft spoken damsels in distress have been made out to be the ultimate role models for young girls everywhere. It’s no wonder that modern women have turned up their noses at these antiquated ideals. We want our young girls to have strong, independent, self-sufficient women to admire. We want our young girls to aspire to greatness, not some demure, helpless thing in a pretty dress.

However, I just do not think that strong/independent/self-sufficient and pretty/sparkly/princess things need to be mutually exclusive.

I have watched my own daughter naturally, and against my own intentions, gravitate toward everything pink. When she was two, her favorite colors {in her own words} were: pink, purple, and sparkly. This is a girl who did NOT have a pink nursery. We did not buy her a lot of pink clothing, and she did not see a princess movie until almost age three. Yet, when she did, it was like she had found herself.

We thought she would outgrow the phase, but rather the princess obsession has only matured. Instead of role playing Cinderella, she now transforms into her own princess during playtime. Sometimes it is a combination of princesses she has watched in movies {and yes, we have gone through the obligatory and lengthy Princess Elsa phase}, but often she acts out her very own scenes.


She always wants to wear the longest ball gown she can find in her closet. Sometimes she layers dresses. Every piece of jewelry is carefully selected to complete her look, and sometimes she wears every single necklace, bracelet, and tiara she can find at the same time.

If, for some reason, she cannot play with her dress-up clothes, she turns towels into dresses, napkins into bracelets, rocks into rings, and books into tiaras. She channels her creativity and uses her imagination. And she is happy.

And when she is finally satisfied with her princess costume concoction du jour, she twirls.

And when she dances and twirls, all dressed up like a princess, the look of pure joy on her face cannot be ignored. She is in her element. She is her very own self. Being a princess-loving girl does not make her weak. It does not make her incapable. It does not mean she has less potential for greatness.

She is fierce. She is strong. She is independent. She never waits for a prince to rescue her. (Unless, of course, she is explaining to him how to do it.) Being true to herself and not being forced into somebody else’s conflicting ideal is what will propel her toward a lifetime of both joy and success. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Rinse and Repeat

3:15 PM 0
Rinse and Repeat
Earlier this week, I wrote about the extraordinary amount ofsad news I have heard this week. Since that time, I have heard even more. Last night I wrote a list with the names of each person. There are EIGHT names on the list. Eight heartbreaking stories for people I know. Cancer. Hospitalization. Death. Loss. Grief. Sorrow. Infants. Children. Mothers. Fathers. I am praying for each of those names on the list, praying for their families, and for hope.

When I sat down to write today, I was determined to produce something lighthearted, something happy, to balance the melancholy. I have thought about my kids, about Mother’s Day, about the upcoming summer. There really is so much joy around me, and the most joyful part of my life is the infectious, innocent laughter of my children.

I wanted to write a humorous ode to mothers of young children about what we are not. We are many things, but we are not tissues or towels or chairs or pillows. I had actually stored this idea away in my head for a couple of weeks. It was going to be hilarious, or at least as hilarious as I can be.

But then, last night, my daughter used me as a towel. On purpose. Her cup leaked, and instead of reaching for the towel that was right next to her, she walked across the room and wiped it on my arm. 

She had that look on her face. She was trying to conceal her smile, trying in vain not to laugh. But, laugh she did. At first, only a tiny giggle escaped, and she watched me cautiously to see how I would react.

I couldn't help but grin back at her mischievousness, and just the start of my accepting smile was all it took to set her off. She erupted into laughter, the absolute best {from the bottom of your belly} kind of laughter. We laughed together. She ran to the bathroom sink to wet her hands again and returned for another round. She (literally) rinsed and repeated several times, without a single break in her hearty laughter.


It’s true that most days I do not want to be a tissue or towel. That’s what they make actual tissues and towels for, right? But sometimes that’s just the way it goes with small children. And sometimes it can be exactly what a mom’s heart needs … ridiculous, light hearted, innocent fun. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Where was the mother?

1:57 PM 7
Where was the mother?
This week has brought more sad news than I tend to hear at one time. I am so grateful that my nearest and dearest are all okay, but I am heartbroken for several families around me. One piece of sad news is more than enough, but this week, it has just kept coming.

I learned about a little boy in our community who was mauled to death by several dogs. While he played in a friend’s backyard. Can you imagine how scared must he have been? Immediately, the questions started spinning: where was the mother?

(She had been right inside with other adults. Nobody heard anything until it was too late.)



Then the news broke about a local school nurse, recently widowed and mother of two young boys, who has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. They found it after examining her for worsening headaches. It had already metastasized to her brain.

Perhaps the question here is not, "where was the mother?" I know there are other questions that are racing through her mind relentlessly. How long will she have? Will she beat this? Will this take the only remaining parent away from two precious children who have already lost so much?

Then, yesterday I heard of the passing of a friend's two-year-old son. He’d had a heart condition, but it was well monitored and under control by all accounts and measures. He just stopped breathing.

Where was the mother?



She was holding him. Crying. Administering CPR until paramedics arrived, still holding him when they were officially unable to revive him, knowing that she would never hold him again.

These are not the stories you want to hear in the days leading up to Mother's Day. They are not the stories anyone ever wants to hear. And yet they are true, honest, real stories of motherhood.

Yet, even in the wake of these tragic events, I cannot shake the feeling of hope. Each of these mothers has gone out of her way to express her love, her faith, and her gratitude for the time she's had with her children. Each mother has asked for a celebration of life.

Even in her darkest hour, a mother never ceases to love. To fight. To mother. To carry on. Through unimaginable grief and loss, a mother never lets go of hope. Because sometimes hope is all there is. And sometimes I think that motherhood is the very definition of hope. Or vice versa, maybe?

She is clothed with strength and dignity … a proverb that suggests a future of rejoicing, even laughter.  

Where was the mother?


She was right there. She is right here. No time or space or loss or gain can move her. In the most complex and simplest of ways, she just is

Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday

7:50 AM 2
Monday
Have I written about this before? It’s entirely possible that this is a repeat post given that this sequence plays out every single week in our house.

I have a love/hate relationship with Monday. Most people lack a love for Monday because it means back to work, which roughly translates to not on my own time anymore. I actually do not mind that aspect. My work is more on my own time than not, so this doesn't necessarily affect me.

The time that is not my own actually falls on the weekends when we are running from one event to the next, trying to keep as many commitments as possible while dodging toddler tantrums and preschooler meltdowns when we get too far off schedule.

Our kids are of the early-to-bed, early-to-rise variety. This works well enough for us during the work week, but Husband and I are on the losing end of the Great {please, pretty please} Sleep Late Battle. Our kids think 6:00 a.m. is sleeping late. (For the record, we disagree.)

We have occasionally tried to adjust their sleep schedules, especially around Daylight Savings Time changes, but they always trend back to what must be their internal clock settings. Which are set to 5:00 a.m. Every day. Except on Monday.

They must think that Monday is the weekend or a holiday despite our explanations, fancy Okay-to-Wake alarm clocks, the occasional morning time Cry It Out attempt, and all they prayers in the world. Okay, we don’t really pray for sleep. Usually.

Invariably though, the kids wake up between 5:00 and 5:15 on Saturday and Sunday, ready to go. They want to play, watch movies, have breakfast, go for a walk, have a snack, and possibly conquer the world all before the sun comes up. And, consequently, before my eyes have even opened, I feel like I've completed a marathon. Or at least a 5K. Check my fitbit. I’m only exaggerating a little.

When Monday rolls around, we have to drag both kids out of bed just in time to grab a quick breakfast, get dressed, and get to school. This morning, for example, I had almost 45 minutes to myself to pack lunches, make breakfast, unload the dishwasher. Drink coffee. While it was still hot. <--what didn="" either.="" i="" it="" know.="" know="" o:p="" possible="" t="" was="">

Y'all, I even did all of that after the alarm clock went off.

To call my feelings about Monday a love/hate balance is probably a bit extreme. I don’t love or hate this day of the week any more than the others. I do find my experience of it rather ironic, though. Of course, if you throw hot coffee into the mix after two days of waking up before the sun (and the coffee pot), you will not find me complaining one bit.


Happy Monday, y’all. And please forgive me if I write this exact post again next week. Sleep deprivation is not my friend.