Hyperememsis Gravidarum Awareness Day 2016

I haven’t written much about Hyperemesis Gravidarum in a while. It’s hard for me to write about. It’s hard for me to remember. But I realized recently that even harder than remembering it is living through it, and right now there are women all over the world suffering from HG. So today I’m breaking my silence on HG and doing my part to spread the word about this disease.

For those who don’t know, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a life threatening form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Some folks might say that it’s like morning sickness, and I guess it is, if morning sickness lasted all day every day for months on end and caused you to vomit so much that it endangered your life. It’s awful. It’s ugly and brutal, and it kills mothers and babies. That’s why it’s important that we talk about it.

I’m a two-time survivor of HG, and you can read about my experience under the Hyperemesis Gravidarum category.

If you’re suffering from HG, you can check out my hyperemesis gravidarum protocol here. It might be useful to print this off to share with your doctor if you’re sick or to make notes for yourself on if you’re planning another pregnancy.

Recently, there’s been some buzz in the news about Zofran and the possibility that it has been linked to birth defects. One of the things I’m happiest to share is this study from UCLA that found no evidence that Zofran causes birth defects. This is huge! Zofran has saved the lives of many women with HG, and maintaining access to life-saving treatments is so important. I’ll share a post later with more about my experience with Zofran, but I thought it was important enough to get this life-saving news out as soon as possible. I didn’t want to wait to tell you all.

HG is terrible, but there are ways you can help.

You can participate in research studies. If you or a relative has had HG, you can check here to see if you qualify for the research UCLA is conducting to find out if there are genetic links with HG sufferers.

Click here to learn more about the study.

You can sign this petition asking lawmakers to support more study on HG.

More than anything, you can talk about HG. So many mothers suffer in silence. I spent 12 weeks of my first pregnancy covering up how sick I was because I felt guilty for being a wimp about morning sickness. I’d never heard of HG, and learning that I had it and that it was real probably saved my life. Even many doctors don’t recognize HG as being real, so talking about this and spreading the word can save lives.

If you know someone who has HG, reach out to her. This disease is so isolating. Understand that she may not be up to hanging out, but knowing that you’re thinking of her can really help. So can helping with more mundane things like dishes, laundry, babysitting kids so she can rest, and meals for the family.

She may need help getting to the doctor’s office or the pharmacy. Let her know that resources like HelpHer.org are out there. Keep an eye on her and if it seems like the treatment isn’t working, help advocate for her with medical professionals. I remember going into my 2nd round of HG prepared and ready to fight, but when I was in the thick of it, I just didn’t have it in me to correct the random doctors in the hospital who told me there was nothing wrong with me. Even the fiercest woman may need help standing up for herself when she is so desperately ill.

If you have Hyperemesis Gravidarum know that you are not alone.

I see you. I know your struggle. I remember. I stand with you. Please reach out to friends, family, HelpHer, facebook groups, and wherever you can find support. You are not suffering from this because you are weak. You are so, so strong even though it feels like you’re breaking apart at the seams. More than anything, you are not alone.

HG Awareness Day

Teaching My Girls About Body Image

Swimsuit season is coming up, and I’ve been thinking a lot about body image.

Two kids later, my body doesn’t look like it did when I was in my early 20s. Deep inside I have a core belief that this is fine and that I love my body. I am happy about the way I look. I love my stretch marks, and when my kids poke my squishy belly, I’m happy to tell them that’s where they grew.

But…

But there’s this tiny voice in the back of my head complaining about the lack of thigh gap and that squishy belly and the stretch marks and everything else. I know and I believe in my heart of hearts that the voice is a liar. But it’s still a struggle.

I want my girls to not feel that struggle. I don’t want my girls to have to remind themselves that the voice lies. I want them to laugh at the voice. Or better yet, not even hear it.

So there are a few steps that I’m taking that I hope will help.

I make a point to look in the mirror and say that I like my body. “I love my tiger stripes! They remind me of when you were in my belly!” or “I like my legs. I felt so strong today when we went on that bike ride.” I want them to know that it’s okay to look in the mirror and like what they see, and I also want them to take pride in what their body can do. So I set the example.

I don’t talk about weight or weight loss around them. The only time we talk about weight is in terms of them growing. “Look how much you grew!” And realistically, that doesn’t come up except at the doctor’s office or in the locker room of the gym after swim lessons and they beg to step on it because it’s neat and they want to see if they’ve grown. Now, admittedly, I am trying to trim up my figure a bit, but when I talk about that, I talk about it in terms of Mommy wanting to get stronger so I can keep up with them on their bikes and scooters.

With food, we talk about putting healthy food into our bodies, not restricting calories.

I never, ever criticize my body in front of them. I don’t want them to think it’s okay to talk to themselves like that.

I don’t know if this will help them, but I hope it will. I hope I’m inoculating them early against what they will see in magazines. I want my girls to grow up loving themselves just as much as I love them.

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Silly Mirror self image confindence

A Garden for 2016

I’ve been delaying and delaying on working in my garden this year, and I don’t know why. For some reason, the thought of all the work fills me with dread. Working in the dirt and nurturing the plants always feels so healing but this year, I just can’t seem to motivate myself to get out there.

There’s tons of work that I need to do.

  • Make new soil for the square foot garden
  • Pull out last year’s dead tomatoes
  • Pull out the strawberries which are just completely out of control and taking over both big beds
  • Move the trellises to the other side of the beds to rest the soil
  • Pull out the chives with the really weird leave shape that volunteered last year
  • Put down weed cloth because weeds. Ugh.
  • Decide what (aside from the 6 tomatoes and 3 hot peppers I ordered) I will plant

And on and on and on.

Maybe I’m just overwhelmed. Maybe every time I start to get spring fever, the weather pulls a 180 on me and gets cold again.

Right now, my garden is not the lovely, bountiful vision that I had when I built it. Yeah, I know. It’s still practically winter, but last year it wasn’t so great either. Maybe I’m just fatigued by the whole thing. Maybe it’s that I’m the only one in the family who’s excited about the garden. (Although, I would like to point out that everyone in my family appreciates the tomato sauce I put up in the fall!) Who knows. All I know is that I need to get my rear in gear.

Keeping Kids Safe from Accidental Poisonings

March 20-26, 2016 is National Poison Prevention Week, and since I’m big on safety, especially the safety of our little ones, I’d like to take this post to talk about some simple things we can do in our homes to keep our families safe. I’m not talking about this to scare anyone. Fear doesn’t solve problems. But education does, and the more we know, the better we can be about keeping our kiddos safe.

Kids get in to everything. You turn your head for a second or dare to take the time for a shower and you come back to find markers decorating the walls, pudding on the couch, and the contents of the dirty clothes hamper strewn up and down the stairs. That stuff is pretty irritating, but not deadly. However, if the kids get under the kitchen sink and start playing in the cleaning products, the situation can go from a minor (okay pudding on the couch is major) irritation to a life and death situation. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has provided the below infographic to help families understand why this is such an important topic.

2016 Children Act Fast So Do Poisons Infographic

 

In our home, we’ve taken a few simple steps to prevent poisonings, and I hope these ideas will help you stay safe in your own homes.

1. We don’t use child locks on cabinets.

A child lock on a cabinet is like waving a big purple sign that says, “There’s fun stuff in here! Come check it out!” I’ve yet to find the child lock that my children can’t defeat. And, ultimately, it’s in their nature to explore. So we stopped fighting the fight. Instead of locking the cabinets, we just make sure everything in the low, child-height cabinets is safe. Which leads me to…

2. We don’t store cleaning products under the sinks.

Growing up, that’s where the cleaning products belonged. Bathroom products went under the bathroom sinks and kitchen and other household cleaners went under the kitchen sink. It makes sense. It’s convenient. But it’s also easy for toddlers to get in to. What kid doesn’t enjoy exploring the inside of cabinets? It’s like they’re wired to do this.

We decided to stop fighting the fight to keep the kids out of there. Instead of storing cleaning and other hazardous products under the sinks at kid level, we store our cleaning supplies up high on the top of closet shelves. I bought a couple of inexpensive cleaning caddies and made cleaning kits (one for upstairs, one for downstairs) with everything I need in them: toilet cleaner, surface cleaner, glass cleaner, etc. When it’s time for me to clean, I pull the kit down and carry it with me wherever I need to go. When I’m finished cleaning, I put the kit back up on the top shelf of the hall closet.

We use the area under the sink to store washcloths, cleaning rags, toilet paper, and other non-harmful things. Refolding the washcloths after a kiddo plays with them is annoying, but it would be a lot worse if they played with cleaning chemicals. And yes, vinegar and lemon oil counts as chemicals.

3. We are aware that just because a product is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.

I use a lot of home-made, natural cleaning products. Or at least I used to before my busy life caught up with me and I had to prioritize what I make and what I buy. Still, it’s important to remember that even the most natural product can be dangerous if a child ingests it. Essential oils? Top shelf. Homemade shower spray? Top shelf. Natural, castile soap? Top shelf.

There are plenty of things in nature that will kill you. Don’t let an “All Natural” label lull you into complacency.

4. We keep medicines up high.

Before kids, we kept medicines in the bottom cabinet of the bathroom. Once the kids were born, I bought a cheap plastic storage bin and put the medicines in the hall closet right next to the cleaning supplies. It’s out of sight, out of mind, and most importantly out of reach. We also talk to the kids each time we give them medicine and remind them that medicine can help you feel better if you take it in the right way at the right time with Mommy and Daddy’s help. But at the wrong time it can make you sick.

5. We involve the kids in cleaning.

There’s this magic age where kids like to help clean! Take advantage of that while you can! Little ones want to help. They want to participate in the household chores. Cleaning is a perfect time to talk to them about poison safety. We talk about how to use the counter spray safely while I spray and the Cricket wipes. We talk about why something that gets rid of dirt can help keep our house healthy, but that it would make our bodies sick if we ate it. For us, including the kids and demystifying those bottles we keep in the top of the closet has helped manage their curiosity in safe ways.

There are lots of other ways to help prevent poisonings around the house. Here’s another infographic from The American Association of Poison Control Centers get you thinking about different poisons in your house and how to keep your families safe:

2016 Is Your Home Poison Safe Infographic

 

If you ever find yourself in a situation (and who hasn’t) where your little one has ingested something they shouldn’t, don’t hesitate to call the 800 number. They can take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Poison Control is there for a reason. Here’s that number in case the infographic doesn’t load for you.

Poison Help Line: 1-800-222-1222

 

Do you have any steps you’ve taken to keep your families safe from accidental poisonings? Please share them so that we can all be a little safer!

 

 

Graphics provided by AAPCC  in their National Poison Prevention Week media toolkit.

 

#NPPW16 #preventpoison

2016: A Year of Kindness

When 2016 rolled around, I decided deep in my heart that I wanted to make kindness a central priority in my life. There’s been so much cruelty and pain in the news, that I want to do my best in my own little way by making the world a better place. Even if I’m only able to do small things, sometimes those can make a difference, right? I hope so.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. – Leo Buscaglia

I’ve been having to explain a lot of troubling things to my children. We see the heartbreaking news of the refugees from Syria who are fleeing for their lives and politicians here who say loudly that they are not worthy of our help and compassion. We see presidential candidates talking about building walls and shutting people out because of the way they worship or who they love. We see armed men breaking in and taking over public property waving guns and then bulldozing over archaeological sites and damaging fragile habitats. We’ve seen young people gunned down because of the color of their skin.

What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind. – Cleveland Amory

It’s been a lot to take in. And it’s hard explaining all of this to the girls. They have friends who are many different faiths and we are lucky enough that they go to a diverse school and preschool. For the Grasshopper especially, it’s hard for her to understand the cruelty directed at her friends. Quite honestly, I can’t understand it either, and I don’t know how to explain it other than to say that some people have ideas that we know to be very, very wrong.

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. – Desmond Tutu

How do we solve all of this? I don’t know. Obviously, there aren’t any easy answers.

I think, in part, the solution lies within each of us. I think each of us, in our own small ways, can make a difference. I think it starts with realizing and admitting when you’ve done something wrong and apologizing for it. I think it starts with a word of support when you see a parent stuck in a tough situation with a tantrum-y kid. It means standing up and speaking out with compassion if you see someone mistreating another person because of the color of their skin or their faith or who they love. It’s taking the time to ask someone how their day was and really listen to them.

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.
― Kahlil Gibran

Either way, I think it all of this has to add up somehow. We can do better than this. We have to choose to be the change we want to see. We have to choose to live with kindness.

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. – Margaret Mead

This is why, in 2016, I’m choosing kindness as my word to live by.

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Kids, Games, and Sportsmanship

I grew up playing games all the time with my parents. We played card games like Double Solitaire and Russian Bank. We played games like Boggle, Yahtzee, and Scrabble. Trivia games like Trivial Pursuit, Jr. Trivia, and more.

When I played with my parents, we all played hard. No one let anyone win. When I did manage to beat them at a game the victory was so sweet, but those wins were often far between. Sportsmanship was a very big deal in my family. I learned how to be a good loser and how to be a graceful winner. And you never, EVER cheat.

I’m trying my best to pass that along to my kids.

Games, in St. Louis, are a huge thing! There are gaming conventions, game nights, and groups that get together regularly to play. I always felt like such an oddball for liking to play games so much, so it’s cool to discover that there are other adults who love playing as much as I do.

It’s been fun discovering new games with my kids, but inevitably, we’ve run into problems with sportsmanship, so here are our family’s rules for fair play:

  • Cheating is never tolerated. When someone cheats (which has never happened) the game is over. Period.
  • Accusations of cheating as a means of expressing frustration for the outcome of a game or turn are never tolerated. Cheating is a charge we take seriously, and it’s not an accusation to be bandied about.
  • It’s okay to feel disappointed, but it’s not okay to pitch a fit and behave rudely to other players when things don’t go your way.
  • It’s great to celebrate a win, but it’s never okay to gloat.
  • Everyone plays as hard as they can to win.

Really, for my family, it’s the same as sportsmanship in an athletic event. You congratulate the winner and encourage the ones that lose, and we teach this by example. Although, my husband tends to “jokingly” accuse people of cheating which earns major side-eye from the rest of us. We’re working on that one.

I do my best to teach them strategy, just like my parents did with me. On my turn, I explain why I chose certain moves over others, and sometimes we play “open-handed” so I can give them pointers on why some cards might be better to play than others. But if they beat me, they know that the win was truly earned. The smiles on those faces are wonderful to see!

The girls are learning. Winning is fun, but losing can be tough. Last week, the Grasshopper made a really bad decision at the start of a new game we got the day before. I mean, it was a colossal mistake, and it immediately cost her the game. In a dramatic way. The tough thing was, she had to hang in for 30 or so minutes until the game finished, watching the rest of us pull farther and farther ahead. She shed some disappointed tears. Not tantrum-y tears. Just sad ones. But she hung in there and finished the game. It never crossed her mind to quit, and for that I am so proud of her.

When it was all over, we hugged and talked about what had happened and why she had lost, and we came up with some strategies for next time. I told her how impressed I was about how she played her hardest until the end. She was still sad, but she’s looking forward to playing again, and that’s the most important thing.

These are some of the new games we’ve found. They’re pretty well known, but they’re new to us and tons of fun!

  • Hey! That’s My Fish – Cricket got this for her 4th birthday from a friend and it is a favorite! There’s enough strategy that it’s engaging for me, but it’s simple and requires no reading, so it’s great for little ones, too.
  • Ticket to Ride – We don’t actually have this one, but we got it for my parents for Christmas and we all LOVED it. We were all able to play, even Cricket, although for her to play, we either had to put her on someone’s team or play open-handed. My husband and I are thinking of picking up one of these for us!
  • Ninja Camp – We got this through their kickstarter and it arrived last week. We’ve only played it a few times, but so far it seems to be a hit! This one is tough for Cricket, though, because of the reading involved.
  • Munchkin – This is one that is best for the Grasshopper and I to play. My husband gets frustrated with the complicated rules and doesn’t find the cards amusing. He doesn’t have the same love of role playing games that I do. It definitely requires reading skills, so Cricket is not able to play. Honestly, I’m still figuring it out, but the Grasshopper and I have fun with it.
  • Machi Koro – This was the one that the Grasshopper lost so bad at last week. Poor thing. Awful loss aside, this is a fun game, although Cricket needs tons of help to play. Even though Cricket can’t read the cards and mostly just guesses, and even though the strategy has been a challenge for the Grasshopper, it’s still a fun one that even my husband likes.
  • Race to the Treasure – This is definitely one for the kids, but it’s cooperative which they enjoy. It’s simple enough that they can set up and play it by themselves.
  • Cauldron Quest – Again, this is a kid’s game, but it’s got enough complexity that Cricket needs a bit of help remembering the rules. They both enjoy playing it with me, and it’s cooperative so it’s fun to see them working together toward a goal.
  • Pokemon – Yeah, you read that right. the Grasshopper and I get serious playing Pokemon TCG. That’s “The Card Game” if you’re unfamiliar. It is surprisingly fun, and she’s gotten great at adding, subtracting and multiplying in her head with this one.

I really want to try Catan, but I think we may have to get the Jr version of the game. I also want to get Pandemic, but I’m holding out for the Cthulhu version. I have the feeling this one will not be one the kids can play, though. I’m also curious about Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert. I’ve heard that one is playable with children.

Do y’all have any favorite games to recommend? How do you handle winning, losing, and sportsmanship when you play?

 

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Winter Skin Rescue from Grateful Naturals – Review and Giveaway!

We got so spoiled over Christmas with the warm weather that I almost forgot how dry winter skin can get here in the midwest. But then, in a flurry of snowfall, everything changed. Sure, I love sledding with my kids and making hot chocolate and doing those snow day rituals (taping a penny to your door and flushing an ice cube down the toilet?), but let’s face it. I’m the SAHM, which means I am the primary dishwasher in the family, the primary bottom wiper, and the one who washes her hands the most. A few weeks ago, my hands were actually cracking and bleeding. Winter really does take dry skin to a whole new level.

So I was excited when, after this crazy day when Kellymom.com shared my post on handling breastfeeding criticism, the owner of Grateful Naturals reached out to me to see if I’d like to try a few of her products to share with my readers on my blog. I don’t really do reviews much. Y’all know that. But I took some time to look at her products and her company and quickly saw a kindred spirit. Monica started her business in order to provide families with natural skin care products that nourish the skin. You can read more about her story here. The thing I love about the company is that all of the products are made in the US, right in Ventura, California where I used to live! It’s really a hometown business, run by a mom, who is in my Ventura mom’s group as it turns out! I love supporting small, women-owned businesses, and when they’ve got great products like Grateful Naturals, I want to share them with you guys.

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So here’s the rundown on the products I tried:

Lip Balm – Vanilla Honeysuckle 

I can’t decide what’s worse about winter: cracked hands or chapped lips. I’m going to go with chapped lips. Hands I can ignore if I need to. Lips just hurt all the time, and I always manage to leave home without my chapstick. By the end of the day, my lips just hurt so bad. That’s where the Grateful Naturals lip balm comes in. Monica sent me the Vanilla Honeysuckle, and it was love at first… um… taste? It is great. It works well, does not sting at all like some lip balms do, and it heals and protects my lips.

But that’s not the best part.

For me, the best part is the size. The tube is slim enough that I can actually slip it into my wallet. Okay, now I know I carry kind of a big wallet, but I still think this is a game changer. No matter where I am, I always have lip balm with me! My lips never have to crack again!

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Tushy Cream – Cloth Diaper Friendly

She also sent me some diaper rash cream, which is funny because I don’t have kids in diapers anymore but somehow my family still deals with chapped booties. Once again, the product works great. It has a nice, light scent that comes from the calendula, chamomile, and lavender, all of which are healing ingredients, not fragrance. There is also melaluca (tea tree oil), but I can’t smell that which I appreciate. Sometimes that smell is too medicine-y and bothers me. The Tushy Cream heals chapped bottoms quickly and washes out of underwear easily, which makes sense since it is cloth diaper friendly.

You know how I like products that serve more than one purpose, like how I use lanolin nipple cream for everything, and this one fits the bill nicely. I found myself using this on my upper arms where I get those annoying red spots, on my belly and elbows, and on all the itchy spots my kids get from dry, winter skin. It goes on easily and puts down a nice moisture barrier that stops the itching.

You might notice that the top of this one is a little dug out. This is because I preferred to apply it to bootie rashes with a q-tip. It’s designed to be applied straight to the baby’s bottom like a giant chapstick, which I think is respectful in that in means you don’t have to put your hands on your kiddos private parts more than necessary. However, since we’ve been using it on more that just booties, I prefered to use a q-tip to apply it to chapped bottoms to avoid cross contamination.

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Deodorant Stick – Lavender

The deodorant stick was a bit of a stretch for me, I’ll be honest. I was hesitant to try it because all of the store-bought natural deodorants I’ve tried have left a strange, waxy-feeling film on my pits that just feels awful by the end of the day. I’m so glad I tried this one, though. No waxy build-up, and it worked great, leaving my pits feeling soft and fresh.

Now keep in mind, I’m trying this in winter, and not the dead heat of summer, but it worked very well for me. It smelled great, didn’t leave powdery streaks all over my clothes, and it kept me stink-free all day. It was also much easier than having to fool with making my own. I just don’t have the time for that anymore with how busy both kids and a part time job and writing are keeping me.

This is also one that I would purchase for the girls when they get older as a good, natural first deodorant.

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Healing Salve

I saved my favorite for last. This healing salve is awesome. It has helped us with all kinds of owies: rug burns, chapped cheeks, cracked and bleeding knuckles, scraped knees, razor cuts, and many other little ouchies that I just can’t think of. My kids love it. It’s soothing and it really does seem to speed healing. In fact, they love it so much, that when I threw my back out day before yesterday, little Cricket ran to get it because she was convinced that the green stuff would help my back feel better. How cute is that?

This really is a great, all-around healing cream that ought to be a staple in the first aid box. Monica even says it can be used on bug bites and sunburns, so I’m sure we will get to try that out this summer!

When Monica heard how much I loved this one she suggested giving one away to one of my readers! So be sure to read all the way to the bottom so you can see how to enter this giveaway!

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Grateful Naturals makes a little bit of everything: sunscreen, men’s deodorant, hand and body cream, perineal spray for new mamas, and even a hand sanitizer. The best part is, her prices are reasonable and in line with what I would expect to pay for a good quality, natural product. I plan to order several of these when I run out, most notably the healing salve and the lip balm. And I’m sure I will order the sunscreen this summer to try it out, too.

Definitely check out the Grateful Naturals products. You won’t be sorry! And be sure to let me know if you decide to try any!

Here’s a quick, clickable wrap-up of the products I tried:

The Giveaway!

Grateful Naturals is giving one of my readers a free Healing Salve to help with chapped skin and scraped knees! Just click this link to go to Rafflecopter for your entries! Clicking this link will open a new tab and take you to the Rafflecopter website where you can securely enter the giveaway.

The giveaway has ended.

Congratulations JackieGirl82! Remember, if you didn’t win, you can still use the coupon code below!

 

The Coupon Code!

Whether or not you win the free hand salve, all of my readers can get 20% off their Grateful Naturals purchase from now until the end of February! Just enter the code SKINRESCUE (be sure to use all caps) at checkout!

 

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Grateful Naturals provided me with free product to try for this post, but did not compensate me in any other way. All opinions are my own. #gratefulnaturals #naturalskincare #winterskin #freeproduct

“Bless Your Heart”

Okay y’all, I’m going to get a little southern here for a minute. I was raised in Central Texas (which totally counts as the South), and growing up I used to hear my grandmother bless people all the time.

“Bless your heart.”

“Well, bless your soul.”

And she always meant it with all of her heart.

This is why I was surprised to learn as an adult that there is a “southern” thing wherein people apparently bless other people but really mean, “What a dumbass.” Or “I hate you.”

Guys, please. This isn’t a Southern Thing. This is a mean thing. I’m sure there are some passive aggressive people from the south out there, but I’d hate for anyone to walk away with the impression that Southern women are, as a whole, mean people who just fake being friendly until they can turn around and talk about you behind your back. Meanness is something that happens everywhere. It’s not a “Southern Thing.” I think those folks that bless people’s hearts in a sarcastic way would find ways to be nasty no matter where they are from.

I grew up surrounded by Southerners. East Texas Southerners. My maternal aunts could put more syllables into a word than you would believe. My mother can, too, but she’s pretty good at keeping a lid on it. What she’s not good at keeping a lid on is being friendly to folks. Everywhere. No matter who they are. This Christmas, we were standing in line to get tacos in a gas station (because this is Texas and that’s where you get good tacos), and my mom turned around and struck up a conversation with a couple of construction workers behind us. She chatted with them about their day and the delicious tacos we were all about to eat, and then she stuck out her hand and introduced herself to them, shook hands and learned their names. I guarantee you that if she sees them again she will remember them by name and ask after their children. Probably by name. Because she is kind and genuine and really cares about those two guys and how they are doing.

Now that’s a Southern thing.

But it’s not only a Southern thing. Just like mean folks live everywhere, so do kind people.

So if you ever hear me say, “Oh, bless your heart.” It doesn’t mean I hate you or think you’re stupid. It means I love you and I wish you happiness.

This year is just getting started. Let’s all work together to spread a little kindness.

Things I am (NOT) Tired of Seeing on Facebook

Have you guys seen those lists floating around listing all the things someone you don’t know is tired of seeing you post on facebook? Things like food photos, selfies, pictures of your kids, updates on your love life, commentary about the weather, cute animal videos, and on and on and on?

Listen, I don’t know who this person is, but let’s just give them the benefit of the doubt that they had a bad day, send them an oatmeal-raisin cookie (great for constipation!), and pack them off to bed.

I don’t like these lists because there’s always a thing or two on them that I feel guilty about. And because I can be an anxious person, I end up worrying that I am making my friends hate me because I post stupid stuff. But then, after a day or two, I come back and start scrolling through my feed, and I realize that my friends are all posting pictures of food, selfies, pictures of kids, updates on their love lives, commentary about the weather (sometimes with cool pictures!), cute animal videos, political commentary, and so forth. And I love seeing it!

I love seeing what my friends eat because it gives me new ideas when I’m stuck in a dinner rut.

I love all of the selfies because I love seeing the new haircuts, the new lipsticks and eyeliners, the cool hats, and the smiles of people who feel good about themselves. As long as they are being safe. Practice safe selfie-ing y’all! Although, is there some kind of trick to getting decent looking selfies? Mine always look really weird. Can somebody clue me in? Because apparently I’m too old to be able to do this well.

I love seeing pictures of everyone’s kids, even when it makes me realized that my friend’s newborn baby is going into kindergarten and I’m officially an Oldie McOldperson.

I love hearing about my friends’ love lives. I love celebrating with them when they’ve found the one, and I’m grateful for the chance to offer hugs and sympathy when things don’t work out.

I love weather posts because I have friends from all over the world, and it’s kind of crazy to see folks chillaxin’ (shush, that’s totally a word) on beaches when I’m in wool socks and long underwear. And the snow photos and storm photos are, let’s face it, just plain cool!

Do I actually need to tell you why I love cute animal videos?

I love seeing my friends happy. And when they’re not, I appreciate the opportunity to hug them and send them love. Post what makes you happy, and don’t listen to cranky people who want to pretend to be the facebook police.

And on that note, here’s an adorable picture of our dog playing in the sprinkler.

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Organization, Joy, and KonMari

A few days ago, the lady I work for, who is totally awesome, introduced me to the KonMari method of organizing. I’ve been trying my entire life to get organized, to purge all of the junk that I don’t need, and to keep the house tidy. This doesn’t come naturally to me. My inability to keep the house orderly causes friction between my husband and me. He is one of those people who was born organized. For him, keeping house is second nature. He’s a minimalist at heart, where I tend to accumulate stuff. So much stuff. Because maybe I might need it one day or I’ll get around to fixing it or sure it’s too small but what if I need it in a pinch? 

This year, after returning home from a lovely Christmas holiday with my parents, I walked into my closet and said, “This is enough.” I had a closet full of clothes that I haven’t worn in more than a year because I mostly just wear the same three outfits day in and day out. I had a pile of shoes that kept me from finding the ones I want. I had stacks of folded clothes that have been pawed through until they’re nothing more than piles. The closet felt like the manifestation of my feeling that I’d lost control of the house. I avoided it, only entering it when I had to, but on December 31st, I walked in and decided, “This is enough. I don’t have to live this way.”

 

I posted about this on facebook, and a few days ago, at work, while chatting with my boss about the new year, the subject of organization came up. We are facebook friends (no, it’s not as weird as you might think it is) and we have both seen each other organizing over the last couple of weeks, me in my closet, her in her bathroom cabinets. She mentioned this thing called KonMari, a Japanese tidying method created by a woman named Marie Kondo. I’d never heard of it, so my boss explained. When you organize, ask yourself:

  • Did this item bring me joy when I purchased it?
  • Does it bring me joy now?

Cue the lightbulb moment!

Do you ever keep things out of guilt? Do you ever look at something and say, “Ugh. I don’t use that anymore, but I can’t get rid of it because so-and-so gave it to me (or I spent good money on it or any other reason why you might keep something that is no longer useful). I guess I have to keep it.”

The KonMari method of tidying is based on the idea that instead of choosing what to get rid of, choose what you want to keep. Choose the things that spark joy and inspiration so that you surround yourself with that feeling of happiness. Here is a youtube video where Marie Kondo describes how her method works. It’s long, I know. But believe me, it’s worth it, and this is coming from someone who won’t watch a youtube video longer than 3 minutes!

 

There is a very specific way to go about doing this, so after watching the video, I snapped up a copy of her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Thus began The Great New Year’s Eve Closet Purge. I was ruthless. I asked myself:

  • Is it maternity? If yes, donate
  • Is it broken? If yes, can I repair it? If yes, realistically, will I have time to repair it? If no, toss.
  • Does it fit? If no, donate.
  • Does it match other items in my closet? If no, donate. (You’d be amazed how many things I have that I can’t wear because they match absolutely nothing in my closet)
  • Do I enjoy wearing it? If yes, keep. If no, donate.

When I finished, I had a massive pile of clothes to donate (and of course a few that just needed to be pitched), an orderly closet that makes me smile, and a sense of order and control over my clothes that is expanding in tangible ways to other parts of the house.

Sure, I’d already done my closet, but it’s not just my closet that needs to be tidied. It’s my entire house. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to teach my children that instead of buying a bunch of stuff that fills spaces to surround themselves with joy and let go of things that no longer bring happiness?

Have any of you tried the KonMari method? How has it worked for you?

 

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