Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Baby names and the opinions of others...

As I round (literally) the bend here towards the end of this pregnancy, nesting has started to kick in completely. It's complicated by the fact that my house is still very much in the middle of a fairly major renovation being done to accommodate the little guy. All the kids have moved rooms this summer, and I still have a shred of my sanity left.


The girls are sharing the loft now, which we are converting into a bedroom. To do that, we are walling in the loft. It's getting there. Slowly.

Until that is done, everything else is pretty much on hold. Including the tiny room next to ours that will be his soon. It's painted and we have the crib to put back together, but the rest of it still isn't anywhere near done yet.

Tick tock.

We are doing a Star Wars themed nursery because we both finally made peace with our inner nerds, and decided that a Star Wars nursery wasn't necessarily any more ridiculous than one with ladybugs or baseball-playing-teddy-bears. Plus, the older I get, the more the cutesy stuff bugs me. So, instead of the stuff they sell in those baby warehouse stores, we are looking for lightsabers and Wookies.

It's okay. I know I have issues.

Anyhow, we picked his first name a while back. Actually, the other kids were pretty influential and were totally in on it too. The name was kind of their idea, and there's a story behind what it is and why we picked it that I might tell someday. I haven't decided yet. I generally refer to him as Little Asskicker around here. I have nicknames for all the other kids and the husband, mostly for privacy reasons.

But it's a really cool story and I may share it at some point.

We just really started talking about middle names recently, and I think we have that figured out too.

One of the many, many things that happens when you are pregnant is that everyone asks what "it" is. Then, if they get that piece of information out of you, they ask the next logical question, which is what the name will be.

I should have learned not to tell people. Honestly. By now you'd think I have done this enough times that I would have thrown a filter on my mouth and not let that piece of information sneak out.


I didn't learn.

We love the name. Like LOVE it. The fact that it carries a bit more meaning and the other kids helped choose it makes it even more awesome.

None of that does anything to stop other people from crinkling up their faces and asking us if we're sure. 

We've even had a few people lobby fairly aggressively to get us to change our minds, giving reason after reason why we needed to pick something else.

I wish I was kidding.

It's not a super common name, but we never set out to name any of our kids common or trendy names. The Oldest's name we chose because it was an old Gaelic name...not realizing it would become a firmly seated top 10 name beginning that year and lasting almost a decade. Freckles' real name was a lot more popular a generation ago. Mini Me's name has stayed fairly consistent in popularity over the years...not in the top 10, but in the top 100. We spelled it in an unconventional way because we knew we would be using a nickname for her from the start.

Then there is Little Boy. We hadn't agreed on a name for him until after he was born, but to both of us, it didn't really matter all that much since we knew we'd be using initials for him. We just needed a first name that started with the letter we chose. He is so used to being called by his initials that he fairly often refuses to even acknowledge people who use his given first name.

They all have family inspired middle names. Little Asskicker will too.

I think we'll keep the middle name quiet, even with family, until he's here though...mostly because I don't want to deal with the opinions everyone else has about it.

I try to remind myself that people mean well when they criticize choices like this, but it's almost impossible not to get frustrated. Why is it so hard for people to just be happy for you? Why do they feel so compelled to inject their opinions into the conversation? Why is picking a name for a baby something that everyone seems to think they get to vote on?

My home isn't a democracy open to the will of the people. Honest.

What about you all? Have you had to deal with this? How did you handle it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the militarization of the border edition

Hi there. It's a good thing it is Tuesday because I've been pissed off for days.

Not having a great week around here. I'll get to that in a bit. First up, the other things pissing me off this week.

The Mess at the Border
This entire situation just gets worse and worse. I hate the fact that it's being couched as an issue of illegal immigration in the first place. For the most part, the kids at issue in the situation, the ones fleeing violence in other countries, are actively seeking out Border Patrol agents. They aren't armed. They aren't hostile. They aren't drug runners. They aren't here to mooch off our system. They are here because their parents, in an act of desperation, sent them here as an attempt to save their lives.

They are coming to this country, much like unaccompanied minors have done for over 100 years.

The entire situation has been spun in the press to make it seem like it's an invasion of sorts. Certain politicians and talking heads have even used that word. The wonder that is Gov. Rick Perry sent National Guard troops to "protect" the border today. From what, exactly??? He cites crimes committed by illegal immigrants as his justification for this gross demonstration of force (which some are questioning the propriety of already)...but he's missing the point. This isn't an invasion. This isn't even really an immigration issue. This is a human rights issue.

I could get into all the legal nuances of the situation, but the quick and dirty version is this.

- the kids can't be immediately sent back because they aren't from a bordering nation
- the current immigration laws pertaining to unaccompanied minors were mostly written during the Bush administration
- deportation proceedings can only be done through the courts, which are already backlogged
- approximately a third of them have a parent in the US, so to "send them back to their parents" would be allowing them to stay
- this is really more of a humanitarian issue than an immigration issue, no matter what the pundits say

But yeah, let's totally suit up and fly military helicopters over the region just so this jerk of a Governor can get a photo op.

From some dude's fb page, called this jerk a hero.
“Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” 
- Emma Lazarus
- a.k.a. the quote on the Statue of Liberty

Everything About Flight 17
Unlike the situation with the other doomed Malaysia flight earlier this year, as soon as the news hit with this one, I had a sinking feeling in my gut that it had been brought down on purpose. Or not even on purpose, but accidentally, and at the hands of human involvement.

There are so many lingering questions, many of which we might never actually get answers to because of the pissing match going on. Almost 300 people died...but that is being overlooked almost in the wake of everything else that has happened.

Did Putin give explicit orders to shoot this plane down, thinking it was a military cargo transport? No, probably not....but he had a hand in arming the rebels that most likely did it. He has had a hand in this conflict all along. With the black boxes being shuffled off and the bodies being tampered with and the crash site being unsecured and dangerous and looted...we'll probably never know exactly what happened.

Of course, this all raises the obvious question of why the flight was in hostile airspace in the first place. Many airlines had already diverted around the area, but Malaysia opted not to. A more direct route made more sense to them. It was probably cheaper to run a shorter flight straight through than spend more on gas and go around it.

The Epidemic of Parent Shaming and Blaming
There are so many cases anymore that I could be here all day just finding articles to link. Parents arrested, charged. Kids taken. Names drug through the mud on social media. Blog after blog after blog calling people out. Then the requisite blogs in reaction defending the parents.

Being a parent is hard. Really fucking hard. Being a parent of a "normal" kid is hard (whatever a normal kid is anyway)...being a parent of a kid who can't always read social cues, who has mental illness issues going on, who has rage problems, who acts out...sooooo much worse.

Being a parent with the resources and financial stability and time and requisite sanity to cope with whatever their kids throw at them is hard. Being a parent without some or all of those things, damn near impossible.

What has happened in the past few years and seems to get worse all the time is this epidemic of judging and blaming. The internet police are here to tell you what you're doing wrong ALL THE TIME. They'll take pictures of you when your kid throws a fit at the store now and post them online to bash you...without understanding that maybe there is more to the story. Maybe that kid isn't just being a brat. Maybe that parent isn't just lazy. Maybe that kid lost his shit in the store because he's autistic or because he has oppositional defiance disorder or BECAUSE HE'S A KID AND SOMETIMES EVEN GOOD KIDS ARE SHITHEADS.

Public shaming isn't enough...nooooo. Some of these "well meaning" strangers will call the police. Or social services. Or whatever. Because they've decided, not knowing a damn thing about you or your kid aside from the 3 minutes they've now witnessed, you're a failure as a parent.

I shit you not, I once had a kid lay down in the path of the automatic doors at Target, alternate between screaming at the top of her lungs and holding her breath. She threw such a temper tantrum that she almost passed out.

I suppose I should consider myself lucky that no one believed I was abusing her that day. She was throwing a fit because she wanted a pony and I didn't get her a pony.

God forbid.

Whatever happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt? Whatever happened to minding your own damn business? Whatever happened to offering to help the clearly overwhelmed parent instead of standing there with your freaking phone, taking pictures and judging them???

Jesus, people. Knock it the hell off.

Health Care Rant
I'm beyond stressed out right now because of health insurance issues. All told, we have good just have to be a fucking genius with the ability to multitask and find information that is mostly unavailable to actually utilize it.

Mutters under breath and gets ready to make some more damn phone calls.....

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Motivation of Little Asskicker

Oh, PTSD, you sneaky little bastard, you.


I'm going to apologize in advance because this post is really just going to be a little documentation of what's been happening in my head...

I haven't been to see my therapist since February, which is completely intentional on both her part and mine. We decided that I was truly in a good place for the first time in a long time and that it wouldn't be a good idea to press any issues further for the duration of this pregnancy. It was probably a really good idea considering that I have high anxiety levels naturally and stress totally screws with my body in bad ways as it is, even more so when I'm pregnant.

So I haven't gone.

For a while.

And I've been good. Really.

(As an aside, I honestly think that there is someone out there who should research the effect of pregnancy hormones on mental stability, particularly when pregnant with male fetuses...I have theories about a positive correlation, but am not independently wealthy and cannot finance my own scientific discoveries. Someone get on that.)

There have been some things that have happened since February, albeit less catastrophic than the things that had been happening that led me to therapy in the first place, that could have, should have, would have thrown me down the rabbit hole had it not been for that "good place" I'm in.

For the most part, I've dealt with them in the way that a normal non-PTSD affected person would. Meaning, the things happened, I coped, I moved on. They didn't weasel their way into the deepest recess of my mind, set up camp and start blowing shit up like they would have before.

Until this past week or so....

Some things have happened in the last week, not to me personally, but to people I love and care about, and they are things that aren't all that different than the things that happened to me back then...before I became a ticking time bomb.

Bad things.

Life changing things.

Things that have to do with disillusionment and lies, things that have to do with the forced acceptance of that which we'd never accept given any other option, painful roads walked that lead to even worse ones. That kind of stuff.

Heavy stuff.

And while I'm still in that mostly good place, the shitty thing about PTSD is that it doesn't really ever go away entirely, I don't think. At least it doesn't seem like it does. You learn to cope better with triggers and such, but these things don't magically stop serving as triggers because you went through the process of learning how to deal with them.

I might not get sent reeling into a panic attack, end up crouched in a bathroom stall gasping for breath or anything, but I'm knocked off center at the moment.

I've mostly managed to sleep without nightmares or insomnia coming back these past few days, which is huge. I'm way more irritable than I normally am, which sucks for everyone else around me. My gut response would be to just avoid dealing with everyone, to retreat into my hole and refuse to interact with people until things were better.

The problem with my gut response is that it creates this swirling vortex that could potentially pull me down further instead of helping anything get better. I'm so good at stifling things, so good at internalizing them that I can mask it all, hide it all until it comes out at some point down the road much worse.

I know this about myself, so I do what sucks more. I talk about it.

I write about it.

I finally told my husband that I've got a trigger thing going on too.

Because I have to. I have to talk about it, I have to let it out, I have to confront it as it comes and it's absolutely essential for me to do it now, when it's fresh and new because there is a tiny human depending on me to keep my shit together right now.

If my stress levels go up, my blood sugar goes up, my blood pressure goes up. Neither of which are good for me or the baby.

This kid. He's keeping me honest and he's not even here yet.

Earning his nickname, he is.

Go, Little Asskicker, go.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer School of Rock ~ Heart

I seem to be slacking a bit in my Summer School of Rock series, and for that, my apologies. Things have been busier than I anticipated this summer and I'll realize it's been two weeks without a band. Then I cry some ironic punk tears and get over myself.

Up this week, one of the bands that I loved the very most growing up. I played and played and played their cassette tapes so many times that I wore them out. My favorite song to play on Guitar Hero is and will forever be Barracuda.

They've been rocking since the mid 70's. The band has had a ton of lineup changes, but the core of the band has been Ann and Nancy Wilson, the sisters that proved that anything men could rock, women could rock too.

The roots of the band started before either of the sisters was actually affiliated with the group. They went through a few different names too. Ann joined in 1972, Nancy in 1974. 

Though the sisters are American, the band had its early successes in Canada. Their sound was a combination of folk music, metal and hard rock, relying pretty heavily on the signature sound of Ann's voice. She has a deep growl to her voice that suits rock music perfectly.

Their first album, Dreamboat Annie included Crazy on You and sold over a million copies...not bad for a debut.

My favorite song of theirs, Barracuda, was written one night in a hotel room shortly after they started their rise to success when Ann was particularly pissed off at a reporter who alleged that she and Nancy were sexually involved with one another.

Little Queen, the album including Barracuda, landed the sisters on the cover of Rolling Stone.

The late 70's were good to the band, the early 80's not so much. They switched to Capitol Records in 1985 and recorded Heart, followed by Bad Animals and Brigade, all of which were commercial successes and revived their fanbase. The hair got bigger, the edge got a little edgier. Many tried to call them a pop act, but they never really were.

The 90s saw some more tours. Nancy took a break to focus on her family. Ann toured with The Ann Wilson Band in her absence. Basically everyone still referred to anytime either of them performed as Heart though. They reformed officially in 2002.

One of the most amazing things they have ever done was perform at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. There they performed Stairway to Heaven as a tribute to Led Zeppelin. If you haven't seen this yet, prepare to be floored. Absolutely stunning.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. They remain the longest lasting successful female-led rock band in history.

And they'll always speak to a piece of my past, for which I will always love them.


The other bands and artists profiled already, in no particular order.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bloggers are human, crunchy and taste good with ketchup

The internet, the wonder that it is, is both a blessing and a curse. It allows us all to connect and interact in a way that never even seemed possible a few decades ago. We can share our stories, our lives, our pictures with people all around the world, people we would never have occasion to meet otherwise.

There are so many good things about the existence of the internet, so many valuable resources, so many now-relied upon resources, so much interconnected-ness that we tolerate the negatives it brings.

Most of the time, anyway.

There are times that those negatives become so overwhelming that people like me start to wonder if this is all worth it. At times it's too much. The comments, the attacks, the accusations, the demands, the assumptions made. We try to not take it personally, but sometimes it is impossible not to. We are human.

So far, at least, something has always reeled me back in, something has convinced me to log back on, to keep my head down, to keep doing it.

Reality is, for as much as the negatives knock us back, all the positives outweigh them by at least tenfold. It's just hard to remember that in the moment.

I've had too many moments of late.

This online world is a strange one, that's for sure.

I have a few friends, fellow writers, in places I've been right now. The ugly, real, painful places. The places that we could write about if we were so inclined, but the places that we won't write about for one reason or another. Maybe it's because we are protecting someone else. Maybe it's because we are worried about collateral damage. Maybe it's a desperate attempt to kid ourselves into believing that everything will be just fine if we don't acknowledge it all. Maybe it's self preservation.

No matter the reason, we don't write all those stories. We won't.

People out there, our fans, our readers, they might think that we tell all the stories, but we don't. For as painful as the ones we tell are at times, they couldn't hold a candle to the words left unspoken.

Part of being a writer so willing to be open with at least as many parts of ourselves as we are comes with consequences. The greatest of which is that we can form genuine connections with readers which is an amazing gift. It is usually the thing that motivates me to come back when I want to run away. Sometimes, though, those connections are misunderstood and people who we don't actually know, people who don't understand that they only know the stories we are willing to tell, they begin to believe that they know everything about us. They begin to believe that we are as real and tangible to them as those people sitting right beside them in reality.

We aren't. Because we can't be.

We have to keep our boundaries. We have to keep some things close. We have to protect those we love. We have to erect walls. And all of us, all the bloggers out there in this online world, we all have different limits.

Not everyone understands.

If you're out there reading this right now, and there was a time when you've asked one of us a question that we didn't answer or when we haven't continued a discussion or when we've simply chosen not to respond, understand that there may be a reason, and that if there is one, the reason has nothing to do with you.

It has to do with us. I promise.

Either that, or (far more likely) we just never received a notification for something. The internet is notorious for eating comments. Things get lost in cyberspace and we get blamed.

We're doing the best we can with the platforms we utilize...ones that are often glitchy. We are busy with our children and our jobs and our families and our friends and our lives, so sometimes we can't always be as responsive online as you might expect. We are human. Most of us moderate our own pages, manage our own comments. We, for the most part, don't have people supervising things for us when we are at the grocery store or on vacation or driving a kid to the hospital. We are human. We're doing the best we can, trying to somehow balance it all with the lives around us. Trying to protect our families, trying to protect ourselves, trying to do it all while doing what we love - writing.

We're doing our best to share what we can until we run into that boundary.

Please don't drag us across it.

Please don't blame us when we won't go willingly either.

Thank you.

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