A Look Back at 2014: Part 2

We’re taking on the second half of 2014 in this post. In case you missed it HERE is the link to my post from yesterday…

In effort to counteract such sadness and to welcome the hope and promise of the year ahead let’s look at some pictures. Cause pictures always make me feel better. And if you don’t already you really should follow me on Instagram @mrseyebrowz. Because I post there way more frequently than here. Also…pictures of Iz sleeping in all manner of weird spots and positions on a regular basis.

JULY – Tracey and me. First we saw The Wailers (yes, Bob Marley’s band) at this year’s Common Ground music festival and then we had the absolute pleasure of watching The Violent Femmes perform the entirety of their first album, first to back. This was an adolescent dream come true for us. We sang along with every single word of every single song. LOVE.
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When we go to Chicago for vacation, we know people. Like our buddies Kennedy and Chase who met us at the Shedd Aquarium for some fun times! Their faces in this picture. I die. IMG_6582
These four minis had an awesome time tearing up the Shedd. IMG_6599
Clearly, Isora was NOT impressed with the crying baby next to us OR the dolphin show. IMG_5433
The coolest thing EVER. We got to pet Stingrays. We loved this park of Shedd. IMG_5453
Such a fun day at the Lincoln Park Zoo with André and Merissa. They showed us a great time in Chicago. IMG_6632
AUGUST – Nothing like having a few friends over to remind us of how awesome our new backyard is. And by a few friends I mean a thousand mosquitoes. They made a meal out of poor Izzie’s face when she spent over two hours playing in the sand box. Clearly it didn’t even phase her. Look at that smile. IMG_6669
That one time when Isora passed out in the car and we brought her into Culver’s and she slept the whole time we ate.
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The Kitty Ear Krew. Merissa bought these Kitty ears for Cedella. And she has rarely taken them off since. Then it became a thing. We wear Kitty ears on Wednesdays. IMG_6841
This is totally MY type of situation. Nah mean?IMG_6857
Me and my girls. Relaxing up north in Tawas having the best ice cream ever. IMG_6858
Up North. On Lake Huron. Fire circle. Grandma Linda’s natural habitat. Love this picture. IMG_5735
At Dinosaur Gardens. Where we always act like complete idiots. I cry with laughter every time I see this. IMG_5819
I’m obsessed with this picture. And this is why I love Lake Huron. It’s wide open beach. Very few people. A whole lotta sand.
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This summer’s trip to Oscoda was just us girls. Memories. Made. IMG_5864
SEPTEMBER – First day of Junior Kindergarten to be precise. The look of pride on her face is just everything.
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Cedella and her absolute BFF Anna. Don’t they suddenly look so old?IMG_6024
Hanging out at the Michigan State Homecoming parade. Go Green!! Go White!! IMG_6065
This is what Izzie does while Ella is at school. Sleeps in weird places. It’s a glamorous life. IMG_7003
This may be my favorite photo of the year. This one Tuesday in September it was super hot and me and my besties Leslie and Nicole and all of our 6 girls piled into the cars and drove out to the beach at Holland State Park for the day. It was SO good. And not long after this picture, like days, me and Nicole found out we were pregnant. And almost a month after this picture Leslie found out she was pregnant. A little bittersweet but still so perfect. I love all of these girls so very much. IMG_7042
OCTOBER – For a birthday gift for me, Tracey and our bro Robbie (all born within 2 weeks of each other in Sept/Oct) I got us tickets to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak. We love this man. You know who loves him too? Cedella. She is obsessed with Cosmos and knows his name and was thrilled to join us for this lecture. She even stayed awake for nearly the whole thing. IMG_7164
The Sims Kids (minus 1). We geeked out on this so hard. It was fantastic to be with these two for the night.
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The Coolest Astrophysicist in the Universe. IMG_6072
Mom’s ‘Retirement’ Party. I say ‘retirement’ because she is still working 40 hrs/week. But they threw a lovely party for her at the library and we all came together to celebrate her kind of ‘retiring’.IMG_6179
HALLOWEEN – Padawan Ashoka Tano and Jedi Master Yoda. To say I love their geekiness is an understatement.
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Trick or Treating with Superman and Star Lord on the absolute coldest day of the year. IMG_6309
And the Great Pumpkin Walk with their besties Owl (Mia) and Wolf (Anna). IMG_6285
NOVEMBER – Was. Hard. So very hard. Nicole and Leslie and me. And our bumps. Two days before I lost Miles. This picture is one of my favorites and also the hardest one to look at. 
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We lost Miles the week before Thanksgiving. All of our Canadian cousins drove in to spend a long weekend over Thanksgiving. And though I was absolutely distraught and physically exhausted, family was truly the best medicine for my broken heart. Just look at Ella feeding her sister. They love each other so much. I’m clearly doing something right in that regard. IMG_6356
I just love the relationship these two have. Cedella and her Jiddo John. Always goofing around and playing together. He’s her best buddy.
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Despite how heartbroken in made me to meet these two new little boys in our family, it also brought so much love to my soul to hold them. This is Adam. Cedella is obsessed with him. Look at what a great big cousin she is.
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And with Mila and her new little brother Leo. Cedella also loved Leo. She just loves babies in general. I love these children so much my heart could burst. IMG_6394
DECEMBER – Though I was feeling only slightly human, we had to make Christmas the best ever for our girls. So out to the Christmas tree farm we went. This was our first attempt. There wasn’t a good tree in sight, but Isora had a great nap on my back. Doesn’t she look cozy back there? She woke up and looked around and said “This is the most beautiful place ever. Look at all the Christmas trees!!” Love this kid.

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And the following weekend we made it out to the Peacock Rd Tree Farm. SCORE! Here’s my crazy family getting ready to cut down our beautiful tree. 
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And this one night, after we had the tree all decorated, I was just sitting by myself watching a Christmas favorite when all of a sudden the tree dropped. Like TIMBER in five seconds flat. I didn’t even have enough time to react. And couldn’t get it back up by myself. Enter the Two Drunk Mikes. The figured it out, eventually. It was pretty hilarious to watch. BONUS POINTS if you know what movie I was watching.
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Christmas Cookies with Grandma Becky!! The girls loved every minute. IMG_6578
And finally, Crafts with Santa time at Grandma Linda’s library. The girls have been every single year since they’ve been alive. Except for Cedella puking all over herself on the drive down to Detroit, ruining her fancy dress, and the following stomach bug that all of us (even Grandma and TeTe) suffered, it was SO much fun!
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So other than our 7 Christmas celebrations (that’s a post for another day), this was our year. Looking back on it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Sure we had a lot of heartbreak when we lost Miles but buying a house and another year of watching these amazing girls grow was incredible.

And while I’m not interested in making any actual resolutions for the year, I will say this: 2015…the year for counting my blessings each and every day.

That’s our year. How was your year? Any highlights? Thanks for spending a little time at Babies & Bacon today.

I AM Supermom

I never thought that my Facebook page would become a battlefield for the Mommy Wars. Over the last two days it’s really made me question whether it’s ‘only’ Facebook or if there’s more to all of this lack of understanding and respect.

It seems to have begun when a friend and fellow mother, recently posted, on her page:

 “I can’t believe they made breastfeeding until a child is 2 a law. I breastfed both of my babies but I feel once they can walk up and feed themselves off of it is a sign it’s time to quite. Gross.”

When I read this I didn’t respond. It was on her page, I didn’t feel it was directed towards me, and further I really didn’t want to get into it. This statement reeks of intolerance and ignorance, and while it certainly is an opinion it’s also a judgement. I am well aware of the misconceptions and lack of information that many have about breastfeeding and particularly extended breastfeeding, but I wouldn’t have expected this from this parent.

A few days later, someone posted ‘8 Things NOT to Say to an Extended Breastfeeding Mom‘ in our local breastfeeding FB group, and I knew I had to share it. It answered with humor and information the hurt and frustration I felt over breastfeeding being called ‘gross’.

I knew several people, fellow La Leche League mamas, members of my tribe of like-minded friends and family, would absolutely adore it. I didn’t think people, particularly mothers who breastfed their own children, would be so utterly offended by it.

That thread on my FB timeline literally exploded with so much ridiculousness when this particular mother wanted to defend her ‘opinion’ that breastfeeding was ‘gross’. Ummmmm, huh?

She repeatedly attempted to make the point that breastfeeding being ‘gross’ is her ‘opinion’ and that she’s able to say so because of ‘freedom of speech’.

And further she went on to say, on her own page, how I (or others on my page defending me perhaps) were:

“insecure in their decisions and lashing out”

There is no insecurity in my decision. There was no lashing out. There was only an unwillingness to accept that ‘gross’ is an valid ‘opinion’. “It’s not for me” that’s an opinion. “Gross” judges my choice as being something that is by definition unpleasant or replusive. And while I welcome a conversation or debate of ideas, I do not welcome insults.

But here’s the thing. And it’s been bothering me (and many others) for some time now.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT A BLANKET LICENSE TO SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE.

HONESTY DOES NOT EXCUSE RUDENESS.

OPINION IS NOT THE SAME AS JUDGEMENT.

Whew. Feels good to get that out there. Many people, particularly online, have this idea that whatever they say is shrouded in this fog of ‘Internet Honesty’. Really people? As if the text on the phone or computer screen insulates one’s words from inflicting hurt or injured feelings. Ummmmm, no. It doesn’t.

It seems every time people get upset about things written online the knee jerk reaction is “you can’t read tone online” or “it’s hard to understand intention in text”. Ummmmm, no, it’s not that hard. The context is there. While many people talk out of their necks online and don’t think before they type it doesn’t mean tone isn’t implied. I think people get caught up throwing tone because they are shrouded by their computer and feel they don’t have to be responsible for what they say. Ummmmm, nope. You’re still responsible whether you call someone a name to their face or to their online face.

Another case in point? See if you can taste the sarcasm dripping from this comment, in reference to me, in response to the same post about Extended Breastfeeding.

“Tired of hearing about your kids and your boobs, super mom. Yes, they can be too old to freaking tit feed. Done!”

Yes, that was said.  Really. Apparently being a Supermom is just a really sarcastic way of saying I’m what exactly? I’m full of myself and my awesome milk-makers? Too proud of how stunning my children are? Too sure the way I do things is the only right way?

You know at first I was super offended. I was pissed. And a further comment in that thread spoke to some sort of underlying animosity or anger towards the way I parent, or perhaps the sharing of that parenting with my people on Facebook.

“So then mothers should be waiting for their kids in the school cafeteria at lunchtime, tit ready? I’m not against breastfeeding. I did it, like a bazillion women before me I just didn’t need the world to constantly know to prove I’m a good mother.”

This hurt more than anything else. It felt like a direct hit, like somehow in posting about my life being a mother I am in search of validation for my choices. That my choice to breastfeed, was less about what’s best for my children and more about proving what good parent I am. Bitch, please.

Clearly neither of these people truly know me, nor I them, but these incidents really made me think. In fact these people did me a great service. They made me see that when it comes to how I want to conduct myself and who I want to know and be around, those that are judgmental, argumentative or hateful have no room in my world.

Let’s be honest. Ain’t nobody got time for rude people and haters.

See many of us, particularly Stay At Home Mom’s, rely on Facebook and social media, not for validation but for socialization. We look for commiseration and support. We share photos and videos with family and friends around the world. A lot of times we look for information and answers to questions, even our daily news through these social media outlets.

If that’s not how another goes about their daily life, that’s ok, that’s their life, their choice, their own relationship with the interwebs. But instead of insulting my online behavior just do everyone a favor. Unfriend me. Block me. Don’t follow my blog. Just go away.

And that’s where the Mommy Wars come back to rear it’s ugly head.

It seems that by posting pictures and anecdotes about my family and our life I irritate or offend some people (same goes for my single friends that bitch about seeing pictures of everyone’s kids…they can block me too). As if my posts reflect some unattainably high standards by which all mothers should be measured. As if because we have different ways of parenting or different ways of sharing our lives with others that one is inherently better than the other. The assumption being that one is superior for not sharing their life online. Or that I share about my parenting choices because I think they are the ‘right’ or ‘better’ choices.

HA! To know me is to know that I am an information junkie. I research the hell out of everything from TV shows to food to parenting. Yes, I think long and hard about how I parent and the choices we make for our family. In my opinion, the most important decisions I will make in my life are the choices about how I raise my children and so I do so very consciously and thoughtfully.

This doesn’t imply anything about others choices. I am friends with parents of all different kinds. Formula or breast, cry-it-out or co-sleep, strollers or woven wraps and everything in between. And you know what? I love them all. It’s not a contest. It is a journey. One that is unique to every individual family. I respect your choice because it is yours.

This doesn’t make me a saint. This doesn’t make me better. This is who I am because this is who I want my children to grow up to be. I don’t want to condemn your choices because I want my children to know that different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. I want my children to know that calling names when someone is different isn’t okay. It’s intolerance. And that being a part of this world means loving and being with those that we may not always agree with.

So while I may internally cringe if I see you putting Grape Pop inside your 3 month old’s bottle, I would never say anything to you. It’s not my place to do so. If you asked me about it, I would gladly have a conversation with you and share with you why that wouldn’t be my choice. But I will not call you gross. I will not insult you. I will save my judgment and respect you as a parent trying to do what’s best for yourself and your family.

So when I post something about breastfeeding or babywearing or gentle parenting it’s not to criticize your choices, it’s to offer information for someone else who may be struggling or looking for help. And often times it is as educational for me as it would be for anyone else.

I don’t need my choices justified. I can look at my amazing children and know that I’ve made the right choices. I share because maybe there’s an old friend from elementary school who can benefit from learning more about breastfeeding. Perhaps the wife of my husband’s friend didn’t know how many options there were in baby carriers until she saw something I posted. Maybe there’s a friend who just began staying at home with her kids and needs ideas of some activities or crafts to do with them.

From the numbers alone, those that ‘like’ my pictures, comment on my status updates and share my posts, I am doing something right. And for the countless comments and messages I’ve received from old friends, online friends, local mamas and those that live far away, thanking me for helping them through one parenting issue or another, I don’t regret a single post.

Because you know what? I AM Supermom. And you know what? So are YOU.

For doing what we do to make our families work and raise happy and healthy kids, however we choose to do that, we are ALL Supermoms.

So let’s stop passing judgment and start giving each other the compassion that we all, as mothers, deserve. We’re not on different teams. We just have different ways of playing the game. K?

Wordful Wednesday: The Cape

So I have been so busy being on another vacation that I haven’t gotten a chance to blog about the family vacay we took when all the shit was hitting the fan in our family. If you need a refresher HERE you go.

Days following some of the hardest month in our marriage yet the four of us set off on a road trip to Cape Cod, Mass to visit with some friends. But really, and particularly after the weekend we spent there, friends is an understatement. They are family, if not by blood, then by closeness, commonality, time and affection.

Erik, one of a handful of Michael’s grade school friends that he is still very close with, is like a brother from another mother. He and Michael have been through a lot together. Girls, sports, partying, getting into trouble, traveling, you name it. Erik lives in Thailand for most of the year, that is when he’s not traveling to other far off corners of the world and chaperoning kids into service projects in tiny off-the-beaten path villages. So those few times they’re in the same country…that’s priceless.

The few times he is in the states we try to get together, our guest room is always ready for him, but his family, including his Moms and his sister and bro-in-law are out in Cape Cod, making his Mitten visits fewer and fewer. After I met and clicked right away with his sister Sara several years ago we maintained a good bond between blogging and Facebook (find her inspirational and thought provoking blog HERE). And we hosted her husband Leo for an overnight a couple summers ago. We’ve all casually chatted about making it out to there little slice of seaside life in Wellfleet for a visit.

And then Sara and Leo grew two incredible little humans and after seeing their gorgeous faces online for months wasn’t enough, we decided it was time for a visit. Erik was still in town when our store went into a summer calm mode and we could make a desperately needed escape from Capitol City. So off we went.

Google said it would be 13ish hours if we drove through Canada. With two toddlers we added on roughly 4 hours in stops to that equation and decided to stop for the night in upstate NY. The road to get to Wellfleet was bumpy, tense and at times unbearable, it may have ruined me for family road trips for good, but we survived. And made in one piece to the Cape by early Thursday afternoon.

First order? Meeting the babies. God was it lovely to finally hold those two precious ones. And though it took a day or three for Sofi to warm up to me…

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Isak was my buddy from jump.

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Next order of business? The Beach. The Ocean. The Cape. The next day was spent chasing the water and the sun.  It was a cool and foggy day but that didn’t stop us from hanging out on the beach for a while. Cedella even talked her Dad into running into the water with her. Sucker.

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Then we went to the Wellfleet Harbor to check out some oyster boats and grab some lunch.

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The restaurant was also a book store and housed the coolest local dive bar in its basement. Could I be ANYMORE at home? I think not.

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And even better for the kids, there was a super sweet playground next door to the restaurant where I nabbed this incredible photo. This. Girl. Is. Killing. It.

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The best part of this trip was just how much we got to chill and talk and catch up with our dear friends. And maybe drink a couple beers. Izzie was very helpful at cleaning up all the beer bottles with Uncle Erik.

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Cedella really loved helping with the babies (doesn’t she LOOK thrilled?). And so did I. Sara and I talked about how nice it was to have to mothers (and grandmas, dads and uncles) around all day with all those young kids. There was always a helping hand about if one of us needed it. Communal parenting FTW!!!

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Someone, well, actually two someones, formed pretty serious crushes on their Uncle Erik. Window kisses. He’s a charmer ladies!!

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And how could I forget to mention these ladies. The Moms. Dikke and Tina. They are so in love and so lovely. They are parenting superstars and just really great people. It was really nice to get to know both of them.

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In fact we got the chance to celebrate Mother’s Day with them in high style thanks to Chef Erik! But first…we visited Provincetown. And while we only scratched the surface of what P-Town had to offer I would go back in a heartbeat to visit. Michael would not. We had a fight there that didn’t end well or quickly and he thought the town was full of pretenious assholes. Did I mention he hated it. But it was so charming. It had an older and more eclectic feel than say Charleston…

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And a healthy dose of nautical charm. Yes, that’s my Ahoi wrap on the pier. Had to do it, it was too perfect not to.

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How cute are they? Such a beautiful family. And another win for babywearing…even got Sara with one on the front and one on the back and her walks were revolutionized!

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After all the drama in P-Town we all needed to chill, regroup and unwind. And this is what we can home to. Chilled white wine and fresh Wellfleet oysters. Oh. My. Goodness. Divine. Could it get anymore East Coast than this?

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Uncle Erik let Cedella name all the lobsters before they went to their Final Death. And the silly thing wouldn’t touch them. She said they were scary. Izzie went right up and touched it and walked away, unimpressed. Someone’s girlie side is showing…

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So our Mother’s Day dinner was a lobster and scallop feast!! It was so delicious. I even learned how to crack open the tail and get all the meat out. And sucking on the legs. And melted butter with lemon. I’m drooling on my keyboard. It was so good.

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Poor Uncle Leo was working and studying his ass off while we visited so we didn’t get to see very much of him. But this moment, after dinner, with him and Cedella in a food coma watching Animal Alphabet? So sweet. She really liked him.

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Sadly our visit was a short one but made all the more special by how well all of us get along and how much we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Erik has a really strong connection to all the kids, the little ladies love him so.

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And Sara was just born to be a mother. Her instincts and intuition are incredible. Sofi and Isak have brought out even more intelligence and strength from her. I watched her juggle these two and their nursing, diapers, naps and bedtimes quite seamlessly. I’m in awe. Izzie was too. She just loved how calm and quiet Sara was with her. That and she loves to be read to…

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And here’s us. Fast friends, mommy role models and peers. Sisters in our own tribe. And all these crazy smart silly kiddos. I hope they grow up knowing one another as cousins and family, how lucky would they be.

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Though the road home was even harder than the road there, again, we made it back alive. All the wiser for having connected with really great people, in a really positive environment and had the chance to step out of our daily stress to be with our tribe.

Many and more thanks to the Moms, Sara, Leo and Erik for your hospitality, your help and your friendship. Our home is always open to you. Here’s hoping for many years of family visits and celebrations!!

Whew! That was a long one…you still there? If you are…Happy Wednesday whether you be wordless, wordful or hopeful. I’m hopeful today is a day for change and recognizing that love and marriage should be equal for all of our citizens. What are you hopeful for today?