My Loyal Friend

“Let’s go boy!”

Rising shakily until you are up on all paws, you hobble to the top of the stairs. Your front paws descend the first step, but your eyes beg for me to do the rest.

I lift your sixty pounds, bending at the knees to save my back.

Leaning against my chest, you shake because you fear the pain of being set down.

I place you in front of the door, you need go no further, the sun is waiting for you on the porch. I run my hands over your glossy black coat and words of love cram in my throat.

I bury my face in your neck. Remembering everything I will miss about you one day when you are gone. How you kiss my tears when motherhood is overwhelming, and the way you lean on me when I need support.

My heart breaks because I snap at you, more than you deserve. My patience level is low, and most of it goes to the toddler.

You were so tolerant when our son arrived.

You gently remind us when we forget your dinner or breakfastthe cat is not so subtle.

I whisper, “I’m sorry.”

Looking up at me and smiling into the sun as if to say, “Being sad is a waste of this day.” I realize dogs don’t want apologies for the past nor promises for the future. They just want to share the moment with you.

 

 

 

Living With A Speech Impediment

I have an undiagnosed speech impediment. According to a speech and language professor at WWU, it’s some sort of tongue thrust or (orofacial myofunctional disorder). My tongue feels too big for my mouth and I can’t control it. Sometimes, I swear, it wants to fall out of my mouth when I talk. My impediment gets worst when I’m nervous. I’m lucky it is slight, and not everyone even notices it.

You would think my speech would have had a major impact on my life especially during childhood, but it didn’t. I wasn’t teased (too often). I grew up in a very small town and interacted with the same 50-or-so kids since age 5. We saw each other every single day until high school graduation. We knew each others faults, scars, bumps, and lumps as well as our own. The way I talked, was just the way I talked. My peers were aware that it was different, but thought, “That’s just Rachel.”

Have you ever noticed it’s the adults that tend to point out and notice the “differences” in children? I was sitting in my third-grade class one day when a man, (we will call him Mystery Man) stood awkwardly beside my desk and asked if I would come with him. I looked skeptically at my teacher and she told me that Mystery Man had a few questions to ask me and that I should go with him. After getting the “go ahead” from my teacher, I followed Mystery Man into a room I had never been in before. He introduced himself and said he helps children speak “correctly”. This was the first time someone had pointed out to me that I speak differently.

He asked me to read a few simple words off of some flash cards, “Dog. Cat. House.” I was a third-grader that read at the eighth-grade level, so I was offended that someone doubted my reading capability. I remember blatantly asking, “Why am I here? I read very well.”.

He responded, “You have a different way of talking and I’m here to help you. If you would like the help.”

I looked around the room, and then I looked Mystery Man in the eyes and said, “No I don’t want your help. I would like to go back to class now.”

Poor guy. Rejection from an eight-year-old, that’s rough. He accepted my answer and walked me back to class.

I went home and told my mother what had happened at school while she was sitting in the bath tub shaving her legs . I told her, “A strange man pulled me out of class today…” I think that’s as far as I got before my mother jumped out of the tub, threw a towel around herself, and stormed out of the bathroom. Her fingers of fury dialed the  telephone faster than anyone has ever dialed.

I could hear her ask, “Why did nobody contact me to tell me she was going to be tested and evaluated? The school was very out of line…if my daughter doesn’t want to work with him, I support her decision.” Slam! I was impressed the phone didn’t shatter. That’s my mom, always my defender.

She turned to me and asked, “Do you want to work on your speech? Does the way you talk bother you?”

I just looked at her and said, “I didn’t know I was different. I don’t want to change.”

She nodded her head, and that-was-that.

There was the occasional teasing, but it never bothered me, especially when I knew the other kid’s weaknesses toosmall town remember?

It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and went to college that people would comment on the way I talked. For some reason the guys I dated really wanted to discuss it. I was 19 when a guy told me, “I like the way you talk, I think it’s cute. I know some people probably find it annoying as fuck, but I like it.” Mmmm okay. Thanks. He was such a gem.

Other guys made similar comments, “Oh it’s cute.” Sometimes they would mimic me (that was pretty annoying). The only time my rebellious tongue ever bothered me was when I had to speak in front of a large audience.

My friends and family are accustom to my speech. I haven’t had to lead any meetings, or give any presentations in over a year. When my job did require me to present, I just battled my wayward tongue and said what I had to say. My husband doesn’t bring it up because according to him, he doesn’t notice it. I hadn’t thought about my speech impediment for a really long time.

Then I posted THIS video that I made to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to explain the progress on my YA novel. I watched and listened to myself trying to talk around my fat tongue and some insecurities arose. I asked my husband, “Do I really sound like that? Do I really LOOK like that when I talk?”

He conceded, “It’s a little more pronounced in the video, but it’s just because you are nervous.” (He is always honest, and I love him dearly for it.)

I dwelt on it for a day, and thought about not posting the video, but then I realized that what I needed to say was important. I wanted my viewers to hear me say, in my own unique voice, “Thank you.” for following my blog. I was scared of the trolls who could potentially find the video and make fun of the way I talk. Then I realized that there are trolls everywhere and if I let that fear control me then I wasn’t being true to myself or my dreams.

So far no troll comments, just lovely encouragement from you, my dear readers. I’m so glad I went ahead and posted the video.

Remember to embrace who you are, and don’t view your “differences” as your enemy. Think of them as a magnifying glass to spot the trolls in your life.

♥R♥

THANK YOU MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR LETTING ME USE YOUR PHOTO.

HOW I MANAGE AS A WRITER AND MOTHER

 

I haven’t talked about my YA novel in a  LONG time. Mostly because I have prioritized other writing opportunities, and lets face it, writing time is precious and rare. A lot of my writing has been personal essays about motherhood because that has been the consumption of my life. It’s easy for me to write about funny, special, horrible moments about motherhood because they happen ALL OF THE TIME and I can complete a short essay while my son is sleeping.

While I want to continue writing about motherhood, I have also made my YA novel a priority again. With all of these writing goals and raising a son I have had to learn some time management and prioritization.

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This is how I attempt to manage writing and motherhood:

CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

This is what my average day looks like:

7AM-8AM

Wake up at 7am and build my social media platform i.e. IlluminatedLiteration (blog), Twitter: @Illuminate_Lit, Pinterest,  Facebook, and LinkedIn. I try to make my rounds as quickly as possible before my son wakes up around 7:30-8:00am.

8AM-11AM

Then I take care of my son (and clean house) until he goes to sleep around 11-11:30am.

11AM-1:30PM

Naps are PRIME writing time. I get two solid hours of uninterrupted writing when he takes a nap. I try to do a lot of my blog posts while he is napping, I also try to catch up on a lot of my blogs that I follow.

1:30-9pM

I’m on parent duty with my husband from 1:30pm- 9pm.

9pm-You can’t keep your eyes open any longer

So guess when most of my writing time happens… late evening and into the night. Sometimes I crawl into bed around midnight or later if I’m on a roll.

Don’t forget to make time to do your research.

If you want to be a successful writer you have to read A LOT. There are some evenings when I skip writing because my brain just can’t even because I know reading your target genre is crucial for a good artistic outcome. Sometimes, if I really need to multi-task I watch a movie adaptation (*gasp*!) and take care of my son. Honestly, the point of writing non-fiction is to tell a story, and watching the movie adaptation of a novel still teaches you structure.

Get Social

This is honestly my favorite part of writingmeeting other writers and professionals in the industry. Unfortunately, this is the step most writers struggle with because at the end of the day, they have to spend a ton of time on their own craft and when you are a mother you have other priorities that you need you RIGHT NOW! I try my best to read other blogger’s work and respond to comments between feedings and when my son is playing and really any time I can grasp a smidgen of time to interact with other writers.

Embrace Chaos And Accept That You Can’t Do It All

I have so many blog posts, stories, words, ideas floating around in my head. I also have a pair of hazel eyes that look to me for nutrition, exercise, learning, and loving. We CAN’T do it all, we can only do our best. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the things we want to do. I know that this blog post could have been 10x better if I had more time, but my son is going to wake up in 30 minutes and I really should eat SOMETHING today.

♥R♥

One Question We Need to Stop Asking Pregnant Women

 

My husband and I were ecstatic to announce that I was pregnant. All of our family, friends, and acquaintances gave us very positive responses and well-wishes, but amid all of the felicitations, there was an odd question that kept cropping up, “Were you guys trying?” and it never got less awkward or surprising.

 

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The question wasn’t malicious; these people were genuinely curious if our baby was… an accident? A surprise? I’m still not entirely sure what they were trying to ask us, and I’m still left wondering why the question even mattered. I understand that in the moment people (myself included) can lack a certain finesse, but there is no correct answer to the question, “Were you trying?”. This leaves the expectant couple with two uncomfortable answers: “No, we weren’t trying.” but then feeling like they have to profusely explain that they are happy about the surprise. Or, “Yes, we were trying.” Which I found was quickly followed up with people wanting to know the time-frame of conception. Neither option is what the excited couple wants to talk about when they announce they are pregnant, so it’s unfair to ask the question in the first place.

 

My husband and I were indeed trying, and when we awkwardly nodded our heads to confirm that our baby was planned, it inevitably led to that other awkward question; “How LONG were you trying?” Short answer: My husband and I didn’t have the fastest conception story, there were a few months of waiting, and trust me, a few months with no baby was enough to make me anxious about our ability to conceive. Then it happened; I thought I was going to get my period a few days early (I was crampy, bloated, fuzzy-headed) and I peed on a stick and confirmed our greatest joy—I was pregnant. In the grand scheme of things, we didn’t have to wait long, spend a ton of money, and endure years of worry. We had it pretty darn easy, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the question, “How long were you trying? made other couples feel who had to struggle to get pregnant.

 

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Fertility stories are something that should never be dug out of a person. It’s a personal journey that someone honors you by sharing—in their own time. I couldn’t begin to imagine how painful this question might be to someone who had a much longer and complicated conception story. Sure, there are some women who love to talk about their journey and scream from the mountain tops about their pregnancy when it finally happens, but there are others who would rather not re-hash that painful time in their lives. They should not have to feel obligated to talk about it. We are all curious by nature, but sometimes we have to remember to reign in those inappropriate questions, especially around the topic of babies and fertility.

 

Then there is the other side of the binary of planned vs. unplanned pregnancy. What if my husband and I weren’t trying to get pregnant? Did these people really expect me to say, “No our pregnancy was not planned, lets clear that up right now so we know what to tell the baby when he asks.” If I don’t know a person well enough to share that our pregnancy was unexpected, then they have absolutely no right to ask that question. If a couple is announcing they are pregnant with smiles on their faces, it doesn’t really matter if the baby was planned or a total surprise. A big “Congratulations!” is probably all they are looking for. Proceed with questions about their hopes and dreams for their little bundle, rather than nit-picking the conception.

 

I learned after planning a wedding and a pregnancy that acquaintances can exhibit strange behavior during these momentous milestones in our lives. I can usually shrug off the awkward questions, or change the topic, but this particular question really stuck out as completely uncomfortable. I don’t like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Which is why I awkwardly nodded my head when I explained that the pregnancy was planned every time I was asked that question, and I reluctantly talked about the time it took to conceive. I learned early-on in my pregnancy that people assumed I was an open book because I was growing a baby inside me, and no questions, gestures, and comments were off limits. Pregnant women are unfortunately the target of unsolicited advice, inappropriate questions, and super offensive comments. We must remember that pregnant women still deserve respect and privacy.

♥R♥

COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY

Six Comparisons Of Being A Stay-At-Home Mother VS. A”Real” Job

Hi Readers,

No, that’s not me in the cover image, that is the gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor. I know the resemblance is uncanny (I wish!!!!).

I wanted to share my latest article that xoNecole published. It’s about my life as a stay-at-home mother compared to my life in the workforce.

I hope you enjoy it.

http://xonecole.com/six-comparisons-of-being-a-stay-at-home-mother-vs-a-real-job/

Happy Friday.

♥R♥

Cover Image Found Here: http://womanbody-childemotions.tumblr.com/page/24

Published: The Unexpected Way the Women in My Life Helped Me Through Labor

I’m excited to tell you all that I was published again on xoNecole!

This is an article about how the women in my life inspired me through my labor, even though they weren’t in the delivery room. Also, how my nurse made all the difference in my labor.

Here is the link.

When You Wish Upon a Star and the Universe Answers

Last night after nursing my son I held him in my arms for a few extra minutes. The tension in my shoulders melted as he wrapped his arms around my neck. I breathed in the fresh baby smell that radiated from his warm body after his bath. The scent of banana bread baking wafted through his nursery door. Over the gentle clanging of my husband scrubbing pots and pans, an acoustic version of Disney’s When You Wish Upon a Star played on the radio. I gently began to sway with my son as his body melted into mine and he drifted off to sleep.

In that moment I felt gratitude more profound than at any other juncture in my life. I wished upon a star two years ago for a baby and the universe answered. At that precise moment I felt completely enveloped with the love that surrounded me. My incredible husband was cleaning up the muffin mess that I had made after he worked all day so that I could put our son to bed. One of the many ways he said, I love you throughout the day. My eight month old son told me he cherished me by resting his head on my shoulder; gently giving over to sleep in my trusted arms.

I knew I was experiencing a blessing.

One day when my son leaves the house or he takes a bride of his own, I will resurrect this dance and reflect on that one time I was his whole world. I will remember a time when I wished upon a star and the universe answered. When your dreams really do come true, rejoice.

♥R♥

Blogging the Senses

Cover Image Found @:http://hipster-lyrics.tumblr.com/page/17

14 Pieces of Advice from this New Mom to the Next

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My son will be 8 months old on March 10th. I can utter, “Hello eight months and goodbye eight months.” in one breath. The time went by in one inhale and one exhale. It’s redundant and cliche to exclaim how quickly time flies when you have a baby, but there is a reason it’s repeated day in and day out by parents on your Facebook feed, it’s true.
I guarantee you will spend a good portion of your day frantically Googling every stage your baby is going through to make sure you and baby are up-to-snuff. Let me save you some time, the odds are strongly in your favor that you will not kill your newborn baby. You will find  a wide range of opinion on how you should or should not raise your child. Here are 14 pieces of advice from one new mother to the next:
  1. Kiss your little one often and snuggle them closely, you will hug a slightly different version of them tomorrow. You can’t spoil your baby with affection..
  2. If you fall asleep exhausted in bed with your baby, they will be just fine. You will wake up with the first movement or sound your baby makes. There is much more of a health risk to you, your heart may fall out of your mouth in a panic, but your baby will be fine.
  3. Sleep training is a mean experiment to drive parents crazy! Don’t stress about sleep training and don’t measure your success as a parent by the hours your baby sleeps. (But seriously try to sleep when they do, you deserve it.)
  4. Breastfeeding is one of the most selfless things you will ever do. It’s fucking hard, it’s stressful, it hurts and it’s okay if you swear while your sweet little bundle is ripping your nipple off.
  5. It’s okay if you don’t breastfeed.
  6. The people who judge you for the method you choose to feed YOUR baby are assholes and not worthy of your time or consideration.
  7. You may feel depressed, scared, or like an utter failure at motherhood. From what I hear these “postpartum” feeling will reappear for the rest of your life.
  8. Get ready to feel guilty every day.
  9. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Forgive yourself AND your partner.
  10. Treat yourself: get a pedicure, take a walk alone, go have some girl time. Give your partner alone time as well.
  11. Buy your favorite bottle of wine and stay up late with your partner after baby has gone to bed and watch a sitcom that makes you laugh.
  12. It’s okay if you and your partner don’t have sex for the first six months postpartum, you will again…. one day. Women recover from the PTSD of delivery at different rates and in different ways, start by testing the water.
  13. If your baby doesn’t poop for a week it’s actually okay. Why does nobody tell you this?
  14. Embrace the smiles that you and your baby share. Remember the way they look at you with sleepy adoration when you feed them before bed. Take Polaroids of moments in your mind, you don’t have to capture every moment for social media.
Nobody can prepare you for how fast the time will go by, don’t waste it trying to be the perfect mother, just be their mother, I promise it is enough.

Leave your Sexism at the Door: Gym Rant

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Image from madcrossfit.com

I have  been working out regularly 2-3 times a week for the past 7 years. I know this is nothing to brag about, but hey I’m also not a gym virgin either. So when men come up to me and assume I don’t know how to properly use a machine it pisses me off!

Yesterday I was at the gym, and it was one of those days where I went more to zone out between each rep and enjoy the solitude and freedom of not having a baby on my boob or my hip. It was very slow, obviously it was Valentines Day. Maybe that was my first mistake, never go to the gym on Valentines Day, it encourages people to talk to you and who wants to talk at the gym?  I was casually walking over to the lower back extension machine and I took a second to look at adjusting the height. Apparently my moment of thinking I wonder which lever I pull to lower this machine? was an open indication that:

A) I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

B) I don’t know how to properly use the machine without hurting my little self.

C) I am open to conversation.

Just to clarify, nothing from that assumption is true.Without asking, a man leaned over in front of me and adjusted my machine to the height he though was appropriate for my frame and then instructed me on proper form. After he was done yammering, I pulled out my ear bud, and said I didn’t hear any of that, but thanks. He walked away, clearly my tone must have indicated I was less than interested in his advice or anything else he was offering. There was a second time when someone just walked up and adjusted a piece of equipment for me because I hesitated about 15 second to examine which lever to adjust.

Maybe I am being overly harsh, maybe these men had my best interests at heart. But this is the third time in a month that a  man has approached me at the gym and gave me unsolicited advice. It’s insulting to me that they assumed I needed help. Now I’m insecure that I look like an idiot at the gym. Last month I was working on my vertical jump at a huge equipment piece and I was hitting a handle high up in the air for my target and a guy came up to me and asked “Do you need me to get that handle for you?”. Oh gee, thanks Mister,  I would have been jumping here all day had you not come along. Seriously? You really think I’m jumping up and down 30 consecutive times in a row to to get that handle?  I am aware of the numerous step stools around the gym, mmmm k, thanks. Was he being a sarcastic asshole? Was he genuinely concerned that I was insane?

Maybe I cut them off before I know the truth behind their offers of help. Sometimes I wonder if I’m putting a vibe out there of helpless woman which is really the most terrifying notion. My only console is that women never make the assumption that I’m witless with weights.

For all of the men who are truly concerned about a fellow gym member, if you see a someone at the gym don’t make assumptions. If you are truly concerned about the way he/she is eyeballing a machine, know that if they can’t figure it out they will move on to another machine or ask the staff for help. For the men who are just looking to strike up a conversation, belittling a woman by swooping in to help her on a machine isn’t the way to win hearts or impress her, just be honest in your approach. Although I can tell you from multiple sources that women loath being approached at the gym.

I am not helpless, clueless, weak, or ignorant.

Sincerely,

The crabby mom at the gym.

♥R♥

The Maturation of Creative Writing

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I try to forgive my writing; if I had to put an age on my creative writing skills I would say it is still in the high school phase. Yes, I myself made it through high school and graduated from college, I even spent 3 years in the technical writing world, but my creative writing skidded to a halt after high school.

Also, I desperately need an editor, like yesterday.

I don’t have the patience of a mature writer. I quickly come up with a new writing topic, spend maybe two hours on it and throw it out there on my blog. Similar to a high school boy going to 3rd base for the first time, he has the passion, but shall we say no finesse? Finesse, patience, and skill take time to learn. I have to make many grammar, description, and wrong word choices before I craft that perfect sentence (I have yet to craft THE perfect sentence.). I will hopefully look back on these old posts and cringe at my lack of composure. Resembling the way I look back on my high school days and cringe at my ardent and wistful claims of undying love for the boys with all of the passion and non of the patience. I will be able to see the growth from where I decided to take my creative voice and start speaking of the intangible: pain, fear, and joy.

I don’t know when my creative writing will go from over enthusiastic high school kid to mature professional. Maybe that leap can’t be measured in a single occurrence, but I look forward to blushing and cringing at these early attempts.

♥R♥

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Throw back to Graduation from Western Washington University 2010