50 shades of grey hair

There's this dingy little Mexican joint in my hometown that I used to hate. The first time I ever went, my dad got food poisoning. The food is now lightyears better than it used to be, and I find myself craving it all the time no matter how many good Mexican places I go to in Columbus. It's a staple in the community. I can't go without running into everyone I've ever met and I swear the paint color is different every time I drive by. This place holds so many memories. I've gone with my family countless times, I used to go with friends in high school, and I've been on more than one date there. It's a Friday night tradition for my parents to get take out from there, and I'm not shy about planning my visits home at those times. James and my dad both had to work Saturday, and I had major cabin fever, so my mom and I decided to go eat there. I haven't actually eaten in the restaurant in years.  I usually don't stray from my parent's neighborhood when I'm there, but I was feeling brave and the fajitas were calling.

We were seated in a back corner booth with a couple sitting directly behind us. The booths are so close together that I could lean my head back just a couple of inches and bonk heads with the man behind me. I was elbow-deep in the chips and salsa when I noticed my mom's eyes nearly pop out of their sockets. Before I could ask what was wrong, I heard a slurping, smooching sound. I whipped my head around to see the couple behind me, in their 50s or 60s, swapping spit. Not just a little peck, but a full-on make-out session. There was tongue. And this was all taking place about 4 inches from my face. And did I mention they weren't young? You would expect this from teenagers, but not from a couple who could qualify for social security. I looked at my mom and mouthed if she thought they were on some kind of drug (aside from Viagra...ahem). I mean, this isn't normal! And NPR did just do a story last week on the drug issues of our town.

I'm not totally anti-PDA. A kiss in public doesn't bother me at all. But this? This was what I imagine the beginning of a romance novel to be. I was expecting Marvin Gaye to start playing at any minute. Gracie was sleepy and starting to get a little fussy, so my mom and I were passing her back and forth to soothe her and take turns eating. The kissing and smacking and moaning continued and I started to lose my appetite. I thought Gracie's whining would be birth control enough for them, but clearly not.

I find kissing noises to be completely disgusting. Any kind of mouth/eating/kissing sound makes me want to heave. They were truly kissing as loud as humanly possible. As the meal went on, she started kissing his neck, all over his face, his chest, rubbing his arm and putting her hands down his shirt, playing with his hair, and pulling him close for some more tonsil hockey. They went, honest to God, no longer than 30 seconds at a time without some kind of kissing.

My fajitas started to lose their appeal. They were making out so aggressively I was convinced I could taste their saliva in my salsa. My mom was almost in tears from laughing so hard. Whenever they finally pulled away, I looked between them to see THEIR POOR SON in the booth opposite them humiliated beyond belief. He never said a word about their behavior, but I saw his head collapse into hands every time the urge hit his parents. I couldn't catch much of their conversation, mainly because there wasn't any as their mouths were otherwise occupied, but their son regaled them with his adventures of "smoking his weiners" (please be talking about hot dogs) and how his friend left a 6-pack of beer in the back of his truck and it was "the funniest thing ever."

I was still trying to keep Gracie content and was bouncing her on my leg, thankfully keeping them out of her eyesight as 5 months is a little young to teach her about the birds and the bees. Because I could not let this situation go unmocked, I started kissing Gracie every time they started in on each other again. I kissed her as loud as possible, exaggerating every sound hoping they would get the hint, but if anything it just created more passion between them. Their hands were all over each other. I considered drawing a map to the nearest hotel, folding it into a paper airplane, and throwing it at their table. I knew I had to get a picture because at this point, my blog was just writing itself and I needed photographic evidence of this. I couldn't find my phone in the abyss of the diaper bag, so my mom handed me hers.

I have a very special talent for taking pictures of people without them noticing, but this was one of the most difficult assignments I've given myself. We were so close to each other, and the woman kept darting her eyes over to our table to catch a glimpse of The Hair, as though she was trying to make one of her own, and I was terrified she would catch me in the act. I tried to pretend like I was taking a picture of Gracie and me since she was still bouncing on my leg while I was carrying a conversation with my mom and trying to hide the phone. It was the Olympics of undercover photo-taking and what I've been training for my entire life.

I forgot my mom always has the volume of her phone turned all the way up, so as soon as I took a picture, the camera sound went off. ROOKIE MISTAKE. It's like the time I was trying to snap a picture of my British Lit professor in college. He had flared plaid pants in every color and would sit on his desk with his legs crossed, drinking coffee out of his thermos, and twirling his hair. This man made me nervous. He once scolded me for smiling as it "distracted the class" and lowered my grade from an A to a B+ on a paper because he (wrongly) claimed I misused the phrase "it begs the question." I had told everyone I knew stories of this guy, and one day I got brave enough to take a picture. The flash went off, he looked directly at me, and to this day I have never sweat more profusely than I did in that moment.

Thankfully the camera sound didn't seem to alert them to my sleuthing since their kissing was louder than any camera could ever be. We stood up and got ready to go, mainly because we were finished with our meal but also because I was scared of what my eyes would see if we stayed much longer. As I put Gracie back in her carseat, the woman leaned over the booth and commented on her hair. "So much hair! You never see hair like that on a baby! How old is she?" I tried to politely answer her questions when all I really wanted to say was, despite her age, "keep this up and in 9 months you could have one too!"

As I was driving back to my parents' house after getting gas, a rusty, beat-up truck passed me, and what did my little eyes see but a grey haired man driving with a grey-haired woman cuddling up next to him in the middle seat.


anna duggar, jane eyre, and the bible

This is not the kind of thing I would normally write. While I have strong political and religious convictions, I tend to keep many of them off the internet for various reasons. But I was lying in bed reading Jane Eyre when a paragraph jumped out at me. It was so fitting I read it five times in a row, and this has been stirring so strongly in me lately that I have to write about it.

Let me preface this by saying I do not consider myself a feminist. Do I believe women should have equal rights as men and should receive the same compensation? 100%. But there are many values and beliefs of modern feminism that I just can't subscribe to. I believe in gender roles, I believe abortion is downright murder. I could go on, but I won't.

With that said, my heart has been grieving for Anna Duggar this week. I am a Christian. The Duggars are Christians. Let me cut to the chase and say no, I don't believe Josh Duggar is a Christian, though of course I can't say for certain. He has lived a life embracing sin, which is evidence he never repented to begin with. Acts 3:19 says that when you repent (as Josh said he did as a teenager after the scandal with his sisters), you turn away from sin. You flee from it. We will always sin, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are in the process of sanctification to become more Christ-like. We are battling our sin and turning away, not embracing it. Josh is not a true Christian, and true Christians are not like Josh. The Bible teaches there will be people who will claim to be Christians, who say all the right things, but their actions prove they never knew God (Matthew 15:8, Matthew 7:21-23, 1 John 1:6, etc). I've watched the Duggar's show since high school. I've even met the family. Obviously I can't know their true character from a 2 minute conversation with Michelle and Jim Bob, but they seemed very genuine and were two of the sweetest people I've ever met.

However, they're affiliated with a group of "Christians" I could never support. They follow a man named Bill Gothard (who had a secret life much like Josh's), who has dangerous, legalistic, and dogmatic teachings. He's part of the patriarchal movement which teaches women should fully submit to their husbands. Yes, that is biblical, but according to Gothard, that means women shouldn't go to college, should live with their parents until they're married and are under their authority even as adults, and shouldn't pursue careers, as well as many other things. Women are essentially around to please their husbands and raise their kids. The Duggar's pastor, who is affiliated with Gothard, preached on Sunday that a man will stray from his wife if she doesn't keep him happy enough at home. There are even excerpts from Gothard's books on how to counsel victims of sexual abuse that put all the blame on the victim and none on the abuser.

Basically, the guy is nuts. He is wrong. I believe many of his teachings are based on good intentions, but they go far overboard and many are absolutely not biblical. This movement tends to go hand-in-hand with the quiver-full movement that basically makes women out to be baby-making machines.

As everyone probably knows, it's been all over the internet that Anna will "absorb part of the blame" for Josh's affairs (just typing that made me want to scream) and will not leave him. This movement (or rather, cult) teaches that divorce is never an option. The Bible does teach that in cases of adultery, divorce is permitted (Matthew 19:9). It doesn't mean she should go file for divorce, but it's certainly an acceptable option if absolutely necessary.

One problem with their movement is that it teaches women shouldn't be self-sufficient. Even if a woman needed to separate from her husband for her safety and that of their children, how would she support herself? She has no education and has never lived on her own. She's trapped.

I was reading Jane Eyre last night and came across this passage:

"Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creators to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex." 

GET IT, BRONTE. 200 years ahead of her time, that woman.

I am saying all of this as a woman who chose to be a stay-at-home mom. I find more satisfaction in changing diapers and cooking dinner and knitting things than I ever did in a job. I thrive in domesticity. But I went to college, I've lived on my own, and while I no longer have a "career," that education and life experience benefited me in ways I can't begin to describe, and I know it will benefit Gracie as well and will only serve to make me a better mother and wife. But it is every woman's choice to have a career or stay home, to have kids or not have them, to go to college or to not go to college, to wear a long skirt or to wear jeans.

This family represents Christianity in our country. I believe the Duggars are doing their best, and they are right in many ways, but this situation is not an accurate representation of what the Bible teaches. What Josh did was horrifying. Christians sin and mess up just like everyone else, but this is an example of what happens when unbiblical rules and expectations are placed on people. Please know the Bible does not condemn a woman to the confines of her home and long, denim skirts. It does not blame women for their abuse. The Bible teaches that women are useful and valuable. Even the Proverbs 31 woman conducted business in the marketplace while taking care of her family. It teaches that self-control is a fruit of the spirit (ahem, Josh).  If it's a personal conviction of yours to dress and behave a certain way, that's completely fine. But we are not required to behave the way the Duggars do, and to say so is wrong. We have freedom in Christ. We are not saved through works like birthing 19 kids or cooking dinner every night, we are saved through grace and faith alone (Romans 3:23-25). Laws and rules exist to show us our sin and teach us right from wrong (Romans 7:7), but it's not abiding by the law or the rules that save us (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:28).

So go to law school or stay home with your kids. Wear jeans or wear dresses. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we do it all for the glory or God.


currently, vol. 14

Feeling: Productive. I did so much cleaning yesterday. The nesting instinct from pregnancy has never quite gone away. My need to scrub baseboards doesn't feel as urgent as it did over the winter, but that doesn't mean I'm not constantly fantasizing about cleaning out more closets and purging while taking care of the baby. Yesterday I couldn't take it anymore, and I started pulling things out of the coat closet and throwing them out. It was so organized when we moved, but it turned into the place we threw everything when people were coming over. Well, it looks so good now I might leave the door open at all times to show it off. After I pulled everything out, I asked James to help me sort through things, but he confessed he had started organizing his closet while I was purging the coat closet. I guess he's nesting, too.

Also, you guys, I GOT THE STROLLER. I'm going to go ahead and just change my name to Dave Ramsey. I spent a week searching the world wide web for sales on strollers and an Ergobaby carrier. I found both. For fifty percent off! Everyone raves about the Ergo, and I can think of so many instances a good carrier would be nice to have (aside from the back pain and the sweating, of course), so I nabbed it. Worst case, if I don't like it, I'll sell it. But anything is better than the torture chamber of the Baby Bjorn.

I fell down the rabbit hole of baby carriers last night and looked at ring slings. $180 for a strip of fabric? L.O.L.

Watching: Anna told me about The Delivery Man on Netflix, and I immediately started watching it and then watched it again with James because it is so funny. It's a British sitcom about a man who quit his job as a cop to be a male midwife. Hilarious.

Listening: to The Oh Hellos a lot lately. They're perfect late-summer music. Though after a fun afternoon out on Saturday, I took the long way home and drove through tree-covered hills with gorgeous waves of green leaves speckled with little spots of yellow and red. The leaves, they're just starting to change! I was listening to a little Mozart at the time, and I had a moment. Twas perfection.

There weren't any leaves on the trees when Gracie was born. When I finally emerged from the house three weeks later, the trees were bright green. It truly feels like that was last week. I swear time goes so much faster when you have a baby. 

Drinking: coffee, per usual. I wore my Need More Coffee shirt to Trader Joe's yesterday and the cashier thought it said Need More Cowbell. That would be an equally awesome shirt. 

Reading: Jane Eyre! Somehow I've made it 26 years and have even gotten a degree in english lit without reading it. I probably shouldn't admit that, should I? I have a sneaking suspicion I was supposed to read it in high school? I probably spark-noted enough to pass the tests because I remember nothing. Anyway, I've had a copy of it for awhile and finally started reading it this past week. I'm devouring it.

Cooking: tacos. Well, James made them. But I took the guacamole out of the fridge.

Thinking: I can't wait to stick my toes in the Pacific Ocean. But I'm also dreading the trip. But also really looking forward to it. It's going to be in the 70s today! Maybe I'll go on a walk this morning? Maybe I'll put the laundry away? Why doesn't FedEx update their tracking info?! I'm on pins and needles here. Does this qualify as cruel and unusual punishment? If you knew how much I love tracking things online, you would agree that it does.

And I can no longer think about this because The Boss is awake. 


babywearing is not one of my spiritual gifts

I have to start this off by saying that I find the term "babywearing" annoying. Your baby is not a t-shirt! But I have no idea what else to call it other than carrying a baby in a baby carrier, and that's a mouthful, so I cave.

I've mentioned it before, but a babywearer I am not. At the risk of having my mom-card revoked, I have to say that I don't understand the appeal whatsoever. Having a baby strapped to me immediately transports me to my ninth month of pregnancy where I was top-heavy, my back screamed, and I sweat and cried a lot. Not to mention, PERSONAL BUBBLE. I love my baby, but the last thing I want to do in the dead of summer is strap her to me.

Yesterday I had to get the mail. The mailbox is a bit of a hike, and it was too much work to carry the baby in my arms, open the mailbox, and then carry the mail and the baby back home, especially since I was expecting a package. The stroller was in the car, so I grabbed the Baby Bjorn, forever giving it extra chances to woo me back into its good graces. I want to be the kind of girl who gleefully rolls around in her collection of wraps and carriers. I do! But the more I try, the more I want to write sonnets to the stroller.

I digress.

I put the Baby Bjorn on. To this day, it still confuses me. I can never get the straps adjusted just right and something is always too tight or too loose. I grabbed Gracie and got her situated. I squeezed and pulled and tugged and held my breath in an attempt to get everything buckled and buttoned and snapped. I did it. It was so tight I could barely breathe, but I did it. I grabbed the keys and walked out the door, feeling like I had just entered my 6th trimester of pregnancy. The second the door closed behind me, the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down. I thought about going back inside to grab the umbrella until I remembered it was in the car with the stroller. Of course it is! We walked around the front porch for a few minutes waiting for the rain to stop. It finally did, so I started walking toward the mailbox until it suddenly started pouring again, causing me to run back inside.

I unhooked one of the top hooks/snaps/whatchamacallits and tried to unhook the bottom, but to no avail. It was completely jammed. I tried to unfasten the side, but it was jammed too. I had to try to wiggle her free from her cotton-poly blend swaddle while she fussed. The Bjorn finally released her but kept her pants captive.

I sat her down while she started crying since she was tired and had essentially relived her birth while breaking free from the carrier. I got the side sliding-hooking-buttoning-snapping-gizmo free, but I still couldn't get it off because the bottom button was still jammed and pinching my baby weight so I could barely breathe.

I heaved, I pulled, I gasped, I yanked, I tugged. Nothing worked. The baby continued to cry. I was going to die of strangulation. I had visions of calling 911 so they could send the fire department with the jaws of life to break me free. I was afraid I would have to go through the rest of my life with the carcass of a baby carrier forever hanging from my midsection.

Finally, with a scream and all my strength, I broke free from the prison of the Baby Bjorn. It felt a lot like birth. I was sweating, out of breath, exhausted, in pain, and the baby was crying. I kicked the Baby Bjorn over to the corner, its rightful spot, and picked Gracie up.

Then I looked out the window and saw that it had stopped raining.


life lately

I've been trying to blog for a week, but Gracie picked up a terrific habit of napping no more than 30 minutes at time. Literally, 30 minutes on the dot. I've timed it. I have gotten absolutely nothing done. I have lost all sanity. I went to the grocery store Saturday afternoon and it felt like paradise. You never would've heard me say that a year ago.

The times, they have changed.

Anyway. Last week started with Gracie enduring another growth spurt. There was a lot of nursing, a lot of fussing, no napping, and one morning she woke up and her clothes didn't fit anymore. Her onesie straight up wouldn't snap. She jumped a size overnight. It's true, I'm telling you! I jumped a size overnight too, but that's from the cookies I ate in order to cope with the 'spurt.

As soon as we got through that, I found out that my grandma's cancer is back, and it looks really bad. We don't know all the details yet, but suffice it to say, Gracie and I will be flying to California (more on that in a bit!) soon so my grandma can meet her and I can see her one last time. Prayers are very much appreciated. That news has put a lot into perspective for me lately.

There's also this bird. I don't know what it is or where it is, but it has been keeping me up for days now. It chirps all night long. Never during the day! But all night long. You know that scene in Failure to Launch where Zooey Deschanel has a nervous breakdown while buying a gun to kill a bird that won't shut up? That's where I am right now. Last night we had a fan on in our room and I turned my white noise app to the loudest setting and I COULD STILL HEAR THE BIRD. I laid in bed and seethed with rage for longer than I care to admit.

I'm having a severe case of stroller lust lately. My mother-in-law bought us a Graco travel system right after we told her I was pregnant. It's not what I would've picked, but it worked great for the first few months. Anyway, now that I like to go on long walks, Gracie's almost out of her infant seat, and we are out and about much more, I'm seeing the flaws. Poor Gracie must feel like she's in a vibrating chair strapped to a bucking bronco whenever I'm pushing her on a surface that isn't 100% smooth. I spent all weekend researching strollers and have several all-terrain strollers picked out that I love more than anything, but with a price tag somewhere between heart attack and stroke, I'm not sure I can justify it. But it's a good investment, right? We'll use it constantly for years, and then for even more years if there's another baby (LOL). I am continually talking myself in and out of it. Strollers consume my thoughts. I've even dreamed about them the past two nights.

News about my grandma has given me a lot of nervous energy, and I've poured into stroller research. I am a woman possessed.

Back to our trip to California. Please allow me to unload on you all as I've already sent my mom 15 emails and annoyed all my mom friends. FELLOW MOMS, HELP ME. I NEED HELP. Even if you don't have kids, I'll take any advice you may or may not have. I've done and am doing tons of research, but I am stockpiling tips. Listen, I consider myself a somewhat expert traveller. I've been flying my whole life. I have systems down pat. I have favorite booths in coffee shops across the nation. I've flown internationally by myself. I've slept on the floor of a Jamaican airport when the workers went on strike and we were stuck there for days. I have run through an airport with my head in a barf bag in order to make a connecting flight. I've done it all. But flying with a baby? I feel like I'm back to square one. I am spazzing. Thankfully, my mom will be with us to help, but I need your advice. We will be staying with family, but there will not be any baby gear on the other end for us to borrow, so we have no choice but to bring a carseat, pack 'n play, and stroller.

I know. Lord help us.

I know we can gate-check the stroller (please don't get broken!), but the carseat is where I have issues. We haven't decided if we should buy her a ticket so we can have the carseat on the plane with us, or if we'll check it and have her sit on my lap. I know a carseat can be damaged if checked which could be the equivalent of it being in an accident and therefore rendered unsafe. Obviously I don't want that, and I don't want it to get gross, but is it worth buying an extra ticket? She'll probably be in my lap most of the time anyway to keep her happy. We're renting a car, and I know we can rent a carseat, but that makes me nervous about the condition it will be in. And the pack-n-play? Can it be checked/gate-checked? I DON'T KNOW. I think a lot depends on the mood of the ticket and gate agents that day. At least that's my past experience. I've heard of some airlines checking baby things for free. But it could also be damaged. We all know the airlines toss luggage around like a woman scorned hurtling things at her ex.

My biggest concern is a 3 hour time change. I finally have her on a bit of a schedule and I could die at the thought of ruining it. Do I dare even mention my sordid past of delayed flights and missed connections? And the fact that I can't fly without drugging myself with Dramamine (this is necessary if I don't want to puke on the person next to me)? And then I have to care for a baby when I most likely won't be able to spell my own name? Every trip in the last 5 years (there have been many) have been riddled with horror stories. The last time I flew back from California our first plane was delayed, which caused a missed flight, which caused us to literally fly all over the US from 11am to 8am the next morning. My parents flew there a few months ago, and their plane caught on fire and made an emergency landing. And what if I'm the person with the screaming baby? And some planes don't have changing tables?! What if her ears don't pop during take off and landing?? I know nursing can help with that, but I'm just looking for things to worry about at this point.

What am I saying is, will you please travel with us and help me out? I'll need all the extra hands I can get. Mostly for holding coffee, which I will need gallons of.

I am dreading the actual travel and taking Gracie away from James for awhile, but I am so excited to introduce her to my family and my homeland. I can't wait to stick her toes in the sand take pictures of her in the same places my mom took pictures of me at her age. It will be good and it will be worth it.


Maybe a new stroller will help me feel better.