The World We Have Created For Our Kids

Fiona is going to be 18 months old this weekend.  In the time that she has been alive, there have been 10 mass shootings in the United States.  Almost 100 people dead.  In 2015, according to the Washington Post, there were also at least 52 toddler related shooting incidents, 13 that resulted in the death of the child and 2 in the death of other people.

Let that sink in.

This weekend 50 people were killed in Orlando in what has been described as an “act of terror” and an “act of hate”.  These people were killed by a man who despite the fact that he had been investigated in the past, was able to secure a semi-automatic weapon.

Every time something like this happens, our elected officials ask for a moment of silence and spend the days following the incident blaming it on everything and everything from mental health to religious extremism. The NRA sends its deepest regrets along with a friendly reminder that guns don’t kill people when obviously they do.

When will it end?

The second amendment to the US Constitutions says that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I have to ask: When did the right of the people to keep and bear arms include the right to own semi-automatic weapons?  When did the right of the people to keep arms become more important than the security of the citizens of the State? Last but not least, how are we safer in a world where law enforcement can’t defend us or protect us from some of the weapons that are out there?

I am quite certain that our forefathers weren’t thinking about random people (especially not persons of interest) ordering AK-47s from the internet.

We have the right to do a lot of things in a controlled fashion.

We need our elected officials to step up and work on gun control legislation now.


Old Enough to Vote

The very first time I went to vote, I was an exchange student in France. I remember that my host mother took me and my host sister to the polls and we watched her vote for Jacques Chirac. I was 14 years old.

I voted for the first time when I was 19. At the time, I was living in Germany so I voted with an absentee ballot. Not nearly as glamorous as going to the polls, still I voted and have voted in every presidential election since.

Fiona was born in a very exciting time. We have our first African-American president, who also happens to be a feminist. After his term is over, it is very likely that we will have the first woman president. I didn’t think this was something I’d see in my lifetime…

But she was also born in a time when we have to continuously fight to keep our country from going backwards.

LFB_IMG_1458834959344ast week, I took Fiona with me to vote in the primary election. Even though she is only a year old, I want her to grow up knowing how important it is to be a part of the process. I also want to start drilling into her brain that as a woman who is also a minority it is even more important that she learns about the issues so she can make an informed choice about who she was representing her.

I think that seeing her with her I VOTED sticker was one of the proudest moments I’ve had as a mom thus far. This is what we are preparing her for. This is the example we are setting for her and I hope it’s one that sticks.

The November election can’t come fast enough.

Playing with guns

With Fiona now an almost speaking, toddling one year old, it’s been nearly impossible to just do nothing.  Actually, I think my days when I could just do nothing have probably come to an end.

These days I find myself with a calendar that’s probably filled 70% with activities for Fiona, and the remaining 30% everything else.  Including sleep (and I mean sleep for me because even Fiona’s naps are on the schedule).

Anyway, for most of this past year, Fiona’s activities were mostly classes.  We tried the playdate thing but the fact is that unless the kids are old enough to play and/or you REALLY like the other moms it can be painful. For me sometimes it was.

But now that Fiona is so active we are back to embracing them.

Our previous playdate experience was fairly straight forward: since babies hardly move you don’t really have much to worry about.  You just kind of sit there and watch them stare at each other.  If you are lucky, they’ll be crawling around and you just watch them explore hoping they won’t take a toy from another baby so you don’t have to have a talk with a potentially overzealous mom who has different ideas about sharing than you do.

(Yes, that happened.)

But now things have changed and I kind of wish that all I had to worry about was difference of opinions in regards to sharing.

Now that the kids are mobile and curious I have hesitations about letting Fiona go play at a home where there are firearms.  Yes, we are at a point in life where the moms are there while the children play, but soon enough the kids will be a little more independent, maybe even a little sneakier, and not knowing the difference between a weapon and a toy, something disastrous could happen if they were to find a gun.

But how does one have this conversation?

So far in my experience I’ve found that people take less offense if you ask them if there are drugs in their home than if they have a gun.  Apparently having the right to own a gun implies that I should automatically be okay with there being one around my child.

I think that anyone who intends to have children around needs to keep their weapons (if any) unloaded and locked up in a safe, and furthermore, needs to be as forthcoming about their firearm possession as they would be about someone in the home being sick.

Hell, I find it ridiculous that there are moms out there who feel more threatened by a healthy unvaccinated child, than a loaded gun on a coffee table.

(Yes, I’ve seen that.)

I also take issue with conceal carry in places where children are the majority.  Unless it’s an officer of the law or an active member of our military, I don’t believe there is any reason why anyone should go into a park, library, or Disney World with a weapon.  If you are so paranoid about the need to protect yourself while taking your kid to the swings, you probably need more therapy than a gun.

But this is the kind of world we live in…one where we need to think about these things because in America you are more likely to be shot by a toddler than you are to be killed by lightning.

And if we can’t have stricter gun control laws (though I have to acknowledge Obama’s attempt at a step forward), I can at least try to make Fiona’s sphere of being a gun-free zone.

My Hopes for Fiona


Fiona Bear:

Today is your first birthday.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since you were born.  It feels like just yesterday I saw you come into this world!  People talk about time going fast but I never thought it would be this fast, and I can only imagine this is only the beginning.

In any case, in the little free time I’ve had this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I hope for you, and the kind of person I would like for you to be…

It’s kind of hard to have so many hopes without having any expectations as to who you should be…

Who you are will always be enough for us.  Still, I want to tell you some of the things I hope for you:

I hope Hugh and I can be good enough parents to teach you how to be a good person. Everything in life begins and ends with kindness, and if perhaps we are feisty people (and at times even assy), we also strive to be good. As should you.

I hope you will be of service and always willing to help those who need you. One who hasn’t served cannot lead, and you come from a long line of women who have excelled at both. Continue this tradition. This will help you leave the world a little better than you found it.

I hope you will know that just because you are a woman you don’t need to settle for 73% of anything. You will always have support to lean in, or even push your way if you have to, so don’t ever think you have to settle…

But work hard because success is not free.

I hope you will know that money is a measure of success but not the only measure. Ultimately it should be a mean and not the end. Be savvy but not obsessive when it comes to it, and don’t let your quest for it keep you from doing the things you really love.

I hope you will appreciate the sisterhood. Regardless of what happens in the world, you need to support and be supported by other women. They will give you a north and help you thrive. This year you’ve been loved and nurtured by the women in my life. I hope that circle grows exponentially as you form your own circle.

I hope you will be proud of your heritage and culture. Remember that even though you were born here and have a fancy waspy name, you are part of the discussion on immigration currently going on in our country. Don’t ever forget that.

I hope you will take advantage of every opportunity. We can provide you with the tools for a bright future, but you have to be hungry for it. Always strive to learn, if not because you like it, because you can. Not every girl in the world is afforded the right to an education.

I hope you will love yourself and your body. Our body is the only thing we will have forever so we need to take care of it. A strong, healthy body (regardless of what it looks like) is one to be proud of and by extension, one that deserves a little credit. And if your body fails you, remember that it is only a shell and not the entirety of you. Be kind to yourself when you look in the mirror.

I hope you will know that your body is yours and that you will know how/when to say no (if you have to) and that your words have weight. You must also use those words to help you in your fight for your right to make your own healthcare and reproductive choices. Don’t let ANYONE (not us, not your partner, not your government) tell you what’s best for you.

I hope you will be true to yourself and live an authentic life regardless of what that means. We will love you no matter what.

I hope you will want to see the world and enjoy the friendship of people of different skin colors, nationalities, religions, and educational level. We live in a world where divisiveness is being promoted and I hope this will give you perspective and a sense of justice. Also, while you are at it, I hope you will learn different languages. The more words you have to express yourself with, the more you can offer of yourself with those around you.

I hope you will speak your mind but that your words will be honest. And that you’ll speak when you have something to say, and not just when you are spoken to.

Last but not least, I hope that when you go out into the world and do all of these things, that you’ll want to come back home and see us. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

We have loved you for 365 days and will continue to love you for the rest of our lives…

Happy birthday baby bear!


Mom and Dad

The Meaning of Life

Being a first time mom, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of childhood I had and the kind of childhood I’d like Fiona to have.  To be honest, I don’t remember very much about what life was like when I was a kid, but it isn’t lost on me that the memories I do have are the ones that are part of the traditions that we created as a family. The ones that gave me a role and a part in our little group.

It is those traditions that I go back to when I find myself lost in my current life, and look forward to every time I find myself packing a bag and heading “home.”  It is in them that I find comfort because they connect me to the people I love.  

I want Fiona to always want to come home and have a reason to.  I don’t want her to come just to see her aging parents after she has gone out into the world to live her life, but I want her to come fill her role in the traditions and rituals Hugh and I started creating before she came along and maybe share them and evolve them once she has her own family.

The small ones like breakfast together every morning, and the big ones like elaborate holidays.

Now that Fiona is becoming more active and aware, I want to share our values with her her through tradition as she takes her place in our family. I also look forward to expanding the rituals that encompass our traditions so that she will be a vital part of them and will grow to love them.

Because it will be life’s greatest reward to be old and know that we have a daughter who will always want to come home.   

14,000 Ounces.

Fiona was adopted from birth.

When I found out we were getting her, I decided (very naively) that I wanted her to get breast milk until she was a year old. Every book, every class, every mom I had ever learned from said that “breast is best” and so feeding her breast milk made sense.

I researched milk banks, and that didn’t work.  Not only was I not the mother of a preemie baby, quite frankly, I couldn’t afford their rates and our insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Personally, I thought that was messed up considering how milk banks get their milk, but such is life so I kept looking.

Through our required parenting class at The Gathering Place, I learned about milk sharing.  They referred me to La Leche League for information, but they also told me about milk sharing sites such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Milk on Feets.

I made it my business to learn.

A year ago today I received my first donation from Dallas, a woman I met through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. It was 40 ounces. I was stoked. I thought that would last forever!

Fiona was born December 18th and came home with us December 20th. Very quickly it became apparent that 40 ounces weren’t going to take us very far and that getting donor milk was going to be a challenge…

I started scrambling and hustling and made getting her donor milk my number one priority in life after her well being. I joined mommy groups, posted on milk sharing sites, and put myself out there for the world to know what I was trying to do.

It was hard.

But the more I looked for reasons to quit and just give Fiona formula, the more I learned how important it was that I kept trying to get her donor milk. I did the research, I saw the studies, and I know that many people will argue with me about my conviction regarding breast milk, but I learned that breast really is best.

And we got lucky and the milk started coming…

Different women all over Florida (and some who were visiting) heard my pleas and stepped up to donate. Some donations were small, and some were huge.

I drove to places I’d never been. It was like a forced tour of Florida I never wanted. But each time I came home with milk for my baby, and each day I considered myself lucky that I had milk for my daughter.

With Fiona turning 1 in 2 weeks, today I received the last donation I will probably accept.

All in all, in the past year we have received from 42 different women a total of 14,000 ounces of breast milk donations.

Our daughter will make it to a year exclusively on breast milk.

My heart is about to explode from so much gratitude and love for these 42 amazing women who didn’t know us but stepped up to help us asking for nothing in return. And every single one, from Dallas, our first donor, to Waruska, the last one, even if I don’t see them again, will be my friend forever.

It really does take a village. ♡♡♡

Eat Your Greens!

It is recommended by the powers that be that children are introduced to solids at the age of 6 months.  There are some additional guidelines one should take into account (they can sit, they can swallow, they want food), but generally the benchmark is 6 months.

When Fiona was 6 months old, we tried to introduce her to solids.  I bought the first of three avocados we went through before she finally ate, and made the first of the best virgin guacamoles (ie- mashed avocado) I have ever made.  She didn’t want it. It took about 10 days before she was ready to accept our food offering and it’s been all downhill since.

She loves food.

In the beginning I tried to go by the food guidelines the pediatrician gave us but that went out the window quick.  I have found that a combination of food guidelines and baby led weaning is what has worked for us. It’s been two months and there has not been food she has tried that she hasn’t liked.

Except pre-packaged baby food.

She doesn’t like that.  (I don’t even like that…ewww) So I make all of her food.

IMG-20150819-WA0009Since she started eating, Fiona’s meals have been homemade with ingredients that are mostly seasonal, local, and organic. I’ve become somewhat of a pro at the whole baby food making thing.  Frankly, I love it. And she loves it too because her food tastes like food.  To be honest, I wouldn’t feed her something I myself wouldn’t eat. Except rice or beans. I hate them but she has to eat them. She also eats cut up table food.  I am usually pretty good about letting her try whatever we are eating (as long as she wants it) so she can learn to be an adventurous eater.

One thing though that I decided early on was that I would not introduce her to meat. I mentioned this at Gymboree during discussion the other day and some of the moms were looking at me like I was crazy because apparently nobody can be vegetarian since birth.

Well, Fiona has been.  She does eat cheese and yogurt, but until she can go to the store and buy herself a piece of steak, she is not going to be eating meat. There is really no need for that.  I also can’t imagine being a vegetarian trying to raise a carnivore child.  I have read the discussion boards and ultimately it seems that it always comes down to the inescapability of meat in our culture, and whether or not the child will feel excluded from that culture.

To me, that doesn’t feel like a good enough reason.

I wish I knew parents of vegetarian children.  I would love to know how they manage.