Friday, March 25, 2011

No more (unsolicited) advice, please

I may be having an emotional breakdown. I may be just a normal hormonal woman. Either way my thoughts have centered on one thing lately: babies. I see them everywhere. My favorite online forum, facebook, even my young (18) emotionally unstable stepson. Maybe it's from all the AP  stuff I've been learning about lately, maybe it's my biological clock (even though I have already given birth 3 times.) I don't know what it is, but every tiny bit of my being aches for a baby. I long to gently birth a new life, to have him/her feed at my breasts, to cuddle a tiny little life on my chest, you get the point. I feel like I'm so much more knowledgeable now than I was when I was birthing my babies. "When you know better, you do better." The phrase echoes in my mind and I long to use that knew knowledge to welcome a new, precious life. I'm (relatively) young still, so what's the problem? Unfortunately, 3 years ago my husband and I made a decision that we regret deeply. He had a vasectomy. We didn't do it necessarily because we wanted to, but instead we allowed ourselves to be guilted by well meaning family & friends. We already had 4 kids (5 really, but the oldest didn't live with us) so it seemed, to everyone else at least, to be the logical step. It seemed immediately after our baby girl was born, everyone had an opinion as to what needed to happen next. It was the same thing from everyone, "So when you going to get clipped?" MIL was especially vocal as she felt we should be done! Most of our friends who were on us about it had gone through the procedure themselves and I suppose they figured since it was right for them it should be right for us. Now 3 years later I just have one thing to say to them. How dare you! It's OUR family. When did it become ok to tell people how many children they should have? I know everyone gets the urge to give, unsolicited, advice but sometimes people should just mind their own dang business! I'll admit that I've always been one to try to please others. I'm not good with confrontation, never have been. I'm shy & awkward and don't want to cause a stir. From now on, however, when someone gives me advice, or flat out tells me what I should do, I may (or may not) consider what they have to say and tell them thanks but no thanks. I will forever live with the regret over my decision to forfeit any future children I may have carried in my womb. I may never forgive myself for letting others guilt me into doing something THEY thought was right, for me. Now I just secretly (well not so secretly now) hope that *maybe* it will reverse itself or *maybe* God will decide to bless us miraculously with a new baby. Every time AF is a few days late I find myself thinking, "maybe?" I was even 5 weeks late this past fall and really got my hopes up that this was it, but AF finally reared her ugly head and crushed all my hopes. My husband has never gone back for his final test. For some reason, even though I was there and watched the entire procedure, I have this little part in the back of my brain that tells me as long as I don't know there's still a chance. Ignorance is bliss, right? I just can't stand the thought of him going in to find out. I know it's silly, because the doctor we used has a really good "success" rate and has only had a few "not take" or reverse themselves. *Sigh* I now pray for healing. This pain, this emotion is so strong that it sometimes consumes me. I know that's not how I'm supposed to live my life, and I'm working on moving past it.

Lord, please heal this pain and help me to forgive myself for making such a drastic, regretful decision. I know you alone can deliver me from this pain. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Frustrated!! *Beware of my crazy rantings*

Beware: This post has nothing to do with gently parenting in any way. It's simply the rantings of an extremely annoyed & exhausted woman.

Yesterday was a complete bust! A waist of a beautiful, sunny day as well as a day off for my darling husband. We traveled 3 hours, to his hometown (L) to take care of some legal business that we were *required* to attend. It wasn't discovered until we made that miserable drive, arrived at the courthouse, and waited for his name to be called (our last name starts with S) that he was told he didn't need to be there. Did I mention that I took my boys out of school & my daughter HATES car rides? Yeah it was a horrible day. End of story. No wait, I want to take this time to complain about a certain
Government run institute: Child Support Division.

We've all heard of the dead beat dad's and the poor mother's who are always fighting to get child support, but how often do we hear about the dead beat mom's? That's right, my husband was there to COLLECT Child Support for C (age 15). His ex-wife gladly gave up custody after their divorce (in 1997) and has never had a real interest in being a mother unless it is beneficial to her. She never paid a dime, and the Child Support division never went after her (even though they made sure my DH was paying monthly for his oldest son). In 2002, she took him for a scheduled visit and didn't return him. He was only brought home after my DH & MIL showed up at the school she had enrolled him in (in another city) with the police. She was not arrested & she didn't even call to check on him, or find out where he was, for 6 months. Let me rephrase, he did not show up after school and she did not check on his where abouts FOR 6 MONTHS! This was the last time she was allowed to see him outside of my MIL's house (she does not/will not have our address.) She even served us with child support papers once, even though he lives with us and DH has FULL custody. We were perfectly content to not deal with her at all, and weren't even concerned about child support. But when I lost my job in 2006 (and insurance for our children) we had to put them all on the state insurance. This brought about all sorts of headaches for us. We were now required to work with DHS in whatever way necessary to get child support owed. (Though I'm still confused as to why they've never gone after my ex for anything, but I'm NOT bringing that up to them because that's something I do NOT want to deal with!) I don't know what lit the fire under them, since the previous court order had not, but the Child Support division was suddenly on the case. I know most people will think that we're crazy not to be going after child support for our children, but here's the thing; our children have two very loving parents. Just because we're not blood related doesn't mean that I love my son any less, 'and the same goes for my husband and "my" son. Also, anyone who has sought child support from a person not willing to pay understands the frustration that it is not the obligator who is constantly harassed, because they make themselves difficult, if not impossible, to find. But the custodial parent is constantly getting paperwork to fill out, steps that have to be taken in order to keep the case up to date, and mandatory court date's (that the obligator never attends.)
The last issue is what brought us our frustration yesterday. Every few months, DH gets a letter stating that they are going to once again, serve her with papers and if she doesn't comply they will be suspending her license and possible imprisonment and a bunch of other stuff that never happens because she doesn't show up and they give her "just one more chance" :eyeroll. Usually these mandatory meetings are simply in the DHS office with whatever case worker happens to draw the case that week, and DH can simply "attend" by providing his phone # and waiting for them to call. Generally there is never a phone call and DH ends up calling them and is told she didn't show up *shocked gasp*. However, the last letter was completely different and scheduled to be at the courthouse. He called to see if they could do the phone meeting and was told no because of the location and he made plans to be there. After looking at the letter again, we realized it was only addressed to her (they send us copies of what they send to her) and that she was the only one required to attend. DH called the office again to see if he did indeed need to be there since the letter was no"t addressed to him and was told "if you get something in the mail, you have to show up", contradicting to past experiences, but whatever. He asked her to double check his particular case just to make sure as he would have to travel from out of town. He was pretty sure by her answers that she never looked up the case, but without being there could not prove it, so we made plans to go. Which leads back to yesterday's particularly frustrating event. We show up (DH, MIL, & myself) and go to the appropriate courtroom. They write down DH'S name on their list, then kick everyone out of the courthouse who is not named in the case, so out in the hall MIL & I go. We keep looking, but she never shows up *surprise*. Finally, DH comes out looking rather, er, frustrated. Apparently, she was never served the paperwork because they could not find her, again (even though they've been given her phone#, address, & work info on more than one occasion.) So we made a trip down there for nothing. Had the lady on phone actually looked up the case she would have seen this and told DH. At the very least, they should have sent a 2nd letter stating a delay. This is not the first "mix up" like this we've experienced, but certainly the most frustrating. Once, a few years ago, we showed up and waited & waited & waited and finally had to hunt down a case worker, when nearly everyone else had left. They had no idea why we had shown up or who DH was!? They had MIL listed on paperwork since C had lived with her for a short time, and me listed as caregiver & custodial parent since I was the one who filled out the original request for insurance through DHS. We just all kinda looked at the lady like she was crazy. This was the last time we showed up in person, after that we found out about the phone thing.
If this was our only interaction with DHS, we would be irritated, but figure that's just how it is. However, since DH also pays child support, we understand just how frustrating DHS really is. If DH is just a week late paying, they come looking for him. He was without a job for 7 weeks and there was a week's delay waiting for Unemployment to kick in and they threatened to throw him in jail! E even lived with us for a while and they still took child support from DH. They sent her paperwork to pay us for E, she never paid, continued to receive child support (with him in our custody), and when he left our house we receive a letter saying they were dropping the case against her. E did not live with his mother most of the time she was receiving child support for him, but DH decided not to fight it. They're now even trying to say that DH owes an additional $500 (which he doesn't). It is a complete double standard! If you're a woman, they'll fight for you; if you're a man, good luck! (It's the child who is supposed to benefit, so gender of the parent SHOULD NOT MATTER!) My DH gets screwed both ways by DHS and it affects our children as it usually means less money to be able to afford things like vacations. Ugh! It just makes me so mad!!

**These have been the rantings of a thoroughly frustrated woman. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog. *beep, beep, beeeeeeep*

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Poo Update

I wrote here about how I went shampoo free and just wanted to add a quick update as to how that's going.

I did the method listed in my previous post for a little over a month. I loved the results (once I got all the kinks worked out) and definitely would never want to go back to commercial hair products. However, it is a bit time consuming having to mix up special batches and sit with it on my hair for half an hour. I decided to start looking around my favorite sites, forums, & blogs for some other homemade or all-natural alternatives to what I was doing. I found a review for Prairieland Herbs on Woman Uncensored's blog and decided to check out their website. They had some pretty cool stuff, and it was still chemical free, so I decided to give it a try.

Here's what we ordered:

Peppermint & Tea Tree oil Shampoo Bar - This one's just for me & I LOVE it!! It smells AMAZING!
Wild Man Shampoo Bar - 1 for my "Wild Man" and 1 for my 2 teen boys. My DH has always had issues with dandruff, even when using dandruff shampoos, but with this his scalp is never itchy or dry. He's hooked. My boys just think I'm weird for getting into all this natural stuff, lol, but I think they like how soft it makes their hair.
Baby Bubbles Soap - I use this for my 6 yo son & 3 yo daughter. It's not a "shampoo bar", but I still use it for their hair. It makes their hair and skin super soft! My daughter has SUPER wild, curly hair and it makes the curls really bounce. I also love that it cuts down on the washing part of bath time so they have more play time in the bath.
Rosemary & Lavender Vinegar Rinse - Ok, so nobody else will use this because of the smell. My DH used it once & that was enough for him. The smell IS pretty intense, after all, it's vinegar. I still use it every time and feel like it gives me that conditioner feeling of super sleek & easy to comb through. Oh well, more for me.
Bay Rum Shaving Bar -  I'm the only one who has tried this so far. DH is finishing up his regular shaving cream before he starts using it. Don't think my boys have even noticed it (though they are at the shaving stage.) I really like it. It is much smoother while shaving so I'm less likely to nick myself, I'm clumsy. And it leaves my legs & underarms feeling smooth & soft so I don't have to worry about lotion (not that I ever bothered with it before, lol.) Thinking I'll get one just for the boys so they won't be touching mine :-).

I was also sent a sample size bar of the Sage Cedar & Sweetgrass Shampoo Bar. We haven't tried this one yet but it smells AMAZING!! In fact, other than the Vinegar Rinse, it all smells pretty good. The tea tree & peppermint smell is my favorite, but I like those scents. The great thing about these is that all the shampoo bars can double as a bath bar as well, which I love. And I've noticed it cuts down every one's shower/bath times. Who knew we were spending so much time opening bottles & squeezing junk out of them? I'm washing my hair every 2-3 days, so a little more than when I was completely no-poo, but if I miss a couple days I don't feel or look overly greasy. In fact my hair looks better than it ever has and is pretty easy to manage (which is a miracle in and of itself.)

One more positive I've found in these, now don't judge, is that they seem to help with color. I know I'm not THAT old, but I have...gray hair. Ok, so the secrets out. But depending on your hair color, they have products that can help with the grays...without having to mess with dyes. As you can see above, I use the Peppermint & Tea Tree Shampoo Bar and the Rosemary & Lavender Vinegar Rinse. I noticed that the grays are coming in less & less. I didn't realize that Rosemary & Lavender were natural colorants for brown hair. They have some actual color rinses that can be purchased & I will probably try one sometime soon. When I started no-poo I decided I would be looking for natural alternatives to chemical hair dye so I'm excited to try this and happy for how my hair's looking already.

I understand that GBD is a type of gateway to a more, er, crunchy lifestyle and am finding that to be true. I've been changed nearly all my personal hygiene products to natural rather than chemical and am loving the changes. But I'll go more into detail on that at another time.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Superman

I recently posted the on The Leaky Boob's facebook page, but I wanted to expand a bit more about just how amazing my husband is.

We're new to GBD and while it's been admittedly easier for me, my sweetheart is really trying. He's become more intentional in the way he handles disciplining the children and is having fewer punitive lapses (spanking has completely been eliminated.) While GBD is a slower transition than I would like (I want what I want NOW!), there are many other attachment areas that have come more natural to us. When we had our first (biological) child together I told him I planned to breastfeed. Though it wasn't something he was used to, he could not have been any more supportive. He would bring me pillows, water, and anything else I needed while nursing and even got up with me at nighttime feedings to help with diaper changes and anything else I/we needed. He was a huge support and has told many people how amazing breastfeeding is and has encouraged other husbands to be supportive of their wives.

On Thursday, he came home from work a bit frustrated about a conversation he'd had with a fellow co-worker. Just to set the background, he's an Assistant Manager at a local quick lube shop. He was outside working when his co-worker came out and of the office complaining that there was a woman breastfeeding inside the waiting room. My husband is not even the least bit shy and when he feels strongly about something he has no problem speaking up. This is how the conversation went.

Co-Worker (CW): Ugh, there's a woman in there breastfeeding.
DH: So. There's nothing wrong with that. My wife breastfed our children and I think it's awesome not to mention it's the best thing you can do for your baby.
CW: Well, um...
DH: What's she supposed to do if the baby's hungry? Would you rather listen to them cry? And having to feed in a bathroom is disgusting. You want me to make you eat your lunch in the bathroom? No, I didn't think so.
CW: Dude, nevermind...
DH: This is personal to me since my kids were breastfed. I would be ticked if someone told my wife to stop breastfeeding. How would you feel if it were your wife.

At this point, the co-worker definitely regretted saying anything. He didn't yell or get nasty but he was ready to stand up for what he felt was right. He's so incredibly passionate about things he feels strongly about. I'm hoping some day soon he will be just as passionate about GBD and getting the word out to other parents. He's getting there slowly, only time will tell.