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co sleeping, co-sleeping, the truth about co- sleeping, the family bed, parenting styles

Time to give you the real truth about Co-Sleeping and more importantly, how to safely co-sleep with your baby. Since I scared you all straight with my earlier post and all the good news the world has to offer, I’ve decided to redeem the day. I’m a half full kind of gal and I refuse to let the cold hard reality of the world change that.

When I became too obsessed with scheduling and time, I removed my watch. I’ve not worn one in about 5 years now. I was seriously about to get carpal tunnel from all the twisting of my wrist to check the time. So, I eliminated it from my day.I’m about to do the same for CNN. Anyways, in the spirit of redeeming myself, I have decided to write about something that is very positive in my life…co-sleeping. We have been safely co-sleeping since our first baby was out of the bassinet and I’d love to share with you how to safely co-sleep with your baby.

co sleeping, co-sleeping, the truth about co- sleeping, the family bed, parenting styles

Co-Sleeping makes us Closer

Oh, yeah. I know some of you are rolling your eyes and tsk-tsking me for committing such an unthinkable crime against parenting dogma but the family bed is where it’s at for us. I know, I come off as somewhat snarkilicious on here, at times. It’s OK. You can say it, I’m fully aware.

READ ALSO: Co-Sleeping is not for Sissies

But when it comes to co-sleeping, I must admit I become completely full on granola; share my life, share my bed with my babies. Crunchy even. I did not plan co-sleeping. I planned on 2 weeks in the bassinet and then a seamless transition to the crib shortly thereafter. But like everything else in motherhood thus far, I was thrown a curve ball.

co sleeping, co-sleeping, the truth about co- sleeping, the family bed, parenting styles

Co-Sleeping is safe if done appropriately

When it came down to it, Bella would fall asleep in my arms after nursing and when I tried to put her back into her bassinet, she would wake up…always. Tired Mommy say what? I did what most exhausted, “so in love with her newborn that she can’t stand to miss a second of this creature’s life, doesn’t truly know where she ends and the baby begins” Mommy would do…I laid her in bed with me. Right there, between my husband and I..in a positioner ( I know those things have since become about as taboo as those unsafe walkers of the Hewlett- Packard commercials). If your child isn’t potty-trained yet, you must always be prepared with items, like those Monogrammed diaper bags.

I can say that in those first few months, sleep was not the sleep that people without children experience. No, my sleep was half-awake, hearing every single noise, breath, fart of the night, being uber aware of any motion in the entire house and the yard, pseudo conscious delirium…at best.

I was terrified that I’d roll on top of my sweet co-sleeper and smother her. I know you were all thinking it. So, in those first few months I never really got any sleep of any benefit. But what I did get was a crazy tight bond. You know the bond you get from breastfeeding? When you co-sleep, for me, the bond is that times two.

READ ALSO: Breastfeeding Sucks

There is something magical and reassuring about waking up and looking over and seeing that little face so peaceful in the middle of the night.The smell of a little next to you, the feel of little gangling arms and legs, surprise hugs and kisses, even the occasional head bunt, reassuring karate chop and rogue face punch have become endearing to me.

By bed-sharing, when my little one wakes in the middle of the night, they put a hand out to find me or the Big Guy and they are reassured and go back to sleep. There is something to be said for being within arms reach. It makes me happy. I  never planned to co-sleep but co-sleeping found me. It took hold and it is one of the best parenting decisions that I have ever made up until this point. I’m just exhausted of people making co-sleeping parents feel like it’s some sort of dirty secret. I think it is natural, beautiful and amazing.

Both girls, ages 3 & 5, are currently still co-sleeping with me during the weekdays, while the Big Guy is out of town. On the weekends,  they sleep in their own bed…at least they start out there. I don’t see a problem with it. I think it is every parent’s decision. It’s more about what works for your family. For ours, we’re doing it the Jolie-Pitt style..for now.

My plan is once we are all back in the same house to put the girls in a bed together and me and the Big Guy in one. What are your thoughts? How old is too old to co-sleep? Are you absolutely against co-sleeping? Why? Why not? Do you do co-sleeping? When did you stop co-sleeping? When will you stop co-sleeping? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on co-sleeping?

Co-Sleeping is Natural

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Suavitel. Fragrance pearls, laundry, home, latina

Did you know that co-sleeping was a lifetime sleeping choice? If you are a new parent or parent-to-be thinking of co-sleeping, STOP, collaborate and most importantly, listen!!

Sure, that pink, squishy-faced, little newborn is irresistible. You can’t say no and you just don’t want to miss a giggle, sigh or breath and especially not a cuddle so co-sleeping seems the perfect solution. Be warned those beauties grow into toddlers and then into kids and eventually into tweens.

It’s bad enough we can never pee alone. If you ever want to sleep alone in your bed with your husband again and not end up permanently sleeping in separate rooms, then just say no. Hell, be inhumane and let them cry it out. That is, unless you want them to sleep with you forever. At this point, I’m afraid they’ll be trading in my bed for their husband’s in 20 years. Hey my kid’s have done crazier things. Meanwhile, we’re having to sneak around like teens just to have sex.

co-sleeping, family bed, life choice, cry it out, sleeping apart

Is Co-sleeping really a lifetime commitment?

Because that part wasn’t in any book I read. I thought co-sleeping was temporary, transitional, like lovies and binkies and night lights. Nobody told me that I was committing to it forever and if I tried to stop it was a direct afront to the very bond we had forged as parent and child. Did you know if you tell a 7-year-old that she can’t co-sleep with you, it’s the same as saying you don’t love her? According to her it is!

Believe me, I used to be the biggest co-sleeping advocate around. I guess, deep down, I still am but recently, my 7-year-old has decided that every night around 1 a.m. she “needs” to sleep with me. She climbs in bed, cuddles up to me like a little monkey and then the thrashing and kicking begins.

Oh wait, maybe I’m just bitter because my 7 and 10-year-old fought non-stop for 2 hours last night over who will be “sleeping with mommy” with absolutely no consideration for the Bug Guy. He has been reduced to a bedtime gypsy, an exhausted shell of a man who sleeps among the butterflies and unicorns in a sea of pink. He’s the lucky one.

If you think a toddler hurts when they kick you in the nose or headbutt you with a rogue noggin, can you imagine a tween with feet as big as your own feels like? It hurts. A LOT! Don’t get me wrong; I love the middle of the night cuddles and sweet little girl’s gangly arms wrapped around me first thing in the morning. But when do I ever just get a moment to sit in peaceful quiet? These apron strings are choking me out.

I adore butterfly kisses and the sweet sound of a little voice whispering sweet nothings in my ear. But sometimes, a mom just needs some sleep; uncompromised, more than 7 inches of the bed, straight through the night, no waking and no blows to the head sleep. You know what I mean?

Last night, I woke up in a cold sweat and I swear I heard them chanting from beside me, “Hell no! We won’t go!” Then I realized I was still dreaming. Then I awoke and I swore I heard them chanting from their room, “Co-Sleepers for LIFE!” But when I ran to check on them, they were sound asleep, wrapped around one another like pythons. Adorable.

Why must the price of cuddling with your baby, co-sleeping, be a lifetime sentence of never sleeping alone or in peace ever again? You know I think I’m going to start doing some research (necessity is the mother of al invention and all that jazz) and write a book….how to stop co-sleeping because I think that needs to be disclosed.Stay tuned!

What’s your stance on co-sleeping, love it or hate it?

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marriage, separate beds, sleeping apart, MAD Life, CafeMom

Do you and your spouse sleep in the same bed every night or do you enjoy sleeping apart? We don’t. In fact, most nights we don’t. Is getting sleep that important? Hell yeah, says the insomniac who works late nights and has two young children. Sleep is the best thing ever, except for Ambien sex. Ambien sex trumps everything. Especially Ambien sex with your husband. But I digress…

The Big Guy gets up for work every day at 4:30 a.m. I am a night owl, a constant insomniac if we are being truthful, so bedtime for me is normally between midnight and 2 a.m. Add to that the fact that I snore during allergy season and our littlest one always seems to end up in our bed and we’ve just conceded to the fact that Monday thru Thursday night, the Big Guy sleeps in the guest room.

At first, I kind of loved it. I’m sure he did too. I had a king size tv bed from TV Bed Store all to myself. I could stay up as late as I wanted, watching television and working. It was awesome. Then, when it was all said and done, I could sprawl out (until my little one found her way to my room) all across the bed. It was awesome. Well, for a little while anyways.

Have we become complacent? Some times, I feel like we are some old married couple like Ethel and Fred Mertz. You know the cantankerous old couple from the building that slept in separate beds and could barely stand one another? But hey, Lucy and Ricky slept in separate beds too and they were madly in love. So what does sleeping in separate beds really mean? We love one another but we’re so comfortable sleeping in our own beds and actually SLEEPING that we just do. Problem is… I miss my husband. I do. I miss turning over in the middle of the night, reaching out and just knowing he is there.

marriage, separate beds, sleeping apart, MAD Life, CafeMom

 

Do you think sleeping apart is indicative of depleting intimacy?

Sure, we’re still intimate (maybe not as often as we might be if we actually slept in the same bed but maybe more so) and our marriage is still rock solid BUT are we on borrowed time? I mean is it all going to go south one day? Are we growing apart and don’t even realize it? Is sleeping in separate beds leaving just enough room between us for someone else to insert themselves? These are all valid concerns, right? Is a good night’s sleep really worth risking your marriage?

Am I fooling myself by thinking that our marriage is strong enough to survive long distance intimacy? We survived 2 years of commuter marriage and that is probably where this all started but am I insane to think that a couple can sleep in separate beds but still be connected intimately?

I think just because you sleep in separate beds doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost that “loving feeling” at all.  The Big Guy works from home 2 days a week and those are our “afternoon delight days” and we do sleep in our bed together on weekends, so I’d say our sex life is pretty healthy. In fact, him being in the other room adds a little sauce to the mix. It keeps me on my toes to receive random snapchat pics and sexts from across the hall. Believe me, I will gladly turn off any television show for a romp with the Big Guy any day of the week.

The only thing that suffers is that some times, I  just want to be able to reach over and cuddle ( I sound like such a girl right now) not often because I am not really a cuddler during night time hours. I prefer to cuddle on the couch while watching a movie. I enjoy the spontaneity and flirtation that not knowing if we will be sleeping in the same bed has afforded us. It’s taken the restrictions off of sex. Sex is no longer confined to our bedroom and intimacy is not just sex. It’s talking, texting, emailing. It’s a brush of his hand on mine. It’s like dating after 15 years of marriage. So, maybe this sleeping apart is good for a marriage….or maybe we’re considering buying a queen sized bed to replace our king sized one?

I’m not sure what we will do but I do know that when I want him in my bed, all I need to do is tell him and vice versa.

For topics like this and many more on parenting, relationships and just about anything else under the sun facing today’s parents, check out Mad Life at CafeMom.

What do you think of sleeping apart from your partner?

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baby as art, Sioin Queenie Liao, selfie

Selfies, photos of babies and babies with pets have officially over saturated social media.

I know this post will probably not get me any friends and I am honestly not trying to be an asshole. I am a sucker for a cute baby photo as much as the next person but honestly, is anyone else getting tired of seeing babies (other than their own) sleeping? I currently have over 100,000 photos that I have taken of my girls since they were born. I took them for my own enjoyment. Sure they are adorable but you don’t want to see every photo of my daughters, every moment captured. I mean its babies in baskets, babies with puppies, babies with daddies, babies with other babies and babies as part of art while they sleep. Babies with painted on mustaches, wearing fedoras and roller skates. Gatsby baby sipping an old fashioned and astronaut baby planting a flag on the moon while baby Mike Tyson and baby Evander Holyfield chew on one another’s ears.

When my kids are asleep, especially when they were asleep as babies, there was no way in the world I was going to be using them as props with animals or amidst the backdrop of a cityscape or flying through space or taming a lion or whatever the hell else they are doing these days. Also, where are you guys finding the time?

baby as art, Sioin Queenie Liao, selfie

The more I look at these adorable photos done by Sioin Queenie Liao, I am reconsidering babies as art because OMG, my ovaries are twitching from the cute

Are these only children? Do you have a nanny? Is this your job? When my kids were babies and slept, I let them sleep because an overtired baby or child woken out of a nap before it ran its course was certainly not worth a photo op! My sanity is worth more than a potentially viral photo op. I always let sleeping babies lie.Sure, I think the photos are awesome but I don’t want to see every.single.one. you take. When did this happen? Do we keep nothing for ourselves anymore?

And the selfies? Holy fuck am I sick of the close up, Zoolander faces, #nakedselfies in the shower, at the gym, in the bathroom, in the ER getting stitches, giving birth breastfeeding and ass wiping. Is there nothing sacred anymore? Look I enjoy a good fly on the wall moment as much as everybody else too but suddenly, it’s just too damned much. People, pump your social media brakes. You’re telling us all too much. If a picture’s worth a thousand words than you just told me what a raging douche bag you are, in 15 languages, 67 different ways.

selfies, babies sleeping, babies and pets, photos, social media

Credit: Instagram & Danielle Lloyd

Selfies have their place. We’ve all taken them. Hell, as moms we are the photographers in most cases so, sure, we have to slip a selfie in here and there just to commemorate that we are here. That we lived. That’s fine. I’ve taken selfies. We all need avatar photos for FB and Twitter, etc but for grown ups to be taking selfies every day or in some cases multiple times a day, you might have an addiction. Take as many selfies as you want for your private collection but I don’t think the entire world needs to see you chew your food, kiss your kid’s booboo, your outfit of the hour or how your eye make-up looks and we certainly don’t need to see you in the shower with your baby, your backside or your stomach after eating; those are moments that you should keep and cherish for yourself. Nobody needs to see your post-coital selfie unless you are a hooker for hire.

Looks like just like with food, we all need to learn some social media selfie portion control; everything in moderation my friends. Take as many selfies and kitschy, cute and creative photos of your children and your pets as you like but how about we exercise some self-control and and only upload a chosen few to FB and  Twitter. If you must photo dump to satiate some need to document every image, why not keep it to Instagram?

P.S. NONE of this applies to newborns. Bring on the newborn photos, I can look at them all day:) Just don’t pair them with the family pet or use them as a prop in an elaborate creative purge every hour on the hour.

What are your thoughts of this time we live in of constant selfies, sleeping babies and their exciting lives with their pets?

 

Photo credit: If you can’t get enough of these cute kid photos, check out Sioin Queenie Liao slideshow on Today Moms bit I’ll never budge on selfies.

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Top Things to Learn Now About Sleep

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

I just had a dream last night that I was pregnant.Yeah, it was a pretty weird dream considering that it’s actually impossible, since the great partial hysterectomy of 2018. Not having a uterus makes it pretty much impossible to be pregnant. But, it reminded me of what it was like to be pregnant and becoming a new mom, all those years ago. Those early months of being a parent can be the foggiest of your life. I, honestly, didn’t know which way was up a lot of the time because I was so damn exhausted. Having to try to navigate, keeping a kid alive while keeping yourself organized at the same time is no easy task. It doesn’t leave much space for sleep, especially when your newborn is making your sleep as broken as physically possible. Don’t even get me started on the colicky newborn sleep nights. Trying to learn the way another person sleeps is not easy even if that person has come directly from you. Sleep is one of those things that you expect to lose out on when you become a parent, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to truly comprehend how much sleep you will actually lose or what that can mean for you as a new mom… and that’s coming from a lifelong insomniac.

When you’re a mom, everything becomes about survival, and sleep is a big part of that survival. You think about when you can nap, about how long the baby is going to sleep through the night, how often you will be waking up to check on their breathing patterns. Babies are brand new to the world and you are learning about them as much as they are learning how to be human beings. The thing is, that’s little consolation when you’re so tired that you can’t see straight. There are guides such as Baby Sleep Positions: The Complete Guide For Parents that can help guide you through how to understand the ways that babies sleep, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. You can anticipate broken sleep and still be in shock and awe when the reality of sleep deprivation hits. Just because you chose to be a parent does not mean that you could have anticipated the gravity of what sleep deprivation can do to your mind, your mood and your health.

If it helps in any way, just know that sleep deprivation has been used as a torturing device in wars, so you’re not alone in feeling like you’re being cruel and unusually  punished. As a new mom, there are lots of things that you’ll be learning and experiencing about motherhood for the first time. Sleep, for baby and mama, is a crucial part of surviving that process so let’s take a look at some of the top things that you need to learn now about how your baby will sleep.

Top things to learn now about newborn sleep

  • Sleep deprivation is very dangerous. You can joke about leaving your car keys in your car, or leaving the chest freezer open in the garage, or falling asleep on the toilet due to lack of sleep but what happens when you are so tired you leave the baby in the carseat in a hot car? It’s scary and it’s dangerous. Severe and prolonged sleep deprivation can cause depression, hallucinations, memory loss and high blood pressure. Not only that, it is exhausting to try to live on very little sleep. Ideally, you’ll be sharing this sleep deprivation load with a partner, but if you’re trying to navigate things by yourself ( and even with help from your partner) then you’ll definitely need to call in some reinforcements in terms of friends and family to have some extra help.
  • Parents often lie when it comes to their baby’s sleep. We all want to pretend we’ve got our mom shit together. If you ask a new parent how their baby is sleeping, they will tell you that their baby is sleeping just fine. But what does “fine” even mean for most people? I can tell you from my own experience, it sure as heck didn’t mean sleeping through the night. It mostly meant, at some point during the night they passed out and then I passed out and none of us died before the next feeding. But it most certainly did not mean we all had a massage and fell asleep at 9 PM and stayed asleep until 8 am the next morning. I never could have told that lie, the baggage under my eyes would have ratted me out. Newborns are not designed to sleep through the night. They have tiny tummies that need feeding every couple of hours, and they require cuddles and contact because they’ve just spent nine months suspended in animation in the coziest womb ever. Some parents feel the need to exaggerate that their babies are getting enough sleep so that they feel like they are competent parents when actually, it’s pretty refreshing if somebody just tells you the truth. Then, we know we’re all in this gangsta ass mother hood together just trying to survive. To be completely honest, when I had 2 babies, 2-years-old and under, I really thought I was going to die from lack of sleep. I survived on coffee, delirium and a partner who helped me up when I thought I could no longer soldier on. 
  • Solid food will not force your child to sleep. So many myths and legends of old parenting will tell you that if you put something heavy in the baby’s tummy, they will sleep for longer. But this doesn’t actually work. Sure, they might drift off into a high sugar, carb coma but that’s not healthy.at.all.Firstly, they’re not designed to sleep through the night. They are babies, they’re not built FORD tough. They are designed to wake up regularly as a survival instinct, to fill their bellies and train you for the zombie apocalypse. Secondly, putting solids into the belly of a newborn baby can lead to a lot of gut issues later on in life. You could also be exacerbating reflux issues and other pain issues that your baby may end up having. Why? Because baby tummies are not designed to hold solid food until beyond six months. There is plenty of research to back up this fact.
  • Great nap times are not an indicator of great night times. Hell no. In fact, you’re baby might just be getting their days and nights mixed up and that’s a whole new level of cruel and unusual torture. Just because your baby sleeps during the day in solid nap time chunks doesn’t mean they’re going to do the same thing at night time, in fact, the opposite is probably true. Oh, in your exhausted state you’ll be tempted to let them sleeping babies just keep on napping but take it from this seasoned mom, don’t do it.  One of the best things that you can do is to put your baby into some kind of a routine that’s based on them and not based on what you believe they should be doing. For example, overtired babies don’t sleep very well, and you’ll notice that within 90 minutes of waking up, your baby’s going to learn to understand your baby’s sleep cues. 
  • Routine is a good thing. Bedtime routines work, but it has to be dependent on what your baby’s wants and needs are. You could try to put your baby down before a certain time of night, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to instantly learn to recognize this as nighttime bedtime. A good winding down with a bath, lavender lotion massage, and story at bedtime is perfect, so just make sure that you are sticking to the same order so as they get older they will learn that this is what they’re bedtime routine is.
  • Babies will always fall asleep when they are tired enough to do so but to be able to drift off into a peaceful slumber is the real goal. If you manage to get your baby off into a nice deep sleep and put them into their crib successfully, then congratulations to you because this only happened because they felt safe and comfortable enough to do so in your care. Believe me, many a night I silently, army crawled backwards out of my daughters’ nursery like some sort of James Bond supervillain so I know, it takes some time to get the process working. 
  • Breastfeeding can help with sleeping. Breast milk is packed with melatonin and as a naturally occurring human hormone, the levels of this hormone increase towards the evening. Those nighttime feeds are packed with all of the good fats and melatonin that your child needs to fall asleep. As our melatonin starts to rise in the evening and reaches that peak in the early hours of the morning, breast milk is melatonin. Breast milk can be quite magical in that way. 
  • Keep the environment dark. Lighting and devices will always interfere with baby’s sleep.I recommend room darkening blinds or blackout curtains. I never had a nursery without them.  If you’re trying to put your baby to sleep, leave your phone behind. Sure you may be tempted to try to multitask during those 3 AM hour long feeding and rocking sessions but try to avoid the phone because that blue light will be shining in their face as much as it will be yours and you both need your rest. 

The important thing to remember is that this is temporary and it won’t always be this hard. If you can remind yourself of that from time to time in the early days, it will change your perspective and make it all feel a bit easier. The most important thing is that you and baby get enough rest to live and love and fight again the next day. Motherhood can be really hard and sometimes a bit miserable but then, it’s filled with little hands hugging your neck, loving you unconditionally and even the occasional moments of unadulterated bliss. Take from this mom of a 18 and 16-year-old, with one heading off to college in the fall and the other one about to graduate from high school, I would not trade one second of my exhausted front row seat in their childhood for any amount of sleep. From me to you, motherhood is very hard but it is also very worth it and never forget, you are not alone; we’ve all been where you are.

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french toast, french toast recipe, french toast recipes, Home is where the heart is, Kings Hawaiian

I love long lazy summer weekends almost as much as I love homemade french toast. You know the ones where you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything in particular? The weekends when everything is easy and slow; the kids sleep in, no one has to be anywhere or do anything. Worries just float away. Weekends with no obligation are my favorite kind. Those are the weekends that you file away in your mind as the best weekends of your life.

Of course, our summer has been filled with constant running since the last day of school. In the past 4 weeks, we have been someplace else other than our home for 3 of those weeks. I’m vacationed out. In fact, I have been spending a lot of time dreaming of my own bed. Me, the insomniac, dreaming of sleeping in is quite funny.

It got me to thinking of one of my favorite weekends ever. The girls were 2 and 4 and it was before my husband lost his job and we started the 3 years of commuter hell. It was a Saturday, just like many other Saturday mornings in our home. The girls slept in until about 10 am (of all the things I miss about them getting older, I miss them sleeping in the most). The Big Guy and I slept until we woke up on our own. You remember those days? Waking up on your own is such a luxury these days.

We both woke up at about 9 am. He made coffee and we enjoyed it on the deck in our pajamas, as the warm late May sun washed over us. I remember his smile as we joked about our girls still sleeping. It felt like we shared a special secret that no one else in the world knew. Then one by one, two tiny beautiful angels emerged from the sliding doors, simultaneously rubbing the sleep out of their eyes and shielding themselves from the suns bright good morning greeting.

We greeted them with big smiles, we know that we are blessed, and to see that the two halves of us could make two such incredible wholes makes our hearts happy. Gabi clamored onto my lap, nearly knocking my sweet, warm coffee to the ground, as her sister did the same to the Big Guy. Soon they were stretched out like cats basking in the sun. All of us, in our pajamas, on a warm summer morning just being.

Everyone got hungry and the Big Guy decided that the occasion demanded French toast and bacon with fresh strawberries. As I cleaned and cut fruit, as the smell of bacon wafted through the kitchen from the oven, the Big Guy and the girls made the French toast.

It’s a very simple French Toast recipe but it bears the most amazing French toast and is our absolute favorite.

Ingredients
• 4 (1-inch) thick slices King’s Hawaiian Bread
• 4 large brown eggs
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla
• 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
• Butter for frying
• Pecan Praline syrup

Preparation
1. Slice bread crosswise so that each slice is about 1-inch thick. Set aside.
2. In a shallow mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, vanilla and cinnamon.
3. Quickly dip slices (do not soak) in egg mixture and cook until golden brown on both sides.
4. Keep egg mixture stirred and spices well blended.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warm pecan praline syrup.
6. Top with fresh strawberries and a side of crisp bacon.
7. Enjoy.

After we ate, we spent the rest of the day hanging out at our home just the four of us; doing nothing but it meant absolutely everything. I think of this day often, especially on those hectic days when we barely have a moment to kiss each other good morning or ask one another how our day is going. Soon our lives will be back to normal. We finally sold our home and will soon be buying a new one. I can’t wait for another day spent doing nothing with the three people that I love most in this world.

What food reminds you of a special moment in your life?

This is our favorite french toast recipe. What is your favorite dish to share with your family? Comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $200 Grocery gift card King’s Hawaiian.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kings Hawaiian. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

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gift guide, tech for parents, girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, chooze, xdoria, kid's fit, American Girl, MaryEllen Larkin

Do you love tech? I’ve been a tech junkie since I can remember. Ever since they put me in front of that first Mac. It was love at first sight. These days, there is so much tech out there and so many new gadgets coming out every day, that it’s hard to keep up and know which of these things is really capable of making your life easier and which are an overhyped waste of time and money. However, there are plenty of tech options you can take advantage of that can make your life both easier and better for you. And those things shouldn’t be ignored.

READ ALSO: Gift Guide for Smart Women who Love Tech

We all lead hectic, busy lives and it makes sense to take advantage of the things that make our lives easier. Those little things that save you time and effort are the things you’ll appreciate most when it comes to spending time with those people in your life who mean the most, especially this time of the year.

I did some research and I’ve got a full list of examples that you should consider using in your home and when you’re out and about to make life easier. Some are simple tech upgrades while others are entirely new gadgets.

Use Smart Lighting in Your Home

Smart technology is starting to become a big thing in the home. If you haven’t yet installed a smart lighting system, now is the time to do it. It’s one of those little things that make a difference.

For example, when you’re lying in bed reading a book and then you want to go to sleep, with a smart light system, you can simply command your lights to turn off with your voice. You don’t have to get up and physically turn them off.

A Smart Thermostat for Your Heating System

As well as smart lights, you also think about using a smart thermostat. This allows you to remotely control your heating system and the temperature of your home using your smartphone or other devices.

It means you can turn the heating on before you get home so it’s nice and warm for when you get there. It’s a luxury that you’ll soon come to wonder how you ever lived without. And that’s no exaggeration.

Maximize Your Data

If you’re still using an old plan and an old smartphone, you’re making your day to day life harder than it needs to be. If you choose something like one of the SMARTY SIM-only deals, you’ll have so much more data at your disposal and that can only be a good thing.

By maximizing your data, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re always able to fire off that email or make a quick edit to a shared work document, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Install a Doorbell Camera

For enhanced home security and safety, you should think about having a doorbell camera installed. That way, you can see exactly who is outside your home and at your door before you open it up. And the great thing about these cameras is that they can connect directly to your phone.

You can even speak through your phone to the person by your door. And you can do this remotely, so if there’s someone delivering a package and you’re not home, you can just tell them where to leave it. It makes things so much easier in a wide range of scenarios.

Consider Self-Watering Plant Pots

Everyone loves the idea of having plant life in their homes. But the actual process of keeping your plants healthy and hydrated often falls down your list of priorities pretty quickly. Your home looks great with luscious plants around the place, but not so much when they’re dead and dying.

READ ALSO: Best Tech to Get Your Healthy 

Self-watering plant pots are now a thing that exists, even if you thought you’d never hear that sentence. It might not be a hoverboard but they feel kind of futuristic nonetheless. It certainly makes your life easier because you won’t have to worry about remembering to water the plants.

Use a Robotic Vacuum

Of all the tasks you need to do around the house to keep it clean and functional, the one people seem to hate most of all is vacuum cleaning. It’s noisy, cumbersome and time-consuming, especially if you haven’t got a high spec vacuum cleaner at your disposal.

That’s why you should consider using a robotic vacuum cleaner with hoover vacuum parts. They do exactly what the name suggests. They do the basics of vacuum cleaning for you and they move around the floor by themselves. There’s no real input from you, so you can sit back and put your feet up.

Buy a Universal Remote

These days, it can seem like your collection of remotes for all the many devices you have is too much to handle. It’s not sustainable to have 5 or 6 remotes lying around and in use all the time. That’s why you should simply buy a universal remote and make it the only remote you use.

They work like magic. You simply sync it with all the different devices you want to control and then start using it like normal. It really couldn’t be much simpler; you’ll wonder why you didn’t invest in one sooner.

Use an Automatic Pet Feeder

When you’re always on the go and out of the house, it can be hard to ensure your pet gets everything they need when they need it. No responsible pet owner will let their pets go hungry or without all the things they need, so they end up disrupting their day in order to accommodate their pets.

But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore because you can simply make use of an automatic pet feeder. These devices release the food for your pet as and when they need it. You simply need to load it up and program the timer to make sure the food releases at the right time.

Fix Your Sleeping Problems with a White Noise Machine

If you’re someone who has always had problems sleeping, it might help to invest in a white noise machine. Having a machine making noises might not sound like the best way to get you off to sleep, but it really does work and many people rely on these devices to get a good night’s sleep.

If nothing else has worked and you haven’t tried this solution yet, it’s definitely a good idea to give it a try and see how it goes for you. The white noise encourages you to sleep and the consistent sound keeps you sleeping for longer. There’s a lot of science behind it.

Invest in a Simple Portable Charger

This is another small thing that makes life so much easier and can get you out of all kinds of frustrating situations. Investing in a small and simple portable charger will enable you to charge your phone when it unexpectedly runs out of battery life, no matter where you are.

These portable chargers come in all shapes sizes. Some of them have less battery power, but they’re much smaller, making them great for that extra little boost of power you need when you’re on the go. But there are bigger ones available that you can rely on for the power you need too.

Why make your day to day life any harder than it already is? With these tech advances and options out there at your fingertips, it doesn’t make sense not to use them. By using these tech gadgets, you’ll have more time and energy to focus on the really important things in your life like family, your health and happiness and that’s what matters most.

What is your favorite piece of tech that makes your life easier?

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Emily Doe, victim statement, Brock Turner, Stanford, swimmer, rape, rapist, kid, roared, roar, tantrums, mommy moment, bad parenting

On January 17, 2015, former Stanford University student, Brock Turner, raped an inebriated 22-year-old woman, Emily Doe, behind a garbage dumpster after a frat party. There was no remorse on the part of Mr. Turner for raping someone, only the remorse of being caught. We are all Emily Doe. This could have happened to any of us. It has happened to many of us (to one degree or another) and it will happen to many more of us, if we don’t fight to change it. In fact, it will happen to your daughter, and your granddaughters and all those daughters that come after that.

The attack was only stopped when two Swedish PhD students, Carl Fredrik-Arndt and Peter Jonsson, were cycling past on their way to a party. When the two heroes saw that Turner was on top of an unconscious woman, they stopped, tackled Turner and pinned him down until police could arrive and arrest him. They didn’t have to stop, in fact, most people wouldn’t have stopped they would have gone on about their business.

Because let’s be honest, most people don’t want to be bothered by the inconvenience. It’s so much easier not to get involved. So people pretend they don’t see it happening; the frightened woman on the subway with the stranger’s hand on her ass, the drunk girl at the party being carried off to another room by a group of guys or even the businesswoman walking down the street being harassed by catcalls by men so far beneath her station that the closest thing they’ll ever get to talking to her is yelling sexually lewd epithets at her.

This March, Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and last Thursday Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but instead was only sentenced to six months in a county jail and probation. He must also complete a sex offender management program and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.   This is a slap on the wrist and an insult to his victim. Apparently, membership in the club of white penis has its privileges. I’ve seen worse punishments bestowed on POC simply for being of color.

I’ve been avoiding the news the last few days because I wanted to enjoy my time with my family. After last week’s fiasco, I know to truly enjoy my life and time with my family I have to unplug. Then I stumbled across Facebook and I saw the photo of Brock Turner as the clean-cut good kid. Then I saw the actual mug shot and honestly, what does it matter what a rapist looks like? If you rape a woman you are a rapist. How well you dress or clean shaven you are, doesn’t make it okay or make you less of a rapist.

Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

I’m sitting on vacation, reading the transcript of Emily Doe’s impact statement. As I listen to my little girl’s playing and giggling in the background, I am pushing down the lump in my throat and it is taking everything in my body not to start sobbing right here in the pool room at the Hyatt Regency. I didn’t realize that I’d be triggered but I was. Rape culture is alive and well and is not going anywhere soon. If anything, it’s growing momentum.

I want to cry for the victim; for what she has had to endure and her revictimization by a system that has failed her. I want to cry for my daughters who will one day soon be at college, alone without me to protect them from the evils of the world. I want to cry for every young woman who has ever gone doe-eyed and naively into the world and not expected to be victimized; myself included.

The judge was lenient on Brock Turner because he was an athlete, had a promising future and could possibly have even gone to the Olympics; made all of us Americans proud in the fucking 100-meter dash or some fucking shit like that. He got six months for ruining this woman’s life because in the world we live in, women’s lives don’t matter. We might have “equal rights” but really we will never be considered as valuable as men. He could have been an Olympian, what is she? Just another drunk girl at a party; or so Brock Turner, his father and the judge would have you believe. Just a poor dumb girl, who drank too much and had some drinker’s remorse the next day.

I used to be that girl. No, actually I was what Brock Turner and his attorneys would have you believe his victim was so I was actually much worse. I used to drink a lot in college. I would black out on occasion. I went to frat parties and I loved to flirt. I was the touchy-feely girl who loved attention and liked to have fun but I was a virgin until I was in college. Sure, I had boyfriends and there was dry humping, marathon make-out sessions and all that other shit you do when you just haven’t done the deed yet but I never consented to more. I wouldn’t because I hadn’t and I didn’t want to yet.

But there were times when I was drinking and guys got a little too aggressive in their advances. I remember once I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Then there was the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

Or the time I was working at a retail chain as a teenager and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (plus I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

The thing is as I read the victim’s account of what had happened to her, I was saddened and more than anything I was fuming mad. I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men a hall pass for rape and attempted rape and acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime; it is the curse of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it, apparently even in 2016. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my girls to ever feel this kind of vulnerability or fear of living. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time.

Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time. Apparently, that is all a woman’s life is worth. Her life is ruined; she will never be the same but it doesn’t really matter because a penis holds more value in this world than a vagina ever could. After all, we only propagate the species. He could have been an Olympian; she was always just a woman.

Emily Doe, Victim statement, swimmer,Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

The scary thing is Brock Turner is not an anomaly. And it doesn’t matter what we do, how we dress, how much we do or don’t drink, we can all be the victim and this is what scares me the most. When are we going to teach our sons that it’s not okay to put their hands, fingers, mouths and dicks on women’s bodies without permission? When will our girls ever be able to feel safe to walk alone at night or have a vagina?

In case you don’t think rape is a serious crime that warrants more than a six-month inconvenience for the attacker, read the statement below from Brock Turner’s victim.

Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

“And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times.”

It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

“I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. “

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.

Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

“This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.”

He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. ​Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

After the victim’s statement went viral, Turner’s dad, Dan Turner, issued a statement defending his son, arguing his life will be “deeply altered” by the court’s verdict. I know this man is speaking out as a father but really, the callousness with which he disregards the consequences his son’s actions have had on his victim sickens me. He pretends that his son has done nothing wrong worth jail time and has no regard whatsoever for how his child has ruined this woman’s life.

“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” he wrote.

“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Mr. Turner says his son, Brock Turner, should not be sent to jail.

“The fact that he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact people and organizations,” he wrote.

“What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violence to anyone, including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015.”

Mr. Turner then suggested his son could become a role model for young people. I get that he is the kid’s dad but there comes a time when you need to support your child by loving them while at the same time making them understand that there are consequences to bad behavior and raping a woman is bad behavior. It is unforgivable behavior.

“Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

“By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.”

It’s like this man doesn’t think his son has done anything really wrong. I know he’s a father who loves his son and love is blind, especially where our children are concerned but this man is in absolute denial.

What do you think is a fitting punishment for Brock Turner’s choice to rape a woman?

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I’ve found that as a Mother, the moments that I learn the most valuable lessons are when I am not thinking at all. So sad but so true. For example, amidst all the craziness that this morning was..the girls were having a slap fight, Gabs decided to tell me : “You hate me! ME no love you!” for the infraction of not letting her wear long sleeves outside in the 90 degree weather ( I can see her point..I’m just a mean bitch), and Bella went completely deaf and ignored absolutely every single thing I asked her to do or told her not to do this morning ( again, must be me. How dare I think my girls should be held responsible for their actions!)! Stupid, naive, me…I thought it was going to be a good day, I woke up to sunshine, hot coffee, and Paramore and then hell broke lose!

 

But, somewhere along the way, something clicked. Oh yes, I remember. I was checking my FB account and a friend of mine had posted her son’s senior montage. I watched it, for no other reason than curiosity. I don’t really know her son. As I was watching it, I started tearing up (just like I did at the end of Toy Story 3).

Suddenly, like a ton of bricks it hit me…these tantrums and days that seem to be endless..are fleeting and passing me by at lightening speed. Before I know it, I will be watching Bella’s senior montage and sending her off into the world to be her own person; left to her own devices and there will be no more daily tantrums, slap fights, screaming matches but there will also be no more random I love yous, neck ringing hugs, co sleeping, spontaneous dance parties and silly song concerts! On a day soon after that, it will be packing Gabs up for college and sending her off.

When we are waiting to meet our children, 10 months feels like forever. When they are toddlers and having tantrums, and it seems like the days will never end of changing shitty diapers, or we’ll never get to be alone again; these days we wish away. But I am here to tell you, if you change your thinking and realize that those precious little hands that hold yours will soon be to large to want to do so, that the child who won’t leave your side will soon rather not be seen in public with you because you are an embarrassment, and that the little girl who thinks that you are the world and annoys you to no end messing with your shoes, clothes and make up will soon want nothing to do with you.

If we realize from the moment they are born, we are losing them and that with every milestone and tantrum they are one step closer to heading out the door for college, then maybe we can slow down, gain perspective and enjoy the madness; embrace the chaos, and love our children for the who they are today. I know its hard to realize this in the midst of the chaos, but take a moment and try to remember to cherish even the worst days because they are flying by and soon there will be no more chaos to cherish!

Hug them, kiss them, let them play in the puddles, act silly with them, let them cook with you, don’t waste their childhood wishing it away.Sometimes you’ve got to break some rules to make some memories. It’s not about how much money you spend, how clean your house is, or what you cook for dinner. What they’ll remember is how much you loved them and how much time you spent with them….make it count! Happy Mothering!

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