What Do You Do, Dear? http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com because life is full of surprises Sat, 21 Jan 2017 02:15:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I love this day. http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/i-love-this-day/ http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/i-love-this-day/#comments Sat, 21 Jan 2017 02:15:31 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3268 I love this day. This day is sacred. This day is terrible and beautiful and ugly and hopeful and frightening and true. It is the day, five years ago, that my son was diagnosed with Spina Bifida. It is the day, two years ago, that my daughter way born. Today, (in case you hadn’t noticed because you’ve... 

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I love this day.

This day is sacred.

This day is terrible and beautiful and ugly and hopeful and frightening and true.

It is the day, five years ago, that my son was diagnosed with Spina Bifida.

It is the day, two years ago, that my daughter way born.

Today, (in case you hadn’t noticed because you’ve taken refuge under a rock to wait out the storm) it is Inauguration Day.

For me, today is all things. Weeping and laughter. Mourning and dancing. Tearing and mending. Acceptance and protest. Over and over and over again.

To everything there is a season.

January 20th.

2012. 2015. 2017.

Both my children taught me lessons on this day. Both continue teaching.

But this girl? This girl is beyond all language and bigger than the solar system. This girl makes me believe that though the world today is filled with madness, though it hurts my soul to the edge of despair, though it fires my belly and spurs me to dissent– the future of women in America has never shined so bright.

So shine on, Little Darlin’. Every season with you is a revelation. Turn, turn, turn, forever.

Happy Birthday.

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Saying NO to Christmas (who is not the boss of me) http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/saying-no-christmas-not-boss/ Wed, 07 Dec 2016 05:38:18 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3249 I hung the stockings. I littered my tabletops with twinkle lights. I busted out the nativity set. I agreed to attend three holiday parties. I trimmed the tree and bedazzled that sucker with exactly four tons of tinsel (because all trees should look like the one from A Christmas Story– less is not more). Then I collapsed in front of the... 

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I hung the stockings. I littered my tabletops with twinkle lights. I busted out the nativity set. I agreed to attend three holiday parties. I trimmed the tree and bedazzled that sucker with exactly four tons of tinsel (because all trees should look like the one from A Christmas Story– less is not more). Then I collapsed in front of the fireplace from holiday exhaustion while my kids danced the Nutcracker ballet around my lifeless body.

That last part was a joke. What I mean is, just like every year, I started to burn out.

You guys, Christmas is a kill or be killed holiday. You gotta get on that sucker while the gettin’s good, knowing that at some point you’ll need to look Christmas square in the eye and say “Listen buddy, no means no.

Here’s a little secret: one of my most cherished holiday traditions is saying NO.

I realize this makes me sound like a real Scrooge, but hear me out. We all know what Christmas is actually about (see: A Charlie Brown Christmas circa 1965 or The Bible circa a long long time ago) but sometimes, in the age of Instagram and Pinterest and squishing our noses against our virtual neighbor’s virtual window to see what holiday magic they’re cooking up, it can feel like Christmas is about DOING ALL THE THINGS.

Doing all the things makes me feel like Christmas is the boss of me.

So, to exert my dominance over Bossy McChristmastime, I find things to say no to each year. It helps me relax and enjoy the holidays without all that pressure. Over the years, I’ve said no to one or all of the following (except the first one, to which I say nope, no way, you can forget it every single year forever).

  • Elf on the shelf
  • Outdoor Christmas lights
  • Family photo shoots
  • Christmas Crafts
  • Getting photos with Santa

Don’t get me wrong, I say yes to loads of traditions but reserving the right to say no makes me feel all kinds of powerful– like I’m the mother fudging Queen of Christmas.

To prove that I do indeed say “yes” from time to time, this year I switched it up and said YES to a family photo shoot. Behold:

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We haven’t had professional photos taken since before Frances was born so technically she isn’t an official member of our family. I figured it was time to make her legit so we decked ourselves in sweaters and plaid and met our photographer at the local park. If you live near Columbus, Ohio and you’re hunting for a great family photographer, I highly recommend Natasha. She’s low key, VERY affordable, and managed to make my kids smile simultaneously (in other news: she might be a witch).

Since we now have lovely family photos, I used these super cute designs to create a holiday card because putting my kids’ faces on stuff is what Christmas is all about.

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Naturally, saying YES to professional photos meant adding something to my NO list.

This year I said no to a day of baking/decorating cookies. I know it’s supposed to be a bonding experience and kids love it and blah blah blah but something had to go– besides, I’m saying yes to hot chocolate so it evens out. I worked at a little tea shop when I was in college and we served a cardamom hot chocolate that was to die for. I’ve recreated the recipe and highly recommend you try it. It’s got all the creamy goodness of hot cocoa with the spicy zing of cardamom. I love it, the kids love it, and no one’s noticed the missing cookies yet. Shhhh…

Cardamom Hot Chocolate

Easy Cardamom Hot Chocolate:

  • Combine 2.5 cups of granulated sugar with 1.5 cups of good cocoa powder (or more or whatever).
  • Whisk together and store in an airtight container.
  • To make hot chocolate, heat milk and add 2.5 tbsp of the cocoa mix per cup (add 3 or 4 tbsp if you’re feeling daring).
  • Stir in 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom.
  • Top with 1,000 marshmallows and enjoy!
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I designed this Christmas mug last year and liked it so much that I ordered a new one to match. Kinda thinking I should say yes to THIS tray that goes with it…

Yes to mugs! Yes to hot chocolate! Yes to saying no!

Happy Holidays, to my fellow Christmas queens. Get out there and show Christmas who’s boss!

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What are you saying no to this holiday season?

(You HAVE to say no to something. If you say yes to all the things you will be grouchy and/or you will explode.) 

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On finding words for Election 2016 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/finding-words-election-2016/ Fri, 11 Nov 2016 05:00:37 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3224 Yesterday. A child I love was told that our future leader hates him because he is a “retard.” A child I love wept because she’s frightened that her president will send her Daddy to Mexico. A woman I love woke up to read slurs thrown at her children of color by people with twitter handles... 

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Yesterday.

A child I love was told that our future leader hates him because he is a “retard.”

A child I love wept because she’s frightened that her president will send her Daddy to Mexico.

A woman I love woke up to read slurs thrown at her children of color by people with twitter handles like “Trump Won” and “White Culture Daily.”

Yesterday I saw uncertainty and rejoicing, fear and relief, ugliness and beauty, understanding and rejection. I tried to understand. I read. I listened. I patted little backs and looked into anxious little eyes.

Yesterday I had no words. Today I found some.

They aren’t my own but they will do. If there’s one thing I can say about Fred Rogers, it’s that he knows words– he has the best words. He might not be here today but I sure wish he was and I’m thankful he left a legacy of words that bring me comfort in confusing times. I don’t feel big enough or wise enough to write about this election. I am not equipped to see the future. I may be just a drop of water in a bucket marked America but I can love my neighbor and my God and I can listen and then listen some more. To listen is to love. We are in this bucket together.

Fred Rogers quote

**I’ll be sharing more words from Mr. Rogers on my Facebook page over the next few weeks. I have yet to find a message from Fred that isn’t unanimously approved. Follow along here. **

 

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Halloween in the suburbs (chimney sweep wheelchair costume) http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/chimney-sweep-wheelchair-costume/ Thu, 03 Nov 2016 03:00:31 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3202 Before I tell you about this epic chimney sweep wheelchair costume, I have a confession. When we first moved to the suburbs, I got all boo-hoo-whaa-whaa-snobby-pants about the situation. My reaction to moving 15 minutes away from downtown was (I assume) similar to how most 30-somethings feel when they realize that yes, they do indeed need (and... 

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Before I tell you about this epic chimney sweep wheelchair costume, I have a confession. When we first moved to the suburbs, I got all boo-hoo-whaa-whaa-snobby-pants about the situation. My reaction to moving 15 minutes away from downtown was (I assume) similar to how most 30-somethings feel when they realize that yes, they do indeed need (and maybe sorta want?) a minivan. Oh, the horror.

But here we are, three years into our suburban adventure and I kinda sorta maybe (if I’m honest) like it here? I have my reasons. There’s the neighbors and the schools and all that usual stuff, but the real reason I’ve grown to love this place? Three words:

Hall. O. Ween.

Ya’ll, nobody does Halloween like these suburban folk. Nobody.

When I was growing up, us kids had to ring doorbells if we wanted to get elbow deep into a bucket of Kit-Kats and Now-and-Laters. We had to work for it. But times have changed and around these parts the candy basically comes to you. Our neighbors lug fire pits and lawn chairs and tables of goodies onto their front porches and driveways. They put out decorative lights and yummy snacks and grown-up beverages. It’s basically a wicked fun block party– with costumes.

The best part? This set up is perfect for a kid on wheels. I used to wonder how Simeon would navigate the inevitable front stoop with his wheelchair. I figured I’d be his designated door-bell ringer, hoping that folks would be willing to walk down to him so that I wouldn’t end up as his designated candy grabber too. But since our neighbors hang out in their driveways, my kid can practice some independence and make some friends to boot. Accessibility might not be the intention, but it’s definitely a happy consequence of this kick-booty suburban Halloween. I dig.

But you didn’t come here to read my chatter, so let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?

First up, little Franosaurus. Common during the Cretaceous period, this omnivorous dinosaur survives primarily on a diet of graham crackers and applesauce, but has also been known to bite brothers. Very snuggly. 

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Next up, is Burt. This lovable chimney sweep is quite the song and dance man. Rumored connections to a Miss “Mary Poppins” lends him instant street cred with naughty children, grouchy banker dads, and people who love to laugh (hahahaha). After his Poppins-themed birthday party, this costume should be a surprise to no one.

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This wheelchair costume was a cinch to make– WAY easier than the Mr. Rogers Trolley and last year’s school bus (both looked crazy cute but made me grouchy during the construction period). This chimney required minimal cutting/gluing. His outfit is made from things we had around the house and the chimney sweep came from Amazon for cheap. The most time-consuming part was the brick, which I stress-painted while watching the third presidential debate so technically this costume is brought to you by a nasty woman and a puppet (no, you’re the puppet).

I may try to convince this kid to be Santa for Halloween next year– maybe we can make this costume a two for one.

Hope your Halloween was as spooktacular as ours!

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Any other suburban peeps indulge in a wicked-fun block party for Halloween? How did I not know this was a thing?? Got any ideas for next year’s wheelie costume? What did your munchkins wear for the spo00oky main event? I need details…

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I’m still here http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/im-still-here/ Mon, 26 Sep 2016 04:39:09 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3139 I’m still here. Did that sound dramatic? It probably sounded dramatic. I’m sorry. I don’t mean it like, “I’m still here (even though everything is terrible and I’m crying).” And I don’t mean it like “I’m still here (even though my world is rocked by unimaginable personal tragedy).” What I mean is, “I’m still here (even though I haven’t been... 

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I’m still here.

Did that sound dramatic? It probably sounded dramatic. I’m sorry.

I don’t mean it like, “I’m still here (even though everything is terrible and I’m crying).

And I don’t mean it like “I’m still here (even though my world is rocked by unimaginable personal tragedy).

What I mean is, “I’m still here (even though I haven’t been writing much — ahem… at all — but it’s not because I’m trapped under the world’s biggest slice of cake or because something awful has happened– I’m just doing other fun stuff right now, k?).

I’ve gotten some very kind emails and comments from folks wondering where I’ve been and if everything is alright. I know that sometimes bloggers disappear and then return with shocking stories about personal tragedy or taking time off to find their way or looking inward and la-dee blah blah blah. This is not one of those posts.

I stopped writing because I didn’t feel like writing so I didn’t write.

I wanted a break. Also I was spending WAY too much time online and that made me feel gross. Some people might say that when a writer hits this sort of mental block, she should push through, keep writing, exercise that creative muscle! Me? I say pooh-pooh to that. If forcing yourself to write (and post and then tell social media about it) suddenly sounds about as appealing as learning to juggle using live squids, then maybe it’s time to do other stuff instead. Fun stuff.

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This is me having fun (and Franny having fear-of-giant-Elmo).

Here’s a list of fun stuff I’ve been doing:

  1. Reading gosh darn books (I am a librarian for crying out shhhh <— heh heh… get it?).
  2. Listening to the cast recording of Hamilton (again and again and again infinity… Werk <— this should actually be listed as the number one reason that I haven’t been writing because listening to Hamilton is a full-time job/joy/obsession).
  3. Trying to keep my succulents alive (seriously though, someone needs to tie my hands behind my back so that I stop trying to water them– HOW ARE THEY NOT THIRSTY???).
  4. Watching Stranger Things with my husband (so now I maybe have a fear of christmas lights).
  5. Hanging out with my kids and not stressing about how much writing I “should” be doing.  Because “should” is the dirtiest of dirty words.

I’ve also been thinking (soul searching?) about this blog in general. I want to be sure that I’m using this space to share our family’s experiences while also respecting the privacy of my son. It’s not that I’ve done such a bad job so far but the boy is getting older. He’ll be in elementary school before you can say Jack Robinson. His friends will know how to Google– so will he– and he probably would appreciate me NOT talking about every little feeling he has or physical issue he’s dealing with for all the internet to read. That doesn’t mean I won’t write about disability and parenting but maybe I’ll need to write a little differently? I want to make sure I’m using this space wisely. For him and for me and for all you lovely people out there, too.

Anyway, that’s what I meant when I said “I’m still here.” I considered getting super cryptic and just posting those three words, leaving you to guess at my mental state, but I decided against it.  Now I’m kinda regretting my choice to explain further. Everyone loves a mystery.

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If I’m still here, what about you? Give me some things to add to my list of “fun stuff I’ve been doing.” Books to read? Music to check out? Wheelchair costumes to design??? What floated your boat this summer?

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When we receive comfort from our children http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/when-we-receive-comfort-from-our-children/ Fri, 17 Jun 2016 15:13:04 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3125 Can we agree it’s been an emotional week? Sunday morning was a swarm of news and information and horror as we settled into the unreality of yet another national tragedy. We grieved from behind our screens, praying for comfort and doing what we could to voice our support and reach out. Then that little boy... 

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When we recieve comfort from our children

Can we agree it’s been an emotional week?

Sunday morning was a swarm of news and information and horror as we settled into the unreality of yet another national tragedy. We grieved from behind our screens, praying for comfort and doing what we could to voice our support and reach out. Then that little boy in Florida. Right when our hearts were flush with hurt, a gut-wrenching reminder that life is unpredictable– that we can do everything right and still go wrong. I stayed away from Facebook for the most part. Fear feeds our desire for control and control makes us blame and blame makes us ugly. Nothing is as simple as we’d like it to be.

Then, early this week, a dear friend of mine lost her son.

We’ve been Internet pals from afar and although we’ve never met face to face, this woman has awed me for years. We first bonded over raising a child with a trach. We watched our boys grow from a distance. And then, just like that, he was gone.

We were at brunch when I heard the news. I told my husband I needed to step outside. I didn’t want the kids to see me upset. I didn’t want them worried. I stepped onto the sidewalk, sucking down gulps of fresh air and showing my face to the sky. I prayed and I cried. I collected myself and went back into the cool bustle of the restaurant. I took a deep breath.

Then I cried some more.

I tried to hold it in, I really did, but it bubbled up more and more until I was sitting with hunched shoulders, silently crying into a balled up linen napkin. And all the while I was thinking, “The kids don’t need to see this. I’m just going to upset them. They won’t know what to do.”

That’s when I heard my 4-year-old son’s voice, timid and confused. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”

I couldn’t even catch my breath enough to answer as my husband stepped in. “She’s alright, Simeon. Mommy’s just feeling sad for her friend right now.”

I thought the kid would be upset or maybe he’d go back to eating his breakfast, satisfied with the explanation. Instead he looked at me with concern and said softly, “I give you hug, Mommy?” Then, pointing to his shoulder, “You put your head right here?” I smiled.

And I did.

I leaned over and put my head on that tiny shoulder. He rested his cheek against my forehead. He wrapped his arm around my neck. He whispered in my ear.

“Shh… shh… shh… It’s okay. Simeon’s here. Simeon’s here. Simeon’s here…”

It was the sweetest little act of kindness. My son, reaching out, passing on the comfort learned from being so often comforted by the people who love him. Recognizing that even in times of grownup grief, he has something to offer.

There’s a quote from Mr. Rogers that says:

“We parents are often surprised to find how readily our young children offer us comfort at times of honest talk about our feelings. Children need to feel needed just as much as the rest of us.”

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Maybe allowing our children to see a snapshot of our grief, in ways that are healthy and appropriate, isn’t such a bad idea– maybe it’s actually an opportunity.

When we receive comfort from our little ones, we give them the chance to learn that they are capable of both receiving and giving comfort. They can exercise compassion, knowing that their love is worthy and so very needed.

Their parents need them. Their families needs them.

Not only that, sharing these moments gives children the opportunity to see that we can express our sadness in ways that are healthy– without bitterness and without hurting others or hurting ourselves. Grief is part of living in the world but we don’t have to go it alone. Big or small, we can all support each other.

At bedtime, I sing the kids an old song from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood called “It’s You I Like.” Lately, Simeon has been asking to sing it to me, instead. I recorded us singing it together a few months back and thought I’d share it with you today.

It’s been a long week. We all have something to offer, to each other and to the world. No matter how small we are. No matter how small we feel.


Have you ever been comforted by your child? Did it surprise you? Did it help?

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A practically perfect Mary Poppins party: 4 years old http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/practically-perfect-poppins-party-4-years-old/ Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:48:55 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3103 When I was in college I started purchasing copies of my favorite movies from childhood. I stored them in bins under the bed in my dorm room. Half the time I didn’t even open them. This collection was less a matter of nostalgia and more a matter of plotting to brainwash my future children.  I... 

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When I was in college I started purchasing copies of my favorite movies from childhood. I stored them in bins under the bed in my dorm room. Half the time I didn’t even open them. This collection was less a matter of nostalgia and more a matter of plotting to brainwash my future children.  I hadn’t met Simeon and Franny yet, but I was intent on making darn sure that my future offspring enjoyed the finer things– and by “finer things” I mainly mean “movie musicals from the 1960s” since I wasn’t allowed to watch much else due to my father’s well-executed brainwashing of yours truly.

My family is weird.

Anyway, it worked. Not only does my kid dig stuff from my childhood, sometimes he requests that I throw him a theme party to honor one of my favorites. This is my literal dream come true. Like, just writing about it is making me all tingly (<— this is where I would put 5 of those heart-eye emojis if I knew how– just use you imagination). You may remember that Sim’s 2nd birthday had a “Raffi circa 1989” theme that I was quite proud of. This year, the kid requested a Mary Poppins party.

What can I say? The dude loves a strong female protagonist. #feminism #werk

The only problem with brainwashing your kid into having the taste of a 1960s Mickey Mouse Clubber is that the party supplies you need were retired 50 years ago. You can’t go on Amazon and buy a “Poppins Party Pack,” which I know because I tried and all it gave me was this kickbutt costume that I can only imagine would look STUNNING on me if money grew on trees. What I’m trying to say is that I had to get creative.

Basically, I just put Mary Poppins’ head on a bunch of stuff.

Mary Poppins Birthday Party

Mary Poppins looked great on a WWII propaganda poster, in our bathroom, and gracing this framed Votes for Women tea towel. #hottie

Mary Poppins Party Ideas

Full disclosure: It’s been almost a month and that banner is STILL hanging in my living room. I feel like the Poppins gives me a reprimanding look every time I start to take it down…

I made Poppins banners and wrote Poppins quotes while binging on episodes of Jane the Virgin (OMG the final episode of season 2??? WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN, YOU GUYS???) and drinking gin & tonics. It was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. For the party favors we did sidewalk chalk (in Bert’s honor) and a “spoonful of sugar” (a spoon dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles– yummy).

The day before the festivities, my dad called to ask if anyone else was dressing up as Mr. Banks (because in my family we assume costumes are required). I told him no one was dressing up as anything but that didn’t stop him from arriving in a full Mr. Banks outfit complete with a red carnation for himself and one for the birthday boy. It was THE cutest.

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We ate cupcakes and drank rum punch (without the rum) and generally enjoyed our time celebrating this practically perfect boy. This is the first birthday where we’ve invited some other boys Simeon’s age and it was fun to see him play the host and dismiss each departing guest by shouting from the door “Thanks for coming! DRIVE SAFE!” Ugh. CUTE ON A STICK.

Seriously, how did we get here? How is my buddy so big and grown? He’s doing things himself, making friends, and looking out for his sis. His speech progress has blown me away this year. One year ago the kid was still working on two-word combinations. Now he’s using sentences and bossing his sister around and I just adore him.

I love him like Mary Poppins loves a tidy nursery. I love him like Mrs. Banks loves votes for women. I love him like Bert loves sweeping chimneys. Happy Birthday, little boy. We’re so glad you’re here.

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The details:

  • Invites by Delivered by Danielle. She does a custom invite for us every year and they always crack me up. She’s always willing to work with my zany requests. You can see his chimney sweep invite above.
  • I’m this manybirthday shirt from Vicarious Clothing
  • Rum Punch recipe (it’s really tea punch from my favorite Nashville lunch spot, The Picnic Cafe— find the recipe HERE).
  • Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting from Ina Garten. SO DELICIOUS. Getcha some right now: RECIPE
  • Drink labels– – I just printed out pictures of the cast, backed them with construction paper, and then laminated them so they wouldn’t get wet and gross.

Happy Birthday, Simeon!

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Here’s a question: If you could throw a theme party based on one of your favorite childhood movies, what would it be? Go!

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Northern Bumble Giveaway (it’s back!) http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/northern-bumble-giveaway/ http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/northern-bumble-giveaway/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 12:40:09 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3094 It’s here! I posted this giveaway last week and then we found out that a giveaway was against the voting rules of the Etsy awards and blah-bity blah blah blah so I took it down but now the awards are over and done with so we’re TOTALLY on. WOOT! Since I’ve already posted about Northern... 

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It’s here!

I posted this giveaway last week and then we found out that a giveaway was against the voting rules of the Etsy awards and blah-bity blah blah blah so I took it down but now the awards are over and done with so we’re TOTALLY on.

WOOT!

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Since I’ve already posted about Northern Bumble and the fantastic work Nicole creates (read all about it HERE), I’ll keep this short and sweet. Here’s the gist:

Nicole opened the Northern Bumble shop on Etsy last year and has been selling these delightful designs ever since. She was a portrait photographer before her kids were born so in January she made the cross over (get it– cross over? cross stitch? hardy har har) to creating cross stitch portraits. I remember when she first opened the shop and photos of her work started showing up in my news feed and I was like “WHERE ARE THESE COMING FROM THEY ARE SO STINKING CUTE.” Then I saw it was Nicole and I was like “Duh. She’s the coolest.”

Nicole works with her customers to personalize each portrait so that it reflects their family. That includes their pets, kids, style, everything. And she doesn’t shy away from the details. If your kid uses a wheelchair, she can do that. If you wear a hijab, she can do that too. Got a pet fish? No problem. Once the work is completed, she photographs the piece and sends you a preview so you don’t have to frighten the mailman with your enthusiasm to tear open the package and see the final product.

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Now, enter this giveaway for a custom cross stitch portrait of your own and try to win that ish before I do. Seriously, if I wasn’t an honest person I would rig this thing in my favor– instead, I’ll just put it on my Christmas list and keep my fingers crossed (ho ho ho, to me!). Don’t forget you to check out the Northern Bumble shop HERE.  (PS: If you entered the giveaway when it was briefly posted last week, never fear– your entries are still included here. No need to enter again!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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That time I forgot my daughter at the monkey exhibit http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/that-time-i-forgot-my-daughter-at-the-monkey-exhibit/ Mon, 06 Jun 2016 12:38:57 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3082 Last week I forgot my 16-month-old daughter at the monkey exhibit. It wasn’t even that crowded. We met my friend and her little girl at the zoo for a morning outing. I figured we could catch up while the kids wandered. I figured they’d be distracted into subdued silence by the wonders of nature and... 

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Last week I forgot my 16-month-old daughter at the monkey exhibit.

It wasn’t even that crowded.

We met my friend and her little girl at the zoo for a morning outing. I figured we could catch up while the kids wandered. I figured they’d be distracted into subdued silence by the wonders of nature and all that. Turns out they were pretty silent– silent enough to be completely forgettable. Forgettable enough to leave at the monkey exhibit.

It was an accident, you guys.

I took my daughter out of the stroller so she could have a closer look. Her brother squeezed his wheelchair between a bundle of kids and leaned in close. The littlest monkey was swinging from thick knotted ropes while the grown ones groomed each other in that way that makes you wonder if maybe we should all move along and give them some privacy. You know what I mean– monkey business. *wink wink*

My son’s wheels swiveled beside rows of sandaled feet. All things considered, he’s quite attentive to other people’s toes but close quarters are hard to manage. It wouldn’t be the first time his chair had nicked an ankle or a toe, leaving some unsuspecting kid (or adult) struggling to stifle a yelp. I figured we should move on. The monkeys weren’t doing much anyway.

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I motioned him away as my friend and I grabbed our strollers. We moved on around the corner. We took a break by the room full of bats. We lingered beside the lizard. My friend took some photos of her daughter beside an unspeakably large snake.

And the whole time we were talking about that kid– the one that fell into the gorilla enclosure just days earlier. It happened a few hours from here.

“Are we feeling brave enough to check out the gorillas today?” (Haha)

“Oh gosh. Can you even imagine? That was horrific.”

“And of course they blame the mother.”

“They always blame the mother.”

We were rocking our strollers back and forth, shaking our heads while my son pressed his face against the glass and watched the lizard’s eyes dart from side to side. Maybe we’d check out the elephants next.

I can see how it would happen though. Kids are fast. You get distracted. It not like–“

I paused.

My friend was looking from me to my stroller, a strange expression on her face. She gestured towards me, speaking quickly:

“Your stroller is empty.”

Empty?

I looked down in horror at the vacant seat I’d been pushing for the past 5 (or good heavens, was it 10??) minutes. I would have laughed if my heart hadn’t been in my throat– and if I hadn’t been running. Past the lizard. Through the room full of bats. Around the corner…

The irony, you guys. I had been so distracted talking about the distracted mom whose kid wandered into the gorilla enclosure that I left my 16-month-old daughter at the monkey exhibit. I prayed she’d stay put. That she hadn’t wandered off. That some helpful stranger was looking after her. Actually, no– no strangers– just my kid in the exact place where I had (what is wrong with me??) left her all by herself at the zoo. A sick feeling washed over me.

And then, (thank you, Jesus) there she was. Standing stock-still watching the monkeys swing and groom and monkey their business around. Right where I’d left her.

I forgot my daughter at the monkey exhibit

The kid didn’t fall into the monkey cage or leap into a pit of alligators or wander away with a creepy stranger.

But I guess… she could have.

My daughter didn’t avoid disaster because I’m a better parent than that mom at the Cincinnati Zoo. My daughter avoided disaster because…

–actually, I don’t know why.

I don’t know whose fault it is that that boy fell into the gorilla enclosure and my daughter didn’t.

The thing about finding fault is that it gives us a sense of control. The thing about control is that you don’t have it— at least not as much as you’d like and definitely not if you’re a human who lives here on Earth with the rest of us jokers. Still, believing we’re in complete control feels good and that makes finding fault feel good too. We all saw it scrolling through our news feeds after that poor kid and that poor gorilla crossed paths.

The mom was probably on her phone.

I heard she was texting.

Maybe if she actually watched her kid this wouldn’t have happened.

We sniff out fault because if we have a cause, if we know who or what to blame, then we can tell ourselves that tragedy will never creep into our lives. If misfortune is caused by a misstep, then we can just make sure we step somewhere else. Because we’re different— better even.

The disdain expressed for that terrified mother is nothing more than the ugliness we’re all capable of when our desire for control outweighs our desire for empathy. 

I see it when expectant mothers ask about my son. “Do they know what causes that?” they’ll say with the slightest hint of panic. “Did you take prenatals when you were trying?” It’s okay. I get it. I thought about the same things when I was pregnant– back when I thought control was something I could muster. Really, it’s all the same.

My child won’t have a disability because I stay healthy and take gobs of vitamins.

My kid won’t fall into a gorilla enclosure because I’m a good parent.

I don’t know about you but I’d rather find empathy than fault.

So yeah– try not to forget your kid in a room full of uncivilized primates. But if you do, know that I understand.

It really could happen to anyone.

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Okay, now make me feel better. Anyone else out there lost track of their kid in a public place? Tell me your stories, pretty please? This is a normal thing, right?

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Cross Stitch Portraits by Northern Bumble http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/cross-stitch-portraits-northern-bumble/ http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/cross-stitch-portraits-northern-bumble/#comments Wed, 01 Jun 2016 13:14:38 +0000 http://www.whatdoyoudodear.com/?p=3071 I can’t remember how I first met Nicole. Maybe I was stalking her blog for a while or maybe I was stalking her Instagram photos. Either way, I was most definitely creeping on this gal’s Internet life before we became friends so I’m over-the-moon excited to get to introduce you to her and her work... 

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Cross Stitch Portraits by Northern Bumble

I can’t remember how I first met Nicole. Maybe I was stalking her blog for a while or maybe I was stalking her Instagram photos. Either way, I was most definitely creeping on this gal’s Internet life before we became friends so I’m over-the-moon excited to get to introduce you to her and her work today.

Not to get all ho-hum and a heavy on what should be a super fun (and pre-giveaway!) post BUT when Simeon was a baby, I had big fears about motherhood and what becoming a parent (especially the parent of a child with a disability) meant for my own identity. Finding and following other moms whose children had challenges like my son’s, helped me gain some perspective and relax a bit. Nicole is one of those moms. Her lovely photographs and stories made me feel like it was possible to be a mother and still hold onto the creative pieces of myself. Remember when I wrote this post about having another baby and all the hard things and I said that a friend who had been there got me through it? That was Nicole. Her son Emmett is a curious little boy with giant blue eyes and a complicated medical history. Her daughter Eleonore is a spunky peanut with tons of opinions. Nicole and I have a lot in common.

Enough gushing. Let me tell you about Northern Bumble.

Nicole opened the Northern Bumble shop on Etsy last year and has been selling these delightful designs ever since. She was a portrait photographer before her kids were born so in January she made the cross over (get it– cross over? cross stitch? hardy har har) to creating cross stitch portraits. I remember when she first opened the shop and photos of her work started showing up in my news feed and I was like “WHERE ARE THESE COMING FROM THEY ARE SO STINKING CUTE.” Then I saw it was Nicole and I was like “Duh. She’s the coolest.”

Nicole works with her customers to personalize each portrait so that it reflects their family. That includes their pets, kids, style, everything. And she doesn’t shy away from the details. If your kid uses a wheelchair, she can do that. If you wear a hijab, she can do that too. Got a pet fish? No problem. Once the work is completed, she photographs the piece and sends you a preview so you don’t have to frighten the mailman with your enthusiasm to tear open the package and see the final product.

Cross Stitch Portraits by Northern Bumble

This is Nicole’s family portrait. The cross stitch wheelchair is adorable.

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Even though Nicole is new to the world of Etsy shops, she’s already a finalist in the 2016 Etsy Awards Canada (Eek!!). This is a huge honor and you can help her by voting for the Northern Bumble shop HERE.  I’d love it if you did. Seriously. Like, go do it right now. Vote HERE. Or HERE. Also HERE. Am I bugging you with all this begging? VOTE!!!!!!!

 

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*EDIT*

We’ll be doing the Northern Bumble giveaway starting next Tuesday, June 7th. We needed to remove the giveaway from this post in order to comply with the rules of the Etsy awards but the giveaway will be back next week. If you’ve already entered the giveaway, don’t worry! I’ve saved your entries and they’ll be included in next week’s drawing. Until then, don’t forget to vote for Northern Bumble HERE!

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