I’m Thankful for Power Rangers

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I haven’t made a blog post in quite a while. This is probably due to the fact that I haven’t had much to talk about lately. Same boring day to day life.  In an effort to get the juices flowing again I’ve decided to go with the craze and tell you all the things I’m most thankful for, I mean, it is Thanksgiving  after all.

I am most thankful for…

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Bat Quinn, defender of Gotham

 1. My Son

 Quinn truly is the best thing ever to have come into my life. I honestly don’t know where I would be without him. This little boy is so happy and loving, and he completely makes me better as a person. I don’t think I ever really knew the meaning of true love until he was born. When you’re pregnant most people tell you the same thing, that “once you see that little face for the first time, you’re going to fall head over heels in an instant.” I’m sort of afraid to admit this, but when he was born I just didn’t feel that way. When I looked at him, all I saw was a baby (who looked strangely just like his Papa). I think I was sort of in shock…I had just pushed a 7lb miniature human out of my hoo-hah, and was still high on meds. It took me a while to let it sink in that I was actually responsible for someone other than myself, but once it did…BAM! He was like a drug I just couldn’t get enough of, and still can’t. My baby boy means the world to me, and everyday I feel so lucky that I get to be his Mommy.

The Parental Units

The Parental Units

2. My Mom and Dad

My son may be my whole reason for existence, but the only reason I even exist at all is due to those folks on the right there. Growing up as an only child was a unique experience for me. It was just me, and my parents 24/7. It’s because of this that I have a very close relationship with them. When I was younger we did everything together, and even now as an adult, it’s the same way for the most part…just with the inclusion of Quinn. My son’s father has said that to him, our relationship is strange, and I get that. I’m sure there are other people who would probably feel the same way. It’s just not something they’re used to, and that’s okay. I couldn’t imagine for a second what it’s like for people who aren’t close to their parents like I am. I’ll always know that no matter what happens in my life, I have two people who love me unconditionally, would do anything they can for me, and put my happiness above almost all things. Seeing them with my son is one of the things that makes me happiest, and I know that he loves his Nana and Papa just as much as I do. They have done, and continue to do, so much for me that I don’t think I could ever thank them enough. (So if you’re reading this right now…which I know you are, thank you! I love you! And stop crying!)

And now for the good stuff…

I’m sure that you all know that I am thankful for my family and friends, but these are the rest of things I’m thankful for, in no particular order.

3.  Alcohol

What can I say…it just makes everything better!

The good stuff

The good stuff

 4. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

The only legit form of Power Rangers. As a 90’s kid, my life revolved around them, and I will still watch the 1995 movie any day of the week.

Go, Go Power Rangers

Go, Go Power Rangers

 5.  O.P.I.Nail Polish

I’m 100% addicted to nail polish and O.P.I. is my drug of choice!

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6. Food.

Period.

I love food.

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7. Star Trek

To Boldly Go where no television show has gone before…

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 8. Doctor Who

It’s just so Timey Wimey!

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 9. The Interwebs

Where else could you connect with friends, and also find a picture of a cat surfing on a burrito in space?

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10. Instagram

I know it’s stupid, but I love seeing random pictures from people’s lives.

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11. Video Games

Because sometimes you just need to kill shit.

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 12. The Digital Age

I am honestly amazed at the fact that my toddler can work a smartphone better than my parents. He is going to have so many more opportunities than I did growing up. Thank god for the time that we live in.

13. My Job

I may not particularly like my job most of the time, but I am thankful that I have it. My job provides me with a place to sleep, a car to drive, food to eat, and the means to support myself and my son.

14. My Baby Daddy

We might not always see eye to eye on things, but I am happy and thankful that we have a good relationship that my child will benefit from in the future. Without him, I wouldn’t even have my munchkin whom I couldn’t imagine life without.

15. My fellow Midnight Mama, Ruth

Ruth is the entire reason I have this blog, so she definitely gets a shout out. I am so lucky that I met someone who gets me like she does. Our personalities are complete opposites at times, but that is why our friendship works. Sometimes I am amazed that it took us this long to find each other. Love you Futh!!

And there you have it, 15 things I am thankful for. I hope everyone is enjoying their turkey hangover. As for me, I’ll be spending my night in the ER thinking about what I shall write about for my next blog post!

 

 

Ruth Ellen, the First

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My parents named me after my grandma on a whim. The first day and half I was alive they just called me The Baby because they couldn’t agree on a name. Then my great Grandma Ruth came to meet me in the hospital, and my dad offhandedly suggested they name me after her.

And so I became Ruth Ellen (Junior, to my Grandma Ruth).

At various times throughout my life several people have paid me the high compliment of saying I had a lot of Grandma’s personality. I think that because the name Ruth is unusual for a little girl, adult people often spoke to me like I was an adult and, in a lot of ways, I was expected to act more like an adult too. Because of my name, people expected me to act a certain way- like my grandma. And I did. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Grandma is a badass. I don’t think she would object to me calling her that. I honestly cannot think of another word to describe her. Her antics are family legend at this point. Just in her daily living, she had an air about her. I imagine it’s not all that different than the one the queen of England has. She demanded respect. Feisty doesn’t accurately sum her up, but it comes pretty close. She was stubborn and always got her way, one way or another. If she couldn’t nicely persuade someone, she would try to bully them. If the bullying didn’t work (and it usually did), she would completely disregard whomever it was and physically make her own request a reality. She spoke in absolute certainties. She gave the weirdest advice, which always turned out to be right. She had a way of seeing the simplest solutions to problems.

I think the secret to her long life was that she never really allowed herself to get old. She had four children, twelve grandchildren, twenty-three great-grandchildren and (so far) seven great-great grandchildren. But she was active in all our lives. She drove out to visit us. She talked to all of us and she knew all of us. She went up to her lake cottage. She visited with the friends that were still sucking air. She had this really annoying cat named Cry Baby (you can guess why he was so annoying) that she treated like a dog. (I bought her car when she could no longer drive it, and there was a leash in there for the cat.) She had personality oozing from her.

In 2005, when she was 93 years old, she was shot in a drive by shooting in Youngstown while she sat in her own kitchen. The neighborhood had been going to shit for a long time, and everyone had tried to get her to leave the house. She refused to go. Then she got shot. Then she went right back to that house.

No one was going to talk her out of that house with the bullet holes in it, god dammit. It wasn’t until many years later, when the dementia kicked in, that we were able to extract her. She went to live with my cousin Helen when she could no longer live by herself. She seemed to be doing better at first, and then her mental state took a turn. After a time, it became painfully obvious that she really needed around the clock professional care. She was situated at St. Mary’s, an Alzheimer’s facility.

My Grandma Ruth died this afternoon in a room with people who loved her.

I always get a little angry when people say to me, “They’re in a better place” at funerals of loved ones. I always thought that the best place for a loved one to be would be alive and with me. My grandma left the world today and went to be with her parents, all of her brothers, her husband, all of her children, her granddaughter and her great great-granddaughter. I guess I will stop being selfish and admit that yes, in this instance, Grandma is in a better place.

I am thankful for the all the time I had with her, all the memories and stories and the tall tales that involve her. I am most thankful, though, for the name I inherited. It has been a long-standing honor to have it and to be so closely associated with her. She was fierce, she was loud, she was sure, she was pushy, she was loyal and she was loving. She was a great woman, and I will try to live like she did.

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Fair Warning… “Mommy ” Post

http://www.troll.me/2011/10/30/captain-hindsight/condoms-arnt-expensive-babies-are/

Captain Hind Sight!

Damn, the kid is so expensive.

I really just discovered this– about two weeks ago. Up until then, I’ve only had to buy diapers twice. We got a ton of diapers in a lot of different sizes at my baby shower, in November. Whenever I actually had to buy diapers it was right before she moved to the next size up. Well, about three weeks ago, we used the very last of the size 3s. She isn’t going to be in 4s for a while.

She is such a princess, you know. Her little butt absolutely will not tolerate store named, generic brand diapers. Oh no. Only Pampers please! Little did I know, 120 Pampers runs you about $25 and will only last you less than two weeks.

Eloise was breastfeed the first six months of her life. I had the six month goal- and I stuck to it, but not a day over. Everyone tells you how much better breastfeeding is for your baby, and I can’t disagree. She has not ever really been sick and the kid is a heifer! What no one really prepares you for is how freaking emotionally and physically exhausting it is. I was constantly worried about what I ate, how much water I was drinking,  and if I was producing enough. Constantly. Like every moment of every day. I really didn’t sleep more than 4 hours at a time for 5 months because of what seemed like continual feedings. It was a hassle when I went back to work to pump 3-4 times during a 12 hour shift (exceptionally at night when there is no one to cover you). Not to mention the physical pain and general constant uncomfortableness that never really went away.

For all that though, it was so cheap! I didn’t realize how much money I was saving! When I started weening her about four weeks ago we used the formula I had been gifted during my pregnancy. It was all name brand stuff. She has acid reflux and already didn’t handle breast milk so well, but the Similac seemed to help a little. When it was time for me to go out and buy formula last week I about fell over. $25 for less than a week’s worth of Similac. Jesus God, watch over me. I decided Elle would be able to live off the Wal-Mart brand, Parent’s Choice, which was the double the amount for 5 dollars less.

http://www.canadianfamily.ca/kids/pregnancy/can-you-spoil-a-baby/Well, the Princess Eloise can not drink that crap. Duh. How could I have been so stupid!? She puked that stuff out as she was drinking it. I had to go back to the store and buy a second brand new container, this time of the Eloise-Approved-Similac.

I am using the Parent’s Choice in her cereal and to thin out her homemade baby food.

Side note: Homemade baby food- BEST idea I ever had! $20 and 2 hours on a Sunday, and BAM- baby food for a month! I steam everything and puree it in my Baby Bullet and freeze it in ice-cube trays. I defrost them in the fridge over night and mix flavors while I am thinning them out for her. She freaking loves big girl food.

Anyway…

I expected parenting to be very hard and kind of expensive.

My observation, as of so far, is that it’s not hard, just very time-consuming. Even when I’m not doing one on one child care time with her (which there is a ton of!), I am constantly being her mom. I worry about her, think about her, look at her pictures, talk about her, or laugh about something she did just about every minute. And I love it.

What I don’t love is how crazy expensive she is! I was very blessed and fortunate to have generous family and friends who provided me with almost six months worth of diapers, clothes, formula, medicine and every other necessity I would need. We don’t pay for child care. Robert works days and I work nights and our mothers and my sisters help out so I can sleep some during the days. Up until a couple of weeks ago the only money I spent on her was on outfits and toys she didn’t really need but I wanted her to have.

Buying my own kid’s food and diapers is not going to break the bank. We’re going to be just fine. I was just surprised, and then surprised by my surprise. I feel like I discovered a whole new level of parenting. (I honestly don’t know how single or impoverished parents do it! My awe and respect goes out to them).

My thanks go out to all the people in my life who made it possible for me live under the rock as long as I did. I was grateful before, but now I am amazed.

Adventures in Buying a Home

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My House as it looked on the Realtor’s listing, Don’t worry…I got rid of the random make-shift hand rail.

This one is going to be long-winded, so bear with me!

When I think back to the journey I took when buying my first home, I always seem to start at the same place. My house. Not the house I bought and live in currently, but the first and only house I ever lived in until I was 22 years old. Yes, I was one of those kids who was brought home from the hospital and basically lived in the same house for their entire life. Our house was nothing special, but it was mine. That’s the house where I had my first…everything.  (And did I mention we had an in-ground swimming pool?) Throughout the years my parents would decide…without me…that they wanted to start looking into buying a new house and moving. These decisions were always met with so much anxiety and many tears from their only precious child that they always gave up. It was just never something that I ever wanted to think about doing.

Then, a few years after I had graduated high school my parents decided they wanted to start looking again, and by this time I had no choice but to go along with it. We even found a house that seemed to satisfy all of us, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My parents were outbid.

It was then that they started kicking around the idea of building a house. At first I was open to the idea, but then after they secured land to build on, I had an abrupt change of heart.  Growing up, we had always lived about 20 minutes away from my grandmother, and the land my parents built the house they now live in, was literally a stone’s throw away from her. The area where they now reside is very rural, whereas I was used to living in a very busy suburb. There was no way I wanted to move away from my township that I loved so much, because I knew that would mean little to no visits with my friends. When you live 5 minutes away from someone it’s easy to make time in your busy lives, but when you move into a different county all together, it’s a little more difficult.

So, the decision was made to build the house, and we lived in our old home while the new one was being built. Meanwhile, we had our house…my house…up for sale.

When the new house was in the final stages of being built, our house hadn’t sold yet and it was clear that it wasn’t going to anytime soon. That’s when I had the stroke of genius to talk my parents into letting me stay in the house until it sold. The one condition, I had to find roommates and we had to pay rent. I talked it over with one of my best friends, and it was decided that she and her boyfriend at the time would move in with me, and everything would be super awesome. And it was, for 6 months… until someone bought my house.

Me as a toddler sitting on the front porch of "My House"

Me as a toddler sitting on the front porch of “My House”

I felt like the world was playing a cruel joke on me. Moving from the only house I’d ever known at 22 years old was very traumatizing for me. I then decided, rather than move in with my parents and be so far away from everything that I loved, that it was a better idea to find an apartment in the same area. I found the apartment of my dreams, and everything was copacetic…for about a month. That’s when I found out I was pregnant with my son.

A few months after receiving the news that I was going to be a first time mommy, I moved into my parent’s new house to save money during my pregnancy, and this is where our story really begins.

Quinn and I had been living with my parents for about a year when I started to get the itch to buy a house. As a young mother in her 20’s, I was starting to feel smothered. While my parents have no problem forever thinking of me as their child, I was not so thrilled at the idea of feeling like I was back in high school as I was trying to raise a child of my own.

At the time, one of my co-workers was also in a transition period where she and her fiancé were stuck living at her parents’ house. As I saw her start the process of looking for, and eventually buying a house, I had the realization that this was actually something I could accomplish.

I called the same loan company (Quicken Loans) that my coworker did, and I got the process started.

The fact is, I am young. I bought my first house at 24 years old, completely on my own, as a single mother. Of course there are going to be things you aren’t going to be prepared for, and I definitely wasn’t. With that said, her e  is a list of some things that young, first time home buyers should know when looking for the perfect house.

1. Credit. Credit. Credit.

Everyone knows that you aren’t going to get far very if you don’t have a good credit score. Thankfully, since my college career ended before it began, I didn’t have many student loans, and they were all paid off rather fast. That and the fact that I’ve never been late on a payment for anything in my life, have resulted in me having an excellent credit score. My lenders were practically throwing themselves at me. Do whatever you can to try to improve your credit score, and things should go much smoother.

2.  Loan Approval and Mortgage Payments

Before you even start looking at houses, get a pre-approval. This will give you a guideline to follow when you start out. It also helps to give you an idea of what your mortgage payments will be like, so you don’t get in over your head. Also, be aware of the different types of loans. If you are a low-income individual there are FHA loans available to help you. They have lower interest rates, but also higher standards when it comes to home inspections, etc.

3.  Realtor

One of the most important parts of your search is to find a realtor that you love. You are going to be having almost constant contact with this person, so you need to make sure that you’re comfortable with them. The more comfortable you are with your realtor, the better they will be at finding your perfect home. When I first started out, I didn’t have a realtor, so Quicken Loans set me up with a local realtor (a husband and wife team) that was affiliated with their company. It’s sad for me to say, but we just didn’t have the right chemistry. I decided that it wasn’t working out, so my mom set me up with the realtor who sold our old home, who just happens to be a cousin of hers. The great thing about Kathy was that she knew our old house so well, and knew exactly what I was looking for, and what area I wanted to be in. She is one of the nicest, and most fun people to work with, and I have nothing but good things to say about her. I highly recommend her if you’re looking to buy or sell a home in the Youngstown area. Her name is Kathy Carroll and she works for Northwood Realty. You can find her contact info here.

4. Utilities

VERY IMPORTANT! If you find a home that you LOVE, call around and get estimates on your utilities. It will save you time in the end to find out that you can afford the house, but you can’t afford to heat it. Or bathe.

5.  Amenities

One of the downsides to my perfect home was the fact that the previous owners had striped every appliance out of the place when they left. (They were foreclosed on, and apparently sought vengeance by taking everything they could, including light fixtures and window screens. Way to stick it to the man!) If you end up in this situation, make sure to price your appliances before you go through with the sale. Prices add up, and that could make the difference whether you can afford the house or not. (I recommend Sears. Their Kenmore brand is great quality, and reasonably priced.)

6. Repairs

When you view a home, take a notepad with you and jot down any noticeable repairs that you may have to do in the future. I bought my house using an FHA loan, and they have more strict policies on home repairs and safety. For instance, when my bid was accepted on my house, an FHA inspector came to look at it and determined that I needed to paint the garage, which was cracked and peeling, and add a railing to the back deck. If I hadn’t done these things, they wouldn’t have let my loan go through.  There are some homes that the repairs greatly outweigh the cost of the home, and should be taken into consideration. Not to mention the fact that your lender will require all the purchasing information for anything that you do to the home, as well as the fact that if it’s still not up to their standards, you can be out a lot of money for a house that you aren’t going to be living in. Be careful what you get yourself into. 

7. Lenders and You, wave goodbye to your privacy!

Be prepared for the onslaught of daily phone calls from your lender. Also, have your finances in order. While going through the loan process, I had to send W2’s, bank statements, paystubs, etc. to the office what seemed like every day. I’m surprised they didn’t ask for my first-born child. The endless calls questioning every single dollar in my possession, and where they came from was astonishing, and almost maddening. I had multiple conversations with my friend who was going through this at the same time about how we broke down crying after getting off the phone with these people.

8.  Neighborhood

Almost any website that you go to about buying a house for the first time will tell you to scout out the neighborhood of any home that you are going to seriously pursue. They all tell you to go at different times during the day to get a feel for things. What they don’t tell you is to stick around for a few hours, especially when you have neighbors in very close proximity. For instance, since I didn’t move into my house until last October, I only recently found out that my next door neighbor likes to cut his grass 3x a week. At exactly the same time my son takes a nap. Would this have been a reason for me to not go through with buying my house? Absolutely not. I actually got really lucky with my neighbors. Most of the people on my street are either elderly, or very quiet, and all of them I have met so far are very nice. I even live across the street from a high school classmate of mine, and her mother who used to be my manager at a previous job (which comes in handy when I lock myself out of the house!) So stick around for a while, meet the neighbors and see if they’ll be a good fit for you.

9. Sometimes you just have to walk away

My last piece of home buying wisdom is this; never fall so in love with a house that you set yourself up for disappointment. Also don’t make up your mind as to what exact kind of house you want. You have to always think that there is a good possibility that you won’t end up with the one you want, or the home that you end up with may be completely different from what you were originally looking for. I’ve had experiences with both while I was with my first realtors, which was a big reason why I made the decision to switch. The first home I ever bid on was about $10k more than I was approved for. The home wasn’t even on the market at the time, but the realtor I was with knew the person who was renovating it. I loved the house, it was exactly what I wanted, and I bid as much as I was able. My realtor assured me that there was no way the seller would turn down my offer. He couldn’t have been more wrong. The seller turned down my bid, and informed us that there was no way he was taking less than full asking price.  Needless to say, I was crushed. Moving on from that, I found another home a little further away from the primary neighborhood I was looking in. The house was exactly what I wanted, a beautiful 2 story Tudor being sold because the elderly woman who lived there moved to a nursing home. It was in a decent, but somewhat declining neighborhood where my son would have had to go to inner-city schools when the time came. A big thing to think about is resale value of the home you’re buying. Had I bought this property, the neighborhood might have been nice enough for us at the time, but by the time I’d ever be ready to sell, the value would have been pretty terrible. In the end, I found a cute little Cape Cod that was newly remodeled and will make a perfect first home for me and my baby.

Satellite image of my new home

Satellite image of my new home

Buying your first home is the most rewarding experience you can have, although it’s probably also the most stressful. Just keep some of these things in mind when you go into it and you should have smooth sailing.

 To do this at such a young age, I can’t thank my parents, family, friends and co-workers enough for everything they did to help me.  I truly am very lucky.

Dad is Great.Bum Bum Bum. Riding Roller Skates. Bum Bum Bum!

My dad with Katie and I.

My dad with Katie and I.

The title of this post is the title and lyrics of an orginal song my that dad made up and taught the six of us to sing about him. I don’t remember when he made it up or why, but he is right. He is pretty great at riding roller skates.

“Its being to look a lot like aluminum.
A plastic Christmas tree.
Bumbum Bumbum Bum.

What a terrible, terrible way,
To spend the Christmas Day,
Around a stupid plastic tree.
Bumbum bumbum Bum.”

That one is how my mother got a fake Christmas tree the year after she and he divorced. He has always felt real trees are best, so much so that he actually got my little brother a gas mask to wear in the living room because he has a hard time breathing around real pine trees.

“If you wanna be a star,
Come and drink at my Tiki Bar.

If it wears a double D bra,
Its probably your mother in-law.

Run.

If you can’t run that far,
Just come back to my Tiki Bar.

We will drink a lot of beer,
And she’ll never get that near.

So come on over to my Tiki Bar,
And someday you’ll be a superstar!”

That one was about the Tiki Bar he, Katie and I built out of an old bowling alley floor and cedar shingles the summer I was 12. It is pretty legit. When we were evicted from our house my dad “acquired” a fork lift to transport it to the new place. We still drink beers there. And I’m a superstar.

There are at least half a dozen more of those dad-made-up songs the six of us can belt out at a moment’s notice. They each have a crazy story to go with them. These aren’t even the three best, just the three I am most comfortable putting on the internet.

I should have posted this earlier in honor of Father’s Day, but honestly this post is hard to write. My dad is the most complicated person I know. He is hilarious and scary and loyal and bossy and extremely intelligent and just a little bit excentric. I don’t have anyway to sum him up.

He drinks a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon (only out of the can- bottles are for sissys) and smokes Winston cigarettes (from a soft pack).

The Pabst Beer Tree... the only fake Christmas tree excepted.

The Pabst Beer Tree… the only fake Christmas tree excepted.

People are weirdly drawn to him. I don’t know how he does it, but he can make anybody like him. After he makes someone like him, he has a way of making them want to please him. It really is a great trick.

We were evicted from the house that my dad built, that I grew up in, in 2007. My dad didn’t tell anyone what was going on until 3 days before the sheriff came to remove us. Some how in three days he got a house for us to live in (for free) and about 100 people to come help us pack up our life and move it two houses down the road.

My dad never spoke to me like a I was a child. Ever. He told the exact same perverted, offensive jokes he would tell his friends to his 10-year-old. He had very clear expectations of us, and we were very well aware of them. We never had any disillusions that he liked our friends or boyfriends or girlfriends. We always knew what he was thinking. Still do.
He has always treated the six of us like mini adults he was responsible for feeding and housing. He expected us to be able to fend for ourselves. We did all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the homework with each other. We did the Christmas and grocery shopping. He was more of an overseer.
It was an odd brand of parenting, but in the end he managed to create are six completely self confident, competent, reliable people.
The King of Wood Steet

The King of Wood Steet

Whenever any of us leave him we alway kiss him. If we forget, he reminds us. My grown brothers still kiss him on top of his head whenever they leave the house, even if it’s the tenth time that day.
He hardly ever actually says the words “I love you.” He really doesn’t need to, though. We all know that he does. He would do anything for the six of us. If I ever need anything- my car fixed or a dead body moved- he is my go to guy.
When I got married, my dad insisted that if he had to give me away, I had to hold his hand.  He used to yell at me when I was a little girl, "Hold my hand! Do you want me to fall!?"

When I got married, my dad insisted that if he had to give me away, I had to hold his hand.
He used to yell at me when I was a little girl, “Hold my hand! Do you want me to fall!?”

Real Wedding: Ruth & Robert

I feel so famous! I had the amazing opportunity to be a guest blogger for a dear friend planning her own wedding!

Life of Twyf

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I’m pretty excited about this post for two reasons: 1) it marks my first “real” wedding profile, and 2) I had the privilege of being a part of this couple’s big day. When Ruth agreed to be my first profiled bride, I knew working on it was going to be a lot of fun. I met Ruth through our man-friends; for a few months, Brian lived with Robert and Joanne, Robert’s mother, along with Donovan (who actually introduced me to my future fiancé). She recently started blogging with one of her co-workers on The Midnight Mamas. This year, Ruth and Robert welcomed one of the happiest baby girls I’ve ever met into the world, but before she arrived, they had a beautiful, fun, crowd-sourced wedding…

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Stalkers, Kidnappers & Molesters Oh My! Why I don’t post pictures of my kid online.

 

My mother and father did an excellent job of ingraining the concept of Stranger Danger into me as a child. One might say they did to good of a job.

My father has four daughters and I know for a fact that his biggest fear is one of us being abducted. I know this because since I was 9 years old there has always been mug shots of local sexual offenders on his refrigerator. Our instructions if we happen upon on of these individuals? Scream “RAPE!” and “FIRE!” and start to run- even if this guy doesn’t talk to you. Fortunately, this scenario has never played out.  My dad has a mantra we had to recite whenever we left the house. “Bad people do bad things to little kids.”

My mom was much less intense about Stranger Danger, but still very affective. She bought a VHS copy of  How to Raise a Street Smart Child and had us watch it repetitivly. I feel like all parents and children should watch this video, together. It has a commentary by John Walsh, who is best known as the father of Adam Walsh, who was kidnapped and murdered the summer of 1981.  There are many scary situations laid out in this documentary, the most scary being child abduction.

The documentary lays out different ways children and adults can thwart would-be kidnappers. One of the tips that has stayed with me into adulthood was to not ever have your child’s name printed anywhere on their clothing or backpack. Kidnappers can easily trick children into thinking they know them, or their parents, just by knowing their name.

If someone can lure my child away just because they know her name then I want as few people as possible to know it. This is why I do not post pictures of Eloise online. I have over 400 “friends” on Facebook. I have met and personally know just about all of these people, but do I really know all of them? No. Of course not. Even if I thought I knew someone well, you never really know, ya know?

When I was a couple of months pregnant I downloaded a sex offender locator app on my IPhone. Guess what? Three of my Facebook friends are on the list. One of them grew up around the corner from me. I’ve known him my whole entire life. He was convicted of owning child pornography. I would have never ever guessed. Ever.

A screen shot of the locations of the sex offenders in my hometown.

A screen shot of the locations of the sex offenders in my hometown.

Do I want this man, and unnamed and not yet found others, to be able to recognize my child at a glance? What about complete strangers? Facebook security settings can be tricky and change often. It is just is not something I am willing to risk.

According to The Federal Bureau of Investigation 49% of children are kidnapped by family members, 24% by strangers, and 27% by acquaintances. Kids taken by acquaintances are mainly female or teenagers and are the most likely to be sexually and/or physically abused. I encourage you to read this article, and visit these sites to learn more.

If, God forbid, something were to ever happen to my daughter I will have a SHORT list of people who know who she is and what she looks like.

Not posting pictures of her on Facebook really is a pain in my ass. I love to look at pictures of friend’s and relatives and acquaintances’ kids on Facebook. Without Facebook, I would hardly know what my adorable, far-away nephews are doing or see how much they’ve grown. I honestly am not judging other parents about putting pictures of their own children up. On the contrary, I am kind of embarrassed I come off like an aloof over bearing parent. I hate having to ask everyone who takes a picture of Elle to please not post it anywhere online.

Instead of posting openly online, I collected the email addresses of people I know and trust, who want to watch Eloise grown up, and email them updated pictures once a week.

I am keenly aware that I am an overly paranoid parent. The first month after Eloise was born I barely slept because I was convinced if I stopped watching her while she slept she would die of SIDS. I have completely banned outdoors without  the use of an insect net after she was stung on the face by a bee (To be fair, though, Robert’s family has a history of severe anaphylactic shock from bee stings). I spend a good part of my life worrying about my child- and she can’t even crawl yet! I wish I could have less anxiety about her, but I can’t.

The truth of the matter is that no one can guarantee their child’s safety 100% of the time. As they get older there is less and less that a parent can control. Soon she’ll be walking, crossing the street, going to school and meeting new people. All of this will be beyond my control. But as of right now, I have complete say over where she goes, what she does, and, most importantly, who knows her. I rue the day she is old enough to want her own social media page. I have no idea how I will handle it, but I have some time to figure it out.