Ruth Ellen, the First

grandmaruth

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.

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.

So, I’m pretty basically an X-Man

I recently discovered that I have a super power!
I always knew I was special…
Not really. What I recently discovered is that I have is a rare neurological condition. This is a weird story, so stay with me.

I was stuck in Wikipedia sink hole a couple of weeks ago during some down time at work when I stumbled upon the Matilda wiki page. Matilda was one of my favorite stories when I was a kid. I loved the book, and I loved the movie. It, ironically enough, is about a little girl who discovers she has super powers. The Matilda wiki page lead me to the page of Mara Wilson, the grown adult who once played my most favorite character in the movie version; which lead me to Ms. Wilson’s personal blog.

Her most recent post had been a tribute to her sister and was full of many random facts about her. One of these random facts was that she had a rare neurological condition called Synaesthesia. Image my surprise… she was describing symptoms that I have- that I have always had- that I never knew were actually symptoms at all.

Here’s a brief on what Synaesthesia actually is:

Synaesthesia “is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway… In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored, while in ordinal linguistic personification, numbers, days of the week and months of the year evoke personalities. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be “farther away” than 1990), or may have a (three-dimensional) view of a year as a map (clockwise or counterclockwise). Yet another recently identified type, visual motion → sound synesthesia, involves hearing sounds in response to visual motion and flicker.” (wikipedia)

I have the grapheme color synesthesia and the ordinal linguistic personification.
I couldn’t believe that this actually a thing. Seriously! I never knew that not everybody had colors for their alphabet. I didn’t know that people didn’t assign a sex to objects and ideas. I just assumed this was inherent in all people.

The first thing I did after spending hours reading up on the condition was call my older sister Katie. The only time I ever really discussed my “colors” before was with Katie when we were children. I remembered talking about her “colors” too. Surprise world! Katie also has super powers! According to my research this isn’t unusual. Synaesthesia is hereditary and usually pops up in women. My other sister, Emily, has the grapheme symptoms, but not the ordinal linguistic personification like me and Kate. My mother says she has never heard of such a thing before (actually, I kind of got the impression she thought I was making the whole thing up). I haven’t gotten a chance yet to ask my other siblings Ed, Maggie or Danny if they have it.

You might be wondering what in the heck I am even talking about- what is it like to have Synaesthesia? I’ll try to describe it as best I can.

When I hear, read or think of a letter or number (or person, place or thing) I also “see” a corresponding color and sometimes I perceive a sex and/or personality. I don’t actually see this with my eyes; rather I “know” a color. I would

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My First Mother’s Day

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On Friday night, after my sister Maggie’s prom Grand March, my mom and her fiance, Chris, took Robert, my daughter Eloise and I out for dinner. It was the first time we had taken the baby out amongst the general public for an extended period of time.

I was nervous to go out to a restaurant with her. She usually is a really happy, adorable baby… but she defiantly has her moments. These moments that I speak of are the very reason we have gone so long without really taking her anywhere public. I was picturing my screaming kid throwing a fit in front of a ton of judging strangers and ruining dinner for everyone in the restaurant. They would all look at me, unable to calm my child down, and know that I was a new mom, had no idea what I was doing, and that my baby was brat.

She did so well during the Grand March, I figured we could press our luck and go out to eat. She slept for a the first part of dinner. When she woke up she was in great mood. She was flirting with the old guy sitting behind us and laughing and eating her fist and just generally being her adorable self. Everyone kept coming up to me to tell me how cute she was, how chunky she is and how vocal she was. I can listen to people complement me all day long- but hearing awesome complements about my kid is way way better!

We got all the way through drinks, dinner and dessert with no problems what so ever. I was beginning to think I had been depriving myself of grown up adult social time these past four months for nothing! The check came and Chris offered to pay (yay!). My mom was holding Eloise while we were waiting for the change to come back when Chris notice that little Miss Eloise had some poop running down her leg…

At first me and Robert were actually really excited about the poop. She had been very constipated the last two weeks and hadn’t pooped in four days.

I very quickly realized that this was not something to be excited about when it was already DRIPPING in the time it took me to get out of my chair and around the table to get her.

That old guy who just told me fifteen minutes earlier that she truly was the most beautiful baby he had ever seen avoided making eye contact with me. Some kid behind us was seriously yelling for his mommy to look and see how gross my child was. I was pretty sure everyone in the place was staring at us. It was worse then my worst nightmare! Eloise, meanwhile, was as happy as a clam. She kept grabbing herself and smearing poop all over. It only got worse from there.

I wrapped her in her burp rag, grabbed the diaper bag and ran to the bathroom. For such a big restaurant they only had a one man bathroom. I had to wait in line behind two other women, all the while with baby poop flowing from Eloise. When I finally got into the bathroom I discovered they had no baby changing table. Yeah. No baby changing table table. Just perfect.

I tried to set up her changing mat on the floor, which kind of worked. She has recently mastered the art of rolling over, which was something I temporarily forgot. As soon as I set her on the mat she rolled right off. On to a public bathroom floor.

Yeah.

The poop was everywhere by this point.

Her beautiful new dress was ruined.

I resisted the urge to cry.

In the end I stripped her down and gave her a full blow bath in the sink of this restaurant. At first I kind of felt bad, but then I was like, “Should have had a freaking baby changing table! Serves you right!” I threw out her stinky poopy diaper and burp rag right in their garbage can without wrapping them in a plastic baggie (I want to sound bad ass and revenge-y, but actually I ran out).

The whole ordeal in the bathroom took almost fifteen minutes. As I walked out of the bathroom, past the line of angry looking women, I held my head high. The bizarre twist of fate and lack of changing table had made me indignant. Let them scoff at me. I am a mother. With the cutest baby in the world (who, by the way, never once cried).

Today is my first Mother’s Day.

Its not just a greeting card holiday. It takes a lot to be a mom- a lot more then I had ever realized. I sure as heck appreciate my own mother much more now.