Category Archives: parenthood

I Wasn’t a Feminist Until I Had Daughters

You would think as a advanced degree holding Mechanical Engineer I would also automatically be a card carrying feminist. Well it may be true now, but it wasn’t a few years ago.  Sure I chose a profession that was predominantly male but it was only because I always liked finding out how things worked.  Sure my classes in college (*cough* 20 year ago) were on average 15% female but the male students never treated me differently (ok there was flirting but hey it was college).  Sure, I still go to conferences or work with larger companies and I’m surrounded by mostly men.  BUT, I can’t say I ever felt strongly discriminated against.  The men have treated me like what I am, another engineer.

Now, working at a tiny company and not having to deal with hoards of male engineers and managers all day I can say that I’m lucky.  I know women who have had to deal with a lot of crap STILL in this industry so I’m not saying that discrimination isn’t out there, just that I haven’t had to deal with it.  Plus, I married a man who I feel truly thinks of me as his equal.  This meant that I could stay in my little bubble and not have to think about it.

Then I had daughters…

Having daughters changed everything.  Suddenly all the sexist things that I had ignored were a big deal.  The parade of pink useless toys down every “girl” toy aisle was appalling.  The movies marketed to my kids were full of anti-feminist messages.  I discovered a shortage in good STEM books that would appeal to and inspire young girls.  The older my daughters got, the more of an outspoken feminist I became (and the more my blog posts moved away from the fluffy kid stuff).  I knew to ignore the often subtle sexist messages but would my daughters?  Or would they grow up feeling just not quite as smart/strong/funny/equal to a man?

So I’m not actually a card carrying member of the ACLU but I am one of SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and I’ve started a Girl Scout troop (with my awesome husband) where we focus on more than crafts and fluffy stuff but throw in a lot of science and girl power lessons.

And most importantly, I tell my girls every day how smart and strong and clever and funny and wonderful they are.  They are our next generation of leaders and I want to see them excel.

I wasn’t a feminist before I had daughters, but now I would proudly shout it from the roof tops if it helps them to be successful both in their professional and (almost more importantly) personal lives.

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Snuggling in the Memories

Tonight I was face down on the bed “resting my eyes” while Rose had her quiet time before bedtime.  Right when I was thinking it was time to drag myself up and put her to bed (or tell Steve too), I hear the padding of little feet.

“Mommy, I’m coming up.”

She crawls up and lays her head down on my out stretched hand.

After a few minutes I sit up and reach out and pull her towards me, tucking her body against mine.

As I cocoon my body around her I marvel that she is still a little girl.  So many times lately, when she recites full lyrics to a song or tells me an elaborate story or dances around the room looking a bit like Elaine on Seinfeld, she seems older then her 4.5 years.

But then, as I stroke her soft arm, I admire it’s softly rounded form.  For all her slenderness, she has the slightly pudgy wrists of a child.  It reminds me of that she is still a little girl, not much past her toddler years for all her “I’m my own person” outlook on life.

So I snuggle her slight form, breathing in her sweet scent, and try to cement every one of these feelings/scents/emotions into my memory.

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Musings On A Weekend at the Beach

We took Evelyn with us for the first time on the annual family trip to Lawson’s Landing at Dillon Beach this weekend.  Last year she was only 3 months old and I didn’t want to put the family through living in close quarters with a crabby baby.  This year, she was walking and past the “put everything in her mouth” phase.  This meant we could put her on the sand and not worry about her colicing from all the sand ingestion (horse joke).

She still needed a little help “running down the dunes”.


I’m amazed (although I shouldn’t be), what a difference a trip to the beach is when you have two little ones along.  Instead of chapters of a fluffy book being read while lounging in a beach chair in front of the waves, there was digging in the sand to build sand castles (for Evelyn to stomp on) and watching Rose running up and down and up and down the dunes.


Instead of leasurly walks along the beach, hand in hand with my husband, it was “see how many kids Daddy can hold at one time”.


Instead of cuddles in front of the campfire it was puzzles with my daughter (I was only allowed to watch, not participate)


and reading books with Nana.


I didn’t come back from the weekend feeling refreshed (I was a little worn out from ‘co-sleeping’ with Evelyn) but wouldn’t have traded it for the world.  The wonderful feeling of putting smiles on the faces of her..


and her, made it all worth while.IMG_4232

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The Great Debinkying Adventure

Before we had Rose, I had always swore that we wouldn’t use a binky with “our baby”.  Oh no.  No binky would touch the lips of our precious children.  I had seen too many children (children not babies) walking around with pacifiers in their mouths, taking them out to have a conversation with their parents. I just “knew” that I wouldn’t let that have a chance of happening.  Yaaaaaah. So all that conviction was thrown in the garbage after the multi episode, multi hour, cry fests that Rose would do those first few weeks.  When she was in the NICU, they gave her a pacifier as they couldn’t be holding her 24/7 with wires/tubes/uv light.  Out of desperation, I tried one of the pacifiers that she came home with and sweet lord there was silence.  Silence and a happy baby. We never looked back.

She wasn’t allowed to take it everywhere.  She mostly used it for naps and bed time and never really grew terribly attached.  Once her 1 year birthday rolled around and it was time to stop giving her a pacifier, we simply stopped giving it to her and it was like she never used it.  Wonderful!

When Evelyn was born we didn’t even think twice before starting her with a binky.  We even used a Wabbanub which was even better (side note: those Wabbanubs are a wonderful invention. You can use the animal on the end of prop it up and in the babies mouth when they are too small to keep it in).  She only had it when she was sleeping so I figured dropping it when she was 1 would be as easy as with Rose.  However, once her birthday rolled around, she was popping through some molars and used the binky as a soothing devise as she fell asleep.  So I put it off.  No big deal right?  Thing was, I started to notice that when it came to putting Evelyn down for sleep, she would just about leap out of my arms into the crib.  At first I thought this was great!  No issues putting this baby down.  Then I realized it was because she wanted to get that binky in her mouth as quickly as possible.  Then she started to scream like you were kicking her favorite puppy when you made her drop it in the crib in the morning.

Hello sign!!

So two weeks ago we decided to stop the binky cold turkey.  No binky at nap, no binky at bedtime.  She took it great!  Hahaha!  Just kidding.  She screamed her head off.  She threw her lovey out of the crib in anger (we had been introducing a lovey in prep).  She screamed some more.  Then, 20 minutes in, she passed out.


Not a further peep was heard until her usual 3:30 wake up.  Instead of scrounging around for her binky and falling back asleep, it was scrounge around for binky, realize it wasn’t there, then scream her head off.  Luckily that lasted only 5 minutes before she passed out again.  Then she slept in to 7:30.  Score!  The nap was a little harder but she fell asleep in about 10 minutes and then cried off and on for about an hour and a half.  The next night she went down in 5 minutes.

Now, if she isn’t really tired, she will cry for about a minute before snuggling with her lovey and falling asleep.  This really isn’t any different then with the binky so yay success!  She also learned quickly that if she throws the lovey out in anger the lovey doesn’t come back.  No lovey throwing has happened since. 🙂

The very best side effect of having her give up the binky is that now, as you are putting her down for the night, she will gladly snuggle in your arms as you sing to her.  Not much is better then baby arms clutched around your neck with a baby head snuggled on your shoulder.  Sure it’s more like a death grip because she is trying to avoid going into the crib but I’ll cry ignorance and enjoy it.

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2013 Mother’s Day Recap

Mothers Day 2013 small

To me, this picture is what being a mother is all about.  Loving two beautiful daughters while surrounded by chaos.

I came downstairs on Mother’s Day morning to hear Steve tell Rose to “Freeze right there. You aren’t in trouble, just don’t move.  Val, go get the camera.”  Anyone with kids, or pets for that matter, knows immediately that some kind of destruction just happened.  When I rounded the corner, all I could see was a sea of Kashi cereal with Rose standing at it’s center, little bits of puffed rice in her hair.  What’s a mother to do at that point besides laugh and take pictures of the chaos.

Apparently, she had picked up the box of cereal and shook it to call her sister over to the table.  (Ya know, like a dog)  Little did she know, the top was open and the light weight puffs took the opportunity to escape.  In a few flicks of her little wrist, half of the box was flung to the far reaches of the kitchen.  Soon after taking the picture, Evelyn spotted me and demonstrated that, while puffy, Kashi doesn’t feel very good on your knees as she frog walked (up on her hands and feet) over to me and then sat munching on the cereal stuck to her palms.


In the aftermath of the cerealsplosion, Rose brought me over my gifts which were the two beautiful figurines in the picture above.  One for my light haired girl, and one for my dark.  Simply perfect.

When Steve had asked me earlier in the week what I wanted to do on Mother’s Day it didn’t take me long to decide.  While it may not sound like much fun for some people, I really just wanted to check some things off the to-do list.  See, we have 5 acres, a house, two kids, two horses, and a HUGE to-do list.  Between Steve’s busy work schedule, having to have Evelyn strapped to my back if I’m doing something on my own and working full time, days that anything other then maybe catching up on the dishes don’t happen very often.  Originally I told Steve that I wanted to plant our veggie garden for the year but earlier in the week my dad went and planted it (thanks Dad!).  So, since that awesomeness happened all I needed to do was lay out and organize the drip irrigation system since we all know hand watering every other day sucks and sometimes doesn’t get done with 2 kidlets.

After a fabulous belgan waffle breakfast (and a quick sweep up of the cereal) I went down and laid out the first row of drippers.  Of course, since everything was different this year with the new raised beds, I spend a bunch of time moving them around and fixing the inevitable broken/clogged ones.  An hour later I was beat and asked Steve to come down and do the second row.  By the time I took a shower (Evelyn was napping), Steve was done.  What??  Lesson learned.  Next time have the guy who is a wizard on all things water do it all.

A yummy Taco Tree lunch and Target run later, it was time for a nap for all.  It’s amazing how refreshed you can feel just closing your eyes for 45 minutes.  I think all work places should have siesta.  Think of the increased productivity!

We finished off the day with a delicious rib dinner bbqed by my dad.  Rose made me a wonderful tile that she had decorated at Art Beast the Friday before.  She was so excited to give it to me, it made my heart flutter.  My mom gave me a beautiful frame that I can’t wait to put pictures of me and the girls in.

Thinking back to that wonderful day, I think the most memorable of all was watching Rose write her name on the card for her Nana.  It may be only legible to someone knowing what it was before hand but there is definitely all four letters there.  Sniff sniff.  My girl is growing up!

Mothers Day 2013

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Taking a Me (and Evelyn) Day

I work 9 hour days so that I can take every other Friday off without loosing some of my income.  This means getting to work at 7am every morning and working through till 5.  Most of those Fridays off are filled with play dates, errands, chores, and general running around.  This Friday however, I had been in a little stressed so I decided it was time to take a little me time.  Well, a little me and Evelyn time.  Rose was off galvanting with my parents at Dillon’s Beach (I missed her but I saw the pictures.  She was having so much fun I don’t thing she missed me much at all.  Ha!) so Evelyn and I took a day just for ourselves.  It did involve a little Target shopping but really, that’s no hardship.

The two of us slept in, shared a pancake breakfast, perused Target, picked up my new sunglasses (technically an errand but hey, cool new shades), shared some lunch (found that Evelyn likes Indian food), took a shared 2 hour nap, hung out with Daddy for a bit, shared some dinner, assembled a fan for Evelyn’s room, then did nothing else the rest of the evening but just be with each other.  It was fabulous for my mind, fabulous for my heart, and fabulous for my soul.

 Photo bombing an Evelyn selfie.

 Evelyn assisting with putting her fan together.

Evelyn snuggles

 Evelyn telling me she loves me.  The feeling is mutual.


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Breathe in. Breathe out.

Evelyn and Mommy Feet
Breathe in….

It snuck up on me quietly.  There wasn’t any obvious signs.  Nothing that raised any red flags.

Breathe out….

Sure I had been having a lot of stress at work but I could handle it.  Sure I hadn’t been eating very well but the nursing has been keeping any extra weight off.  Sure I felt more and more behind on home projects but summer is here and there will be more daylight hours in the day.  But but but…

Breathe in….

Then I noticed that I wasn’t feeling as well as I usually do.  Then I noticed that I was quicker to anger, quicker to loose my patience.  Then I noticed I wasn’t happy for long periods of time.  Then I noticed…

Breathe out….

Finally my body told me to stop.  Finally my brain told me to stop.  Finally I listened.  Finally…

Breathe in….

So now I step back a bit.  So now I reanalyze what is important in my life and concentrate on that.  So now I take time to breathe.  So now I…

Breathe out.

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I will do this

I will do this.

I will work through this crazy, busy, difficult, stressful time in my work life.

I will take these projects and work them to the best of my ability and get them done as efficiently as possible.

I WILL do this.

I will roll with the punches and take all criticism as constructive even if it wasn’t meant that way.

I will take that criticism and use it to better myself in the future.

I will DO this.

I will keep my brain engaged in high gear for the next few days until the work load is lessened and I can breath again.

I will understand that I will feel guilty for modifying my work/life balance for a few weeks in order to get this done and will be ok with that.

I will do THIS.

I will appreciate every second of the day that I get to spend a few precious moments with my children.  Even when they drive me up the wall.

I will come into work 2 hours early so that I can spend an hour swimming with my daughters and know that it is worth it.

I will set an example to my daughters that hard work will get you far in life.

I will do this.

I will hold them in my heart.

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Selling Memories

See that mark on top of the bed post nob that Rose is holding?  Rose made that with her new baby teeth when she was a few months old.  We used to let her play with the nob (it was from the top of the head board) while we would have early morning cuddles in our bed.  She was fascinated with that thing and it would let us get just a little bit more quiet time before we had to get up.  I know that as Evelyn gets older we will slowly be giving away/selling most of the baby things and I hope that it will get easier.  When I sold the bed yesterday (we upgraded to a King sized bed to better fit our new family of four with morning cuddles) I got a little choked up handing that over.  My BABY made those marks!  My BABY who is now a very opinionated, high spirited, loving, smart, and fabulous 3.5 year old.  How did that happen?!  Sniff sniff…

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Being your own advocate (even when you don’t want to)

My fairly non confrontational nature has always made it hard to stand up for myself.  Not that I’m a pushover, but it takes a lot of emotional effort to go out of my way to make my feelings known (especially to a stranger).  Luckily for me I’m married to someone who has no problem making those phone calls or sending those emails (thanks hon!).  This stems from years of shyness in my childhood that was only partially overcome through tons of effort once I realized that I wouldn’t get anywhere in life living in a self imposed bubble.
Sometimes however, like in the past few weeks, I put on my big girl panties, take a deep breath and stick my neck out to make sure I get what I need.
At the beginning of the year, I learned through the fabulous online working mommy community that insurance now covers the rental of, if not the purchase of, a breast pump.  My electric pump that I use 3 times a day at work was already second hand when I was nursing Rose 3 years ago and has been starting to sound a little sickly.  I took it apart the last time it stopped working and found a manufacturing date of 1997!  Thus started the saga of me forcing myself to be an adult and my own advocate.
1st phone call: To the insurance company to ask how I would go about getting a pump.  I got no details other then I needed to go through one of their supplier for it to be covered.  Cool beans.
2nd phone call:  To the supplier who turned out to be a middle man for an actual supplier (and you wonder why our insurance is so expensive).  They said all I needed was a prescription from my doc and they would do the rest.
3rd phone call: To the doc to get a prescription.   Found out I needed a physical anyway (oh joy) so made the appointment and got the prescription.
4th phone call: To the middle man (previously known as the supplier) who told me to fax over the info.
5th phone call: (Big girl panties #1) To the middle man as it had been a week and I hadn’t heard anything.  They said they sent the info onto the supplier and that I should call them (heaven forbid the middle man do it).
6th phone call: (Big girl panties #2) To the supplier who was totally unprofessional. First she didn’t know what I was talking about then suddenly ‘remembered me’ and said she didn’t have any rentals available for another month or so (so why didn’t she call me to tell me this!).  *Side rant: I totally support people working out of their homes (I could hear her kids screaming in the background) but please try to be professional about it.  Answer your phone with the name of your company.  Speak to me like a valued customer, not someone who interrupted you day.  Make your answering machine state the name of your company not just leave the automated message on there.  Sheesh! Rant over.*
7th phone call:  (Big girl panties #3) To complain to the middle man who said that the lack of rentals was a problem with all their supplies (why didn’t they tell me that before) and if I changed suppliers it would put me at the bottom of the list.
8th phone call: To the insurance company who said I could do a purchase instead of a rental (total pat on the back moment to myself for realizing I should ask that question).
9th phone call: To the supplier who said they could drop ship me a pump if I changed the order to a rental.
10th phone call: To the middle man who changed the order to a purchase (I finally got a fabulous woman who spent 30 minutes just to make sure everything was right).
11th phone call: (Big girl panties #4) To the supplier because it had been over a week and I hadn’t heard anything.  On a really weird coincidence, the middle man called me as I was leaving a message to the supplier asking if I had received the pump.  I think they lit a fire under them as the supplier called within 2 hours and said they would ship me the pump.
Phew!  That was, count them, 11 phone calls (not counting the 2 that I received) that I had to make in order to get this pump shipped to me.  Every single one of them took a lot of emotional effort make.  Every single one of them was needed for me to get this pump before I was done pumping and/or my pump gave up the ghost. Every single one of them was worth it.
*On a side note: I know by typing “big girl panties” 6 times I am going to see traffic to my site from strange men looking for pictures of large women in their underwear.
A thing of beauty

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