Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My thoughts on gun control

As a recovering rule follower, I may skirt the edges of social issues, but I have long avoided unwritten social taboos with friends and family. That most definitely includes politics, especially in this polarizing climate. But when does not saying anything, my inaction, speak just as loudly as action? When is silence interpreted as contentment with the status quo?

So while my opinion may be unfavorable, I owe this to my children. I won't stay silent any longer. The issue of guns is a politically charged one and seemingly complicated one for some, but why? Hasn't it truly become an ethical issue? Does anyone, healthy, stable, depressed, suicidal, need access to an assault weapon and fifty rounds of ammunition? A "right" to own a gun for sport is not more important than my right to safety. There is no sport that requires a weapon that will shred your organs, rendering the shot fatal every time (read more on that here).

Arming teachers or security guards is not a solution, it is dangerous. It will likely discourage good teachers from teaching (an important perspective here) and personally, I don't want my children in a school where weapons are allowed period.

I am not naive to think that banning these weapons eliminates gun deaths and school shootings, but our country is begging for immediate response to stop the literal bleed. Only then can we begin to repair the national health crisis and family and moral disintegration in society. 

I shook my head in shame as I watched Waukesha's superintendent make national news. My hometown declared a walkout over gun control to be "disruptive" and the participating students "would face disciplinary action." A mass shooting is disruptive. Young children worrying about safety and participating in practice lockdown drills is disruptive. A walkout to commemorate the lives lost in Florida's shooting is honorable.

Texas superintendent is threatening a suspension for any participants. "A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally. A disruption of the school will not be tolerated." 

School should be a place to learn and grow, and one where children worry about math tests instead of personal safety. But what better way stimulate growth, spirituality and maturity than to encourage children to empathize with families who lost loved ones to mass violence. Inspire children to form their own opinions about gun regulation. Furthermore, we know violence begins with disconnection; in our schools, our communities, our families. Don't deter children from connecting with one another to support a cause they believe.

As parents, we teach our children to question and stand up for unjust and amoral behavior, even if that behavior is currently "acceptable" under the law. While adults and politicians hash out various sides of the argument, our young students are taking a stand against gun violence in our country the only way they legally can. I applaud them for using their voices to encourage positive change and I hope one day my own children will do the same.

It's silly, but over the course of the last week, my mind keeps going to the last scene in Wonder Woman (although not normally my movie genre, I highly recommend it). Aries, long thought to be the source of evil, admits that while he influences humans with ideas and weapons, they start wars on their own. I had not considered humans to be so self-destructive until recently. Yes, we can still choose to see the good in our daily lives, but our children our looking to us to save them and fight for a world we know it to be. On a personal level, that begins in our own homes; on a national level, that begins with gun control.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

How are you?

In the latest from the home front, this girl got braces this morning. There was definite hesitation about them resulting in a some late night discussions, but she feels good today.

I had something different planned on here for today, but I'm feeling like today's weather; gloomy and tired, and thought maybe you feel the same?

I had so many errands to run: the post office to make a return, the store for laundry soap. Instead I wandered around HomeGoods (so many pretty things for spring) and left with new, fluffy, white bath towels. It was nice to be alone with my thoughts for an hour without the nagging pressure of crossing something off the never-ending to-do list.

With so much going on in the news right now (more on that next week), how are you feeling? What's brightening your winter? A new recipe? A good book? Please share.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Eight years

Yesterday was my daughter's eighth birthday. It is such an honor to be her mother and watch her grow. We celebrated with a special dinner and cupcakes, but I also took some time for myself. Yesterday marks the eighth anniversary of my near-death experience.

My daughter's entrance into this world was both the best and scariest thing that has ever happened to me. She entered the room quietly and wide-eyed, taking it all in. I looked at her wide-eyed (and teary-eyed), taking her all in. I was helplessly and forever in love.

Simultaneously, the worst thing was happening to me. I was introduced to an infection during her birth. My concerns during my hospital stay went mostly unaddressed; and after arriving home, I couldn't shake the feeling that something was amiss despite my doctor's efforts to calm me. Shortly thereafter, I had a rapid onset of various, puzzling symptoms, so I headed back to the hospital. When I should have been in the pediatrician's waiting room for my baby's first appointment, I was in the emergency room with my own mother. The infection had spread quickly and I was in septic shock.

My incredibly strong, single mother would later recall that moment as the worst in all her life. She powerlessly watched the monitors, my blood pressure plummeting and heart rate increasing. I lay before her so pale and swollen and bravely agreed to an emergency surgery intended to save my life.

I remember the operating room being so cold yet unable to alleviate the discomfort of my high fever. I lay on the table, now with numb fingers and toes in addition to my other symptoms. All around me, doctors and nurses were rapidly preparing the room. I looked up at the head doctor and told her how much I had longed to be a mother, how hard I fought through miscarriages to get there, and pleaded with her not to let me die. The room went eerily quiet. In that moment, I could vividly imagine my daughter motherless, wondering whether I had loved her. It broke me.

I woke up in intensive care in a quarantined room, my husband resting his head on the edge of my bed. I suddenly became aware of all that had happened. I was frightened, but motionless and trapped; my limbs heavy and my body broken and exhausted. I looked down at my legs and saw the once loose hospital socks were tight on my swollen ankles. I only spoke a few words to my husband, assuring him I was dying. I was certain if I closed my eyes, I would not wake up. I tried to stay awake, but dozed for a moment only to wake up gasping for air, again and again and again. As I closed my eyes, I heard my husband yelling for the nurse. I don’t know what death feels like, but I imagine it closely resembles this.

I spent a lot of time alone in my hospital room. Only immediate family was allowed but they were at my home, where I should have been, caring for my new baby. My husband visited intermittently, but was only able to stay for an hour at most. He held me as I cried. He told me about our baby. We talked about what it might be like when I could come home. All the things we ever disagreed or fought about were so unimportant now. We were fighting one war, and the stakes were high.

It was surreal to me when the doctors shared the statistics. How do you live after coming back from something only a handful in the entire country have survived?

In the weeks following, I slowly healed. The physical body came first. But there wasn't an antibiotic or a quick cure for the emotional one. First came anger, which was quickly replaced by sadness for all I had missed, followed by a crippling fear of hospitals and distrust of doctors. It was a long, difficult process, and still, on the anniversary of my daughter's birth, I take time to allow myself to feel the inevitable wave of emotion. What could have easily been the end of my life, became the beginning of a new one. A life that included an unwavering marital bond, a newfound respect for my own strength and power, and an undeniable trust in myself.

With such adversity and despair, we are forced to tap into an inconceivable bravery. The ability to access that bravery becomes such an influential part of our stories, and years later I continue to discover its strength.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Worthy reads: February edition

Do you have any fun weekend plans? I'm looking forward to celebrating my birthday with some much needed R&R, followed by a birthday celebration in honor of this beautiful EIGHT year old. Here are a few worthy reads for this month:

I bought myself an early birthday present and it's easily the best curling iron I've ever used. Half the price of this popular one and as good, or better.

I may have to make myself this cake this weekend. It’s so delicious and always devoured by everyone.

We're in a "fun" stage with our son right now (yay, one year old molars) so sleep isn't guaranteed, but these eye masks are saving me. They're worth the hype and according to my daughters I look like a "cool Wonder Woman" wearing them. I'll take it.

Such a good read on teaching self-love and confidence to our daughters.

"If you want to be the person who respects others, and is compassionate to others, you must first begin respecting the divine image within yourself." An insightful podcast on boundaries.

As always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of this space. I'm so grateful you're here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Valentine's Day tea party

Historically, February has been good to us. We were engaged, closed on two houses, and had our first daughter (who was supposed to be a March baby), all in the month of February. Valentine's Day also kicks off what we refer to as "birthday season" around here, so we always do something special to celebrate and condition our bodies to the endless stream of sugar we'll be consuming for the next six weeks. Ha.

Since I'm a sucker for cute, crafty parties, we decided on a tea party this year. The girls each invited a few friends, but this would be just as fun to do as a family before the adults head out for the evening.

We did some quick decorating beforehand. We hung this heart garland and glued some paper hearts on a branch I pulled out of our leftover outdoor holiday planters.

After the girls arrived, we started the lunch with some pink hot cocoa (recipe below); then served sandwiches, white chocolate dipped sugar wafers, applesauce pouches and popcorn.

After a giggly lunch, I handed over tubes of frosting and sprinkles and the girls decorated a few sugar cookies. I promise it was less of a mess than it sounds.

I picked up some simple beaded bracelet kits the craft store. We also made wall hangings using branches, ribbon and hearts. The sticky felt hearts and gem stickers worked really well, but I also found paper hearts and we glued them onto the ribbons too.

I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with love, and a warm mug of pink hot cocoa!

1, 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips
4 cups of milk (I only had whole milk so I used 3 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 cup water)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Red food coloring
Cinnamon and marshmallows

Combine chocolate chips, milk and vanilla in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until chocolate is dissolved. Stir in four drops of red food coloring. Pour into cups and top with marshmallows and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


"The wounded ego must hide all that we believe is unacceptable about ourselves. To accomplish this task, it constructs a mask to prove to others that we are not as defective, inferior, worthless, and bad as we might fear we are. None of us likes to admit that we have these flaws and insecurities, so we hide them. We create a persona at a very young age. We start to wrap ourselves up in a new package that we believe will bring us the love, attention and acceptance that we hunger for. We create personas so that we can belong." Debbie Ford

A large part of my persona is being a phenomenal mother. From an early age, I envisioned the mother I was going to be. I was going to be the best parent this world has ever seen, with a clean, orderly house; happy, healthy, perfect children; never accepting help; and always maintaining an admirable level of patience. In some twisted way, this would hide all the traumas I experienced and all the ways my parents had failed me.

So I had been doing this, you guys; like absolutely killing myself and last summer it came to a head. I had a baby, but wasn’t willing to forego any of the usual tasks necessary to be a kick-ass mom. So I signed up my girls for all the summer activities and I was determined to show them the best summer ever. But I would lose my patience with them when they weren’t ready or they left huge messes or they woke up the baby with their shrieks and giggles. And I hated myself for it. I had a constant stream of contempt running through my mind, always telling myself I wasn’t trying hard enough, or worse, I wasn’t good enough. I made the mistake of believing that hatred encouraged me to do better.

Then one morning, I woke up and I couldn't walk. My joints were so swollen. After a stint in the emergency room, a follow-up with my doctor, and finally a trip to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, there was no definitive answer. The best guess is I had a viral infection and my immune system misfired, attacking itself. Coincidence? Maybe, but more likely the result of the stressful situation I was creating in combination with the negative things I was telling myself. There is concrete evidence in science right now that links emotional health to physical health and the ability to fight disease.

I decided I needed a change. I needed to treat myself with the kind of care I want for my children. I need to eat better. I need to practice self-love. I need to honor the truest parts of myself, no matter how scary that feels at times.

Over the holidays, I started to feel myself slip again, committing to things that didn't matter and leaving little time for myself. But I recently watched this documentary and it has given me new motivation. Heal discusses these cutting edge discoveries happening in medicine and overall health. I highly, highly recommend watching it.

Kindness and patience with myself is something that does not come natural for me. It is something I am practicing daily and my sweet children test me often, but they also forgive and love with ease. I’m learning that sometimes in order to live your best life, you have to be willing to let go of certain things, and that includes a childhood ideal that no longer serves me.  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pretty little things for spring

I'm taking a break from our regularly scheduled content to share my recent purchases (some on sale now) in anticipation of spring. Yes, that darn groundhog might have declared six more weeks of winter and we may have six inches of snow on the ground (and more in the forecast), but I'll be prepared when that warm-ish weather hits.

Clockwise from the top left: (1) J. Crew Ruffle Chino Jacket for feminine layering, (2) Yonka Phyto 58 for a clean, but hydrating feel, (3) RMS Living Luminizer for a dewy highlight, (4) Tretorn Net Sneakers in blush for chasing toddlers, (5) Beautycounter Blush in the prettiest pink shade, (6) Boden Statement Breton tee, and (7) Boden Short-Sleeved Breton tee for easy weekday outfits.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Choose your own adventure Instant Pot risotto


I'm almost certain my brother read every choose your own adventure book from our elementary school library. I love the premise; the basic story is set, but you make plot decisions throughout and conclude with an ending of your choice.

This risotto is much the same. The basic story is a one-to-two ratio of risotto (also known as arborio rice) to stock. You choose the vegetables and coordinating seasoning and conclude with the best six minute dish.

Some people have their mom's lasagna, or chicken noodle soup, but risotto is my comfort food and since I have the cold that won't quit, I've made this three times in the last week.

1 T olive oil
1 T ghee or butter
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t red pepper flakes

1/2 cup leeks/onion/shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping cup of vegetables, chopped (asparagus/broccoli/butternut squash)

1 cup arborio rice
2 cups bone broth/chicken broth/vegetable stock

1/2 lemon, squeezed

Add olive oil, ghee or butter, the leek/onion/shallot combination of your choosing, and the garlic cloves in the Instant Pot set on saute. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the vegetables. I've been using asparagus and broccoli because it pairs well with the spiciness of the red pepper flakes and the freshness from the lemon, but butternut squash is also delicious with some chopped sage added at the end.  Cook the vegetables and onion mixture for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the saute mode and add the salt/pepper, red pepper flakes, rice and broth to the pot. I've been using bone broth to get the extra protein, but any broth works well here.

Set the Instant Pot to manual, six minutes, making sure the venting is sealed. Do some quick online shopping or reading, scroll Instagram, or just relax and remind yourself how much easier this is than standing over a stove stirring risotto for 40 minutes.

When the six minutes are up, release the pressure and carefully open the lid. Squeeze half a lemon directly into the pot and give it a quick stir. Enjoy! And don't be surprised if this risotto disappears quickly.
© Lake House Effect. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.