Mommy’s Little Helper Monday: Back to School 2014

I don’t have much to say other than thank God for the first day of school!! I changed my Facebook cover photo to reflect that feeling.

VIBE

I hope all of you parents who were teetering on the brink and considering swimming the Rio Grande to take your chances in Mexico made it through. Find some happiness now before the PTA guilts you into volunteering and takes away your will to live.

Happy First Day of School. Now, go pee in peace and have an adult conversation with your liquor cabinet.

Love-

Ash

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Halloween-aholic

Hi. My name is Ash and I’m a Halloween-aholic. I’ve been clean for ZERO days. There is really no hope for me. If I did earn a little token, I would only turn it into some type of decoration for the holiday. I also enable others with the same addiction. If you want to get on a wagon, make it mine. It will ride down haunted trails. I have a second blog Called WckedWords. I’ve been posting a Hallo-Wicked-Ween series. I thought some of you might like to enjoy the inspirations I’ve been gathering for the best holiday EVER. Go ahead, take a look. I know you want to.

So here are links to some of the blogs I’ve written so far on my very favorite holiday. Check them out for some inspiration.

8

Who doesn’t love a freakin’ candy apple. Go check out the ones that made my list of 8 Creative Candy Apples.

20 (1)

Maybe apples are too tame for you. Here’s some make-up designs to freak you the hell out.

Halloween Bling (1)

If you like shiny things (and who the freak doesn’t?) go read Halloween Bling for Fancy Bitches Witches.

Laugh

And for some chuckles give 15 Kids Who Won Halloween a spin.

Snake-themed (1)

For some reptilian love read about how to add some snakes to your Halloween theme.

WEEKLY (1)

Do you love to bake or you’re thinking of a black and white theme? Here you go. And you’re welcome.

WEEKLY

And, finally, here are some amazing Halloween hats for you to salivate over.

See, I’ve actually been blogging, it’s just been on my other blog. There’s lots of stuff over there other than Halloween. Feel free to check it out. If not, stick around here. School starts Monday and that means it’s also the opening of drinking season. Ok, the opening of Fall drinking season as summer season closes this Sunday. Mommy’s Little Helper will be back as well as those crazy ladies of Cheap Champagne for Cheap Women.

See you soon!!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday–Squirrel!!!

Yeah, I had plans to write a new Mommy’s Little Helper Monday piece for today, but I have the attention span of a goldfish. I got distracted by a squirrel or something shiny and didn’t get it done. But that same attention disorder gave me the idea for the little sketch I did below. Happy Monday, y’all. I try harder next…oh, look, a butterfly…

ADD Wander

Resolution

Let go.

Let go.

I don’t like New Year’s Eve. I’m admittedly a “half-empty” kind of girl, so the holiday has been more of a big, flashy reminder of what I didn’t finish than a symbol of all the possibilities to come in the new year. I make resolutions on my birthday instead of the New Year. It’s only 30 days away, so it just gives my inner procrastinator a chance to lounge around in all the bad habits I’ll be sure to swear off in my infinite list of self-mandated improvements.

On my birthday I write out a list so long and detailed that even the most disciplined, type A personality would find it difficult to achieve. And then I spend the rest of the year failing to meet most of them and berating myself for my weakness and obvious shortcomings as a wife, mother, and woman. It’s a depleting and exhausting ride and I’m ready to get off.

This year I decided to make my resolutions on New Year’s Eve instead of waiting until the end of January. Why? Because I had odd senses of hope this year instead of dread and shame. It wasn’t a great year in many ways for me and my family, but instead I chose to focus on two simple things: I published a book and kept my children healthy. Then I sat down, ready to scribble out my insane list of all my resolutions. Goals and changes began to rattle through my brain at a machine gun rate. My inner voice considers me infinitely flawed, so it isn’t hard to dig up changes I need to make. But then something happened–I switched it off. The nagging voices stopped and one thought came through, “Let it go.” It was such a simple, pure thought that settled on me like the feeling of a blue sky and crisp air. I could breathe in that thought. I could hold my face up to it and feel it like the warmth of the sun.

So this is my resolution as its three small words encompass everything for me without the feeling of being overwhelmed.

I will let go of the comfortableness of distractions and embrace what is truly going on around me no matter how much it scares me.

I will let go of the shame of my unwashed dishes and cluttered house and embrace the reality that my children will remember how much time I spent with them more than the dust bunnies in the corners.

I will let go of living in the “should haves” of the past and the “need to’s” of the future and embrace the “I am” of the moment.

I will let go of obsessing over making projects perfect and embrace the joy of completion and the wisdom that comes with mistakes.

I will let go of the fear I have of loss and never having again that prod me to hang on to everything. I will embrace the feelings of how light I’ll feel when I’m able to release the clutter. I will let go off the shame I may feel when it doesn’t go as quickly as I want.

I will let go of comparing myself to others and always feeling less than. I will embrace the word “enough” and believe myself to be just that.

I will let go of the labels the schools and doctors put on my children and wash my hands of fretting over the fact that my kids do not fit smoothly into ranks of our education system. Instead, I will embrace all the gifts my children have and embrace the fact that it’s not the sheep who become the leaders—average cannot breed extraordinary.

I will let go of my need to apologize for things I have no control over.

I will let go of the chains of anger and hurt I feel for those who wronged and abused me when I was so vulnerable, for those chains keep me bound to them. I will learn to embrace forgiveness and the freedom that comes with it.

I will let go of the fear that comes with every wrinkle that I’m losing the only asset people thought I had. I will embrace the things inside me and not worry if others see them or not.

I will let go of the guilt I carry for the wrongs I’ve done—real and perceived—decades ago.

I will let go of my fear that I will make a wrong decision that will disappoint others or make me look like a fool. I will embrace the excitement of chance and the possibilities on the other side of that first leap.

I will let go of my hatred I harbor towards my hips and thighs. I will embrace that I am a woman with curves that my husband loves and that my thick thighs are full of ballet and track-trained muscle.

I will let go of the worry and anger over scuffed walls, stained carpets and chipped furniture created by my boys and embrace—truly embrace—that these moments are fleeting and will be missed.

I will let go of the worry that I’m not forcing my children into the adult-worthy schedule of activities that many kids around them have. I will embrace that simply allowing them to be children is the greatest gift I can give them.

I will let go of feeling like a victim and embrace that I’m a survivor.

I will let go of my desire to mirror the lives of others around us who I don’t even know. I will embrace the life that mirrors my soul and all its quirks and uniqueness.

I will let go of the fear that I will never leave my mark on this world and I will embrace the people around me who’s hearts I leave marks on every day.

I will let go of my angst over the dog hair on everything and the holes in the yard and spend more time marveling at the wonder that a species, so different from us, wants nothing more than to love her human pack.

I will let go the heavy weight of all the ugly memories, feelings and fears that I carry so that my arms will be free to embrace life.

I will let go of the security of keeping my feet planted. I will spread my arms and leap, embracing my dreams as I soar.

I will let go.

Let go.

Let go.

Mommy’s Little Helper Monday: Back to School Edition

The first day of school at our house this morning.

The first day of school at our house this morning.

It’s Christmas for mommies!!!! Yes! All over the country moms woke up with a little extra pep in their step. I even dare to say that smiles actually crossed thousands of faces BEFORE they had their coffee. Looking at the three stuffed backpacks and lunches hanging on their hooks in my kitchen this morning  was better than stockings stuffed with diamonds and chocolate. If I could sing without making the dog pee herself from fear, I would be belting out a mash-up of “Get the Party Started” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” I mean, what better way to start a celebration than throwing Pink and Prince together?

Yeah, I parent through embarrassment.

Yeah, I parent through embarrassment.

I decided the only way to truly celebrate is with champagne, so…

The LIbation:

Champagne makes everything better. I believe we should all have adorable leather holsters to wear that are designed specifically to carry a split of bubbly. Louis Vuitton could make a killing producing those (hint hint). Until then we’ll just have to hide them in our purses and bras (if you have big, oddly shaped boobs). I love champagne and even had a pink champagne themed birthday this year. There’s no recipe for it to share, so I thought I’d just post some pics.

Just looking at that makes me feel more girly.

Just looking at that makes me feel more girly.

What every woman should have in her home.

What every woman should have in her home.

What should greet us in the kitchen every morning.

What should greet us in the kitchen every morning.

If looking at these lovely photos don’t make you want to sit back with a glass of nose-tickling bubbles, there is something seriously wrong with you. I’m having trouble concentrating on work now that I’m staring at these. If you want to see more pretty photos and find links to their sources, go to my PInterest board Pink Champagne Party. Look around and enjoy all the sparkly, girly goodness.

Now would be the time for me to pass on some type of useful tip, but I’m all out of time and energy. So I’m going to turn to someone famous to pass on some wisdom that sticks with our bubbly theme.

The Duh-I-Already-Knew-That-Helpful-Tip:

champagne quoteAnd one more quote from one of my literary heroes who obviously knows what he’s talking about.

F. Scott Champagne quote

The “What if’s”

I didn’t want to write about it. I haven’t wanted to read about it, watch stories on it, think about it. When my husband called me to tell me about the tragedy I was shopping for Christmas presents for my own children. I was blissfully unaware. With each piece of information he gave, I felt myself pulling away into the same separate space that I lived in when I was studying crime scene photos in school. It’s the same place officers, detectives, medical examiners, and others float in so they can do their job without spiraling into the emotions of senseless loss.

My clinical side kicked in and I listened only to the facts and concentrated on the issue of guns. I had to. I knew that seeing a child’s photo or hearing a name would fracture my heart and that it would be hard to stop the tears. I knew that writing about it would bleed my soul. But I can’t stay in my detached place. I’m a mother. I have three boys who go to school. I have a son with Aspergers.

I’d tried not to think about that part. It was easy to give Adam that diagnosis from just the few details I’d heard, but honestly, I didn’t dare think about a comparison to my own child. But as I hear the news refer to him only as a “bad man” and a “monster”, I have to write something.

Listening to the President name the children taken, I broke into tears. I thought about how it had been such a challenge to pick the perfect names for each of my own children. I thought about how all of these parents had done the same and how they’ll never call that child again. Adam’s mom also chose his name. She pictured a perfect child and watching his normal, wonderful life unfold. She didn’t expect what she got. None of us do.

I don’t know enough about them to truly give any insight into their situation. I can only comment on mine and the life I imagine Adam endured. Aspergers makes social interaction difficult. My son wasn’t withdrawn like Adam but I see that changing. Carson has always sought out interaction but hasn’t known how to handle it. He doesn’t know how to do small talk or tell jokes that others will get. He’s quirky and others don’t know how to deal with him. He’s been bullied. We moved schools because of it. At his new school he’s not bullied, he’s just politely ignored.

I volunteered at lunch one day and I saw him sitting with 3 other boys. The boys were excitedly talking to each other while Carson quietly sat beside them. I went over to him and sat down. “Do you ever talk to the boys?” I whispered. “No. I’m just not invited.” I had to fight back the tears. He got up and went to recess with the boys. They let him play football with them, but he’s clumsy. He came back inside three minutes later because he’d been hit in the eye. He was crying. I checked him out to take him home and while we walked he asked, “Mom, why can’t just once bad things happen to someone else? Why does it always have to be me?” He wasn’t wishing pain on others he just wonders why it seems to be so skewed in his direction.

That’s how he feels and I honestly can’t blame him. Why is he the one who the midwives had to screw up on? Why did he have to always be sick? Why did he have doctors who misdiagnosed him? Why is he bullied? Why is he the one who always gets hurt? I’ve watched him change slowly over the years. He’s been beaten down and his spirit dims almost everyday. He turns 13 next year. How will he survive middle school and all of the vicious idiots that age tends to produce? Will they kill the empathy he has for others? He has trouble making decisions and looking at the consequences actions hold. He has trouble controlling himself. I have to ask myself if he continues to be beaten down, ignored, ridiculed, could he become a man as troubled as Adam?

I’m not sure what all Adam’s mother did or didn’t do for him. I’m extremely active in my son’s life but I still feel that I haven’t done everything for him. There’s always guilt about what I could have done different. What if I hadn’t gone to those midwives? What if I had been to a different pediatrician? What if I hadn’t let them immunize him while he was sick? What if I’d switched schools earlier? What if I’d fought harder against administration that clearly made bad choices concerning my son?

Adam’s mother can’t ask those questions now. The living who interacted with him can. Did they do enough to include him? I don’t know. All I can say is that it’s really easy to ignore the weird, especially when they’re prone to withdrawal. We can’t do that. One kind word can change a person’s entire day. Inclusion, even a smile can give the hopeless some hope.

I don’t know why Adam chose to take out his rage on the most innocent of people. I do know from my past profiling studies that the killing of the mother is not that uncommon and pretty telling of the relationship. I can’t judge her without the facts. I do empathize with her life as a mother of a special needs child. She probably felt as lost as I do. But I don’t think she made a wise decision by keeping guns in her home.

I’m not against guns. I can certainly shoot a gun. I grew up with a rifle in our home. I knew damn well not to touch it, but I was a mature, cautious child without any disabilities. I will never own a gun as long as children live in my house and the main reason is that I know that children are curious and my son does not always think through the consequences of his actions. He’s very passive but even the most laid-back person will eventually cave under years of undeserved pain. I’ve seen him push down his pain and rage only to explode on his brother or another child that hurts him. What if we never find a way for him to work through his pain and the emotions he doesn’t completely understand? What if the years tick by and the abuse and hardships continue to bleed him of compassion? What if he suddenly cracked and couldn’t take one more ounce of pain? I can’t allow him access to something that can so quickly change the lives of others and himself. It takes an instant to pull a trigger and that can never be undone.

This is the time for us to use common sense. This is the time to do more in our mental healthcare system to support patients and their caregivers. This is the time to look at the reality of our world. Our weapons technology has far surpassed the weapons our forefathers used during the time they wrote our constitution. That was a time when land was stolen by force. We stole this country with guns and back then there was the real possibility of a foreign militia pounding down your door. That’s not today. There is NO need for hollow-point bullets. PERIOD.

I don’t know what the answers are on any of these things. I’m just a mother of three boys who could have easily been one of the victims. I’m a mother of a sweet, loving boy who still kisses me and wants to climb into bed with me and snuggle. A boy with Aspergers. A boy who has found no place among his peers. A boy who needs attention and inclusion from people other than his family. I’m just a mother who grieves for the 27 victims of Adam’s rage. A mother who grieves for the life Adam was dealt. I’m just a mother who grieves for her own son’s pain, fears for his future, and prays for change.

12-12-12

Ok, this is being posted a few days late, but honestly, are you really surprised? It’s me after all.

This many

I like the number 12. It’s not my “lucky” number 9, but it’s still a number that gives me good vibes. But I guess I could say that I like numbers in general, especially those with some ‘magical’ hint to them.

I wanted so badly to get married or do something else significant on September 9, 1999, but it came and went with no real hoopla. When I found myself pregnant in 2008 and knew I would have to have a c-section in August, I quickly scheduled it for the 8th. My “magic” baby came into the world at 8:28 that morning and that night I drunkenly watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics (the Chinese also think 8 is a magic number). When September 9, 2009 came around I drove to Fate, Texas and mailed out my first round of query letters for my first novel.

Now here it is, 12-12-12. We won’t see that again in our lifetime. I haven’t thought too much about it. Today I had to go to the doctor and have a biopsy. I wouldn’t put that on the top of any lists on how to celebrate a numerically special day. In fact, I spent the rest of the day trying to forget the beginning of it. But now that I’m at home, lying in front of the fireplace, I find myself thinking about the number 12 and why I like it. What I’ve realized pretty quickly is that it’s not because the number conjures thoughts of a dozen cupcakes or the movie Twelve Monkeys, it’s because I immediately think about being twelve years old and that was a kick-ass year.

It was the ’80’s and I was in the sixth grade. Back then that was still considered elementary school so you weren’t thrown into the shark tank of middle school. You had one last year to be a kid and that was cool. We were the top dogs at the school- the BIG kids. We ruled the playground, the bus, and everything else in our minds. I have very vivid memories of that year and they all make me smile. So to honor this once in a lifetime event, I’m going to recount my top twelve memories of being 12 years old.

12. Recess– Hell, yeah!! Since we weren’t saddled with the social worries of middle school we still relished in our post-lunch break. Dodgeball. Oh, yes. We played dodgeball with ferocious enthusiasm and there were no worries about broken noses or lawsuits. We didn’t pick on any certain kid. We were all fair game and if you didn’t get your ass out of the way, you got hit. There was also Red Rover. I can still remember looking at the opposing line and picking out the weakest link. Strategy!! And then there was kiss chase, but because we still thought like kids we truly didn’t want to get kissed or do the kissing. Well, at least I didn’t. In fact, I was a hired gun. For a little white girl I could book it. Only two kids in the class could keep up with me and they both went on to play college sports. The other girls would have me do the catching so they could do the kissing.

11. Home perms. This should probably be put on a “childhood traumas” list but I’m one of those people who has always worked through the bad by finding the funny in it, and what’s not funny about a homemade fro? Being financially challenged, my family

I tried like hell to find a home perm picture but couldn't. Here's the super short boycut that freed me of the fro.

I tried like hell to find a home perm picture but couldn’t. Here’s the super short boycut that freed me of the fro.

was thrifty. My mom had told me many horror stories of her fuzzy-headed perms she’d had to endure as a child but that didn’t stop her from giving me one. I’m not sure if she decided it was a family tradition or a right of passage, but I still remember the hours of her rolling my hair in little plastic rods, rinsing my hair in the kitchen sink until I felt like I was drowning, and the smell of the perm solution that lingered for weeks. The result was a blonde afro that my friends described as something that reminded them of one of their mom’s Bichon dogs. Yes, I was a damn hot 12-year-old.

10. The Chicago Bears– My 6th grade year was the year the Chicago Bears were the shit. There has been no other time since then that an entire country knew the names of almost every player on a team. Has any other team cut a song and music video? Hell no. The Super Bowl Shuffle, baby. Walter, Jim, and the Fridge were household names. I loved Jim McMahon and his sunglasses. Hell, when I think about it, maybe that’s when I really started liking the number 9.

9. Magic Pimp Jacket– I got a jacket that was the quintessential bad ass ’80’s jacket. It was black satin with a silver, glitter unicorn on the back. Yes, you read right and I can feel your envy. I remember the moment I saw that sparkling piece of awesomesauce hanging on the wall of Spencer’s gifts. I knew it had to be mine and I begged for it. When I got it, I wore the freakin’ crap out of it. When I was milk monitor (two 6th graders would walk to all the classes first thing in the morning to sell milk for a dime a carton) I made sure I wore my jacket so I could hear all the younger girls ooh and ahh over it. I was the flyest milk pimp on the block.

Showing her bra strap was enough to make my mom hate her. Virgin talk and crotch grabbing made her the anti-Christ's whore in our house.

Showing her bra strap was enough to make my mom hate her. Virgin talk and crotch grabbing made her the anti-Christ’s whore in our house.

8. Madonna– Her singing skills were American Idol reject level at best and I’m pretty sure she hired some of my fellow 6th graders to write her lyrics, but she changed the face of music. I happened to see her infamous performance on American Bandstand and her rolling on the ground in her lace skirts and singing about virginity (or her lack of it) shattered the double standards between men and women performers. My mom also HATED her and her skankalicious ways. That hate meant that I HAD to wear 20 black rubber bracelets on my arm just like her and watch Desperately Seeking Susan no matter how horrible it was.

7. Field Day– While Madonna plucked at the budding teenager hiding in my depths, there were still activities that kept me firmly planted in my childhood. Field Day was the bomb-diggity because in those days kids didn’t get ribbons just for showing up. Hell, no! You had to earn those bad boys with blood, sweat, and tears. You were expected to compete and that effort was rewarded with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons that were handed out in front of the entire school. Field Day was my Olympics because I was crazy competitive and had inherited my father’s track skills. Nothing felt better than beating boys who were a foot taller than me in the standing broad jump. I’m sure my old elementary school had planned to erect a statue of me on the playground before all of the education cuts.

6. The Movies– There are several movies that I can remember vividly from that year: Back to the Future, The Goonies, Gremlins, Footloose, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Splash, Starman, The Neverending Story, The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. There were other movies released that year too that I’m16-candles sure my mother made me wait to see but they are still some of my favorites: Amadeus, Romancing the Stone (we actually currently own a big, black Bronco with the vanity plate LTL MULE in homage to Pepe), Red Dawn, Beverly Hills Cop, Children of the Corn, Firestarter, Dune, The Terminator, Nightmare of Elm Street (I had to wait a few years to see that one), and one of my top 5 all-time favorites– Sixteen Candles. “Oh, sexy girlfriend… No more yanky my wanky!” Seriously, can you name another 12 month span of time that produced that many classics? Nope.

Innocent toys became of prison-worthy gang of nut jobs when left in the hands of Ash and her little bro. Robot Chicken has nothing on us.

Innocent toys became of prison-worthy gang of nut jobs when left in the hands of Ash and her little bro. Robot Chicken has nothing on us.

5. G.I. Joe and my Bro.- One of the people responsible for keeping me firmly rooted in my immaturity was my brother. He was 3 years younger than me, hyper, and funny as hell. He had tons of Star Wars, He-Man, and G.I. Joe figures that we’d play with. But don’t think that we played with them like normal children. We’re both overly creative, warped souls so our play mirrored that. We made up new names and personality disorders for all of our action figures. I hated dolls and the two or three I had were given makeovers that included tattoos and mohawks. They were ditzy skanks used as props to enhance the demented scenarios we’d create with our toys. I remember a sailor we renamed Popeye who was a sadist and then there was another guy we named Weiner who had an obsession with hotdogs and a well below average IQ. We probably needed therapy but at least we laughed a lot.

4. WWF Wrestling– It’s embarrassing to admit, but we watched wrestling. I can say that we were under no delusions that it was real, we just thought it was hilarious. We hated Hulk Hogan and all his “little Hulkster” bullcrap. Our favorites were Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, King Kong Bundy, Andre the Giant, and the British Bulldogs. It was all ridiculous and loads of fun.

3. Stephen King– This was the year I was introduced to one of my biggest literary influences. Until 6th grade I’d stayed safely in the realm of Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, A Ring of Endless Light, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, Bunnicula, Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and other elementary classics. That all changed when a Japanese girl with worldly parents moved to our school. She was wicked smart and her mom let her read adult books. She and another boy in school were reading Stephen King. I borrowed Pet Semetary. My mother was concerned when she found it, but once I told her the 2 smartest kids in school where reading it, I was in the clear and forever hooked.

IMG_0001

But seriously, how could Don not have wanted some of this puberty-mangled jail bait sexiness? I mean, look at that flannel and those high-waisted jeans.

2. Miami Vice– There had been few celebrity crushes for me but that all changed one fateful night when I spent the night at my grandmother’s. She was busy in the kitchen and letting me watch television unsupervised in her bedroom. That night I just happened to see the pilot episode of Miami Vice. I don’t know if it was the music, the Ferrari Daytona Spider, the pastel clothes, or Phil Collins singing about something being in the air, but I was immediately and completely hooked on Don Johnson and all things Miami and/or Vice. By the 7th grade I had posters and calendars on my wall and secretly wrote episodes of the show (all with my barely pubescent ass as the love interest). I hated Sheena Easton when she was cast as Crocket’s wife. Skank. But in all seriousness, Vice was an amazing show that changed how tv was made. And I still love Don and squealed when I saw he was playing Kenny’s father on Eastbound and Down.

1. Illinois Jones– I’m sure you’re scratching your head with that one, but I’ll explain. I had a BFF in 6th grade that was the jelly to my peanut butter. We were thick as thieves and had identical senses of humor. She was a spunky redhead that kept me laughing. We lived only a couple of blocks from each other and spent pretty much all of our time together. We dressed like Punky Brewster together, watched Madonna together, and saw Pee Wee’s Big Adventure together over and over again. Our other favorite thing was to write stories. Our best creation was a comic based on Indiana Jones, but our hero wasn’t the suave archeologist embodied by the beautiful Harrison Ford. Nope. Ours was a bumbling moron who tried his best but was plagued by a love interest named Scarion who would pop up at inopportune times and ruin his chances of glory. We kept ourselves entertained for hours creating these stories and I guess in all honesty, it wasn’t the stories that left such an impression; it was the friendship and the safe harbor we provided for each other. We drifted apart over the next couple of years but I’ll always cherish the laughter and adventures we had.

And there are my memories of being 12. Were you a child of the ’80’s? Were some of these top memories for you too? If not, what is your best memory from that age? Don’t be shy. I’ve outed myself so come join me.

Wicked wishes- Mrs. Sonny Crocket

Blonde Undone

Blonde (Collins English Dictionary definition) — Adj. 1.(of women’s hair) of a light colour; fair 2. (of a person, people, or race) having fair hair, a light complexion, and, typically, blue or grey eyes. –n. 1. a person, esp a woman, having light-coloured hair and skin.

Blonde (Ash Robbins definition for this blog)–n. 1. a woman who has attempted to embody the idealized concepts of perfection in both appearance and life through materialistic and shallow means in an attempt to win the admiration of strangers.

Undone (Collins English Dictionary definition)–verb. 1. the past participle of undo  Undo– verb. 1. to reverse the doing of 2. to do away with; erase 3. to unfasten by releasing 4. to untie or loose

Undone (Ash Robbins definition)– I’ll take Mr. Collins’ #3 and #4 on this one.

So there you have it; the fancy-smancy way of giving you the low-down on what this blog’s all about. Now, here’s the down-to-earth, girlfriend-to-girlfriend way of doing it– Hello, I’m Ash and I got tired of trying to be what I thought other people/society wanted me to be instead of being what I wanted to be. I’ve decided to stop conforming to things I don’t agree with just because I’m afraid of what other people will think. I’m untying the ropes of social and material trappings and reclaiming an authentic life and an authentic self. In other words, this blonde is coming “undone”, and this blog is here to chronicle my journey, encourage others to embrace their true selves, and to provide me with some therapy that doesn’t require a couch and an odd little man asking me about my mother.

Hulk has always been a nonconformist, but who knew he was a natural blonde…or had those C cups?

I don’t like labels (we’ll talk about that some other time), but for the sake of a quick description, I’m as ADD as they come. My thoughts are sporadic and seldom stay on track, so there’s no telling what I’ll be posting from day-to-day.  But everything will link to my personal makeover as I tackle my demons one by one. Those demons may be something as deep as retraining a broken thought pattern or something not so profound, like organizing my junk drawer (don’t take that lightly; junk drawers are evil little bastards not to be underestimated).

So if you want a safe place to hang out that’s full of honesty, humor, and, hopefully, some inspiration; come by and see what I’m up to. My hope is that it’s contagious and some other unhappy folks will find courage to change the things they want to change and be the people they truly are. Oh, and just to be sure you know, you don’t have to be blonde to join this club–hell, you don’t even have to have hair.

Come back and visit real soon-

Ash

Hush Little Babies

Photo courtesy of clutchmagonline.com

I was scanning through random stories this morning and after a series of one link leading to another, I found a post on CafeMom  titled “11-Year-Old Girl Who Gave Birth is Not Normal” by Jeanne Sager. The author tells us from the beginning that the article is her response to the shock/repulsion that this has happened. She is flabbergasted at what the world has come to and that reaction is more than understandable. She openly states that the purpose of her post is to “talk herself off the ledge” and make herself and the reader feel better about the situation by reciting the facts/stats that proclaim this is not the norm in the good ol’ U.S of A. (the little girl lives in Columbia). But I think there was a missed opportunity to “enlighten” the reading public in a different way; a more uncomfortable but, in my humble opinion, more important way.

Before I get into the guts of this I want to make very clear that this is not meant as a criticism of this author or her article. I read her bio and she’s a funny, talented, multi-tasking mom who I would probably get on with quite well. I even encourage my readers (especially moms) to check her out. And as far as the content of the article goes, she told us straight-up it was meant to help us feel better about the tragedy of a child having a child; but my reaction and response to the news story is a little different, so I’m going to just simply take this in another direction without any intention of belittling the work of Jeanne.

Now, down to the ugly business of this. My reaction to the headline was minimal; a simple sigh of sadness but not surprise or shock. This will probably sound cynical or uncaring to those who don’t know my background, so I’m going to explain. My first “real” job after graduating with my psychology degree was working as a behaviorist/weekend supervisor for a residential facility for pregnant teens. This was in the southern United States, not a foreign country. I won’t get any more specific than that as I want to maintain as much privacy as possible for the girls that lived there and, unfortunately, keep distance between myself and some of the people I had to deal with.

This facility had been in operation for over 100 years and originated as a home where unwed girls and women could be hidden away for 9 months until their babies were born and adopted. By the time I went to work for the organization its purpose had changed drastically. It essentially had become a place to house pregnant minors (not just teens) that were wards of the state. This meant that the girls had been temporarily or permanently removed from the care of their parents and placed in the foster care system. Our facility provided an on-staff nurse, therapists, a school, parenting classes, guaranteed meals, and (for the most part) a safe place to live.

I’m not going to dribble on about the details of how the facility ran (or didn’t run) or even the slow process of emotional numbing I went through during my time there; I’m just going to cut to the barebones ugliness of what the reality is here in our country. I’m going to shine a light on it because I don’t want to sweep this under the rug with pretty statistics that make it easy for us to ignore. I don’t want us to talk ourselves off the ledge. I want more people to stand on the ledge and scream at the top of their lungs, “There are children that need us! Take off your blinders!”

While I was there (only one year due to the extreme depression the job caused), I watched 3 twelve-year-olds give birth. I remember one girl who’s IQ probably hovered in the 80’s squeal with glee on her thirteenth birthday just simply because she would be a teenager when she gave birth. I was told by fellow staff that the youngest girl they’d ever had was 10 but luckily she’d miscarried. I watched countless 14, 15 and 16-year-old girls give birth. I was even the birth coach for three different girls who had nobody else they trusted. I watched the women from the catholic organizations come in and talk to blank faces about the beauty of giving their babies up for adoption. During my employment we had only one girl (a smart, gifted athlete) enter the home with the intentions of adoption (she had family but Medicaid would pay for girls to attend the facility even if they weren’t in the foster system). She was bullied severely by the other girls. These 14-year-olds told her she wasn’t a “real woman” if she didn’t keep her baby. Despite our best efforts, she left the facility with her new baby girl.

I met another girl who had lived with her mother in a home that had no electricity or running water. She didn’t even know how to use deodorant or shave when she arrived. Her mother had literally pimped-out her 14-year-old daughter to men in their town. If she needed her car fixed and couldn’t afford it, she’d just tell the mechanic, “You should meet my daughter.” The girl was pregnant by a 40-year-old man but 14 is the age of consent in that state. A judge was at least smart enough to place the girl with us but that didn’t keep mom from visiting. This girl had severe anger issues and was huge. I had to step between fights with her and other residents more than once. She worked out a system with her mom that she would fake labor once a week, late at night when the nurse wasn’t on shift at the home. One of the staff would have to drive her to the hospital where her mom would be waiting along with the new 40-something man she had chosen as a husband for her daughter. This guaranteed hours of time together as they knew the hospital would be slow and the state would pick up the tab. After the girl had the baby I distinctly remember her erupting into one of her ferocious tantrums, the entire time her newborn son barely dangling from the crook of her arm. We could only stand and try to calm her because we couldn’t risk a physical take-down. A few weeks later a judge decided that the girl could go back to her mother who promptly took her back to the courthouse the next day and signed-off permission for the 14-year-old to marry the new boyfriend so she could not only “raise” her new son but also the 4 children of the new husband.

Are you getting sick yet? I hope so. You, the public, need to know that this is all around us. I’m not even including all of the stories. There’s the 24-year-old grandmother I met (you do the math). There was the girl who came in on an emergency transfer one night who was 14, pregnant from a rape by her uncle, and had the mental and emotional capacity of a 6-year-old. She was terrified and didn’t know why they’d taken her from her grandmother. I prevented her from killing herself that night. There was the girl with scars all over her body from the beatings endured by her father, who the court kept returning her to. I could go on and on with heartbreaking stories but the purpose isn’t to make you so sick that you just turn your head, it’s to make you aware and quite honestly, angry. Our system is broken and will continue to be as long as we keep putting rose-colored glasses on every time we see something ugly.

We have to find ways to improve sex education. It’s obvious those moms aren’t reading these parenting blogs or sitting down and having heart-to-hearts with their kids. We need to stop banning the promotion of contraception in our schools and only embracing the promotion of abstinence (seriously, how many of you were virgins on your wedding night?). We have to boycott shows like Teen Mom!! The girls I worked with often defended themselves by saying, “My mom was only (insert age) when she had me and she’s fine!” It is a system of generational ignorance, a horrible cycle that needs to be broken. We need to support organizations that try to educate these kids. We need to do more to fix the very broken foster system. We need to stop feeling so good about statistics because they’re only numbers. We need to care about the people: the babies having babies. I don’t have the answers, but it has to start with at least acknowledging that it does exist and not just in other countries.

So read the articles that show us the statistics of what is going well, but then let’s figure out how to make it even better. Continue to educate yourself and your children, but pay attention to the ugly side too and try to find a way to extend the love you have for your own kids to some that aren’t so lucky in the parent department.