JUST TELL ME HOW TO HELP

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I haven’t really known what to say.

When I first heard, I was very angry. The bill was passed as I entered my third trimester of my second pregnancy and I was extremely sad and confused by who and what kind of people could choose to kill a healthy baby that they had been holding onto for so long. A baby that’s moving, hiccuping, seeing shadows, hearing your voice. Foolishly being soothed at any vibrations coming from your vocal chords. Even the ones declaring it is no longer wanted and no longer deserves to live.

As time has gone on, my anger has subsided, though my sadness still grows stronger. Every kick I feel from my own baby, I get a flash of what it must be like deciding to go through with a late-term abortion, having the injection, and wondering if every kick you feel from then on is your baby, who you’ve gotten to know so well, in agonizing pain. A kick that’s followed by silent cries of confusion and fear as their life slips away from them.

Every time I hear a story of women who have gone through with a late-term abortion. Telling their tale of their full grown, otherwise healthy babies being flushed down a drain or pulled from their body, limb by limb. Hearing of babies who are left in buckets, struggling for air, crying for help as medical professionals who have taken oaths to save every life, no matter what, watch these poor babies die. Unloved and unwanted by every person they’ve ever encountered for no other reason than simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It really makes me wonder if the difference between life and death should really be a uterine wall.

I’m not trying to be morbid or fill anyone with guilt. This is literally where my brain goes. I just can’t help it.

***

I’m not a religious person. My values aren’t driven by a higher power. To me, it’s just simply be kind and treat everyone with respect because it’s the right thing to do. Because I don’t have the right to decide one person deserves kindness or respect over another.

So then that brings up the debate, when does life really start? Who really has rights and who really doesn’t? What is the fight that’s really worth fighting? Who’s baby is it really and who’s body is it really? Take religion out of it and you’ve still got a mess of opinions and bias to get through, regardless of any facts you can find on the matter. Opinions and bias that are shaped so early on by our own personal experiences, so in our core that at this point, you can’t convince me and I can’t convince you that anything we believe is right or wrong. And you know what? That’s okay.

I’m not here to try and convince a women who has come to the conclusion that her baby shouldn’t live that she is wrong. While I can’t understand what you have gone through to get to that point, I also can’t tell you that your life experiences and opinions are anymore or less significant than my own.

***

I guess at this point, I’ve reached the conclusion that open discussion is important. Not a bickering match about who’s right and who’s wrong based on XY and Z. But real discussions surrounded by respect for the fact that we are all different and have different opinions and somehow try to come to a middle ground of, at the very least, mutual respect and understanding.

***

Really, what it comes down to for me is that this has raised a lot of questions. It’s put a lot of light on society and it’s morals and values.

I’ve realized how one track minded adults can be. How difficult it is for us to step outside of ourselves and simply try to understand. It’s difficult, as someone who believes that every baby deserves to live and that every father (unless proven to be unsafe for mom and/or baby) has rights too, to understand all of this. It’s difficult for me to even want to understand sometimes.

But the bottom line is, if we truly want equality and we truly want a kind world, we have to be willing to hear and care for each other, whether we agree or not. We need to stop having discussions and making posts for the sake of convincing people we’re right. I think the only way to really help is to respectfully share ourselves and our experiences in order to help each other see every side.

***

I can’t tell you that all of this is right or wrong. All I can say is that it makes me sad for those babies and it makes me wish they had the opportunity to have someone who was capable of loving them the way they needed. The same way I wish every human could be given the opportunity to have someone love them the way they need to be loved.

I can’t say that the people who choose to terminate their pregnancies are bad people because I don’t know them. I don’t know what has brought them to that conclusion and I don’t know what it will do to them when all is said and done. I am very sure that the last thing they need, the last thing that will help, is for me to project my own opinion on them and their lives.

***

All of this being said, all I really can say to everyone is, I want to help. I want to give the world the love it needs. Yes. I am against abortions. I couldn’t choose to have one personally. It makes me incredibly sad thinking about this happening in the world. Thinking that there are babies who are happy, alive, and well who are killed for no other reason than being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

But I’m not against people. I want to help adults and babies alike, I just don’t know how. I don’t want to strip people of something they feel they need and deserve, but I also want to save the people who have no choice in the matter at all and I honestly don’t know how to do both. Short of offering to adopt every baby who’s mother doesn’t want them, I don’t know what to do.

***

For now, the best I can think to do is say all of this and to end it by saying, I’m here.

I’m here to listen. I’m not here to judge. I have my opinions. I have my feelings. I am a human being and I can’t help that my brain is a functioning one that feels and forms opinions based on my personal experiences. I can’t help that I have bias, but I do have the self control to not let that bias turn me into a cruel, close-minded person. I have enough self control to be kind and respectful and caring no matter where you stand. And I want to find a way for every human to have rights. For every person with a beating heart to get the love that they deserve.

MONEY TALK: JANUARY DEBT DIARY

MONEY TALK: JANUARY DEBT DIARY - This Wild Home

January has been a crazy month. We moved, somewhat unexpectedly, which added a lot of expenses we wouldn’t normally have. But even in the craziness, I was able to get a good idea of where the bulk of our money is going on an average week which was my big financial goal for this month.

We wound up spending close to $1000 on extra expenses from the move. I wish I could say every single purchase was 100% necessary. I can at least say that every purchase was at least 60% necessary. In the name of comfort and ease, there were a few changes we knew we would need to make in our new place and we figured tacking all of our home purchases on at the beginning made the most sense.

Our main home purchases included:

  1. WASHER + DRYER | This was one of those things you don’t really expect to have to buy when you’re renting, especially for an apartment so I’m sad to say we had to charge this one to the credit card. We got the cheapest we could but we also looked at it as an investment since we can now take these bad boys anywhere. We looked into apartments that had washers and dryers that came with the unit, but that doesn’t seem to be the trend here in Amarillo. Of course, there’s always a laundromat or finding a place with a laundry facility. But I’ll be honest, with two little kids, I know I’ll never do laundry unless I can walk to it within my own home. Plus, when you think about the long term cost, it’s definitely better just having our own.

  2. DESK | We didn’t go all out and get something extravagant, but we definitely learned we needed a designated work space for Ian. Our last apartment was our first experience having all of us home all of the time. Ian got a position that is a work from home position. We thought we could get away with having him work at the dining table but very quickly learned we would need a desk because the dining table is used too often through the day and it’s not quite big enough for all of us to fit while Ian is working. So there you have it, a desk was purchased.

  3. RUG | For under the dining table. We moved from a full on laminate apartment to a full on carpet apartment. Given that we have a toddler and a baby on the way who will both eat very messily for the unforeseeable future, we decided it would be best to get a small rug for under the table because, in the long run, having a rug to cover the carpet in the dining space would save us from having to pay to replace the whole carpet if any stains or spills occur in our time here.

  4. VACUUM | We wound up getting a robot vacuum. It wasn’t a super fancy one. I found one that was about the same price as a regular vacuum and thought, “Hey, I need a vacuum anyway. Why not get one that does the work for me?” We only had a broom before which was fine to sweep a rug and laminate floors with, but for a whole apartment of carpet I knew I needed a little help.

  5. HUMIDIFIERS | The climate we moved to is much more dry than anywhere we’ve ever lived. That, along with the colder weather and a need for a heater 24/7 left us all with dry skin and bloody noses. So we got some little humidifiers to run at night in each of our rooms.

  6. EXTRAS | You know, move in fees, storage solutions, command strips and hooks, a plant or two because we had the room and I found a fiddle leaf fig tree for $16. There weren’t too many extra things we needed but I’m sure they added up more than I really know. There were definitely many trips to Target.

All in all, I don’t think we went crazy on home purchases. I tried to be as resourceful as possible and turn to what we already had before buying something new, but with a new home comes new necessities.

Other one-time expenses:

The second thing that added to our one time purchases was my birthday. I kept the budget low. My actual birthday was 4 days after our move so I just wanted to sit at home and hang out with my boys. My husband had a small budget for some decorations (because decorating the dining room for each other is a tradition) and I got Chinese food and watched movie. I was gifted some birthday money and I used that for a sweater and shirt from Target along with my official tea set up to get started on one of my new year intentions. I’m happy to say my tea pot and the tea I bought is getting used daily!

Otherwise, a lot of money was spent on fast-food, gas to get here, and restocking our fridge.

JANUARY FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

CHECKING

Made - 4612.21

Spent - 4346.1

  • one-time expenses (not including washer + dryer) - 968.5

  • rent - 999

  • groceries - 710.83

  • restaurants/coffee/fast food - 247.23

  • debt - 906.44

  • bills - 361.34

  • hobbies - 35.4

So this month my only real focus was simply getting a good look at what’s coming in and what’s going out. I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of wiggle room for adding more to debt this month, but a big part of being able to pay off debt is knowing how much you really have and where you can make cuts.

Obviously, there’s a big chunk from this past month that was just extra expenses that we won’t normally have now that we’re settled in which is a good feeling.

WHERE WE’RE OVER SPENDING:

Our food expenses. They may look a little worse simply because of all the eating out we did while transitioning from one home to another, but about half way through this month our spending regulated and I got a good look at what it looks like on an average week.

Just to give a little insight on an average two weeks:

  • groceries - 402.11

  • fast food/restaurants/coffee - 97.5

  • bills - 227.32 (power/internet/spotify)

  • loans/debt - 394.43

  • hobbies - 35.4

  • kids - 

  • home goods - 156.23

You guys. That’s an average of $500 every two weeks on food alone which is way too much for 2 adults and 1 baby.

So I did some digging. The nice thing about some of these order online places is that you get an electronic receipt, and since I never take paper receipts, this made it so I could go back and get a good look at what I was actually buying.

I think the kicker was our meal plan subscription. We signed up a few months ago to help with meal planning and found a fairly inexpensive service that we really love using, but at $40 a week for only 3 of our meals, we found that it’s just not practical right now. Besides that, there are definitely places in our groceries that we can cut back on. Namely fancy beer and those snacks that you buy on a whim because you really need to eat a whole birthday cake right now.

DEBT

While we did pay our minimums on everything, we weren’t able to make too many strides this month. After purchasing a few baby things in February I’m hoping to start putting more into the credit card!

GOING INTO FEBRUARY

Our plan for this month is pretty simple. The main focus is to cut our spending a little bit. We do need to buy a few little things to get ready for our son who will be born early March and we have some things to prepare for guests coming in town.

Otherwise, I’m going to keep doing my weekly reports for our bills. But I’m also going to start doing weekly reports on food and groceries specifically to really get a good idea of what we’re buying and what we may be able to cut back on.

BOOK CLUB: NO BAD KIDS BY JANET LANSBURY

BOOK CLUB: NO BAD KIDS BY JANET LANSBURY - This Wild Home

This book was my introduction to Janet Lansbury and the world of respectful parenting. I’ve seen blogs and articles on respectful parenting, but the flow of this book really helped me to understand how to implement this way of parenting into my own life.

I’m excited to share this because, while it totally changed the mood of my home and family, I’ve found that the practices I’ve learned have helped me to take on the whole world with a new perspective. Yes, I truly believe it’s helped me to be a better mom, but also a better wife, friend, and all around person. The patience and intention you need to effectively handle a toddler are amazing tools for treating everyone around you with more respect and a calmer demeanor to make anyone you meet feel more understood.

ABOUT THE BOOK

So, what is this book all about anyway?

It’s about handling toddlers. It’s the idea that the negative reactions and emotions our toddlers feel are not the result of a bad kid. It’s helping you to realize that toddlerhood is not your sweet baby suddenly turning into a demon child. That bad behaviors are not a sign that you’re doing everything wrong.

In No Bad Kids, Lansbury takes real life situations and guides you through a respectful solution with encouraging words to help you navigate the intense world and emotions that your toddler experiences. With letters that have been sent to her from parents in need along side Landbury’s experiences in her many years of being a parent and coaching parents, you get to not only see the practices played out in everyday moments, but you also see that you are not alone in the struggles of being a parent.

This book is not about creating perfect children or eliminating tantrums and limit-pushing. It’s about understanding our children so we can better guide them to reaching their full potential.

MY KEY TAKEAWAYS

Basically, I have taken every word of this book to heart. I didn’t find a single aspect that I didn’t agree with. I learned so much and will forever be grateful for the impact Lansbury’s lessons will have on me and my family.

So, for the sake of not giving too much away or making this post a book in and of itself, here are my top five take aways from the wonderful words of No Bad Kids:

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

There are a few reasons why this may be the most important thing I learned. Even in the book it states that this is rule #1. It’s a dangerous road to go down, believing your child’s actions are intentional schemes against you. Even if they are subconsciously acting out because we aren’t giving them something they need, they still have no idea what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.

“When a toddler feels understood, he senses the empathy behind our limits and corrections. He still resists, cries, and complains, but at the end of the day, he knows we are with him, always in his corner.”

I would say there are two top reasons why it’s important to never take our children’s actions personally.

  1. Our feelings are not our kid’s responsibility. | They should not be able to control our happiness. They shouldn’t ever be given the idea that they are the keepers of our emotions. It’s a big responsibility to be in charge of, not only your own happiness, but also the happiness of others. While we as the parents should be aware of our effects on our child’s happiness and well being, they should never be given the responsibility of ours. When they feel responsible for such a major thing, it may actually encourage them to act out more just to push us to take that responsibility away from them (subconsciously, of course).

  2. It makes it difficult to stay “unruffled.” | This is a word Lansbury uses a lot: unruffled. It’s basically frazzled, out of control, frustrated, etc. It is the state we can find ourselves in when we haven’t set proper boundaries. The thing about taking things personally is, it ignites an instinctive response to protect yourself. It will prevent you from being as patient as you could be if you realized your child is just attempting to express something they may not fully understand. When you take their extreme behavior personally, you’re limiting your ability to be the rational adult they need you to be.

NO, KIDS ARE NOT IN CHARGE

I’d say one of the biggest misconceptions about respectful parenting is who is truly in charge. If I’m being honest, in the beginning of the book, I was a little weary because at times I felt like I had to let my toddler walk all over me in order to show that he is in a safe, respectful environment.

As I kept reading, I realized that is not the case.

Respectful parenting is not about letting your kids do whatever they want. It’s about learning to respond in an appropriate and respectful manner. It’s about understanding their abilities and making sure they know they are heard, even if it won’t change your mind.

“Children do not feel hurt when the adults they desperately need establish behavioral boundaries. It is easier for a parent to indulge a child than it is to be firm and consistent, and children know that. A child may cry, complain or even throw a tantrum when limits are set. In their hearts, however, children sense when a parent is working ardently to provide a safe nest and real love.”

And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about saying, “it’s okay to misbehave.” In fact, a big part of respectful parenting is making sure you set clear boundaries, especially ones that will keep you from getting unruffled, and correcting behavior before you feel an unruffled feeling coming on. It is saying that it’s okay to be upset when you correct them, but that you are still there to correct them when needed. They’re not in charge, but they have a right to feel. They have a right to tell you when they don’t like your rules.

BOUDARIES ARE CRUCIAL

Boundaries are everything for kids. In fact, I was talking to a friend of mine about boundaries and she shared a story about kids on a playground. It stated that when kids we on a playground with no fence, the stayed close to the play structure, never venturing too far beyond. Where as the kids who had a fence around their play area were more likely to venture all the way to the fence, exploring freely within their clearly defined boundaries.

The world is a scary and exciting place, especially when you’re brand new to it all. As much as kids want to explore, they also want to be sure they have someone looking out for them, keeping them safe from harm.

That’s where boundaries come in. Whether they are able to understand the boundary outright or try to fight you on it, in the end we know and they know that it’s for the best. They’ll fight you on it because that’s their job. But boundaries are our way of saying we care and that we want to help them. It’s our way of letting them know they have security and something they can rely on as they discover the wide world of unknowns.

“Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings, we will drive across it slowly and tentatively. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with ease and confidence. This is how a young child feels in regard to limits in his environment.”

LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT

I would say this is something I needed a wake up call on: The way that I talk to my son.

I’ve heard the bits about talking to kids normally without a baby voice. But being direct is something I definitely needed to work on. The “mommy says” and “we can’t” etc. just doesn’t cut it for kids. It gives them an out. It creates a disconnect where you’re no longer having a conversation between the two of you, but instead you’re telling a story about two characters.

“Babies are whole people – sentient, aware, intuitive and communicative. They are natural learners, explorers, and scientists able to test hypotheses, solve problems, and understand language and abstract ideas.”

I think the motivation behind “baby talk” is the idea that are kids only understand as much as they can express. After practicing some of the lessons I learned in this book, I’ve found that my 1.5 year old understands so much more than I thought. He knows what more things are than he can say, he understand more abstract concepts than I have given him credit for. He gets it and now that I talk to him like he gets it, he wants to listen more. By no means does he do everything I say, he definitely still gives push back. But I’ve found that talking to him the same way I’d talk to any other human has not only helped us in understanding each other, but has helped him develop his communication skills as well.

PUNISHMENTS ARE NOT THE ANSWER

I love this. I love it so much. I am definitely an anti-punishment parent. And I think this is the part where people want to ask, “Then doesn’t that put the kids in charge?”

I feel like I have even more to learn on this before I could give any real insight on why this is amazing, but I’ll just share a few lessons from Janet because, if I haven’t already mentioned, she’s my queen now.

This may seem a little too new-agey on the outside, but when seeing the thought process for the argument against punishments, it all makes a lot of sense. In No Bad Kids, Lansbury mentions the correlation between the concepts of punishments and discipline. She then offers another perspective given by her queen, Magda Gerber. Gerber redefines the modern idea of discipline by pulling from the latin root, disciplina, meaning “instruction, knowledge.” So with this in mind, discipline goes from, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience” to, “educating our children to understand appropriate behavior, values, and how to control their impulses.”

With this mindset shift on our role in our children’s lives, things like spanking and timeout become unproductive. It is a parent-given consequence that you wouldn’t, and really shouldn’t, see in the real world. These actions aren’t seizing a teaching moment, they are hindering your ability to not only become closer to your child by showing them you understand them, but to teach them through example; which is really where they’re learning everything in the long run.

“So the question is never ‘Are the learning?’ It’s ‘What are they learning?”

In all of my actions around my son, I wonder what he is learning. Is he learning to be respectful of other people and their feelings? Is he learning to be respectful of his own feelings?

The scary thing about punishments is that they can instill fear in our children. They can make them afraid of us and themselves. Punishments teach our kids that their feelings, something they have no control over, are wrong. When you hurt, belittle, or shame your kids for simply being kids, for going against us or acting out (things they are SUPPOSED to be doing), you’re not teaching them that their actions are inappropriate. Instead, you’re teaching them that they are bad. And some kids may carry that label with them throughout their days, always choosing the path the “bad kid” would take simply because they were taught that that is who they are.

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Parenting is a big deal. We all know this. We’re all at least somewhat aware of the impact we have on our children. That is why books like this are important. It’s important to have a reminder of what we’re really teaching our kids. It’s important to get a new perspective from someone who has studied and practiced all the things they preach.

Books like No Bad Kids help us to remember that, not only are our kids inherently good, but that we were born good too. We all grew up with certain standards and were taught lessons that may have not been fair to us. No matter what we learned growing up, no matter what labels were put on us or standards shown to us, we have the ability to be good and to teach goodness to our kids.

Also, for a chance to receive your own Book Club book in the future, keep up with my instagram stories where I giveaway a book to one lucky follower!