Fight like a Girl

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Thought of the Day

I’m an overweight woman and this is something Ive struggled with my entire adulthood. Not just physically, with my weight going up and down, but emotionally. I regularly have to tell myself that my weight does not determine my self worth, that whether I am super model thin or the next seasons contestant on The Biggest Loser- I am the same person and my value does not change. It’s very difficult to think this way in a time where beauty is so highly valued and fat is not considered beautiful. I still hope to make my body healthier and be in better physical shape for my long term physical well being but I really hope that when my daughters grow up, they are confident and love themselves and feel worthy of love no matter how they look that day because they can remember their mom loving herself no matter her size.

 

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Thought of the Day:

My years in college taught me that I was strong, intelligent, hard working, and most of all, a Feminist.
Having my children then sealed that feminism in. I will never stop fighting for my daughters and their futures.

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I know it can be an odd request but just take a moment to read and consider why I am so sick of my daughter being called “pretty”.

No, it’s not bad to be pretty, be called pretty, or call someone pretty but the word does make an impression and leaves behind a lesson in it’s tracks.

The lesson is, “Your looks matter most”.

You see, my daughter is called pretty constantly. Everywhere we go people stop her to tell her they like her looks. They mention her large blue eyes, her cute as a button little self, and her uniquely red hair. I’m sure many moms of girls experience this and it isn’t just mine but she just seems to attract attention everywhere we go. All these people have good intentions. Their hearts are in the right place. They think they are boosting her up, complimenting us, giving her a nice solid foundation of a self esteem. What they don’t always think about is that they are giving her a self esteem based purely off looks. Based purely on outward image. And being told 12 times per outing by strangers that you are visually appealing lets one know one thing- we judge others and ourselves on looks.

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I know some people think I am being dramatic or extreme but imagine being a 4yr old. You have a mom and dad who tell you a handful of times per day that your health matters and that it’s good to be strong and that exercising your brain is crucial. But then you are told a dozen times per day… sometimes 2 dozen times in a day- by strangers, family, and friends that your looks are what they notice. Your looks is what they talk about. Your looks is what makes them want to praise you. Your looks is what stops them in grocery aisles. Your looks is what makes them want to talk to your mom. Your looks is what they are saying they wish they had too.

What do you think a 4yr old is going to take in? While health, intelligence, strength..ect.. is important- Pretty is what really counts and matters to others.

Not long ago we were at a park and my daughter paired up with an 8yr old girl and they quickly became playground buddies. At one point the girl told Eve that she looks just like the character Merida from the movie Brave. Eve’s response was this, “I really dont. My hair isnt the right red. and it’s not curly enough. and it’s not long enough.”

and the thing about this that really stood out to me was that Eve said this as if she fell short. She wasn’t “Merida enough” to really be told she was like Merida. And well.. she’s right… only the cartoon character Merida can be Merida and be exactly who Merida is. Eve is Eve… not Merida. But what happens when I translate that to her being called pretty? At what point does the same rational kick in that she already has when compared to a character?

But do I really compare to the standard of “pretty”?

While we may think we are building up her self esteem, I fear we are just building her up to feel meeting this standard is what matters and in the end- due to a culture with unrealistic expectations, anorexic models, photoshopped magazines, plastic surgery and professionally applied makeup that she will start seeing herself as falling short, like so so many of the females in the US who never feel good enough to really be pretty.

Instead of spending so much time calling her pretty, I wish people would stop her to compliment her taste in the books she picks out in the store. Or her energy. Or her wits. Compliment how smart she is after talking with her about science experiments or bugs. I know it comes more naturally to tell little girls they are pretty then it is to actually have to have a discussion with them and find their strengths but they are worth the time spent. If you talked to my daughter, you would know that she loves going hiking and that she goes running with her dad and that she (at only 4 1/2 yrs old and 28 lbs) has run a 5K in The Color Run. She is more than just red hair. She is a torch lighting the way for girls everywhere to be bold and strong and I never want her to think she is any less based on a scale of pretty.

After running her first 5K with her dad

After running her first 5K with her dad


ImageKids can be really trying. They may be adorable and yes, we love them with all our hearts and minds and souls, but that doesn’t mean we are always patient with them and understanding. The years may go by fast but the days are often long, tiring, and bedtime cannot come soon enough. Something I have been having to remind myself of lately is that my kids are worth being patient for. They are worth talking nicer to. They are worth listening to even when I do not want to listen. They are little but they are people and have thoughts and feeling and desires and ideas and they want to share them and be understood and be responded to, even when we feel it’s something silly or small or common sense.

When the kids are breaking a rule that I have been reminding them of all day long, it can become a huge struggle to be patient. But they are worth doing it for and your kids are too. When our kids are older, we don’t want their memory of us to be red faced and yelling about standing on the couch (for the 500th time) or of us yelling at them for a sibling fight that they were actually the victim of and not the initiator. Our kids deserve to be heard and loved on, even when we have had rough days. They deserve to be talked to like equals and reminded of the rules in love and kindness, and not with impatience and aggression. Even when our intentions are good and for their safety, if it comes out of our mouths in anger, the lesson of love is lost on our children.

When we talk our kids down and let ourselves snap, we are bullying our own children. We are taking advantage of our size and authority over them and using it against them. When we angrily grab them and move them to a place where they are less likely to get hurt- in our minds we are getting them to safety, but they see the aggression and all they are taught is that we can be rough and get physical to those smaller than us who do things we don’t like.

We are all human and it can be extremely difficult to get through a day without getting at all impatient and exasperated, but our kids are worth the effort. They are worth reminding ourselves that they need to be treated equally. They are not trying to upset us. They are not trying to mistreat the house, hurt their sibling (well, we hope not!), or put themselves in danger. They are just playing the way they play and being who they are meant to be at these young ages. As parents, there are better, nicer ways to remind our kids of the rules. There are more loving ways to move them to safety. If your tone and presence is impatient and frustrated, the message you are sending your child is one of impatience and frustration.
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Remember, these little people may seem little right now but they will grow to be adults soon enough. What kind of adults are we trying to raise? I know I hope to raise adults who are kind, loving and patient. Adults who respect others and sympathize with others feelings. Adults with empathy and compassion. Adults with healthy coping mechanisms and aren’t easily brought to anger. In order to do that, I need to be the kind of adult to them I want them to become, because we are the biggest influence in their lives.

It takes work to change. It takes work, and thought, and purpose and intention to direct our actions when our emotions and exhaustion is getting the best of us. Our children are worth it, though. Knowing we made their day a little better. That they were yelled at less, laughed more, and had better lifelong examples of kindness instilled in them is worth it.


The end of 2012 deserves a post! I have not even had the blog up for a full month and I’m pretty stinking proud of it. My top day so far, I had 1808 views in one day! That means you guys are pretty awesome for sharing and finding my post worth reading. Thank you!

Today I am thinking about this past year. We moved into a townhouse, still under our same horribly difficult landlord but at least it fits us all, I had my incredible drug-free VBAC with Grace, Ariel turned 2 and Eve turned 4. My mom lost her home from the hurricane, Sandy, and is living with us until her home is restored, I’ve completely changed the way we eat this year (been “flexitarians” for 7 months now), Ive lost 30 Lbs so far, and I’ve started this blog. Ive also gained some friends, lost some friends, have made more decisions on who I am, who I want to be, and what I care about and what I do not care about. I’m still shaping up. I’m still making mistakes. I’m still changing and growing as a human. I’m still evaluating and reevaluating. I’m still figuring things out on how to be a mom and how to raise kids in a Christian home in our modern day.

In the new year, I want to keep changing and growing as a person. I want to become fairer and more merciful and loving. I want to become wiser and less self conscious. I want to be bold and strong. I want to keep getting healthier. I want to spend more one on one time with each of my kids and go on more dates with my husband. I want to get more involved in our church and start really using what God has given me to bless. And I really really want the Fiscal Cliff stuff to not swallow us alive. haha

Have a great New Years everyone!


I try to be really aware of my language with my kids. No, I’m not talking about bad language, though I don’t do that either. I try to phrase things and speak to them in ways that will make them grow as people. For example, when I discipline, I try to speak words that will correct their behavior so that they will grow to become better, respectful, loving humans. I try not to use words that tear down or rip apart or shame in the name of disciple. I even desire to stay away from the neutral language that does neither. If it does not uplift and help them grow and be better than it isn’t necessary. Of course, I fail at this regularly, being human and all, but I am hoping that even just having this desire in my mind and heart will help keep me doing better than I would if I didn’t have these concepts in my mind.

So with everything I’ve been asking myself, “How are these words, this phrasing and this tone affecting their minds, self esteems, desire? How will this effect who they will be? How will this effect how they treat their own possible kids some day?”. If I can’t say I’m instilling good behaviors, feelings, and habits I start planning out a new way to treat situations that are more productive.

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So I stopped calling my kids smart.  I used to call them smart. “Wow, Ariel. You finished that puzzle fast. You are so smart!”. “Eve, you know all the words on that page? You are so smart”. I do not say those things anymore. I have traded in my language. Instead of rewarding natural ability I praise their efforts, the work it took to get something done, whether it took them little effort or great effort.

You might be asking Why? What is wrong with being smart? It makes people feel good and more confident to be told they are smart, right? That’s good for self-esteem.

Actually I’ve learned it is not that great. An article I recently read went into great depth discussing how children who are complimented off of their natural born intelligence get frustrated by harder work easier. Even children with really high IQ’s give up almost immediately when they hit a tough area because if it does not come natural to them they think it is not something they can do. While Children who are complimented for the work they put into a job, work harder and feel they can accomplish things if they just put the time and effort into it.
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The research done showed that the children whose focus was based more on intelligence felt that needing to put effort into a subject or activity was evidence that they were not actually smart so avoiding those more difficult content areas was their preference over working harder at it so others wouldn’t believe them to not really be smart. While kids whose emphasis was on working hard felt that their smartness could grow and develop with effort. Teaching kids that their brain was a muscle that got stronger when worked had kids focusing more and getting better results.

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No matter where my kids all fall on the IQ scale, I want them each to know that if they work hard for something they can achieve it. That if they desire to learn it and devote their time to learning something, they can learn it, whether it’s a natural skill or not. We are all born with different natural abilities and different levels of intelligence, which means we are not all equal in this area but we all have just as much potential if we are willing to work for it. I believe all my kids to be smart and am looking forward to continuing to work and learn with them and watch them grow and develop. I know that my kids “are smart” and I love that they will be able to see that their smarts are effort based and that they are intelligent people and all they have to do is put some effort into it and they can be as intelligent as they work to be.

For the Article Click Here


I get a lot of people wanting to know why I am so passionate about babies being breastfed. Why does it matter? Why do I insist on talking about it? Why do I think it’s ok to do in public?
Besides for the thousands of medical, scientifically proven reasons to breastfeed, like breast milk provides your baby with all the nutrients he or she needs (while formula tries and constantly improves, is still missing many vital vitamins, nutrients and *hormones*- yes hormones, that baby needs to properly grow and develop), promotes bonding between mom and baby, decreases postpartum depression, is always the right temperature, is always ready, and never requires bottle washing- Not to mention to decreases moms AND baby girls chances of ever getting breast cancer, there is also a foundational reason to breastfeed. It is what we are biologically meant to do and how we were created to feed our babies. As a Christian, I firmly believe that God did it right the first time and no amount of tampering in a formula lab is going to make baby formula even come close to how God made it.
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The Bible actually speaks quite a bit about breastfeeding. Awhile back I wrote a Facebook note, (this note was also published on The Guggie Daily) listing scriptures that mentioned breastfeeding and throwing in bits of my own feedback throughout. This is going to be an updated, cleaned up version of that because that is what every Christian should be asking themselves if they are questioning appropriateness and the necessity of breastfeeding.

Luke 11:27 (New Living Translation)

 27 As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, “God bless your mother—the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!
whoa mama! You just yelled over a crowd to Jesus about sucking on his moms breasts? And it was put into scripture?! Hey, why doesn’t this very public announcement to sucking on boobs not sound more offensive than this? Maybe because it simply is not considered offensive?
Being able to nurse and be nursed was actually considered a blessing and it was a curse for those who couldn’t.


Genesis 49:25

By the God of your father Who will help you, and by the Almighty Who will bless you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings lying in the deep beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

Have we come to the place where we consider the boobs who haven’t nursed to be the blessed ones?

Luke 23:29

For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!

Have we become cruel by taking nursing away from our babies? By taking the perfect food that God created for our infants and replacing it with medical emergency replacement supplementation?

Lamentations 4:3

Even the jackals draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones, but the daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness { that desert their young}. The tongue of the nursing babe cleaves to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the young children beg for food, but no one gives it to them.
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I really dont believe God minds us feeding these delicate little babies who gave to us wherever we are at the time they need to be fed. After all, he himself invites nursing mothers and babies to a huge public affair.

Joel 2:16

Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.

After all, God speaks so fondly and comfortingly about breastfeeding.

Isaiah 60:16

You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

He shows such compassion to these children that he loves so.

Isaiah 49:15

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Scripture shows us what a high priority breastfeeding was and how it was encouraged to continue on until the right time for the mother and baby. The average weaning age during this period (and all people, if we allowed children to nurse until self weaned) is 3-5yrs!


I Samuel 1:21-23
And Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. But Hannah did not go, for she said to her husband, I will not go until the child is weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and remain there as long as he lives. Elkanah her husband said to her, Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish His word. So Hannah remained and nursed her son until she weaned him.

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God considers a mother who breastfeeds to be devoted and one who cherishes.

I Thessalonians. 2:7-8

But we behaved gently when we were among you, like a devoted mother nursing and cherishing her own children. So, being thus tenderly and affectionately desirous of you, we continued to share with you not only God’s good news ( the Gospel) but also our own lives as well, for you had become so very dear to us.

Psalm 22:10

 9-11 And to think you were midwife at my birth, 

      setting me at my mother’s breasts! 

   When I left the womb you cradled me; 

      since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.

 

And there are even more examples of where God proves that he is not skittish about our breasts or the act of breastfeeding. Please, take note that he never hints at “being discreet” or using a public restroom to nurse in. He looks at breastfeeding as a beautiful act that embodies his closeness to us and his desire and ability to nourish and fill and love, all in one act. He often uses breastfeeding as a symbol to describe how he adores and cherishes us and nothing God does is indecent or something that needs to be hidden. So let your light shine. Let your baby nurse and let your shame and distorted views of this wholesome, pure act fall off of you.

Isaiah 66:11-13 

11 For you will nurse and be satisfied 

   at her comforting breasts; 

you will drink deeply 

   and delight in her overflowing abundance.”

 12 For this is what the LORD says:

   “I will extend peace to her like a river, 

   and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; 

you will nurse and be carried on her arm 

   and dandled on her knees. 

13 As a mother comforts her child, 

   so will I comfort you; 

   and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

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Psalms 22:9

“Yet you are He who took me out of the womb; You made me hope and trust when I was on my mother’s breasts.”

Song of Solomon 7:8

“Let your breasts be as clusters of the grapevine, and the scent of your breath like apples..””I resolve I will climb the palm tree, I will grasp its branches. “

 

Hosea 1:8

“Now when [Gomer] had weaned Loruhamah, she became pregnant again and bore a son.”

Isaiah 40:11

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in His arm, He will carry them in His bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young.”

Genesis 21:7
And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Proverbs 5:19

19 A loving doe, a graceful deer— 

   may her breasts satisfy you always, 

   may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

Song of Solomon 8:1

If only you were to me like a brother, who was nursed at my mother’s breasts! Then, if I found you outside, I would kiss you, and no one would despise me.

Isaiah 28:9

“Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast?

*disclosure- I do not think moms who can not nurse or have a medical condition, or have adopted children are cruel or doing anything wrong. I simply want people to see the beauty in breastfeeding and for those of us who have been blessed with the ability to nurse not be put down or shamed for it when God clearly created it to be a pure and wholesome way to nourish our babies*