Tough Conversations with Kids – Let’s Talk About Sex

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.  If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” ~ Catherine M. Wallace

sex educationNothing strikes quite as much fear in the hearts of parents as the thought of having “the talk” with their child.

Amidst the nausea and panic that immediately set in, there are the questions: When do you have it? What do you say? How do you say it? What if you say the wrong thing? What if they ask a question you don’t know the answer to? Don’t they cover this in school?

These are the questions I already have . . . and my eldest is just barely out of diapers.

But here’s the good news – early, candid conversations with your child about tough topics, like puberty and sex, help set your child and family up for success for years to come. And who wouldn’t want that?

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For tips on jumpstarting the conversation with your son or daughter, check out my latest post on the Birmingham Moms Blog where Dr. Stephenie Wallace, mom, certified Girlologist, and part of the Adolescent Health Center team at Children’s of Alabama gives some tips on how to get started.

 

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Learning How to Enjoy the Moment

“Children are not a distraction from more important work.  They are the most important work.” ~ C.S. Lewis

IMG_6095I have a sneaking suspicion.

I suspect that if each of us thought back to the advice we received while pregnant, one of the top ten most-received tidbits would be, “Enjoy the moment.”

However, the problem is, while family, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers are quick to offer this bit of advice, no one tells you how to do that.

No one tells you how to “enjoy the moment” when your newborn has day/night confusion and you are running on less than three hours of sleep.

No one tells you how to “enjoy the moment” when your potty-training toddler has his or her fifth accident that day and you’re up to your elbows in poop, laundry, and Clorox wipes.

No one tells you how to “enjoy the moment” when your patience (and nerves) are shot from dealing with a contrary toddler that just.won’t.listen.

Forget about enjoying the moment, we are just trying to survive it.

That’s where I found myself recently. Then, while having breakfast with the boys, I looked out the window and saw the school bus pass by. Inexplicably, my heart leapt.  I could feel a swelling deep in my gut.

These sweet, albeit chaotic, mornings with my two boys are numbered. All too soon they won’t want to sit down and tell me about the dragons they slayed in their dreams over toast.  They may not laugh at the silly faces I make, or ask me ten times to do the robot voice that makes them laugh so hard they get the hiccups.

Then that advice came echoing back, “Enjoy the moment.”

Sitting at the table that morning, I resolved not to squander these moments. However, then I had to come up with a game plan to actually follow the advice I had been given.

Read the rest of this post on the Birmingham Moms Blog.

Tough Conversations With Kids

Expect the best, prepare for the worst.” ~ Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Tough conversations with kids about fire safety

Risk analysis is my jam.  You could put me in a room, and I could both identify and prepare for any risk that might even remotely be presented.

We had the monitor to alert us if the boys’ breathing became irregular, we were early adapters to child-proofing, and I still cut up hot dogs for my 2 ½ year-old so they don’t pose a choking hazard.

What mom hasn’t felt her risk antennae become a bit sharper after having kids? From the minute our child comes into our life, every cell in our body reprograms with a new mission – keeping him or her safe.

But that’s hard. We can’t always be there. Nor do we want to be. Therefore, the best way we can protect our kids is to prepare them.

However, this can lead to some tough conversations…

Read the rest of this first post of my Tough Conversations with Kids series on the Birmingham Moms Blog.

Mommin’ Ain’t Easy

“Friendship…is born at the moment when one person says to another: “What!  You too?  I thought I was the only one.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Bless the moms who always look fantastic and put together, who’s doting kids always appear to listen to their mother’s calm requests with a polite smile on their faces, and who’s children are grateful for every minor correction given by all-knowing parents, as if they know that their momma truly does know best.  Bless them.

Photo by Bridgett Shepherd

The perfect moment captured.

If you were to catch a glimpse of me on the right day, at exactly the right moment, when the wind is blowing just right, and the world (aka the two boys) seems in sync, you may think I am one of these unicorns.

However, let me assure you my friends that I am not.

On my best day I am like the mom equivalent of a mullet – perfectly manicured in the front, hair on fire in the back.

In my short two-and-a-half years as a mother, I have learned that in fact, there are no unicorns.  There is no perfect mother with perfectly behaved kids.  That perfectly put together mother with her well-behaved children I see at the grocery store, soccer practice, and at daycare pick up – she’s right there in the trenches too.  I just happened to catch her at just the right moment.  And you know what, that’s why when I see that mom, I give her a nod as if to say, “Sister, I know what it took to get here like that.  You go girl.”  Then my face likely reflects a tinge of longing as I thing, “Tell me your secret.”

Photo by Bridgett Shepherd

The behind-the-scenes captured

However, despite the craziness, the mom-buns, the dry-fit shirts (a new staple of my momiform here in Birmingham), and the suitcases under my eyes, I wouldn’t trade being a mom for all the perfect and/or quiet moments in the world.

But mommin’ ain’t easy.  It isn’t for the faint of heart.  That’s why we need friends.  We need friends who we can join with, share with, be in the trenches with, and laugh with.

I’ve always loved the above C.S. Lewis quote.  But, I treasure it as a mom.

Whether it is a co-worker, a fellow soccer mom, or your favorite blogger, there is nothing more reassuring or encouraging as a mom than when you hear or read something that makes you say, “What? You too?  I thought I was the only one!”

Birmingham_Contributor_BTNThere is strength in numbers ladies.

That’s why I am so thrilled and honored to join the fabulous team of ladies at the Birmingham Moms Blog as a contributor.

Check out the introduction post to read a little more about how we got to Birmingham, my career change, and what the true meaning is behind the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.”

The posts will include some local flavor as the boys and I explore our new home here in the Magic City.  However, I hope to also relay those universal moments we all have as moms in the trenches – the ones that make us laugh, cry, and everything in between.   So be encouraged mama – no matter where you are, you are not the only one.

 

Pregnancy Favorites

“Pregnancy and birth knit womankind together.  Help weave a gorgeous thread to add to the fabric.  Be supportive.  Be kind.  Be wise.  Be open.” ~ Desirre Andrews

The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child.  I’d back that up a bit.  It takes a village to go through pregnancy.

It did not long for me to realize that the best resources at my disposal as a newly minted first-time momma-to-be were not the books at my bedside which laid out (sometimes in horrifying detail) what was to come, but the ladies surrounding me who have gone before.

In fact,after seeing those two pink lines, one of the first lists I made consisted of women I had questions for.  These women have been my village.  And thank God for without them, I would be lost without a compass.

However, being pregnant has this weird way of converting you back to the days of your youth.  This has proven to be both a good and bad thing.

For example, the first couple weeks of being pregnant, all I wanted was mac and cheese.  This often sent my loving and patient husband to the grocery store when all I wanted was Annie’s.  Then he’d graciously make it for me and add (or hide if we want to be more accurate) the chicken so I got my protein in a way that didn’t make me gag.  When’s the last time someone had to hide your nutrition.  But this wasn’t so bad.

The weird and unnerving part is that once some people sense you’re pregnant, it’s as if all of the sudden years fall off of your age.  These people often see you not as “with child” so much as a child yourself.  They watch you, tell you how to act, what to eat, what not to eat, and what to do.  Most of which is unsolicited.  Think of them as the village’s door to door salespeople.  This is not what I mean when I say it takes a village.  However, it is your village that will  help you get through this unsolicited advice and assist you in separating the useful information from the noise.

With that being said, this list is not an end all be all “must-have” list.  This is simply a list of what I have found to be my favorites during pregnancy.  All women are different, which makes all pregnancies unique.  One of my first (and favorite) questions was, “what did you just have to have while you were pregnant?”  I found it fascinating what helped different women during pregnancy.  So from my village to your’s, here is a list of some of my favorite things.

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From top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Water bottle.  I’m going to be honest.  I’ve never been a huge fan of water.  It’s always been a necessary evil.  I’m one of those weirdos that “doesn’t like the way water tastes.”  However, the strangest thing happened when I got pregnant – I started to CRAVE water.  This falls under the category of, “Isn’t the human body amazing.”  You see, it makes sense that I started craving water since staying hydrating is vital during pregnancy.  It helps your body not only absorb nutrients but also helps in the aid and transportation of these nutrients to your little one.  Water also helps stave off many of those unpleasant pregnancy symptoms including fatigue, headaches, swelling, and constipation.  That in and of itself should be enough of a reason. The Institute of Medicine suggests that during pregnancy, most women should try to drink 10 cups (2.3 liters) of water each day.  Having a big water bottle like this helped me do that, especially while at work.  Staying hydrated is also key if you continue to work out during pregnancy…which is a whole other post.
  2. Thick pair of maternity leggings.  Yes I bought maternity jeans, but these, these are my happy place.  Despite all of the cute maternity wear out there, while it may seem like an eternity, you are really only pregnant for a short time.  Instead of spending a lot of money on maternity clothes, I decided early on that all I really needed were good solid wardrobe staples.  I finally found these at Gap after ordering a couple other pairs that didn’t pass the test.  While a lot of maternity clothes may be bought online, leggings are something you just have to see in the store and try on.  However, if you must buy online, avoid any that include “light” or “lightweight” in the description. No one wants to be that person.
  3. Simple shirred tops.  On the topic of simple staples, I have about five different colors of this Gap top.  I found it to be so comfortable and easy to dress up for work during the week or wear with jeans on the weekend.  Plus the gathered sides made it the perfect fit throughout pregnancy.
  4. Contour kit.  Let’s face it, no matter how self-confident you are, at some point, you’re just going to start to feel well…pregnant.  Your body goes through so many changes, there were days that I would look in the mirror and just didn’t feel like myself.  I had been wanting to try a contour kit for awhile and figured this was the perfect time.  I ended up getting this one at Ulta, and I love it!  Overall it was a great beauty find but I really love it on those mornings where your cheekbones appear to be hiding.  It’s a great way to give your face the definition that that little one of your’s may be stealing for the time being.
  5. Vitamin water.  Luckily, the first trimester was not too wrought with sickness but nausea is one of the things I fought each morning as I got ready for work and each night on my drive home.  In my search to find a remedy, I read Chic Runner’s blog where she listed that Vitamin Water really helped with her nausea because it is packed with b-12.  It was perfect timing because this mama-t0-be was getting a little sick of ginger ale.  Plus, chugging ginger ale at 8 am is a dead giveaway that you’re pregnant.  I found that these really helped me.  I would have half of one in the morning and then the rest as I drove home and it really helped.
  6. Pregnancy pillow.  The Bump Nest, or Bumpy as we lovingly call it, has been a lifesaver.  Luckily, due to working out, sleeping hasn’t been an issue. However, sleeping on my side was proving to be problematic.  I got the Bump Nest early on (another Chic Runner rec) and found it perfect for support, keeping me on my side, and for keeping everything aligned, which helped keep away issues with my sciatic nerve and lower back pain.  As your pregnancy progresses, you can change the position to support either your back or bump.  And as an added bonus, both the pillow and cover are washable.  The Bump Nest is a bit more expensive but if you’re going to splurge, this is where to do it.  Now I just have to figure out how to justify keeping Bumpy in the bed once our little guys is here.
  7. Workout shirts.  As I mentioned above, I’ll have to do a separate post about working out during pregnancy because it has truly made all of the difference.  But for now, here’s the shirt I wore every day.  These shirts aren’t meant to be for maternity but the fabric, softness, breathability, and flexibility made them perfect for working out.  The description says they are “shape retentive.”  I’ll update you on that one!
  8. Palmers.  Stretch marks.  To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll get away unscathed or not my the time this is all said and done.  But from the beginning, I have used Palmers.  This is not necessarily because I believe it will keep the stripes away, but a little moisture can’t hurt right?
  9. Cardigans.  Simple staples right?  I got three cardigans in different colors and have worn them nonstop.  These are perfect over the shirred tops mentioned above and over long maxi dresses.  Pair it with a chunky necklace for date night and you’re good to go.

What were some of your favorite things while you were pregnant?  Or onto what will be my next question – what are your favorite things post-baby?

Calmness

When planning for Spain and the Camino de Santiago, I decided I wanted to devote time every day to read a devotion, reflect, and write. The benefits of just a couple moments of silence to think, create, and be still each day are numerous. However, it is the one thing that seems to slide down, or off, of my to-do list.

After some thought, I decided to take a much loved devotional from my days at the publishing house with me. I had never read it personally, but I knew how much it meant to so many people. I was also given a copy when I left to I to law school. Unfortunately, it has taken me over three years to pick it up.

This morning, we were still two hours away from Madrid, and I couldn’t sleep. So I decided to look at the devotion for the day. I have excerpted part of it below:

“STAY CALMLY CONSCIOUS OF ME today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you, so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment presents.”

This is perfect for so many reasons. A new country and a trek like this can at times be overwhelming. So the meaning of these words are not lost on me there. However, it was something much deeper that made my heart twinge over the Atlantic Ocean this morning.

I have a post-it on my computer at work that reads: calmness is trust in action. It is something a good friend and co-worker once read to me. That quote and the devotion for today strike at the core of what I hope to learn and carry with me from this amazing trip.

Too often I get anxious and overwhelmed looking at the next thing instead of enjoying every moment, no matter what it brings, and trusting. I too quickly lose my focus. I miss the beauty right in front of me when I am concerned about the future.

As we shuffled off of the plane and we’re greeted by beautiful morning in Madrid, I decided that this trip, I am going to be calmly conscious. I’m going to soak it all in. No matter what each day brings I am going to trust and enjoy. And hopefully these habits will go with me back to the states.

Let’s Go on an Adventure

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~ Lao-Tzu

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Hello my name is Jacklyn and I’m an Arranger. Well, as of tomorrow, a recovering Arranger.

So I have taken the StrengthsFinder test multiple times.  Once while in college, once at the publishing house, and most recently, here at the law firm.  Apparently, “Arranger” must have been just hanging out there at number 6 just waiting to show its face.  It obviously picked the perfect time…after law school.

I cannot avoid it.  I’m a perpetual planner and a habitual arranger.  There should be a group for people like me.

And as much as I love my job, I cannot avoid the fact that it revolves around deadlines, constantly tracking the progress of cases or legislation, and recording my time in six minute increments.

Each of us has that element to what we do.  We have checklists, deadlines, and to-do lists.  It keeps us organized, keeps us upright, and on track.  However, I am convinced that we also yearn for adventure, pine for the unexpected, and crave the beauty that a new experience brings.

My recent checklist has been one of my favorites.  It has consisted of: get hiking boots, figure out what a spork is, learn to pack for two weeks in a foreign country in a single bag, and try to learn as much Spanish as you can.

Tomorrow I am going to give in to the yearning and give up the arranger and planner in me. I am ecstatic…and nervous as hell.

Tomorrow I board a plane, with my husband’s mom, bound for Madrid and then on Friday we hop on a train to Ponferada. In Ponferada we start our trip along the Camino de Santiago. We’ll meet our guys who have been on the trail for almost three weeks now and head to Santiago de Compestela.
 

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I have no itinerary and no plans except to soak up every second of every minute. From what the guys have told us already, it has been an incredible and life changing experience. Of which the best part is who you meet along the way.

I simply cannot wait.

The guy have been posting pictures and updates from their travels and I’m sure we will do the same at Buen Camino.