Someone else might’ve.

“Please stop debating whether or not I’ve aged well. Unfortunately, it hurts all 3 of my feelings. Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re temporary, happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, someone else might’ve given a f—.” – Carrie Fisher

I feel the same about *most* celebrities as I do about politicians. At best, I’m lukewarm-to-apathetic. But nevertheless, I’m going to quote a celebrity. A few weeks ago, Carrie Fisher passed away, and sadly it was only after she died that I had the opportunity to read some of her finer, saltier quote-worthy statements. This one really stuck with me. And while I am starting to deplore the mindless modern practice of using the term “badass” as a catch-all for any time a woman does something beyond standing still and looking pretty, I think Fisher’s message here was in the upper echelon of certified badassery. Not “female badassery,” like it’s somehow different…just…badassery. And I wish more people understood what she was truly getting at.

Before I dive in here, I want to acknowledge the sadly symbiotic relationship here, that in order for me to write a post about why looks don’t portray inner qualities or a lack thereof most of the time, I kind of have to validate people making really stupid comments about peoples’ looks. Cause I feel like if I don’t acknowledge it, nitwit assholes will point that out, and I make it a sport of beating them to the punch.

As we approach the exit of President Obama and the inauguration of President-Elect Trump, I have noticed it becoming curiously popular for people to bring up Michelle Obama’s looks as some sort of back-door indictment of her husband and/or their shared politics. Because those two things are obviously so connected? This confuses me and also troubles me. The most common cut-down I’ve heard? Well, I’ve heard varying phrasings, some more creative than others, but it typically amounts to a comparison of our First Lady to a dude.


A man? A man. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Right. Sure.

In other words, some folks are saying Mrs. Obama “looks like a dude.” Somehow, this is the pinnacle of what many people can come up with to express their dislike of her politics. That she allegedly “looks like a man.” Says who? Who decides that? And which man does she look like? Folks can’t seem to produce her supposed male doppelganger. But that’s what they keep saying. And THIS is the thing that they zero in on. They could go with “I disagree with her stance on ____.” But no…they go with “looks like a dude.”

Now, if I sat here and told you I was a card-carrying liberal, I’d be lying. I am not. Nor am I a full-on conservative. And I don’t apologize for either of those stances. Plus…well, it wouldn’t be any of your damn business anyway, now would it? But this business of hurling insults about how this beautiful woman LOOKS? Come on, people. If you have a complaint about someone’s politics, have the chutzpah to present a cogent explanation of what you disagree with and leave it at that. Let your stance speak for itself. That’s how adults behave.

And it’s not just your everyday people doing this! It’s “the media.” Though the term “the media” doesn’t actually mean anything. “Media” is merely a qualifier for what may be a magazine, newspaper, radio station, etc. – media literally means the communication outlet. Not Anderson Cooper. He’s a journalist. That’s not a question. Anyways, just take a look at this headline and tell me it isn’t total crap:

“How clothes defined Michelle Obama?” I’m sorry, did the copywriters at The New York Times think that was going to charm intelligent women, when they wrote THAT headline about a woman who graduated from Princeton? “The media” is just as much to blame for this. It’s far too popular to tear down someone – especially women – for their appearance if you dislike their stance, their songs, their book, their words, their beliefs, their ____. It’s so, so easy. And if it’s not easy, then the next best thing is to say that they themselves are easy.

And I want to be inclusive here. In just as much as I’ve read hatefully vapid comments on Mrs. Obama’s looks from the one side of the aisle, I’ve heard just as many “slut-shaming” (hatehatehate that term) comments about Melania Trump. Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, “women’s rights” people. Y’all came out in DROVES with those naked pics of Melania, and I’m taking you to task for it. Cause it’s really easy to defend the past salacious modeling shoots of someone whom you agree with. It’s very do-able to defend someone whose politics you agree with from the masses of “haters” who are “hatin.” But it’s a whole other thing to have to try to practice what you preach when you really, really don’t want that person’s husband to be the President of the United States of America.
Funny how that works, ain’t it?

Anyways…Ya know, in my lifetime, I’ve been called a lot of things based upon my looks. You name it, I’ve probably been called that.

Boyish. (Sounds fun)
Weird. (My personal favorite)
Chubby. (Certainly at times)
Fat. (And?)
Wide Load. (My high school nickname, kid you not, and I definitely, definitely had the last laugh, I’m happy to report)
Too skinny. (Heh)
Too muscular. (Thank you)
Big jaw. (Team Underbite! You should see my kids!)
Man face. (…I feel like I should quote Austin Powers here?)
Angel face. (Eww)
Bitch face. (That one might be fairly true)
Slut. (At points, sure.”
Hot mess. (Abso-friggin-lutely)

Did that stuff hurt? At the time, sure. Not so much now, but anyone who tells you they enjoy being called those things is either lying or lying. Though personally, if Donald Trump ever called me ugly, my first response would probably be “Oh, thank God.”

My dad wasn’t perfect, but he and my mom were and still are substance people. I don’t agree with them on everything (some politics included), and that’s okay. Because they had this crazy idea that maybe I’d go on to do pretty cool things that had nothing to do with my looks. They had this wild, hair-brained idea that they might ought to help me learn to form arguments and inform opinions, rather than teach me that my main source of worth was my looks.

Strength, an attractive body, and good looks all fade. We are dust. If you don’t like someone’s opinions, their character, their politics, whatever…dig a little deeper than “She looks like a man.” Find something concrete to take issue with. Make it count with a real indictment of whatever it is you disagree with. Don’t waste our time with a sad attempt at an insult. Because there will come a day that those who are currently busy kicking ass and taking names will be living a life they are pleased with, living out the purpose God instilled in them, removing the mirrors from their walls because they no longer bear as much value as an extra family photograph would.

You’ll wonder where is the relevance of your opinions? Suddenly all our bodies will be old and our (man) faces wrinkly, and it’ll be 6 of one, half dozen of another. Will it matter anymore? Nope. And it’ll be too late to make it matter. Cause a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, someone else might’ve given a f—.

But by then, they won’t.



No Sleep ’til…


Okay, remember all that stuff I said the other day about joy? Let’s hit pause on that for a moment, cause I’m gonna hit you with another honest one:

Sometime around 1 o’clock this morning, The Struggle Bus ran off the road, overcorrected, and smashed me flat.

One thing that new parents almost always get is some moron telling them to “say goodbye to sleep.” It’s not that this isn’t completely true. It’s NOT that…believe me, I look back on pictures of me from before kids, heck even when I had just one kid, and I am so much better looking in the face. Specifically, the undereye area. So no, I’m not getting a lot of sleep. Most days, I do fine with that.

No, what absolutely just grinds my gears all to bits is the attitude with which that phrase is said. I’m sorry, but could experienced parents maybe be less asshole, more encouraging? You guys know the reason that people without kids are often irritated by us is because of that patronizing, intentionally antagonistic crap, right? No? Well aren’t we just so self-aware. One thing about me: I cannot stand an antagonistic personality. My mom and dad chalk this up to the fact that when my brother and I would fight and pick at each other, as punishment they would make us sit in the middle of the kitchen floor while holding hands. You learn real quick to just make it a bit easier on one another, stop causing unnecessary annoyance.

And yet, here we are in a world full of 30 year olds who really enjoy talking to other 30 yr. olds as if they are clueless about the obvious fact that babies don’t sleep so well sometimes.

Everyone has their version of a solution for a problem that, in all honesty, is often unavoidable and really just related to babies dealing with the overwhelming nature of the new world they’re living in.

“Is it something you’re eating?”
“Have you tried the Ferber method?”
“You need to read THIS book!” Seriously…you know who you are, and you need to stop this. Just stop.
“Well what did you think, that having a baby was easy?” YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I WISH YOU A THOUSAND STUBBED TOENAILS. Jerk.

It’s hard for me to be loving to people when they do this. It’s really, really hard. Because for one thing, I make it a standard practice to just try to be there for my friends who are becoming first time parents. I’m not perfect of course, but let’s just say I don’t get my rocks off by being a self-righteous, belittling asshole just cause I’ve magically popped a few kids out. It doesn’t help parents complete the mission we’re all supposed to be on (to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids) when an older, more experienced parent (or even just a less experienced but more arrogant parent) talks down to someone who is currently adjusting to one of the hardest jobs they’ll ever have.

It’s really hard for me to not put down my kindness and pick up the big ol’ verbal bat I’ve been hauling around since I was about six years old and just start beating people senseless. I don’t get why people need to do that. Maybe it’s an overcompensation thing. Maybe it’s an underdeveloped or immature sense of humor. Maybe it’s just that they’re gigantic jerks who can’t read a situation to save their life.

Whatever the case is, this is my warning. I will give you the shirt off my back. I will bake you fresh bread and a homemade meal. I will sit and listen to your problems just to hear them and say I’m there – even if I can’t offer advice (which often times, I honestly can’t). But if I catch you being a dick to a new parent who is running on minimal sleep and coffee, you will find your way to my shit list so fast. So. Fast.

Just stop being assholes to tired parents, world. They’re busy raising the kids who will one day fight your wars, manage your financial portfolios, and change the sheets in your assisted living centers. So you might wanna spend a little more time on encouragement and a little less time being uber-douche bags about sleep, feeding, and other things.

Just a pro tip.

On 2016: Joy was worth the battle.

All too often, social media is an edited picture with a pretty filter over it. I’m not gonna do that today.

At this point a year ago, I was fairly certain 2016 would be at best a slog of drudgery, at worst a horrible year.

In Glennon Melton’s book “Love Warrior” (which I’m currently reading), she talks about sending her “representative” (that edited/filtered version of her) in her place, because the REAL her couldn’t possibly be good enough. That was how I felt so many days. I’m sure a lot of you saw it and just couldn’t say it, or maybe you knew something wasn’t right, but you didn’t know how to address it.

Rock bottom looks like a lot of things to a lot of different people. For me, rock bottom was envisioning my life going on the way it was – doing things I didn’t want to do, for reasons that weren’t healthy or beneficial for me, with my eyes and heart nowhere near focused on the things that truly mattered most to me. Outwardly, I had everything I’d ever wanted…why couldn’t I just get it together?

Jonathan and I decided something had to give, for both of us. In a leap of faith, we signed up for a class at our church – the church I didn’t want to fully commit to, because I was terrified they’d find out I wasn’t “one of them.” That I was far, far from perfect. This class was all about identifying things you need to change and taking the steps to change them. Could be little things, could be big things. It was a weekly exercise in transparency, and NOT an easy one. I had to divulge secrets I hated more than anything, and I had to face truths that shook my entire identity. More than that, I had to hear stories from people that you would never imagine coming out of them if you just passed them on the street, and THAT was when it clicked…that maybe I wasn’t the only one with some hurts, some wounds. Some really big mistakes. I also began seeing a therapist, something which completely changed my life. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to go back to square one and look at who you are, who you always have been, the little traits and bits of your personal history that shape who you are today. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me seeing a therapist. She is amazing and I am beyond thankful for the extra push she gives me to work on myself, and clarity she’s helped me find. You think things that happened when you were 10 or 11 don’t make a difference? Well then you’re kidding yourself. They make all the difference.

I left sales and left the full-time work force. I established my own business and began taking on clients. I landed an amazing part-time work from home gig with fabulous people who didn’t flinch when I told them I’d be taking a 3 week (LOL) maternity leave in October and hired me anyways, asking instead that I take as long as needed. Serious blessings, folks.

We also jumped from a family of 4 to a family of 5 this year. Everyone told us to brace ourselves. To be honest, people jump out of perfectly good airplanes all the time and I’ve never once heard someone regard that with the same level of foreboding that people often gave us when they realized we were expecting a 3rd child…didn’t that used to be fairly normal? Then we decided to change our typical path and use a birth center, forgo meds, and see what that was like (verdict: it’s hard work, but so is every form of birth, and I think C-section mamas are still the toughest of all). Everyone said “Y’all are crazy.” With our family’s growth this year, so many patronizing people would look at me woefully and say “That girl is gonna have her hands full.” But what they didn’t realize was that for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like a “girl” with her hands full. I felt like a woman with her heart full and her eyes focused. I felt qualified and called by the confidence and capability my midwives, husband, and my amazing mother gave me. I felt humbled by the blessing of my headstrong, wild children. They are forces of nature entrusted to me by a God who knows my heart and is shaping me every day through them. I can promise you I learn more from them in any given day than they do from me. As I sit here on this last day of a year that I began in such a dreadful state of mind, I am so very thankful.

Not everything is perfect. But everything is beautiful in its imperfection. The messy house. The thicker waistline. The gargantuan pile of laundry that needs my attention…eventually. Absolutely nothing about this year was the version of “perfect” that your family, your friends, your church, or your Instagram feed might lead you to want to chase. But it was perfect for us. It was perfect in its challenge (paying off debt, getting very real about our goals as a couple, embracing the boundless energy of our kids, building walls where there need to be walls and making clearings where there need to be clearings). It was perfect in its revelations. In its pain, its tears, its trials, and its blessings, it was perfect.

My hope is that in 2017, if you’re throwing back a glass of champagne tonight because you just want to run away from something in your life, that you don’t run. DON’T RUN. Fight. Stay and fight. Joy is worth the battle, every time, every trial. Joy is worth the fight.

The Birth of William Odin Wilhoit

You spoke to me and I had no choice but to listen.

You quieted me in a way that not many things ever have, sweet William Odin. While I carried you inside me, so many things about me began to change, and while I know many factors played into that, I have to give you some credit. A gladness and freedom blossomed in my soul, and somewhere in that time nurturing and nourishing you, preparing you to be born, I was born a little bit, too. You and your brothers are all special and perfect in your own way, but that is how I will always look at you – a sneaky poet who personified God’s sweet grace in a year that began without much promise.

You are named Odin because, well, isn’t that just such a cool name? That was really all the reasoning I had prior to your birthday. It was only after your arrived that your granddad told me he had chanted your name many times before parades at West Point, an appeal to the Norse God for rain. And alongside him, he’d heard an army of cadets singing out the name you now wear, thousands of men and women projecting one single, deep bellow, stretching across the Hudson River. He smiled at the memory, and for that smile alone, I knew the name was perfect. It is also the smile you bear when you have funny dreams – a genetic heirloom, passed down across the generations, and relatively untouched across more than a hundred years of dilution.

But William. You are William because I wanted to pay tribute to one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever known. William grew up at my house, best friend to my baby brother, and often fell naturally into the role of bonus baby brother. A blonde-brunette pair of twin tornadoes: Will and Jake. These were the annoying punks trying to steal my diary, the kids I’d play-fight or sometimes literal-fight on the backyard trampoline. We used acorns as currency in back yard imaginary games of “village,” we had at least one minor fender bender (thanks, Dad) under our belt, along with countless summer storms hiding in a beach towel “fort.” Of course, I assumed the world would never be without either of these two. But we couldn’t keep William. Just a little more than three years before you were born, I whispered goodbye to him through a cell phone that Jake held up to his ear as he sat at his hospital bedside in Charleston. Months ago, I knew this just had to be your name.

And I knew your song months ago, a little ditty by the name of “Fever to the Form,” by Nick Mulvey, and on Monday, October 24th, 2016 I listened to it – crouching by the foot of my bed, swaying and praying through the waves that told me you were on your way.

“Go on…fill your heart up with gladness, not a moment too soon,” Nick sang to me as the pressure built up inside me. I had been at it for four hours or so by then. Tears were forming, but not because I hurt – I just was so thankful to know this was the day I’d see your face, that I was here. I was so thankful for everything that had evolved in this year as my belly grew and my body tired. And not a moment too soon, the day had come. The labor to bring you earthside began at lunchtime and took hold of me quickly – I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long.

“Cause the very thing you’re afraid, it keeps you clean but unclear, is the dirt that you’re made of, and that’s nothing to fear,” Nick whispered through my earbuds. The tip top of the contractions had an extra little punch to them and I knew it was time to go. I knew there was nothing to be afraid of, that the joy on the other side of this would be worth every bit of the work I had to do now. I kissed your brothers goodbye and off we went, my mother following closely behind. Your daddy was worried we’d lose her on the way, but I told him there was no way your granny would let that happen, and I was right.

In rush hour Monday traffic, we made our way to the birth center to meet Sharon, one of the midwives. During the drive, I felt you move and my back seized up almost immediately. It’s quite possible you turned upward to face us at this point, and I can’t tell you it didn’t throw me off kilter a bit – but I stayed the course and knew that if I kept moving around, you’d figure it out on your own. I was talking nonsense on the car ride. At one point, your daddy said I looked up at the Bon Secours Arena and said, exhausted already, “Oh, I’d love to see Garth.” This was news to him ten years into our marriage, this business of me being a huge Garth Brooks fan. We parked in front of the midwife office and Sharon looked at me like she could see how challenging this already was for me. Your brothers’ births were beautiful in their own ways, too. But they were certainly less challenging. I was prepared for this, but it’s just you can imagine how something feels all day and it still won’t be the same as actually feeling it. In that reality and in the symbolism behind your name, I felt like your birth was just one big analogy. And the English major in me liked that.

“Still only 4 cm,” Sharon said, knowing how disappointed I was going to be at the lack of progress since an earlier check that morning had yielded the same results. I decided the work just wasn’t done yet.

“Let’s walk.” It wasn’t that I really felt up to the stroll, it’s just I knew the “only way out was through,” so I welcomed the chance to move things along. It was a beautiful evening outside, just cool enough to keep me comfortable when the waves of nausea began to hit me. We ambled between empty medical offices and the birth center parking lot, stopping as necessary so your daddy could squat down in front of me and I could use him as a place to rest during the peak of each wave. Your daddy, you should know, is what I hope you and your brothers will be one day – A towering redwood in a forest so often overrun by flimsy pine. There inside the hurricane of birthing a child, amidst what was happening, your daddy was unfazed. Unwavering. Constant. A hand on my shoulder telling me to “Relax,” without an ounce of patronization.

In the garden outside the birth center, I planted myself stubbornly by the little waterfall. I could feel you pushing downward with more force now, and it was all I could do to stay above the surface with each wave. I focused my eyes downward on one of the stepping stones beneath my feet, with the word “Strength” etched into it. I drew deeper and deeper within myself to clear out every noise and focus on what I was doing, which worked most of the time, even if that sometimes meant that I was going to get sick (which I did, several times).

“We should probably go upstairs and check you again,” Sharon mused slyly over my shoulder, though I didn’t hear her words – your daddy had to repeat them to me before I realized what was going on. She could see that I was moving closer to the time I’d been waiting on. I was in my own world, but I was so hopeful that you were ready, and you were. 6 cm dilated. I was so thankful for just that little 2 cm of progress, because I knew I was going to be able to get in the water pretty soon and I hoped that would make things calm down a bit. As we entered the birthing suite downstairs, my other midwife Jill arrived and cradled me against her in a soothing hug for a moment before I had to climb another wall.

The next half hour or so was a blur. To call these things “waves” really doesn’t capture how they evolve over the course of bringing a baby into the world. Because while the earlier wave may lap at your ankles and tickle your toes, the tide builds. Later, the waves crash into you, suck you under, and leave you humbly waiting for its power to subside. That was the point I was at. Holding onto your granny’s legs while your daddy was putting pressure on my lower back, I remember one thing clearly. I distinctly recall uttering the word “Mama,” while I perched the peak of a wave. It’s a phrase I don’t think I’ve said quite that way since I was 6 or 7. She was “Mom” up until that moment, and then for a few minutes, she became “Mama.”

And then a shift.

“I think you need to check me again,” I told the midwives. They said I was ready to get in the tub to start pushing to bring you into the world. My mind went blank and I looked at your daddy and exasperatedly said “What does that mean?” I wasn’t making a lot of sense at that point, but I remember saying “Let’s do this” in between two building, cavernous waves – the kind that suck you under the water and then whip you around just before you find a way to break the surface.

It took everything in me. Something about becoming your mother brought me back to where I began. Gone from my mind was every failing, every lacking, every unanswered question hanging in my mind from my life, particularly the last few years of mom guilt, marital trials, and professional self-questioning. You took me back to my center, my core, sweet William Odin. Funny how a bit of physical hurt can be healing sometimes. And all the while, that song, your song strumming in my head, somehow louder than the actual meditation tracks I had playing to try to calm myself.

“How did i know what you’re thinking
Maybe i thought it before
Maybe that’s why I’m at your window
Hear me…”

And I did hear you, just as I heard my own sounds change and I knew you were going to be meeting us. In the tub, body floating just enough to take the weight of gravity off my exhausted bones, I leaned back against your daddy’s strong legs and tried to hear what the midwives were telling me. I never thought about giving up, just about how to work more efficiently to bring you to us faster. My husband’s focus and the tears welling up in my mother’s eyes told me you were close, but I was beyond ready to meet you, to be done with the work.

Curled up into myself for one last push, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the tattoo on my right ankle, the one I had done in my father’s boxy handwriting using a sample scrawled on the back of a business card, saying “March Forth.” A voice broke through from Jill.

“Relax. Look down.” I didn’t have to look down, because I knew you were already there. Up you came, out of the water, Jill and Sharon’s loving hands guiding you up into mine. You were soft, quiet, and absolutely perfect in that beautiful moment I had always wanted. All the pain was gone, and the room was filled with complete joy.

There holding you on October 24th, 2016, I thought about what a beautiful, crazy life this is and how much I treasured the gift you had just given me. I understand now, William Odin. I heard you loud and clear. This is your story, the story of how you first spoke to me.

Love Letter To My Generation

Not that I enjoyed even a moment of it, but trending this week on Twitter is the ironically gone-wrong hashtag #HowToConfuseAMillenial.

I almost don’t know where to start.

Image result for sigh meme

This is gonna be painful.

I said almost. And while I’m certainly no economics or sociology expert, I do read and pay attention to the world around me, and I’d like to think I can see both sides of this one. And it would make sense why – because I’m not really “of” any one generation in the immature pissing match great war between these equally irritating groundbreaking generations. This may be why I’m tempted to vote third party, actually – because blindly adhering to one side of an argument for the sake of one’s own hubristic self-satisfaction has never really been my jam.

As I stated – I’m one of the “Nones,” the Orwellian core of the (happily) forgotten “Generation Catalano,” not-quite-Generation-X-or-Y, and certainly not a true Millenial. Hell, I’m not even one of the lucky “TBDs,” the undesignated youngsters like the ones I’m currently raising in a Boomer-crafted professional environment that adheres to Nuclear Family archetypes whilst expecting Millenial-level ingenuity and a dogged, profoundly Gen-X type of workaholic-ism. This is why I work from home (and love it…love. it.). Since the start of middle school, I’ve known I didn’t 100% “fit” in any one club, clique, or designation, and I proudly wear my Born-In-84 status like a badge of honor…I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because it makes it so that I can sit back and watch two equally preachy and self-righteous generations bloviate at one another as if either of them have it all figured out.

And this is not the blog where I try to help either “side” of the bitter quarrel “see the light.” Nah. Y’all, I have two, soon to be three kids under the age of 6…homie ain’t got time for that.

Instead, I’m going to tell you what I LOVE about my generation. Because seriously…you guys rock my world. You shaped my world. You shaped my kids’ world. And you deserve a pat on the back.

But not an inflated and overpriced college education or a participation trophy, because no. Where we’re from…we just didn’t do that. And that’s ok.

A Love Letter To My Generation:

Fifteen years. Fifteen years ago today, we were different kids, guys. Fifteen years ago right now, it was Monday, September 10th, 2001 and we were high school kids and early college students. A lot of us still had tape decks in our car, but we wanted to utilize newer, higher quality sound technology – so we plugged portable CD players in on our dash and affixed them with velcro and loaded in Incubus “Morning View” album on the way to school. We didn’t stop at Starbucks on the way to school, but we’ll go for that now, sure – so our morning caffeine shot of choice was a Pepsi or something like it. We wore seatbelts most of the time, too, because our Boomer-age parents drilled it into our heads and we knew even though we didn’t want to admit it, they might be right. 

We were the children of Vietnam vets, Boomers, and flower children – all of which tended to hug us a bit more than their parents did them. And it was nice. We were, for the most part, loved. We didn’t have all the money in the world, and racial tensions still existed, but something felt different then. We shared more on a personal level, and less on social media (it didn’t even exist, actually). We duked it out when we were angry, one-on-one, and then we moved past it. We were looking forward to being able to vote. Freddie Mercury had been dead nearly a decade, but we still knew every word to every Queen song. It was a weird time to be a kid.

The grandchildren of World War II veterans and their wives, a stoic generation, the Greatest Generation, we LOVED hearing their stories. Something about their stories made us so thankful that things were “better” now, and though there were minor things to complain about here and there, standard adolescent quibbles, we knew we had it pretty good. Life stretched out before us. Tons of possibilities. IT anything was a field in its infancy. College was still fairly affordable, and most of us were planning on going to at least a nearby technical college or four year institution. Four years later, most of us had semi-decent jobs, and we thought starting at $25,000 or $30,000 a year was decent given that cost of living hadn’t exploded just yet. 

We were happy kids at best. At worst, we were kids on the precipice of drug addiction or alcoholism, dealing with an abusive home life, or some other real hardship. But we stuck together in a lot of ways. I thought we were cliquish then, but now I realize we weren’t that bad at all. 

We had flip phones at best, Nokia bricks as a midpoint, and some of us, no phone at all – and yet, we managed to make it. But we love our iPhones now and don’t look at them as a reason to make fun of younger folks because hey – convenience rocks, right? Then again, we came of age in the middle of a change. Our parents weren’t staring at their phones while talking to us (or worse…not talking to us), so as parents today, I guess we do kind of throw back to our childhood and try to zero in on our kids. Too much screentime, like too much of anything, is never good – right? We carry an awareness with us. Let’s just say that – we are aware of things.

Anyways, do you guys remember that Tuesday morning? I don’t know where you were, but wasn’t it breathtaking? Crystal clear, blue skies, and unseasonably cool that morning on the way to school. I remember that drive, for whatever reason, yellow-green fields rolling out before my little green Chevy sedan as I zipped down Hwy. 319 between the small towns of Conway and Aynor, South Carolina. And y’all, beautiful Generation of Mine, slogging in the doors by the senior parking lot – you guys looked like hope! Though…I didn’t know it then. I just thought we were idiot teenagers, like every other generation before us probably thought. What were WE gonna do to make the world better? What were WE gonna do different?

Libraries had become a loaded place for a lot of us, because of events like school shootings in Jonesboro, Arkansas and Littleton, Colorado right at the onset of our high school years. The landscape of a school changed when we were kids – it wasn’t just a school anymore. Could you fit in the locker if someone stormed in with a gun? How close were the exits? Who was the most likely shooter in your class? Did they wear a trenchcoat? Granted, most of us grew up hunting and using guns ourselves – but these were questions we all had to ponder in our schools, and I know you guys get that. So it never escaped me fully, the importance of the school library as refuge, as I sat there that Tuesday morning editing tape for the school broadcast class I was in. Aynor Grads circa 2002 were in it for the backing tracks – Saliva, Foo Fighters, Nelly, Jay-Z (not “Black Album,” we’re talking “Blueprint”). They definitely weren’t watching for my sports reporting chops – thank God for Charles Ham and Jonathan Shannon or I never would’ve put together a coherent sentence on anything besides football (and even that was a struggle). 

Everything changed when I turned around to look at the wall of small TVs in the media center (which was a separate part of the library at that time – this is back when libraries were still mostly about the books, the actual paper, smelly, used books). The first tower was sitting there on CNN, on fire. Teachers and other students in the class rushed in and we gathered there in first period, all of us standing there together when the second plane entered the frame. Up until that point, we thought it was a horrible accident. Maybe that moment of the second plane was actually when everything changed, because that’s when it stopped being an accident. That’s when it became a terrorist attack, in our minds. 

Some of us screamed or yelped. Some of us looked away and exhaled the last little bit of breath being pushed out of our lungs at the sight of a jumbo jet crashing into buildings we’d seen the previous summer on school trips or vacations. We squeezed the desk as we realized that paper doesn’t fall as fast as a human body and suddenly we could tell the difference.

Then the bell. Then the door. Then my white-as-a-sheet face as I explained to everyone else what we saw, what was going on. Then second period, the TV back on, no class, no words, just the first instance of saturation coverage that shaped our entire generation. We soaked in that Tuesday and dripped it in puddles under our feet for years afterwards. It was a weight we carried. Yes, it affected the entire country, the entire world, in horrific ways – but we were 17 and it hit us in our own way.

I remember the lunch table and the cursing declarations that if there was a war, you were gonna enlist – Chris, Beau, Michael. The zombie-like drive home from school, just to sit in front of the TV again and be incredulous at what happened. The complete sense of loss and confusion.

Boys and girls who sat at lunch tables in every high school or college cafeteria that Tuesday went on to fight – and in some cases, lose their lives – for this country. The girls who were part of my generation went on to become some of the most badass, skilled, excellent mothers and professional women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. The guys? Kick ass dads, so many of them – they’re involved, interested, and invested in their children. You guys created so much for this world, and for once I don’t wanna mediate between an idiotic pissing match between two generations with their own positive and negative points.

To the forgotten generation: The 9/11 kids, the 1983 and 1984 babies, Generation Catalano, the girls who bought every Bush album because Gavin was everything, to every signature on the inside cover of my math textbooks, the first boys to never call me back and the last boy to have the keys to my heart, to the only kids I know who still know every word to S&P’s “Shoop” and will jam out to some Whitney Houston without apology or irony, to the kids at the roller-skating rink and playing pool in a bar we weren’t old enough to drink at, to the mothers and fathers and dreamers, to the Boulevard-Cruising, stick-driving, Britney-Spears-Loving, chunky-shoe-wearing, gum-chewing idiots we were and maybe still kind of are.

I love you guys and sharing these years with you has been everything. Thank you.


Living in America

On Friday, American rapist Brock Turner will be released from prison after serving 3 months of his 6-month (piss poor) sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster back in January of 2014. You can read more about it, if you’ve been living under a rock, here. Turner was caught red-handed, mid-thrust, by two passersby who chased him down when he tried to run away. One of them was so distraught by what he saw that he had trouble giving his statement to police.

Turner was charged with five felony counts, including rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration by a foreign object of an intoxicated woman, sexual penetration by a foreign object of an unconscious woman, and assault with intent to commit rape. Notice that absolutely none of those charges ever just calls what he did what it is: rape. Just. Effing. Rape.

But we live in a country that doesn’t like to call rape what it is. And in fact, Turner was found guilty of only three counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person. Because somehow, penetration sounds like an accident, and “intent to commit rape” sounds like “Oh, but he only partially meant to do it.”


I shared this earlier with a very angry post (spoiler: I’m still angry), and decided within minutes to delete it and retype something when I a) wasn’t at Walmart with no make-up on at 8:30 am, and b) had a moment to collect my thoughts.

I KNOW that a lot of you will read this and, though you will find it unfortunate, you won’t experience seething, deep-seated rage. You’ll shake your head, and you’ll go back to your normal life.

Let me explain something. I live every day believing that there is a reckoning coming for women in this country. That it HAS to be near. That there HAS to be a point where it gets better. Because the idea of “empowerment” that we’ve been fed is a complete lie, and is designed for the convenience of the oppressors, NOT for the empowerment of girls and women. This is the same lie that tells women “You can and SHOULD have it all – looks, money, career, family, time for yourself,” – as if any of us have the ability to really have it all. As if there’s something wrong when we don’t have it all. The truth: something you are juggling will always fall. Having it ALL is not empowerment, and neither are so many things women today are told to seek out.

Empowerment is NOT posting nude selfies. It is NOT throwing yourself into the machine of American Consumption so that you can become one more pretty cog amongst the many. We are not chess pieces. American society and politics do not have the right to move ME around in order to fit some agenda, whether that agenda is abortion, healthcare, freedom of speech, whatever. And I’m tired of women settling for this message – that if the media or our friends tell us “how empowering,” we are somehow inherently better off. No. That’s BS. That’s feminism gone wrong. That’s a lie. It’s a DAMN lie.

I have to demand more, and yes, I guess that’s me being “a difficult woman.” But the reality is, America does not value women – and this here? Brock Turner, in all his violating, putrid, unapologetic, sociopathic glory – this is proof. Proof positive. I want to state that again, just in case you think I misphrased it: AMERICA DOES NOT VALUE WOMEN. I don’t care if you put a (criminal) woman in the White House. I don’t care if you tell Kim Kardashian that constantly posing naked is supposed to make me feel more free. Because sure, I could be President or I could post naked selfies all day…but a man could rape me and never serve more than a few weeks of prison time, if any time at all. And during such a hypothetical trial, I would undoubtedly be dressed down by attorneys and blamed for my own assault. This is a fact, one which crosses party lines and points to the decay of American identity and furthermore, American dignity.

I cannot change this. And as amusing as it sounds when I find myself deeply angered and hurt by this kind of thing, I don’t think women should have to resort to shooting their abusers/assaulters in the face in self-defense. It wouldn’t bother me, and it’d be interesting to see what would happen if that became common place, sure, but I don’t want women to have to resort to that. I just think our world is messed up. I don’t see why it’s asking so much for America to insist on something better for women who are victimized in this way. I don’t see why it’s asking so much that a man’s life be ruined the same way his victim’s life is ruined – that is, unless his life somehow has more value in this country.

But wait.

That’s the problem. And that’s the message. That’s the message I’ve been hearing for 32 years. Thank God I know different, and have the opportunity to raise my boys differently. But I cannot sit here and tell you that it softens the blow, to watch this man walk free.



2,162. That’s how many days of you I will have lived when I drop you off tomorrow morning for your first day of kindergarten.

That’s how many days of Russ there have been in my life. Granted, I’m not counting the 156 days between finding out you were a boy – knowing you would be named Russ – and the day I met you. I will never forget that day. You were 7 lbs. 14 oz. You were 21.25 inches long.

Introducing... :)
I often tell first time moms that though I love every single one of my children to the point that it hurts a little bit, they should really soak up that first baby. Because there is nothing like your first – because you are both like new people in a way, and something is forever altered in a mom’s head and heart when she sees her baby for the first time. She doesn’t even know it. She won’t know it for a while, sometimes. And the sight of you, that was my moment, the one where everything in the universe became just a little bit different. Almost 2,162 days ago.

I’m not afraid of tomorrow, and from what I can tell, you’re only slightly afraid – a normal, healthy amount of nerves. The kind of heightened anxiety that smells of freshly sharpened pencils. It won’t be your first day of school by any stretch, but it will be your first day of a place that doesn’t stay little. Such is the magic of preschool – even on the very last day, preschool children still feel “little.” But what begins tomorrow will bear little resemblance to the end. By the time you are done here, in elementary school, you will be 11 years old and you will look, walk, talk, and basically do just about everything a little differently. A little less like a little boy and a little more like a teenager. And if I’m being honest, I’m not afraid of tomorrow, but I’m afraid of that day, lurking off in the future at some undetermined point, when you become different.

I will certainly shed some tears tomorrow, but that won’t be anything different at all. And no matter how much you change or grow, you will always be the person who made me a mother, who I love so deeply that it – again – hurts just a bit. Tomorrow is an easy “first,” comparably speaking, and I realize that. The wisdom and honesty of older, more experienced moms tells me that – that tomorrow is a happy day, one to celebrate.

There will be countless other firsts before you leave for college, sometime around day 7,000. For now, I will relish these little moments where you still want to snuggle, where you still call me “mommy” instead of “mom,” and where you still hug on your bear Charlie at bedtime. Because tomorrow is just one day, in a lifetime where there will never be enough days of you – and I know that it will all pass too quickly for my soft heart.

And life just keeps moving

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Hi, my name is Becky and I have an obsession. With vegetables. This can be really upsetting to my social life, as in past cases like “That Time Becky Ordered Broccoli On Pizza At A Company Lunch,” or “That Time I Spilled Green Smoothie In My Car.”

It started when I was in utero, really (my mom notoriously craved unripe peaches during her pregnancies with her four totallynormalcoughcough kids), was nurtured in the garden of tomatoes and okra that I grew as a child, and has absolutely exploded during my pregnancies with my own kids.


Do you see the shame on this child’s face for having just eaten raw okra straight off the plant? Didn’t even wash it. The nerve…

I’ve often mused about poor little Russ, who never got a lot of the standard ice cream (he got more than his fair share of pickles), cake, and other pregnancy cravings. In fact, I’m fairly certain his entire left leg is made of romaine lettuce and tomatoes, and easily pounds upon pounds of basil. So. Much. Basil. To the point that, with contractions 5 minutes apart, we stopped for pizza with extra basil on the way to the hospital the night of September 14th, 2010. An aside: Pizza as your last meal before having a baby? Not a fabulous idea. Please don’t do that to yourself.

With Henry in 2014, it was much the same. With Odin…no real change. Maybe if I’d had girls, it would’ve been a different craving, but my boys just seem to love kale, brussels sprouts, and all manner of cruciferous delight.

Most people are familiar with the hair part of the Grimms Brothers’ fairytale “Rapunzel,” but that’s missing the point. The point is really that the whole reason the long-locked girl gets that crazy name is because of her mom’s crazy cravings when she is pregnant with her – for a specific herbaceous alpine vegetable known as “rapunzel.” It’s technically campanula rapunculus and certainly doesn’t look so yummy, but ya know…tomato/Solanum lycopersicum, potato/Solanum tuberosum. I figure if the Bros G themselves knew enough about pregnancy cravings to include this detail, then it must be fair to assume that any physiological need or shortfall could result in a craving like that. 

So this is that blog that includes a healthy recipe. Yes, I know…given the last few posts, you may have been led to believe that my name is Betty (not Becky) and all I do is bake cakes. Untruths! Though Betty was allegedly on the short list of names my parents pondered (alongside Courtney), most of what I make has some sort of effort towards wholesomeness and nutrition factored in. I also really don’t like going over budget on grocery shopping. So this makes me obsessive about using all the leftovers I possibly can – which is where this “veggie taco salad” comes from.


This is what happens when you don’t want to spend money, have about 3/4 c. of leftover ground beef with taco seasonings already in it, just bought a TON of leafy greens at the store over the last 2-3 days, and can audibly hear your own stomach growling.

I don’t have a catchy name for it, nor do I have a real “recipe,” but suffice to say it is a pile of slightly sauteed curly kale and shredded brussels sprouts (seasoned with salt and pepper, paprika, and garlic) used as a landing pad for all things yummy and taco-esque. It was really scraped together in a hurry, believe me, because it was either this or the dreaded hot dogs my son eats for lunch (yes, I’m that mom, nice to meet you). The toppings included:

  • Chopped green onion
  • My favoritestever Rick Bayless Frontera Roasted Tomato Salsa (which you can buy at Publix and it kicks the a$$ of every other storebought salsa on the planet)
  • Seasoned taco meat (I used 85/15 that’s on sale for $2.99/lb at The Fresh Market every Tuesday, because I’d rather pay less and skim the fat myself. It was cooked and drained, then seasoned with cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder).
  • Diced avocado. Because I’d rather have avocado than cheese any day of the week.
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sour cream…mmmmm….
  • Lime Juice & Cilantro

I could’ve kept going with the toppings bonanza, but my stomach was actually starting to eat itself and Baby Odin doesn’t like that, so I stopped there. Volume eating (i.e. pounding mass quantities of low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods like a mutha-huggin’ boss) is definitely my new hobby.


So my point in all this, for anyone wanting or needing to up their produce intake is this: Buy the stuff and, if you need to do so, prep it! Then get creative. Yes, you will have some duds. You will have a few meals you’ll sit down to where you’re like “What the eff did I just make?” But thanks to Pinterest and all that, you can usually find a great way to incorporate more veggies into your life and calorie count. Not only will your pants size appreciate this, but you might just feel better and look better, too. Well, unless it’s a pregnancy craving, in which case…good luck.

And when you find yourself standing there in front of a new type of fruit or vegetable, curiously contemplating if there’s even a way to prepare that (this is how I feel about kohlrabi basically every time I see it), just think of me and my mom. It’s 1990. In the Piggly Wiggly on 4th Avenue in Conway, South Carolina. And this is the conversation in which my six year old self begs my overworked and exhausted mother to buy me an ARTICHOKE. Just an artichoke. Just so I can try it. My mom, ever the green-peach-craving phenom, managed to make that impulse-purchase artichoke seem like the coolest, most adventurous food ever. You can probably create something pretty awesome, too.

Until the next kitchen escapade,

I'm kind of failing at this whole blog thing: an update.


Let Them Eat…whatever.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of sweets. For someone who bakes fairly regularly – and this is much like my mom and older sister – I can have a bite or two and be done. We’ve mused that perhaps making the stuff is exhausting enough to preclude us from having the energy to eat it, but that’s not really it. Something happened during my first pregnancy and whereas I’d always assumed I’d crave ice cream or something, all I really wanted was tomatoes with basil, salt, and pepper and big piles of crunchy salad greens (especially romaine – the colder, the better). I recall waking up one morning at maybe 13-14 weeks pregnant with Russ, during a week where Jonathan was on a project site in Aiken, and I couldn’t think of a single breakfast food I wanted more than chopped romaine with caesar dressing. Which is obvs weird. Hey, you do what you gotta do.

So, that kind of weird palate has been a recurring theme since then, not just with babies #2 and #3, but in my normal non-knocked up life as well. From pickled okra to massaged kale (Google it, I promise it’ll make more sense) to egg salad, I’m not sure it’ll ever change unless we were to get a surprise girl (and no…that is not in the plan at this time, thanks). But while I don’t eat many sweets, the boys love them and I prefer to make them at home where I can control cost and ingredient quality a little more.

Now, this is not a “diet” recipe, I’m just putting that out there. *ahem* And can I just add that this recipe came together kind of by accident? I had intended on adapting one of my favorite recipes from Cooking Light, Butterscotch Blondies – but alas, adding sweet potatoes and changing the amounts of the ingredients to make a thicker bar all somehow yielded more of a moist cake effect, less of a dense, chewy “blondie” texture. Technically speaking: I effed up this recipe.

image1 (1)

See what I mean? Definitely not a flat, dense blondie…but not quite a cake. What happened here? I’m still not sure.

Actually, it’s really a weird cake, I’m gonna be honest with you – somewhere in between the denseness of a blondie/brownie, not quite fluffy like a cake. This “cake” is the Gary Johnson to the blondie denseness of Hillary or the puffed up, airy quality of a fluffy Donald Trump. It is the Independent Party of Desserts. And I’d need a pastry chef to explain why (which I am not). Oops.

See, part of my problem is that I don’t look at recipes as scripture. I tend to pick and change things and experiment, which is fun until you end up with an accident you can’t explain. Oh well. Thankfully, it still tastes amazing. Which is lucky, cause I phoned. it. in. I present for you The Recipe Formerly Known As Sweet Potato Blondies, which I’ll now just call Accidental Sweet Potato Cake (with Maple Icing-Glaze).


3 c. all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 sticks of butter (unsalted) – yes, that’s a lot of butter, shut up about it.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
5 eggs, beaten
1 c. cooked sweet potato, mashed

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside and heat a small metal skillet or pot over medium heat. Place butter in a pan/pot and allow it to melt. Now, pay close attention to the next part:

If you’re not familiar with “browned butter,” you darn sure outta get familiar because it’s an amazing addition to basically anything from mashed potatoes to baked goods – but there’s a definite art to it!). Butter will foam up once and settle down before foaming up and bubbling again. This process will take 5-6 minutes, at which point you will notice the butter starting to turn an amber-brown hue. Once it reaches a light caramel color, immediately get the butter off the heat, out of the pan, and into a bowl to stop the cooking process. (This process is 5-6 minutes of being VERY hands on, so get your duckies lined up before you start or it’s gonna be a zoo (i.e. my house) and you’re gonna have burned – not browned – butter. Gross.)

Combine browned butter with vanilla, beaten egg and mashed sweet potato, stirring with a whisk. Pour wet mixture over flour mixture; stir until combined. Scrape batter into a 9×13 nonstick / sprayed pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.

Maple Icing:
3 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. maple syrup
1.5-2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon

I made this in the microwave because 5-7 minutes of browning butter is strenuous enough. My back hurts. Is it nap time yet??

In a microwave safe bowl or Pyrex, melt the butter for 30-45 seconds. Add maple syrup and return to the microwave for 30-45 seconds or until its bubbling (popping…whatever, the inside of my microwave looks like a post-apocalyptic battle ground). Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon and whisk until thick but smooth. You may need to adjust the powdered sugar up to get the right consistency. You want it to thickly coat a spatula and not be too watery, but it’s also not quite a true “cake frosting.” Somewhere in the middle. Like a third party candidate.

Spread that fence-straddling icing on that cake and enjoy! 🙂