About Me

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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Friday, June 19, 2015

We Have Moved!

     This is my change of address card!

From this point forward, all new blog posts, pictures, and updates will be posted on my new website!

Yes, it is OK to scream in delight.

I did.

"But why are you doing this to me," some may ask!

If you find yourself frustrated with the change, let me explain...

I have outgrown Blogger. I wanted to be in charge of personalizing my page and making it all that I've dreamed it should be and more. And I want to be able to interact with readers like you with more ease than my current site allows. You'll be able to leave comments without a google account, receive emails, and interact with other readers, as well.

You're gonna love it, trust me!

I have yet to figure out how to redirect this site to the new one, although I'm told that it can be done... but until then, I will leave Blogger open with all the current posts and information.

HOWEVER, it is extremely important to me that we stay connected.

And that is why I am cordially inviting you to stop by my new site:


Here, you will find some old stuff, along with some new stuff!

Make good use of the prayer request option in the Contact section of the site, and also reconnect with my original blog A Day In The Life Of A Brand New Wife.... it's listed in the section entitled 
The Beginning.

Now, want to make sure you don't miss any future posts?

Then SUBSCRIBE!!

This is the best way to get posts emailed directly to your account without having to find them in your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ feeds.

To do this, simply go into The Blog section OR the Archive Search section, click View More at the top (or whichever title you're wishing to read). Once you're in a blog post, scroll to the bottom of the post to where the comments are. Here, you can comment, share my post (PLEASE!!), and subscribe by email. Click the Subscribe button and enter your address. 

Simple!

Thank you so much for the support you all have given to me and my family. This website is for you :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

10 Reasons You Should Take Your Kids to an Amusement Park This Summer

          When weighing the pros and cons of yet another costly summer activity, we as adults tend to focus on the mature things. How much is this gonna cost? Can I get the time off work? Is it educational for the kids? Will this provide too much structure, not enough structure, build relationships, promote independence, increase physical exercise, allow for creativity, encourage teamwork, stimulate without over-stimulating, etc., etc., etc.
            But, what if we were to take a minute and allow ourselves to be immature…. Just for a moment. If we were to look deep down into the darkest crevices of our souls, we’d all come to the same conclusion.
            Amusement parks are for adults, not kids.
            Don’t believe me? Take a look at my top 10 reasons why YOU should go to an amusement park this summer and tell me this doesn’t sound like perfection?

10)  Mandated weight loss-
Over this past weekend, my husband and I took our family to Kennywood, our local Pittsburgh amusement park. After realizing it would be nuts to wrangle 4 kids alone, we invited two more. And then we recruited husband’s mother and brother for help so that we returned home with the same number of kids that we left with. Not only did we sweat profusely in the 95 degree weather, but we walked a total of 9 miles each throughout the course of our 8-hour day.
We know this because 1) or clothes were drenched well before we ever hit the first water ride, and 2) my husband kept track of our steps with the handy-dandy step tracker on his iphone. Add in pushing two strollers loaded up with supplies, diaper bags, water bottles, umbrellas, towels, snacks, and two large toddlers, and I’m pretty sure we burned at least 73,000 calories each. Pretty sure.

9)           Delayed gratification-
We all want our kids to let go of the “Microwave Mentality”, don’t we? Many of the best things in life require time, energy, diligence. Very few things of worth are just granted to us with a simple push of a button on a tablet or by sending a text. What better way to teach our kids the importance of delayed gratification than having them stand in an amusement park line?
Want to buy a ticket? Get in line. Need a frozen lemonade? Take a number. Have to ride the fastest roller coaster in the park? That’ll be an hour… at least. Your child will walk away from this experience far more patient than they came. Either that or they will realize that some things are worth the wait while other things can be skipped without the world coming to a crashing halt. Either way, you win.

8) The Law of Natural Consequences-
Another fantastic lesson that an amusement park will teach your children for you is to listen to their mother. How many times, Moms, do we say the same things over and over ad nauseum, only to be ignored? Let your local thrill joint take the pressure off. Say it once and let the Law of Natural Consequences take over. Wear comfortable shoes, not pretty ones. Pee now because we won’t be hiking to another bathroom in 10 minutes for you. Carry your water bottle with you at all times. Space out the spinny rides!
Any of these sound familiar? If you’re anything like me, you’ve said these things a million times on a million different trips and your children continue to think you’re joking or something. But amusement parks are a great place to (pardon the overused phrase) let it go. Say it once and move on, Mamas. Blisters? Exploding bladders? Thirsty? Going to puke? Tell it to the Ticketmaster, kiddos, because Mama can’t hear you over the noise of the coasters, music, and the joy of natural consequences screaming “I told you so!”

7) You will feel better about your parenting-
This will happen, not because you’ve done such a remarkable job throughout those long winter months, but because of probablity. Statistically speaking, the odds of your child being the worst kid at the park are far less than when you make your usual Walmart run. In a sea of thousands of children, there’s even a decent chance that your kid will come out looking like an honorary saint, even after he races from his seat on the ride and pushes the big, red start button with his chubby little hand. Sure, the staff will scream and parents will run to save their children from impending doom….
But in 10 minutes, some other knuckleheaded child will do something even dumber, leaving you to look like an amazing parent. (Despite the 5 minute tantrum your child threw after being removed from the ride for his unsavory actions…. True story.)

6) Your children will grow closer to God-
Want your son or daughter to be more God-fearing? Let them face the possibility of death as they mount that first roller coaster hill. The “I’m gonna die!” and “Oh, dear GOD!!” phrases will pour forth like wild fire from their little lips. Prayers and promises to never lie again should all be recorded, so keep your phones handy on all rides.

5) Positive peer pressure-
Do you have a particularly wussy kid? Yeah, me too. Amusement parks allow a parent to let peer pressure work in their favor for once. Naturally there will always be those thrill-seekers that want to ride the biggest coaster- no screaming, eyes open, arms in the air. Will they poke fun at your weakling for peeing their pants a little while waiting in line? May they throw out names like “Sissy” and “Nancy Pants” to your kid? Is there a possibility that your child will ride the scariest coaster on the planet (or the Tilt-o-Whirl, whatever) and still come off hating coasters? Yep.
But there’s also the possibility that your wimpy child may face his fears and find that they actually like the ride! Even more possible is that they will enjoy telling everyone for the next 3 years about the time that they rode the biggest coaster in the world and how they lived to tell about it. War stories aren’t just for veterans, people.

4) Your kids will finally understand what your pregnancy was like-
When your precious little monster acts like a colossal brat, the first thing you want to tell them is just how long you carried them in your womb, what they did to your body, how you never ever slept again, and that you brought them into this world and have no problem taking them right back out! Mamas, let me introduce you to the world of Spinny Rides. Send your little nugget of joy on three spinnies in a row. (Just three now, no need to hospitalize the kid or anything.) And as they begin to turn green, ask them to remember this moment.
Remember the nausea, remember the dizziness, remember the need to lie down and close your eyes to stop the world from spinning. Feel like you’re going to die, sweetheart? Well, THAT is what I went through for 9 month!. Remember THAT the next time you want to throw a tantrum in the middle of Applebees, darling. They will have a new appreciation for the sacrifice that you made for them. They may even rise up and call you blessed.

3) Teach them the value of money-
                  How many times do you walk through the store and get pestered incessantly about making extra purchases? You’ve heard how they neeeeeed Twinkies for their lunch boxes and how they have to have the Timberlands just like everyone else in their class. I can solve this problem for you within the first 20 minutes of being at the park. Tell your children that all of their meals and drinks have been packed for them because you are, in fact, a loving and organized mother.
                  And then tell them that you’ve brought their weekly allowance for them to use in the park if they feel they have to have extras. And then lay the final blow. Repeat these words verbatim to your children. I have left my wallet and all monetary devices in the car.
                  There will definitely be gasps. There will probably be fainting. Some may require use of their inhalers. Do not panic. The over-priced snacks and ridiculously expensive arcades will be all your child needs to remind them that no one has ever, in fact, neeeeded a Twinky.

2) You’re allowed to laugh at your kids-
                  Oh, but I could never! Yes. Yes you can. When your child is rubber-necking and taking it all in, causing him to walk straight into a large woman with bountiful cleavage, you most certainly are allowed to laugh. When your daughter death grips your arm on a KiddieLand roller coaster, you will and must laugh. When your toddler is rendered immobile as Dumbo flies from 1 foot off the ground to 2, you will giggle as tears stream down your face. Hey, you may even find yourself rocking the Ferris wheel cage a little, just to give yourself one more chuckle at your child’s expense before calling it a day.

1)      They will sleep like logs-
            There is literally nothing like a day of terror and over-stimulation to knock out even the biggest insomniac. After crashing from sugar rushes, coming off of coaster highs, and walking half a marathon, it is likely that your son or daughter will sleep the following morning away. You may feel the urge to check on them, just to make sure they’re fine. But trust me, Mama…. They’re good. They’re more than good. Because they got to spend an entire day with you – laughing, learning valuable lessons, and getting in some quality family time. Let this peaceful moment wash over you before they wake up and find something to complain about.

Why should you go to an amusement park this summer? Because You need to. There’s gonna be screaming and laughing and messes and lost sunglasses/hats/keys/phones. There will be junk food and incorrect head counts, chaos and missed naptimes. And it will be the best memory you have for years to come.


Monday, June 8, 2015

My Kids.... Answering Questions.... About Me

     I tend not to jump on the Mommy bandwagon for things.... but for every thing there is a season. And it's my turn to jump. There is a Facebook post that's gone viral that has you ask your child/children questions about you as their Mom while you record their answers. Naturally, these answers are chocked full of adorableness and grossly inaccurate information. So it only made sense that I interviewed my own children (the ones that can talk, that is), because they are both adorable and grossly inaccurate on most days as it is. I asked them the questions separately and was amazed by some of their answers!
     Here is the post that left me giggling, complete with my kiddos' answers:

     Without any prompting, ask your child these questions and write down EXACTLY what they say. It's a great way to find out what they really think.

1) What is something mom always says to you?
Cameron (9-years-old)- "I love you."
Taylor- (7-years-old)- "I love you."
Isaac- (2 1/2-years-old)- "Keys."

2) What makes mom happy?
C- "Not lying."
T- "When we don't lie."
I- "Wyatt (the 1-year-old) and kisses!"

3) What makes mom sad?
C- "When I lie."
T- "When someone dies."
I- "Singing 'Jesus loves me'"
(huh.)

4) How does your mom make you laugh?
C- "She tickles my armpits."
T- "She tickles me!"
I- "Music."

5) What was your mom like as a child?
C- "Good?"
T- "A good girl."
I- "Little."

6) How old is your mom?
C- "23"
T- "32"
I- "2"
(The correct answer is 33 for anyone interested!)

7) How tall is your mom?
C- "5 feet."
T- "7 inches."
I- "1."
(Well, 5'6".... if you add Cam's and Tay's answers and then subtract Isaac's, they didn't do half bad!)

8) What is her favorite thing to do?
C- "Work with people."
T- "Play with us."
I- "Grass."

9) What does your mom do when you're not around?
C- "Pray."
T- "Work."
I- "Wear make-up."

10) If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
C- "Singing."
T- "Singing."
I- "Swim fast in a pool."

11)  What is your mom really good at?
C- "Singing."
T- "Painting nails."
I- "Making a mess."

12) What is your mom not very good at?
C- "Building a swing set."
T- "Cutting wood."
I- "I dunno."

13) What does your mom do for a job?
C- "Sings at church."
T- "Therapy."
I- "The store."
(Hmmm.)

14) What is your mom's favorite food?
C- "Veggie pizza."
T- "Salad."
I- "All of it."
(And Isaac wins this round!)

15) What makes you proud of your mom?
C- "That she adopted us." (oh. my. gosh.... the sweetness!!)
T- "That she takes me to the doctor."
I- "Proud."

16). If your mom were a character, who would she be?
C- "Dr. Seuss."
T- "Anna from Frozen."
I- "I want to go outside."

17) What do you and your mom do together?
C- "Clean my room."
T- "Take walks."
I- "Trains."

18) How are you and your mom the same?
C- "We live together."
T- "We have the same color eyes."
I- "Trains."

19) How are you and your mom different?
C- "She has long hair and I have short hair."
T- "She has curly hair and mine is straight."
I- "I wanna go outside!!"

20) How do you know your mom loves you?
C- "Because she adopted me!"
T- "She hugs me."
I- "Kisses."

21) What does your mom like most about your dad?
C- "He's handsome."
T- "His smooches!"
I- "His computer."

22) Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
C- "Church."
T- "Tosha's house."
I- "In a tree."

23) How old was your Mom when you were born?
C- "26"
T- "27"
I- "2"

     Ok, now tell me that wasn't adorable?? Please, please, do this with your children! It's so sweet and they loved answering the questions, even the toddler! This Mommy bandwagon was officially worth the jump.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Liebster Award

So, there are these blogging awards that I’m always seeing on people’s web pages. I have to admit, I’ve been quite jealous that my blog is so naked and unadorned with beautiful symbols. But then, this lovely thing happened…. I got my first nomination! Thanks to (un)Balanced Mom, I was nominated for the Liebster Award and now have a lovely symbol to attach to my page. I know, it’s vanity, but I’m a girl and I like pretty decorations. Shoot me.
How does the Liebster Award work, you may ask? Well, it’s something that is passed around the blogging community to help us find out more about other bloggers and get our names out there a bit more. The nominator gives the nominee 11 questions to answer and then the nominee must nominate 11 more nominees and give them 11 questions to answer as well. Make sense? Or did I use too many versions of the work nominate in one sentence? (This award is obviously not being granted to me in honor of my perfected sentence structure.) So, thank you (un)Balanced Mom for this nomination!!


Questions from (un)Balanced Mom:
1)      What got you started blogging? The week that I got married, I started a blog for myself to log the oddities of each day for the first full year of marriage. It turned out to be an excellent way to relieve stress and let the little things go under the veil of humor…. All in all, I’m pretty sure it kept my husband alive for the first year.
2)      Do you have a secret for finding balance? Yes. But if it’s a secret, I’ve not been doing my job well enough. My secret is Christ’s grace. It goes before me and behind me, covering my flaws and screw ups from the past and the ones I’ve not even made yet. I can’t balance myself…. There are too many emotions and struggles – to many crises that arise from day to day. Grace is the only thing that keeps me from floating out of my earthly orbit.
3)      How old are your little ones? Cameron is 9, Taylor is 7, Isaac is 2, and Wyatt is 1…. And Pat is 38 (my biggest child of all).
4)      What is your favorite time of day? I love the time of day when it’s early evening and the sun is glowing orange… when you’re driving and the light is in your eyes no matter which way you put your visor. There’s something so beautiful and sacred about the glow during that time of day, as if the whole world is being reflected by stained glass.
5)      Are you a dog or a cat person? Dog, all the way! We have three of our own (our other kids). But that’s not to say that I don’t like cats, because I do. I just prefer when they’re not being chased by my dogs, you see.
6)      What are your views on screen time? Look, there are lots of people that have very specific views on the hot-button parenting topics…. Screen time, breastfeeding, baby wearing, organic foods, etc. But to be quite honest, I view that all things in moderation are fine. I have 4 kiddos and 3 dogs…. If Mickey Mouse wants to help my kids practice their colors and numbers for 27 minutes while I stare into space and mumble along to the hot dog song, then let it be! Because sometimes a woman needs 27 minutes to stare at absolutely nothing.
7)      What would your dream vacation be? An all-inclusive resort to Fiji. Five-star food, endless beaches, crystal-clear water, room service, spa amenities, the scent of lavender and suntan lotion…. Oh my gosh, why do I live in Western, PA?
8)      What part of the world do you live in? And would you choose somewhere else to live if you could? Um, see question 7 and make my address 101 Fiji St., Fiji Island.
9)      Do you eat out or cook at home more? We definitely cook more at home than anything else. For one, I love to cook. Two, we can’t afford eating out with 6 of us. Even the dollar menu requires a trip to the ATM. Buuuut, if someone were to take me out and relieve me of my cooking duties for a while, I wouldn’t complain!
10)  What is your favorite book? This one has me stumped, because honestly, there are so many books! I love me a good murder-mystery thriller, but then there are the biographies…. And the true crime stories… and the chick-lit that is a true guilty pleasure… and all things by my favorites (Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle Melton)…. And my devotionals and my Bible…. Ok, just let me take my library with me to Fiji, OK?
11)  Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Older. Other than that, I don’t even know how to see that far ahead! Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I try to look at my schedule for the following week. So, I’m doing myself a favor on this one and just stating the obvious!

Liebster Award Rules:
1)      Acknowledge and thank the blog who nominated you.
2)      Look for an award image that you like and post it on your blog.
3)      Answer the 11 questions asked by the person/blog who nominated you.
4)      Nominate 11 blogs.
5)      Let the bloggers know that you nominated them.
6)      Give them 11 questions to answer.

My Nominees:
1)      Jen Hatmaker… because I love her – Jenhatmaker.com
2)      Harmony Hobbs - Modernmommymadness.com
3)      Drama Queens Momma – lifeofadramaqueensmomma.blogspot.com
4)      A Mothership Down - Amothershipdown.com
5)      Full Metal Mommy – fullmetalmommy.com
6)      Stacia – driedonmilk.com
7)      Mary Widdicks – outmannedmommy.com
8)      Cristi Comes – motherhoodunadorned.com
9)      Stevie Couch – acornishmum.com
10)  The Making of a Mom – themakingofamom.com
11)  Amber – mommysmetime.com

Questions For My Nominees:
1)      Who/What inspires you to write?
2)      If this was college and writing was your major, what would be your minor?
3)      What three words best describe you?
4)      What’s your favorite quote?
5)      If you have a family, they push your buttons….period. What’s your secret coping skill?
6)      If you could interview one person (past or present), who would it be?
7)      What’s your favorite place to write and why?
8)      Name your top two guilty pleasure foods.
9)      How do you best show others you love them?
10)  Coffee or tea? Iced or hot?
11)  What’s your number one feel-good movie of all time?

Guys, I love this award! I think it’s such a great way to learn more about the wonderful writers who tell me their stories each week. Don’t forget to check out their pages, show them some love by subscribing or sharing a blog you enjoy, and (nominees) remember to let me know that you’ve responded so I can check out your answers!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

When Your Sweet Baby Turns Into a German Tyrant


            Something happens to your baby when he turns one. It may be chemical, it may be hormonal, it may be possession…. But whatever it is, it has the power to change your once precious little lamb into a general from the Third Reich.
            How do I know this devastation to be true? Simple. I have a one-year-old. And for 364 days he was my shining joy, my prize, my little baby love. At day 365, the sweetness melted away and it was replaced by ear-piercing screams and aggression to the fullest degree. He punches, he pinches, he kicks, jabs, slaps, bites, and claws. It’s as if my baby has taken on the soul of a wild jaguar and he’s circling his prey (ME) before finally going in for the kill.
            When I go to the store, I see the stares. I see other people eyeing my bruises and noticing my scratched skin. They can’t ignore the drops of blood crusted around my previously bleeding nose nor the lump already forming on my skull where I was head-butted just minutes before. I know they wonder as they eye my husband with disdain. Little do they know that the real culprit is the angelic little cherub in the cart, chattering away and waving “bye-bye” at passersby, smiling a toothy grin and soaking up all the “Awww”s he can get. Yes. My abuser is 32” tall, has 6 teeth, and cannot walk independently.

It’s the perfect cover.

Prior to turning one, little man followed me from room to room, cooing at my feet as he investigated the floor, contents of cupboards, and whatever else happened to be within reach. His gentle exploration was always accompanied by sing-song tones and baby gurgles… the sounds that could make your ovaries ache with the sheer cuteness of it all.
And then there was his first birthday… it was the single moment, the terrifying fulcrum of change. Now, I live on pins and needles as I wrangle my little terror from room to room, him flailing and throwing himself back from my arms, me desperately trying to keep my child from requiring a cranial operation before he turns 2. If he wants up, it’s only until I pick him up and he realizes that he actually wants down. If he wants in a cupboard, it’s only to chuck its entire content across the room, followed by finger pinches in the drawer, climbing into the dishwasher, putting toy cars in the toilet, unrolling all of the toilet paper, growling at the vacuum cleaner, chewing on the computer cable, putting Cheerios down his diaper, biting the dog, pulling all things off the table via the corner of the table cloth, eating the puppy food, screaming because he’s angry, screaming because he’s tired, screaming because he’s hungry, because he’s teething, because he’s happy, or he’s itchy, or sick, or because the dog won’t play with him, or because he’s trying to make me lose my mind!
Gone are the days of watching my baby sleep peacefully in my arms. Gone are the cuddles and the precious baby coos. My child’s soothing baby chatter has taken on a harsh sound as he tries his tongue at new consonants. Now he just sounds German. Like a short, mean German baby, raising his hand to smite me down like a true tyrant. So I flinch. I flinch and I shudder when he raises his hand. I’ve learned that a finger to the eye hurts for hours, and a slap to the nose will bring me to my knees. But when I tell him “No!” in my firmest of tones, he replies with shrieks of laughter, finding my attempt at control simply hilarious.
One years old feels too young to start a disciplinary regime, but apparently my life depends on it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But let me tell you, ladies, this little man is gooood. After he smacks me repeatedly, I put him down and give him a light tap on the hand as I muster a firm “No, no!” And then he produces the lip. That bottom portion of his mouth that causes him to look like the saddest most misunderstood baby ever to have lived. And it’s only seconds before the gut-wrenching tears stream from his horrified eyes and I’m forced to blow in his face to help him catch his breath.
How could I? Worst Mama of the Year awards flash through my mind. So, like any mother wanting to comfort her sweet little angel, I pick him up and pull him to my chest, whispering gentle shushes in his ear.
At which point he immediately stops crying and begins to giggle as he pinches my neck skin. It’s turned into some sort of twisted game and I’m forced to play because I’m the mama and the trainer of the children. It’s up to me to show him that there is a gentler way. A peaceful way. A way that doesn’t end in bloodshed (quite specifically, MINE!).
Yes. My sweet baby has turned into a German tyrant. And I love him to pieces. Here’s hoping that the Terrible Twos are a step up in the right direction.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Disillusionment of Spanx

I nearly lost my life getting into a pair of Spanx the other day. It’s true. I’d like to say it was a solitary trauma, but unfortunately there was a rematch during the removal process that I just can’t go into. As I laid there on my bed, trying to catch my breath and hold onto consciousness, I thought to myself, I cannot be the only one who thinks this is the stupidest thing ever invented by anyone… Ever.
            Honest to God, try as I may, I cannot think of a more ridiculous garment ever invented. And before everyone jumps on the corset band-wagon, let’s take just a moment to realize that women who wore corsets had an instant boob lift and tummy tuck, all in one piece of underwear. Yes, I recognize that they also had bruised/broken ribs and that they couldn’t eat or breathe, but there was a definite visual benefit to be had when wearing a corset.
            Now let’s look at Spanx. Even the word itself is moronic. I envision the makers of Spanx (all men, of course) sitting in their office, chairs arranged in a circle with a pair of the silly things on a table in the center of the group. All the men staring and staring until one particularly doofy gentleman called out, “Spanx! We’ll name them Spanx!” The other men spitting coffee out of their noses as they place bets on how many women would actually purchase something named Spanx.
            Well, as it turns out, the doofy gentleman won the bet. Not only does every woman from here to Timbuktu own a pair, but we actually risk life and limb to wear something that sounds like a dominatrix tool. Unlike the corset-wearers of old, with their defined waists and ample bosoms,  Spanx-wearers end up looking like overstuffed, vertical uni-boobs from knee to neck. (I can hear the skinny girls now. All the Trish’s and the Bambi’s and the Lexi’s of the world are tweeting each other  selfies as we speak – displaying their perfect measurements and contemplating whether or not pants come in sizes smaller than 0….. P.S. Bambi, they don’t.)
However, for the rest of the ladies (the normal sized ladies on up), this is probably what you’re feeling after you’ve wrestled yourself into a pair of these suckers.



            And this is on a good day. Congratulations, you look like a stuffed sausage.

            And do we know why this is? Because when we look at ourselves in the mirror and see rolls of flab given to us by babies and too many nachos, we think to ourselves, I wonder if there’s some kind of crazy contraption that will squish all of my insides into a long tube so that I can zip my pants instead of having to use a hair tie to secure them?? (Women who don’t understand that last comment can keep on moving ‘cause they just don’t even know how real the struggle is.) Then, not only do we actually purchase (with real, hard-earned money) a pair of these “miracle” undies, but we do a jig that can only be likened to the rain dance of the fat people as we try to get into them. We squirm, jump, suck in, pull up, tuck in, lay down, and twist ourselves into a sweaty mess, made even sweatier by the oh-so-breathable Spanx material.
            Again, the men sitting in a circle around the Spanx, calling out material options willy-nilly. “Syran wrap,” one says. “Fleece,” says another. Finally, Mr. Doofy comes to the rescue. “I know!! Nylon! Ha, these women will be so drenched after just one hour in their Spanx that they’ll lose 10 pounds and have to buy a smaller size! Ca-ching!!”
            And it’s not enough that you finally manage to get yourself into the crazy things. No, that’s just when the depression kicks in. Because, whereas you once had vivid dreams of magically turning into Marilyn Monroe when you finally weaseled your way into your garment, you now realize that you look more like this.



Great. Now your butt has moved to your upper back, and I’m guessing that your thighs have moved to your knees. Why? Because Spanx won’t make us skinny, ladies!!! They just move our fat to NEW LOCATIONS! So you can button your favorite pair of jeans, only now you need to wear a bra on your shoulder blades and go up at least two shirt sizes. Problem. Solved.
If you’re crazy enough to leave the house like this (and don’t worry, we’ve all been this crazy once or twice in our lives…. No judgment here), you’re probably wearing your nice jeans (with the hem let out to allow for your newly acquired double knees), big shirt, and two bras so that you can sweat your butt off as you paint the town red. What’s that, you say? Feeling dizzy are you? Oh, that’s just your organs encroaching on your lungs, slowly collapsing them with each inhale you take. You’ll be fine. You’ve got another three hours at least before you’ll need medical attention. Oh wait, what’s that now? You have to pee?



Once you’re finally back home, dehydrated and in need of an aspirator, you can finally get those dang Spanx off! Or can you? Because short of the Jaws of Life, those puppies aren’t coming off without taking some flesh with them. But at that point, you won’t even care. You just need to pee and breathe and eat and take your back-bra off, for the love of Moses!
So, you do what every panicked woman does in a moment like this. You reach for the scissors and literally cut yourself out of the precious Spanx that you’d dreamed would change your life.
But they did, didn’t they? You are walking away from this experience wiser than  you once were. You are more accepting of your body. You are more willing to reconsider your exercise plan that perhaps was growing dusty next to the ab-roller you’d purchased that night you housed the entire gallon of ice cream before realizing it was gone. You do this so you never, ever have to go through the disillusionment of  Spanx again. EVER.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why My Kids Can't Listen To The Radio

           I fear that this topic may cause some…conflict. My words may reflect “preachy” when very little is further from my style of writing. I try to keep all things on a real level because we, as parents, are all just trying to do our best and survive each day, am I right? You do your parenting and I’ll do mine, and maybe we can swap war stories every now and again when we see the other dragging and falling apart at the seams.
So I want you to know, need you to know, that my heart is to share something that is so very important to me without causing anyone else to feel “less than”, judged, or ridiculed by my far-from-perfect opinions and perspectives. In my capacities as a mother, therapist, Christian, and simply as a person, I’ve had a passion to share my feelings on this topic for quite some time. Many people will not understand me, and several may tell me I’m na├»ve and sheltering my children too much. You may tell me exactly where I can shove this article.
And to those people, I say this: I still love you. And I love your children and my own enough to post this.
Here it goes.
I don’t let my kids listen to non-Christian radio. (I know, I can hear the groans now, but please stay with me.) I don’t let my kids listen to non-Christian radio, not because I’m against secular music. Personally, I enjoy and appreciate almost every genre of music. (Although I still think that heavy-metal is sung by people who weren’t hugged enough as children…. Just saying!) God hand-picked and delivered gifts and talents to so many people for the mere purpose of bringing pleasure to the world, meeting people where they’re at, and giving the voiceless words they can really get behind. Words they can move to as well as words that will move them. This is true whether the musicians themselves hold the same beliefs as I do or not. Music is music and I love it at its core. It makes us feel things and express things and cry and soar and yell at the tops of our lungs as we drive down the road with our windows open!
I don’t let my kids listen to non-Christian radio simply because my kids are kids. They aren’t teenagers, they aren’t young adults, they aren’t even pre-teens, for that matter. And if radio channels had ratings, Christian radio would be the only kind of station consistently rating above the PG-13 category. I am quite aware that there are occasional songs played on every station that are perfectly lovely and that my kids may either benefit from or perhaps just not “get” because they’re too young to be influenced by the words being sung. But as many of you other parents are, I am busy. I am tired. I don’t need another hat to wear, another role to play, another task to complete. Simply put, to be the radio police? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I don’t want to see one more child bopping to Justin Beiber or hear one more child singing “Baby” anything! These are children, folks. They don’t need to be calling anyone their Baby because they are still babies themselves. In a society filled with parentified children, shows about teen moms, and those who have suffered abuses of all kinds, we need to run with abandon towards innocence and purity for our little ones. I want to stray so far from the middle line on this one because I want the small people that I protect to enjoy the few years of their lives unmoved and unshaken by all things that are “gray”.
But, even in our diligence to watch what our children are exposed to, we’ve all had those moments where our beautiful, wide-eyed, sweet little ones unsuspectingly belt out words to a song that makes our hair stand on end and our tummies roll. And honestly, nothing saddens my heart more than hearing my grade school kiddos belt out lyrics about booty-shaking or drinking a cold beer. My kids are not 21 and the only time they should be shaking anything is if they’re doing the hokey-pokey!
 Even my two-year-old knows when something is inappropriate. There we were, watching the American Idol finale. On comes a song that featured a group of half-dressed female dancers. Naturally, they began to shake what the good Lord gave them. My baby looked at me and said, “Mama, they’re shaking their weenies!” And he was right. Maybe it makes me a prude, but I don’t care. I’m sticking to my guns that toddlers shouldn’t learn about pelvic thrusting, butt clapping, or twerking…. At least until they’re 6.
Something that I think we as parents can all agree on is that there are lots of inappropriate songs in the world. There is literally a song entitled, “Rape Me”….seriously. None of us are going to ever play this song for our children because of a little thing called common sense! Miley Cyrus naked on a wrecking ball? Yeah, probably not going to find that in too many 10-year-olds’ CD collections. However, there are so many gray areas with music, aren’t there?
Look at Taylor Swift. Sweet girl, beautiful voice, pleasant songs about love (or falling out of it)…. No cursing or outright references to sexual content. But I just can’t let my kids go there. Why not? Because my kids are 9, 7, 2, and 1. They are in desperate need of learning concepts of pure love, compassion, friendship, justice, generosity, sharing, truth-telling, and faith. They need to hear their role models sing songs about peace and kindness, treating others how they themselves want to be treated, humility, and giving to the poor. I want my children to learn about the kind of love that extends to all people, not the kind of love that leaves a girl’s heart-broken in two after she was cheated on by the supposed love of her life. I like Taylor Swift. But I don’t trust her with my daughter’s heart, her identify, or her little girl view of relationships. No one should be in charge of those things except her Mama, her Daddy, and her God. (When that first boy breaks her heart, then she may listen to Taylor Swift!)
And please don’t misunderstand. Many of these songs are amazing….for adults. Even some for teens. And if you find yourself reading this and wanting to scream at me because your small person knows all the words to most of these songs by heart, please know that I am not looking down a righteous nose at anyone. You’re the Mom. You’re the Queen of your house. You’re the rule-maker and the enforcer of all things in your child’s world. My only hope is that we can all be diligent together - to really pay attention. To listen to what’s blaring from the speakers. To evaluate the concepts being taught under the veil of beautiful or fun music.
Because, Mamas, it takes a village. There are days that I need you to be there for my children. And there are days that you need me to be there for yours. If we can come together and agree to uplift innocence instead of cleavage, think about how far our daughters will go in this world? And if we preach chivalry instead of booty calls to our boys, how the dating world will change for our young men (and, in turn, our young ladies)!
Therefore, I say No to lyrics about stalking the object of one’s affection (Lady Gaga). No to words about partying (Shop Boyz). No to hooking up with strangers (Carly Rae Jepsen). No to craving sex (Jennifer Lopez). No to wanting a “bad boy” (Brittany Spears). No to having swagger. No to staying out all night. No to falling apart over a break-up. NO to grinding and swearing. NO to being like the “cool kids”. NO to obsessing over one’s looks and the opposite sex. NO NO NO NO NO, A MILLION TIMES NO!!!!
Let’s keep them young. Just for a little while longer. We won’t always be able to protect their hearts, so let’s do our best while we still have the chance.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Birthday Eve

            
            May 12, 2014…. There I was, 216 months pregnant. Big and hormonal, sweaty and not giving any craps about anything, holding one baby on my hip and another in my gut, looking like the red-neck woman’s pregnant best friend. Even my toddler couldn’t believe I was still pregnant. He was supposed to have been here days ago, months really, if you take into account the size of my watermelon-esque mid-section. He wasn’t supposed to wait this long, get this big! How in the world is this even going to happen tomorrow? I mean, he has to be the size of an NFL linebacker by now. And, I don’t know much about labor and all, but I’m pretty sure linebackers don’t come out all that gracefully.
            I’m 100% terrified, to be honest. I’m one half terrified of him coming out, and the other half terrified that he’ll stay in…. Scratch that. Maybe it’s more like 40/60. Either way, there’s some serious fear going on. I keep crying. And then I puke a little. And then I double over for 45 -90 seconds, and then I cry some more. I haven’t slept in days. Literally. I mean, I have not slept. Here’s hoping the fourth night’s a charm? Although, I don’t see that happening with all cramping and puking and contracting and crying going on.
            But the doctor said we’re headed towards a c-section if this baby refuses to come on his own. For some reason, he just won’t drop. She’s worried about the cord. I’m worried about the cord. But the only thing I know to do is to walk. Well, waddle. I’m going to waddle a trench down my driveway if it’s the last thing I do. And since I think I’m dying, it very well may be the last thing I do.
            Waddle down the drive. Waddle up the drive. (Quick pee break while near the house.) Waddle down the drive. Waddle up the drive. (Another pee break. Rest ankles for a minute while I contract.) Waddle down the drive. Waddle up the drive. (Pee. I almost made it to the toilet, too. Wipe every sweaty inch of my body with a paper towel.) Waddle down the drive. Waddle half-way up the drive. Collapse in the drive. Contract for a minute. Roll around for a while because I’ve fallen and cannot get up. Cry. Decide I will deliver the baby at home, in the drive. Decide I don’t want the neighbors to see my vagina. Roll some more. A gust of wind and fairies help me up. Waddle up the drive. (Pee….dang. Not even close.) Decide to stay indoors where it’s safe.
            It was finally time to sleep. I was amazed that my husband could snore so loudly on a night like tonight. Didn’t he know that I was expecting any second? Wasn’t he worried at all? I laid awake, gripping my stop watch, fearing that if I let the contractions get too close together, we’d never make it to Pittsburgh in time. What if something went wrong on the drive down? Oh, no…. (this is where things started getting gross, so I’ll spare you the details, but apparently a woman’s body “rids itself of all things when baby is on his way”). I finished ridding and then took a shower to rid myself of the ridding remnants. And there was husband, still sawing logs with his chainsaw snout. But 3:30 a.m. was go time, and go we did.
            May 13, 2014…..I continued to rid myself the entire way to the hospital and throughout the endless hours of labor that followed. Since I had already been in labor for the three previous days, complete with regular contractions and all, I was basically a pro. I did my breaths, I spread my legs for every Tom, Dick, and Harry wearing a doctor’s coat, and I prayed for him to drop. But that’s when his heartbeat went away. And everything seemed to fade a bit. The pain grew small and the doctor’s grew quieter as the heartbeat in my ears thudded louder and louder.
            “I need you to flip, now,” said the nurse to a woman who hasn’t been able to roll over independently for at least two months. My husband, my nurse, and my momentous girth got me flipped in a colossal team effort. An effort we exerted every 15 minutes or so, each time we lost the heartbeat. We did this for hours. I couldn’t see straight anymore. Baby wouldn’t drop anymore. And the doctor’s couldn’t wait anymore. It was time.
            Thirty-minutes later, despite my horrible experience in the OR (something I don’t even want to allow myself to re-tell, just in case there are any pregnant mamas-to-be out there), he was here. Wyatt Patrick Costa had finally arrived. The poor little man had been twisted inside of me to the point that his head was stuck and unable to move down. I would still be pregnant to this day had my doctor not made that hard call for me.
            He was so big….so long! He looked like he needed a good steak. But since all I had to offer was milk, he settled for a liquid diet.
            I was so sick afterwards that I couldn’t hold him, couldn’t experience his skin on mine or take in his tiny little features or plant kisses on his long fingers. I’ve always felt sad - cheated that I missed out on the best moment of my life.
            But today, on the eve of my son’s first birthday, I realize that I didn’t miss out on the best moment of my life. Because every day with him is my new best moment. I constantly caress his soft skin as he’s cuddled up against my chest. And I admire those big, beautiful, brown eyes and memorize the heartwarming tone of his laughter day in and day out. And I have planted no less than a million kisses on those long fingers, tiny toes, and every other kissable inch of his perfect little frame. His conception was a miracle, his delivery was a miracle, and his smile reminds me that today is a miracle.
            I love you, Wyatt, with all my heart. Thank you for giving me a new best moment each and every day.