Month: January 2017

So…raising a daughter. About that.

I never thought about the intricacies of it when I was pregnant and daydreaming about being my little girl’s best friend and braiding each other’s hair. Although for the record, we really do braid each other’s hair. Once she started growing up and maturing, life hit me in the face with a bag of rocks. Newsflash: raising a daughter is serious business. Laila has always been far too smart and mature for her own good. I know, I know…everyone says that about their children. “Oh he’s way too advanced for that class and he’s just bored, that’s why he has a D” or “She leads the pack, it’s not her fault that the other girls are being bullies around her! She isn’t the one participating”! No. I know what my daughter’s strengths and weaknesses are, and she is one smart cookie. What I worry about is that she will go down a bad road, or be taken advantage of, or just lose herself in the sea of hormones and expectations that the tweens and teens inevitably brings on.

I started noticing that Laila was too mature for her own good about two years ago. Flash back to my six year old daughter asking me about bras and makeup and generally things that no six year old has any business worrying about. I did have a moment of internal panic…have I been too uncensored in front of her? Have I been too candid to where she’s picked up on things outside of her pay-grade? Whatever the answer is, I took note. It was becoming more and more apparent to me that when she was allowed to play with makeup and nail polish, she wasn’t feeling “pretty like Mommy”, she was feeling GROWN. That’s a dangerous thing in my opinion, and the reason that I take raising a girl so seriously. I remember what it was like to be a tween and feeling these things: I got to play with makeup and all of a sudden, I felt 16 and fabulous.

Luckily I was fairly sheltered and I didn’t get set loose on the world looking like Tammy Faye Baker, but you get my point.

I’ve been so worried lately about how to raise Laila! How to make sure that she is kind, living up to her full potential, perceptive, aware…all of the things! Are her new chokers that she got for Christmas too grown? Is that enough coverage for a sleeveless shirt? SHIT, I got her little cupcake lip glosses because they were cute, and they’re so pigmented!!!! I realized that I was spending so much time saying NO to her and bringing down the hammer that I wasn’t saying anything nice and uplifting. I wasn’t spending time with her and just doing Mommy-Daughter things.

So I’ve decided to split my focus. Worry less about appearances (not too much less, put that lip gloss away girl!) and more about being intentional and coaching. It’s not just makeup that makes her feel “grown”, it’s the ignorance to what being grown really is! Thankfully she is smart enough to understand that when I sat her down and spoke to her about the joys of being 8, not 18. I have a long way to go with her, and LAWD KNOWS that I am dreading middle and high school. But I’m going to make my focus more about her behavior and (a little) less about appearances. I hope that when she is older we will be biffles for life, but right now is just not the time to be my daughter’s friend. Hopefully she appreciates that when she is actually grown.

Years ago, when my brother Chris was 18, he recommended a book to me. Now mind you, Chris is the only person in my family that does not have a bone-deep love of reading; so I was very curious. The book was “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, and I must have read it in about 14 hours of non-stop reading. It is set in Afghanistan in both the cities of Herat and Kabul. Ironically, Chris joined the Army that same year and was deployed to Afghanistan, to Kandahar. Both of my brothers each did two tours of duty in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

When I read this book, my brothers were already in Afghanistan and my father was in Iraq. While this book is set at the start of the Soviet-Afghan War (considered to be part of the Cold War) and ends at the very start of the 9-11 attacks, I soaked up every ounce of Afghanistan history that is laced throughout this book. To understand what shaped today’s Afghanistan, one must look back at the Soviet’s influence, then to the Mujahideen warlord takeover, and finally to the Taliban revolution. The historical facts are all accurate, and Khaled Hosseini did a remarkable job of tying the historical truth in with a fictional story. Before he wrote “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, Khaled went back to Afghanistan, his birthplace, for the first time in 30 years. Many of the moving stories he heard from Afghan women made their way in bits and pieces to this book.

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” starts in 1964 and ends in 2001. The story follows two women from very different walks of life. Mariam was the illegitimate daughter of the wealthiest man in Herat, who was raised by her bitter mother in a shanty just outside of town. She worships her father, and decided to set out for the first time in her life. On her 15th birthday, she went to his house to ask to be part of his “real” family. This decision changed the course of her life, and set the story in motion. She is given away to a man named Rasheed, whom she was forced to marry. He takes her back to Kabul, where requires that she wear a burka and surrender to the lifestyle of being submissive and subservient to him. Laila was born to a liberal family in Kabul, and only ever knew freedom and happiness. The collapse of Mohammad Najibullah’s regime in April 1992, other wise known as the Battle of Kabul, starts the merging of their lives. Laila is forced by circumstance to marry Rasheed, and quickly encounters the horrors of an abusive and domineering husband.

If you had told me mid-read that this book would have a happy ending, I wouldn’t have believed it. As gut-wrenching as some of the events depicted in this novel were, I was so struck by the loving manner in which Khaled writes these women. His perception of Afghan women is very well illustrated in his words, and the character development that he took the time to do makes this book so captivating to me. What these women endured in this story, and what real Afghan women endured in real life, truly mystifies me. To think of a life in 1990s Afghanistan as a women sends a shudder down my spine, and the strength shown by Laila and Mariam made for the most beautiful read. This story is one for everyone, as is the inspiring message to keep hope alive, even in the darkest of hours. I was nothing short of inspired and awed when I finished “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, and I’m so thankful that my brother recommend it to me all those years ago.

I’m alive, I promise!

I talked all that trash about taking a break from social media while still blogging…and I did the exact opposite. Weird how that happens, huh? I mean, the first two weeks of the new year just shouldn’t count towards the fresh start in my opinion. We’re all scrambling to catch up from slacking off during the holidays, trying to get our shit together to log in a work out, or maybe just in a general post holiday haze. I’m all of the above! Anywho, I’m back for good with lots of rambling posts planned. But today is all about how absolutely freaking disgusting my eight year old’s room was when I decided to clean it this morning. Not kidding, I cleaned up empty Capri Sun pouches, what seemed like 9,000 craft beads, dozens of American Girl doll accessories, hunks of old dried modeling clay…and a partridge in a pear tree.

Homemade Chalkboard for Children's Room - Best quote!

I painted this chalkboard two years ago. I found the quote online randomly, and I loved it so much! I’ve gotten a bit better with my chalk art, but I can’t imagine repainting it now! Read: I’m too lazy.

Seriously, y’all! Laila is the complete opposite of me. She will hoard even the tiniest of scrap papers for it’s “sentimental value”, while I’ll throw anything away to have a clean house. I can’t with the clutter and junk everywhere, so I tend to stay out of her room. I know how much I valued having my own space and privacy as a child (because I never did!) and I try to give Laila room to grow and be herself. But DAMN, home girl sure knows how to wreck a room. Enter the bad cop Mom, with a trash bag and entire bottle of Thieves cleaner. I went to town; three hours later, we have a clean room!!! I took pictures to show some fun projects I did three to five years ago when I put her room together, and also to preserve the whole thirty minutes that her room looked like this. “Tornado Toddler” Carson was waiting in the wings to destroy it right after I snapped my last picture. It’s way more fun playing in Sissy’s room, right?

DIY Girl's Room Decor

I bought the bedding from Pottery Barn Kids about five years ago…I’m a sucker for the Princess and the Pea themed print. Starting to think about redoing her room now that she is nearing the Tween years…Lawd help me!

DIY Tissue Poms for a girl's room!

I made the pom-poms years ago, maybe five? The heart canvas used to be an owl print from Target. I spray painted it with glitter and gold, and used acrylic pink paint for the heart!

DIY Girl's Room Decor - Pink and Gold Glitter

We purchased the wood letters and frame from Michael’s and just spray panted them! I kept the two shades of dark/light pink consistent throughout her room, as well as the glittery gold. We also refinished this Craigslist find dresser with cabinet paint and Anthropologie drawer pulls that I found on sale. Her West Elm desk and chair was an UBER lucky estate sale purchase and it’s my favorite!

DIY Dresser Rehab and other DIY Girl's Room Decor

This dresser was a lucky Craigslist find – Solid wood and only $30!! We used white cabinet paint leftover from our kitchen reno (more on that later) and bought the knobs on sale from Anthropologie. I reused an old canvas painting for the glittery gold and pink flower, and she requested the 2017 banner that I used this NYE. It’s gold sequins and matches her decor perfectly! And obviously, the Home Diffuser, her only electronic in the room.

DIY Girl's Room Decor and Chalkboard Art

I bought the wood heart and blank “chalkboard” sign from Hobby Lobby. I sprayed glittery gold on the heart, and used a metallic gold oil-based paint sharpie to write out the sign!

Laila IS like me in that she loves to read. Madeline is one of my favorites, I read the French versions in middle school when I starting taking my first French classes. I want her to love French as much as I do, but so far she is very “EH” to it. 🙂

Banks literally sat there for hours and just watched me clean…didn’t even offer to help!