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jkpenney

Babywearing Educator, Parent, Advocate

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Family

A Colorful Day

Time Change Nonsense 

I’m pretty certain day lights savings time was created purely to inconvenience parents. It throws the household off for a week. In my current sleep deprived state, I can’t image what benefits this time change offers that can outweigh the added stress in every home affected with small children. At least the kids are cute. 

E serving her toy figurines a snack at a tiny toy table.
E serving Peppa and George Pig Lunch
A in a pink tiara and red dress. She has a dark red lip color on and around her lips.
A is a pretty princess
A in Jade's glasses playing with a Christmas bow
A in Jade’s glasses playing with a Christmas bow

Life of a Mariner’s Wife

One of the harder facets to being married to a merchant mariner is the frequent and abrupt changes in day to day life. Anyone who’s dealt with a partner leaving for extended travel understands how life sort of stops before and after as you dedicate all free time to making moments before they leave and once they return home. Plus once they are back home, you must readjust the household to be a joint venture rather than a distance one. Now take that practice and repeat it every 4-6 months for years. It’s difficult to imagine. It is also our life. 

We are very lucky that Casey has found a ship he loves working on with coworkers he enjoys. Before this ship, our schedule was more turbulent. Casey works 7 days a week and 8 hours minimum each day. It’s a lot and can be wearing. He also spends half the year out at sea, a quarter to a third in the shipyard, and the remainder on leave. 

The upside to this is he gets 2 months off for every 4+ consecutive months he works. They’re completely off 24 hours a day for 60 days. I adore my husband, absolutely head over heels, but man that is a lot of one on one time. The first few weeks are wonderful, catching up and experiencing that “post deployment bliss”. Then it gets tiring. I want to spend as much time together as I can because as soon as he leaves, he’s gone again. But at the same time I miss the independent life I have when he’s not home. I neglect my friends and hardly see them as frequently as I usually do. And I hold off on activities in order to make them family events, reducing my usual spontaneity. It’s also why blogging falls by the wayside. 

We are several years in and still working to find balance for out ever shifting lives. Currently, Casey is newly home from a month at sea and is working long shifts preparing the ship for a repair period. Soon it will become our normal, and then our normal will change again with the next adventure. Luckily we are well practiced in the art of hellos and goodbyes. 

Casey and E holding hands and walking along a docking area
Casey and E holding hands and walking along a docking area

Saying Goodbye

Loss can conjure up an array of emotions: sadness, emptiness, peace, love, fear, loneliness, and more. My family and many others recently said goodbye to a beautiful soul. Miss Kitty was a remarkable woman who had a way of touching the lives of every person she met. I’ve only known Kitty these past 8 years, which is nothing to the near 90 she spent earthside, and I will always treasure the time I was gifted with her. 

It is saddening to realize the girls will not grow up experiencing the peace and joy that is synonymous with time spent with their great grandmother. Thankfully she passed on many of her best traits to Kitten, her daughter and my mother in law: how to engage each moment, to give some of yourself to those in need, and to leave those you know feeling cherished. I hope Kitty is enjoying her next great adventure. She will be missed. 

An elderly white woman holding a newborn Asian baby in a rocking chair
Kitty holding a newborn A
An elderly woman at a table with Casey and A
Kitty celebrating E and A’s birthdays

Progress or Lip Service?

Autism Speaks, the largest and most well known autism resource, has always been terribly problematic. Their mission statement speaks of hardship for caregivers and advocates for “curing” the world of the “global health crisis” that is autism. That is, until today. 

This is their new shiny new mission statement:

“Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions,” reads the update. “Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.”

This is a huge step forward, that is if they put their money where their mouth is. A mere 4% of the A$ budget is directed towards family services. Only 4% goes to actually helping the families and individuals they advertise as so helpless and dire. 

How will the 35% of their research budget now be distributed? Will their fear mongering fundraising language change? Will they acknowledge the many voices of adult autistics and stop implying that neurodivergence only occurs in childhood? That once an autist reaches adulthood and can speak for themselves, they no longer matter in the discussion about autism?

Maybe A$ is finally listening to what the #actuallyautistic community has been saying for ages. They do have a new president, recently announced the passing of one of their founding members, and appointed two autistic board members for the first time last December. Maybe they will be better. Maybe not. Time will tell. 

Until then, check out these sites for your autism resources instead. 

Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
Autism Women’s Network
The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
National Autism Association

Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance
And for more information on why Autism Speaks is problematic: 

Why I am Against Autism Speaks (and you should be, too)
There are several other fantastic resources on this topic within that link. 

My Humans

Today we are celebrating the births of E and A. We will have friends over for sensory play and food. Prepping for company physically and mentally can be a draining, but worthwhile task. I will get my fill of fun and friends over a few hours and then probably not speak with anyone for a week while recharging. It will be a good time. As I prepare for this day, I can’t help but think about the amazing people who give me the reason to celebrate this day. 


A is the baby of the family at not quite 2. She is a fireball of energy and sass. A is forever asserting her independence and proving to me that she can keep up with the big kids. When she isn’t climbing or telling other people how things will go, she is a cuddle bug and nurturer. She always has kind hands and kisses to make the day brighter. 


E is our forever on the go princess. Newly 4, she continually masters challenges and grows exponentially each day. Learning new things lights up her eyes. E embodies stubborness and determination. She is not easily swayed and pushes the boundaries to achieve her goals. E doesn’t need speech to express herself. Her personality shines throughout her every action. 


Lastly, and most importantly, is Casey. He is my love, partner, and greatest friend. Today actually marks 9 years as Facebook friends. Also some time this month marks the start of our romantic relationship 8 years ago. I could not have found a better person to share my life with. Casey loves and accepts me even when I infuriate him. He does everything he can and more for us, this life we’ve built, and the lives we’ve grown. Without Casey, we would not have the two tiny humans to celebrate. Without him, I would not be the person I am today or appreciate each day as I do. 

Today, we have much to celebrate. Most importantly, I get to do it with three of the best people I’ve ever known. I get to love my family that is wonderful and strong. It is the best sort of day. 

Vacation

Hard Days

Some times parenting is hard. So hard that you forget how to be the type of parent you generally strive for. But that’s okay. There’s always the next time to do it right. Luckily kids are super forgiving. 

We just left a water park. The girls had a blast. Getting them into clean, dry clothes resulted in me praying that their naked butts were still in the changing room as they kept running off while I was half dressed. I already felt like all I’d done all afternoon is yell. Especially with watching a friend’s kids for 10 mins when one of them ran off and I had to collect the others before being able to go after said child. I didn’t have the patience to manage their energy and the judgmental looks from someone with a small, not so mobile child. Obviously it’s been a relaxing day. 

On the way out one of the girls saw the strategically placed icecream cart and sat on the wet ground in hops that her alligator tears would magic ice cream into her hands. It didn’t. Finally get her to the exit when she realizes the wet ground dampened her clothes. This of course resulted in her stripping down to her birthday suit in the exit. Strangely, it took me a good 5 minutes to realize, “hey I could switch which kid I have in a carrier and make this easier on everyone”. Before that lightbulb moment I just stared at her like her adversions to wet clothing was absurd. Great parenting moment there. 

We are finally in the car and both girls are napping. I’ve cycled through a whirlwind of emotions in all of 20 minutes and have settled on resigned. The next situation will be better. And if not, there is always tomorrow. Parenting isn’t one moment, it’s a collection of every moment over a lifetime. It is okay to run out of patience. It’s normal to not parent perfectly every time. It’s healthy to lose your cool sometimes. Maybe I’ll do better next time. Maybe not. 

Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project

There is a Facebook page, Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (PBAP), that promotes nursing your children wherever you are as needed. Photographers from around the world donate their time to photographing caregivers feeding their baby via whichever means they use, be it breast, bottle, tube, or any other option. The large focus is on nursing since American society seems to find such an intuitive act   “disgusting” and “shouldn’t be done” in public spaces, covered or not. Public perception is so outrageous that my friend over at Where the Watermelons Grow was actually told that breastmilk, her child’s primary form of nutrition, is the equivalent of fecal matter. This clearly highlights a horrendous misconception throughout society. 

This is also why movements like PBAP are so important. For new nursing parents, the process of getting a newborn to latch and stay latched is exhausting. Throw in trying to stay covered or secluding yourself to a noisy bathroom stall because society says that’s best and it is surprising as many parents continue to nurse as they do. It is not at all shocking that many parents give up. It’s a hard skill to learn, especially if there are any complications. There is minimal support from hospital staff, medical professionals, and often family. On top of this, strangers think it’s their duty to look down upon you and educate you on your harlot ways when you nurse in public. It is an uphill battle to breastfeed a child. 

The perception that breasts are meant for a parnter’s pleasure and nothing more needs to change. That is not their biological purpose. They are not sex organs. Breasts are designed to feed children, period. American society cannot change without movements such as PBAP. Until public nursing becomes mainstream, there will continue to be a need for awareness so that no caregiver gives up on nursing just because society shunned them into it. 


To see more images from the #PBAP2016, check out the above link or visit Kimberlin Gray Photography

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