Friday, July 11, 2014

Talking to our children about the HARD stuff (and books to help)

Inappropriate touching. Molestation. People hurting innocent children. Sex in general. It has been weighing heavily on my heart for months now. I mean, we talk to our children. We've explained to them that their private parts are private. We try to be open with them, but it just doesn't feel like enough.

I want them to learn all of these things from us. I do NOT want them learning them from other children, or God forbid....someone harmful.

I had some amazon gift cards and some free time to research, so I decided I would order a vast array of books to help me broach this topic. I've read them all and now I'm going to start Sex Ed. with my children. I'm going to give an overview of the books I ordered and then I will post an update once we've read them all together.

*I have included amazon links in the book titles. These are affiliate links. You pay the same price and I receive a small portion from the transaction.*

The first book is Your Body Belongs to You. I bought this book to use with Sam and Kadie. It is definitely geared for a young child. The age range is 3 - 6 years old and I feel that is appropriate. It is a short and sweet book. It briefly covers the way people touch us and that is usually okay, but if we don't want to be touched - that is okay too. It calls private parts anything that is covered by a bathing suit. It briefly touches on how no one should touch our private parts and the importance of telling someone if this happens. From my own personal review, I think this will be a good transitional book for some heavier and more in depth books. We will read this book first.

Side note: I like how in the parents note in this book, it stresses the importance of allowing a child to refuse touch. If we do not teach our children that it is okay to refuse a hug, kiss, or any other socially acceptable touch, we are teaching them their feelings do not matter. We are making them powerless over their own bodies. We are unknowingly teaching them that their body is not their own.

Next we will read, Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts. This book is more of a sex education book. It is designed for ages 3 and up. It is a tasteful picture book that covers all of our body parts and explains how babies are made and born, without going into terribly graphic details. My only problem with this book is that the male photos are of a circumcised male. For those of us with intact sons, we may need to explain why our child's penis looks different than the one in the drawing. I feel that they could have shown examples of both. I think I will read this one with all of my children. It is pretty informative and I think will satisfy the curiosity of my younger children for sure.

I Said No! A kid-to-kid guide to keeping private parts private - This book was written by a mother of a child who experienced something unpleasant at a sleepover. It is written from a child's perspective and is really fantastic. It is very in depth on private part touching. It says we should have categories for people who can/cannot see private parts. Parents, caregivers, doctors would fall under the green flag category. After the page conclusion, there is a prompt to discuss the green flag people with your children. The other category is a red flag person - basically any one else who has no business seeing your child's private parts. The author gives many good examples of red flag situations and prompts to talk about other red flag situations. It makes it very clear that it is okay to shout, NO!!! It also goes into detail about how to tell someone if you have been seen or touched by a red flag person. I love this book and I will read it to all of my kids and likely read it regularly. I mean seriously, if you only want one book, this is the one in which you should invest. I feel confident this book will prepare my children very well for any situations that they might encounter.

Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept is for ages 3-12 years. This story takes place in the times of knights and castles. It is about a little boy who is molested by an important person in the castle, where his mother cleans. It  identifies the power of the abuser and the fear of the child in an amazing way.  I feel this book will be perfect following, I Said No! It really helps the child understand how scared the little boy felt and how he didn't want to tell his mom. He was brave and told her and he felt so much better.

It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. The age range on this book is 7-10 years. I will be reading this one with Harrison. It is a WAY more in depth version of Amazing You! It is a picture book with a lot of detailed pictures and explanations in a child friendly manner. I  also like that it shows both intact and circumcised penises, so that one child is not alienated or feels like something is wrong with him. It covers all topics. The page about sex is very  matter of fact. It also covers heterosexual and homosexual relationships in a very concise matter. Regardless of your belief on the matter, I think it is important that our children understand that all families are different. It covers conception, child birth (both vaginal and cesarean) and breast/bottle feeding. It even covers adoption. It also has a section on inappropriate touching. I like that this book is laid out into chapters. It is way too much information to cover in one reading session and will likely be something we read together over a period of time. It is also designed in a matter where you can skip chapters that you don't feel like your child may be ready to read. All in all, I think Harrison will like this book, although it may embarrass him. If you are pretty conservative, this may not be the book for you, but honestly I think you could still use it because it is so thorough and you can tailor it to your needs.

The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls. I bought this book specifically for Kadie, even though she isn't quite old enough yet. It is for ages 8 and up. This book is highly recommended for pubescent girls. It is illustrated and covers all of puberty. I won't be reviewing this one for a while, since we still have a couple of years before she is ready for this book. Just from the looks of it, I think this will be a book she looks through by herself.

Lastly, I bought The Boys Body Book, Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up You! It seems to be the male equivalent of The Care and Keeping of You. This book covers puberty, hygiene, health, social skills, family relationships, dating, online safety, peer pressure, bullying, and stressful situations. From what I can tell, it will be informative and easy for Harrison to read. I think Chris and Harrison will go through this book together. He could easily read it by himself, but in our unique circumstances, I feel he would benefit having an adult explain things.

So there you have it. This is our Sex Ed. for the next month or so. It makes me sad and angry that we even have to teach our children about some of these subjects, but the reality is that we absolutely MUST. Knowledge is power and if this material helps my child avoid a bad situation, it is 110% worth it. However, general sex education is necessary. Most of us that ever had "the talk" with our parents probably remember it as a painfully horrifying conversation. However, research shows that children who grow up in homes where sex is openly discussed, are less likely to participate in risky behaviors. Sadly the age of puberty has dropped, so these discussions can't be put off until our children are teenagers.  And let's face it...we want our children to learn about sex with our personal values as opposed to some kid from class. Quite frankly, no matter how much you shelter your child from sex, they are still hearing about it from TV, music, online ads, billboards, and the list keeps going. 

I would love to know of any book recommendations or resources you have used. Feel free to add them in the comments. 

~Peace out. Gonna start talking about all this hard stuff with my little homies.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Sweet Gracie Mae

We said good-bye to one of the sweetest and  most loyal companions we've ever know today.

In December of 2002 my dear friend, Angel, found a stray plot-hound in the Cherokee National Forest. We were still newly married and only had cats. We very much wanted a dog. So we welcomed her into our home and named her Sadie. Little did we know, she was in heat when we took her into our home. My dad's dog got her immediately. So on February 27, 2013, we welcomed 8 plot-hound-lab mix puppies into our home. Sadie gave birth in the barn and Chris transported them inside the house and we bought a big plastic baby pool to keep them contained. Well, that only kept them contained for a few weeks. They were a bunch of adorable rascals and were all over our apartment. I don't remember the mix of boys and girls, but most of them were black with either white or brown trim. There were two brindle girls. We decided to keep one of the spunky brindle girls. We carefully searched for homes for all of the puppies. Chris's best friend even took one. We were childless at the time and Gracie was our furbaby.

We bought our first home in October of 2003 and moved Gracie with us, along with our two cats. Sadie (her mom) was a hunting dog and either got lost or stolen before we moved. Gracie was lonely so we adopted a crazy pound puppy, named Copper. They were good buddies and had lots of good times together. Copper was a lunatic and even though she was tiny, she could jump our 6 ft. privacy fence. When Harrison was hospitalized as an 8 week old, Copper jumped the fence and escaped. Gracie was buddy-less again. This time she wasn't as lonely. I think she realized how crazy her sister was. 

She loved jumping and kissing

Wrestling with Chris

Laying on her monogrammed bed
We moved back to the farm in January 2006, and Gracie was happy to be reunited with her dad, Rex. She became more of an outdoor girl and learned to hunt. She also went for daily swims in the pond and daily runs in the woods. She was happy. When we moved back to Chattanooga, in October 2008, we tried to take Gracie with us. She escaped the fenced in back yard and was gone for nearly a week. Once she found her way home, we knew she belonged at the farm with her dad and the ability to roam freely. My parents welcomed her back to the farm and she lived happily ever after.

Gracie was active up until this past winter. She was a healthy and happy girl and was still as sweet as can be. She started wearing down and by mid June, she started going downhill fast. She lost a lot of weight and had a hard time walking. She lost most of her appetite this last week. These past two days she lost control of her back legs and her bladder function. We all knew it was inevitable and today was the day. Our sweet Gracie Mae's body was shutting down and it was time to have her put to sleep. Chris held her head, pet her ears, and she gazed into his eyes until she took her last breath. We buried her today on my parent's farm. It felt like the right thing to do, since she loved it here so much. We are going to miss her  like crazy. A little piece of my heart left today with her.

Rest in Peace, Gracie Mae Holbrook. February 27, 2013 - July 9, 2014. There will never be another dog quite as awesome as you were.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

#TrueBeautyIsLivingLife Part 2

Just over a month ago, I wrote this post declaring how I was going to wear shorts and a bathing suit this summer. I feel like it is time to update my homies, as we are well into summer.

I am excited to report that I've lost count how many times that I've worn shorts and a bathing suit this summer!

Now, let me just say that it hasn't been easy. I often find myself catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and not loving what I see, but I immediately stop myself and focus on what I do like love.

Since I've made my incredibly freeing declaration, I've been swimming, played in the river, gone on some fun little day trips with my family, visited my sister and her family in Memphis, and a girl's trip with a good friend. All of those have included me wearing shorts and/or a bathing suit. And guess what? I had fun. Lots of fun. I've had one of the best summers that I've had in a long time. With minimal worrying about my thighs or other squishy places, I might add!

Guess what else I'm in love with? Adorable cotton sundresses. And guess what? They are not all maxis. Don't get me wrong. I still love my maxi dresses and skirts. I mean, what hides unshaven legs better than a maxi dress? But I'm super in love with knee length sundresses. Sleeveless at that! I'm getting so brave, I might even order a fatkini. If you aren't familiar with a fatkini, I suggest you do now.

What I have come to realize during my journey of self acceptance, is that throughout the years, my body sort of hovers around my current weight/size (within 15 pound and 1 size either way). So I decided that I'm going to love myself at my current size because I deserve to be loved. Some days are easier than others. It is a process and I'm getting there.

I pray that my daughter doesn't remember a mom who is always yo-yo dieting and losing/gaining ridiculous amounts of weight. I hope that she remembers a confident mom who taught her to have fun, love people, and to dance even if you shake more than everyone else. I hope she will remember swimming, playing in the river, riding bikes, hiking, and making crafts. I hope she will remember how we twirl in our pretty dresses and both have matching black maxi skirts.

I also pray that my sons will be impacted positively as well. I hope that they do not choose a lady based on the size of her hips, but the size of her heart. I hope that if they fall in love with a plus size lady, they are not ashamed. But most of all, I pray that they won't even think twice about falling in love with someone outside of the normal beauty standards. 

Beauty isn't a one size fits all sort of thing.

So, if you are still struggling with this whole body acceptance thing, I encourage you to look in the mirror and make a list of all of your awesome qualities. Then find some body positive bloggers to follow. I've started following a few new blogs and instagram accounts. It has opened up a whole new world of looking adorable as a fat girl. Those girls own it and look amazing and I'm pretty sure we can too!

~Peace out, homies. Remember, it's okay to love your back fat and belly rolls.