Mama Bear

We hear her little coos from the monitor, her way of soothing herself to sleep at night. At seven months old we’re teaching her to sleep independently, and she’s done so great. It’s as if she’s saying, “Yes, mommy, I like peace and quiet, too.”

My husband and I smile when we hear her. I’ve got a glass of red, he’s got March Madness.

“Do you ever think about her dying?” I ask. She’s not sick. She doesn’t have cancer or one of the eleventy billion genetic disorders you learn about during pregnancy. She hasn’t even had a cold yet. So I’m trying to gauge if this is my post-partum anxiety speaking or if it’s just part of being a parent.

“Yes, actually, I do,” he replies.

Oh. So it’s the latter.

****

Everyone warns you about the worry that comes with being a parent. You worry about them falling, about them sticking their finger in a light socket (what is a light socket, even?), about them getting their feelings hurt by Sassy Sally in the second grade.

But no one tells you about the quiet moments where you’re studying their little features: the way the tips of her fingers are redder than the rest of her hand, the way she scrunches her nose when she smiles, the way her belly button looks like an upside-down smiley face—no one tells you that when you’re studying them, you’re begging for them to imprint in your memory in case one day they’re gone. Really gone.

It’s too hard to talk about these things, these fears. We talk about our babies growing up, “Oh these sweet little toes won’t be around forever because you’re going to grow up and be a big girl with big toes!” But in those quiet moments, studying their features, we’re begging God to let them grow up. To keep them safe. To not let them die.

****

I start crying. My husband mutes the TV. I’m overwhelmed by the fear of my losing my baby. He grabs my hand, “She’s not ours, you know. She never was, and she never will be.”

I know what he’s talking about. She’s God’s child. We have no ownership over her. We only have the distinct honor and privilege of being her parents here on earth. “We just have to be grateful for the time we have with her until she’s gone, or hopefully, until we’re gone. God has a purpose for her life here until she’s back home with Him.”

No one warns you about these conversations. No one prepares you for the anger you have at this truth, that they’re not really yours and that one day she will go home to her Father. You can only protect them from so much, Mama Bear.

****

I think about how brave she’s been in these first seven months of her life. The trauma of being born, the shots, the painful reflux, the learning about the world and that mommy and daddy willcomebackwepromise! How stinking resilient she is, how resilient all children are. And I think about how very not brave I’ve been. How very scared. How very not resilient.

It’s so backwards, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we be armed with resiliency as adults? I’d love a big glass of toughness with a side of quick-to-recover and roll-with-the-punches when I sit here thinking about my baby girl dying and what that would be like.

I sit with these fears and try and plan for how I can prevent them. The measures I can take to protect my children from the destructive hands of death. The food I feed, the car seats I choose, the cribs, the safe sleep, the germs, the watchful eye, the GPS.

But she’s not immune, and I can only do so much. And that’s scary. It just is. There aren’t words to soothe that fear, there aren’t classes I can take or books I can read. But I must remind myself: it’s okay to be afraid of that. It’s all right to just sit with that fear, studying her toes and her wisps of hair and how she kind of snort-coughs in her sleep.

Because she’s not really mine. She’s His. And as scary as that is, it really should be the most comforting thing in the world because His love is greater. His love knows no end, no beginning. He formed her in my womb and He calls her His own.

And guess what? He calls us His own, too. He knows our mama hearts. He knows we’re scared and would do anything to protect our sweet babies. We’re His daughters, and He is holding just as tightly to us as He is our babies.

So let’s study their features. Let’s hold them tight. Let’s face the fear head on, knowing that we have the God of Angel Armies by our side, regardless of the way our story, and the story of our babies, writes itself.

 

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Friday Faves #12

Hey friends! I’m back with a crowd favorite…Friday Faves! Here’s a list of what I’m loving this week.

1. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

This stuff is so good for you. Collagen is essential for joint, skin, hair, and nail health. It’s easy to mix into my coffee each morning and has no taste and no grittiness!

2. Stitch People

I’ve so loved getting into cross stitch! This isn’t your mom’s cross stitch, either. It’s a great way to create a keepsake that will be treasured forever.

3. Tuna Salad + Veggies

This recipe from The Defined Dish isn’t even really a recipe. It’s basically just eating tuna salad with carrot sticks, but I CAN’T STOP EATING IT.

4. It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying is Cool Too) by Nora McInery Purmort

I think everyone needs to read this book. It’s not nearly depressing as it sounds, and it’s profound in the way Nora talks about losing a pregnancy, her dad, and her husband in a 6-week span. It’s the definitions of “you’ll laugh and you’ll cry.”

5. Beautycounter’s Volumizing Mascara

I am *really* picky about mascara. I’ve used the same mascara since I was like 15. Until now! Beaautycounter came out with their Lengthening mascara (bottom) a little more than a year ago, and, to be honest, I didn’t love it. But I was open to trying the Volumizing mascara (top). And I’m so glad I did!!! I highly recommend this if you’re used to a big, fluffy brush to apply with. (And–FYI–they’ve reformulated the Lengthening so I’m going to try that again!)

What’re you loving?

xo, Amanda

Dear Congress,

Dear Congress,

Yesterday, 17 people were slaughtered. I know you know this, because it’s impossible not to. But I want to write to you, to each of you–Senators and House Representatives, men and women, parents, friends. I want you to know how angry I am. How scared and sad and worried and confused. I want to write yo you as your employer. Remember me? The person who hired you?

You see, there are lots of statistics floating around right now. About how many school shootings that have already happened 45 days into the year. About which shooting was the deadliest, about how we’re averaging about one school shooting per week since Sandy Hook. Remember Sandy Hook? When 21 first graders were shot to death? Yeah, I thought so. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that you do remember, because how could you not have taken action then?

I’m going to say some things here that might make you get really defensive, but let’s drop all of those pretenses and just be honest, okay? We know you’re funded by the NRA. We know that, you know that, the NRA knows that…it’s fact, not opinion. So we know you have a *vested* interest in making them happy. That’s just how it is. They keep your pockets full, and you need your pockets full. We all do. It’s the beauty of capitalism.

But. BUT. Mommies need their babies to come home. Daddies need to hug their littles and tuck them in at night. Wives and husbands need their spouses, their best friends, to wake up tomorrow. High school students need to know they’re safe at school. FIRST GRADERS need to know they’re safe at school.

Can I pay you to change? I can’t pay you the millions (billions?) of dollars that the NRA can, but I can give you everything I have. Please. I’m begging you. I’m selling my soul to you so that you’ll do something.

If it’s not money you’re after, but pride and recognition, then imagine the publicity and support you’ll get by DOING SOMETHING. We will stand behind you!! We will say YES! Change! Reform! Protection! You won’t be alone, Congress. Sure, some of your colleagues will balk at the challenge, and continue to fund their campaigns and vacation homes and you might even wonder how you’ll survive (or how your campaign will survive, or how your vacation home will survive) if you’re not on the NRA’s good side. I get that. It doesn’t make it okay, but I get it.

Congress, you’re going down in history. Whether you know it or not, you’re on the cusp of a time that in a few generations, people will look back and say “what took them so long???!” They’ll wonder how we let so many kids die on our watch. On your watch. They’ll write books about this time, analyzing what could’ve been done differently. Don’t you want your name on the right side of that story? To be written about as the lone person who took a stand to protect our babies? Don’t you want to be a hero?

And, in case you think it won’t matter, let me present to you a case study. In 1996 Australia experienced their worst mass shooting. 35 people were killed. In the days after this shooting, the Prime Minister started putting together the strictest gun reform in the world. They banned automatic, semi-automatic, and pump-action shotguns. More than 640,000 weapons were turned in and destroyed. It took just 14 days–14 days!!!!!–for the gun reform to be written and passed. The best part? Since the 1996 reform was passed, guess how many mass shootings Australia has had? ZERO. Zero!

This doesn’t mean Australia doesn’t experience gun violence. Because we have guns, we will have gun violence. But we can stop the carnage where dozens of CHILDREN are being murdered. We can do it, Congress! I promise! And don’t you want to be involved in that?

I want to believe that you’ll do the right thing here. As your employer, I want to make sure you do. I think you sometimes forget you have a boss. And that boss is me. So fix this ridiculous situation, or I will do everything in my power to fire you. To make sure you’re never given the honor of “serving your people” again. To make sure you can never tweet things about “thoughts and prayers” and choke on your own hypocrisy.

Statistically, it’s unlikely it’ll be your kid who is shot by a murderer wielding an AR-15 and emptying 45 bullets a minute. There’s only 535 of you, and theres 323 million of the rest us. But can you imagine if it was your child? Can you picture getting the call? Can you feel the bile in your stomach rising, the scorching tears spilling? The nightmares you’ll have, picturing a bullet entering your child’s body? The pain of burying your baby’s body in the ground? Because there are 17 parents dealing with that today. And countless more from the crimes committed by these military grade weapons that have happened on your watch. THESE ARE NOT DRAMATICS, THAT IS THEIR REALITY.

DO BETTER.

Signed,

An angry parent & YOUR BOSS

PS: I’m fuming mad. I know this won’t change anything and you WON’T LISTEN TO US and I don’t understand it and I don’t know how you can sleep at night and let this continue to happen. Jesus come.

 

2017 Books

Somehow I managed to read the most books ever this year, even though I had a baby–hence the baby-themed first few. (Middle of the night feedings & Kindle Unlimited helped my efforts.) So, without further ado, here’s the list of the books I read in 2017!

1. Be Prepared by Gary Greenberg

This is such a great book for first time parents. It’s like a boy scout manual without being demeaning or “bro-ish”. MTR and I both loved reading it and even though I’ve been around babies my whole life, I learned a few new things!

2. Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon

Desperately needs an update. I don’t think it’s been updated since the 80’s. Graphic birth pictures. Maybe just take a natural childbirth class.

3. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

I read this after watching the Amazon Prime series (which MTR and I are obsessed with). It did not live up to the TV series, which was disappointing. Skip the book and head straight to the series.

4. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

So, so good! Highly recommend. More of a memoir than a parenting how-to, but I do hope to implement some of the stuff she talks about. Received some criticism for being “anti-American parenting” but that’s just a load of sensitive sallies getting their knickers in a wad.

5. Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke

This book was SO good. MTR and I took things from it that we use for everyday life, not just childbirth. Definitely a great companion book if you’re going the intervention-free route for childbirth or even if you’re just interested in mindfulness.

6. The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd

A sweet collection of beautiful essays on motherhood. Great book to gift thanks to the high print quality. Will definitely be re-reading this in the next year.

7. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll must’ve been high as a kite writing this. That is all.

8. The Bandit Monologues by Todd Carstenn & G. Kent

Notably a favorite, since Todd Carstenn is a dear friend and mentor of mine. It’s a collection of essays inspired by literary quotes. So deep and lovely and funny and sad and important.

9. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

Oh Jen. I’ll read anything you write. This is a classic JH book, full of wit and sarcasm and faith and funny and depth and not-depth (but not shallow, either).

10. The Lucky Few by Heather Avis

OOF. This was not something I should’ve read in the early postpartum weeks. Beautiful memoir of adopting special needs kids. I want everyone to read it. Just grab your tissues first.

11. Babywise by Gary Ezzo

Babywise gets a lot of crap from people who clearly haven’t read the book. While the methods didn’t work for us, it was a great thing to have a different perspective on helping your child to learn independent sleep and sleep schedules, etc.

12-18. Harry Potter books 1-7 by J.K. Rowling

Yes, I did *just* read these. And yes, they were basically a zillion times more magical than I ever could’ve imagined.

19. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

So I read the book before I watched the series. Again, the series was better. I hate even typing that. But it just was. The ending to the book is NOT the same as the TV show. If you’ve read the book and watched the movie, you know what I mean. What the heck, Margaret Atwood??

20. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush

Beautiful. Such a touching look inside of what it was like to be first daughters. I love love loved this book.

21. Why Is She Smiling: Unexpected Joy Discovered By A Most Unlikely Submissive Wife by Amy Williams

Honestly I don’t even remember this book, so clearly I don’t recommend it. #sorrynotsorry

22. Excavation: A Memoir by Wendy Ortiz

This was a weird book. Don’t recommend.

23. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

READ. THIS. BOOK. I’m not even kidding. So insanely poignant. Heavy stuff, but beautiful.

24. A Simplified Life by Emily Ley

I’ve been a longtime fan of Emily Ley, and this book didn’t disappoint my organization-loving heart.

25. Dance Stand Run by Jess Connolly

Good. Deep. Convicting. Hard to read. Second half was better than the first.

 

There you have it! What books are on your list for 2018? What books do I need to add to my list?

xo, A

Holiday Gifts Under $50

Hi friends! I get a lot of questions about holiday gifts that you can *slyly* hint to your husband, boyfriend, mama that you want for Christmas! And some of you are making wish lists for Secret Santas and White Elephant gift exchanges and need some inspiration. So here are five suggestions (and three splurge ideas!) from Beautycounter that will get you high quality, safer skin care and makeup in your stocking or under the tree!

*****

For the makeup newbie:

Nude Eye Trio

$38 // Includes Volumizing Mascara, Liquid Eyeliner, Silk Cream Eyeshadow. Made with safer ingredients, this timeless eye trio delivers glimmering lids, dramatic definition, and full, fanned-out fringe.  All-new Liquid Eyeliner in black creates precise definition, from classic lines to cat eyes. Silky smooth with a hint of shimmer, new Silk Cream Eyeshadow glides on seamlessly, blends like a dream, and lasts all day (and night).

 

*****

For the makeup pro:

Smoky Eye Trio

$38 // Includes Volumizing Mascara, Liquid Eyeliner, Silk Cream Eyeshadow. Made with safer ingredients, this timeless eye trio delivers glimmering lids, dramatic definition, and full, fanned-out fringe.  All-new Liquid Eyeliner in black creates precise definition, from classic lines to cat eyes. Silky smooth with a hint of shimmer, new Silk Cream Eyeshadow glides on seamlessly, blends like a dream, and lasts all day (and night).

*****

(& if you’re looking to splurge…)

Ultimate Nudes Palette

$88 //  This ultimate anytime, anywhere eyeshadow palette includes 18 all new neutral shades, a double-ended brush, and a removable mirror. A trifecta of finishes—satin, metallic, and matte—creates endless looks for every skin tone. All shadows get their luxurious texture from naturally-derived cocoa seed butter.

 

Winter Jewels Palette

$58 // A jewel-toned color collection for the entire face, this limited edition palette includes 11 all-new shades —8 eyeshadows, 1 eyeliner, 2 highlighters—and a removable mirror. It’s an ideal palette for any occasion, day or night, all wrapped up in gold-foil artwork exclusive to Beautycounter.

 

Best of Brushes Set

$58 // These are the four brushes every beauty needs—in one giftable (or keepable) set. Powder Brush is designed for applying blush, bronzer, or finishing powder. Angled Blush Brush fits the angles of your cheeks for easy color application and contouring. All-Over Eye Brush blends base shadows over eyelids and brow bones, while Crease Brush precisely blends contour shadows. Each brush is made with soft, animal hair-free taklon bristles.

 

*****

For the no-makeup, let-the-skin-breathe junkie:

Glow and Go Mini Oils

$28 //Reveal your best skin yet with these potent treatment oils in take-anywhere, try-me sizes—all wrapped up in a red sliding-drawer gift box. No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil blends hydrating  marula oil with vitamin C, which helps illuminate and even skin tone. No. 2 Plumping Facial Oil contains jasmine oil to replenish moisture and omega-rich argan oil to help minimize the appearance of fine lines. No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil features ylang ylang flower oil and wild chamomile to calm and nourish skin.

Shop One, Share One. With every purchase of this set, Beautycounter will donate a set to patients at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC)—a trailblazing destination for research, education, and patient care.

 

*****

If you’re thinking you’re getting coal in your stocking:
(OR for the fella in your life)

Clean Slate CharCOAL Duo

$48 // Formulated with binchotan charcoal from Japanese ubame oak, this duo of best-selling products gently washes away impurities without harsh surfactants. No. 3 Balancing Facial Mask absorbs excess oil and unclogs pores. Charcoal Cleansing Bar detoxifies skin without drying it out, resulting in a smoother, clearer complexion. Both come packaged together in a red sliding-drawer gift box.

 

*****

For teacher gifts, stocking stuffers, etc:

Holiday Soap Trio

$30 // This is a GREAT gift set to buy and then break up, creating smaller gifts for teachers, stocking stuffers, or coworkers. Includes Lavender & Vanilla, Ylang & Mandarin, and Citrus & Chamomile scented soaps. Each finely milled formula contains organic shea butter, and organic coconut oil to gently cleanse, hydrate, and soften from head to toe.