Convos with Kids: Birth Control

Before sharing, please know that we all struggle in some ways and I am acutely aware that many of my family, friends, and readers have struggled with family planning and pregnancy. I want you to know that I see you and I feel your pain and sorrow with you. I am here/hear for you, in anyway that you may need.

That being said, while I have had my own share of adversaries, for whatever reason, pregnancy (and getting my kids to eat well) have not been part of my own personal struggles.

The following awkward yet honest conversation took place over breakfast:

J: Kennedy, you know you were a fluke.

K: I am not a whale’s tail!

J: No. I mean an accident. Mommy and Daddy didn’t mean for you to be born.

Me: Whoa, J. Hold it right there. I think you need some clarification. First of all, Mommy and Daddy may not have planned to get pregnant with Kennedy, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t want her when we found out that I was pregnant with her. In fact, we didn’t really plan for any of you. You all just happened, and we were very happy when we found out about each of you. We were very lucky that it was so easy to get pregnant with each of you. For many women, it’s not that easy and it can be very sad for them.

J: But weren’t you on birth control when you got pregnant with Kennedy?

Me: Yes. But didn’t you ask for a little sister?

J: Fair point.

Max: What’s birth control?

Me: It’s a way that can prevent a woman from getting pregnant. It can also prevent people from getting sick from each other. Some kinds even keep people healthy. There are many different kinds of birth control but most aren’t a guarantee. There’s still a chance a woman can get pregnant, hence, Kennedy.

J: What kinds are there?

Me: Well, I walked into that one…So let’s start with the basics. First, there’s a condom.

Kennedy: What’s a condom?

Me: A condom is something that goes over a man’s penis and catches his sperm so it can’t go into the woman’s vagina.

Max: Cool. But I don’t have sperm yet.

Me: That’s true. But you will when you’re older.

Max: Well I’m not sure that I want my penis in someone’s vagina. Even when I do have sperm.

Me: Well that’s excellent. But should you change your mind, please talk to Daddy and me about it first.

Max: Ok! But not today.

Me: You got it.

J: Is that what you and Daddy used? That conga thing?

Me: No. A conga is a type of dance. A condom is the word you’re looking for.

Max: Con-dom… that’s like condominium! Do you hear it? Condom-indium. Do you think that’s the root word?

Me: No idea. We’ll have to look it up.

J: So what were you and Daddy using?

Me: I was taking birth control pills. It’s a medicine that a woman can take everyday. It tells her ovaries not to release an egg.

J: So your ovaries didn’t listen?

Me: Well, there are different kinds of pills with different medicines, depending on what your own body needs. I was switching from a pill that was safe for women who breast feed to one that was for those who don’t, since I had stopped nursing Max. It takes time for your body to adjust to new medication and that’s when Kennedy came to be.

Max: I really miss breast feeding.

K: I do not. But I do wish Mommy would by chocolate milk. That’s the best! Even the almond kind.

Max: That is an excellent point, Kennedy!

K: Well fank you, Maxwell.

J: So are there more kinds of birth control? Like how do you know you and Daddy won’t have any more babies?

Me: There are lots more kinds. We know because after talking about it for a long time and deciding it was the best decision for our family, Daddy had an operation that prevents the sperm from getting into my body. It’s called a vasectomy.

J: How does that work?

Me: A doctor cuts the tube that connects the testicles to the urethra so the sperm can’t come out.

J: So you can still get pregnant but Daddy can’t make babies?

Me: Yep. Pretty much.

Max: That’s ok. You can still adopt me a 17 year old brother. I’m ready. And I can show him how I can fart with my armpits like this!

Laughter ensues and life goes on…

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Atonement

Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year: the crisp air, the vibrant colors, the beginning of school. To me, this is the season when the new year truly begins.

In Judaism, we celebrate our new year in the autumn with Rosh Hashana, followed ten days later with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. The ten days between the two holy days are called t’shuvah, the days of repentance. It is a time for reflection and resolutions when necessary. It is a time to ask for and to offer forgiveness. At the conclusion of Yom Kippur, God makes the final judgement and seals the Book of Life, hopefully with your name written within its pages, granting forgiveness.

While I have never been truly religious, I am deeply spiritual. I do find the prayers and psalms of synagogue peaceful, beautiful, and full of sentimental memories from my childhood, yet I have always preferred one on one time in nature more helpful in providing clarity or allowing me to find a new path, previously unseen.

However, over the last six years, since the fire and subsequent issues that arose from the ashes, my path has been tumultuous, at best.

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Awkward Convos with Kids: A Natural Continuation

The following conversation is a natural continuation of previous conversations we've had with the kids regarding human bodies, reproduction, and how it all fits together. These conversations each begin with child lead curiosity and are followed by age appropriate discussions using honesty, real words for anatomy, and answering their questions, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be.

This is not the first conversation we've had on the matter, and will not be the last. We believe in education over ignorance and communication over silence.

That being said, this is what I woke up to this morning:
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PSA: Boardwalk Etiquette

It's that time of year again. Summer vacation is in full effect and beach towns along the seaboards are inundated with seasonal visitors, many of whom enjoy relaxing strolls, family rides, and exercise routines down the boardwalk. As someone who partakes in each of the previously mentioned activities, I make sure to follow a few guidelines and work hard to teach my children the proper safety rules and manners needed:
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Memories 

Sometimes I honestly forget that anything of real value was salvaged after the fire because the loss was so vast and complete and it left such an immense void. But occasionally I come across a rare gem that has been stored in a bag of memories to be sorted and put into albums, later.

I know it’s been 6 years, which is plenty of time to get organized. But truthfully, it hasn’t been a priority. I don’t want to glorify being busy, but with 3 kids in various activities, life is actually pretty busy. {Also, I’m more than a bit lazy.} 

Plus, and not to dwell, there’s still a faint burnt smell looming on those pages that brings on tears like waterfalls when it wafts into the air. So I keep those memories in a bag in the corner of my office space, unless I really need something.

The other day, I needed pictures of the kids to use as personal thank you notes. I’ve been meaning to order more for some time but again, it hasn’t been a priority for my schedule or our budget, if I’m being totally honest. 

Anyway, as I was searching for the picture-perfect pictures, I came across a poem and rediscovering it could not have been more timely with our 10 year anniversary approaching, and deeply needed after the trying year we’ve had getting Jordyn through third grade. 

When I first began teaching preschool, my principal required teachers to send home weekly letters to parents about upcoming projects or important dates. As I moved into elementary school, my new principal required the same, along with an academic and behavioral update for each student. 

I continued this communication at each school I taught in, in what I called the “Friday Folder” and my weekly newsletters evolved into poems to keep it interesting. It was something parents and students enjoyed and appreciated, and frankly, I loved writing them.

Right before we married, my first grade class threw me a surprise wedding shower. One mother presented me with a beautiful shadow box, complete with our invitation which was, of course, a poem. 

Photo credit: Clair Pruett Studio

On the back, my student had written his own poem, mimicking my Friday Folder. Although the shadow box was lost in the fire, a copy of his poem was miraculously saved and rereading it brought on the realization that it’s time I get back in the classroom. 

To learn that you have made a positive difference in a child’s life by partnering with parents in education is truly fulfilling.

After being home with my own children for the past 8 years, I am looking forward to returning to the classroom within the next few. 

Rosa Regale

Years ago, before marriage and children, Brian and I spent my winter breaks visiting Disney World. It was an ideal time for me, as a teacher, and we didn’t mind the waits and crowds as it was just the two of us.

Our first year together, we discovered the Italian champagne, Rosa Regale, in Italy, Epcot. It was love at first taste for me. It’s  a deliciously sweet dessert champagne that tastes of bubbly raspberry. I mean, who wouldn’t love that?

Rosa Regale soon became our New Years champagne of choice. Sure, we had it on other special occasions, but it always meant more on New Years, long after we stopped our annual Disney trips. 

After the fire, Brian purchased a bottle to be opened, once everything was settled. It sat, unopened, gathering dust in the cabinet of the 3 rental units we were placed in. We moved it to my parents’ house when our claim was denied and they took us in for 18 months. We then took it to Brian’s parents house when we moved in with them, before Jordyn began kindergarten. It gathered more dust with each move and sat unopened in the back of a cabinet for another 20 months. After 4 years, we finally opened it in May of 2015 when we moved into our own house, with so much and yet so little to celebrate. 

Tonight, we opened a new bottle with the hope that 2017 will bring closure to this seemingly never ending purgatory. 

We begin this year with gratitude for those who continue to support us, a love for each other that has withstood more hardships than most, the knowledge that we are stronger together, the courage to keep moving forward, and the attitude to truly appreciate the little things in life. 

Here’s to a new year. May it be filled with sweet happiness for us all. 

Once Upon a Dream…

They were sleeping peacefully on a top floor of the hotel room in Washington D.C. with an 8 month old Riley between them when the bombs shook her awake, the entire building quaking. Dawn darted upright, still dazed and wide eyed, searching for answers. The flashes of light blazing through the slats in the shades and echoes of explosions were close. 

“Wake up, Scott. It’s here. It’s time. The war is here and we need to fight,” Dawn spoke gently, tears flowing down her cheeks as cradled the baby and slipped her safely into the infant seat…

….and then I woke up to the downpour of the storm that really did shake me awake and rattle our house, our 8 year old daughter sleeping between us, and the news of this weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey…

It’s the thought that counts…sometimes…

It’s no secret that Mr. TheKing often needs more than a hint when it comes to gift giving. My realization of how bad his lack of intuition for gifting was solidified a few years ago when he got me, (or rather, himself), a bottle of cologne for Hannukah in hopes that it would somehow benefit him in more ways than one. It did not… At least not that crazy night. To be fair, we had agreed not to get each other anything, so at least he tried?

The following Christmas I gave him a short wish list and told him that anything on the list would be appreciated. I also left him with a specific request to not get me a purse or appliance. He went rogue and got me both. He delivered it by giving himself the appliance so that I could make one of his favorite recipes and then put the purse in the appliance box. Well delivered, but not well received. I should note that he is known for his practicality and I do use both regularly, but that’s not really the point…

A few months later I took matters into my own hand and bought myself a ring for Valentine’s Day. I actually wore it out, then wrapped it and gave it to him to give back to me. He was very surprised by what he got me, especially because we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. 

Last year for my birthday he went above and beyond. MTK planned an awesome surprise party for me. Unfortunately, he had to ruin the surprise by telling me about it the day before while on a 14 hour drive because he realized that inviting 50 people over to the house the day after you get back from a family trip maybe isn’t ideal. However, I will say that although I wasn’t surprised, I’ve never unpacked from a trip so quickly and it really was a fantastic party and sentiment. 

That all being said, below is the conversation we had at lunch yesterday about the gift he got for my upcoming birthday:

MTK: You’re coming home in 2 weeks from the shore, right?

Me: Yes. 2 weeks from yesterday. 

MTK: Ok. That gives me 2 weeks to build your birthday gift. 

Me, raising an eyebrow in curiosity and fear: What do mean, “build?”

MTK: I just have to figure out how to put it all together before you get home. 

Me: Um, is it something from my wish list? I don’t recall asking for anything that needs to be built…

MTK: No. It’s not something that you want. 

Me: Super! Is it for the house?

MTK: No

Me: Is it for outside?

MTK: Nope. It’s not anything you’ve ever mentioned. 

Me: Oh. You know I keep a list on Amazon, don’t you? Will I like it?

MTK: Probably not. But I did put a lot of thought into it. 

Me: Is it something I need?

MTK: No. 

Me, now laughing: So let me get this straight. You got me something I don’t want, don’t need, and have never mentioned?

MTK: Yup. You’re probably going to be mad. 

Me: Awesome. I’m not sure if I want to know now so it gives me 2 weeks to prepare and get over it, or if knowing will make me angrier over the next 2 weeks so you should keep it a surprise. I’m just gonna go ahead and be grateful you planned something and cross my fingers for the best. 

MTK: Just remember, it’s the thought that counts and I put a lot of thought into it. 

Me: But did you really?!?!?!

Stay tuned for the big reveal…

Convos With Kids: Self Discovery (aka: intro to womanhood part 3, 1 year & 28-35 days later)

If you are uncomfortable taking about human anatomy, as they come up in honest, albeit awkward, conversations with children, or are possibly a visual person, you should stop reading now. If you want a chuckle, and understand that this is an educational post, please proceed…

K-Mad, while dressing herself: My tushy is decowated! See?  It has a decawation inside hewe!

She attempts to show me. 

Me: please don’t show me your tushy unless you think there’s a problem. However, that’s not a decoration. That’s your anus. 

K, looking horrified: I do NOT have a pwanet in my butt!

Me: No, not Uranus. Anus. It’s where your poop comes out. 

K: Oh, so it’s not a flowa?

Me: No. Not even a little. 

K: So it’s cawed a wenis? Dat whymes wif penis!

Me: No it’s called your anus. 

K, clarifying: But not the pwanet. 

Me: Correct. Not the planet. 

K: But wait! I fought my poop comes out hewe. (Points to her vagina.) 

Me: No, that’s your vagina. 

K: So what comes out of dis hole?

Me: Babies. 

K: Then whewe does the pee come out?

Me: A smaller hole above your vagina called a eurethra. 

K, looking confused: Wait, how do the babies get in your pachina?

Me: I have a book about that. We’ll have to read it when we get home. 

K: Ok, Mommy. So my butt’s not decowated?

Me: No. 

K: Ok. But if it was, my poop would be a wot pwettia! 

Me: It sure would! Now please, go wash your hands… 

On Daddy’s Shoulders

I watch in awe as you carry our world on your shoulders as if it’s nothing to bear.

You swing them up so gently as their tiny hands clutch to the safety that you provide.

They bounce with delight as I marvel at your strength, ever solid, never waning. 

They rest their little legs, take solace in the throne you have provided, and feel like royalty for this moment.

The smiles on your faces brings reassurance that all is alright, everything’s going to be okay, life is still good and sweet and wonderful just the way it is, in this moment.

To the untrained eye, it’s just a ride on daddy’s shoulders. To me, it’s everything that’s right in our world. To our children, it is their world…

May your shoulders always be this strong and may our children know that you will always be there to carry them when they are in need.

Happy Father’s Day to an amazing dad! XO