Outliers

Outliers 2

I just finished the book, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. Have you read it? Surprisingly, this socio-economical analysis debunking the myths of success as defined by 21st century Western Society spoke volumes to me about parenting. Gladwell unpacks the idea that hard-work combined with unmerited opportunity and cultural legacy are what actually drives success. Perhaps with this being the last official week of summer, I am evaluating what sort of influence I am providing my children of “hard work”. In so many ways, this is still being personally defined for me. The start of a semester has always been a good time to take inventory of short-term goals. So when it comes to “hard work”, what do I want to model for my children in the coming months? A few unedited ramblings…

Hard work can be rewarding.

There’s a difference between hard work and busy-ness. It’s easy to be busy doing a whole lot of nothing.

Hard work is most gratifying when it makes someone else’s life better.

Relationships are hard work, but the pay-off is worth it.

Working hard is our way of saying “thank you” for the opportunities we’ve been given.

Hard work doesn’t have to feel like work. It can be fun!

Work hard at your personal best. If your best isn’t good enough, ask for help from someone whose “best” is better.

Patience combined with hard work is a force in the making.

Hard work ought to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Work hard. Rest hard.

What about you? How do you teach your kids about hard work?

Embrace the Gray {part 2 }

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…a cheery corner in my new gray home

Monday Quote

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I’m trying, Ben. I’m trying.

The Beatles’ Success

Beatles pillow fight 2 This morning, I taught the kids how to pillow fight. It reminded me of this picture of the Beatles in Paris in 1964. They was their delirious response upon learning the news that the song, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” had topped the charts in America. If all my kids learned this morning is who the Beatles were and how to pillow fight, I already call this day a success.

What would make your day a success?

Operation: Risk Management– Five Things to Consider Before Vaccinating

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When you have a child with Autism, one of the first questions on everyone’s mind is, “Are vaccinations the culprit?” Before I answer that… a few disclaimers: The following is by no means medically exhaustive. I am not a DIY expert on the subject, nor am I an anti-vaccine extremist. This is simply a slice of our journey.

When Salem was born, I was paralyzed by the polarization surrounding the subject of vaccines. I had read enough to know that there were risks on both sides, but I wouldn’t let a needle-packing nurse near him until I had made up my mind in good conscience which risks we were willing to take. I opted out of the Vitamin K and the Hep A shot that they give most children before they even leave the hospital. I figured he wasn’t going to be sharing any drug needles before his two-week check up, so we could at least wait until then. Two weeks came and went. Nine months later, we had not given him a single vaccine until finally, I asked myself the question:

“If my child contracted anything that could have been prevented, would I be able to live with myself?

When we arrived for his nine month check up, his pediatrician said that unless we vaccinated Salem, he could file a “medical negligence” claim against us. He enforced a “catch up” schedule and said that there were no a la carte options. In other words, we couldn’t opt out of the chicken pox or the drug-needle sharing vaccine. It was all or nothing or risk being labeled “medically negligent”. So, we prayed.

And then we pricked him.

syringe

Ours isn’t the Autism story of, “one day he was here and the next he was gone” after the Ped administered the DTaP. Salem’s developmental delays appeared over time. Do I think that the vaccines caused Salem’s Autism? No. I think there is a buffet of genetic and environmental factors at play here, but when it comes to the influence of immunizations, I agree with one of Salem’s doctors:

If a child possesses a spark of neurobehavioral vulnerability {ie. a genetic propensity to a developmental disorder like Autism}, vaccinations are like gasoline. They exacerbate the situation.

Hindsight 20/20– would I still have chosen to vaccinate Salem? That depends. More importantly, I would sift my decision through a risk management filter that I like to call, “The Five D’s”. {Alliteration makes me happy… go with me on this.}

1. Diet— Does breastfeeding eliminate any and all risk of contracting an infectious disease? Certainly not. Does it reduce the likelihood? Yes. What deserves even further consideration is the presence of food allergies and/or intolerances. There are loads of test options to determine if your child should avoid certain foods, but here’s a test that’s absolutely free and void of controversy. Ready? Walk over to your pantry and open the door. Choose a box of oft-purchased cereal or crackers and read the ingredients. Can you pronounce them? Are your shelves lined with product ingredient lists that say, “Enriched flour”, “high fructose corn syrup”, and “Red 40”? You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that white flour, white sugar, sodium, dyes, and preservatives are crappy for you much less for your child’s developing brain. In addition, carefully researched and selected whole food supplements are important to consider as well.

2. Degree of Exposure— Does your infant/toddler attend day care or pre-school? Are you a stay-at-home mom that lines the grocery cart with a quilted coozie and keeps anti-bacterial wash on your key ring at all times? Do you live in a heavily polluted, urban city? Does your child have regular contact with someone who frequently travels internationally? The degree of exposure varies for each child and will most likely change over time. Harmful exposure is unavoidable, but we moms are faced with making a judgement call based on our respective environments and the level of protection we need to provide for our kiddos.

3. Development— This is tricky one. Barring any glaring disabilities that appear before or shortly after birth, most babies achieve specific milestones within the same general time frame. Rolling over, crawling, walking, talking… etc. A child can pull off these feats without a hitch and yet still possess a neurobehavioral disability. Salem’s developmental clues were primarily speech and sensory-related. How was I supposed to know that I had been pouring gasoline on Salem’s development since he was 9 months old when the evidence of a disorder would not appear until age 3? Which leads me to the fourth “D”…

4. Delay— Part of Operation: Risk Management for the Beasley children is to delay vaccinations until the blood-brain barrier closes {around age 5}. If all was sparkles and bubbles in our house and there was no sign of any genetic vulnerabilities, I would still insist on holding off on vaccinating until…

A. my child was no longer nursing.
or
B. my child was enrolled in daycare or pre-school.

After that, I would insist on single doses, spaced out within the maximum time allowed during which I would WATCH FOR SIGNS OF DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS AND AVERSE REACTIONS LIKE A HAWK.

5. Doctor— This is all fine and good, but the first four “D’s” ultimately hinge on whether or not you have a pediatrician that is willing to work with you. Does your doctor educate you or intimidate you? Do you get the sense that your child is just another little patient, or is his pediatrician willing to customize his diet and his immunization schedule, or suggest alternative options? For instance, have you ever heard of an Antibody Titer Test? Neither had I. This is a blood test to determine whether your child has sufficient antibodies and is therefore immune to a disease that is on the standard vaccination schedule. You mean my kid might not need all those boosters? No kidding. In my limited experience, these docs are hard to find, but they do exist.

doctors-heart

So, what if you are like me and you’ve moved from Operation: Risk Management to Operation: Damage Control? We have a diagnosis, so now what?

1. Date Around– Find a pediatrician that is willing to customize an approach to fit your child’s unique needs.

{oh man, here she goes with the D’s again. Yup.}

2. Delay any further vaccinations.

3. Detox– This involves a complicated series of tests to determine your child’s level of exposure to heavy metals from… you guessed it… vaccines that results in dietary changes and a liver support protocol and yada… yada… #itmakesmyheadhurttoobutwelcometomyworld.

Okay, so that’s more like 8 “D’s”. But you get the idea. I believe vaccines save lives. And yet, I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all vaccination plan that optimally benefits every child. The question, “Should I vaccinate my child?” is an important one that should be weighed carefully, approached holistically, and answered with the help of medical professionals who are willing to customize a plan that fits your child’s evolving needs. Above all, remember that as a parent, you have options. We won’t choose right every time, or even a lot of the time, but until our children are old enough to choose for themselves, {or until the government tells us otherwise} it is our job to choose what we think is best for them. So pray, plan, and proceed with confidence, and I promise… no more alliteration…

… for now.

Embrace the Gray

We are settling into our new space little by little. The unpacking process is loathsome, but designing the new space and repurposing pieces from the old space– that part is always fun. I haven’t quite bonded with the new space yet. In fact, when our landlord renovated the interior he chose to re-paint and re-carpet the entire space in two different shades of gray. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling… G.R.A.Y. Now, I like gray. Gray is the new black, right? Gray walls are better than Builder’s White and yet they are still neutral enough to play with colors and patterns. Here’s the exact color swatch.

Lazy Gray

It is even called “Lazy Gray” by Sherwin Williams. It should make me feel relaxed and carefree, right?

But the space is small and oddly configured and it doesn’t allow for much natural light. So, even Lazy Gray can easily become dreary. Yesterday, I felt like the walls were closing in on me, so I went across the street to the nearest nail salon to get a pedicure, and I picked the brightest color on the shelf just to make me feel better.

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I realize I have to make friends with Lazy Gray if we are going to be sharing the same living space for the next several months. Here are a few gray-inspired interiors that are helping me embrace the gray.

Apartment Therapy

gray wall

  yellow frames

Have you included gray in any of your color schemes? What do you think? Drab or Fab?

{Images via 1, 2, 3}

Top Ten Reasons Moving is Like Having a Baby

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#10… It is a “woman” thing.

For most women, their home is a living, breathing organism with unique needs, quirks, and personality (usually a reflection of their own). It is her corner of the universe, her command center, personal sanctuary, and place of business of which she is the domestic CEO. A woman’s home is the very essence of her identity. However, for most men, a house is simply a place to eat, sleep, and store his electronics. This remains one of the cosmic mysteries between men and women.

#9… The urge to “nest” replaces the need for sleep.

A woman will lie awake into the wee hours wondering if the polka dots will clash with the bumper pattern or if the serving tray will look better on the nesting tables (pardon the pun) or the floating shelves. This same woman will leave the warmth of her husband’s side in the middle of the night to reexamine the fabric swatches or to audition the serving tray in various corners of the room just to be sure. Relocating and expecting a baby are the only acceptable excuses to allow such obsessive neuroses to go untreated by a medical professional.

#8… At some point, you change your mind, but it is too late.

Ironically, midwives call this phenomena, “Transition”– an indication that the time for delivery is near. For a woman in the throes of moving labor, this is usually the part where her possessions are hanging out the back of a trailer and/or spilling out onto the front lawn and somewhere off in the distance, she hears her toddler trip and fall over a detached dryer hose. Moving men call this phenomena, “White Lady Problems.”

#7… When people tell you that your new addition is adorable, they are lying. to. you.

Everyone knows that newborns look more like Alien spawn than baby people. Yellow cone heads with puffy eyes and abnormally disproportionate hands are the farthest thing from adorable. Equally as hideous is the pervasive smell of cardboard and the misplaced electric mixer currently taking up residence in the bathtub. Does your new addition have potential? Perhaps. Is it adorable? Hardly.

Shar Pei

#6… What was once neatly tucked away is now spilling over on all sides.

A nursing bra playing host to two lobster buoys just above what was formerly called a waistline but now looks more like a Shar Pei puppy has wrapped himself around her mid-section– this is the postpartum Body-Beautiful. Incriminating photos from Spring Break 1997 in Panama City Beach, Florida next to an pack of hemorrhoid suppositories hanging out of an open box in the middle of the living room floor–this is the post-relocation Visual Nightmare.

#5… Recovery takes 1-3 months depending on the intensity of the delivery.

‘Tis the season for unanswered emails and voicemail, paper plates, Chinese takeout, and a Get-Out-of-Recycling-FREE pass. Don’t worry about getting back into the swing until the hostess at the China Moon recognizes you on the caller ID, greets you by first name, and asks if you’d like to order “the usual”. The good new is that there is grace for long recovery– there’s also a Chin Chin on the next city block.

#4… Things just don’t fit like they used to.

No one expects your new place to resemble a spread from the Elle Decor Lookbook any more than they expect to see you slip back into your 27’s anytime before a child’s first birthday… or fifth birthday… or before his rehearsal dinner. On second thought, go ahead and accidentally leave your 27’s on the moving truck along with the Spring Break pictures of you posing in them. You don’t need those staring you in the face for years to come.

#3… Everyone has an opinion.

“That couch should go there.” “That baby’s hungry.” “You’re going to name her what?” “Shouldn’t you hang that a little higher?” “Your neighbor looks like a profiler for America’s Most Wanted.” You have heard the phrase, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion”. To this, you may respectfully add… “and I am entitled to ignore it.”

#2… The meal train’s a comin’ through.

This is one of the only perks of moving. Not to mention, if you live anywhere in the Southeast {more specifically, the Bible Belt} and are at all considering having more children, the Casserole Cascade is reason enough to both procreate and/or relocate. Should you decide to do both simultaneously, you may very well not have to by groceries until your child is well into Kindergarten. Consider the economical benefits.

…and the #1 reason that moving is like having a baby.

IF YOU REMEMBERED HOW PAINFUL IT WAS, YOU WOULD NEVER DO IT AGAIN.

Have a great weekend!

{Images via 1, 2}

Aftermath

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Operation: Unpack Attack has officially begun. At the very least, it has inspired some creativity.

A Moving Poem

Silke Cruz

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE MOVING DAY

‘ TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE MOVING DAY WHEN ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE
NOT A JACKET LEFT HANGING, NOT EVEN A BLOUSE
THE BOXES STACKED HIGH ON THE DINING ROOM WALL
IN HOPES THAT A TODDLER WOULD NOT TRIP AND FALL

THE CHILDREN WERE SLEEPING UPON THEIR TWIN BEDS
WHILE VISIONS OF BUBBLE WRAP DANCED IN THEIR HEADS
AND MAMMA UN-SHOWERED, AND DAD IN A TEE
WERE HIGH ON THE FUMES OF THE MAGIC SHARPEE

WHEN FROM THE KITCHEN THEIR AROSE SUCH A CLATTER
“THAT BOX WILL NOT FIT MY GRANDMOTHER’S PLATTER!”
THE PROFANITY FLEW FROM MY MOUTH WITH A FLASH
AS I THREW THAT OLD PLATTER INTO THE TRASH

THE STRANGEST OF KEEPSAKES I SIMPLY CAN’T PART
LIKE THE LATE DOG’S COLLAR IN THE SHAPE OF A HEART
OLD PREGNANCY TESTS AND MY HOMECOMING CROWN
TEN THOUSAND GUITAR PICKS JUST LYING AROUND

WITH A RATHER LARGE DRIVER AND A TRUCK TO MANEUVER
I KNEW IN A MOMENT, THESE MUST BE THE MOVERS
WITH PADS AND WITH ROPES AND WITH DOLLYS THEY CAME
I WONDER IF THEIR MOTHERS REALLY GAVE THEM THOSE NAMES

“NOW CHEVY! NOW FAT BOY! NOW BLAZE FORTY SIPPIN’!
PLEASE DO NOT SMOKE, AND NO, I AIN’T TRIPPIN’
TO THE TOP OF THE ATTIC! TO THE TOP OF THE WALL!
NOW HAUL AWAY! HAUL AWAY! HAUL AWAY ALL!”

BACK AND FORTH, DOWN AND UP THE STAIRS THEY DO CLIMB
WHEN THEY MEET WITH AN OBSTACLE, THEY TAKE THEIR SWEET TIME
‘TIL UP TO THEIR BALD HEADS THEY GLISTEN WITH SWEAT
WHILE FORTY’S OUT BACK ON HIS NINTH CIGARETTE

AND THEN FROM THE HOUSETOP, MY SWEETHEART, HE SAID.
“I FOUND SHERIFF WOODY’S HAT UNDER THE BED!”
IF ONLY THE SAME COULD BE SAID FOR MY GLASSES
FOR P90X AND THOSE FREE MOVIE PASSES

I CLEARED EVERY SHELF, EVERY DRAWER, EVERY CLOSET
I THREW AWAY CORN FLAKES FROM WHEN BUSH WAS IN OFFICE
AND A BOX FULL OF CABLES THAT BELONGED TO MY SPOUSE
AND A FEW KNIVES I “BORROWED” FROM OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE

A BUNDLE OF TOYS, BLAZE JUST FLUNG ON HIS BACK
HE LOOKED LIKE A GANGSTA THAT JUST BUSTED A CAP
HIS EYES– HOW THEY SHIFTED! HIS T-SHIRT HOW RED!
IF YOU SEE DA POLICE, WARN A BROTHER!“, IT SAID

THE STUMP OF A PIPE HE HELD IN HIS GOLD TEETH
AND THE SMOKE IT ENCIRCLED HIS HEAD LIKE A WREATH
HE HAD A BROAD FACE AND A MUCH BROAD-ER BELLY
THAT SHOOK WHEN HE HAULED LIKE A BOWL FULL OF JELLY

HE REACHED FOR THE CHINA ON TOP OF THE SHELF
I BELLOWED, “DON’T BREAK THAT!”, IN SPITE OF MYSELF
A WINK OF HIS EYE AND A DARK LOOK THAT SAID,
“BACK OFF OR I’LL SHRINK WRAP YOUR PIE HOLE INSTEAD”

HE SPOKE NOT A WORD, BUT WENT STRAIGHT TO HIS WORK
FOR DOUBTING HIS MAD SKILLS, I FELT LIKE A JERK
THESE GUYS ARE ALL PRO’S, NOW I AM SURE OF THIS
THEY’VE STACKED EVERY BOX LIKE A GAME OF TETRIS

HE SPRANG TO HIS TRUCK, TO HIS TEAM GAVE A WHISTLE
WHEN I NOTICED THAT FORTY WAS PACKING A PISTLE
BUT I HEARD HIM EXCLAIM, ‘ERE HE DROVE OUT OF SIGHT
HAPPY MOVING TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

{Image via Silke Cruz’ Pinterest}

App Store Freebies

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How does one unwind after a long day of packing? Raid the App Store freebies of course.

In honor of the App Store’s graduation to Kindergarten, Apple has marked down some of their most popular apps. Here’s a few I scored last night:

Gabi— social media
Typesetter— photography {for those like me who are graphically-impared}. I played with this app at 5am this morning and this is what I came up with…

Typesetter test image

Impressed? Don’t be. This is now my 3rd ice cream reference in a week. It’s bad, folks.

Mechanical Pomodoro— productivity
Barefoot Atlas— to satisfy my son’s obsession with all things maps.

And here’s a few more that looked interesting but I didn’t have enough memory space…

How to Cook Everythingobviously for those interested in pursuing paragliding
The CIA World Factbook— for tracking Edward Snowden
23,000 Great Quotes— for more impressive status updates
Groceries— for groceries

Run… hurry… hit up the App Store while they’re still feeling generous. Comment back here with your favorite downloads.

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