Me Too

The first time I can remember being sexually harassed I must have been about 14 or 15 years old. Back then I babysat pretty much every weekend, as did all of my friends. Usually we would all babysit for the same group of families, and I can remember at the time having conversations about which of the dads were "skeevy" and which ones weren't. What did I mean by that?

Well, the first time it happened, it was like this. The parents got home from dinner, it wasn't too late, maybe 11. As usual, the dad would drive me home. This time in particular wasn't very different from every other time. I could smell alcohol on his breath, and I sat in the front seat. Our conversation started out like it usually would "What grade are you in again?" or "So do you do any sports?". Sometimes the dads would ask about my older brothers, "How is he doing in soccer this year?" or even about my own parents, being friends of the family.

This dad in particular wasn't a family friend, he was someone that I hadn't babysat for before, a friend of mine had plans and asked me if I could cover for her, something we regularly did for each other, so our chit chat was pretty basic. Then it took a creepy turn. "So do you have a boyfriend?". This, again, wasn't uncommon. I had plenty of dads ask me if I had a boyfriend. When I was 14. Fourteen years old.

Like the other times, I laughed, "No, not right now" I said, looking out my window, avoiding looking at him. "Aw, why not? A girl as pretty as you?" He reached over and put his hand on my upper leg at this point, and I did nothing. I just kept looking out the window, most likely laughed again out of nervousness. I do remember getting a sick feeling in my stomach because we were getting closer to my house now, which meant the car was going to stop, and he was going to have to pay me, which meant having to have actual hand to hand contact with him.

"I bet you have lots of guys asking you out, come on." We pulled into my driveway now, and the outside light was on, but no one was waiting up for me, which wasn't out of the ordinary. Back then, without cellphones, we didn't check in quite as often as we do now. My mom would wait up for me but usually would be watching a movie or reading a book, not waiting by the door.

He parked the car and undid his seatbelt to reach into his pocket, and made a big deal of pulling cash out of his wallet, counting it. "Now how much do I owe you? I never know what my wife says she pays you," he laughed. I probably shrugged, I didn't feel comfortable telling him how much money to give me. He folded the money and leaned over to hand it to me, but leaned all the way in, "Hey, I'll give you a big tip if you give me a little kiss", he laughed again, putting the cash into my hand, breathing on me, smiling.

I remember leaning back, and to be honest, I probably just laughed too, hoping to make it all seem like a big joke. "Come on, I won't tell anyone, it will be our secret". At this, I remember feeling relieved, thinking that he wouldn't tell anyone that this whole thing happened. Why did I feel relieved? Because I felt like I would somehow get in trouble. I could picture him telling his wife, her telling her friends, one of those friends telling my mom, that me and her husband were in his car and he was trying to make out with me. For whatever reason I felt like I would be the one to blame.

I didn't kiss him, I kept laughing and said "Goodnight thanks!" probably a little too cheerfully as I opened the door and waved goodbye through the window as he sort of shrugged and laughed again and fumbled with the keys, turning the car back on. I felt sick and guilty and ashamed and I felt like a bad person. I don't know why, but that's how I felt. Like I did something wrong, too.

I didn't babysit for them again, and I did tell my friend that he was one of the "skeevy" dads and to be careful getting dropped off by him, not only because he might be drunk driving you home, but because he was "handsy". He was one of those dads. I never told my parents, and I'm pretty sure the rest of my friends kept it as a sort of open secret too. We would never, EVER consider telling the wife. We kept quiet about it mainly because we didn't want to get anyone "in trouble", or we didn't want to make it a "big deal". I am sure that I had friends that still babysat for him, and I am sure it happened again, and I know that it continued to happen with other dads on other nights and we all sort of just accepted that some dads were creeps and some were "normal".

This guy though, he wasn't a creep on the outside, to anyone else. He was a doctor, he lived in a nice house, he had a pretty wife and beautiful children and I would see him from time to time at the swim club and football games and the usual stuff where he largely pretended to not remember who I was, and the truth is, he probably didn't remember who I was. I was probably just one of the many cute teenaged babysitters he hit on after having a couple drinks at dinner with his wife. The idea that we would somehow speak up about him trying to grope us in his Mercedes was unthinkable, it would be "making a big deal out of it" and I can guarantee that back then zero would have happened if one of us said something. We would just not be asked to babysit anymore.

It wasn't the last time it happened. And it wasn't the last time I was sexually harassed and I am confident it will probably happen again in the future in one way or another. What makes me sad is that it took all these years to even revisit it and be like, wait a second, why did we all let that slide back then? Why was that okay? Because it is certainly NOT okay, it never is, and I am damned sure I will do my best to make my children understand how not okay it actually is.

I share this story with you all because we all have these stories. We all have these things we let slide because we didn't want to "make it a big deal". But the thing is, it's a huge deal. It's the biggest deal. And we have to start talking about it.

Fall for These

Sure, the weather is more "backyard barbecue" than "cozy by the fireplace" right now but fall IS coming, and I have some of my newest favorites for autumn just for you...

click the photo above to shop

Clockwise from top left:

I am obsessed with Hum, OBSESSED! Their Moody Bird is kind of a lifesaver for me.

Play date notes can sometimes verge on the twee, but not these. They are playful yet classic with gorgeous eye catching design, you won't want to wait to be handing these out.

Have you made rocks yet? What are you waiting for?!

This buffalo print Little Unicorn swaddle is kind of everything for fall.

I've been trying my hand at a little homeschooling for my youngest, and this Etsy shop creates the sweetest little sets.

I'll take four Girl Power t-shirts, please.

WOVEN EARRINGS OMG.

Looking for a fall road trip? We are heading to the WitchCraft Festival at Killington, but don't let the name fool you, there is plenty of kid friendly fun (and enough grown up fun so you won't get bored either).

 

Down on the Farm (Meet Kip)

Going down to my father's farm in Warwick is always fun, the kids get to play, feed the animals, get muddy, ride horses. This time though, we decided to FINALLY bring back a barn cat (they only ask me about 8,436 times a visit if we can, not sure what finally broke me?). Scroll through the photos to meet Kip, our new very loved kitten (oh and make sure you don't miss the before and after pics of Levy: holding Helen the chicken before I told her she eats chicken and after I told her, I'm pretty sure she's vegetarian now).

I Have Baby Teeth in my Jewelry Box

Remember the first time your child lost a tooth? OMG SO EXCITING right?! You get to play Tooth Fairy! You can finally break out that super cute Tooth Fairy pillow, maybe you get all extra with it and spray glitter onto a dollar bill and write out a Tooth Fairy note. Maybe you just toss a couple quarters under the pillow and call it a day, but either way, what you are left with is a tooth. Seriously. You get a tooth. Now, what do you do with it?!

Now, at first, you don't realize you'll be the new owner of this recently discarded actual human tooth. You're all wrapped up in the cuteness of being the Tooth Fairy, maybe a little teary eyed about your baby growing up, but once you slip out of their bedroom hopefully undetected, you've got a tooth in your hand.

If you're like me, you're kind of like, against throwing it away. I mean, I don't necessarily want to keep these teeth, but I also feel super weird about just chucking them into the garbage. It just feels kinda wrong to toss them into the trash with the apple cores and paper towels and actual GARBAGE.

So what do I do? I put them in my jewelry box and forget about them.

Until I have to go find earrings and I realize yes, I have like TWENTY OLD KIDS TEETH in my jewelry box. Is this a weird hoarder situation? Is this some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder warning sign? What am I supposed to do with all these baby teeth?

The thing is, you've got some options. If you're cool with it, you throw them out. To be honest with you, I think this is probably the most sane solution because really, they are teeth. You aren't keeping their fingernail clippings and every haircut clippings (ed note: I really hope you aren't) so why keep their old teeth? Throw them away and move on with your life. That is option 1. And if you do this, I admire you.

Option 2, you can get a keepsake box (like this one) and apparently you keep EVERY tooth in order and with some of these you can even record the date it was lost. Now, let's get into this here, shall we? Presumably you either a) Keep this for yourself to cry over when they go to college? Or b) present it to your child when they are older? I thought about what my reaction would be if my own mother had given me a box containing all my baby teeth. I imagined my reaction would be something like "Um, thanks?' with a shrug and an awkward face, and if presented with this sorta strange "gift" it would most likely go into a box somewhere never to be seen again, sort of like the teeth in my jewelry box. Also, would you care to know when every tooth was lost? Honest question, really.

If you are the kind of mom who will record each and every tooth being lost, kudos to you. I mean, I can get the first word, first food, maybe crawling/walking date down somewhere, but first teeth? Not something I'm recording. To each their own though. You be you.

Option 3, you can get a ring made out of the tooth YES THIS IS A THING. And you can get it here. I'm not trying to be judgmental, this just isn't my thing because it's maybe a little weird? I mean, technically not weirder than keeping them in a jewelry box randomly, but, I don't know. A baby tooth ring, that's just...it's different.

I'm going on my third kid losing teeth now. That's a lot of teeth. I'm running out of room. And yes I have sent my older children in search of jewelry for me and they have been like "Mom why do you have our old teeth in here" and I don't have an answer. Also because I'm not a dentist, at this point I don't know what tooth it what or when it was lost or what tooth belonged to whom, I just know I don't want to throw them away and I don't want to keep them.

I'm going to go into the obvious here and admit that yeah, I probably can't let go because I don't want to admit that they are getting older. Finn is in MIDDLE SCHOOL (yes I have to type that in all caps for right now because I'm still in disbelief). He knows the Tooth Fairy is not real. That part of his childhood is over. I am so excited watching him get older and grow and change, but it also makes me sad. And it probably always will? Do you ever not miss parts of their childhood? I don't know. All I can say it the bittersweetness of parenting and childhood and growing up is always there, and for right now, those baby teeth will always be there too. Maybe I will always be kind of stuck in this space, where the time keeps marching on and forcing me and them forward, but I can still have this little (yes weird) keepsake of when I was their make believe fairy.

My Latest Must Haves: Two for Them, Two for Me

Okay, this collection of must haves is a little...random, I'll admit it, but they are still M U S T  H A V E S nonetheless. I'm talking stockpile situation here guys.

First up, my must haves. Now, I'm usually a good sleeper. What I mean by that, is although my children aren't always the best sleepers (looking at you, three year old) I have never had any issues with sleeping. Lately though, after the baby gets up or the aforementioned three year old crawls into my bed because she had a nightmare about "tormados" (why are tornado/volcano fears her big thing right now?? Did she accidentally watch something on the Discovery channel she shouldn't have?! It's a mystery, folks) I have trouble falling back to sleep.

Enter, Sleepy by Lush. Or, as I like to call it, THE BEST THING EVER. The lavender and tonka (from the tonka bean, sort of a vanilla and cinnamon-y fragrance) scent is dreamy (pun intended) and because it's made from natural ingredients, I even use it on the kids (when I feel like sharing). I'm telling you, it's like a sleeping pill in lotion form. As soon as I put it on I can feel my eyelids getting heavy. Besides the sleep inducing scent, it is a great moisturizer for the whole family. I'm hoarding it.

Next up was a random Target purchase over the summer that turned into a favorite. I picked up a bottle of Fekkai Soleil Beach Waves Spray on a whim because I was in a hair rut and had visions of gently tousled beach waves dancing in my head. What I got was slightly tousled and ever so slightly wavier hair but the scent, OMG THE SCENT. It has the loveliest fragrance that is so light but not too light, I get compliments on it all the time and I basically wear this hair mist as perfume now. So that's my secret. (ps I haven't seen it in Target in weeks but you can get it on Amazon still, thankfully).

Getting kids to floss is so fun, RIGHT?! After many previous attempts at making flossing "fun" fizzled out, my mom bought us this Plackers Flosser Friend. It's not a crazy complicated idea, it's seriously just the Plackers flossers inside this monster looking holder, but for whatever reason my kids love him and literally will floss every day without me asking them to. Seriously.

This Hello toothpaste is another new find that I will be stockpiling. Made for the new-to-brushing set, this toothpaste is a clear gel with soothing aloe vera and high quality sweeteners made from plants (like xylitol and erythritol) for babies and toddlers 3 months to 2 years. It's organic and totally safe if swallowed, so it's perfect for my one year old who prefers the "suck all the toothpaste off immediately" method of brushing. Plus, that packaging? So cute. I found it at Target.

Backyard Birthday

I really wanted to have a third birthday party for Talley, but I also totally procrastinated. So instead of planning one, I kind of threw one together semi-last minute. A good old fashioned, backyard birthday party. Because when you're three, all you really need is some cake, some friends and more cake, am I right?!

{place cards from Etsy here and flower crowns from jessecology}

Must Do: Lavenlair Farm

I am the biggest fan of anything "pick your own". The kids get to be outside, we get to eat local, it's a win win. That's why when I heard about Lavenlair Farm, a pick your own lavender farm I couldn't wait to go.

Located in Whitehall, about a 45 minute drive from the Saratoga area, Lavenlair Farm is owned by David and Diane Allen, and features 22 different varieties of lavender in their "U-Pick" lavender field. I love the idea that this was a labor of love for Diane and David, who found the 1820 stone farm house and created the farm with a 100 foot diameter meditative labyrinth planted in lavender as well as a field of nearly 5000 lavender plants representing 22 different varieties of lavender for people to come and visit to relax, recharge and reconnect with each other and with nature.

When you arrive, you check in at the little lavender colored shop by the fields and you can pick up a pair of scissors to trim your lavender. The owner gave us a great overview of what lavender was where (they also have culinary lavender you can pick and use in recipes) and the different sizes of lavender bouquets to buy. We went with a few little $5 sized ones so the kids could all choose some lavender of their own, and the older kids were in charge of the scissors while we walked through the fields.

It was probably more relaxing and gorgeous than I had even hoped it would be. The farm itself is just breathtaking, with views of the Green Mountains of Vermont to the Adirondacks, cows mooing in the pasture, the wind wafting the scent of lavender. I mean, it was perfect. Seriously. Even with five children running around.

The "laverinth" was probably less "meditative" with all the kids than ideally planned but the owners were so incredibly pleasant and helpful and friendly, showing us how the lavender is planted and answering all of our questions. The entire vibe of the farm was so relaxed and open, it made you want to just sit on the grass and gaze at the clouds for hours.

In the shop we picked up tins of "lavendo" for the kids, some of the lavender jelly (SO GOOD), lavender mist for me, and other little treats. It really was hard to leave without buying everything because even though the shop is tiny the products they have for sale are so well made and thoughtful and again, the owners were just so friendly and warm.

We can't recommend this place enough. Make the drive and check it out, you will fall in love. Check them out online here.