I am sharing this in hopes that it helps someone. There are many ways pornography has affected my life, this is just one of the ways. I like to focus on all my blessings (of which I have many); however, every now and then there is something I feel very strongly about that may not be as pleasant or comfortable to talk about. However, often those unpleasant things are the very things that need to be talked about most. This is one of those things. Way too many people tiptoe around the subject of pornography, and that fear of speaking out is enhancing the amount of porn-caused pain in the world drastically. We need to stop being afraid to talk. By sharing this story, I am very publicly saying that I am not afraid to open my mouth and declare that porn is evil, porn is dangerous, and porn kills love.
The first time I really saw porn was when I was 17.
I say "really" because it was the first time I saw it on purpose.
In a desperate attempt to understand something that was done to me, I found porn. I never in a million years thought I would watch a porn video, but at the time it seemed like the only thing I could do.
His words, "You are supposed to like this" ran through my head over and over again as I typed. I didn't like it, I said it hurt, I said I wanted him to stop, and he said I was 'supposed' to like it?
I have sat starring at this page for a while now, trying to think of how I should say what I am feeling. In a couple of weeks it will be two full years since the birth of my sweet baby girl Harper. TWO YEARS and I am just realizing now that I never wrote down the story of her birth. I could say this is because I have been so busy raising her, but that wouldn't be completely true. The real reason I have never wrote it is because my story was a lot different than the stories I saw all the other ladies posting.
I didn't labor for 24+ long hours, I didn't time my contractions, and my husband didn't cut the chord. I do not have pictures of myself holding my baby post labor all teary-eyed and sweaty. I actually didn't sweat at all, not a single drop. There was nothing traditional about my experience. My baby was born as I lay completely immobile on a hard table, in an ice cold room, surrounded by people in masks holding knives. Harpers birth lasted a total of 25 minutes. 25 minutes was all it took to cut me open, take her out and close me up. There was no yoga balls for me, no chewing ice, no long awaited epidural.
What did I have in common with all these new mommies I saw posting pictures of themselves beaming with joy after suffering for days to bring their children into this world?
How could I say, "I would do it (labor) all over again" when all I really did was lay down for 25 effortless minutes?
This isn't a popular opinion and some might call me crazy for making motherhood my full time job at such a young age. But, I truly believe that I have the greatest career and instead of forcing me to give up my dreams and goals, being a mother has only enhanced all my abilities and efforts to be my best self. You truly can have it all. This is for all the mothers in the world who give 100% no matter what age they are, no matter what people say, and no matter the sacrifice. And, special thanks to my own mother who taught me what it means to be a mom, I hope one day to be as good a mother to my children as you are to yours. This one is for you.
You know what Mom?
They all told you that you could have been a teacher, with your gift of language, and way with words. They all told you that you could have been a musician; no one made the piano sing like you did. They all told you that you could have got a masters, doctorate and PhD; brains like yours don't come to everyone. They all told you that you could change the world with the way you share service and organize events. They all told you that you could write novels that would hit the New York Times best sellers list. They all told you that you could travel the world, meeting people and seeing sights very few people are privileged to see.
And you could have.
But you didn't.
You just looked back at them and with a firm resolution in your eyes (and faith in your heart) you pushed away all those dreams and told them, "I'm going to be a mother."
Holidays are always so much fun, especially with Harper!
We had so much fun at the big Easter egg hunt Grandma Smith threw for us!
Since I have so many siblings, we do Easter egg hunts a bit differently in my family. Instead of everyone going off to search for random eggs, we all get assigned a color. This makes it so everyone gets the same amount of eggs, and none of the tiny ones (like Harper) get left with only 4 eggs in their baskets, while the big kids find 50. It's much funner to search for your own eggs!
I was seriously searching for these for the past 6 months. I have this tendency to put things in very 'safe' places, only to realize when I go to retrieve them that my 'safe' place is so safe that even I cannot find it! Then of course, months down the road after I have given up hope of ever finding my beloved treasure I hid so well, I come upon it suddenly without meaning too and I'm like, "Oh, duh! Now I remember I put it there!" and all the memories and smells of the day I hid it come back with complete clarity, almost as if they are mocking me for ever forgetting in the first place.
Then I vow never to do it again...
Then I do it again.
It drives Ash crazy.
At the moment, his mouse pad, his favorite headphones, a jacket, and his toolkit are all missing.
At least that's what he says, but I reassure him that they are not missing, just in a 'safe place', and as soon as I remember where that 'safe place' is, I will return them to his care.
Have you ever had a moment that made you feel very very poor? Being a young married couple, with a rapidly growing child, and never ending mortgage payments and home repairs, we feel poor a lot. But, honestly for the most part, we feel very very blessed. We never really go without any necessities, and we get to do fun things as a family all the time. I honestly never feel truly poor, just very blessed.
However, yesterday, Ash and I had a moment where we felt dirt poor and it was humbling and hilarious at the same time.
We always do family night once a week on Mondays. Which pretty much means we dedicate Monday evening to spending time together as a family. This last Monday we met up with my family to play a round of lazer tag and black light put put golf as our family night activities. Being the ice cream obsessed human being that I am, I suggested to Ash that after we finish our activities, we should take Harper out to get a treat (*cough* ice cream *cough*). Ash said it sounded like a great idea, boo-ya!
So just as planned we played lazer tag, and some mini golf and the next thing we knew we were getting in the car to get a treat then head home.
Then we noticed something.
Our gas tank was pretty much empty.
Like... we had 18 miles left empty.
Which wouldn't have been a problem, except that the location we drove to, for our activities was 20 miles away from our home.
I decided to go on an adventure today! By adventure, I mean taking my 18 month old to the movies.
Everyone knows that there are certain things in life that become more complicated when you bring a toddler with you. And by some things, I mean most things!
While we have watched movies at home with Harper, I have never taken her with me to the theater. This is because I know how much she loves to sit still for 2 hours (she doesn't!). So I have always found a babysitter. However, since she has gotten bigger, I thought I would give going to the theater with a toddler a shot!
We went to Cinderella, which I figured was a good choice considering the bright colors and fairy tale theme. It actually went really well. I was pleasantly surprised. Harper sat with me completely entertained for over half the movie. I attribute this to the fact that Harper auntie Bek was with us (who she just adores) and the popcorn we give her every so often. But, I think it was mostly the popcorn, because as soon as we ran out of popcorn, Harper started getting restless!
I tried bringing her to the side of the theater so she could walk along the entrance walkway. That entertained her for about 15 more minutes, but pretty soon it was clear that she was ready to exit the movie and explore the outside world.
We had so much fun walking around the outside of the theater that I honestly didn't even feel bad for missing the rest of the movie. That is what makes Harper so special, she makes any situation a fun adventure and I enjoy spending my time with her no matter how simple that time may be.
We went and picked up rocks for a while and make rock pictures, and then we walked over to a cute little cookie shop next door and bought ourselves a delicious flower shaped sugar cookie. We sat on the curb and licked our fingers clean of that delightful morsel and smiled and talked and laughed. She may reply with "Yeah!" or a little baby chuckle to everything I say, but I know she understands me a lot and we really have a great time conversing.
After our cookie, she wanted to go back into the theater, but not back into the movie mind you. Instead she led me to the little arcade on the side. She was obsessed with the car driving game and I was honestly floored with how well she maneuvered that steering wheel! I'm hoping those skills carry through to when she gets her learners permit! We shall see...
My advice would be to make sure you have lots of snacks if you bring your toddler to the movies because they are a lifesaver.
My other advice would be that even if you end up in the halls or outside like I did, don't be sad, because those cute little tykes we call toddlers have a whole world of adventures to show us, and when we let them show us those adventures, there's a whole lot of fun to be had!
One of my all time favorite treats is smoothies. Just thinking about a glass full of smoothie goodness makes me smile. I think I am addicted to them. Do they have a smoothie rehab? Because I am getting close to that point...
Dogs are great and all, but smoothies are my best friend. They never let me down.
1. They are healthy.
2. They are delicious.
3. Uh... what is there NOT to like??
I have been experimenting with some various smoothie ingredients to come up with delicious smoothies recipes to add some variety to my religious smoothie drinking. I have some recipes for spinach smoothies, tropical smoothies, berry smoothies, and pretty much every type of veggie/fruit smoothie combos (can you tell I drink a lot of smoothies? Haha!). The only smoothies I don't really like are chocolate/peanut butter/any desert smoothie. Desert smoothies just aren't my thang. But! The fruit and veggie smoothies have my whole heart!
That being said, I made the yummiest strawberry banana smoothie today and thought I would share the recipe with you!
Bonus: Harper LOVED it.
Smoothies in my opinion are one of the best ways to get your little kids to eat fruits and veggies. This one definitely worked on my little one (She likes my green smoothies too... so it wasn't just because this was a fruit smoothie).
Here is the recipe if you want to get it a try ;)
Strawberry Bliss Smoothie
1 cup Frozen Strawberries
1 large Banana
1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Into your blender and blend till smooth!
It's one of the most sought after phrases in the world. The things people will do to hear someone say, "I love you," have surprised us in countless stories, movies, and songs. The things people will do for someone who loves them are equally as astounding.
Why do we love hearing, "I love you" so much? Maybe its the promise of holding a place in someones heart, or the awakening knowledge of a new significance you hold in someones life. Often its the phrase expressed before a relationship takes its next step, the expression that one is loved for all their silly quirks, for their looks, for their heart, or for who they are (the good, the bad, and the imperfection). People thrive off that idea, that they are enough, that they are someone's everything.
We love to be loved.
So why then is love such a complicated thing? Why do people who say they love each other split? Why do marriages end? Why are love songs sometimes sad? Why do broken hearts exist? How can a person who was once your everything, become a stranger... or even an enemy?
Is it because love is ultimately bad? Or even a fleeting feeling, that only some people are lucky enough to experience forever?
This week I will share my 4th Valentines Day with Ashton. In these past 4 years, we have had our ups and downs, good times and bad; and along with a lot of heartache, we have shared a lot of love.
I believe in love. I believe in its strength and significance in relationships. But I have also learned, that love isn't always enough. You need more than love to make a relationship work. Love starts many great romances, but love alone won't make a relationship last forever.
There are six phrases that I think are as important, and possibly more important than, "I love you." Phrases that I think we should all desire to hear from those we want to be close too. Phrases that should be as important to us as a declaration of love.
6 Phrases More Important than, "I Love You"
1. "I forgive you."
I forgive you for all the things have done, or will do, that may hurt me. I forgive the way you may lash out when you are hungry, I forgive the things you may say, when you're tired after a long day. I forgive the times you didn't even know you upset me. I forgive your big mistakes and the small ones. I forgive you for not knowing what I needed, when I thought you would, or even expected you to know. I forgive you when you fall short, because I see how hard you are trying. I forgive you the way I hope you'll forgive me, because I know neither of us our perfect.
2. "I'll sacrifice for you."
I'll sacrifice my time for you. I'll be selfless for you. I'll stay up late with you as you learn to care for our new baby, even though I have work in the morning. I'll hold you when your sick. When you are weak, I will be your strength. I'll be there for you at 3am as readily as I would at 7pm. I'll be there when no one else is, and I'll be there 100%. In sickness and in health, my willingness to be there won't change. My sacrifice is not dependent on your state of being, but rather it is there because you exist and you are someone worth sacrificing for.
3. "I respect you."
I respect you for who you are, and not for what I feel you deserve. I respect you because you deserve my respect, not because you earned it. I'll respect your opinions, and consider your feelings. I'll treat you like a person with your own thoughts, hopes, dreams, and desires. And, those thoughts, hopes, dreams, and desires will matter to me the way they matter to you.
4. "I'll support you."
I'll support your hopes and your dreams. I will always have your back. You can rely on me. I'll raise you up, and never tear you down. I'll always make sure you have what you need, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I'll lift you back up when you fall.
5. "I'll protect you."
I'll protect you from harm. I'll protect your heart from pain. I'll protect the idea of us. I won't demean you. I'll treasure you and shield you from that evil, bad, and ugly. I won't let others put you down. You will be safe in my arms, safe in my hands, and safe in my heart. I'll be your safe haven, your safety net, and someone you can always trust.
6. "I'm committed to you"
I won't leave you. I will be here for you again and again. I'll make, making this work a priority in my life. I'll look back on our beginning, I'll work on our now, and I'll look forward to our future, because we are something that I want to last forever.
Some may argue that if you 'love' someone, all these things will be part of that love. That someone who loves you automatically sacrifices for you, respects you, forgives you, supports you, protects you, and is committed to you.
In an ideal, perfect world, I truly believe that all these attributes come together as one and are expressed through pure and unconditional charity. It is a trait we should all strive to develop. But from my experience, we are human, and we fall short of this perfection... even towards those we love.
If it was true that love was all we needed, love wouldn't be so hard, and relationships wouldn't fall apart so easy.
The truth is there are lot of people you can love, but very few relationships that you can make last forever. That's why a person is capable of loving someone more than life, but knowing deep inside that it would never work. That is why people are capable of walking away from those they love. That is why someone can give up a life full of love for a single moment of weak and selfish pleasure. That is why people lie, steal, and cheat, to, from, and on those they love.
I have loved a lot of people, but I am not with those people. I am with the man who gave me more than love. I am with the man who looked past my mistakes. I am with the man who sacrificed for me. I am with a man who honors and respects me. I am with a man who takes care of me in more ways than one. I am with someone who makes me feel safe and secure. I am with someone who I know will love me through the thick and the thin, who hasn't left nor will leave me when time are tough.
I am with the man who was more than an, "I love you."
I have the sweetest baby girl. I know you may think I am biased by saying that, but I really don't think I am!
She is SO cute first of all, not that being cute is the most important thing in life, but her chubby cheeks, and big blue eyes, and perfect lips make me smile every time I look at her.
She is the definition of a cherub to me.
Then on top of being the cutest baby I have ever seen, she has the most charming and fun personality. She is the perfect amount of spunk, sweetness, and adorable all put together in the perfect little package of a girl.
I just love her to death.
That being said, I have to share with you the funniest thing she did this past week, because I think you'll get a good laugh out of it like I did.
I only came upon the evidence of Harper's latest childhood escapade a couple days ago, so I am unsure when it actually occurred... but! At some point in her cute little daily activities, Harper got a hold of my phone and proceeded to take a bunch of selfies.
I'm talking, duck face, surprised lips, teeth flashing selfies that have become a daily event for teenage girls around the world and self absorbed Kardashians.
As cute as it is, I am a teensy tiny bit worried that my daughter has mastered the selfie art about 12 years prematurely.
But hey, I bet with the rate she is taking these selfies she could probably create her own selfie book.
Every little girl at some point in her early life discovers her mothers makeup box. Today Harper discovered mine! She was running around the house playing, when all of a sudden it got quiet. Too quiet.
Its a universal truth that when the sounds of a playing baby silence, something is up.
I went to find Harper, and came upon this:
There she was in all her glory, Covered in lipstick from head to toe. "Harper... what are you doing??" I said softly.
She avoided eye contact.
"What is all over your hands?" then "Is that mommy's lipstick?" She looked at her hands, processing what she had just done.
"Where did you find that, love?"
Again, eye contact avoided.
"I think we should clean up daddy's room." I said. (did I mention Ash's office was covered in lipstick, the walls, the floors, the chairs... oops)
All I got in response was a blank stare.
This led me to two conclusions:
1. Either she is a little bit worried about how dad will take this... or,
2. She could care less because she knows that dad is crazy about her...
It's the second one, I decided.
And I was right!
Dad took it pretty well.
Though parts of the carpet are a bit pink, and his gym bag now hows some lovely pink stripes, he didn't get angry. One of the benefits of marrying a total sweetheart of a man! (#marriagewin)
But, honestly how COULD you get upset when this sweet little face is in front of you asking for forgiveness?!
Harper while deemed curious, has been declared innocent to any offense.
Here you will find my thoughts, feelings, and experiences as a young wife, new mom, and devoted lover. You will also realize very quickly that I am a 22 year old woman who still believes in fairy tales and works each day to make mine a "happily ever after."