Posts Tagged ‘About Brandi’

Are you a Quantity or Quality Parent? I’m Both and Neither.

Friday, March 6th, 2015

It’s 10 o’clock on a Thursday night. I’m currently sitting in my bed in the dark with my four-year-old passed out asleep on my right arm. The one I type with. Her tiny baby face is lit up by my computer screen, her hands tucked together under her head. She lied there and watched me work until she finally fell asleep.

This tiny part of me thinks it’s sweet; snuggled up next to her. The rest of me feels like shit. My co-worker absolutely would have understood if I’d pushed our conversation back ten or 15 more minutes. But I’d also just returned from a late night at the office, and my brain was still in work mode. Dad allowed her to stay up late until I got home, so this was the only time we had together today, and I squandered it.

It’s not like this every day. Some days. Sometimes a lot of days. That’s why I don’t have the luxury of playing quality/quantity game.

Carla Birnberg recently wrote about the quality/quantity debate on her blog. I adore Carla. She’s brilliant, generous with her time and brain cells, has an energy that I crave and covet, and does not care at all what anyone thinks. Everything she writes almost always has me sit back, nodding my head, mumbling uh-huhs under my breath in agreement.

This time, though, I paused. She made me stop and think about which parenting camp I fall in — quality or quantity. I loved her analogy of saturating the market “with mama-product and hoping, along the way, I’d churn out at least a few quality stuffs.”

Who amongst us doesn’t feel the same way? We all want to do the very best job we can; that’s why we are killing ourselves with guilt and Pinterest projects. My mom never worried about that stuff. Her mom certainly didn’t. And I’ll take a safe bet that neither my great- nor great-great grandmother messed with it either. They just loved their kids the best they could and that was good enough!

Somewhere along the way we allowed ourselves to be ruled more by the opinions of other mothers than by our own two cents and intuition. It became easier to declare Worst Mom Ever and Mom of the Year than to just own the decisions we were making, own the circumstances in which they were made.

Some days, like this one, my daughter and I get so little time together that the quality/quantity argument doesn’t even factor in. Tonight there was no real quantity and there was absolutely no quality… but we were skin to skin, and we made small talk, and I kissed her and hugged her a dozen times, and played with her hair in between chat IMs. Instead of a book, between chat IMs, I read an old blog post to her from when she was two. She loved it, and asked for another.

And so maybe my definition of quality is skewed. Because on the surface I look at how we spent tonight and I’m just appalled with myself. Then I read that scene back and think, you know, that’s not so bad. After all, it shouldn’t be about how I define quality, but how she does. For her, she got to have snuggle time with mom in bed, hear a story, and fall asleep in … on… her mom’s arms. That’s all she needs, right?

Tomorrow I’m taking the afternoon off work. I wish I could say it was by choice, but we’re between nannies and we’re sharing the load with her. She’s having a friend come over to play and I’m throwing our usual super healthy food rules out the window. I stressed for 20 minutes at the grocery store tonight trying to figure out what to make for the kids and what nice thing I could make for my friend and then decided that I’m absolutely exhausted, the most tired I’ve been in recent memory, I still have to work while she’s at school in the morning…and then make lunch? We’re ordering pizza and making sugar cookies. She’ll be thrilled!

And in that, we’ll score a little quality and a little quantity.

I get frustrated when I can’t do some big awesome red-banner star-spangled actual Mom of the Year level thing with her every. single. day. It doesn’t matter to her though. She likes riding the escalator at Target three times in a row. She likes to help load the washing machine and unload the dishwasher. She likes to read an extra story at bed time. She likes when I lean my head over the tub so that she can wash my hair for a change. She likes to sneak in an episode of Gilmore Girls. She likes getting an iced tea at Target to share while we shop. She likes looking at pictures on Instagram. She likes when I help her do the math for a pizza game on the iPad. She likes walking to school instead of riding in the car. She likes when I take even 5 minutes to play “getting married” with her.

This is what’s important to her. This is what she remembers. This is when I get to hear “you’re the best mama ever;” she means it so I need to stop doubting it.

In that list is a lot of quality and a lot of quantity — by her definition.

So it comes back to my rule of all things in moderation. Sometimes there is quality. Sometimes there is quantity. Sometimes there is neither. I’m OK with that.

A Summer of Happy is Our Next Big Adventure

Monday, April 21st, 2014

We’re taking off an adventure unlike anything we’ve done before. We’re doing it for a lot of reasons, and we’re very excited to hit the road.

Here’s the short explanation and some details: We’re taking off on a four-month road trip, departing from Wichita on May 22. We’ll be back “sometime” in September. So far we’ve had a massive moving sale, sold one of our cars (the other will sell soon), turned in notice on the home that we rent, and secured a POD for storage.

We’re mapping out our itinerary, which starts with a month in the Denver area. From there we’ll make a pit stop in Wichita to see James Taylor and then depart for Savannah, Georgia. I’m speaking at a conference there and then we’ll settle in for at least two weeks. From Georgia, we’re not really sure other than we’re going to work our way up the east coast. Part of the adventure is not really knowing! We’ll be in Rhode Island by mid-August and we’ll spend the remainder of our time in the far northeast. After that, we’ll start winding our way back home.

You’ll be able to keep up with the adventure via our Twitter and Facebook, of course, as well as a new blog we’re building at For more on the title, keep reading. (more…)

I Voted for Barack Obama Because I’m the Mom of a Little Girl

Monday, November 5th, 2012

I became more “political” in this election than I ever have in my life. While not many people could have influenced the vote I cast on Thursday night, I don’t imagine I can influence many either. With 24 hours until the polls close, I’ll do my best to change the mind of someone riding on the fence. In my heart, I can’t help but feel like I want to tell people why I rocked my Obama Mama T-shirt today and why I voted for Barack Obama to have a second term. I can sum it up in two words…

Paisley Joon.

Shelton and I took her to vote with us on Thursday night. It was a very, very proud moment that truly gave me goosebumps. I tried to tell her what we were doing; hopefully the picture of the three of us leaving will mean more to her later on. (PS – anyone else think it’s SUPER weird to vote inside of a church?)

I voted for Barack Obama because I’m the mom of a little girl who will one day be a woman who, like me, shouldn’t be forced to have decisions made for her; especially those completely out of touch with the reality that is being a modern woman (or how a tampon works). I want her to have as many rights as I do right now, if not more. When it comes to her body, her health, her place in the workforce, it’s her choice and her right to be there. I want her to know that I voted for the rights of all people, not those we selectively decide should have voices and rights – and that goes for women, gays, the poor, and anyone else who, I believe, will be left out of the conversation in a few months if Mitt Romney is elected.

For the first time since I was legally allowed to vote, I really studied the issues, I truly listened to both sides, and at the end of the day, I felt I couldn’t look my daughter in the eye if I cast my vote any other way.

I like Barack Obama. I like the work he has done in Washington in the past four years and I can honestly say I think he’s tried to bridge a gap that has dangerously separated our country. I voted for him for a lot of reasons and on a lot of different issues, but years from now when Paisley asks me about this election, I’ll tell her that I clicked the box next to his name for her.

Please vote tomorrow. I sincerely mean this when I say that I hope you vote even if you check the opposite box.

Serving My Left Ovary an Eviction Notice

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

You heard me. Pack your cysts, and your pain, and your $500 sonograms and leave. Don’t let my belly button hit you on the way out.

So here’s the deal, I’m having my left ovary removed on Tuesday, March 13. I’m totally OK with it. In fact, if we could have done it yesterday I’d have rearranged my schedule. It’s not emergent, but it is necessary.

My cystic ovaries and the issues they’ve caused me have been discussed many times here and has been part of my medical dialogue since my senior year of high school. In 2008, I went on birth control to manage the cysts. In fall 2006, shortly after we started BabyOrBust, I had surgery for ovarian cysts. In 2004, shortly after I graduated from OU, I had my first surgery for cysts, an exciting way to spend a Saturday night after a grandparent’s funeral. Prior to that, I can recall all the way back to my senior year of high school having severe pains every other month and thinking they were bladder infections. Knowing what I know now, and what I learned after my first-ever gynecological visit at the tender age of 17 because of the pain (NO, MOM, I AM NOT HAVING SEX AND I DON’T NEED BIRTH CONTROL! GAH!), I am convinced my cyst issues started all the way back then.

In the past four months, I’ve dealt with almost constant pain. Sometimes the numb, annoying kind like when you eat too many Hot Tamales and your gums ache. Other times, it’s been crippling pain that left me stranded on the couch or in the bed with Lortabs. Frankly, this isn’t what I want to live with. The pain takes away from playing with Paisley, needing to just sit at my desk, stand at my stove, and umm, other stuff, and so I’m ready to just not have to deal with this any more.

In November I visited my awesome OB/GYN Dr. W and we did a sonogram that discovered yet another cyst on my left ovary. I was told to come back in January to see if it had gone away. I waited until late February when they found the cyst still firmly attached, only larger at almost 5 centimeters. Let’s go golfing!

Ordinarily, we’d let sleeping cysts lie. The kicker this time is that this is a (as I type this Stephen Colbert is using a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand to stir margaritas. How appropriate.) dermoid cyst. Simply put – it’s my parasitic twin. This thing can be made of hair, teeth, nails, bone… my doctor informed me it can have any type of tissue that the body produces except for heart tissue and something else that I can’t recall right now. The look on my face as he described this was classic WHAT THE F! All I could think was … THIS is what happened to the second embryo!

Unlike the cysts that I typically have, these won’t rupture and they won’t go away. They also tend to embed themselves into whatever they’ve grown on, giving cause to remove the ovary.

All women grow cysts on their ovaries, this is where our eggs develop. For most women, these burst (we’re talking teeny tiny ladies), you ovulate, babies are or are not made, life goes on. I do all of that except the bursting part. Mine wait to do that until they are the size of lemons and soft balls and then send me to my knees in pain. It’s like, totally super fun. Except not.

My husband was incredibly concerned when I shared this surgical development. I assured him that I’m OK with this. I’m not sad. I don’t feel like I’m losing anything. I think I’m gaining a life that isn’t filled with so much pain.

I don’t have any plans to have another baby. Even if we did, I have a spare tire on the right that’s never caused me an ounce of worry, pain, or lost twin sisters. In fact, during IVF, my right ovary produced most of my 17 eggs. We’re holding on to her.

So, that’s the deal. If you need me next Tuesday, Wednesday, and likely Thursday, I’ll be drooling on myself and eating macaroni and cheese in between nibbling on my Lortab candy necklace.

Dear Brandi: Month 360

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Dear Brandi,

The time has come. Today you turn 30. Yeah, I said it. What?

If I were your shrink, I’d tell you why you’ve had so much anxiety about this birthday. It’s because you vividly remember the birthday party that was thrown for your dad when he turned 30. There were over the hill banners and candles, joke pills for old-people ailments, a wheelchair, diapers, and more. To a six-year-old, 30 was the end of the road. But now that you’re here, with 30 slapping you in the face, as you can see, it’s really just the beginning. Wouldn’t you agree?

You were given some great advice last winter from a woman who was on the cusp of turning 40, and she told you that the only thing she regretted about turning 30 was how much time she spent regretting turning 30. You never take advice, because you’re too stubborn and independent, but I’m proud of you for taking this little nugget. In the past six months, you’ve actually become less hesitant about your birthday, and have embraced all that lies ahead of you in the next ten years. That kind of wisdom can only come with age. Or a fuzzy wine induced state of delirium.

Your twenties were one hell of a ride, right? No other decade will likely bring as much change as this one did. You left home; went to and finished college (GO SOONERS!); met, fell in love with, and married your best friend; bought a house, then another; started a career; begged the Internet for money; had a baby with that money; ate sushi (and liked it).

If you had ever made one of those “where I’d like to be when I’m 30 lists” I don’t remember it. I know you talked about wanting three kids by the time you were 30, and let me tell you, getting one-third of your wish is more than enough. Seriously, that infertility thing did you guys a favor. Just think how tired you’d be… and how sexy you’d look in a minivan! I know you wanted to be happily married, and you nailed that one on the head. You wanted to have a successful career, and while that definition is certainly subjective, it fully meets your criteria. You wanted to have a boob lift, and as you can clearly see, that hasn’t worked out for you. Yet. (PS, put “make friends with a plastic surgeon” on your endless and stroke-inducing to-do list.)

What I’m getting at here is that you have an incredible life. Some might even say enviable. You might not take fancy vacations, have ever owned a brand new car, or feel the relief of a zero-balance credit card, but what you do have is more valuable than all of those things combined. You’re happy. You know by now that money does not buy that… that being happiness. It’s that intangible thing that every person on earth is chasing and you found it. At the tender age of 30.

If you’re as smart as you sometimes give yourself credit for, you will spend the next ten years continuing to do the things that you love, pursuing the things that make you happy, and filling the gaps with new. Yes, new, as in change, different, and unfamiliar. You will do more things that scare you, and live to tell the tales. You must make more time to do that ONE BIG THING that is begging to be done. Get off of Twitter, and Facebook, and Scrabble and just do it already. I think you’ll find it’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done and likely one of the most fulfilling. (Yes, to the rest of you that’s vague but Brandi knows exactly what I’m talking about.)

That THING will only be a notch or two less fulfilling than being Paisley’s mom. Can you believe that kid? And that she is YOURS? No single job you have is ever going to be as important, enlightening, pure, or dramatic as being her mother will be. She is going to break your heart, but don’t ever break hers. She is also going to fill it to a point of bursting, and you will need to make sure you do the same for her… often. I hope you’ll allow yourself to develop just enough patience that you can learn from her as much as she will from you.

Never stop being and doing all the things that make you, you. It gets old sometimes, but hopefully having the sense-of-humor of a 12-year-old boy will not tire any time soon. Sometimes that stupid stuff just needs to be noticed and laughed at. Embracing your curly hair is one of the smartest things you’ve ever done, followed only by your decisions to finally try (and love) cream cheese, avocados, rice, and bell peppers.

There’s a cheesy top-40 song (admit it, you love them) playing on the radio right now that says “It’s gonna be a good, good life.” And it is. Why wouldn’t it be? You’ve worked so incredibly hard to get yourself where you are, all with the goal of enjoying a good life. It may not always feel like “THE” good life, but it certainly “A” good life.

Don’t forget your 20s. I’ll even allow you to call them your roaring 20s. (get it?! haha) You spent that entire decade with Shelton and are better for it. You attended five Dave Matthews concerts, stood first row at a Counting Crows concert, and actually on stage for a Korn concert (you went through a phase, it’s OK). You had sushi with Jillian MIchaels, enjoyed dinner in Marc Cherry’s home, had the gall to ask Cedric the Entertainer to take a picture with you at LAX,  interviewed Donald Trump and Jimmy Fallon, and have made friends with a few incredibly inspiring Biggest Loser contestants. You’ve put your feet in both oceans and skied down mountains, and while you’ve yet to obtain the legal document that allows you to leave this island, you still have the brochure to a resort just outside of Fiji and I have no doubt that you will get there. You graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree, and have never felt more proud. You’ve made some of the best friends a girl could ask for, hung on to them tightly, and cleared out the cobwebs of those who didn’t quite make you a better person. You were told you couldn’t have a baby and you pretty much kicked that noise in the throat and pursued a relentless four-year fight to get her here. And she’s perfect! You’ve written for national publications and helped launch a formidable competitor in the health space. You became an aunt, a wife, a mom, an in-law, and according to NPR once, an expert. You’ve appeared on a national morning show, the front page of newspapers, national radio, in a published book, and as an endorser on a book jacket. You became quite an excellent cook.. why you ever eat at restaurants escapes me. You’re really good at it. (PS – seriously, give up on baking already.) You ran a half marathon in 3 hours and 12 minutes just 5.5 months after having a baby. You’ve still never learned math, but you’ve mastered Google and use Shelton on IM as a personal calculator. You were proposed to over cheddar bay biscuits and married in flip flops, and have built a marriage to be proud of. You have had a blast.

When we check in again at 40, I want to see another list that is as accomplished, positive, entertaining, and memorable. Just get that THING done, and get a passport already.

Brandi… this is the best life ever.


Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert

Friday, February 18th, 2011

I accidentally read Eat, Pray, Love. Accidentally because I had no intentions of reading it and then my good friend Amy raved about it and made me promise I’d read it before I watched the movie. So I promised, grabbed the book at the airport the next morning, and a week later I finished the book.

I primarily read non-fiction. I like real, human stories that I can connect with. I like learning about other people’s lives in an incredibly intimate way. Their words to my eyes, that always seems so personal to me. I’m not sure how I hadn’t found my way to EPL any sooner, but now I’m so glad that I did.

My life in no way parallels that of Elizabeth Gilbert, the author. I’m madly in love with my husband and I like my little suburban-esque life. I don’t own a passport and hers is probably as thick as the Oxford Dictionary. I studied French and she prefers Italian. However, in so many ways I needed to hear her story. I was six months postpartum when I read Eat Pray Love and so bogged down in the chaos of my new role as mom that the lines between me-me, work-me, wife-me and mom-me were beginning to blur into an indecipherable fog. Reading Eat Pray Love helped me make it acceptable within myself to be all of these versions of me while individually nurturing the branches of myself. It may have also helped me find a little bit more purpose in my sporadic yoga practice.

When I learned that Liz Gilbert was visiting Wichita for a book tour promoting her new book Commitment, the must-read follow-up to Eat Pray Love that I recommend to anyone married, engaged, divorced, or thinking about marriage, I made sure to get tickets immediately.

Last night, I had the overwhelming privilege to attend Liz’s reading at WSU. I caught myself trying to fight back tears as she read a wonderful selection from Commitment and shared anecdotes about her life with Felipe and as an author. She was warm, funny, genuine, gracious, beautiful and wise. She had adorable little messy pigtails held in place by clippies, wore a sundress with leggings and a long-sleeved shirt underneath and tall black boots. She didn’t have on a drop of makeup, and she was gorgeous. She was gorgeous because she was completely comfortable in her own skin and in her sense of self. There’s a confident beauty in that, and while little of our lives parallels (I like good wine, she could care less), I like to think that I have a little of that too.

I asked her if she still speaks to Ketut, the medicine man she befriended during the “Love” portion of Eat Pray Love in Bali. She responded yes, and that her husband had actually seen him two days ago. (She laughed that the day she flew to Raleigh, he flew to Bali.) I also asked what she thought of the movie, and it wasn’t the canned PR answer I kind of expected. While I really didn’t care for the movie at all, mostly because it botched the ending and a few other details, she said that she didn’t think it was right for writers to take these big Hollywood checks and then complain about the movie. Overall she appeared to have liked it. She also raved about the hot guys who were cast to play the men, and spoke of how when she met Julia Roberts she was star-struck and all she could muster was “You’re pretty.” She said that when standing a foot away from Julia Roberts her beauty is striking and that if she weren’t a movie star, the only other career option that would be fitting would be as a fairy.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Eat Pray Love, I encourage you to make it the next addition to your nightstand. It’s a delicious book, almost literally, and it will feed your mind, your soul, and even a craving for a really good pizza.