White Girls

As a blonde, white, green eyed woman, the term “white girl” drives me a little batty.  Those lists of basic white girl characteristics or top 10 white people lists get under my skin.  I hate being put into a teeny, tiny check box.  So, if that little categorization of my “type” hits a nerve, imagine what decades or centuries of unflattering characteristics or generalizations does to your psyche.

I am a little anxious about putting this all out there as likely there are still areas I need to improve my own biases and judgments. But, if we want to have a conversation as a society about racism, let’s put it all out there… What I am about to write about is uncomfortable, provocative and offensive but I am putting it out there to put the light on what goes on behind closed doors when white people think they are amidst like minded folk. Often these people are our family members or extensions of our families, so it makes it next to impossible to drop them like a hot potato when they utter such disgusting remarks or beliefs.  They have no concept of white privilege.  They will argue with you until they’re blue in the face that they aren’t racist.  Yet, they don’t see the very undertone of their beliefs is the very definition of racism.  I don’t want my daughter to live in a world where we all just keep our mouths shut when Uncle Fred (not a real person in my family) says some utterly profane racist remark and everyone at the table snickers or remains awkwardly silent.  But, what is more unsettling are the comments or beliefs that have the hint of racism but unless you know what you are hearing or looking at, you can’t really define it as racism.  When questioned, it can be turned into “oh, you misunderstood me, I am not racist, I have black friends.”

No one wants to believe they are biased or racist, but even I have caught myself approaching a racist moment due to my own unjustified fear or ignorance on a cultural difference.  The difference is, I am willing to embrace my faults and improve upon them because at the very core of who I am, I don’t believe anyone is lesser than me or any less deserving of opportunity to live, pursue happiness and relish liberty.  I know I cannot be informed on all cultural differences but I want to learn.  I love traveling the country and the world to push myself out of my comfort zone, forcing myself to grow as a human and experience all that the world has to offer, regardless of the color of skin.  Let me give an example of a moment that my ignorance nearly resulted in an ignorant and potential racist Facebook post.  The recent events regarding the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson resulted in many characters and personalities on the news channels.  I listen to the news on Sirius XM radio while driving so I don’t see faces or identifying characteristics of the speaker.  Sure, I can impose my imagination based on accents, genders, names, etc… but overall, I have no idea what someone looks like as they speak.  Michael Brown’s family has a few lawyers.  I could assume due to the racial tension of this case that all of the lawyers involved with the family are African American, but what credence or bearing does that have on them being lawyers.  Anyway, during interviews and press conferences, a specific lawyer would say “queRstion” instead of the pronunciation “question.”  I found that pronunciation was very distracting to me.  I was seconds from posting on Facebook, “WHAT in the world is Missouri teaching in school that “querstion” is a word?!??!”  Then a little alarm went off in the depths of my mind, you better double check that word.  A quick google search revealed, that querstion is indeed a cultural/regional pronunciation.  Google also suggested links that had inquiries, of what I can only assume as white people, asking yahoo groups “why do black people say “aks” or “querstion?” If there is one thing I have learned from traveling, it’s that if someone doesn’t speak the same language as you, whether that be quite literally a completely different language, or a differing dialect of the same language you speak, it does NOT equate to them being stupid or lesser as a human being.  Hell, this particular example I am giving is a lawyer saying the word.  He obviously is a successful lawyer at that and let’s be honest here, I dropped out of law school, so who the hell am I to judge his pronunciation?!?!  If we want to get technical, many white people who live in the SAME region that querstion is a pronunciation for question, say waRSHing machines.  My point is, my lack of cultural knowledge led to a judgmental belief about the person saying a word.  A word… triggered that.

There are camps of white people who say things like “well I am sick of having to be politically correct” or “why should I have to be so careful with my words??”  Because, OUR white ancestors enslaved and exploited a race, or really, let’s be honest, MULTIPLE races. (Native Americans, Chinese, African Americans, etc…).  The beliefs that provoked The Civil War are still embedded throughout the country.  Just because Mr. White American and his family moved from Anytown, Midwest America to the Southwest in the 50s or 60s, doesn’t make the beliefs he grew up with and subsequently passed onto his offspring, any less offensive.  Sure, there are white people who are informed and acknowledge white privilege, but the vast majority of white America needs to take a deep, hard look in the mirror.  So here goes a long list of moments that I recall growing up in either Missouri or Southern California.  Even in college and my adulthood there have been incidents I have witnessed that if had they seen the light of day, would prove to be visceral fears of races and cultures.  This post is to put it out there as a white child, the moments where a conversation with me explaining racism and cultural differences could have guided me down different paths.  I am someone, who by nature questions everything, so I was eventually able to make up my own mind, but how many white children are raised in racist environments or maybe are unaware of how others’ treatment of different races/cultures is disgusting and unacceptable so these white children then grow up to exude the same attitudes and beliefs as those before them.

My earliest memory of racial conversations was when I expressed a crush on Eddie Murphy as a six year old, I was told that if I ever married and had a child with a black man, our children would be ridiculed and experience a difficult life, called names like “oreo” and “mulatto.”  Granted, at the time I was living in Missouri, so perhaps there is/was truth to that concern for future offspring, and knowing who it came from, I don’t believe that person has ill will toward any races, but it set the stage for future racial conversations and responses. I immediately had concern as a child over who I found myself attracted to or interested in as I grew older. I don’t remember much over the next few years as it relates to race, with the exception of two memories.

During this time, I had moved back and forth from California and Missouri, where racial makeup was markedly different.  In Southern California, I was often close to a minority in my school, my friends typically were White, Asian or Hispanic. But, when I was in Missouri, it never failed that I was almost completely entombed with white friends.  In Elsberry, MO, we were a very poor family, living in a house that would be condemned and torn down shortly after we moved away.  The town was a typical small town in America, everyone knew everyone and there was an “other side of the tracks” neighborhood.  I didn’t really know what that meant until I became friends with a black girl in my class.  She was a sweet girl who made me laugh and welcomed me, making me feel less like an outsider, since we were relatively new to the town and living in the ubiquitous Humpty Dumpty House.  (Don’t ask… ) I would walk home with her some days and then walk to my house.  She was the ONLY black girl in our class (the 2010 Census shows 2.4% as African American in Elsberry).  I soon found out she was teased and called horrible names.  One day, when we were walking to her home, someone yelled out at me, asking why I was walking with “that *******” (you know the word).  I hadn’t really heard that word previously and the look on her face when it happened still is unsettling to me.  I wish I could remember what I said to her or if I did say anything… the only thing I can remember after that is trying to be overly nice to her so she somehow subconsciously knew I wasn’t like those other people.  In my little kid mentality, I wanted to convey to her that I didn’t care that she was a different color, but instead I did treat her differently than other people.  Sure, it wasn’t a negative difference per se, but I wasn’t treating her like I would my white friends.  I don’t remember anything else but that blurb.  I wish I did.  I don’t even know if I was an asshole to her after that and stopped hanging out or if I said goodbye when we were going to move away… hell for all I know, she remembers (if she remembers me at all) this story completely differently.

Fast forward to Junior High… I had a crush on Mr. Seventh grade Iranian.  God, I thought he was the dreamiest of dreamies.  I was in seventh grade puppy love like nobody’s business.  I scribbled his name on my folders and prayed he would get paired up with me in class.  A family member caught wind of this and scolded me for liking a sand******.   They insisted and ranted that I would be disrespected and beaten should I ever marry someone like this man.  (As I write this I have to wonder, how were all of the childhood crushes always equating to marriage??  Don’t these adults know how childhood crushes work!??! But I digress…)  As a seventh grader, I didn’t understand the Middle East, and really had no concept of where my lovebug was from or what cultural differences we might have.  All I cared about were those dreamy eyes of his.  But, after multiple scoldings and being told my crush was unacceptable, I tried to give up my interest.  I suppose the summer helped give some distance and who knows, maybe I saw another dreamy Mcdreamerson, but I distinctly remember this crush and feeling so confused about my attraction to him once it was deemed dirty and unacceptable by multiple family members.  (I googled my dreamy lovebug, and he’s very successful these days, at least according to his Linkedin page ;P) These family members STILL say awful things about various cultures and races.  This is Uncle Fred level awfulness.

I remained in Southern California from seventh grade on, but would go back to Missouri for visits to see family.  I don’t distinctly remember any one event or moment, but I know I’ve heard some awful words about African Americans, insinuations that if I ever brought a “black man” to visit with me, various family members would disown me.  When I had a Korean BFF around the same time I loved Mr. Iranian lovebug, I was quizzed on how smelly their house was when I would come home after spending the night.  In reality, her family taught me a few Korean words, fed me amazing food and treated me with complete respect.  I dated a couple of Asian guys in High School and early college, at least one elderly person in my family professed “if you two have babies, you will have to put toothpicks in their eyes to keep them open.”  A couple of elderly people eventually changed their tune of “colored” and “oriental” after much ado.  But this leads to my last childhood moment that I will list, and it doesn’t reflect well on me whatsoever.  It came out of fear and ignorance, and all I can say is I am very thankful I have grown as a person to not feel this way anymore.

In the early to mid 1990s, in north Orange County, California, Buddhist temples were sprouting up.  Whether they were transforming homes in various neighborhoods or erecting large compounds juxtaposed to the strip malls strewn all over the area, it seemed like the area was being flooded by temples.  I heard at home, lots of awful rhetoric about “those Orientals.”  It was hard to compartmentalize what I heard at home since one of my two BFFs in high school was Vietnamese.  Her family welcomed me with open arms and to this day are lovely, amazing people to me.  But somehow they were different Vietnamese because they had “assimilated to American culture.”  Whatever the hell that means… I recall driving down a busy street, with my Vietnamese friend in the car, and I flipped off one of the new temples.  She immediately questioned me, “WTF are you doing?!?!  Why do you care???  Do you understand the meaning of that temple???  How is it different from a church???”  Initially, I rebuffed her questions with silence, but what Ms. Vietnamese BFF didn’t know is that she was the catalyst that led to me questioning it all.  By “it all” I mean, all of this build up of underlying prejudices and ignorance.

Sure, I am quick to correct or call out someone who uses a term like “oriental” or God, forbid other horrific racial inferences, but often I sit silently with my stomach in knots as I read or hear words of acquaintances, friends, and family saying things like “those people” or the use of “they” when referring to a race, creating an us v. them thought process.  When I asked a white tween why she doesn’t like Obama, and she responded “because he’s bla…” and I just looked at her in disbelief instead of quizzing the parents why their child has a blanket hatred for our President because of his color.  Within our white communities, we have to shed light on these moments, we have to face the vanilla frosted inferences for what they are… racism and bias.  Often born out of fear and ignorance.  It’s not scary to me to put blatant racists on notice, but it’s the types like Mrs. Old White Lady Who Bakes Cookies Every Holiday who means well but clutches her purse when a black man approaches, that I find myself struggling to find the courage to point out her fear and ignorance.  It’s the subtleties of our bosses and customers, that make for cringe worthy moments, but the fear of saying the wrong thing often outweighs calling it out.  It’s the Facebook posts and comments that highlight the very fabric of racism, but yet when I argue the very need to rethink said position is then debated over and over again with no room for growth or open-mindedness. It’s my amazingly intelligent female African American neighbor (she’s a rocket engineer!) who was tormented by the white neighbor across from her.  The one time the police came to Ms. Amazing’s house was because she had left to go to the airport and her alarm went off, the police and the alarm company ensured her home was safe before allowing her back into the home, but how did the other neighbor perceive it… Ms. Amazing neighbor was arrested for bad conduct and is a horrible person.  (The person actually wrote a letter to our HOA board to attempt to persuade the board to reconsider when they found out Ms. Amazing was newly appointed to our HOA).

As I wrap up this post, it is scary to put this all out there.  I kept many components as vague as possible to protect various family members, but maybe that in and of itself is part of the problem, I don’t know.  What I do know, is that if we want our children to grow up in a better society, we have to start somewhere, so here is my attempt at starting a conversation.



Pregnancy After Loss

So I’m 8 weeks pregnant. I don’t really know who exactly reads this blog and how many regular followers we have yet, so I don’t know who exactly I’m announcing this to. But I’m having major writer’s block because I have been trying to keep myself from writing about the biggest thing going on in my life at the moment. This thing that I carry in the back of my mind during every minute of every day and that has made the last month an extremely challenging one. Most everyone in my life (at least those I talk to on a regular basis) know about my pregnancy by now, so it’s not like I’m keeping it a secret. But I guess I haven’t felt like announcing it on social media yet because, well, pregnancy announcements are supposed to be happy, exciting things. And I’ll be honest: I don’t feel happy or excited about it at all right now. I’ve been pregnant for a month, and all I can think, because I know this fact all too well, is that this baby could be taken away from me at any moment.

The baby is doing well so far. We have seen her heartbeat twice and she’s growing on track. There is one complication of the pregnancy that has caused some bleeding and I’m being regularly monitored for it. It’s called a subchorionic hemorrhage and it’s an evil bastard and I just want it to go away and stop wreaking emotional havoc on me. Most pregnancies with these bleeds usually turn out fine, with no harm to mom or baby. But, when you’ve heard so many times about how “most pregnancies” turn out, but haven’t found yourself in that happy boat with all the other “most pregnancies” and instead have been in the sinking titanic over and over and over again…. it’s really hard for statistics and medical professionals’ optimism to put any sort of dent in your fear and anxiety.

And by the way, if one more person tells me to “think more positively,” or “just relax” I might punch them in the face. Truly. Pregnancy hormones combined with the stress and anxiety that I’m dealing with just may turn me into a very violent person and I just might break your nose.  Or burst into uncontrollable tears. It’s a toss-up. Probably not a risk you should take, either way.

Don’t get me wrong here with all this negativity. I’m grateful for this pregnancy. This baby is special and I’m already in love with it. The things we’ve gone through to get to this point have been impossibly difficult, and there were times that things were not looking good, and I thought we might never have another healthy child. I’m so incredibly lucky to have made it this far. The women I’ve met online through this journey have been my cheerleaders through it all and I couldn’t have been as strong through it all without them by my side. My family, especially my parents, have been an incredible support. They helped us by caring for RJ whenever I couldn’t and they helped us monetarily as well as just being THERE and loving us. My husband is eternally patient and supportive of me through all of it. I’m so amazingly lucky to have the opportunity to carry this pregnancy, and no matter how down and negative I get, I never forget all those wonderful things.

But some days, okay most days, those things are dwarfed by my utter exhaustion and physical misery. This is my sixth time going through the fun, fun first trimester. My third time going through it with a child to take care of. Granted, the last two times I went through it, earlier this year, were abbreviated. But I’ve been here before. I’ve been slightly sick-feeling and so unbelievably tired and still trying to deal with my toddler’s never-ending desire for constant attention and love. Add onto this a 4-week long sickness for RJ, and a cold for me a few weeks ago, and now possibly a second cold (I woke up with a sore throat this morning) and heaps and heaps of anxiety around my pregnancy, and what you’ve got is a Mama who is stretched paper-thin and doesn’t have any emotional energy left over for putting optimism and cheer out to the world.

Oh and did I mention I’m on pelvic rest because of the bleed complication? That means no sex, no exercise and no lifting. The first two are fine, because who’s got energy for that stuff right now, anyway, amiright? But no lifting??? When my sweet baby boy looks up at me those big, precious, blue eyes and says “Up, mama! up!” I have to tell him “No sweetie, I can’t pick you up right now”?  When he pulls away from me in a parking lot or a crowded store, I can’t pick him up and take him where we need to go? I can’t lift him into his crib or his high chair or onto his changing table or into the car? I can’t pick up up to carry him up and down the stairs with me (because YOU KNOW how long it takes to get up and down those stairs when he’s navigating them on his own!)? I can’t lift him into a grocery cart in order to do our shopping trip or carry him home from the neighborhood park when he’s tired? The answer to all of these questions from my Reproductive Endocrinologist was “If there’s any way you can avoid it, then no.” So that has added a ridiculously challenging element to our already long and difficult days.

We are coping though. We are muddling through. My parents are helping when they can. Mr. E came home early from work one day this week to do grocery shopping and cook dinner. I’ve gotten creative. RJ has a little blue step stool now that goes everywhere for us so that he can climb into and onto things all by himself. I’ve wrung out all the extra energy from my weary body to funnel it into convincing RJ’s stubborn toddler-self to do things and go places he doesn’t necessarily want to do and go to since I can’t drag him there myself anymore. I even got him to push the laundry basket into the laundry room for me the other day, since I can’t take it there myself (note also the random stray legos that seem to be taking over our house these days):

ryker laundry

Thanks, toddler-servant!

And so, life keeps going, and I just try to take it one day at a time, and hope, each day, that my new little baby’s heartbeat is still fluttering away in there, and that we will get to bring her home with us in June.


We live in California. There hasn’t been a lot of rain here in the past year or two. When it *does* rain, it is a really big deal. For RJ. (Oh, and because of the drought thing, of course, too.)

Yesterday was Halloween and RJ’s first time trick-or-treating. Yesterday we also got a visit from Grandma & Grandpa E to celebrate Mr E.’s birthday and to see RJ. But those two normally very exciting things were both trumped by the fact that it rained, and so RJ got to wear his new raincoat and rain boots and splash around in the puddles.


He had an incredible time. We eventually had to drag him crying back inside because we were cold and soaked through.  Hopefully it will rain again soon for RJ! (And for the drought too.)

I bought his rain gear a couple of weeks ago at our local consignment shop. (Because I’m totally not paying full price for rain gear when it’s only rained like 5 times in the last 5 years). (I might be exaggerating a little). Both his boots and jacket are way too big for him. But that just means the jacket covers him better, right?? And the big boots are helping him work on balance and stability. Those things totally make up for my cheapness and inability to find the right sizes used.

We have both been looking forward to a rainy day since the purchase was made:


On that same consignment store trip, I found a cute little Elmo basket, which just happened to go perfectly with his Halloween costume this year, which I spent way TOO MUCH money on. I’m not consistent. Sorry. Cheap one day, indulgent the next. But come on, was this picture, totally worth it, or what?


Happy Halloween, and happy rainy season, y’all!!!


I’m still here!

Keeping up a regular blog is hard work, people! But fear not, I have returned to entertain you all with my extraordinarily boring life details.

Well, I have recovered from my cold. RJ is still hacking his up. We’re almost at the 3-week mark with his illness and I’ve already taken him to the doctor twice. I’m predicting a third trip this week. Because, really? He’s still sick? He’s still coughing? This doesn’t seem normal. Are you sure you don’t hear or see something that a nice handy-dandy pill could fix so we could all get a bit more sleep and be a bit less cranky during the day???

Not that I’ve been dealing with lack of sleep or crankiness in awhile because MAMA TOOK A LONG-ASS VACATION!

I drove RJ to Nana & Pappy’s house on Thursday and didn’t see him again until this morning! That’s 4 and a half days! Round it up to 5! What did Mr. E and I get to do? We flew to Boston and I bridesmaided it up in a wedding. We slept in for three glorious days in a row. We spent long periods of time (on the plane) just reading and watching movies. I prepared food for no one. I changed zero diapers. I calmed zero tantrums.

We also skyped with RJ twice and talked about him constantly and missed him in a deep-down-achey kind of way.

He couldn’t have noticed our absence less though!

Good for him.

It is Mr. E’s birthday tomorrow. And I’m totally prepared and totally don’t need to run out shopping today to find something he won’t hate. I’m kinda hoping the Giants win the world series in Game 7 tomorrow, because then I could claim that I was anticipating that, and so I totally knew he wouldn’t need a boring present from his boring wife. Off I go, shopping with my cranky, forever-sick toddler!

Holiday Card Planning Season

I am slightly obsessed with our holiday card each year.  I don’t know why it is a thing for me, but it is.  I am almost sold on an idea, which I will share once we are all done, but here is what we did last year…There is nothing photoshopped in this scene!  TillyLadybugXmas

What are some clever or unique Holiday card ideas that you have used in the past or are toying with doing this next year?