Friday, March 8, 2019

Empowerment: The Women Who Came Before Me, Who Stand Beside Me and Who Shape the Future After Me

The whole "Your Word of the Year" was popular this year during the new year.

Mine was "Empowerment"
Now,a s you can tell from the definition above, it can mean to either empower someone or the state of being empowered to do something.

I fell in love with this concept and it became my word of the year. I believe in empowering others. There is nothing more important than to lift each other up. But that does not mean you need to forget about yourself. I need to realize I have the power and authority to do all the things I want to and need to. As a mother, as a wife, as a professional, as a family member and as a friend.






On this International Women's Day, I choose to appreciate all the women in my life, past and present, who have given me the power to be, without apology, who I am today.



Growing up, I had a plethora of female role models to look up to. I didn't have to look far, as many were in my family. A Mother, two grandmothers, and four aunts.



I have women who came before me to help shape who I am today:

My mother, who is the biggest Detroit Tigers fan you will find, defied misogyny and forced gender roles her entire life. The sister of two brothers, she was a natural tom-boy, playing with the boys in the neighborhood, and forwent the frilly dresses her mother would have preferred her to be in all the time. She was a swim champion, who eventually became the Director of Women's Athletic Activities, and after I was born had several other positions, and is currently the manager of a doctor's office. Growing up, Mom was the one who mowed the lawn, grilled the hamburgers and steaks, and loved Detroit sports more than anyone I know, particularly the Tigers and the Lions. She kicked the soccer ball around with my sister and me, and practiced our throwing, pitching and catching in the backyard. She was the backbone and manager of my dad's choir performances, making sure ticket orders were processed, parent volunteers were kept in check and busy, money was handled with care. She was and is one of the hardest workers I know. She is also one of the most caring, generous, sensitive and loving mother and now grandmother anyone could ask for. I am so thrilled that BabyCPK also has a wonderful role model to look up to.


My mother, me and my grandmother on my graduation day

My one grandmother passed before I was 8, so I regret not getting to know her better. My mom's mom however, lived until 2012, the year I met Breaky. That grandmother found herself a widow with 3 young children when my mother was 11. She raised two boys and my mom and had to become self-sufficient. She was outspoken, opinionated where it counted, and could work social circles so effectively that it could make your head spin. When she was older, she threw herself in to many volunteer opportunities. So much so, that she often had to consult her calendar to make time to see her grandchildren, which she always willingly did. She adored her family. She loved her children, her children-in-law, her daughter inlaw-inlaw as she called my fraternal aunt, her five grandchildren and we know she would have loved her great-grandchild.

This blog post would be impossibly long if I went through all the numerous accomplishments of the rest of my wonderful female relatives. I did pay homage to the aunt we lost in November, so imagine if I tried to include all female relatives in my life! This blog post would take years to read. But I am related to women who owned their own businesses, served on school boards, were and are teachers, volunteers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and so, so much more.



Today, I have women who stand beside me and continue to help build me up to a better person: 

My sister is amazing. She is my best friend and confidant. She and I learned a lot from each other growing up. We made mistakes together, we fought, we laughed, we grew as individuals and eventually grew into strong women who had a great relationship with their sister. She and I even lived together for a few years after I got done with college. We didn't kill each other either! That's saying something. She is now a teacher and has my utmost respect, because being a teacher is something I could not do, as I simply do not have the patience, skill set and general amazingness it takes to do that job. I know she works tirelessly, and often thanklessly, every single day to make a difference in "her kids" lives. On this International Women's Day, I know she is unconsciously making a difference in a little girl's life that will make a lasting difference.

My sister and me hours after BabyCPK was born. She braided my hair and at the time it was the nicest thing anyone had every done for me in the history of ever. (I was still in pain and reaaaalllly tired and gross ok?) Perfect example of building others up. 


I have worked with many individuals. In a recently previous position, I had a mentor, a woman, who instead of helping me be a better professional, sabotaged my career in that institution. I do not hate her, nor do I hold any ill-will. Because of her, I have found a job I am good at and will continue to strive in. It does, however, show the importance of sticking together and building others up instead of tearing them down. My current coworker and I have been through so much. Many leadership changes, physical location changes, personal meltdowns, office politics. And we are still here. She helps me as a professional and as a person every single day. I tell her every chance I get that she is one of the reasons I enjoy working where I do, doing what I do every day.

I married in to another family of strong, wonderful women. My sister in law has three absolutely amazing children, with one on the way, runs a ranch and a plethora of other jobs associated with the ranching business. Just hearing what she has on her plate makes me tired, but also extremely proud. My mother in law has a drive to travel that makes any adventurer jealous, and is a caring and creative spirit who follows her passions. She does pottery and makes amazing works of art, can sew a doll for her grandchildren in minutes, and is constantly surprising us with her next adventure in crafting.

I recently did a post regarding female streamers. I am empowered daily by their attitudes and tenacity to follow their passion in the way that works best for them.

I have friends that have shaped and continue to shape who I am. Similar to my female relatives, this blog post would probably break Blogger due to how long the post would be. I have so many female friends who have meant the world to me: college roommates who became best friends, former coworkers who became friends, my "pocket mom friends", and so many more.


And of course, there is the next generation of women who will shape the future that the women of today helped build the base for. 

Last year, I wrote a letter to my week-old daughter about my feelings about her as a woman growing up in the world today. I still feel the same way. I am encouraged by how many strong female role models she has, and so extremely excited to see her shape her own future and become a female who is empowered and empowers others.




Sunday, March 3, 2019

One Year Old. Looking Back and Bonus Cake Smash Pictures!



If you are not familiar with my blog, I purposefully do not use names in order to give us a little big of privacy. 


On 2/28/2018 our lives changed forever.

BabyCPK was born.

2/28/2019 she turned 1. The Earth rotated around the sun. Her father and I changed, but not half as much as she did. From a little potato who could pretty much only cry, feed and poop to a toddler who can say "dada" and "Aa daa" (all done) and "Hello" and thinks it is hilarious when Daddy has to chase after her when she crawls all the way to DogCPK's water bowl before we notice.

We have not yet had her one-year doctor's check up, but as far as we can tell, she is very happy and healthy (fingers crossed, knocking on wood, throwing salt behind my right shoulder....or is it left?) That's not to say we as new parents haven't had our trials and tribulations. As many people have pointed out, we are not doing one thing or another that maybe we should be doing. Mind you, if we did, we'd have one very confused little girl, as so much advice has been contradictory. What Breaky and I have agreed upon though, is that we are doing the best we can as parents. BabyCPK comes first in all aspects.


One thing I have not done, however, is take care of myself. The weight didn't continue to come off after I stopped breastfeeding. If anything, it came back with a vengeance. It is important, however, to show BabyCPK that we can lead by example when it comes to taking care of our bodies, as well as our minds. Not to sound like I'm making excuses, but so much of taking care of oneself revolves around a schedule/routine of some kind. If you are involved in the esports' scene at all, you know that routine in your personal life is almost obsolete.  We'd set up a very reasonable gym schedule, or system for planning meals for the week, only to be thrown for a loop when Breaky is gone for 2 weeks, or is casting from 4-8pm for 4 days in a row. That, plus some work-related stress these past few months, and I have not put my well-being as a priority.

One thing that has helped us both as parents is the fact I am a part of a "bumpers group." I wrote in detail in a separate blog post about how very important that group has been for us, and continues to be.

So all we can hope for is for all of our little family to continue to be and become happier and healthier every single day. And most of all, continue to love each other unconditionally.




On Friday, we had a great friend Dylan Jeffery come by and take pictures while BabyCPK had her cake smash session.













Some of the amazon links for some of the items used in the cake smash:









Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!




Breaky travels a lot. That means that sometimes he misses holidays or milestones. We've been apart for an anniversary, a number of Thanksgivings, a birthday, was gone four days before our wedding and two weeks before BabyCPK was born. Needless to say, I'm used to it by now. 

This is our first Valentine's Day apart however. 

Breaky is at the WePlay! @DotA2 Valentine Madness tournament. The whole theme is "Valentine's Day" so obviously, it is happening over the Valentine's Day holiday. They even had the panel and host in onesie pajamas and the casters in cupid/angel get-ups.


I mean, check out this stage! They really went all out on this theme, huh? 






Gives a new meaning of "he's my angel"

Obviously, having him gone is great for his career, but it makes me sad. It also means I am handling our bundle of joy on our own for 2.5 weeks. I am exhausted. BUT we are SO incredibly proud of him, and we know it is not easy for him either. He works so hard and it can't be easy being away from us.

Breaky and I have been together since 2012. We clicked immediately. We met originally online on OKCupid and chatted for months. We finally decided to meet up and were chatting about where to go. I mentioned that where he chose to go to dinner and the movie was super close to my apartment. He mentioned it was close to his too! He lived in (apartment complex). NO WAY, SO DID I! Turns out, after much discussion about where our apartments were, we realized we were right across the lawn from each other.


We had that date, and 6.5 years later are married, got a dog and have a child.



When we were dating, and when we got married, I did not think I could love anyone more than I loved Breaky. I still love him just as much, if not more, but since we had BabyCPK, I have to say that my love for her is so deep, mostly because she is the creation of our love.



So, BreakyCPK, I still love you as much, if not more, than I did the first time we said "I love you




Thursday, January 31, 2019

What a weird $%^&*() week

What a weird $%^&*() week


We knew the weather was going to be bad this week. I even took my work laptop home with me just in case. It's Michigan.

So the weekend went very well. We did a bunch of organizing, baby proofing and cleaning. Sunday night, I started to get some heartburn and feel a little weird. Weird turned into gross and well..... either I had the stomach flu or food poisoning.

Because the U.S. maternity laws suck, I really can't take full days off, so I bundled myself in a blanket and slowly but surely worked as much as I could, while quarantining myself from the rest of my family. Except for Dogcpk, who obviously knew I wasn't feeling well, because she was a lot more cuddly with me than usual. I had to avoid everyone else because I really didn't want to get anyone else sick in case it was the stomach bug. Breaky was (at the time) leaving for California for work. How horrendous would it be if he was feeling the way I did and had to cancel or delay his trip. And getting BabyCPK sick? Putting her through this? Still makes me all anxious and icky inside.

Well, after whatever-I-had started running a different course than it does when I have had the stomach bug in the past, Breaky and I started to think about what I could have eaten that would have caused this.

Then it hit me.


I did not look at the expiration date on the mayo I used on a sandwich I had this weekend.


It was from 2017.

Needless to say, we figured out why I was sick.



So that was Monday.



And with all that, Breaky's flights kept getting delayed, cancelled, delayed then cancelled, and making everyone anxious. Or as Breaky said "tilted". Side note: we are no longer allowed to let Breaky play any game while "tilted".

So Tuesday, I decided to work from home, just in case. I didn't want to get sick at work, or get others sick at work. So while I worked, Breaky was going back and forth with the airport and the studio regarding his flights, delays and cancellations. And an interesting message. As it stood, he was going to go to California for a few days for an event, then hop on a plane to go to Sweden. He then got a message that another studio wants him for a possible event in another international country. Literally right after the one in Sweden. So he would be gone from Wednesday (1/30/2019) until 2/17/2019. That's right ladies, he will miss Valentines day. He's missed anniversaries, Thanksgivings, his own birthday, and plenty of family gatherings. I believe this is the first missed Valentines day. We talked about it, and of course I support any work he gets, within reason. We will be fine.



At 2:00 pm, my work cancelled for Wednesday due to cold weather. We're talking like, wind chill of -30s. So, makes sense. So no work on Wednesday, which is good, because that means we can take Breaky to the airport (maybe). By dinner time, I was feeling well enough for some real food that Breaky braved the roads for. By the time dinner was done, I had been able to keep everything down, so I knew I was on the road to recovery.


At night, Breaky and I put BabyCPK down and played some games downstairs. That's when he got the call that the new flight would be 7:00am at the local airport. Well, we'll see.


BabyCPK still thinks that teething sucks and the misery is best shared with the people who love her the most. So, up at 10 pm, and 1:00 am. Whooo. It was my turn to get her to bed, because, hello, Breaky is traveling. So what does he do? Wakes me up at 3:15 am to let me know his flight is delayed.

Me: "Well, darn, I'm sorry babe"
Breaky: "Well, there is a flight at like 5:45 am they said I could take."
Me: "So your flight is technically delayed early? We need to leave, like now"

So, we bundled up everyone (minus dogcpk) and head/slide to the airport. I drove, as I learned how to drive in icy, Michigan winters. Mr. Breaky California did not. Roads were really bad and it was really cold. It seemed, though, that someone upstairs was looking out for us, because Breaky's flight actually happened. Spoiler alert, he even made it to California.

(NOT TAKEN THIS WEEKEND! taken a few years ago)

BabyCPK, of course, didn't know that a snow day meant that we could sleep in, so a 7:00 am wake up. Little sleep for still-recovering-from-food-poisoning MommaCPK. Of frickin course.

NOT TAKEN THIS WEEKEND! 
Don't have your kids outside in this wind chill!


So Breaky is in California, I have been cooped up in the house basically since Friday afternoon.


And work/school is cancelled for Thursday (today) too.



I need to get out of this house. Stupid negative degree wind chill.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year

2018 was a whirlwind for both me and my family.

I could write a novel about all the firsts, all the highs, all the lows, lots going on.

So instead, I'm making a bunch of top 5 for 2018. 

Top 5 Products

1. Caramel Cantina Cami
Not going to lie, I definitely lived in these for at least the first three months after BabyCPK was born. Still where them now, just for lounging around the house.
2. Aquaphor Baby
Now, I will try not to make every single thing on this list about baby stuff, but OMG does this stuff work like no other when it comes to diaper rash or dry, irritated skin of the baby.
3. Tula Baby Carrier
This was a huge help, especially in the beginning when BabyCPK was a newborn and we needed to get stuff done around the house, or if we were going out and didn't want to deal with the stroller.
4. Zattcas Womens V Neck Maxi Dress
As I struggled with (and let's be honest, still struggle with) getting my body back after a kid, this dress helped so much when I needed to wear something nicer, but cool and comfortable.
5. Cast Iron Skillet
If you do not have one, get one. Hands down one of the most used item in our kitchen.

Top 5 Photos

Guess who makes an appearance in each one?
Now these are my personal favorite photos. I did my #Top9 thing on my Instagram (@duchesscpk). I encourage you to check it out.









Top 5 Personal Favorite Blog Posts
Meaning the posts I enjoyed writing the most, or meant the most to me
1. Player 3 has Entered The Game
2. Butter Boys
3. Twitch and Makeup
4. When He's Here but not "Here"
5. Geek Parents

Top Moment in 2018
Because let's be honest, what else would there be. The birth of our daughter was a life-changing experience that I wouldn't give up for the world.