All posts by Leah

Toddlers are like

This morning Justus runs into my room closely followed by Thalia, both of them wearing only a diaper. “Mom! You have to help Thalia be Wonder Woman! She needs her super suit! Mom where’s my Captain America?! I need to be Captain America!” They spent the morning running around with Justus yelling, “Time to save the day!” and Thalia, his ever faithful assistant, trailing behind.
How did they save my day? They brought me handfuls of cereal while I was getting dressed, Justus gently coaching her.

This afternoon he adamantly refused to take a nap. For four hours he refused to take a nap. After it took an hour to get his sister down, he woke her with his tomfoolery. I thought we’d finally negotiated our way to sleep when he began sobbing uncontrollably, “I miss my Daddy! I really, really love you! Please hold me!”

Tonight he listened and obeyed, did what I asked, helped his sister, and went right to bed without a fight.

Forget life. This kid is like a box of chocolates. I never know what I’m going to get. It’s always an adventure . . .

Veteran’s Day

I think it’s weird to say, “Happy Veteran’s Day.” It’s not really a happy holiday. It’s a day to be grateful for the sacrifice of the men and women who’ve borne the burden of our freedom.

So in a very particular order (I’m totally ranking them) I would like to thank the most important veterans in my life for their sacrifice.

4. Col. Levin Pinkney Tull was my paternal grandfather. He joined the Army Air Core and saw it become the Air Force of today, serving in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy of service lives on in our family. Thank you, Grandpa, for the immense sacrifices you made in service to your country.

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3. Pfc. Levin Prescott Tull is my baby brother. He joined the Army fresh out of high school and grew from a boy into a man while in Korea, his first assignment. Thank you, little brother, for your service.

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2. Capt. Candace Tull is my mother and one of the most amazing people I know. She did not join the Air Force until after all three of her children were born and she has always been an inspiration. Mom, thank you for your service, and for the wonderful example you set for me.

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  1. MSgt Keith Wilson is my amazing husband and father to our two beautiful children. He is currently serving overseas and has been for almost a year now. He has sacrificed so much for the sake of his family and his country and I am so proud to be his wife. Thank you.

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Starbucks is Not Persecuting You

So for starters, if you think Starbucks’ decision to have a red cup during the holiday season is some sort of religious persecution, you need to get a grip. While my personal preference would’ve been for a few snowflakes and something in navy, that is an aesthetic preference and has nothing to do with faith, Christianity, or persecution. When you compare this ridiculous non-issue to actual religious persecution, you not only sound absurd but you minimize the very real sacrifice of Christians who have suffered and died for their faith.

Secondly, Starbucks is not anti-Christmas. For goodness sakes. As proof I submit to you these pictures taken today at my local Starbucks, which is clearly a bastion of anti-holiday sentiment.

Christmas ornaments. Clearly the very thing to trick people into thinking you're NOT anti-Christmas
Christmas ornaments. Clearly the very thing to trick people into thinking you’re NOT anti-Christmas
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Cups that say Joy. You remember, that thing you’re supposed to be spreading?
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The bane of Christians everywhere – the advent calendar. Nothing says we hate Jesus more than a fun way to count down the days til our high holy day. Oh and of course the mislabeled “Christmas Blend” coffee. According to my barista, it’s actually supposed to say, “Anti-holiday Blend”.

Thirdly, Starbucks is a company, not a church. Their cups have always had a holiday theme but never been overtly Christian. Why now all of a sudden do you care?

Do you need a cause celebre? Pick an actual issue, one with real life consequences. You could be all het up about human trafficking, the lack of social justice, rampant homelessness, war refugees, world hunger, sexual slavery, racism, actual religious persecution.
But no. You’ve decided to focus on forcing people who may not even share your religious beliefs to wish you a, “Merry Christmas.” I repeat. Get a grip.

And shame on you. Shame on you for listening to pseudo evangelists who’ve forgotten the whole point of their ministry is to spread the Gospel, the good news of Christ’s salvation. Shame on you for following a politician who is clearly pandering to what he thinks is his political base.

American evangelicals have, for far too long, had the luxury of being the cultural majority (unlike much of the rest of the world). You now belong to a society that no longer thinks, feels, and believes the way you do. Congratulations. You can now begin to fulfill the Great Commission. This is not how you start.

And by the way, you do remember that Christ wasn’t actually born in December and that all those symbols you hold so dear were adopted from Pagan holidays in an effort to encourage people to turn to Christianity? Of course you do.

Knock off these ridiculous shenanigans and instead go back to the heart of Christmas, the real reason we’re celebrating. It isn’t about forcing others to celebrate with us. It is about the birth of a Savior, the hope of mankind, the gift of salvation.
“Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, peace, goodwill towards men.”  Luke 2:14
That is the man and the message worth being persecuted for, worth suffering and dying for. That is the church we are supposed to be. That is the Christmas we are celebrating.

Breastfeeding, the Church, & Me

The American church is doing a terrible disservice to the mothers of young children. For the umpteenth time, today I was made to feel ashamed, belittled, and embarrassed in a house of worship for taking care of my child and I am not the only woman who has experienced this, not by a long shot. It has gotten to the point where I dread going to church, where I wake up on a Sunday morning and debate if it’s really worth it. I am contemplating just giving up altogether until I no longer have small children because I am so tired of being hurt, chastised, and treated like a second class citizen.

I am, of course, talking about women who have the audacity to breastfeed their children in a church building without choosing to cloister themselves away.

We recently moved and have been searching for a new church home, but this problem began at my previous church, and I have been hurt and disappointed over and over again this past year. It is unconscionable that the church has allowed sex culture to become so pervasive that it has infiltrated our houses of worship. Even though the Bible speaks of breastfeeding as a blessing (Genesis 49:25) and speaks of God’s bosom as a place of safety and comfort (Isaiah 40:11), even though Christ himself specifically invited children into his presence (Matthew 19:14) and the word clearly indicates that nursing infants should be part of the church (Joel 2:16), apparently the sight of women using their breasts as God intended is far too scandalous a sight for the modern church.

Before you get all high and mighty about how immodest it is to feed a child, let me direct you back to the Bible. Modesty doesn’t mean what you think it means. That oft quoted verse about women “adorning themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly”? You have to keep reading the rest of the verse to learn that the proper clothing is good works and that Timothy is cautioning against ostentatious displays of wealth or focusing too much on your appearance (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

Now that we’ve covered some of what the Bible has to say on the subject, I’d like to address some of the ridiculous things that have been said to me in regards to breastfeeding in public and specifically in regards to breastfeeding at church.

  • Just use a cover. This is not an option for me and my child. I originally intended to use one but from day one if her head was covered, my daughter would unlatch and scream bloody murder until it was removed. I don’t really blame her; have you tried to eat under a blanket? It’s hot and uncomfortable. Also, it’s completely unnecessary.
  • Just pump. Not all women respond well to a pump. Some women get nothing at all. Additionally, it takes awhile. Plus, why on earth would I bring a bottle that I have to keep cold and then reheat when I can use the original God given storage containers and my child’s food is always at the perfect temperature and ready to go?
  • You’re doing it for the attention. Never once in my life have I disrobed, announced to the room that I am now breastfeeding, and then demanded that everyone pay attention to me. Usually, I can quietly feed my child and no one even notices. You know what they do notice? A screaming baby.
  • There are children present. Oh really? You mean like the one I’m currently feeding, because I’m pretty sure the very act of breastfeeding requires a child to be present.
    What are you concerned about, that they might learn it is a normal part of life? That you might have to answer the question, “What is she doing?” Do you know how you answer that question? Let me help you.
    “Mommy, what is that woman doing?”
    “She’s feeding her baby.”
    The end.
  • What about the teenagers, especially the teenage boys? What about the men present? Did you know that for the entirety of human history, babies were breastfed by their mothers until the advent of commercially available formula in the 1920s and 30s? For all those thousands of years, men of all ages were constantly exposed to breastfeeding women. And what was the end result? They saw it as normal. It was as common a sight as a bottle fed baby is today. Are we now going to treat men as animals, incapable of controlling themselves around the sight of an exposed breast being used for its biological and intended purpose? Is that what you truly believe about half the population, that they are slaves to their testosterone? Shame on you.
    The more people are exposed to breastfeeding, the more normal it becomes. Continuing to treat it as if it’s something shameful not only discourages today’s young women from nursing their children in the future but doesn’t give men the opportunity to be supportive husbands and fathers who are doing what’s best for their families.
  • You’re leading others into sin. To be quite honest, this one just ticks me off. Are there men who are aroused by the sight of breastfeeding women? Sure. There are also folks with foot fetishes; should I wear orthopedic shoes so as not to arouse them? I’m a plus sized woman; should I wear a burlap sack so as not to arouse a chubby chaser? Heck I’m a woman; maybe I should just cover myself from head to toe so that no man has to look at me and risk lusting uncontrollably. Is the church going to start advocating burkas?
  • As parents we’re required to make sacrifices. I was so taken aback when someone said this to me in the context of nursing in church that it took me a moment to respond. All parents make sacrifices but not attending church isn’t one of them. In fact, the Bible clearly says we need to be very careful to NOT stop meeting together as a body (Hebrews 10:25).
  • Go to the nursing mother’s room. Have you been to these rooms? The vast majority of them are small, dark, uncomfortable. They’re often a neglected area, usually with a couple of creaky rocking chairs and maybe a changing table. They may or may not have the service piped in.
    If I wanted to watch service on TV or listen to it on the radio, I would’ve just stayed home. I came to church because these are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I want to corporately worship with them. While offering a nursing mother’s room is a GREAT thing for mothers who want to use them and who feel more comfortable there, requiring that nursing mothers leave the service to feed their babies is wrong. Asking them to leave the presence of God because you are uncomfortable, even though they are doing NOTHING wrong , is ludicrous.
    Additionally, new babies eat ALL THE TIME. My daughter would nurse at least every two hours, and for the first couple of months those nursing sessions often lasted forty-five minutes. It was not just a matter of stepping out for a few minutes. It literally meant I would miss the entire sermon.
  • Equating breastfeeding to waste products or sex acts. If you really feel that a baby eating is the same as either sex and/or defecation, go read this and then come back.

The church is shooting itself in the foot when it comes to young families. By castigating nursing mothers, by relegating them to an inferior status, by treating them as if they are harlots, the church is losing people. Not only are they losing the parents; they are losing the opportunity to influence the next generation.

In the very first book of the Bible, scripture tells us that God created mankind in his own image, man and woman (Genesis 1:27), and he reinforces the notion of woman having been made in his image when he is referred to as El Shaddai (Genesis 17:1), the many breasted one, the nourisher, the giver of strength. (Don’t believe me? Check out Scofield’s commentary on the subject.) When you shame a mother for nursing in church, you aren’t only disparaging her; you are disparaging the very nature of God, the one whose nature she displays.

Please, Church People, hear my heart. I am hungry for the word of God and hungry for a church home. I desperately want to belong to a community where I am welcomed, where I can bring my children, where they can experience the love of Christ in a real and tangible way. But I have no desire to bring them to a place where they watch their mother be marginalized time and again just for being a mom, just for taking care of their most basic needs, just for doing what God created me to do.

I’ve looked at the blueprints y’all. There was no nursing moms room in the original tabernacle. And you do know Jesus was breastfed, right? If he doesn’t have a problem with it, then neither should you.

**The original version of this post included my interpretation of what happened. It was posted in hurt, and because I fear it may have hurt others or have been misinterpreted, it has been removed.**

Star Search

My mom was helping me take the kids out to the car tonight after the sun had set. When I used the remote to unlock the car, the head lights came on. Justus stood in front of one of the headlamps and started talking to it, singing, having a whole conversation. Thalia saw what was happening, walked up to the other headlamp, and started dancing and spinning in circles.

“Oh my gosh!” my mom exclaimed. “They’re doing exactly what you used to do! Don’t you remember?”
I gave her a blank look. “Um, no. What are you talking about?”
“When you were a kid, you used to think the head lights were stage lights and anytime you saw one like this you’d start performing. That’s exactly what your children are doing!” She laughed. “Chalk one up for genetics.”

Just then the lights flicked off.
“Oh no! What happened?”
“You got the crook buddy. You’re getting played off. Let’s get in and buckle up.”

Dear Col. Iverson

Dear Col. Iverson,

My name is Leah Wilson. I am an Air Force wife and mother of two small children. Although my husband is not currently stationed at Mountain Home AFB, as a member of the Air Force community and as a nursing mother who could someday wind up living at Mountain Home, I felt compelled to follow up yesterday’s phone call to your hotline with an open letter.

I am gravely concerned about your new breastfeeding policy for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that this new policy is an unreasonable burden on the women you claim to respect. Though breastfeeding is a natural process it is not an intuitive one. In fact for the vast majority of women there is a steep learning curve and any number of challenges they may face. Instituting a discriminatory and sexist policy is not in any way respectful of them or their needs. Requiring them to use a cover, which by the way many children (including my own) refuse to nurse under, or to relocate themselves, all their things, and any additional children to a separate area while simultaneously juggling a now screaming infant (because he’s hungry but not allowed to eat for fear of his needs offending someone’s delicate sensibilities) is a ridiculous expectation. Not only is it discriminatory and sexist but it draws even more attention to the nursing mother than if she were simply permitted to feed her hungry child as she chooses.

Additionally, while your memorandum specifies this policy applies to nursing mothers in a customer service area, it does not clarify what constitutes a customer service area. For example, the BX and the Commissary both by their very nature serve customers. Are they considered a customer service area? Do I have to stuff my children and all our things into the manager’s office with any other nursing mothers and their kids? What about the waiting room at the pharmacy? Or the clinic? Should I request the appropriate office in those locations as well? Are we allowed to go to the park or do we have to leave every time my child needs a snack? I’m sure you’re aware that children nurse more when it’s hot, similar to the way adults drink more water. You can see how utilizing outside facilities would become very impractical when we have to leave every 15 minutes so the baby can nurse.

Also, I am curious about the legality of this policy. Although I know base commanders certainly have the discretion to institute new policies over those under their command, I am not sure they have the authority to revise federal law. It seems unlikely that a base commander would be allowed to essentially reverse a federal discrimination law, specifically Public Law 108-199, Section 629, Division F, Title VI (January 23, 2004), which provides that “a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.” (As an aside, I am quite curious what the law you referenced has to do with breastfeeding since it seems to deal primarily with loan origination fees.)

While it may never have occurred to you that this policy is discriminatory and sexist, I would beg to differ. It is by its very nature sexist, as only women will ever be asked to relocate while feeding their children. Furthermore, it is undoubtedly prejudicial as only one segment of the population will ever be effected by it, unless you plan on expanding this policy to include all children, regardless of how and from whom they receive their nutrition.

Finally, I am dismayed that this has even become an issue. I recognize that our culture has become so misogynistic that it can only conceive of the female body as a sex object but I am disappointed that Mountain Home’s Air Force leadership has taken the same stance. Breasts are not a sex organ. Their primary bodily function is to feed children. Two generations ago, this policy would have been laughed down before it was ever sent out a memorandum for record because women feeding their children was not something they had to be ashamed of. It was, and is, a normal part of life for billions of people the world over. Except, apparently, at Mountain Home AFB.

I strongly urge you to reconsider this ludicrous and burdensome policy which in no way respects the rights of nursing mothers.

Sincerely,
Leah Wilson

UPDATE:
As of the morning of April 23, 2015, Col. Iverson has rescinded the previous policy!
http://www.mountainhome.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123446020
Thank you, Colonel Iverson, for listening to the concerns of so many and for responding so quickly.

 

 

The Febreeze Incident

We had our first poisoning yesterday. I’d just finished hanging our new shower curtain in the bathroom. The kids had come in to hang out with me because I’m the coolest. I turned to grab something off the counter and quicker than I could blink Justus grabbed the can of Febreeze off the back of the toilet and squirted it directly into his eyes.

Of course he immediately started screaming. I scooped him up and proceeded to stick his head face up beneath the kitchen faucet with the water running. This of course was his favorite thing ever.

After about a minute I put him down and called Poison Control whose number I have programmed into my phone for just such an occasion. They were so kind and helpful. They informed me that it takes about 15 minutes to thoroughly irrigate the eyes and suggested we strip down and get in the shower. They told me what to watch for and said they would call back in an hour to check on us.

I quickly shucked mine and Justus’ clothes and into the shower we went. This was his NEW favorite thing. I am standing in the shower holding a naked, screaming toddler. At our feet on the outside of the tub little sister is also screaming because she is NOT in the shower. These lovely, dulcet tones rang out for a good 20 minutes. Afterwards he seemed much better and fortunately did not need to go to the ER. I plopped him in front of the TV like the award winning mother I am to let him calm down and finish Dumbo, then tried in vain to get his sister to sleep.

Wondering what all the fuss was about
Wondering what all the fuss was about
Mustering up a smile for the camera
Mustering up a smile for the camera

Half an hour later he was conked out in his bed and she was wide awake, too wound up from all the excitement to possibly go to sleep. She finally went down around midnight.

 

April Update

At 11 months of age, Thalia completed her first half marathon, following in her father’s footsteps. When asked about her experience Thalia responded, “It was amazing and I can’t wait to do it again. Pushing for a new PR!”

Thalia resting after this morning's grueling mountain race
Thalia resting after this morning’s grueling mountain race

Justus, meanwhile, is preparing for his first exhibit at the MOMA. A collection that’s been called reminiscent of Gustav Klimt, the pieces include works in crayon, tempera paint, and ball point pen, as well as a collection of photographs. “I take my inspiration from many places,” Justus responded when asked.,”My parents, my heros, my life experiences, the world around us.”

Justus explaining the juxtaposition of modern and classical in his most recent work
Justus explaining the juxtaposition of modern and classical in his most recent work

“We’re just relieved these paintings will pay for college,” responded Justus’ father Keith Wilson.

“I’m just hoping this run will make Thalia tired enough to sleep for at least 3 hours,” said mother Leah.

Better Days

Yesterday morning was the best morning I’d had all week. Wednesday night after I emotionally threw up on my dad (and my blog) I woke up the next day to him folding the laundry I’d left downstairs. Then he helped me wrangle the kids until he went to work.

I received so many texts and emails, messages and phone calls from friends who just wanted to encourage and love me.  It didn’t fix everything but it helped a bit, reminded me I’m not alone, that there are people standing with us, praying for us, just loving us through this.

Today Mom came home, and although my daughter still thinks sleep is stupid and my son is still wound up tighter than a spring, it was a better day.

Thalia is starting to babble more and more and she’ll be crawling before I know it. She’s started trying to scoot around the floor in earnest; tonight she was spinning in circles trying so hard to get some momentum. She loves her new bouncy chair and seems to grow more and more enamored with her brother every day.

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And lately he just can’t get enough of her. He loves “helping” her bounce in her new chair. He’s been practically smothering her with hugs. This afternoon when she didn’t want to sleep, I left her to fuss and talk herself into a nap. Normally she’s out in just a couple of minutes but this time she just wouldn’t go down. I went up to check on her and discovered Justus had been sneaking out of bed and giving her stuffed animals to help her.

Hugs!
Hugs!

Tonight when she woke up, he jumped out of his chair, headed for the stairs, and yelled, “I’m coming Talley! I’m coming!” I had to reassure him that I could in fact take care of her and that I would bring her down to him.

Today was not our easiest day ever but it was definitely a better one, filled with small moments of joy that added up to a whole lot of good.

Worn Out

I wish that I had something funny or encouraging or uplifting to say, but the fact is that I am just plumb worn out. I’m exhausted – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I don’t understand why God has brought us to this place in life. Did we misunderstand him? Did we hear wrong? Were we disobedient in some way? 
Continue reading Worn Out