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About

Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

Mama's Nest

Newness Thursday, January 31, 2008 |

We've been crazy traveling fools here in the Allen family. Well not really too crazy, and we haven't really traveled anywhere more than a couple hours away, but I feel like we've been up to something. The past 48 hours have seemed more like 48 days. In a good sort of way.


Yesterday brought a trip down to Indianapolis where X and David spent their first full day alone! Two words: Children's Museum. (Went splendidly by the way) They enjoyed a Papa/Son date while Mama got herself a new tattoo. Nest? Blackbird? Check! (Thanks Monte)

And on the way home, we stopped to pick up our new baby puppy love, sweet, sweet, Solomon.


He's just what we were missing...

and all is well with the world.

• 12 Chirping

Another Bloggy Giveaway! Monday, January 28, 2008 |

So once again I am late, really late, 400 and something late... but here it is. Another Bloggy Giveaway Carnival and I have for you... A cute little child size ring sling, perfect for a little babywearer-to-be,

A glimpse of things to come from nest? Maybe, just maybe! I'm not telling!

To enter just leave a comment here. If you don't have a blog make sure you leave your email or another way to contact you. And be sure to check out all the other giveaways. Giveaway ends February 3rd. Good luck!

• 158 Chirping

Dread Head Sunday, January 20, 2008 |

The front, the back, the wrap...
(Don't mind the crazy face, I was a little excited!)







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• 15 Chirping

Hello |

I have dreads. Dreadlocks. My hair. Long day, awesome girls, new 'do. Love it. Picture to follow. FFM's up tomorrow.

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One Month Removed Saturday, January 12, 2008 |



I have been hesitant to discuss the details of my father's death. Hesitant because everyone has an opinion. Because people judge. Because my sister's father in law thought the day after my dad died would be the perfect time to trash him to our pastor. The pastor of the church we attend. David works. The pastor we chose to speak at my father's funeral.

And I don't know at this point what anyone knows. What my best friends know. What I know. But it's been a month (already? finally?) and I need to talk, I need answers, I need to do something. I can't find words. It's hard to speak. But here I can. I can get things out. Little, by little, by little.

My father took his own life. He hanged himself. At his home. Upstairs. I know why. And I don't know why. My father would NEVER do that. The man who raised me, who loved me, who was prouder of me and my family and my son and my being than should have been possible, never could have, never would have. He spoke out about such things. Spoke out because his father took his own life.

Which leads us to the man that really killed my father. The man, or the side of the man or piece of the man. The man with a disease. An illness. An illness that carries such stigma that despite cries and cries and cries for help, his life ended, was stolen. Gone.

He was an addict. Alcohol, pot, was what I knew. Was what I witnessed growing up. But at some point dabbling with other things, stronger things, took over. There were secrets. Bits and pieces. Some people knew the truth, new in reality what he was doing. That he was doing things he was always disgusted by. That he was changing and losing himself to these things. And yet, rather than help, they contributed. They kept secrets. Secrets of things that I still am not completely aware of. The tox report still isn't back and when it is I will know for sure, but best I can judge my father was in his final days.

Addicted to crack.

And even in my struggle to put an end to the stigma I shutter as I say that.

He was depressed. Who wouldn't be? Who seeing something so awful take control of their life would not fight and falter? And he did. At 50 he put himself in rehab for the first time. He detoxed and stepped out into the world with a clearer mind. We saw and had more of him those days than we had had in months, years. It was lovely. And at the same time he was set up for failure. I can only imagine the amount of courage, humility, humbling it took to say "I need help" and yet after a few days in hospital he was sent on his way with a half-assed plan for counseling and more drugs to help him not want to do the drugs his body, mind, wanted him to do. He was released into tainted situations. Released into the arms of people who were content to continue keeping secrets.

And you might want to feed me all the lines we hear so much. "He was a grown man", "You can't help people who don't want to help themselves", "He should have just got it together". But that's where the problem lies. The stigma. He was sick. Had a disease, a disease that I myself have struggled with and know the power of all too well. So was he a grown man? In years yes, but those years had been stunted and clouded by addiction. Did he want help? HELL YES. Why didn't he get it together? It's just not that easy. And I am content to say, I'm certain he'd tried.

He'd asked for help, seen doctor, after doctor, after doctor. And doctor, after doctor, after doctor wrote him a prescription and sent him on his way. After detox he got worse. He got worse because he had a clean slate and had to hide things all at the same time. His dabbling and overwrought moderation turned to more secrecy and binging. He hit bottom again and again. He drug his butt back to the hospital and told them HE WAS THINKING OF KILLING HIMSELF. And then they let him go.

I've read about these cases in my studies. Watched the stories on TV. But this was my Daddy. My son's dearly beloved Grandpa and I'll be damned if I'm content for it to happen again. To anyone.

And so I feel compelled to tell you about my Dad. The man he really was. The man who's life, should not be overshadowed by his passing. Clifford Eugene Wells, was a good man. A great man. The most loving, caring, giving man I have yet to meet. Perfect? No. But he'd be the first to tell you.

My father was an artist. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with him as I child in awe of the perfection with which he could sketch my favorite cartoon characters. His paintings sit in my house as memoirs of his youth. Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker. The greats.

My Dad was a musician. His voice would never have sold records, this half yell, part melody, part chuckle, but he sang still as free as a bird. His guitar was his baby, self taught and beloved. When I close my eyes I am immersed in backyard memories. Coming home too late at night I could usually find him out back by the pond. My silence, his notes plucked and strummed and sung away.

And while those are things he loved, things he found his identity in, the best thing about my Daddy was his heart. Despite the dark side, the things my father must have seen in his days, he held a child like innocence. He loved like a child. Cared unabashedly for everyone. He'd strike up a conversation in the check out line and gush to strangers about his kids. His grandkids. His fish. Anything. He'd walk into my house with a holler and a knock and make a bee line for my boy. In seconds they'd be rolling around on the floor together bursting with laughter. His enthusiasm was infectious.

And as with any father there were times when we fought. Times he annoyed and embarrassed me to no end. In high school my friends would come over to hang out with him. And when poor David asked him for permission to marry me, I never wanted to show my face again. And now as an adult those moments just add to the endless list of reasons I am enamored. Honored to be his daughter. What I would give to have just one more argument with him! To have an opportunity to thank him for my crooked nose. For proclaiming me a tree.

I am bruised and beat up and broken. I am trying my best to keep it together and am all together not okay. But it's not about me. It's about him. About disappointment and failure. I want to place blame and I could. We all could. At the secret keepers. At the lack of communication. At professionals who didn't take the time. At the fact that my brother and I are getting more information through hearsay and from the police than from family. We don't need protecting. We need truth.

My father needed truth.

I still have moments I forget. I am still practicing speaking and thinking in past tense. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up the phone to call him to tell him something trivial. And then I remember. I remember and I still let the phone ring, because that's still his voice on his voice mail and for a moment, he's alive.

• 22 Chirping

Tag-tastic Thursday, January 10, 2008 |

Steph tagged me. I'm it. Read up. 7 things you'll sleep better knowing about me....

1. Despite being veg for more than half my life I really love Bac-os. Your textured soy protein, artificially flavored, Red dye havin', crunchy little bacon flavored pieces of goodness are welcome in my taters anytime.

2. I can turn my elbow to the wrong side of my arm. Pure genius, you HAVE to see it!

3. I heart Elton John. (and Crass)

4. I have texture based aversion to firm yet squishy foods. (tomatoes top the list)

5. I have a lucky freckle.

6. I have a new blog. (Because I need something else to do)

7. I really love this man.

• 9 Chirping

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - The Boy Turneth Two ( a month ago) Wednesday, January 09, 2008 |

Rise and Surprise!

Last minute Vegan Volcanic Dino cake

Happy Birthday to me!

Note to mom: maybe organic, all natural food dye, wasn't such a good idea

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Wordless Wednesday - Bye Bye Christmas Wednesday, January 02, 2008 |

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Review and Anew Tuesday, January 01, 2008 |

A month ago I would have told you I'd had a pretty good year. Weirdness and rough patches for sure but all and all I didn't have much to gripe about. Until December 11.

Tragedy, loss, finality. One day changed the tone of my entire year past and this year to come. My life, our lives, will never be the same. I'm still sorting through details, still reeling from the shock and torrents of emotion, in a cloud without any end in sight. I am grateful for a new year, for the idea of clean slates and starting over, and maybe it's age or new experience, but I've come to realize that as much as we like to say it, we don't just get to close the door and begin again. There is always residue- scabs and scars and areas that open and heal becoming tougher, stronger, less vulnerable and because of that, these things just don't go away. Nor would I want them to.

Last year I was resolved in stillness, I don't know that I've succeeded, but strides were made and I hope to continue.

On a lighter note, in keeping with tradition, here's my Year in Review...

January- Last New Year's was a joy
February- So what's that I've been up too?
March- Not my most eloquent post but you get the idea...
April- We're flying down to Nashville for a few days to visit our dear friends Scott and Carol and baby Liam.
May- Head on over to Mama C-ta to get the answers to all those questions that have been burning your soul.
June- This week I have nursed:
July- So once again I'm up to something... I got the idea to launch a Mama focused review site, full of great products, green tips and worthwhile causes and managed to get some of my favorite Mama's to jump on board.
August-Drink up...
September-Cook-out Schmook-out. We're all about the Dino's today.
October- Once upon a time, Mama and Papa were cool.
November- Doing nothing because I should be doing everything and I don't want to do it all.
December- What do you think about me changing my name to Grimgrump Rottenshorts?

• 3 Chirping