Dear First Lady Michelle Obama

Just before Christmas in December 2006, I reached out to you, hoping you would weigh one more thing as you and your husband decided whether or not he should run for President, and I made you a promise.

I was sympathetic to your history changing decision and excited for 8 years of an Obama White house. And I promised you no matter what happened, we Moms would have your back.

So much has happened since I wrote those words that graced my own blog, the Huffington Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times. First and foremost let me say how incredibly proud I am of this administration and of you, the most amazing and flawless First Lady our country has ever seen. It may not have been your favorite role, but damn if you didn’t nail it.

You launched programs that changed lives. From eating right and exercising to making sure military families had a helping hand, your legacy will live on well after you and the family have moved out of that big house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

I know things haven’t been easy, and that you have dealt with more…what’s the right word here…bullshit than any other First Family. You just weren’t under the microscope of the public eye, you were under the microscope of being the first in American history and that history weighed on everyone in the West and East Wings.

You raised two daughters who, by all means, seem to be strong, proud, intelligent young women who will no doubt follow in their parents’ foot steps. I watched as my children grew with yours, passed mile stones and sprouted their wings. Just that accomplishment alone would be enough for praise in this day and age, but you managed to do more, be more, and give more.

You opened the White House to so many families, of all colors and religions and sexual orientations like no First Family has ever done before. Some of my favorite moments of this Presidency are of you and your husband welcoming so many regular citizens into the house of the people and simply chatting.

I hope we Moms have been a source of strength for you. Today, as you embark on the inaugural Women’s Summit at the White House I truly hope my words from 2006 pledging us Moms would have your back has been a tiny source of strength. We’ve been beating back the haters online and off, vigilantly defending the good you do and the good you are.

I want to thank you for making that tough decision way back when, and deciding to take the road to the White House. As a nation we are much better to have had you, and as a mother you have given the rest of us a shining example of what can be if we’re willing to take risks.

Congratulations on two successful and inspiring terms and I hope you find solace and peace in your life after the White House…we Moms will always be here when you need us.

 

Sincerely,

Erin Kotecki Vest

The Tale of the Mommyblogger Who Is No Longer a Mommy

I’ve started and stopped this post about a dozen times over the past 8 months. Not from writer’s block…no, that hasn’t been the issue. Not because of my health or needing time to really concentrate.

I’m a mommyblogger that is no longer a mommy. The kids, they call me Mom now. Usually with an eyeroll, a groan, or a shoulder shrug and sigh.

When they called me mommy I was enveloped by little arms and sticky hands for a hug that would last and last. They would last so long I carried them and rarely put them down.

I’m a mommyblogger who is no longer a mommy and it hurts.

Now when I write about the kids, I ask their permission first and they get final review with a clear cut ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when it comes to hitting the publish button. Having lived their entire lives in front of my audience, they remain used to me sharing so they rarely say no. But that doesn’t stop the guilt. If they do say yes I still pepper them with questions to make sure they are cool with what I’m posting. This is their life. They deserve a say. They deserve to have their voice be heard in my piece and they deserve total control over what I do or do not disclose to the public.

We’ve entered the next phase of Mommyblogging where our kids now have blogs or vlogs of their own. They have joined online communities in Minecraft and Roblox and Animal Jam. Some of their in world homes rival the castle I once inhabited in Second Life. We had fun in SL, throwing dance parties and changing our avatars’ skins and hair and clothing. So you can imagine how it feels to watch your daughter decorate her den in Animal Jam, change her avatar to a wolf and proceed to shop for new boots and sunglasses. She then invited her other Animal Jam buddies over for a dance party.

How quickly things change, yet oddly stay the same.

I’m trying to work out where I fit in the Mommyblogging 2.0 world. I left to tackle politics yet kept most of my writing parent centric. I got sick and blogged about my health. And somewhere between all of that my kids went from blog fodder to bloggers themselves.

I still want to write about life. Our family’s life. I’m picking topics and ditching topics because I wonder what my kids will think. What if I write something, feel I really need to publish, and they ask me not to?

I know I’m not alone. Many in my community of Mombloggers have changed their focus in the past few years. Some starting businesses that began on their blogs, others continuing their writing yet taking more review gigs for income.

Me? I just want to write. I want to write like I always have written. If my daughter is consuming my thoughts on any given day I want to type. If my son has me thinking well into the night I want to type.

When I first began blogging I didn’t have two people over my shoulder, I had two in my lap nursing and playing while I typed.

If I can’t be my authentic self to you, I can’t do this anymore. I believe I can still be that authentic blogger you once knew, but she’s finding her way back slowly. With some new rules. With some new boundaries.

Thanks for sticking around for so many years to hear about my life, my family, my passions.

I hope you will continue to come on over and read as I start this new journey. Maybe it is more like an old journey that’s story isn’t quite done yet.

-Erin

 

Dear Senator Bernie Sanders, Please Step Down

Dear Senator Sanders,

Just after Super Tuesday in February of 2008 the writing was on the wall for Secretary Hillary Clinton. Despite a strong showing, it was obvious she wasn’t going to win enough delegates to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for President and I politely asked her to step aside.

Flash forward over seven years and here we are again. Democrats are arguing with Democrats. Blue voters getting testy against their own blue voters as you and Secretary Clinton battle it out. The party splitting, severing itself with many refusing to support the eventual nominee and nastiness all around.

You talk of revolution. You talk of changing the system. You talk a lot like someone wanting to shake up Washington despite you being part of the Washington machine nearly your entire career. Which is why I’m asking you to do something revolutionary. Giving you the opportunity to show the world just what a maverick you really are.

While this primary has been all well and good and you have my utmost respect for pushing progressive policy, our party is suffering and people are becoming more heated by the minute. For that reason, and many more, I ask you concede the nomination and allow the Democratic party to heal.

I know you have said you are sticking it out until the end. I know you said you are not going anywhere, but please understand your continued campaigning only serves to tear us further apart and to give further ammunition to the whack-a-doodle crop of Republicans looking to win the White House.

Statically speaking it’s all but over. You have pushed Secretary Clinton further to the Left, and for that I thank you. However every minute you stay on the trail is another minute I hear “if Bernie doesn’t win I’m writing him in,” all but assuring the very scary realization we could be looking at a President Trump or a President Cruz. This can not happen, and you need to make sure it doesn’t. Senator I need you to throw your support behind Secretary Clinton and tell your “Berners” to vote for her in November.

In fact, it’s not enough you simply ask your supporters to vote for her, you must make an impassioned plea they cast their ballot for the former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady. You and I both know she is more than qualified. You and I both know she will continue the great work done by President Obama.

Seven years ago I thought Secretary Clinton was too divisive for our country. Her name still seems to bring a gut reaction from voters. However after the last “revolution” of Hope and Change, we now need someone who plays hardball in DC. We need someone who has spent a lifetime taking these men down.

I don’t mean to imply you can not play hardball, but let’s face it…when it comes to the candidate that is tough as nails, handles the GOP fake scandals like a pro, kick’s ass and takes names Secretary Clinton comes to mind quickly, while you might be a forceful nudge.

Everyone seems to think you have zero intention of stepping down, regardless of the delegate math, because you have the money to back you until November. But I am asking you show your supporters you truly are a Democrat and do what is best for the party, nay the country, and step down while leaving the millions left for Democrats all over the nation to win back Congress and the White House.

I realize this is a shot in the dark. But I’m hoping you are that “non” politician you claim to be and you do the “non” politician thing. Step aside, endorse Secretary Clinton, and throw your weight behind every Democrat running. We need time to come back together before November and not only would you be a team player by stepping down, but you would also be the one who unites the party in one of the most critical elections of our time.

Sincerely,

Erin Kotecki Vest
mother, activist, lifelong Democrat

California’s Drought Makes Summer Vacation Dry

California is facing a drought of historic proportions, changing the typical summer vacation for kids state-wide.

With the help of their parents, many children are learning to cope with the state’s changing water restrictions and coming up with their own ways to conserve water.

All I Want is a Garden

Denial, anger, … acceptance? Or is there one between there?

Meh. I’m somewhere between denial and anger as my CDiff has returned despite the over 90% success rate of the transplant I underwent before the 4th of July. We will try another tried a second one, upping my chances to 98%, but that one failed as well. Leaving me in this hospital for 17 days and counting.

17 days of wondering why me.

17 days of worrying.

17 days of continued bad news and frustration and stress.

Here is the thing…all I want to do is plant my tomatoes and veggies. This has been the first summer in 10 years of living in this home I haven’t gotten my garden in on time. While planting now wouldn’t be ideal, it’s also not bad considering our climate has been entirely messed up.

Yes, in this epic, multi-year battle which now includes a fight for my life with a super bug, I just want my garden in place.

My garden in place = normalcy.

My garden in place = hope.

My garden in place simply soothes me and makes me feel as though it’s all going to be ok.

For the first time in all of this I’m honestly not sure how everything is going to turn out. I’ve been sure, over and over again it was going to be ok. But right now there are so many other things going on and so many lives hurting and just so MUCH for the first time in my life, I’m not sure even my superwoman abilities are grand enough to make all of this ok.

So yeah, I sent myself some flowers at the hospital because I deserve them. I remain grateful for family that will show up in 24 hours to help when things go south. But I need to find a solution that doesn’t disrupt everyone’s lives except mine.

I’m still searching.

I don’t know if my garden will be planted. I don’t know if my search will lead to anything I can control. But I am still here. And I guess that will have to do for now.

Final Project Journalism 203

Enjoy my story on the California drought!

Dealing With a Load of Crap

Humiliation is laying in a hospital bed, after 10 days of nothing but towel baths, your hair unwashed and crumpled in a bun, your back sweating against the plastic under the sheets…and opening your eyes to feel yourself covered in shit. Someone else’s shit.

The nurses are kind and wonderful. They clean you up and pad you with towels and an adult diaper, reminding you to not get up and to just ‘let it out’ while laying flat.

Cdiff is no joking matter, as much as I’ve been trying to laugh about all of this. It kills tens of thousands of ¬†Americans per year and after two rounds of failed antibiotics I was beginning to worry I’d be a statistic.

My UCLA gastroenterologist Dr. J. had offered an experimental treatment to rid me of my now 2nd bout with CDiff, one I may or may not be open to because of it’s unusual nature.

Erin, I think we should consider a fecal transplant. We get our frozen specimens from the East Coast, they are screened just like any blood or tissue or organ you would receive, and we place the fecal matter into your intestines and allow the new and good bacteria/flora to combat the disease. 

Yes. I had someone else’s poop placed way up into me. Apparently this isn’t anything new. It dates back several hundreds of years in China. But more importantly it has an over 90% success rate and all signs indicate I’m one of those successes.

This could change everything. My entire immune make up.

I want to have hope and frankly, I have very high hopes.

This could change my life.

I’m scared. I’m tired of getting my hopes up and becoming ill over and over again. But this is different. This is huge.

I should keep myself cautiously optimistic. But instead I have huge hopes.

Have them with me…because it’s all I have right now.

The Most Magical Thing Happened to ME

It wasn’t a dream.

I woke up on Mother’s Day inside of this castle:

Goodbye

I am not kidding. Read the full story over at As Dreamers Do.

IT.REALLY.HAPPENED.