Monday, February 28, 2011

I respectfully disagree

I recently read this article on Slog (my favorite blog ever) all about how limiting abortion funding is anti-woman and cuts a woman's basic right to decide whether or not to have a child and how to take care of her own body, and about how "conscience" laws are unethical and doctors should have to be required to practice abortions (it even says that conscience laws are only ever invoked about abortion, which isn't true) and that these attacks on women are attempts to push women into the "housewife and mother" role. I have to disagree.

First of all, there are a lot of things you have the right to that the government doesn't have to pay for. I have the legal right to go get a nose job if I want, but the government doesn't have to fund it and that lack of funding doesn't translate to government trying to infringe upon my basic right to decide how to present myself. I happen to disagree with the decision to cut funding for pap smears and birth control just because abortions are performed in the same building, but I'm not going to rant about how great and wonderful and All-American abortions are to make my point.

When I was 15 my gynecologist refused to implant my Norplant birth control due to his Catholic beliefs. This is how such a terrible travesty went down. I went in for my pap, answered the informed consent questions (You're doing this on your own, right? Your mother isn't forcing you to go on it?) and then the doctor told me he was Catholic and couldn't prescribe birth control and he left and another doctor came in. The new doctor introduced himself, asked if I'd read the information packet, and then put in the Norplant. Terrible, right? I do happen to believe that doctors and pharmacists should be able to opt out of personally providing services they object to. But I think that if you are going to take advantage of that ability, you should have to provide a partner willing to perform the services in question. My Catholic pharmacist wouldn't have to personally sell me the morning after pill, but he'd have to have a second pharmacist on duty who would. Yes, it would cost more for him to pay a second pharmacist, but that's the flip side of being allowed to refuse. As for Catholic hospitals refusing to dispense morning after pills to rape victims in their ER, they can either become private hospitals or they can keep one protestant doctor on duty.

I believe abortion is bad. But I can see, however vaguely, circumstances where it might be the lesser of 2 evils, the least bad option. If I were leaving an abusive husband and found out I was pregnant, I don't think I would want to share a child with him. If I were raped, I wouldn't want to carry that violation around for 9 months and I wouldn't want a blend of myself and a rapist to exist. And as long as I could see some instances where I would get an abortion I don't feel it is my place to tell anyone else they can't have those circumstances, too. So I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. Because women should be able to make horrible wrenching choices. But so should doctors.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Because it's as pointless and entertaining as this blog is

My daughter has a blog. She rarely writes anything on it because she thinks no one reads it, which may be true. But she is a gifted writer and has a way with words: the same way people say I have. She can make ordinary things seem funny. So I would like, if I may, to ask all of my readers to shoot over to her blog and read a few posts, and then comment on one or two so she knows people who never gave birth to her have read it. And a super bonus is that it's actually funny once in a while. So here's the link:

Yummy Sunday

Steel cut oats and cappuccino for breakfast.

Homemade poutine for lunch.

Pot roast and roasted brussel sprouts for dinner tonight.

I'm eating good but Ryan hates me.

It just can't be right.

I just read this on facebook; it was a friend's status update.
Your name is a strong and mighty tower! Your name is a shelter like no other! Your name... let the nations sing it louder, 'cause nothing has the power to save but Your name!!!

This is part of my problem with modern Christianity. This belief (and even if the friend who wrote this on facebook doesn't believe it literally, there are people who do) that it's the conversion, the worship, the praise in God and Jesus itself that matters. Not doing good or being good or trying to make the world a better place for day to day life, but the singing and praying that really counts. I once met a woman who told me, in all seriousness, that the true message of the Bible is to believe in and worship Jesus. She said this because when she told me that our boss (a Jew) and a coworker (who was Hindu) *gasp!* didn't believe in Jesus! My response was that they could still be good people and probably be rewarded for that, but she was quick to point out that it doesn't matter what or how you are, if you don't believe in Jesus you will go to Hell. In other words, a Jewish person who devotes their entire life to bettering the world will go straight to Hell while a serial killer who finds Jesus and repents in prison will walk through the Pearly Gates unhampered. Because it's the name, the worlds, that matter. I've even been told that the problem with churches these days is that some of them put more value on being a good person than on praying and worshipping and sucking up to the deity. That they do a disservice by encouraging people to do charitable works and improve the world more than to sit in a church and play mindless yes-man to God.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mommy Badges

I was inspired recently by another mommy to think of some "Mommy badges". Mommy badges are like Girl Scout badges. They commemorate milestones that every (or most) mommies go through. A good baby shower game would be for all of the guest mommies to make badges for the guest of honor, to let her know what she can look forward to. Here are some badges I've earned, and I encourage you to leave yours in the comment section.

  1. the "Is there a baby in your tummy?" "No, I'm just fat" badge
  2. the walked in on during sex badge
  3. the loud in public "Who farted?!" badge
  4. the puked on at the grocery store badge
  5. the Oh my god what are you eating badge (could be a crumb from the floor, could be a cricket, you don't know)
  6. the "I'm going to enjoy this moment of peace because when I go see what he's up to I'll blow my top" badge
  7. the trip to the doctor because some non-food item has been swallowed badge (pennies, rocks, whatever)
  8. the swearing toddler in public badge
  9. the "Why aren't Barbie's boobs long like yours?" badge
  10. the "I hate you" badge (every mother's version of an Eagle Scout badge)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Everything's exaggerated because I'm not that stupid.

Ever disagree with your husband about something important to him, something close to him? It's even worse when it's a family thing because then it become an in-law thing and those never end well.

It absolutely sucks. Can I say that again? Disagreeing with one's husband about his own family is a no-win situation. Literally every direction you turn you just lose. One degree angle turns all around and you're screwed at every one. It's a statistical anomaly. I mean, somewhere out there is a woman who is somehow by marriage related to a serial killer and she gets in trouble when she says "Your cousin the serial killer, not so much on the list for godparent". And for every teenage school shooter there's one parent out there who was stupid enough to say, "He got that from your side of the family." And then the other parent stormed off to the sofa and took the comfy blanket with them.

You can't even have a valid point. It's like, if the conversation veers into the in-law zone, the road is full of land mines and no concern or argument can survive, no matter how wily it may be. "But your sister is a porn star and maybe shouldn't speak at career day" becomes, somehow, "Your sister is evil incarnate and must not come near the children for fear that legions of crabs might leap from her onto their vulnerable heads."

And while we're at it, when do men learn the silent treatment? Is it that day in elementary school when they separate us and tell us all about periods and boobs? Because I really fell for the line that they got a similar chest hair and boner talk. If you get in a fight with a man and try to resolve it, they just shut down. They instantly decide that you are unworthy of any attention at all and refuse to even nod or blink in response. It is a bafflingly spot-on way to humiliate and crush someone. If only they'd just discussed chest hair and boners.

The poor and the fantasy

It has been my experience, and I'm perfectly willing to admit that it may be only my experience, that there is a socio-economic link to supernatural beliefs. If I'm wrong, let me know. But if I'm right, I want to know why. Is it just a simple case of poor people wanting to escape their relity with magic and mysticism? I don't know. But in case I need to, let me clarify and explain.

The only people I know who genuinely fear Ouija boards are dirt poor. The only people I know who believe fairies are real, who are Wiccan or believe druids built the pyramids or think that somewhere in Ireland is a foggy forest of unicorns, are poor. Not just "the economy is rough we need to tighten our belts" poor but "welfare checks come out on the first so we're eating cheese sandwiches and wiping our asses with coffee filters until then" poor. Tarot cards, palm reading, vampires existing in reality. These seem to be things that tween girls and the poor have exclusive domain over. So why? Why are poor people so willing to spend their money of ceramic statues of generic Native Americans, dream catchers featuring neon turkey feathers, and sparkly velvet paintings of elves and fairies?

Again, I may be wrong. I may have proof that I'm wrong in my own memory but just not remember it now. But in general, past the age of 25, people who say they are "spiritual" or "in tune", often just tend to be really dirt poor.

Lady Gaga and Pepper Spray

My life has been a series of slapstick comedy born entirely of bad judgment. Seriously, I look back on just about every memory before my 30th birthday, embarrassed to have done any of it. It all reminds me of the way Lady Gaga lives, but if she weren't a celebrity and instead just some schlub who walked around going to the bank and picking up her kids from daycare looking the way she does. I never wore a meat dress to my job soldering ignition coils, but then again it never occurred to me either.

Just out to pick up her dry cleaning

Sometimes I think about what I'd say if I could go back and talk to myself. What would I say to my high school self? (For the purposes of this fantasy I pretend a 16 or 17 year old me wouldn't have been horrified at what I look like now.) Unfortunately I think I'd spout the same (true) platitudes everyone else was spouting at me back then. Be yourself, don't try so hard, concentrate on your schoolwork, stay away from penises, blah blah blah. The thing is, I have a 12 year old daughter now. And if all I can think of to tell myself is cliches, what can I tell her? How do I get her to concentrate on her studies and run from penises (after pepper-spraying them, that is)?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So. Damn. Hungry!

Sitting here looking at the Schwan's catalog while trying to lose weight in a house without snacks. It's like porn to a man with no hands!

Baking, and a recipe!

So far my weight loss plan to not eat any junk food I haven't made myself has led me to rediscover my deep fryer, as well as baking. I crave potato chips SO bad, yet I have none to eat. Tom bought me a mandoline, though, so I will have chips soon. I just hope I can keep them from becoming the burnt-tasting brown chips. Wish me luck, whenever I get around to making them. Today's experiment was chocolate biscotti. Here is the recipe I used, with a little secret baking information I have*:

Chocolate Biscotti


half cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar (splenda won't work; I tried it)
2 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder


1. Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In mixer (you can use a bowl but I used my mixer with the paddle attachment) blend oil, eggs, and sugar until well blended. Add cocoa powder until it resembles fudge sauce. Add baking powder, wait a few seconds, then add flour. Knead on floured surface until workable (it will be sticky and your hands will look like you strangled a chocolate statue) and then split into halves.
3. Roll each half into a log about 6 inches shorter than your cookie sheet and place in middle of parchment paper. Then fold the paper over the dough (like rolling sushi) and smash down, form each side in turns, to get a 3/4ish inch thick
rectangular slab. (If my paper folding instructions don't make sense, don't worry. It's the thickness that counts.)
4. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove and place on racks to cool. When it's cool enough to handle, cut into 1 inch slabs and place slices on their sides back on cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes, flip and bake on other side for 5 minutes. Let cool completely and they should be hard as a rock.
5. Now feel free to dip them in melted chocolate or whatever. I kept mine plain and gave them to the baby as teething cookies, but I plan to dunk them in coffee too. You can add nuts or chocolate chips or just about anything else with a burning point higher than 375 to them, too.

*Secret baking information is that as long as your recipe has a significant amount of sugar in it, you can make just about anything chocolate by replacing a quarter or so of the flour with cocoa powder. Chocolate angel food cake, chocolate sugar cookies, chocolate biscotti. Cocoa is just chocolate flour, if you have sugar to sweeten it. But don't tell anybody or they won't envy your secret recipes. shhhhhh!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Those poor babies

I have been told that I tend to over-think things. And it comes as an honest surprise to me that the rest of humanity just takes everything at face value and doesn't think about things any more than they have to. And that's sort of how I explain this current practice of sexualizing toddlers. Yep, you heard me.

I hate little girl bikinis. The whole point of choosing a bikini over a one piece is to show more skin, and then people put them on their little kids. What purpose is there (unless you're a pedophile or out shopping for a pedophile) for putting a 4 year old (or younger) in a revealing swimsuit?

Make up on little girls is almost as bad. I understand a little concealer if your kid bashed her face on the stairs the day before family pictures, but some people put their daughters in full war paint. Mascara, blush, lip gloss. Not only does it make the child look different from how she usually looks, which seems to be the opposite of why you'd take a photo of your child, but make up is generally accepted as making a woman look more attractive, sexually. Lip gloss makes lips look pouty and plump, mascara makes women look heavy-lidded (bedroom eyes), blush makes them look flushed. Why do mothers want their children to look heavy-lidded, flushed, and pouty-lipped?

And on another, non-sexualized, rant against children's fashions: What is with the giant satellite-dish flower headbands people put on their kids? A polyester daisy or dahlia that looks like it's been plucked from a Memorial Day grave arrangement, hot glued to an elastic and yarn headband. When my daughter was little, female babies were identified with ridiculous velcro barrettes. Now you have to staple gun a ridiculously disproportionate "silk" flower to them. And still people pierce their ears anyway so what's the point?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

the bells, again and always

At first it's almost nice, the tinkling bells playing music every now and then. The wind catches the sound just right and it's kind of pretty. For a while.

Then it gets to the point where it's a little annoying. You're watching TV and the wind only catches every few notes and it doesn't quite make a tune, but you can still hear it. But you assume it sounds better to people who actually listen for it.

Then come a few months where it's getting real old real quick. You can pick out certain songs now and they're the same hymns you hear for sale on CD box sets on TV at 3:00 am. But the church has a new toy and they're bound to play it to death and it's only 20 minutes twice a day. You suppose you can live with that.

Then comes winter, and you can't hear it unless you happen to be out. And when that happens, it does raise your hackles but it's only during this one errand so you bite your tongue. After all, who are you to try to shut down music that for all you know, everyone else loves.

Then the weather starts to turn nice, and you open up the windows, and then you hear the bells. Those godawful bells. And you call the church and find out that they'll never stop. They will play every day, day after day, over and over for eternity. When the Rapture comes, all the good little Christians will be swept away and the rest of you will be left with these infernal never-ending bells. Nuclear war could break out and all that would be heard for eons afterward would be the skittering of cockroaches and those obnoxious eternal bells, twice a day, every day, for ever.

It's like Chinese water torture. Just a little thing, the music twice a day, but when a little thing never stops it gets to be a big thing. Like a mosquito in your ear, or Kim Jong Il.

The movie 2012, as seen through the eyes of my 2 year old son

Act One:
The fire and the cars and the fire and volcano and the cars. What happened?

Act Two:
Fire and airplane and trees and airplane boom and car jump and airplane crash and fire and water. Oh no!

Act Three:
Water and boat and daddy and boat and water and boat and water. They're okay.

The end.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A horrible sense of foreboding

The weather has been unseasonably warm here the last couple days. I have turned off my heat and opened my front door. But overriding the joy at finally having fresh air in the house is a sense of dread. Because in 2 hours and 40 minutes, I will have to close my house up. That church up the road, the one I am often (by a few people, actually) accused of singling out unfairly, will blast the first of it's twice daily play lists. The thing is, the people who accuse me of overreacting to it don't live here. They don't have to hear it every single day, twice a day. And also, the music suits their tastes so they don't see it as being that obnoxious. And while I am loathe to use my own personal taste in an argument on policy (that it should be against some sort of law or rule to blare music all over town), the fact is that that's exactly what the church does. They subject everyone who is outside or dares to open up their windows to their own personal taste in music.

Ugh, I had to feed the baby so now there's only 2 hours and 15 minutes left.

I have a neighbor who races his car on the weekends. When he tinkers with the car in his garage, it is loud. Drag strip loud. It is an unfortunate consequence of working on his car. But it is a side effect, not the goal. The church music is the goal. I have been thinking about this for what, a year now, and I cannot fathom any goal other than to make people listen to the music. This isn't like the pastor is inside his house watching TV and I am outside on his sidewalk and happen to hear what he's watching. This isn't like they're having choir practice or a concert at the church and I live across the street and can hear it. They are playing the music out of some sound system up in the bell tower and projecting the music into the open air. They are playing it (I can only assume) for and to the town at large. Why? How on Earth can anyone, individual or organization, be so presumptuous as to just take for granted that all people would be grateful for this? I like Carrie Underwood. A lot of people like Carrie Underwood. She won American Idol, her concerts sell out, she has Number One hits. But I wouldn't purchase a sound system to play Carrie Underwood songs out to a city full of strangers every day. Would anybody?

If I don't like what's on TV, I can turn off the TV or change the channel. If I don't like the radio station, I can turn off the radio or change the station. And even there, the FCC gets to regulate which frequencies TV or radio can broadcast at and, to an extent, what content they can broadcast. If I want to get away from the church music (and I do) I have to move or soundproof my house.

Why don't I call the church, or the cops, or do anything more proactive that whine on a blog? Because I am also not presumptuous enough to assume that everyone else hates this as much as I do, and just as I don't think they should be pushing their taste on me I also don't want to try to push my taste on them. And I don't want to be the godless heathen who ruined it for the church, assuming I could even get them to stop. Here's what I fear:

Imagine a Sunday morning church service. The pews are full of families and congregants, all dressed in their Sunday best and feeling warm and cozy and full of Jesusness (I'm not really sure how this works). The pastor walks up to the front of the church with a sad little smile on his face and says this. "Before we start with the praising and worshipping and happy feeling today, I have an announcement to make." (Again, can you tell I have no idea how sermons start?) "I'm sure you all remember when we purchased the Obnoxo 12000 last year and how we made it our mission to share spiritual music with the community through it. Well, we've had a complaint, and it seems that someone doesn't like our glorious message and songs of praise." (Church people talk like that, don't they?) "So beginning today, we're going to shut down the Obnoxo 12000." (Okay, here's where the astonished gasp is heard, as well as shocked murmurs of what, and how, and whyever.) "So I'd like to take a moment to thank JesusChristOurLordAndSavior (is it only my family that says it all as one word like that?) for the time we did have and to apologize to all of you whom I know loved the daily callings to God."

And then of course they would all know it was me and I would be hated forever for shutting down their religious freedoms and being the Godless Babylonian whore, or whatever people who don't like unsolicited daily concerts are. So what would you guys do, my literally few readers? Because I'd love to call or email the pastor and just ask him to stop. But I have been stewing on this for a while now and I fully realize that I might just be jumping him from out of nowhere about a problem he didn't even know existed. I'm also not sure that a person who decides to play DJ for the whole town every day actually cares what anyone else thinks. What would you say, if anything? I need help here because I am so not good at social niceties like tact.

I realize I try to lighten things up with humor a lot, but aside from my one year of attending a small church here in town, I have little to no experience with churches or sermons or religious people. I do, however, have some family who (in my opinion) ten d to over-do it. As in, give the tithing and then be unable to buy medicine for the children. And bring random church members uninvited to family events hosted by others. And look at people who disagree or question anything the church does as if they just transformed into Satan, complete with goat feet and forked tongue. I have literally been to college graduation parties featuring my uncle dunking his daughters in the family swimming pool in a celebratory baptism. So when I try to imagine how a pastor would talk to his parishioners, I realize that I may come off as exaggerated or offensive, but I really don't know. I get facebook posts daily that say things like this "About to meet Daddy for lunch. Praise Jesus that we get to share this meal together. God is good and I love my family! The Heavenly Father provides!" So if this is how people talk about a cheeseburger, I can only imagine how they would talk about their sound system. Obnoxo 12,000 is just what I call the sound system personally. I don't know what it looks like but I imagine shiny brass organ pipes, the computer from Wargames, and the giant sound system in the back of a lowrider.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's not the airline

Overweight people are treated like shit every day in this country. Hell, I went to Lane Bryant's website and found models not nearly big enough for a plus size clothing store. Even the fat-lady store is pushing the beautiful=skinny agenda! But I have to say, if you are morbidly obese and a flight attendant asks you if you have purchased 2 seats, the flight attendant isn't the one who humiliated you. Your weight is what has humiliated you. Just like if I ask a store employee if they have pants in my size and they direct me to the Plus section. The employee isn't embarrassing me, my size is.

Gray Hair

There are actually people who think that by virtue of not going gray, that this woman:

looks younger than or better than this woman:

I understand that these are just opinions. I simply cannot understand why so many people insist that gray hair is so horrible, or that any woman who has gray hair and wears it rather than covers it is "letting herself go". In my ever so humble opinion, once you reach a certain age (an age neither I nor Jamie Lee Curtis has yet reached), coloring your hair looks a little ridiculous. It ceases to fool anyone. I really don't fault anyone for covering their grays in their 20s, 30s, 40s, or even their 50s or early 60s. But once they eyebrows start to gray it becomes readily apparent that the hair color is no longer real. And if a woman in her 20s, 30s, 40s, or even her 50s or early 60s chooses not to color the gray, people should be more accepting and less snarky than they currently seem to be.

edit: I don't object to anyone dying their hair any color. Brown, blond, red, black, green, purple, blue, etc. I just resist the idea that everyone should dye their hair. And the difference between a 70+ year old lady dying her hair bright red and a 22 year old kid dying his hair blue is that the old lady expects people to believe, or at least pretend to believe, that the red is her natural hair color. When the kid dyes his hair blue he is attempting to deceive no one; his color is artificial and he doesn't pretend otherwise. When a 35 year old woman dyes her hair red, the deception is believable. When a 70+ year old woman dyes her hair she is not only attempting to deceive people but anyone who doesn't pretend to believe the deception is rude if they admit it. We are forced to either become complicit in the lie or to be rude about it. I don't dislike the hair color or the choice to aquire the hair color. I dislike the presumption that I will accept the hair color as natural. For the record, I also dislike the presumption that teeth are naturally flourescent white, that midwestern women in February are naturally 3 shades darker than the rest of their families, and that my local TV news anchor's forehead just happens to be wrinkle free and immobile. Hey, I have changed my appearance plenty. I even dyed my hair for years. But I never asked people, even by implication, to believe the unbelievable. I never claimed my tattoos were birthmarks. And even if the woman whose picture I swiped off google never pretends her hair color is natural, the implication is there nonetheless. Her hair isn't gray because she doesn't want to look old, and she is supposed to look younger somehow because she has a hair color not naturally found on old people. She isn't, like a 30 or 40 year old woman, trying to avoid looking prematurely old. She is trying to keep from looking her actual age. And that is the lie.

I had to laugh

After my talk with the school about pajama pants and being told that all schools have rules against "distracting" outfits, I read this about the high school in the next town over. I don't think it will actually happen, but there is no way that letting kids wear pajama pants in class, even the brightest yellow Spongebob pants, could ever be as distracting as this.

CLINTON, Iowa — Now he's opened his first chicken restaurant in Iowa, rapper Flavor Flav would like to earn his high school diploma in the state and record his efforts for a new reality TV show.

Flav, whose real name is William Drayton Jr., grew up in Freeport, N.Y. He says he dropped out of school in 10th grade.

He opened Flav's Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa last month – his only connection to the Mississippi River town.

Last week the 51-year-old pitched his idea for "Flavor Flav Goes Back to High School" to the local school superintendent and a school board member. He says he'll approach the full board in a couple of weeks.

Flav was in '80s hip-hop group Public Enemy and has since found new fame on reality shows.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In response to a comment

I recently got a comment on one of my breast feeding posts that made me think. It was from a friend of mine, with whom I would like to stay friends, and it basically said that both she and her husband were formula fed and they're all right, and their daughter was formula fed and she's fine. (For the record, I don't doubt that any of them are fine.) And it said that breast feeding's not for everyone and that formula was good enough for her daughter. My first instinct was to reply with "Oh I totally get what you're saying and you're right," because that's how polite I am. But the fact is that I don't get it. And to stop short of saying she's not right, I don't happen to agree with all of her statements either.
Formula isn't, at its core, toxic. It can be, if the water it's mixed with is bad or if there's some problem in the manufacturing process, and those possibilities are part of my objections to it, but it is not toxic. A baby fed infant formula will turn out just fine. But, they will still not get everything that a baby fed breast milk gets. And I just cannot fathom how that is good enough for a baby. I understand if a parent doesn't realize the discrepancies, but not if they don't care. My mother was fed, exclusively, sweetened condensed milk. The kind that comes out of a can that you make fudge with. That's what she got in her bottles until she was old enough to be weaned onto whole milk, which was at about 9 months. It was the 40s and she was adopted, so that was what she got. And she grew. She lived and gained weight and met all of her milestones. So will a baby fed whole milk out of a gallon jug. But we don't feed whole milk, or even sweetened condensed milk, to babies because it is lacking in so much. What was good enough for my mother was NOT good enough for me, or for my kids. And I'm not sure, but I think it might actually be illegal to give a baby sweetened condensed milk.

Not everyone can breast feed. I freely admit that. But, while I know that it's a relatively common opinion, I cannot understand sexualizing my breasts to the point where I'd deprive my baby of their milk. There are a LOT of things that were good enough for me that aren't good enough for my kids, some because we know better now than they did back then. Smoking, going without a seat belt, carcinogenic sun burns, and baby formula. It's a parent's choice to make, but I just can't see making that choice. I don't propose that the choice be taken away from anyone; I just can't see going in that direction. And while my instinct will always be to apologize for offending and back down, my opinion won't change.

Valentine's Day

Don't you hate when you're fighting on Valentine's Day? And maybe the fight has sort of ended, but without anything getting resolved so it's just kind of hanging there in the middle of the room and everybody's walking around it, pretending it's not there, but eventually it will fall and splat open again. And even though you know/hope it will all be over with and you can move past it, and maybe if you're lucky some real actual issues will get ironed out in the process, it still absolutely sucks that the sincere and heartfelt card you spent a lot of time choosing at the card rack now smacks of unintended irony.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Just to clarify

I think I've mentioned before my latest attempt to eat healthier and hopefully lose some weight. We are not going to buy snack food or junk food any more. We can eat all we want, as long as we make it (Wafernusse gifts notwithstanding). I am trying to get away from processed foods because I am just not good at knowing which unpronouncables are okay and which are toxic additives. But either way, processed foods are full of sugar, salt, and preservatives, so hopefully this is a healthy strategy.

I asked a friend how to make tortilla chips and the instructions were basically to cut up and fry tortillas, which is what I was expecting but I didn't know if she baked them or not, or if she salted them or anything (Alton Brown rubs them with lime juice). So I suppose a stickler could say that since I'm buying the tortillas that I'm still using processed foods, but then again if I bought flour I'd be using processed foods. My strategy isn't just to avoid processed snacks but also to make it harder to snack. I can't tell you how many times in the past week I've wanted potato chips. But I didn't want to make potato chips so I didn't have any to eat. See how that works? Yay for me. Now, I need to go to sleep so I can wake up and make nachos, and possibly buy a slicer to make potato chips with.

And he wonders why I'm fat.

I know my husband love me. I know it intellectually and at times I know it in my gut too. Today was one of those days when Tom did so many absolutely sweet things for me that I wondered who he'd slept with. (just kidding)

First, he bought me oatmeal. But he bought me the good kind of oatmeal. I eat steel-cut oats every morning and McCann's Irish Oatmeal is supposed to be the best but I never bought it because it costs twice as much as the cheap stuff and really, how different could raw oats be? But last week the store was out of the cheap stuff so he bought the McCann's and let me tell you, raw oats can vary a lot. Oh these are good. And today, he bought me two big cans of the McCann's. Now I not only have the yummy oatmeal but I have the decorative cans as well. He loves me.

He also bought me Wafernusse, which is my favorite candy. It's only a dollar at Aldi but still, he thought of me. If you haven't had Wafernusse I highly suggest trying it. It's like a kit kat but not as hard, and with hazelnut flavor in it.

Then he went uptown tonight to buy chicken breasts, because he has a thing for chicken breasts, and when he came home he made supper and wouldn't let me in the kitchen. When supper was ready I was surprised because it was fish and rice, which is nothing special. I mean, I love Tom's fish and rice, but we have it fairly often and it's not really a secret-worthy meal. But there was a dish on the table with a paper towel on it so I went and peeked and . . . . he made me mussels! I didn't even know you could buy mussles in town here, and he made them. In garlic butter! And they are my favorite food and I love them so much and he made them for me and I ate them all. And in the fridge, for me to make possible tomorrow, is a brisket. I have wanted to make a brisket for a while now and apparently today was the day I get all the food related things I've ever wanted, is there it is atop the chicken breasts.

On a serious note, though, I really do wonder if he slept with somebody.

Don't get too clean

You know what I think is hilarious? Things like this:

I am definitely not a germaphobe. I only worry about sterilizing grocery carts and washing up before eating, and I only sterilize toys after a major sickness or stomach bug.

Perhaps I am a slob, but that sounds germaphobey to me. Sterilizing toys? I went through 3 pregnancies and my doctor was reaching up into my cervix weekly with unsterilized gloves, and this person sterilizes toys every time a kid pukes?

Remember the first time you were told that a yeast infection was an overgrowth of a fungus that naturally lives in the vagina? Remember how yucky it was to realize that there's a normal amount of fungus in there even when everything's okay? Or how about when you read that douching is bad because it washes away the good bacteria too? Good bacteria?! See the problem is that a lot of people never realize that we are not alone on the top of the food chain. When public school teachers give examples of symbiosis, they often mention birds living on rhinos rather than the bacteria living within all of us.

Many bacteria living in our mouths (no, brushing doesn't kill them all) are there only to prevent more dangerous bacteria from moving in. And so many different enzymes and bacteria live in the intestines that in a very real sense, every single person is a giant walking petri dish. But the thing is, all that stuff, the gut flora, serves an important purpose. It helps us digest our food. Enzymes and bacteria break down food even better than stomach acid. And as it's broken down, nutrients are released and can be absorbed through the intestinal walls. Without bacteria living inside of us, parasites squirming around in our bellies, we would likely starve to death, or at least die of malnutrition if not outright starvation.

So the next time you start to feel all superior and independent and like you don't need anybody or anything, remember that you might just be one bout of cleansing diarrhea away from severe vitamin deficiencies. Humanity as a species is not a solitary one. We not only need each other, but we also need some of the lower links on the food chain, and not just to kill and eat. I wonder if people really understand that, that we would die on our own. I wonder, when people vote to screw the little guy, or exhibit the "Not my problem, every man for himself" attitude, do they realize that they only exist because they are involuntarily hosting billions of parasites, which are also involuntarily keeping them alive?

Sanitary does not equal sterile. Next time you're coating your hands with Purell or soaking toys in bleach, remember that. The cleaner we get as a society, the higher the rates of asthma and allergies get. It's not a coincidence.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

It's just so dramatic

I hate drama. I abhor it, can't stand it, loathe it. One of the reasons I have such disdain for reality TV is that it's all alliances and schemes and all sorts of drama. I used to have drama; I fed into it and I fed off of it. But one night (I remember it well) as I sat in my car with the windows rolled up to keep some chick from punching me in the face, the thought suddenly occurred to me; I'm too old for this shit. I was 19 at the time, but from that night forward, I had no patience for it. If my ex was calling me all the time and wouldn't stop, I didn't plead and beg him to leave me alone. I threatened to call the cops and after the very next call, I did. If a male friend's girlfriend got jealous and acted all bitchy to me, I just walked away and wished him luck. I didn't get up in her face and demand respect.

At a couple points in my life since then I've worried that I've taken my intolerance of drama too far and just shut out all emotion. Where is the line, I wondered. But I smile when my kids do cute things and I get upset when my husband is selfish, and I feel remorse when I am selfish. What I don't do is get wrapped up in my tween daughter's social life, or take differences of opinion as personal insults. And I'm basically proud of that.

But I am, at heart, shy and insecure. It is why I mutter, and it is also why, if called upon to be any kind of aggressive, I will be passive aggressive. I hate confrontation. If somebody says something stupid that pisses me off and I respond to it, they are just going to say even more stupid stuff and then I'll hear it and get more pissed and then I'll get mad at myself for caring what they said and it's not even worth it. Or maybe I do care what they think, and they have just offended me, am I going to want to get into a huge fight before waiting to see if the insult rolls off my back after a good night's sleep? Ahh, it's just too much trouble. I am better off muttering.

I bring this up because I am trapped, held against my will, in family drama. Maybe it's my fault. There seems to be within me some defect which doesn't allow for loyalty. If I like something I like it for actual reasons I have thought of in my head, not just because it is mine. My country, my high school, my family. I don't tend to like blindly following along with something just because fate plopped me down in the middle of it. I assume my family can see that and that they don't very much appreciate it. Whatever the reason, there is a small handful of family that I actually would choose to associate with, and the rest is collateral damage at holidays. Sadly, this leaves me out of the loop for the most part, so I don't hear much gossip and never seem to know what's going on. Apparently one of my cousins had a visit from DCFS a few months back and blames me for it. I told her I didn't do it, but then I never heard any more about it so I have no idea how it turned out. Did she ever find out who called them, did she get them off her back, are they still bothering her? I will probably never know because if I ever asked anyone, it would only look like I was the one who sicced them on her. Ugh. Drama!

I have another family member who is apparently (I hear it all third and fourth hand) going through some very rough times. I would love to reach out to her and let her know that I'm here for her, but I'm not sure I can. I wouldn't know how. And then I think, would I just be taking on her drama? Could I actually offer her any help, any advice she couldn't get a hundred other places? Does the fact that we are related and I can stand her actually earn me a pass into her life? And while I sit here pondering these heavy questions, I realize that it's all drama.

I'm a pretty cut and dried person. Either it's worth worrying about, or it isn't, or it is but it's none of my business. I'm not the kind of person to cry at the evening news. I'm not going to go to a candlelight vigil for someone I've never met. I am always shocked when I read that some kid got killed in a high profile case and 1000 people went to the funeral. Who goes to a stranger's funeral? I mean, that involves taking off work or arranging child care, all so you can go stress out relatives who are already grieving. Yes, I understand that the death was tragic, but do you need to overflow a church to let it be known that you are not heartless? Send a plant! But when it comes to family I'm never sure. And when friends try to lean on me for things, I always have to blurt it out. Do you want someone to just listen, someone to advise, or someone to be supportive no matter what? Because otherwise, I'll tell them I think they're being stupid. And friends don't always want to hear that, oddly enough.

Snowpocalypse Update 2.1

Tom took this picture of the sidewalk at my mother's house.

I just need to get it off my chest

I'm a mutterer. When I used to work at a factory, bosses would shovel shit at me all day, and I'd take it. Yes sir, no sir, whatever you say sir. But I'd mutter into the machine about it later. I am real good at talking back to people who aren't there. And I am currently on a message board where everyone is so supportive of each other and we all get along, and it's great. But it means a lot of muttering, on my part, to keep up the niceties. So I'm going to do my muttering here, now, because I simply can't keep it in any more.

Safety is great. Safety for children is the most important factor I take into consideration every day. But, like everything else, it has to be mitigated against real world considerations. Some parents "err on the side of caution" to the point that they become paranoid and over protective. Being a parent is scary stuff, especially when you consider just how many ways there are for a terrible thing to happen to a kid, and how many terrible things there are. And for those parents, following "rules" to the letter often helps them feel as if they can prevent terrible things. But at what cost? I've known parents who went months without sleep because no matter how many people told them to swaddle the baby, the books said never to put anything in the crib, and swaddling involved a potentially deadly blanket.

Parents wait months and months to let a baby have a single lump in his baby food, or a blanket in his crib, or any toy small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll. (Newsflash: a garden hose will fit through a toilet paper roll, and a garden hose is not a choking hazard.) Parents who wash toys in bleach on a weekly basis, or who refuse to let a child sit in a shopping cart without a preposterous looking flouncy cover, or who won't let a toddler use a public bathroom without bringing a toilet seat from home. I am not kidding; people carry toilet seats with them.

My point is that some people have to follow every rule ever laid out by anyone, out of a mistaken belief that as long as they do everything right all the time, no harm can ever come to their children. And frankly, it annoys me a little. Because then when I don't follow a rule I am recklessly putting my child in danger and therefor I am a bad mother. Here are examples, muttering as I am, that drive me nuts.

Did you know that everyone under 4'9" needs to be in a booster seat whenever they are in a vehicle? Sounds logical, right? Well, this is everyone under 4'9" regardless of age. Also, regardless of why they are under 4'9". So every adult with dwarfism should be, for their own safety, driving from atop a booster seat. But here's the thing: dwarfs often have average sized torsos - you know, the part of the body that the booster seat actually elevates - and are only short because of short limbs. But they are under 4'9" so they must be in a booster seat, preferably in the back seat away from air bags! There is no room for interpretation. I can only assume that means that a formerly 6'5" double amputee would need a booster seat as well, since people tend to lose height without their legs. Welcome home, Soldier, and thank you for your service and sacrifice. Here is your Evenflo Big Kid Booster Seat!

Car seat safety is of the utmost importance. That is why, no matter the temperature, car seat straps are never to be fastened over a coat. It seems that a coat, any coat, that comes between the straps and the baby will compress in an accident and leave space for the baby to fly out. I have no doubt that this is true. But when it is 20 below I am less inclined to fear a head on collision and more inclined to fear hypothermia or frost bite brought on by me standing there taking the baby's coat off with the car door open. Although I have been told that it is okay to merely unzip the coat and fasten the straps against the child's chest that way. Except that I have recently learned that car seat covers and BundleMes are unsafe because they come between the back of the car seat and the baby. So how on Earth is the back of the coat safe to be behind the baby? And if a thin cotton cover is unsafe, then a onesie must be a death trap. And diapers! Diapers fit between the crotch strap and the baby. In fact, a diaper keeps the baby an unsafe distance from the center of the entire 5 point harness system. So it stands to reason that the only safe baby is a naked baby. In 20 below zero temperatures, in Snowpocalypse.

I'm sorry for all that ranting. It just bothers me when the same people who circumcise (over a hundred dead baby boys a year in the US alone just from complications of circumcision) and formula feed (how many babies die from diseases that breast feeding might have prevented or from tainted formula [or water]?) throw fits about car seat covers and buttoned up coats.

And the dwarfs! We must think of the dwarfs! The aren't tall enough to be allowed to touch upholstery!

I just need five minutes!

The lack of sleep I expected. The inability to keep any portion of my house clean for more than thirty minutes wasn't a surprise. The elevated noise level, the refusal to eat anything but fruit snacks and popcorn, the need to buy 5 gallons of milk a week. All of these are relatively easy to tolerate. But I do so look forward to the day when I can go potty in peace, without hurrying myself to the point of hemorrhoids.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snowpocalypse Update 2.0

I sent Ryan out to play Roving Reporter and photograph the snow. Here are the photos she brought back from what is apparently Northeastern Russia.

Dommy Chakla Cannies

Tommy made brownies.
He stirred he batter.

He broke up most of the lumps.

He refused to stop stirring even after the batter was in the pan.

He cried when it went in the oven. Poor Tommy.

Don't worry. He got full credit for the brownies and got to eat most of them himself. As he said, "Dommy chokla cannies ahsum."

Snowpocalypse 2011 Update

There are 3 1/2 foot drifts outside my house. My daughter had to crawl through 18" of snow to uncover the door to the doghouse and let the dog out. My furnace vent was buried and the heat went out. Local police departments were asking snow mobilers to help rescue stranded motorists last night. My husband spent 2 hours shoveling our sidewalks and ten feet of driveway. And yet, Punxsutawny Phil has predicted an early spring. Yay for the accuracy of groundhogs!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snowpocalypse! Run for your lives!

update to follow

dress codes

In 20 years, I will be interested to see how this whole home schooling trend turns out. On paper, it seems great. You teach your own kid at their own pace in ways that interest them, and then you get them their socialization elsewhere. And it seems like basic math. Individual attention + personalized curriculum = a lifelong love of learning and respect for knowledge. But then there's the stereotype, which persists no matter what the advocates try to do. You know how sometimes you can kind of tell a gay person in a crowd by how they act? Well the same can often be said of home schooled kids. But instead of over-sized gestures and snazzier clothes you get twitchy kids freaking out whenever anyone kisses in front of them. Okay, so that's an exaggeration, but some kids don't do well having everything catered to them personally. Or rather, they don't do well when it ends.

I kinda hate the school system. They take wonderful little kids full of potential and energy and trim off all the fun bits and interesting edges until they get cookie cutter conformists. I hate that PE class is mandatory. As far as I'm concerned it should be illegal to force kids to undress in order to pass a class. I don't really care about the reasons for it, adults are telling kids from the age of 11 up to take off their clothes twice a day or else fail the class. And I do have an issue with dress codes. At work is one thing; if you don't like the dress code at work you can go get another job. But I live in an area where the next closest middle school is 15 miles away, and exactly the same. In my opinion, unless it is dangerous (high heels, shorts in winter) or vulgar (too revealing, sexual innuendo) or promotes illegal behavior (pot leaf graphics, alcohol brands, tobacco), it should be a matter of expression. Yes, I really mean that. Bathrobes, Cindy Lauper clothes (wow, I'm dating myself there) whatever. If there's a kid who wears a wedding dress every Monday, it's only going to be news the first couple minutes of the first couple Mondays. After that, it's just Tyler being Tyler. I really don't believe in a vague sense of "appropriate attire." Who gets to decide what's appropriate and how did they get to be the ones to legislate taste? They say kids need to dress for success, but success in what industry?