Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Elections

I voted today.

The man that I voted for, I am thankful to say, has retained his presidency and his opponent has conceded. I am waiting, currently, for President Barack Obama's victory speech.

I honestly wasn't sure I would be able to say that.

The amusing part is watching Facebook explode with commentary and angry tongue-lashings from my numerous conservative friends - they have become angry, even violent and belligerent - who are of the firm belief that somehow, reelecting President Obama will mean their lives imploding without warning.

And while I don't want to upset anyone, nor insult anyone, I'd like to make a very poignant statement:

These people are on food assistance, public aid, the state medical card/Medicaid, and are unemployed or underemployed. They are using birth control that they cannot currently afford, or cannot afford more children, and are aware that they have no desire to bring another life into the world. A number of the people I know live at or below 150% of the poverty line. They struggle, their children eat because of the free or reduced lunch programs, and they owe thousands in student loan debts.

They thought that somehow Romney would fix those things, even when he and his constituents had made it very clear that they had absolutely no intention of serving the middle and lower classes.

I am so happy to see President Obama win reelection.

Monday, October 29, 2012

On Being Away

I have been away for quite some time.

Not away from life, mind you - away from here. Honestly, away from inspiration. I have these issues more often than I probably ought to, as someone who'd like to eventually be considered a "serious" blogger, although I'm aware that at the moment the market for off-label "nonconformist" mom bloggers is so saturated that honestly, I'm another drop in the bucket. This is not my job, nor do I make a single cent off of it. Unlike a lot of the amazing bloggers I follow and know, I don't have the same intuition and innate sense of humor to drive me. Long story short, I don't have a captive audience - and I wouldn't know what to do with one even if I did.

A lot of things have happened on our end as of late that have posed a lot of problems. Both of the kids are now in school - A in the morning for preschool and G all day in kindergarten. From what I can tell, the boys absolutely love it, and it has been an added blessing in that A has been learning more about using the potty and being a big boy. As much as I hate seeing the training pants and diapers go, as it means I no longer have any babies, it's lovely to know we're moving up a step in the world. Both kids continue to impress their teachers with their knowledge of math and reading, and I have a feeling that they'll both end up in the talented and gifted program in our school system once they're old enough to test in at the third grade level. I honestly cannot wait to see what life has in store for them.

As a couple, we're still struggling. Money is a sore spot for us although we've been making progress on our bills. Our medical bills have been some of our biggest issues, as they have been piling up thanks to pneumonia, dental issues, and an MRSA infection I contracted on my abdomen in the last month. On one hand it is a blessing to have medical insurance - and on the other hand I cannot tell you how thankful I am, inwardly, that we are still on Medicaid. Unfortunately, while that should mean all of our non-dental bills should be covered, we still have some issues with bills that slipped between the cracks and weren't submitted to Medicaid. I have been trying to get as much overtime at work as I possibly can, as we are currently looking at several hundred dollars in dental work for Hubby to have done ASAP, and with Yule coming up I am trying hard to find ways to give things to the children that they'll love without breaking the proverbial bank.

Our biggest issue by far is that we are still living with my mother. The house down the street that we lived in last year has come back up on the rental market and we are sorely tempted to inquire, on the idea that maybe the landlords will agree to let us back in - but money of course is the constant issue. We have nothing to back up our desire to live there again; for me, it's a difference of needing to make sure that we are in the same school district for the kids, as I moved schools when I was younger and it was difficult for me to go from one to another. I want to stay in this neighborhood - it's safe, I know it, it's predictable, and it's a place I feel confident raising my children. We will see what happens. Our original goal was to be here no more than a year at best - and it has now been two months past that point and there is no end in sight. At this point we're all honestly tired of being here. It's confining, depressing, and dark. Awnings over most of the windows keep the sun out when the layered blinds and curtains can't manage, the house is in dire need of incredibly expensive repairs, and on October 10th my mother took one of our dogs - the dog she unquestionably was madly in love with - to be put down because of a number of difficult to treat health problems. G was heartbroken but A was tactful as ever and has candidly responded to the situation with commentary on how the dog is now dead. He has the intuition of a three year old, for sure.

Culinarily speaking, this is an amazing time of year - pumpkin is the flavor of the season, and we have been indulging at every opportunity. Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips and oats are just a few of the seasonal favorites around here. Unfortunately not enough of our garden survived the summer heat and unpredictable temperatures, so currently the only thing hanging around now is our blueberry bush, which will need to come in soon as the temperatures during the days are now only climbing into the mid-50s, while the nights are hitting at freezing or below. Covering it will simply not suffice in the next week or so.

So, for now, that's everything. I'm going to go clean and create something, probably start making things for the kids, and generally try not to feel like so much of a failure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On more lies.

There was recently a study published on USHealth's website about how uncircumcised boys are at higher risk for urinary tract infections, or UTIs, than their circumcised counterparts. The article itself is actually very small, and doesn't go into a lot of detail about the physical study itself, and I'll leave reading the article in its uninterrupted entirety up to you, as I figure you're quite capable of reading it yourself. But as I am an intactivist through and through, and the proud mama of two intact and happy (and I should note healthy) boys, I feel the need to show how painfully inept publications like this make an otherwise trusted source of news and health information look. So, for the sake of making some sense of this whole thing and figuring out how it actually applies to the general populace, I'm going to post the contents of the article, but with my added commentary in between, in red - along with plenty of factual, well-researched sources to back up my points.

MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Uncircumcised boys are at higher risk for urinary tract infections, common bacterial infections that can scar the kidneys if untreated, according to a new study. Oh, is that so? Well, on one hand, you're right there - UTIs can do some pretty serious damage if they're left untreated. But this already misses a huge point: Far more girls than boys develop UTIs after their first year of life, although some studies have shown that before the first year is reached, more boys develop UTIs than girls. The reason for this discrepancy within the first year is unknown, but beyond that it's believed that girls may often hold their urine for longer than boys do, which can cause a UTI, and that girls are more likely to be given baths in water that has been mixed with bubble solution or other potential irritants that can cause UTIs (never mind the fact that proper wiping techniques employed by both parents and child can affect her potential for UTIs). Also, when regarding figures in the US for male babies who develop a UTI before age one, there is a very real possibility that it happens because they are circumcised in the first place, and bacteria has an opportunity to get into places it otherwise wouldn't if the foreskin were still present. Check here, here, here, and here for some good, unbiased information on UTIs and how they affect boys and girls differently during their lives (including a link with great references on how circumcision may negatively affect boys when it comes to UTIs throughout life). Keep in mind, when a girl develops a UTI, we treat it with antibiotics and probiotic yogurts and cranberry - not with circumcision.

The Canadian researchers also found the infection risk is greater regardless of whether or not the boys have a visible urethra. A visible urethra is irrelevant, in all honesty. A boy could be only partially circumcised and still not have a visible urethra, uncircumcised with a visible urethra, or circumcised with a completely visible and bared urethra - so why is this even brought up?

Circumcision involves removal of the foreskin at the tip of the penis. Wrong again - circumcision removes the equivalent of a 3"x5" index card worth of skin on an adult male, over 20,000 nerve endings, and - since the penis typically emerges from the foreskin when engorged - actually removes length from the penis as well. To top it off, circumcision removes healthy, functioning skin that provides the penis with sensitivity and added lubrication that benefits both partners during sex. Check here and here for some basic illustrations and concepts showing exactly what circumcision removes. Warning: the first link is NSFW and contains a picture of a penis. Long story short (see what I did there?), circumcision removes a LOT more than just a little skin at the "tip" of the penis.

For the study, published July 9 in the journal CMAJ, the researchers analyzed information on nearly 400 boys who visited an emergency room with symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Forty of these boys had not been circumcised and had a visible urethra; 269 weren't circumcised and had a partially visible or nonvisible urethra; and 84 were circumcised. I see two issues with this. First, 400 is a very small study size, and numbers closer to the thousands would likely provide results that follow the typical curve that researchers are used to seeing. Second, this is a Canadian study, performed in a Canadian hospital, and Canada has a MUCH lower circumcision rate than America does. That being said, that is even more reason to up the ante and call for a higher number of boys to be followed. This also does not appear to follow any boys whose parents brought them to the doctor instead of to the ER, meaning there is likely a large portion of the study that has been completely ignored that should be included.

"We thought that incomplete foreskin retractability with a poorly visible urethral [opening] may be associated with increased risk of urinary tract infection," the study's co-author, Dr. Sasha Dubrovsky, of Montreal Children's Hospital at McGill University Health Center, said in a journal news release. "However, we found no difference in risk with degree of visibility of the urethral opening."

The researchers pointed out that boys with a completely visible urethra were also at higher risk of infection. They noted, however, that this finding was based on a small sample size and is not supported by previous research. So, again, two things here: One, they found that boys who had a completely visible urethra were at a higher risk of infection, which is a fact that most researchers can agree on - and it is more likely for a boy, especially a young one, to have a visible urethra if he is circumcised. The second problem is that last sentence there. Let me repeat it for you: "[...]  this finding was based on a small sample size and is not supported by previous research." In other words, the researchers are stating VERY PLAINLY that they are aware that this SINGLE research study, conducted with too few participants in a too-limited environment, is likely baseless because it doesn't follow along with pretty much ANY other study performed thus far that seems to agree with the concept that circumcision raises the likelihood of UTIs in otherwise healthy male babies. So, uh. Why is this news, then?

"We suggest that clinicians should consider circumcision status alone, not the degree of urethral visibility, when stratifying risk for boys presenting to the emergency department with symptoms suggesting a urinary tract infection," the researchers said. So, what? If a boy comes to the ER with a potential UTI, why does the status of his penis suddenly matter so much? Nearly every other study done in a first-world country plainly shows that a circumcised boy is more likely to develop a UTI at some point in his life than a non-circumcised boy. See here, here, here, and here for more info. It's believed at this point that the only reason there are studies potentially agreeing with the statement that circumcision CAN prevent UTIs is because parents with intact boys may not be educated as to how to properly care for the foreskin, and may be regularly retracting the foreskin and thus introducing bacteria needlessly into the urethra by retracting and cleaning, even though it is unnecessary and SHOULD NOT be done. (For reference, a boy's foreskin should not be retracted or cleaned under with soap; he should be the first to retract it when he is capable of doing so without causing himself pain or discomfort, and soap should NEVER be used to clean under the foreskin, only warm water, once the child's foreskin is retractable.)

The study does not show that not circumcising boys causes infection, merely that the risk for infection is greater among these boys. Hardly. There are innumerable studies that completely refute this "fact", and the researchers admitted to as much above. In truth, this study shows absolutely nothing, except that people are capable of skewing information as much as they please to get the result that they're looking for - such as openly admitting several glaring issues, and purposefully overlooking several more, but stating that somehow the results still speak for themselves.
The point here, folks, is that circumcision isn't necessary. Keeping your kids - male and female - intact does not somehow magically open them up to more infections, nor does it present them some mystical immunity to diseases. The fact of the matter is that responsibility (teaching children to use protection in the form of condoms during sexual encounters), education (introducing cranberry, probiotic yogurts and kefir drinks, along with antibiotics, during UTIs, and maintaining proper cleaning techniques for both genders), and common sense (don't retract if intact; only clean what is seen) are what will keep our kids from getting UTIs, and will decrease their risk of yeast infections and other STDs. Circumcision is not a condom, or an antibiotic, or a cure-all. It is a painful, unnecessary medical procedure that is illegal to perform on girls, although some "studies" have shown that the same supposed "benefits" would exist for females as they supposedly would for males. There is no reason to circumcise your son.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Lammas

With summer officially under way and fall harvest activities looming right around the corner, the next closest pagan holiday we'll be celebrating is Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh. Traditionally celebrated from the end of July to the beginning of August, Lammas signifies the beginning of the harvest and the end of the warmest, life-giving part of the year; it is a preperation for the fall and winter, and a celebration of the bountiful givings of the land. It's a lot like the traditional American Thanksgiving, with the focus on sharing the bounty of hard work, although truly that celebration is saved for later in September. During Lammas we share fall fruits, fresh baked bread, grains, berries, and those with altars sometimes add a small loaf of bread to their altar to offer up to the Lady.

Although I've already shared a good easy bread recipe earlier, those of you wishing to make bread that involves a little more time and effort (and thus more good energy and thoughtful blessings) but doesn't mean a billion more ingredients might consider taking this route instead:

3 cups of good bread flour (if you need a gluten-free flour, go for it)
1/4 tsp instant yeast (do NOT get the slower stuff, trust me on this)
3/4 tsp kosher salt (or about 1 tsp regular fine table salt if you must)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (you know, the kind of water that yeast loves)

Mix dough the night before you intend on cooking it. Combine all ingredients in a large non-metal bowl with a wooden or plastic spoon until it just comes together. It will probably look like a gloopy mess and will be very sticky but that's okay! Cover it in plastic wrap and set it on the countertop in a dark place for 12-24 hours, or really however long you need to. If you set it out overnight, and your kids help you make it before they head to bed, it can sit all day while you're at work or otherwise busy and that won't hurt it.
The next day the dough SHOULD be kind of bubbly and just as sticky. Use a wet or olive oil coated spoon or spatula to dump it onto a well-floured surface of your choice, then fold the ends around and use the spatula to make it into a rough ball shape. If you use your hands, make sure they stay wet or coated in olive oil or the dough will stick BADLY! Place the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper and put that into a large bake-safe bowl, such as a well-seasoned and coated cast iron pan, a Pyrex baking dish, or some other bake-safe container that can safely sit out. Cover the dough with a towel (don't let the towel touch the dough) and let it rest for 2-3 hours. About 30 minutes from the end of your "wait time", place the covered container into the oven and preheat it to around 450.
At the end of this half an hour, the dough should have doubled again. Remove the container from the oven and the parchment paper and dough from the container, then return the bread dough to the container (spray with cooking spray or coat pan with olive oil if it isn't non-stick or well-seasoned). Bake covered for about half an hour, then uncover and bake about another 20 minutes or until bread is golden brown.
For Lammas, consider instead seperating your bread into equal-lengthed strips just before the final bake and braiding it. Brush the tops with olive oil, then add fun and festive herbs such as parsley, basil, rosemary, chives, and cilantro. For ultimate herb flavor, add them to the bread during mixing. Consider making a similarly-flavored butter by just combining your favorite butter with the same herbs in another bowl and using it as a spread. These braided loaves should be cooked on a shallow or flat baking sheet on parchment paper.

Alternate ideas:
- Add dried cranberries, fresh apple chunks, or a little brown sugar to make this into a truly festive Lammas bread that you can share with friends and family to celebrate the harvest!
- Consider sharing with coworkers, teachers, postal workers, or paper carriers by making a small braided loaf, allowing it to cool, and then wrapping it in an inexpensive checkered tea towel (think your local dollar store) tied off with a length of twine or plain string and a simple, handwritten note.
- Make it a learning experience: If you are part of a church or group that has younger members, this can be a fun chance to help them learn not only valuable life lessons (cooking, cleaning up, group contribution) but to learn about where food comes from. Have every child volunteer an ingredient if possible, and then get their help measuring out the ingredients, mixing, adding, and cleaning up afterwards. Obviously the baking portion should be left to adults or older members, but the children will love the chance to learn something new and will enjoy tasting their creation!
- Make a dessert bread by adding in a little sugar to the mix and sprinkling a cinnamon/brown sugar mixture on top of the bread just before baking. Afterwards, serve with honey butter or your favorite jam.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Another Recipe

Here's another good one for you - not made vegetarian/vegan as easily, but with ingenuity I imagine it would be just as good. This is great in the slow cooker; start the meat the night before, and in the morning shred it and add the noodles.

Warning: this is not a low-calorie, low-fat recipe, so eat at your own risk! Please keep in mind that Hubby and I cook enough to serve five people and have leftovers for us to take to work.

Slow cooker stroganoff

3-4 lb cut of bottom round roast of beef (with meat as expensive as it is right now, feel free to substitute with turkey burger or ground beef, but keep your cooker temperature lower during the day and consider adding more water to keep it from burning)
1 large bag (usually 14-16 oz) of your preferred type of egg noodles (there are Amish no-egg noodles at our local Hy-Vee that come in a clear bag with red printing and a twist tie closure, and I LOVE them in this dish)
1 4oz package or container of cream cheese
1 4oz container of sour cream (use your leftover sour cream from my Mexibread below in this dish!)
1 cup white onion
1 1/2 cup milk
Water as needed (to keep beef from sticking to cooker, and to help cook noodles)
Seasonings (salt, pepper, parsley, chives to taste)

Place beef into slow cooker, fat-side down. Add seasonings, onion, and water (about one cup should be okay), put on lid and cook on high for about 8 hours. In the morning, flip the meat over; you should be able to gently peel the strip of fat off of the bottom of the meat without much difficulty, then shred the meat. Add entire package of noodles, milk, and more water as needed, along with all of the cream cheese and sour cream. Allow to cook on low as long as necessary, either until the noodles are fully cooked or until you are able/ready to eat, whichever you please.

Serves five with leftovers for several days.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On A Recipe

We're big on recipes around here - ones that are straightforward, easy, require few ingredients, and still have a flavor familiarity that can accomodate a picky almost-three-year-old and a five-year-old who won't eat anything green without a huge struggle. We cook things that, during or after assembly, are "walk-away" foods: meals taht don't require having someone stand over them constantly, staring at the meal from start to finish to make sure nothing burns or is overcooked. Most of all, our meals require being sneaky, trying to get kids to eat things they wouldn't otherwise try without being paired with a familiar food.

Today, I share what I made for dinner last night - a tasty Mexican-inspired dish that can easily be made vegetarian or vegan without batting an eye. Please be aware I cook for five people with intentional leftovers for Hubby and I to take to work for lunch.

3 lbs ground beef (for low-fat option, choose ground turkey; for vegetarian/vegan choose semi-firm tofu or tofu crumbles that are marinated in the seasonings listed or vegetarian chorizo and ground veggie burgers)
2 boxes Jiffy cornbread
2 eggs (for vegan, choose egg substitute either powdered or liquid)
2/3 cup milk (for vegan or lactose intolerant, choose soy or almond milk, or other milk substitute of your choice)
1 12oz jar Tostidos salsa, your preference of heat (mild, medium, hot)
Seasonings (garlic, onion, white pepper, black pepper, salt, Tobasco sauce, chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley, all to taste)
1 12oz bag Mexican cheese blend (for vegan, choose a veggie cheese blend of similar cheeses)
1 12oz bag frozen corn (if desired)
1 8oz box frozen spinach (if desired)
Sour cream (for topping, if desired)

Crumble and brown meat until mostly cooked (some pink at this point is normal and okay; meat will finish cooking in the oven). Add seasonings, jar of salsa, and veggies if they are being added; stir to combine and then spread into the bottom of a glass 13x9" baking dish. Top with 3/4 bag of Mexican cheese. Combine eggs, milk, small sprinkle of red pepper flakes, remaining cheese, and both boxes of cornbread in another bowl, stir until most clumps are gone. Spread cornbread mostly evenly atop meat mixture and pop into oven set to 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until top of cornbread is brown and a knife stuck into the middle of the cornbread comes out clean. Slice and serve topped with extra cheese and/or salsa if desired, and sour cream.

Serves five, with leftovers for two days of lunch for two people.

This would also work in a slow cooker on high if you were able to add in the cornbread about an hour before cooking was completed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On This Sorcery (And What It Is)

In case you hadn't guessed - and considering the subject matter, there's a very good possibility you haven't - the title of this post has to do with that amusing and decently-well-known quip, "What is this sorcery?!" It's something I don't often say aloud, but I think it sometimes to myself and after what's been happening around here lately I think it's something I probably ought to just start saying.

Life is crazy.

I think you never realize why so many people go batshit insane sometimes until you're faced with problems like the mental quandary in the realm of what we're dealing with right now. Not that we're making any life-or-death decisions, perse - don't think that we are, things are certainly not THAT bad - but suffice to say that something new seems to pop up every day, and when that new thing DOES pop up it always requires a creative answer, and as of late we've been sort of taxed when it comes to creativity. So much so that when we play D&D on Sundays we've been having difficulty coming up with new character ideas - but honestly, that's another realm of creativity. I mean the kind of creativity that allows a person to sanely and reasonably deal with a situation without feeling as though the only logical answer is to rip their hair out and try to go hide in a corner without being noticed, which right now is apparently the only option I can see. We're in one of those situations where the world isn't going to stop spinning based on the choices made, but depending on the chosen option, things could potentially improve a million times over - or they could come crashing down rather tremendously and with a resounding noise unlike any you've ever heard.

Naturally, because we are admittedly not good with the decision making process, Hubby and I both are trying hard to try to act like we're mature adults who are able to competently discern between what is important in the long term and what is important in the here and now while in fact only making things harder on each other and ourselves than we need to. The situation is played up to others, or in our heads, as though we are somehow being asked to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls with no safety net, but with a $1,000,000 reward if we succeed: we know we are doomed to fail, but the idea of what's at the end is too tempting to not try. Of course, things are not even remotely THAT bad, but in our minds I think that's sort of what we're imagining. I can naturally only speak for me, and not Hubby, in that respect, but I think that's close enough.

To explain a little more, here's things from the perspective of Hubby's job:

The pros: The fact of the matter is that Hubby has an amazing job with a small, local company and an amazing boss. He loves what he does and he loves the other four employees and he loves his boss, who would undoubtedly bend over backwards for any of his employees (and he has on multiple occasions). He is only an administrative assistant, but the company owner/boss relies on him to keep the business functional and organized, and asks for Hubby's opinion on major issues often. Hubby is "in" on a lot of the company decisions, with a hand on pretty much everything at any given time. He does pretty much everything, and without a doubt this position has been a huge addition to his resumé that makes it look pretty damn awesome if I do say so myself. The people he works with have become close friends of our's, enough so that we have left our children with one of the guys and his wife one weekend to go on a two-day outing a state away. We love them. We all get together on Sunday with people we wouldn't have met if it wasn't for the guys he works with, and they have a monthly (or so) game day where they all go out and do things they want to for fun, together. They're like family to us.

The cons: Hubby will probably never make more money than he is right now - and unfortunately he isn't making much. If/when minimum wage goes up in our state, he will likely be making minimum wage again, and even that would be actually a huge improvement over what he makes now. His position offers absolutely no benefits, no PTO, no sick days. If he has to take off, he has no option to be paid for it, no matter the reason. He does not get vacation time and is at the office from around 8:30 AM until between 6:15 and 6:30 PM depending on how the day goes. The work has slowed down to a crawl, they are not bringing in much business, and the owner, as amazing as he is, keeps coming up with business ideas that could be awesome but instead end up backfiring horribly on him and the company, driving him into a deeper hole than he already is. He has stated on multiple occasions that he wishes he could pay his employees more, but he is simply unable, and things have shown no real hint of improvement. Because of the position he's already in, Hubby will likely never "move up" in the company simply because there is no position to move up into, and his hours and pay will probably never improve. Also, the company Hubby currently works at is all the way across town, and with only one car that means I have to leave about 45 minutes before I have to be to work just to take him to work, then get the kids to daycare and me to work. It's a lot of extra gas.

The median: We do not need more benefits. My insurance covers us all just fine as it is, and anything extra would be overkill and another deductible to try to meet before anything would kick in. We've been doing fairly well in the gas realm; we've adjusted to the extra running and it's pretty typical for us now. The savings on gas would be nice but probably minimal considering all the other driving that we do.

And from the perspective of my job:

The pros: I make a lot. More than either of us have, ever - I almost make as much as my mother, who has a nursing license and 24 years of experience under her belt, at a nationally recognized hospital. I have a pretty easy entry position at a company that's known for trying to treat its employees right. I have good benefits that I'm not paying out the ass for, and while my job can be stressful sometimes it's actually pretty easy now that I'm getting the hang of it. I like trying to help people and I get to interact with someone different every few minutes, but at the same time I'm at the office with the same group of people every day so I have that familiarity too. I have a space that's all my own, in a fairly laid-back environment where I can wear comfortable clothing and have off the cuff conversations with my friends. I have made us able to finally pay off some of our old bills. Most of all, there is ample opportunity for advancement if I improve and on the same level I am guaranteed yearly raises and "profit sharing" checks in February based on my performance levels. If I am doing well, I get rewarded for it consistently. Best of all, there's always the possibility that I can move to other departments, even become a supervisor if I want, and there is the remote possibility of even getting to work from home at some point if the chance opens up. My work is close to the daycare, and to the school that G will probably be going to this fall, so I can easily and quickly rush to either if I need or want to. Another plus: I have PTO days that I can save up, guaranteed weekends off, a fixed schedule, and paid holidays.

The cons: While I was in training, and sometimes even now, my job drives me crazy. It's often stressful and difficult and I've been cursed at more than once on the phones when someone has called in, and I've only been on the phones full time since late March.

Ugh, I am too frustrated right now in the whole situation to even continue this. My deepest apologies.

Friday, June 8, 2012

On Midnight

It is nearly midnight.

As I wander about the house, preparing for a too-early morning, my legs wobble and nearly give out on me - but this is to be expected. Tomorrow, they will be worse. Much worse. But their reaction tonight does not surprise me at all.

I just spent two hours at the gym. Two hours where I achieved a few new things and set a few new goals for myself. About 650 calories burned in those two hours, and some weight training done that adds in even more for a person of my size, and tomorrow's IndoRow session at 5:30 AM will burn another 900 or so.

I weigh 384 lbs.

At some point, I forced myself to admit that the only way I was going to follow through with any form of weight loss - no, healthy lifestyle changes - was to commit financially in some small form. One $25/month gym membership and unlimited $10/class IndoRow sessions later, I am finding myself slowly setting and achieving goals. They're ones that would make other people roll their eyes.

Walk 10 minutes on a treadmill at 2.8 mph.

Cycle 20 minutes at 15.5 mph.

Do 100 shoulder lifts at 35 lbs.

Do 60 crunches with 32 lbs of weight.

But they're things that seemed impossible to me until I began pushing my limits.

The shower was hard. I snuck into the house with all the stealth of a drunken co-ed, thanks to my exhausted muscles. Unfortunately, they have yet to meet up with the adrenaline still pumping through my blood; my body is done but my mind is convinced I can go a little further if I just TRY. I stumbled around, tried to keep the noise down, and eventually showered. I left the main light off; thanks to the motion detector light in the bathroom, though, I was left waiving my arms around wildly every minute or so when it threatened to turn off and leave me shrouded in nothing but blackness with the comfort of hot water pouring onto me. I bathed, and as I was drying off I struggled: I'm hungry. Do I snack? No, I eat a gummy vitamin. Do I use the self-tanning lotion I bought? No.. Not tonight, it just isn't worth the hassle. I go through the next few hours in my head, trying to make sure everything is ready.

Alarm is set for 5 AM. Coffee is ready to be brewed. Clothes are ready. My brain, not so much. I'm one of those people that functions best on 8+ hours of sleep, so tonight's decision to go work out before tomorrow's vigorous rowing class was not made lightly.

(Okay, I lied, it took me like two minutes to decide to go.)

Unfortunately, I can tell that the walking pneumonia we all recently caught is sneaking up on me. Despite days of antibiotics and no longer being contagious, my lungs bubble again when I breathe. I sigh. And cough.  Figures.

Still. Everything is ready. Now, I sleep.

Monday, May 28, 2012

On Being "Mom Enough"

This windstorm happened a while back, and by now it's easily old news, but it's also something I sincerely meant to write about and share my thoughts on when it was still fresh and interesting. By now, everybody has gotten the point - that being "Mom enough" doesn't necessarily mean doing the ultimate best ever, but doing the best you can with what you've got - but I still have the urge to weigh in on this concept on this cloudy, stormy Memorial Day.

There are plenty of abusive, insincere, angry parents out there who are nowhere near "Mom enough" to parent their children. They are current hard drug abusers, angry alcoholics, emotionally and mentally unstable. They hurt their babies or even take the lives of their children and they are unquestionably not "Mom enough", and I don't think anybody would argue that. Those who need help and don't seek it, or ignore the problem, or take their issues out on their offspring have problems that need to be taken care of before they can sincerely stand up and say they are the best mother that they are capable of being.

But that doesn't qualify the rest of us - those of us who were former drug users, former alcoholics, who are clean and sober, or who were booby trapped and robbed of a healthy breastfeeding relationship by unsupportive family or pushy medical personnel, or who didn't know enough about circumcision or vaccination or whole foods or healthy living to make an honest, educated decision about it, they just went along with what they were told was right and spanked their kids or yelled at them or did something that in general most of us know better than to do, or know how to do it safely (if such is possible). We are parents who have busted our asses to do the best we can do, and be the best we can be, and set the best example for our kids as possible. Maybe we formula fed our kids, and used disposable diapers, and pushed potty training, and vaccinated and circumcised and ate what is honestly pretty awful fast food, maybe we put our kids in separate rooms far from our's and spanked and did all kinds of things. But the problem with judging other mothers based on what you see or hear them doing is that, honestly, you have no idea how much they know.

Maybe that mom was raised thinking spanking her children was the only and most correct form of discipline. Maybe her friends convinced her breastfeeding was disgusting, maybe her husband or boyfriend convinced her that circumcision was the only option. Maybe she thinks that co-sleeping will turn her baby into a clinging, dependent child. Maybe she thinks that cloth diapers are a hassle, and that fast food isn't all THAT bad, and that organic foods aren't worth the money. Maybe she was told one time to never question shots that our children are given and that they're all completely 100% safe for every child and adult. Maybe, just maybe, she is like the majority of other parents, who think that if they are being told something by friends or family or a doctor or nurse that the advice they're given is true, effective, and honest. And really, if you step back and think about it, even if something goes against instinct, why is that really such a harmful state of mind? It shouldn't be. And that seems to be the problem, that instead of trying to correct the problems - uninformed medical staff, friends and family who don't really understand - we make the mom feel bad. We make her feel like she isn't "Mom enough" to her children, that she doesn't do enough or try hard enough. We call her names and jump on her and force her to eventually submit not to the idea that she didn't know better and was misled, but to the concept that she messed up and should take responsibility for her actions. Actions that, a lot of the time, I honestly don't think that these moms should be held accountable for.

The TIME article that instigated this entire thing - about extended breastfeeding - has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people. Subtly inflammatory, it suggests that the only women who have earned the right to call themselves "Mom enough" to their children are those who have gone above and beyond even their own comfort level, potentially driving themselves to discomfort and leaving them resenting their children because they feel as though they absolutely must do or say something in order to be a real mother. By this logic, I am anything but; I did not breastfeed either child past six months (the first was only breastfed a mere four days!), I only occasionally used cloth, I turned my first child forward facing at 13 months old. I have done things that many would consider to be nowhere near "Mom enough" because they are all I knew - and although none involved so-called "extremes" to parent my children to try to win that coveted "award", they are all things that I did because I was misled or uneducated or lacked experience. They are things I did that many would consider to make me not "Mom enough". (And on that note, I ask you this: how are mothers who have pushed themselves to a level even they are not comfortable with being the best moms they can be if they are in a constant state of wishing they HADN'T gone that far, all for the sake of trying to do what they think they have to be "Mom enough" to do? A woman not comfortable breastfeeding a three year old in public or otherwise - because she chooses not to leave herself resenting her child and her decisions and chooses to wean before then, does that mean she isn't "Mom enough"? Hell no! It means she wants to be the best mother she can be, and she knows that part of that is being comfortable and secure in her relationship with her child!)

The one thing that we moms will always have in common is the ability to teach each other. We have all been in similar situations, whether or not we carry our children with us in our arms or they are gone now - we carried them a length of time, we loved them, maybe we were blessed enough to birth them and raise them. We are a group who have experienced things that others never will. We share a bond because we have loved someone more than we ever knew we could love another being. We have helped create life, and that is perhaps the most amazing thing of all. The last thing we ought to do is be tearing one another down and suggesting that there is some potentially unattainable perfection that we should all be shooting for instead of simply trying to be the best we can in our own situations for our own children. That impossible perfection is exactly what ends up dividing us, causing huge rifts in what should be a community of moms supporting one another and teaching each other how to raise children. We should gently teach, give suggestions, offer help when it is needed. We should reach out to help each other and give support in difficult situations, not throw out halfassed judgement because it's convenient and makes us feel, by proxy, "more Mom" than someone else is.

So who is "Mom enough"? Everyone. Every mother who has learned, and grown, and educated herself. Every mother who wanted to do more and try harder and fix problems and change things for the better. Every mother who has stood up and said that she isn't sure this is the ultimate best, but that it's the best that SHE can do and the best that SHE knows how to do - these women are "Mom enough". All of us are, and that is sincerely and honestly what counts the most, and no matter what we think of how another mother is doing when it comes to raising her children, the one thing none of us EVER have ANY right to say is that we don't think she is "Mom enough".

Sunday, May 27, 2012

On Entitlement.

First of all, damn.

It has been over a month since I posted last, and in that month surprisingly enough not a lot has happened. I've moved up slowly at work, inching out of training and into the position of a full-fledged employee who might actually know what's going on. School for G has ended for the year and he doesn't seem to notice the difference; he spends his days with A at daycare having a lovely time with Miss J and her amazing three girls. They love it there, and while I know it's never as good as being home with me or Daddy, it's about as close as I'm going to get.

But that isn't what this is about.

This is about something that Hubby and I were discussing earlier, something that I - like most people - need desperately to work on. Something I don't often think about, and that one thing is pretty big for all of us: entitlement.

You see, no matter what you believe - that we die and that's the end, or that there's a Great Beyond, or that we go on to live many more lives - the one thing that none of us can argue with is that we only get to have THIS life one single time. Once. No matter how many times you believe we will or won't come back, you can't argue that much, and that's kind of a daunting fact sometimes. So much so that some of us - myself included - manage to con ourselves into believing that what we do in this life isn't really all that important; that we won't really make a dent in someone's memory or mind, that we won't somehow make a huge difference in anybody else's life. And that's what it is, really, a con. We con ourselves into thinking that we don't matter, or won't matter - maybe because we're depressed or sad or tired or even just want to think that nobody's watching or listening because being the person we want to be all the time seems so impossible, or so difficult - but the fact of the matter is that when we tell ourselves those things we're lying to ourselves and everybody around us. We're lying to our husbands, our wives, our boyfriends and girlfriends, our parents and children and friends and relatives and pretty much everybody. Sometimes some of us push that lie so far that even we start to believe it, and it goes from a very bad habit to a lifestyle. We make it a way of being, but in the end we're really only doing that - BEING, but not LIVING.

Right now, I am being. I'm here, and present, and scared of death and storms and wasps and am morbidly obese and unhappy and depressed and I tend to rely on food to make me feel better about myself. But I've conned myself into that line of thought, that in the end I'm not really important. And I forget my big ideas - the ChaserBox (which you don't know anything about) and my charity, Helping Hands Healing Homes (go like them on Facebook), and I forget about the fact that my kids are learning by example and they are expecting me to show them how to be a halfway decent human being, and I am showing them how to to do anything but.

Not to throw off anyone, but I believe in Fate, and I believe that she consistently works in mysterious ways. I believe that we are given opportunities - often to make ourselves better people - and it's up to us to see them and take advantage of them before they're gone. Sometimes they're positive, sometimes neutral, sometimes negative, and we have to choose (often quickly) how they will affect our lives. I believe that new doors open all the time, and that when one opens (like when the lovely Kitchen Witch's husband was offered an amazing job, simply by chance, and he took it) it is up to us to help or hinder the process that Fate begins. I have been hindering. I have been hindering on a huge level, one I am not proud of. I have been shown time and time again how my negativity and weight are affecting my life and one another. I have been shown their effects on my body and relationships and I have been told in no uncertain terms what will become of me if I can't remind myself what my purpose in life is.

The problem, of course, has been going back to that idea of meaning something, of living. I've been doing a lovely job of being but not a very good job of living, and it shows. It shows in the attitudes of my children and my actions and words toward them. It shows in my attitude in the morning, it shows in how I conduct myself and act. It shows in how I treat myself and my body, and how I constantly abuse my mentality and soul because today is just another day, and in my head I am immortal and there will be a million more days just like today where I can get that second or third or billionth chance because I messed today up too much by deciding it was easier and more convenient to simply BE instead of to LIVE.

I want to remind you, right here and now, that we have exactly ONE chance to get this life the way we want it. Mind you, I'm not by any means saying that if you push yourself to every imaginable limit you will be guaranteed to attain every single thing you've ever wanted and then some. But you can and will be happier, at least, which is a huge step in the right direction for a lot of us. Myself included. This is the only life where I get to be who I am right now, who I was born as. This is the only life where I will see the things I see every day, where I will know these people as they are right now. This is the only time I will get to be wife of Hubby and daughter of my mother and Mama to G and A and whatever other children we may have. This is the only time I will know these people as they stand right now, and either I can make sure I have made a positive lasting mark on them and their memories by living life and making it as amazing as possible, or make an awful negative mark by showing them that if you let things get you down far enough, you will spend the rest of your life in the valley wishing you were strong enough to climb that mountain.

Right now, I am climbing. I am climbing arm in arm with some amazing, beautiful people who make my life a million times more beautiful by being part of it. It's incredibly difficult and there are days I want to do nothing more than rest, but I know that if I rest one day I will convince myself I can rest for two, and I will go back to being and not living. I never want to just BE again.

I want to live. And I want you to live with me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

On Stepping Away

It has been a while.

You don't need me to tell you that; we're all intelligent people here, capable of coming to our own conclusions, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to notice that I went AWOL at some point and just kind of disappeared into oblivion. There's a relatively good chance that in all honesty I could have stepped away from this blog and probably never have noticed - that isn't really a statement as to how I feel about any of YOU, just how I feel about life right now. It's frustrating at the moment, and there are days - oh, there are days - when I'm fairly sure it would have been more productive to curl back up in bed and forget about participating in my day-to-day activities.

First off, G turned five.

That's something I'm still working on wrapping my head around; for me, his birth and the time in our lives leading up to it was really traumatic and I didn't handle his arrival well. We never really bonded, and we're still working on repairing the damage done to our relationship from day one. Getting along and functioning together have always been a problem for he and I, and I have the sneaking suspicion that it will be this way for the rest of our lives, to some degree. It's hard to accept that, as I get to know him better every day and work harder on functioning in his life and his realm of existence (which is often so very different from everybody else's), I will probably never really "get" him and feel as close to him as some people do. I have a lot of guilt surrounding how he and I work together, a LOT of it.

Hubby has been struggling with some inner problems that have been doing a really unpleasant number on his digestive system. He's been having chronic and confusing issues that have been pointing in every odd direction and end in the same place: Eat better, dude. So that, of course, is another aspect of our lives that has been difficult to deal with, as our jobs have left us getting home relatively late with little time between pulling into the driveway and putting the boys to bed.

There are, of course, other problems we've faced but in all honesty they're not really anything different or worth sharing. We struggle like anybody else does, only sometimes in different ways or directions, and in the long run it's really nothing to constantly talk about.

In other news, we finally got some planting done here at my mother's house. Because of the dogs, and of the time and effort necessary to maintain an in-ground garden, we've gone to container planting. We're now up three strawberry plants, a red pepper, sweet basil, onion chives, Italian parsley, tomato, seven broccoli plants, and a blueberry bush, with green beans and butter leaf lettuce in sprout mode as we speak, and plans to appropriate a raspberry bush as well. So far everything is doing fairly well, but we did admittedly learn something from our planting endeavors last year: we bought a LOT of plants that were already sprouted. Probably not as kosher as it could be, but the fact of the matter remains that we've proven on numerous occasions that we're really no good at growing from seed, and it's in our best interests to start with something that someone else has already started. We're hoping for better results this year and thus far have definitely been granted them!

Other than that there is honestly little to report. We're still desperately searching for our own place, but are nowhere near prepared for it. Life in my mother's house is often frustrating and grates on our nerves to no end, but it is by far better than homelessness and we're thankful on a constant basis that we're somewhere we aren't being asked to pay for bills, so we're able to better catch up with our debts. The job I started on February 13th has made this significantly easier, but sadly we're still in that "oh my god we have money" stage of development and are slowly easing ourselves into the idea that we will be paying off our debts on a regular basis from now on.

I wish you all the best, and brightest blessings as life awakens again in the Northern Hemisphere! I'm going to try to post more often.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

On A Loss

Storm chaser, volunteer, web site contributor, enthusiast, informant to the National Weather Service, friend, and father to a three year old daughter.

Killed in Oklahoma 02/04/2012 returning from a late-week chase in Texas. Someone was driving the wrong way down an interstate and killed him; the one going the wrong way was also killed and several others were injured.

On What The Hell

Although I know I do specifically have a few close friends who are generally people I would consider to be "mildly intolerant", I more or less like to think of the people I try to surround myself and my family with as rather open minded individuals who are not hateful or who, at the very least, understand and accept that the lifestyle choices of others may not coincide with their personal beliefs, but that doesn't make them wrong.

Unfortunately I'm sometimes wrong, and when I am it seems like I'm wrong in the most horrific way.

I'd like to put a big disclaimer on the front of this because this post is going to involve religion on a pretty heavy scale, and I don't want anybody to think I'm walking around spewing my own degree of intolerance because it's more convenient or because it's somehow okay when it's me and not someone else. So let it be said that while I typically tend to dislike some of the more vocal adherents of certain religions, I DON'T dislike the religions themselves. I realize that there are negative representations of every religious circle or belief system, and that those who unfortunately choose to be the most hateful tend to give the remainder of the believers a pretty bad name. Even the most demanding religious people I know still very specifically will not go out of their way to purposefully discriminate against people that believe differently from them (for example, I'm darn good friends with a beautiful, wonderful Mormon who is only a few weeks - squee! - from welcoming her first child with her awesome hubby!) and I'd like to think that that's the kind of world we need to have, one where people can agree to disagree (but maybe also agree that disagreement doesn't mean denying basic human rights from anybody).

That being said, I also know that there are, sadly, a rather large group of people in general who are out to ensure that the rest of the known world - our country especially - adheres specifically to their own religious beliefs and interpretations of their scriptures. They aren't at all gentle or politely suggestive; they don't offer information but instead end up not only openly allowing but encouraging and enforcing policies like those at schools in a district in Minnesota that ended in the eventual suicides of nearly ten openly LGBT and supposedly "straight" students in one year because school policies kept teachers from addressing the bullying they experienced by name.

And to that sort of thing, I say, what the fuck? I don't often and openly curse, especially when I have two kids who now happily and contently repeat everything I say (and one of whom is old enough to scold me on my language and send me to time out), but really now. I'll let you read the (admittedly rather long) article yourself, but to TL;DR the whole thing, religious conservatives in the district pressured school board members to enact policies that specifically stated that teachers and other employees were not to mention or bring attention to LGBT issues, and that ended with teachers being afraid to address bullying in their classrooms and halls. It ended with kids getting called horrible names and even being physically abused by their classmates, and allowed multiple teachers to even emotionally and verbally abuse their most vulnerable students because nobody was allowed to bring up the abuse. It ended in multiple suicides because there were a lot of (sorry) really pig-headed Christians who decided that talking about homosexuality would encourage supposedly straight students to "try it out", and that it would end with an epidemic of AIDS and homosexuality.

Without rereading the article in full and counting every single death, I want to say that seven kids died in that school district.


I'll let that sink in for a while as I head back to my original point.

Anyway, I'd rather my children grow up surrounded by the sort of tolerance I want them to express to others, and only see the other type from the "right" side - to understand that being hateful is ugly, and that intolerance is a form of bullying. It's something I hope they never personally experience, but I know that they will eventually - maybe because one or both of them are gay, or bisexual, or transsexual, or "too skinny" or "too fat" or not smart enough, or because either one decides to wear "girly clothes" or keep their hair long or end up with glasses. I know from personal experience that children raised in an environment where there is bullying in the home or where it is encouraged through a complete lack of tolerance on the behalf of the parents. Until that day comes, though, I'd rather show them what I want them to see, and live the way I'd like to see them try to live, so that when the day comes when unfortunately someone does choose to bully them or show a complete lack of tolerance for something one of my children says or does, I want my kids to see it as what it is - blatant discrimination and bullying - and understand why it's happening and how to deal with it.

I want to surround them with people who will love them, and show them what it is to love other people, regardless of sexuality, gender, race, education, income, age, disability, size, or any other factor viewed in a way that doesn't simply make a person unique. So when we found an opportunity to interact with a local SCA group (Society for Creative Anachronism, for those who aren't aware) I was thrilled. The last had recently disbanded and we had a great time with them, even as non-paying members, that I was excited to get my kids involved and let them start to experience the world that I live in in my mind.

We found out about it in an oddly roundabout way; a former participant of another group who also happened to be a "friend of a friend" who was also an SCA member from the former local group found me on Facebook and we struck up a happy little friendship. When we first got to meet him at the first (and only) meeting we went to, I was reaffirmed that the guy in question is pretty damn awesome. He liked us, we liked him, he was easygoing and a lot of fun. We and another girl who was there with her daughter had a pretty good time together, even though the fighters more or less ignored us. We made plans to try to pay at some point for an actual family membership and to come back for as many meetings as time and gas money would allow us to.

Then everything exploded.

Some general stupidity ensued; accusations were thrown around by the guy who started the group (who is a hardcore Christian) and a similarly-minded girl who ended up being the new head honcho, and without warning or discussion by anyone our new friend was ostracized from the group (specifically, he was "voted out"). Once information was eventually offered, he was given the runaround, told that "some parents" complained about how he acted at some random point around children in the group, but he wasn't told when the complaint happened - so of course when he asked the only other parents who were present the night we were there as well if they complained, we all answered no. We hadn't. None of us had. The truth is that we all acted as we normally do around our kids, which is to say that we all sort of act like big goofballs.

It turns out that, after a lot of prodding, the incident in question was unrelated to our kids or anything that we had even been there to witness. It was something that, in the end, had absolutely nothing to do with him acting inappropriately toward a child of any kind, but instead had everything to do, more or less, with the fact that he isn't Christian.

The group "leaders" are.

And I'm not sure how to react to their perceived intolerance because he may "act gay", so this has taken me a couple of days to write. It makes me angry. It makes me want to roll my eyes and try to explain to our kids (who are WAY too young to care or understand) that when people act this way, it's unacceptable. They won't get it, but I want to try to make them get it anyway. This has nothing to do with the SCA itself, and everything to do with the unfortunate mindsets of the people in our area. This is not representative of the SCA (in fact, the response from the higher ups he has spoken to has generally been that they have no right to tell him he can't be part of a local group, and that's something that needs to be decided on a larger, "kingdom" level). This is representative of stupidity, of fear, of intolerance and a lack of understanding and education.

This is what happens when you hate, folks.

People get hurt. Luckily, our new friend isn't too personally concerned about the situation beyond the personal attacks on his character. He knows they're being douches. Everybody else seems to know they're being douches. Hubby and I immediately left the Facebook group that had been created and don't plan on attending again. We don't want our kids around people like this, and frankly, I'm not a nice enough person to be able or willing to force myself to be around people like this.

So there you go. What the hell.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Going At It Again

I've been putting off posting for a while because of some crazy personal life stuff, but this needs to be said.

Facebook is at it again.

I don't mean that in a "oh, that crazy Facebook" way where we all shake our heads and have a hearty laugh and then go back to our daily lives. I mean that for over a year now they have been consistently deleting photos from the profiles of women who have posted pictures of themselves or ANYBODY ELSE breastfeeding, and on top of that they have subsequently been locking and blocking profiles associated with those pictures left and right. There are probably a hundred if not more groups on Facebook demanding that so-and-so's profile be unblocked or group be reinstated; there are easily a thousand or more pressuring Facebook to follow the laws of the state in which their main office (and thus they) are located, which happens to be California. You see, the law of California protects the rights of the breastfeeding woman. Want a copy of their laws? Find it here. California has been protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers since 1997, when its first law ensuring a woman could breastfeed wherever she needs to was passed and put into force.

The problem?

The California law specifically states, and I quote, "except the private home or residence of another". That is a huge fucking loophole that, if you ask me, is probably how Facebook is continuing to allow people to report (and thus subsequently remove) pictures posted on profiles of women breastfeeding. It's what we in the not-really-legal profession call "a huge fucking loophole" because one would assume that if someone sees a picture of breastfeeding that they don't want to see, they're probably seeing it in their house, and thus they've every right (through the state of California) to report that picture and even that profile or group to avoid seeing it again - even if it belongs to someone that tends to post pictures like that, or join groups that contain numerous similar pictures or posts, and even if the reporting individual is fairly sure that this will continue. To make matters worse, because of Facebook's new timeline feature and subscription options that automatically leave everyone seeing what everybody else says without people going through their list and turning off subscriptions for every person on there by hand, people indeed are inadvertently seeing comments, posts, pictures, and group activity that other people on their friends list may not care about or want to see - and if they can't see the whole post and click on it, they're likely to be subjected to something that shouldn't concern them.

What does this mean?

It means a couple of things. First of all, it means that 1) via California's breastfeeding protection laws, Facebook may actually be doing something painfully legal, even though the pictures are being hosted elsewhere and the homes in which said pictures are being viewed could be located absolutely anywhere. 2) It means that even if Facebook is still in the wrong simply because of the other logistics (and they are), this is a very real loophole that needs to be closed ASAP by the California legislature with a "no loophole" clause that insists that pictures posted from California or viewed in California households are not subjected to the "except the private home or residence of another" stipulation. (And if they don't close this loophole, there's the very real possibility that Facebook can and will continue abusing their own policies.)

The amusing thing is that Facebook has no algorithm in place to detect which pictures may show more potential nudity than others; if so, (WARNING: NUDITY) pages like this and profile pictures like this and this and this whole fucking page wouldn't exist. (Which reminds me of this page, and this one too.) There are thousands, MILLIONS more, not including the profiles of men and women alike who post way more inappropriate pictures that show far more nudity than the average picture of a woman breastfeeding her child. There are pages, apps, groups and profiles completely dedicated to the dehumanization of women, to the sexualization of children, and to nearly every single illegal act you can think of. There are more of these than there are pages, groups, profiles, and even pictures that support the beautiful bond between a woman and her children, that show the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child. Facebook is a misogynist's dream, mostly because there are very few things that we women are capable of that a man typically isn't, and one of those things is breastfeeding.

Which Facebook wants to shutter back behind closed doors. Again.

There have of course been ups and downs. Facebook briefly apologized for "wrongly" removing a picture on a woman's profile in America, but soon opened itself up to Canadian criticism when not more than a couple of weeks later they were shutting down numerous groups and profiles and removing pictures from pages and groups owned and moderated by individuals located in Canada. One woman even made the news and was interviewed extensively about what she has experienced. There's an official page on Facebook supporting Emma Kwasnica and her breastfeeding pictures, which I am a part of.

So what on earth can or should we do about this?

Well, first of all, go sign this petition to the California state legislature (that I wrote, go me!) asking them to change a loophole in their breastfeeding protection laws that may be enabling Facebook to continue removing pictures at their discretion under the guise of being pornographic or containing "sexual nudity". Once you've done that, go grab the Open Letter to Facebook that I wrote last year and find every single form you can fill out to the Facebook administrators, then send it off. You may edit that letter however you please and you do not need to attribute it to me when you send it, but I would ask that you please link back to that post or this one if you mention it online. Then, if you're really feeling up to some good, flood your profile with pictures of breastfeeding women - I really love seeing them remove pictures of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus, that always gets me somehow (and I don't mean that in an angry way, I mean that it really goes to show how terrified of breastfeeding they are) - and wait to see the fireworks.

Then, go have a boob-filled day.