Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why I'll Never Have an Office

I know I've been writing about homeschooling a lot lately, and not really much about doulaing. There's a reason for that - being a doula is not feasible for me right now. We move every three years due to Dr. Scientist's work, and I am currently a stay at home mom, homeschooling mom, and a writer. BUT. I WILL go back to it. I love-love-love being a doula. It's one of the most wonderful jobs I could even imagine, and I can't fathom ever giving it up for good. So, I keep up with the birth world to some degree, and I think about it a lot. And in thinking, I considering... what should I share with you? Because when I go back, I'll continue to link clients to this blog so they can learn more about me. Here we go, something I want to share:

I won't ever have an office as a doula. I know some people think it's unprofessional to just meet in public places, but I prefer it, for several reasons.

Reason one: A doula is NOT a medical professional. We are there to comfort, to calm, to assist, to help your family through a birth experience. This is also the reason I won't actually certify with any organization, though I've completed certification requirements for more than one. I don't want to give the impression that I'm a medical professional - I'm not. I'm a professional, but I'm a professional provider of emotional, and physical support and information. Doesn't really sound like office material, does it? It's a much more intimate profession than the impression gained from sitting behind a desk for an interview.

Reason two: The interview itself... not only does it go both ways, but I'm looking for something in particular. I call it "recognition". You might also think of the concept of "namaste" or "namaskar" - while used as a greeting, it's intended to honor the love, light, and peace within each other, and recognize that when we are in that place, we are one. I'm looking for someone I feel that "click" with - almost like on a first date. Is the chemistry there? Could she be my friend? Am I comfortable with her other support people? Does she feel that way about me? I feel that the informal setting is vital to this recognition - we can just chat. No pressure, no expectations, just feel each other out and decide if we're the right fit. (For the record, I always have the names and contact information for other doulas, if you ever interview with me and feel I'm not the right fit for you! I want to help, even if I'm not the one to provide that support for you.)

Reason three: I don't want to. I like meeting you somewhere fun. Please feel free to make suggestions - we can meet for lunch or coffee or an amble through a botanical garden or just somewhere you feel comfortable!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby...

As a parent, sex, love, and relationships are difficult topics. Really, these are just fraught any time, but once you're a parent there's so much more there. It's not just about you anymore. Like everything else in life, it also becomes an example you're setting for your children. So you think about it, probably more than you used to, but also in a different light.

Google the word sex. 789,000,000 results. Love? 1,670,000,000. Now let's jump outside the box. Homosexuality has 6,890,000 results. Bisexuality has 726,000 results. Asexuality? 1,130,000. Polyamory has 564,000. Polyfidelity, only 60,800. Transexualism, 63,800 (though transexual has a lot more.) 

In this culture (I'm American, if that wasn't apparent) we generally think of adult relationships as being between one man and one woman, who are then expected to get married and have two children. And live alone in a big house with two cars and be so separate. And sex is something for the bedroom, never to be discussed outside, except in whispers between female friends over a glass of wine, when we talk about whether we can even achieve orgasm anymore, or if we're quite daring, how great coconut oil is as a sexual lubricant. 

We've made sex taboo, while advertising with it, discussing it in media, talking about everyone else's sex lives. Anything out of our cultural norm elicits whispers at best, and can lose friendships, jobs, and even family at worst.

Because of this, and many other things I'm going to call "cultural repressions", people hide who they are. Celebrities "come out of the closet". Why were they in the closet? Why is there a closet?

Most people know I'm pretty open minded, so I hear things they don't tell others. This friend is polyamorous. That one is bisexual. That one is a sexual sadist. Even things that are fairly "normal" - like a friend who enjoys anal sex with her husband - are whispered behind closed doors. 

I'd call bullshit on the whole secrecy thing, but I get it. I completely get it. Being open is hard. You can get buried under half-truths, untruths, and the entire character you've made up that's now as much you as the real you. How hard is it to throw off that mantle? What happens if we drop it? Do our lives fall apart? Do our friends think we're cheating on our spouses, or dirty, or will their religion say we're "bad" or "wrong"? Have you spent so long crushed under the weight of the person you've constructed that you'll come apart and float away? 

This actually kind of goes back to my freedom post... our choices are our freedom. Now, whether we can even make choices or whether we're biologically programmed to do certain things, like nifty machines, is a completely different question. But I can say that there are choices we can make, and mostly they're intellectual. The choice to lie, the choice to cover up, even to yourself. The choice to be free and do what you feel is right. The choice to choose a mate and be devoted, whether or not you have loving or sexual relationships outside that pair - or not. Letting others' judgment (this includes religion) cloud your own intuition and feelings, or guiding your own life. And it's hard. It's hard to make those choices. It's hard inside you to bind yourself into a role in which you're not comfortable - to be comfortable in other areas of your life (no difficult conversations with friends, for example). And it's hard to be you, and step outside those bindings, and seek out what you want.

So maybe you're happy with what you have. Maybe the two plus two (or more) lifestyle is really just right for you. Maybe you're not. Maybe religious upbringing or fear or what others will say is just too much for you.  But maybe you have something inside of you that isn't the same. Maybe it's not about sex or relationships. Maybe you always wanted to be a writer. Maybe you're terrified of breaking the rules, even if you feel there are rules that it would be right and honest to break.

Maybe you have children, maybe you don't. But either way, isn't being honest, being open, being yourself the best way to demonstrate for them that it's okay to be them? What if your daughter is bisexual? Would she tell you, or would you spend your life (and hers) not knowing a key component of her personality? What if you were secretly bisexual, though? How would you feel knowing all that? And what if you were openly bisexual? Would you be able to celebrate her unique personality and sexuality with her, or are you still hiding your own personality, until you really aren't there anymore?

I love my parents. They did their best raising my brother and me. (So if you're reading this, don't think I'm picking on you; you're just the only parents I have.) My mother said something to me a few years back that resonated, in a way that made me really truly think about how I'm raising my kids. "We exposed you to different religions, because we wanted you to be educated and pick which one you felt was right for you... as long as it was Christian." (I'm not, so sorry that didn't work out quite right.) Anyhow. The point here is... I don't want to limit my children that way. In religion or sexuality or anything else. Who they are is wonderful, is perfect. And who you are is, too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How to Homeschool

 I'm all about the imperious titles right now, I know!

Right now, I'm homeschooling my five year old and my almost-three year old. So, let's start with what I'm not doing, because otherwise you'll probably read this and wonder just what I'm thinking. I'm not into tot school. I won't strap my child into a high chair and feed them only red snacks so they can learn about red (yes, I totally overheard some ladies discussing this at the park!) I'm not using any particular method, though I am taking inspiration from a number of methods. I won't make my kids sit at the table and do worksheets. I'm not unschooling, either - not strictly at least. Radical unschooling is a bit much for me, especially considering Dr. Scientist's job takes us all over the world with little notice and the requirements to homeschool (or whether we can) are constantly changing. So, what am I doing? Mostly, child-directed learning, inspired by various curricula, with the routine mostly based on Oak Meadow
My little "pollinators" with "pollen" stuck to their hair

We have a few rules and responsibilities for each of us. The children's responsibilities include:

1. Participation. They have a few things they can choose to do during the day: school work, housekeeping, playing downstairs (they have a playroom with a balance beam, a slide, a work bench, kitchen tools, costumes, etc.), or playing outside.
2. Being respectful to me, each other, and anyone else we happen to be around.
3. No playing with or asking for media - TV, tablet, video games - until Daddy is home (or 5pm, because sometimes, being in the military, he's gone). Then they can have one hour.
4. Help me prepare the curriculum for the week.

My responsibilities include:

1. Create the curriculum each week, with their input.
2. Set up 1-2 play dates each week.
3. Set up and take them to 1-2 outside lessons each week.
4. Be respectful and not pushy.

All that said, here is what a typical day looks like:
Wake up. Have breakfast. Personal Hygiene. Then we start school.
Circle time
Circle time - we put a blanket on the floor, sit on it, light a candle. We start with a verse from Oak Meadow, then continue with several songs, especially ones that have motions to go along with them. We do a closing verse, also from Oak Meadow. Then, we start working on one of our weekly lessons - the children mostly choose these. Lessons from this week are below:

1. Each week Bugbug has a letter, and he writes this is his morning notebook. Usually Speck just colors in her notebook. This week in particular, we're reviewing A, B, C, and D, and he's learning words that can be made with these letters. He puts these together by himself. 
2. Learning about bees and other pollinators - discussing plant biology (and relating it to human biology) and how and why pollination occurs. We also watched a video on youtube of starting a bee colony, and several videos of bees pollinating flowers. In order to explain how the pollen sticks to the hairs on the bees' legs, the children "drank nectar" from one of my hands while dipping their heads in (gluten free) flour - pollen - in my other hand. 
3. Learning about stars - what they're made of, how far away they are, the sun is a star, etc.
4. The number 2 for Speck and the number 3 for Bugbug. They write these, and draw things that occur in that number. We're also doing a line painting for Speck and a triangle painting for Bugbug, where the colors will mix into new colors.
5. Bugbug will work on memorizing my phone number. (This was mine; the kids didn't come up with it - he just needs to know it.)

They have free play time every morning and afternoon, along with chores to do. We don't have a schedule as much as a vague routine we follow.

A palm tree made of beeswax; made during discussion of conservation
That's actually about it. They guide the curriculum, and I make sure to learn as much as I can so I can help them learn about it. We use the internet (a lot of youtube videos!) as a resource, along with books of fairy tales, books of mazes (I'm fond of Kumon mazes, and the mazes from Krazydad).  We have a lot of art supplies - beeswax for modeling, beeswax crayons, normal crayons, colored pencils, sketchbooks and watercolor paper, watercolors, etc. They have a bookcase full of books they can access at any time, and a bookcase full of books we read together (my signed children's books, etc.)

One of the measuring sticks we made - the kids painted them and helped mark inches, then predicted snowfall.
We've made sock puppets, and a "wind sock". We made sticks to measure snow and created hypotheses about how much snow would fall. We've learned about architecture, and some basic physics. Honestly, it's incredibly fun, and it's reinforcing the bond my children share. They do see other children, and there is plenty of time for free play. They both have exceptional social skills for their age - they know how to introduce themselves and their family, they know to say "excuse me" when they bump into someone or stand in the way - they know "please" and "thank you" and "I'm sorry", and I've never made them say any of these things - they learn them because I use them. I enjoy watching them learn, and seeing the clever things they come up with. I hope to get even more kinks worked out as we go along, and I love that I'm learning along with the children.

There are going to be So. Many. Pictures. below. Enjoy :)

Afternoon book - labeled with the date we started this book and the child's name. Their math and science notes.

Morning book - labeled with the date we started this book and the child's name. Their language arts and history notes.

School drawer, which has their notebooks, sock puppets, lots of crayons and other art materials!

Kindergarten curriculum book from Oak Meadow

Family science book for this year

My science notes on Oviparous and Viviparous

My science notes on Newton's third law

My science notes on hydrophobic


A watercolor

A watercolor over beeswax demonstrating "hydrophobic"

Colored water - demonstrating freezing and also for painting in the snow!

A "Tornado" in a bottle - weather/meteorology

Some other sort of beeswax tree...

Gluten free Crescent rolls we made while discussing the letter "C"

Materials - modeling wax, beeswax crayons, watercolors

Kumon mazes, and pencils - they have pencil grips - Dr. Scientist and I both still hold pencils wrong!

Some of our inspiration!

Why to Homeschool

Well, that was a presumptuous title, wasn't it? Are you irritated with me yet? I'm not actually talking about why you should homeschool, I just wanted to get your attention. I'm talking about why WE homeschool. The next post will talk about how we homeschool.

At the beginning of the school year, I sent my then-four-year-old (Bugbug) to a Waldorf preschool. He had asked to go, and though I had reservations, we did a lot of research and chose a school we felt would work for him. It was going well, until the bullying started. The older children were bullying the younger children, and the teachers told us, "Some aggression is normal, and the older kids will pick on the younger children." We responded with, "That's not okay. He's learning that it's okay to pick on his younger sister." We asked for concrete solutions to the problem. They provided none, since they weren't willing to step in, even when the older children were doing pretty dangerous things, or creating a system of abuse in which any child who did not conform to the standards they set (costumes for Halloween should be knights, Bugbug's firefly caused ridicule - birthday party themes were all the same - etc.) was ridiculed, and even hit. We felt we could work with the teachers to solve the problem, but it got worse.

Then, the bullying from the teachers started - I allow my children one hour of TV or video games each day. I believe it's unrealistic to prevent children from engaging with media in this world, and I had previously discussed this with the faculty and they were fine with it - the school did not have an official no-media policy. Well, apparently they weren't fine with it. They started insinuating that his media engagement was bad, and that he shouldn't be doing it. He started coming home crying but afraid to talk to us. We finally pinned him down (not literally, he was actually cuddling in my lap) and got the whole story out of him... the teachers were implying to him that he was bad because he watched TV and played video games, and that it should be taken away from him. He broke out in hives while telling me this, and sobbed in my arms. That was the last straw for me. The tentative faith I'd placed in the institution of learning outside the home was broken.

I started questioning again, as I had before. Why should learning be separate from living? Why should children be placed in classrooms, away from the routine of home, away from nature, away from their parents, away from how the rest of us learn? Why should "socialization" only include children of the same age? Why do we feel that sitting at a desk, raising a hand to ask to use the bathroom, enduring public ridicule if you want to share a thought or you get excited about learning, or you don't do exactly what you're told, is even okay? I know, in my heart, it shouldn't, and it isn't. That it's very silly, in fact. Perhaps you feel differently. In fact, you probably do, since I'm definitely in the minority - there are currently about 100,000 public schools in the US, and about 30,000 private schools. But for our family, this is the choice I feel is best. I'll, naturally, reconsider as time goes on - all decisions can change based on circumstances! But after much discussion with Dr. Scientist, we're both on the same page. For now, at least, our children will learn at home. (How? See my next post!)

Friday, December 27, 2013

And how are you today? Terrified

It is 11:00pm. I am awake. My son has been coughing so hard he gags a bit at the end, and it frightens me.

It is midnight. I am awake. I managed to sit him up and dose him with the only thing that helps, for a while - honey. He is four years old, so this is not our first rodeo. That doesn’t make it easier to hold his little body as the coughs wrack it.

It is 1:00am. I am awake. He’s now coughing only every 15 minutes or so, and so I start to drift. I miss my grandmother. She died four days ago. I’m sure that’s contributing to my wakefulness - the reminder of mortality making me kiss his sweaty little brow even though a part of me wants to shove him over to the other side of the bed and just sleep.

It is 1:30am. The coughing is more gentle now, and he feels cooler. I think of him, and of all the times he’s been ill in his four little years. Nearly five now, really. I think of my daughter and my husband, and hope he’s faring better - she was pretty congested but not coughing. I think of my grandma. I think of the fact that I’m lying here with him, awake, like I have before. I think that I never really tell anyone about this. This part of motherhood. It’s a secret. It’s like when I tell people my grandmother and I were “close” and I’m “a little down”. 

When I say motherhood is “hard”, it doesn’t cover it. It’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. How many times have I not told the whole truth? Every time I open my mouth, probably. What I say is true, but it can’t cover the whole of it. It doesn’t cover how terrified you get that maybe that cold is something more. It doesn’t cover how irritated you get because they just can’t seem to listen to you. Nobody listens. Nobody hears.

If you tell a pregnant woman that it’s easier to take care of that baby in her belly than it will be when the baby is out, she acts like you’re being mean, or crazy. It’s just the truth. We all talk about how motherhood is wonderful, or difficult, or it changes you. We don’t really talk about how terrifying it is. How every time you hear of something bad happening to a child, just for a moment that child is YOURS. That is your own child, and you feel that pain with all your heart. How every time your child complains of a belly ache, you worry that it’s something more. How every time you make a choice, you don’t know if it’s the right one or if that one little thing you just did will forever mess up your children. Maybe you just knocked them off the path to change the world for the better onto the path to murder thousands. You just don’t know - and though sometimes you learn that a choice was wrong in time to change it and do better in the future, sometimes you just never know. How scary is that? 

Motherhood isn’t just hard, or fantastic. It’s so scary simply the idea of being a mother (or a parent, really) should have you shaking in your boots. But maybe you’ll make the right choices, or the bad choices you make won’t matter or can be corrected. Maybe. Maybe my children will turn out okay in spite of me. Maybe he’ll get over this cough, and we won’t have to go to the doctor (which is a whole different kettle of fish - every time you take them in amongst those sick children are you risking them catching something worse than what they already have?) 

Maybe I’ll learn to tell the whole truth. Not to just give cheerful platitudes. Maybe the next time someone asks me, I won’t say “great, how are you?” Maybe I’ll say I’m sad, and I’m scared, and I’m happy, and I’m content, and I’m frustrated, and I’m so afraid I’m a terrible mother and a terrible wife. But I'm doing my best anyway. Maybe it's good enough. And how are you? Because I actually want to know. The truth, this time. Please.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why I Don't Censor My Language Around My Kids

Google any combination of "curse" "foul" "vulgar" "potty" "language" "words" "kids" and "children"... see what you find. Probably hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to stop your kids from using words that may offend others. Perhaps a few about how to stop using them yourself. But mostly it's about preventing your kids from "swearing like a sailor". There is even a place called "Cuss Control Academy" (no, I'm not joking), which informs us that swearing:

It contributes to the decline of civility

It represents the dumbing down of America
It offends more people than you think
It makes others uncomfortable
It is disrespectful of others
It turns discussions into arguments
It can be a sign of hostility
It can lead to violence

If I stub my toe, and say, "Shit, that HURT!" am I being hostile? Starting an argument? I really, really don't think so. Do I sound dumb? What am I really doing? Actually, scientifically speaking, according to some researchers at Keele University, I'm easing the pain. Swearing starts a surge of adrenaline in your body, which actually does help mitigate pain when you're injured. Is that a bad thing for my child to hear? Will they take it out in the world and start being stupid, uncivil, violent, and disrespectful? 

So, let's start with my personal belief that words have power. You're not going to catch me arguing against this, unless I'm being contrary. I don't think words are inherently "good" or "bad", but we do give them power. Words mean something to us - language is both a banal and integral part of our lives. With it, we ask our spouse to take out the garbage before dinner, and we write treatises that change the world. Word choice has meaning in our lives - otherwise there wouldn't be much point in poetry, would there?

This leads into our word choices, as parents, having power. I'd like my children to have a wide vocabulary, so I use my own wide vocabulary with them. If I tell my four year old something is "innocuous", I'm not going to sigh and use a smaller word when he asks what it means. I'm just going to explain it. This is partly because I believe knowledge is power, and I don't like restricting, censoring, or greedily hoarding knowledge... and partly because I want him to know what is going on in the world. He knows the proper words for his penis and testicles, and he also knows that those parts are private, and not only are they not for others to touch, but they aren't things we just run around talking about. Anyhow, this is related. I swear. (ha, ha)

Just like I don't censor knowledge from my kids (though I might explain certain things in a way less likely to frighten or cause undue stress, because they are, in fact, children) I don't censor my language. I do believe words are powerful, so I use a wide variety of them, sometimes pausing to pick one I feel is most appropriate in any given situation. This means I use profanity rarely - I'm not a chain-swearer, because I feel that usually there are words more appropriate to most occurrences. But I do use it. My children have heard all the words, and have tried them out. I don't mind them hearing, or knowing - knowledge is power. I don't want them hearing things on the playground and coming home and telling me things like, "Susie is an asshole!" I want them to know that school probably isn't an appropriate place to say that, actually!

 I want them to know what the words mean, when they're appropriate and inappropriate to use, and in what situations they could be hurtful to others. So they know when NOT to use them! Each "bad word" has resulted in a discussion of that word, what it means, and that sometimes words offend or hurt other people. We heard someone use the term "gay" in a pejorative manner a while back - and we had a long, serious discussion about it. Personally, I think "gay", used to hurt, is worse than "fuck" when I stub my toe - why? "Fuck" is for me. It's releasing my anguish, mitigating my pain, expressing my power, releasing my endorphins, expressing myself. "Gay" (and other words like "retarded") is hurting someone else. 

So no, I won't censor my language. If something happens that triggers that primeval part of me that really wants to let loose and use "low language", instead of taking time on my diction, I will. In front of my children, or yours. Call me vulgar. Call me disrespectful. Call me stupid. Then think about what you're saying.

Do you censor your language with your children? Why or why not?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why My Children ARE the Center of My World

I'd intended to get a bit of work done, but something has been on my mind for the past few days. There is a blog post that has been linked like crazy on Facebook and everywhere else. And if you're a parent, you've probably seen it, and maybe already guessed what this post is about. I'll link it for you, though, so you know what's bothering me. Here ya go. I'm not going to refute it word by word, because that's tedious and frankly, I don't want to. While Ms. Metz has some valid ideas, she's using them to support an invalid conclusion. But thinking about it has me feeling queasy and uncomfortable with just how many people support the idea that your children should not be the center of your world.

Some of you may agree with me. Some of you may not. Either way is perfectly okay, as it's honestly not my business how you parent. (Edited to add that while it's not really my business, I do care. Your children live in this world with mine. Your child may be the one pushing mine off the play structure next week or something much bigger in 20 or 30 years... so please don't raise neurotic, violent bullies. Yes, I'm exaggerating. Sort of.)  But people do get influenced by what they read, and I'd encourage you to read more than that blog post to make up your mind, if you're wavering on the state of your parenting or just wanting encouragement in one direction or another.

Here we go. Let's start with a perfectly rational viewpoint. We are the apex predators on a planet on which we barely qualify as predators. If we want to continue to be so, we need to work at it. We have children for many reasons, but rationally, there is only one. Biologically we need to carry on the species - we have children because we're biologically programmed to want to do so. We're also biologically programmed to think small things are cute, and to like the smell of babies, among other things. Probably to keep us from eating our offspring like crocodiles... but I digress. We're carrying on the species. That means that rationally, the second you actually give birth, your biological imperative is to care for that child above all else. You're carrying on your species, people. If we're talking a perfectly rational world here, the only time it's okay to put yourself before your child is when your life is in imminent danger - i.e. put your mask on, then secure your child's mask, right?

But human beings aren't perfectly rational creatures. We're social, we're selfish, and "love" means different things to all of us. So let's take a step in a slightly different direction and consider a study that recently came out in Social Psychological and Personality Science (would Mrs. Metz have changed her mind about her rant after reading the article? I don't know...) The findings of this study suggest that putting your children at the center of your world - being "child-centric" - will actually make you happier and help you derive more meaning from parenting. So, selfishly, you're actually going to be happier if you put your children first - at the center of your world. Another added edit here, because of a friend's valid argument: I do not mean you have to spend all your waking time on each of your children, and neither does the above study. I mean that your children, as a whole, are the primary focus - your world isn't you-centric, it's kid-centric. The time you have to spend with them is spent with them, giving them the benefit of you. Because, face it, in your child's eyes - you are important. You are the one preparing them for the rest of their life.

I know some of you are now thinking, "well, how will they ever grow up if you do everything for them?", or, "how will your child ever learn independence if you wear him 24/7?", or, "you can't give children everything they want."

They'll grow up, no matter whether you do everything for them or not. But, I haven't suggested doing everything for them, or giving them everything they want. I've suggested them being the center of your world - meaning they come first. This doesn't mean there is nothing else in your life. You're still you. You still have hobbies and work and friends and family and perhaps a spouse. But your children are your first priority, and you are responsive to them - you meet their needs. Those change as they grow, but you meet them to the best of your ability along the way, without hurting yourself in the process. This means knowing something about human development - while I don't want to start a debate about a different topic, it means knowing the biological norms of breastfeeding (until a child starts getting his permanent teeth is the current biological theory), sleep (children are not meant to sleep alone, or through the night for a long time), and care (children need you). They'll grow up. But will they grow up confident and independent, knowing you've met their needs and having the security to branch out and grow?

Now, let's get back to my personal philosophy. My children are the center of my world. Frankly, I didn't expect that when I planned a family. I figured I'd just make them adapt to my world. But I realized (and isn't it wonderful that we can learn, and grow, and change, even as adults?) that I no longer wanted to be the same person I was. I wanted to put my children first. I craved their happiness more than I craved my own, and that in turn made me happy. I didn't abandon my husband, or stop being his wife. We both put the children first. (To clarify, this does not mean our spousal relationship takes a back seat. It is important for all of us that we have a healthy relationship.) What it does mean is that during this short time our children are young - when they truly need us and depend on us - we are there for them. They are the center of our world. We recognize that they are children and they need us to care, to guide, to love, and to teach. We are not here to show them the "reality of the world". To paraphrase an old teacher I once knew, "We don't need to show our kids how mean the world is. The world will do that all by itself." We are here to help them grow to be people who can not only deal with the harsh realities of our current world, but be peaceful, kind, caring, confident individuals who can change it. We, all of us, as parents, are creating the next 60 years of life on this planet. Should that EVER not come first?

Further reading:
Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn
NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

SAGE Publications (2013, October 31). Can putting your child before yourself make you a happier person?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2013, from­/releases/2013/10/131031175659.htm

Monday, October 21, 2013

Giving Away Our Rights

Have you seen this document?

Americans like to claim that we “know our rights”.  Lately, I’ve come to question whether that’s actually true. In many cases, we’re giving those rights away – to a doctor, to a corporation, to our own government. Have we even thought twice about it?
Have you heard a pregnant woman say, “My doctor says if I go over 40 weeks I have to be induced.” Is that the truth? Or is she (sometimes mistakenly or unknowingly) giving away her autonomy?

What about the “Trespass Bill”, passed last year? Does that infringe on our first amendment rights? It stops us from protesting or assembling without permission, restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.” Did we just quietly give away our first amendment right to peaceably assemble?

Are you afraid to say anything about our government in public? I am. The still unfolding NSA wiretapping scandal combined with the bizarre neofeudalistic idea of dissent again becoming criminal has created an odd dichotomy – a people who theoretically have the freedom to speak out, but as our freedoms are being violated more and more, we are becoming less inclined to do so.

One of the most grievous violations has quietly snuck up on us in the name of capitalism. We’ve been loudly protesting the “fat cats on Wall Street” while we quietly allow them to rule our lives – indeed, reward them for doing so. While their lawyers, publicists, photographers, and image consultants create a public face of philanthropy, they quietly rob us of our civil rights – those assumed, and those granted by law.

Corporations such as Monsanto have created the (publicly accepted) bizarre myth that our food supply can be owned as their property – every seed we grow can be genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides, and turned into a profit – which kills people in Argentina, causes suicides in India, creates health problems in our own country. The “revolving door” of politics and big business perpetuates this, but it starts with us – do we care or not?

Walmart has repeatedly asked people to leave who were carrying guns – lawfully. Is the law a problem? Perhaps. Does that mean the business has the right to restrict our rights without any prior notice? Absolutely not. Target and many other businesses have repeatedly violated statelaws allowing women to breastfeed in public. Is this acceptable? It cannot be.

We view others as similar to ourselves. We look similar. We look more like each other than we look like fish, for example. Our DNA is so close that you are the tiniest fraction away from being Michael Phelps. (Sorry, Mr. Phelps, but you’re a fantastic mutant.) This, however, is where we’re wrong. We are not like anyone else. The public relations for those wealthy elite I mentioned earlier? It’s made us think that they are us. And in that great American tradition of being blinded by the shiny, shiny popular culture, we have come to believe that hard work, or luck, or something achievable separates us from them.

We are not even a step away from corporations, according to the Supreme Court – corporate personhood (yes, ridiculous, I know!) is legally acknowledged! But there is a vast space between us – those of us who fall into the 99% of the largest income inequality gap in the developed world, and those of us (them) who are stealing our freedoms.

We’ve allowed capitalism to not only flourish, but create an oligarchic ruling class. Yes. I just told you we’re not ruled by democracy, nor by our democratic republic – we’re ruled by the desire of those with wealth to keep and expand their wealth. We’re participating in our own destruction.
The next time you click, “yes” on a EULA, read it first. The next time you see someone fired over violating company policy which violates his constitutional right, think about it. The next time you eat your veggies like a good little American, consider how they actually got to your table.  Above all, before you do walk out your door today… make sure you know your rights.

Edited to repair final link - it should now direct you to a transcript of the Bill of Rights.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gluten Free Applesauce Cake sweetened with dates!

2 cups gluten free flour blend (I was using white rice, brown rice, sweet rice, and tapioca - you want something like rice that will help it hold together well)
1  teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1 cup applesauce
20 dates

Remove seeds from dates. Medjool are good. In a food processor, process dates until they're basically a paste. Add applesauce and process until mixed. Add eggs and process until mixed. Add spices, baking powder, baking soda, and process until mixed. Add coconut oil and process until mixed. Add flours and xanthan gum and process until smooth and cake-battery. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, then cover with foil, turn off the oven, and let sit for 15. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting. Serve with fruit compote or slightly sweetened whipped cream or both!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Postpartum Problems

There are many things our culture does very well. Organization and management, for one. This sounds little, but it's not! Think emergency services - fire brigades, ambulances. Think small business. It's a fantastic skill we've really perfected as a culture.

One thing we do not do well is birth. I don't mean we don't know how to give birth. I mean we don't know how to prepare families for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and motherhood. Imagine, for a moment, that you weren't just told what not to eat during pregnancy, or what not to do. Imagine that you had a sisterhood - time-honored knowledge passed down from woman to woman. You knew what to expect from pregnancy, and what to do to make it easier. What to do for the best chances of a healthy baby and a healthy birth. What to do to prepare for birth. Imagine that you knew that birth was a rite, an induction into motherhood, and the experience itself helped you on your way. Imagine that you weren't afraid. That you knew that it may hurt or it may not, but it was a beautiful experience. Imagine that you'd have someone by your side through your pregnancy, through your labor and birth. Someone who had been there, who had been through it, who knew what it was like. Who could coach you and provide information, love, and assurance. Who could coach your partner in how to provide those things as well. Imagine that your partner had what you had - a cultural knowledge of how to become a parent and how to raise children. Imagine that you'd seen women breastfeeding from the time you were a wee babe yourself. Imagine that you didn't need childbirth education classes, because that knowledge was part of your culture. Imagine that postpartum you were supported, and loved. If you had problems with anything, someone experienced was right there to help. Your partner knew what you were going through emotionally and physically, and never tried to push physical intimacy before you were ready. Your partner never had to be prodded to do his or her share, because that was just part of the culture. Imagine that the entire experience was not scary or difficult, was not exhausting and sometimes horrifying. Imagine that instead, it was a blossoming, the beautiful creation of new beings - baby, mother, father, family. 

I know our culture isn't like this. I wish it was. I wish, so desperately, that every mom could have this. That's what I'd wish for you, mamas. I'd wish that you knew you weren't alone, that motherhood is beautiful... I'd wish we could all be there for each other. I wish you knew that I love you, as you go through this. As you struggle through pregnancy or love it. As you have a beautiful birth or a terrifying one. As you have family bonding moments or postpartum sleeplessness, depression, or anxiety. As you struggle to keep your cool with your four-year-old, whose main talent is pushing your buttons. We've culturally resigned ourselves to being alone... but I wish you knew we're all in this together.