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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Zen Son's Favorite Songs and Videos

Zen Son wanted to share with your Zen Babes some of his favorite songs and videos. So, from him to yours, "Happy singing, dancing, enjoying!"

Bruno Mars "Don't Give Up" on Sesame Street

Will.I.Am "What I Am" on Sesame Street

Adam Sandler "I Song About Elmo" on Sesame Street

Jason Mraz "Outdoors" on Sesame Street

Ricky Gervais "Celebrity Lullabies" on Sesame Street

India Arie "Alphabet Song" on Sesame Street

"Bye-Bye Binky" on Sesame Street

Andrea Bocelli "Lullaby" on Sesame Street

Feist "1, 2, 3, 4" on Sesame Street

Natalie Portman on Sesame Street

Elmo and the Ducks

Miles "ABC Hip Hop" on Sesame Street

"Brushy Brush" PSA on Sesame Street

OK Go "Three Primary Colors" on Sesame Street

*His absolute FAVORITE clip EVER "Shake, Shake the Mango Tree" on Sesame Street

"Elmo and Abby's Visit" on Giggle and Hoot (Well, they can't ALL be Sesame Street!)

Irresponsible Me

Aside from "you should change your name," the second most frequent comment I get it "you're irresponsible for posting this." These two comments are so frequent, I'm now impervious to them and, instead, find them amusing. Let's list some of the reasons I'm so "irresponsible":

- I post about vaccinating
- I post about not vaccinating
- I post about breastfeeding
- I post about formula feeding
- I post about NIP
- I post about donor milk
- I post about feminism
- I post about circumcision
- I post about the intact penis
- I post about sunscreen
- I post about homemade sunscreen
- I post about no sunscreen
- I post about ERF
- I post about car seat safety
- I post about spanking
- I post about discipline
- I post about punishment
- I post about the difference between discipline and punishment
- I post about CIO
- I post about options
- I post about food
- I post about sign language
- I post about doctors
- I post about nurses
- I post about chiropractors
- I post about naturopaths
- I post about homeopaths
- I post about realities
- I post about myths
- I post about urban legends
- I post about rape
- I post about sexual assault
- I post about Disney
- I post about religion
- I post about the Dove campaign
- I post about GMOs
- I post about race
- I post about culture
- I post about pregnancy
- I post about conception
- I post about infertility
- I post about PPD
- I post about placenta consumption
- I post about lotus birth
- I post about birth interventions
- I post about OBs
- I post about midwives
- I post about folic acid
- I post about folate
- I post about home school
- I post about unschool
- I post about traditional school
- I post about crime statistics
- I post about premarital sex
- I post about postmarital sex
- I post about teen sex
- I post about birth control
- I post about leg hair
- I post about shaving
- I post about the vulva
- I post about the vagina
- I post about the difference between the vulva and the vagina
- I post about watching our language
- I post about c-sections
- I post about homebirth
- I post about hospital birth
- I post about unassisted birth
- I post about birth center birth
- I post about pooping during birth
- I post about facts
- I post about opinions
- I post about guns
- I post about baby wearing
- I post about strollers
- I post about boogers
- I post about puppies
- I post about dandelions
- I post about turnips
- I post about trucks
- I post about fleas
- I post about air
- I post about water
- I post about bees
- I post about birds
- I post about gummy bears
- I post about snot rockets
- I post about foxes
- I post about...

Let's just leave it at this: I know that I'm irresponsible in the mind of at least one person every time I post. I know it. I get it. I'm OK with it. Do we have to state it every. single. time? It's a given.

Monday, June 17, 2013


So, here's where I get a little vulnerable, which I hate, but I think it's important to let you in just a bit. I won't take much of your time, but I'd appreciate if you'd sit back and let it all in.

Here's what sets me off: being called a liar or having the veracity of my honest questions or direct statements questioned as if there's something subversive there that is really never there.

Here's why: I was sexually assaulted. You can read about it here. I wasn't believed. Take a minute to think about what that must feel like. Take a minute to think about how that would forever shape the person you would become. No, really, take a minute. Try.

I'm a straight shooter. I don't mean any more than exactly what I say. I am coming to learn through experience and therapy that most others do not communicate this way. I'm learning that means that people hear what they would be saying rather than what I am saying. There's nothing I can do about this. When I say, "I don't know what to say about this..." or something similar, it's because I just don't know what to say. I'm not meaning anything shady. I'm not silently judging and hoping you'll judge with me. I'm not leading you to anything. I'm not implying anything. I genuinely mean what I say, only what I say, nothing more, nothing less.

No matter how many times I say this to people who have accused me of otherwise, I still get it and it still stings. I don't lie. That's not true. I lie on one occasion: when I don't want to go to some social function. I almost always make up some innocuous excuse to get out of it. I'll fess up to that readily. Otherwise, I don't lie. And I am uber-defensive when I am accused of doing so. Do you understand, now, why? Can you try?

These are my issues, I am aware, but if you're going to be here, you should probably be aware of them, too, and maybe, just maybe, take them into consideration.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

We Turned Out Just Fine

My husband and I were only breastfed for 6 weeks each, my brother not at all

I was spanked and slapped

My husband was circumcised

I didn't wear a seatbelt until elementary school (in fact, I rode standing up between the seat of my grandparents' truck for years)

Shame was a regular discipline tactic used by my mother-in-law

I was grounded regularly

I was yelled at seemingly daily

I was forced to potty train very early, so that there wouldn't be two kids in diapers

My husband and I were both vaccinated for everything on the CDC schedule (the schedule that was current for the time)

My mother was seemingly always on a diet

My husband grew up in a house where very traditional gender roles were touted

TV abounded in my home and Disney was king

Never once was cosleeping a consideration in my home or my husband's

We're both products of the public school system (and teachers in said system)

Crying-it-out was just what our parents did

My husband grew up on Little Debbies and Oreos

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

We turned out just fine.

Or did we? Do we know any different? Do we know how much better things could've been, how differently our brains would've formed, how much healthier we could've been, how greatly our sex lives would've improved?

Is "just fine" good enough? I don't think so. It's not what I'm looking for with my son anyway.

And is "just fine" really all it's cracked up to be?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: The Other Baby Book

I have to tell you, I went into this book totally biased. I just KNEW I was going to LURVE it! I typically go at books for reviews with a bit of a critical eye, but this wasn't one of those times. I had high expectations. That being said, I have to be honest and say that I fell short of lurving and have to give it a "eh" instead. And I have put off doing this review for so long because of that. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I don't want to offer up bitchy criticism of people I respect as my peers. I'm genuinely struggling as I write this, but I promised and it's time to stop procrastinating. (Hey, wait, is that the laundry that needs switching over? Aw, shucks, I'll be right back...)

Let me start with the great stuff:
- they're obviously of the "Zen Parenting" persuasion and I felt like they were friends chatting with me
- small in size, which isn't as intimidating as the veritable anthologies are to new parents
- they don't mince words when it comes to the formula industry and their nastiness
- very well researched and cited
- handy resource section at the back
- lots of emphasis on instinct
- swaddling and infant massage information that was brand new to me
- the entire "Reframing Normal" subsection is FANTASTIC!
- pro, pro, PRO-breastfeeding
- some good info on direct breastfeeding alternatives
- good info on breastfeeding beyond infancy
- pro-cosleeping with lots of good safety information
- great information on bedding that was new and led me to a future purchase that I never would've normally made
- pro-baby led weaning, which is not something I knew about with my son and I wish I had

Excerpts I dug:
- "One of the easiest and most practical way we access intuition as mothers is by doing the proverbial gut check - vetting ideas or information against the feeling in our bodies." (p. 2)
- "Doctors and hospital personnel tend to teach you what they want you to know, and not stuff like how to prevent tearing or being induced." (p. 8)
- "...birth is a business, and the more customers hospitals serve, the bigger the earnings." (p. 12)
- "Fear-based decisions don't usually bring satisfying results. Control is an illusion, and when we make choices out of fear, we usually end up in a stuck place. Epidurals are a common tool we use to control birth, yet they control us entirely - pinning us to our beds as if we were ill. You'd never know we were about to perform on of the most powerful and miraculous acts of our lives." (p. 23)
- "These days, power isn't often served on a silver platter. But it is ours for the taking, if we know our rights." (p. 32)
- "If physical contact were a competitive sport, the U.S. team would be the consistent loser, year after year. Korean babies are held 90% of the time, as compared with 33% of the time for U.S. babies, who spend most of their infancy in car seats, cribs, and strollers." (p. 52)
- "Women who don't breastfeed have higher rates of breast and ovarian cancer." (p. 61)
- "Introducing formula - yes, even one bottle - has implications. This isn't a judgement. It's simply clinical fact." (p. 63)

Now, the slightly less than great stuff:
- the circumcision section was paltry, not even two pages: four, only FOUR, bullet-points are offered as myth-busters and those aren't even entirely accurate
- the circumcision information wasn't nearly all-encompassing, educational, or definitive enough
- the exclusions for religious circumcision is a no-go for me: three, yes, almost as many as the anti-circ section, bullet-points were given as reasons why religious cutting isn't as bad
- alternative practices to religious circumcision practices weren't mentioned
- elimination communication warranted a full chapter, but things like vaccines and circumcision got stuffed away in a larger chapter
- though it is stated that they are not pro- or anti-vax, I felt the section comes out clearly in favor of vaccinating, even though one of the authors doesn't vaccinate at all
- in my opinion, there was a bit more pandering to the mainstream in effort to not offend than is helpful considering this is marketed as the go-to book for the non-mainstreamers
- some segments implied what those of us in our community understand already, but anyone reading this book with no background in our type of parenting or lifestyle would not get the implications - things need to be spelled out explicitly, especially for new parents who are being bombarded with a ton of information
- great emphasis on IQ, which is important, sure, but leaves little room for focus on other, equally or more important issues
- for a linear thinker, like myself, I found the meanderings off topic and then jags back onto the original path to be jarring
- at one point, it was implied that breastfeeding mothers wouldn't get PPD (or, at least, need meds for it)
- inaccuracies abound
- discussion on why it's important to stay away from soy, but there's no mention of GMOs
- Baby Wise is mentioned, but not warned against (Why bring it up?)
- subsections on sign language, not saying "good job," mattresses, flame retardants in pajamas, and organic cotton bedding each garnered as much and more attention as circumcision

Excerpts I didn't dig as much:
- "Gaining popularity among city slickers and country bumpkins alike..." (p. 55) Offensive...
- "Rapidly switching sides while nursing can help bring your milk faster." (p. 68) Unclear what "rapid" means and I could foresee some whiplash happening here if new moms don't understand.
- "But if you checked no for any of the variables above, we recommend you seek help." (p. 67) Agreed, but from where? This is a great opportunity to talk about IBCLCs that was missed, likely to the detriment of moms and babes everywhere.
- "It's important, however, to keep in mind the two greatest risk factors [for co-sleeping deaths] - extreme poverty and stressful circumstances..." (p. 93) What? A) This isn't even close to true. B) This smacks of privilege. I read this line over and over, brought it to my husband and a trusted friend, and still couldn't come to grips with what they were trying to accomplish with this line.

Final stand: It's better than the most popular of pregnancy/parenting books. But the bad is so egregious, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend it.

*Note: While one of the authors claims to be vehemently against circumcision, their FB page has posted some iffy information and, more grossly, "liked" comments defending circumcision, but not opposing it. Actions speak louder than words...

My Open Letter to Everyone Who Thinks I'm Anti-Gun and That an Accidental Discharge Could Never Happen to Them

Dear Everyone,

I never said I'm for or against gun ownership. What I said is that the only safe gun is no gun. To believe that it could *never* happen as long as one is "responsible" is naive. We all take risks and as long as we're honest about what those risks are, so be it.

You're hearing from someone who grew up and had a career in law enforcement. I have no beef with guns. I have beef with naivete and the belief that it could only happen to "those other people" and never oneself.

Eyes wide open, folks...

Zen Mama

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Share a Brain with Jamie Lynn Grumet and Today Was Her Day to Use It

Today, Jamie and I discovered that we share a brain. This might be fun if, say, we each got one half of the same brain and we were connected. No. Instead, we apparently share one brain and have it on time share. Evidently, it was her day with it.

First, to explain the connection. I swear to all that is holy that I was thinking about blogging on the asinine misuse of the word "nazi" in regards to breastfeeding or whatever topic people don't like at the moment. Boom! That very day, she blogs about it.

Then, same day, I doo-doo you not, I blog about not placing bloggers on pedestals and having unattainable expectations of them. Boom! She was just thinking of the same thing.

I should've taken a nap at that point. Instead, I tempted fate with this:

Me: I need a hair cut.
Husband: I used to cut Beth's hair. She used to get compliments on it from everyone. (Beth, one of his girlfriends in college more than 10 years ago, has thin, straight hair. I have thick, curly hair. I stupidly assumed he'd change course of action for differing circumstances.)
-today, he cut my hair-
Me: Wait, I thought you said you used to do this all the time.
Husband: I may have overstated that a bit...
-I am making an appointment at the salon as I type-

See, Jamie, too, had this experience almost to a T.

And I, too, should've taken it as a bad omen when we couldn't find the scissors, so he broke out his work scissors and proceeded to pick bits of only-dog-knows-what out of them. (It's worth noting that Zen Husband teaches biology. The bits that were in those work scissors could be any number of vile and once-living things.)

(My current likeness.)

Jamie, I need to use the brain tomorrow, k? (And possibly your hair stylist...)

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Fragility of Our Babes (Or, Laughing With vs. At Them)

I recently posted one of my personal stories on the Facebook page:

"As a kid, I listened to the music my mom listened to. We didn't listen to kiddie music. And I LOVE(D) music! That being the case, I knew all the words to every song on the radio.

Once, when I was in the car with two of my aunts, Tina Turner's 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' came on. I happily sat in the back singing along. I distinctly remember them looking at each other and cracking up.

Now, as an adult, I am quite sure they were laughing at this bitty kid singing this very adult song without any understanding. As a kid, though, I was deeply hurt and embarrassed. I thought for sure they were laughing at my singing. I never sang around them (or anyone) again. It took 25 or so years before I was ready to debut my singing voice to the world again. Turns out, it's pretty good from what I'm told. Too bad I wasted 25 years hiding it out of shame."

At the end, I asked others to tell me what they thought was the moral to the story. I was disheartened and surprised to see so many comments that said "Don't care about what others think," "Adults are going to laugh at you, so don't take it personally," and, essentially, "Get some self-esteem, kid!" Where is our empathy? Where is our memory of what is was like to be a kid? Surely, we're not that far removed from childhood, are we?

Let me tell you what I learned from this story, a story I see more as a stranger looking in than I do as the little girl in the tale: I learned that the ego of a child can be fragile. I learned that kids do not understand what adults understand. I learned that to a child, everything is personal. I learned that I can enjoy my son while simultaneously practicing empathy. I learned that open communication with him is key. I learned that when he belts out "Jagger" or "Guy" (his two favorite songs whose titles matter not to him), I belt with him, encourage him, and support him. I learned that when he is being him, sometimes I laugh because it's adorable and funny and if he says "No, don't laugh!" or gets a subtle look on his face that only I know, I apologize and stop immediately. I learned that how I contribute to his feelings and self-esteem is at the top of my priority list right along with treating him with respect.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What's Really In Formula?

Recently, I posted a meme that showed the ingredients in one type of Similac formula. (Click here to see the meme.) As I knew it would, it caused major uproar. That aside, several questioned the veracity of the graphic. Thus, I set off to Wal-Mart with my husband's camera phone (which is, evidently, pretty crappy, so I've included better graphics to accompany the pictures I took and when I couldn't find a reliable graphic, I copied and pasted ingredients from the website) to investigate myself. Here's what I found:

(Corn Syrup Solids, Modified Rice Starch, Milk Protein Isolate, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Sugar, Soy Oil, Coconut Oil, Galactooligosaccharides. Less than 2% of the Following: C. Cohnii Oil, M. Alpina Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, L-Cystine Dihydrochloride, Choline Chloride, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Salt, Ferrous Sulfate, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, m-Inositol, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Mixed Tocopherols, Zinc Sulfate, L-Carnitine, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Sodium Selenate, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin, Potassium Hydroxide, and Nucleotides (Adenosine 5’-Monophosphate, Cytidine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5’-Monophosphate).
Contains milk ingredients.)
*Note: On the Abbott website they list the second ingredient as "rice starch," but on the can itself it is listed as "modified rice starch."

(Corn Syrup (38%), Soy Protein Isolate (16%), High Oleic Safflower Oil (11%), Sugar (10%), Soy Oil (8%), Coconut Oil (7%), Calcium Phosphate (3%). Less than 2% of the Following: C. Cohnii Oil, M. Alpina Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Fructooligosaccharides, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Magnesium Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, L-Methionine, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, m-Inositol, Mixed Tocopherols, Zinc Sulfate, d-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Niacinamide, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Pantothenate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin, Sodium Selenate, and Potassium Hydroxide.
Contains soy ingredients.)
*Note: This is the formula pictured in the original meme. It is real, it is frightening, it is business - big business.

I'll be very honest. I'm tired. It's late, this is tedious, and I'm immaturely feeling preemptively defensive due to the reactions I'm assuming I'll get as a result of this blog. I have several other photos from Gerber and Enfamil. They're all the same. Take a look for yourself. Actually go look, though, don't just rely on what anyone (not even me) says or the formula's website, since you've seen that not everything matches 100%.

In the thread on the original meme, a great many took the time to break down every ingredient as proof that they're not all horrific. No need, folks. They're not all horrific. Some think none of them are, which is debatable, but let's say that is true just for the sake of argument. Let's say that in and of themselves, not a single one of these ingredients has anything wrong with it. Does that mean that combined and in such massive doses as the main source of nutrition for our newborns and infants (and sometimes toddlers), they're healthy, complete, and safe? Really? I don't believe anyone honestly believes that. I don't believe anyone would give corn syrup, safflower oil, or soy (to name but a few of the common main ingredients) in a bottle and hand it over to their babes. I also don't believe that a great many people are aware of the ingredients and their impact.

I believe that formula companies have excellent marketing departments and trusted people in positions of authority in their pockets. I believe that if you choose to use formula, at least do it with eyes wide open. Please know that there are other options. There's the supplemental nursing system (SNS), pumping, wet nursing, donor milk, and homemade formula, all of which are far safer options than formula. That being said, there will be those who choose or need to use formula and I understand that. We all make choices and know that there are risks and benefits to all of them. I seek only to help everyone understand those risks and benefits. I provide this information. What everyone does with it from there is completely up to them.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Nowhere To Go But Down (Or, Bloggers Are People, Too)

I know, I know...it's a newsflash. What's that, you say? Bloggers are people, too? No! But, but...they're behind the computer...we've put them on a pedestal...we depend on them for our information and research, so we don't have to gather our own!

Here's the problem with putting people on pedestals: there's nowhere for them to go but down. They can do nothing but fall. And that fall from grace is far more jarring for those who placed them up there in the first place than it is for the one who fell. Take me, for example: I know I'm imperfect. So, when I make a mistake, I apologize and move on. It's no real surprise to me. I do it all the time. For those who see me as some faceless blogger from whom perfection is expected, my mistakes are major falls from grace and can really shake their faith in me. I get it. I've been there. I've been disappointed in others for being what they are - human. It stunk. And it stunk way more for me than it did for those who already knew what I had yet to discover - they're people, too.

Often, the same thing can happen with parents and kids, if we're not careful. It's vital that we let our kids see our mistakes and how we rectify them, so that we're not seen as infallible gods, but as people - approachable, relatable, faulty people.

What's the point, you ask? You know, cut me, us, yourself, your kids, whoever some slack. Be wary of idolizing as opposed to respecting as people - people just like you.

Here's my favorite poem about just this thing:

Shakespeare's Sonnet 130

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Just think about it.