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Friday, July 26, 2013

Fertility Privilege

When Maria first approached me about this guest post, my reaction was one of intrigue and excitement. It swiftly turned to one of bafflement and slight terror. I mean, I’m infertile. I know my experience with infertility, but that doesn’t mean I know everyone’s or how they all feel about it when faced with the insensitivity and honest ignorance of others. I felt pressure (as I always do when guesting for someone I respect) to get it just right – perfect. Then I remembered I’m not perfect and I don’t need to speak for everyone who is in the infertility boat with me – just me. So that’s what I’m doing – I’m speaking for me and speaking of the fertility privilege that I’ve observed and, as a result, resented, whether that’s fair or unfair.

(Photo: IVF meds package #1 of countless...)

Here’s some of what I’ve heard and continue to hear from those who are lacking in understanding (and tact, to be quite frank):

(To continue to read, click here to see my full guest post at Barrel of Oranges.)

I Love My Son Enough to Hit Him

I've decided I'm going to start hitting. Not just Zen Son, but everyone. I mean, why not, right? I need people to pay attention to me, dammit!

Next time my dog jumps up on me incessantly when I walk in the door, I'm going to spank her. Oh wait. Crap. I can't do that. I'll go to jail. Damn.

Ok, but next time my husband pisses me off, I'm definitely going to spank him. I mean, just LISTEN, dude! I asked you fifteen times to take out the trash. Maybe you'll remember next time! Shit. Nope. Can't to that either. Pesky laws.

Alright, but when that neighbor kid lets his dog poop in my yard AGAIN, he's definitely getting spanked. Seriously! Wait, what? I can't? You mean to tell me that's regulated, too? This is going too far now.

My 83 year old grandma with dementia - she wanders. When she wanders somewhere potentially dangerous, I'm just going to have to spank her. It'll hurt me more than her, but I love her enough to endure it. She has to be taught a lesson for her own safety. Huh? Are you flippin' kidding me? That's illegal, too? B.S.

Fine, but I'm definitely spanking my son. Who are YOU to tell me what to do with my own kid in my own home? It's just good parenting! Those of you who don't agree are what's wrong with the world today! I love my son enough to hit him!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Alternative Parenting: The Transformation from Sheep to Wolf

Guest post by Marcela De Vivo

In the last year, we've been fired from our pediatrician's medical practice, had Child Services sent to our door, and entered a litigation battle with our son's school district. All because we choose to parent our children a little different from the norm. Maybe a lot different.

It all started with our oldest son, who has a severe brain malformation and pretty significant special needs. During his first year and a half, we were good little sheep and we followed along with what doctors and therapists recommended. Until we woke up to reality and realized that the path we were on would lead to the slaughterhouse. Not quite, not really, but it would lead somewhere ugly (surgeries, prescription medications that cause side effects that lead to more prescription medications that lead to more side effects that lead to more prescription medications etc). We hopped off the Western medical treadmill and decided to forge our own alternative path.

As a meditator, I felt that it was important to take a holistic approach to our son's care. Instead of forcing him to move his limbs, I felt we need to work WITH him, not against him. I found therapeutic approaches that were much gentler, more holistic. I Informed myself about everything, including vaccines, and decided against further vaccinations.

Our doctor wasn't pleased. We spent several years avoiding Western therapeutic approaches, and using practices such as craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, and Feldenkrais. We had Waldorf educators come to our home and teach us how to implement a gentle rhythm in his life. Even with all his medical problems, our son was well and, most importantly, very happy.

When he was three years old, I became pregnant with my daughter, and when she was six months old, I got pregnant again with my son. They are now almost seven, three, and almost two. I decided to stay on the same path with my typical children, and to focus on alternative and holistic healthcare.

But because of my son's very real, very medical needs, such as severe lung disease, a feeding tube, and a shunt, we've had to keep him in the care of a pediatrician. Said pediatrician wasn't very happy when we chose not to vaccinate the two little ones. And one day, after my son got a small burn on his leg from riding around with his dad on a quad, child services showed up at our door.

Our doctor had called child services and said we were neglectful parents. We hadn't vaccinated our kids. Our son was getting burns in his skin. Our children weren't followed regularly by their practice for well checks. Why do we need well checks for our typical children, when they are followed by a homeopath and we know they are healthy? We've been there and back when it comes to healthcare and development, we would KNOW if something was going on with our little ones. But that makes us neglectful parents. And not vaccinating is the ultimate sign of neglect. When we called the pediatrician's office, we were informed we were no longer welcome as patients.

Apparently, I didn't get the memo that making different choices for our children would result in persecution.
And while we dealt with this situation, with weekly visits from child services, our son’s school district decided to takes us on and we found ourselves in a legal battle. Although my son is severely disabled, he is actually very smart. He cannot control his body at all, has almost NO voluntary movement. Yet he understands language, cause and effect, and the world around him.

When he was just two years old, we gave him the opportunity to play with a computer that reads his retina, so he can control it with his eyes. He became an expert at controlling this device after only a few attempts. When we showed the school district, they claimed that it was purely accidental and unintentional. Even though we purchased and sent the device to school for them to use, they refused to use it because they simply didn't want to accommodate to him. Effectively, they silenced his voice, his only way of expressing himself and his needs.

In the midst of all our other struggles, we found ourselves in litigation with the school district. After presenting ample evidence of our son's cognitive skill, we won the case, and they had to agree to use the device. Except now, the school hates us.

Two months ago, when my son went to school with his nurse, we were told she wasn't allowed to be in the building with him any more. She was escorted to the principal's office, and off campus. Apparently the school has the right to restrict access to healthcare personnel. Even though my son is full care, with multiple devices in his body, he doesn't have the need for a one on one aide. Why? Because she makes them accountable for the use of the computer, and can tell us how often they are (or are NOT, as is the case), using the communication device.

So now we're back to litigation. Our son has missed two months of school. And we are the most hated parents at the school for simply fighting for our son.

But as a Buddhist, I refuse to stay mired in the muck. I choose to view all of these experiences as opportunities to grow and learn. To practice compassion. Offering my children an alternative, holistic approach to their life and health is something I will continue to do, even if I have to take on doctors and school districts. Deep in my heart I know this is what's best for them. And if in the journey I have to go from sheep to wolf, then HOWL.

Marcela De Vivo is a health writer for Northwest who spends much of her time advocating for her children. As a mother of a special needs child, she tries to spread the word about advocating for children with special needs and educating parents about their special needs children's rights to a customized educational approach. Follow her on Twitter to connect with her today!

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Dad, My Weight, My Fears, My Growth

Last night, I set out to write one measly Tweet. It turned into four or five. Evidently, I had more to say than I thought. Then I realized I have a lot to say. So, here I go again (on my own...I couldn't help it...and if you don't get the reference, you can't be my friend).

First, the Tweet-spiration:

"Seeing the pops always comes with mixed feelings. Love and miss him, but being overweight and remembering being told that the overweight woman at the drive-thru was a behemouth [sic], that fat people smell, talking to my grandma about my pooch with disgust like I wasn't even in the room... I don't want to go, but also don't want to let him rule me or my self-worth. So close to being good with my bod. Refuse to let him destroy my progress."

Let me expand for clarification's sake:

Next week, Zen Son and I are heading up to my dad's lake cabin to enjoy some time with our big extended family. I love them dearly and miss them since moving out of state. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to spend time with them. I was pregnant the last time I saw my dad. He has never met Zen Son. My little sisters have never met their nephew. It will be a nice sort-of homecoming.

However (big however), I feel trepidation, as I always do when I know I'll be seeing my dad. I recall countless incidents of my dad fat-bashing. Once, when my brother and I were on the way back to his house for a weekend visit, we stopped at the drive-thru. There was a very large woman working the window. My dad turned to us, probably 8 and 6 at the time, and said with a look of typical derision, "She is behemoth!" I didn't even know the word at the time, but context clues told me exactly what it meant and that it was a negative of the most egregious kind. Further, my dad's older sister and her husband were always overweight. My dad used to bash them relentlessly. Again, we were very young. I recall one such bashing, in particular, in which he said how much "fat people stink" and went on a mini-rant about that. "They do. They have a certain smell. It's gross." Finally, there was the time I was being fitted by my grandma for the dress I was to wear to my dad's wedding. Looking back at old pictures, I have seen what a slender, fit kid I was. I didn't believe this to be so, even then. Now, I know why. As I was there in my undies being measured on a pedestal in front of Grandma and Dad, my dad, as if I couldn't hear or understand, began saying to her while pointing to my "pooch" and looking absolutely disgusted, "What is that? Why does she have that? I mean, what is that?" I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the point. Fat is the worst thing one could possibly be.

Here I am now and I believe differently. I believe fat isn't even what someone is, rather, what some may have. I do have some extra fat that I don't need right now. This wasn't always so. In fact, I once did an ad campaign for a weight-loss company. I was tight. And now I'm not. Most of the time, I couldn't care less. More and more, I grow comfortable, happy even, with my body. My son has helped me do this (click here to see how) and I don't want my dad to undo all the good my son and I have done together. I won't allow it any more than I allowed it from my Zen Parents (click here to see how they tried to do the same thing just recently). But, there's still a small part of me, the child part, that fears this impending encounter, that worries and hurts for what I know is to come, that is so close to not even getting on that plane...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Disappointed (or, Take a Good Look in the Mirror)

I sit, mouth agape, again, shaking my head as I read the endless slew of comments coming from my own community judging another mother, because the way she lives is "weird." What's worse is that I've seen it happen over and over again. It's hypocritical and more than a little disappointing.

Do we not often complain (rightfully so) of those in the mainstream community scoffing at us because of our "weird" practices and lifestyle choices? How many of us have been the subject of comments calling us crazy or picking on the little things about us that bother them, simply because they cannot pick at what we're doing, but know they don't like it, so they attack what they can, like our appearance or some silly little misspelling or grammar error? Yet, here I sit reading comments on a thread about a woman who chooses to live in a furniture-less home that say things like, "clean your house!" and "ew, that's so weird."

This happens on every "different" idea I post on the FB page. As soon as it's an idea that is new or uncomfortable to those who say they're living on the fringes of society and are, in fact, comfortable with that, out come the "this is stupid, this is nuts, this is just odd" comments. Why? Because it's a change? It's not the same as what you're used to? Guess what - that's why so many others make those comments to us. And we don't like them. And we expect them to open up their brains and hearts and expand their horizons a bit. We get frustrated that they don't or can't. And here we are doing the same.

Take a good look in the mirror, folks. And take a good look within. I expect better from people who know exactly what it's like to have such comments lodged at them.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lost Love

I have a story to tell. It has nothing to do with anything other than it's been weighing on my heart for years and more so lately, so I need to let it out.

In college, I once was a general manager of a video store. I had a bunch of high school kids working for me. I loved them all. C was my go-to closer. I could always count on him. His parents and little sister, only about 12 or 13 at the time, used to come in all the time. P was lacking in self-confidence, a little socially awkward, and uncomfortable around new people. And she was adorable. I saw it immediately. I would talk to her, joke with her, light-heartedly tease her. She opened up to me. She became my little shadow whenever she was there, which became more frequent as she grew to feel more and more comfortable with me.

Eventually, I became a part of their family. I was invited to all family functions. Mr. and Mrs. M loved me. I was there through birthdays, almost not graduating, teaching to drive - all the standard older sibling-type stuff. That's how C and P saw me and I definitely saw them as younger siblings. We genuinely all loved each other and were incredibly close.

P had some special issues. She had been in counseling for the majority of her young life. She was a recovering cutter. She was recovering from an eating disorder. She suffered from bad OCD that ruled certain aspects of her life. And as much of an individual as she was and is, she had terribly low self-esteem. She had absolutely no idea how incredibly amazing she was and still is.

As such, she did extreme things to ease her heartache. One of those things was binge drinking. I found out about it. And, though we had a relationship like siblings, I was still an adult, a teacher, and I had a responsibility to care more about her health and well-being in the big picture than about whether or not she'd be happy with me for not ratting her out in the moment. I went to her, to no avail. I went to her brother. We discussed. We went to their parents. We brought evidence, hard proof, I hated the whole encounter. I hated knowing she'd hate me. And she did. She still does seven years later. She never spoke to me again. And though I've reached out to her over the years to let her know I still love her, I'm still here, she will not forgive me.
(Oh ya, you better believe the penguin is symbolic.)

I still keep in touch with C. I sometimes see pictures and other goodies of and about P on his Facebook page. It's bittersweet. I recently ran into Mr. and Mrs. M at the grocery store. I hadn't been to their house since then, not because I wasn't invited, but out of respect for P's feelings. I don't want her feeling uncomfortable in her own home. They told me how well she was doing and told my husband how sad it is that she still feels such vehement betrayal, hurt, and anger toward me. I went home melancholy. I had a dream about her that night. I had a dream she came to me, forgave me, and we were "sisters" again. I woke up crying, because I thought it was real. I continued to cry when I realized it wasn't.

I wouldn't have done anything differently through any of it. That little girl touched my heart deeply. She'll always have a place there. And I know I did the right thing for her by telling her parents what she was doing. I knew I was risking our friendship by doing it, but I love(d) her enough to do so. Still, I hurt. I hurt for me for missing her and I hurt for her that she hurts.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


by Sarah Sorvillo, Certified Herbalist
originally published by Well Rounded Momma
used with permission

All sports drinks contain three essential ingredients: water, sugar and salt. And if they’re really fancy, they also contain vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Unfortunately, name brand sports drinks also contain artificial colors and flavors.
Making your own sports drink is ridiculously easy and you get to avoid all of those nasty ingredients. When you are doing hard physical work and sweating, it's important to maintain your electrolyte level for proper cell function and for energy. By using a good quality salt and magnesium powder, you are adding minerals and electrolytes to the drink. You can also get a little fancy with it and add some flower essence drops like Bach’s Rescue Remedy to help you deal with stress.


1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup honey (or to taste)
1/4 tsp sea salt, celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan
2 tsp of powdered magnesium (I like Natural Calm)
4-8 drops Bach’s Rescue Remedy (totally optional, but awesome)
Enough water to make 4 cups

I like to make this drink ahead of time and freeze it in popsicle containers if the weather is hot. But it’s pretty easy to assemble during early labor. Just make sure you have the ingredients handy. It's nice to keep straws on hand so that you can slowly sip it throughout your labor.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Magazine Review: Sacred Pregnancy - Spring 2013 edition

Let me just start by saying: SUBSCRIBE TO THIS MAGAZINE! Dooooo eeeet! Dooo eeet now!

It took about an hour and a half to open on my computer. I have no earthly idea why and will chalk it up to my computer being old and well-loved. I almost, almost gave up and said I couldn't do the review. That would've been my loss and I'm glad I didn't do it.

Visually, this magazine is just stunning. I never wanted to read anything, because I was so enamored with its visual beauty. Eventually, though, I did tear myself away to read through the content. I wasn't sorry I did.
Some of the writing took my breath away. There was a story about a vision one woman had of the daughter she would later birth. Wow. Just wow. Also, I'm taking the idea for the "gratitude banner" and making it my own. Soon, my son's room will be adorned with a banner of my thankfulness for the wonder that is him. The placenta smoothie recipe sound amazing. Every story, every photo, even every ad spoke to me. I am in love!

The only thing I would change is the recipes for baby food. I'd delete them. I would've loved them a couple years ago, but have now learned of baby led weaning and believe in that wholeheartedly. Skip the baby food. That being said, those recipes look so yummy, I might make them for myself!

Overall, this magazine is a big winner. I want to read it while curled up with a some sort of hippie tea (I don't drink tea, so I don't know which one I'd drink, but I know that's what I picture) on a bean bag on a warm autumn evening near the window at sunset. Yes, the vision I have of myself reading this magazine is that specific. Don't ask me why, but it's all good and warm and pure and enlightening and empowering.

Bottom line: subscribe. Subscribe now. Give the gift of subscriptions, too. Trust me, you won't be sorry.

For more Sacred Pregnancy, visit their Facebook page and website.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Photo Scavenger Hunt

The Zen Parenting Photo Scavenger Hunt has now begun!

Your mission, should you choose to accept:
photograph each of these things listed below.

1. They have to be of someone other than you, your babe, or your significant other.
2. They can't be staged. (You have to come upon them naturally.)
3. As always, "babe" is an ageless term.
4. As you get them, send them in and we'll add the to the dedicated photo album on the page.
5. Submissions are due no later than September 1, 2013. PM the FB page or email ZenParenting1@yahoo.com. Post to the wall at your own risk, since those don't always come through.
6. Each photo submission must have a caption stating what it is from the list.

If you're going to be showing faces or any other identifying characteristics, please obtain permission before photographing and sharing. I don't want anyone coming after me for posting pictures of them or their babes!

Well, nothing really, except the sense of accomplishment you'll get from having done it and my warm and fuzzy feelings toward you for adding to the lovely photo collection.
Hey, if you get ALL of them, I'll totally make a big deal about you on the FB page, though. That's something, huh? Oh, whatever, just do it for the fun...

You're hunting for:
- breastfeeding in public
- babywearing
- toddlerwearing
- babe rear-facing beyond a year old
- tandem breastfeeding
- breastfeeding via SNS
- babe drinking donor milk
- me
- the stickers on the back of my car
- babe being fed by wet nurse
- hearing babe using sign language
- a homebirth
- babe climbing a tree
- babe on a tire swing
- babe playing in the grass with a puppy or kitten
- babe in the pool
- babe at the beach or lake
- two babes holding hands
- babe and parent holding hands while walking
- two babes kissing
- babe and parent kissing
- two babes hugging
- babe and parent hugging
- babe flying a kite
- babe in sunglasses
- babe wearing sunglasses at night
- babe flashing a peace sign
- breastfeeding while wearing babe
- toddler breastfeeding
- preschooler breastfeeding
*Bonus if you let your babe(s) take the photos!

Have fun with it! Enjoy your summer!