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Friday, February 27, 2015

Picked for Who?

Pinterest's new "Picked for You" pins that constantly show up in my feed are driving me buggy. They're hit or miss, but the hits don't make up for the misses by a long shot. Here's the latest that was picked just for me, because Pinterest knows me soooooo well, clearly:

Pinterest, have we met? What about my feed suggests any of this dangerous drivel screams Amy or Zen Parenting? Here, let me help you and, while I'm at it, I'll help the creator of this crap, because s/he has some serious 'splaining to do.

1. Activities. What activities do you like? Why? This is what I like and here's why. Every one of them will teach you something important.
2. If and when you choose to engage in sexual relationships, be respectful of yourself and others. Constantly ensure that you're both consenting of what is happening, that you are both enjoying it, that you're both safe, happy, and healthy.
3. Pee happens. Don't do get it everywhere on purpose, but when accidents occur, we'll fix them up.
4. Save some money, spend some money, invest some money, give some money.
5. Want to help me with what I'm doing around the house, outside, with the car, etc.? Cool. That's how we learn.
6. Beliefs. You get to have yours and I get to have mine. Let's talk about why we believe what we believe about religion and spirituality. Let's talk about those things with each other and with others, so we can learn a lot.
7. Bullying stinks. Don't be one. Don't let others be them. Don't sit by idly while anyone is picked on by one.
8. Education comes from all around you. Soak it all in.
9. Treat people kindly.
10. Forget social norms and the appearance police. Like plaid with tie-dye? Wear it with confidence.
11. The world can be hard, but you don't have to be.
12. Mutual respect is one of the keys to good relationships.
13. As a child, the world tries to make you feel like you are lesser than. This is not true.
14. Penis, vagina, scrotum, vulva, etc. are not bad words, but anyone touching them without your consent is bad.
15. Peer pressure stinks. Be you. You're rad.
16. Be thoughtful in relationships.
17. Sometimes, it is better to be kind than to be right. When someone safety is at risk, be right.
18. A sense of humor goes a long way, but it's OK to feel whatever you feel whenever and for however long you feel it.
19. If and when you choose a life partner (or life partners), choose wisely and choose for yourself.
20. I love you. When you're not with me, I miss you. We won't always be side by side at all times, but you're always in my heart. We have good lives together and separately. Good for us.

Much better. Pinterest, take note.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Food Allergies: Quit Your Whining

Before anyone gets huffy, let me clarify the title. This is not a post directed at people who have food allergies or who love someone who does. No, this is in defense of you. This is directed at those who I see whining constantly about having to accommodate for those with food allergies as if doing so crumbles their very soul and the foundation on which childhood rests. Now that we got that out of the way, let's carry on.

It seems I cannot go a week without seeing some rant such as this from one of my Facebook friends:

"Why should we have to bend over backwards, let our own kids down, make their childhoods less special for ONE kid who MIGHT have a food allergy (which I'm not even convinced actually exist)? What happened to the days of cupcakes, cookies, and big cakes with candles for a kid's birthday? Have we really become so politically correct that now we're impacting our kids so detrimentally? My daughter now has to miss out on all the wonders of childhood because of one kid. Just pack your own snack that day, people! Can't we all stop tippy-toeing around every little problem that every little person has? Loosen up, idiots, they're kids not Faberge eggs."


In no particular order:

a) You're a dick.
b) You're modeling being a dick to your kids.
c) Food allergies can be deadly. Deadly. Kids. Dead. Gone. No longer. Kids. Ya, that's a big deal.
d) Nobody is asking anyone to do anything extra, simply not do something, which is pretty damn easy. You're not being put out.
e) If the only thing that makes your child's life good is a birthday party with only certain food, you might want to rethink the childhood you're giving them.
f) Did I mention the dead thing? It's worth mentioning more than once.
g) Even if they don't die, they could be hurt. Bad. Sometimes permanently. You're telling me a frosted paper full o' sugar is more important than the safety of a child? You need to get your priorities in order.
h) Tell a kid "This will hurt or make sick your friend, so we can't have it when she's with us" and they'll say something along the lines of "Oh, ok" and move on. They care about their friends. Maybe you could follow suit, huh?
i) Do I really need to continue to tell you to settle your tantrum and act like the grown-up you claim to be, modeling empathy and responsibility for your kids?

Out of the mouth (er, typing fingers) of a parent:
"I once asked if a local mom’s group could switch their weekly lunch dates to someplace safe for [my son] and you would have thought that I asked them each for a blood sacrifice and their first born. The same week, I was invited to a potluck by the same group and when I told them that I couldn’t go because FOUR people were making things with nuts, I was kicked out of the group! According to a friend, I offended them by not wanting to expose [my son] to DEATH, I mean their baked goods. That stuff actually happens. It’s a really odd feeling. A single peanut could KILL my child! It cannot be said often or loud enough!" ~Kimberly Barnwell

Out of the mouths of babes:

My son is on a soccer team with a girl who has severe allergies to several things. I'm the team parent, so, among other things, I set up the snack schedule. As I knew they would, this girl's parents offered to bring their own snacks for her. No. I won't allow it. I won't allow that little girl, part of her very first team sport at the tender age of 4, to be left out, even if it is in a seemingly small way. It requires so little of the rest of us to bring snacks that everyone can enjoy, as opposed to only 6 out of the 7 kids. That's not what being part of a team is all about. No, we'll accommodate, we'll put in the minimal effort to remain cognizant, we'll care more about the good of the team than about the fleeting desires we foist upon our kids. That is what being part of a team or a class or a group of friends is all about, so that's what we'll do.

For more about food allergies:

Friday, February 13, 2015

50 Shades of F*ck You

Nothing like waking up to a bunch of people blatantly ignoring the needs of a pregnant mother escaping her abusive husband in order to debate the merits of some stupid books and movie to get my fur up.

Get this: I don't care whether or not you see that movie. I don't care whether or not you choose ignorance as to the reality of abusive relationships vs. healthy relationships in this one case. I have bigger fish to fry. Right now, I care about helping this mama save herself. And she is. She's doing exactly what everyone keeps accusing other victims of not doing (and shut up about that, while you're all at it, because your privilege and lack of compassion are abundantly clear whenever you open your mouths with your "Why doesn't she just leave?" bullshit). Oh, but it's not about her doing what you want her to do, because when she does, you still find a reason not to help (and by help, I don't mean by financial means only, because we're not all in a position to do so, but we can all surely share and encourage others) by turning it into a debate about your new favorite movie. I get it now. It's clearly about doing whatever you need to do to shield yourself from the needs of others, from what you can actually do for others, from the ugliness of reality and how you can actually take some of the burden from those suffering like you say you would do if only the circumstances were just right. It's about giving lip service to all the ways you care, but running hightail and hiding behind whatever reason you can swiftly scrape together when the rubber meets the road and it comes time to show that care. It's about throwing out red herrings left and right to distract others from the issue at hand and your lack of concern for it. It's clearly all about you.

My friend Tracy at Evolutionary Parenting did a good thing for a friend. This friend is pregnant with her second and is trying to get herself and her children to a safe place far away from her abusive husband, is trying to divorce the unsafe he-person, is trying to have the birth of her choice someplace where she and hers can be free from harm. Tracy took time out of her day to share an emergency fundraiser for her in a prime time slot on her Facebook page. She implored her tens of thousands of fans to help. She used her position for tremendous good. I am terribly grateful to her and the fans who perhaps donated and shared silently. I don't know who those are (though, I'm sure there were plenty), because the entire thread was hijacked by fools who care more about defending the books and movie to which her situation was rightfully compared than they do about attending to the matter at hand.

For those who care more about helping this mama in need, you can access her YouCaring fundraiser by clicking HERE. Give (if or what you are able), share publicly and everywhere with #50DollarsNot50Shades, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. And know that I and this mama are thanking you for caring.

It's easy to talk. It's easy to ignore. It's easy to look the other way. I'm not asking you to do what's easy, I'm asking you to do what's right. Do what's right, not what's easy.

Thank you.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Getting to Know You: The Proust Questionnaire

Much like I did with my 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series, I am writing this in effort to open myself to my son. The other day he told me, "You always get me, Mama." I swooned. That he feels understood sends me over the moon. That's one of my greatest goals as a parent. He seems to always get me, as well. Four years into this relationship and I think we know each other quite well. I'm proud of that. I offer this to continue that.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

You.  You're it.  You're my happy.  No, you don't make me happy any more than you make me feel anything else, but I choose to see the happy in you every day and I am better off for it.

2. What is your greatest fear?

Being away from you.  Either losing you or being lost to you.  After recovering from our traumatic birth and the subsequent postpartum anxiety, I can control this fear in myself, but am not certain I'll ever truly be over it.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My critical nature.  It's foul, it's far too prevalent, and it's something I work on all the time.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?


5. Which living person do you most admire?

You.  100%.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Recently, it was getting your dad a car.  Yes, it was a used car for a screamin' deal and no, it wasn't extravagant by most others' standards, but we lived for almost four years with just one car, so getting another just so that we could have the freedom to go to store or the museum or soccer practice was a big deal for us. 

7. What is your current state of mind?

Myopically, I'm irritable, because of my allergies, but overall, I'm feeling quite content.  We're all happy, healthy, safe, and together, so all is right in my world.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Purity.  What a crock.

9. On what occasion do you lie?

If I don't want to attend an event.  Otherwise, I don't lie and I simply refuse to lie to you.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I am happier with my body now than I have ever been, which is ironic, because most are of the opinion that I look the worst now than I ever have.  There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

My father-in-law.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?


13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?


14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Dude, 8000, and oh my word.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

You, my sweet son.

16. When and where were you happiest?

Pick a time in the last four years.  Where?  With you.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

Play the acoustic guitar like a pro.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

See #3.  Wouldn't that be everyone's answer?

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Becoming a better parent than my examples.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Probably a burrito.

21. Where would you most like to live?

Wherever you are, but if you're there with me, I'd like to live in either the Pacific Northwest or back home in Yucaipa, California.  I miss home and I love weather.  The desert is not for me, but your grandparents are here and I could never tear them away from you.

22. What is your most treasured possession?

My pictures.  So many pictures.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?


24. What is your favorite occupation?

High school teacher.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

Physical?  My hair.  Otherwise?  My laugh.

26. What do you most value in your friends?

Nearly unconditional love.

27. Who are your favorite writers?

John Steinbeck, Octavia Butler, Joanne Harris, J.K. Rowling, Byrd Baylor

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

Atticus Finch.  

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Laura Ingalls Wilder.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

You, Grandma Bray, Bailey, your dad.

31. What are your favorite names?

Yours, mine, Ellison, Kate, Toby

32. What is it that you most dislike?

Grody vegetables.

33. What is your greatest regret?

Calling my brother stupid when we were kids.

34. How would you like to die?

Peacefully, in my sleep, after having the forethought to tell you one last time how much I love you to the best of my ability given the limitations of the English language.

35. What is your motto?

Do what's right, not what's easy.

If you're reading this and you're not my son, no, you're not the intended audience, but I hope it inspires you to do the same for your child(ren). Think of all the good that can come from knowing each other better. Go, reflect, write, share, be open and honest, grow closer. Enjoy!

You Can't Please Everyone

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes talking to a Facebook friend about her heartache over causing anyone stress or pain when all she really wants to do is post things that bring peace and happiness. It's a noble desire, but rather impossible to bring to fruition.

Personal examples:

Within the span of a few months, my step-sister unfriended me on Facebook for being "too negative" and my cousin unfriended me for being "too positive." Truth. I listened for a good 90 minutes to my step-sister wax on about what I should be posting, what I should be saying, and what I should be keeping to myself, that unless and until I could do that, she simply refused to be my friend. I read for paragraph after paragraph my cousin hurling insults and accusations, telling me she laughs at people like me, and expressing her general disgust with my constant happiness. Unfriended, blocked, and now won't even take part of group presents for our grandma if I'm the one who comes up with the idea.

I was once unfriended because I took a class on vaccines at my midwife's office. My friend said, "Just vaccinate for everything." I responded, "That's certainly one option." Boom. Done.

I remember a day, when Zen Parenting was still on Facebook, when my entire fan base seemed to be having one collectively pissy day. I logged off for several hours and when I returned, I tested the waters to see if the mood had improved by saying, "I like walks on the beach, warm hugs, and puppies." You guessed it, I got comments about how overrated puppies are, that cats are better, and questioning my loyalty to my cats. Seriously.

So, friends, do you. Decide who it makes you happy to be and be that person. If and when that changes, change. Do it for you, because living for others won't make you happy and, as much as you may try, won't make them happy either. Just do you.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's Just Stuff

Yesterday, as we do regularly, my son and I cleaned his room. You know the drill:

  • clean,
  • mess,
  • more mess,
  • so much mess that it's hard for an adult to walk,
  • so much mess that it's hard for a child to walk,
  • so much mess that the child cannot walk without tripping,
  • repeat.

This morning, he and his Dada were in his room while I was working in the living room and simultaneously enjoying the sounds of their glee. My son then ran out to me and this little interaction took place:

Him: Mama, I kind of messed up my room. Is that OK?
Me: Are you having fun?
Him: Ya.
Me: Then it's OK.
Him: And when it's super-messy, is that OK?
Me: We'll clean it again. It's OK.
Him: Sanks.

And he ran back to play further.

It's just stuff.

Folks, it's just stuff. Relax, enjoy, rinse, and repeat.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Vaccines: Informed Consent

Guest post by Corissa Baur Howington of Gender Neutral Parenting

Sadly, I've seen some people in my news feed posting articles and information on how immunizations should be law. Really?

I've stayed out of the vax debate thus far because I am a middle of the road person on this subject. But really? I mean for real, you are going to say it needs to be MANDATORY, as in you could go to jail if you don't?

Let's put this into perspective for a minute, what if other medical decisions were mandatory. You don't want to do chemo for your cancer treatment? Don't want an abortion of your down syndrome "fetus"? Jail. You don't want to take cold medicine? Jail. It is a medical decision. Mandatory is ridiculous. So is outlawing vaccines (on the other side of the debate).

How about this, do your f*cking research on vaccines. On each one. Decide if the possibility of disease/complications is worse or the possibility of vaccine reactions/complications for your own family and situation. And I mean the ACTUAL possibility. NOT fear mongering from either side.

If you actually do research on measles (the current hot button issue) you would learn that measles paired with other medical conditions or malnutrition can be deadly. But without this pairing, is hardly worth mention. A rash and a few sick days. So you have to weigh those pros and cons for your situation.

And if you do vax or you don't, stop trying to force everyone else to make the same freaking decision as you. Educate? Yes. Inform? Yes. But guess what? Those things can actually be done without bias or trying to force people into your idea of right and wrong. Encourage people to educate themselves about medical decisions and medical rights. Then have faith that they will make the right decisions for them and their family, just like all the other medical decisions they make. Blindly following recommendations, be it doctor, CDC, pastor, life coach, or what have you, is just plain blindness and ignorance. Always question. Always research. Then make the choice for you. INFORMED consent people.

Oh and if you chose vaccination, stop worrying about the freaking unvaxed passing it on. If you believe you are protected, why freaking worry??? Besides, and again this is if you do the research not believe fear mongering news, outbreaks of these diseases USUALLY start from a shedding vaccinated person! This means the immune compromised and those who cannot be vaccinated, even if they wanted to, are most likely to catch a serious illness from a vaccinated person. That is why people are warned against recently vaccinated individuals!

My name is Corissa. I am a parent, a hippie, and in constant pursuit of education. I believe in the power of unschooling my children and myself as well as the power of our minds. I am also the founder and admin of the Gender Neutral Parenting Facebook page and in pursuit of becoming a gender, sex, and sexuality minorities counselor for children and teens.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bad Parent

(believed to be property of THIS site, but please tell me otherwise)
Vaccinating doesn't make you a bad parent.
Not vaccinating doesn't make you a bad parent.
Formula feeding doesn't make you a bad parent.
Breastfeeding doesn't make you a bad parent.
Circumcising doesn't make you a bad parent.
Leaving your child intact doesn't make you a bad parent.
Unschooling doesn't make you a bad parent.
Sending your kids to school doesn't make you a bad parent.
Staying home doesn't make you a bad parent.
Working outside of the home doesn't make you a bad parent.

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

You know what makes someone a bad parent? Doing what you know is wrong, harmful, or abusive. Further, choosing ignorance for the sake of not having to change that which may turn out to be wrong, harmful, or abusive. Other than all that, I may not agree with your choices, I may offer you information to help you and your kids, but you are not a bad parent.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cosleeping in Our Home

Dear everyone who thinks cosleeping with your child sounds horrific,

I got news for you: I get more sleep cosleeping with my son than I do with my husband and not for the salacious reasons you're thinking. Here's how a night cosleeping with my now four-year-old son goes:

  • breastfeed to sleep
  • sleep for 8-10 hours
  • breastfeed upon wakening (or not, because that depends on his mood and how awake he really is)
Now, here's how it goes sleeping with my husband:

  • sleep for a few hours peacefully, because he has fallen asleep on the couch...again
  • wake up immediately upon him entering the bedroom, because he is hearing impaired and no longer has his hearing aids in at this point, thus he walks in far more loudly than he knows
  • drift back off
  • wake up 5 minutes later, because husband has "forgotten" to put on his CPAP and is now snoring loudly enough to wake the dead
  • throw a pillow at him to signal that he better put it on or else
  • get up out of bed, because he immediately fell asleep again after being hit with the pillow, still sans CPAP
  • try to refrain from killing him as I rattle him awake to ensure he puts on that got danged machine
  • snuggle back into bed, though my son has now rolled over so far that I now only have a generous 6 inches of space
  • fall back to sleep
  • wake up an hour later to find that my husband has "accidentally" knocked the CPAP off his face and has again disrupted my slumber with his log sawing from Hell
  • feel around for the pillow to throw at him, but realize he's kept it for himself and is now quite comfortable with his three pillows and my one
  • drag my pissed and tired self out of bed, shake him as hard as possible
  • answer his very irritated "WHAT??!" with a whisper-scream to put his effing CPAP back on his MFing face before I rassin'-frassin' murdalize him 
  • go back to bed muttering a slew of obscenities
  • find myself with now maybe four inches of room beside my son
  • fall back to sleep...for an hour
  • wake up to my husband's cacophony again
  • fly out of bed with a fire in my belly
  • search around in the dark for the CPAP on my husband's melon, where I ultimately find it, but also find that he's ripped the tube out of the face mask
  • grope in the dark for the tube and beat him with it until he wakes up confused and incensed
  • hover over him until he manages to figure out how to reinsert the tube
  • go back to my side so furious and now way too awake to sleep
  • gingerly pick up my son who has now left me with no room as he rolls around searching for me in his sleep and put him back in his spot
  • play Uno & Friends for a few minutes until I come down emotionally enough to sleep again
  • begin to fall asleep when I hear it AGAIN
  • seemingly teleport in a fit of rage to my husband's side where I find that he has the CPAP on and the tube in the mask, but has pulled said tube out of the machine itself and is snoring SO EFFING LOUDLY AGAIN that I genuinely consider the consequences of smothering him in his sleep
  • beat him with the other side of the tube until he wakes up again...pissed again, like I am the problem here...and wait impatiently, angrily, and as loudly as possible without awakening our son for him to fix the machine in his stupor
  • go back to bed swearing this is the last straw and that the struggles of being a single parent would be completely worth not having to deal with this b.s. any longer
  • fall asleep angry enough to induce a bad dream
  • wake up from said bad dream, because husband's alarm has gone off, but he's since gone back out to the couch, so there's just this buzzing going off, threatening to wake up my sweetly sleeping son
  • get up, turn off alarm
  • go out to couch where I wake my husband by screaming a stream of epithets that would make you blush
  • he says, "Huh?  Oh, I'm sorry" as if that fixes everything and I storm back into the bedroom to stew until I fall asleep again
  • thank all that is good in the world that I get to snuggle up next to this little boy, who makes all things right again

How do I even wrap this up?  How do I end this blog?  There will be those who think I'm completely exaggerating.  I'm not.  There will be those who say, "I love the sound of my partner snoring.  It comforts me."  I'll trade you for one night, because your understanding of snoring and mine are two very different things.  There will be those who think this is funny and that we're just so cute.  Every night, folks.  Every. Single. Night.  Not cute or funny.  There will be those (this will be the largest group, because people love to hear themselves talk and fancy themselves therapists) who offer advice as if I haven't tried everything they're putting out there already.  Then there will be the twelve people who know.  To them, I say, you are not alone and when it's time for one of us to finally be put on trial for homicide, I will be there on the jury of your peers and will ensure you walk away free, because I get you.  I get you.

Monday, February 2, 2015

How to NOT Be a Zen Parent

I cannot tell you the number of friends and family members I have who just adore Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Of course, they're the same ones advising me (unsolicitedly, of course) to spank, ignore, and control my child. Blech. As such, I get her gems coming through my newsfeed from time to time, as they "like" her malarkey. Most recently, I came across this beaut:

Wow. How compassionate of her and the scads who like, comment, and share. Heaven forbid we think about what our children are going through, what is the root of their (arguably) unseemly behavior, as opposed to thinking of how their actions are affecting our precious selves.

Now, we all have our triggers. For me, it's whining. I am a tantrum champ, but whining can give me an instant eye twitch. It's my job, though, to deal with my feelings and issues, consider the cause of the whining, and act with love and empathy. I'm the adult. I am to be the one in control of myself (or at least more so than a developing child).

Sure, I screw up sometimes. I'm human. When I screw up because I've allowed myself to be triggered, I apologize, rectify, and work harder for the future. Not surprisingly, when my son is triggered by something and ends up whining or throwing a tantrum (not frequent occurrences, but certainly, at four years old, they happen), he apologizes, rectifies, and works harder for the future. Huh. Imagine that.

Also, not surprisingly, when I have been in a bad mood or been on the verge of a virtual breakdown due to, oh, I don't know, I'm an adult, so I don't have to explain my reasons any more than you do - only children have to have reasons that we deem acceptable and understandable - my son displays empathy toward me. In his own ways and words, he lets me know that he loves me, that's he's there for me, that he'll listen if I want to talk and give me space if I don't. Modeling compassion works.

Modeling compassion works, as does modeling cruelty. Don't be surprised if you demonstrate mercilessness when your child experiences big feelings at inopportune (for you) times and they turn around and demonstrate the same to you and others. It's just that simple. Perhaps it's not easy, but it is simple.