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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Pulley of Twins

Let me weave for you the story of my morning:

The twins wake up. Dulce wakes Natalina up, which means Dulce starts out in the good mood, Natalina the bad.

Knowing that a calm, helpful mood earns happy parents, Dulce capitalizes on this. She eats her breakfast without complaint, gives me hugs, and is generally chipper and easy going. Natalina cries about wanting to go back to bed (which is an option she could have taken), cries about eating breakfast, calls us all mean, and is generally ornery.

This goes on for an hour.

Then, Dulce finds a little plastic puppy she'd painted yesterday. The paint had somehow gotten messed up. She freaks out, throws herself on the ground (by the way, these instances are a lot rarer these days. Most of the time, my kids are actually human beings at this point. It's glorious.) Anyway, I send her to her room to calm down, where she continues to be inconsolable. I turn to Lilly.

Who has miraculously transformed from cranky, pissed-off child to happy-go-lucky, compliant girl. She even offers to take the mistake dog instead of Dulce and attempt to repaint it. (Unheard of). She cheerily got dressed and made her bed. Because Dulce was crying.

And when something happens and Natalina starts tantruming, the pulley will shift again.

In this way, I perpetually have one "good" kid, and one "bad" kid.

Which is better on the face of it than two tantruming kids, but underneath, not so much. It speaks to a larger issue with my twins. Their perpetual, frustrating, maddening competition with each other.

Every single thing they do is only to outshine the other. Every single thing that happens is an accolade for one and a slight for the other. They spend nearly all their mental energy thinking about their twin and whether she is in a better position than the first.

And there are no positions in our house. My husband and I make it clear we don't care about the she-said/she-said crap. We don't favor anyone or anything. We have no idea why it is like this. We work to fix it by repeating that they are different girls and that it is not a competition. To limited success.

Twins. I just don't know about them.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Recipe Monday - Sauteed Zucchini and Tomatoes

This was great. A perfect summer side, over rice or alone.


1 zucchini, cut up
5 fresh plum tomatoes, diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
kosher salt and fresh pepper


In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sautéuntil golden. Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side,add tomatoes and season with additional salt and herbes de provence. Lower heat and simmer about 5-10 minutes. Divide into 4 equal portions when serving.

Originally from SkinnyTaste. Thank you!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kindergarten Kids - Helping Them Read


My kids love to read. Kindergarten helped prepare them for sounding out words that make sense and follow the rules, and it gave them a list of "sight words" to memorize, so they have a good base, at this point, when they pick up one of their books.

But the English language is cruel and makes no sense, and this has never been clearer than now, when I have to explain to a five-year-old why sometimes the OU makes an oww sound and sometimes it makes an oh sound and sometimes it makes an ooooui sound. Or however you would type out the sound made in would, or should or could. And for that matter, what about wood? Or though and rough. WHAT IS GOING ON.


When my kids first start the book, I have them think about it, and use context and picture cues. "What do you think this word is? It's a weird one!"

They can do this for about the first ten minutes of reading.

After that, I give them hints. "In this word the ea together make an eee sound. Can you sound it out now?"

That gets us through the next 20 minutes.

After that, they're pretty tired, and a bit frustrated (and they're pretty good readers if I do say so myself, but it is frustrating. The language is frustrating.) Anyway, after they're tired but still reading, I just give them the word.

Them: "read, read, read, read, read...what's this word?"
Me: "That's machine."

This way, they practice, but they don't get annoyed enough to put the book down. It's working well so far.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Rehoming the Shoes

It was my birthday the other week, and one of my daughters bought me what she considers to be the end-all, be-all of shoes.

And I mean, she's right on. They are glorious. But seriously. She's basically in love with them.

This made what should have been a joyous occasion one fraught with tension and tears, as I tried, like the step-sisters, to shove my big old mammoth man feet into the size eights she'd bought me.

I'm a size nine.

Of course, right after that we went on vacation, so today was the first day we were able to go back to the store to get the next size up.

Only not. Of course not.

They didn't have any nines. Okay, no problem. There's a lip quiver, but, don't worry, baby, they'll just order them and we'll pick them up later.


Apparently, there is not one pair of orange peep toe heels in a size nine on the planet Earth. And they're never going to make any again, either.

This went over just about as well as you would imagine.

After crying some quiet, actually heartbreaking tears about this matter of greatest importance, Dulce grabbed the orange peep toe off the display rack. She cradled it like a baby.

"I picked again, Mommy!" She was very proud of herself. "This one! See! I found it!"

When I explained to her that it still wasn't my size, she went around to every person in the store and asked them if they  had a size nine of the magic orange shoe.

No dice.

She had to come to grips with the fact that she had to pick another shoe.

But before she did, she went around the whole store again, this time trying to find a home for her beloved shoes.

"Wouldn't you like to buy these shoes?" she asked every single person there individually. "I'm sure they must have them in your size."

She had no success. Apparently all the fervent orange-shoe buyers had already made their purchases.

Eventually, after soothing her for a long while, and then soothing my other daughter who'd gotten upset that "it's all about Dulce" and who also now wanted to pick out shoes for me, we were able to decide on a new pair.

I'm wearing them today, even though they are very high and very blue.

Here's to not breaking my ankle. Here's to hoping Dulce's orange display shoes found a good home.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Growing Up Poor -- Guest Post

Today Kristen Duvall gives another poignant perspective on poverty. She grew up with it, and can speak to the judgment and its effects like no one else.


For most of my life, I've tried to hide where I came from. I see the type of hate and derision thrown toward people who are thought of as “poor” and I did everything in my power to pretend that wasn't me.

Growing up, people often tossed around insults to those on welfare, and I'd try to pretend it wasn't me they were making fun of. Early on in life, I learned to grit my teeth, look away and try to block out the cruelty. I know that the kids in my class were merely repeating the words their parents had said at home, that they logically had no idea what it was like for my family, but still... Every time someone made a jab about the lazy leeches living off of government assistance, they were talking about me. When people say, “Can't feed them, don't breed them,” they're talking about me. In my head, I was something to be despised simply because I was born into the family I was. I didn't ask for any of it.

I'm tired of hiding. I'm tired of being ashamed of a situation that I had no control over. I'm tired of friends posting memes bashing the poor, including the children of the poor, while they perpetuate the misconception that people like my family are lazy, good-for-nothing welfare queens.

Because they're not.

My family didn't just fall on hard times – their entire life has been filled with one ridiculous tragedy after another. While we hadn't always been poor, the problems my family encountered started early in my life. My dad was a Vietnam war veteran and worked hard until the day he died. But he died very young and left my mom a widow at the age of 30. She had no warning he would die on her, and when he passed, he left her with two daughters to care for. I was only three and a half at the time. She did everything she could for us, she worked very hard my entire life, but her health problems left her disabled and without a regular source of income at a young age.

Yet, she resisted filing for disability benefits for many years. It wasn't an easy choice for her, not something she took lightly. It took years of coaxing from family members to finally get her to apply.

When I say we were poor, I don't mean we didn't get name brand clothes or drove a used car. Oh no, we often went without water, and for most of my childhood, we didn't have heat. Our house was falling down around us because my mom couldn't afford the repairs needed to maintain it. We had holes in the floor big enough for me to fall through, and a well with a pump that constantly failed. Because we had no heat, our pipes would freeze in the winter meaning no water then too. Sure, it could have been worse, even for us. At least we had a roof over our heads – even if it was threatening to fall down on top of us.

But then things got worse.

A few years ago, my family lost everything when their house burned to the ground. Because of the issues with the house, my mom couldn't afford the insurance premiums, so when it was destroyed, they were left homeless. Had it not been for the kindness of strangers, I don't know what they'd have done.

To this very day, my mom, brother, and stepfather continue to live in the small, cramped RV that was gifted to them after they lost their house. It has no running water and no way to cook food other than a hot plate and a microwave – most nights, my mom eats nothing but canned green beans with ham seasoning. Despite it all, they're grateful to have a roof over their heads.

I'm not in a place where I can help them. I'm barely getting by on my own and living thousands of miles away. All I've ever wanted to do was help pull them out of poverty. I was the golden child, the first person in my family to graduate high school, much less college and then graduate school. I earned degrees in subjects I thought would be practical, that would help me earn the sort of income to allow me to help them. It wasn't what I enjoyed studying, but it wasn't about me. I needed a career that allowed me to make enough money to take care of them.

And I've failed. 

Every time one of my friends posts about how lazy and horrible the poor are, I still feel like they're talking about me. Like they're talking about my family. I grit my teeth and try to remind myself that they're not doing it on purpose and don't really mean me, but it still hurts. You see, my mom is a great person. Truly, she is. She's always volunteered for school events and around the community. She's given to charity even when she had very little to give. She raised me to be a strong, independent woman who knows that I'm not entitled to anything and that life is unfair sometimes. I've learned the value of a dollar, and you will never see me spending a hundred dollars on a purse or a pair of shoes, no matter how much money I make, because I realize what truly matters in this world. I know what it's like to go without basic necessities, and because of that, I never waste water or throw out perfectly good food. All thanks to my my past. All thanks to my mom.

So yes, it hurts me to see others – especially people I consider to be friends – bashing the poor. Bashing people like my mom. Sure, you might say, she's the outlier, an anomaly in an otherwise lazy group. But no, my friends, she's not. How do I know this? Because I've lived it. I've been deep into the bowels of poverty and lived to tell the tale. I've met people who may surprise you, I've heard their stories, I've lived their stories.

And guess what? Not all of these people are there because they're lazy. Bad things do sometimes happen to good people. But that's a fact we like to forget because it's less scary to imagine that these folks deserve everything they've had happen to them. It's comforting to forget that sometimes we lose jobs, our husbands die, or we're struck with a debilitating disability and our six months of savings can only go so far when faced with a catastrophe like that.

Believe it or not, being on welfare isn't fun. It's not a vacation. It's not easy living month to month, worrying about whether or not you'll be able to eat next week. It's no picnic in the park, trust me. Don't believe me? Try washing your hair in a bucket of cold water and tell me how you like it. Because I've been there. My family is still there as we speak, and they're not enjoying life.

While you're at it, why not spend a Midwestern winter without heat. Try to get to work with a car that doesn't start when the temperature drops below a certain point. Try saving up for emergencies when you make less than $300 a month and your rent is almost twice that. Try paying for childcare while working a minimum wage job and see that you're pretty much giving your babysitter your entire paycheck. 

And to top it all of, try dealing with the people who think you're lazy, that you have it easy, and make demeaning comments about every little thing you do.

FAIL KITCHEN - Pinata Cookies Loooooooool

Why not just go to KMart and buy a real pinata and put delicious, delicious candy in it?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Establishing a Hierarchy -- Guest Post

Today Sarah Fountains from Married with the Mom in Law gives an interesting perspective on living as an adult with another person's family.


For the better part of a year I have been lodging with friends in a mutually beneficial arrangement. I get to move out of my Mum's and I get free bed and board; in exchange I help my friends look after their two sons and take on some of the housework: everybody wins.

These two boys – ages 8 and 6 – are highly energetic and were built for the outdoors. They need a lot of outdoor playtime, every day, which is where we hit a snag. I can't take them outdoors every day, and the back yard is pitifully small.  Sometimes I have other things to do – there was an incident last week where they would. not. stop asking., even though they could clearly see I was on a step-stool cleaning out a cupboard. I also, for my sins, don't want to take them out every day (yes, I may or may not have started cleaning out the cupboard when they got home from school on purpose). Especially when they're not that great at leaving the park at the time that I say that they should.

I might be wrong here, but in my book, going to the park is a treat, not a right. Yes, even for kids 'built for the outdoors'. I get to decide if and when we go, and when we leave. Obviously, so do their parents, but going for walks has become something they only ask for from me.

Yet, they are part of the family, and I am not. Not in the same way. I am 'like' family, whilst not actually being family. It is confusing how I fit into the hierarchy, both for them, and, sometimes, for me. They go out for family fun time, vacations, etc, without me, meaning they are higher than me in the household hierarchy, and yet at the same time, I am an adult and I expect them to follow any and all instructions I give them (because sometimes it's for their own safety), meaning I need to be above them.

I do try to be fair with it. Cleaning out the cupboard was a rarity, but bringing order out of chaos, and not going to the park were necessary for my own mental health that day. Most of the time I aim to get them to compromise with me – “If you'll help me clean off the dining room table, then afterward I will supervise you playing outside at the front for a few minutes.” It has had some success. Where it is safe to do so, and I have the mental energy to handle it, I let them be in complete control too. If we're out for a walk (not just to/from the park), I often let them choose which ways we are going, for example.

But there are times where that isn't possible, and I don't want to 'give in' every time either. The best way I've found is just to... take control. Keep my temper, but don't give them the option of not doing what I say. For example, when we're out on a walk, and I decide we're heading home now, I walk off, and, this is the key, don't look back until they have no other choice but to follow me. The second I look back to see if they are following, I've given them a choice whether they will or not. They're not stupid. Even if they were following, they'd pounce on that and be off on their bikes in the opposite direction faster than I could catch them, and that helps no body.

In the meantime, we muddle through. There's still something of a power-struggle, and there may be broken feathers, but I also have to acknowledge that they're still kids and they're not going to be that great at everything an adult could do, and just cross my fingers that we can keep on going tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Children and Death -- Contributor Post

Today, Jackie Monck from Accidentally Mommy pens a poignant piece about how children deal with death and how to help them.


Loss is never an easy thing for adults. Even with our ability to comprehend the frailty and fleeting beauty that is life, our grief can overwhelm us. Not just when a fellow humanimal dies, either. Pets, and even the loss of other living organisms (See: my deceased grandmother's tangelo tree,) can cause us mourning that must be comprehended, processed, and eventually put to rest like the person/thing we're grieving over.

How does a child translate those feelings, though? How can we help our little people to be efficient in dealing with their grief, which can easily be misunderstood and misplaced?

Firstly, it all needs to be changed up depending on the age of the child. This can be difficult in multi-child households, because whilst trying to deal with one's own feelings, one must deal with the unique needs of each child. Those needs are not just age/comprehension based, either. They are also based on the personality of the child. Is your son a child who has his feet on the ground, often serious and thoughtful? Is your daughter a child who already has separation issues and grows very closely attached? Just as every child is unique and we cannot teach them all the same, we cannot expect them to all to be comforted by the same manner and technique.

It's not uncommon for a child to express their feelings in manners that are undesirable and hurtful. Small children, say, toddler age-- may skip routine activities, regress, or fret uncontrollably while older children can do the same, in addition to acting out aggressively.

I'm going to go ahead and let you in on a child psychologist's secret as the first step towards soothing the ravaged feelings of your little dude or dudette. Honesty.

Yep. That's going to be the first thing a child psychologist will try with your child if you find that you cannot improve the feelings of your teacup humanimal. Whether your child is six or sixteen, they will bring your child into a calm, serene, non-threatening environment, often with toys or art, and they will level. They will ask concise, honest questions, and they will answer return questions honestly, with examples of their own experiences.

That brings us to point two – self expression. Art, Legos, Tinker Toys, even Matchbox cars or Barbies can be the gateway to breaking apart the negativity that can often be expressed by a child who is in mourning. It redirects those feelings and gives them a manner of expression that can take on any form, instead of them feeling frustrated in non-pretend situations. Allow your child that little bit extra toy time, allow them to sing a little louder, allow more fingerpainting. These are outlets that they can use to express emotions that have very probably been building in them like steam in a pressure cooker.

Misunderstanding is also a common feeling that the child in mourning will experience. This again comes back to honesty. Don't tell them that Nana took a trip or that Fluffy ran away. Be honest. Don't tell them more than they need to know, and don't explain over their heads, but be honest. “I'm sorry, my darling, but Nana's body was tired.” A similar statement can be used for beloved pets. The objects, though, can be more difficult. In the case of my tree, my daughter was equally as heartbroken as I was. This was a treasured family heirloom, bringing to us physical nourishment as well as the emotional nourishment it provided by holding many happy memories. When asked why a seemingly perfect tree needed to be cut down and hauled away, with tears in my own eyes, I explained that like Nanny, all life is fleeting in the grand scheme of things. We are a spiritual family, so I informed her that my hope was that since all living things have spirit in them, that Nanny would be receiving the spirit of her tree in the afterlife, there for her to sit under during perpetual blossom for the scent of the flowers she loved so much.

Punishing a child who is actively grieving is a slippery slope, so generally my recommendation is DON'T DO IT. Like the fact that they can misunderstand the loss, they can misunderstand that they're being punished for their actions, not their feelings. Instead, uit has been my experience that sitting them down and talking out the situation and why the behavior is undesirable but the feelings are allowed is the best course of action.

For our small ones who aren't yet comprehending on that level, helping them through their mourning can be ten times as difficult. I have found that there is a very simple first step – be there for them. Physically, make sure to touch and hug and cuddle frequently. Babywearing very young children, temporary co-sleeping, daily and momentary cuddling – these are all things that release the neurochemicals that are key to helping them at this stage. (Yes, processing grief even has a biological aspect, but this blog isn't long enough for that to be explained today.)

Socially, do not stop talking about said person and thing. On terms that they will understand, explain that life is temporary. Don't put photos away, rather, take the time to remember out loud. It will be good for everyone involved, as love begets love, and love begets healing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Bullying Affected my Life and Continues to Do So to This Day -- Guest Post

Today, Caitie George from A Sainted Sinner talks about bullying. Not only in terms of what it does to kids, but how it can follow you into adulthood. Powerful stuff.


As I sit here writing this, I am currently 27 years old. Most of the events that take place in this happened when I was 11, 12, and 13. For the most part, I’ve managed to put it all behind me and move on from the bullying that I endured for three years. In 2010, when it was our ten year reunion from middle school, we met up for dinner. Silly me thought that maybe people would have changed in ten years. Instead, they laughed about how funny it was when they had teased and taunted me and when I told them that those things had actually hurt and had caused a huge fall out, they continued to laugh and tell me that I was being too serious.

There were two major reasons for my being bullied; my religion and the music band Hanson. Let’s start with religion. I was born and raised Roman Catholic. In the Catholic faith it is believe that when a baby is baptized, he or she is cleansed from original sin and can thus began their life washed anew. There are other sacraments, like first communion, confession, and confirmation that help to keep you free of sin as you journey through life. My classmates didn’t believe this. My classmates were mostly Baptist with a few Episcopalians and Presbyterians thrown in.

One girl asked me one day when I had been saved. I remember looking around, confused, because I had never heard that term before. I asked her what she meant and she asked me if I had gone to the principal and prayed with her and agreed to accept Jesus into my heart. I told her that no, I hadn’t, because I was Catholic and had been baptized and I already had Jesus in my heart. I was then told that I was wrong and when I went to hell, it would be fault and my fault only for not following the true teachings of Christ.

That’s where the issues first began. I was 11 years old and suddenly I’m being told that I have not in fact been saved and cleansed of sin and I’m going to hell unless I do it their way? I went home that night in tears. In fact, tears would be a common theme for those three years. There was rarely a night where I didn’t sob over my dinner because of how terrible school was. Even the teachers were in on it! They kept pushing me to accept Jesus and every time I told them that I had, I was told that I was a wrong and an infant cannot accept Jesus.

In addition to all of that which was going on, during my sixth grade year, I became a fan of Hanson. I just loved their music. As most fans do, I had the tshirts and the books and the whole shebang. I can remember one dress down day, there were whispers going everywhere. I didn’t pay attention, because at that point I was tired of the whispers, but before I knew it there was a parade of upperclassmen opening my classroom door to look at and laugh at my Hanson tshirt.

I was trying to hold it together, but it didn’t last very long. I excused myself to the bathroom where I had a good cry. In that moment, I decided that I wasn’t going to let them win. Why should I?
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t still cry about it at night. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t purposefully wearing things I knew they’d tease me about, but I wanted them to think that they couldn’t get to me. That they couldn’t hurt me. It wasn’t true, but at 11 what did I know, really? I remember one class, we a substitute and everyone else was being holy terrors. I had finished my assignment and was reading a book when the substitute came over and asked me to point out my name to him. I pointed it out and he thanked me.

At that school, we had a check system for the day. It’s been so long, I can’t remember how many checks it was but if you got more than two checks for bad behavior, you received detention. I was the only person in the classroom that day that didn’t get a check mark. Oh, you can imagine the insanity that happened. Someone tried to tell the teacher it wasn’t fair because I had spoken to him. I think that was the beginning of my true breaking point. They were willing to stoop that low? They wanted to hurt me that badly?

In seventh grade is when I began to cut. At first it was nothing more that little scratches because I was afraid my parents would find out and I didn’t want to hurt or upset them. In school, I would dig my fingers into the undersides of my arms with my arms crossed until I drew blood. It was the only way I knew how to keep myself under control. Seventh grade was also when I finally broke down and went to see the principal and accept Jesus into my heart. My thinking on that one was that I already believed he was in my heart, so what harm could it do?

Unfortunately, the principal announces to the school who has finally accepted Jesus and all I got were smug “I told you so” looks from the bullies. From that point on, I was a different person entirely. I was defiant, I didn’t care what they wanted me to do or who they wanted me to be. I purposefully did the exact opposite of what I was told to do simply because I was tired of trying. I had cried for so many nights and I had even gone to the principal about it and I was told that I just needed to conform and everything would be okay.

Once I left that school and entered high school, things were okay. I wasn’t bullied there, but the scars from the past remained with me. I made very little friends because I didn’t know who I could trust and who was going to hurt me all over again. I had people I was friendly with, but nothing that I would consider a true friendship. However in high school, the panic attacks started and for four years, I suffered silently because I was afraid there was something really wrong with me.

The attacks were random, but they all had the same common theme : death. I was so afraid of what comes after that I would end up hyperventilating, unable to breathe, crying, shaking, and sweating. If the Baptists are telling the Catholic they have it wrong, and the Muslims are telling the world that they have it wrong (I was a sophomore when 9/11 happened), then who was right?! I couldn’t handle the stress of not knowing. I tried researching and I realized that there were common themes in all religions but I still couldn’t find the answer that would calm my panic attacks.

The self mutilation got worse in high school. Or rather, maybe I should say it became more frequent. I was honestly afraid that I was downright mentally insane and I was going to be put in a mental hospital if I spoke a word of it to anyone. So I hid it and didn’t say a word. Every time I had a panic attack, I would bite my hands or my arms almost to the point of blood and then I would stop. For some reason, the pain centered me and brought my mind out of it’s panicky fog.

I remember one attack. I was sitting in religion class and I suddenly felt like … like I wasn’t in my own body. That feeling where your skin is all pins and needles and prickly and you can’t tell if this is real life or if you’re dreaming. Only my mind interpreted it as “HA! You’re not alive! You’re dead. This is death and you are trapped in this school forever!” I remember running from the classroom with permission to the nearest bathroom. I was so panicked and so shaken up that I began to vomit and couldn’t stop.

Once again, I turned to self mutilation to calm my brain down and when the shivers and shakes had finished, I washed my face, rinsed my mouth out and returned to class. My teacher looked horrified. My eyes were red from crying, my hair was matted down from being so sweaty. I gave her my best smile and told her that I wasn’t feeling well and since it was last period of the day, she told me to lay my head on my desk and rest.

From 2003-2008 I dealt with a lot of death. I lost a beloved aunt to ALS. We lost a wonderful family friend due to old age. I lost my grandfather in 2006 and the hardest one of all, my gran in 2008. She died of a massive and sudden heart attack. No one was expecting it and to this day, I go to pick up the phone to call her or send her an email. Luckily for me, in the summer of 2004, I had a panic attack so bad (I know that doesn’t sound lucky, but it really was) that my mom finally clued into the fact that something just wasn’t right.

I had been napping on the couch and had gotten overheated in the humid summer air. For some reason, heat is a huge trigger for me. If I get overheated and can’t cool down, a panic attack is guaranteed. That afternoon I had a dream that I was headed off to college (which I was. I went to RIC in the fall of 04) and while I was in my dorm, someone broke into my house and killed my family and when the cops came to tell me, the first thing they said was “The man came for you. If you had been there, your family would still be alive.”

That panic attack was so bad that I ended up in the ER two days later. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t sleep, I felt like there was a rock lodged in my stomach. I lost 9 pounds in almost three days because of how horrible I felt. I remember, the day of the attack, my mom sitting with me on the couch and it finally all came pouring out. The six years of attacks, the reasons why, why I didn’t want to tell anyone, all of the reasons why I was so scared to be me. She called my pediatrician that day and we set up an appointment for three days later but ended up in the ER due to dehydration because I couldn’t keep anything down.

The doctor I was referred to was amazing. He was patient and kind and he listened to everything I said, everything I babbled out. Both of my parents were there at the appointment as support and he asked them questions as well as me. Both of my parents were surprised at the symptoms they had noticed but had assumed was normal adolescence. When we came out of the appointment, I had a sample box of Paxil to try and a slew of diagnosis.

I currently (as of the writing of this article in 2013) have been diagnosed with bipolar II, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Now, as a medical person myself, I do know that most of these are caused by imbalances in the brain chemistry. But what I also know is that the bullying that lead the onset of my panic attacks didn’t help. Would I have developed panic disorder anyway? Maybe. It’s certainly a possibility.

But I also know that when therapists and doctors ask me when all of this began, I can pinpoint it. I can say to them “It started in middle school and got worse through the years”. This isn’t a piece on who is right and who is wrong when it comes to religious beliefs. I consider myself agnostic now as I try and find the pieces of who I am and what I believe. This is a piece that I hope even just ONE person reads and realizes how serious and traumatizing bullying can be.

People take their lives because of bullying. I’m a lucky one. My parents are my rocks and without them, I don’t know what I would do. I know I’m lucky but there is one child out there, right now, who won’t be so lucky. I write you this story, this piece about my life, in the hopes that maybe someone won’t have to turn to suicide to feel better about who they are. We’re all amazing. We all have potential. We just need someone to believe in us.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Six Year Old Discovers the Power of Now -- Contributor Post

Today, Jerry Kennedy from Choosing the Truth gives another great tale from his time as a step-dude. Very Catch-22.


Over the 4th of July weekend, we took a family road trip from Sacramento to Orem, Utah to visit my soon-to-be brother-in-law and his family. It was a short trip: we drove out on Thursday, stayed and played Friday and Saturday, and drove back on Sunday. Almost as soon as we got there, the Man Cub started his countdown clock for when we were going to leave.

“Why can’t we stay longer?” he asked, and with good reason. He was really enjoying his time with his cousins, who he only gets to see about once a year, and was disappointed that we couldn’t stay longer.

“Well, Jerry and I have to go back to work on Monday,” said the Cricket. “We’d love to stay longer, too, buddy. Maybe next time.”

“But I want to stay longer,” he grumped.

I decided to take a stab at re-directing his thoughts by engaging him in a sure-fire, totally age-appropriate philosophical discussion about being present. I know, in hindsight it sounds ridiculous to me, too. What can I say? Sometimes I get carried away in my enthusiasm to impart whatever wisdom I’ve managed to scrape together, especially when I have a captive audience strapped into a child safety seat, safely tucked in the rear of the car, where there’s no danger of me seeing him roll his eyes. Look, I never said I’d got the hang of this parenting thing yet. Anyhow, back to being present.

“Hey buddy,” I said, “can I ask you a question?” This is how I always start the diversionary tactics, and I think he’s starting to catch on; I may not have seen the eye roll, but I’m fairly certain I heard it. He humored me anyway.


“Are you having fun, thinking about going home?”

“No,” he whined. “That’s why I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here and have fun.”

“But you’re not having fun right now, are you? Because you’re thinking about when we have to leave, and that’s making you feel sad, and so you’re missing out on the fun you could be having right now, aren’t you?”

He eyed me suspiciously. I don’t blame him; I am, after all, only a step dude. I’m also the guy who once tried to convince him that eating his broccoli would make his magic stronger, and that he’d managed to make the clock disappear once he’d cleared his plate. Try explaining that one to the kindergarten teacher when she tells you he tried to turn one of his classmates invisible. And so when I say things that he doesn’t already know to be true and factual...well let’s just say he raises an eyebrow in consideration.

After a few seconds of deliberation, though, it clicked. He didn’t even say anything else, just wandered off to find his cousins so they could play. He grokked it: enjoying his now was more important than worrying about the future.

I, on the other hand, had to take a minute to process what had just happened. I realized that just a few months ago, he wouldn’t have given a flying fuck about leaving until we’d strapped him in his car seat and were driving away. Why? Because up until recently, he had no concept of time. Everything in his world happened now. There was no past, no future, only what was right in front of him. But that was starting to change. Now some old dude was having to remind him to stay present. The same old dude who was constantly telling him “Ten more minutes to bedtime,” and “We’re leaving for school in half an hour.”

I can’t think of any better example of how we screw ourselves up into the giant balls of stress by the time we’re young adults. On the one hand, we preach the value of time and we push deadlines and timelines and schedule every minute of every day, and on the other hand, we tell each other to slow down and smell the roses. No wonder we’re fucked up: we can’t even decide whether to live in the past, future, or present.

Jeez. I hope he’s ready for a discussion about duality and paradox on the drive to school tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mama's First Pride -- Guest Post

Today, Aubrey Harmon, who blogs at World Split Open was gracious enough to share her experiences at a Pride Parade with me. And it's wonderful. All of it.


You spend half the day worrying about what to wear.  You spend more time than you’d like to admit applying make-up, which you never use.  You make sure your hair is done just right.  You want to do it perfectly, this first Pride as yourself.  A lesbian.  A dyke.  But you don’t know who that is yet.  You are just coming out to yourself, and the world around you.  Everything still feels new, as though you’re young as your kids and trying to figure out how to make friends.  You want to be part of the community, but you don’t know where to begin.  So you hold your breath and dive in.

The last weekend of June is Pride in San Francisco.  Friday is Trans March and Pride, Saturday is the Dyke March and Pink Party, Sunday is the Pride Parade and celebration at the Civic Center.  I’ve been living in San Francisco for fifteen years, and I’ve done half a dozen Pride weekends, maybe more.  But this is the first year I went fully acknowledging myself, both inwardly and in public.  Starting with the Dyke March.

The closer my friend Nina and I drew to Dolores Park, the more women we saw.  Women in rainbows, in pink, in no shirts with rainbows over their nipples, in dapper shirt and tie, in punk leather and safety pins.  Women with short hair, long hair, crazy wigs.  For a moment we stood at the corner of 18th and Dolores and just looked.  Dykes and lipstick lesbians, butch, femme and in-between, trans people, older dykes, younger dykes, fat, skinny, alternative and mainstream.  A few tourists, a few drunk dudebros there to see topless women, but mostly women.  Mostly dykes.

Nina has kids too, and neither of us are exactly party animals anymore.  We tend toward the quiet life (except for toddler shrieking, of course), so it took a while for us to take everything in.  The sound of a poet sharing her work over the roar of the crowd.  The smells of asphalt and patchouli and weed.  The shifting kaleidoscope of the crowd.  We blinked in the sunlight and the experience and slowly my heart began to open. 

As we made our way down Dolores, we saw one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, in full nun-drag regalia, offering a blessing to a thirteen year old girl who had a sign on her back that she had come out to over 100 people this year.  I smiled at the girl, at her bravery.  At her self-knowledge.  She wasn’t living a lie.  She wasn’t hiding. She deserved a blessing.

Finally we found a place in the sun to sit and wait for the march to begin, and to listen to Leslie Ewing, the Executive Director of the Pacific Center for Human Growth, give her speech.  At first I just closed my eyes, lifted my face to the sun and reminded myself to be present, in that moment.  This was a moment for me, a woman, surrounded by other women.  No longer alone.  And then Leslie’s words began to penetrate.

The theme for this year’s Dyke March was “My body, my business, my power”, but she began by talking about shame.  Shame of our bodies, our sexuality, ourselves.  She spoke of women who could not meet her eyes, hesitated to be seen with her because by doing so they were coming out.  She spoke to my own fear, my hiding from myself.  She spoke of rapes on college campuses, the danger to women, queer women, trans women.  She spoke of the violence that is done to so many women’s bodies.  That was done to my body, though in a more limited way.

And then she spoke of hope, of change.  She spoke of her dream that we could all ‘look each other in the eyes… secure in our personal power and not threatened by those whom feel threatened by us.  Coming out – and staying out – is the first step to reclaiming our bodies and taking personal responsibility for our lives.  Coming out is how we take back the power taken from us all our lives.”  Her words reminded me of my power.  She reminded me that when I speak up to my family, to acquaintances and tell them my truth as a queer woman I am working for change.  I am making a difference, though it feels so small to me.

Leslie Ewing has been working in the LGBTQ community for over twenty-five years.  She is an older dyke.  She is who I hope one day to be.  As I listened and watched, I felt hope spreading its wings in my heart.  It has been so long since I have felt the power of women together.  I felt the edges of it in birthing classes, and in giving birth to my kids.  Before that I felt it in women’s studies classes and when I worked with other women to start a feminist organization on my college campus.  I want my daughter to feel this power all of her life.  I want her to hold tight to her power, her voice, her truth.  Whoever she is, whoever she loves, I want her to know that it is her body, her business, her power.

Then, as I was still basking in the glow of the speech, I heard the rumble of many Harleys.  Engines revving and the sound shook the air, shivered in my chest.  The Dykes on Bikes were getting ready and the crowd surged forward to begin the march and I surged with them.


How to Make Pull-Apart Cheesy Bread - Fail Kitchen

The ONE time I didn't fail.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Ask a Teacher - How do I keep my kids learning over the summer?

It's midway through summertime, and you may find yourself in a slump, particularly when it comes to educational activities for the kids. Teacher Emilie Blanton, who blogs over at Teaching Ain't for Heroes has some great suggestions for you.


I often have parents ask what they can do to ensure their children are still learning over summer vacation. It's true that students sometimes experience minor losses over summer break, at least as far as testing is concerned. However, summer shouldn't be about drilling new skills or introducing concepts children aren't ready for. Summer is a great time to use your children's natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge to help keep them on their toes for the coming school year. Here are a few things you can do with your children to make the summer as useful as possible.

1. Have a routine.
First and foremost, have some kind of set schedule that you can at least vaguely stick to. It doesn't have to be super structured like a school day, but knowing Monday is Park Day, Tuesday is Library Day, and so on can help kids immensely. It keeps them feeling secure because they know what to expect. It gets you out of the house for at least a little while so you don't have to yell "STOP TATTLING ON YOUR SISTER!" for four hours straight from your living room. Hopefully it wears them out and they sleep better, too.

2. Hit up the library!
It's free, y'all. Go there. Enjoy storytime. Check out books about whatever they want. Grab a book for yourself. The library is one of the best things a child can experience. Get them their own card and let them experience the joy of checking out their own books. Clear off a shelf on your bookshelf or buy a dollar store crate and keep your library books in them so you don't have to hunt all over the house for them. And if you go once a week for your routine, you won't have to worry about forgetting a due date since you'll be back there next week anyway.

3. Make them write.
Remember when the beginning of school would roll around and your hand would cramp up the first day because you weren't used to writing in so long? Help your kids avoid that ride on the struggle bus. For older kids, have them keep a journal and write in it daily. They can write what they did. They can write what they like. They can write "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE!" enough times to fill a page, just have them putting pencil to paper at least once a day. For the younger crowd who aren't as adept with writing yet, try having them write individual words or sentences. They can help you write the grocery list (I know it will take longer, but it will be worth it), write down their favorite animal they saw at the zoo, anything to keep their writing skills growing.

4. Have some type of group activity.
It could be camp, the aforementioned story time at the library, an organized playdate, sports, anything. Just make up some excuse for your kids to interact with other kids. Kids are not naturally polite. Social manners are a skill just like reading and writing. They need practice waiting their turn, not interrupting, sharing, and everything else that's vital to a group learning environment.

5. Give in to their random curiosity.
You want to learn about lemurs? Let's find a book at the library! You want to know how car engines work? Let's watch a YouTube video together! You want to read all the Chronicles of Narnia? Knock yourself out! Summer is a great time to let kids run wild with their imaginations and interests. Try not to force a given curriculum on them over summer break. Instead let them learn something because they want to. They'll have plenty of time to fit into assigned curriculum. Summer is a time when they can pick anything they want to learn about. They can develop a love of learning, the actual skill of learning, that will last them their whole life.

Above all, try not to stress out. They might forget a few letter sounds or their pencil grip might slip a little, but most of the first two weeks of school is geared toward fixing those minor skill losses. And if you have to sideline the routine because of a doctor appointment or you never quite set that playdate, don't sweat it. The fact that you're taking initiative at all is a huge advantage for your child.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

This is not my story

The Washington Post piece on my experiences on the threshold is garnering a lot of could say.

And I'm being asked for all kinds of follow ups from news organizations, but also from people.

I've been working on a book about it, one that tells not only the rest of my story, but the story of so many others, one that talks to people high and low and in between, officials and experts and anecdotal experiencers. It will give perspective not only on this recession's version of poor on every level, but give meaningful ways to get out of it.

It's clearly a necessary work.

I know that now because this is not my story.

It's your story, and his story, and your aunt's story, and your daughter in law's story. It is everybody's story.

Since the piece went wide, I have been inundated with emails, messages, tweets, phone calls. And I braced myself for the very worst.

And I was wrong.

The support, the overwhelming kindness and empathy, and most importantly the now hundreds of matching stories that people have been brave enough to come forward with into my inbox has been a phenomenon of breathtaking beauty.

So many of us were here, are here, or are on the brink of here. My experience, it would seem, is more universal than I even thought.

We are struggling, as a nation, as a people, and as individuals, and we're looking for any glimmer of hope to get us through the next few days, months, years, until the economic fallout straightens itself.

I have not asked permission to share the personal tales of hardship, hope and human resilience, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of the kind of messages I am receiving by the hundreds, even thousands.


"Had to write and say your story touched me. Thanks for being honest and putting you heart out there. So many people are fighting all types of "poverty" in their lives. You never know until you walk in their shoes."

"I am sitting at my desk crying . . . I’m so glad you and your family were able to overcome that situation. Bad things should not happen to good people. My family is going through a similar experience – down the the driving of a paid for, extremely reliable 2007 Mercedes, which is why your story caught my eye. . .we are in the worst financial situation we have ever been in as we approach our 50s. It’s unbelievable and truly depressing. Reading your story gives me some hope to keep trying."

"I went through same experienced. Took me so long to recover. Read yours and made me cry. Anyhow. It was pretty inspiring and took me back to that harsh experience. This shouldn't happen to people that are just trying to get out of a hole. Very sad. "

"I just read your article & I wanted to thank you. Thank you, for reminding people that hard times can happen to anyone & being judgmental doesn't help. Bravo!"

"Really am embarrassed by the vitriol being spewed about you. I respect and admire you despite not agreeing with your political or religious philosophy. Not even gonna argue with some of the apes complaining about you taking help. Jeez, what a divided country we live in."

"Your article...thank you for the aritcle you wrote about "food stamps" that showed up on Yahoo. I did not want to post on that site because of all of the negativity posted about the article. It seems you got a small/brief taste of the feeling of "not having" that so many are experiencing on even bigger and longer continuums..and the emotions, judgments, blow to self esteem that go along with the circumstances. Glad you and your family are doing much better."


And these are just a few of the heartfelt messages.

The story of how I drove my husband's Mercedes to the WIC Office is mine, yes. But obviously it struck a tender nerve because, stripped down, it is the story of so many more.


Great and Unique ideas for a Tree wall decal or a Forest themed room - S Post

Almost every human being tries very hard to keep their home look more interesting and unique from others for which they keep on indulging in decorating their rooms with different styles frequently. A few people prefer to design their house with most fun things that sure to offer the room with unique eye-catching décor. Among the myriad ways to design, one of the often overlooked ways available for decorating walls is vinyl finish decals. Using this style, one can install it on the wall so easily and simply and can remove it whenever they feel like it within few seconds. This vinyl wall decal offers the walls to gain clearly outstanding and professional look which you may find at magictreestickers shop.

Tree wall decals – an out of box choice of wall decals

The decal which looks similar to that of trees are called tree decals. Tree wall decals are available in distinct shapes, colors and sizes on the Internet including and can be rendered in looks cartoonish or photo-realistic and amusing. One can make use of tree wall decals for many purposes which they cannot witness immediately. An innovative and creative thinker is capable of bringing up with undefined several uses out of tree wall decals. If a person thinks out of the box and applies tree wall decals, then they can get more benefits than the amount payable to procure them.

Canvas tree wall decor

The general choice of decoration suitable at home is the canvas. Using this type, the preferred choice of tree design is painted on canvas and later on mounted on the wall. Canvas type of tree designs is wonderful because of its photo-realistic and beautiful detail. Here is the productpage. This sort of decorating wall decal is sure to complement and increase the room ambiance. One good aspect about tree wall decals is that it can fill a wide place using its sweeping branches on the wall. In case if the wall where one plans to stick it looks to be too big, then they can opt for multi-paneled flora wall design, comprising of 4 to 5 panels and even more.

Getting help from interior designer is worth doing

While sticking on the large sized sticker of tree wall decals on the target zone, it is responsible of the individual to make sure to stick it properly or else it may not have a great look. One of the professional and sophisticated ways of tree decals that has earned raves from experts in interior designing is the metal forest wall decoration. This sort of patterns is known for its unique designing in their way that offers futuristic view to the interiors of the home. Additionally, it can complement any sort of walls and type of décor exists in a home.

Understanding the theme that suits the wall

It is better to consult an interior designer before picking a choice of tree wall decals as there are many numbers of tree wall designs available. Determination of specific art that will go well with the theme of the home is more significant for gaining the wow look. They can get it by shopping around their nearby interior design store or art gallery. Also, they can research on the internet, where most of the online stores dealing in selling of tree wall decals offer reasonable prices and have their customers getting delivered with the purchased products at their doorsteps leaving them no inconvenience.

Bring home natural homey ambiance at low cost

So, within the limited budget one can easily redesign their homes or their workplace using tree wall decals. For a person who wishes to create a great home by redecorating but doesn't have the right budget for it for a big size project, can go with this tree wall decals as it will sure to complement with pleasant homey ambiance within few minutes. These wall decals come with clear details about how to install and also it is available different sizes small, medium and large. Just by informing the exact dimension to the seller will help them suggest the correct choice.


Boredom Busters: 10 Fun and Frugal Kids Summer Activities - S post

When children have little to do during summer break, it can often mean too much time spent in front of the TV and hours spent using handheld tablets or video games. Although it can be tempting to leave kids indoors to allow them to relax, it's important to plan a few activities for plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation. Instead of breaking the bank on expensive activities, there are several excursions that are affordable and easy on your wallet.

1. Run Through the Sprinklers

You don't need a swimming pool to cool off from the rising temperatures. Turn on the sprinklers and make for a day in the water by having fun in the backyard. Allow kids to run back and forth through the sprinklers and use the hose to drench each person. Kids can also enjoy using squirt guns and water balloons while remaining active outdoors.

2. Go on a Picnic

Take your lunch outside by visiting a local park for a picnic. Pack sandwiches, cheese, crackers, juice boxes, fruit, and cookies. Pack a blanket and some sunscreen to stay comfortable in the heat. Try having the picnic close to an outdoor playground where kids can play after they finish their meal.

3. Go to a Local Drive-In Theater

Instead of visiting the local movie theaters, view a movie in a unique way by visiting a local drive-in where you can see a film from your car or while watching it on patio chairs. Kids will get a thrill out of the big screen and most drive-in theaters offer family-friendly films throughout the week. Pack some snacks or visit the concession stand for a great way to enjoy popcorn or candy during the film.

4. Try Geocaching

Go on a treasure hunt in your local community with geocaching, which requires a certain number of clues that will lead you along a trail. It makes for a fun way to explore the great outdoors while learning about the city that you live in. Once finding the geocache at the end of the hunt, it will make for a rewarding experience that will enhance the child's personal confidence. You can always take it to the next level and make it a
kids dress up treasure hunt!

5. Visit the Library

The library offers a wide variety of programs during the summer, between seasonal
reading programs to story time that is available right on-site. Make it a habit to visit the library once a week to check out free books, rent books on tape, and even surf the Internet for a great way to have an educational experience during summer break. It will allow kids to stay interested in their favorite topics, as well as prepare for the coming school year.

6. Make Jewelry

Visit a local jewelry or craft store and purchase beads, wire, and pliers for tools that are needed to make different accessories. Girls can enjoy learning the craft of jewelry making for necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that they can use in their wardrobe during the summer. Several local craft stores also offer free classes throughout the week, making for an easy and affordable way to learn the skill from professionals.

7. Go Bowling

Stay cool with a relaxing and fun sport that has been a traditional pastime for many decades. AMF bowling alleys offer kids free three games each week all summer long, making for an affordable way to enjoy a new hobby and learn how to hit a few pins. Take a few friends and make a day out of visiting the bowling alley where there will be plenty of food, music, and fun times.

8. Make a Lemonade Stand

Teach kids the value of a dollar by hosting a lemonade stand right in the neighborhood. Kids can learn how to make their own lemonade, as well as how to market the product with flyers and advertisements in the local community. Once spending the day serving the beverage to dozens of people, it will give kids a sense of pride and allow them to use the money for something fun.

9. Camp in the Backyard

Enjoy a staycation during summer break by having kids camp right in their own backyard. Children can learn how to pitch a tent, make s'mores, and tell ghost stories during the night. Use a telescope to learn about the stars while camping at home, which can make for an educational experience that allows kids to gain a greater appreciation for stargazing.

10. Visit the Zoo or Museum

Many different
museums and zoos offer free admission on certain days of the week or at specific times of the day during the summer. It will offer a chance to have a firsthand look at monkeys, stingrays, and elephants while learning about their natural habitat.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The State of the Thing

So, I wrote a thing that got published today by the Washington Post's Post Everything section.

I've had this essay written for months. I pitched it to XOJane, Salon, Slate, Gawker, I can't even count the others. Radio silence.

I never published it here because I just had this feeling that the story was one that needed to be seen (not that people don't read here, they do, but you know.) So I held it. I held it and held it. And my friends would ask me for the link to it whenever there was welfare wank going on via Facebook or Twitter, but I never let it go and they had to rely on their own retelling of the anecdote.

The tale of the time I had to drive my husband's Mercedes to the WIC Office.

When I pitched this to the Washington Post, I went through their Op-Ed department which told me that it was a good story. But not good enough. Still, they might have some room for it, over at PostEverything.

And lucky for me, they did.

The story has gotten so much play that they moved it up to above the fold. I, for a time, was the top story on the Washington Post's homepage.

They want to publish it in the print paper, too.

The story is personal. In fact, it's almost too personal for so much attention. But it's important.

The lesson is: believe in yourself. Do your thing. Eventually, someone will see you. Eventually, the story will be told. Keep walking. Never stop.

You are worth it.


How to Make Heart-Shaped Hard Boiled Eggs - Fail Kitchen

A handy guide for all those times you just NEED to make Heart-Shaped hard boiled eggs.


Monday, July 7, 2014


Another big month here on Fail Kitchen. I've got recipes coming out my ears. At least thirty I haven't had a chance to write out yet, and so many more we've done and are doing. Here's what's coming up:

Magic Custard Cake: This tasted fantastic. It didn't, um, look like the picture though.  Recipe Here.

Again, a great try. We almost had this one.  Recipe Here.

Red, White and Blue Candy Bars. And this was last week's episode. I moved it up in line because it was supposed to be patriotic. Only the blue and red and white kind of didn't show up. We tried. Recipe Here.

And these are still waiting for their video debut!

Cheesy Pull-apart Bread. Original recipe here:

Heart-shaped Hard Boiled Eggs. Original recipe here:

Pinata Cookies. Original recipe here: 

Next up for filming?

Dog sandwich buns, which just say...bake in the oven. What could go wrong? Recipe Here:

I will only be frosting ONE cupcake like this. Because seriously? Recipe Here:

Ice Cream Cupcakes? Maybe I could do this? Recipe Here:

And yes, I've totally been avoiding this apple pie like thing. Because ARE YOU LOOKING AT THAT PICTURE? I need more energy to attempt. Recipe Here:

And amazingly, that's just a tiny silver of what's coming up. After these? We've got:

The Epic Homemade Candy Bar
Apple Crescent Roses
Baked Egg Avocados
Homemade Samoas

Phew. It's going to be a busy summer!

And don't forget our latest videos, omg.

The "patriotic" candy bars...

Watermelon cake, which was OH SO CLOSE.

Zebra Cake, which my friends have started lovingly referring to as vagina cake. Yum.

And the Oreo Ice Cream Cake, where my kids pretty much steal the show.

Plus a whole bunch more on the Fail Kitchen Youtube Channel. Go subscribe!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Daily Rundown of a "Stay at Home Mom"

"Men are changing minds, and women are changing diapers."


You, MacKay, are a turd. Time for a change.

The people over at Huffington Post wanted us to detail our mornings, and then contrast that to our husband's. That, I can do. I no longer change diapers (thank God), but I do some pretty important things.

7:30 - Wake up
7:45 - Coffee
8:00 - Clean all the dishes from last night and tidy the kitchen
8:20 - Make the kids breakfast
8:30 - Answer emails, write a blog post and post it
9:30 - Make my husband and myself breakfast, make my husband's lunch
10:00 - Kiss my husband goodbye, eat my breakfast
10:01 - Breakfast interrupted to oversee children making their beds and getting dressed.
10:08 - Breakfast interrupted to break up a fight between them
10:10 - Tell one of the kids to stop looking at the other one.
10:12 - Tell the other kid to ignore the first kid. (this goes on forever, but you get the point. Back to me.)
10:30 - Edit a few chapters of a book for a client
11:30 - Send out article submissions, pitches and other follow ups
12:00 - Make girls lunch
12:15 - Clean something (bathroom, fish tank, toy room, you pick. But something.)

And this is only because my kids are five now. And I do, seriously, get interrupted every three minutes when I'm not playing with them. Every. Three. Minutes. So, it's hard to get much done at all. But we prevail. Though, I'm sure I'll never change the world.

Oh wait. Yes, I will. Just wait. You'll see.

My husband's schedule:

8:00 - Wake up
8:10 - Make tea for himself
8:15 - Write, alone, in his office with the door shut (sometimes in the bathroom with the fan on, because we make a lot of noise around here, and he needs quiet to write).
9:30 - Get ready for work and eat breakfast
10:00 - Leave for work
10:15 - Work (copy editing newspaper articles for the New York Times International Weeklies).

Given this, I think it is safe to say that we both play important roles, not one role more important than the other. We're both making an impact on the world. While his may be more immediate, my contribution will someday see its light.

What we don't need is some blowhard coming along and trying to puff up one kind of work while putting down another. I mean, somebody had to have raised Peter MacKay. I'm just glad it wasn't me.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Does Corporations Are People Mean?

In light of the recent SCOTUS ruling on Hobby Lobby and other corporate giants being allowed to deny women birth control within their health coverage plans because it goes against their religious beliefs, I thought a primer on the laws surrounding corporations as people was in order.

Slate does a good job covering some of the bases of this particular case, but let's sum up:

- Eric Posner, writing for Slate, reminds us that the word "people" in terms of corporations is a sort of legalese short cut--never a good idea, in my opinion, to mince inexact words when describing the law.

- This 'artificial person' (going back to the 1700s definition) has certain rights: property ownership and contractual rights, to be specific. As such an entity, it is responsible in the courts as itself, which protects the shareholders. In other words, the buck stops (or is supposed to stop) at the corporation because the Supreme Court went ahead and made it its own thing. This, in turn, protects the owners as well, because when Hobby Lobby (or any corporation) fails financially, the actual people behind the artificial person do not suffer the immense losses involved in billion-dollar industries.

- Until recently, according to the New York Times, the "Supreme Court, in business cases, has held that “incorporation’s basic purpose is to create a legally distinct entity, with legal rights, obligations, powers, and privileges different from those of the natural individuals who created it, who own it, or whom it employs.”"

- Until, of course, the Citizen's United case, where, as Slate says, the justices based their ruling not on corporations as individuals with rights but on the real individuals behind the corporations and their rights as a collective group.

The ruling this week was simply an extension of this incredibly garbled, incredibly unethical ruling.

What we are looking at now is Hobby Lobby owners asserting that their religious beliefs as individual people behind a corporation, should be a basis for how that corporation is ruled upon in a court of law. They are, in essence, making themselves responsible for the actions of Hobby Lobby, intertwining Hobby Lobby as an artificial person with them as real people. They are saying they want to become Hobby Lobby, so that they can use the business to push their agenda.

And, in doing this, they also want to maintain the separation of themselves from their business when it comes to protecting their own assets monetarily. And the Court said yes.

Nutshell: In ruling that Hobby Lobby can restrict women's health care, the Court has muddled two entities--the real person owner and the fake person corporation--giving the owner/corporation mutant all the protections of both--free speech, freedom of religion, freedom to engage in contracts, freedom to sue (as either entity), freedom to own property.

In doing so, the Court has neglected to relook at those protections on a grand scale, so that the owners of Hobby Lobby could turn around in bankruptcy and say "just kidding, we aren't Hobby Lobby, we're the people behind it. Don't punish us." And the Court would be like, "yup, you're good."

This week, we have seen the elevation of big businesses and their owners. We have seen the crippling demise of the worker, in real time.

Keep in mind, the average Hobby Lobby employee makes less than $9 an hour.

Who really needs protecting here?

And who is the bad guy?

Honestly, in this case, I blame our Supreme Court. Someone needs to delve into this corporation person thing and straighten it the hell out.

For more on how this impacts women and society, check this post out by Life, Love, Liturgy.

Sarah Galo writes about her personal struggle and how birth control is necessary for women in Relevant Magazine.

Bree Davis writes about the problem with the double standard on health coverage in Denver's Westword Blog.

A gripping personal tale here at Anatomy of a Mother.

Sarah Seltzer writes about how this ruling sets women into a second-class status for Forward.

Claire O'Connor, meanwhile, is stirring up dissent amongst commenters over what the decision actually means in the long haul, over at Forbes Magazine.

Raising Kvell has a piece about the effects of this decision on women.

Leslie Schwartz writes about the effects of this decision on the children, over at Build the School.



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