Sunday, February 21, 2010


My husband bought me my own domain name for valentines day! So I will be moving to this new location and primarily posting there. Please join me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Vaccines and Science

This is a rant, you are warned, lol.

I have been reading lots of blogs (as always) and I keep coming across articles that really get under my skin.

*deep breath* I have been posting articles about vaccines for years, reading, studying, learning, researching. I ask questions and I have been a non-vaxer for most of my mom-hood. That said: I AM A VACCINATING MOM.

And you know what? I'm STILL going to keep posting the articles, the questions and the criticisms. I'm really getting tired of the snotty, nose in the air "It's science" posts. People, listen: I'm not stupid, inarticulate, paranoid, hysterical or religiously driven and neither are most of the non-vax or delayed-vax parents I know!

You fully support vaccines and are a die-hard believer in their safety and efficacy? Great, bully for you. They will NEVER get better, be more effective and less dangerous if everyone thought like that, though. So I will continue to be critical, mistrustful and questioning. I will NOT settle for what we have now. Continue bitching all you want about the people that "don't respect/understand/trust science". The FACTS are that the science is NEW. Scientifically, we must acknowledge that there are huge, gaping holes in our knowledge! The fact that vaccines may, in fact, be one of the biggest breakthroughs in scientific history does NOT negate that fact that it's currently still in a very experimental state. Those of us that question, demand answers and seek to protect our children as best as we can are NOT idiots! It's unfortunate that so many of the actual hystericals are so loud and of course, made even louder by the media. That said, snootily poo-pooing a huge list of concerns (NOT AUTISM) because one element has chosen a ridiculous flag to rally around is just plain irresponsible. The concerns are real, there for a reason and need to be addressed.

I vaccinate. I'm not 100% comfortable with it and I NEVER WILL BE until the long list of issues is fully taken care of. IMO, NONE of us SHOULD be. Progress is never made by people settling for what's "good enough". Peh.

Oh and one more thing. Please, PLEASE quit insisting that non-vaxers and delayed-vaxers put the population at risk. Until vaccines are 100% effective, this is a RETARDED argument. It makes NO sense to single out the small population of non-vaxers and blame THEM when the realities are that vaccines are anywhere from 50% up effective. We don't KNOW who is still not immune, even after vaccinations. Many upon many more people and children are vaccinated than not which means that the "risk" people in the vaxed camp far outweigh the "risk" people in the NOT vaxed camp. Simple, yes, but still true. If people are going to post snotty articles about idiots that don't respect "science" the they really ought to think about all the angels of their argument.

Incidentally this post isn't directed at anyone specific, I don't even know or regularly read the people that posted most of the things I'm blabbering about. I'm just sick to death of the general mentality being that people like me are paranoid morons. I'm not saying the paranoid morons don't exist! I'm just saying MOST of us are NOT them. There are just as many paranoid idiots running around on the "other side of the fence" UGH!!!

Shanghai: How to play

I love playing cards and this game, Shanghai, is easily my favorite. My father taught me how to play this game when I was 10 or 11yrs old. He and my mother still play this game and have played it pretty much for as long as I can remember. I've taught all of my friends how to play (and subsequently had my arse kicked repeatedly) so I thought it might be fun to share it with all of you!

Ok! For starters, you need three full decks of cards, including all the jokers!

If the game includes more than 5 people, you must add another deck of cards (or it won't work).

The object of the game is to complete the six hands with the least amount of points.

Basic gameplay:

Players are each dealt 11 cards. A players turn begins with them drawing a card. They may choose to draw this card from either the discard pile or the deck. Their turns ends when they discard a card. When the objective of the hand is reached, the player has the option of "going down on the board". They canNOT do this unless they have reached that hand's objective (For example: The 2nd hand of the game has the objective of 1set 1run. A player cannot go on the board with only 1 set, they must have both a set AND a run to go down). A player wins the hand by getting rid of all of their cards (and she must play to go out, she cannot discard her last card but I'll get back to that). Cards are gotten rid of by playing them on the board or discarding them.

At the end of a hand, all players with cards still left in their hands must add up the points and they are recorded. After the six hands are completed, the player with the *least* total points (from all six hands) has won the game.

Now for details.

Points: Each card has an assigned point value based on it's face.
2-8= 5pts
9-King- 10 pts
Aces- 20pts
Jokers- 50pts

Aces are always high and there is no "around the world" on the board.

Jokers are wild cards and can be anything. Players cannot create a set out of three jokers and all runs must have at least two face cards (no runs that are three jokers and a 2, for example).

1 set 1 run
2 sets
3 sets
2 sets 1 run
2 runs 1 set
3 runs

Objective details:

Sets: A set is made up of 3 or more cards that have the same face value. Suits do not have to match, though.

Runs: Runs are made up of 4 or more cards of the same suit.

Buying: Obviously, during gameplay, cards are going to come up that players want but can't have because it's not their turn. This is where buying comes in. Players may "buy" the card they want, at the cost of drawing 2 extra cards along with it, as long as no one else that comes before them in the rotation wants to buy it first. Players can only buy twice per hand (if they do so, they'll know it as they will have 17cards in their hand, 14 if they've only bought once). Buying is no longer an option once a player has reached objective and is on the board.

Going out: Now, in order for a hand to be completed, obviously, someone has to go out. In order to do this, the player must have gotten rid of all of the cards in their hand, either by playing them on their own board or on the cards of other players. Players may NOT discard out. The final card must be played on the board.

Which brings us to the three different ways to go out. There is "playing out", as is mentioned above, going out "all at once" which is where the player reaches objective, puts it down on the board and then plays all of the rest of her cards all at once around the board, and of course, there is "Shanghai". It's only a Shanghai if the player puts all of the cards in her hand down on her own board (I.e: all 11-17 cards are part of the hand objective). Shanghai doesn't award anything special except the looks of surprise and dismay on your friend's faces and possibly catching another player with a hand loaded with points.

Now, when my friends and I play, one person keeps score for everyone else and adds up all the points at the end an announces the winner. Thus commences much bragging, name-calling and teasing, then we start all over again. This game is perfect for an evening of fun (and ribbing) and is my favorite way to relax with my friends. What are some of your favorite ways to let your hair down?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tater Tots, Bacon and Eggs

It's so tempting to try to craft a blog, here, that captures the "image" of a down to earth, crunchy mama. So many people seem to think of me that way anyway and I never intentionally meant for that to be. But the truth is that I suck at lying, never have been good at it so I'm afraid what you're going to get is the hodge-podge of ME that I really am, with my fattening junk food, my meat loving diet and my kids that run around half naked (like little hippies) with a hot-dog in one hand a *shudder* HFC containing garbage in the other (I really didn't buy it for them!).

Today it's Valentine's Day (both of my daughters INSIST that it's actually ValeMTIMES Day) and I wanted to do something special for my family. So I'm making a deliciously unhealthy breakfast. The bacon isn't even finished cooking that and the girls have eaten half the tater-tots already! I loved the delighted little faces when they first discovered bite-sized hash browns. I don't know why but my kids LOVE them! So does my husband, he literally did a little *GLEE* squee when he saw the bag of 'tots I brought home from the store, lol.

Yeah, I know, I know, it's not GOOD for them! Neither is the delicious maple-bacon behind me, sizzling away on the stove. The eggs won't be either, because I AM going to cook them in the bacon fat! I don't get a chance to thoroughly spoil them rotten like this very often so imagine my pleasure at reading their happy little faces over greasy, nasty food. :)

I don't know, for some reason I just wanted to blog about my happy little girls, my little family, tucked away in the snow today. I started this blog to be brainy and run with the "big girls" and now I think that's dumb. I suppose my blog is sort of evolving here so bear with me, please, while I figure it out!

Anyway, A very Happy Valemtimes's Day to all of you!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Did you pop yet?

Have you had that baby yet?

Click the link! It's hilarious! There is nothing quite as irritating as trying to round up your gestation in peace and being constantly hounded about having the baby. Next time someone sends you an annoying "Where's the baby?" post, send them this. No idea who to credit but it sure got me laughing!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Marriage! "Mawiage is what bwings us togevah, today!"

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary together. Sometimes it seems like that whirlwind of our first year together is still fresh in my memory and other times, I can hardly remember what it was like to be that person!

I have been asked many times over the last decade how me “make it work”. I'm often met with the “wows” when I mention how long I've been with my husband. The divorce rates in our country are shockingly high ( ) so I guess it shouldn't surprise me that I get that reaction. But it does and it also makes me kind of sad. There is nothing in the world like having a strong marriage and it's something that I feel every couple deserves to have.

In our society today, there seems to this notion that a good marriage looks like a sitcom. You know what I mean, the idea that if it's “really real” all will be sunshine and cupcakes? That you'll wake up in love every day, that all arguments end with a heartwarming moral lesson and fabulous make-up sex? True love, according to apparent expectations, is all sparkles and roses. Here is where my readers would hear snorting if they could only “hear” my writing. PUHlease.

What a ridiculous load of crap. True love, marriage and everything that comes with it is hard work. Blood, sweat and tears hard work. My husband and I are not lucky, special or particularly gifted individuals. Nope. We are just committed to loving one another. I don't mean to make it sound as if it's a trivial thing; it's just that it's not terribly complicated. Simplicity and ease, however, do not necessarily go hand in hand. I am utterly thrilled with my marriage (most days, haha) but it hasn't always been that way and it wouldn't surprise me if, at some point in the future, I find myself questioning it again. See, I'm married to a person and that person, silly boy that he is, married me: another person. People are a pain in the ass, have you noticed?

Perhaps a good place to start with answering “what makes it work” is to define “True Love”. What the heck is true love, anyway? To be completely frank, if you are thinking of TWOO WUV, as perpetuated by Disney, it's a MYTH. True love isn't butterflies in the tummy (though they are nice) and it's not about knights in shining armor, good vs evil or pretty, pretty princesses that need rescuing. I'm sure many people have their own ideas about what true love really is so I'll just share mine and leave the definition open to comments. For me, true love between a man and a woman is completely impossible to put into words, lol. I will say that I knew it was real the first time I was so angry with my husband that I wanted, desperately, to bash his head in yet still couldn't imagine my life without him. I think what defines true love is the commitment. If it's not worth fighting tooth and nail for, it's not True Love. There's the butterflies-in-the-tummy love, which comes and goes along with hormonal surges and circumstances. I think it's fair to say that if that is NEVER present, we're in trouble. There is also the love that says, “I've picked your dirty socks up off the floor 16478980 times over the last 10 years and I will continue to do so, no matter how much it irritates me, because I love you”. Really, if that's not true love, I don't know what is!

Seriously, though, while the basic idea behind a healthy marriage (commitment) is simple, actually putting it into practice is anything but. I can't really say there is any one magic thing that will make a marriage work but there are a few things that most would agree are paramount to a healthy relationship. Those are communication, trust and a healthy sense of individuality.

I feel that trust and communication are two sides of the same coin. Without trust, there isn't any real communication and unfortunately, without communication it's nearly impossible (if not completely so) to build any trust. A friend of mine and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about this relationship that had sort of gone south for her. One of the things that was really bothering her was that her beau wouldn't really talk to her or open up about himself. I know that this is partly something that women are just more likely to do than men. We talk about everything! But men (at least in my experience) aren't as likely to open up and talk about how they feel and for most of us women that isn't cool. Why? Because we need to feel like he trusts US. It stands to reason that if someone won't open up to me, it's because they don't trust me enough to feel safe to do so. If a person doesn't trust me enough to be real with me, then I start to feel like maybe I shouldn't trust them, either. That's when communication utterly breaks down and when we're talking a marriage, well, a relationship like that isn't going to last. The flip side of this, though, is that women tend to broadcast their feelings in a myriad of ways, words being sort of at the bottom of the list. Yes, we talk. But we talk with our expressions, how we laugh, the way we tilt our head, hold our eyes or even how we smile.
In my marriage the feminine ability to “broadcast” with my whole body tends to get me into trouble because I find that I often expect him to just “get” what I want and when he's utterly clueless it frustrates me. I mean, it works with my “sisters”, right? My husband isn't one of my girlfriends so subtle communicators don't tend to register on his mandar. I have to be willing to take a deep breath, step back from my emotions and just talk plainly to him. One of my sisters made a good point to me, too: We can't expect him to just know what we want! No matter how badly I might want to just beam from my brain to his what it is I want or need him to do, it doesn't work.

She made another excellent point, regarding trust, that I have been musing on all day. She was talking about how being willing to just accept an apology even when she wants to make him pay (and we all struggle with this!) is a big factor in her marriage. It definitely is for me, too, and I suspect that it is for our husbands, as well. She made the point that intent is something we shouldn't loose sight of; we should be able to trust that our spouses aren't trying to hurt us or piss us off. I feel that we should also be willing to trust that our spouses really want to hear what we have to say and that they should be able to trust that the same is true of us. We see here, then, how trust and real communication are absolutely not mutually exclusive. Two sides, same coin.

What about that healthy sense of individuality? How does that fit into a marriage? Aren't the two supposed to become one? Isn't it all about creating a new family? Of course it is! Consider, though, an old-fashioned A-framed house. If the two main walls creating that house were smashed together in the middle, so that they touched from base to top, there wouldn't be a house, would there? Worse, the structure would just topple over and cease to be anything but a big mess. However, two strong, sturdy walls, tilted in towards each other, so that they “kiss” at the top, make a strong house. I think this principle holds true in a marriage. I think it's very important for each partner to have a strong sense of who they are without their partner because who they are all by themselves is all that they have to bring into their marriage. Not only that, but without a little self-preservation, one looses their sense of self and the marriage becomes suffocating. I think too many of us, men and women alike, forget that we love an individual. We didn't marry someone so that we could change them into us. They didn't marry us because we were them in a different package. Our individuality is what makes and keeps us interesting. I think accepting and being comfortable with my spouse having and interests of his own, that doesn't always include me, is another aspect of trust. I appreciate his tolerance of me doing the same, too. As such I never feel like I'm being squelched with him and I hope he feels the same. It hasn't always been that way. I think women are more prone to utterly freaking out over their man having a life of his own, particularly in the beginning of the relationship. For me, I was just afraid he'd leave. I had very little self esteem and was convinced he was settling and good God, what if he was out for hours because he secretly hates me?! Again with the trust,eh? I had to learn to trust, to let go. And when I did, lol, he was MUCH happier!

Thoughts? What makes your marriage/relationship strong?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Well I guess I AM lucky, then!

Today I had the OH SO FUN procedure of having an IUD "installed" (haha, I loved calling it that). I am a cyborg, now. :P Anyway, I was very nervous as I really can't stand vaginal exams of any kind and I was trying really hard to relax (because then, maybe, it wouldn't hurt?) and I think the midwife who was doing it for me picked up on my tension because she engaged me in very lively conversation regarding my favorite subject: birthing my children. I had used the practice way back when I had my first and she was curious to know why I didn't have my other two with them. I explained that I have this little thing about not EVER birthing in a hospital unless I have a good reason to. The conversation went on and somehow we got to talking about who I did use and do you know *this* person? Oh yes? And what about *that* one? Who did you have at your births? Oh you did your second YOURSELF (wtf, of course I did it myself, WHO ELSE IS GOING TO BIRTH MY BABY???)? ON PURPOSE (yes on purpose, for heaven's sake)? And so on and so forth. At one point she asked me something (I don't even remember what) and part of my answer was that I hate VE's and I absolutely will not allow them during labor/birthing. AT ALL. Her response was, "Oh. Well I guess it's lucky that you have short labors, then."

Um...what? And now, we get down the crux of the issue and the reason why I don't use them at all for birthing. Don't get me wrong, I love this practice, I've recommended it to many women and their online review got 4 glowing stars from me. HOWEVER, the practice is affiliated with a major hospital down here and there are SO MANY bull-shit things they "have" to do as part of that affiliation. All of the midwives are CNM's (and I have nothing against CNMs as a rule) and they tend to be more medically minded than I, personally, am comfortable with. Here is a young midwife, suggesting to me that it's a GOOD thing that I have short labors because I don't allow VE's. The implication being that if I DID have long labors, I would need an exam. PUHLEASE. There is only ONE time during labor that a cervical check is even appropriate, and that's IF IF IF labor is NOT progressing NORMALLY. Excuse all of my caps but the more I think about this, the more irritated it makes me.

I AM lucky I have short labors, but it's NOT because there wasn't anybody there to shove their fingers up my hoo-ha, breaking my concentration and causing me a lot of pain for NO GOOD REASON. It's because it means that labor didn't take all damn day!

Women of the world, partners of the women, please hear this and do a little digging to verify what I say: Cervical checks pre-labor and during labor are, 99% of the time, a complete and utter waste of time at best and at worst a triggering, awful experience that can quickly spiral a happily laboring woman right down into the pit of despair. THEY DO NOT TELL YOU ANYTHING YOU CAN'T FIND OUT JUST BY LOOKING AT OR ASKING THE WOMAN IN LABOR.

A little known fact by lay-people (and apparently, by medicos, as well) is that how dilated a woman is at any given point is absolutely NO indication of how "well" she is doing OR when he baby is going to come out! The MYTH that the average woman dilates a centimeter an hour is LABOR MATH. It means NOTHING. It is a) a lie and b) completely false. Oh wait, that's the same thing, isn't it? SOME women dilate at that rate. Some women get halfway there before even starting labor. Still more women get halfway there in 24hrs and THEN go from 4/5 cms to birthing in an hour! The midwife and mother knowing how dilated mom is doesn't DO anything except set up expectations that her body has no need or reason to honor!

I could rant about this all day. Instead I will give you a link to a MUCH better written article about it, by someone more qualified than myself (a practicing midwife): EXCELLENT POST, I might add, and a HEARTY "Huzzah!".

Another thing. I am a survivor of molestation. In my case, a family member made medical pretenses for needing to stick his fingers into my vagina on many occasions so I have completely valid and utterly unrelated reasons for despising vaginal exams, particularly when I'm doing something as intimate and PRIVATE as giving birth. I know that I am not alone in this, that birth tends to bring to the surface abuse issues anyway. Women, you do not have to put up with this. There is literally no reason to ruin such a triumphant experience with a procedure that makes you uncomfortable. Believe me, the baby is coming out. If the midwife really wants to know what is going on, she should either pay attention to what you are doing or she can ask you because YOU will know when that heads starts coming down. Trust me on that one, lol. There isn't any mistaking it. OH LOOK something the size of a watermelon is coming out of my vag! I think the baby's coming! Quick, stick a finger up there and verify it for me, ok? *snort* Please.

When I had my first (with same practice, different midwife) I didn't know ANY of this. I mean, I knew a lot about natural birth. I just had no idea that VE's would HURT and that they would piss me off. I had a fabulous birth experience with my first except that the thing that stands out in my memory is NOT labor pain (and that was pitocen augmented, I might add). It was the pain of having the Midwife "give me a stretch" to help me finish dilating because I was pushing! That hurt possibly more than anything I've ever experienced (and I've got a broken bone and an infected tooth nerve on my list, here!) and there was NO REASON FOR IT. I knew that much, anyway. You can't tell me I have a "lip" that needs to be pushed aside when I've been in transition for less than 20 minutes, lady, I did my homework.

I guess I'm just still flabbergasted that there are MIDWIVES out there that don't REALLY trust birth. I mean, I know it, I read lots of blogs by midwives, but my personal experience with them is minimal and the midwife that almost attended my son's birth (she missed it by mere minutes!) just wasn't like that. At all. I said no VE's she said "Great, I don't like them myself". RIGHT ON. Useless and invasive, is what they are, not helpful. I want a midwife that respects me enough to expect me to know my body as a rule, not as the exception. I want a midwife that expects me to know what I'm doing, not to have to "teach" me everything. I certainly don't want a midwife telling me what I HAVE to do while I'm in labor or that I'm "lucky" I didn't NEED some useless intervention.

I guess, in the end, I'm LUCKY that I trust myself well enough to know what I don't want and to stick with it. Though, truthfully, "luck" has nothing to do with it. Hard work, determination and respect for myself are more like it.