Monday, July 30, 2012

the secret life of vampire housewives

i am surrounded with
cotton. organic foils and coils
of radiator springs that do not rust.
a sweaty palm lays the forehead
down, asprin. a Coke.
clean baseboards. messy living.
someone drinking out of the milk carton,
mustache: white.
the door opens and closes all day
come in! come in
the baby coos as if she took notes.
piles of folded laundry, a call from mom.
a message not to be late to guitar.
there in the sheepskin folds of domesticity 
behind the door behind the door behind the door
 - my vampire fangs:
covered in semen and blood.

Friday, July 27, 2012

summertime and the livin's easy

Lola and Ever summer together

Her hair has grown out long enough so that she's happy with it now, after that cut, the one that traumatized her so much she wore a black beanie every day for six straight months. She tans, not burns. Her skin is honey colored and she is radiant with good health. She loves playing American Girl dolls best of all. She has four dolls that are the special ones, and they are asleep with her now. Mr. Curry ate dinner next to them on the couch tonite. She loves Taylor Swift, the song 'Call Me Maybe' and just got good enough on guitar to do chord progressions. Her innocent goodness is like Rilla of Ingleside or Pollyanna, some kind of radiant kindness and lack of cruelty, fakery or inherent understanding of the evil in the world. She inherently understands all that is good and true and beautiful. She is almost as tall as her Grandma Mary. She crawls into bed with us many nights and sleeps there. She loves the shows Shake It Up, Happy Days, Dougie Howser, Wonder Years, Sponge Bob and Jessie. She has a fake front tooth thanks to her brother. (Ian) She has enormous, adorable Big toes on her feet. I call them seashells. I call her cheeks creampuffs. She smells like vanilla. She is actually the best smelling person I have ever been around. I ask her what her secret is. I told her that her eyebrows were lovely. She laughed and said I think every part of her is beautiful. I smiled and said it is true, and even her poop has rainbow sparkles in it. She laughed and asked me if I know that gnomes vomit rainbows. She is ten. She loves swimming, Mario Brothers, her best friend Emily and her family.

Ever is putting rocks down Lola's shirt. Lola is observing this. Ever is wondering if Lola is going to change her mind about letting her put rocks down her shirt.

But she didn't.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scorpio Writer Seeks Afternoon Off From Self

I remember years ago, taking out a huge, dark purple book about astrological signs. I am a Scorpio. I read my two pages, searching for myself. Finding myself. The only quality I could not truly relate to was the Scorpio propensity for grudge holding. I actually have the opposite problem; a person could rake me over the coals but if they baked  nice chocolate cake the next day and gave it to me, who am I to say they are rotten? And the next, and the next. I read Scorpios are known for long periods of hibernation and great pain from which they spring forth like a butterfly, going through many transformations .. and although I cringed, I knew this was my fate. I have been this way since I can remember, and my writing soars and slides along with this, although less so the better I get and the older and more entrenched my aptitude becomes. I can feel when this great stillness begins, and I have never been able to do anything to stop it. I manage it better now. The quietness begins and I mistake it for depression, and although it might be a sister to depression, it is not the same thing. I am not miserable. I can feel joy, although more rarely. I can feel love. I can feel compassion. I can feel sad. During these times, what I feel most is akin to the quiet observation of an animal in nature who can sit, perfectly still, for hours and hours, watching the trees, lake, grasses, the sky. Like a great wave drawing backward, I am taking with me my children, my husband, my past, my dreams, hopes, fears, daily routines, family, friends, intellect, all of it, into the great dark hand of water. Everything is so quiet. Everything inside of me is still. I am spinning without motion, without feeling my limbs. I listen, watch, hear, feel, but I do not react. I rarely talk to or see friends. Sexual desire wanes. I eat less. Move slower, talk less, think less. I am in daily gratitude for the amazing gift of life. I wait. I observe everything. And deep inside of me, I can feel some enormous gathering, like an intellectual and spiritual treasure trove, that I cannot touch yet. Months go by before the wave gathers from the belly of ocean, and I feel myself returning to the salt spray, shrieks in the air, rocks underneath, the white slice of shell across my ankles and I throw forth every single perception that has accumulated, like vomiting gold medallions across the sand, and write the best things I have ever written.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fit For A Queen: Marriage In Medieval Times

I recently finished reading Eleanor of Aquitaine by Emily Weir, a biography of the elusive and powerful Queen of almost a thousand years ago. Although a biography of the Queen, the author had to work withthe materials available to study from so long ago; almost all the records were written by men, and almost all of the records revolved around Eleanor's marriages. I came away from the book fascinated with the reality of marriage for royals, especially in comparison to modern unions.

Eleanor was first married 1137 to King Louis, a boy of 16 she had never met who was fresh out of cloister where he had done his maturing, described as ' naive, humble, and devout as ever, inclined to burst into tears at the slightest upset and, more disturbingly, occasionally given to irrational and even violent outbursts of temper. ' Charming fellow, isn't he- although supposedly very good looking, despite ' a large nose that marred his looks. ' Eleanor's married life began as Queen of France, where she spent days in a routine of prayer, trivia, hawking and being a decorative asset for her King, while drinking wine. This sounds suspiciously akin to what we find our Housewives of New York doing on a weekly basis, but Eleanor wasn't pleased. An intelligent, energetic young woman, she quietly made way to have more input in the King's decisions.

After being married long enough to birth two daughters and go on a fanciful journey across foreign lands where they met many powerful rulers, created important political connections and ate exotic foods ( was the Crusades )Eleanor and her husband...divorced. While it wasn't called divorce, it certainly fit our parameters for divorce. In those times, a person had to create an often false and shady reason for divorcing ( hello, Tomkat ) acceptable the powerful religious leaders who could give them an annulment. Oftentimes, dubious familial bonds were called forth to explain the need for an annulment. I was surprised at the number of divorces ( annulments ) thatoccurred during these times. Kings left their wives for other women for two reasons: to create important political
connections or to create a male heir. Very rarely did love (lust) become a powerful enough motivation for the dissolution of a marriage, in part because Kings were boffing every sweet lady in sight!

Who needs to leave your wife when you have the perfect set up for cheating? In those times Kings traveled constantly,far and wide, all year long, year in and year out, meeting many different ladies of the court along the way, and often without the Queen. The amount of illicit affairs going on, and with who they occurred was more scandalous than anything Clinton-Lewinsky could dream up in the Oval Office. Eleanor herself was rumored and recorded to have slept with her own Uncle for a period of time. Eleanor's son fell in lust with a 14 year old royal girl and ended up making her his Queen- he was so crazy for her that it was said he was ' chained to her bed '. These days that kind of behavior would get you some serious jail time as well as plenty of bad press. ( Jerry Lewis ) All this love making also led to plenty of ' bastard ' children, some of whom where left to be raised by the Church, some of whom ended up lucky enough to have the influence of their fathers felt during their

When a Queen and King had serious marital problems, it was not the state of their emotions the people around them concerned themselves with, but the effect on the Kingdom were they to dissolve the union. No one cared about feelings. Life was about duty, land acquisition, status, and producing male heirs for a Kingdom.  Queens who failed to provide a male heir were at risk of being replaced by a younger, fertile royal who could give an aging King the sons he needed to pass his Kingdom to. Queens had little real obligation, but they had little choices or freedom, either. They usually didn't have much to do with raising their children, who were often left to other royal households to be
properly groomed and schooled for their later positions. At times Queens could years without seeing their children, and if a daughter was married to a far away King, they might be separated for decades, or life. The bonds of family as we think of it today did not exist for Queens and Kings; they did not raise children together, balance the budget, have date nightor argue over who cleaned the toilet last. Their lives were largely lived apart, and the happiness of the union often depended primarily on the King ( was he cruel, a drinker, did he take inappropriate mistresses? ) and the Queen's success in delivering a male heir. 

Eleanor herself ended up married to King Henry, provided for him many male heirs, and lived a long and amazing life, in which she traveled into her eighties, lost most of her children to premature deaths, spent ten years imprisoned by her husband, and eventually died free of her husband, a widow, and ' an incomparable woman '.      

Sunday, July 22, 2012

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!
Standing in Wal-Mart, I read a 'knock em out of the park' review of Lydia's new novel, Shine Shine Shine and cheered out loud, so that Lola said, What, Mommy? I cannot wait to read this, by the description- a novel that has a fantastical premise - man leaves pregnant wife and autistic child to go to Mars, comes back home - but a deeper meaning - when we embrace our strangeness we can find solace in one another - is one of my favorite kinds of novels.

I really thought about the advice Tsh gives in this piece on creating before consuming. It is my habit to do that backward, especially during the day, and now I'm thinking about trying one week where I flip it and see if it makes a difference.

This essay by Amy Monticello absorbed me totally. Her direct rhythms keep you wondering what's happening next? even though it's not a crime thriller, but the story of a young girl, her first tattoo and first love.   Also, I'm totally obsessed with The Nervous Breakdown. Some of the best writing on the net is happening there.

Kristen is in Ethiopia and met the child that her daughter, India, is sponsoring. Incredibly moving.

I came across Leslie McCann's blog and was blown away by the recent findings in autism research, and her thoughts on the information as the mother of an autistic child.

Jeneva Burroughs writes about how the new health care laws affect her family, as the mother of a severely disabled son. Her writing is intelligent, thoughtful and strong while ' a river runs through it '.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Summer of The Sisterhood

I love this picture; you can clearly see the different colored eyes, the left a pale blue, the right shot with hazel. Lola and I agreed that Ever is the happiest baby on earth and why shouldn't she be?  Everything that matters to babies, she has. She nurses to sleep in a blissful daze, curled up next to me in our comfortable soft bed, she is held and carried and romps and plays with children and is fed good, whole foods that give her energy and health, she freely explores the world but in a constant safety net, she is not spanked or screamed at or left alone to cry. She is picked up when she asks and cuddled all day. She is responded to with every communication and respected as a human being. Every baby deserves to begin life like this. I believe it would have a profound, mind boggling change in civilization were it so.      This summer is blissful. Although Mr. Curry has been sick, is just now getting better, the children have not suffered much, only missing him. The other 99% of their time is spent reading, playing, swimming, listening to music while eating, going to the bookstore, the park, napping...  The girls are so incredibly close. They have a way of being together just their own. Ever is different with Lola, she gets an excitement and joyful physical play that only comes out with her sister, a part of her heart that glows in response to Lola's face and voice and arms. Lola could not be a better big sister. I am gobsmacked with pride and love for Lola in how she has embraced her role. She tends to Ever like a little devoted Momma. I like to think part of this is because I haven't turned Lola into a Momma, she is not taking my place all day, she definitely does help with Ever, but I am cautious about the amount of time I expect her do to this, so no resentment breeds. And so far so good. They bathe together, Ever's fat butt on Lola's long lean legs, they swim together, Lola's eyes on Ever's. they hug and kiss all day, and when Lola holds Ever's hand to walk somewhere, she almost always says ' Mom I am SO HAPPY. I am the luckiest sister. ' And I say ' I'm not sure Ever would agree. I think she thinks she is the luckiest. ' Gift of the Magi kind of thing. The boys are around, and they romp with the girls, take them swimming, come on the occasional family outing, but this summer has been the summer of Ever and Lola's sisterhood. It sealed the deal, so to speak.

Ever has deepened the bond of our family, just as I hoped it would. There are a million ways to reinforce and strengthen a family, and having a baby was a special one for us. Because the older three are so much older than Ever, they all have an extremely doting way with her, they all feel responsible for her. This is such good character building. I know that is not a popular phrase these days, mocked even, but it is something I believe in and think about in parenting my children. I know that being and acting responsible for another life is character building and I can see the effect is has on my kids and their view of themselves in the family pack. They each feel a new since of importance.  I think the chance to nurture in this specific way- the silly, goo goo gaga devoted way that babies bring out- is especially good for boys, who don't have as many chances in society to learn this as girls do. And nurturing is learned- the rewards are not obvious or even always immediate. But once felt, they are profound.    Lola's Snow White like spirit is something I've talked about her on Flux since I began writing her. and she has transferred that innocent, pure, joyful love onto her sister. Singing to her, learning all the Barney songs, making up games that become Ever's favorite, reading to her, impatiently reminding me if she thinks I'm not meeting Ever's needs quickly enough. Oh Kinney, I hear her call all day. I love you!  Ever says Wola! Ever also has fallen in love with Lola's doll collection, especially her two American girl dolls. Lola plays dolls on. the. daily. She is still very serious about her doll play,  has beds for them, hair accessories, names and ages, birthdays they celebrate ( you should have seen my living room last week when it was Mattie's birthday ) and sleeps next to them. Ever has learned their names and asks for Abby the most, her favorite. Also Lola's favorite. Hmmmmm.     The other day Ever held a doll and patted it's back saying ' toe-day Baby ' ( It's OK baby ) and then handed me the doll asking me to 'tootsieaye' it, meaning nurse her. So I nursed the doll. After a few seconds, Ever climbed in my lap, took the doll by her hair and threw her on the floor and started nursing the same breast the doll had been 'nursing'. She kept one angry eye on that doll the whole time.

This summer is just glorious. We are packed and ready to go for whatever each day brings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 Reasons I love & Watch The Kardashians

I hate reality shows. But I love The Kardashians. Explain? I'll try....

1. Scott Disick, who I really didn't like for many seasons, has worn me down with his relentless good cheer and bounce back spirit. He forgives quickly and totally, often tries to please Kourtney with ridiculous measures ( like dressing as a sexy handyman and coming on to her while pretending to fix something outside their house ),  seems to be a loved and loving friend ( based on the same friends that show up for him in the background, season after season, and his relationship with Robert Kardashian ) and in general has a relaxed, sweet temperment. He reminds me of what biographers or novelists refer to as 'silly knights' from long ago: jovial, charming, self absorbed but still loyal, shallow but caring, silly and self indulgent and humorous, enjoying life and steering clear of 'real battle'- even his small, pale stature and dandy nature ( wears pink and is fastidious dresser ) fit the bill. Whatever his faults are in his relationship, and much of that goes on behind the scenes and is only hinted at, he clearly adores Kourtney and despite her clear emotional and physical distancing (they haven't slept in the same bed/room for two years, she won't marry him, etc.) he continues to try to be close. His struggles with alcohol and lack of follow through were much more injurious to his 'image' (or 'brand' as the blogging world would call it) before he dove into a year of weekly therapy to save his relationship with Kourtney, and made one step forward, one step back progress- but the serious nature of this kind of work has lent him just enough vulnerability and depth to become loveable.

2. Oh the floor rolling! Outside of my own family, I had never seen such a bunch of floor rollers. I thought we were the only ones who regularly jumped on one another, wrestled, tickled and honked and grabbed until we ended up collapsed on the floor, either giggling hysterically or someone pissed off by an accidental jab to the rib or elbow in the nose. I find it endearing to watch Kardashians do this, just as I love that my own family does.

3. The texting. I don't have any explanation or excuse, but Kardashian women make texting look like a natural extension of being a Kardashian and I like to watch them, heads bent over, dark hair spilling, eyes vacant, scrolling and texting. Ahhhhh. 

4. Dark long thick shiny hair, dark eyes made up, miles of dark skin lasered, spray tanned, scrubbed, moisturized and spray based into mocha latte perfection, glistening lips with immaculate borders, crisp color shocks of nails, all lined up in a row. The similarity of coloring and unification of look between all the sisters is mesmerizing.

5. The pack mentality. They spend a lot of time together. Modern families are often split up on purpose ( don't get along, serious rifts ) or accidentally ( moved and can't afford frequent visits ) and it's very rare to see an entire extended family remaining physically and emotionally involved the way the Kardashians are, and it is extremely important to the success of the show. Like them or hate them, they have each other's backs, they play and work and vacation together, and they make time for each other. I love that and it's the kind of larger ( while I only have four children to their six, and that isn't including Bruce Jenner's children from a first marriage ) family life I hope we continue to have.

6. They work. While not possessing any particular talents I cannot understand people who say they don't work. So no, they are not doing manual labor in fields, nor on their feet all day seven days a week no paid vacations, but regardless, they are working, and while it is mostly the 'fun' kind of work, they. do. it. This counts! How many reality shows have come and gone with no other benefits to those involved than perhaps decreased stature and brief infamy? SO MANY. The reason they are so successful is because of the enormous focus and effort they have collectively put into making it so. You hear and see a lot of drama about their personal lives but no such thing about their professional lives, the behind the scenes. The Kardashians are making a financial empire and the word 'making' is important here. They get where they  need to be, on time, with a good attitude, expecting and willing to do what they agreed to do, working overtime if necessary, and being, by all accounts, kind and friendly while doing it. They run a clothing store line. That alone is WORK. This counts! They run a fashion line. This counts! They stay on top of all media and social networking and brand image and as anyone in our blogging community knows, this is work and- This counts! They make deals and start and end shows. This counts!

7. They don't all talk in this SUPER URGENT AND IMPORTANT AND HIGHLY STYLIzED voice. I've watched Real Housewives, for instance, and those women talk like a jackhammer. By 'those women' I"m talking about Atlanta, New York, Orange County, you name it. Almost all of them speak aggressively and quickly and manage to make even baking cookies sound bitchy. The Kardashians ( mainly Kourtney and Kim ) have been critisized for sounding vacant, but I think they just sound normal, just like if someone was watching me all the time they might think I look pissed, and I'd say ' Hey, I have bitch face! Not my fault! I'm almost middle aged! '

8. Kourtney and Chloe. Without them, the show gets much less interesting. Kourtney is interesting to me because when I watch her I don't see someone without much to say, I see someone who for various reasons ( like her deep resentment of her mothers open affair (inviting the man over to pool parties while her husband was gone and the kids were there)  and the divorce that followed, her fathers hasty death from cancer and her history with Scott's drinking and behavior ) has shut down emotionally in many ways, and who is channeling all her emotional energy into her child (now children.) This is a story I've seen at times in not only my own life, but other mothers I've known: deeply relatable. I also think it's interesting and commendable that a person so in the public eye has, despite being mocked by the public and her family at times, been essentially an attached mother. She extended nursed, co-sleeps and baby carries and is focused on organic, natural nutrition. Khloe has really grown up on camera, and her attempts to remain strong and self-loving in the face of disgusting criticism for her weight from the media and her own mother are completely endearing. She has a deeply loving relationship with her husband and does an incredible amount of charity work behind the scenes, largely for ill children. She's also really funny and often has insightful points about the relationship dynamic of people around her, and has become warmer and more supportive every year of the show.

9. The length of the show, and the fact that they are a family, means that we as viewers get to see some of the actual growing pains people go through, changes and evolutions (or devolutions) Every now and then a relationship dynamic is illuminated in a different way that reminds you of the complexity of relationships between human beings, even ones with lots of money and few problems. A recent episode worked a running theme of the show: that 'Kris is mean to Bruce', her husband, the doting and quiet guy with all the jokes about his balls being cut off. In the course of the show we see a few revealing comments and actions. Made up or not, it's interesting anyway. When Kris comments that Bruce seems easy going because he chooses to spend most of his time engaging in solitary hobbies and pursuits, we can all relate to that feeling of being frustrated that no one seems to see a side to a person that we do. For viewers like me who have watched since the first aired episode, you can see which people grow and in what ways, which are still struggling with the same old problems, the whole shebang, and that, to me, is good reality television.

10. They are rich! It is extremely relaxing to watch clean organized houses with pretty things and the pretty people who occupy them going about their lives. The click of heels on shiny floors, the tapping of manicured nails on IPhones, the tossing of perfectly groomed heads of hair, the laughing of red, red lips, the personal trainers and trips to Bali... everything is beautiful and clean. A nice escape from four kids and two hairy dogs and a messy house :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Facebook  has brought many wonderful things to my attention I might not otherwise have found, and the writing of Emily Rapp is one of them. Although we have just a normal amount in common on the surface- both writers and mothers- something about Emily strikes me as very familiar to my own way of seeing life and human beings. Emily is the first time mother of beautiful Ronan, who is dying of Tay-Sachs. She writes about him with an intensity of love and intelligence that is searing and unforgettable. Her piece Someone To Hold Me is no exception.

Stacey just gets better and better. Her piece My Blue Heaven made me laugh until my eyes watered.

Speaking of Facebook (where I found this) and laughing, Joe Daly's piece The Top Seven Facebook Cries For Help is a glaring sarcastic look at Facebook profile pictures. I hope you don't see yourself! 

If you are not interested at all in Scientology or the reality of it's practice in today's world, skip this. I found this piece on the death of a young Scientologist, written by his grieving mother, fascinating, bizarre, shocking and sad. Alexander Jentzsch died under suspicious circumstances and his mother was not notified for two days. Then she wrote this piece.

Meagan Francis writes about the time she spanked her daughter publicly, and another mom saw her. I completely related to the entire story's heartbeat and loved Meagan's thoughts about judging mothers.

Monday, July 9, 2012


When I heard ' everything is perception ' I would cringe. Cringe at the rhetoric. The propaganda. The niavete. When a fist comes to your face, it hurts. The nose snapping in half, the crush and horrible crunch of bone fragmenting, the sound like a giant stuffing down chicken bones, the pain a blinding, complete experience. There is no other perception of the pain. It is. As time went on, I've asked myself, when that fist came down on my face, what else? Beside the pain? What else about this? 

There is the question of who is doing the punching. And why. And what you think about them. And what you think about yourself. And what you think about what you need to do in response. 

Is it: oh my god i love this person and they are breaking my face and i can't do anything, this hurts so badly, i'm helpless, there is nothing i can do but just wait, life is so fucked up

Is it: oh my god i hate this person they are breaking my face and i can't do anything but break them back, as fast and hard as i can, life is so fucked up

Is it: oh my god I love this person they are breaking my face i won't let them hurt me like this i am strong, i am defending myself, i am strong and they are in pain and afraid and dark and will fight back and i will get away and heal and for this person life is so fucked up.

Is it: despair

Is it: rage

Is it: humilation

Is it: open

Is it: humble

Is it: a student

Is it: complex

Is it: steel, forging in fire.

Is it: love

Every time I stand next to one of my children as they work their way through something painful something hard, I think hard and long about what perception I hope they have of the event. 

Because of this, every time I work my way through something painful and something hard, I think hard and long about what perception I have of the event.

Just when I think I might be done for, I grope around in the dark and find my children. I wonder: If my son if my daughter was lost in the dark, what would I want for them?

Almost everything I need to know is in the answer to that question.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

I loved this piece in Salon by Patrick Somerville. A novelist new to me, his latest book A Bright River is out to rave reviews- ah..mostly.  Read the fascinating story of how he bemoaned The New York Times bad review that turned out to be a wrong review, and a fictional character and NYT editor hashed it all out.

Looking for transportative summer reading? Collin Kelley has two books out in his evocative, Parisian series. Check them out here

Claire Bidwell Smith is a talented novelist whose blog I have come to love. This piece about naming her daughter Juliette after her friend Julie, who died 11 years ago of cancer, moved me deeply. I absorbed every word.

Tracey wants to know Where Have All The Outdoor Kids Gone? In my last neighborhood, Lola was outside all the time but alone. In this neighborhood we've got a ton of kids that all play outside, all the time. Score!

Jessica Ashley gives us the best divorce advice she was given in a warm and frank video.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teaching Pre-Teens About Healthy Product Choices

Lola is ten and has started wearing- needing! ( sorry honey ) deodorant this last year. After buying her Tom's deodorant, I mentally listed the looming changes in her life: puberty, periods, shaving (shaving cream), makeup, nail polish, the desire to dye her hair or god please spare us, a tattoo. ( answer: no. way. 18, baby. and even then, without approval or agreement. wait until 20, 21. even though your older brothers won't. sigh. ) As I looked at her natural, chemical free deodorant, I wondered: does Lola know why I make all the choices I do, enough for her to make the same choices on her own?

And so I began to teach her.  Disease typically begins in the body long before we can feel or see it, an internal discord that begins with an alarm ringing quietly, far far in the background, underneath a pillow and behind a window. Soon all hell breaks loose and the pillow is flung off, the window is shattered and your body is in a state of crisis. The reasons for disease beginning- and winning- in the body are numerous and not all known, but we do have some solid and proven knowledge about what does cause and support disease, and one of the major factors is environmental pollutants. I can't control everything Lola breathes or touches, but I can control what goes on her skin and in her mouth, and teach her why she should care, too.

Environmental pollutants are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and can be in anything that goes on or in our body, including shampoo, makeup, nail polish, lotion, cleaner, soap, and deodorant, for example. In the average person, one of these toxins is relatively harmless. Our bodies are made to take in, handle and excrete invaders. To a point. Today's environment is so gobsmack full of toxins that our lungs, kidneys, liver and immune system are overwhelmed. We weren't made to process the length and breadth of assault on our bodies that is occurring, and we pay for it in weakened immune systems, disease and death.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the damage of toxins. Articles have been popping up everywhere discussing the effects of these toxins on the development of boys and girls, often working through scientific theory and new studies on how the build up of 'xeno-estrogens', or fake estrogens in products, are affecting the hormonal development of girls. This article in the New York Times discusses in detail the new normal for the age of girls going through puberty, why they are doing so earlier, and then veers to suggest that possibly they are not going through actual puberty, but a mimicking of puberty caused by the buildup of toxins in their fat cells. Horrifying.

Many of you are familiar with Rachel Carson, the scientist who wrote the breakthrough book Silent Spring in the 70's, an eerie and sad foreshadowing of the disease we are ensuring for our people and planet as we continue to fill it with toxins. One of her main points of concerns was the damage to reproductive systems of animal and human, the reproductive system being particularly vulnerable to this kind of distortion, resulting in infertility and diseases sprung from the great flux of normal hormone balance, diseases like my own, hypothyroidism and endometriosis, and also disease like cancer. Ovarian, and breast and testicle. 

Although no link has been proven directly between toxins in our environment, early onset puberty, toxic buildup and disease, it is clearly there. We don't need studies and a decade of waiting around to see what our instinct and common sense can tell us: we need to change, and we need to protect our children, as best we can, from the environmental poisons. 

Teaching them about what to put on and in their bodies, and why, is Step Two. Step One began the day we knew we wanted a pregnancy, or the day we knew we were pregnant, when we can make great strides in reducing all chemicals coming in, and ensure that the foods we are eating are as pesticide free and organically grown as possible, and carried into their childhood as we made good choices about their home environment, the place we have the most control over. Step Two begins as our children reach the pre-teen years, when as with my Lola, the product level ratchets up, with more looming in the future. As children begin to make more choices for themselves, at school and friends and in private, we must increase the information.

I begin to explain to Lola more in depth about choices she has seen me make all her life. ' You know how I always buy certain things organic, and tell you that it is because they soak up pesticides, or because they are hormone free, and how that matters in order to keep our bodies strong and healthy? Well the same goes for the things you put on your skin, like deodorant. ' I went on to explain how our bodies stay healthy in part with lymph nodes, and how those lymph nodes are responsible for filtering toxins. I showed her how directly behind your armpit, those nodes live, in addition to other areas of the body. ' I love you, and I love your body, and so do you, right? Well in order to take care of yourself, you have to help your body by keeping it away from toxins that are in certain products, like deodorant. Your lymph nodes are so happy! You made their job easier. ' ( ensue daughter giggling)

As I use products around the house, I point out the labels: paraben free * no toxins * chemical free * all natural * organic * and explain what each means. As I put my lotion on at night, I tell her that if I can't open my mouth and eat the lotion, I shouldn't be slathering it over every inch of my body, either. I point out to her now and then the health and beauty of a strong, healthy body, and how good it feels to move your limbs, run, walk, jump, reach, hug hard, feel your heart pumping and your breath rushing in and out, to swim, to throw down with her brothers, to feel your feet thumping the ground. ' Your body gives you pleasure your whole life, ' I tell her, ' and you are the guardian of your own self. You are your protector! ' Lola swells up with pride. I can see that she knows the innate truth of what I am saying: that a healthy body is a joy, and that we are responsible for our own. Children love being given duties and adventures, and to see herself as the champion of her own body and happiness, her own protector, makes Lola happy. 

As children grow, we must explain to them the meaning of what is around them, and this includes the mind boggling array of choices they have in food and product. As much as I can, I lead my children (by example, more than words) to a 'less is more' attitude with product and food. The less fussy a food is, ( in other words, the more whole ) the better for you. Anything you can pluck out of the ground or off a tree ( especially organic ) was 'made for you and me'. So goes for products: I don't use tampons unless the rare occasion I need to swim, we use vinegar and water for most cleaning and chemical free products for the rest, my lotions are all paraben etc. free, and only because we can't afford to eat all organic, I buy the most important products organic: meat, milk and certain thin skinned fruits and veggies, like apples. Even snacks are usually  better for you the more simple they are: Cheerios trumps Chex Mix, Pretzels trump Yogurt covered raisins, corn chips trump Doritos.
Soy is best in small amounts and it's original form- not 'made with soy' burgers and soymilk. 

Our pre-teens are in a particularly great place for this kind of learning: just beginning to explore a small bit of independence, they are old enough to understand and want to, are excited to! make choices, but young enough to listen to what we say without resentment or feeling bossed around. They are still so absorbent and despite their growing social involvement, want most of all to make Mom and Dad (or whoever is the loved caregiver/s) happy and proud. The lessons they learn at this age absolutely make a deep impression, one that even if it disappears for a few teenage years will most likely resurface in the late teens or twenties. ( Which makes me seriously reconsider my semi-functional Starbucks obsession )  ( but not that seriously )

Monday, July 2, 2012

11 Things I Say To My Kids Weekly If Not Daily

You are so precious to me

I love you ( a million times a day )

I will always be with you

You smell delicious! ( )

I love your ____  ( laugh, style, sense of humor, big toe )

Talk to the Universe about it ( pray )

What do you think?

What did your gut tell you?

What do you think you could have done differently?

What is your responsibility?

Good job!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

I am gobsmacked in love with the grit and intelligence and leadership that this woman has. She went from being homeless and hungry to using that experience to launch herself into creating a way to eat healthy on a teensy tiny budget. This article interviews her and discusses her transformation as well as a new project: putting ready made recipe books into every bag of groceries given out at food banks, teaching how to use to the food they are given, to not give up on eating healthy while poor. One of the best things I"ve found online in a while.

Two of my favorite women writers come together: Lena Dunham writes her memories of the last year and a half of her friendship with Nora Ephron. I was just writing here on this blog a few nights ago about how You've Got Mail was comforting me in the wee hours when I couldn't sleep. Nora Ephron has been an important part of my reading and movie watching life, making me laugh, cry and think while laughing and crying.  

I LOVE this article by Meagan Francis, not only because have more kids and make them clean! could be my slogan, but because I felt a sigh of relief, as I always do, to be reminded that I am not the only mom who makes my kids do so many things that no other child that every walked the earth or had opposable thumbs had to do!!!  

Monica Drake writes simply and beautifully of the death she witnessed with her family in the Oregon river she'd been visiting all her life.

A visual summary of what 'Obamacare' does for you. And for me- someone who with a preexisting condition, wouldn't be able to get health insurance at all without this plan.

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