Thursday, March 31, 2016

Your First Love and Your First Kiss

Day 3, still going. High five, self. Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.

Today's prompt asks us to write about our first love and first kiss; if separate, discuss both.

Alrighty, then.

My first kiss was when I was in preschool. It's probably a good thing I was a kid in the 80s and not now, because there's a decent shot I'd be hauled into the office for inappropriate behavior now. Both my parents and the parents of the other kid would be called, there would be a whole thing about it. The school might even feel compelled to institute "no touching" rules like the ones that seriously exist in schools here in town these days which forbid kids from even hugging their friends.

What the hell, world?

Anyhow, I was in preschool. There was a little boy named Tommy, one who could actually possibly be the guy that I'm married to today, on the playground. We were in one of those little tube shaped tunnels and it was weird and glorious all at the same time.

We don't need to talk about my first French kiss, which would come many, many years after that. No. No we do not.

My first love....that's a slightly loaded question. I mean, are we talking the first crush or the first time I totally fell for someone or the first dating relationship I had or the first time I actually fell in love with someone in a relationship?

My tendency to overanalyze the hell out of things is showing. Sorry.

I'm going to assume that I'm supposed to write about the last of those options, the one where I fell in love with someone who fell in love with me in an actual mutual relationship that wasn't based on fantasy.

I'm picking that one because writing about the other options is far less appealing.

My first love is the one that I hope will be my last.

This guy.

We've been together since high school, though there is always that possibility that we did indeed attend preschool together and that he was indeed the little boy on the playground that day. We'll never know for sure.

We're very different people than we were when we were 15, when we were college students or newlyweds or young parents. We are different people than we were even just a few years ago.

He was the first person who loved me for me, not for what he wanted me to do or be or think. He didn't want me to change. He didn't need me to be anyone or anything else.

He just loved me.

He still does.

And I love him.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the delayed gratification edition

Hey. I haven't been writing these on any predictable schedule, and it's not even Tuesday anymore. Whatever. I'm getting it done.

Poor as Folk wrote a TTPMOT post this week, and you need to go read it right now if you haven't already. 

It's been a crazy week around here, with hand, foot and mouth running through the house. YAY VIRUSES.

Enough about that, let's go get angry.

Religious Freedom
Ahhhhhhhhhh. I watched VICE last night, and I should know better than to do that at this point. If you aren't watching it, you should be. There are so many things in this world that the media just doesn't bother reporting about, things that are hugely important, things that we all should know about. Just go. I'll wait.

Anyhow, one of the stories they covered this week revolved around the religious freedom issue. We live in a time when religious freedom no longer seems to mean the right to worship whatever you want, to attend services without interruption, to believe whatever you want. Nope. These days, people are claiming that religion can absolutely be used as a justification to discriminate against other people. Because Jesus.

That's not how this works. 

That's not how any of this works.

Your freedom of religion doesn't confer the right to impose those beliefs on anyone else. They don't give you the power to harm other people using religion as a justification. It's not some divinely sanctioned right to discriminate.

While we're at it, let's talk about abortion
It seems like every week, some state is passing some law aimed at making abortion access virtually impossible. The last few weeks have seen some particularly ridiculous laws go into effect, including one that requires women to pay for cremation of not just aborted fetuses, but of miscarried ones as well.


Yes, this is actually a thing now. Well, for now it is. There is simply no way that a law like this can stand up to a constitutional challenge, but for now, we know that women are merely vessels of fetuses, nothing more in the eyes of the law.

Forgetting that famous people are human
In the last week, a singer attempted suicide and an actor felt compelled to defend himself after both were mocked online.

Kehlani attempted suicide after being attacked over accusations that she cheated on her boyfriend. People are still acting like assholes after the attempt too. After Wentworth Miller was fat shamed for gaining weight, he responded by saying that he was working on his mental health at the time, coping with life in whatever way worked for him.

Our society seems to forget that celebrities are actual human beings. They aren't just items available for public consumption, devoid of emotion. They are living, breathing people with feelings. You might think that whatever obnoxious, hurtful things you say about them online is harmless because "they should be used to it" or "they asked for it" or "it comes with the territory", but no. It doesn't.

Standardized Testing
Ah, our education system. I sincerely hope that at some point in the near future people realize that this testing obsession we have has done more harm than good. I sincerely hope that we pull our collective head out of our collective ass before we destroy the confidence of an entire generation of kids. I sincerely hope that kids can somehow believe us when we tell them that the tests don't matter when all the adults seem to care about are the scores.

If something isn't working, the answer shouldn't be to try MORE of it.

Think about this.

Two of my kids will spend more time taking standardized tests this year than I spent in finals for college each year.

The boards for students in medical school to become doctors take less time.

To become doctors.

We're doing this wrong.

Prescription Drug Regulations

I hate that the process to get regular, daily medication for ADHD requires me to call every month, request a printed prescription every month, pick up that prescription every month and drop it off in person with my ID every month. There is enough stigma associated with the treatment of this very common condition without treating people like they are drug abusers.

While we're at it, the new proposals to crack down on opioid abuse seem like a good idea until you realize how badly we manage legitimate pain in this country. Yes, there is an epidemic of abuse of these medications...but that is only one piece of a far more complicated issue.

Oh,'s harder to buy cold medicine in some states than it is to buy a gun.

Happy Wednesday.

Your Earliest Memory

It's probably a good thing that I started this series early, because I am already predicting that I will miss at least a few days in this challenge. Rules aren't exactly my thing anyway. Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.

My memories of my childhood aren't actually very plentiful. I have exceptionally vivid memories of specific days or events, places and times, but beyond that, it's mostly fuzzy and unclear. I wasn't a particularly happy child and my childhood wasn't exactly a calm one that would encourage the development of ample memories worth remembering.

The funny thing about my childhood is that whenever I write about it, someone always seems to take issue with my version of events, tries to tell me that I'm wrong or that I'm not being fair or whatever.

Meh. This is my experience. My narrative might not fit with your worldview, but that's not anything within my control.

Tell your stories, people.

Anyway, the earliest memory I have. God. Most of them are bad.

There are a few that I remember fondly, though, and I'd rather write about one of those, not because I believe in historical revisionism even on the individual level, but because I've been through enough therapy that I don't need to drag old things back up just to have someone tell me that I'm wrong again.

I was almost born in a bowling alley. My Mom went into labor on a night that my Dad was bowling a perfect game. She didn't want to jinx him and ruin the game, so she didn't tell him the contractions had started. He ended up throwing the game in the 10th frame, missing out on his chance at a league sanctioned 300, but by the time he spun that last ball down the lane, no one really cared about the game anymore. By then, everyone else in the alley knew she was in labor.

Bowling was a big part of his life, and by extension mine as well. Some of my earliest memories are of walking through the clear glass doors, the ones with the aluminum frames that never quite shut all the way, to the brown patterned carpet lining the top of the alley. The wood paneled bar, the linoleum floors down near the lanes, the seats that were never quite sturdy enough and always rocked back and forth with the same squeak, the smoke filled arena filled with warriors ready for their weekly battle.

Maybe it was not the best place to take a kid on the regular, but I never minded. I never knew any different anyway. Plus, it was the late 70s and early 80s, and people didn't yet care about second hand smoke or overscheduling kids activities. Back then, our parents lived however they lived and we went wherever they did. Now, it seems like most families work the opposite...lives, social groups, weekends center around the activities of the kids.

It wasn't like that back then.

My Dad would put me up on the counter at the back of the lanes, sit me up on top of it, and teach me every tiny nuance of how to throw a curve like his. He had a routine he went through before every frame, before every ball that went sailing down the lane. His arm would hang there high in the air after his release, as if he was willing it to comply with his wishes as the ball sailed down the oil slicked wood. His curve was so tight that the spinning orb would hug the lip of the lane, daring gravity to pull it into the gutter, before it grabbed and made the final sharp right turn.

He was left handed, and had a hell of a time picking up a 7 pin spare, but there was nothing like the sound of his ball hitting the sweet spot on a full rack. It really was a beautiful thing to watch.

The guys on his team were always kind to me. They teased each other almost constantly, told wildly inappropriate stories and jokes to one another. Back then, the single ones told of their latest romantic interludes in a level of detail that would shock the conscience of most parents these days. The rest of them, hanging on the words of whoever was the last to get lucky.

They drank hard, they chain smoked, they had special towels to clean their ball that no one else was ever allowed to touch. This was my childhood.

Into my teenage years, I'd tag along with my Dad to the bowling alley on league nights. By then, they weren't allowed to smoke inside anymore, but little else changed, not even the kid still sitting on the back counter.

What's your earliest memory?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

5 Problems with Social Media

I haven't been writing much. I'm sure you've figured that out. I'm going to try and do The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge for the month of April, hope that it gets me back into the groove.

We'll see.

I'm already not following instructions because I am starting this when it is still March.

The first prompt asks you to discuss the five problems with social media. As if there are only five. Ha!

I'll just go ahead and write about the five first issues that come to mind, though this is not in any way going to be an exhaustive list.

1. It allows for false information to be disseminated quickly.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves about the internet in general, but social media tends to be the biggest offender. You've all seen it happen, I'm sure.

Someone shares a link to a satire site, not realizing that it's satire...they share it with some tagline about outrage or disgust or whatever, it quickly spreads like wildfire. Someone finds a meme that someone else created for whatever reason they created it, then shares said meme without bothering to do any research about the accuracy of the meme. Someone just makes up statistics or numbers or whatever, and posts gets shared.

The thing with all of this false information is that it seems to get spread around mostly for one of two reasons. Either the false information is somehow threatening to someone, represents something they are scared of or it bolsters their views on something. Ebola is a fabulous example of how quickly misinformation spreads online. People were legitimately afraid of the outbreak, fed by the media's role in disseminating incorrect information, and social media was blowing up with that fear. The presidential election is another perfect example of this false information being shared. I could literally spend all day fact checking memes people share to support their candidate. LITERALLY ALL DAY.

2. Some people are completely different online than in real life.

Not everyone is like this, of course. I try pretty damned hard to be the same person here as I am in real life, for better or worse.

There are, though, a significant number of people who are totally different online than they are in real life. It can be quite revealing, and not always in a good way. People also seem to forget that Facebook has the stalker box, where anyone online at any given time can see what you are liking and commenting on, even if you wouldn't actually post it on your own timeline.

Yeah, I see what you just did right there. Mmmhmmm.

Also, I've been more and more disappointed in people lately. Sigh.

3. Tone and sarcasm are often impossible to interpret.

I speak fluent sarcasm, and almost every day someone out there online takes what I post literally when it isn't necessarily meant that way. One of the most difficult things about any form of online communication is that it's hard to communicate tone and sarcasm, unless of course people know what to expect from you. The problem with this issue isn't a hard one to figure out, and it's that people can quickly misinterpret your meaning and take things out of context.

4. Everyone seems to take everything personally.

This is something I've written about quite a bit in the past already, but something that keeps happening every single day. Though there might certainly be times when someone else out there in the internet land is passive aggressively referring to you in their posts and updates and memes, chances are it has nothing to do with you. I promise. The vast majority of what anyone writes or posts or shares isn't about you. It's about them.

I mean, if the boot fits....

But seriously, though, people have got to stop taking things personally. One of my personal pet peeves in this department is when I make a broad societal level statement about something that irritates me...someone will almost always come along and get huffy with me as if I am personally calling them out online.

Nope. Wasn't about you.

5. Everything online lives forever. All of it. Yes, even that thing you deleted.

When I'm wearing my Mom hat, one of the things I say the most frequently is that you should consider everything that happens online to be permanent. All of it. Even the things in those apps that supposedly vanish immediately. Even the pictures that went to the cloud and you thought you deleted. No one understands the cloud. Even the tweet that you removed and the profile pictures that you banished. Even the comments on that page that you are pretty sure no one follows.

All of it.

You should consider it all permanent because it just might be, even if you think it's gone, because there might be someone out there, some data mining warehouse, some enemy who is stalking your shit online, some future boss out there who just can't wait to dig up the goods on you.

So, be careful. Be diligent. Be intentional.

And if you're going to be reckless, make sure all the phones in the room are confiscated first. FFS.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The crappy anniversaryear thing goes on

I haven't written much here lately, and there are reasons. I'm ridiculously busy. I'm caught up in homeschooling the kids. The new job and all the babies and the moms I have been helping come before all this. My little one seems to have hand, foot and mouth now too. And there is a foot of snow outside.

I also haven't been writing much because I'm having a harder and harder time working myself up to it. The writing isn't the issue, the internet is. I've become even more jaded and cynical and I'm just really fucking tired of the people in the world with nothing better to do than to nitpick those of us who put ourselves out there.

I'm just tired of it.

I also ran past one of the shittier anniversary days in this year full of shitty anniversaries this week.

I cringe still this time of year, every year, when I'll be driving across town and see the black smoke go up in any proximity to my home. I know that it's just the farmers and the ranchers and the city workers burning ditches. I know. The rational parts of my brain know that it isn't anything dangerous, that it isn't indicative of anything near my home. I know these things, and still the alarm bells sound and the hairs on the back of my neck stand erect and alert.

The rational part of my brain doesn't always win.

It certainly doesn't win on beautiful March days with bright blue skies when black smoke suddenly appears.

That was the day that I knew.

The day that I knew that I couldn't make good on the promises I'd made.

The day that I knew that I couldn't save everyone.

The day that I knew that I couldn't rely on some people, that I couldn't trust others.

The day that I knew that I couldn't make it better.

The day that I knew that things were never going to be the same ever again.

The day that I knew.

The day that changed everything.

There are only a few days in my lifetime when I've been more angry and terrified at the same time as I was that day.

It was five years ago, now.

That day has come and gone.

That day was never as insignificant as it was made out to be. It was far bigger. And it's the reason I had to do what I had to do.

I'm rambling.

Someone will probably show up soon and tell me that I need to just get over it, that whatever it is that I'm vaguely referencing wasn't a big deal. They have no fucking idea what I'm talking about.

Someone will tell me I need to calm down.

Someone will tell me that I have issues.

Yes, it is in the past.

No, it's not happening now.

The sky tries to tell me otherwise, though.

It tries.

And this is why I hardly write anymore.

Monday, March 21, 2016

25 Things That Make Me Happy

Each day, I have the kids write in their homeschool journals. Sometimes the topic is based on something we did the day or the weekend prior, sometimes the topic is something from a movie or television show they'd recently watched, sometimes it's just a random prompt.

Today, I had them make a list of 25 things that make them each happy. They eagerly complied, which isn't always the case I assure you.

They both told me that I needed to make a list too.

Perhaps we all should.

1. My husband. I know, I know, I know....people write mushy things about their spouses all the time on the internet and it is super annoying, but I'm not generally a mushy person. I'm particularly not mushy about our relationship, not often anyway. Our story is one that started nearly 24 years ago, nearly ended a few times and got us to where we are now. It's not perfect, what we have. It's messy and complicated and we've both picked up some baggage along the way, but we're still traveling together. By choice. With intention. And things are just different now, but in a good way.

2. My kids. I could cop out and give them each their own number here on this list, but I won't. When I do tend to write mushy things, those mushy things tend to be about them. I look back on who I was before they came, revisit the time when I wasn't sure we'd ever be able to have them at all, realize just how fast this all goes, and I'm grateful for this time. A few months ago, we reached the point where all five of them played together. They were playing hide and seek, the teenagers and the baby and the ones in between. I knew in that moment that this time we have with them in this place is so very short, but so far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

3. My puppy. He drives me absolutely nuts at times. He chews everything up, has a habit of licking my drywall and barks at the wind like it's some mortal enemy. He has to be touching me almost all of the time and follows me everywhere, even to the bathroom. I didn't intend to be his person, but he chose me...and I'm okay with that, especially since I've been teaching him to talk. I know....I have issues.

4. My cat. She's pretty and sweet and rules over the dog like a great and powerful overlord. She stands at the top of the stairs like the majestic Gandalf the great and decrees that he shall not pass. I love love love that she's in charge.

5. My brother. He's going to claim that he doesn't read this, then probably get mad at me when he reads it (like he always does) and sees that I mentioned him. Most of you guys probably don't even know he exists because I try not to write about him at all. He hates it. Oh well, he made the list. Suck it up and deal. He's my reality check, always the first person to tell me when I'm being an asshole. Which is good...because sometimes I get on my high horse and need to check myself. He makes sure I do that. He also taught me to translate autocorrect, because I'd never be able to understand his text messages or IMs without it.

6. My In-Laws. The ones that I just call Mom and Dad these days, they are the only parents I have left anymore. Lucky them, eh? They're always ready to drop anything if I need them and they make sure that they get lots of quality time with the kids. I adore them.

7. My fans. Like 99% of you, like 99% of the time. I mean, as long as you aren't telling me I need bathed in holy water, that is...

8. Warm sunshine. Especially this time of year, I love that ball of fire in the sky. Don't ask me how much I love it in August, though. For now, though, especially in the land of PPD and all the other shit going on in my head, I need the sunlight. It keeps me marginally saner.

9. Water. I'm an Aquarius, through and through. I am a water person, always have been, always will be. I stand in the rain on purpose. I don't even own an umbrella. I don't have a raincoat either. Don't need one. When life gets chaotic, the water calls me. It tells me to come and sit beside it, figure out the things in my head. It is my calm. It is my center.

10. Homebrewing. I'll warn you now that there are going to be a few things on this list involving beer, so get used to it. The first is the homebrewing, this little hobby we picked up four years ago now. At first, it was a desperate grab at something, anything, that the two of us could do together. Plus, beer. Now, it's just a part of who we are.

11. Music. Almost all of it. I need background music all the time, or it'll be playing in my head anyway. I love so many different genres of music, so many different styles, and I love exposing my kids to all of it.

12. Yoga pants. I really do love them, even and especially if they aren't actually pants. I live in them, and with homeschooling I really have no reason to get dressed until the afternoon, which is fine by me.

13. Cooking. I really do love to cook, and I'm damn good at it these days. Now, if the dishes could just wash themselves, that'd be great....

14. Forcing myself to be uncomfortable. This is a weird thing to be on a list like this, but it belongs here. Lately, I've forced myself to do a few things that made me almost vomit. Left to my own devices, I'd become a hermit somewhere far away from other people. I mean, really....all I need is internet and Amazon Prime delivery, and I'd be good. BUT I WOULDN'T BE GOOD and I know that. I need human interaction and to get it, I have to force myself to do it. So I am going to a conference this fall and I'm working as a quizmaster now and the mere idea of either or both makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit, but I'm always so damned proud of myself afterwards that I know it is worth it.

15. Painting. I really do love to paint. I come by it honestly, got this weird obsession from my grandmother. When things in her life got chaotic, she hauled out the high gloss white paint and painted and painted and painted. I do the same thing, though with less sheen and more color variety. Same reasons, same outcome. There aren't many things in life that we have the power to change almost instantly - but a paintbrush gives you at least the illusion of greatness for a minute.

16. Writing. It doesn't always make me happy. I've spent many, many, many hours crying over keyboards. I crave it though, can't live without doing it for any length of time. Every once in a while, though, I impress myself. Sometimes with my words themselves, sometimes with the power those words carry in the world, sometimes because of the people who reach out to me. All good things.

17. Sleep. I really love sleep. Sleeping in on lazy weekend mornings, pinned down by a stubborn dog who always has to touch me, surrounded by kids and my's pretty perfect.

18. Organization. I love to sort things. I love order. My house would tell you a different story, of course, because so many other people occupy this space, but it's not for lack of trying on my part.

19. Nerdy collectibles. I generally detest collectibles, but I've developed a deep adoration for Funko Pops and other little nerdy character collectibles. My windowsill is almost full. They watch me cook and clean and teach. They're my friends. I know, I have issues.

20. Hot showers. I know how terrible hot water is for my skin, especially with all my skin allergy issues. I know. I know that it's not energy efficient, and so I don't do it often. But there is nothing like standing under a shower so hot that it's bordering on painful. Nothing at all. The best.

21. Microbreweries. I know that living where we do means that we are spoiled in this regard, and I'll take it. I love the local craft breweries, with the patios and the flights and the corn hole games. If you've ever wondered what kind of people take their kids to a brewery and hang out for hours on lazy weekends, look no further. We are those people.

22. Cosplay. Freckles asked me a few weeks ago if we needed to start planning for Halloween yet. It's March. I've created a monster, I am afraid, with the costumes. We started it as a bizarre family tradition a long time ago, figuring that it would only last a couple of years before the kids rebelled and refused to join in. Now, they're all in, every year. And yes, we already know the theme for this year. Of course we do. And no, I'm not telling. Besides, we have to deal with Con costumes first...

23.  The beach. Living in the middle of the country makes getting to the beach damn near impossible, but when I'm near an ocean, I'm at the beach as much as humanly possible. I could literally sit there all day. The whole day. I need nothing. I'm good.

24. Friends. The good ones. The ones that stick around. The ones that don't think I'm too weird, or at least have embraced it. The ones who don't take my shit personally. The ones who get my jokes. The ones who check on me. The ones in real life and the ones who live in my computer.

25. The cosmic radio gods. I find that I'm angry with them less and less these days, even when they send me a song that makes me miss the people. Instead, I've found that the songs that used to make me sad don't anymore, at least not in the same way. Now, it's more like a fond hello from the great beyond. I don't think it's a mere coincidence that every time I've walked out of an audition or training session for my job, the first song on the radio has been one that reminds me of my Dad.

Your turn. Go. Name 25 things.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bingo Paradise, I can't quit you...

I spent most of the morning cleaning out cabinets and reorganizing things in the kitchen yesterday. I do it periodically, then wonder almost immediately why I bother since most of the rest of the people in my house seem allergic to order.

I went through the glasses first, organizing my vast collection of mason jars. They have their own shelf now, sorted by size and neck width. I have issues. For real.

I moved on to the pantry after that, tossing the few expired and opened things that had worked their way to the deep recesses of the corners. Put all the other items where they belong, knowing full well they won't be there for long.

Last, the cabinet with the plastic drinking cups. The ones that are necessitated by living with this many kids. We have cups in every size and shape. Only a handful of them are ones that we actually bought on purpose. Most are leftovers from birthday parties, the decent cups that someone got with a meal at some restaurant, Slurpee cups from 7-11. We have cups from sporting events from all over the country and cups from BBQ places we've stopped at along the way.

Every time I sort through these cups, I do a little internal dialogue thing where I convince myself that there is nothing wrong with being an adult and having a cabinet full of free cups. I tell myself that other people have these cabinets and that it isn't some condemnation of my frugality to keep using them. This isn't ridiculous. Nice, normal people have holographic Ironman cups instead of matching, civilized drinking vessels. Right?

You totally don't have to answer that question, by the way.

And then there are these.

The most precious free cups in my free cup collection, the Bingo Paradise cups. Not only are they the perfect size for a cup of ice water when it's hot outside and you're thirsty, they are sturdy and well made. They stack nicely, which is important in a house with 7 people. Everything has to stack nicely here, or it isn't welcome anymore.

That's not why I have them or why I love them, though.

I have them and love them because they were my father's.

They were his most cherished cups in his vast free cup collection, ones that he picked up on trips to Laughlin. He could sit in a bingo parlor for hours, sit at a slot machine for even longer. Every time he went, he came home with a stash of these.

We used to pick on him for bringing these home.

Now, I'd glad he had this particular obsession. I'm glad he taught me to appreciate cool free things, to be practical and frugal. I'm glad he stocked up on these cups, the ones that now sit in my cabinet here and in my brother's cabinet in his home. It's a weird little piece of him that we got to hang on to, and one that I'll never ever get rid of.

Neither of us got much else...but we have these Bingo Paradise cups.

These cups go against everything else he was and I am. He was and I am a hater of clutter. He was forever throwing things out, donating things that sat idle for long enough for him to throw it in the trunk and drop it off somewhere. He loathed the collection of stuff for the sake of collection.

But he loved these stupid free cups.

And so do I.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Breastmilk Eczema Baby Lotion DIY Recipe and Instructions

My one year old has recently developed fairly severe eczema, maybe even worse than his older sister had at his age. This is the worst part of the year seasonally for the allergy sufferers in the house, so I'm guessing we've passed that on down to him too.

I've exhausted the usual suspects in terms of lotions and creams and ointments. Not only are none of them
working, many of them have actually made it worse.

I decided to try and make up a batch of breastmilk lotion to see if that helped. It is a magic cure for so many other rashes and ailments that I figured it was worth a shot.

When I put this on his face for the first time, he smiled and giggled. Usually, when I put anything on the eczema he screams and rubs his cheeks. I'm sure that it was hurting or at least stung. This lotion didn't sting at all, and he actually gets excited when I get the jar out of the fridge now. Within a few hours of the first application, it started to clear up, and one of his cheeks is almost healed completely after just a couple of days.

There are a lot of other ingredients that you could add to this recipe if you wanted, depending on the sensitivity level of the person intending to use it. Knowing he's prone to allergies (and that I have a history of skin allergies in particular), I opted not to add anything beyond the basic ingredients.

This recipe could absolutely be used by anyone suffering from eczema, not just the little ones. It does thicken quite a bit in the fridge, so when you use it, just scoop out a teeny bit and warm it up between your hands before applying.

Here's the receipe!

Breastmilk Eczema Baby Lotion

  • 1 tbsp beeswax
  • 2 ounces jojoba oil
  • 3 ounces breastmilk
Melt the beeswax in a double boiler, then stir in the oil. Do not boil. Whisk the milk in, a little at a time. It will thicken very quickly, and you want to whisk constantly to make sure everything combines together well. Pour into containers and store in the fridge. 

I used small mason jars, and expect that we'll use it all up long before it would have any chance to go bad. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Homemade Beard Balm DIY Recipe and Instructions

Do you have a beard? Do you love someone with a beard? You want that beard to be soft and manageable? You want it to smell glorious and glisten in the sunlight like a magical unicorn's mane?

Well, lucky for you, you have come to the right place.

I'm here to make your dreams come true, people.

Homemade Beard Balm
My husband has been growing his beard for a few years now. Much to his dismay, I like it long. He obliges. The longer the beard, though, the more unruly it can become. The hair is thicker and courser, tends to be wiry and have a mind of its own left untamed.

Tame that beard, gentlemen.

You can buy balms and oils commercially, of course. They're generally pretty pricey and it can take your some trial and error to find one that has the right consistency for your beard. The last time he started to run low, I offered to try and make it at home. The ingredients are more pricey upfront, but will make quite a few batches, saving a ton of money in the long run.

He's not shaving this beard off for a long time.

Anyway, enough of the celebration of the beard. Let's get to the instructions.

Homemade Beard Balm

  • 4 ounces coconut oil
  • 1 ounce jojoba oil
  • 2 ounces cocoa butter
  • 1 ounce beeswax
  • Essential oils of your choice - Mix and blend whatever you want. It's your beard. 

Using a double boiler or a large heavy pot on very low, melt the beeswax first, then the cocoa butter. The coconut oil melts at a much lower temperature and takes less to liquefy, so add that and the jojoba oil after the beeswax and cocoa butter are melted. Stir constantly and do not allow the oil to boil or bubble at all. It takes a while for the beeswax to melt, especially if you are using a bar. Pellets do melt faster, if you opt to use those. 

Once all your base oils and wax are melted, you can opt to add essential oils as well. If you don't, your beard will smell like a mysterious chocolate candy store because of the cocoa butter. If that's your thing, don't add any essential oils.

I opted to add about 10 drops of sandalwood oil for this batch, but will be grabbing some hop oil and more citrus oils as well so that my husband's beard can smell like the beer he brews. Yes.

Once all the scents are added and mixed in completely, pour it carefully into storage containers. It will thicken as it cools, and takes about 18-24 hours to thicken completely. You could get some fancy tins or reuse other empty balm tins if you have some. I put it into tiny mason jars because I use them for everything (I can hear my husband rolling his eyes from here right now).

I don't have a beard, so I can't honestly tell you how this works...but according to my dude and his long beard, it's pretty fantastic. The consistency is fairly thick once it sets up, so you have to scoop out a bit and warm it between your hands for a second before rubbing it into the beard.

If your beard could talk, it would say, "Moisturize me."

Please tell me you get the reference.

Happy balm making and beard rubbing to all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Creating a Rainbow in Water - An Art and Science Lesson Plan

Let's Make A Rainbow!

Although this is the first year we are formally homeschooling some of our kids, we've been doing little experiments like this one for a long time now. I saw this one a while back and knew that it would have to be something we attempted. It is fun to watch the process unfold, and although I thought only the younger homeschoolers would be interested, my middle and high school kids were still checking the jars for changes.

This is after sitting about 6 hours.
Initially, there will be no orange, green or purple
and all the paper towels will be white.
This project is a wonderful visual demonstration of many different art and science concepts.


  • 6 clear glass or plastic containers that are the same size
  • Red, Yellow and Blue food coloring
  • Water
  • 2 paper towels, cut into three strips each, for a total of 6 strips
  • large baking sheet (optional)

To begin, you want to fill your containers roughly 1/2-2/3 of the way full of water. Put the jars somewhere that they won't be disturbed for about 24 hours, or alternatively, place them onto a large baking sheet so that you can move them easily. Arrange the jars in a circle, sides touching with the center open.

Place several drops of red food coloring into one jar and stir. Skip the second jar, leaving it plain water. Add several drops of yellow food coloring into the third jar and stir. Skip the fourth jar. Add several drops of blue food coloring to the fifth jar and stir. Leave the last jar plain water as well.

At this point, you have 6 jars, 3 with the colors added, 3 plain water.

Take the strips you've cut from the paper towels and fold each strip lengthwise three times, smoothing the edges. Place one end in the red jar, the other in the clear jar beside it. Repeat this until there is a paper towel strip connecting all the jars to the ones beside them. Note that none of the colors are touching each other. If you are doing this as a lesson plan, ask the students what they think will happen. Make predictions and ask them what they are basing those predictions on.

Leave the jars alone. The colors will begin traveling up the paper towels and into the adjacent jars within a few hours. The fuller the jars are, the quicker the process will be. By 18-24 hours, the colors will have transferred and you will have created a rainbow with 6 vivid colors.

What does this project teach?

  • Primary and secondary colors - Red, blue and yellow are primary colors in the spectrum. Mixing them together creates the secondary colors: orange, green and purple.
  • Properties of water - Water is a tremendously stable molecule, one that does just about everything possible to stay together - so when water begins to travel up the paper towels, it keeps taking more and more water with it. In fancy science terms, this phenomenon can be explained by adhesion and cohesion. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sitting in a high school hallway...

My daughter is competing in a science olympiad as I type this, from the linoleum floor outside the classroom she's occupying.

Her, a ball of anxiety.

Me, a jumble of emotions all at once.

Being back in a high school as a parent this time instead of the student is strange, to say the least. It's something I should be used to by now, having spent hours and hours and hours in hallways not unlike this one for over a year now.

My springtime Saturdays are occupied by drumline and science these days.

I'm so proud of this girl of mine, the one who was talking herself off the ledge as the time ticked down and the door opened. She worries so much, worries more than anything about letting other people down.

Just do your best, I say on an endless loop.

Have fun.
This is supposed to be fun.
You've got this.
I'm proud of you.
I love you.
Good luck.

She wants to be a meteorologist or an epidemiologist when she grows up someday. The only other possible career she's ever been interested in was veterinary medicine. She was born to be a scientist.

I was too, though I never actually became one.

I stopped listening to my heart when I wasn't much older than she is now. I started listening to reason instead, following the career path that made "more sense". Found creative ways to integrate the things that I loved with the things I decided I should do.

My senior thesis in public policy had to do with the intersection of environmental science, biology and international law as I studied the overfishing of sharks in international waters. Most people in my program wrote about things like zoning. I, clearly, was the outlier.

I minored in bioethics, finding my true passion in that subject, then went to law school, planning to someday make it all come together. Added a program in public health, heavy in epidemiology and maternal/child health. I had grand plans once, this vision of meshing the things I loved with the things I should do.

Life had a few things to say about those plans, laughed abundantly in my face.

I never did the things I should do.

I never did make good on those plans. And now I just write about it from here, wondering what happened to that girl back then. Is she still here? Did she disappear? Will she rise from the ashes again someday or has she surrendered entirely to the impracticality of who she thought she would become? Has she resigned herself to this other life? Is it a resignation? Is it acceptance? Why don't men ever wrestle with this issue? Why is this place that I'm in one that mothers seem to occupy almost entirely?

These are all interesting questions, the things I think about as I sit in this hallway, reminded of who I once wanted to be.

And perhaps someday I'll find the answers. Perhaps when my children are older and grown and need me less, perhaps then I'll look for that girl I once was. Check in on her, she how she's doing. Ask her if she'd like one more shot at it all.

For now though, I've got a kid sitting on the other side of this door and she needs me here.

All of me, not just whatever fraction of me isn't longing for some alternate universe. All of me.

Here is where I am supposed to be. Right now, my job, the one more important than all the other ones I thought I wanted, is to guide her. To make sure she doesn't let her head overrule her heart when it comes to the big stuff.

Here is a gift.

Besides, I'm actually pretty damned good at this job.

Maybe it's the one I was meant for all along.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - The it's Super Tuesday and I need bathed in holy water edition

It appears that I haven't written a rant in a while, so this is a bit overdue. My apologies.

I've been busy. With things. Lots of things. More things than normal. Like the homeschooling and the baby who climbs on everything incessantly and the doula client entering her last month of pregnancy. Like the job that I just got even though it still is completely freaking me out. I hope hope hope hope that I'll get used to it quickly and not come crashing down to the earth in a magnificent ball of fire instead.

Though, I suppose that could be entertaining in its own way.

I mean, really, me screaming to the earth, flames shooting out my ass. It could be amusing.

I've been trying to do this mental health project as well. It's been almost completely good, well at least as far as the response goes. I've had so many people reach out to me and tell me that they're seeing that they are not alone, showing the videos to family and friends that mock them and their conditions. I've had people approach me about submitting their 24 hours, many messages of support and gratitude that I'm being so open about it all.

I say it's been almost completely good.

The bad, though, goddamn.

At some point, one of the videos must have been shared on a page populated by super religious men who don't believe in new fangled things like medicine, who believe that a woman's place is in the kitchen and all that. I say this not as some general sweeping commentary on men, by the way. I've had quite a few men reach out to me in the past few weeks as well, because even though most of the video comments I'm referring to pertained to postpartum depression, I talked about all my other shit too - the shit that crosses gender boundaries readily.

Anyhow, I was told that I was crazy, that I wanted to kill my kids, that I needed committed. I was asked who left me home alone without supervision. (Sir, fuck you and the horse you rode in on with that shit.) I was told that I needed to calm down and take my meds, that I needed to go see a doctor. I was told by several that they'd pray for me.

The worst, though, was the dude who told me that he was certain that I was possessed by demons and that I needed to be bathed in holy water.

It would be funny if I'd made this crap up, but I totally didn't. He actually said this shit to me.

And then my head spun around and
I projectile vomited everywhere. 

I ended up deleting the video from Facebook (then reposting it later), and I wanted to talk about why I deleted it. I didn't delete it because they upset me in any way. In fact, I got some hearty belly laughs in at the idea of some dude trying to douse me in holy water. The reason I pulled that version of the video was that I couldn't keep up with the comments, and I was legitimately concerned that people out there, women out there who might be watching the videos, perhaps for the first time realizing that the intrusive thoughts were a symptoms of PPD, would see the comments and stay silent.

And I wasn't about to let that happen.

So, yeah. That's been my week. Fun, huh?

Time to get to the other things pissing me off.

This is so far beyond insanity at this point. For a long time, for far too long of a time, people acted like this was some joke, that he wasn't being serious, that it was a ruse or some conspiracy between him and Hillary to jack up the election. Well, guys, joke is over.

We need to take this seriously, we need to do whatever it takes to stop him from being elected, even if that means reaching across the aisle and getting friendly with people you might not have liked much a few weeks ago.

The Hillary and Bernie die hards who refuse to vote for the other candidate if theirs doesn't win the nomination need to grow up and get over their issues, and they need to do it right quick. This isn't about splitting the party at this point, it is about saving the nation, because if you don't honestly see Trump as a threat to national security, you aren't paying attention.

I was planning to write a fairly long piece today dissecting his preposterous claims, the ones people who support him like to write IN ALL CAPS online, but John Oliver did such a fantastic job of it that I clearly don't need to. If you haven't see the video yet, grab some popcorn.

I did want to discuss the issue of "making America great again", though, because it is complete and utter bullshit. Which version of America is he planning to make great again? I have to ask this, and anyone supporting him needs to get real and ugly with that question, because the truth is that the America he speaks so fondly of is a fallacy. If it ever existed, it only ever existed for the benefit of rich white males. There was nothing "great" about America for all the marginalized groups in our short but grotesquely romanticized history.

I was telling a friend this week that for all the spinning that Trump does about the glory days, I can see Bernie handing out accurate history books and urging people to read them and learn something.

Seriously. Read accurate history books and learn so we don't make the same mistakes again. 

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