Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Norman on NIP: Norman Reedus Supports Breastfeeding in Public!

Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, made women love him even more when he posed for a photo with two breastfeeding moms at a convention.  The photo was shared in a Facebook group, and I contacted one mom, Tammie Hamed, to request permission to meme it.

Elizabeth Dalton & Tammie Hamed with their nurslings & Norman

Tammie said that Norman happened to have that boob ball on him. I've since seen a boob pillow and boob slippers (more on those later) with Norman - I'm wondering if a fan gave it to him? The boob prompted Tammie to offer to breastfeed in their photo, which she said Norman was very excited about!

In fact, in my Facebook thread for this meme, Jennifer Lopez commented that she was in line behind Elizabeth and Tammie, and the photographer pulled up the photos for him to see, and a copy was printed for him!  She added that he said it was the "coolest picture of all time!"

He really must have liked it, because he tweeted his Instagram photo of another pose before the show!

Source.

The Free the Nipple movement is what Norman is presumed to be referencing here.  You might expect a man who is a sex symbol to be as guilty as society of sexualizing breasts.  Or maybe it's because women sexualize him that he seems to have no trouble recognizing that the primary function of breasts is to nurture children!

And I say children (versus infants) because yes, the little girl on the right is a toddler.  And no, she's not too old to be breastfeeding.  Mammals typically wean when their baby teeth, also called milk teeth, fall out.  In humans, that's around age 5 or 6 - not at all an unusual age for a human child to be breastfeeding.  Weaning ages vary throughout the cultures of the world.  Here in America, where women are oversexualized and Booby Traps abound, less than half of mothers have adequate support to still be breastfeeding at all at 6 months. But the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 2 years of nursing, and thereafter for as long as mother and child both desire.

But moving on to the slippers I need right now.  Norman ended Sunday night with this tweet:

Source.

Before I move on to shamelessly brag about my lame claim to Walking Dead fame (I know one of the actors!), I would be remiss if I did not point out that not all moms have Norman around with the bird or even a peace sign - or Daryl around with his bow.


So when moms are asked to cover up, or move (often to a restroom), or to leave a place of public accommodation, they're relying on the law to protect them. And in Texas, it doesn't. It asserts a mother's right to breastfeed anywhere she's authorized to be, but it's not illegal to violate that right. In fact, this weekend a mother was escorted by a police officer with her two children from a roller rink, for feeding her baby.  Daryl wasn't there, but you can be. Texas moms need your help to support legislation to strengthen the right to breastfeed law and remove other barriers to breastfeeding.  See how you can help at TXBFLeg.com.  

And now I shall geek out about how cool it feels to know one of the actors on my favorite show!  


#Porchdick Pete is my husband's best friend from college!  Adam got to go with Corey to the season 5 wrap party for The Walking Dead when Corey's wife was unavailable. I'd have loved to have been available, but it was a plus one thing, and I stayed home in Austin with our kids. But I lived vicariously through photos that Adam sent me through the night.  Like my second favorite photo of Norman Reedus:

Back off, ladies. He's mine! (I do mean Adam, for the record.)
Corey told Andy this photo would
get Adam laid.  It might've.

Adam & Chad Coleman
Adam & Scott Gimple

Adam & Corey & a zombie!
OK, well, there are a bunch more but I've geeked out enough, and I need to go to bed so I can get up soon and start contacting Business and Industry Committee members (especially Representative Rinaldi) about Morgan having had the cops called on her for breastfeeding.  Hope you'll help.  There are lots of ways - share, contact legislators - it's all at that link.  I think Norman would want you to.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Legislative Action & Resolutions for TXBC & 20th Anniversary of Breastfeeding Law Tomorrow

In lieu of a spring meeting, Texas Breastfeeding Coalition is hosting two legislative action days - and breastfeeding mothers and babies need you there on Tuesday, March 3rd!

(Can’t make it to Austin, or not on these days?  You can still contact your legislators or even visit them in district.  Explore our website for more information and resources on supporting the bills!  This is also useful for preparing for Tuesday.)

Legislative Action Days

Texas is the size of 11 other states.  We are the second largest state in both geography and population.

Legislators want to hear from their own constituents - the voice that matters is the one that may or may not vote for them.

That's why your involvement is important to passing bills that will improve support for breastfeeding mothers.

  • When you attend a legislative action day, you will meet with staffers or legislators, usually paired with another advocate.  You'll be provided with materials to help prepare you for your meetings.  You'll pass along a packet of information and talk about why breastfeeding support is important to you and imperative for maternal and child health.

  • You may bring your child(ren).  If you'd like, you could bring them in a doctor's jacket or with a stethoscope, to highlight that breastfeeding is a public health issue.

  • You may come when your schedule allows.

  • Your dress should be business attire or business casual (though it's better to come in jeans than not come at all!).  Very comfortable shoes are advised.

  • You may want to bring a tote bag (and maybe a stroller, if you're bringing children) to carry your packets and the small boxes of chocolate that we will send to offices.

  • If you have a smartphone, please take photos on your visits and share on social media with the hashtag #txbfleg.  (Anyone not attending can use the hashtag to find these and repost & retweet them.)

  • You are encouraged to invite friends, your ob-gyn/pediatrician/midwife/doula/LLL leader/neighbor/mail carrier, etc.  Please spread the word through email, social media, and phone calls to the people and groups of people in your circles.  You can share the Facebook event page and invite friends that way, too.  The more attendees we have, the more offices we can visit, and the greater impression we can make.

  • Please register so that we will know your availability and can determine whom you should visit.

Register for Mar. 3rd

Below is the agenda, times are approximate.  You can come when your schedule allows.  You can attend the Resolutions or spend the morning on office visits instead.  Whenever  you arrive, please contact our Legislative Chair, Krisdee Donmoyer, at 512.655.9647 and she will pass along information and materials for your visits - she can do this as much as possible while we await the Resolutions, to save time.

House Resolution:
We will meet in the House Gallery before 10am.  The Resolution will be presented by Representative Farrar, probably in the first half of the 10:00 hour.  Rep. Farrar will recognize advocates on the House floor and everyone in the gallery.

Senate Resolution:
After the House Resolution we will move to the Senate Gallery.  TXBC will be recognized by Senator Zaffirini, probably around 11:15.

Photos:
After the Senate Resolution we will take a group photo on the stairs outside the House chamber (go to the east wing, outside the House Gallery, and take the stairs on the north side of the building down to the 2nd floor), then Krisdee will disseminate any remaining assignments, packets and gifts.

Lunch & Visits:
At this point, depending on the time and appointment times you may have, you might wish to have lunch (there is a cafeteria, the Capitol Grill) before you begin your visits.  After the Resolutions and photos, Krisdee will be available in the cafeteria until 5pm to coordinate, answer questions, and receive visit notes.

If you have questions or concerns you can reach Krisdee at txbfleg@gmail.com or 512.655.9647.

Parking:
The weather prediction is for a 30% chance of rain (but warming up to 70 degrees).  No matter where you park, you'll have to walk across the Capitol grounds.  You may wish to bring an umbrella.  Krisdee can keep it in the cafeteria for you while you visit.
You may want to park at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, east of the Capitol, located at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th Streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $1.00 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $8.00).  If you go to the top floor and park near the elevator (there are stairs at each corner with glass doors; the elevator has concrete walls), you can take the elevator down to the 2nd floor, turn right, and it’s just a one-block walk to the Capitol grounds.
Last week this garage was full.  There is metered parking (requiring coins), with time limits.  But there are other garages in walking distance that are likely a better option.

Getting around:
Coming from the Capitol Visitors Parking garage, you can enter the east side of the Capitol (or go to the left and enter the main entrance of the capitol building.)  There are more maps here.  The north entrance is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

To the Galleries - Take the North Wing elevators to 3rd floor.  Head south out of the elevators into the rotunda, and turn right to go into the west wing and enter the House Gallery at the end of it or turn left to go into the east wing and enter the Senate Gallery at the end of it.

To the Cafeteria - Take the North Wing elevators to level E1.  Follow the hallway until it opens up into the Seal Court.  The Capitol Grill is on the left of the court.

First Action Day Update:

The first action day was February 18th and coincided with an exhibit of our breastfeeding art collectionMother Nature's Masterpiece, including a Dirty Car Art event.  We had 26 advocates with 21 children in attendance, and we visited about 1/3 of the legislature.

Photo Courtesy of The Good Body Project.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Peanut

Trigger warning: miscarriage.

Seven years ago in January, I took a pregnancy test, and it was finally positive. Not that we had to try for long, but I'd already done a few tests, early, and then again on the day my period was due. All negative. When it was four days overdue I tried again, and there were finally two lines!

I didn't want to be a pessimist, and didn't think anything would go wrong, so we told Magoo he was going to be a big brother. We told everybody. We were so happy. I loved seeing then two-year-old Magoo's excitement. We called the baby "Peanut."

A few weeks later, we found out that we had lost him.  I miscarried on March 1st.  Though I was nine weeks pregnant, on the ultrasound at the emergency room, Peanut was the size of an embryo at seven weeks and five days, and did not have a heartbeat.

He had a due date of September 30, but for me, that day in January was, in a way, his birthday. The day he came into our awareness. In the years that followed, I wanted the 26th to be a nice day, to be a day to think of Peanut, whom I named Oliver Peter after we lost him.  I wanted to think of him on that day with more celebration than grief, to remember what it was like to tell Magoo that he had a brother the size of the sesame seed that I showed him.  He made us very happy for the short time that he was with us.

But each year, January 26th is just sad.  March 1st is sadder.  And though time has softened the pain on those anniversaries more than I thought it could, 
I still think of him everyday. I miss him.  I wonder who he might have been. 

One of the hardest parts about missing him is feeling like I can't really wish things were different.  I got pregnant with Sweet Pea a few months after my miscarriage.  Who would Sweet Pea be if Ollie had been born?  
We always kind of thought we'd maybe have three children.  Would we have Bellybean now?  These are not thoughts worth thinking. They twist my heart and brain and stomach.

My greatest comfort since we lost Ollie is to think that since my mother is already gone, she met my baby in heaven and is raising him. He will always know that she loves him, and that we do, as well.

This has been mostly been a breastfeeding advocacy blog.  Someday maybe I'll write about my fear that nursing Magoo was causing my uterus to contract, was maybe causing the bleeding that I hoped was not a miscarriage.  Losing our baby had nothing to do with breastfeeding, though. 

I became a blogger by chance, to connect with people about needing support to change policy at AISD, and then to encourage involvement in breastfeeding legislation.  But I've come to like blogging, and in my mind, at least, this blog is evolving.  I don't know if there's an audience for my weight problem or my homeschooling or anything non-boob that I've considered sharing. 

But I know there are moms reading this - which means there are surely (too many) women reading who can relate.  Because pregnancy loss is so much more common than you can imagine before you experience it.  I wouldn't say there's a taboo against talking about it.  But we definitely stay pretty quiet on the subject.  We even keep the first trimester a secret, just in case.  


While it is awful to tell people you've miscarried, I'm so thankful I had already told the world we were pregnant, because I would have withdrawn if I'd kept it a secret.  That would have been worse for me, because I really needed support.

I was shocked at how many women I knew who reached out to me to say that they, too, had lost a pregnancy.  Women I'd hung out with, but I had no idea they'd had such a devastating experience.  It helped me, to know I wasn't alone.  To know that like them, I would one day function again, without the terrible weight of my grief always pulling at me.


I think about Peanut everyday, but I don't much dwell on being sad anymore.  And I'm sharing this now not because I will dwell in sadness now - though I am sad as I write - but because I guess I think that maybe we should talk about it a little more.  To help others who have a loss to know that
 they can reach out for support, and we'll understand.  To help them know that they are not alone.  


The memory box I keep with a few things from while I carried Peanut.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Breastfeeding and Dirty Pictures - Press Release for Lege Action Day, Dirty Car Art Event, & Art Exhibit

Contact: Krisdee Donmoyer, Legislative Chair
   Texas Breastfeeding Coalition
Phone: 512.655.9647

Press Release

Breastfeeding & Dirty Pictures

The Dirty Car Artist Creates Piece to Coincide with Breastfeeding Legislative Action Day

Austin, Texas, February 17, 2015:  World-renowned artist Scott Wade is creating a Dirty Car Art piece as part of a breastfeeding art exhibit to support Texas Breastfeeding Coalition’s legislative efforts on Feb. 18, 2015 at the Texas State Capitol.  Breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk for many illnesses and diseases, impacting healthcare costs for families, businesses, and government.  It is a public health imperative to improve rates through support and public awareness.

“The only thing dirty about this picture… is the dirt.”
This tagline, conceived by the father of three breastfed children, inspired world-renowned Dirty Car Artist Scott Wade to create his first permanent piece – a breastfeeding mother forced to hide in a car to feed her child.

Scott’s art is usually temporary – reverse graffiti created in the dust on car windows.  He has created pieces all over the world.  Only photographs remain of the work – photos that have gone viral.

Scott was a stay-at-home dad for four years and would pick up expressed breastmilk each day from his librarian wife to feed to their daughter.  He was excited to create this piece in support of legislation that would support more mothers to express milk at work for their babies, and to protect mothers to breastfeed in public.

This first permanent piece is on exhibit at the Texas State Capitol through February 24th, as part of Texas Breastfeeding Coalitions collection, “Mother Nature’s Masterpiece.”  The exhibit intends to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding as a public health issue, and the need for support to improve breastfeeding rates.

Scott will create another breastfeeding-themed piece, on 11th Street in front of the Capitol, from 11am-4pm on Wednesday.  This event coincides with Texas Breastfeeding Coalition’s first Legislative Action Day.  The bills they support include:

·         HB 786 – Right to Express Breastmilk in the Workplace by Rep. Walle – Gives public salaried employees the same support as the FLSA gives hourly employees, requiring time and a place to pump milk at work.
·         HB 232 – Strengthening the Right to Breastfeed by Rep. Farrar – Current law is regularly violated without recourse.  HB 232 informs businesses of law, makes it illegal to violate the right, and gives harassed mothers the right to file a civil suit. 
·         SB 26 – Mother-Friendly Worksites by Sen. Zaffirini – Requires state agencies to set up policies supporting mothers to express breastmilk at work and to seek the Mother-Friendly Worksite designation.
·         Licensure of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) – improves access to qualified lactation support when mothers experience complex breastfeeding problems.
Those who wish to support breastfeeding mothers and babies are encouraged to come see Scott work, enjoy the art, and visit with legislators/staffers about the bills.  Scott will work from 11am-4pm, and TXBC will coordinate visits from 9am-5pm.  Stop by for as long as you can – 1 hour or 8, with or without children.  More information can be found at texasbreastfeedingcoalition.org

Improving breastfeeding rates in the United States could save 911 lives and over $31.2 billion every year.  Breastfeeding helps to prevent obesity, diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma, and more in children, and reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer for mothers.


About Scott: "Scott's work has been featured on the History Channel's Modern Marvels, The CBS Early Show, CMT's Country Fried Videos, and on many other national and regional television shows, as well as several in Japan, Germany, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico. He is featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not, Maxim, Car and Driver, Nickelodeon, Playboy, The National Inquirer, and in major newspapers around the globe."  More at DirtyCarArt.com.


Link to Facebook post - time lapse of creating the permanent piece, “Fast Food Sucks”: tinyurl.com/fastfoodsucksvid

 



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Legislative Action Days for Texas Breastfeeding Bills

In lieu of a spring meeting, Texas Breastfeeding Coalition will host two legislative action days – and breastfeeding mothers and babies need you there!
The following is from TXBC's website.  If you have difficulty accessing the site to register, email me at TXBFLeg@gmail.com.
The first action day is February 18th and coincides with an exhibit of our breastfeeding art collectionMother Nature’s Masterpiece, including a Dirty Car Art event.
The second is March 3rd and coincides with a House Resolution commemorating the 20th anniversary of Health and Safety Code 165, which asserts the Right to Breastfeed in public and establishes the Mother Friendly Worksite designation.
Come to one or both days and visit with legislators and staffers to ask for their support of the billsthat TXBC is promoting.
(Can’t make it to Austin, or not on these days?  You can still contact your legislators or even visit them in district.  Explore our website for more information and resources on supporting the bills!)

Legislative Action Days

Texas is the size of 11 other states.  We are the second largest state in both geography and population.
Legislators want to hear from their own constituents – the voice that matters is the one that may or may not vote for them.
That’s why your involvement is important to passing bills that will improve support for breastfeeding mothers.
When you attend a legislative action day, you will meet with staffers or legislators, usually paired with another advocate.  You’ll be provided with materials to help prepare you for your meetings.  You’ll pass along a packet of information and talk about why breastfeeding support is important to you and imperative for maternal and child health.
You may bring your child(ren).  If you’d like, you could bring them in a doctor’s jacket or with a stethoscope, to highlight that breastfeeding is a public health issue.
Your dress should be business attire or business casual.  Very comfortable shoes are advised.
You may want to bring a tote bag (and maybe a stroller, if you’re bringing children) to carry your packets and the small gifts that we will likely send to offices.
If you have a smartphone, please take photos on your visits and share on social media with the hashtag #txbfleg.  (Anyone not attending can use the hashtag to find these and repost & retweet them.)
You are encouraged to invite friends, your ob-gyn/pediatrician/midwife/doula/LLL leader/neighbor/mail carrier, etc.  Please spread the word through email, social media, and phone calls to the people and groups of people in your circles.  You can share the Facebook event pages and invite friends that way, too (click here for Feb. 18th page and Mar. 3rd page).  The more attendees we have, the more offices we can visit, and the greater impression we can make.
You will need to register so that we will know your availability and can determine whom you should visit.
Please register for February 18th here.
Please register for March 3rd here.

Register for Feb 18th

Details for Feb. 18:

We will meet at the north end of level E2, between the E2.400’s and E2.700’s wings.  (This is where our art is being exhibited that week.  You’ll want to be sure to check out Scott Wade’s Dirty Car Art creation in front of the Capitol on 11th Street while you’re there, as well.)  Our legislative chair, Krisdee Donmoyer, will be on E2 from 9am to 5pm to coordinate visits – giving you your assignments/appointment times, and materials to pass along.  You can check in with her after your meetings in the same place, to give her notes on your meetings, or you may want to use a smartphone or tablet to send them as you go.

Register for Mar. 3rd

Details for Mar. 3: 

We will meet in the House Gallery before 10am.  The Resolution will be presented by Representative Farrar, probably in the first half of the 10:00 hour.  Rep. Farrar will recognize a few advocates on the House floor, then everyone in the gallery.  After the resolution we will take a group photo on the stairs outside the House chamber (exit the Gallery and take the stairs on the right of the west wing down to the 2nd floor), then disseminate assignments, packets and gifts.  At this point, depending on the time and appointment times you may have, you might wish to have lunch (there is a cafeteria, the Capitol Grill) before you begin your visits.  Krisdee will be available in the cafeteria until 5pm to coordinate, answer questions, and receive visit notes.
If you have questions or concerns you can reach Krisdee at txbfleg@gmail.com or 512.655.9647.

Parking:

You may want to park at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, east of the Capitol, located at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th Streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $1.00 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $8.00).  If you go to the top floor and park near the elevator (there are stairs at each corner with glass doors; the elevator has concrete walls), you can take the elevator down to the 2nd floor, turn right, and it’s just a one-block walk to the Capitol grounds.

Getting around:

Coming from the Capitol Visitors Parking garage, you can enter the east side of the Capitol (or go to the left and enter the main entrance of the capitol building.)  There are more maps here.
TO E2 on 2/18 – Just take the North Wing elevators down to E2, and walk straight all the way down to the other end of the building.  You will go around the Central Court, an open-air rotunda. It gets confusing here.  You should pass one hallway, then at the next hallway – which is the main hallway again – you should be able to see our exhibit.
TO HOUSE GALLERY on 3/3 - Take the North Wing elevators to 3rd floor.  Head south out of the elevators into the rotunda, and turn right to go into the west wing and enter the Gallery at the end of it.
TO THE CAFETERIA - Take the North Wing elevators to level E1.  Follow the hallway until it opens up into the Seal Court.  The Capitol Grill is on the left of the court.
Photo courtesy of The Good Body Project.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#GratitudeChallenge

I just shared a positive NIP story, & it has emboldened me to share something else positive that I have been considering for a year. 

I have not done it yet for a couple of reasons. First, most of what I share here is about breastfeeding advocacy. It's evolved over time, but every time I branch out I feel a little nervous that what I'm sharing is something people won't be receptive to, or that's incongruous with what I started - like maybe I'm breaking some unwritten rule.

Second, what I'm going to share is very personal, in a way, and it makes me feel strangely vulnerable, even when I share it on my personal profile with just friends.

So what is it?

A list of things I am grateful for.

Every day (or at least that's the goal), I express gratitude.

Because what you appreciate appreciates.

Where you put your energy - you'll get more of that.

I have had chronic depression my whole life. It come and goes. Sometimes it's a big deal, but mostly it's just been... normal.

When I had my negative NIP incident over two years ago, and the stakes of getting AISD to adopt a law-abiding NIP policy felt so high, and then the stakes of working on breastfeeding legislation felt even higher - then, oh my word, did the anxiety kick in. I'd been anxious before, to be sure, but not so chronically as I was "just" depressed. The anxiety that started the day I was told to go to a private room sometimes made it hard just to function. I don't even have words to describe its intensity.

Over the past year, my depression and especially my anxiety have dissipated. I don't think I'll never be depressed or anxious again, but I'm amazed at how much happier and calmer I am. And I'm certain that focusing on the positive, on the things I'm thankful for, has made all the difference in the world.

You've heard it before, maybe. Expressing gratitude is a key to happiness. I had. For years - but I didn't do it. Then I joined Carrie Contey, PhD.'s Evolve group, & made it a habit.

It's had such an impact that I've thought about doing it here, because I'd like to share this tool with others, because it is a game changer.

So I'll go first, and if you feel moved to do so, comment with your gratitudes below - or do it on your private social media page or in a journal or even just close your eyes for a moment and list them to yourself.

There are no rules to this #gratitudechallenge. You aren't limited to just the month of November or a list of five things per day for five days. Just think of at least one thing - or maybe 100 - and take a moment to appreciate!

One thought - this isn't about bragging and being "Facebook Fake." I complain about my kids on fb, I whine about my messy house. My *real* life is definitely on my personal Facebook profile. But this is about focusing on the awesome, so yes, it's all good stuff.

Here goes:

I'm thankful to Jessie Warren for letting me share her positive NIP story, and for the amazing gentleman who was encouraging to her. I'm thankful my sick husband is starting to feel better; thankful my big kid has had a breakthrough about how he wants to interact with his family, and he's working hard to be respectful and to stay calm when he's frustrated; thankful for watching Bellybean put train tracks together - he's amazing! So grateful for the opportunity to homeschool Sweet Pea for kindergarten, and for doing so with a friend on Mondays and Wednesdays. Super thankful for an impromptu science experiment during today's co-op, which made me feel like I'm getting it right! Grateful for watching Sweet Pea learn to read, and be fascinated by addition and subtraction and counting, and that he's learning so much even when I don't feel like I'm doing 15% of what I want to do for him.  Thankful I said yes when Sweet Pea wanted to do Legos together, instead of telling him I had to make dinner.  It was worth bedtime being a little later than intended.  Thankful our garage is finally organized enough to feel like a playroom, that art is coming in for the breastfeeding art exhibit in February, that we'll have a House resolution marking the 20th anniversary of Health & Safety Code 165. Thankful for Health & Safety Code 165, even if it does need strengthening. For representatives and senators who stand behind moms ready to support their choice to breastfeed. That I'm warm in my (mostly) clean house on this cold night, and that tomorrow I'll get to take my middle son to a fun acting class and my big kid to a great new school that is a much better fit for him than public school was this year. I'm thankful to be leading such a blessed life!

I don't know how long I'll keep this up. I don't know why it feels vulnerable. So let me know if it's something you enjoy - something that moves you to express gratitude yourself. Because if it is, it'll be worth it to me to keep going with it here each evening. It really has been a game changer for me - I hope it will be or you, too!



My Little Lego Maniac

A Guardian Angel: A Positive Breastfeeding/NIP Story

This story was shared in a local breastfeeding support group on Facebook. I asked to share it here because I think it's important that we hear about the positive stories. Social and traditional media are over-saturated with negative NIP stories, to the point that it may seem discrimination is inevitable. But it's not. Sometimes when someone approaches you as you breastfeed - it's to tell you how awesome you are!

If you have a positive story to share, email me at KeepAustinNIP@gmail.com. I'd like to make this a habit!

Here are Jessie's words:
"I was having an incredibly hard day today (car broke down, bills arrived in the mail that I can't pay, agonizing sinus issues, trying to move past family drama, yet another job interview that didn't pan out) and brought my four month old son to Sprouts Farmers Market off Manchaca to do my weekly grocery shopping that I had been putting off for days.

Eight minutes and a half full cart in, Brave starts having a hangry meltdown. Already scatterbrained and overwhelmed, it doesn't occur to me to set my cart aside and go out to my car - I just frantically look for a place to sit down to nurse him because I couldn't get the position right in my Ergo. So, I 'pull over' near the eggs, sit on the edge of the cooler, and pull my cart as much out of the way as I can. I'm so emotional that I forget to put on my 'what I'm doing is natural face,' and I keep my head down while blushing at my gulping, teary-eyed infant.

Suddenly, a man in his late fifties or early sixties who is looking at the vegetables to my left speaks up to me and says... (get your tissues, I'm crying as I type this), "I honor you for what you do. You are doing such good by your son! My mama, she fed me like that until I was two years old - and it made me different, it made a difference for me. Women in Europe they do it everyday; I do not understand why women here cannot feed their sons without shame. It is natural!"

I was expecting him to berate me, and it took me off guard. I got choked up and thanked him as my eyes started to water. He nodded and started to walk away when he thought better and turned back to me to look me straight in the eye and say, "Anyone can be a mama..." Then he pointed at me and continued, "...but you are a great mama." I couldn't speak and tears streamed down my face. He smiled at me and told me to have a great day, and walked away. I so needed that, right then. What a guardian angel!"

An angel indeed!  As Jessie put it, "I wish EVERY mama got this kind of love when they need it most."

Jessie with her son, Brave

Jessie is a 27-year-old transplant living in Austin from the Pacific Northwest, and a single mama to both a four-month-old ginger named Bravery and a four-year-old Labradoodle named Maggie.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Let Me Count the Ways: A Love Letter to My Husband on His 40th Birthday

My husband's 40th birthday is today.  This is my love letter to him:

I've known you for half of your life now, Adam. I met you when you were 20, and I was your dresser for - what play was it? Cat Among the Pigeons? That's not as sexy as it sounds, of course. I just placed your costumes and sprayed your shoes out with Lysol every night. I remember you couldn't hang dress pants properly. Hanging clothes still isn't really a strength.


Today you are 40. You're understandably upset by this new age bracket. This getting older thing is kind of unsettling sometimes. But every year you age has meant more to adore. So, while this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are 40 things I love about you:
1. The gray in your hair. I find it thrilling. It excites me so much to be growing older with the love of my life. There really just aren't words for my visceral response to those gray hairs. Suffice it to say, it is so fucking sexy.
2. Watching you with our kids. We both make tremendous mistakes on a regular basis, what with being human and all. But you are so good at it, too. So full of love and humor and decency and *you're here*, doing it. I know my kids will always have a dad, and as an orphan with two living fathers, I cannot thank you enough for toughing out the rough spots and showing up every day. I get to see my children grow with a relationship that was always missing for me. That is such a gift.

3. Your sense of humor. Even when you're just trying to shock me, and I act irritable because you're being gross, I still love that you to want make me laugh.
4. That you get my dry sense of humor. Usually. I love making you laugh. So much. Sometimes I have to point out that I've just said something funny, because you acknowledging it means a lot to me.
5. That you are strong enough to be my man. That song was on the radio a lot when my mom got sick when we were in college. I know it wasn't easy for you to date someone with such a huge, scary thing going on. But you stuck by my side, you nursed me through her cancer, made me let you take care of me so I could take care of her. You let me grieve her death and be selfish for a long, long time. And when it was time to try to come out of my funk, you found a Hospice support group for me that made all the difference in the world. I don't know how I could have survived it all without you.
6. Magoo.


7. Sweet Pea.



8. Bellybean.


9. Your support of me as a breastfeeding advocate. It brings us no money (in fact I spend money on it), but you respect that this is my work. You are more involved in it than I think the majority of people are involved in their spouse's work. I couldn't do even half of what I do if it weren't for your support.
10. Your monstrously large feet.
11. Your ridiculously huge head.
12. Your scruff, when you have it. So hot.
13. That we have the same taste in entertainment. I adore watching TV with you. I remember having boyfriends in high school with whom it was hard to find a video to rent (because we used to do that, at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video - my, how times have changed since you started getting old!). We're always on the same page. Love that!

14. Sex. It has just gotten better over the years - which is saying something, cause it started out great. You are skilled, my love.
15. Pet names. I'll never forget the first time you called me sweetheart. It was the first time anyone had, at least any guy friend. You were pretending to be my boyfriend as we made our way out of a nerve-rattling experience with a homeless guy who wanted to show us his knife. "Come on, sweetheart," I think you said. I wasn't afraid of him. I (thought I) knew he wouldn't hurt us. But I was completely willing to play the role of your girlfriend as we made our exit.
16. Our courtship. Crazy shit we did to impress each other - breaking into an abandoned school, jumping the fence at the city pool. Fun times.

17. Your number one goal in life. You told my mom, before she died, that your number one goal in life is to make me happy. I feel like that's still true. And you do.
18. That thinking about how effing much I crazy-love you, writing it down, has me in tears. (It's a lot. I love you a lot).
19. I love your cooking. Particularly fond of your lasagna and your burritos, boy. I love that you DO the cooking. That we are in a relationship with, if not equal task-sharing (cause I don't always feel I'm doing enough!), then certainly an attempt at balance.
20. Your music. You are the soundtrack to my life. Not everyone is as insanely lucky as I am, to have a personalized soundtrack.


21. I love the movies you make with our boys. They are such treasured memories.
22. The way you love me. Unconditionally. I always know you love me. And considering how awesome I think you are, I must be pretty awesome, too. It's a nice reminder, when I'm down on myself. You love me, therefore I am awesome.
23. I love your writing. Gotta say, I was scared when, after a lifetime of hating writing, you suddenly announced that you wanted to support our family as a writer. But you rock it. So much cleverness.
24. How you support our family. It's amazing to me that we have the freedoms that we have, thanks to your hard work.
25. How you prioritize our family. You work hard, but you play hard, too. You don't miss important kid events, and you spend a fantastic amount of time with our kids even when it's not a special event like a field trip or a scary doctor's appointment.


26. Your interest in... everything. You are always listening to podcasts, always learning new things.
27. Your politics. Not sure how we'd manage if they were otherwise!
28. Your spirituality.
29. Being held by you. I feel so safe in your arms. Spooning.
30. Your habit of doing the dishes every night. It's life-changingly awesome.
31. Kissing you. Since that first, slooooooooow lean-in, giving me every chance to shy away and preserve our friendship. But you were my Harry, and I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life kissing you.


32. Your mad gift-giving skillz. I love that you are so tuned in to people that you are amazing at thinking up lovely gifts to give them.
33. Including me! I adore the special antiques I get each Christmas. They're always so meaningful. (Except maybe for the oil can. I can't remember what that one was about.)
34. Your empathy. Your emotional intelligence. You're brilliant.
35. That you've wanted to wear our babies. ‪#‎APDadsAreHot‬.


36. Your hair. It's so thick and gorgeous. I love to run my fingers through it...
37. Your eyes. I'll never forget staring into them while I was in transition delivering Milo, blowing your hair off of your forehead - trying to focus on you, and not the excruciating pain and the undeniable-but-too-soon NEED to push. Your eyes have never been more beautiful to me than in that moment. And those same eyes watched me birth our other two children, too, and were amazed at my strength and power. Never afraid of it. You are too strong and good to fear powerful women.
38. That you're as crazy as me. That we live life, at least sometimes, full throttle. Disneyland visits are best from open to close. October is best with Halloween events every weekend - and in themed costumes, as a family. And you're a geek like me. Because geek is chic, baby. I love all of our geeking out moments together - watching Doctor Who, bingeing on Battlestar Galactica, a Lord of the Rings marathon, wearing costumes to Race for the Cure that one year when we still did the Race...

39. That you're crunchy like me. AP like me. A feminist like me. We have so much in common - it makes living with you easy.
40. That you know how to rest and relax. You balance my frenetic, overdriven work ethic.
And one to grow on - I love you for this beautiful life I am so privileged to live. Everything I love is part of my life because you are part of my life.
Thank you, Adam. Thank you for being the great love of my life.