Monday, February 08, 2010

This Week in Fucked Up News about Women and Girls

Jesus - can the news get any more fucked up than this week? Don't answer that.

1) A nine year-old gave birth. Yes. You read that right. Nine. That happened last week in China and this week in the good old US of A, an eleven year-old did too. Story here. Can those of you who have been pregnant or close to someone who has been pregnant even imagine how uncomfortable her little body must have been?

2) A US soldier who was just awarded custody of his four year-old daughter waterboarded her because she couldn't recite the ABC's. He said he picked that punishment because his daughter is "terrified of water." I do not want to know what the girl's mother did to lose custody to this monster.

3) In Turkey, a 16 year-old girl was buried alive for talking to boys. The family felt it necessary to bury her with her hands tied in their garden. Nice. Her lungs and stomach were filled with dirt. Imagine that and realize that women around the world are treated like shit on a regular basis for being women. In the name of religion, "honor" and tradition.

4) California's maternal death rate is on the rise. Never mind that the US's overall maternal mortality rates are very high, California might be leading the trend for the rest of the country. RH Reality Check has the story here. They say it succinctly:
"Although the number of deaths is relatively small, it’s more dangerous to give birth in California than it is in Kuwait or Bosnia. "
Wow. What's up with all the bad news? Or is it just that I paid attention today?

Excuse me while I go cuddle with my daughter and sing Yellow Submarine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To My Daughter On the Ocassion Of Her First Skinned Knee

There are things I want to savor as your mother.

1) This moment -
You don't know how fast it will be until it's over and you've fallen and you get back up and you might have cried but I know you, my sweet

Are you OK? yeah.

You'll nod and wipe your nose and tears will still be coming, but they might be from the December wind hitting your eyes because you'll be off and running again already. So soon. Fearless and growing up fast right before my eyes.

You'll fall again and again - in different places and times - with school, with friends, with boys and jobs and every time you skin your knee, please go ahead and cry and then get back up and keep running.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stuffed Animal Naptime at the Allred Residence

A window into my little one's sweet, sweet brain. She LOVES to put her "babies" down for naps, sometimes covering them with blankets, sometimes not, Sometimes they get some milk before hand or get a "diaper change," but always, always face down. She sleeps on her stomach, I wonder if it has something to do with that?

The following pictures were all taken this morning around our house after she and her dad left for the day -- of to work and school. I didn't notice her busily putting everyone down for nap this morning, but she certainly made sure everyone was taken care of.

This is Max and Big Bear. Napping on blankets in the living room:

And here is Hohtie -- (as in Donkey Hohtie (or Don Quixote)) up against a chair:

And these are Owl and Nahmie napping in the dining room and bathroom, respectively.

And here is Squeakers, in the bathroom as well and finally Chrysanthemum in a chair at the kitchen table:

It was hilarious and touching and a little odd. It's almost like her own little stuffed animal Heaven's Gate happened. I couldn't wait to get it up on the blog.

p.s. One of my dearest friends, Amie, (who happens to be Tilia's Godmother) also blogged about Tilia this week and her inspirational, growing vocabulary.

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Circle of Friends

A person close to my family died on Wednesday. I cried when I heard, even though I wasn't particularly close to this man. I knew him and loved him in a familiar way. In a big-hug-kiss-his-cheek-when-I-saw-him way. He was at my wedding. I think I danced with him that night. He was important to me because he was married to a very important woman in my life and in the lives of many people I love. She threw my bridal shower. Came to my home and cooked dinner after Tilia was born. We worked at the same place for over a decade. I cried for her. For their kids. For how I have no idea what to say to her or how to help or what she would want or need in these horrible, long days.

It was early in the morning. My computer screen lit up with instant messages. Emails flew in. My cell phone buzzed. Texts. Send and receive. The circle of friends is making sure we have all been told. No one can believe it. Everyone is dazed. We type short messages back and forth and sit in shocked silence. The screens darken while we pause between thoughts. I hear back from my dear friend. I send flowers. I feel inadequate.

We circle the wagons around her and her kids. We talk about plans for next week and the week after when the fervor has settled and she will need us -- for what, nobody knows, but we know we need to be there. She knows we love her. She knows any and all of us would drop everything and come to her right this minute if she needs us. We will go to the funeral. We will go lay in bed with her and cry. We will do her bookkeeping. We will send a card because we live far away. These are the things we said we'd do.

I am so thankful for this beautifully strong and connected group of friends right now. I am so glad that, however thin, the string that connects us remains unbroken. We all feel this right now. We all ache for their family. We reach out to each other for comfort and to comfort. To share this sadness -- and we do and I hope that reaches our dear friend somehow and she can feel it and know we are all here loving her.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pregnancy is not a Medical Condition

I just got done reading a post on my friend Jill's blog about the bizarre complexities of the insurance industry. In it she mentions that pregnancy is not considered a medical condition, but in her opinion, it should be. Well, Jill, wish granted: The Irish newspaper, The Independent, has an article by one Caitriona Palmer, a foreign journalist living in the US, who has been denied insurance coverage due to her "pre-existing condition" -- being 5 months pregnant. More on this later.

I would posit that pregnancy is not a "medical condition" -- a condition, perhaps, but there is nothing intrinsically medical about it. No more than my monthly period is a medical condition. Pregnancy is treated like a medical condition here in the US, but in much of the rest of the world women see a midwife throughout their pregnancy and give birth at home, with a midwife, not nurses or doctors, and only see a hospital or doctor in the event of the need for an actual medical intervention -- which, in much of the rest of the world, happens a lot less.

(Huh. I wonder if there's a connection?)

The follow-up comment to this bit of information is always, "In other countries mothers and babies die more often -- without all of our medical advancements, right?" Wrong. The US is 44th on the list of infant mortality -- worse off than Cuba and Czech Republic, to name two. And a woman in the US has a greater chance of dying while pregnant or giving birth than those in Malta, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, etc. etc. etc. We are 43rd on that list. Just even with Belarus. Something tells me we are not doing this right. No offense to Belarus -- I'm sure it's lovely there.

I believe that the maternal and infant mortality rates are higher in the US because we treat mothers and fetuses as though something is wrong with them that must be fixed. For an overwhelming number of pregnancies, this is simply not the case.

My personal case-and-point: I reluctantly went to the hospital to give birth to Tilia (due to the actual medical condition of hypertension) and was told repeatedly through 36 hours of unmedicated labor that we should do a c-section because the goal was to "get the baby out." It wasn't until I read this article, and the timely partnering with Jill's thoughts, that I realized how the doctor's attempts to medicalize my labor were meant to make me a patient instead of a mother going through a natural, biological event. One they have control over and one they don't. I wonder which they prefer?

To get back to the article by Palmer, I will say this: To be denied health care because you are pregnant is one more example of the backwards way that pregnancy and childbirth are viewed in the US. It's also another example of how the industry of insurance has become "The Decider" now: Who will go bankrupt due to an illness? Who lives, who dies, who get care, who gets worse? They get to tell us and we have no choice but to listen and, like Palmer, make our medical decisions with the threat of financial ruin hanging over our heads. This is the first thing we need to worry about fixing -- then we can work on solving that medical condition all the pregnant women have.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From the effin' unbelievable files....

An appeals court in NJ has upheld a decision to take a newborn away from a mom based on her behavior during labor. They said that her "mental health history" was the reason for their upholding the original decision. Part of the story is that she refused a C-Section even though the doctors said her baby was in distress, but she went on to vaginally deliver a healthy baby.

I have no fucking idea where to start with what's wrong with this picture.

I hope there's a big ol' piece of evidence that I haven't heard.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things Seattleites Like

1) Obama
2) Owning chickens
3) The Big Lebowski
4) Ultimate Frisbee
5) Raised planter boxes
6) Fancy salts
7) $4.00/scoop ice cream
8) Pho

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ten Months Ago..., Tilia came into the world, kicking and screaming and wide-eyed and bewildered. She has turned our world upside down in the very best way imaginable and made us gooey practically all the time. Although, to be fair, sometimes tired just feels like gooey.

This week she has been taking her first tentative crawling steps. Her world is about to burst wide open and we are along for the ride. She starts by sitting up and then dramatically throws herself forward onto her hands, just hard enough that she can kick both legs out behind her. That's where she had been stuck for the last few weeks -- the one leg was just stuck below her and she couldn't pull it out -- but as of a day or two ago, she got it figured out. Momentum.

She says "hi" and "hey," "adda" (which is dad) and "mama" and "night-night." She claps, she does sign language for "more" and "all done" and she dances....oh! the dance! It is the most precious, heartbreakingly adorable thing you have ever seen. I am working on getting video. Think Sammy Davis Jr. barefoot and in a diaper. Today, she also blew her dad a kiss goodbye as he left for work -- that's been another work in progress until now.

Ten months for her is when everything seems to be coming together. She gets it. She gets more than we can even imagine.

As for her dad and me, we are reveling in the little details (i.e. yesterday Jon witnessed her picking up one block off the top of the tower of blocks without toppling the tower. He called her accomplishment out to me as I made dinner and we all three clapped. Tillie wasn't sure what she did, but loves clapping anyway.) We're trying to do our best. Get her outside, take her places where she can see other kids and wave and clap and dance for them. Fill her up with things that are true and make sure she's safe and warm and fed and has some sunscreen on now that spring has made its presence known, and try to sleep when we can. We're still working on the sleep thing, but happily, sleepily, see it as another work in progress.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In the car with Justin on the way home...UPDATE!

"I am going to blog about this," I told him. "The title will be, 'Musings of a sleep deprived new mother:' or something like that. I realized as I was playing "patty cake" with my daughter that I really don't know the words. Is it two words, like 'Patty Cake?' Is that someone's name? Baker's man? Why does the baker have a man? What kind of man? Is Pattycake like a slave name? Is the song racist? Or is it like the baker's special manfriend?"

"No, Alex, I think it's 'baker-man.' Like Pattycake is the baker's nickname or that's just what he does, he pats cakes."

"So there's not a 'baker's man'?"


I've been singing it wrong. He sounds like he knows, but I am still not sure.

"So if it's a name, is it Patty Cake or Paddy Cake, like he's Irish? And why are we in such a hurry for the cake?"

"Oh Christ, Alex. I don't know."

I found this from 1901, perhaps confirming that the origins of "pat-a-cake" are racist:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Obama's first press conference was on the 9th and what a treat it was. My dad, who I called to wish, "Happy birthday," said that he was sitting and watching it feeling like it was a birthday present in itself to hear our President make sense, talk logically and respectfully about doing his job.

My favorite part: he uses three syllable words (i.e. bellicose)! He uses them correctly, doesn't mispronounce them and doesn't feel the need to say what they mean as if we are stupid.

Can I get an AMEN?!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

10 Ten Movies I Saw in 2008

I just put my 2008 Movie list up on my movie blog...the top ten from last year are as follows:

Burn After Reading
Encounters at the End of the World
Man on Wire
The Fall
Mister Lonely
The Year my Parents Went on Vacation
Be Kind Rewind
There Will be Blood

Thursday, January 29, 2009

...and disappointment sets in

When it comes to politicians, I should learn to never get my hopes up. See previous post about the promise of a feminist president and his amazing words about helping to create a healthy America (and world) for women...but it turns out, they are just words and he is still a politician first and a feminist...oh, say tenth or eleventh.

Family planning is not a dirty word! Family planning is something that people of privilege (read: politicians) take completely for granted, but could mean the difference between literally life and death for some. Or the difference between a young woman continuing college instead of embarking into motherhood in her early 20s. It could mean the difference between a high school girl getting a safe abortion instead of giving birth to an unwanted baby at home, alone. It could mean the difference between a family of four ending up on the street because they don't have health care and can't afford their medical bills. Or teens learning the truth about their bodies and their choices for contraception.

It means all these things and so much more, but a chunk of change called, "The Medicaid Family Planning State Option" was cut from the economic stimulus package by Obama's request. The Republicans were calling the money for women's health care and family planning "pork." Nice. And so he caved. And the Democrats caved. So it was cut from the bill and not one Republican voted for it anyway. Great commentary by Ruth Rosen over at Religion Dispatches:
So, poor women who want reproductive health care and contraception are both “pork” and a “distraction.” Is this the change we have dreamed about?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This is What a Feminist (President) Looks Like

Can I even say how happy this made me? Before the election, my friend Amie asked me what I wanted or expected out of a Democratic Presidential candidate in terms of women's healthcare and reproductive rights. I said all I wanted was them to acknowledge that these are issues to be addressed. That was it. Never in a million years did I think that I would hear that my health, my access to contrception and abortion, my daughter's right to make choices about her own body were important to the President. But here it is, loud and clear.

"On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere."

--President Barack Obama

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dear Miss Ford,

Perhaps you should take up being a princess or a damsel in distress or a mermaid that gives up her voice for her knight in shinning armor. -Walt(found on B3TA)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Day 2008

It seems like it's been snowing for close to a week straight now. Just when you think the deep freeze is over, we have an overnight snowfall and freezing rain storm that leaves us with 8 inches or so of crispy, cold snow and icicles dangling off our house. That said, Tilia spent the day playing with papa, eating her first frozen bagel (not a huge success) and relaxing in the easy chair while the snow continued to fall outside. Not a bad day, all in all.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Oh for fuck's sake...

This makes me want to tear out my eyes with dull sticks..
"This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world....Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."
-- Sarah Palin criticizing Barack Obama in the New York Times political blog, "The Caucus."

Do people really believe this shit? Who are we fucking kidding? I want to move to France...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


A scene from 826 Seattle:
Justin and Alex are working away in the back office. The bathroom venting system allows us to hear pretty much anything that happens in the bathroom. Today,we hear this:
"Jiggy GAH! Jig-Jiggy GAH! Gaaaaaaah!" Loud.
We look at each other and shrug.
We hear Toffer knock on the bathroom door and ask his customary,"Is everything OK in there?"
We don't hear a reply.
A few moments later, Toffer comes to the back office and asks if we heard the commotion. We affirmed that we heard the weird noises.
I asked if he knew what it was and he replied, "I think it was someone pooping."


Wow. Kids are weird.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The baby ate my blog

In the last 10 weeks I have been pushed over the cliff of pure enchantment and thrust deeper in love with a human than ever before in my life. Our little Tilia Cohen is the most magical, educational, hilarious and mind-blowing little creature! So much that I literally have no time for anything else in my world. Updating a blog seems ridiculous! But here I an attempt to find an attempt to find that person I was before Tillie was born and bring some pieces of her back to this side.

To that effect: I bring you Good Bad. Found on the wall of a local elementary school.

So simple and strange, yet so true!