Dana: February 2009 Archives

A programming note

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I've said it earlier, I don't really get into politics too often here. However, if you've been following along on air or on my show's site then you're aware that I've been incredibly busy this past week working with the St. Louis Tea Party, which I announced on my radio show. Yesterday I had three interviews, two of which made the nightly news; this in addition to my regular deadlines and email, which has increased exponentially due to Friday's event. If you're interested in watching the news coverage of the Tea Party, including interviews with myself and Bill Hennessey, or would like to attend, and are not bothered by a conservative perspective, click here.

Trebuchet 2009

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It's been far too long since I've left you without an acceptable form to medievally fling that which has been killing your soul. What's that you say? "medievally" isn't exactly a word?

Fling:

1. Anyone who doubts the sovereignty of this website and the right under which I have to completely make up words at my lezzure.

2. This made-in-China POS Dell computer which taunts the will to live and my very soul from this fleshy shell. I want to disassemble and waterboard every last bitty bit of it. And then put a bag over its head and pose whilst giving the goat behind it. Somehow, that doesn't seem harsh enough.

3. Anyone who wants to raise my taxes in a recession.

4. The people who think that because I do the majority of work from my home and that I homeschool my children that I must have the time to do any number of things for them. I wake, work, breakfast, kids, lessons, email, lunch, lessons, email, kids, dinner, house, bedtime, work, work, work, email every single day - and on the days I'm at the station, driving the kids to outside lessons/playgroups/the store, etc. that schedule lengthens so get off my crank about it, would you please? I'm tired of dealing with the resentful attitudes of those who haven't a clue or the courtesy to ask about what I do in my day.

5. Anyone who allows politics to get in the way of friendship. It's ironic because politics are supposed to be public service, which is to serve others, to put others before self. If people are too narrow-minded to to connect with people on a deeper level beyond that of political affiliation, it says more about their lack of diversity in thought and unspoken perpetuation of bigoted societal stereotypes than it does about the person with whom they disagree. And I just don't have the patience or the heart for that.

6. St. Louis drivers. Was something recently released in the water? I have driven and been driven in various other cities and countries and I've noticed that there is an abnormal concentration of people who cannot drive or understand traffic laws here. Like the dude who threw his car in reverse and expected me and the FIVE OTHER PEOPLE BEHIND ME to back up so he could parallel park? And caused us to miss two green lights because he stubbornly refused to move forward? And I tried to mime to him from behind my steering wheel FIND ANOTHER PLACE TO PARK OR SO HELP ME I WILL BEAT YOU WITH MY WINDSHIELD SCRAPER. Or the lady who, as I made a left turn at a traffic light when given the green arrow, tried to ram her car into mine and then proceeded to honk at me for a solid minute and acted like the was going to hit me until I put my car into park in the middle of a parking lot, exited my vehicle right there in public, and lost my mind on her. Because I am the smartest person on planet Earth. My genius, LET ME SHOW YOU IT. All of that brassiness left her when she realized that my crazy beat her crazy. Gawd I am ashamed.

So for all the people who snottily s..t..r..o..l..l across the crosswalk when they see cars coming, for the people whom God has given the ability to drive yet withheld their common sense, the people who drive like they are the only people on the road ... I FLING ALL OF YOU.

7. The fact that Sam's does not carry Sam's Choice cola. Are they serious? WTH? "It's only at Wal-Mart," said the lady who eyed me as I ate my second egg roll sample. I have to drive 25 minutes to get to the nearest Wal-Mart which negates the idea of us moving to a pedestrian-friendly area. When I go to a super store and get my super-sized drink I expect to be able to purchase the cheap cola along with my five-pound bag of shredded cheese, thankyouverymuch because this is America.

8. The lack of an Ikea in St. Louis. I am going to break rank and pledge my mayoral vote to whomever can bring in an Ikea (among other things, but mostly the Ikea because I'm going to be shallow and sulky). Mayor Slay, I'm looking at you. I cannot pronounce a single stupid thing that store sells but I love it all. The Zxveqqwrtchienbok? I WANT THAT. I can see my little family, all of us sitting around the Drudethcngkfyrjjin enjoying a meal off of our Mhjjiuqqqqwqerespchleins while the entire room is warmly lit by a Schnudefrhakehhienjhn. Idyllic, isn't it? I mean, YES, the majority of it looks like white plastic furnishings found in a wholesale catalog that specializes in chemical cleaners and workboots but by gawd if the Swedes are selling it it must be FANCY. Plus those names? Way better than Standard White Dinner Plate or White Plastic Parsons Table. I want to fill my home with Mhjjiuqqqqwqerespchleins.

Things I do not want to fling:

1. The delicious goodness that are Sloppy Joes. I made a can for Liam and Ewan one evening and Liam was all "This is like spaghetti ... on two slices of bread!" I totally felt like Cousin Eddie for a moment.

2. Animal Crossing on Wii. Liam loves this game and it's so weird to me when he says things like "Yeah, I had to stop by Nook's today to sell some fish and then I went and paid my mortgage." I feel completely safe with him playing it and I don't have to worry about a computer-controlled rabbit showing him her cotton tail. Our of curiosity I created a character and got a little house; much to my relief it wasn't like that Second Life business that I hear about where all the women dress like hookers and even bald men can have long hair.

3. The little brownies from Trader Joe's. I stopped caring about abdominal six packs after I read some article where it says that women, if they cut too much weight beginning in their late twenties, will lose the fat that plumps out their skin, thus giving them fine lines and possible wrinkles, making them appear older than necessary. So I am totally using that as a crutch as to why I am going to eat Trader Joe's brownies at 9pm while watching a Tivo'd episode of "Tool Academy."

4. Rock of Love VD Bus. DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ME. I spend the majority of my day doing selfless Mom Things and being responsible and working and this is my vice. Chris has to physically restrain me from making a mad dash to the kitchen to grab the Clorox wipes for which I'd wipe down the television after but ohmyholyMoses: no matter how bad a day I've had, it will never match that of an adult film actress who stole a bunch of girls' nasty, sweaty hockey socks.

5. My new French Press. Our older, cheap one busted one day and I licked the shavings out of the coffee grinder until we bought more beans and this fabulous little press at World Market. I asked the internet about it on Twitter and this is the one the internet told me to get. Baaaa.

6. World Market. It's like an international bazaar without the bugs, beggars, odd smells, and sweaty tourists. If most of the products at that bazaar had a "MADE IN CHINA" sticker affixed to them. I really like their rugs.

7. Texas Roadhouse steakhouse. There are four things in life that make me feel distinctly American:
a) Making fun of French people
b) Lighting a bottle rocket out of a can of Stag
c) Shopping at Sam's
d) Eating at Texas Roadhouse

I like red meat, particularly meat that's cooked medium rare. I refuse to eat cooked fish (why when there's sashimi grade?) and I'm getting to the point where I almost think it's insulting to cook perfectly marbled, bright-red steaks. Anyway, I love this restaurant because they play Dolly Parton and you can get a gigantic steak and a loaded sweet potato. The only thing that weirds me out is that each table gets a bucket of peanuts and patrons are welcome to toss cracked shells to the floor. My kids were completely aghast the first time they saw it.

8. Free speech. I refrain from getting too political here because this is sort of my escape from that, but regardless on which side of the political spectrum you fall, the government should stay out of legislating speech for anyone, any party, period. I wrote about such here

9. The dog-squirrel in my backyard that I have been battling for over a year now. I sat a bag on my deck to take to the dumpster and went back in the house to empty the kitchen trash in in those three minutes, lo, the dog-squirrel was up on my deck trying to pick its way through the plastic bag. I rushed out the door and yelled at it - while I had my wet hair in a towel wearing a pair of pink pajama bottoms with monkey faces all over them, mind you . When I turned to go back inside my neighbor, who was outside, gave me the blank-eyed, slack-jawed automatic wave one gives when terrified.

10) Ewan's progress on his K5 material. Whereas Liam is not competitive Ewan completely makes up for it and is flying through his workbooks. He writes well, despite the fact that he likes to write an M2 after his name on all of his papers which means it looks like this: EwanM2.

What would you like to fling? Just remember to temper it with something good!

Day in the Life: February 20, 2009

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Sorry I'm late! The morning was crazy with breakfast, showers, and meeting up with the our homeschool group for a field trip to the symphony. So! To contribute, the rules are as follows:

- Join the Day in the Life Flickr group.
- Photos MUST be taken all on the SAME DAY, this Friday. A shot of your morning routine, another shot of a lazy lunch; the purpose is to provide a glimpse into YOUR life from YOUR perspective. Upload as you go.
- G-rated, peeps.

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Good morning!

Morning with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

More to come ...
Don't you love my homemade signs? Thankfully my mother does not have the internet so she can't admonish me later.

Have you ever had one of those women in your life that was a <airquotes>friend</airquotes> but didn't act like it? One of those women who acted more like an enemy, a woman who crossed your boundaries, tore you down, made you uncomfortable? I think we've all had one and that's what we're discussing in this latest Momversation. I'm lucky in that I have a group of girlfriends that I adore (I also have several girlfriends that I met online who later became some of my real life confidantes). I can tell anything to these women, I know I have their support and they mine, and I have the best time in their company. It's a rare thing to find another woman who is on your wavelength. You tend to know pretty quick if they're someone with whom you can hang or not. The bad friendships I've had have made me treasure my genuine friendships that much more.

So when you have one of those "toxic friends," what do you do? How do you manage it - do you manage it? Do you put up with it or break it off and if you do the latter, how?
 

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Remember the Day in the Life Flickr series I created? I'm getting ready to do another one and I'd like for you to join me. The next Day in the Life will be this Friday. The rules are as follows:

- Join the Day in the Life Flickr group.
- Photos MUST be taken all on the SAME DAY, this Friday. A shot of your morning routine, another shot of a lazy lunch; the purpose is to provide a glimpse into YOUR life from YOUR perspective. Upload as you go.
- G-rated, peeps.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Competitive parenting

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vdaybox1.jpg I'm not sure when, but at some point in this parenting circus Chris and I started to care - wherein care means "competitive to the death" - about the little kid projects that pepper elementary education. I think it began with last year's Pinewood Derby when Chris realized that the dads would be doing about 85% of the work and no way was he going to send his kid off to the races "with some piece of crap car." So he and Liam spent hours in the basement with Chris shaving a block of wood into the body of a car and hollering at Liam for touching his power tools. They ended up with a cool car that came in third and would've taken a higher place had not the winning car weighed 2.5 ounces over the maximum weight, I heard the dads grumble.

This year Chris created what he calls "an homage to Luigi Colani" which I had to Google just then because I like dresses and makeup. I fell asleep on the sofa waiting for him and he woke me up sometime around midnight when stood in the dining room, covered with saw dust and completely beige, whispering and pointing excitedly to his alien-looking car body. He and Liam will attach weights to the car and paint it tonight.

"All the cars will be weighed this year," he said ominously. This morning when Liam saw it, he, Chris, and Ewan had an excitable conversation comprised mostly of "DUDE," "AWESOME," and "SO GONNA WIN."
 
Last year Liam and I attempted to wow the homeschool kids at the annual Valentine's party with a shoebox wrapped in foil with stickers and pipe cleaner taped all over it. What we didn't realize is that anytime you even remotely hint to homeschooled kids that something is a contest, they will go absolutely whole-hog, bat crap insane over it. We didn't realize this until we arrived and saw the kid with the light-up robot Valentine's box and the other elaborate boxes. Liam's pride wilted and just once I wished that homeschooled kids lived up to the dimwitted-freak stereotype so we could've had the best Valentine's box that day.

This year Ewan, the family goth, gave us the idea of a haunted house Valentine's box so we planned early and stocked up on supplies. We used the box in which an order of books arrived for the house, cut out windows, pitched the "roof," and painted everything black. We used tempura paint which reminded me of formaldehyde and all those afternoons spent in 4th period anatomy and physiology dissecting sheep, frogs, brains, and eyeballs before lunch.
I saved the cut-outs of the windows and we painted those yellow and positioned them in the house to create a more three-dimensional look. Some of them I cut in pieces and made "boards" to board up other windows. Liam created ghosts from a sticky-backed foam; Ewan helped by picking out off-season Halloween (of course) stickers.

When he walked into the Valentine's party this year the kids were all "LOOKIT LIAM'S BOX!" and a girl who he swears he doesn't have a crush on told him his box was "cool." He bragged about that for the rest of the afternoon. I had almost as much fun watching him show off all of his work as I did making the house with him. I felt redeemed from last year's hastily-wrapped foil shoebox.

I didn't have a lot of parental manpower growing up and I often felt that my shabby projects were of no comparison to the elaborate things my classmates and their parents would bring to school. I remember one project where we were supposed to build a car powered by springs and rubberbands and while other kids had their dads work with them on it my older cousin, thankfully, stepped in and helped me with mine. The car didn't go very far, but I had a completed project and was able to work with someone. To say that this doesn't fuel a bit of the motivation for me at times would be a lie. 

Chris on the other hand, is just obsessed with all things engineering and is eager to encourage in Liam a predilection for watching coma-inducing shows like "How It's Made" so he has someone with whom to geek out. Whenever Chris brings up those shows in the Tivo queue I instantly pass out from threat of boredom. Do I need to know how the plastic that wraps cheese slices are made? NO.
        
Haunted House Valentine's Box
More here.        

A day off

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paint.jpg

A hard decision

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At his desk

So after last week's post about my India indecision I thought long and hard about going. I prayed. Other people prayed. I obsessed. I analyzed. I did a ton of research and looked at lots of materials including the State Department link one of you gave which said things like:
 
There is a high threat from terrorism throughout India and terror attacks are a serious and growing threat to U.S. citizens traveling and resident there. U.S. citizens are urged to always practice good security, including maintaining a heightened situational awareness and a low profile.  Coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai in late November 2008 targeting areas frequented by Westerners have raised the risk of Americans becoming intended or unintended victims of terrorism in India.
and

In 2008, violence against Christians (including foreigners accused of proselytizing) has increased.  Mobs have attacked Indian and American missionaries and social workers as such activity provokes strong reactions in some areas.

This article didn't help, either, especially as it's taking place right where the group is going.

Because of some of the unrest there I just don't feel like it's the right time for me to go to that particular part of the world. I'm a bit conflicted that I feel this way; I tend to be very confrontational and non-susceptible with regards to intimidation and it does anger me somewhat that my fear of getting blown up stands in the way of me doing charitable work. I want to say yes out of spite. However, I don't feel that decision is mine alone to make. I have two children who depend on me at home, a family that depends on me, a community. I admire the courage of those who have chosen to go.

It was very hard to decide against going this particular time. Helping children is an issue close to my heart for many reasons; I love to travel; I want to see the world; I just felt that this wasn't the right time to go. I do plan on journeying with this group at a point in the future; I will keep you apprised. I hope that those who were gung-ho about my going are as equally supportive of this decision.

Homework

Thank you so much for your comments and your emails. It meant a lot that you took the time out of your day to offer insight or a prayer. I have it on my to-do list to write some of you back still. Please keep the India-bound group in your thoughts and prayers. I hope safety blankets their journey and I hope that many children are helped by this mission; here's how you can help.

Childfree by choice

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My latest episode for Momversation is up and the discussion is about people who choose not to have children and the judgment parents get from some within that community.

One of the points I made, which was edited out due to time constraints, focused on how some who choose to be childfree would like maternity leave and the same benefits as families. My point is that they chose not to have children and with that went the choice to partake in family benefits. I was a little offended by the analogy that writing a book (one of their examples) or going on vacation, et al., was equal to or as selfless as bringing a life into the world and nurturing it. If people who are childfree want to have a positive impact on the world, they can start by not being cranky towards parents or large families. Respect for choices goes both ways! Don't you think?
 

Also, I've made a decision with regards to India. I'll discuss it tomorrow.

Service

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It's official: as of last night I no longer can count a single WWII veteran among my acquaintances. I've long used this as an unspoken yardstick against mortality. I've watched these veterans, in our family and social circles, leave this world one by one and now the last one I knew has passed.

G may have been a couple of generations older than me but this didn't impact how my husband and I saw him as a friend. Sadly, we allowed ourselves to be too consumed with work to get to visit him in his final days and I'm aggravated at myself over this. There is no excuse.

When I started going to church again regularly (after years of disillusionment), G was one of the first people I met. I always felt comfortable around him; he had lived too long and seen too much to turn around and view anyone with any sort of spiritual suspicion. He wore his best flannel shirt and took the hat off his head when the opening songs began. 

He was the only man to ever get me a baby shower gift. I remember writing thank yous and poring over the cards I'd saved; amongst the pile of flowery notes in women's script was a simple card with the word "BOY" on the front and inside G's shaky scrawl. I still have this card. I wrote him a thank you note in careful print so that he could read it. After I had Ewan he gave me a framed copy of something he wrote, an essay about how women are a blessing.

He wrote essays every week and made copies on the church's Xerox machine before distributing them to the congregation every Sunday morning before the sermon. Sometimes he gave you two copies. I always missed the first part of the sermon reading them. I think G knew it, too, and after a while I noticed that intentional or not, he gave me my copy after the service. He was a fantastic writer. He wrote with a humility that can only be attained by a long life of trial and error. There was an urgency in his words, through them he tried to gift others the benefit of his experience so that they may see things more clearly, earlier.

After a while he stopped writing due to his failing health. It was always difficult to make out what he said before but even more so at the end of his life. His voice was so quiet that you had to lean in to hear him. He never complained. He was too worried about being of service to others and pleasing God. Most people my age think it's enough just to make getting through the gates your goal. Service to anyone doesn't factor into the journey. This was a lesson G embodied. Isn't it weird how people appear in your life at the precise moment when you need an adjustment to your perspective?

I'm not writing this for condolences; I know that G is in much better company than we here on earth could have ever offered him. We were fortunate to know him and learn from him. He lived a long, beautiful life and while I won't assume to know the inner-workings of Heaven, were I a betting gal, I'd say that G walked through those gates hearing "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

A matter of three things

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If you've spent any amount of time reading this website several things will be very clear to you:
- I am completely neurotic
- I am a cynic
- I am (some would say irrationally) scared of flying

All of this came to a head the other day when I received an email from an organization inviting me to fly to India, all expenses, to write about this charitable organization's work and hopefully bring attention to the children who so desperately need sponsors. I am not going to lie: not four days before receiving this email did I tell Chris, upon watching a travel program together, that India is the last place on earth I would ever want to visit - unless for the sole purpose of finding and beating that outsourced Dell tech who smarted off to me last year when he said that my computer problems may be due to "the women and their silly typing with their long nails." That's when God up in the sky rubbed His big God hands together and laughed like a vaudeville villain and remarked "I'LL SHOW YOU" in a James Earl Jones voice.

I immediately came up with a mental list of reasons I cannot go:
- all of the bullet points listed above
- I hate curry
- I'm a germophobe
- Securing sponsorship or funds for Chris to accompany me
- terrorists
- being separated from my family
- possibly crashing into the sea which would really suck
- going with a group of total strangers
- the flight is over 30 hours

Chris says that it's a wonderful opportunity but that there is no way on earth he feels at ease with putting my 5'5" frame on a giant metal aircraft and launching me over two oceans to face the journey alone.

"No one can protect you like I can protect you," he said quietly, and when I rolled my eyes he was all "So they can say that crap in Twilight and you women swoon but when real actual men say it you roll your eyes? Good grief!"

So now we're feeling out some sponsorships for him to go because he insists on taking the bullets should we be ambushed by a group of terrorists while helping the children who are living in abject poverty. And also he would like to ride an elephant.

I told my mother, who is very much like Kath from "Kath and Kim," how long the flight was and she immediately launched into some story about how if you sit with your legs up for a period of time you will get blood clots in your legs and die! And the terrorists! And also the water! They don't have Imodium in India!

When I broached the topic with my children and pointed out where we would be on the globe and how they would stay with their grandparents Liam was all "SEE YA LATER!" and Ewan asked for me to bring him back a monkey. "With cymbals, mama."

The other night I spoke with the guy organizing the trip and I attempted to astound him with my neurosis. He answered all of my questions with a smile in his voice and I could tell that my concerns are ones voiced by others who've gone on previous excursions. I related my concern about terrorists and of falling out of the sky.

"I've practiced free-fall moves in my living room floor, I said.

"If you wear baggy clothes you'll fall slower" he replied.

He didn't make fun of me. Score a point towards going.

So the three biggest obstacles in my way are my anxiety, the cost factor of Chris accompanying me as his presence is sort of a make or break, and my concerns for the boys.

I'm being funny about all of this but if you looked at my soul it has the face of Shelley Duvall right as Jack Nicholson is breaking through the bathroom door in the last action sequence of "The Shining." In non-dramatic layman's terms: I am scared.

Mother Theresa once said that if there is a hell on earth, Calcutta is it. I would be going to a hell on earth to observe and document the divine and hope even when it seems least likely to be present. I'd be going to write about the help that the sponsoring organization does for these children and hopefully encourage more people to sponsor children in third-world areas. The vast disparity in cultures does not intimidate me; the knowledge that I will have my heart wrenched from my chest and wrung out does not give me pause. Leaving the protection of my country's borders during a very weird time, leaving my young children (which pains me to even write it), and breaking out of my own head all give me concern. I'm a prayerful person; it's something about which I will have to pray more. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, yet, so is raising my family, should my biggest fears manifest.

I don't know what I am going to choose but I have to give an answer by Wednesday. If I decide in the affirmative I'll give the rest of the details then. 

I don't know why I'm presenting this to you ... for comfort? For some magic comment that will erase my anxieties? To ask what you would do? All of these and yet none of these, but I want to hear it anyway. Please don't judge me for having honest concerns.
(And please also say a prayer for us.)

The family business

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I'm sitting at the dining room table, staring at a globe, contemplating traipsing halfway across the world for a good cause. I'll be talking more about that later because my mind is on the fence.

In the meantime, let the boys take you on a mini-tour of Chris's massive studio, now open for business.
Vocal booth

They've recorded two artists already and the rooms book quickly. The studio has received a fair amount of press thus far (I'm really proud of them and the building is simply stunning and I wanted to show the fruit of years of hard work); Chris and his studio partner, Doug, made the local Alive Magazine's annual Buzz List this year. The magazine is throwing a swanky party this weekend which we're attending; unfortunately, as per usual, I haven't the slightest clue what to wear. Mercedes is loaning Chris one of its S class vehicles (?) to drive until Sunday and we're to drive it to the awards which is a relief because I was just planning on keeping it beyond real and showing up in a minivan that smells like stale McDonald's. The valets love it.

Front desk. And gumballs! Live room. Live room with window into main control room
One of the lounge areas, outside the main control room Chris's office
Main control room. No other studio in St. Louis can match it. Period.

This is our family business and despite appearances (and unkindly stereotypes) no, we are not rich. I buy Sam's cola. We don't take vacations. Click on any photo to enlarge and for captions. Click here for the entire set; click here to see the big gallery on their website.

Breastfeeding and formula feeding

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(I'll be on Great Day St. Louis again today at 10 a.m. on KMOV Channel 4 to discuss this post, much to the delight of my mother. I (or Carol) will be reading a few of the comments you left on that one on air. I don't know whose comments they chose in advance.)

My latest episode is up at Momversation and it's about [drumroll ...] breastfeeding and bottle feeding! More particularly the weirdo perverts who have problems with public breastfeeding and the weirdo busybodies who think it's their place to criticize you if you use formula to feed your child. If you've read this website for over a year, you'll remember the hoopla caused when I wrote a column in defense of public breastfeeding for a printed paper and the ****storm caused from it (including my subsequent removal, the hundred of subscribers who wrote to tell me that public breastfeeding was "slutty," "unladylike," "inappropriate," et al.) because how dare I use the term "boobs" instead of something like "chestal region." Ahem.

So obviously I gots me some intense fillings about it. (As does Rebecca, evidenced below.) If you have a problem with public breastfeeding you are a pervert. Stop staring at women's chests. If you have a problem with formula feeding, you need to get a life and realize that your offensively nosy actions preclude you from a mother-of-the-year award. Thanks!


Have you ever had a problem with someone trying to get all in your business with regards to breast or bottle feeding? Did you struggle with anxiety because you were afraid of others' reactions if you nursed in public or made your child a bottle? How did you handle it?

Programming note

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I'll be on Great Day St. Louis again today at 10 a.m. on KMOV Channel 4 to discuss this post, much to the delight of my mother. I (or Carol) will be reading a few of the comments you left on that one on air. I don't know whose comments they chose in advance. 
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