Monthly Archives: March 2009

Didn’t Mary Breastfeed Baby Jesus?

 This past weekend, several of the Montana Childbirth Collective  ladies, including myself and six-year-old Ellie, conducted a campaign of distributing Mothering Magazine’s International Breastfeeding Symbol stickers and window clings to well over 100 businesses in the greater Bozeman area.

  bficon-web

The goal?

1.  To promote wide-spread recognition of this symbol, just as we are accustomed to these symbols:

international-symbols

2.  To encourage businesses to show support for nursing moms and babies by displaying the symbol and, better yet, providing a comfortable, quiet and/or welcoming place for mothers to nurse their children while away from home.

3.  To teach our culture that whenever/wherever anyone (mothers needing to breastfeed or just plain anyone) sees this symbol, it represents a friendly place for nursing–A.K.A not a place where a breastfeeding mom ought to expect to be on the receiving end of dirty looks, chiding comments and, worst of all, requests that she “cover up” or discontinue feeding her child or find an alternative location (such as a public bathroom stall).

It’s hard to say how much affect we’ve had just yet.  Because we were distributing on the weekend, plenty of stores, staffed by workers other than the owners themselves, are in possession of the stickers/window clings, but few have displayed them as of yet.  (It’s far too easy and, in most cases, required, for a barista or book store worker to punt to higher management or the shop owner for making the final decision as to whether or not a little 4×4″ sticker might be placed on a window.

What we, as a group, found interesting during this little exercise, was the response we received in the most unexpected of places.

Of course we expected businesses like maternity clothing and baby toy stores to be more than willing to display the sticker as well as some locally owned stores with known breastfeeding families at the helm.  But who would’ve thought the employee at Taco Bell would’ve been so excited about the sticker?  Or a trendy women’s shoe store?  Or one of the twelve or so coffee shops in town?

Moreover, who would’ve thought one of the natural food stores in town (Oak Street Market) would’ve flat out turned us down, claiming “they don’t like to put anything on their windows”?  Or the Family Christian Book Store, in which the employee approached by one of our members went out of her way to state she wouldn’t mind a mom breastfeeding in their store as long as she “went in the bathroom and shut the door.” This was the same woman who referred to breastfeeding on several occasions as “disgusting.” 

Did I mention public breastfeeding has been a legally protected activity, according to Montana State Law, since 1999?

I’m sorry, but wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that Mary breastfed baby Jesus?  Does the woman at the Christian book store mentioned above presume that, upon the arrival of the Three Wisemen, Joseph whispered into Mary’s ear, “better cover up honey, we’ve got company”  ?

Well I must presume that, back in the day, Caesar didn’t carve a law into stone (literally) to protect a mother’s right to breastfeed outside the confines of her tent.  He wouldn’t have had to.  Chances are, people in the first century AD weren’t quite as prudish as our culture has strangely become.  (Prudish, despite the thousands of images of scantily clad women that drip from newsstands each day:  Images contained in the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition.  Maxxim.  When Girls Go Wild–Spring Break videos.  Do folks that abhor the idea of breastfeeding ever stop to consider the fact that way more boobieis most likely displayed by their neighbor’s teenage daughter while taking notes in Algebra than by a mother discreetly breastfeeding her child?

Call me naive, but I would’ve thought a store with the words family and Christian in the title might have been a little more supportive of a HUGE family-oriented issue.

Anyway, we garnered some nice local media coverage for the project (check out Gabe and I during my interview with KBZK’s Beth Saboe) and, hopefully, we will start to see those stickers appearing in windows around town as the powers that be make their decisions.

for-web

If you’re reading this and are local to Bozeman, the following is a short list of businesses included in the distribution.  If you happen into one of these places and don’t see a sticker/window cling, would you consider asking them about it?

Thanks.

Stores that received International Breastfeeding Symbol stickers:

Leaf & Bean – Main & N 19th
Country Book Shelf
Burger Bobs
8 Miles to the Border
Rockford Coffee
Rocky Mountain Roasters
Co-Op
The Bay
Barnes & Nobles
Naked Noodle
Sweet Pea Bakery
Home Page
Western Drug Store
The Club
Bozeman Public Library
Ale Works
Main Street Overeasy
Bozeman Birth Center
Bibs & Binkies
Old Navy
Taco Del Mar
Subway
Samaria Sams
Borders Books

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Filed under Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Kids, Mommy and Motherhood, politics

President Obama’s Press Conference

In case you missed it, below you will find a link to President Obama’s press conference from yesterday evening.

As I listened to the post press conference coverage on NPR’s Morning Edition today, Steve Inskeep interview economist Rosanne Altshuler who asserted, among other things, that Obama’s promised tax reform is quickly being left behind.  (I, for one, think the president is doing a great job of wading through an incredibly challenging set of circumstances at the very front of his time in office.  Drastic times call for drastic measures.)

In another part of the interview, Altshuler explained the intention behind the most recentl stimulus package that effectively puts around twenty additional bucks into most people’s paychecks rather than sending each household a one-lump-sum check.  She described that, because Bush’s recent stimulus package largely resulted in folks banking their checks and not re-routing that money into the economy, that the Obama administration  is hoping that folks will take that additional small amount per paycheck and go out and spend it on things like an extra lunch out per week, a visit to the movie theater, books, clothes or other goods for their children, etc.  The intention is to get more Americans routing more money back into the economy.

In theory, I get this, but in principal, I don’t.  Haven’t we gotten ourselves into this HUGE economic mess because as Americans we fell into an enormous trap of over spending?  We have racked up credit card debt we cannot pay, purchased cars and houses we can’t afford and made investments that didn’t make sense.  Until the last few months, we Americans had a terrible record when it came to saving.  And now, for the first time in years, more and more people are actually slowing down their spending and focusing on starting or bolstering their savings accounts.  Isn’t this a good thing?  That our economic woes have prompted thousands of people/households to reconsider their spending habits and look to the importance of having a savings buffer to their name?  (As a parent, I’d like to think that my children might still have a chance at growing up in an environment that teaches the value of saving, conserving and making thrifty choices.)

So, while I understand the drastic need to address our country’s (the world’s) economic problems, I have to wonder if encouraging folks to return to their spend, spend, spend mentality might not be the best piece of advice our government to be relaying to its people.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging folks to save money, spend and consume less, make smart and diversified investments and revisit the idea of how much spending, consuming and over-using is really prudent?

And now…Obama’s press conference:

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Filed under politics

Twue Twitter Confession

I swore I wouldn’t do it.  I promised my husband I would not sink so low.  I railed against the trend, describing the practice of tweeting as  “idiotic,” “pathetic,” and ” a waste of time.”  And then I became (only slightly) convinced at the Desert Nights Rising Stars Writer’s Conference that, to be a modern day writer, one has to be on Twitter.

So, much to my own chagrin, I starting tweeting.  No, not once every day.  Certainly not several times per day.  The idea of using my (still missing) cell phone to tweet about my position in the grocery store line, or the haircut I just received (OK, who am I kidding?  I get my hair cut like, twice per year) still seems asinine to me.  But, in attempt to be a more accessible writer to the (three?) readers of mine who might be interested in what I have to say between books…OK, to practice that accessibility for the day when I actually do have three readers who become interested in what I have to say between said books…I got on the bandwagon.  Mostly, I’ve tweeted about my blog posts, directing the twelve people who follow me on Twitter right back here.

But last week when I came across the video about Twitter, the one that Google happened to feature today in its Today’s Featured Videos window…I just had to highlight it here.  In a sense, this video totally and completely captures my true thoughts about Twitter (even though I hypocritically participate in the ridiculous social media trend myself).

Here it is:

Oh yeah, and P.S.:  If you’re a protective parent like me, you might not want to watch this video with young kids in attendance.  One of the characters in the cartoon ends up lying on the floor with blood shooting out of his arm.  I found myself having to explain to our four-year-old son that no, the whale in the video was not real and that whales don’t typically try to eat people.

Enjoy.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing and Publishing

“Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.”

I’ve begun reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  I guess I should say, I’ve begun re-reading the book, as I’m fairly certain I read this (skimmed it?  perused it?) while taking undergraduate creative writing courses at University of Puget Sound more than a decade ago.

I came across a paragraph in the book the other day–no less than twelve hours after a lengthy conversation with my parents about why I am so driven to pursue this writing thing–that spoke to me like a bullhorn in the ear:

“A friend once told me, ‘Trust in love and it will take you where you need to go.’  I want to add, ‘Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.’  And don’t worry too much about security.  You will eventually have a deep security when you begin to do what you want.  How many of us with our big salaries are actually secure anyway?”

I’m not so much of a dreamer (Andrew might differ with this) that I don’t recognize the importance of basic needs like, needing to earn enough money to put food on the table for your family, etc.  And also, there isn’t a day that goes by during which I think about the huge amount of time and money I (we) invested in my PA degree with the expectation that I would have a long and fruitful career in medicine.

But, by and large, I didn’t like working in the medical field.  Moreover, I didn’t love it as I thought I would.  And, those things aside, I still could’ve been fine working as a PA if I hadn’t been so damned anxious every time I walked through the door to work.  Let me put it this way, when a person finds herself praying, “dear God, please don’t let me kill anyone today at work,” she is either, 1) a serial killer with a conscience, or 2) in over her head in her chosen career.

Yes, I probably could find a PA job in a dermatology office or a women’s health clinic and be relatively happy with it (especially if there were a women’s health clinic in town that 1. employed PAs and 2) embraced a remotely similar philosophy about women’s health care as me) but I’m not sure I’d be happy looking at skin rashes and moles all day and I definitely won’t work in an OBGYN office that doesn’t 100% embrace the idea of gentle pregnancy, labor and birth practices.

Am I being too demanding in what I want out of a career?  Probably Absolutely.   But that is precisely why the Goldberg quote above resonates with me.

I did not find myself loving the work I was doing as a PA.  I did not see my work taking me where I needed to go.  Quite frankly, I was a miserable, anxious, depressed person when trying to fit my square self into the round hole of the medical world.

Since returning to writing (as well as teaching chilbirth preparation classes–both being extremely creative processes) I am happy.  I am happy in my work.  I am happy at home.  I am happy on the inside and the outside.  For the first time since entering the working world, I trust in the process and the direction my work is taking me in.  I feel secure in this work because of how it makes me feel.  I have a grand plan for what type of writing I will perform–writing that will, if all pans out, exact (or at least encourage) social change when it comes to collective societal thoughts about women, pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.

I plan to write strong female characters.  I plan to make statements and assertations about the woman’s place at home and in the work force.  I plan to influence the thoughts and perceptions of others in the sneakiest of ways (and sometimes the loudest and most obvious ways) through my writing.  Through my speaking.  Through my exemplification.

Perhaps this is something I could (could have) accomplished through my work as a PA.  But I’ve finally come to a point in life where I’m willing to be honest with myself:  I just don’t have the energy or the verve to fight that fight.  I guess I’m a bit selfish and narccistic in that, I need to fight a fight that I feel gives me something back in return.  My #1 job as a mother is, by and large, a selfless job.  I need for whatever other role I choose to play in life to be one that evens out the balance sheet a little.

Writing and teaching does that for me.  The energy I expend comes back to me in the form of satisfaction with my work, a sense of calm in my spirit and the succulent temptation to believe my work and effots will, in one way or another, last well beyond myself.  Is that not a basic element of the human condition?  To want our efforts to guarantee a little perpetuity?

So, at this point in my life, I am exchanging the promise of a big salary and job security for the relative unknown that encompass teaching and writing.  And, in so doing, I am so much a better person.  I am a better professional, a better wife, mother, friend and daughter.  At least, I’d like to think so.

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Filed under Artists, Living, Writing and Publishing

Beautiful, Wonderful First Day of Spring!

Wow.  We’ve lived in Montana for six years now and never, never have I experienced such a lovely first day of spring as yesterday.  At its peak, the weather warmed to almost sixty degrees…not too terribly common for this time of year in Montana.

The kids rode bikes, I trimmed back my perennials, we played golf and soccer and Frisbee.

On our visit with my parents this past week my dad, at one point, suggested he didn’t feel like people of my generation stop to smell the roses enough.

“I see how busy you and Andrew are,” he offered as evidence.

Yes, I do tend to be busy.  Who doesn’t, when raising young children?  I shuttle kids to school and speech therapy and dance class.  I steel away for a few hours of writing here and there.  I teach Lamaze classes.  But, I also spend time on the floor of my living room playing with my children.  I build castles and car garages with wooden blocks.  I paint and draw and color.  And, yesterday, I made an entire bouquet of tissue paper flowers with my daughter, in honor of the first day of spring.
ellie-spring-flowers

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Filed under family, Kids, Living

I Come From the Land of Nordstrom Customer Service

OK, I’ll admit it:  I grew up in the land of Nordstrom.

Pretty much anyone  from Seattle (who has a pair of ears and a brain between) has heard of Nordstrom’s reputation for extraordinary customer service.  Reportedly, as the retail giant overtook the industry as far as excellent customer experiences goes, there were stories about people bringing in pairs of shoes that were years old, in poor shape, and definitely not from Nordstrom.  These people approached the sales desk, demanding a refund for the shoes they no longer cared for.  They got what they asked for.

In Nordstrom Land, the customer is always right.

OK, so that may be taking it a bit far.  As a person who cares A LOT about customer service (I’m married, after all, to a man who works for a software company whose sole purpose is to improve other companies’ provision  of customer service) the Nordstrom thing about customers always being right may be a bit over the top.  Especially having heard stories told by my cousin, who is a paralegal for Nordstrom, in which customers have taken that right to always be right a bit too far.

But here’s my rub for the day:
Yesterday, on my way home from Spokane to Bozeman, I stopped in a Starbucks (another Seattle company, y’all) mid-drive to get my kids out of the car, indulge in a quick snack and re-caffeinate myself before completing the six hour drive.

At some point during the brief stop, I dropped my cell phone (my work phone, the phone I’m hoping to receive a call from a literary agent on any day now) in the store.  I realized I couldn’t find my phone upon returning to the car.  I went back into the store and searched.  No luck.  I asked the gal at the counter to keep an eye out for it and, if it happened to be found, please notify me.

By the time I got home to Bozeman, the phone had been found.  It was safe and sound behind the counter.  It is three hours away from where I live.

When I got the girl on the phone who’d located the cell phone, I asked if she could, pretty please, stick it in an envelope and ship it back to me–postage to be paid upon receipt, or at least expect my immediate reimbursement for her efforts.

She said she couldn’t do it.

“I’m not sure how we handle that.  I’ve never had it happen before.  Call back tomorrow morning after six and ask for the manager.  He’ll be able to help you.”

OK, so a Starbucks underling doesn’t know the corporate policy for returning a customer’s misplaced cell phone to them.  Logic and basic humanity aside, I can accept that.

I called back this morning at 7:30.  The manager wasn’t in.  The guy who answered the phone told me, “we’re swamped right now.  I don’t have time to write down your name and number.  Can you call back in, like, an hour or two and ask for the manager?  He can help you then.”

OK, now I’m starting to lose my patience.

If I were working at that store and happened upon a person’s lost cell phone–one which the owner had already contacted me about–I’d screw corporate policy and take the damned thing to the post office myself, buy a $2 padded envelope and send it on its merry way.

But I possess common sense.

A professor of mine once told the physician assistant class of which I was apart, “Common sense isn’t so common.”  Boy, was she ever right.

I don’t exactly feel naked, vulnerable or disconnected by having my cell phone out of my possession like some people I know might feel if this happened to them.  It’s a cheap bit of technology, and I do have a land line, after all.  I can do without a cell phone for a few days.  My basic biological functioning does not exist by cell phone alone.

But, come on.  If you worked at that Starbucks, what would you do?  Would you consult corporate policy?  Punt to the manager?  Tell a customer you don’t have time to help?  Huh?  Huh?  Or would you mail the thing back to its rightful owner, just because that would be the most logical, the most sensible, the most helpful and humane thing to do?

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Filed under travelling with kids, Uncategorized

“‘You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture,’ Ray Bradbury once said. ‘Just get people to stop reading them.'”

In follow-up to my last post, in which I liken the digital age of producing books to the disintegration of the newspaper industry, here is an excellent article from the Christian Science Monitor about the ramifications (and potential dangers) of devices such as Amazon’s Kindle.  This article was brought to my attention by DGLM’s Michael Bourrett in his blog post this week.

BTW – isn’t it interesting how, in this day and age, we can liken just about ANY problem or point of concern to the economical meltdown in progress?  (Read the Christian Science Monitor article linked above to see what I mean.)

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Filed under Writing and Publishing