Friday, July 24, 2015

Screen Time: How is it affecting our kids?

So, admittedly I do let my kids interact with screens. Sue me. My oldest, works for his screen time. If he makes his bed in the morning without being told he gets 30 minutes. If he takes a shower (complete with washing his hair and using soap on his body) without being reminded, he gets 30 mins. He can do a variety of other chores to earn screen time, such as watching his little brother, folding laundry, etc. He can choose whether he wants to earn a cash allowance, or time on any one of his electronic devices, and he has a few. For his birthday this year his grandparents got him a chromebook, and I gave him an old iphone 4 we had lying around and paid for the first months worth of service on it. At $15/month it's costing him less than his old tracfone and he just gives me the cash the beginning of each month. He's 9 by the way, and he pays his own phone bill.

Now, my almost 2 year old is a different case entirely. I rarely if ever let him use a phone/tablet and I've never let him use my computer. He doesn't watch very much TV when he's with me, but does get a decent amount of screen time when hanging out with his brother or grandparents. On the phone/tablet he mostly just colors or watches an elmo video. As far as TV he usually ignores it to play with toys if it's on.

All this being said, I try not to use electronics to babysit my kids, but as someone who at one point was a single mom, sometimes you need to take a gosh darn shower, and you know what? Thomas the Tank Engine is  GREAT babysitter. 30 minutes of peace and quiet while you make dinner or take a shower is priceless. So, uh, don't judge the mom who is putting her kid in front of some PBS show to have 5 minutes to herself. It's a hell of a lot better than strangling her kid because she can't do it anymore. Everybody needs a minute to breathe sometimes.

No doubt about it — TV, interactive video games, and the Internet can be excellent sources of education and entertainment for kids. But too much screen time can have unhealthy side effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under age 2 have no screen time, and that kids older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming, and if you can meet those requirements then MORE POWER TO YOU. I'm proud of you, really I am. But don't feel guilty if you wanna pee by yourself and put on some Martha Speaks for your toddler. They probably won't grow up to be a psychopath. Just make sure you balance it with other fun stuff, like reading and playing outside.

Don't let the TV parent your kids. You're the parent. Just like you wouldn't want some stranger telling your kids what to believe about religion and morals etc. You don't want public programming to tell your kids what they should learn and when. It's also been proven that too much screen time is detrimental to kids, especially under 2.

Too much screen time can:

  • Make it hard for your child to sleep at night
  • Raise your child's risk of attention problems, anxiety, and depression
  • Raise your child's risk of gaining too much weight (obesity)

Screen time increases your child's risk of obesity because:

  • Sitting and watching a screen is time that is not spent being physically active.
  • TV commercials and other screen ads can lead to unhealthy food choices. Most of the time, the foods in ads that are aimed at kids are high in sugar, salt, or fats.
  • Children eat more when they are watching TV, especially if they see ads for food.
Here are some ways to help limit your kids screen time:

  • Stock the room in which you have your TV with plenty of other non-screen entertainment (books, kids' magazines, toys, puzzles, board games, etc.) to encourage kids to do something other than watch the tube.
  • Keep TVs out of kids' bedrooms.
  • Turn off the TV during meals.
  • Don't allow your child to watch TV while doing homework.
  • Treat TV as a privilege that kids need to earn — not a right that they're entitled to. Tell them that TV viewing is allowed only after chores and homework are completed.
  • Don't leave the TV on for background noise. Turn on the radio instead, or have no background noise.
  • Decide which programs to watch ahead of time. Turn off the TV when those programs are over.
  • Suggest other activities, such as family board games, puzzles, or going for a walk.
  • Keep a record of how much time is spent in front of a screen. Try to spend the same amount of time being active.
  • If you're feeling up to it, try a weekday ban and only allowing your kids to watch TV on the weekends.
  • Be a good role model as a parent. Decrease your own screen time to 2 hours a day. (atleast while they're awake ;-) )
  • Challenge your family to go 1 week without watching TV or doing other screen-time activities. Find things to do with your time that get you moving and burning energy. (We've done this on family vacations and it definitely made it more fun for us, AND helped my marriage.)
  • Look for programs your family can watch together (i.e., developmentally appropriate and nonviolent programs that reinforce your family's values). Choose shows, says the AAP, that foster interest and learning in hobbies and education (reading, science, etc.).
  • Watch TV with your child. If you can't sit through the whole program, at least watch the first few minutes to assess the tone and appropriateness, then check in throughout the show.
  • Talk to kids about what they see on TV and share your own beliefs and values. If something you don't approve of appears on the screen, turn off the TV and use the opportunity to ask your child thought-provoking questions such as, "Do you think it was OK when those men got in that fight? What else could they have done? What would you have done?" Or, "What do you think about how those teenagers were acting at that party? Do you think what they were doing was wrong?" If certain people or characters are mistreated or discriminated against, talk about why it's important to treat everyone fairly despite their differences. You can use TV to explain confusing situations and express your feelings about difficult topics (sex, love, drugs, alcohol, smoking, work, behavior, family life). Teach your kids to question and learn from what they see on TV.
Internet Safety:
  • Become computer literate. Learn how to block objectionable material.
  • Keep the computer in a common area. Keep it where you can watch and monitor your kids. Avoid putting a computer in a child's bedroom.
  • Share an email account with younger children. That way, you can monitor who is sending them messages.
  • Teach your child about Internet safety. Discuss rules for your kids to follow while they're using the Internet, such as never reveal personal information, including address, phone number, or school name or location.
  • Bookmark your child's favorite sites. Your child will have easy access and be less likely to make a typo that could lead to inappropriate content.
  • Spend time online together. Teach your kids appropriate online behavior.
  • Monitor kids use of chat rooms. Be aware that posting messages to chat rooms reveals a child's email address to others.
  • Find out about online protection elsewhere. Find out what, if any, online protection is offered at school, after-school centers, friends' homes, or anyplace where kids could use a computer without your supervision.
In summation: It's ok to let your kids watch TV just don't let it take over their life. Especially in the case of gaming, and computer time I have to say that's the world they're growing up in. Computer skills are very much a life skill in today's world.


Resources:

Don't talk about a body that isn't yours.

This one has really been driving me crazy lately, especially in terms of post-partum bodies. Don't tell me what my body should look like. Don't tell me what a healthy body looks like. And for fuckity fuck's sake don't tell post-partum mom's who are having a hard enough time adapting to life after baby that there's something wrong with stretch marks, and extra belly fat. There isn't. Mom's are tigers who have gotten their stripes, and it's 100% up to them if they wanna jog back to the gym and try to look like they did before kids, or not.

While this goes for both men, and women. I do have to say I see it pointed at women a lot more. What makes you feel like it's your business to tell a woman what an "appealing" body is. As someone who's gone through a lot of shapes and sizes in my life I can testify that there are people who will find you attractive at any size. Some people like girl's with curves, other's like skinny minnies, or athletic bodies and a vast majority really don't care what body type you are as long as you share interests with them and are fun to hang out with.

So here's the deal, unless you're someone's Mom, or Spouse, or Child and are genuinely worried about someone you deeply care about's health and well being don't comment on what's going into their mouth or the size of jeans they happen to fit into. It's none of your business.

Especially, do not EVER use someone's weight to sell them products to make you money. If I have one more "itworks" representative message me and ask me if I want to get my pre-baby body back with their "magical wrap" I WILL punch them. 1. My post-baby body is FINE. 2. I've googled you and there is ZERO evidence to support that you can help me lose weight or detoxify me at all. Ripoff report has a lot to say about you too. ABC News even covered how much of a scam they are.

In conclusion if it isn't YOUR body, it's shape, size, or color is none of your goddamn business. So shut your trap.

ALL BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL!!

Everyone should check out this Tumblr

Because, I repeat, all bodies are beautiful.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My 2 Cents on the Presidential Candidates

I'd like to say in opening, that the presidential elections are the least important elections you could possibly be voting in. That being said you're probably more likely to vote in them than smaller local elections for whatever reason so I guess it makes sense to share my viewpoints.

Firstly, I highly recommend going to isidewith and finding out which candidate you must strongly side with.

I took it today and got this result which was 81% Marco Rubio, 80% Rand Paul and 74% Bernie Sanders. Previously, I got 83% Bernie Sanders and 81% Rand Paul, so obviously my answers must have changed some since the last time I took it. Now this is NOT a voting guide. Don't just vote for the person you agree with the most automatically, but read through the descriptions to get a better idea of what the candidates are fighting for.

Personally, I will probably vote Rand Paul or Bernie Sanders. I haven't made up my mind yet. My personal isidewith let me know that I side with Libertarians on 83% of issues. Which, I already pretty much knew. If you haven't previously read my blog post on voting bipartisan I highly recommend doing so now, and educating yourself on why bipartisan voting is killing our country.

In case you don't know, some states require that you be registered to a specific political party in order to vote in the primaries. I live in one of those states. In Florida, I have to be a Republican to vote in the Republican primary or a Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary. Which means I need to figure out which way to change my independent registration pretty soon, and I'm struggling with it. I REALLY want Sanders to win the Democratic vote, and for Paul to win the Republican.

Why I love Bernie Sanders:

  • He doesn't support the Patriot Act.
  • He supports subsidizing US Farmers.
  • He wants to continue preserving our national parks.
  • He wants to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives via assisted suicide.
  • He's anti common-core.
  • He's pro marijuana legilization.
  • He says things like this:


Why I love Rand Paul:
  • We agree on illegal immigration for the most part. My stance is that illegal immigrants should be deported, but that it should be easier to attain citizenship. If you work here, pay taxes, speak English and aren't a criminal I think you should be able to gain citizenship here without too much hassle.
  • He also doesn't support the Patriot Act.
  • He doesn't support increased gun control.
  • He wants to take the government out of marriage.  So yes, that means he thinks same sex couples should get the same rights as everyone else, legally.
  • He too is anti- common core. 
  • He wants to decrease military spending.
  • He's pro marijuana-legalization.
  • And, he says things like this:



Why I don't like Jeb Bush:

  • He appointed a guardian for the fetus of a rape survivor.
  • He refused to veto a bill requiring single moms to publish their sexual history. 
  • He hired a staffer who publicly referred to women as "sluts"
  • Suggested that low income women should just "get their lives together and find a husband"
  • HE USED TAX PAYER MONEY TO FUND ANTI ABORTION CAMPAIGNS.
My opinion on Donald Trump:
  • His campaign slogan should be changed to Donald Trump 2016 FOR THE LOLZ.
  • His wife is really hot.
  • I follow his twitter and it makes me laugh. 
  • Since the president's most important role in government is to be a figurehead/public speaker I'm pretty sure he'd get us all killed.
  • His campaign is hilarious. He's essentially running his own smear campaign and it's working. Maybe Kim Kardashian should run for president next.
I can't talk to you about Hillary right now, because I was a Bill supporter and she's really messed up her credibility and I wanted to see a woman in the white house so bad and she's really killing my vibe.


So there you have it, my summation. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stop talking about Bruce Jenner, immediately.

HER name is CAITLYN.

Seriously, for FUCKS SAKE. I can NOT believe I am STILL seeing this. How many of you ignorami legitimately want to be on the wrong side of history? Your grand kids are gonna be so ashamed of you.

Now, that I've gotten past my little tirade there. Here's the thing. I hated Bruce Jenner. I still strongly dislike/hate Caitlyn Jenner. The whole Jenner/Kardashian clan could be blown to smithereens and I would probably throw a party. Caitlyn is still giving into the media circus that is her life just as much as she always has, even when she was a he. However, atleast now some poor trans kid is sitting at home watching her, saying to themselves, "I can do this. I'm gonna be okay." So, atleast now she's using her ridiculous undeserved media attention for good. So, don't be a bigoted prick about it. You just look like a tool, and let me know who I should remove from my friends list. Her transition isn't a joke. Here are a few reasons why:

  • A whopping 41% of people who identify as trans or gender non-conforming have tried to kill themselves. Find more on how that % breaks down here.
  • One in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes, because of their gender identity.
  • One in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Family rejection and discrimination and violence have contributed to a large number of transgender and other LGBQ-identified youth who are homeless in the United States – an estimated 20-40% of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth. Unfortunately, social service and homeless shelters that work with this population often fail to culturally and appropriately serve transgender homeless people, including denying them shelter based on their gender identity; inappropriately housing them in a gendered space they do not identify with; and failing to address co-occurring issues facing transgender homeless adults and youth.
  • A recent report by AmFar,concluded that “trans women are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population.” While transgender men are less likely to be HIVpositive than transgender women, their rates of infection are still higher than that of the general population.
  • Despite an increasing prominence of transgender people in the news/media in the vast majority of studies, transgender people have only been counted as their sex assigned at birth, which not only discounts their identities, but leaves them relatively invisible to public health officials and advocacy organizations working toward prevention, treatment, and related health care.
  • Transgender people face extraordinary levels of physical and sexual violence, whether on the streets, at school or work, at home, or at the hands of government officials. More than one in four trans people has faced a bias-driven assault, and rates are higher for trans women and trans people of color.
  • It’s estimated that over 134,000 American veterans are transgender, and over 15,000 trans people are serving in military today despite rules forbidding them to serve openly. DID YOU HEAR THAT? These are people who love their country SO much they are BREAKING THE RULES to fight and die to protect you. Seriously? Yes.
I do not have time to sit here and list all the issues facing transgender people today so here are some resources if what I've said so far is somehow not enough for you to realize that her name is Caitlyn, and it's important.
  1. transequality.org
  2.  This mom's snarky video about "The Facts" 
  3. www.hrc.org/Transgender
  4. www.americanprogress.org
  5. transpeoplespeak.org
Also, check out these super awesome trans people who are blazing a new frontier and are totally worth more of your time than some media whore.
  • Please tell me you've already heard of Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black.
  • Bethany Black has been described Britain’s only goth lesbian transsexual comedian. This year she also became the first trans actor to play a trans character on British television in Cucumber and Banana. Follow her here, and check out some of her comedy here.
  • Laura Jane Grace is mostly known for being the lead singer of Against Me! and generally being a total badass. You can follow her here and listen to her awesome music here.
  • Madhu Kinnar is India's first trans mayor.
The list goes on and on I highly recommend checking out entirely amelia.



Maximizing your social networking potential

Ok, ladies, this one is mostly for you. Although men can be just as guilty of all the things I'm about to confront you about.

Social networking is power, and you're using it all wrong. If you put half the energy into your LinkedIn, or professional website, or even a relevant blog, that you do making sure your facebook profile picture is the best one of all the selfies you took today you'd almost definitely be further in life.

LinkedIn:

  1. Sign up. Please. Do me this tiny favor. Even if you're working as a barista or a cashier. Make a profile. It's so easy. 
  2. Fill in the information. This is really simple but can be time consuming. Put as much details on your profile as you can, including work experience, education, relevant associations, hobbies etc. HR people and recruiters use LinkedIn for candidate searching and they do it by key words. Make sure you put buzz words and lots of industry jargon on there. The location is very important as well, as recruiters look for potential candidates close to the client’s site first. Even if you are missing info, some is better than none, and don't be afraid of your background. THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE LOOKING FOR YOU.
  3. Upload a photo. You obviously have good photos of yourself. I've seen your facebook's you have thousands of them. Pick on that you aren't wearing a birthday crown, or downing a drink in up there. Something that's mostly of your face and looks moderately professional.
  4. Connect. Whore yourself out. You do it on instagram, and facebook and a million other sites that don't help you get anywhere with your career. Add your old boss. Your mom. That kid you did that project with that one time. Find people you know and add them. 
  5. Get involved in groups and discussions. There has GOT to be something you care enough about to join the group on LinkedIn. Save the Whales, or Gaming, Professional Makeup... something.
  6. Ask for recommendations. That business owner your dad knows who you helped with his iPhone last summer... he's probably on LinkedIn. See if he'll recommend you.
  7. Stay active. If you login to LinkedIn half as much as you login to Facebook I promise someone will notice you.
  8. Share relevant information. For this you have to have some kind of idea as to what you'd like to accomplish on LinkedIn whether it be professional networking or a chance at a new career. Find an article or study relevant to the field you want to move forward in and share it on LinkedIn.
Some other accounts I suggest making:

  • Indeed
  • Glass door
  • Monster
  • A blog such as this
  • If you are already active in the professional world I highly recommend a 2nd Twitter and Facebook that you wouldn't mind being friends with your boss or clients on.
  • A professional website won't kill you and whether it be for now or in the future GoDaddy currently has 99 cent domains so snatch one of those up.



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dead Rising 3 Review

"Welcome to the beautiful city of Los Perdidos! Now strip down to your underpants and smack some zombies in the face with a traffic cone."

Dead Rising is one of my favorite zombie games. It's up there with L4D, but way behind the Last of Us. The story line is pretty great. The 5 day narrative kept me enthralled and the gore kept me excited. After playing Dying Light I was a little worried that it was going to be difficult for me, but Dead Rising was true to it's melee roots. Man, I love being able to stop and pick up just about anything and kill a zombie with it. The crafting adds another layer of fun, as collecting the parts to build a new blueprint becomes a quest of it's own. I also like being able to pick up a weapon at any safe zone once I've encountered it once.

Some survivors eventually join your party, where they can be armed with the game's less flamboyant weapons to fight alongside you, or can be led back to one of the game's safe areas and stored for later deployment. Keeping survivors alive was a key part of the first two games, as leading them to safety was how objectives were completed, but Dead Rising 3 considers it more of an optional afterthought. Safe rooms, scattered around each of Los Perdidos' four districts, also contains recharging lockers that can spawn in any item or combo weapon you've previously used. This is a game far more focused on having you slaughtering the undead than continually scavenging for items, though it's not always a change for the better. Dead Rising 3's accessibility makes it easier to rack up the kills, but infinitely spawning weaponry ultimately robs the game of the deeper connection I forged with Willamette mall or Fortune City. I can still remember the route to Colombian Roastmasters in the first Dead Rising, and jumping off the edge of the coffee shop to land on the balcony with the katana. I couldn't tell you much at all about Los Perdidos.

I never played nightmare mode, so I can't comment on it. Other reviewers seem to think it's great tho.

Since I'm pressed for time at the moment I'll just end by saying that the games frame rate is choppy, and seems... imperfected.


8/10

My rant about credit scores

So normally I TRY not to go on long personal rants. hahaha. But I am freaking out right now and you're all just gonna have to deal.


The entire "credit score" system seems like one large, intolerable scam. I have to have my credit run to apply for ANYTHING. Not just to apply but to get quoted on RATES. Then, every time I run my credit it hits my credit report and my credit score dips. So... what you're telling me is I can't shop around for MORTGAGE RATES, CELL PHONE PLANS, CAR LOANS, APARTMENTS, CREDIT CARDS, etc without it damaging my credit? That you are probably going to then RUN AGAIN when I make a decision about which one I want to go with. AWESOME. That's not impossible at all and makes complete and total sense.

So here are some so called "facts" about our credit scores:

  • Credit Card utilization is supposedly the most important factor in your credit score, and lenders want it to be under 30%.
  • Next up, is payment history. This one actually totally makes sense. The percentage of payments that you’ve made on time helps show how reliable you are in meeting your billing obligations. So thumbs up creditors for that actual logic.
  • Next is derogatory marks. Why this isn't first I have NO IDEA. Derogatory marks are accounts that are in collections, bankruptcies, civil judgments and liens. 
  • In the supposed "medium" range of importance is the age of your credit history. Which is pretty killer if you want to start your life off on the right foot and not open a bunch of credit cards just to be able to buy a house, or car. 
  • In the supposed "low" range is the one that is KILLING me, and I'm not sure how "low" it is, since it just dropped my credit score 30 points over night. (through no fault of my own. HERES TO YOU WELLS FARGO FOR RUNNING MY CREDIT WHEN YOU SWORE UP AND DOWN THAT YOU WEREN'T GOING TO) is credit inquiries. It stretches back to report ALL of your credit inquiries over the last TWO years. *eye* roll.
  • Another metric in the low range is your total number of accounts. This one, also, kind of seems asinine to me since MORE accounts is better, but LESS inquiries. How exactly do you suggest I do THAT credit gurus?
So, someone stab me with a rusty fork in my eyes please.

That is all for now.

Friday, July 17, 2015

So Many Me Review

So as many of you may have caught on, I'm a big fan of games with gold, and this month one of the FREE games was So Many Me. So obviously, I downloaded it, and last night my husband and I spent an hour or 2 taking turns playing it.

So Many Me is a charming puzzle platformer starring Filo and his band of misfit clones as they attempt to save a world threatened by an ancient, malevolent evil. Using their combined powers, Filo and his fellow Me must puzzle their way through a land of exotic creatures, devious traps and evil minions.

I would describe it as Little Big Planet meets Lemmings.


While the game was a lot of fun for the 2 hours or so that we spent playing it I don't foresee myself playing it again. To be honest, I got bored. In the game's defense. I'm not a huge fan of puzzle games. When I get stuck I get frustrated and hand the controller to my personal player 2. If he can't beat it we're usually at an impasse. I don't want to have to google how to get through a certain stage.


The graphics were decent, and the game play was smooth. I really enjoyed the artwork a lot, and the story line was fairly captivating. I will probably pass the game off to my 9 year old son, because I think he will love it. It has interesting gameplay mechanics, sharp controls and stunning visuals. Traversing this platformer is a daunting task and you have to use all the tools in your arsenal.

If you're interested in a more in depth review check out this one

7/10

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Facts about breastfeeding

So I'd like to start with a disclaimer that if you are a self identified woman, and you have children, that you're a mama, and I'm on your team. Breast or bottle. Bed sharing, or in a crib. Attachment parent or disciplinarian. However you are raising your child as long as you are doing your best (and not beating them within an inch of their life on the regular) I SUPPORT YOU. Also, I think it's sad I have to say that, because really shouldn't we all be supporting one another anyways.


Can you drink and breastfeed?
Why yes, you can. While frequent, excessive drinking is (hopefully) an obvious no-no, there is nothing wrong with the occasional alcoholic beverage. Mothers should drink in moderation. Go ahead and enjoy a glass of wine or favorite beverage every now and then without any plaguing mommy guilt. Perhaps a good way to put a number on "drinking in moderation" is limiting drinking to a single beverage one or two times a week.

What you need to know is the amount of time required for alcohol to leave the breastmilk depends on your bodyweight, the alcohol content of the beverage you were drinking, how many ounces you drank, and the amount of time it took you to drink it. That being said, essentially if you can safely (and legally) drive a car without concern of a DUI, you are most likely sober enough to breastfeed your baby.

However, the myth that alcohol builds milk supply is a pretty old one, based largely on unresearched opinions. In 2005 studies were released that not only debunked this myth, but showed the exact opposite to be true. Not only does downing that beer or glass of wine not build supply, it actually serves to decrease your breastmilk supply and inhibit milk letdown. It is far better to stick with established methods of boosting breastmilk supply instead. (more on that later)

How can I boost my supply?
One of the most common reasons for a breastfed baby's slow weight gain or an issue with low milk supply has to do with improper latch. If a baby is latched improperly, not only is it quite likely to cause discomfort for mom, it will also fail to stimulate greater milk production. Try this link for some examples of how to get a proper latch.

Make sure you're breastfeeding a minimum of every 2 hours if you're worried about your supply for any reason.

Try using breast compression. See here for techniques.

Drain the breast before switching sides. Switching back and forth between breasts during a feeding can deter your milk production. If your suffering from low milk supply, keep your baby at the first breast long enough to drain it of milk. At that point, switch to the other breast. Start feeding your baby at the opposite breast at the start of the next feeding.

MAKE SURE YOU'RE NOURISHING YOUR OWN BODY.

Consider side effects of any medication you might be taking.

If all else fails, try some mother's milk herbal tea, fenugreek, or blessed thistle.

Is breast feeding what is best for my baby?
Well, multiple studies have indicated that breastfeeding does boost IQ. But, there are many studies that have come forward to refute that evidence and claim that it has a lot more to do with the environment and IQ of parents who choose to breastfeed.

It does boost babies immunities and help keep them healthy before you can get them immunizations to protect against diseases.

It definitely helps mama lose weight after baby, combats post-partum depression, and can help prevent pregnancy following birth.

In my opinion, yes, breast is best. But always take into account what's best for you and  your whole family.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • How long am I willing to wait before returning to work?
  • Will pumping be an option at my work place?
  • Am I comfortable with being the main provider of meals?
  • If my child needs to nurse multiple times through the night can I get up with them and still perform my daily tasks?
  • Is my partner comfortable with me breastfeeding?
  • How do I feel about breastfeeding in public?
And last but not least, talk to a certified lactation consultant.


Alternative Families

As many of you may by now know, my family is not exactly the "American Dream" so to speak. My sons have 2 different biological fathers. My husband is my youngest son's father. My oldest son, Riley, has another dad, who he absolutely adores. For a long time my relationship with my eldest son's father was... less than awesome. Over the past 9 years, I've worked very hard to open communication back up between us, and include him in family events. You know why? Because we are a family. My son's and their father's and I, are a family. It's important that Riley knows that he is part of a family who loves each other. Even if sometimes that is hard to do.


So for his birthday this year we all went camping and to six flags. We all had a great time. Riley said it was his second best birthday EVER.























But it took us a long time to get here. It didn't just happen overnight. I can't speak from my ex's point of view but for me, it took a lot of forgiving and letting things go. It meant looking at things from Riley's perspective, and Jon (my ex's) perspective and spending a whole lot less time thinking about how things affected ME, or how something he had said was offensive.
It took sacrifice, but most of all it took love. It took me remembering that this was a man who at one point in my life I had loved enough to make a child with. It took realizing that he gave me my most precious gift. My first son. So, despite everything that had happened between us, none of it really mattered. What mattered was what Riley SAW, and that what he was going to see from then on was parents who cared for one another and who could do things with him together. 
We went out together for father's day. My 2 sons, their 2 fathers and myself. Now, I can't speak for everyone, but I think we all had a blast. Playing on the dock and going out for lunch. Even playing disc golf together.

My family isn't standard, but it's a family, and in my opinion, it's a great one.


Not all families are 2 parents and their shared genetic children. Some families have 2 moms or 2 dads. Some families have no moms. There are families that are grandkids with their grandparents. Some are a mix of adopted and genetic. Or step-kids and biological. Some families are transient while others all more permanent. Some families live together and others don't. Love makes a family. That's the glue. If you'd lay down your life for someone else's they're your family. If you think of them at night before you go to bed. If you want the best for them no matter what they've done or said. That's your family. Don't let anyone ever tell you any different.

Massive Chalice Review

So I downloaded Massive Chalice when it was FREE last month using my Xbox Live Gold and I do not regret it. It's now back up to $19.99 and I would definitely spend that to play it. That being said if you play on an xbox (360 or One) I highly recommend updating your membership to Gold. You can do so on Amazon for $44 for a whole year, and the free games are absolutely worth it.

Disclaimer: I adore turn by turn RPG's. Playing God is pretty much as good as it gets for me in the gaming universe.

MASSIVE CHALICE is a tactical strategy game set on an epic timeline from Double Fine Productions. As the Immortal Ruler of the Nation, you'll take command of its heroes, forge marriages to strengthen your Bloodlines, and battle a mysterious enemy known as the Cadence in a war lasting hundreds of years.

Some key features include:

  • Bloodline Genetics - MASSIVE CHALICE features an innovative Bloodline system that allows the player to marry heroes together to produce children. The Bloodline system uses a randomized genetic code for every hero. Their children can end up with the best gameplay-impacting traits inherited from their parents… or they could inherit the worst ones.
    This to me is one of the best parts of the game. I find myself paying close attention to the traits of all those I put in power, and try to balance out what my nation is going to look like for generations. While trying produce the most of my favorite character types (more on that later)
  • Permadeath - The heroes in MASSIVE CHALICE age over the course of the timeline and eventually pass away. This forces the player to engage in the beauty of permadeath and always juggle an imperfect party of heroes with which to do battle!
    (Spoiler alert: You can later train an update that allows your heroes to live longer and it totally revamps the game)
  • Bloodline Relics - If a hero has fought valiantly enough when they inevitably pass away, their weapon has a chance to become a Bloodline Relic. This powerful Relic can be passed down to any character of the same house in order to carry on the legacy of the fallen hero!
    This part of the game didn't particularly impress me. It's a cool feature but I thought the game would be just as good without it. Although, it is cool seeing the relics gain power as they pass from generation to generation.
  • Long View Strategy - Because the war lasts 300 years, players need to take a long view of their strategy. Decisions have to be made dozens of years in advance and long-term planning is incredibly important. That 3-year-old toddler is going to grow up to be your most reliable melee fighter sooner than you think! But how long will they stay that way?
    So this is both cool, and awful at the same time. On the one hand I know I have to balance everything out for the future. On the other hand if I'm not constantly saving one small mistake can ruin  me for generations. WHOLE LANDS LOST TO THE CADENCE

The commentary from my 2 little chalice dwellers is both hilarious AND helpful (sometimes).


The game play graphics are actually pretty impressive considering the type of game it is.

Overall, Massive Chalice provides humour, challenging strategy and a genuinely interesting base management system, and handles all of its various elements with confidence and aplomb.

8.5/10

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Riley Jordan

I wrote this for Riley years ago...



Sweet perfection in a coo,
The gentle whispering of your name,
As your tenement emerges,
Frankly fresh and nitid new.


Gold laden are your smiles.
Ambrosial is your scent.
Your aroma so darling,
It brings complacence and content.


More precious than any sunrise,
More beautiful than any sunset,
The delight that I have found in you
Eternity could not compel me to forget.


Such pride I find in your creation,
'Though I barely played a part,
Merely vessel and sustainer,
For your impressive start.


You give me reason to believe, dear boy,
As I explore your face,
Any inkling of regret once felt,
Annulled without a trace.


I inspect the tiny features,
God so carefully put in place.
Your flawless elfin details,
A testament to His Grace.


Tiny hands with tiny fingers,
Little feet and little toes,
Fleeting forehead, eager eyes.
Modest mouth and narrow nose


I’ve found a reason to continue.
Nay, the reason I began,
To live and love and laugh with you
As you grow into a man.

A renewal of my faith is found,
Formerly which I suppressed.
Denial: inconceivable,
For you are clearly blessed.


My life was rain before you,
Now you’ve shot across my sky,
An everlasting rainbow,
My eternal reason why.


Clearly my writing has NOT improved since then...


A Mother



A mother is a person
Who loves you no matter what.
Even if you're ugly,
Or being a pain in the butt. 

A mother is a woman
Who'll always care for you.
When you fall and break your leg,
Or if you have the flu. 

She's the one who does everything
No one else wants to do.
Like laundry, tidying and dishes.
Or cleaning a baby's poo. 



She's a lady who'll see the best in you
Whether you're her first born, or her last.
Somewhere in the middle,
Or happened on by chance. 

It doesn't matter if you've made mistakes,
Or if you're failing class.
A mother always loves you.
Even if you've been an ass. 

No matter what you've said or done
She'll always spare a hug.
Whether you're a saint,
Or just another thug. 

Whether you are far away,
Or still living at home.
A mothers the one who thinks of you
Each and every day. 

My first, sweetest love.

Gave Riley a hug a kiss goodnight and told him he was my first love, the best gift the universe ever gave me, and that he taught me how to love other people.




He responded that someone had to.

My heart grows so large with love for this boy.



Then as a follow-up he asked me if I needed his share of the phone bill, and I told him he didn't have to pay til next month cuz the phone was a birthday gift so he told me I'd already given him too much.
This boy, my oldest son, has spent the entire day telling me how much I do for him and how great of a mom I am and gently reassuring me every step of the way because he knew I was having a very hard day. He didn't ask for explanations, or pressure me to be happy. He just understood that today was a bad day and loved me any way.


9 years and 2 days ago the universe gave me something it knew I needed very very much. It brought to me my souls match and placed it in my son. I don't know what I would do without this child who is everything that I could ever ask for in a son.



Thank you Riley Jordan, for teaching me that my heart can love someone truly and deeply. And for pointing out the best in people. Thank you for never looking at others differences and instead always finding common ground and reasons to be friends, for being the "valiant descending dove" of my life and everyone else's.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Child Spacing

My children were "sort of" planned 7 years apart. I always read that 7 years was the best spacing between siblings as it allowed each of them to get all the best of being "only children" while still maintaining the camaraderie of having siblings. It ended up being a happy accident that my children are 7 years apart. So what are the pros and cons in my opinion?

Pros:
  • It has allowed me to develop my career between children, and with better planning could allow even more career development for others.
  • It really does free the parent from having to meet the demands and pressures of two children close together in age, thus allowing parents and children more time in one-to-one interaction for a more supportive and relaxed relationship. My oldest son, Riley is my best friend and we have a connection most parents/children struggle to achieve.
  • While I've heard that the larger the age gap the better an older child's self esteem, it didn't quite work out that way for us. Sometimes alternative family structures stink.
  •  My oldest isn't particularly jealous of my younger son. He understands why a baby/toddler needs more attention. 
  • They adore each other. Truly adore each other. Riley is like a 3rd parent to Hayden. He always has his best interests at heart and will stick up for him against all odds.
  • He is sort of built in child care. I'm not leaving my 2 year old at home alone with my 9 year old but if I need to take a shower Riley is more than capable of entertaining and keeping alive his younger brother for 15-20 minutes.
Cons:
  • Delivery complications. My second cesarean was much harder to recover from than my first. 
  • I frequently feel as though I'm being pulled in 2 completely different directions. They have almost no mutual interests.

Fallout Shelter Review

So, fallout shelter is my new favorite app ever since it's E3 announcement. So much so that I got an ios device just so I could play it. If that isn't a rave review I don't know what is, however, it does have some things it could improve on. So here goes my full in depth review. 

Summary: Fallout Shelter is a post-nuclear strategy and simulation experience that puts you in control of a state-of-the-art underground Vault. Build the perfect Vault from a variety of rooms, oversee your very own thriving community of Vault Dwellers, and protect them from the dangers of the Wasteland. Vault-Tec has provided the tools, but the rest is up to you.

It is literally endlessly engaging. I have 3 vaults going and I check on them all multiple times a day. It is super addictive. The fallout references and motifs have me laughing every time I log in.

The only thing I would change is I would like to have the ability to view the family tree of my dwellers. The newest update has added photo mode and addressed a previous issue with pregnancy.


Things to love

Have you ever wanted to have an antfarm, on your phone? This game fulfills that desire.
It is rewarding, challenging and has it's own form of depth that I didn't expect. It's ACTUALLY free. You can buy lunchboxes, but there is really no need to do so. You have to balance workers, by placing them in rooms that take advantage of their S.P.E.C.I.A.L skills while also rebuilding society by breeding your Charismatic dwellers. It takes 3 hours for a pregnant woman to give birth and another 3 for the child to age into an adult. 

You have to wait for your resources to generate, obviously, but you do have an option to speed up that process if you’re in dire need. And while most free-to-play games would use this as a money trap, Fallout Shelter sidesteps that by letting you use the rush option any time you want, but you have a certain probability of failure, which could lead to a fire or another mishap.

The only other thing I have to add is MAKE AN ANDROID VERSION BETHESDA

9/10



See below for funny screenshots of awesome gameplay moments:







Need to see more? Download the game here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Confederate Flag

So, I'm not actually going to delve into my opinion about whether or not the confederate flag is a "racist symbol" or not, because honestly it doesn't matter. It's a stupid thing to be arguing about.

What I would like to do instead is talk to you about slavery. No, not the slavery that was supposedly abolished on January 31st, 1865.

I'd like to talk to you about modern day slavery, or contemporary slavery. A rough estimate (since slaves don't usually come forward and fill out census information) is that there are between 21 million, and 29 million people living as slaves today. Yeah, I said MILLION, and no I'm not kidding.

So if a flag can make you so angry that you need to picket, how come this can't?

So here are some quick facts:

Contemporary slavery is a $35 billion a YEAR industry.

Mauritania was the last country to abolish slavery, in 2007. Meaning if you're reading this, there were probably legal slaves in your lifetime. Where is your outrage?

In India an estimated 14 million people are living as slaves.

China has an estimated 2.9 million.

Pakistan enslaves approximately 2.1 million.

There are in fact modern day slaves, in America. Check out Ima's story here. Or "Jane's" story here.


If these facts haven't moved you in any way, then I guess continue to go about your day as usual, knowing in your heart that I think you're a terrible human being.
OR
If you wanna maybe, not lack a soul entirely, go to www.endslaverynow.org or www.endcrowd.com and get involved in helping to stop this before it gets worse. 

It isn't about black or white, or some stupid flag being sold in Walmart, or on Amazon. It's about human rights, and how we all deserve them. 


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My wedding

So for those of you that follow me, which is approximately 5 I think, you may or may not know that I got married last month. Well a lot of my wedding photos are up now so I thought I'd share some of them with you. 

My dad actually walked me down the aisle, in a suit, if you happen to be someone I know looking at this you'll understand why this is a huge deal.

It was really, really cold, like the coldest day in June EVER. So we all made faces like this:

My now husband and I wrote an obviously beautiful ceremony that included making this during a sand ceremony with our children, symbolizing us all coming together as a family.


Overall it went pretty... well terrible but in the end we were married and made faces like THIS 



So for those of you who couldn't be there or who WERE there but couldn't hear anything, or understand what our really awful officiant was saying here's a copy of the ceremony my husband and I wrote together. Check out his vows. They're amazing and make me cry every time I read them.



The Processional

[The Bride’s attendants walk in to the tune of “Sea of Love.” By Cat Power]

The Maid of Honor- Rebecca Harrison

The Flower Girl- Peyton Roy

[The Bride enters to “Trumpet Voluntary”]

The Bride-Megan Jones, escorted by her father- Dean Atwood

Officiant: Truly fortunate is the couple who come to their wedding with the approval and support of their families and friends. Who has the honor of presenting this woman to be married this day?

Dean: I do

Officiant: John and Megan, please turn towards one another, join your hands and in so doing join your hearts.

Before we go any further into the service I would like to ask everyone to please silence their cell phones.

A reading of The Buddha’s Sermon at Rajagaha, Verses 19-22 by Judy Harrison

Do not deceive, do not despise each other anywhere. Do not be angry nor bear secret resentments; for as a mother will risk her life and watches over her child, so boundless be your love to all, so tender, kind and mild. Cherish good will right and left, early and late, and without hindrance, without stint, be free of hate and envy, while standing and walking and sitting down, what ever you have in mind, the rule of life that is always best is to be loving-kind.

Welcome

The Officiant: Judy just read for us from a sermon the Buddha gave at the sacred city of Rajagaha, in the Indian state of Bihar, sometime late in the 6th century BC. Be honest, open, tender, kind and loving, he says -- wise counsel for a bride and groom. But Megan and John chose the reading also because they believe this is a good lesson for all of us: whether we’re standing, sitting, walking, whatever we have in mind, we should be “loving-kind.” And they hope we’ll all hold those words close to our hearts, not just today but always.

We are gathered here this day, not to witness a beginning of what shall be, but to celebrate and affirm what already is. John and Megan have invited you to share the public declaration of what has already been united in their hearts. Their wedding celebrates the joy and beauty of life and family. Marriage is a supreme sharing of experience and an adventure in the most intimate of human relationships. It is the joyous uniting of two people whose companionship and mutual understanding have blossomed into romance. Today, Megan and John proclaim their love to the world and we who are gathered here rejoice with them and for the new life they now undertake together. Thank you for sharing in the joy of this precious moment.

Honoring of Family Members

Before we move forward, Megan and John want to acknowledge their parents first and foremost, but also John’s Meme and Auntie J-9 for the unconditional gifts of love and support that you have unstintingly given them inspiring them to become who they are today. Mother, Father, Grandmother, and Aunt the Bride and Groom feel profound gratitude for all the love and care you showed in raising them and they thank you, from the bottom of their hearts, for guiding them to this celebration of love. Without you, this day would not be possible.

[The couple present their family with the gifts they have chosen.]

The Declaration of Intent

Officiant: Megan and John, someone once said that deciding to marry is like following a magnificent hunch. This person is someone you love, and after years together you know a lot about each other, but you’ll come to know more in the time ahead. The companionship you’ll share from this night on is the hallmark of marriage, its natural state, and its richest and most valuable gift. The contract of marriage that underpins that companionship is captured, in its essence, in the vows you’ll exchange in a moment. That contract is most solemn and must be entered into thoughtfully and seriously, with a deep awareness of its obligations and responsibilities. So, before you say your vows, I’ll ask you to declare your intent to be bound by them.

John, do you take Megan to be your wife, to live with her in marriage, to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live? 

John: I do. 

Officiant: Megan, do you take John to be your husband, to live with him in marriage, to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live? 

Megan: I do.

THE VOWS

Megan: 

Over the past several years, I have become increasingly aware of the fragility of life and the impermanence of our existence. 

This realization has inspired a deep appreciation for every moment and a drive to find ways to make my own time on this planet just a little more enjoyable.

Before I met you I thought that I was doing the best that I could do, that I was who I was meant to be.

Then you came along filling each and every day with an increasing level of joy and peace. 

It is you who has inspired me to be the best version of myself that I could possibly be. 

You calmed the storm in me filling a gap I didn’t know was missing.

You made me a better mother, daughter, and friend. 

And for that I will always be grateful.

John:

Three years ago, when I walked into RadioShack, I never would have guessed I would leave with a great deal on a Family. 

I never thought I would even want a family, but now I am backing one with a lifetime warrantee.

Before we met, I lived to make myself happy, always searching for something or someone else to raise the bar. 

However, with you, and these two boys, my life is full of love and happiness all on its own; So much that I wanted to share it with the world. 

My heart is like the Tardis. From the outside it is ordinary, but if I let you in, it’s bigger on the inside and it’s alive. 

Only you could open it. Only you could have unlocked the best in me. 

Megan:

I choose to take this journey with you; wherever it leads.

Whether it be to the Capital Wasteland, or deep in a dungeon to pillage gold.

To travel with you through the adventures of life; to the next level or the ends of the earth.

In all that we will find, I pledge my friendship, my faith and my love.

I will respect you, listen to you, and cherish the things that make you special to me. 

I will heal you when your HP gets too low, and I will always share my loot with you.

No matter what lies in our path, it will be our path, together.

John:

I need you to press start, because co-op in finally unlocked and we need to get moving.

We have our life ahead of us and life is short, even in real time.

I will go everywhere with you, even all the side missions. 

I will share everything with you, even the red starbursts. 

You are my best friend, my strongest support and the love of my life.

We are always on the same team.

Megan:

I give to you my vow of sacred matrimony. 

I acknowledge our individuality and respect the natural space that will reside comfortably between us.

 I promise to bridge that space with open communication, silent understanding and heartfelt compassion. 

I promise to act loving so as to be loving. 

I promise to love passionately, argue fairly and support you unfailingly. 

I gladly accept the responsibilities that come with our relationship. 

I love you and I pledge my fidelity to you for all the days of our lives.

John:

I swear to you my hand in Marriage.

I promise to love you and our children unconditionally

I promise to value our differences as I value our common ground.

I promise to be a good father, devoted lover and dedicated supporter. 

I promise to be one with you through open communication, respect and patience. 

I am privileged to move forward with you.

I Love you and I will be faithful to you forever and always.

Both:

“Together, or not at all.”

Sand Ceremony

Officiant: We have come together today not only to witness John and Megan becoming one, but an official unification of their entire family. 

Today, John is not only promising to love Megan for the rest of his life, but also to take her son Riley into his heart and his home, as his own.

[John, Megan, Riley and Hayden step up to the “altar”. They each grab their own bottle of sand, and begin pouring it together into a larger glass vase labeled “The Killion Family”]

Exchange of Rings

[Riley comes forward with the rings, he gives Megan’s to John]

John: In sickness and in health.

[Riley comes forward and gives John’s ring to Megan]

Megan: As long as we both shall live.

Officiant: You may kiss the bride.