What the Media Isn’t Telling You About #Autism

*Deep breaths.*

This isn’t easy for me to write. It’s not news that I have opinions that don’t jive with the mainstream media, and usually I’m okay sharing those thoughts, but this one is a bit more personal. Because it affects me personally. Because I know that no matter what I say, people who have not lived a day in MY shoes are going to try to tell me “how things really are” based on their own experiences with autism or based on what the media has told them about autism. Because I know people are going to make decisions about my son without having met him. And I’ve struggled about whether that’s fair to him, but I’ve also struggled with it feeling wrong to stay silent. So I asked my son, and he says he thinks it would be a good idea to share his story. So I will.

And I’ll preface this by saying it’s HIS story. It’s ANECDOTAL, and I’m not claiming otherwise. But all personal stories are anecdotal, and it doesn’t make them any less true. And the reality is, if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. But there are large groups of people out there who have a story similar to my son’s, and they are told they are wrong. Why? Because the media said so. Because the studies they want to believe say so, and all other studies are bogus…even though they aren’t.

So here it goes.

My son was born 4 weeks premature, but healthy as a full term baby. He was cuddly. Responsive. Happy. He made eye contact. He smiled early. Sat up early, crawled on time. Walked on time. Started talking about 9 months and by a year was saying words like “elevator” and short 2-word phrases. And here is where I’m going to lose half of you before you even take a moment to hear everything I have to say. But I’m gonna say it anyway, and I’m gonna hope you will hear what I’m actually saying and not what you THINK I’m saying.

When my son was 12 months old, he had an adverse reaction to his scheduled vaccines. PAUSE: This article is NOT saying vaccines cause autism, and adverse reactions ARE listed as a potential side effect–one that is considered a “necessary risk” by the CDC. Their words, not mine. This is indisputable, and you should question anyone who tells you otherwise, because even the people who manufacture them will tell you the risk is there, though very small. This is why they pay out millions a year to families of vaccine injured children–and let me tell you, it is NOT easy proving a vaccine reaction medically! They aren’t just handing these out willy-nilly. These families have passed the most scrutinized medical investigations to confirm that indeed their children DID have a vaccine reaction. As my son did. And here’s what happened when he had his.

He went from never sick a day in his life to an extremely high fever, projectile vomiting, and inconsolable crying. That SAME DAY, he stopped talking. His mobility regressed significantly. He stopped making eye contact. He stopped meeting his milestones. He started freaking about different sensory things (touching his face, brushing his teeth, food textures), started stimming, started having bouts where he just rolled around on the ground screaming. He started banging his head on things intentionally, so hard it left bruises–and that’s when we called Child Find.

Now you can tell me all you like that he was born with autism. That it coincidentally showed up overnight on the same day he an adverse reaction to his vaccines. And maybe you are right (though we now know he had a genetic pre-disposition for vaccine reactions–more on that later.) Either way, if it had happened in conjunction with ANYTHING else, you would probably think differently. Reality is, neurological damage IS a proven POSSIBLE but RARE side effect to vaccines.

Has science proved vaccines CAUSE autism? No. Nor have they disproved it. There have been studies that “disproved” it (same as there were studies that disproved the cigarette-cancer link once upon a time) but science can’t prove a negative, only fail to prove a positive. There have been many studies also that have shown a link–and no, I’m NOT just talking about Wakefield. But if anyone wants to bring up how his studies started off on the wrong foot, due to conflict of interest by who hired him, well, look at every pro-vaccine study…ever. They are run by people who will profit millions. Whether you believe in the good they do or not, people are making money off of them, and where money is involved, there is ALWAYS a conflict of interest. Be it pro vaccine, anti vaccine, or in between. That said, I don’t think the vaccines CAUSED autism in my son, and I am not anti-vaccine. If you want reconcile that with everything I’ve said so far, you’ll have to keep reading, as to me, this is not a black and white issue.

It would be all to easy for this post to regress into everything else there is to discuss about vaccines, their risks, their benefits, the risks of the diseases they protect against, the reality of those diseases and how to treat them (which I believe everyone should know how to do regardless), but I want to keep this story focused on autism. It really doesn’t matter to me that a vaccine reaction triggered it in my son. If it hadn’t been that, it COULD have been something else (or it might not have been). But it’s WHAT HAPPENED so it’s part of the story, and while I hate to bring up vaccines in telling this story, I would be withholding relevant information to do so. Most children will not have an adverse reaction to vaccines. Most children who do have an adverse reaction will not have a serious one like my son did. We now know WHY my son was one of those rare few who had a reaction–yes, there was a scientific, MEDICAL reason for it. More on that in a bit.

I want to pause for a bit to tell you more about my son’s journey and address the point I’m actually trying to of this article. First I want to tell you, the autism community is divided on many things. What is “real” autism, for example. Well, some believe it’s only “real” autism if you are born with it and it can’t be cured. There’s several flaws with that logic. First, if you believe that autism NEVER has a cure–because it if did, it wouldn’t be called autism–then if you think your child really has autism, you wouldn’t even TRY to cure it. So you can’t even know if your child really has autism, because you haven’t tried to cure it, therefor don’t know if it can be cured. But some people aren’t trying to cure it because they are sure their child has autism and they don’t want to “change who they are”. But how can you really know, if such a think exists as “not real autism” that looks exactly like autism but is caused by something treatable? Which brings me to the other side of the debate. The idea that parents who are trying to “cure” their children aren’t accepting them for who they are. You see, though, it’s all about your paradigm.

I have done a lot to help heal my son. Not because I love him less with autism, but because I love him so much that I don’t want to see him in pain, I don’t want to see him struggle, I don’t want to see him not be who he was born to be. Had he been born with autism–had those symptoms been present from birth–maybe, MAYBE I would feel differently. I can’t say, because I haven’t lived that life. I’ve lived this one. And in this one, autism was a symptom a problem, NOT “part of who he is”. And for other people, autism is a beautiful gift that makes them the amazing person that they are. Some could even say–and I believe it–an evolution of our species. But as some have pointed out, there’s autism that’s who you are (what they call “real” autism) and there’s autism that is just how the medical field diagnoses you because that diagnosis contains your symptoms–symptoms that COULD be caused by another problem. And that was the case with my son.

The first thing we did with out son (from 15 months old to 3 1/2 years old) was therapy. YEARS of therapy, and we were getting no where. He could say 5 words. Learn a new one, lose an old one. He could not retain more than 5 words no matter what. He couldn’t drink from a cup or straw (something he had already been doing prior to his reaction). He couldn’t potty train. He started a pre-k program for special needs kids, and it was mostly just him freaking out the whole time because there was too much noise, too many people, too much sensory input–things that years ago, before his reaction, have been a complete non-issue. Should I believe that the first year of his life was not who he really was, and that a life-altering medical complication played no role in the abrupt change with him? And that when we treated the medical complication, he changed back?

While he was going through this, though, his audiologist told us that his brain was struggling on filtering out information, so he was trying to process EVERYTHING as though every detail were equally important–the ceiling fan creaking, the refrigerator humming, people talking. It was overwhelming. And we weren’t getting anywhere. You won’t convince me he was better off that way. Heck, don’t even bother. Try to convince HIM he was better off that way. See how HE feels about it. Because that’s what I’m concerned with.

Finally we decided to start treating his body. We tried a gluten free, casein free diet for “healing a leaky gut” as a leaky gut can cause behavioral issues that present as autism. Guess what? He potty trained. He started talking. His behavior improved. We would try taking him off the diet–immediate regression. Put him back on. Improvement. Off, regression. On, improvement. All the people who used to think we were nuts–teachers, babysitters, etc–would ask us on an off day “Did he get into some gluten recently?” They, the skeptics, could SEE it. THEY started telling us not to take him off the diet. (PS: Once we left him on the diet long enough for his gut to COMPLETELY heal, we were able to take him off of it without repercussions.)

The next thing we did was a heavy metal test. We learned his body had high levels of heavy metals, and we moved on to chelation to detox him. Again we saw another leap in improvement with him. And over the years, through therapy, diet, and medical care, he has continued to improve. As those improvements started, and he was able to talk again, he started telling me about what he had felt. He could remember so much. So, so much. So many things he was aware of but just could not tell us. He told us how he “felt a green bean in his head” and how he felt trapped in himself, how he “just didn’t feel right and couldn’t help it” how he felt completely out of control of his own body. And as the years pass and his healing continues, he feels a lot better. Does that sound like how he was born to be? Does that sound like that was “just who he is”? Because it doesn’t to me.

This is the point of this post. The reality of it all. That not every person with autism feels like it’s part of who they are. Many do. They will tell you as much. But some don’t feel that way. Can we respect that? Can we respect how people like my son feel? Can we stop blaming parents for “chasing the rainbow” or “trying to change who their kid is” and accept their kid might be different from ours? Their kid might be battling something different, something that DOES need to be changed, even if the symptoms are the same?

Whether you think my son had real autism or not, the reality is, he struggled with those same struggles, and they aren’t completely gone. They may never be. Because you can’t undo the neurological damage he sustained. And now we know why. Now, through genetic testing, we have found out why my son had that vaccine reaction, and why that reaction caused problems that presented as autism.

We found out, just recently, my son carries an MTHFR gene. This gene alone is not usually linked to autism, unless paired with another gene mutation that my son did NOT have (which is why he wasn’t born with it). (And there are probably people with autism who don’t have this gene…I think there’s more than one thing that can cause symptoms of autism to present.) Anyway, my son didn’t have that inner trigger, but he had the mutation there, and it was something that COULD be triggered…by an outside source. That outside source is heavy metals: aluminum, lead, and mercury. And while vaccines tout having safe/low amounts (even 10 years ago, though they weren’t AS low then), the thing is that people with this MTHFR gene cannot process heavy metals the same way that other people do, so those SAME substances affect them DIFFERENTLY.

Like I said. I don’t blame the vaccines for the AUTISM; I’m just not denying that the reaction that LEAD to the autism, in the same way SOMETHING ELSE could have–but again, it wasn’t something else. Just reporting the facts here. (Also, it may not have been any ONE vaccine that caused the reaction, it could have been the build up of those metals in his system over the first year of his life, because he has that gene that makes it harder for his body to process those metals compared to other people). So, yes, vaccines ARE what triggered it for MY son, but exposure to aluminum, lead, or mercury from another source could have done the same thing. That’s not what happened, but it’s possible. It’s also possible he never would have been exposed otherwise. It’s also possible that even if he had been exposed in another way or at another time, he wouldn’t have had the same reaction (as this particular MTHFR gene can be sensitive to timing).

Some people reading this may think I’m trying to make a point about vaccines. I’m not. I regret that I had to include that information to make my point, but I did, because I needed to illustrate situations in which someone is NOT born with autism, and this is one such situation. Sadly, because this information WAS needed, I realize this is going to open up the vaccine-debate can of worms. But that’s not my intention, and I hope, so deeply and completely, that people can understand the REAL issue I am bringing up. That, simply put, autism is not one size fits all. Some people are born with it. Some aren’t. Some the cause is unknown. Others can pinpoint a trigger. Some, it’s really JUST autism. Others, it’s medical condition (such as heavy metal toxicity or leaky gut) that is presenting as autism. They both get the diagnosis either way.

The point of this post is that mom’s who are trying to cure their kids of autism aren’t tinfoil-hat wearing, rainbow-chasing lunatics who “don’t accept their children for who they are.” In reality, we DO accept our children for who they are. And WE know our children better than anyone else. WE know who they really are. Many times, they even tell us who they are, once they are able to do so. We are’t trying to change our kids into someone they aren’t. We are trying to remove the barriers that stop the from being who they really are. THAT is what this post is about. So for one parent, helping a child be who they are means embracing their autism. For another parent, it can mean helping them overcome a medical condition that presents as autism.

We are all after the same thing. Helping our kids be happy, healthy, and themselves. How that looks for one kid is not how it’s going to look for another child. Believe me, it’s not that we are anti-autism. We are just pro-our-children. And whether a child is born with autism or has a medical condition presenting as such, IT’S STILL A STRUGGLE. We need each other. We need to come together, NOT to tear each other apart. It’s hard enough and lonely enough without us alienating each other, too.

And here’s what we’re not “allowed” to say. But I’m going to say it: I’m NOT lucky my son has autism. I wasn’t “blessed by god” with a “gift of an autistic child”. My CHILD is the blessing, NOT his autism. And even for children who were born autistic and who autism is part of who they are…those parents are blessed by their child, NOT by a PART of their child. So I’m tired of this “Politically Correct” response of acting like parents who have autistic children are the “lucky ones”. We are no more or less lucky than any other parent who have healthy children in their lives.

Autism isn’t an awesome experience for all of us. While my son’s autism has inspired me, I care more about his happiness than being inspired. While I found his outlook on the world charming, I’ve always cared more about his comfort. And you know what? Even as he heals, he still provides charm and inspiration. THAT is part of who he is. The head banging, the stimming, the pain, the tears…that’s not who he is. That’s not what defines him. And I will never feel bad for doing everything I can to take that away from him–because HE didn’t want that, either. And for all the glamour autism is credited at times, the reality is, it’s hard. Our children aren’t the only ones with tears in their eyes. They aren’t the only ones crippled by emotional pain, overcome by confusion, or alienated by this world. Autism affects families on a cellular level. But we put that aside to do what is best for them, because we love them. And what’s best for one child with autism may not be what’s best for another child with autism.

Because if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.

They are no two alike. No one is, autism or not.

Thanks for reading. This is only one aspect of my son’s story, but I hope it helped someone, somewhere. If it does, it’s worth all the hate and anger it may stir up in others.

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Another neat opportunity to make money from home :)

With the holiday’s coming up, I’ve been trying to earn extra money so that I can send gifts and clothes to a family in need that I am sponsoring. So I’ve found a couple things so far (already blogged about one of them) and figured I’d let you all in on the next one I’ve found. This is a survey site recommended to me by a friend that my husband and I have both signed up for. So far, so good! With so many scams on the web, I figured it was time I start sharing some of the legit opportunities out there. Have fun!


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The #RT14 Fiasco

I did not attend RT2014. However, I want to address the events that happened. There seems to be those who are angry and those who are not, but there are a few things both parties agree DID occur.


What’s all the fuss about?

1) Indie Authors paid the same as traditional authors for table space at the book fair.

2) Indie authors were referred to as “Aspiring Authors”

3) Indie Authors were segregated from Traditional Authors. Indies got a small side room with a closed door while Trads were in a large ball room.

4) ALL authors were promised 3ft of table space. This is what they were paying for. After reviewing the pictures, it appears they had less than ONE foot of table space.

5) Readers were “herded” into the ballroom where the Traditional Authors were.

6) Readers who wanted to buy books from both sections had to wait in two lines to checkout.

This is what happened. How each person feels about it is up to them.

However, I do wonder a few things:

1) Where would they have put me? My title in English is indie published, but in German and Hungarian it’s traditionally published. I am guessing that makes me an indie author at an English book fair. I’m fine with that as that is how I associate myself. However, that would be like saying that indie authors AND foreign traditional authors are “aspiring”. Neither is true, but I wonder if they considered how completely inaccurate this statement was. It should not matter how you publish or what language you publish in–if you are a published author with paying customers, you aren’t aspiring anymore. But even by their own standards, I would not be aspiring, yet I would have been with the indie authors, which they were referring to as aspiring. Their standards are wrong, by the way. I merely am pointing out that their standards are also contradictory and offensive not only to indies but the traditional foreign authors as well.

2) Since they offered a service for a fee but did not completely follow through on that service, will they be refunding those authors? If they received less than 1 foot of table space but paid for 3, that right there should get them at least 2/3’s of their money back. It was also promised to be a “one-stop shopping experience” but there were actually two stops, with the indies being the stop that was hidden and directed away from. So, in my eyes, a fair refund would be 75% of whatever they paid to attend.

What can RT do to make things right? 

Well again, it’s subjective. Some people saw nothing wrong with what they did. However, a good number of people did, and it will hurt them going forward if it’s not resolved. (I, for one, do not want to attend any if they don’t make this right, regardless of where they would have placed me.) If they want to resolve this, I recommend they:

1) Make a public apology.

2) Refund the indie authors at least 75% of what they paid.

3) Promise (and making good on this promise) not to make the same mistakes next year.

4) Next year, consider having all the authors in the same room but separated by genre. This makes browsing easier for the reader. Let them decide which tables they wish to stop at. Authors with traditional publishers who want readers to know that can always put the publishing house’s logo somewhere on their table sign or banner.

I don’t have a lot else to say on the matter. I think the facts speak for themselves. Some people will be angry about it, some won’t care, but it’s this blogger’s opinion that it’s not right to sell someone something and deliver something significantly different from what they paid for. (This particular point might even be something authors could report RT to the BBB for, if they wanted.) And it’s also my opinion that it’s not right to segregate authors or refer to them as “aspiring” when they are already published. (This, IMO, is more of a moral/social mistake.)

What do you think?

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As a Wife, I’m Guilty of These 5 Mistakes (And You Probably Are, Too) – A Rebuttal @HuffingtonPost

Recently a wonderful article showed up on my Facebook feed. Hang on… Some of my powdered sarcasm donut just got on my shirt. Anyway, this article wanted you to know the “mistakes” one woman was “guilty” of making and that YOU, a person she has never met, are probably making these “mistakes”, too. And it’s geared toward women, because, you know, women need more shame!

I want to say first that I think the article was well-intentioned, just not very well thought out. If it was a well thought out article, then I’m scared–really freaking scared–that this kind of antiquated thinking is not only alive and well, but that people are intentionally trying to spread the poison. So, for the sake of my faith in humanity, I’m going to think it was just a well-intentioned article that missed the mark.

I offered Huff-Po the exclusive on this article, but as they never wrote me back to accept my offer, you get to see it here on my blog instead.

Rebecca Hamilton and Husband 2

me and my husband when I was pregnant with #4


My husband and I have been together for ten years. I can’t say if something magical happens between ten years and twelve years that makes it okay for a wife to feel shamed about her role in the marriage, but ask me in two years if my opinions here have changed. We have four children, and, like the curator of the article in question, we have had our ups and downs,  and neither of us are perfect. Which I always say is a good thing because perfect people are annoying. And hiding something. Seriously. No one’s perfect. NO ONE. If you want to tell me how some legendary person from some legendary book was perfect, you are on the wrong blog. Sorry, pal. But I think we can agree that no one walking on this planet today is perfect.

The curator of the article starts off her Big Five Mistakes with this little gem:

However, as a wife, I make mistakes. And I make them often. I don’t need other wives telling me what mistakes I make, because I’m aware of them. You don’t need me telling you what mistakes you make, either, but you probably make these.

For. My. Life.

She doesn’t need you telling HER she makes mistakes, but please, sit down and pay attention to the mistakes she thinks you probably alongside her. Even though she realizes you deserve the same courtesy of not having to hear it, she’s just gonna tell ya anyway. After these disrespectful opening lines, she immediately brings you onto the first “mistake”: RESPECT (or lack there of).


1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Here the curator tells you that her husband–who leaves his dirty boxers on the floor next to the hamper and potato chip crumbs on the couch–sometimes does not get the “utmost respect” that he “deserves”. It is her job as a wife, she says, “to encourage him, compliment him, value him, and support him.”

Here’s where I think she’s getting it wrong. BOTH parties in a marriage needs to respect each other. That means he needs to put his boxers in the hamper and clean up his own crumbs. Sometimes I leave my morning yogurt on the couch next me before I’m done checking emails, and my husband asks me if I’m done and if I say yes he puts it in the garbage for me. I’m sure this annoys the crap out of him the same way this woman’s husband annoys her with the ant bait–er, crumbs–he leaves lying around. But he is respectful toward me when he puts it in the trash for me and I am respectful toward him when I explain that I need the dryer and he can’t just leave dry clothes in there forever. (Yes, my husband does his own laundry–so do my kids fold and put away their own laundry). Why, you may ask? Because in this house I expect we ALL respect EACH OTHER. Respect is a two way street. It is NOT showing someone encouragement and support while they they create more work for you to do. It is NOT valuing someone and complimenting them while they disrespect you. Let’s just say my husband didn’t hide his distaste for cleaning up after me when I fail to do so myself. Well, dang it, maybe I should clean up after myself, yes?


And if anyone is being disrespectful to you–whether you are a man or a woman–you have the right to put the support and encouragement and value and compliments on hold to TELL THEM how you feel about the way they are treating you. It is not your “job” as a woman or wife to ignore when people disrespect you while you treat them like royalty.


2. Let’s Get It On

I’m just gonna qoute this one. Because wow… WOW. *shaking my head*

I’m tired. I’m tired a lot. By 9 p.m., the only things on my mind are folding the laundry, putting the kids’ snacks in their backpacks, locking the doors, feeding the malnourished fish, setting the clocks, brushing my teeth, lotioning my ashy elbows and getting into the bed to watch a show that does NOT involve animated pirates, sappy music while Danny Tanner resolves an issue, restoring cars or selling rare finds at a Las Vegas pawn shop. I want to relax and heave a collected sigh of relief that the day is done. I have no desire to play birds and bees. But, by God, men need it. They might just implode if they don’t get it. My husband is just as in need as the hungry Beta Fish. I often forget that I’m the one that must meet the need, whether or not I’m in the need-meeting mood.

No. She. Didn’t. Just no…NO.

NO, you as a woman do NOT EVER, EVER EVER EVER, EVER!!!! EVER have to have sex when you don’t want to. It is NOT your JOB to “meet a man’s sexual needs” whether you are married to him or not. I mean, HOLY HELL, at this point I thought the article was a spoof! But it’s actually for real! According to this woman, you are probably making the same “mistake” she is of not doing your job of spreading your legs so a man can get his “needs” met. Your body is YOUR body. Have sex when YOU want to. NOT because an article on the internet has shamed you into feeling like you aren’t living up to your “job” as a wife. A good man will be willing to do what he has to do to get you in the mood so that you WANT to have sex with him. Not so you are like “Oh, fine, I better do this because I’m your wife and it’s my job.”

The article I’m quoting was written in 2014. I’m not kidding. It really was.

3. Nothing Compares 2 U

In this segment, the curator of the article (who I think maybe is a man pretending to be a woman at this point) says that she sometimes forgets that her husband needs her attention, encouragement, and admiration as much as, if not more than, her children.

To be fair, maybe she just doesn’t realize that her husband might have issues that need to be sorted. Because most FULL GROWN MEN do NOT need the same level of attention, encouragement, and admiration as a CHILD. This is NOT healthy or normal. You are NOT making a mistake if you are a mother and you put your children’s emotional needs ahead of your husband’s. Nor is it wrong for a father to put a child’s emotional needs ahead of his wife’s. This is NORMAL. Children have not yet reached emotional maturity and they need more help than a full grown adult. Period. (That said, spouses need love and support, too. But you didn’t need me to tell you that! When you love someone, it happens naturally.)




visiting with fam–hubby on the other side of the camera (I’m way in the back)


4. Control

Okay, this one is legit. SOME people ARE control freaks. Or neurotic. Or both. (Like me.) But I won’t say that “probably most people reading her article are making this mistake”. Because her mistake isn’t in how she loads the dishwasher, it’s in how she treats her husband. And sometimes friends and spouses (not wives specifically) are rude or insensitive to the people they love. Me included. So… we apologize about it and move on. Sometimes my husband has a better way of doing things, and he knows this. Heck, *I* know it. And the opposite is true as well. We’ve been married long enough now to know each other’s strengths and pet peeves. I know what is important to him, and he knows what is important to me, and we defer to each other on those things.

For example, childhood nutrition is important to me, so the breastmilk or formula decision was left to me, even though he doesn’t agree. I know my husband is better with finances, so when we were buying a new car, I deferred to him. Respect is a TWO WAY street. And if you have been married for a long time and are having issues with this, work on your communication. Her husband should probably know by now she likes the dishwasher loaded a certain way. So why mention it? And she should know the things important to him, and she can not mention those. And if the other person DOES mention these things, just remind them how you feel about it! “I really prefer to stick with my method for loading the dishwasher, but thank you for your suggestion.” You are not, as a woman, making a mistake by having and maintaining control about some decisions. This is HEALTHY AND NORMAL AND A-OKAY! If you are being a that b word that rhymes with itch about it, that is another issue entirely, and has nothing to do with you making a mistake regarding control.


5. Pretty Woman

From the curator of the article in question:

Some women like to believe that “inner beauty” is all a man needs. Newsflash — it’s not. Inner beauty is a wonderful, pure, lovely, noble thing. But a man also appreciates a nice-looking woman. I’m not saying that all women should morph into June Cleaver and mop Kool-Aid from the floor while wearing stilettos, but I often forget that removing eye boogers, washing the Crisco from my hair and trading the yoga pants for regular clothes once in a while is a step in the right direction.

First of all, I want to know how long her husband takes to get himself and multiple other people ready. My husband can take a shower and be ready for the day in fifteen minutes. It takes me that long just to wash and condition my hair. Let’s not forget blow drying it, brushing my teeth, getting dressed into jeans and a cute top (so I can chase around a baby in a style?), and the other kids I have to get ready. I don’t wear make up, and I know she’s not suggesting I do. And yes, my husband DOES appreciate when I get all dolled up. Which I do for him AND FOR ME on date nights :) But the rest of the time, I rock sweat pants and the mommy bun. And my husband and I spend a LOT of time together. We both work from home. We aren’t exactly staring into each other’s eyes during this time, so I don’t think he’s worried if my hair looks fly or if I’m wearing dangle earrings. We enjoy each other’s company (most of the time . . . especially when tacos are involved). And my husband is happy if I do my hair once a month on date night.

By the same token, I don’t care one iota when my husband puts on an extra 20 or 30 lbs. It happens. Right now he’s actually losing weight. FOR HIM. The extra weight did not change my love for or attraction to him. I have some extra weight on me right now myself and, I could be wrong but, I don’t think he would be buying me donuts and chocolate (that I didn’t ask for) if he was concerned about it. I think it’s important to remember that while appearances might be important to SOME people, it is true that some of us really are just happy to be alive and be together. If not, how many people would get divorced when their love gets into a disfiguring accident? And yet, many men stand by their woman and vice versa in such scenarios. Let’s not SHAME these women, please. A little forethought and sensitivity goes a lot further than dangle earrings and a nice shirt.

I mean, my husband and I DO have four kids, so obviously there’s still a flame between us 😉

When the kids are grown and we have spare time once more, then we’ll worry about looking fancy again. But they are only young once, and we rather enjoy them while we can. My husband and I–we have a lifetime together. This stage of our life is about taking care of kids. The next stage won’t be. If I did my hair every day, that would be 6,570 less hours I would have spent with my kids between now and when the youngest turns eighteen. All so my hair would be fluffy while we watch an episode of Bones or watch the kids play on the swings at the park. Does it matter how my hair looks if his attention is on children, where it should be?

In this house, we do things for ourselves. When we are happy, the people around us are happy. It works out. Might not work for you, but . . . you aren’t making a “mistake” just because you decided extra time at the park with the kids today was more important than blow drying your hair so you could look “cuter” while watching them. Trust me.


my hair on a usual day

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World Breastfeeding Week – The Breastfeeding Controversy #breastfeeding #parenting

World Breastfeeding Week – The Breastfeeding Controversy

It’s that time! World Breastfeeding Week! And surprising as it may be to some, there’s actually a lot of controversy that surrounds women and children’s breastfeeding rights—and yet here I am, making a post about those very things.

Some would say I am a “public figure”, and should keep my mouth shut about such debatable topics. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that, actually, being a public figure probably means I shouldn’t keep my mouth shut. Heck, I’d be pretty 2-dimensional if I never spoke, and since most people have an opinion about everything, I’d have to shut my mouth for life if I wanted to resolve myself to only talk about non-debatable topics. Such topics don’t exist.

And that brings me here, supporting World Breastfeeding Week by speaking out about the benefits of breastfeeding and the controversy surrounding it.

So here’s your fair warning. If you are squeamish about breastfeeding, this post may break you. But at the same time, if you continue to read, perhaps you might walk away with some new perspective. I’m not saying you will see things my way. I’m not saying you are wrong for feeling the way you do. No, all I am going to do is share some facts and offer some perspective that perhaps you haven’t considered before.

And for the rest of you—you Breastfeeding Supporters, you!—I hope you can appreciate this post, even if there’s no new information to offer. Even if all you walk away from is some ideas on how share your thoughts. Because this post is dozens of women in the making—it’s wise commentary I’ve picked up from other breastfeeding mothers as well as my own experiences—and it may just give you the words you need for the way you feel pressured by media or society not to do what you know in your heart is best for your baby.


Benefits of Breastfeeding

There are all sorts of reasons to breastfeed. For mom, and for baby. In fact, this site will give you 101 Reasons. For example, did you know that breastfeeding released the hormone oxytocin, which promotes the development of maternal instinct and bonding between mom and baby? It also reduces the risk of the mother getting breast cancer! And if your baby is born prematurely (which 3 of my 4 children were) your body will create milk specifically for a premature baby! There’s all kind of neat benefits to breastfeeding. Recently I learned that the milk produced at night contains hormones that promote sleep, and that is passed on to the breastfeeding baby when he or she nurses at night.

Another benefit to baby is specially made antibodies. Say baby and I go to the doctor’s office and we are exposed to a little kid’s cold germs. Well, since I am with my baby, my body (with a stronger immune system) will create antibodies against THAT cold or virus. Those antibodies are then passed on to my baby when I breastfeed. Formula can’t do that because the formula is always the same. It doesn’t change with day or night. It doesn’t create antibodies specific to your day’s experiences and the things you were exposed to on your outings.

Please don’t confuse this information with being against formula, though. Some women chose to formula feed for various reasons. Some need to formula feed for various reasons. At the end of the day, the most important thing is for a mother to do what is best for her and her family. What is MOST important is that the parent feed with love and that the baby be fed.

But . . . it’s world BREASTFEEDING week, so I do have to get back to the topic at hand :)


The Trouble with Breastfeeding

So as it turns out, breastfeeding isn’t easy! In fact, even for those who seem to have an easy time of it, their bodies are still working overtime. This is why breastfeeding mothers burn up to 500 calories a day, just making milk! They have to eat more and they have to feed their bodies the way they would want their baby to eat. They have to make sure they are properly nourished and properly hydrated.

Sounds easy, right? But really, for many women (and people in general) it’s NOT easy. And some have it harder than others! Some women have to cut foods from their diet because their babies have an allergy or sensitivity to something they are eating. Heck, most women have to cut foods. Caffeine and carbonated drinks are generally best avoided. Yep, no caffeine for the mama who is up all night with a newborn. Fun times, fun times… But some women even have to cut foods like milk or nuts or other common foods. And sometimes it takes months for the mom to even figure out what foods she needs to avoid.

No big deal, you say? You gave up more for lent, you say? But wait! There’s more! The troubles don’t end there! The baby may have a poor latch, causing pain to the nursing mother. The mother may not make enough milk and struggle to keep her supply up to meet the baby’s demands. She may have to take supplements or enhance her diet to fix this. Or she might make too much milk, which sounds like a dream to some mamas who struggle with supply, but in reality, it can make a baby colicky and make them not gain weight as well as they could because the baby ends up getting more foremilk (think low fat milk) instead of hind milk (think creamer). Nursing mothers also have to worry about mastitis (breast infection) and thrush (a yeast infection that can be passed to baby and sometimes back and forth). There’s even this little gem called vasospasms, which cause the nursing mother’s nipple to turn white and causes excruciating pain.

After that, mamas have to worry about baby biting when teething or baby going on a nursing strike. I tell you, it’s not easy for most mamas. And yet, most mamas keep on truckin’. How amazing is that? Through all that, they find a way to make it work. And there’s many reasons why, reasons that go beyond all this information, beyond all the data in the world, and take hold of the heart.

/end cheesy moment

I hope this hasn’t dissuaded anyone from breastfeeding. Because, you see, the point is that breastfeeding is so amazing, that any of those things are worth enduring for our children. And the breastfeeding community is so large and welcoming that support is always just a tweet or facebook post or lactation consultant or La Leche League meeting away! It’s so worth it, in fact, that Breastfeeding rates are at an all-time high!

Chew on this: In the ‘30s, 70% of mothers tried breastfeeding and 40% stuck with it. In the ‘50s, only half of mamas tried to breastfeed and only 20% stuck with it. Then in 1971, less than 25% of US babies were breastfed and only 6% stuck with it. But BAM, as education went up and more mamas tried what their parents did not, the US fell in love with breastfeeding and all of its benefits again. We’ve returned to what nature intended. Yes, in fact, 76% of mamas in the US try to breastfeed now and over 47% stick with it.

Did you think we live in a generation of young adults who feel entitled? Well, you’ll have to leave the breastfeeding population out of it. Because as “entitled” as some people think our generation has become, the fact is the mamas of this generation are proof that this generation isn’t half as selfish as some may think.

(This is the point where I say that I don’t think formula feeding is selfish. Because I don’t think it is. I do think, though, that’s it’s selfless for any mama to struggle to do what she believes is best for her baby and to still persevere. So, just because I’m saying breastfeeding mamas are selfless, doesn’t mean that mamas who don’t breastfeed are selfish.)

And now we return to your regularly scheduled programming.


Breastfeeding in Public

I don’t think there is much debate that, nutritionally, breastmilk is the best milk you can give to a baby. There are times where a mama feels it’s not best, though, and that should be respected. But how much respect do breastfed mamas and breastfed babies get? THAT is where the real debate is. Or, more specifically, people get hella-worked-up about the breastfeeding in public scenario.

Oh yes, I went there. We are so gonna talk about this, or at least I am, and I won’t let anyone make me feel like “bad public figure” for taking a side on the issue. Because, you see, I’m not here to tell people that they are wrong or that their feelings aren’t valid. I’m just here to try to bridge the gap. To, from a place of understanding and respect, attempt to help those who are against breastfeeding in public to understand the viewpoint of those who try to do it.

There is a line in my debut children’s book (yes, I wrote a children’s book!) that reads, “…and cloth-diapered babies being breastfed with pride.” This takes place in a park setting and there is a (cartoon) depiction of a nursing mother. I got some wonderful feedback on this book, both good and bad, all equally welcome and appreciated. Oddly, though, both the good and bad feedback had the same message “Breastfeeding mamas will like this story.” Some said it as a good thing. Some said it as a warning (complete with full feedback on why people were going to be pissed about me promoting nursing in public). But I knew that going into things.

However, both the good and bad feedback about this being a “nursing friendly story” sent the same message to me: That only nursing mamas can enjoy media about nursing mothers. Why is that? I mean, hey, I watch movies and TV shows and read books all the time that depict women formula feeding. I’m not put off by it. I don’t feel the need to get pissed about it, so it was hard for me to understand why people would get pissed about mamas who breastfeed. I’m a lucky gal, though, because I have friends who will speak candidly with me and help me understand why they would feel that way, and that helped me see the HUGE gap in the bridge that, I believed, would so easily be fixed with communicating. If we listen to them, and they listen to us, perhaps we can see that we all are misunderstanding SO MUCH. And then, just maybe, the gap can be bridged and we can see more acceptance toward nursing in public.

If you’ve read up on debates on this subject, you’ve probably read tons of bickering about how appropriate it is to bare breasts in public. People saying “Cover up” and other people saying “Why don’t you go eat with a blanket over YOUR head!” But there’s another side to it, and this is the side that I believe is fixable. And if we fix this, maybe fixing the other issues would be doable. Maybe then we will find more support for breastfeeding in public, and women can take their breasts back and breasts can be primarily for breastfeeding and less about sex! In fact, the whole fascination with large breasts, for example, originally came from the (confused and Neanderthal) idea that large breasts would mean more milk for the offspring, and thus better for procreation. Remember . . .  we humans—WE’RE ANIMALS.

So let’s get to it!

Breastfeeding mothers should cover up/breastfeed in another room.

1)    Some babies can’t breathe well enough to eat while under a blanket, and should not be suffocated so that . . . you don’t have to look away.

2)   A breastfeeding mother should not be burdened with the expense of breastfeeding covers and the cost to launder them, all so that you don’t have to . . . look away.

3)   A baby should not be burdened with waiting longer to eat, to being situated and resituated, to overheating in hot weather . . . so that you don’t have to look away.

4)  A child should not be burdened with waiting to eat until mother gets back to the car or finds a nursing room, just so that . . . you don’t have to look away.

5)   Eating in a bathroom is gross. Just saying. And no one complains about men peeing in front of each other.

Breastfeeding mothers shouldn’t be exhibitionists of their intimate moment with child. That relationship should be kept private.

1)    If you are feeding you baby right, it’s going to be a special bonding moment—whether you are breastfeeding OR bottle feeding. Because the most important thing is to feed your baby WITH LOVE. Breastfeeding is no more of an intimate moment than bottle feeding is.

2)   Yes, nursing can be an intimate moment between mother and baby. And so can formula feeding! But when in public, it’s more of meeting a need, not mommy/baby bonding time. There’s a lot of distractions and mom is probably on the clock to get things done. I’m not saying no bonding happens during public feedings, but trust me, breastfeeding mamas aren’t thinking, “Let me go to Walmart to lovingly gaze into my baby’s eyes while I nurse her.” At least most of us don’t think that way.


 Breastfeeding mothers shouldn’t flaunt how easy it is to breastfeed because some women are unable.

1)    Please refer to the section titled Breastfeeding Troubles. Reality is, just because a woman is breastfeeding in public does NOT mean that it came easily to her. And whether it came easily or not does not mean the mother is flaunting it! Not any more than a bottle feeding mama flaunts feeding her child and not any more than I’m flaunting my capability to eat one of Anna’s Pretzels from the amazing pretzel stand in the mall. People get hungry. People eat. It’s EATING. What is there to flaunt about that?

2)   Women who breastfeed in public are NOT trying to throw it in the faces of those who were unable to breastfeed. In fact, probably the opposite! If instead of inwardly hating those moms, consider talking to them. You may find out that they had the same struggles you did, and they might be able to give you information to help you breastfeed in the future.

3)   Another breastfeeding mama put it this way: “When you see a nursing mother in public you should not take offense but instead offer a little smile or nod of encouragement . . . Breastfeeding is an act of bonding but also nourishment. Instead of feeling resentment towards those women, understand they are doing what is necessary to feed their baby, and be THANKFUL for these women feeding their children despite the glares and rude comments . . . because if you ever have another child and hope to breastfeed, it’s those women who will be your strongest support and biggest allies!”


A cover may seem to some like an easy solution, but not all babies will nurse that way. Should we not feed them because they won’t eat under a cover? This isn’t a toddler throwing a fit over not getting a candy bar. It’s a hungry baby who, for whatever reason, won’t nurse under a cover but is HUNGRY AND NEEDS TO EAT. Sometimes we, as a society, just need to put aside OUR feelings about how a baby eats and put they BABY’S needs first.

 Breastfeeding mamas don’t breastfeed in public to flaunt (although sometimes they do to make a statement—a statement that wouldn’t be necessary to make if the world would open their minds just a little more). No, quite simply, breastfeeding mama’s nurse in public to meet their baby needs without suffocating them (under a blanket) or choking them on the stink of urine and feces (in a bathroom).

 And finally, I have to ask, WHO is watching ANYONE eat? Seriously. That’s weird. I don’t notice (let alone watch or judge) adults eating. We can’t be bothered by nursing in public if we paid it the same mind we pay to an adult eating—which is no mind at all. And if you can’t help but stare at people who are eating, well, that’s just really weird. Yes, weird. I said it. And your problem. And a baby should not go without food for any amount of time simply to appease an adult who is too offended to look away.

 Nursing in public, I hope, will one day be so normal that we don’t notice it. And that is really the ideal. Because if we don’t notice it, we can’t be offended by it. Let’s treat breastfeeding like the normal and natural thing it is. If you have no problem with a bottle fed baby eating in public, then extend that same courtesy to a nursing baby eating in public. They deserve the same and equal humane treatment.

Breastfed babies are the only animals on the planet that we would insist eat with a blanket over their head or go somewhere to hide while they eat. Think about that, and ask yourself, whose problem is that, really?

Does this offend you?

How about now?

Is this acceptable?

But this . . . this crosses the line?

Join in the discussion below! All civil comments, whether agreeable or disagreeable with the stance of this article, will be approved.

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“I can’t believe this crap got published.”

Got your attention, did I?

I was just talking to a fellow book lover the other day about how I started writing. I’ve admitted before that I actually started because I read a book that made me roll my eyes so many times my husband thought I was possessed. I thought, “If this crap can get published, then surely I can write a book worth publishing.” Talk about arrogant and delusional. I know that now. The book that wasn’t for me was a best seller, so obviously a lot of people loved it, and as I started writing, I learned just how much goes into it. Maybe some people really do find it easy, but I don’t!

Writing my first book went a bit like this: Write the book, have it critiqued, make changes. Have it critiqued again, make new changes. Have it critiqued by someone else, find out some of the changes I made were bad, and change some of the changes back, while at the same time making other new changes. Hire a professional editor, make more changes. Rewrite, revise, edit, then have another professional editor point out other new things I have to rewrite. Repeat the process. Eventually, though, you do get to the point where most of your critique partners and editors agree the book is “ready”. The previous “pattern” in what people disliked is finally gone! Maybe 1 out of 10 people think you still need to work on a character while 5 out of 10 think you might have “over-edited” the book and ought to leave the character alone. Another person thinks the pacing is too slow and yet another thinks it’s too fast.

In short, you can’t please everyone–you can only try to please the majority. If you make a change every time someone says something is wrong, you sometimes end up changing the same detail back and forth 20 times. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve been at that point where finally I have to accept that I have to be the tie breaker. *gulp*

Finally, your book is ready. It’s still going to get bad reviews, even if you’re Charles Dickens, Stephen King, or J.R.R. Tolkein, but the majority will agree, it was a book worth buying and a book worth reading. You might struggle to find a publisher or agent, or one might find you after you publish on your own. My agent, Rossano Trentin, found me that way. And it wasn’t until after I published (and he found me) that I got my traditional publishing deals (first to be Harlequin of Germany). So trust me, it can happen. And whether it happens or not, there will be people who say, “I can’t believe this crap got published.” I used to be one of them.

I can’t speak for everyone who has ever said that, but to my defense, my younger self was pretty self-centered when I was saying things like that. I used to think (perhaps not consciously) that if I didn’t like something, it was wrong. For a fact! If I thought something shouldn’t have been published, then it shouldn’t have been. If I thought it needed more editing, then it did! Screw the agents and editors and publishers and hundreds of other readers who disagree with me. That book was NOT ready.

But I’ve grown up from that kind of thinking. By all means, I still have my opinions on how a book could have been better edited. I still have my opinions on stories that are annoying instead of entertaining. I still think of how I would have done it differently, and sometimes I rewrite stories in my head as I read them. The difference now is, I realize these things are my opinions, not facts. People will feel the same as I do, and people will feel differently than I do. And by the same token, I realize there are people who think this about my books, too! Things they would have done different or their opinion on where my editors got it wrong or let me down, etc. but I also realize if THAT person was my editor or critique partner, and even if I took EVERY bit of advice they gave me, someone else would be saying the same thing, albeit maybe for different reasons. That’s just how it works. Why? Because the book business is centered around personal tastes, not fact. Otherwise, all books would receive the exact same rating from every single reviewer. How often does that happen?

I’ve gotten off my high horse (that I had no business riding) and realized that maybe these authors I was criticizing could still teach ME a thing or two. I realized that *I* am not the be all end all opinion on whether a book is ready to published. No one is. And if hundreds or thousands of people like a book, that is indicator enough that a book was ready. It would be an insult to other readers’ opinions as well as downright arrogant to tell them they are wrong for liking a book or for me to say a book they loved should never have been published. It’s just not my place to say that.

Maybe it’s something more that a collective whole decides? If no one wants to read a book and those who do ALL hate it or can’t get through it because the grammar and punctuation is a hot mess . . . well, that book probably wasn’t ready. But I see no point hating on Twilight or Fifty Shades in that same way. Sure, I wouldn’t write a book that way, and people won’t like those books and have the right to hate them and think the writing is terrible all they want . . . BUT . . . those books were obviously “ready” to be published.

Sometimes, someone is gonna think, or say, “I can’t believe this crap was published.” But now that I have my head out of my own ass, I realize it’s not my place to say whether that crap was ready to be published or not. And that’s probably a good thing, because my younger self probably would have kept many well-loved books out of the hands of the people who DO love them!

This is why I no longer rate books on my blog and why my reviews are more about WHAT I liked and didn’t like. I might point out what errors I felt I saw and maybe how I would have done it differently, but I won’t say my opinion is right and that a book wasn’t ready for publishing because I would have edited it differently. Or the equally arrogant idea that the book could have been ready if I had critiqued it and the author had taken all my advice. Sure, maybe then I would have liked it more, but what about the millions of other people in this world? It’s not just about me. I won’t run around saying other authors are horrible writers who would have benefited from a critique group or an editor (especially since, for all I know, they HAD all those things, 100 times over, and their critiquers and editors just had a different opinion than me).

I know, right. Someone having a different opinion than me?! Crazy talk. And to think it happens to the best of us.

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