World On Fire

I’ve been a fan of Sarah McLachlan for a long time, at least since “Fumbling Towards Ecstacy” came out in 1993. I saw her in concert three times, twice at Lilith Fair. Her music has always seemed so powerful to me, so full of passion. She really seems to sing from the heart.

After recently discovering what she did with her “World On Fire” video, I have even more respect and admiration for her.

View the video here

Even if you aren’t a Sarah fan, this video deserves a look just for the message that it has.

I admire her for doing something different and donating nearly $150,000 (the typical cost of making a video) to charities around the world. Imagine if every artist did that with just one video, what a difference it could make.

Anyway, Sarah is an inspiration to me. She seems like such a grounded person who isn’t wrapped up in all the money and fame that can accompany stardom. She uses her status to help bring about change and make the world a better place and I think that’s awesome.

It’s about time (for an intro)

I’ve been posting for a few days now and I realize that I should probably take a few moments to post an intro of sorts. I think my profile tells quite a bit about the kind of person I am, but for those who are interested, here’s some more background info on me.

I was born in May 1975 (yes, that makes me a bull-headed Taurus. bet ya’d never guess that about me, hehe) in Michigan. I grew up in a (white bread) suburb of Detroit with my mom, dad and younger brother and sister. Like most families, we were a bit dysfunctional, yet I never doubted that I was loved.

I attended Catholic elementary schools during the week and my family went to Mass on the weekends. When I switched to public schools in sixth grade, I continued to go to catechism classes and was confirmed in eighth grade.

My dad was a teacher (now retired) and coach (and often did other odd jobs) and worked long hours to provide for our family. My mom stayed at home with us kids until I was about 12, at which time she returned to the workforce as a teacher as well.

I excelled in most subjects in school and was a member of the Honor Society in high school. I also participated in flag corps, drill team, Girl Scouts (through my senior year in high school!) and a few Catholic youth groups. I had a close-knit circle of friends, but I was pretty much a nerd.

After my high school graduation, I went away to college for the first two years. I had a really rough time being away from home (more importantly, away from my boyfriend at the time), and eventually moved back in with my parents and attended a local university. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English in 1998.

In the meantime, I was introduced to the Internet where I met my husband (and soulmate) Jody in 1996. He lived in Oklahoma at the time, so our relationship was initially a friendship for the first year and a half. We decided to meet in person in February 1998 when we were both single, so I flew to Oklahoma to spend a few days with him. I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but it honestly wasn’t for either of us. However, over the next few days we really did fall in love and my stay was extended for a few more days since neither of us felt ready to say good-bye just yet.

A couple months later, Jody came to Michigan to visit me and we decided that after my college graduation in June, I would move to Oklahoma with him.

Moving 1,000 miles away from home was certainly the craziest thing I’d ever done. We had some ups and downs, but our relationship continued to grow and we got engaged in May 2000.

We moved to Colorado (where we currently reside) in October 2000, and were married in April 2001.

I worked for the local paper as the newsroom office manager for about 3 1/2 years, up until the birth of our daughter. I’m now a stay-at-home mom.

Jody’s been working in the computer industry for most of his life. His most recent position is doing technical support for a 3-D design software company.

Jody and I decided that we would start trying to conceive in September 2002. Due to some fertility issues, it took us until Sept. 2003 to actually conceive. We were both elated when it finally happened for us. We had a scare at 11 weeks and thought that we might lose the baby, but she was a fighter and held on.

Ava was born on June 22, 2004, at 38 weeks after I developed HELLP Syndrome and had to be induced. Due to my life threatening complications, her birth didn’t go at all as I had thought/hoped it would, but she was born in perfect health and that was truly the most important part.

She’s now nearly 8 months old, growing like a weed (and is a big girl at about 25 lbs.) and continues to amaze me and Jody with each passing day. She’s got such a great disposition and so much personality. Not a day goes by in our house that we aren’t all sitting around in fits of laughter. Ava brings so much joy to our lives.

The parenting style we subscribe to is Attachment (or Gentle) Parenting. It’s not that we looked it up in a book and said “this is what we’ll do.” It’s just that the things that AP espouses have come naturally. My basic philosophy is if it feels right, then it must be.

Various other things about me:
– I no longer practice Catholicism (and haven’t really since high school). I believe in God, but the rest is sketchy for me. I’m still trying to find a religion that rings true with me.
– As far as my political stance, I’m a right-leaning liberal.
– I’m left-handed.
– I have two dogs (my first babies), Ellie and Maggie.
– I call myself “crunchy” in my Blog title and, while that adjective is widely-known where I live, I realize that it necessarily isn’t elsewhere. Being crunchy is like being a neo-hippie (but without all the dreadlocks and smoking pot crap). It’s someone with a non-conformist state of mind who cares about the world. Being crunchy refers to granola, i.e. being earthy, etc. So yeah, I think of myself as crunchy. And the domestic goddess is just a fun way to say “I’m a stay-at-home mom.”
– I love to read, but don’t often have time for it. The last book I read was “Our Babies, Ourselves” by Meredith Small. It was an excellent book and I highly recommend it. I’ll probably write more about it at another time.
– The last good movie I saw (on DVD of course because we just don’t get out to the movies anymore) was “Napoleon Dynamite.” I thought the preview looked ridiculously stupid, yet I found the movie very amusing (even if it was plotless) and highly quotable.
– Some other things I enjoy are cooking, photography (namely taking pictures of Ava or scenic pictures), and hiking in the mountains.
– I also enjoy writing although I haven’t been doing much of it lately. I feel like this blog will inspire me to continue to write on a regular basis and prevent my brain from going to mush. I realize that I have some strong opinions on certain subjects and while I want to feel free to express them, I hope that nobody will get the impression that I think I am better than them because of my opinions and/or choices in life. That is not my intention. I share my opinions in the hopes of giving people something to think about. One of my mottos lately has been “Question Authority.” Not because I think I’m a badass and I don’t agree with rules, but because I think it’s healthy to think about why things are the way they are or why we are being told to do things a certain way. IMO, complacency is a dangerous thing.

Anyway, that’s my life and a bit about what makes me tick (probably more than you ever cared to know), in a (large) nutshell.
Thanks for reading. :)

Breastfeeding in front of the president

I came across this photo on Yahoo News yesterday.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez talks with people who were affected by flooding…

Wow! :) How refreshing it is to see a woman able to openly feed her baby in public – while speaking to the president of her country no less! And nobody seems to be offended by it in the least (although that one guy might be checking out her boob, hehe). But the president seems absolutely at ease with it, even touching her on the arm and *gasp* making eye contact with her.

I’d love to see the United States embrace breastfeeding as such a natural part of life instead of limiting places women can nurse and having people take offense at a mom simply trying to feed her baby. It seems like here in the U.S. we are so quick to sexualize breasts, rather than view them as a source of food for babies (which is really their only practical purpose).

I feel fortunate to live in an area that’s more accepting of public bfing than other places in this country, but we still have a loooooooooooong way to go before you’d see something happen like in the picture.

A small request (to anonymous posters)

To all of the anonymous posters out there,
Would you please sign your posts with a name (I don’t care if it’s your actual name or a made up one) so that if I or someone else wants to respond to you, we can address you by name rather than “to the person who said that they don’t like to eat peanut butter on toast” or whatever. ;)
Thank you. :)

Baby Love

A friend of mine recently posted a link to this article from the Metro West Daily News on one of my message boards. I thought it was so cute and sweet and perfectly appropos for how I feel, I had to share it here. :)

Berry: Baby love is all a nursing mother needs
By Julie Berry / Local Columnist
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” chastely explains, “If you’re breastfeeding, this may unconsciously be satisfying your need for intimacy.”

Unconsciously, my eye. I don’t need sex. Not lately. I get all the sensual pleasure I need from my baby.

I realize I may be bursting your illusions, gentlemen, but your charms cannot compete with 15 pounds of downy-soft cuddly gummy smiley stinky sweetness.

You can make your come-hither looks all day, and if I’m not tired, and you haven’t been annoying me all day, I may come hither. Or not. But a face-squishing dimply baby smile will summon me without fail.

My baby has only two waking modes: pure angelic adoration of Mama, and ravenous, shirt-tearing lust for Mama.

Given the choice of who I want to make out with, hands down, you lose.

You’re stubbly. Baby is smooth. You’re tough as gristle. Baby is soft as pudding. You get food between your teeth. Baby has no teeth. You stink. Baby stinks, too, but even then, it’s kind of nice. When you stink, you just stink.

And let me talk a little bit about baby stink.

Of all the soft sweet parts on a baby, the softest and sweetest is the neck, which has an odor all its own. When I start smooching chubby cheeks and snorting big tokes of baby scent, I always end up in the neck. I’m not the only thing that ends up there. Sweat, spit-up milk, lint, shampoo, and slobber all follow gravity down into those little crevices.

The resulting odor is a heady bouquet of cottage cheese, bile, dirty socks, and Johnson & Johnson’s. I could eat it right up. Sometimes, in a frenzy of animal passion, I try to. (I suspect this is the true origin of the vampire myth. Women with bloodshot eyes, unkempt hair, sucking necks and saying “I vant to eat you up!” — they were postpartum mothers.)

My husband finds this appetite of mine a little startling. “Ooh, you’re so stinky, I love it, you’re so yummy!” I say. He pretends perplexity. (Or is it jealousy? Alas, probably not.)

Are we not mammals? Don’t you observe how your dogs and cats inhale, with deep interest and pleasure, every organic fluid they can find? From any orifice they can reach? Haven’t you ever smelled a pair of your stinky socks that fascinated you because they were so stinky, and you took another whiff, just because?

We are mammals, and never more so than when we’re lactating. (Duh, look at the word.) Somewhere inside us are sensors, dulled by the grinding of evolution’s wheel, that know the pups in our litter, our mates, and our enemies by their scent, and can decipher the aromatic language of bodily secretions.

As a mom of four, my sniffer is highly trained. I can tell which kid is which, or when a kid is coming down with a cold. I can even smell a fib.

One thing we were probably better at sniffing out eons ago was when our mate was in heat. Thus primeval man was probably a lot less frustrated than modern man. He knew when to try. (Primeval woman got to be a good, fast runner.) When primeval woman had a new baby, primeval man hooked up with his buddies for a six-month hunting trip-roaming the wilderness, complaining about their wives, and killing wooly mammoths by whacking them in the shins with clubs.

This, you’ll note, is a male tradition that has adapted to survive through the millennia. But I’ll save that thought for another day.

The point is that baby love trumps grown-up love every time. Now, I realize that by putting this down in black and white, I may be skating that fine line in your minds between “this lady loves her baby” and “this lady is a sicko pervert.”

I call as my witness any woman who’s had a baby and snuzzled it. This probably explains why, unlike many people, I’ve never adopted the habit of calling my husband “babe” or “baby.” It’s wishful thinking. I know better.

So with Diana Ross & the Supremes, I sing, “Baby love, my baby love, I need ya, oh, how I need ya . . .” For about the first 18 months. And then it’s, “Baby, baby, baby, where did our love go?”

At which point the adult males of the species begin to look a little more interesting. When comparing the charms of the grown-up man and the 18-month old one, usually the grown-up is slightly better behaved. But that may just be evolution, trying to trick me into making another baby.

I smell a rat.

Copyright 2005, Julianna Berry. Used by permission of author.
Julie Berry

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband dearly, but I have to agree with the author that a sweet baby has an allure about him/her that simply can’t be rivaled.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to snorts some tokes of baby neck goodness. ;)

Happy belated Valentine’s Day, everyone. :)

And ya wonder why I’m a cynic

Recently I’ve been reflecting on what a cynic I’ve become. I feel like money is the motivating force behind so many things these days and it sickens and frightens the hell out of me. It’s actually one of the reasons why I haven’t been comfortable enough with vaccinations to allow my daughter to receive any as of yet. I’m skeptical that there’s a need for the vaccinations for the majority of the population since research shows that the disease rates were declining on their own before any of the vaccinations were introduced. So why do I think they were introduced and why do they “require” that all children get vaccinated? Because (in my opinion) it’s all about making money!

So then today I read this article (below) that helps confirm my theory that money is such a driving force. It states that Merck & Co. (a pharmaceutical company that manufactures vaccinations) were aware that infants were receiving an elevated dose of mercury in vaccinations (up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish), yet the shots were distributed anyway.


“A memo from Merck & Co. shows that, nearly a decade before the first public disclosure, senior executives were concerned that infants were getting an elevated dose of mercury in vaccinations containing a widely used sterilizing agent.”
The complete article is here:
1991 Memo Warned of Mercury in Shots


Is the health of our children not important? Mercury (thimerosal) is a POISON. From the California Poison Control System’s Web site (the comments in parentheses are mine):
“What are sources of organic mercury?

Organic mercury compounds are found in a variety of products. They are used medically as fungicides and antibacterials. The most common organic mercury compounds in the home may well be mercurochrome (merbromin) and merthiolate (thimerosal), two common antiseptics. Fortunately, small ingestions by children rarely cause major problems. (What about when you inject large doses into their muscles??!)

Organic mercury compounds (of which thimerosal is one) are very damaging. They are toxic by ingestion, inhalation, and skin and eye contact. (Again, what about muscle injections? If I don’t want to eat it, I wouldn’t think it would be good to be injected into the muscle and bloodstream, but that’s just me.) These mercury compounds can attack all body systems. They can cause nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, kidney failure, skin burns and irritation, respiratory distress, swollen gums and mouth sores, drooling, numbness and tingling in the lips, mouth, tongue, hands and feet, tremors and incoordination, vision and hearing loss, memory loss, personality changes and headache. Allergic reactions can also occur.

Methyl-mercury, usually from contaminated food, is very dangerous to pregnant women. Methyl-mercury causes profound mental retardation, cerebral palsy, seizures, spasticity, tremors, and incoordination, along with eye and hearing damage in the unborn baby as a result of the mother’s exposure. Organic mercury passes into the breast milk as well.”

So hell yeah I’m going to be up in arms when someone wants to inject something into my baby that contains a poison. It’s true that thimerosal (mercury) has been removed from vaccinations (though it still exists in trace amounts) in the past few years, but what about before that? And if they allowed high doses of mercury in the shots for 10+ years, who’s to say they didn’t allow (and don’t still allow) other toxins? Most people would be surprised to learn what goes into making a vaccine (I know I was floored), but I’ll save that for another day.

You can call me a cynic and I’ll readily admit to being one, but it’s things like that article that give me more than enough justification for it.