The 2016 Election and the Threat to American Exceptionalism – It’s Not What You Think

Not-For-Profit Dad

26009193562_179216de77_z Photo via Flickr by IoSonoUnaFotoCamera

The term, “American Exceptionalism” is one that has been notably fluid throughout its history. It has at times referred to the unique character of the settlement and founding of the United States as the “first new nation.” At other times it has served as a justification for a “benevolent” American hegemony in the post-World War II era to the present with Hillary Clinton embracing the meaning recently:

“When we say America is exceptional, it means that we recognize America’s unique and unparalleled ability to be a force for peace and progress, a champion for freedom and opportunity.”

I’m not going to dwell on those meanings here because the danger I believe is not a threat to our founding values (since those values though perhaps exceptional also included slavery, limited franchise and ethnic cleansing) or a turning inward, away from a role in…

View original post 647 more words


A Lonely Love

A heartfelt and compelling argument for recognizing the gifts and value of all people , because of NOT inspire of who they truly are.

Star In Her Eye

The online conversation went like this: A woman on Facebook posted an article about how a Monsanto chemical might be contributing to the rise in autism. Another woman, self-disclosing as autistic, said the article was fear-mongering and unfairly demonizing to autistic people. A third woman piped in, saying that because 30-some percent of autistic people have intellectual disabilities, it was right and just to fear the rise in autism. I cringed at the implied message: A life of disability is one thing, but a life of intellectual disability? That, in the woman’s eyes, was tragic.

So I added my voice. With tense shoulders, I wrote one sentence cautioning people against assuming a life with intellectual disabilities is tragic. In response, I thought maybe there’d be some cyber-nodding. I hoped maybe the third woman would realize what she was implying, and say, “Oh of course, yes, I didn’t mean it that…

View original post 1,227 more words

DO NOT “like” this awful, awful picture.

Totally agree with this post and do not agree with the whole cheap, irrelevant gimmick if no bra day! Ugh!

One Lump or Two


This picture (doing the rounds on FB) is an example of the worst excesses of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It made me feel sick. And there are a lot of upset women on the Breast Cancer charity forums who are as outraged as me.

Look at it. For a start it says, “Support Breast cancer”. What — not support breast cancer research, or breast cancer care, or even breast cancer “survivors” or “victims” (terms I hate)? Almost anything would be better than what it actually says.

Secondly, it shows a slim young woman waving a teensy little bra. For those of you who don’t know, the majority of women with breast cancer will be watching their weight/struggling with their body image. This is not helpful. Nor is the reminder that tiny little bras are not an option for most of us any more. If we wear one at all, it…

View original post 275 more words

Thirty Days of Caemon–Day 11: Croc Everlasting

A beautiful, full-circle kind of post about a boy called Caemon the croc, his moms, and the healing art of science and research. Part of Thirty Days of Caemon by

C is for Crocodile

Caemon drawing labs

Shortly before Caemon was diagnosed with leukemia, I was reading the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the true story of a young African-American woman who had died of a very aggressive form of cancer. Lacks’ cells were taken without her family’s permission, and they were grown and regrown for decades, sold to labs all over the country and became integral in making countless medical breakthroughs. Hers is a fascinating and tragic story, something with which I could only identify on an academic level as I read it.

The night we learned that Caemon had leukemia, we were asked to sign the first set of what felt like hundreds of sets of papers entering Caemon into this study or that, allowing permission for his blood and cells to be studied by countless researchers, and I found myself commenting that night, even through my shivering and shock, that we’ve come…

View original post 636 more words

Microblog Monday #23: Middle of the night fright

Since I’ve had kids I’ve been terrified of dying. Terrified. As I lay awake this morning between my sweet sleeping boy and girl I became just petrified about it. The kind of fear when your heart pounds, you feel sweaty and nauseous and you almost get swallowed up by the fear.

My chest has been kind of tight  and painful in the nights recently and I need to get it checked out with my doctor who is so far away and hard to get an appointment with that it’s easy to put off. In the stillness I convinced myself I had lung cancer from those 16 odd years I smoked, even though I’ve been smoke free for another 13 more. My kids have been sick and vulnerable and needy recently  and it reminds me how MUCH they need me and how any separation, temporary or permanent, would be devastating. This is what it’s like to be a mother: when your biggest worry is about dying and leaving your children behind, even though it happens all over the world every day, to someone. 

Moody Monday

Pre school drop off brings out the insecure mother in me. The girl that was never good at gravitating towards groups-that-move-as-one resurfaces. She feels awkward, frumpy and out of sync. Today Isobel’s hair was so tangled in the back I found myself apologizing about it to her favorite teacher, Ms. L, who is this adorable diminutive blonde that Izzie is crazy about. I pick my battles,  and tangled hair is one that often stays on the back burner. I often feel I am channeling my own mother, slightly socially awkward, shy, self critical. I wonder how she felt on these occasions. I think I know. 

Happy First Birthday, Harry!

It been a year since I wrote a blog post that I published. Although  I just hit publish on a half finished one from July 2014.  A wonderful rich happy year filled with a child on each arm, two kids draped over me, rough housing on the bed, snuggling at night, playing happily side by side ( for about a minute!) and of Isobel exclaiming from time to time, “I love my family!”

A year of a pretty easy baby who slept for long stretches after about 4 months and still sleeps well in my bed and for two hour stretches in his crib.
Also a really difficult year with lots of health challenges for Susan, her career goals moving at a frustrating snails pace for her. And some health  challenges for me, but most of my / our challenges come from me not making enough money in my job to cover all our necessities, being super stressed out by said job – which has the bonus of being 7 mins from my house – which is so disfunctional and messed up that I can’t even tell you.
We didn’t have to move,  so for the while we can stay in our high first floor apartment whose steps Susan can only climb while holding on with both hands because of her bum knee – meaning she can’t take the kids out by herself when I am at work and I have to run home to help with pre school pick ups / drop offs, etc. Not ideal. Where are all the dwellings with only one or two steps to them? In  Chicago they don’t seem  to exist. I never thought I would fantasize about living in a ranch house but the time has come.
To get back to the birthday boy, he just learned to drink out of Isobel’s straw bottle today! He sucked a whole lot of water out of it!! 
He crawls really fast and stands with assistance. I think he will be walking in a couple of months if not earlier. He waves bye and says bye at night time and if I’m saying bye on the phone or if someone is leaving. He weighed around 20lb or a bit more and was 29 inches tall at his 10 month check up.  He  has a HUGE head which kind of sticks out prominently at the back and which you can notice in the profile pics below. I worry about the shape and  size of it,  but no one else does including the doctor. Harry thinks the world of his sister Isobel, who is currently having a tantrum because she says it’s not his birthday. She thinks he’s cute but a nuisance who steals all her toys and gets in her way. He’s still drinking all breast milk all the time – from a bottle when I’m at work –  and he has been eating solids ( via baby led weaning) since he was about 6.5 months. We are so lazy about feeding him though. We don’t have the incentive to get him off formula and onto solids and cows milk that friends who adopted or aren’t breast feeding are excited about. So  he gets meals when we remember / there’s something he likes to eat / he doesn’t scream when we put him in his high chair, and milk the rest of the time. He’s ambivalent about food. Sometimes he loves it and sometimes he throws it straight on the floor!
So those are the highlights of his development. 
Isobel is learning all sorts of things. Big words, like topiary and puncture and how to be responsible and helpful via a sticker chart and lots if positive reinforcement.
Our biggest challenge these days seems to be all getting out if the house in time without killing each other and getting enough healthy food into Isobel, our picky eater, who is learning to enjoy healthy good but not necessarily what I think if as filling food. Say like, you know – a hot meal! 
Now here are some pictures from the last year! Isobel is harder to photograph because she’s a fan if total nudity in the house and she’s much more self conscious about photos when we can encourage her to out clothes in or we take pictures outside. 
There’s even one if Susan and me on a date!!! Winders will never cease!!!

The Chronicles of Isobel and Harry – interrupted to say I HATE BLOGGER. It ate my post twice. my beautiful nuanced post. First on my phone and then on here. Each time I was editing photos. I had saved my writing, and it fucking ate my post and reverted to the original post. Unnuanced. Unedited. Uninteresting.

(interrupted to say I HATE BLOGGER. It ate my post twice. My beautiful nuanced post. First on my phone and then on here. Each time I was editing photos. I had saved my writing, and it fucking ate my post and reverted to the original post. Unnuanced. Unedited. Uninteresting. FUCK! Does this happen on WordPress? I am never ever going to write a post on Blogger. I will write it in Word first. Or I will do everything in WordPress.)

Harry Update: ( from April 2014)
It turns out you can blog while holding a slightly cranky baby in one hand, iPhone in the other hand and while using one leg to gently move  the rocking chair. All  thanks to voice to type software. 

It’s still laborious because I have to go back and type over what Google voice doesn’t translate properly. I don’t think Google voice understands English accents that well. in order to get it to type  what I want I have to enunciate like all hell and click out all my  consonants. 
The  long and the short is that Harry is almost 10 weeks old and we are finally getting into our  groove. It’s hard to know what to say as all the trouble and strife feels like it’s under the bridge so to speak. 
We had a whole ton of help from people in our church and other friends and family. We had  meals delivered,  we had a post partum Doula (paid for by my sister and brother) ;  my sister took care of Isobel for two nights and most of two days  while we were in the hospital for two days and two nights and then Susan took over while I stayed in hospital one more night. There’s no way we can complain about being neglected while welcoming Harry into the world.
July 2014
Now I am back to work  ( i went back  on April 21st) and Harry is almost 6 months old. He is just a joyful baby and one who is wonderful to be around. If you wanted to know what it was like to be with the average baby you would not want to come to our house because you could be seriously deluded about how easy it is. He is so so chill, so happy most of the time ( except for gas  on and off for the first twelve weeks) and when he is tired and crabby now, but that’s just about learning his cues and feeding him or getting him down for a nap. He is not a very good napper, but he is a terrific night time sleeper.  He cries for me towards the end of the day when he has had enough of the bottle and misses me and he took a long time to get used to the bottle. He can go for 9 hours at a time in his co sleeper / bassinet. He wakes for milk and then he usually goes right back to sleep. I am the luckiest parent alive. I really need that break because other things in our house are decidedly not peaceful or particularly calm – more on that later. 

Even so it has been a difficult transition for all of us but mostly for Isobel. In my ignorance and stupidity and possibly optimism I believed that Isobel would  make concessions for us after Harry arrived. After all,  she had survived two whole nights without us and was becoming more mature and self-sufficient or so I thought. What a pile of crap that was. As most kids ( and adults !) do, she pushed through the hard part  while away from us and then once she was back home she unraveled. I don’t remember all the details I just know even now it’s hard for her to accept  that I can’t do everything I did for her before when she was the only one. 

Right now she is working on at least two big things: one is going to the  “big” potty outside the house while wearing underwear and  not wearing a diaper outside the house – even though as far as I am concerned it would be easier and less risky if she wore one,  she cleverly refuses to wear a diaper away from home,  which means we really have to work on this issue.  this includes her holding her pee for hours, being frightened of “automatic flush toilets” which she can now articulate, as well as loud hand dryers and anything else that is loud or unexpected. Actually, we  seem to have a girl who is  working on  many issues and I blame myself for letting her acquire  these issues in  the first place, because I tell myself I was being lax and lazy in my parenting when really I was just overwhelmed and didn’t know any better. So currently we are working on her sweet tooth,  potty training and the wearing of clothes and shoes that are appropriate for the weather.  On deck for next time is her iPad usage.  See I told you I was a terrible parent. 


Here is our new sweet beautiful baby boy, Harry Joseph S-P. Born 1/23/2014 at 10.11pm via c section.
Weight: 7lb 12 Oz, length 20 inches.
Surgery was longer and rougher than expected and involved the unexpected removal of a grapefruit sized fibroid!
Baby boy is named after my beloved father Harry, and Susan’s brother, Joseph, who she never met and who died a day or so after his birth. Hope that doesn’t sound macabre, but we wanted to honor two men in our lives that had differing but powerful influences on us.

Ready for baby!

I know it’s been a long time since I blogged, and there is lots to tell, but right now I am finally here at the end of my pregnancy ( well exactly 39 weeks!) ready for my scheduled c-section.

I had a disturbed night and made sure I got a 4 am snack as instructed by my doctor. Isobel and I got up a bit before 7 am and watched the I-Pad on the couch, while she ate her breakfast, which is our normal routine. No breakfast for me today. She then wanted to play in her room ( with me watching of course) and we got out her toy food so she could prepare lots of lovely meals and a picnic for us. Later there was more snuggling and a little napping on the couch. Isobel was very tender with me and got really close and it was so sweet. We have been telling her the plans for today for a while now and we went over them again. She seemed to be okay with everything.
After the usual showers for the grown ups and chasing her around the house to get dressed, my sister arrived to drive us to the hospital. We got to the hospital at around 10.30 am for the scheduled 1.30pm surgery. I was sad as I kissed Isobel good bye. She was sleepy and sweet, giving me tender kisses on my cheeks and wanting to rub noses and foreheads. She left happily with my sister looking forward to a visit to a coffee shop and a sweet treat. Such a sweetheart.

Once we got to the hospital we checked in and were directed to OB triage, where
all c – sections are prepped. I have been here maybe four times before and know the drill. Each time was for my lack of perceived movement of the baby and all visits turned out well. The last time I was there I was on the other half of the unit, peri natal surveillance, where they put women with high risk pregnancy issues for observation. This was after two hospital stays in quick succession in December that had me in for stomach flu accompanied by dehydration, coupled with a new diagnosis of atrial tachycardia ( rapid heartbeat caused by electrical malfunctioning in your heart – could be due to pregnancy or have been there a while). The next hospital stay came a day later because I developed pneumonia and influenza strain A, which apparently I probably caught while I was in the hospital the first time. Each time I was in the PCCU and they were a little freaked out by me because of the pregnancy. The last night of my stay I got the all clear with my heart and pneumonia and they brought me down here for one more night of baby monitoring. So yes, I’ve been here before!
So this morning I think they put my IV in around 11.30 am, put me on the baby monitor for what felt like the seven hundredth time and we settled in to wait til the scheduled time. I was feeling a little down and ambivalent about the whole surreal experience of birthing a baby, wondering if I can take care of two kids, hoping I don’t get PPD this time around, being anxious about very attached Isobel’s needs not being met and me generally being recently crabby with her due to my exhaustion, bloatedness and general discomfort. Around 12 noon we were told that there was an emergency c section in the OR that had bumped us. We had been warned of this of course, but it was still disappointing. Then a midwife came in around 1pm to tell us that my doctor had had some kind of emergency and couldn’t do the c section til 9pm tonight. OMG! That’s 7 hours away. All I could think was – I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, NOOOOOOO! Having suffered the misery of being starving for hours in the ER here last time I was in it brought it all back to me.
However, nothing much to do but wait. They said we could go home and wait til tomorrow but the same thing could happen again. I’m thinking that I don’t want to leave the hospital without my baby. So we stay.
So I hunkered down with FB to update everyone who was waiting for news and lay down to watch a Friends marathon followed by a nap. I’ve been napping on and off since then.
Poor Susan was sitting in a hard chair for a few hours with her arthritis before the nurse took pity on her and let her rest on the other bed in the room.
Since we got here she has had two awful cafeteria meals and I have had a cup of apple juice to tide over my dropping blood sugar. I think I got the better deal!
So two more hours left until the re -scheduled c section.
That’s what the status quo is for now.
I hope to post pics and an update in a few hours or tomorrow.
FX all goes well from now on!