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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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!!!