Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My 'I love you" ran away to Texas

I've got to get this down before I forget it.  I just had an amusing conversation with the boys on the drive home from Parents' Night earlier this evening.

Curly says, rather grumpily, "Mommy, I'm mad at you."

I respond, "Oh really?  Why are you mad at me?"

"Because I'm mad at you."

Well that was enlightening.  "Are you a little mad or a lot mad?"

In a gruff voice, "I'm three mads, no, three, four, five mads."

So I say, "I'm sorry to hear that.  But guess what?"

No guessing from the back seat.

"I love you!"

Still nothing from Curly.  But it gets a laugh out of Slim.

"I love you when you're mad. I love you when you're happy ..."

In a frustrated voice, Curly interrupts, "No, I'm happy.  I'm mad!"

And then, Slim interjects, "But your 'I love you' ran away."

"Huh?"  I'm puzzled.

"Mom, take your 'I love you' out of your mouth", Slim commands nicely, if you can command in a nice way.

I say, "I love you" out loud and make a show of reaching in my mouth as though I'm taking the words out and then I pass them back to Slim.

Slim shouts, "Boo!" at my hand.  "I scared your 'I love you' away and now it ran to Texas."

With indignant laughter I tell him, "You can't scare my love away!"

"Yup, I did.  The 'I love you' is in Texas eating, and drinking, and playing."

And now I want to turn this whole conversation into a book.  I won't, but I want to.

Bil-Jac Review and Coupon Giveaway

First, the standard disclaimer - I'm a BzzAgent, which means that I test products for free and give companies my honest feedback, all while spreading buzz because word of mouth marketing is super effective!  Proof that my input is honest and not just false hype is right here in this review, which is rather negative.

I am a part of the Bil-Jac Dry Dog Food BzzCampaign.

Price is my first concern when it comes to food, then quality, then whether it will be eaten by our ten year old mutt (any guesses on her breed(s)?  the best guess I've heard yet is Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, or Toller) Hannah.

Let's address the first and third of those.

For me, and those that I talked to about this BzzCampaign, the price is unappealing.  Bil-Jac does claim that because the food is higher quality, dogs get fuller on less, which means a bag of food would stretch out for longer and hopefully stretch dollars further.  However, with prices ranging from $16.99 for a six pound bag to $46.99 for a thirty pound bag at your local PetSmart, that's a fair amount of money to spend out of my pet food budget on faith alone.

As to whether Hannah will eat Bil-Jac? The Two Bowl Challenge video below answers that question!  She has never been picky about her food.  However, ordinarily we put food in her bowl and she grazes throughout the day.  With Bil-Jac, she gobbles her bowls right up!  The Bil-Jac Dry Dog Food she is eating is the Reduced Fat version because since she's become a senior dog, she has a tendency to gain weight.

But here's the rub - upon research, I've found the ingredient list has potential health hazards for your pet.  When Bzzing about this dog food, friends of mine who raw feed their animals had nothing but bad things to say about Bil-Jac and expressed concerns about me exposing Hannah to the carcinogen BHA.  I'll admit that despite making it a priority to feed my family healthy foods with an emphasis on those that are not processed, are organic, and/or local as much as possible, I don't extend that courtesy to our four pets.  As mentioned above, the first factor in the pet food I buy is price.  I don't usually peruse the ingredient lists on bags of dog or cat food.  When I say that quality is a concern, mostly it means that I'd like to avoid foods on the recall list.  So, what's in Bil-Jac, aside from the ""4 lbs. of fresh chicken used to make a 6 lb bag"?  Chicken by-products are first on the list, with the advisement that those by-products are organs only.  It does contain BHA like my friends warned.  BHA is a chemical preservative that is potentially carcinogenic.

Bil-Jac is also not rated highly by the independent canine nutrition review site Dog Food Advisor.

Between the cost and the concerns about the ingredient list, I don't see us buying Bil-Jac again.  I also don't know that I'll follow the rule for the fur members of our family that I've instituted for the humans: "eat from pronounceable ingredients with the most frequency."  I can see adopting another rule of mixing a high quality food with a low quality food so that they still get the necessary nutrients.  After all, I don't always make healthy food choices!  Hannah does like it, so I'll let her finish the bag we got with the free coupon in the meantime.

Perhaps you feel differently than I do and have more of an affinity for Bil-Jac.  If so, I still have coupons to save $10 on any size Bil-Jac Puppy, Select, Reduced Fat, Senior, Large Breed, Small Breed or Sensitive Solutions Dry Dog Food that I'd be happy to send your way.  Just comment if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

End Malaria

If you use Twitter, it's likely you've seen tongue in cheek tweets with the hashtag #whitepeopleproblems.  You know, stuff that the privileged and entitled suffer like hot tub water splashing on your cigar and having to turn up the TV when the dishwasher is running.  Sometimes, as in the second example, they're interchangeable with #firstworldproblems.

Want to know what's not a white or first world problem?  Malaria.  Frankly, I, ensconced in my Midwestern home, haven't thought much about malaria, as it is so far removed from me geographically.  "The global geography of malaria is increasingly disproportionate. The vast majority of malaria cases and malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, which the director-general of the WHO, Margaret Chan, has called, 'the heartland of malaria' Meanwhile, 'outside Africa, the malaria map is shrinking, as more and more countries eliminate malaria from their territory,' says Chan." - Source

But, just like when you first get pregnant and you notice pregnancy everywhere, foundations and volunteers seeking to eradicate malaria are popping up in my line of sight.  It all started with BzzAgent, interestingly enough.  Yes, the same network I've mentioned in the past that facilitates word of mouth marketing for companies: I talk honestly about products I receive for free or at a discount.  One of the BzzCampaigns I am part of is for The Domino Project.  Created by Seth Godin, The Domino Project seeks to change the way books are published and shared.  BzzAgents who are part of the campaign receive each new book prior to its release.  Until this month.  Instead, it's been encouraged to buy the current title, End Malaria, as $20 from the sale of every copy goes to Malaria No More, an international advocacy organization working to end malaria in 2015.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't yet bought the book, so I can't tell you if its worthwhile (outside of supporting a good cause.)  The Amazon reviews are positive though.  The book itself is not about malaria; in it, 62 leading writers and thinkers share their tips about great work.  It's a motivational book figuratively wrapped with that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you do something good.  When I do read it, I'll be certain to share my review.

If you don't want to buy the book on Amazon, but still feel compelled to do something or make a donation, research what feels right to you.  I suggest reading about the work Mandy Moore is doing.  I learned about her involvement with the cause via her Twitter feed.  She's worked together with PSI (Population Services International) as an Ambassador and helped distribute life-saving mosquito nets to "the Central African Republic (CAR), a country with one of the highest childhood death rates in the world and where malaria is a primary cause of illness and death."  Another resource in malaria prevention is Nothing but Nets, a foundation that espouses, "Send a net.  Save a life."

Look, maybe you're like me and have causes that you support already.  But that doesn't mean that we can't find new issues to become passionate about.  I believe strongly that we are global citizens and have a responsibility to make this world a good place to live for all.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You're So Much Like Me. I'm Sorry

This post is a ramble about gender neutral parenting, my sons' personalities, and how I see me in them.  Not just Slim's hair or Curly's dimple, but in their walk and their talk.  Occasionally, when they wake in the morning, I sing a warbled, out of tune, modified, rise and shine version of Ben Folds' Still Fighting It:  "Good morning son.  I am your mom.  Wearing hospital pants for pjs.  You want a hug?  Maybe a kiss?  How about some pancakes for breakfast?  It's okay.  We're gonna have a great day.  I just can't wait!"  In the real version, there's a recurring line in the song, "And you're so much like me.  I'm sorry."  I love my children, flaws and all, but I sure wish that some of the flaws they have weren't inherited from me thanks to nature and nurture.  It's scary knowing how potentially harmful my influential traits might be.  Thankfully, they're not all me.  They're them.

Curly is physical and charming and one step away from disaster that he almost always manages to avert. I joke that he's smart enough to figure out how to get out of a situation he got himself into nine times out of ten, but it's the tenth time you have to watch out for! Thankfully, as his mother, who spends day in/day out with him, I am immune to his irrepressible, dimpled grin that defies discipline. This boy could likely be described as a mama's boy because he loves snuggling with me or winds up hiding behind my metaphorical skirts when he feels timid. However, he might just turn that hug into a wrestling move if you're not careful. I couldn't help but shake my head in embarrassment and resigned mirth as he tackled his brother to the ground. On the floor of the grocery store. While I was paying. He lives joyfully and he wants you to too.

Slim is intelligent and analytical in a way that outwits me and R - and I don't think we're at all dumb (even if motherhood has killed more brain cells than I'd care to admit.)  The kid is BIG TIME into dinosaurs .  He revels in the mud and dirt and sand, drawing pictures with his fingers in the transient medium, looking for creepy crawlies, often with a magnifying glass in hand.  He gravitates towards people in such a sincere, friendly way that I can't pull off.  Since we've moved,  Slim insists on introducing himself to everyone. And his spiel is, "Hi, I'm Slim. I'm a four year old. But on my next birthday, which is mumble mumble, not sharing his birth date here, mumble mumble, I'll be a five year old. We just moved here from Florida. Did you just move here too?" To ev-er-y-oneI love how personable he is, but it is hard having an extroverted child when I'm so not.

And Slim's favorite color is pink.

And I've seen them both breastfeeding dolls.  Slim was convinced that he could make chocolate milk come out of his nipples when I was nursing Curly.

And Curly probably cleans better than I do.  I call him my little Danny Tanner because he is so adept at picking up.

Yeah, my son has a pink (and blue) butterfly on his face. But so what?  I didn’t encourage his face painting choice, but I didn't discourage it either.  In doing so, I showed Slim I honor him.  I showed Curly I honored him by asking if he wanted his face painted too and not forcing him when he shook his head vehemently.

When I talk to them about love and marriage and family, I frame it in gender neutral terms (except son.  Unless that changes one day in the future, right now, they are my sons.)  I tell them that I hope, one day, they find a partner who loves them and respects them.  That it's best to start a family with that kind of person.  Because who doesn't want that for their child?  A partner in life.  I don't care if that's a man or a woman or if Slim or Curly realize that they are transgender.  I. don't. care.  I want my kids to know that I love and support them and if I can set up that framework of love and support now, so that if they were to come out, they would feel safe to do so with me, all the better.

When we walk around Target or Toys R Us, I gently correct them when they say, "That's the girl toy aisle."  "You know guys, there's no such thing as toys that are just for girls or just for boys.  Boys can play with dolls and girls can play with cars."  People?  My sister is the reason that our younger brothers had a huge Matchbox car collection.  My brothers also played with our castoff Barbies.  After cutting off their hair and stripping them naked. 

When I was pregnant, we got Slim an older brother present of a toy stroller and baby carrier.  Because guess what?  Dads are nurturing too.  When Curly watches me put on makeup and asks for some, I indulge him by swiping my brush blush on his cheeks.  I'll admit, I say things like, "Not all men wear makeup" or "Other boys may not like a pink car for a gift", not to dampen their spirits, but to give them a little taste of the outside world from a trusted source.

I think they're going to be okay.  They're going to get hurt; not just physically, but emotionally.  They'll look back on childhood fondly (I hope), despite some bad memories.  There will be things people don't like about them.  But none of us are unscathed by Life.  And who they are?  As I described them to you today?  I reiterate - I think they're going to be okay.