Meat-ing Up For Dinner…….

I was just sitting here, at my desk, thinking about meat.  Not something I do often.  We are having dinner with my parents and during discussion of what to serve, my mother asked me how I felt about meatloaf.  I am not a big meatloaf fan personally, because I do not care for the texture of ground beef.  My husband loves it, and so does our oldest son.  My 10 month old, however, has never had ground beef.  When I told her that it would be his first exposure to ground beef, and she asked me why I had not previously given him any, I began to explain all the reasons I have been uncomfortable letting him try it.  Turns out, there are even more reasons than I realized.

First, there are what I would consider run-of-the-mill, regular “mommy/daddy” concerns………..

  • Being of a larger crumblier texture, I wanted to see some progress in the ‘toofie’ department before I introduced it, to be sure he would not choke.  No problems there, he has 4 now and bites through everything he is given like a piranha.
  • Whether we realize it or not, I believe we have a tendency to introduce the foods that we, ourselves, like to our children.  It’s probably fair to say most folks don’t like beets and don’t make it an early food, whereas bananas are fairly universally liked and often given quite early on.
  • Because of the dangers of Escherichia Coli with undercooked red meat, I have hesitated to give very much of it, other than the small amount I have thoroughly steamed and finely ground or pureed.  Subsequently, he tends to prefer chicken, fish, or turkey, since those are most familiar to him.
  • I have made almost all of the solid foods he has eaten, by the combined use of a high-grade steamer and the baby bullet system.  As a result, I have been able to offer him food without preservatives, additives, unknown chemicals, and with no added salt or sugar.

That leads into the slightly scarier worries I have about ground beef nowadays………….

  • Pink slime.  Slaughterhouse scraps that have been mechanically separated, then treated with ammonia, used as filler in ground beef.  Eeewww.  That doesn’t sound the least bit appetizing to me, why would I want to feed it to my son?  The kicker to this is that there do not seem to be any sort of restrictions on the selling of meat with this filler added in.   It can be sold unlabeled, and is currently being pushed into our schools for our children to eat.  So the USDA declares it safe, right?  I do not personally care to gamble my health on the assurances of faceless officials from the government, or indeed any agency.  Numbers always seem to take precedence over individuals, and I have no desire to become an unfortunate statistic.  The best I have been able to determine, the only way to be sure this filler is NOT present in your beef is to purchase meat labeled USDA Organic.
  • Antibiotics & hormones administered to the animals prior to slaughter.  If it’s in the animal, it’s going to be in the meat, to some extent.
  • The use of Bacteriophages on processed meat  ‘products’ has become common.  As with the many other things we, as consumers, are often uninformed about, if and when it becomes the standard to treat beef products…..will we know?  There can be no 100% assurances that the viruses in use to curb Listeria will not mutate into something harmful to us.  If this happens, will we be informed?  How quickly?  It may just be me, but folks…..if someone set a beautiful burger or good cut of steak in front of me and said “Hang on while I spray a virus on this.  It’s for your safety.”  I would probably not want it afterwards, regardless of their assurances.

Let’s be honest.  Like a lot of concerned people out there, I don’t have any good suggestions for the USDA.  I am sure they do the best they can, within their means.  I will not stop eating meat, or even processed meat products.  I will try, however, as much as I can, to protect my sons from exposure to things that creep me out, the way that ground beef does now.  They will eventually have plenty of it, if they want.  Maybe tonight, though, we’ll skip it and my Connor-boo can have some veggies from our garden.  We know where they have been, how they were grown, what they have been exposed to, and how they were prepared.

Agency Approves First Use Of Viruses As A Food Additive

Who Sells Meat With ‘Pink Slime’?

Ground Beef Recalled Due To E. Coli Risk

Is It Safe To Eat ‘Pink Slime’?

Are Hormones In Meat Affecting Humans?

American Beef : Why Is It Banned In Europe?

US Children’s Daily Intake Of Steroids, Growth Hormones, & Antibiotics

Safer Food For A Healthier You

Viral Meat Spray : Advancing Food Safety?

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Taking a break from serious stuff again today to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, in this case, ice cream with my son.

Ice Cream So Good It Causes Jazz Hands

You have now been strafed by a proud momma.  On a lighter note, now you all know what my southern laden drawl sounds like.  You’re welcome.

A Spincter Says What?

Came upon this inspirational (holding up sarcasm sign NOW) article this morning on my newsfeed.

I am honestly not that surprised, or in fact upset, about the contents.  Oh, I was, when I first read it.  Worked up a minor head of steam while scanning through it, too.  By the time I finished it, my compartmentalization centers had kicked in and relegated it to the spam box section of my brain, at which point I decided not to waste time being pissed that people with such asinine ideals get any airtime.  After all, if this man and those who think like him want to spew their venom, it cannot possibly help the repubs very much.   I can imagine some people being offended, and some shaking their heads and bleating their agreement.  What I do not see is lots of new converts experiencing epiphanies that this is the one true party to represent them.  I believe divisive ideals like this are insulting to everyone who hears them, even those who spout them (although they may not see it that way).  This man is simply stirring the pot and inciting us to rip each other apart.  Look at me, though.  I’m no better, really.  When I titled this post, I reverted to a juvenile (but, I maintain, still comically viable) jab ala Wayne’s World.  I think I will leave the title as-is, just to underline the point.

Here’s the thing that really bothered me about this…….

This afternoon I was out shopping with my mother.  The aforementioned article came up in conversation.  As I expected, she was not overly impressed with the statements of this misogynistic man.  However, I was also treated to her theory that he was a covert Liberal Democrat who was acting under cover to infiltrate the Republican party and instigate the false belief that the repubs are waging a War On Women, which, of course, is patently false.  Repubs are, after all, the holy party.  They are Right With God.  She made me so sad.  That is what is really bothering me right now.   I hate to have the divide between us thrust into my face by some hate mongering man who, with any luck, I will never meet and have to be polite to.

I am fully capable of cruising through life discounting the ideologies of strangers with whom I disagree.  I can post my opinions, tweet, +1, and generally shout from hilltops until I feel like my own point has been made and perhaps I have shined a little light into the darkness.  It is much harder to come up against opposition from friends and family.  You know you will never convince or convert them, just as they will likely have little sway with you.  So you sit in silence with an impassive face while they spout  and sound off.  It turns my smile upside down.

Spring Fever Hit Us!

It’s pretty outside.  Too pretty.  We have been cooped up in the house in each others laps for too long.  If we were hamsters, we probably would have eaten each other by now.  Naturally the first few pretty days that happen, out we go.  I can’t get my hands into the dirt fast enough, and Gracen is straight into the water.  His big job in the yard is to water the plants, so as soon as I had a few bedded in, he was after them with his watering can.

Gracen watering English Daisies

Now that that is out of our system, time to help out the poor beleaguered gnomes on the patio.  They have been complaining for weeks about the leaves littering their property.  We helped them get their place spiffed up and set out some new plants for them.

Boris taking a break in the shade

Boris taking a break in the shade

Then we watered everything and Gracen donated some of his ‘pretty rocks’ for their garden.

Hemmingsworth ponders where to put Gracen's rocks

Hemmingsworth ponders where to put Gracen's rocks

The biggest complainers about the mess have been Nietzsche and Izidore.  Where were they while we worked?  Playing canasta.  Go figure.

Nietzsche & Izidore kicking back and relaxing

Nietzsche & Izidore kicking back and relaxing

Last thing was to fix the fence.  All last spring the guys fussed about the caterpillers getting loose.  I would like to be able to enjoy some butterflies this summer, so gotta get that taken care of early this year.

Hooray!  The fence is fixed.

Hooray! The fence is fixed.

Gotta admit, the place looks much better now.  Now it’s up to them to keep it up through the summer.

Wish my own yard looked as nice as theirs

Wish my own yard looked as nice as theirs

Gracen and I really had a blast fixing up the Gnome home.  Can’t wait for the weather to be consistenly beautiful so that we can be filthy and wet every day!  He loves working the flower beds almost as much as I do, and that’s saying quite a bit.

Hope everyone is loving their pretty days (assuming they have had some).  This is my favorite time of year!

True. Our culture has become so twisted in it’s parameters of acceptable feminine beauty and health that to veer away from that tiny corridor of acceptability releases a backwash of venom and hate. Post a meme, or picture, or commentary about the desirability or innate beauty of, say, a curvaceous woman. Sit back and wait. In the commentary there will be a few who champion the beauty they see in your post. There will be a few who are indifferent. Then there will be that very vocal segment who feel they must comment on the ‘fat ass’, the ‘cellulite’, and for bonus points there will almost always be some classy comments about the ‘do-ability’ of the woman in question. Seriously? Relegating women into that tiny little space defined as normal or acceptable in today’s society is troubling and revealing about our culture. Although it is certainly not the only area it exists, this current of core misogyny has reared its ugly head lately in politics in the form of the GOP. More and more, the wealthy white boy’s club has let its guard down and become more honest about their basic value system. Women are for the convenience of the men. They need no voice in the care of their own bodies or indeed in the order of their lives. Indeed, we should be seen (as long as we are suitably attractive by pre-defined standards) but not heard. Well, geez. I love the terminology employed by these people. Tradition. Old-fashioned or Old-world values. God’s order of things. Oh, yeah, gotta remember the underpinnings of our own favorite cult of the moment, Christianity. The Republican party has sold its soul (figuratively speaking) to the religious right in recent years to garner more support for their faltering status and maintain their foothold in legislative areas. This has given Christians an absolutely unprecedented voice in the government. What do they do with that opportunity for dialogue? Do they attempt to reach new followers with the message of peace, love, tolerance, or (my favorite) DO UNTO OTHERS? Nope. Now we have even more finger pointing, blame, hate, paranoia, and talk of war. We are told we cannot use birth control or make decisions concerning pregnancy, Apparently our uterus makes us too unstable to participate in the military anywhere there might be fighting, although obviously we can play at being toy soldiers as long as we stay decorous and out of the way. Any attempt to sway these fanatics is met with varying degrees of disdain which culminates in stonewalling us. Case in point, the recent table on birth control comprised entirely of–who–oh, yeah, MEN. No women allowed, of course. We were “not qualified”. I really wish that was a paraphrase, you know. The fact that that is a direct quote makes me sad. That is the thing, though. These men, and the deluded women who support them, truly believe that we, as women, are not qualified to discuss the care, maintenance, and control of our own bodies. This ideology of male superiority is rampant in every area of our lives, and must be monitored with a wary eye. The effects ripple down to our children as they are socially conditioned through media and schools. It starts the first time you pick up a kid’s meal in a drive through and are asked “boy toy or girl toy?” I do not mean that some children do not innately have a preference, because they obviously do. My 3 year old son tends to gravitate towards weapons (Nerf guns, swords), cars, animals, dinosaurs, Lincoln logs & tinker toys, and his favorite things of the moment are his extensive kitchen set. He has a chef hat & apron, a grilling area and kitchen area, shopping basket, and tons of play food. I call him my little Bobby Flay. Admit it, though. As you read that list, your mind was processing those items as boy toy, boy toy, boy toy, then suddenly girl toys! See how sneaky it is? We don’t even realize we are doing it sometimes. It leads, ultimately, to the segregation of the sexes into “girl’ areas and ‘boy’ areas. Some people are good at some things, others are not. That is due to the interests and aptitudes we are born with and are nurtured as we grow. It has absolutely nothing to do with our gender. Yet we still see areas dominated by women or by men. Why? We are directed, by the flow of society, towards gender specific activities and eventually to our little pre-defined spots. That leads to the kind of sad and close minded thinking that objectifies women to the point that any deviation is viewed as ugly, or unacceptable. The size or shape of an individual does not define their beauty. Their personality and actions do. Yet, there is that sad segment that is unable to see that. They have spent their entire lives being stunted and warped until they simply cannot see beauty anywhere unless it meets the standards they have been given by society. We are putting blinders on our own children and that is the end result. If we ever want it to change, we must take charge of the new generations and teach them better than we were taught. Someday, maybe they will grow to be better than us. Or maybe not. We can only be patient and hope the lessons take root. Okay, that was verbose. I opened my mouth and there was a little more in there than I realized. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wandering Spirit

“American women, I believe, actually feel the same as hispanic women about weight. A desire for the comfort of fullness. And, when that desire is suppressed for style, and deprivation allowed to rule, dieting, exercising American women become afraid of everything associated with being curvaceous. Such as wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood. All that is best in life.”

– From the screenplay for the movie, “Spanglish,” written by James L. Brooks.

This part of the film was spoken by a woman doing a voice-over..supplying the narration for the film.

She was saying these lines while, on screen, one of the main characters, a beautiful mexican domestic was helping a girl in the house she worked at to accept herself, and the girl’s mother, a nutcase, was out running and running and running..

I have worked out in many gyms, and at most of them, there have been a few women…

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What is up with all the breastfeeding hate lately?

What is up with all the breastfeeding hate lately?.

Noticed this just after I finished cleaning up my pump for the night.  As an actively nursing mom, I am always pleased to see a rational and positive comment on breastfeeding.  While I think that perhaps some of the more militant “nurse ins” might perhaps be getting more negative than positive results, I do applaud the efforts to underline the issue.  Nursing women are not assaulting anyone with their breasts.  We are not engaged in lewd or licentious behavior.  We are, in fact, simply feeding our children.  I don’t see anybody declaring moral outrage at the sight of bottles in use at restaurants, malls, or any other public places.  The only difference between the bottle being used by the woman in the next booth and the breast in mine is that mine comes pre-warmed and attached.   Each of us is doing what we need to in order to care for our child.  Due to the current fashions, you will likely see far more skin exposed  in a random glance around you than you will on us.

A Thought On What Is Important…….

Before I worked as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse, I worked for some time as a Long Term Care nurse at a local nursing home.  I also did some in home hospice nursing privately.  I bonded with so many patients and families, and my heart was broken a little each time I saw the eyes of sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and all the others as they left their visits.  Someone special, ever-present, eternal in your life slips away a little at a time.  Sometimes it is a quiet thing.  Other times it is sudden and shocking.

I am not sure why it is that we never see the inevitable need to care for our parent coming.  You would certainly think it would be obvious to us.  We watched our mothers and fathers struggle with what to do for their own parents; somehow we remain disassociated from it though, as if it were simply a channel we passed while surfing late night television.  Every so often are given a glimpse into our future and handed a second chance to really evaluate what is important to us.

If you are ever that fortunate, do not waste the opportunity.  Remember every day to love your family.  Love your friends.  Love your life.  It is a precious thing.  The clarity that come to us when we grieve a loss is a beautiful and rare gift if given to us while our loved ones remain with us.

To my family :  I love you.  Every one of you.  Yes, even you, my antisocial cousin whom I haven’t seen in umpteen years.  Even you, my reclusive aunt who moved house and forgot to let any of us know.  You people live in my heart, even when we don’t speak or see each other for what seems like eons.  We share blood, and history, and who each of us is today is affected at least in part by all of the rest of us.  I am going to make it a priority and a personal mission to tell each and every one of you in the next year that I love you, appreciate you in my life, and find out how you are doing.