Easy DIY Natural Easter Basket

April 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Kids

By Rachel Sarnoff

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Are your Easter bunny plans in order? Try these tips to create a more natural Easter Basket this year that’s healthier for kids. Many egg dyes contain chemicals that aren’t safe for kids— including food dyes linked to ADHD and hyperactivity. But in minutes you can make dyes from frozen fruits and veggies that are already in your freezer. Then fill your upcycled Easter basket with truly natural chocolates, and deliver a healthier surprise this holiday.

Natural Easter Basket

Rather than buying new, consider reusing a basket you already have in your home—even plastic fruit baskets can work great. Add shredded newspaper comics (use a paper shredder or cut with scissors) for a great upcycled touch!

Fair Trade Chocolates

Despite Hersheys defense of its sustainability efforts in comments—after more than 500 Mommy Greenest readers petitioned for change—the facts remain that fair trade, organic chocolates like this cute, smiling chocolate bunny
these organic peanut-butter filled eggs
and these giftable bunny bars
nix pesticides and unfair labor practices that can  make chocolate so not sweet. Because there’s nothing more tragically ironic than third-world children forced to labor to make chocolate for first-world kids.

DIY Egg Dye

Check your labels: Many dyes contain chemicals that aren’t safe for kids, such as propylparaben—an endocrine disruptor, which messes up your hormones—and sodium lauryl sulfate, a bubble-making ingredient used in cleaning and personal care products, as well asfood dyes linked to hyperactivity.  Do you really want your kids to be eating that?

Instead, try this quick-and-easy egg dyeing technique using frozen fruits and veggies which are probably in your freezer already!

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DIY Easter Eggs

Easter Egg Basket

Green DIY Easter Egg Basket

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To read more from Rachel Sarnoff, check out her blog Mommy Greenest.

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Young Conservatives Launch $1 Million Effort To Reform GOP Platform On Marriage

April 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Entertainment, News

GOP Reform on Marriage

They say that money talks, and nowhere is that more true than in politics.

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry is launching a $1 million campaign to reform the national Republican Party platform between now and the 2016 GOP convention. The group’s aim is to strike existing anti-gay language from the official party platform and replace it with more respectful and unifying language.

“It’s time to modernize the Republican Party,” said Tyler Deaton, campaign manager for the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. “Our aim is to make the national platform less divisive toward gay people and their families – and more focused on unifying all conservatives around our core beliefs of freedom, family, and limited government. The future of the Party is clear on the marriage issue- a seismic shift is already underway in support of the freedom to marry.”

A Pew poll earlier this year shows 61 percent of Republicans under the age of 30 supporting gay couples marrying. Another poll by the New York Times/CBS News shows a majority of Republicans under 45 are also supportive.

The new campaign, called “Reform the Platform,” reflects and builds on grassroots pro-freedom successes already seen in states like NevadaIndianaCaliforniaOregon, and New Mexico.

The campaign is also in response to the Republican National Committee’s post-2012 election Growth and Opportunity Project. “We do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view,” noted the report. “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays…If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”

“Reform the Platform” will begin touring the early primary states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina this spring and summer.

Young Conservatives propose striking the anti-gay and anti-freedom to marry references in five different sections of the official platform. The group also wants to replace the divisive language with unifying language that reads:

We believe that marriage matters both as a religious institution and as a fundamental, personal freedom.  Because marriage—rooted in love and lifelong commitment—is one of the foundations of civil society, as marriage thrives, so our nation thrives.

We believe that the health of marriage nationwide directly affects the social and economic well-being of individuals and families, and that undermining families leads to more government costs and more government control over the lives of its citizens. Therefore, we believe in encouraging the strength and stability of all families.

We recognize that there are diverse and sincerely held views on civil marriage within the Party, and that support for allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry has grown substantially in our own Party.  Given this journey that so many Americans, including Republicans, are on, we encourage and welcome a thoughtful conversation among Republicans about the meaning and importance of marriage, and commit our Party to respect for all families and fairness and freedom for all Americans.

This is brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian.

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Fatherhood: To Be Calm When You’ve Found Something Going On

April 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Family

By Vijay S. Mann

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My son was born last August. I’m a believer in the notion that everything happens for a reason at that time. I believe that this new being came here to challenge me, change me, and make me see the world and myself in new ways.

When he was born, I felt incredibly powerful and yet unimaginably vulnerable at the same time. It’s one thing to have the ability to create life, but it’s an entirely different thing to nurture and protect it. It’s like pulling your heart out of your body and letting it walk into the world. A beautiful yet ugly world.

A plethora of feelings rushed through me as I held him for the first time. The first one I remember was nervousness; he was so new and fragile and I didn’t want to hurt him in any way as I held him.

Then came elation. He was healthy, my wife was fine, and I was now a dad. Some time later, I was struck by a feeling of fright. I realized that this wasn’t about me anymore and that I was now responsible for another human being. I felt an incredible weight on my shoulders at that time, realizing that I was now responsible for the life, health, development, and happiness of another. I was now responsible for molding a good person, who is to be an asset to his family, community, and society in general.

How was I going to mold this person when I have so many faults of my own?

I had had these thoughts during the pregnancy, but now it was staring me in the face. Crying. I recall feeling shame as well. Shameful for believing that some of my freedom for being yanked from me and in turn, I was being handed responsibility.

How could I think that when I was gifted this child? Moreover, how could I think that knowing this was a decision I was a part of?

These brief yet disturbing thoughts quickly faded. I felt assured that everything would work out, as it always does.

I now carry with me a sense of appreciation. I appreciate the opportunity I have to raise a child, an opportunity many wish they had, but aren’t as fortunate. I also feel appreciation in that I have the chance to teach my son from my mistakes in hopes that he makes better decisions in his life. I think of him as my do-over. He’ll be a new and improved me. A better me than maybe I’ll ever be, or I hope to be.

In that respect, he’s already changing me. I feel a greater sense of calm now; a calm I don’t recall feeling before. This doesn’t mean that I’ll be walking around with an aura of serenity. There are a number of things that still trigger me. And there are new things to deal with. Among them are diaper-changes. As much as I love my child, I still have that “Oh shit” moment when I have to change him. Pun intended.

And there will be greater frustrations and challenges along the way, which will test my new found calmness. This is just the beginning. Life is now a road from Pampers to a university campus, and beyond. RESPs, birthdays, school, friends, heartbreaks and happiness, and everything in between await us.

What he will feel, I will feel as well. There will be the things I can’t foresee as well—things he’ll have to go through on his own. I’ve come to realize that I can do the best that I can as a parent and some things will be out of my control.

The central focus of my life is my child now. Every significant and perhaps not so significant thing I do now will have some effect on him. How I think, act, and speak will be of some consequence to my child. What I believe and value will be the beliefs and values my child will be raised upon.

I can’t help but to think about the film The Place Beyond the Pines. Decisions that parents make create the legacies they leave behind for their children. Fatherhood has become my most significant branching point and this one is indeed a branch; an addition to the family tree.

My life is forever altered through parenthood. It’s an experience that is making me a better person. I felt new life being breathed into me at that moment he was born. I experienced a kind of love that I never felt before; one not built on reciprocity, but one more selfless.

I once read that your children are something you love more than your own life and something you die for without a second thought. I can say that I understand this now. I have many hopes for him. My ultimate hope is that he becomes a person who lives with dignity for himself and compassion for others. This is now my duty.

This article was originally published on The Good Men Project.

Image courtesy of the author

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Parenting: On Diversity

By Jillian Lauren

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A friend left a comment on my recent post about raising boys and it got me thinking. This friend’s child has multiple special needs and is confined to a wheelchair. In the comment, she suggested that exposing children to diversity (not just in concept) contributes to compassion. Most of the children who have grown up around her son are empathetic and kind with him.

A transgendered friend has also shared with me that the kids she grew up with from early childhood were always accepting. She began to have problems when she changed schools as a teen and encountered kids who were unfamiliar with her gender identification.

When I consider diversity, race is usually the first thing on my mind. When I was first visiting pre-schools, I always looked around and counted the number of brown faces I saw, putting it into my mental filing cabinet. My friend’s comment reminded me that diversity goes way beyond race. Parents of children with special needs offer something of great value to any school or community.

Sometimes the rabid competition to get into good schools in Los Angeles can prompt me to think in a conformist way and try to portray my family as something more mainstream than we truly are. I want to always remember that our strength is in difference. That is where we shine.

To read more from Jillian Lauren, check out her blog. You can also purchase her books on Amazon.

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Web Series: The Next Living Room “The Other Mother”

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Video

By Brandy Black

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The Next Family has launched a new video series called “The Next Living Room” in which my wife and I will be addressing various topics of discussion around family.  We would love your input and suggestions for future shows.  It is a 2-3 minute video that will run once a week. Today’s topic is “the other mother.”  How do you describe yourself?   Lesbian dad, the other mother, non-bio mom, or are you  like my wife, see what she has to say.

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How Having a Baby Helped Me Overcome My Anxiety Disorder

April 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Family

By Clint Edwards

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I started having panic attacks around the time my father died.

I was 18. I’d been working the graveyard shift at Toys R Us, and there was something about working during the night and sleeping during the day, combined with the stress of my father’s death, that caused a pain inside my body.

The first time I had a panic attack was around 6:30 am. I’d gotten off work at 5 am. I was living with my grandmother at the time. It was a Sunday morning, and she’d gotten up early to start cooking a roast. I couldn’t go to sleep because she was in the kitchen banging pots and pans around, and as the sun came up, I became more and more anxious. I tossed and turned in bed, trying to understand the tightness in my body. It reminded me of the butterflies I felt on a roller coaster during the drop. I often looked forward to that rise and fall of my stomach during an amusement park ride, but it usually only lasted a few moments, not several hours.

I became nauseous and I started sweating. It was the strangest thing. I was afraid, but I didn’t have anything to be afraid of. I didn’t sleep at all that day and, by the time I made it into work at 7 pm, I was a wreck. My face was moist and pale, my hands cool and clammy. My boss sent me home. Around 4 am, after I’d been awake for almost 40 hours, I finally drifted off.

I had anxiety attacks here and there during the next year, and I never understood them. They seemed to come out of the blue. But it wasn’t until a year later that I really began to really suffer.

By then I was 19, working at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in the garden center, and attending my first year of college. I was still living at my grandmother’s home, only I lived there alone. Grandma had recently had a stroke. She had to move in with my aunt.

It was summer time, and I was supposed to be at work around 6 am, but I just couldn’t fall asleep, and the more I thought about how I couldn’t go to sleep, the more anxious I became, until eventually, I started to vomit. This was the worst panic attack I’d ever had. A horrible feeling of fear and anticipation sat squat in my gut for almost a full month. I found it difficult to eat, difficult to sleep, and sometimes, I felt so hopeless that I just sat down and wept. I felt pathetic, weak, and helpless. I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t have a name for it, so I thought the worst. I assumed it was some terminal illness, cancer or something, perhaps a tumor in my head or stomach, or somewhere, that was causing me to feel this way. These terrible assumptions only fed my anxiety.

I lost 40 pounds in three weeks.

I’ve always been described as stocky, and I’ve always had a little fat around my waist, so it was eerie to look in the mirror and see my skin stretch across my ribs like a wet towel. People at work kept complimenting me on my weight loss, and I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t say anything. It’s not like I was on some fitness program or diet.

I was hardly eating, and half of what I ate, I threw up.

Once I started talking about suicide, my girlfriend at the time urged me to see a doctor. I don’t know why I hadn’t gone before, probably because I didn’t want to face what they had to say.

My regular doctor sent me to a therapist named Jason and I recall being frustrated and confused by this recommendation because I still assumed there was something wrong with me physically. I assumed the doctor would send me somewhere for an x-ray or blood test, something, not to chat with someone about my emotions.

Jason was a tall, lean man with spidery fingers. He used his hands when he spoke and had a lot of lines in his face. He told me that I had depression and general anxiety disorder. He looked me in the eyes when he told me this, and I’d never felt so weak and alone. Most of my life I’d always assumed that anxiety and depression problems were a joke. They were a cry for attention, and depression medication was nothing more than a placebo. But, as I sat across from this man with degree after degree on his wall and compassion and sincerity in his eyes, feeling the slack in my pants and the long-lasting pain in my stomach, I realized that I had a problem.

Once I told Jason that I’d been contemplating suicide, he set up a bi-weekly appointment. Then he recommended a psychiatrist who later prescribed me a collection of pills—Celexa for depression, Xanax for anxiety, Ambien, Sonata, and Klonopin to be used interchangeably for sleep… I seemed to always be taking something. My father had died earlier that year from a stroke brought on by his 10-year addiction to prescription painkillers. Sometimes I examined the pills I’d been prescribed, thought about my father, and wondered if this was how his addictions began.

My therapist suggested a healthy diet, going to bed at the same time, getting up at the same time, and daily exercise.

“Keeping yourself healthy, and making sure that you are good and tired once you go to bed will make a huge difference.”

And, suddenly, it felt like he’d given me a prescription on how to live, a list of do’s that would make the pain go away. My life changed again, from one of late nights watching TV, to one of order. If I weren’t in bed by 11 pm, I’d have a panic attack. If I had to be up before 8 am, I’d have a panic attack. If I ate the wrong food, I feared what it might do to me. But I suppose the worst was my sudden obsession with making myself “good and tired.”

My attacks always began in the night, so I dreaded going to bed. All of it revolved around sleep. The evening hours approached me like a cliff. I started exercising two hours every day, mostly cycling. But then I had a panic attack one night, and I assumed that I must have done something wrong. Perhaps I didn’t exercise enough, so I upped it to two and a half hours. Within a year, I was exercising four to five hours a day (biking, lifting weights, running…). I exercised more on my days off. If I wasn’t at work or in bed, I was in motion. If I didn’t get enough exercise, I feared that I would have a panic attack. I dropped out of school because I couldn’t stand sitting for more than a few minutes. I sometimes I peed blood because of over-exertion, and sometimes I still threw up from anxiety. It felt a lot like I was running from something, some hidden danger that I couldn’t define, but feared nonetheless.

Friends often asked about my life, why I never hung out anymore, what was my motivator for exercising so much. I was open about my problem. I often explained to them my fear of sleep and anxiety, but when I put it all into sentences, none of it made sense. It all seemed irrational, even to me, and yet it was very real and painful inside my body. I often wondered if there was some disconnect between fear and logic inside my mind, and I wondered how I would ever get myself back into sync.

I sometimes wondered what stress in my life had brought about my problem. I wondered if it was nature or nurture—was I born this way? Or was it a product of the stress around me? Was it my father’s drug addiction and abandonment that made me this way? Or was it my mother’s rage and depression that was a result of my father’s abandonment? Perhaps it was a mix of both. What I do know is that everything I did, every action, every thought, became focused on avoiding another panic attack, and when I think back on this time, I realize that my anxiety controlled my life.

It took me three years to figure out the right mix of medications, exercise, and schedule, but eventually I started to live a relatively normal life again. I got back into college and, at 22, I got married. I’d started to gain a little more control over my life, and a little more weight, but there were still times where I felt out of control. Where I couldn’t go to sleep because of a panic attack that made me ill and irrational for days or sometimes weeks.

Mel and I were married about three months the first time she suggested that we have a child. This must have been early 2005. We were living in Provo, Utah, renting a small two-bedroom condo. I suppose we’d talked about it while dating, but it was mostly playful. We talked about what the child would look like: short and stocky like me, or short and slender like Mel. We talked about its personality: would it be funny and loud like me? Or reserved and thoughtful like Mel? We picked out names and discussed who wanted a boy and who wanted girl.

But it didn’t seem all that real until after we were married. And I suppose I’d always had mixed feelings about having children. Sometimes I wanted them. But mostly I didn’t. Especially when I was around other people’s kids. The screaming, yelling, whining, and the late nights really freaked me out. I didn’t know if I could emotionally handle a child.

“I think we should start trying,” Mel said.

It was early evening, around 5:30 pm, and Mel and I were making dinner.

“Trying what?” I said.

“Having a baby.”

“What? Slow down,” I said. “I think we need to wait.”

Mel went on, asking me why we needed to wait. Why we needed to slow down.

“We love each other… right? We are married? There’s no reason to wait.”

I agreed with her on the facts that we were married and in love. But I told her that we needed to get used to being a married couple. We needed to save money. We needed to be more secure. I brought up a bunch of clichéd arguments as to why I didn’t want to have a baby yet, but really, all I thought about was how babies don’t sleep through the night. I thought about her going into labor at midnight, and how it might bring on a panic attack. I thought about my medications, my schedule, and how much better my life had become, and I wondered if I was strong enough. At the time, I honestly waited for the anxiety to take over again. I worried that I might stupidly trigger it, somehow, like a lost soldier unwittingly wandering into a minefield. Would having a child undo all that I’d done? I was terrified of having a setback.

Mel and I went back and forth on the subject. It wasn’t until things got heated that I brought up my anxiety.

She knew about it, but she’d never really seen the brunt of it. I’d had a few attacks while with her, but never a full-blown one that lasted a month or more. I worried that she didn’t understand what I was going through, and what having a baby might do to me.

“I will get up in the night with the baby,” she said. “I will take care of that. Don’t worry about it.” And, when she told me this, I did feel a little better. But honestly, I knew the truth. I knew that if we had a child, I would have to help in the night. I couldn’t avoid it, nor did I think it was right for me to avoid it. I thought a lot about my father and how he wasn’t around, and I felt a strong sense of duty. If we had a child, I needed to be there. Every hour of every day. I needed to be fully committed. I refused to walk out on my child like my father had done to me. And the thought of that duty scared the hell out of me. I feared that I didn’t have it in me. I feared that somehow my anxiety would get in the way, making me incapable of being the kind of father I wanted to be.

After a year and a half of arguments,planning, and saving, we agreed to have a baby. The day Mel showed me the positive pregnancy test, I felt like the biggest test of my life was only nine months away.

I am a religious man, and I will admit that I prayed every night for the Lord to make me strong enough. For him to take away my anxiety so that I could be there for my child.

The day finally came two weeks earlier than expected. Mel came down with toxemia, which made her ankles, feet, and face swell. She went to visit with her doctor one morning, only to be taken straight into the delivery room for an emergency caesarean. I recall being really scared for Mel and the baby, but the doctor assured us that everything was going to be just fine. And once everything was said and done, I recall feeling excited to hold my son, but more than anything, I was relieved that it didn’t happen in the night. That things didn’t happen in such a way that I had to break my schedule and risk having a panic attack. And, when I think about all the joy of having a baby, when I think about how much I love my son, and value him in my life, I feel selfish for being more relieved by the time of day that he was born than excited by the miracle of birth.

That first night was a long one. In fact, it was the most restless night I’d had in years, and I will admit that I took twice my dose of Xanax to keep myself calm. However, I knew that I couldn’t do that every night without becoming an addict.

Things got worse once we brought Tristan home. Tristan wouldn’t sleep more than about two hours at a time. The little bugger refused to sleep in his crib, or the bassinet, or if we were lying down next to him. He only slept if someone cradled him in one arm, like a football.

Mel and I usually split the night in half. I couldn’t sleep sitting up, and I often worried that, if I did drift off, I’d drop the baby, so I spent a lot of late nights and early mornings gazing at the TV, my eyes bloodshot, high on Xanax, a small chubby auburn-haired boy cradled in my right arm.

I couldn’t imagine placing the night-time responsibility solely on Mel, but, at the same time, I was taking far more Xanax than I should to keep myself calm. Every time my doctor refilled my prescription of Xanax, he questioned his actions and suggested that I get off it. He reminded me that it was a very addictive substance. This caused me to think a lot about my father’s addiction to prescription pills, and I worried that I was heading down the same path, and yet I was terrified to go back to a life where anxiety controlled me. My obligation to my son was in conflict to my mental health, and it felt like I was between a rock and hard place.

One night, when Tristan was about one month old, Mel woke me at 2 am. It was my turn with the baby. Normally, I would have gotten up, felt a little anxious, taken a couple Xanax, then sat down in front of the TV and held Tristan.

But this time I didn’t.

In fact, I stood in the kitchen for some time. The only light in the house was coming from the TV in the next room. In my right arm was my baby boy, sleeping soundly. In my left was a bottle of Xanax. My eyes drifted between the two. Tristan was swaddled in a blanket with a print of bears dressed as doctors. It was the same blanket we took him home from the hospital in. His face was all I could see. It was soft and sweet and peaceful. I looked at the bottle. I read the instructions—“Take one pill as needed for sleep”—and realized that I’d probably need to take two or three.

I shook the bottle, and realized that it was almost empty.

I thought about my life, my fears, and my anxiety. I thought about how I needed to be there for my son.

And I put the bottle down.

I held Tristan in both arms. I thought about how raising him was bigger than myself. It was bigger than my anxiety disorder. This was a life that was dependent on me, and I needed to be there. I had a duty to raise my son. To get up in the night with him. To be there through thick and thin.

I whispered to myself, “I will not let this control my life anymore. I can’t. I’ve come too far. I have to be there for Tristan.”

I said it a few times. Once I stopped saying it out loud, I said it in my head. I went and sat on the sofa and, every time I felt a little anxious, I said it again and again. I felt stronger saying it. I felt empowered.

For the first time since Tristan was born, I made it through the night free of anxiety and Xanax.

I still had anxiety attacks after that night, but, if I thought about my obligations as a father, I was able to put my mind in order.

To gain control.

This was something I couldn’t do before.

It’s been four years now since I had my last panic attack. I only take one pill a day for depression and anxiety. This is almost nothing compared to the handful of pills I took after I was first diagnosed.

I get up in the night with my kids almost every night (we have a boy and a girl now). Although I complain about being tired the next morning, I often think back on the way my six-year-old son tightly grips my arm as I lie in bed with him after a nightmare and smile. And often I think about my four-year-old daughter curled up in a ball at 2 am, half awake and half asleep, crying and shivering, and how satisfied I feel after seeing her stretch out beneath the warm quilt I laid over her. In those moments, I feel needed. I feel valued. I feel like a father.

There is no more fear in the night.

It’s been replaced with compassion for my children.

♦◊♦

This article came from our partner,  The Good Men Project and originally appeared on No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog; Credit: Original uncropped image—Karen Sheets de Gracia/Flickr

Clint Edwards is the author of No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Beyonce Covers May Issue of OUT, Says ‘We Are All the Same’

April 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Entertainment, News

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She may not be gay, but Beyonce’s music has a powerful grip on the LGBT community which is why she will be gracing the cover of the OUT Magazine in May.

Through an email interview with OUT Editor-in-Chief Aaron Hicklin, Beyonce said she works hard as a feminist to get through this male-focused society. By doing so, she speaks to all minorities.

“Being that I am a woman in a male-dominated society, the feminist mentality rang true to me and became a way to personalize that struggle…But what I am really referring to, and hoping for, is human rights and equality, not just that between a woman and a man,” Beyonce said. “So I’m very happy if my words can ever inspire or empower someone who considers themselves an oppressed minority…We are all the same and we all want the same things: the right to be happy, to be just who we want to be and to love who we want to love.”

Beyonce released her fifth album last December which OUT called her “most sexually liberated project.” She spoke about the double standard between men and women regarding sexuality.

“There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists,” she said. “Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, and artist, and a feminist – whatever you want to be – and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”

Whether her music speaks to men, women, gay or straight, Beyonce said she worked hard to make sure her album was honest.

“While I am definitely conscious of all the different types of people who listen to my music, I really set out to make the most personal, honest and best album I could make,” she said. “I needed to free myself from the pressures and expectations of what I thought I should say or be, and just speak from the heart.”

This is brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian 

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Parenting: How Do We Keep Up?

April 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Same Sex Parent

By Brandy Black

parenting three kids

The other day I sat with my three children and the computer and went down blog memory lane.  In an effort to find out when we transitioned from crib to toddler bed with our oldest, I took the computer out and began flipping through blogs and pictures.  The twins were thrilled to see images of their big sister as a little girl, we read about all the silly questions she had and the funny things she would say. Sophia pointed at the videos and pictures “Look Penn, look Bella, that’s me at your age.”

It got me thinking about how little I document their tales, I have a book for everything on our oldest, a birthday book, travel book, art book, scrap book, photograph books and the twins I think I have one maybe two.  I already feel them hating me in therapy years from now!  I swore I wouldn’t be that parent.  I’m all about fair, everything equal, to the point that I got in a fight with our couple’s therapist years back. I believe in making things as fair as humanly possible. Yet here I sat with the computer on my lap, heartbroken, wondering what stories I will be able to show them.

The truth is, there is a lot of juggling with three kids.  Life moves fast at our house and I’m lucky to remember to pay the bills and make sure they get haircuts and clothes.  I don’t know how people do it.  I envy the parents like John Jericiau, who seem like they have it all together.  I need more hours in the day so that I can sit down and write my thoughts, make picture books and take the time to collect memories that will last them forever.  If anyone has any advice on the topic, I sure need help.

I guess the twins have many amazing experiences that my oldest didn’t, like being dressed in the mornings by their big sister or learning games and how to spell their names in Japanese and having one another to laugh with each morning.  I hear them in the monitor giggling “You funny” Bella says to Penn, laughing. They have the gift of family, one that my wife and I truly fought for and it was a sacrifice, not a loss but a conscience effort to selflessly give our children the gift of siblings.

This is how I talk myself off the ledge, this is how I justify the tough conversations I will have with the twins when they are 10 and want to see all the sweet memory books that I put together for them.  Or perhaps you will suddenly see an influx of blogs and images of our twins.  “Not sure what happened in the early years kids, but I sure kicked in when you were two.”

 

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3 Questions to Ask If You’re Pregnant

April 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Healthy

By Rachel Sarnoff

healthy tips for your pregnancy

Pregnant? Get ready for the god complex. Every mom I know talks about the saint that delivered her baby. The doctor’s word is taken as law, and heaven forbid your birth partner suggest otherwise. But are you and your doctor truly in sync?

In 2012, a University of San Francisco study of more than 2,000 obstetricians and gynecologists nationwide found that although they routinely discuss smoking, alcohol, diet and weight gain, most doctors do not warn their patients about environmental hazards as related to pregnancy.

 

If you’re pregnant, make sure your doctor knows the answers to these important questions that can protect your children’s health.

Yet studies link low levels of toxic chemicals in pregnancy to disruption of fetal brain and reproductive system development, as well as increased risks of birth defects, cancer, immune problems, asthma and other problems later in life.

 

In fact, in 2013, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine released a joint statement that said: “toxic chemicals in our environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies and are associated with numerous long-term health problems.”

Common sense, right? Apparently, not to the American Chemistry Council, which released a response through the Associated Press stating that the report would create “confusion and alarm among expectant mothers.”

I would say pregnant women would be alarmed by the ACOG/ASRM statement. But confused? There’s nothing confusing about these reproductive experts’ statement, nor is their anything unclear about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ position, as stated in 2011, which recognized that pesticides are associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems, and recommended that pediatricians work with parents to help reduce the use of pesticides in homes and yards.

It’s pretty clear to me that the gynecologists, obstetricians and pediatricians who are primarily responsible for our children’s health are unified with the common goal of reducing exposure to toxic chemicals—especially in pregnancy.

Writing off pregnant women as “confused” by the truth that low doses of toxic chemicals can be dangerous, especially to children, is misguided logic. As parents, we need to get empowered about the decisions that can affect the health of our children. If you’re pregnant, or thinking about it, here are a few questions to ask the doctor you’re considering having deliver your baby:

  1. Should I be concerned about mercury in fish?
  2. Is organic food important during pregnancy?
  3. How can I reduce the amount of VOCs in my environment?

IMHO, the answers I’d want to hear are:

  1. Yes, avoid fish during pregnancy and supplement with omega-3 oils.
  2. Since studies have shown links between pesticides in pregnancy and lower birth weight babies with shorter term pregnancies; you should eat organic as much as you can.
  3. Use no VOC paints and avoid new synthetic carpets and furniture, especially those which are made with formaldehyde.

If your doctor doesn’t have answers or want to research these issues, consider whether or not he or she is the right doctor for you. Because if you’re going to choose a god for nine (ten) months, it should be someone you can trust to be as current—or more so—than you are about information that’s crucial to your baby’s health.

Portions of this story originally appeared on Rachel’s Huffington Post column.You can read more from Rachel on her site, Mommy Greenest

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Parenting: On Yelling

By Jillian Lauren

Jillian Lauren

T has been making so much progress lately, as I’ve been sharing. This hasn’t always been true. Growth is never a linear thing. We have gone through the cycle of hope and plateaus and regression so many times that I barely sweat it anymore. So I’m not sure why it should surprise me when I hit a plateau of my own.

I’ve been yelling at T lately. A lot. I’m in a sticky place and I can’t seem to change my lousy behavior, as hard as I try. Or maybe I’m not trying very hard at all. Maybe I’m indulging the outlet, as the alternative seems to be to stuff all the anger, shut down, slam cabinets and rage at my family in a passive way. Which sucks just as much if not more.

The other day, T and I got in a screaming stand-off about which I feel truly ashamed. When it was all over and he was in the other room, I put my face in his pillow so he couldn’t hear me and screamed, “I hate my life,” at the top of my lungs. And I did right then- I felt so out of control and locked into a confrontational dynamic with my son.

I grew up in a family with screaming. It was my model and it became my default mode and it’s going to take a huge internal shift to alter the habit. This morning, I revisited Christine Moers’s therapeutic parenting video about the power of our voices. I am gripping it like a lifeline. I am trying. I am praying. I am still yelling. But if I know anything from being T’s parent, I know that change is possible, especially when you go at it with all your heart, like he does. But just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s easy or instant. I have faith I’ll find a way through this thing to the other side.

To read more from Jillian Lauren check out her blog. You can also purchase her books on Amazon. 

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