It’s almost the end of the month, and Traci is running neck and neck with the other person in the breastpump contest. If you haven’t voted, please do so. The original blog entry is here.
My mom and her boyfriend of many years (basically my stepdad) have a lot of health problems. Granted, these are mostly things they bring on themselves by not taking care of themselves, but they’re in poor health regardless. If it’s not the lungs, it’s the kidneys. If it’s not the kidneys, it’s the heart. The list goes on.
I’m not terribly concerned about that, though, because apparently her boyfriend is determined to kill them with botulism. I mean, poorly canned food.
First, we were discussing squash. They brought me 8 acorn squash (squashes?) the other night and when they came back over yesterday, he asked if we’d eaten it all. We had. He told me he was thinking of getting some more and canning it. I told him you can’t can squash. You can’t. The USDA warns against it.
He told me “You can can anything. Anything except meat. You have to use a pressure cooker for that. Anything else can be done in a hot water bath.”
No. A hot water bath is basically putting jars in a big pot and completely covering them with water, then boiling them for 10 minutes. This is fine for things with high acid levels like pickles, tomatoes, or jelly. I do that, myself. For anything else, you’re supposed to use a pressure canner (NOT a pressure cooker). Otherwise, the food inside doesn’t get hot enough and any potential botulism spores don’t die off. Then when they sit on your shelf, they multiply. This isn’t something that is guaranteed to happen, but it’s possible, and not worth taking the chance. If you have things like carrots or green beans that you want to store but don’t have a pressure canner, freeze them.
Even with a pressure canner, there are some things that the home cook isn’t supposed to preserve in a jar. Squash is one of them.
So then they asked me about the salsa that my mom made and I said I’d eaten it. He asked for the jar back. No problem. I handed him the jar, and the ring. He then asks me for the lid (the flat part that seals) and I told him I threw it out.
He went on to tell me that some people think you’re supposed to throw them out (Yeah, like the usda, because they don’t seal properly a second time), but he doesn’t. Well then. From now on, when they bring me something in a jar, if it has sat out for any length of time, I’m throwing it away. If it’s freshly canned, it’s going into the freezer.
Now, speaking of canning, they brought me 14 pounds of tomatoes. Guess it’s time to get to work properly canning some tomato products!
I have been bombarded lately with articles and headlines, facebook updates and tweets, regarding someone making some comment about the recession. There’s debates on welfare, on whether people are trying hard enough to find work, whether the rich should have to pay more in taxes than they already do, and so on and so forth. Everyday, I’m bombarded with information that implies that if we weren’t all greedy Americans, maybe we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in.
Now, there’s this. If you just stop buying your kids ipads and video games, and see the joy in them, you won’t suffer and you should just keep on having kids.
Keep in mind that after number 5, I had my tubes tied, so I can’t have more kids anyway. I’m focusing on the part where it’s said that if we just stopped spoiling our kids, we wouldn’t struggle to support them.
Let me tell you a little about struggling, because clearly people like this have never lived it.
Did you know that I spend some time every other week crying, simply because I can’t afford to buy all of the food on the fifth revision of the grocery list? I rewrite it over and over, trying my best to keep my grocery bill for seven people to less than $150 for two weeks. Two of those people are teenagers, for the record.
Oh, I’m sorry. I am supposed to find joy in praying that the grocery bill doesn’t run over, because I have no idea what I’d put back. I need every single thing on that belt. I go through the store, debating what I will put back when it goes over and I can’t pay for it all. “Cabbage? No, that was only 37 cents a pound and putting it back won’t help. Chicken? No, because I need that chicken to stretch for three days while I pick it to death to get every possible crumb of meat off of it and into a casserole. Milk? What will the kids have with their cereal if I put that back?”
The entire time I’m debating on this, and praying it won’t go over, I have children asking for basic things. They don’t want an ipad. They don’t want a video game. They just want a box of goldfish crackers. I thank the powers that be that they misbehaved in aisle 4 so I can tell them they can’t have it because of the way they acted, and not because I honestly, truly can’t afford it. While I do believe that a child should have an understanding of their parents’ finances, a three year old does not need to be burdened with the fact that her mother can’t afford crackers.
This week, I lucked out. I was actually $40 below my grocery budget and could have gotten those crackers if she had indeed behaved. Last week, I went $40 over and I had to borrow money from one of my best friends so I could pay the electric bill. I suppose that evens out in the end, but that leaves nothing else. This week, we paid the rent, the insurance, and the car payment for the car my husband has to have to get back and forth to work, then set aside money for gasoline, bought groceries, had an inexpensive fast food lunch, bought pizza for the kids because one of them was promised a pizza for his birthday dinner and that was over 2 weeks ago, and now we’re broke. There is no ipad. There is no video game. There are no properly fitting pants for the above-mentioned birthday boy. There is no repair for my broken-down van. There are no new tires for the car that badly needs them. There is no payment to my school that is about to unenroll me.
So tell me how I’m supposed to find the joy in that? My kids themselves bring me joy. Of course they do. I love my children more than anything in this world. I struggle because I know we will get through this and we will be okay eventually.
My husband brought home an unopened container of cream cheese from work from when someone brought bagels in, and I was so excited that I had something to eat that wasn’t chicken, that I laid in bed for hours wondering what to do with that cream cheese. Not diamonds. Not a Lexus. Cream cheese.
Sure, there are people out there struggling to give their kids what they want, but most of us are struggling just to give them what they need. I’m sick to death of those that have never had to wonder – truly wonder – where their kids’ next meal is coming from, even for an evening, telling me that I should just tighten the belt a little more and we’ll be fine. If I tighten the belt any more, It’ll be a tourniquet.
My dear friend, Traci, has fallen on hard times. She is going through a divorce and not getting much help at all from the father of her four children as she struggles to raise them on her own. She wants so badly to provide breastmilk to her little girl, two-month-old Willa, or dubba dubba as her big sister calls her. Unfortunately, there were some health issues for Willa in the beginning and she went into the NICU for a few days. She was latching great before she went in and she just won’t do it anymore. Traci has burned up her own pump, and exhausted every resource available to her, including WIC, to be able to pump milk for her little girl. Various things have happened that prevent these pumps from being useful, and she has had to resort to using far more formula than she ever wanted to.
She entered a contest with Medela at the beginning of the month to win a new pump, based on a photo of her breastfeeding. She was in the lead and we were confident she had this in the bag, but now she’s being passed up by someone whose photo isn’t even of her breastfeeding. A slap in the face to Traci, since the photo is of the woman’s belly being kissed by her husband – something Traci no longer has. That’s not the other woman’s fault. She knows nothing about Traci. I do, though, and I want her to have this pump.
Could you please take a moment to vote for her? It will ask for your email and then it will ask you to click a confirmation link in an email from Medela, so it’s a little bit of a pain, but it’s for a great cause.
So please take a moment to vote for Traci, so she can offer her baby the best milk she can. I’ll be asking again closer to the end of the month. We have until then to get this pump for her.
It would also be great if you passed this on!
Yesterday, we went to a reunion for the NICU families and staff where Kimberley and Perrin stayed as infants. I almost didn’t go. It seemed like everything was stacked against me, but I decided to go ahead and go because there are a few of our former roommates that I wanted to see.
Now, the way this is set up is more like a convention than a reunion. In my head, I refer to it as nicu-con. You sign in, and there’s freebies and vendors and explanations of various services that are to parents and children. There are craft tables and fun fair-like games for the older kids. There are cookies and punch. You get the idea.
So as we’re making our way through the line, there is a rep from Mead/Johnson, handing out bags of formula and other items with the Similac logo on them. I hear the rep ask the lady behind me if her son is still in the formula stage. No mention of whether he is on formula. She just assumes he is. The woman said that he was, and this rep started loading up the bag. Then she stuck another box inside and said “This is for when he’s older. You’ll need this to add to his whole milk.”
Need? Why would an older child need an additional formula substitute added to their milk? That’s right, they don’t, but now the formula company has this mother convinced that she can’t properly feed her toddler without the help of Mead Johnson. Cha-ching.
Then we get a little further down the line, and there’s another rep, handing out pediasure. This one asked if I wanted pediasure and I said “No thanks. I make my own.” Then I pointed at my boobs. We moved further down, past a table for March Of Dimes, Moms Of Multiples, the volunteer committee that runs the event, and I don’t remember what else. What was missing? There was no lactation consultant. There was nobody from Medela or any other pump company. There was no flier on nursing. No cute little rattle with “Hygeia” on it. Nothing.
I’m not here to nag people about their own personal use of formula. I get that it has its place, yadda yadda. I don’t typically make posts like this, because someone somewhere will chime in and say “But I couldn’t nurse!” I’m not here to argue about how someone feeds their baby, and I’m not here to make anyone feel bad. Please don’t put anything like that in the comments either if someone does mention not being able to nurse, because guilt will get us nowhere. I’m really here to complain about corporate greed.
Section 6 of the WHO International Code Of Marketing Of Breast-Milk Substitutes specifically states that formula samples and promotional items are not to be handed out in a healthcare facility, and that the only time formula should be supplied is when the child has a need for it. It should not be offered just to be offered, and if it is offered, it is the responsibility of the healthcare center to continue to provide this breast-milk substitute as long as it is required.
Nothing happens to you (at least in this country) if you go against the WHO’s guidelines, but it really makes you look like an ass. As this link states, “Hospitals should market health, and nothing else.”
Even if a person can’t nurse for whatever reason, and I’ll even go so far as to include personal discomfort due to something like prior sexual abuse, wouldn’t we be doing other children a favor if, instead of seeing “Similac” on that rattle in their playmate’s toy room, they saw a breastfeeding slogan or the name of a pump manufacturer. I know pump companies have their own ethical issues. I get that. I also know that breast-milk itself doesn’t bring in an income that would pay for the making of pencils and bibs for marketing purposes, so we have to take what we can get.
Very few people argue that breast-milk isn’t the optimum choice for a child. Even those that aren’t comfortable with nursing and don’t want to do the work of pumping will usually acknowledge that formula is a substitute. The attitudes won’t change if we don’t make any effort.
I can appreciate that this convention probably costs a good bit of money between advertising it, having t-shirts made, and so on, but there are other ways to get money that don’t completely destroy all of the efforts of the lactation department.
That one can of formula and that one box of crap that is supposedly needed in whole milk is not going to make that much difference over the span of the time that a baby is using it, even if it is formula fed, anyway. It’s completely unneeded, and they’re not offering it because they care. They’re offering it because they’re just as bad as drug dealers. They get you hooked with that one can and then they make you pay.
No, there’s no requirement to follow the WHO’s guidelines but if the hospital will bend over backwards to get every other recognition possible, why not go for making it a Baby-friendly hospital too? Especially since one of the biggest selling points in advertisements for this hospital is that it’s the only level 3 NICU in the region?
The only thing I can think of is money. As with everything else, they’re putting their own greed above the wellbeing of their patients. I’m not incredibly surprised. Just saddened.
My daughter is on the left and her bff is on the right.
My dear friend over at Witkowski Family Happenings posted this earlier today.
Recently I read an article about a man who’s life was in the dumps; he was a good guy, trusting, helpful, a good family man, but life had dealt him some crappy cards. He was on the verge of suicide to try and shed his problems when a friend reached out with a phone call and a dinner invite. At dinner, the friend told this man that he was sorry it had taken so long, but he wanted him to know that he had always been thankful for his friendship and the impact he’d had on his life. After parting ways Mr. GoodGuy went home and decided that once a week for the next year, he was going to reach out and thank someone for their contribution to his life. One week it was a verbal thank you to a cashier who always went out of her way to help him, another week it was a letter to his young daughter thanking her for always having a smile on her face. On and on, just simple little thank you’s, verbal, written, emailed and even texted. Mr. GoodGuy found that his life had started to turn around; he found that by being grateful for the little things the big stuff around him seemed to melt away; his life became richer because of it.
I really enjoyed this article, I loved the message. Each Thursday I do a thankful Thursday post but in addition from now on, each week for the next year, I will be thanking someone who has impacted my life in some way and I’d like to challenge YOU to do it too. Maybe not for a year, maybe just start with a month…and work your way up to a year. If you’re doing this challenge, which we’ll call the Thankfulness Challenge, I’d love for you to let me know and maybe even post it on your blog with a link back to this post so we can see what kind of change for the better we’ve made. Who’s with me?
Count me in! It doesn’t seem like anything that would take any effort, really, and it could go a long way toward giving someone a boost in their lives.