Wednesday, November 27, 2013

2 Years Of Missing Sweet Vylette Moon...

I remember the birth stories of all my children as if they happened yesterday. Birth stories *should* be happy, and mine were. I was lucky. I know, my story of my Heather's (the oldest) birth is wrought with awfulness, and I KNOW I was VERY lucky to be able to carry children after that.  And any of the hiccups that came my way (including Alex's week long stay in the NICU) PALE in comparison to the story of sweet Vylette Moon.

See, Vylette came into this world two years ago this Thankgsgiving Day...11/28/11. But, due to the negligence of the midwives that were supposed to be tending to and encouraging the birth of sweet Vylette, she never got to open her beautiful eyes. She was kept alive until 12/3/11 by machines until she let her mommy know it was time to set her free. Vylette never got to nuzzle her mother and play with her mother's hair as she surely would have done while feeding, had her mother gotten the chance to nurse her. Vylette never got to experience the warm, fuzzy belly raspberries that her daddy would surely have given her.

I wouldn't do justice to sweet Vylette's story by telling it myself, because my very dear friend, Vylette's mother, has told it HERE already in the most raw and hauntingly sad writing you will ever read. You will also see the raw story in pictures HERE  And as hard as it is to read, I think one must. Because Vylette's story is not finished. There needs to be justice for sweet Vylette, and if you are saddened and enraged by what happened to cause my dear friend to experience the most awful thing a parent can ever go through, then YOU.CAN.HELP! PLEASE like and share VYLETTE'S PAGE - her story needs to be shared as much as possible. The midwives involved NEED to be held accountable.

You all know that I am a grieving mother myself, so I understand the hurt that it entails. And I know that the holidays can be particularly painful when we are missing the little ones that are SUPPOSED to be there with us, enjoying every single minute of the festivities. But my heart literally ACHES for my friend Jackie, Vylette's mommy. I hurt for her, because I got to bring my babies home, I got to nuzzle my babies through their infancies, I got to see their beautiful eyes, I got to get my hair grabbed while nursing them. Jackie was ROBBED of ALL of that, and my heart hurts that one of the only things left to do to help my friend is to share Vylette's story in hopes that the more people that see it, justice will be served. It won't bring Vylette back, but if the right people are held accountable, what happened to sweet Vylette will never happen to another parent because of them. Please help spread sweet Vylette's story!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Setting Our Children Free From Archaic Societal Standards...OR... Releasing the Kraken.

Those of you that know me, and have known me for a long time know that I  have *two sets* of children. The older ones (Heather 25, Holly 22, Kimberly 19) and the younger ones (Alexander 7, and Sedona 5). When I was a young mother, many things shaped what I *thought* mattered. I didn't have good parents, so it was important for me not only to be a good mother, but to be SEEN as a good mother.  Hell, I never even allowed Heather to even try candy until she was 2. But, since I was never given the opportunity to even develop a healthy self esteem, I tried very hard to make sure that my girls were not *followers*, nor would they have to feel like second class citizens. I'm not saying I have been the perfect mother by any means...I am flawed just like every other average mom on the planet. But I HAVE gotten to watch the older set of girls mature into women with both inner and outer beauty who both march to the beat of their own drummers. I think the only time I ever put my foot down was when Heather was in elementary school and came home and told me that as soon as she was old enough, she wanted to get rid of her red hair and make it blonde (her bff was blonde, not sure if that had anything to do with it). I said NO WAY!  AS long as you live under my roof, your beautiful hair stays AS IS (it has always been honestly beautiful....THICK...WAVY...BEAUTIFUL AUBURN). Finally, she told me that the REASON was because a boy had been making fun of her red hair for awhile and that she was the only red head in the whole grade. We got through that little hurdle and by the time they got to junior high age, my attitude was one of "Well, you're the one who has to walk around looking like that , so if you are confident about it, then rock it!". She never has changed her hair color, she started to become proud of the hair that made her stand out, and not ROCKS her red locks, and occasionally rubs it in our face that she has awesomely perfect thick , wavy red hair that never seems to look bad. EVER. Much to the chagrin of Kim and I...who are both members of the fine, straight hair club.

So here I am, now with a younger set of children, both in younger elementary grades. Doing it over. Only this time, it's different. Today, there are many more prejudices. Many more things that one should arm their children against if they have any chance in surviving the gauntlet between childhood and adulthood. Rather daunting, huh?  Racism...Classism....Sexism....anti-LGBTism. All prejudices that have the root of just pure hatred of anything not the same as *you*.  And there is WAY too much of it regaining traction in recent years. 

Children aren't born with the notion that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. They aren't born thinking that one gender or race is superior to another. They don't come out of the womb making fun of others. They are just born as social beings. Without prejudice. Without prejudging. Without any philosophical leanings. All of these things are learned. Our men have had things bred into them for GENERATIONS that make the judging and bullying culture possible. They are taught from an early age to "Man Up"..."Don't throw like a girl"...etc. Shouldn't our goal as today's parents of tomorrow's men be to breed more compassion and less misogyny into them? You know, so that our daughters don't have to wade through the same kind of cesspool of' "Bro's" that exists currently in order to find someone to love down the line that is sensitive, treats women with respect? 

Today, there is more prejudice than ever. In many homes, there is a mother or father explaining to their young boy "You don't want anyone to make fun of you, do you?" because he wants to wear a pink shirt because his favorite color at the moment happens to be pink.  And  there is a mother or father preaching to their daughter, "You have such pretty hair! Why would you want to chop it off? Aren't you afraid of what people think?", or to their son,  "Earrings?? In BOTH ears?? Aren't you afraid of what ___ will think?".   These fears are not owned by the children, but by their parents who are ultimately just afraid of what people will think as it relates to them because, ultimately, "our children are a reflection of us"...RIGHT?!?!?!?

Little Sedona...Almost from birth, she has definitely had her preferences as far as what she wears. For most of her life, she intentionally chose non -matching socks. Why? Because there's MORE COLOR that way, that's why! DUH! And she doesn't particularly like "matching" outfits. She just likes to wear what she likes, and that is that. And if that day it happens to be cheetah print shirt, polka dot pants, stripe socks, every color of the rainbow somewhere on her body, she is DAMNED happy. And confident . Ready to take on the world. And I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, my philosophy FOR YEARS is to make sure that my GIRLS know that their self worth is not contained in the clothing they wear, the hair styles they wear, the shoes they wear, the makeup they wear, or the jewelry they wear. Nor is their self worth in any way tied to ANYONE ELSE'S OPINION ON ANY OF THE ABOVE. Not thinking this will be a problem with she already solidly has cemented her own drummer to her inner girl ;).

Quite a while back, a few years, actually, I had an occasion where Heather was here and she was painting Sedona's nails. And Alex asked to have his painted. Initially, I hesitated, and said, NO. But then the totally innocent question came...."But WHY? Why can't I have nail polish too? I like colors and I like sparkles too!".  The inner dialogue was saying "But what will people think? Do you want people to make fun of you? Nail polish is *for girls*...". And on it went. But I didn't vocalize it. Instead, do you know what I did? I allowed my son to have his nails painted. Damn SKIPPY he did!! How do you explain prejudice to someone who has absolutely no idea of the concept? How do  you explain *why* someone might make fun of him when he wouldn't be able to comprehend? What, tell him that someone might insult him and call him a girl??? Nosiree! Not for one GODDAMN second would I allow him to think that it is OK to call someone a GIRL (or any variation of the word) as an INSULT. Yes, I get that he will surely experience the ugly that the world has to offer, and one day learn about what evil prejudices lurk within our society. But if I can arm him with the strength to understand that his identity is NOT tied to what anything any bully may think or say to him, then just maybe---he will grow into a fine young man who is not only confident, but compassionate, and maybe even be the guy who sees that ugliness happening to someone else and steps in to stop it. WHO KNOWS??? But, you know what? My boy rocked that dark blue nail polish.

And do you know what? We were polishing nails at the beginning of the school year, and he wanted them polished them again. Sure. No problemo. The boy went to school proudly showing off his nails that had alternating colors of blue. So what? He likes blue. And he wears a mohawk. Not because he fancies himself as a punk genius, but because he just thinks they look cool. So my boy definitely has his own drummer as well, and NOBODY has ever made fun of him. 

Which brings me to today...and the encounter. Last night, Alexander wanted to have the new Christmas glitter polish on his nails. Sure, WHAT THE HELL! WHY NOT? He's got the spirit! So we polished one hand with the polish with red and green glitter, and the other hand with holographic glitter (VERY cool, btw...from Loreal, picked it up at Target). He wanted to be festive, AND blow the mind of one of his teachers. This morning, all he could talk about was showing his teachers his glittery nails. And they were duly impressed. 

While I was watching him put his things in his locker down the hall, and talk excitedly about the nails he wanted to show, there was a parent/grandparent dropping off their child as well. She was not familiar to me, but she said, "He must have older sisters". I said, "Yes, he does.". To which she replied with an innocent smile, "That explains it (insert snicker here)".

 I said, "Well, actually, his sisters do not live at home, I painted his nails after he asked me to. If I am intent on  making sure my daughters are well equipped with thinking that their worth is not tied in to the clothes and other adornments they sport, how can I have a double standard and not do the same for my son?". I went on to say, "I don't have a problem with any of my children as far as how they want to wear their hair, get their ears pierced, etc..." to which she kept chiming in "Within reason, though..." and "You have to draw the line somewhere, though, right?", "You don't want people making FUN of him at some point, DO YOU?"  

Now, some of this conversation was inside the building, in the lobby. The rest of it, starting with the last question, was outside in the parking lot. This whole time, EVEN as my inner bitch had been awakened, by even keeled side ran the show. I listened to her just make small talk, smile and nod, talk about our children, etc. During all this, my peripheral vision caught some writings (ACTUAL.WRITING!) on her minivan windows. One window with a cherry picked bible quote that says something about the end times, and the other some kind of anti Islam bullshit.  Which, to me, explained alot. A.LOT. Because our conversation started innocently enough, and kept feeling a bit judgmental, and a tad preachy. And I was polite, but was SO VERY GLAD when it ended and I climbed into my car. Who the hell is SHE to presume for one nanosecond that her opinion on the way I raise my child will have any bearing on how I do it? I will surely be running into her from time to time, and I will always be nothing but pleasant, kind, and upbeat to her...because I choose to end my feelings of disgust and anger with this ranty post. And I know that I stand the same chance of making her see the proverbial light as she has of making me believe in *cough* the bible (or her version of it, anyway).....which is about the same chance that a snowball stands in hell. But, honestly.....I sincerely hope, for her sake, that she never has a chance to utter one syllable of her brand of disdain within earshot of my son. 

I wish people like that, the snickering, prejudging ones, the looking down their sanctimonious nose types...I wish they could see themselves as I see them. I see them as they would look in a wacky fun house mirror , looking down their noses at others...always judging, always preaching, always "knowing better"...

Just because my son wears a mohawk , and I not only encourage but ALLOW his nails to be painted, doesn't make him a girl  or feminine anymore than her fundamental hatred of other religions makes her a Christian.  And SHIT, he would have at least one ear pierced too if he didn't change his mind because he has an insanely low pain tolerance, and even the notion of momentary pain from the piercing gun gives him heartburn. 

Getting back to being defined by our outward appearance and/or adornments - Why do we put SO much stock in it? Why is it SO important for us, as a society, to keep pushing the same dogma on to our children that was spoon fed to us? What does it say to our children who, on one hand, hear us cite the fear of ridicule as a reason to not look/act/dress a certain way, and on the other hand, try to sell the idea of not giving TWO SHITS about what other people think and to NEVER be a sheeple? How can we expect them NOT to be conflicted and uncertain, and vulnerable to bullies if we can't even shoot a straight answer to them?

Simply? Just break the cycle. Sure, we have to make sure our children know that there are laws that state that their HooHas and nether regions are covered in public, and school and workplace guidelines that ensure that they remain learning and employed, but as long as they are the ones that are confident to stand behind their hair/makeup/clothing choices, what is it to anyone else? Whose business is it? 

Don't create a culture of fear in our children....embrace their unique desire to be individuals. If we teach our children to be afraid, the judgey people win. How can we expect them to be fearless of the opinions of others if we teach them TO be afraid of the opinions of others? Don't let pomposity win out ;).

Thank you for reading my rather wordy rant...I know it got a bit preachy but , could always be worse. It COULD have been filled with F bombs and such ;). Love you all!


Friday, November 1, 2013


We recently had the opportunity to try TruMoo Milk's new limited edition Halloween orange-colored vanilla. As you may or may  not already know, I am a Bzzagent, and was very excited to be chosen to review the milk! The kids LOVED it! Sedona said it tasted like a milkshake. TruMoo has already been on our radar, thanks to the commercial that has the little milk man (great hook, TruMoo!). Didn't feel guilty at all because  it contains no GMOs or High fructose corn syrup. It is also important to note that TruMoo Milk is packed with calcium, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, phosphorous and potassium --- important for the growing munchkins as they help strengthen kids’ bones, build and repair muscles and keep them full and satisfied (which, incidentally, Alex really loves....the kid is always whining about being hungry LOL).

Something I found on their site while I was perusing -- Time To Unwind Movie Giveaway . It's a nice little prize pack that includes some wonderful holiday goodies! Follow their instructions to enter. Good luck! I entered too--fingers crossed!! 

Something else I found interesting on TruMoo's site is The TruMoms blog!  LOTS of goodies tucked within their posts, including giveaways, kids activities, tips for healthy snacks for kids...LOTS! :).

OOOH!! And did you know that TruMoo uses all local dairies to distribute?? Here is the dairy locator --  you just punch in your zip code to find out which dairy supplies yours. Very handy :).

I'm not a milk drinker myself (my body does bad things when it has dairy), but the kids solidly attest to the wonderfulness of both the chocolate AND the Halloween vanilla. Hope they bring it back next year! Try it,  your kids will love it and you will most definitely not feel *guilty* ;).


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Food SHOULD Taste Good!

WOOT! It feels GOOD to dust off the blog and get back into it! I'm back AGAIN LOL!

Why am I back?? Well, to talk about  . I was chosen by Bzzagent to receive a sampling of products in exchange for my opinion. And I was actually chosen the very same week I learned of my wheat intolerance. I'm actually wheat free now for two months (except for the one "reintroduction" I had to do to pinpoint the extent of my reaction..blech. NO MORE!). The first couple weeks were ROUGH. I'm a carboholic, and I had to seriously reprogram myself. Incessant label scanning. Incessant cravings for my favorite pasta dish when I made it for my family and had to just eat some salads because I was just starting to venture into the unknown of cooking and eating wheat free. See, I'm Italian, PA Dutch, Irish, etc...I come from bread and pasta eating stock! I think I really had to have that period of frustration to spur me on to investigating alternate foods. I discovered several so far, a favorite "GF" pasta (made with white rice), some new flours to bake with, and more importantly, some new favorite snacks!!

Not even kidding here! I got this  Bzzagent campaign the same week I found out I had an intolerance to wheat. I tried all the varieties that came in the Bzzkit--Blue Corn ,Jalapeno With Cheddar ,Multigrain , Sweet Potato ,and Olive (Ok, I didn't try the olive one *myself*, as anything Olive-y makes me retch...ever since the *incident*--when my brother and I hid under the crudite area at a wedding reception when we were young and we gorged on olives for some reason. SO.SICK was I!)

A few points to ponder about FSTG from Their Web Page:

*We remain committed to using non-bioengineered ingredients in all of our products and are in the process of enrolling in the Non-GMO Project. Be sure to look for our new packaging, reflecting our continued commitment to non-GMO to start hitting shelves soon.

*Most of our products are certified vegan by the site "Vegan Action", with the exception of: Cheddar, White Cheddar, Chocolate and JalapeƱo with Cheddar Tortilla Chips.

*All of our products are certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union. "OU" is the certification symbol granted to Food Should Taste Good® by the Orthodox Union. You can visit the Orthodox Union website to learn more about the certification and Kosher dietary laws.

Now...down to business :D

I have had to become extremely conscious of labels because of my wheat intolerance. It is very hard to find Quality, affordable , TASTY snacks (of the crunchy salty variety I'm a sucker for!)...but when I tried the varieties I received, I was so impressed. I was encouraged to check out the organic section of my grocery store and purchase some more. My FAVORITE part of discovering the "Food Should Taste Good" brand is that all of their products and processes are inspected, tested and certified gluten free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization. Additionally, according to their web page, suppliers are required to provide negative-allergen documentation to guarantee their ingredients are gluten free, and they also verify these results using a third party laboratory.

I have to keep coming back in particular to the "Multigrain Chip" (Hey, it's a cracker too!). It is by far my favorite for a variety of reasons. The sesame seeds and the light crisp nature of it make it go with just about anything you would like to pair it with (my favorite pairing is a white bean and garlic hummus that I just blend up about once a week). It's very lightly salted, which doesn't interfere with anything you may be consuming it with and only accentuates the little pop that the sesame seeds give it.

I not only love all of the varieties I have tried, I literally have at least two varieties on hand at all times --the Multigrain and the Sweet Potato (the kids LOVE that one, they love to dip it into peanut butter mixed with maple syrup and a little bit of cream, right??).

Aahhh...Sweet Serendipity!!  Bzzagent chooses me for this campaign right when I find out about my wheat intolerance! I don't always fall in love with a product I receive for review (with Bzzagent or elsewhere), but I honestly have fallen in complete and udder love with the "Food Should Taste Good" brand!  Seriously--I would TOTALLY do a Trustfall with them!! I know it sounds cheesy, but I am HUGE into brand trust and loyalty when I find one that deserves itI will always have my new favorites on hand, and look forward to trying more (I have been looking EVERYWHERE locally for the chocolate, but have yet to find it!!)

But WAIT! There's MORE!!! Of course there is more happening surrounding this Wheat Free Renaissance in my life--I am down 13 pounds so far, NO GUT WRENCHING pain (literally----because of all the scar tissue in my tummy from last years surgeries and infection, any kind of bowel inflammation is the double-you-over kind of pain that starts within a half a day of eating something with wheat in it, and lasts for 2-4 days, depending on the amount that was eaten)--which means NO sympathetic inflammation in other parts of my body (like my BITCH of a spine!) either! Now, for the last two months, any pain I have had is strictly just arthritic pain every once in awhile. It has been WELL over 2 months since I Have had to ask for another refill of vicodin (which I LOVE! Pain is a vicious hurt, and when you hurt, it is hard to be physically active. So you take something to manage the pain, but then you are too tired from the side effects....oy!). The real test will be when winter comes...but for now, I will take the first long pain free time in almost 2 years!!

Anyway, I will be posting again really soon! Topics? WHO KNOWS? But, they will definitely run the gamut from family, crochet, products I love (ones I have been given to try and those that I just have to share!), voting rights (yep, that time again, and I'm fired UP! Lookout!!), Feminism (Don't see it as a bad word, it's a GOOD "F" word!)...You get the idea ;). Thanks for reading, waiting, and coming back! Please feel free to share, I'm excited to be fired up and posting again!!

Love and Kisses,

Saturday, February 23, 2013

These Eyes......

These eyes. I would give anything to not have to see the world through them. Seems like a lifetime of waterfalls have been cried, yet still, the tears can still flow from time to time. I haven't always felt like this....because.....

These eyes have watched in wonder at 5 very first ultrasounds. These eyes have seen 4 out of my 5 children take their first breaths (Heather was an emergency c-section that I was put under for). These eyes watched each of their first smiles, first steps, first teeth, first temper tantrums, first written letters.These eyes have watched all but the youngest start school. These eyes have watched two of them graduate from High School so far. These eyes have watched the oldest ones cry over boys, perceived inadequacies, grades, and pressures they feel. These eyes have watched one sing like an angel on many an occasion , and another play a beautiful violin many times (even though I know she hated to play for us at home for some reason...).These eyes witnessed the second oldest daughter love and be SO gentle to her baby sister, and thoroughly enjoy taking her under her wing. These eyes cried tears of joy while watching my firstborn marry the man of her dreams and embark on her new life as a wife.

BUT........These eyes also had to watch helplessly for a week as the second born suddenly became ill, struggle to breathe and  become dependent on a ventilator to stay alive. These eyes watched my Holly bloat while on the ventilator. These eyes watched as her father (who at the time, had taken for granted that he would have a lifetime to make up for the wasted time that could have been spent with his children) fly in from Florida (though not before she was intubated...he never saw her beautiful blue opened eyes again...)and never leave her side unless he had to grab a quick bite, use the restroom, or sleep for an hour, and hold her hand while singing to her.

These eyes watched as her doctors told us that Holly WAS.GOING.TO.DIE. These eyes watched as the sound to the machines was turned off, and one by one, the machines themselves were shut down. These eyes watched as her heart beat its last beat. And, after crying for many days, these eyes watched her older sister spontaneously stand up and walk to the front of the room next to Holly's coffin and start singing (a-capella) "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dione. These eyes watched a butterfly flit around , between, and among Holly's sisters and I while we heard a brief service by what would be her final resting place. And then, these eyes had to start to learn to live in an altered state of reality, where tears took on a mind of their own, and the eyes were permanently red ringed.

So NOW....These eyes see the world through a jaded veil.  These eyes see a world that has parents that lose their children , and in which sometimes, a visit to the ER can be a one way visit.

I have spent the last (almost) 15 years trying to choke back utter panic any time I would go to the hospital for myself, let alone to take my children. I always walk that inner tightrope that rises above a divided sea which is composed of utter alarmist paranoia and the solitude of rational thought. But at least in recent years, it becomes more of an inner dialogue of some facsimile of Edvard Munch's iconic The Scream yelling out from time to time (NO!! PLEASE!! NOT AGAIN!), while somehow. remaining present for my ill or injured child.

Last night, the Hess household experienced a crisis with Alexander that took us to the ER.  And these eyes went to work viewing the world as it is now, and not as it was , before May 22, 1998,  when vision was unveiled and crystal clear with the naive belief that "those things always happen to people you read about, but never to you....". I wish that I didn't have to view the world through these eyes. We returned later with orders to follow up with an appointment on Monday with our own doctor. I wish that I still lived in a world where the possibility of surviving any of my children did not yet exist. 

I wish I would not have to view the world through these eyes, or their permanent...jaded....veil....

I need to say that the above is not being shared to elicit sympathy or pity. Writing for me is therapy. It is my fervent hope that if my burning urge to pick at the scab of my wounded psyche can help even one person to gain even the tiniest of insights into the mind of a person who had to learn to live life in a "new normal" after learning they would have to survive the rest of their days without one of their beautiful children, it is worth it......