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If you like this blog, please consider following our Facebook page!  I post interesting articles and fun links to resources regularly.  It’s a great place for interaction with the Rocking Homestead.

Also, feel free to follow me (Jessica) on Pinterest, where I pin a wide variety of really cool stuff.  I keep my boards very meticulously organized, if a board gets too big, I divide it up into sub categories (In the process of reorganizing my board “Garden and Homestead” into about 8 subsections right now).  You can find resources and inspiration for gardening, raising food producing animals, DIY and craft projects, holiday decor (my Halloween boards are EPIC), paleo cooking, size acceptance, feminism, natural parenting, bicycling, pregnancy and birth, and even fashion.

You can also follow Jeremy on Pintrest.  This is literally the only social networking he does.  His boards are much more woodworking, DIY, and Halloween focused than anything else.

Finally, you can connect with me on Instagram.

We look forward to connecting with all of you!

Surrogacy update: results

How do you think this one is going to turn out?

How do you think this one is going to turn out?

Did you know that invitro fertilization is only about 40% effective in the best circumstances? That’s about a 60% potential for failure, even if you have the best possible chances for success. And many people say it almost never works the first time. That the first time is really just when doctors and patients get to know what works and increases their chances of success. Continue reading

Healthy Halloweens are bullshit

As culturally embraced sizism becomes more and more prominent in society, I’m starting to see a big trend towards healthy Halloweens.  My first exposure to the concept of healthy Halloween was when Elijah was a baby, and I had joined the local chapter of a national club for crunchy moms.  These moms were mostly concerned with pesticide residues, genetically modified organisms, and trans fats in treats, maybe a little with the working conditions of the people working the cacao farms, and all of that seemed reasonable to me.  I could envision a future in which all Halloween candy was fair trade and organic, but I still bought my sacks of Hershey’s and Mars sugar and hydrogenated fat because, really, who can afford a ten pound sack of fair trade mini candy bars?  Not lower enlisted, single moms, that’s for sure.

Over time, however, the concern out and about as well as in the group became primarily sugar, and how sugar is just like cocaine and is killing us all very slowly.  I was all for trying to get away from the crappy candy I still begrudgingly bought even though I knew that doing so was supporting slave labor, and even making the holiday a little healthier with some home made treats, but this movement advocated for no treats at all.  Or, rather, lousy treats that only the most sheltered and deprived kid could truly get excited about.  A clementine with a sprig of celery in the top to make it look like a pumpkin is no treat at all, especially given that they aren’t in season yet in October and most likely will taste like crap.

Look, I get it.  Sugar is not great for you.  Especially all that highly processed crap, packaged up with hydrogenated oils and gmo soy lecithin.  I don’t like that shit either.  But it’s one night a year (and maybe a few days afterwards), I swear to god it’s not going to kill your kids.

It’s no coincidence that the rise of healthy Halloweens have coincided perfectly with our culture’s war on obesity.  It is our great fear of the worst fate ever, being fat, that drives this trend.  Better to ruin a holiday for our children than to, god forbid, have them grow up and possibly have love handles!!  Oh, the horror!!  The agony!!  Why, given that inevitability, letting your child have even one fun size Snickers on Halloween is tantamount to child abuse.

The whole idea of healthy Halloweens is steeped in fat shaming and fear mongering.  It is not even based in any kind of reality.  Here are some facts, if you are paranoid about letting your children have treats on one measly holiday.

  • We don’t know what causes people to be fat or thin.  The reasons are likely a lot more complex and multifaceted than just calories in, calories out, or even more complex issues like insulin resistance and inflammation.  Therefore, we cannot assume that fun sized candy bars are the culprit either.
  • Fat is not necessarily a health risk.  There are plenty of healthy fat people out there.  In fact, using our current BMI standards, the people with the longest life span are those in the overweight range.  Obese people and healthy weight people have about the same lifespans, statistically speaking.  The very obese have slightly lower life spans than the obese or healthy weight.  Underweight people have the lowest lifespans of all.  Given this knowledge, if what you are trying to do is ensure your child the longest life possible, it might be in their best interest to gain a little bit of “extra” weight.
  • Even the most calories in, calories out focused doctor would concede that a few treats one night a year is not going to make your kid fat as long as they are eating a balance diet the rest of the year and leading an active lifestyle.  In fact, your kids will probably be safe from the dreaded fat menace even if they eat candy on Halloween and cookies on Christmas!
  • Fat people are at lower risk for many health conditions, including depression (which, yes, takes lives every single day).  I would hypothesize that children who don’t get to eat candy on Halloween are at higher risk of depression, so maybe letting them gorge on chocolate one night a year could actually be good for them!

More importantly than all of this, fat people are human beings who deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that any other human being should be treated with.  Striking fear of becoming fat into our children’s hearts is setting them up for being sizists and cruel bullies to those who are fat, and increasing their risk of having their own body image issues.

Look, I get it, I do.  I’m all about feeding kids a healthy diet.  I just think that some occasional splurges are part of an over all, holistically healthy diet.  I’m not saying let them gorge on nothing but candy all night Halloween, and all day for as many days afterwards that it takes them to run out of candy.  By all means, fill your kid up with a healthy dinner before you go out trick or treating, ration treats on November first and beyond, arrange a visit from the Switch Witch or donate the bulk of your candy to the troops (I can tell you from experience they love that shit, even though most of them do have access to all the candy they want at the PX) or the homeless or something.  But let them have Halloween night as it traditionally is, because while candy might not be good for your kid’s health, cramming your own issues with fat and body image problems down your kids’ throats is worse for them.

Embracing fear

I’m not a big fan of fear.  I don’t like how fear has the power to isolate us from our communities, and be used to manipulate us, and drive us to act in irrational, shameful ways.  Fear has been a driving force behind most human innitiated atrocities, and the fuel that allows them to continue, despite many knowing they are not right.  I am no innocent when it comes to this.  Further, I dislike how innundating ourselves with fearful, gruesome, and violent imagery desensitizes us to it, so that we are less horrified by horrible things, finding them to be mundane and predictable, the natural course of things.  This of course strengthens the notion that the world is a terrible, scary place (because horrible things are mundane and common place), further isolating us and making us susceptible to manipulation by more powerful entities (corporate marketers and government authorities, for example). It also makes it easier to ignore it and not care when we see it happening.

It’s for this reason that I don’t like most horror movies, I don’t watch gruesome and scary tv shows, and I change the channel if any fear mongering or sensationalized scary news comes on.  I don’t even forward on articles about this stuff on facebook anymore. Anything I can do to reduce fearful images is a step I can take to better see the world as it truly is, a mostly safe place full of mostly good people and mostly good things.

But for some reason, at Halloween, I embrace the scary.

I’m not the only one who lives under this weird paradox.  I participated in a conversation over at Halloween Forum recently about those of us who have sworn off all or a portion of the news. Watching too much of it can riddle a person with anxiety and fear that simply isn’t grounded in actual reality. Many of us (myself included) also mentioned how we had sworn off fictional TV of the same nature as well, shows such as Law and Order, Dexter, and CSI. And yet, every last one of us were also engaged in other conversations about how best to make a cheap plastic skeleton look like a real rotting corpse, or how to light our homes to best scare the bejeezus out of approaching trick or treaters. Why the contrast?

The fear on Halloween is different than the fear we get from watching true crime shows or gore porn. Traditionally, the scary monsters on Halloween are literal monsters, ghouls and goblins, things our logical minds know do not really exist (or if they do, are not a serious threat to us in almost every situation). They are over the top, made up, hyperbole fears. Even when we started introducing more realistic fears into the Halloween mix, like fears of serial killers of the kinds depicted in early slasher films, the threats seemed highly unlikely and still fairly silly. There is a world of difference between Halloween scary, and how-many-sexual-predators-live-in-a-mile-radius-from-your-home scary, or Ebola-could-break-out-like-the-black-plague-at-any-time scary, or ISIS-could-be-planning-on-bombing-your-local-shopping-mall scary. We know Halloween scary is a game, we don’t know that all these other threats are astronomically unlikely. I mean, the talk about that stuff on the news!
Further, Halloween is a time we actually get out and confront fears. We don’t keep our kids inside out of fear there are really spirits from the other side looking to snatch them away, we dress our kids up like spirits, like little under cover spies, and send them out amongst the scary things to bum candy off of all our neighbors! That might not seem spooky to adults who don’t actually believe in ghosts, but play your cards right, and there could be some spooky magic in it for your kids, who get to experiment with bravery and facing fears in a healthy and safe manner during Halloween. It’s incredibly character building.
Halloween scary gives us the opportunity to experience fear in ways that actually enhances our feeling of safety and security, and our own self confidence. When you see your whole neighborhood coming out in the name of facing fears (even if they are silly, ridiculous fears), it makes you feel a lot more confident about your community’s odds in the extremely unlikely event that you actually find yourself in a zombie apocalypse.
When I was a little girl, I went through a phase where was obsessed with Star Wars. I remember being bothered by something Yoda said about fear to Luke, that fear was the enemy, and that it led to the dark side. Back then, I thought that was stupid, fear was a natural and normal emotion. It was okay to have it, so long as it doesn’t paralyze you or make you do things that aren’t logical or right. It is your action in the face of fear that was or wasn’t the problem, not the fear itself. Now that I am older, I see a lot more wisdom in Yoda’s words. Fear is like a disease, it spreads almost as if it is airborne, and can have devastating effects on individuals and communities. The vast majority of it is completely irrational. And yet, there is still value in acknowledging it and facing it, if only to help you learn the difference between what is a rational warning, and what is an irrational poison. Halloween is one way in which we are able to face our fears, and it’s one of the more fun ones (if not the most fun). That’s probably what leads many of us to love it, even if we can’t stand fear under other circumstances.

The Switch Witch

Image obtained at morguefile.com

Image obtained at morguefile.com

Here at the Rocking Homestead we get a visit from the Switch Witch every year on Halloween.  We do this not because we don’t want our kids eating candy, but because Elijah’s soy allergy makes most candy inedible for him, so it keeps the holiday fun. Continue reading

Ultimate Halloween Playlist

Photo obtained at morguefile.com

Photo obtained at morguefile.com

We at the Rocking Homestead live for Halloween.  There are a lot of ways I like to get in the spirit of the season, and one major one is music.  Many years ago, when I used to obtain music in questionably legal, free manners, I had an epic Halloween mix, including rare remixes that are impossible to find now, because they were remixed in some dude’s basement and simply aren’t out there in a world dominated by the big labels and big bands.  But obtaining all that music had some consequences, including downloading a lot of viruses, and long story short, I lost all of that music.

Continue reading

Halloween community building

Image obtained at morguefile.com

Image obtained at morguefile.com

I am a strong believer in the community building nature of Halloween.  People tend to look at me like I’m crazy when I say so, but I firmly believe that this holiday, more than any other, has the power to bring communities together and strengthen relationships. Continue reading

An Open Letter to All Teenagers on Halloween

At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, what’s the deal with high school age kids trick or treating? It’s not that I have a problem with giving them candy, really, but it weirds me out because it seems like a really childish activity for kids that age. It’s about the equivalent, to me, as seeing a parent cart their teenager around in a wagon at the the zoo, or a teenager running to their mommy crying because they got an owie and want their mommy to kiss it. Continue reading