Saturday, May 9, 2015

Police Called on Two Texas Breastfeeding Mothers; YOU Are Needed to Demand Action from Legislature

I'm not a journalist, and I'm verbose. I've buried the lead below, but this is what you need to know: TWO Texas mothers have had the police called on them for breastfeeding in the past two months.  The Texas legislature can stop this, but YOU are needed to contact them and demand that they push through HB 232.  It's not hard, and it is vital.  Learn how at

More than two and a half years ago, I was nursing my two-month-old baby, my breast completely covered, in an empty room, when I was told that I needed to move to a private room.

That day changed my life.

Thankfully, I was an experienced and confident parent, and I (thought I) knew my rights.  My life and the life of my son could have changed in a profoundly negative way.  I could have quit breastfeeding to avoid the possibility of future confrontations, denying both of us decreased health risks.

Knowing this could happen to other mothers, I was motivated to ensure that a written policy in accordance with the law was adopted where I had been discriminated against.

An initial approach of diplomacy and education, going through proper channels for several weeks, yielded the opposite - a written regulation to isolate breastfeeding mothers - and that, with the input of a lawyer.

Eventually I realized that Texas' Right to Breastfeed law does not truly protect mothers, because it does not specify that it is illegal to violate our legal right.

And I realized that I would need help to make a change.

My brother-in-law advised me to consider the worst possible ramifications of going public before deciding to do it.  That advice seeped into my brain and one day I found myself imagining, "What's the worst possible thing that could happen if I have to feed my child there again?"  

What if I'm told to leave, and I again politely refuse?  Would I be trespassing? (Yes.)  Would they call the police on me?

If I were arrested, I didn't know if I could leave my baby there with someone I trusted while my husband was called, or if my infant would be whisked off to strangers.  And worse, strangers who could not feed him two hours later, because he would not take a bottle.

I was terrified at the thought.  I ugly cried for a long while.

When I considered sharing this weeks and weeks later as testimony against the discriminatory regulation, I couldn't get through practicing the speech without tears, and I decided to take a different tact.

I still get a little emotional thinking about it.  That almost three-month-old is now almost three years old, and I still tear up at the memory of that imagined vulnerability.

But the vulnerability is not imaginary.

I convinced myself that this was a silly fear, something embarrassing to share, even.

And yet twice in the past two months, police have been called on Texas mothers for breastfeeding.  

We have a legal right to feed our babies, and yet the police officers treated the mothers involved not as victims of discrimination but as... persons of interest?  Thankfully neither mother was arrested, but one was made to leave a place of public accommodation and the other was made to feel as though the officers were looking for a reason to arrest her.

For feeding their babies.

Ruth Ann's Story

Last week Ruth Ann Jenkins was trying to console her sobbing three-month-old son at a restaurant in Abilene, pacing by her table in the back corner and nursing him, when an abrasive woman approached her and asked her to cover up, to move further away, to turn her back from other patrons.  None of these "solutions" were workable for Ruth Ann.  And why should they be, when the true problem was that her exhausted infant, who rarely cries, had her worried and needed her to soothe him with movement and milk?

No one should have thought that their own "problem" of being uncomfortable with a functioning breast should mandate how Ruth Ann cared for her son.  No one should have felt it necessary that, while already finding it difficult to latch him, she should upset her son further by trying to latch with a blanket in the way.  No one should have thought it necessary that she try to put him asleep a few feet further toward the back of the restaurant where there was direct sun flooding through the windows.  No one should have thought it necessary that she try to pace, a motion any mother knows is vital to calming a baby, while somehow keeping her back to the rest of the restaurant.

But until our society ceases to prioritize the sexualization of breasts over the reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma, etcetera, people will think that their uncomfortable cognitive dissonance outweighs the need of an infant for life-giving milk.

And so, ten minutes later, when Ruth Ann and her husband had finished dinner and left the restaurant, they were greeted by the owners and police officers.

The owners proceeded to lecture Ruth Ann, followed by a similar lecture from the police.  She said they accused her of intentionally trying to bother other patrons.  By feeding her hungry baby.

The police asked her to step away from her husband and baby.  I'm sure you can imagine how terrifying that must have been.  I can picture it in my head.  A familiar scene from TV and movies.  The bad guy being asked to step over here.

Only the "bad guy" in this scenario is a new mommy.  "Odd-looking" by her own description, with a mohawk and tattoos, but come on!

Scared, Ruth Ann insisted on remaining next to her husband as the police officers took her drivers license and looked her up.  She felt like they were looking for a reason to arrest her.  She was terrified, brought to tears at the thought of being separated from her infant son.  She was thankful that she keeps up with things like her license and registration and car inspection, that there was nothing for which she could be taken from him.

Later, she left a one-star review for the restaurant.  This lead to learning that it was not the business owners who called the police (rather, apparently it was a patron, allegedly a Justice of the Peace!).  But at the time they allowed it to seem that they had called them, confronting her as they did with the police officers.  And though they claim to be pro-breastfeeding, the abrasive woman who approached Ruth Ann was one of the owners.  I would hardly call their behavior supportive.

Despite a law intended to protect mothers, the restaurant discriminated in a way they would never have done to someone based on religion or race or disability without legal ramifications.  Imagine someone with a feeding disorder, perhaps messy and noisy and needing assistance to be fed by a companion.  No one would ask that person to turn his back, or move to a different part of the restaurant.  Certainly no police called in those situations would be scanning the driver license of the party who had faced discrimination!

Morgan's Story

An hour away, two months earlier, Morgan Riley was nursing her baby girl at a roller rink in Early, Texas, while her son enjoyed a birthday party there.  Morgan faxed me a copy of the police report.

The owners called the police on her for breastfeeding.  They wanted her to cover up (as though feeding her baby was lewd), or move to a private room (where she could not supervise her six-year-old).

When she declined to put a blanket over her baby's head or leave the vicinity of her son, the police officer told her she would have to leave.  Fearing that defending her right could get her arrested, she left.

Why YOU Are Needed

I make a point of not sharing all of the NIP incidents I read about online.  I do not want to over-represent them.  I breastfed for years without incident.  The majority of women will certainly never have the police called on them.

But I share this, and I regularly talk about the lack of teeth in our law, because when a mother is confronted for breastfeeding, the impact of that is monumental for her.  One mother alone being shamed and risking her breastfeeding relationship is too many.

But it's not just one mother.  The list I've compiled with other advocates is of 100 Texas mothers in the past few years.

A large  percentage of these are moms local to me, so I know this list is far from exhaustive.

And a larger percentage of these moms were covered while breastfeeding, so THAT is not the issue.  Breastfeeding is.

The impact of each of those stories reaches far beyond those 100 moms and their babies and their future babies.  The women who hear the stories are affected, as well.  So almost half of moms cite a fear of nursing in public as their greatest concern about breastfeeding.

Next week Texas Representatives will decide if mothers can have true protection of their Right to Breastfeed.  

Versions of HB 232 have been filed for a decade.

  • HB 232 would inform businesses of the law through an e-newsletter from the Comptroller.  That won't cost the state anything.

  • It will make it illegal to interfere with or restrict breastfeeding.

  • And it will give mothers recourse if they face discrimination.

In early sessions the penalty for discrimination would have been a fine, but that requires a budget, and the legislature would not pass that.  Two years ago the enforcement provision was changed to a cause of action, but by the time the bill was put on the voting calendar, we'd run out of time to pass it.

With HB 232, a mother facing discrimination could request an injunction (a court telling the business to quit discriminating) or could sue a business for a max of $500.  Mothers aren't likely to have time or money to hire a lawyer for a greater sum than the potential payout, but the possibility of a lawsuit sends a message to businesses that this law is not one which it is optional to follow.  And to law enforcement officers, too, for that matter.

Texas Law Review was involved in creating the language for the bill and no organizations or individuals registered opposition at the public hearing in March.

If the Texas House passes the bill next week, it would still need to get through the Senate.  That means that we'd need at least one Senate sponsor who could get a committee to take the time to hear the bill.  That committee would need to pass it and the Senate would need to vote, I think by May 27th.

That's a tall order.  Legislators have bills they are focused on, and we're having a lot of trouble just getting a bill that already passed the House to get a Senate committee hearing.

But if legislators can recognize the frequency of discrimination, and the abhorrently egregious nature of some incidents, and finally after twenty years prioritize this marginalized issue, we could have true protection for Texas mothers.

To get there, we need massive involvement from supporters.  So that's where you come in.

Go to, where you'll find information to help you contact your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to support HB 232 (and HB 786 and SB 1479, to help working moms to pump at work, while you're at it).

If the site is loading slowly, go here and click on their names for contact info for your legislators.  If you have questions contact me at

I promise it's easy and not at all intimidating once you're doing it.  And it's empowering.

Share this information.

We can't make it about slacktivism or trashing businesses on Facebook or calling for a nurse-in.

Make your time matter by pushing for passage of breastfeeding bills that will be systemic solutions to systemic problems.

The Texas legislature needs to take responsibility for enforcing the laws it creates and protecting its most vulnerable citizens - our babies.

Tell them.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mother's Day Gift Guide for the Texas Legislature

Are you a Texas State Representative or State Senator wondering what to give the mothers of Texas this Mother's Day?

What your constituents want is a decreased risk for their babies of obesity, diabetes, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and scores of other diseases and illnesses.

They wouldn't mind a decreased risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer for themselves, as well.

Moms desire the freedom to be able to raise their children as they want.

But when mothers choose to breastfeed - increasing their baby's IQ and improving their mental health outcomes - they are faced with myriad barriers to meeting their personal goals and the recommendations of every major health organization.

Give the gift that keeps on giving...

Support mothers in their choice to breastfeed, with HB 232, HB 786, and SB 1479.

Clock photo source.

HB 232 will enforce the current Right to Breastfeed law, so that mothers can feed their babies without fearing that someone will call the police on them for doing so (which has happened twice in the past two months in Texas).

Mothers have to leave the house to support the economy, and babies have to eat every couple of hours.  No mom should be afraid to feed her baby, but rampant discrimination means almost half of moms worry about it more than any other breastfeeding issues.

HB 786 and SB 1479 will help public employees and teachers, respectively, to have time and a place to express breastmilk at work.  This is already provided by federal law to hourly employees.  But salaried new moms who work for state agencies, local governments, and public schools often must choose between their babies and their jobs.

Lacking time and a place to express milk can lead to immediate health risks, and ultimately, decreased supply and early cessation of breastfeeding.

We can do better for moms.

Forget the perfume, the flowers, the jewelry.

Give Texas mothers what they really want.

Support to live by their family's values.

Support to give their children the optimum first food, which will set them up for better health for life - and will improve public health and the economy.

So really - it's a gift to all of Texas.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lege Update

From my Facebook Update post (messy with links because I haven't time to make it pretty):

#TXBFLeg #TXLege #Breastfeeding Legislation Update:

I don't like saying this (& don't like when other pages do), but please like & share this update to get Facebook to give it more reach.  But it's lengthy, so mostly, share & tell breastfeeding supporters to contact B&I, preferably by phone, to try to save HB 232.

HB 786 (Rep. Walle, Pump at Work bill)

Yesterday HB 786 passed in the House!  This is fantastic & awesome & wonderful news! And it means there is MORE WORK TO DO!  

It still has to be voted on again this Monday in the House.  We want legislators to keep hearing from us to ensure we have as many yay votes as possible when we head into the Senate. After Monday, we need Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to refer HB 786 to a committee promptly so that there is time for a Senate committee to pass the bill & for the entire Senate to vote on it. 

Yesterday the TCC (Texas Conservative Coalition) put out a report highlighting their opposition to HB 786 & referring to the wrong bill language (from last session) so their report was riddled with mistakes that could bias legislators against the bill.  TPPA did the same thing last session (if you helped support the bill 2 years ago you may remember the night we bombarded the executive director with contacts).  TPPA is neutral this session, as are the Republican Caucus & TPPF (Texas Public Policy Foundation).  

This faulty report makes it even more necessary that (especially conservative) legislators hear from us.  Breastfeeding is a bipartisan issue & support is a public health imperative.  So keep referring to the action alert at  Keep contacting your legislators & spreading the word.  This is a marathon, folks.  We have to keep pushing.

You can see the bill pass its 2nd reading at the 2:23:38 mark at

There's an article here & an awesome tweet here

HB 232 (Rep. Farrar, Strengthening Right to BF in Public)

I am at a loss here, y'all.  Last session this bill passed in Business & Industry unanimously.  This year a new member, Rep. Matt Rinaldi, opposed the bill.  As a result, it has been pending in committee for over a month.  Which means, essentially, that he has killed it.  If B&I doesn't vote this week, I don't see how it can pass.  I'm in Abilene today or I'd go to the Capitol & talk to each B&I member in person. 

I have tried to be diplomatic & to get the timing right, to be cautious - there's so much I haven't shared here because I've been afraid of hurting the bill.  I have stuck with asking for constituents to contact the lege because that's what they value.  But I am wondering if I should have shared Rep. Rinaldi's bathroom comment or asked people to call from *anywhere* weeks ago.  

Yesterday I drove past Brownwood, where Morgan Riley lives.  Days after I & others testified in favor of HB 232 a police officer forced Morgan to leave a roller rink for breastfeeding.  That's what Rep. Rinaldi is perpetuating with his opposition to this bill.  

I'm taking my kids to Frontier Texas soon & I can't spend the day on social media.  I've literally spent hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours trying to support this bill.  It means the world to me.  But my kids mean more.  I've already spent a few hours on the phone & online this morning.  The rest of today I'm going to go be a mom.  I leave the advocacy for this one in your hands today.  Blast all over social media.  And anybody from anywhere, contact B&I, especially Reps. Rinaldi, Simmons, Fletcher, Villalba & Oliveira.  Even if you don't live in Texas, what we as the 2nd most populous state in the nation, & as a conservative state - what we do will affect public health & will affect similar measures in other states.  We are ALL stakeholders.

SB 1479 (Sen. Garcia, Pumping Rights for Teachers)

There was a hearing for this bill yesterday.  The video cuts off before Carolyn Putnam, IBCLC gets to testify (& my friend Anna Smith had to go home before they got to that bill - she had to quit her job when her principal would not support her to pump at work, but she left written testimony), but the last couple of minutes can be seen here:

Our other 4 bills have had no movement yet.

So that's where we are right now.  Please get involved & keep pushing!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Urgent Legislative Action Alert for Texas Breastfeeding Bills

An urgent call to action from Texas Breastfeeding Coalition:

This is a really important time to kick our support into high gear, with one bill about to be voted on in the House, another pending for over a month in committee, and a third about to have a hearing on Thursday.
The most effective way to support our breastfeeding bills right now is to contact legislators.  Prioritize your State Senator and State Representative.  You can find them here with your home address.  Beyond that, you can contact Lieutenant Governor Patrick, the Business and Industry Committee, the Senate Committee on Education, – and really, all of the Senators.  Contact information and sample scripts are below. (You can do more if you’re able using the list here and at the Facebook group We Support Texas Breastfeeding Laws with Enforcement.)
The contact that takes the most effort makes the strongest impression (in order, visiting your legislators in Austin, visiting them in district, callingemailing or tweeting); do whatever works for you.
Always be sure to inform them that you are a constituent when this is the case.  If you are conservative and contacting a conservative, this is worth mentioning.
ALWAYS – always, always, always – be polite.
Currently, this is where our bills are:
HB 786 will be voted on in the House on Thursday, April 23rd.
HB 232 will hopefully be voted out of the Business and Industry Committee this week.
SB 1479 will be heard by the Senate Education Committee Thursday, April 23rd.
Our other bills are not yet scheduled for hearings.

Phone Calls:

If you’re calling, you won’t likely have to say much at all or know details about the bills.  But to give you a brief idea (or click the bill number for more info) just in case you want it:
HB 786 gives public salaried employees time and a place to pump milk at work.
HB 232 strengthens the right to breastfeed so the current law can truly protect moms.
HB 1898/SB 26 requires state agencies to become Mother-Friendly Worksites.
HB 3976 licenses International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.
SB 1479 requires time and a place to pump for teachers.
HB 1281 requires accommodations and prohibits discrimination over pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (including lactation).
Sample script for phone call to your own representative or senator (phone numbers are here):Hello, I’m calling as REPRESENTATIVE/SENATOR NAME’s constituent.  I am asking for support for some public health bills.  (Whomever answers may transfer you but will likely just write down the bills.)  Breastfeeding is an important issue to me, and mothers need support to meet their personal goals, in the interest of public health.  When they come before HIM/HER, I’m asking for support from REP./SENATOR NAME for the bills supported by Texas Breastfeeding Coalition.  Those include HB 786, HB 232, HB 1898, HB 3976, SB 26, and SB 1479.  All of these bills will help remove barriers for breastfeeding mothers and babies.
Sample script for phone call to Lt. Gov. Patrick (phone number is 512-463-0001):
Hello, I’m calling to ask that the lieutenant governor refer HB 786 to a committee as soon as the House passes it on Thursday, to ensure it has enough time to be voted upon in the Senate.
Sample script for phone call to Business and Industry members (B&I phone numbers here):
Hello, I’m calling to ask for support for some public health bills.  (Whomever answers may transfer you but will likely just write down the bills.)  I want to thank Representative (FILL IN NAME) for HIS/HER support of HB 786, and ask that HE/SHE please pass HB 232 out of committee.  And when HB 1898 and HB 3976 come before HIM/HER, I am asking for support of those as well.  All of these bills are important for breastfeeding mothers and babies.
Sample script for phone call to members of Senate Committee on Education (Education phone numbers here):
Hello, I’m calling about a bill scheduled for public hearing on Thursday, SB 1479, to ask for the Senator’s support.


There are several sample emails with guidelines here.  It’s better to personalize your email as much as possible, using the samples just as a guide.  That said, it’s more helpful to copy, paste and edit than to send nothing at all.
In addition to the general requests for support in the sample letters:
  • Ask any House Representatives to vote for HB 786 on Thursday.
  • Ask Business and Industry Committee members (addresses here) to vote for HB 232 in committee.
  • Ask members of the Senate Committee on Education (addresses here) to vote for SB 1479 on Thursday.


On social media (any channel) use the hashtags #TXBFLeg and #TXLege.
If there is a note in the Twitter column that says fb, then that representative has a Facebook page.  Posts there can be modeled on phone scripts or even emails.
Tweets must be short.  Here are some samples:
@Your Representatives and Senators (handles here):
@XXXXXX Please support bills that help #breastfeeding mothers. Vote for #HB786 & others at  #TXBFLeg #TXLege
@the Lieutenant Governor:
 Please refer #HB786 to a committee as soon as it passes House Thurs.#Breastfeeding mothers need your support.  
@Business and Industry members (handles here):
@XXXXXX Thank you for support of #HB786. Please pass #HB232 ASAP. #Breastfeeding rights should be protected. #TXBFLeg #TXLege
@Senate Committee on Education members (handles here):
@XXXXXX Please pass #SB1479 to support #breastfeeding teachers. #TXBFLeg #TXLege


While visiting makes the strongest impression, if you cannot visit today, please call, email, and/or tweet.  Whether you go to the Capitol in Austin or visit your Representative and Senator in district, you’ll have a greater chance of seeing him or her (versus an aide) if you call ahead to make an appointment.  If you visit at the Capitol you can contact our Legislative Chair at and she can help arrange additional visits if your time permits.  It can be nice to bring along something as a small token of thanks, such as baked goods or a drawing from your child(ren), but this is not absolutely necessary.  Read our tips for visiting here.  Many of these are also useful for other forms of contact.
Thank you for your support of child and maternal health, family values, and a mother’s right to decide how to feed her baby.

Friday, April 3, 2015

43 by 43

Sixteen years ago on December 16, my mother died at the age of 43, when I was 23 and just finishing college.  We thought she'd be in Hospice care for weeks.  After eight years of fighting breast cancer, I couldn't believe the fight was lost.  She was the strongest woman I've ever known.  How could anything beat her? She was only home for a few days before the end came.  Eight years -  all of college and high school for me - and yet I was completely unprepared, taken entirely by surprise.

My first breath was taken in her presence.  Her last breath was taken in mine.  I didn't know until she was gone that she had defined me.  Without her, I didn't know who I was.  I felt like a child again.  The world should have stopped turning, but on it spun.

Today, she would have been 60.

It's common among females who lose their mothers to fear dying at the age that their mothers died.  I read this in Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman, and understanding that this is a common fear helped me to confront and dismiss it. And losing my mother so young has given me the attitude that aging beats the alternative.

My sister's senior picture -
Mom at my age now, 39, me at 19, & my sister at 17, or thereabouts.
But turning 38 was a little weird.  A little "Woah - new age bracket, here!"

Then in December I turned 39.  That was a little... hard.  I'm throwing my husband a (belated) Walking Dead birthday party for his 40th next month, to make light of his worry that he's now Old with a capital "O."

But zombie jokes aside, now I'm less than a year from 40, and that is a really different number from 30-anything.

And it's so close to 43.

(And suddenly it occurs to me that the majority of people reading this blog are probably under 35.  Oh, well.)

So many numbers...


What if I had just four years left to live?  Just until I am 43?

Magoo will be 13.5, Sweet Pea will be 9.5 (Magoo's age now), and my little toddler Bellybean will be 6.5.  Nowhere near the 23 years I got with my mom.  Nowhere near enough time...

But I'm not following this train of thought to wallow in morbidity.  I don't want to fear death.

But maybe I want to live like I'm going to die.

So this is by bucket list of 43 things I want to do by the time I'm 43.
  1. Look back and feel that I have had my kids in the best educational environment for each of them, individually, each year.  No more plodding through while everything feels wrong, trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole.
  2. Be a part of passing pro-breastfeeding legislation (preferably in 2015). (done! HB 786 (now Chapter 619) extends pump-at-work rights to salaried public employees. It was passed at the end of the 2015 session and is effective beginning 9/1/15.  New goal: finally pass the bill to strengthen the right to breastfeed, & also the one to license IBCLCs in 2017.)
  3. Go para-sailing - or at least something similarly crazy-awesome.
  4. Go surfing.
  5. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  Exercise regularly.  Run.  In fact, run or at least jog a 5K.  Get strong, physically.  Learn and practice yoga.  Take better care of myself in general (like, by taking my Synthroid for my thyroid consistently).  Get a mammogram.
  6. Develop and maintain routines.  As in, I want to feel like I have my shit together.  This includes conquering (for good) Mount Laundry, and slaying the Paper Demon.
  7. Take the boys to the Columbus Zoo.  See my sister and nephews.  Take at least one fantastic family trip, just for us, every year.  Make epic memories.
  8. At least start to get photos organized and accessible for my children.  (Currently they're mostly all boxed up or digital - I want them to be able to look through scrapbooks.)
  9. Begin to build an addition on our little two-bedroom house.  Fix some of the stuff that worries me (mold behind the shower tiles) or annoys me (rosy bathroom wallpaper that we wanted to replace when we moved in - in 2001).  Improve our backyard.  A hammock is a must for this.  So is getting rid of most of the kids' outside toys that aren't nailed down.
  10. Meet the needs of my children as best as I am able.  They're fed, and they're loved, but I always feel I am falling short in so many ways.  Not enough exercise, too much pizza, months behind on well checks - saying "No" to Hide and Seek... again.  I want to look back and feel that I did my best.  That I took care of myself and answered my calling but that they were prioritized and not neglected.  I want to know that most of the time, I am providing what they need from me (whether that's space to fail or help to succeed).  I want to have a weekly family game night more often than not.  To make sure the kids have the attention they need to play with all the crap they have - build Lego sets with help, perform science experiments with supervision, etc.  And I want to choose love.  On my 43rd birthday I want to look back and feel that most of the time, I chose love when responding to my sons and husband.
  11. Garden.  More often than not, even if it's just a few plants.
  12. Involve my children in service projects.  I want them to know how insanely blessed they are, and to feel compelled to pay it forward.  I want to practice random acts of kindness with them.
  13. Buy a nursing mother's meal (or drink). (done, 5/18/15)
  14. Allow Bellybean to self-wean.  (My older two had encouragement, as breastfeeding was painful while I was pregnant.)
  15. Practice gratitude daily, on my own and as a family.
  16. Start the campaign I've thought about for two years.  Prepare documents to respond to NIP incidents with moms who contact me when they have them.  Work on getting businesses to join the Family Friendly Business Initiative.  Make the two videos about breastfeeding that I've been wanting to make.  Organize a large event.
  17. Be a recognized name in the breastfeeding community.  Make this calling of mine something that I can do as a vocation in some way.  Turn my blog into a bonafide website and into an organization or business of some sort.  Write more consistently.  Finally get a fartin' logo.
  18. Speak somewhere, at least once, and do a kick-ass job.  Not a 30-second news interview, but a conference kind of thing.
  19. Have friends over sometimes.  Have friends.  In real life, not just on Facebook or in relation to work.  I want to cultivate the relationships I have.  To risk being hurt - risk big - and really let people - or at least one person - in.
  20. Read at least some of the freaking parenting books I own.
  21. Learn more about dyslexia and dysgraphia.
  22. De-clutter.  Empty storage shed.  Make the playroom look fabulous.
  23. Finish promised gifts.  Make bean bags for my kids.  Send my nieces & nephews birthday presents, at least once.  On time, to boot.  Make a family cookbook.
  24. Bake my mom's cookies at Christmas.
  25. Be debt free.  For my part, this is about supporting my husband however I can and being fiscally responsible, and putting it out there in the universe.  I don't want him to feel pressured, as the breadwinner, by this being my goal for us.
  26. Have a vacation with Adam, alone.
  27. Write about some of the things that fascinate me.  Write something that matters.  Not just a blog post, but an article for HuffPo or a thesis or a speech (TEDTalk?) or a even mother f*cking book.  Something that makes a difference for people.
  28. Volunteer more for the kids' school(s).
  29. Spend less time anxiously waffling about big decisions, especially when it comes to negativity in my life.  Either cut it out or enjoy the good parts and don't give so many craps about the disappointing or upsetting parts.  Confront bullying in my life when that's what's upsetting me.
  30. Explore Austin more.  Do more of the things our city has to offer - SXSW, Austin Duck Adventures, Austin City Limits, the zoo and the Thinkery and the Wildflower Center, the kite festival, ice skating on the roof of Whole Foods, stand up paddling.  Things I've done but want to do more often with the kids, things I've always wanted to do but haven't yet.
  31. Once Bellybean is no longer boob-dependent for sleep, buy a subscription to Zach Theatre and see plays regularly with Adam.  And take the kids to at least a few (three) plays a year, including at least one Broadway show (one total).
  32. Be in one of the boys' movies.  I don't want them to remember me as always staying home to clean while they go off to have fun and make movies.  I want them to remember me as being fun, too. (Filmed, June 2015. Will link when it's edited and posted to YouTube. I'd still love to do a big role with them, but I had fun being a goon.)
  33. Get a massage.  Get a mani-pedi.  Or a mani.  Or a pedi.  If I've ever had my nails done it was in high school and I can't recall it.  (I'm not much of a girly girl...)
  34. Cook more.  Like, well.  Cook well.  Well enough that it comes easy, and doesn't feel like a big production every time I make something other than spaghetti.  Get a CSA (long term) and use all the veggies in my/our cooking.
  35. Make sure my littles can swim. (2/3 done! Sweet Pea started swimming April 2015!)
  36. Go skiing as a family.  Go horseback riding as a family.
  37. Dance in the rain with my loves.
  38. Go out one of the nights that something cool is happening in the sky - a meteor shower or super moon or something - & actually see it, rather than read it's coming and forget and/or go to bed instead.  Maybe while camping.
  39. Therapy.  Conquer anxiety, even when life is intense.
  40. Do cosplay as a family at a con. (Done! 5/31/15 Magoo and Sweet Pea were Little Batman and Robin - they make YouTube videos as these characters - and we took them to meet the original Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward, from the 1966 TV series. Bellybean was dressed as the Penguin and Adam and I went as his goons. That this happened was all thanks to Adam, who knew I wanted to do this & got the costumes together for us and B. He is simply awesome!
    We also met...
    Sylvester McCoy, the 6th Doctor
    Stan Effing Lee!
    Scully! I mean, Gillian Anderson, but I'm such a huge X Phile
    that to me, she'll always be Scully. I'll write more about this one day.
    We talked about breastfeeding!
    My boyfriend, Nathan Fillion.
    Karen Gillan (Amy Pond!)
    Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead's Hershel!)
    Not only did we dress up for ComicCon, we totally geeked out for swim meets, dressing for the theme of each one - not always this elaborately, but we love Disney, so we went all out. I'm a tad embarrassed by how much spirit we have, but I also think we rock!)

  41. Get better at managing stress and anger.  Model better management for my children.  Take the Orange Rhino Challenge.  Rock it.
  42. Win the 4th of July parade float contest.
  43. Prepare a will.  Not because I think I'll die before 44, but because it's the grown-up thing to do when you have kids.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Norman on NIP: Norman Reedus Supports Breastfeeding in Public!

Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, made women love him even more when he posed for a photo with two breastfeeding moms at a convention.  The photo was shared in a Facebook group, and I contacted one mom, Tammie Hamed, to request permission to meme it.

Elizabeth Dalton & Tammie Hamed with their nurslings & Norman

Tammie said that Norman happened to have that boob ball on him. I've since seen a boob pillow and boob slippers (more on those later) with Norman - I'm wondering if a fan gave it to him? The boob prompted Tammie to offer to breastfeed in their photo, which she said Norman was very excited about!

In fact, in my Facebook thread for this meme, Jennifer Lopez commented that she was in line behind Elizabeth and Tammie, and the photographer pulled up the photos for him to see, and a copy was printed for him!  She added that he said it was the "coolest picture of all time!"

He really must have liked it, because he tweeted his Instagram photo of another pose before the show!


The Free the Nipple movement is what Norman is presumed to be referencing here.  You might expect a man who is a sex symbol to be as guilty as society of sexualizing breasts.  Or maybe it's because women sexualize him that he seems to have no trouble recognizing that the primary function of breasts is to nurture children!

And I say children (versus infants) because yes, the little girl on the right is a toddler.  And no, she's not too old to be breastfeeding.  Mammals typically wean when their baby teeth, also called milk teeth, fall out.  In humans, that's around age 5 or 6 - not at all an unusual age for a human child to be breastfeeding.  Weaning ages vary throughout the cultures of the world.  Here in America, where women are oversexualized and Booby Traps abound, less than half of mothers have adequate support to still be breastfeeding at all at 6 months. But the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 2 years of nursing, and thereafter for as long as mother and child both desire.

But moving on to the slippers I need right now.  Norman ended Sunday night with this tweet:


Before I move on to shamelessly brag about my lame claim to Walking Dead fame (I know one of the actors!), I would be remiss if I did not point out that not all moms have Norman around with the bird or even a peace sign - or Daryl around with his bow.

So when moms are asked to cover up, or move (often to a restroom), or to leave a place of public accommodation, they're relying on the law to protect them. And in Texas, it doesn't. It asserts a mother's right to breastfeed anywhere she's authorized to be, but it's not illegal to violate that right. In fact, this weekend a mother was escorted by a police officer with her two children from a roller rink, for feeding her baby.  Daryl wasn't there, but you can be. Texas moms need your help to support legislation to strengthen the right to breastfeed law and remove other barriers to breastfeeding.  See how you can help at  

And now I shall geek out about how cool it feels to know one of the actors on my favorite show!  

#Porchdick Pete is my husband's best friend from college!  Adam got to go with Corey to the season 5 wrap party for The Walking Dead when Corey's wife was unavailable. I'd have loved to have been available, but it was a plus one thing, and I stayed home in Austin with our kids. But I lived vicariously through photos that Adam sent me through the night.  Like my second favorite photo of Norman Reedus:

Back off, ladies. He's mine! (I do mean Adam, for the record.)
Corey told Andy this photo would
get Adam laid.  It might've.

Adam & Chad Coleman
Adam & Scott Gimple

Adam & Corey & a zombie!
OK, well, there are a bunch more but I've geeked out enough, and I need to go to bed so I can get up soon and start contacting Business and Industry Committee members (especially Representative Rinaldi) about Morgan having had the cops called on her for breastfeeding.  Hope you'll help.  There are lots of ways - share, contact legislators - it's all at that link.  I think Norman would want you to.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Legislative Action & Resolutions for TXBC & 20th Anniversary of Breastfeeding Law Tomorrow

In lieu of a spring meeting, Texas Breastfeeding Coalition is hosting two legislative action days - and breastfeeding mothers and babies need you there on Tuesday, March 3rd!

(Can’t make it to Austin, or not on these days?  You can still contact your legislators or even visit them in district.  Explore our website for more information and resources on supporting the bills!  This is also useful for preparing for Tuesday.)

Legislative Action Days

Texas is the size of 11 other states.  We are the second largest state in both geography and population.

Legislators want to hear from their own constituents - the voice that matters is the one that may or may not vote for them.

That's why your involvement is important to passing bills that will improve support for breastfeeding mothers.

  • When you attend a legislative action day, you will meet with staffers or legislators, usually paired with another advocate.  You'll be provided with materials to help prepare you for your meetings.  You'll pass along a packet of information and talk about why breastfeeding support is important to you and imperative for maternal and child health.

  • You may bring your child(ren).  If you'd like, you could bring them in a doctor's jacket or with a stethoscope, to highlight that breastfeeding is a public health issue.

  • You may come when your schedule allows.

  • Your dress should be business attire or business casual (though it's better to come in jeans than not come at all!).  Very comfortable shoes are advised.

  • You may want to bring a tote bag (and maybe a stroller, if you're bringing children) to carry your packets and the small boxes of chocolate that we will send to offices.

  • If you have a smartphone, please take photos on your visits and share on social media with the hashtag #txbfleg.  (Anyone not attending can use the hashtag to find these and repost & retweet them.)

  • You are encouraged to invite friends, your ob-gyn/pediatrician/midwife/doula/LLL leader/neighbor/mail carrier, etc.  Please spread the word through email, social media, and phone calls to the people and groups of people in your circles.  You can share the Facebook event page and invite friends that way, too.  The more attendees we have, the more offices we can visit, and the greater impression we can make.

  • Please register so that we will know your availability and can determine whom you should visit.

Register for Mar. 3rd

Below is the agenda, times are approximate.  You can come when your schedule allows.  You can attend the Resolutions or spend the morning on office visits instead.  Whenever  you arrive, please contact our Legislative Chair, Krisdee Donmoyer, at 512.655.9647 and she will pass along information and materials for your visits - she can do this as much as possible while we await the Resolutions, to save time.

House Resolution:
We will meet in the House Gallery before 10am.  The Resolution will be presented by Representative Farrar, probably in the first half of the 10:00 hour.  Rep. Farrar will recognize advocates on the House floor and everyone in the gallery.

Senate Resolution:
After the House Resolution we will move to the Senate Gallery.  TXBC will be recognized by Senator Zaffirini, probably around 11:15.

After the Senate Resolution we will take a group photo on the stairs outside the House chamber (go to the east wing, outside the House Gallery, and take the stairs on the north side of the building down to the 2nd floor), then Krisdee will disseminate any remaining assignments, packets and gifts.

Lunch & Visits:
At this point, depending on the time and appointment times you may have, you might wish to have lunch (there is a cafeteria, the Capitol Grill) before you begin your visits.  After the Resolutions and photos, Krisdee will be available in the cafeteria until 5pm to coordinate, answer questions, and receive visit notes.

If you have questions or concerns you can reach Krisdee at or 512.655.9647.

The weather prediction is for a 30% chance of rain (but warming up to 70 degrees).  No matter where you park, you'll have to walk across the Capitol grounds.  You may wish to bring an umbrella.  Krisdee can keep it in the cafeteria for you while you visit.
You may want to park at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, east of the Capitol, located at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th Streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $1.00 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $8.00).  If you go to the top floor and park near the elevator (there are stairs at each corner with glass doors; the elevator has concrete walls), you can take the elevator down to the 2nd floor, turn right, and it’s just a one-block walk to the Capitol grounds.
Last week this garage was full.  There is metered parking (requiring coins), with time limits.  But there are other garages in walking distance that are likely a better option.

Getting around:
Coming from the Capitol Visitors Parking garage, you can enter the east side of the Capitol (or go to the left and enter the main entrance of the capitol building.)  There are more maps here.  The north entrance is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

To the Galleries - Take the North Wing elevators to 3rd floor.  Head south out of the elevators into the rotunda, and turn right to go into the west wing and enter the House Gallery at the end of it or turn left to go into the east wing and enter the Senate Gallery at the end of it.

To the Cafeteria - Take the North Wing elevators to level E1.  Follow the hallway until it opens up into the Seal Court.  The Capitol Grill is on the left of the court.

First Action Day Update:

The first action day was February 18th and coincided with an exhibit of our breastfeeding art collectionMother Nature's Masterpiece, including a Dirty Car Art event.  We had 26 advocates with 21 children in attendance, and we visited about 1/3 of the legislature.

Photo Courtesy of The Good Body Project.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Trigger warning: miscarriage.

Seven years ago in January, I took a pregnancy test, and it was finally positive. Not that we had to try for long, but I'd already done a few tests, early, and then again on the day my period was due. All negative. When it was four days overdue I tried again, and there were finally two lines!

I didn't want to be a pessimist, and didn't think anything would go wrong, so we told Magoo he was going to be a big brother. We told everybody. We were so happy. I loved seeing then two-year-old Magoo's excitement. We called the baby "Peanut."

A few weeks later, we found out that we had lost him.  I miscarried on March 1st.  Though I was nine weeks pregnant, on the ultrasound at the emergency room, Peanut was the size of an embryo at seven weeks and five days, and did not have a heartbeat.

He had a due date of September 30, but for me, that day in January was, in a way, his birthday. The day he came into our awareness. In the years that followed, I wanted the 26th to be a nice day, to be a day to think of Peanut, whom I named Oliver Peter after we lost him.  I wanted to think of him on that day with more celebration than grief, to remember what it was like to tell Magoo that he had a brother the size of the sesame seed that I showed him.  He made us very happy for the short time that he was with us.

But each year, January 26th is just sad.  March 1st is sadder.  And though time has softened the pain on those anniversaries more than I thought it could, 
I still think of him everyday. I miss him.  I wonder who he might have been. 

One of the hardest parts about missing him is feeling like I can't really wish things were different.  I got pregnant with Sweet Pea a few months after my miscarriage.  Who would Sweet Pea be if Ollie had been born?  
We always kind of thought we'd maybe have three children.  Would we have Bellybean now?  These are not thoughts worth thinking. They twist my heart and brain and stomach.

My greatest comfort since we lost Ollie is to think that since my mother is already gone, she met my baby in heaven and is raising him. He will always know that she loves him, and that we do, as well.

This has been mostly been a breastfeeding advocacy blog.  Someday maybe I'll write about my fear that nursing Magoo was causing my uterus to contract, was maybe causing the bleeding that I hoped was not a miscarriage.  Losing our baby had nothing to do with breastfeeding, though. 

I became a blogger by chance, to connect with people about needing support to change policy at AISD, and then to encourage involvement in breastfeeding legislation.  But I've come to like blogging, and in my mind, at least, this blog is evolving.  I don't know if there's an audience for my weight problem or my homeschooling or anything non-boob that I've considered sharing. 

But I know there are moms reading this - which means there are surely (too many) women reading who can relate.  Because pregnancy loss is so much more common than you can imagine before you experience it.  I wouldn't say there's a taboo against talking about it.  But we definitely stay pretty quiet on the subject.  We even keep the first trimester a secret, just in case.  

While it is awful to tell people you've miscarried, I'm so thankful I had already told the world we were pregnant, because I would have withdrawn if I'd kept it a secret.  That would have been worse for me, because I really needed support.

I was shocked at how many women I knew who reached out to me to say that they, too, had lost a pregnancy.  Women I'd hung out with, but I had no idea they'd had such a devastating experience.  It helped me, to know I wasn't alone.  To know that like them, I would one day function again, without the terrible weight of my grief always pulling at me.

I think about Peanut everyday, but I don't much dwell on being sad anymore.  And I'm sharing this now not because I will dwell in sadness now - though I am sad as I write - but because I guess I think that maybe we should talk about it a little more.  To help others who have a loss to know that
 they can reach out for support, and we'll understand.  To help them know that they are not alone.  

The memory box I keep with a few things from while I carried Peanut.