Thursday, January 28, 2010

Death to Downy!

Since becoming pregnant all strong fragrances are now the enemy. Of all the artificial fragrances that nauseate me, the worst is Downy. Downy smells so revoltingly cloyingly disgusting. If I just walk past the aisle where it is displayed in the supermarket I find the smell of it clinging to my hair and skin for hours afterward. Snuggle and dryer sheets are just as bad.

Apparently these products are made to cling to clothing, releasing their toxic chemicals throughout the day into the air and into your skin. Who the hell knows what is in this stuff. Nothing natural smells this strong. Have you ever tried to wash that stink out of your clothing? Once you rinse your clothes in Downy they will have Downy in their fibers forever. It is impossible to wash out again.

I should know. My babysitter used to use it. When I started to complain about the smell of her clothes, she stopped using it. The problem was that it was impossible to wash out. She had to buy new clothes. Because her washer and dryer still had the smell, her new clothes became smelly too. Honestly what is in this garbage that makes it so pernicious and clingy?? All I can say is be scared. Be very very scared.

It will take another generation or two but I really believe that the American public will become smart about toxic chemicals once enough people die. Add Downy to the list, which includes Teflon and nonstick pans, microwave radiation from PG & E Smartmeters, EMFs from power lines, heated plastic containers, and the list goes on and on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What did you do to stop it?

I'm not surprised at all at the controversy surrounding the Focus on Family ad that will air on the Super Bowl. Nor am I surprised that ABC News, a liberal cesspool, would air the outraged comments of N.O.W. and Dan Harris shaking his head and saying something to the effect that it's a shame that such a "divisive" ad would air during the Super Bowl. In that same episode of ABC News, we see the hidden camera video of cows being abused by farmers. Here, you can tell that the producers and newscasters are uniformly condemning the farmers. There's no opposing views from the farmers. It's so typical of ABC News and the liberals to uniformly condemn cruelty to animals (which I do too) yet completely ignore the pain, suffering, and murder of children in the womb.

Everyone seems to be forgetting about the torture and murder of millions of children in abortions. There's a heartbeat at 6 weeks gestation and abortions are routinely performed at 14 weeks, 16 weeks, 20 weeks, when it is clear that a fetus can feel pain and will fight for his or her life during an abortion. There is no one abortion method that does not cause a fetus incredible pain and suffering -- saline injections burn the skin off a living fetus, suction curette rip the limbs off a baby one by one, all without any anesthesia.

We are living through the genocide of millions of innocent children. I truly believe abortion will come to an end in this society as more and more people become aware of what happens during an abortion and technology allows us to understand more about babies in the womb. Is there really any rationale to allowing a woman to have an abortion at 19 weeks when we know that a baby born at 19 weeks has survived outside of the womb? Should a person be allowed to choose to murder a child simply because they WANT to?

It's obvious to us in the 21st century how wrong the Germans and Austrians were to just stand there and let the Holocaust happen right before their eyes. What we are doing right now with respect to abortion is absolutely the same thing. We are just as guilty as those who stood by and did nothing to help the victims of the Holocaust. When abortion is gone and your children and grandchildren learn about our generation, what will you say to them when they ask you where you were during all of this. What did YOU do to stop it?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In the rain and shaking with tears

We are in the middle of a big storm in the Bay Area and this morning it was pouring rain. On my calendar I had the date for the West Coast Walk for Life for weeks now. I got up like normal, took a shower and prepared for the march. My husband looks at me and says, "hey how about a movie and lunch instead?" "What?!" "Irma is coming today so we might as well go out because looking at the rain I don't think we should be in San Francisco today."
I said emphatically, "Well I'm going!" He is protective of me since I'm pregnant and says, "Well, I'm coming with you then."

I really didn't care if it was hailing with 60 mph winds. Nothing was going to stop me from going to the one event where I would be surrounded by other people who feel the same way I do about abortion. I feel so isolated in the Bay Area where so many of my friends are either pro-choice or have this laissez-faire attitude toward abortion. The atmosphere is so repressive that I still haven't summoned the courage to "come out" about my views for fear of offending people that I know. I just kind of hint at my views with my friends and only a few know how I really feel about this issue.

I wasn't always pro-life. No, in fact, I was rabidly pro-choice! In college, I made up fliers for N.O.W. and delighted in the idea that RU-486 would silence the pro-life movement. I told myself that if I became pregnant I would have an abortion. My boyfriend and his parents would have wanted and even encouraged me to have one should a pregnancy occur. Yet, even as I agreed with him about what I would do if this happened, I still felt an uneasy feeling inside, one I couldn't articulate.

I think this is how many women feel about abortion. They want the freedom to rid themselves of the "problem" but inside, they know they will be killing something that is a part of themselves and also something that is independent and alive. I held my pro-abortion views for another decade and a half. Then, at 34, pregnant for the first time, I saw my son on an ultrasound at 13 weeks gestation. The ultrasound technician had caught him asleep, on his back. His chest was moving up and down, as if he were really breathing. I immediately recognized the curve of his neck and head; it was the same shape as my husband's. Then the ultrasound vibrations woke him up suddenly and he started doing these hilarious cartwheels. Wheee! Whee! Around and around and around! I was breathless with joy.

Then it hit me. This little person, only 13 weeks in my womb, was ALIVE. He was fully formed, his heart was beating, and he could feel. In fact, he seemed irritated by the ultrasound! I knew suddenly that all of these years I had been on the wrong side. I was overcome by regret. People kill babies even older than mine! Although I had never had an abortion, I had been very public about my support for abortion and possibly even encouraged my friends and family in that direction. My brother's girlfriend aborted her baby ten years ago and I remember saying, "well, she had to do it. It was the right choice." I asked God to forgive me that day for believing in abortion. The full extent of my sorrow wouldn't appear for another couple of weeks.

For a couple of weeks, I didn't think again about my change of heart. Somehow I came across the Silent Scream video on You Tube. I decided to watch the ultrasound abortion that is featured in this video. When the suction curette started toward the baby, you could see him cowering away from it, trying his hardest to get away. Then it started ripping the baby's limbs apart one by one until finally only his head was left attached to the mother's uterus. Words can't tell you how horrified and upset I was to witness this baby's torture and mutilation. I cried so hard and couldn't stop for a long time.

To think that 50 million babies have been tortured this way or been burned alive by injection! Some of those babies in the 3rd trimester too. It's just too much sometimes and I sometimes think that I can't bear the sorrow of it. The worse part is that so many reasonable and educated people, mothers even, still believe that this form of murder is acceptable because a woman has the right to CHOOSE. If they could only see this video perhaps they would stop being pro-choice and become more pro-child.

Now if it were truly the case that women were being fully informed of what happens in an abortion and if they had access to the stories of other women who had abortions and now regretted them, I really doubt so many would choose abortion. But women are not being told the truth. They are actively being misled. Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion chain in America, does not give women the information they need to make a choice that is right for the baby and the mother. Instead, they actively promote abortion to make money.

If you doubt this, check out the first-hand accounts provided by Lila Rose, the director of Live Action.
This brave young woman went undercover and secretly taped Planned Parenthood workers deliberately misleading women so that they would choose abortions. In these videos, they tell her that "it's just a clump of cells", "women die giving birth to babies", and actively try to pit the mother against her baby.

When a woman is desperate for help and advice, with an unwanted pregnancy, and she hears this kind of misinformation is it any surprise that she chooses to murder her unborn child? So many women have regretted their abortions. The most moving story of all was the one told by Georgette Fourney, one of the founders of Silent No More, a coalition of women who have had abortions but are now pro-life. She was one of the last speakers at the West Coast Walk for Life. As she started to speak, the rain died down a little and her voice was clear and firm.

When she was 24, and the mother of six children, she split from her husband and became pregnant by another man. When she reconciled with her husband, she decided to abort her baby at 4 months. She was desperate for guidance but no one was there to help. Only a Planned Parenthood worker led her to the operating room where they injected her with saline. She had a change of heart as she felt her 4 month fetus, writhing and kicking in agony. Only later did she find out that the injection literally burned her baby alive. She rushed to the hospital to see if they could save her baby. They couldn't.

When she gave birth to her dead baby she held her in her arms and asked her for forgiveness. With the rain starting to pour down on us, my husband and I wept openly. I could see that men and women in the crowd were just as moved. Being six months pregnant, and feeling my child kick and move inside of me, I have gotten to know when she is hungry, listening, or sleeping. To think of my child kicking in agony and being burned all over her body is just so awful. To think that this has happened to millions of unborn children!

Georgette Fourney talks about the sense of betrayal she feels toward her surviving children. How could they reconcile the thought of this mother who hugs and kisses them, as the same woman who could do something so terrible to one of their siblings? A sibling that they will never have the opportunity to love and play with? Georgette is not alone. Take a look at the stories of other women who have had to live for years with the sorrow of murdering their own children. Click on the Testimonies link to find the stories:

When my babysitter Irma, became pregnant, she went to Planned Parenthood for her OB/GYN care. They asked her outright if she wanted to have an abortion. Of course, Irma says, "no!" but she is shocked that she is asked that question. She never hinted that her pregnancy was unwanted.

Why would they even ask her such a question? For one thing, Irma is a Latina woman. Walter B. Hoye II, founder and president of Issues4Life, estimates that 88% of all abortions are performed on black and Latina women. Maybe some of you might say, well, they get pregnant more often than white women, so of course, they would have more abortions. One in two of all pregnancies in black women end in abortion. Do one in two of all pregnancies in white women end in abortion? No. You can't explain these kinds of numbers in a simple way. Obviously there are societal forces at work here that are promoting this kind of "choice" for minority women. Many minority women receive their health care at Planned Parenthood because it is free. It is there, they are being told by the mainly white workers that abortion is a good choice for them and these poor women are swallowing these lies hook and sinker.

But the abortion industry isn't just fueled by population control zealots and racists. It's also fueled by money. One of the most visible converts to the pro-life cause is Abby Johnson. If anyone knows what Planned Parenthood is really up to, it is her. Abby Johnson was a lauded eight-year employee and former director of Planned Parenthood. She joined the pro-life cause only a year ago after watching a fetus fight for its life and then crumple during an ultrasound abortion. She began to question the motives of Planned Parenthood when her superiors began to push clinics to make more money, through promoting abortions, which can bring in $600-$800 a procedure. She is now a member of Coalition for Life and prays outside the same clinic where she was the director.

In 2007, Planned Parenthood received about $350 million dollars in taxpayer money. About 305,310 abortions are performed and only 4,912 referrals for adoption were made; only 5% of its services were to provide medical care for women while 95% of its resources go toward abortion. That's where the money is after all. The more abortions they perform, the more money they can bring into their organization.

The rain started pouring down harder as the last speaker, the very inspirational Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in San Diego, spoke. He was so dynamic and vibrant, a pro-life evangelical Christian. He had the crowd cheering, even as they were getting soaked in the pouring rain. We left the group then. I was too pregnant to walk the distance. I was just so happy to be among these people even for a little while. There were so many young people there! I think the tide is truly turning the other way. The younger generation of teens and twenty-somethings are not hiding their heads in the sand, like those in my generation and the Baby Boomers. They are growing up in the world of ultrasounds, You Tube, and are just not buying the tired feminist arguments of the earlier generation. It gives me hope that maybe things will change and the genocide will someday end.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Going crazy for the pink

I love my two boys but once in a while a mom aches for female company in the house. Of course, when I became pregnant again, I was hoping and wishing for a girl. When we finally found out, that, yes, we are having a girl, I can't tell you how happy I was. Now that I'm in my third trimester nesting phase, I've made trolling Ebay for pink outfits almost a full-time job.

After staring at all those adorable girl clothes in stores for the past eight years, I am going a little crazy for the pink. This baby is not born yet but she is already the proud owner of two tutus, three faux fur coats, three smocked dresses, five halter dresses, and an innumerable number of pink hats, booties and flower barrettes! I'm not sure what's going to happen if all of a sudden I am confronted by a surprise penis on Birth Day!

It is so much fun shopping for girl's clothes. They just don't make enough cute stuff for little boys. I guess most moms are not like me. I love bright colors and funny prints on my boys. I bought a cute Hanna Andersson outfit for my sister's eight month-old son and she told me that "she doesn't really dress L in those colors!" Maybe that's why there's an abundance of navy, black, brown, and dark green boy clothes with all sorts of tough themes on them like skulls, skateboards, trucks, etc. With girls, anything goes! They can wear cool surf-girl styles, prissy candy-pink dresses, casual Adidas warm-ups, and flowery knits. I am in heaven shopping for my baby!

Have you seen what's out there to buy? It is really insane! I started with the Chasing Fireflies catalog. OOOOHHHHH, do they have some luscious dresses. I bought some of their sale items including a couple of bustled dresses. They are quite catty about not revealing the designers' names in the catalog. Once I figured out who they were, I ebayed them and found a TON of styles from past seasons at cut-rate prices. I could never afford some of these styles at the retail price (honestly, who really can???) Some of the most beautiful dresses I found retail were Enchanted Enfant which averaged $200-300 a piece!! Lovely, but you would have to have a good deal of disposable income to pay that much for something she will wear once or twice.
My latest and greatest find are the beautiful dresses made by My Poppi in South Africa. Stuff must just not cost as much there because a gorgeous white dress with a twirly skirt (sewn in panels made of 24 pcs of fabric) costs $40. The same kind of dress would be $300 from Enchanged Enfant!

Maybe the cutest little things that came in the mail for me were these squeal-worthy crochet booties made by Ebay seller sonja72. Holy cow are they CUTE!! I bought some booties that look like Mary Janes, a pair of rabbit booties with crazy frilly rabbit "hair" sticking out of the top, and laugh out loud funny roller skates (all crocheted!!!) Eeeek! I love them so much I put them on the edges of my stairway so that everyone who comes into the house can see them and squeal too! I show all my cute little finds to hubby but he'll look at them, grunt politely and go back to reading the paper. My 7 year old has the best reaction though -- he goes "eee" and "awww." And of course Babysitter Irma totally squeals along with me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The good neighborhood in the Bay Area: discovering the Latino community

When my family moved to a small border town near Mexico when I was ten, I went through a withdrawal of all things American. It was such a culture shock to be immersed in Mexicana even though Calexico was technically part of the United States. I was the object of endless fascination for the adolescent boys in my fifth-grade class (many of whom where in their young teens since they were “left-back” so many times), subject to teasing from the other kids (I didn’t know that teasing is an integral part of the culture and harmless), and shocked by the “looseness” of the girls and women who wore bright makeup, tight clothes and were very comfortable with their femininity and sexuality.

Needless to say I hated everything about this border town! I begged my parents to move back to San Diego, where the air was cool and everything seemed saner and more civilized. They refused because in Calexico, they found a willing and eager market for their imported goods. In San Diego, they couldn’t afford to feed me and my five brothers and sisters. There was prosperity in this hot, dingy little town by the border for them. They marveled at how the Mexicans cared for their children. It was so similar to the way Koreans took care of their own families. Even the word for father and mother sounded the same, “amma” and “appa.” They appreciated that the Mexicans knew how to live well. Mexicans loved to get together with friends and families for formal and informal fiestas. They were warm, helpful and friendly and didn’t mind that none of us could speak a word of Spanish.

I was ten when we moved to Calexico and I was stuck there. No matter how many times I pretended to be sick they made me go to school. No matter how many times I complained I had to follow them to work in the flea markets and their stores where I stocked the merchandise and took care of the Spanish-speaking customers. I began to learn Spanish and make friends, despite my negative attitude. We lived in Calexico until I graduated from high school, about seven years, on and off. I didn’t know then that I would actually treasure the time I spent there, now that I am forty years old.

Living in Calexico was really a lucky thing. I didn’t know that, there, in this miserable little town there lived so many warm and caring people who cared about the same things that I hold so dear now. Things like family, getting together for meals, babies, children, helping others, God. Living in San Francisco, which has a miserably low population of children, and many many people who do not believe in these things, I really began to appreciate the Mexican culture. Not only that, I learned how to speak Spanish in my seven years there.

If I hadn’t learned Spanish and learned how to interact with Spanish-speaking people, I would never have gotten to know my Guatemalan babysitter so well. Last night, we were invited into the “inner circle” and were greeted warmly at her son’s birthday party. Now, when I say “party” this is not your regular, run-of-the-mill party. Whenever my babysitter, let’s call her Irma, throws a party, everyone in her Guatemalan neighborhood attends (that’s about 200 people.) They crowd into her tiny, 1000 square foot rental and patio and spill over into the lawn next door and onto the streets. She and her sister cook all day and prepare several different kinds of agua frescas, taco meat, fried taco shells, tortillas, enough guacamole and salsa to feed 300, taquitos, fruit salad and that is just the appetizer. For the actual meal, they will also cook two vats of chicken, vats of rice, vats of macaroni salad, vats of vegetable salad and expect everyone to eat their fill of this too. They’ll be several kinds of cake, candies, lots of beer and wine, lots of music. Her parties start at 4pm and end at 2am, long after the children are in bed.

The birthday party was festive. Irma’s family do not have much to share but what they do have is shared. The couches were put outside for everyone to sit on and everyone was in a jovial and friendly mood. No one minds that the grass outside is dead and that there are not enough chairs for everyone. No one cares that there is absolutely nothing fancy and there is no entertainment. It’s all about getting together and the great food and the good mood. We were the only non-Latinos at this party and while we did get some curious looks when we first walked in, everyone smiled at us and greeted us warmly.

My white husband, who is very preppy and very white, was absolutely enchanted. Despite the language barrier, he managed to have a great conversation with Irma’s brother (the girl has 16 brothers and sisters!!) Irma has just a lovely family. Perhaps all people from Guatemala are this open and nice!

It’s amazing to me that so many people in the Bay Area are into other cultures yet so many of the ones I know have no friends in the Latino community. People are very much segregated, not just by economic level, but also by race. If you talk to anyone who is upper-middle class, white, Asian they will tell you that Redwood City is a good neighborhood, only west of El Camino Real. Anything east of that is bad. They will never actually say it’s bad because “it’s all Latino” but that’s exactly what they are implying. I’m certainly guilty of that too. I have to tell you though that Irma’s neighborhood is really nice. There is a lovely park right across the street from her house and she will tell you the elementary school her children go to is really great. There is a great sense of community in Redwood City east of El Camino.

I can’t tell you how much I miss this sense of community. Sometimes I feel as if white culture is so cold and calculating. If I could just find a Latina friend, someone who was simpatico, I wouldn’t feel so alone in my upper-middle class white and Asian neighborhood. Life is really not that difficult for people like me and my neighbors. When I talk to Irma and her relatives I am shocked at how difficult life is for them.

Irma tells me stories about how poor Guatemalans are. There are many stories of women who give birth to stillborn babies, because the hospitals there demand payment up-front. These women have to go through labor without medical help and if they are poor, often they and their babies die. She tells me how her father, a farmer, who has 16 children, came to adopt the 17th child. A friend of her father’s had traveled to the capital and brought back a skinny, sick eleven year-old boy he had found digging through the trash. This boy was so weak he couldn’t lift a cup of water to his mouth. The friend couldn’t care for the boy so Irma’s father, who was also poor, took the boy in, declaring that “if his children can eat frijoles, well then, this boy will eat frijoles too!”

It was the best thing to have ever happened to her adopted brother. Amazingly, he had been able to live on his own, on the streets of Guatemala City for five years, eating from trash cans and begging. His mother, a prostitute, had sent him out on his own at the age of six! I can’t even write this without a tear forming in my eye. My own son is six and the thought of a boy his age being kicked out onto the street and living on his own is almost too much for me to imagine. The boy is now 30 years old and living in Houston, working as a truck driver. Not many years ago, he visited Irma’s parents, Graciela and Pedro. His mother had come searching for him, apparently remorseful, perhaps looking for monetary assistance too. Irma’s adopted brother told his birth mother that he only had one mother and one father and that was Graciela and Pedro. Irma told me that the birth mother wept bitterly as she listened to the man who she had cast away as a child. Irma tells me that he loves his adoptive parents so much that he sends money to them even now.

I was also able to meet Irma’s sister at the party. Let’s call her Maria. Maria looks so much like Irma, but a little more glamorous and just as warm and friendly. She has a ready smile. After I talked with her more I realized just how brave that smile really is. Maria, like so many Latina women, had to leave her children in Guatemala behind. It has been seven years since she has seen them! She has an 8 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. Her daughter had to have brain surgery when she was a toddler and even now requires very expensive medical care. She is divorced from her husband, who is an epileptic and abusive. In order to pay for her daughter’s care, she made the decision to overstay her visa to work and send money home. Maria is really in a catch-22. If she leaves the U.S. she can’t support her children overseas but if she stays she cannot travel back to see them. As I was talking to her and the sadness of her situation hit me fully, I could see her choking back tears and the easy smile pull away from her lips. Irma says that Maria misses her children so much that she spends extra time doting on any child that comes her way.

Milagro is another remarkable woman I spoke with at the party. Her little 3 year old daughter kept trying to scoop up my 16-month old boy in the jumpy house. Of course, she’s only a few pounds heavier than he is and maybe an inch or two taller so she would try to grab him by his butt and he would just flop over again. Milagro means “miracle” in Spanish and I remarked that I loved her name. She told me that she was a miracle for her mother who was told that she would die if she gave birth to her. Not only did her mother live through Milagro’s birth but ended up having another three children after her! Her mother prayed so hard for Milagro and God answered her prayers. Milagro showed me her arms which were covered in goose pimples. She says just telling me the story gives her chills everytime.

Guatemalans celebrate birthdays with piñatas just like the Mexicans. There was a blue piñata for the boys and a pink one for the girls. It took a while to break the blue one so almost every boy had a chance to hit it several times. Plus, they know how to do the piñata. There’s usually a man controlling it with a rope slung over a tree or a line and he will lift and lower the piñata based on whether he thinks the hitter will break it or not. When I’ve seen piñatas done at non-Latino parties, it’s usually stationary and one of the big kids will hit and break it before everyone gets a chance and all the kids start crying.

Cake cutting happened around 8:30pm. One of Irma’s friends, after she got a piece of cake, yelled out to her, “ya me voy pues!” and they both started howling with laughter. (That means “now I’m leaving!”) Yikes I thought. I knew it would be time for us to be leaving soon! Maybe we would have stayed longer had we not had the kids. We were definitely the first ones to leave and a little embarrassed about it but Irma was gracious. She knew our ways!