Category Archives: health

Letters to a Tall Girl: Part I

My daughter hit 5 ft. 8 inches tall  just a few months before her 13th birthday.
She openly loathes her new height and actively prays she will cease growing.
In an effort to lift her hormonal spirits, while employing the age-old trick of “as long somebody other than your parents say it, it must be true”  I enlisted help.

These words of love and support go out to all adolescents who currently hate their bodies.
We old-timers have been there. We recall the suck.
But there’s a way out!
Just listen…..

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Dear Maddy,

Being tall is like a super power. For real.
I was tall early on. I’m 5’ 8” now, which isn’t extraordinary, but I haven’t grown since I was 12-ish. I’ve been this height since 6th grade. So… in elementary class photos, I was always in the back-row, center; the pinnacle of the class pyramid. At that time, I liked the fact that when the photographer lined us up, I was always heading up the march to the risers. It made me feel strong, like a leader. But that wasn’t always the case, especially around some smaller, less “strong” friends and classmates.

I had this one friend, especially (my best friend): Kathy. She was quite petite. Delicate even. Somehow being around her made me feel like a lumbering amazon. I struggled with feeling like that around her the most, even though I loved her the most of all my friends. (Incidentally, she thought my blue eyes were unfair – we all have something, turns out).

What I eventually realized, and what I wished I’d realized sooner, is that while we all have our physical differences, strengths, preferences, blah, blah, blah- I really liked what my particular body gave me. I liked having the power to walk into a room and decide whether I wanted to command the space or float along the wall. I have a pretty kick-ass mind and personality and my height gave me the opportunity to meet the eyes of anyone I wanted to share it with. Male or female, young or old.

And yes, boys are suh-lowwwww growers, but not for long, and by the time they catch up, and surpass you, you’re way ahead in the confidence game, that is an asset. I learned that there is a special kind of style that can only be exhibited by the long-of-limb.

While we taller girls will never have the “Hi- I’m a tiny little elf” thing going for us, what we have is an opportunity to display our grace and femininity in a way that others just don’t. So stand up tall. Tilt your chin a little. Make some eye-contact. Be mindful of your movements. When you’re lying around with your friends, find a space that you can stretch out in and fill it. (Oh! And clothes/shoes- you have so many more options. Use them)
You’re beautiful. You are a super-hero.

-Amy Hunt

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Dear Maddy,

Sara said to tell you, “I feel your pain. I’m 5’6, 11 years old and in the 6th grade. I tower over all my friends and all boys my age.”

What I want to tell you is, I too went through what you are going through at your age. While I remember some uncomfortable moments, I’m mostly thankful for this blessing. When I accepted, and gratefully realized, my tallness it was the most liberating feeling! I owned it, embraced it and even gave modeling a shot when I was 16! (Three years away for you… Wink wink). There is no greater feeling than acceptance of yourself. You have you for the rest of your life! I guess what I’m trying to say is that you have sooooo much in your court to make this into a beautiful thing, rather than feeling down. That just clouds all the wonderful things you could achieve; not just because you are tall, but also because you are smart, loving, caring, loyal, artistic and absolutely gorgeous! That’s a recipe for pure success right there!

I love you, pretty girl! Always remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Ps. Tell your mom to call me before I shank her. That’s all.

Your auntie,

– Annixa Silfa

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Dear Maddy,

I was always in the back row of school pictures because I was tall. In high school I reached 5′ 8″, which was giant back then. Now, consider not only being too tall while all the petite girls (including my sisters) were 5’1″ and 5’4″, but adding that I had crooked teeth and some other defects that were devastating to my emotional growth; though I got through the rough stuff and turned out pretty ok.

Miss Maddy, be thankful that being tall is your only concern. You are a beauty inside and out. Trust me, the boys will catch up and in the meantime, you can kick their butts.

-Teri Fey Cowley

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Dear Maddy,

In fifth grade I was five foot two and the tallest in my class. I was extremely self-conscious and kept to myself a lot because I felt weird; taller than all the girls AND the boys too. By seventh grade people started catching up to me, and by high school everyone shot over my head. I was then put off, now being the short one of the bunch.

You may never be the shortest again, and feel awkward right now, but these things I can promise you:

  1. Many (many) people will shoot up very soon, and you’ll not be the ‘tall one’ forever.
  2. When you’re looking back on school as an adult, your height won’t matter any. You’ll think about the friends you had, the crazy things you have done, and what made you feel the best.
  3. You can’t change your genes, and everyone is different. Be proud of who you are.

Hope this helps,
Jessica

PS. You have awesome parents. Take their word for it when they say you’re beautiful. They know what they’re talking about!

-Jessica Thompson

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Dear Maddy,

Coming from your vertically challenged neighbor, being tall can be such a blessing. You will never have to: crawl up the shelves at the grocery store to reach the top item that is almost gone, spray spiders who hide at the top of the wall with hair spray so they fall to where you can crush them, use a ladder to reach the top of your SUV when washing it, you’ll be able to dunk a basketball, or at least reach the hoop, and in the far, far distant future, you won’t have to stand on your tiptoes to kiss a boy! Oh, and if you ever want to hang a shotgun over your door to protect yourself from intruders, you’ll be able to reach it!!! If you get lost in a crowd, you won’t have to stand on a bench to see where your family/friends are! There are many benefits I’ve only dreamed of.
You’ll get used to it one day. And even start to love it!
Once the boys pass you up in high school, it’s not too bad. So Alyssa would say!

-Kelly Douglass

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Dear Maddy,

I towered over most too. Finding jeans long enough and skinny enough was a challenge. But  you will find stores that carry long length. Rue 21 carries them. Embracing the height should be done, though. Wearing high heels will be a bonus to finding tall men. Heck, even short guys like tall women. I remember being 5’10” in Jr. High and dating guys that were barely 5′. Lol. Tall is different. Tall is special. I am between 6’2″ and 6’4″ with heels today and I loooooooove it!!!!!!!!!!!

-Christine Brock

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Dear Maddy

As a woman who has been 6 ft. tall since I was twelve, I can assure you your height is a great thing! You can look most everyone in the eye with confidence. You never have to wear heels if you don’t want to – and if you do, prepare to be the belle of the ball! People will automatically view you as more confident if you own your height. Play sports. Stand out in a crowd. There are so many women that would love to be as statuesque as you!

-Heather RobertsQ

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Dear Maddy…boys love tall girls with big butts…little known secrets…get tall…don’t worry about your butt!
Sincerely
6ft tall big assed Rhonda

-Rhonda Peterson

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Ending Agony in Fry Town

When Sierra Vista became an incorporated township in 1956, it excluded a half square mile of land that was originally owned by turn-of-the-twentieth-century settler Oliver Fry. Mr. Fry resisted inclusion with the town growing around him, and as a result his land, which came to be known as Fry Town, remains un-annexed and has steadily fallen into disrepair; its residents poor, its crime rates high.

Residents of Sierra Vista proper do not go untouched by this, either. Crime is not conveniently contained within Fry Town’s historic blocks, nor can Sierra Vistans easily ignore such a relatively small section of disrepute. Not when Fry Town and its many bedraggled residents are so prominently on display at Sierra Vista’s main entryway. It’s the first thing newcomers see. It’s not a problem that can be swept under an indifferent rug. It is front and center, and it demands our attention.

Fry Town’s annexation into Sierra Vista’s city limits seems long overdue, but Fry residents have voted against this appropriation in the past. And, while annexation would certainly offer Fry Town residents many city benefits they’re currently bereft of, it is not going to eradicate the problems derived from a socio-economic petri dish of poverty, drug abuse and crime – one that’s been left to fester over the last half century.

Similarly, recent city and county led efforts to give Fry a cosmetic makeover –demolishing abandoned, dilapidated mobile homes and raising new, more aesthetically pleasing, low-income housing – merely whitewashed the neighborhood for appearance sake. It did little toward the long-term health of the community. And, without investing in the future of the residents themselves, it’s only a matter of time before those new developments look like the graffiti-laden relics they replaced. Real change starts with people, not real estate.

To be certain, residents, city leaders and law enforcement have debated the issue for years, and there have been several efforts on all sides to address it. But, ramping up police presence and tearing down structural eyesores amounts to adhering Band-Aids to gushing wounds. And, while not all of its inhabitants live in abject poverty, many do. Many of Fry Town’s inhabitants are trapped in a hellish cycle of poverty. They grew up with crime as not just a fact of life, but a way of it, learning no honor among countless thieves. Their parents were poor, uneducated, abused substances, and abused them. They grew up to do the same, and their children, and their children’s children, in one, long, ghetto nightmare.

Helping these people break the cycle, that is the solution. Granted, there are programs in place designed to address this issue. Unfortunately, Arizona isn’t all that keen on funneling tax dollars toward welfare subsidies; thus, said programs are not adequately funded. Most agree that welfare isn’t intended as a way of life, but rather serves as a helping hand; a hand that pulls one up from the gutter and helps them stand on their own feet.  That is the definition of a working welfare program, and the impoverished population of Fry Town desperately needs it.

Their plight calls for a program that offers drug rehabilitation, where necessary, and intensive therapy. No one abuses drugs because they have a healthy sense of self-worth. You don’t do that to your body, or to your life, if you’re not already in a profound amount of pain. These people, whether they’re abusing drugs/alcohol or not, need to be armed with healthy, psychological tools in order to combat their own mental anguish. Fry Town needs a crackdown on mental health; a SWAT team of counselors at the ready.

If part one of a successful welfare program teaches life skills, then part two offers job skills and employment training. Of course, that would require there being viable jobs for which to train. Sadly, there’s a vast wage gap in Sierra Vista. The local middle class sustains itself with government jobs, government contracting jobs or healthcare work. And, as the government downsizes, it’s a very small employment pool to draw from. Sierra Vista must work on drawing new industry to the area. After all, food service and retail work does not a middle class make.

Yet, the most important, most sure-fire resolution to the woes of Fry Town is this: educate its children. If children are the future, let us plant the seeds that ensure a bright one – and those seeds are called tax dollars; tax dollars that fund their schools and tax dollars that fund the social programs these children require. Some of these kids play in dirt lots and crumbling streets, some with empty bellies and bruised bodies. I know. I have seen them. They exist. They need their community at large to help. They need citizens who are invested enough in their city’s future to pay it forward in taxes, just as they need a city council and a school board that won’t mismanage those taxes.

You can avoid Fry Town all you like, ignore its struggles if you wish, or be satisfied with quick-fixes to its unsightly surface but, eventually, Fry Town will call on you. Whether its presence drives your property values down, its criminals steal your car, or its drug dealers sell their wares to your kids, its suffering spills over those half square mile borders, and its consequences will affect you. It is not their problem, it is our problem – and luckily, it’s one we can fix.

Unfinished Blogging Business of 2013

Welcome to the unfinished thoughts/would-be blogs/mad ramblings of 2013.
It wasn’t all sunny vacations and lovey-dovin’ times.
Some of went a little something like…
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On the affordability of organic food for the average American family:

(Working Title: Organically Rich)

I wish my Facebook news feed had less “Hurry! Buy all the ammo you can from WalMart before Obama takes your guns!” and more, “Holy fuck, are strawberries supposed to be the size of my fist? Because, I want to be worried about this….but they’re SO MODIFIANTLY (hello new word) DELICIOUS!”

Even the staunchest fuck-the-environment-global-warming-is-a-lie-eat-more-mad-cow citizen is having a hard time denying the chemical and genetic creepiness in our FDA approved num-nums. Yet I’ve seen a decade of organic food that is simply way too expensive for the average American family. Buying solely organic is a budgetary ball-buster for general, not-poor-by-national-standards families – like mine.

Do you have any idea how much fruit my kids eat? An entire apple tree a day, at least. And while it has kept the doctor away, it has also kept the college fund away. “Hey kids, sorry you have to work full time at McDonald’s in order to put yourself through the next ten years of community college, but at least you didn’t get cancer. And you’re welcome.”

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On the separation of Church and State….

School Friend: “Do you believe in the devil?”
My Daughter: “Uh, no. I don’t believe in scary things like Hell, either.”
School Friend: “Oh. Well you SHOULD! Do you listen to rap or Katy Pery? Because they sold their souls to the devil. You need to listen to gospel!”
My Daughter: “What business is it of yours what I believe in? We’re not even supposed to be talking about this. This isn’t a Christian school!”

I love my daughter.

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On Creepy old men…..

(Working Title: “Next Up on To Catch a Predator”

Older men of planet Earth, roughly 35+, please stop being gross. More specifically, stop openly lusting after girls significantly younger than yourself. Do whatever you want in private. Amass your collection of “barely legal” porn and have a big old freaky creepfest, all to hairy yourselves. But, for christsakes, what happens in your pervert den needs to stay in your pervert den!

When I was in my teens and twenties, and men my father’s age hit on me, it was gross. I smiled politely, because that’s what nice girls do, and because it’s a little sad, but ultimately…just gross. And all these years later, as I watch middle-aged men make the same millenia-old advances on very young girls…still gross.

Tonight I stood in a checkout line behind a dude between 35 and 40 years old, witnessing his miserable attempts at flirting with the teenage checker. After idle chit-chat, he angled his head to look at her name tag. “Carly. That’s a very pretty name. Just like you.” She thanked him, courteously, scanning his purchases as fast as she could, as he continued with, “I’m Dennis. It’s nice to meet you.” He inquired when she was getting off work. She wisely avoided answering.

When he left, and she was ringing me up, I said, “Hey. So, uh, my name’s Dennis. What time you gettin’ off?” She looked up at me, surprised, then busted up laughing. She said, “You caught that same vibe, huh?” I told her I couldn’t help mentioning the weirdness, and she said, “You see this blue dot on my name tag? It means I’m underage. I’m 17.” She smiled and rolled her eyes. This happens to her a lot. In my best redneck, I drawled, “Yeah, but Carly sho is a purdy name.” We both giggled, and I felt I’d helped scrub away a bit of the yuck that had been left by Stranger Danger Dennis.

Then I said: “But, in all seriousness, maybe have someone walk you to your car tonight.”

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On letters to my daughters…

Dear Bubby,

You recently helped an elderly woman carry her groceries into her condo, unprompted. Afterward, she called out to your dad and I, “You are doing a wonderful job with her! Children these days just don’t do things like that anymore!” What she didn’t know is, while your dad and I feel pretty solid in our parenting, and happily take credit where it’s due, the driving force behind your thoughtfulness is generated directly, and purely, from your own gigantic heart. It’s not a learned behavior. You are just wonderful.

And I hope the world doesn’t beat that out of you. Rather, I hope you don’t let it. Because it’s easy to let it. Trust me. Enough people will repay your kindness with a knife in your back, and you will begin to doubt the wisdom of remaining kind. Some say those that meet kindness with cruelty are the ones who need kindness most of all, and others (like me) say, f*ck those guys. You’ll learn how and where to draw the lines in your own compassionate sand. And if you listen to your instincts (and not the babble of your head), you’re gonna do just fine.

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On Pop Music…..

I just watched Nicki Minaj give Lil’ Wayne a lap dance on stage at the Billboard awards. I don’t generally watch these things, but icons from my youth were being honored: Madonna and Prince. And before I could weep for my daughters’ generation, I remembered the biggest song on the radio when I was 11 years old was “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael.

And I turned out just fine.

(Be afraid.)

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On New Year’s resolutions….

At the start of the year I wrote an email to myself: “I will learn to forgive in 2013. Not just accept, not just deal, not just “let go”, but forgive. I will do so with a clearer head and an expanding heart. I will face fears and summon courage.”

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So long, 2013. Onward and upwards.

Vegexperiment: Day 13

Day 13 of a 30 day vegetarian (accurately, pescatarian) November, and…..screw this. Just kidding.

But I’m sad to report there’s been some serious dissension in the ranks. The eldest child (who kicked off this undertaking by announcing it on facebook) and the eldest, paternal member of the household (who rallied the family to join her in support) have been at odds. Both have confessed to meat cravings, yet both harbor differing opinions on whether or not we should continue on in our noble quest.

To my daughter, my husband said, “You need to follow through on your commitments.” And my daughter countered with, “But I’m 11. I latch onto ideals and speak passionately on all sorts of topics I don’t yet fully understand. I also haven’t the benefit of much life experience; the kind that might aid me with the follow through on such a major lifestyle change. Because, again, I’m 11.” She didn’t say that, of course (because – all together now – she’s 11), instead she sulks in pouty silence and avoids his gaze, but that’s the gist of it.

Her heart still breaks at the idea of suffering animals, but her stomach revolts at the sight of beans and tofu. She loathes them, and many other foods, with the fierce passion that only picky children can irrationally muster. My God, I presented a dish this week that was heavy on quinoa (light, tart, savory, highly recommended) and, by her reaction, you’d have thought I’d just shot her cat. No. Worse. It was like I’d taken her iPhone away. She was positively despondent. And the little one, who refused meat beforehand, also refuses all this substitute bullshit. Making my job so much more not at all any fucking easier. YAY!

Full of Beans

Still, the mister is insisting we persevere (see: stickler). Not so much for personal reasons, but as a lesson to the eldest about sticking to one’s guns, finishing what one starts, and all that character-building jazz. Though I understand and sympathize with his position, our daughter’s pre-existing reluctance to ingest about 8,000 varieties of food means she’s not ready to limit her diet further. She needs to grow past her childhood pickiness and expand her palate before she can truly commit to a meatless way of life. And she definitely needs to be down with the tofurkey on Thanksgiving – which, as of now, she is most assuredly NOT.

And then there’s me, the once self-proclaimed connoisseur of the burger; I’m the only one in the house who enjoys meat yet hasn’t had any longing for it. And that’s a big deal. Quick story…

Once upon a couple years ago, my husband, my children and I joined my ex-husband, his wife, and their small daughter for dinner. It was the first time my husband and my ex-husband had ever met, and the tension was not high but…not exactly relaxed, either. Many details of that meal went swimmingly (another story for another time), but most memorably, my husband and ex-husband’s unexpected bonding moment. I was reviewing the menu and maybe said something about ordering a burger, because my ex piped up, “Yup! Take Niki to a nice restaurant and watch her order a cheeseburger.” And my husband chimed in, “Oh, I know! The Queen of Cheeseburgers!” And they laughed together, like best buddies. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Batsards)

It was then that I realized how your ex(es) and present significant other should NEVER be allowed to convene! It won’t play out the way you think it should. Perhaps you imagine it would go something like, “Ah yes. Indeed we both agree she (or he) is amazing, in countless ways, and made a thoroughly positive, unforgettable impact on our lives. A saint and a goddess (or god), really. How lucky we are to know her (or him).” But in reality it’s more like, “Oh I KNOW! And how she (he) always does this one thing? What a dummy. And, oh wow, she (or he) STILL does THAT other thing? Holy crazeballs!”

And I didn’t even order a stupid burger during that meal. (Bro-moment havin’ bastards).

Yet the anecdote illustrates a point: anyone who knew me before 2008 would assert me to be the “Queen of Cheeseburgers.” I really do love them. And for me to not crave that flesh any longer, it says something. It says I can change. Rather, that I’m ready to. But my daughter, I think she jumped aboard an emotional bandwagon that her taste buds aren’t yet tall enough to ride. You know, she’s always disliked dairy, even cheese (insanity!), so maybe she’ll make an excellent vegan someday. And possibly, in a year or two, she’ll judge the portions on her plate not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their tastiness.

But not today.

At any rate, I’ll be stocking the cupboards this weekend and she’s asked, “Let’s just not have as MUCH meat.” Already done. And this experiment paved the way. Take the fajitas we regularly make for dinner, substituting tofu for steak went over splendidly and everyone agreed to pass on meaty fajitas in the future. A small success. And as I learn more new, appetizing vegetarian recipes that might please my children, we’ll keep taking our baby steps toward discovering a brand new way to eat.

But if you happen to see me out at burger joint (saucy juices running down my chin, something akin to celestial ecstasy in the whites of my rolled back eyeballs)……don’t judge.

Veggie Tales

In our alcove of Arizona, school children participate in an annual event called Cowboy Poetry. My first born is on her 7th year of this and she hates it. She’s an advanced reader, and not an inept writer (you can both infer the meaning and engage in the feeling behind her usually funny words) but she doesn’t come by vocabulary, spelling and grammatical structure naturally (it’s genetic), and finds it all to be a chore. She tested into honors science and honors math. Enough said, right? Does the world need another female english major or another female engineer? In any case, she’s just not into cowboy culture.

But she was inspired this year, when her literature teacher instructed students to brainstorm and extrapolate on words that might form into poetic verse. The teacher said, “And what comes to mind when you think of pigs? Bacon. Dinner. Food.” And my daughter blurted out, “Or they could live.”

Silence.

No one said a word. She told me all heads had turned her way, and the teacher looked at her as though she’d just ripped off her adorable eleven year old mask to reveal the freaky, hippy, PETA activist beneath. Her teacher ignored the comment and moved awkwardly on, while her best friend shot her a look that asked, “Are you insane?!” Later, that same friend put it to her, “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT?” My baby replied, “Because it’s true.”

And it’s our fault. We’re terrible parents. We taught her to think critically.

Vegetarian-vegetarians-572524_960_623_large

She endeavored to explain that, from her point of view, it doesn’t make sense how we only eat some animals and keep others as pets. And the thought of eating those pets (beloved cats, dogs and, God forbid, horses) horrifies and disgusts people. Yet in Korea they’re serving puppy stew. And India thinks us vile for devouring the scared cow (with exception). Pondering this, logically, critically, it’s a little wacky. But that point was lost on her peers.

Again, it’s all the fault of our parenting. My husband is a compulsive debater. He’s not a jerk, he’s actually very light-hearted and fun, but he’s a stickler when it comes to accuracy and validity. It’s just the way he’s wired: “Just the facts, ma’am.” If you state something, particularly with passion, you’d better be able to come irrefutably correct (or that facebook thread will NEVER END). Meanwhile, I long ago chose to be honest with my girls about the questions they pose, in an age-appropriate manner. That includes the truth, as I understand it, about what we eat. And other than laying down some basic expectations (I insist they be honest, compassionate and respectful; towards others and themselves) I don’t demand they think, feel and operate the way I do. I share my opinion on topics such as politics and religion, and ask them to make their own decisions (and yeah, I’m aware kids are developmentally incapable of making informed decisions, hence the whole needing adults to survive thing, I’m merely laying a foundation). The result being, my kids think.

Evidenced by the incident last week, when my family sat down for dinner and the four year old refused to eat turkey bacon – the same way she refuses burgers, lunch meat, diced chicken in anything, so on. It sparked a discussion. Up until that night she hadn’t been taking a moral stance, she’s just picky. Yet, on that particular night she asked where the bacon had come from. I told the truth: traditional bacon from pigs, turkey bacon from turkeys. Her eyes grew large and she shouted, “I don’t want to eat animals! I LIKE ANIMALS!”

Now, I’ll make my kids eat broccoli. I will demand they finish their green beans. I won’t force them to eat meat. “You will not get up from this table until you have swallowed every last bite of the tortured dead cow that was fed another tortured, diseased, chemical-laden cow. And, for godsakes, sit up straight!” Inhumanity aside, it’s common knowledge the meat industry is churning out a product that isn’t healthy or safe. I won’t force my children not to eat it, either (there are grass-fed beef options, etc.). It’s their choice. Giving my girls the freedom to make some of their own choices gives them the invaluable opportunity to think about WHY they’re making those choices. Or so I hope.

And it was the little one’s dinnertime declaration that got big sister thinking. She’d always been on the vegetarian fence. She’d never been comfortable with the slaughter of animals, but she also relishes in the yum of a juicy burger. And, unfortunately, she thinks most vegetables are gross – though she’d happily subsist on carbs alone (wouldn’t we all). Really, it’s easier to just not think about it. It’s easier to be like everybody else. But later that night, without warning, she posted the following on her facebook page:

“So I have decided to try to be a vegetarian. It’s just not right to have these poor animals suffer, even my little sister said she doesn’t want animal meat anymore. I am going to try it for 30 days, see if I can do it, see if I am willing. This is just my opinion on it, you don’t have to agree.”

NOM NOM RAWR RAWR - By Pistachio

NOM NOM RAWR RAWR – By Pistachio

And even though she made that announcement before checking in with the lady who prepares her meals, I told her the family was not just behind her, we were on the meat-free board with her. It was my mister’s suggestion. We’ve been making changes in our diet for years; cutting out pork, cutting back on red meat. Tofu vegetable stir fry and Morning Star products had been in regular meal rotation for some time. We also have many a vegetarian and vegan friend among our ranks. Most influentially, our good friend and health coach at From Here to Whole (<—–click, go, see, be dazzled by her charm) who'd introduced us to fabulous resturaunt options (Lovin’ Spoonfuls, so good) – proving that deliciousness comes in all sorts of meatless packages. Consequently, my kiddo’s decision wasn’t sudden, and our following suit seemed only natural.

The next step was to prepare her for the backlash. Seems the minute someone affirms they are a new vegetarian, someone else is moved to defend meat eating. As if, “I’m a vegetarian” translates to “I’m better than you” or, “Meat tastes terrible” or, “I’m openly condemning your barbaric, terrible tastin’, murder-lovin’ artery-hardened ways….because I’m better than you.” There are the holier-than-thou types, and many of the militant “meat is murder” ilk, but not nearly enough to warrant the immediate “You know you want you some meat, mmmm, meat-diggity-meat-meat-baby-back-meat!” reaction. People who regard vegetarians as weird and/or silly all appear a little annoyed by it, too. And why is that? What’s so threatening about someone declining to chow down on a sausagebaconlambchopkchickenfriedsteakmcmuffin? Being irritated by something that hurts no one, and something no one is forcing you to partake in, maybe THAT is silly and weird.

Just ten years ago my own mindset towards a meatless existence was no friendlier. I never rolled my eyes at the notion, but it went against the grain of my cynical worldview. And that view was: this isn’t a fluffy, kind, cruelty-free planet. It’s dog-eat-dog, man-eat-beast, and man-destroy-man. It’s hard, and it’s cold, and suffering abounds. And while that sucks, it’s also the inevitable way the game is played, here in the insane asylum of the universe – otherwise know as Earth. Thankfully, my perspective has since expanded, and softened.

Avocado, you complete me.

Avocado, you complete me.

If charged with the task of having to kill my own food, I might starve to death. Then again, I might consume the stiff, frozen remains of my dead best friend – if left stranded, in dire hunger, atop some snowy mountain (it’s been known to happen). But, at present, I don’t see where my animal-based meals come from, so I’m not forced to think about them. I also don’t NEED to eat them. I don’t live in a society that must hunt beasts to avoid starvation. I live in a society with a Trader Joes. And the glory of avocados in abundance!

And therein lies the lengthy veggie tale (having nothing to do with a talking cucumber who tells Bible stories, sorry) of how our family came to be on day eight of a meat-free experiment. We’re all still alive, obviously, and well. As yet, no one has had the shakes, or sold their blood for a little hit of protein. But there’s been seafood in the mix. Planning a month’s worth of meals, without knowing what I was doing, I decided to start us slow. Every third or fourth meal has incorporated fish. When I mentioned to big sis that we were technically Pescetarians, she said, “Pescah-whaaaaaaaah? Yeah. I’m not going to say that.” To each their own.

As we move forward, in support of her 30 day goal and possibly beyond, I hope she remains compassionate and objective with her naysayers- but doesn’t take any shit, either. A few days ago she was invited to a birthday party. The birthday girl proclaimed everyone must wear neon, and joked, “If you’re not wearing neon you will get a smack in the face and no fried chicken!” My baby countered, “Yeah, okay. I’m a vegetarian.” Her friend replied, “Then….you’ll get a smack in the face and NO VEGGIES!” Hah! Like my daughter wants veggies! But hooray for my baby standing her newly discovered ground. And should she eventually revert back to her burger worship, I hope she doesn’t beat herself up. I know plenty of former vegetarians, too.

On a final, light, maniacal note: I presented the little one with a slice of cheese pizza on night ONE of this undertaking. Little brow furrowed, she asked, “Where’s the good stuff?” What good stuff? Did she mean pepperoni? Yes. “Well, that’s an animal, and you don’t want to eat animals anymore, remember?”
“OH!” A look of relief came over her and, happy to clear up the confusion, she said, “No. I want to eat THAT animal. That animal is delicious!!!”

Little stinker.