Wednesday, 27 May 2015

More Passive Aggressive Agenda War: Battle of the Reading Log

As some of you may know I have recently been doing a sort of passive aggressive agenda war with Frack's teacher.

Our last bout went rather well.  Better than I expected, actually.  In fact, she was suspiciously cool about it given the tone of the note I had sent her.  She basically said "No problem!  That's certainly understandable!  And also I want to meet with you to discuss Frack's progress."

What.  The.  Fuck.


Because at that point I had already met with her three times and had also just received a report card whose purpose is to, you know, discuss his progress.  I had just informed her that I have a new job and work long hours which was why Frack's reading log wasn't being signed every day.  And her response is to suggest using up more of my free time having a carbon copy of every meeting we have ever had?

Because you know for damned sure she isn't going to bring up anything that's really bothering her.

And that is exactly what happened.  I'd hoped maybe she had something new to add.  I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I thought, "Maybe she was gong to ask me to meet before I sent her that note.  Maybe she has real concerns to talk about.  Maybe this will be a productive and worthwhile parent teacher meeting."


We spent a half hour having the same conversation in person that we have always had.

Her:  I have concerns about Frack's participation in class.  Also he is falling behind in reading.  And he doesn't seem to understand how to follow instructions

Me: Yeah, Frack is incredibly shy, especially if he gets upset or is put on the spot.  Also he was very speech delayed and often has trouble processing language.  He really needs simple instructions given to him one step at a time.  And if he is upset or stressed out his understanding of any language completely shuts down.

Her:  I don't think he's shy.  He's always acting too silly.

Me:  Well he is a seven year old boy.

Her:  He needs to be at level 7 in reading by the end of the year.  He is in level 4 right now.

Me: We're working on it.

At this moment in time I have officially met with Frack's teacher four times.  FOUR TIMES!!!  Just how much of a problem is this kid?  Frack is one of the easiest to deal with children I have ever encountered.  My older son has ADHD which comes with a host of actual behavioural problems and I have never had to meet with his teachers this often in one year!

Well now this new, latest note takes the cake.

"Frack has just progressed to level 5 in reading!  But he is having difficulty with the words.  I would really like to meet with you to discuss his progress."


My kid makes PROGRESS and you need to meet with me about it?  What kind of bullshit hand-holding do you need from me, lady?  What could you possible have to say to me that you didn't say when we met TWO WEEKS AGO?

And REALLY, I am somewhat amazed at her concerns for Frack's literacy.  Frack can read and write.  He reads and writes at home all day long because he thinks it's fun.  He likes to write his own story books.  Just what exactly are her standards????

Well, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to show you a sample of level 5 reading for the first grade.

That is quite a collection of 50¢ words for Grade 1

If that is level 5 reading then what the hell are they reading for level 7?  This teacher would have me believe that Frack will grow up to be an illiterate hobo when back in my day the most challenging thing I had to read at the tender age of seven was "Look Dad!  A jet! A jet!  A jet!"  (Thank you, Mr. Mugs reading series!)

Personally, I believe that if you are assigning a child homework that they cannot do without help then you have no business assigning that homework.  Children should be able to do their homework on their own with maybe just a little guidance and advice from parents.  Furthermore, there just shouldn't be any homework for first graders, period.

This reading log business is effectively killing Frack's passion for words.  He struggled though this page with tears of frustration in his eyes.  At which point I told him he didn't have to read it anymore.  His relief was palpable.

Not the work of a child with reading problems.

I don't think I should be upset, or meeting with teachers, because my seven year old is having difficulty reading in another language at what appears to be a third grade level.

I informed Mme. That there just isn't any convenient time I could name to meet with her because of my job.  She said we could even talk over the phone if that helped and just to name a time.

I have decided to simply never name that time.

She has had enough of my free time as it is.  Five meetings?  No, thank you very much.  To continue to ask for my free time when there isn't any real problem and I have recently communicated that I have so little free time I can barely read with my child on a daily basis just seems like she is trying to punish me for thwarting her on this stupid agenda signing.

And so, I shall sit and do nothing.

Your move, Mme.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Passive Aggressive Agenda War Continues...

So a while ago I blogged about Frack's teacher wanting me to  sign his agenda every day (whether there was a note from her in there or not) and her passive aggressive way of going about communicating this desire to me.

I continued not signing blank spots and she became more persistent with her circles.  So much so, that Frack started to believe that she wanted him to be drawing circles in his agenda every day.

Those circles on the right are Frack's.  He turned out to be a more consistent circle drawer than Mme.

One day Frack came home from school and told me he was afraid to go to school the next day.  When Frack is upset he doesn't communicate very well so it was difficult to understand him.  But he did say that Mme was going to show the principal his agenda and for some reason he thought this meant he was getting kicked out of first grade.

I believe his childish brain dreamed up the part about getting kicked out of first grade but I also believe she mentioned showing the agenda to the principal and I was pretty pissed off that it was now affecting Frack.

I told Frack that I would go right into the school office with him the next day and sort it all out.  The secretaries at Frack's school are awesome.  They are sweet and friendly and genuinely love all the children there.  They will tell you how awesome they think your kid is every time you visit and I fucking love them.  So when I brought Frack in and they saw how upset he was they got right to fussing over him and reassuring him that everything was fine, which brought a big smile to his face.

I told the secretaries what Frack told me and they said they would "have a talk with Mme."  After that everything was fine for a while.  She continued to draw her circles and I continued to ignore them and Frack continued to be a happy first grader.

Then finally, she put it in writing.  On March 3 she wrote:  "Please sign every day."  On that particular day I was in the middle of my work week and pretty tired.  I had been waiting for her to specifically request this behaviour and my intention was to write her a letter explaining myself.  But at this time I was tired and not in the best of moods.  I felt it was prudent to just sign the note like I sign all of her notes and then continue to ignore the empty spots, rather than go through the mental effort of writing a well worded missive.

The funny thing is we have met in person twice since all of this began (the second time was about a week after she wrote this note) and she never mentioned it.  I was all prepared for her to say, "Oh by the way, I really want you to sign this agenda every single day no matter what, even if I can't be bothered to write something in it myself."  Then I could explain myself to her in person.  But I certainly wasn't going to bring it up if she wasn't.

Well I guess she finally snapped because when I got home from work yesterday there was a message on my phone.  Ostensibly she was calling because I haven't signed his reading log since last Friday for various reasons which I will soon mention.  But the real reason, which was the bulk of the message, was to stress how much she wanted me to sign the agenda every day no matter what.  "It's the only way I know you are looking at it every day"

Well if you don't write in it every day, how do I know you are looking at it?  Oh right.  Circles.

Anyhoo, I clearly could not put off explaining this to her any longer.  And so I wrote the following letter:

Dear Mme,

Re: Frack's reading

If Frack has the same book two days in a row I don't make him read it both days and therefore do not sign the reading log.  In the past this has meant that the teacher simply forgot to give him a new one.

Also, I recently started a job with 10-12 hour workdays (plus commute).  On days that I work I may not have time to read with Frack and may not be signing the log either, although we will try.

Re: Signing the agenda

I have always promptly acknowledged any communication I have received from you.  I have not been, nor do I plan to be, in the habit of signing my name to blank spaces: something I have always been taught is a foolish thing to do.  I see no need to acknowledge a communication that did not happen.

I have been signing agendas for about nine years and this has never been a problem before.

                                                                                                Mrs.  Rotten

I just sent Frack to school with that letter and I'm not entirely sure what she will do about it.  But I'm definitely looking forward to finding out.  In the meantime there is one thing I do know for sure:


Monday, 5 January 2015

The Most Amazing Soup Recipe Ever! (So Good You Will Want to Eat Its Rotting Remains)

It is fucking cold out there so let's talk soup!

I'm a sucker for soup.  It is my ultimate comfort food and pretty much the only thing that makes Winter even remotely bearable.  Every once in a Winter I host a Soupfest where we all bring our favourite soup to sample and I make a ton of home made bread to go with it.  At the end we take home the leftovers.  It is not a competition and there is no prize for "Best Soup" but a winner is generally decided (usually unanimously) by which leftovers get fought over the most.  It is a highly prestigious honour.

And this year the prestige was mine!

I take this seriously because picking a favourite at the Soupfest is no simple task.  I only invite those whose culinary skills I deem worthy of my all-time favourite comfort food.  My people cook to impress.

Some of my guests were unable to make it so this year's menu had just three soups: my brother's Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup, Mummy Dearest's Tom Yum Gai, and my Roasted Garlic and Brie.

A first sign that my soup was becoming the favourite was the fact that everybody had a second helping.  Usually there is so much soup available you have to be smart and have only a small portion of each kind of soup.  After we were all too full to eat anymore the jokes started.  My family's favourite way to compliment your cooking is to pretend to steal it, fight over it or otherwise make threats of physical violence to anyone who dares get between them and your food creation.

My mother won the joke fight by insisting she help portion out the leftovers to the guests and then keeping all of my Garlic and Brie soup for herself.

A few weeks later at Christmas dinner my mother begged me to give her a copy of the recipe for her boss.  I thought this was going to turn into a typical story of my mother bragging about her kids (as Moms do) and her boss making a vague but polite remark like "That sounds lovely, I'll have to try it sometime."

I was wrong.

I will now tell the story to you as she told it to me:

"So I stole all the leftovers of your soup - 

(Me: I figured as much)

 - and it was wonderful!  Oh my God!  I heated some up and poured it over fried mushrooms.  Amazing!  I was saving the rest to pour over some pork chops but there was no room in my fridge - 

(My mother is a self-admitted food hoarder)

- so I put it out on my balcony.  Well last week I decided to clean out my balcony because there was so much stuff out there and I came across this pot.  I had forgotten I put it out there and I opened the lid to see what it was and it was nothing but fur.  There was hair growing in it all the way up to the lid.  And I knew what it was right away not because I remembered putting it out there, but because of the smell.

It smelled delicious.  Absolutely delicious.  Maybe even better than before!  I'm not kidding.  For one very short moment I even considered eating it.  What if this was some new kind of food?  People eat all kinds of mouldy, fermented stuff...

(At this point my mother goes off on a tangent, rhapsodizing about stinky cheese)

...anyway I was telling my boss about this and now she wants the recipe.  She figures it must be the world's best soup if I was tempted to eat it in that state."

With a story like that how could I not share this recipe?  So here it is, a soup so good my mother has a Homer Simpson-esque relationship with it.

Roasted Garlic and Brie Soup

4-5 large heads of garlic
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 cup butter
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 pound brie
1/2 cup cream
bouquet garni of thyme
salt and pepper 
lemon wedges
olive oil

Bake 4 heads of garlic by cutting off the tops, drizzling with olive oil and wrapping in foil (about an hour at 350).  In the meantime caramelize the onions in butter.  Add about 6-8 large cloves of garlic, finely minced, near the end.  Once everything is golden brown deglaze your pan with the white wine and then add the stock, bouquet garni, salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour.

While the soup is simmering squeeze the roasted garlic out of their paper and into a blender.  Add some of the soup stock (being careful with the hot liquid!) and puree.  Add the puree back into the soup and let simmer a little longer.  When done remove the bouquet garni and puree in batches.  Once all the soup is pureed return to the pot and add the brie in chunks, stirring until all is melted.  Then remove from heat and stir in your cream.

Now if you taste the soup right now you will think, "This is perfect just the way it is.  I am not going to mess with such perfection by adding what is clearly an unnecessary lemon."

Go ahead and add that lemon anyway.  Trust.  Just a squeeze on top is all you'll need.

This is a soup that I originally intended to make with parmesan but I found a wheel of brie on sale for cheaper than parmesan so I went with that.  I don't know if the brie is an integral component of the strange fermentation process that resulted in my mother's furry balcony cheese but I'm sure the non-rotting version will still be pretty tasty if substituting parmesan.

This is a very rich and filling soup and will make a good meal just by itself, but is also pretty versatile as a sauce for fried mushrooms or pork chops.  Personally I might just make this again to see if I can recreate that mouth-watering penicillin, send it in to a lab and patent my new insane delicacy.  It can't possibly be any worse than Casu marzu.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Parent Teacher Interview: I Hope You Stay Silly

From Frack's book: Then they are all done fighting. They eat then watch TV.
The following is an excerpt from my meeting with Frack's teacher and some of the things that were going through my mind at the time:

"Frack seems to be doing much better since we last spoke, Mrs. Rotten."  says Madame.

"Oh good, I'm glad to hear that."  I say.

"Yes, he is learning that he isn't getting anywhere with his silliness.  I refuse to give him any attention for that."

"I see."

When Frack was about three years old he started wearing super hero capes and bright yellow rubber boots everywhere.  He wouldn't go anywhere without them: bus rides, grocery store, bank.  We used to hide the rubber boots on him because they made his feet so stinky.  We had to draw the line and not let him wear the capes to school because his teacher said they were too distracting.

"He also seems to be letting go of his need to always have a smart answer."

"Smart answer?  As in 'sarcastic'?"

"Something like that.  It's like he's looking for attention by saying silly things."

"Like what?"

"Well when we had our Roots of Empathy volunteer, she asked the children 'What might be a nice thing to do with a baby?' And Frack answered, 'Put it on a leash and take it for a walk.' "

(Snert.) "Oh dear." (I purse my lips together to keep my face muscles from smiling.)

"It was rather shocking."

"I see."

Title: A Guy That's Farting on Another Guy's Face

"You should know, Mrs. Rotten, that I don't tolerate any silliness in my classroom."

"Of course."

"Yellow and Brown Man makes everything yellow and brown."
"I have had a very difficult time with this particular class.  They have no idea of respect.  I cannot tell you how upsetting it is to have the gym teacher come to me, for the first time ever, to say 'I can see how you're going to have your hands full with this lot.'" (She looks at me significantly)

"That must have been very difficult for you."

"It was."

Frack got a note home a few weeks ago, informing me that he had been "disrespectful" in class.  I was actually really proud of him because it was literally the first thing he said to me when he got home from school.  He told me before I had to find the note in his agenda when usually he would try to hide it from me.  After much questioning, it turns out all he did was "make a funny noise" while sitting down.  I can see how that is silly but disrespectful?

"Speaking of 'respect', you wrote me a note a little while ago about Frack being disrespectful in class.  What was that about?  I'm not sure I got all the information from him."

"Oh, I don't know.  I wasn't there.  I was just letting you know what the librarian told me."

"Okay.  I tried telling him not to do whatever it was he was doing but it would have been better if I had more information."

"I'm sorry about that.  But as I said, Frack is making excellent progress.  He now understands that there is no place for his antics in my classroom.  He's much better at staying at his desk and isn't the whirling dervish he used to be.  He's doing very good work and he no longer says he can't understand me.

"Well that's good to hear."

Future Frack is forming a badass fighting team for Now Frack.  They correspond via snail mail.

Frack is very proud of his My Little Pony Collection and likes to show them off to visitors.

Frack adores his baby cousin, and all babies for that matter.  He touches her cheek and tells me, "Babies are for loving."

Frack has been "in love" with the same little girl for over a year.  He writes "Frack + Z" on just about every available surface

Frack is obsessed with writing books.  He is constantly begging for paper and asking how to spell things.

Is it bad that I don't want her to tame him?  Is it bad that I want him to stay silly?

I hope you never change, Baby Boy.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Passive Aggressive Agenda War

So Frack has this agenda thing that I'm supposed to look at every day.  I am no stranger to the agenda.  The agenda has been the bane of my existence since Frick was in 1st grade 7 years ago.  I know what is expected with the agenda.

I use it to communicate with the teacher and the teacher uses it to communicate with me.  I look at it every day.  Usually the deal with the agenda is that if the teacher sends me a note I initial it or if I send her a note she initials it and then we know that the other person has read and acknowledged the note.  Pretty simple, right?

This year is turning out to be a little different.

About a month ago I began to notice that every once in a while the teacher would put a circle on a calendar day that had already passed and had nothing written on it.  Beside the big circle was the word "sign" written in cursive.  I was like, WTF?  What does she want me to sign?  There's nothing there.  And then I'd sign it feeling kind of like an idiot.

Then last week I noticed that she had circled every single day that I had not signed the page (because there was nothing written there to acknowledge) each circle accompanied by the word "sign" and suddenly realized, "Oh, she wants me to sign this thing every day.  No matter what."

You see it was her complete lack of ever asking me to do this combined with her inconsistent yet passive aggressive circles that had confused me.

My first thought was, "Oh, I better get to signing this stupid thing every day then."

But my second, less mature, thought was, "But what if I don't?  She can't make me.  Why should I have to sign it every day if she doesn't have to write a note in it every day?"

I can be pretty immature sometimes.

Ordinarily I would do whatever little thing that would please the teacher just to please her.  Over the years I have signed all the forms in triplicate and then signed new ones just for the hell of it.  I have donated countless boxes of Kleenex.  I have gone out to the store to buy the specific food bank item I was asked for (after they turned down the many food items I already had in my pantry....why not take it all?  Sheesh.)  I have done just about every little weirdly unreasonable thing that has been asked of me but I WILL NOT DO THIS.

Mostly because I just don't want to and there's no good reason for it and there are no bad consequences if I don't and because I do not take well to bullshit passive aggression.

And so I have decided to take this petty little stand about the silliness of acknowledging a blank page with my signature after I've shown myself to be communicative and responsive .  It's a stupid thing to do, I know, but I also don't care.  Because if it really means that much to her a simple and direct communication about her expectations (like an adult) would have done so much more for her than this silly, passive aggressive circle making.

Because when it comes to passive aggression, I can passive aggressive circles around your passive aggressive circles.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

My Son Doesn't Understand Me!

I am having a bad Mom day.

I've been trying to keep my head up for a little too long and this morning I just crashed, so I need to vent a little.

My son doesn't understand me, or anyone else for that matter.  At least that's how it feels right now.

Last night I had a meeting with Frack's teacher.  He doesn't understand her.  Which isn't all that surprising since she only speaks French to him.

After much debate and discussing it with Frack's teachers my husband and I decided to enroll Frack in French Immersion.  We are fully prepared to take him out at any time.  As you may already know Frack was speech delayed and had only graduated from his speech therapy about a year ago.  I have a certificate and everything: "Congratulations!  Frack is considered to be at his age level for language development."

But the thing is Frack has always had difficulty with abstract language concepts.  He can point to and name any object you like, count to any number, recite whatever you want him to recite.  But he will confuse "on" with "under" or "beside".  He gets confused trying to sort out the difference between "more than" and "less than".  He has a hard time following instructions and when he feels confused or frustrated he shuts right down and will only communicate the things he knows.  Or he will only agree with and repeat anything you say because he thinks that is the right answer and he doesn't know what else to do.

He is often afraid to admit that he doesn't understand you because he thinks it's "wrong".  He can't stand being wrong.  Trying to get information out of him is crazy-making.  You have a word limit.  After speaking about thirty or so words at him he just starts giving you answers he thinks you want because he no longer understands you, if he ever did in the first place.  On top of that he might change his answers several times during the conversation, trying to give you what he thinks you want.

The devil of all this is, like most small children, he is also capable of very shrewd understanding.  He often says things that let me know he understands far more than I give him credit for.  If he is relaxed and happy his comprehension seems to be very good, if limited from time to time.

I had to explain all of this to Frack's teacher last night.  And, yet again, I found myself in the position of having to apologize to a professional educator for having to have my son in their class.

Because Frack is not adjusting to grade 1 well at all.  It's hard to be at his desk all day.  The work is hard for him because he just does not understand what is expected of him.  So he gets frustrated, shuts down, and refuses to participate or put any effort forth.  And yesterday, he took things to a whole new level by angrily defacing his school work and being rude and disrespectful to his teacher.

At first I really tried to keep myself up.  Hey, at least I have a lot of practice dealing with frustrated teachers, right?  I guess we'll just have to come up with some strategies to help Frack.  Sure, we can do this!

But you know what?  I'm just so fucking tired right now.  I had a particularly bad weekend at work, but I stayed positive to help out my team.  My husband is out of town for work, so I'm missing my partner to hear me cry and rage and vent, and then help me come up with solutions.  I had to spend a lot of time on the phone with my mother in-law, who had been watching the kids for me while I was at work.  My older son, who I had hoped would know better, to whom I had promised very hefty bribes for good behaviour, was out of control for almost the whole time he was with her.  Consequently I spent a good part of my afternoon contacting his two social workers and pediatrician.

This meeting was the last straw.  I felt like I was being told, "Congratulations Mrs. Rotten, you've got another academic career full of parent-teacher meetings and disciplinary bullshit stretching out ahead of you!"

And even though I started off trying to be positive about it, my attitude deteriorated as I watched Frack spend his night moping and sullenly punishing himself.  He spent a good two hours sitting in the time-out spot even though I kept telling him I wasn't mad and he didn't have to sit there.  I tried to talk to him about it but I hit my thirty-word mark and watched him turn into an uncomprehending robot in front of me.  He got angry at me during cuddle time because he had asked me a question and could not understand that I was answering it, so he kept asking it over and over.

And all I could think was, "Why can't I talk to my son?  He's done with speech therapy, it's not supposed to be this way!"

And then this morning, he didn't seem to understand anything I was saying to him and I had a bad moment and I yelled at him.  And watching him stand there, heroically trying not to cry, I broke down.  I decided to keep him home from school for today, and I spent about ten minutes in our basement, selfishly sobbing my heart out.

Because I know I'm supposed to be stronger than this.  I know I'm supposed to be grateful for my son the way he is: healthy, strong and wonderful.  But right now I just need a little moment to wallow in self-pity.  Just five more minutes or so, please.  I think if I can have that I'll be able splash a little cold water on my face and get back to the business of figuring out what our next step is going to be.

Friday, 26 September 2014

All About That Body Positivity

Well, I finally watched the "All About That Bass" video I've noticed  being passed around facebook and whatnot, and I thought, "Huh.  This is kind of super cute in a totally uncomfortable way."

Cute, as in super cute girls in cute dresses on a cute set singing a cute song.  I love seeing *non-skinny people glamourized in media.  Watching these cute non-skinny girls (and guy) look beautiful dancing makes me feel better about my non-skinny self.  Really.  More of that please!

Uncomfortable, as in the words "skinny bitch" make me cringe.  "Stick figure silicone Barbie doll" doesn't sound like something a person promoting body positivity should say.  It sounds like something a deeply insecure person would say.

There are also potential racial issues with the song and video.  Pop music has a history of cultural appropriation that is problematic.  If you want a good break down of the problems with this song, Jenny Trout's post I Am Not All About That Bass is a pretty good read.

*I prefer to use the word "non-skinny" instead of "fat" or "normal" here because 1) are the women in this video fat?  I kind of think not.  But do I call them "normal" because 2) what actually is a "normal" body anyway?  "Non-skinny" just seems like a more accurate and inclusive term.

As someone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past, I am no stranger to a negative self-image.  I find it ironic (but also great!) that I love my body way more now, even though I am heavier, than I did when I was 23 and super-skinny.  I don't love my body the way it deserves all the time.  Of course I have days when I feel fat and unattractive.  But for the most part I feel much more content with my body and comfortable in my skin than I ever have before.

This isn't something that came with age or wisdom.  This is something I work on.  I don't live in a bubble, and I am as much affected by Photoshop and the glorification of skinny bodies in the media as the next girl.  But these are things that I do that really help me.

1) Put down the magazines.

Photoshop is a very real problem in our culture.  But why?  We are usually told because Photoshop helps sell stuff: clothes, makeup, magazines.  Photoshop is going to be around for a long time, but the way it is used could be changed if altering women's bodies stopped selling.  That's not going to realistically happen when I wake up tomorrow.  So while I'm waiting for a new feminist utopia to emerge, I find that not looking at Photoshopped women has had the immediate benefit of making me feel better about myself.

2)  In fact, take a break from media in general.

It also really helps to just stop watching TV or movies for a while.  It really sucks that non-skinny people are so under-represented, and unattainable skinny ideals are so glorified, that in order to clean my headspace I need to opt out.  But here we are.   All I can say is that when I take a week or so off from sitcoms, soap operas, and the commercials that go with them (advertising is the devil) I just feel a lot better about myself.  Because then all I get to see are regular people.  When I come back it's a lot easier to see those bodies as not reflecting what people in the real world actually look like.

3)  Be a conscious consumer.

Not all media is bad.  There is some great stuff out there, you just have to seek it out.  Some of my favourite shows include Orange is the New Black, Inside Amy Schumer, The Mindy Project, Bob's Burgers, The Daily Show, Drunk History, and lately the ladies of Saturday Night Live have been killing.  For my part, I have found these shows to be much easier on my psyche, and more reflective of my experience as a woman in general.  Also, all of these shows are funny (Yes, even OITNB) and, as everyone knows, laughter is the best medicine.

And hey, even "bad" media has it merits.  When I'm not filtering my media it's an opportunity for me to recognize where and how it is missing the mark when it comes to representing women (eg. Meghan Trainor).  It's an opportunity to articulate what is wrong with our representation and to ask for - no, demand - better.

4)  Wear clothes that fit.

A couple of years ago I put on an extra ten pounds.  It seemed like nothing I could do would help me shake that weight.  And you know what?  I'm not all that worried about it.  Now.  But at the time I was very uncomfortable because my clothes didn't fit anymore.  They were too tight, no longer flattering and made me feel self-conscious.  At first I resisted buying new clothes because I thought I could lose the weight.

After about six months of trying I realized that I was just going to have to break down and buy larger clothes.  It made a huge difference!  I felt better and more confident.  People thought I had actually lost weight but really I was just wearing clothes that flattered my figure better.

5)  Exercise.

Every day I take at least fifteen minutes of exercise.  Any exercise.  It really doesn't matter.  The thing that matters to me is my intent.  I try to center my fitness goals around things that go deeper than how I look.  I tell myself that I want to be stronger.  Or I want to be more flexible.  Or I want better endurance.  These fitness goals are healthier than simple weight loss (which isn't the best indicator of health, anyway) and the results are more immediate.  I didn't lose any weight last week but I can do more push-ups than I ever have before.  And I can run all the way to my kid's school without having to stop and catch my breath.  That makes me feel awesome!

I now look at weight loss as a potential side effect to regular exercise instead of seeing it as an ultimate goal. It's not like I wouldn't be happy to experience that side effect, but I'm not going to get hung up on it because maybe I'd like stronger muscles instead.  And I'm super jazzed that becoming more flexible means less arthritis pain for me.  Also, people who exercise even moderately are happier and benefit from better self-image.  Science says so!

6) Stop dieting.

Life is too short for restrictive diets.  I swear I would much rather be a little heavier and eat wonderful food than have a perfect body while watching everyone else eat cheese and chocolate.  Victoria Beckham doesn't even let herself eat a piece of cake on her birthday.  No wonder she looks so miserable all the time!

But I notice that I feel really good when I am nourishing my body with good wholesome food instead of punishing it with denial.  I am discovering the joys of trying new fruits and vegetables.  I've been trying to re-examine vegetables I used to hate as a child.  Right now I'm learning to love mushrooms and brussels sprouts.  I like thinking about all the good things this food does for my body when I'm eating it.  Mmmmm, Greek yogurt....healthy gut bacteria.  Mmmmm tomatoes....lycopene.  Avocadoes...aghaghagagh.

Sorry.  I got a little distracted there. is so fucking awesome!  Why make yourself eat like you're in prison?

Crack almonds.  I want me some of those crack almonds.

And every once in a while, what the hell, have a cookie.  Have two.  Because cookies are awesome.

7)  Changing perspective.

I've stopped looking at other women's bodies with envy.  Because I finally realized a fundamental truth: there is always going to be someone, somewhere, who envies my body, no matter how shitty I feel about it.  Some may envy that I weigh less than they do and some may envy that I weigh more.  They might envy my breast size, butt shape, waist to hip ratio, or my height.  They might envy my relative health or youth.  They might envy something as simple as my ability to walk.  I'm not happy that there might exist people who envy me.  But realizing that there might exist people out there who would be grateful to have the body I'm hating on right now, made me feel like kind of an asshole.

So instead I'm learning to marvel at all the cool things my body can do.  I dance with my kids and, when I can, I run because it's fun.  I go outside as much as possible because I am healthy enough to leave my bed.  I enjoy the feel of grass under my feet and the sun and wind on my skin.  Because someday I'll be too old to do what I take for granted now.  Some tomorrow I may long for the body I despised today.  I'll wish I had loved it when I had the chance.

If I love my body right it might keep doing amazing things for longer than I thought possible.  If I love it right it will give me an improved quality of life in my old age.  And who the hell is going to care what my body looks like when I'm a shriveled old lady?  Not me, that's for sure.  I'll be grateful to get out of bed without breaking my hip.

But right now I'm going out to my living room to dance to this song because it is cute and it has a good beat and if there's one thing it got right it's this:

"Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top."