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A High School Report Card

I just dropped my son off at soccer tryouts.  He starts high school (yikes!) in less than two weeks.  

We've been talking about and planning for this big day for some time now. He's excited and nervous. So am I. And I think he might be getting a little tired of how much I remind him of the importance of his high school report card, that it's an indicator of how he's doing, and how it can impact his future.  

Our nation got a report card recently, and the grades are alarming.  For the first time, the federal government has produced a detailed look at what it is like to be a gay, lesbian and bisexual high school student today.

We all know that high school isn't easy for anyone.  But for LGBTQ youth, it can be nothing short of hell.  

Released earlier this month, the groundbreaking report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than 15,000 ​American high school students unearthed some alarming data.

Of Angels and Healthy, Affordable Foods in Minnesota

In this era of political disagreement, it’s unusual to see political parties put aside their differences, join hands and work together for the greater good. But that’s exactly what happened recently in Minnesota around efforts to improve and increase access to healthy and affordable food.
Minnesota is one of the lowest ranked states in terms of access to healthy and affordable foods, according to an April 2016 report prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and Wilder Research. Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans currently live in areas where they have limited or no easy access to foods such as fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains and lean meats and poultry. More than 340,000 Minnesotans face both distance and income as a barrier to obtaining those foods, and approximately 235,000 Minnesotans live more than 10 miles away from a large grocery store or supermarket.

#MilitaryMonday: Breastfeeding On-Duty with WIC

Imagine flying from Italy to Spain, then boarding another plane from Spain to Virginia, and finally, driving down from Virginia to Tennessee all in a matter of days just to turn around and fly out to California. Sounds exhausting, right?

Now add a 5-month-old breastfeeding baby to the mix who is constantly restless, feeding, crying and pooping. When my husband, who is in the military, was transferred to the United States from Italy this is exactly what we experienced. It is a very common, real experience for many military families.

I know I’m not alone when I say: I’ve been separated from my husband for months. I’ve traveled alone to unfamiliar, foreign places where I didn’t speak the languages. I’ve traveled alone with an infant. I’ve been away from my family and friends for long periods of time.

Public Speaking... (Who me?)

This post originally appeared on Meanderings of Gentle Gull.
OK yes, I crawled outside my box and actually spoke in public, I survived the ordeal. For me this is a huge milestone and I am here to tell the story. Most of you know that I do NOT like speaking in front of an audience, and I am really not good at it. I know that. What most of you don't know is that I used to do it frequently. 
What many of you don't know about me is that as a lactation consultant many, many years ago, I educated the entire maternal-child health department at Womack Army Medical Center on the new breasfeeding policies and procedures, that I wrote, for the section. Which encompassed several weekend long inservices, as it was mandatory that every employee take the course. What you don't know is that I was the hospital's Neonatal Advanced Life Support Educator, which means I taught and tested employees in the hospital and outlying clinics in NALS. I taught infant CPR to parents, I taught breasfeeding classes to parents.

On Nate Parker and Consent

To all victims and survivors of sexual violence, I hate that you have been, once again, re-traumatized by the force of patriarchy. I see the many statuses, comments, blogs, and articles in my timeline, and I am reading and digesting them. I completely understand why you are now either conflicted, or clear, about whether or not you will support Nate Parker's film The Birth of a Nation – a biopic about the Nat Turner led rebellion, that, by many accounts, brilliantly features resistance to racial oppression.

With Each Passing Moment

I always assumed I would breastfeed -- naively so, not giving a second thought as to any potential barriers or complications. And thankfully, even with a few small hiccups like tongue tie and delayed milk production, I was able to do just that. But I never expected how empowering and important I would find breastfeeding in my journey of becoming a new mom to this tiny human.

In the first few days of being home, we had to have our son on a light bed 24 hours a day to treat his jaundice. His only break, and my only chance to hold him, was every 2 hours in order to breastfeed him. I remember counting down the minutes, the seconds, until I could release him from the light-bed-prison, to hold him in my arms and feed my baby. And I could only imagine the heartache other mamas felt when their babies faced much more serious and confining situations.

The Most Natural Thing In The World

              So August is the National Breastfeeding Month, I wonder how many people other than moms who breast feed know that such a day exists.  Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world so why do people have such strong opinions about how and where it can and cannot be done? Since becoming a mom, I have managed to pump and breastfeed just about every possible place including under a tree at Niagara Falls! It has not been easy especially since I am an introvert by nature and felt strangely exposed breastfeeding in public.  It took time and courage to finally feel comfortable doing something which was the most natural and beneficial thing for my baby. Most malls were disappointing in the lay out of the so called “Family Room”.  It always manages to be uncomfortable, smelly and not at all conducive to mother and child bonding time. It amazes me that a grand mall with designer brands would not want to invest a little bit in making the Family Room reasonably comfortable. I am hazarding a guess that no one has ever complained or even raised the issue.

#MilitaryMonday: TRICARE’s Breastfeeding Policy—A New Mom’s Experience

Recently, TRICARE implemented a new breastfeeding support policy including coverage for breast pumps. The National Military Family Association is generally pleased with this new policy because it gives families flexibility in terms of when, where, and how to purchase breast pumps and supplies.

But we wondered how this policy is panning out in military communities as families try to use it. So we asked Jaclyn, a Fort Benning Army Spouse, while she was expecting her first baby. Jaclyn had just purchased a breast pump.

I heard about TRICARE’s new breast pump policy from an online moms group.  I called TRICARE even before the policy went into effect and they were able to answer some of my questions.  They were at least aware that the policy would go into effect on July 1, 2015.

The Malignant Cheeto

On this #radio show we cover the impact of the Malignant Cheeto, AKA Donald Trump, on America.  We discuss changing demographics, public policy—including Trump’s flimsy childcare proposal, voter engagement, and the Olympics.

*Special guests include: 



Local provider: more kids should get the oral health care they need for lifelong health

As a professional in dentistry bringing urgently needed affordable care to kids and families, I’m always looking for new ways of working smartly, to get more care to more members of our community. That’s why I’d like to see public officials in Washington state authorize dental therapists.

Dental therapists provide important and needed routine and preventive care to people who otherwise can’t get it. They work as part of a team in the same way that nurse practitioners or physician assistants work with doctors as part of a medical team. Their job is to provide preventive and routine care, either inside a dentist’s office or in schools, nursing homes, and community clinics: places where too many of our neighbors are needlessly suffering for lack of a dental visit.

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