Star Wars: The Characters Awaken

I’ve seen it twice now and I’ve loved it both times. It is one of the best films I’ve seen: entertaining, humorous, dramatic, and tense. The characters were all believable, no matter what some nay-sayers say. So, let’s talk about them, shall we? THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS SO YOU ARE WARNED IF YOU READ THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

(if you are outraged at spoilers you read after this point IT’S YOUR OWN FAULT YOU’VE BEEN WARNED)

daisy-ridley-as-rey-in-the-force-awakens

Rey

There are SO many pieces dedicated to Rey, so I’m just going to write what I think about her personally. I think she’s awesome. She’s resourceful and smart and strong and brave. She’s also got some emotional issues to over come, not the least of which are abandonment issues (well earned as they are). She and Jessica Jones need to get together for some coffee or maybe a nice strong drink. The second viewing of the movie led to an epiphany: the force awakens!!!! She is obviously strong in the force and she’s been using it unknowingly, much like Anakin did with his pod racing. The thing that really brought that home was when she was chasing after Finn while dodging tentacles as if she knew where they were going to be next. OH WAIT, SHE DID. I loved how she was learning from Kylo Ren, just watching and picking up his tricks, and then realizing at the end that HOLY SHIT THAT’S THE FORCE.  She faces her fear of missing her family’s return and decides that she wants Luke to train her. And it’s because of Finn and Han Solo and all of the trials and battles that she’s experienced since she met BB. She wasn’t untested in survival and conflict, but she was in regards to relationships and family.

john-boyega-as-finn-in-star-wars-the-force-awakens
I feel like he makes this face a lot. Hang in there Finn.

Finn

I love Finn, too. His character makes one of the biggest journeys in the movie. Unlike Rey, who’s been in a challenging environment since she was left on Jakku, Finn experiences his first battle, his first conflict, his first act of independence in the film. He goes from one of a mob, to a coward, to a friend, to a hero. He, like Rey, has no biological family, but his comrades were family of a sort, people he could bond with and hang. It was the loss of a friend that led to his defection. BUT he was trained from birth to disconnect, to follow orders and adjusting to a life where he can make his own choice and facing TOUGH choices like what he wants to do versus what he SHOULD do is challenging for him. The fact that a good person survived his conditioning and training as a stormtrooper is really rather remarkable, but it’s also an indication of holes that are still present in the First Order, not everything is a seamless operation the way the Empire was.

neeo5vthz3pyik_3_b
PLEASE LET ME BE GOOD ENOUGH.

Kylo Ren

Oh boy. First, his parents named him Ben. My poor heart! His mother stated it clearly for us: he has too much of Darth Vader in him. The fear that lives in Kylo is what drives him into the arms of the Dark Side. His fear that he’s not strong enough or good enough, that he’s not as strong as Darth Vader, it’s what powers his every decision. He thirsts to prove himself, not to himself, but to his parents and Luke and Snoke. He wants approval while desiring independence. He’s YOUNG. And holy shit is he strong in the force. He is way stronger than Darth, from what I can tell. He stops the blaster ray and holds it there without any seeming effort. He can pull information out of a persons head like nothing. He doesn’t just walk off a shot from Chewie’s crossbow HE GOES AND FIGHTS FINN AND REY. It takes him being wounded and against two people, one a trained Stormtrooper and one who uses the Force, to beat him. AND Snoke admits his training is incomplete. HOLY SHIT GUYS IT’S GOING TO GET REAL. Yes, he throws some tantrums. Yes, he’s emotional. That’s what makes him so damn terrifying. He wants, desperately, to train Rey, to become a leader and a mentor, TO MATTER.  The surprise on his face when his grandfather’s lightsaber flies past him to Rey is key. One, that she figured out how to do that and two: SHE’S STRONGER THAN HIM. He was weak, injured and tired, but she was strong enough, untrained and after a blow to the head, to move it past him and out of his grip of the force.  His tells her she’s using the force and she connects all the puzzle pieces to go on to win the game.  Rey is watching his every move, learning from him, even as he’s fighting her. It’s his fear of not being good enough and his arrogance that he’s better than her that is his downfall. I cannot WAIT for the second movie to see how these two develop and move against each other.

Character development is so awesome. I love character driven plots. LOVE THEM. I cannot imagine how strong Rey will be as a trained Jedi. How will Kylo deal with murdering his father? Will Finn and Poe be a team? How will THEY grow and change and how will that determine the path of the plot. When is the next movie coming out?!

Advertisements

What I learned about breastfeeding

There are so so so many articles out there on how the breast is best. I believe it is the best option, but I also believe it’s not the ONLY option. Formula is easy and convenient but also expensive. So expensive. It comes down to what works best for you.

I breastfed my babies for a full year. Each. This is what pediatricians recommend with them being exclusively breastfed for six months. I did it. Somehow I did it. Not sure how, but I did it. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Babies aren’t born knowing how to do it more than you are. Maybe you’ll be a lucky person and everything will click together like legos, but for me with my first, there was a lot of, “am I fucking doing this right?!” You need to practice AND they need to practice. It’s a joint effort, so don’t get frustrated if it takes a while (it took me almost 3 weeks to get it down to a science) to get started. Wit my second, there was a LOT of unlatching and re-latching. OMG, so much of that. But they learn and so do you.
  2. Milk comes in suddenly. When the baby is born it drinks colostrum and only about a teaspoon at a time. That’s why they eat so often. Milk USUALLY arrives about 2-3 days after birth. With my first, it didn’t come in for TWO WEEKS. Come to find out, that’s actually sort of common with c-sections, but I didn’t know that. Two weeks after my first born my breast swelled up and became hard as rocks and she wanted to eat but was either not getting enough or too much. It was so damn confusing. Your breasts hurt like fucking hell and you start leaking everywhere. This, my friends, is called engorgement and it is sucky. Luckily, it only lasts for a day or two. Nursing doesn’t really help it go down, but it might make you feel better temporarily.
  3. Your boobs don’t know how much milk to make at first. They make milk based on demand and it takes about 4-6 weeks for everything calm down and mesh. You will make more milk than your baby needs (unless you have supply issues), so you will leak milk. Have nipple pads available and more than one nursing bra so you can wash one. Your shirts will be covered in spit up and leaked milk, so accept it now.
  4. It hurts. Like, really hurts, at least for a while. Your nipples, your wonderful sensitive nipples are going to be sucked on SO FUCKING HARD and they need to build up a resistance. It takes two to three weeks for that. If you’re bleeding, it’s probably a latching issue, but for a while you’re going to be wincing every that baby latches on. The good news is that as soon as the baby latches on and starts eating, the pain eases, so it’s only for a minute. If the pain lasts throughout the feeding and there’s bleeding, check the latch.
  5. Your baby sucks your entire boob into it’s mouth. Ok, not really, but your nipple should be practically down his throat and your areola inside his mouth. It’s amazing how much they fit in there.
  6. You can drink alcohol, but carefully. I was a paranoid breastfeeder. I didn’t take the hardcore pain meds my doc sent home after either c-section. I didn’t want the  baby getting exposed to them. I survived recovery of a major surgery on Advil. I’m not a natural drug taker or drinker. I don’t like feeling out of control or woozy. I was assured by all doctors and people that it was FINE to take those meds, but I just couldn’t do it. So, take the meds if you want them. Do what’s best for you. I did drink occasionally. The rule is if you can drive a car, you can breastfeed. I usually gave a bottle of pumped milk because I was Miss Paranoia, but again, don’t be a slave to MY anxiety.
  7. What you eat can affect the baby. I couldn’t drink caffeine with my second. At all. She would not sleep if I had ANY. So, for a year, no caffeine for me. *sob* I know some people who couldn’t do dairy because it gave the baby gas. Some had to drop chocolate for similar issues. So, if the baby starts having weird gas issues, check your diet. They might also turn away because they don’t like the taste of your milk. Spicy foods can do that. So, while you’re not nearly as restricted as you were when you were pregnant, you might still have to give up something.
  8. Growth spurts are hell. Every once in a while the baby decides to grow a foot in a week and so he needs more milk to support that newly grown body. In order to build up supply, they eat. All the time. They are always hungry and you will exclaim more than once, “BUT YOU JUST ATE AN HOUR AGO.” It will go away after they get the supply up, but for a few days to a week you are in constant demand and sleep will be disrupted.
  9. You’re it. As a stay-at-home mom who breastfed, I was it. My husband couldn’t feed the newborn, I had to get up every damn time. You will hate your partner. You will hate your baby. You will hate breastfeeding. It WILL get better. Once you get past the nipple confusion worries (about 6 weeks) you can introduce bottle feeding, but until then, you’re it. Be prepared for that.
  10. Pumping sucks ass. And my breasts sucked at it. I was lucky to get 4-6 ounces at a time. Ever. I’ve known women who got 8 ounces in one go. I hate those women. Every drop of breast milk in my freezer was worth it’s weight in gold because it took so much work to get it. You will become obsessed with how much you have stored. It will never be enough. You will be afraid it will run out. You’ll end up throwing a ton of it away after you wean, crying a little as you do it. There was a scene in “Outlander” where a new mom hand expresses into a cup and then DUMPS IT INTO THE BUSHES. I actually cried out in horror. THE HORROR. And my baby had been weaned for MONTHS when that happened. Milk is precious. I’ve totally cried over spilt breast milk.  TIP: set up a time of day to pump and stick to it. You’ll start making more milk for that feeding and it will get better (if you’re not me with the non-responsive boobs). Once a day should be enough unless you’re working. Then you’ll pump more because your baby is bottle feeding more.
  11. It takes a long time in the beginning. Feeding a newborn can take 40 minutes to an hour. Then you burp them, they sleep for a bit and then you feed them again. Every 2-3 hours you go through this cycle. You feel like all you do is feed them when they’re new. They’re stomachs are small and breast milk digests super fast. It gets faster, but in the beginning, you’re feeding for a while. I watched a lot of Netflix during the newborn phases.
  12. One breast does better than the other. And your baby will like one better than the other.
  13. I didn’t stick to a schedule. If the baby was hungry I fed it. You cannot spoil a newborn. Schedules tend to happen naturally, but if you force it you might be making it harder for yourself than you need to be. Those boobs are natural pacifiers. Use them.
  14. Get help if you need it. Seriously, don’t be me. Get help if you need it. Don’t just give up (I didn’t thank god) because you’re afraid it’s not going to work. Ask!
  15. If it’s too much stress, don’t do it. Seriously. If it’s making you cry constantly or worry too much, don’t do it. If you’ve given it the best shot you have in you and you’ve tried everything FORMULA IS FINE. However, once you start supplementing you will start making less milk, so only start doing that if you’re absolutely sure that’s what you want to do.

Good luck! It does settle down and become easy as pie, it just takes a while sometimes. I wish good breastfeeding vibes on you and  your little one!

The plot thickens…

Let’s see where this goes! He took a step forward….

Her finger moved of it’s own accord, and the gun kicked into her shoulder as it released the bullet. Even as her ears rang from the noise, the rifle was yanked out of her hand. She stumbled back, reaching for the door to slam and bolt, but was grabbed by her arm to hold her still.

“Damnit, she got me.” She looked to the armored stranger hoping that meant he was too injured to move, but she saw that he was only bleeding a little from his upper arm. Frustration filled her and she yanked on her arm, trying to pull free.

“Well, you should have stayed still. She did warn you.” The new man holding her arm was young, maybe her age, and he was obviously finding this whole situation amusing, which didn’t help her mood at all.

“Let me go and get the hell off my property!” She gave him her best glare, but considering she was almost a full 18 inches shorter than him, it had very little effect. He was so tall she had to crane her next to meet his eyes and she didn’t like that one bit.

“Mistress, we have some service needed of you. Let’s go inside and we’ll get that taken care of.”

Panic. Pure panic. These men were going to hurt her and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it. Her chest tightened and she found it hard to get air. How could she have missed that shot? Then at least it would have only been the one.

“Whoa, breathe little one. In. Out.” The giant holding her took several deep breaths, demonstrating. Her glare came back.

“Don’t. Call. Me. Little. One.” she spat at him. The anger helped stabilize her breathing and she pulled on her arm again. “Get yourselves gone. After this greeting there is no service I will do for you, I can promise you that. You trespass onto my land and with no introduction assault my person, and then you expect me to help you? Fuck off.”

The injured man huffed a laugh while the giant gave a full guffaw. “Well, we would, I assure you, but it’s rather important.”

That response only received a snort from her as she contemplated how hard she would have to stomp on his foot. Maybe if she kicked his knee hard enough, she could break the joint?

As if picking up on her intentions, he moved her to arms length, which in his case was a considerable distance and shook his head. “Please.”

That gave her pause. A polite rapist? Her hesitation encouraged him and he nodded to someone behind her. For God’s sake, another one? She craned her neck around and saw that there was another person behind her, but this one was female. And a non-human.

She couldn’t immediately identify the species, but her willowy form, red eyes, and pointed ears marked her as one of the many non-human species in the world. There was something in her arms and even as Sophie got over the shock of having a non-human on her front porch, a bundle was set in her arms.

She looked down by reflex and instantly cradled it. It was a baby, a very young one, asleep. She looked up, confused.

The giant shrugged. “We cannot keep her, but she must not die.” Her eyes widened as she realized that they would have left this baby in the forest as they ran, to die of exposure or to be eaten by animals, but for some reason it was too important to do so. She looked back down and saw that the infant had opened her eyes and was gazing back at her, calm as could be.

“You have got to be kidding me. THIS is your SMALL task?”

“It is, give her care. We will be back for her. On your life, nothing must happen to her.” And with that they all just walked away.

A Writing Exercise

I need to write something, but I have no idea what to write about. So, let’s see how this plays out. I’m going to try writing the introduction to a story that I create right now off the top of my head with no editing.  Here we go:

It was raining. It was a nice heavy soaking rain that dampened the soil and Sophie could almost hear the plants drinking. She stood on the front porch of her modest home watching the rain fall in straight wet curtains, the leaves bounce as the drops struck them, the puddles forming in the middle of her yard. She had always loved the rain, the sound of it, the feel of it. It was as if the world were washed clean and everything began anew again when it rained.

A rumble of thunder pulled her out of her thoughts and she turned to her washing hanging on the line. So much for that being dry this afternoon, she thought with a grimace, but shrugged it off. Not much to do about that. As she stared at the gently swaying laundry, she glimpsed movement at the edge of the clearing marking the end of her property. Her eyes narrowed and she zeroed in on the spot, trying to determine who or what it was. Everything was moving, what with the rain, but there was something there. She reached inside her door and pulled out her rifle. Visitors announced themselves, they didn’t hide in the foliage, and bears and lions were not unknown to roam close to a home in search of food. Best be prepared.

She heard a groan from inside and was reminded that she had a patient to protect as well. She raised the rifle to her shoulder, set the hock, and called out, “Who’s there?”

Nothing but the falling rain answered her. She didn’t move. “Come out! I know you’re there!” For a long moment, nothing happened. The rain fell, the leaves rustled, water dripped, and her heart pounded. Finally, a figure stepped out of the brush. He was tall and armored. She tightened her grip on the gun, although her arm was starting to tire under it’s weight. “Hold! Who are you? Step any closer and that armor won’t protect you.”

He raised his arms. “Mistress, please, I am unarmed. Can I trouble you for food?”

“Identify yourself!” she repeated, not to be distracted and certainly not believing he was unarmed.

“Just a little food, please. Bread or an apple. I’ve been traveling hard for days.”

Her suspicions increased. Who the devil was this man? Why wasn’t he telling her who he was? From here she could see he was relatively clean. He had not been walking. Where was his animal? He had a horse somewhere with supplies, she’d bet her farm. Her heart rate increased. Damnit, this was not a good situation. Something bad was about to happen.

He took a step forward. “Freeze!” she cried. “Not one more damn step until you tell me who you are and what you really want! There’s nothing here of worth, so if it’s robbery you’re thinking of, your time is wasted.” She really didn’t want him to test her on this; the gun only had one shot and if she missed….

He froze but didn’t seem alarmed or cowed. She tried to look around but was reluctant to take her eyes off of him for more than a second.  He kept his hands up. And took another step forward.

Ok, there it shall end for now. I wonder what happens next.

Planned Parenthood

Ok, this is going to be my first controversial post because it touches on a sensitive subject: abortion*. I’m not here to argue when a woman should be allowed an abortion…no, I am because I just had to write that sentence. Women should be allowed any medical procedure that they deem necessary for their own bodies. Period. Denying them that is denying them their basic rights as a person and the only reason they’re being denied rights is because they have a uterus.  It’s insane.

But, some of you say, BUT the baby! Yes, women know all about that. Women are not stupid and are very aware of what’s going on inside of them and what they are deciding to do when they have an abortion. This article from New York Magazine puts it very well, so read that I won’t rant about it any more.

I came here to talk about Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is about SO MUCH MORE than abortions. It provides FREE birth control and educates women about their bodies so that they don’t NEED an abortion in the future. Also, in shocking news, women can get abortions other places because it is a medical procedure, so hospitals can do them too.  They don’t just happen at one place. For so many women who are in poverty or who can’t afford health care, this is a place they can get what they need FOR THEIR HEALTH. Did I mention they also educate about STI’s? And TREAT them? Please, go to their site and look around. It’s very informative.

There are new videos being released that supposedly prove that Planned Parenthood is selling the bodies and organs of aborted fetuses to the highest bidder. There are some problems with these video’s, the biggest one being that they don’t actually prove anything of the sort. They are for shock value, pure and simple, to shock people into seeing shocking things and ticking them into making uneducated decisions. They are heavily edited to create the worst impression possible. There are somethings people need to realize about Planned Parenthood, abortions, and stem cells.

  1. Women are going to have abortions. We have always had abortions and will continue to get abortions even if they are against the law.
  2. Since women are going to get abortions, there are going to be aborted fetuses. These fetuses carry some of the most impressive cells ever because they can become any specific type of cell. They are so close to using these cells to CURE DIABETES in people. It is important medical research and will save lives AND money in the long run. Let’s use the tragedy for good, to help people, heal people.
  3. Planned Parenthood is not a baby killing factory. It is not waving signs saying “Come get an abortion, we’ll buy your fetus!” They have women coming in for abortions of their own free will and those women are make decisions about what will happen with the baby afterward. The parents are making the decision, not Planned Parenthood. It’s like organ donation.
  4. If you are trying to pass laws based on a religious belief, you are forcing your beliefs onto others and breaking the separation of church and state. You are breaking one of the fundamental tenets of our country and something our founding fathers found extremely important. Don’t do that. Don’t be that person. Don’t be the person that expresses pride in their country and then undermines it in the next breath. No one is telling you that you can’t believe it’s wrong. You are entitled to your beliefs, but you are NOT allowed to force those beliefs onto others.

Don’t take away the funding for Planned Parenthood. You will be doing extreme harm to women’s rights and it won’t be for the reason you think you’re doing it. Don’t let politicians get away with this. Vote. Use your voice.

*Please don’t yell at me in the comments and if you disagree, be civil. This is such a hot topic and everyone has strong beliefs about it. You’re welcome to share, but be nice.

Target steps up. Again.

Target is rapidly becoming my favorite store. And not because I can go there to buy shampoo and also buy throw pillows, but because they have some awesome store policies.

First, I LOVE Target’s policy on breastfeeding in their stores. If you haven’t heard, basically, breastfeed away. Employees are not to stare, bother, or approach you no matter where you are breastfeeding unless it’s to see if you need something to make you more comfortable. If you ask for a place to breastfeed, they are to suggest the fitting rooms NOT the bathroom, even if there is a line. Target, you rock.

And then I read that Target is getting rid of gender labeling in some parts of their stores. FUCK YES. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m old or because I’m a mom, but it seems like buying toys or bedroom decorations or ANYTHING for kids is like a battle of the sexes. Young children DO NOT CARE if the Legos are pink or blue, they just want to build junk. So why are they pink? With princesses on them? And why are all the ‘cool’ toys in the very obviously BOY aisle?  My girls like to climb, love superheros (Elizabeth was BATMAN for her first Halloween, for goodness sake and don’t get me started on how hard it was to find a batman costume that wasn’t PINK for her size) and want to build stuff as much as boys do. Do they like princesses and fairies? Sure they do. You can like both whether you’re a boy OR a girl. I do the best I can to buy toys that are gender neutral for my kids, especially if they’re things like kitchens or cars. It’s all about balance.

True Story: When I was shopping for a birthday gift for one of the girls, I stopped in the pretend play section of Toys R Us. There was a surgeon costume with a color scheme of green and white and a nurse’s costume that was PINK. I was immediately annoyed. No, I was enraged. 1. Boys see that and think, “That’s pink, I don’t want to be a nurse, that’s for GIRLS.” and 2. Girls see that and think, “Pink! I love pink, that must be for me, I want to be a nurse!” And, just like that, kids are told that girls are nurses, not surgeons. I fully support gender equality in ALL fields. If a boy wants to be a nurse that’s GREAT. If a girl wants to be a surgeon WONDERFUL. Stop it society. Ok, back to Target.

And now Target has heard the cries of its’ customers. The people have spoken and Target is listening. With this new move and Netflix’s new policy on parental leave, (which has led to changes in Adobe and Microsoft as well) companies are actually starting to listen. I have hope for the future! I mean, we’re all going to die when the ice caps melt due to global warming, but at least we’ll have finally gotten rid of gender bias.

Addendum:

It seems some people are really really upset about this policy change, and for the ODDEST reason. ScaryMommy, one of my favorite blogs, featured this piece on some of the responses. Ok, I know change can be scary, but the reason for this anger is mind boggling to me. Apparently, removing gender labeling in the toy section is pandering to kids who are….transgender? WHAT?! How did they even arrive at that? I think that’s a wonderful side-effect of the lack of labeling, but I don’t think that’s WHY they’re doing it. How did they arrive at that conclusion?!

Gender equality is really terrible, I guess. Dear angry biased shoppers who are no longer going to shop at Target: nothing has been lost and everything has been gained; it was so nice not knowing you.

All the plans…

I was going to have a GREAT blog post for you today. It was going to be about something interesting and I was going to go in depth and discuss something meaningful. Well, as Burns put so well:

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,”
This is actually the second time I’ve written THIS blog post because the last one got lost in the interwebs somewhere. But there IS a reason for a smaller blog post and that reason is Elizabeth.
Elizabeth came into my room at 3:30 am to inform me that she couldn’t sleep.  I blearily got up and half-sleepwalked with her back to her room to discover that she had turn on ALL OF THE LIGHTS. The closet door was open and that light was on. The bathroom light was on. The overhead bedroom light was on. The room was BLAZING. Poor Josie was standing in her crib with a look that exactly mirrored MY feelings at this point: What.The.Hell.
I went around the room closing doors and turning off lights. I laid Josie back down and told her it was time to go night-night. She didn’t argue. I tucked Elizabeth in bed and told her to go to sleep and stay in bed. She gave me a very sweet, “Ok, Mommy,” rolled over and complied. I stood there for a moment, very confused, but went back to bed since everything seemed back to normal.
Except I didn’t go back to SLEEP. I laid there for a while. Then when I finally DID go to sleep, I had a dream that Elizabeth had gotten up again. It was one of those realistic dreams that are SO realistic you don’t realize you’re dreaming until you wake up. Which I did. Three more times.  Basically, I feel like I’ve been awake all night and this is the best blog post I can do.
BUT I got to enjoy my family fighting over freshly made scones this morning, which was both entertaining and an ego boost. They REALLY liked those scones.