Sunday, June 21, 2009

Got Milk?

Got milk? Or do you need to buy it? Either way, chances are good you've been hosed over by a formula company without even knowing it. Most of you probably know I'm a big fan of breastfeeding, but I didn't start out that way. Before Weston was born, I read all the books and decided that I would try it, because it's clearly the best choice. But I knew it could be challenging so I thought I would see how it went. I even had bottles and a can of formula waiting, just in case. I believed, like many others, that formula was an adequate substitute and would have been fine to feed my baby. Luckily, Weston latched on right away and didn't delatch until his fourth birthday. I got more and more interested in breastfeeding, learned more about it and gradually became something of a zealot.

Formula, also known as artificial baby milk, was never designed to be the best alternate to breast milk; it is junk food for babies. Look at the label. It's full of high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil and about a million chemicals. You might think some scientists and doctors got together and came up with the very best way to artificially feed infants and came up with a good recipe, and that manufacturers use the highest quality ingredients. But neither of those very reasonable assumptions are true. It is made in the cheapest way possible to maximize profits and it's virtually unregulated. And, just to add insult to injury, the containers are coated with BPA. You can't compare it to breast milk. It's like equating Tang to oranges or Cheetos to cheese.

Now, don't get me wrong. Formula is important, and sometimes people really need it. But formula companies go to great lengths and expense to convince mothers that they don't have enough milk and that artificial baby milk is as good as breast milk: Why bother with all that messy, inconvenient nursing business when you can just mix up the latest and greatest formula in a handy bottle, they say. It's just as good and everyone does it. Nipples hurt? Having a hard time getting started? Don't worry, just get some formula; it's just as good. In fact, we'll send you home from the hospital with some, and then we'll send you some in the mail for free! Oh, you don't need to sign up for it. We'll buy your name and address from the hospital where you gave birth. Makes it look like the doctors and hospitals endorse it, doesn't it?

In our country, there are some standards. The standards are weak because there is a lot of money to be made selling formula. You have to spend money to make money, so we see a lot of expensive advertising campaigns and outrageous sums spent on lobbying congress to keep those so-called standards low. I'd like to see them spend a few of those dollars coming up with a better recipe for artificial baby milk for the people who really need it, but they don't have to. They get more bang for their buck advertising and lobbying and they don't give a rat's ass about babies.

The advertising practices are harmful to everyone. Even if you successfully breastfed for as long as you wanted, their time-tested and successful techniques designed to discredit breastfeeding and promote artificial feeding probably contributed to any issues you may have had: discomfort in breastfeeding in public or pressure from your friends or family to wean. If you formula fed and didn't need or want to, formula companies are likely largely to blame. Families who do need to formula feed pay an inflated price for low quality food for their babies so formula companies can continue to fund their advertising and marketing campaigns that harm and kill babies all over the world. Approximately half the cost of a can of name brand formula goes to advertising. That's why the name brands cost about twice as much as store brands even though the ingredients are identical.

In developing countries, where there are no standards, babies DIE every day because of the practices of formula manufacturers. They bribe doctors to tell new mothers that formula is best and their milk isn't good enough. They give out free sample cans of their artificial baby milk. The mothers go home, use up the samples, and their milk dries up. Then, they can't afford to buy the formula, so they dilute it too much or substitute animal milks. Or, they don't have access to enough clean water to prepare the formula and keep the bottles and nipples clean enough and the babies get infections. Estimates vary, but as many as 1.4 million babies die every year because they are being given an inappropriate substitute for breast milk (UNICEF).

But now, Enfamil has managed to violate even the pathetic U.S. 'standards'. They are claiming that one of their concoctions offers the same benefits as breastmilk, which clearly violates truth in advertising regulations. This kind of complaint is regulated by the FTC, and you can click on the link to get to their homepage. There is a button on the upper right to file a consumer complaint, and it's super easy to do. If enough people complain, perhaps some action will finally be taken.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Post

Okay, okay! Enough with the squealing about my outrageous lack of posting! You know, I've been BUSY here. There's a lot going on; it's not like I'm spending all my time SHOPPING or anything.

Lloyd and Weston are in Maine for a week, so Shane and I are hanging out by ourselves. I used to think it would be like a vacation to have just one kid for a week. HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA, I was so stupid! Without Weston here to entertain Shane, I am having to push him down myself and rip toys out of his hands CONSTANTLY just to keep up his regular routine.

And then there's the whole jet lag thing; I was planning a whole post on that alone. Lag is such an ugly word, and when I got thinking about it, I realized nothing good ends with -ag: lag, gag, sag, hag, gulag. Wouldn't it be cool if you could just erase words, and with them, the meaning would disappear? I'm going to work up a list of words to delete, just in case. And while I'm at it, maybe I could invent some new words, too.

We have been very busy working in the garden. It is a full-time job keeping the fresh strawberries and raspberries eaten up. Also, my mother seems to think we should be weeding, AND she thinks that diapers, toys and dirty socks need to picked up EVERY day.

So you can see it's hard to be me, but I have been feeling badly about my posting drought and will try to do better. Ooh, I know! One of my new words can be 'thoughtpost'. Or maybe 'thoughst' or 'pought'. It means that when I think up a post, it transmits itself directly to Stories From Korea and posts itself, thereby giving myself plenty of extra time to throw bugs at Shane.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I am on my way to Seattle (YAY!), so my posts might be spotty for a while. Not that you care. For your reading pleasure, here is a blog post from Her Bad Mother that I think is fabulous.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

His and Hers

The house we lived in before we moved here had separate closets, and I was in heaven, if such a thing can exist in Shreveport, Louisiana. My closet was relatively tidy, believe it or not, but only because it was big and I didn't have all that much junk. I have a strict one-in, one-out policy. If I haul home a bag (or two, if I'm being honest, and I AM) from the thrift store, I pack up an equal amount to pack out. Since I don't always want to get rid of my own stuff, this sometimes necessitates raiding stuff from other household members. Shhhhh!

Lloyd's closet, on the other hand, had his valuable goods oozing out the door. The floor was piled three feet high, no lie: walkie-talkies, stuffed birds, stacks of khaki and olive colored button-up shirts still in the packages, and a huge cardboard box filled with boots. He could not possibly live without any of these things. Not even the shorts from high school. The teeny-tiny polyester ones in the school green with the white piping.

Unsurprisingly, he often could not find his coveted items when he needed them. If I had a nickel for every time I heard some variation of, 'Hey, have you seen my postcard from the Cabelas in Nebraska? It has a deer wearing a tie on it,' I could buy Pringles and 'Jon and Kate Plus 8' on dvd for the entire population of North Korea. That would solve THAT problem, now wouldn't it?

One day, I got a little fed up by the constant not-finding and generously offered to re-organize the closet. I went in with a headlamp, some emergency provisions and a box of trash bags. Five bags, one bottle and two batteries later, I emerged, triumphant. As I trotted to the car with the bags, he looked a little suspicious, so I reassured him with, 'Just moving some things around, Honey!' None the wiser, he admired the newly organized closet and asked my secret. Of course, I told him all it took was a little effort and gave him a lecture on keeping his things neat. If you are chortling at my foolishness now, you are a smart cookie.

Here in Korea, we are forced to share closets. And now that we have kids, the linen closets see a lot more action than any other place in the whole house. The other day was laundry day, one of about 23 we have each week. Lloyd was folding towels, washcloths and diaper wipes and putting them away in neat stacks, in direct violation of my much faster method of wadding them up and shoving them in willy-nilly. Some of those things had probably never been folded before; I hope it wasn't a shock.

I'm pretty sure Lloyd's way gives the closet a slightly more, I don't know, sophisticated look, but I put the pictures up so you can decide for yourself. Today the towels, tomorrow the silverware! Then the moldy boots! My ambition is bounded only by my finely honed manipulation skills.


One of the perks of being at Osan is the Chili's on base. It's the only one in South Korea, and it's a regular full-on Chili's. It has the pepper on the building and everything. Every time we walk by it, which is approximately 18 times per day, Shane points at the pepper and yells, 'Apple!' He gets very angry when I say approximately 18 times per day, 'That's a chili. It looks like an apple, though, doesn't it?'

'NOOOOOOOO!!!!! APPLE! APPLE! APPLE!' Okay, fine. It's an apple. Never argue with a two-year old.

Chili's has always left me cold. It always SEEMS like a good idea to go there, but there is never anything I really want. Everything is just a little bit wrong, from the deep-fried corn appetizers to the bleu cheese burger that inexplicably has chipotle sauce on it. Really, who would do that, and why? And, you cannot sit in there for more than ten minutes before some birthday boy thinks it's a good idea to inform the staff that it's his special day so he can get his 'BIRTHDAY! BIRTHDAY! BIRTHDAY!' chant. The chanting wouldn't be so bad; it's the tambourines that kill you.

Unfortunately there are few options around here for knocking back a few margaritas. The downtown scene doesn't appeal to me, and I'm not really an O'Club kind of girl. I might give the O'Club a chance, but the few times I've had a drink there I have had the most horrible headache the next day and all I trust is the beer tap. And I'm definitely not one to sit in the O'Club swilling beer (shut up, Lisajoy). So, off I go to Chili's every time I want to hang out with a friend.

Last night, after attending an absolutely shocking birthday party, my friend Helen and I scurried down there to bathe our wounds in tequila. No salt, please! We made a solemn, margarita-driven vow that after we leave this place, we will never, ever set foot in another Chili's as long as we live. We're going to meet there later to hammer out the details.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

For the birds

Life must be pretty sweet when you're a bird, right? You get to swoop around, free as a..... well, whatever. Enjoy the sunrise, sing a beautiful tune, feather your nest, poop on someone's head, and go to bed early. What could be better?

We have some birds in the birdhouse on our deck. Lloyd and Weston built it last year and it sat empty until late this spring, when some chickadees moved in. At least Lloyd says they are chickadees. Birds all look the same to me. Except peacocks and chickens; I can tell which ones those are.

The chickadee family consists of a mother, a father, and four babies, and they have definitely revised my opinion on the advisability of being a bird. First, the mother and father spent weeks painstakingly gathering bits of dried grass, twigs, Pottery Barn curtains and other nesting material. Then, a goodly amount of time tethered to the eggs, never even getting out for a bit of purse shopping.

Then, once the babies hatched, their carefree bird lives were OVER. All day long, every day, those poor birds are fetching food for their insatiable offspring. No lie, they are voracious. We can hear them squeaking in there for more, more, more, always more. Moths, grubs, dragonflies, you name it. Back and forth, back and forth with never a moment's rest. The second the birds sit on a branch for a breather, the squealing starts up again: Where's my aphid juice? Can I have some antennae chips? Her centipede has more legs than mine! I don't wanna eat my seeds! I want my mosquito with no blood!

I sit in my chair by the window, and oooh, I know just what those birds are thinking: 'It must be nice to be a human. You just sit around and drink coffee, haul your food home in big bags all at once, and you don't even have to sit on those damn kids. Slackers!'