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Pregnancy Product Review: Chocolate

Chocolateone

Crying a lot? Needing a hug? Feeling aches and pains that won’t quit? Does watching a Golden Girls marathon sort of help but it still feels like something’s… missing?

Let me recommend this thing I’ve always known about but now have a new relationship with: Chocolate. All. The. Chocolate. I’m going to guide you through the best way to let this magical cure-all help you throughout your pregnancy.

First though, you should know what this product really is. I looked up the history of chocolate and discovered that it’s been around for a long time – like thousands of years so that makes me feel like we’re all pretty safe ingesting as much of this stuff as we can with no ill side effects. It also was involved in some mayan/aztec happenings and from what I can tell it comes from beans which are healthy, so feel free to have at it! I could probably be more thorough but that was as much cocoa-education I could muster because I’m nine months pregnant.

Without further ado, here are my suggestions for proper use of this fine product:

DO:
– Try all the kinds of chocolate! See what floats your fancy: Liquid, powder, solid, chocolate comes in many wonderful forms, all of which are valid. My only caveat is that it’s also commonly found mixed in other foods like croissants and muffins. Definitely use those in a pinch but because this chocolate is technically “diluted” with bread and eggs and stuff, I wouldn’t count on that to cure you of what ails you. You’re gonna need to ingest the hard core stuff as soon as you can get your hands on it.

– Focus on quantity, not quality. Now, this might be controversial, because back when I wasn’t an incubator, I was able to buy a few pieces of fine chocolate and “savor” them. Well recently I made the mistake of buying a tiny fancy package of chocolate at a wine shop (buying wine for a friend, I promise!!) and at 7$ a pop, I justified it by thinking I would make it last, enjoy it, and a lot of other stuff that didn’t happen. The truth is, I didn’t even taste it and it was gone before I started my car to head home where there was a whole stash of less expensive but just as purposeful chocolate waiting for me. Lesson learned.

– Have a lot of different kinds on hand so you can fit your mood:

Crying: Hershey’s anything.
Tired: Sees Toffee.
Grumpy: Trader Joe’s straight up milk chocolate bar
Your husband didn’t take out the trash: Godiva truffles
Neutral: Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream
Pleasantly dazed: Trader Joe’s chocolate pudding
Your vagina feels like it’s falling out: Coffee Bean’s hot chocolate

DO NOT:
– Be above eating baker’s chocolate if that’s the only thing you have on hand.

– Snort the chocolate. Learn from my mistakes, snorting chocolate is not as pleasant as you might think. And actually, after my “incident” I did some research and discovered that now that we’re pregnant, ladies, our snorting anything days should be behind us.

– Eat chocolate you found on the street… Unless it’s completely wrapped and looks like it hasn’t been urinated on.

Chocolatesnort
Don’t do this ^

In conclusion I’m giving two adult and two baby thumbs up for this product. I highly recommend you go get yourself some chocolate today!

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A Different Kind Of Baby!

It’s here! Today is a big day for us. As you know we have Baby Oprah coming in the next little while, but as of today, another sort of baby has arrived.  This baby has been gestating for much longer than the standard 9.5 months.  There were no swollen ankles or morning sickness (that I know of) but there was definitely some primal labor of love shit happening here:

makeashadowep

Andy co-wrote and produced this beautiful EP called Make A Shadow for Meg Myers (think: Fiona Apple meets Kurt Cobain) and also has been managing Meg for the last three years. To say I’m proud of what they’ve created here is an understatement. I’m feeling mama bear fierce pride that makes my eyes well with tears throughout every single song.

I know that parents always think their own baby is the cutest, so I know I’m biased but I really do think this EP is an exquisite work of art. I just feel so fortunate to have this music in my life and want that for everyone ~ I feel the need to share it, and (for real) not just because our real life future human baby’s ability to have things/food/parents-who-aren’t-homeless kinda sorta depends on its success. Although that’s a thing too 🙂

bootleg

So. Please take a listen, then go buy the EP in iTunes, and then go and give it the 5 star rating it obviously deserves. Check out the video for “Desire”,  and then share all of it. Share it far, share it wide!

ps. If you are in LA, Meg is playing at The Bootleg tonight. Her live shows are phenomenal. Also, you might run into an extremely swollen pregnant lady who loves Meg’s shows so much she is staying up well past her bedtime. Come say hi 🙂

~ A very proud mama bear

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This Guy…

While cleaning out our house to make room for baby, we found a few long lost gems. One of those is a large photo of Andy, sitting in his apartment when he was 24:

Andy24_blog

I love this picture for so many reasons. This was taken right around the time we “re-met” and were falling in love and it captures who he was in that time so perfectly. Obviously he lived in a disgusting apartment in New York. Actually it might have been THE most disgusting apartment in New York. You don’t have to look too closely to see the dirt on the walls. What you can’t see is that there were also strips of paint hanging from the ceiling that would flake onto everything all the time. His bed was a gross mattress on the floor. But there’s more to it – the skateboard he rode around the city, the stuffed dog he loved sitting in the corner name Monie who was usually wearing a tie like the bad ass bitch she was, the synthesizer in the other corner that he’d make music on until 4 am every night… it’s all so ANDY.

I  had a love/hate relationship with that room – I was totally grossed out by the way he lived and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that even at 24 years old I had some teensy tiny reservations about his “prospects” or whatever you want to call it. But his charm and ambition and talent and spirit totally overrode that and I was utterly smitten. I happily slept in that bed next to him and woke up with lead paint chips in my  mouth. Now I look at this photo and I LOVE that room. Because really, without that room, the dirt, the joy, the recklessness, the struggle, the fun, and the passion, Andy wouldn’t even make sense. This made him who he is today.

Now, when I look at this photo I see a dreamer, a hard worker, an amazing husband to be, a beautiful soul, and the only person on earth I’d want to be my teammate in life and parenthood. As I write this, Andy is doing his daily ritual of ironing his shirt before going to his recording studio and making music for a living. He built that. I want to go tell that 24 year old that he’s doing everything right. That he’s going to be an incredible husband. A father. A record producer. I am so proud of him that I could cry. (okay, I am crying)

Since I’m crying I might as well go full bore here: To all the dreamers out there – those of you putting one foot in front of the other and doing the scary things, the next harder thing, the thing that feels right, please keep doing what you are doing. Even if you are living in chaos and everyone around you is telling you to do the safe or easy thing. Ignore them and create your own path. I’m taking this advice to heart for myself as well: Just keep doing you, take each step as a leap of faith, and you’ll get there someday. Even if you don’t know what the “there” is, you’ll know it when you land.

Don’t worry about the other stuff…. Although maybe have the lead paint strips removed in the meantime. That can be a priority… It’s a health hazard.

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An Open Letter To Chelsea Peretti @ Her Future Dog

Yankee - a pup I pulled from a shelter and adopted out to a great home vie The Mutt Scouts

Yankee – a non-shedding pup I pulled from a high-kill shelter and adopted out to a great home.

Hi Chelsea~

I don’t think you know who I am, but we’ve met a few times over the years. I’m a big fan of your work (ugh… Sorry, that’s so cliche but true!) I think you are very talented and funny and the few times we’ve interacted you’ve been cool with just the right amount of weird. Point is, I like and respect you.

One of those times we met-ish was when my friend and I were walking our dogs around the reservoir and you were walking with someone I know. We stopped and chatted and you were really enamored with both my dog and my friend’s dog. Both of our dogs fit the description of the sort of dog you’re looking to… well, to obtain. I’m really excited for you – I can’t really put into words the amount of joy my girl Ruby has brought into my life!

This here letter is in response to an email I got from one of my podcast listeners titled “Help Save Chelsea Peretti From Buying A Dog!” They sent it to me because they know I’m passionate about dog rescue. At first I thought, there’s not much I can do, it’s your choice and I’m over the days of being pushy and vocally judgmental to people who choose to buy versus rescue. Also, I’m aware that I’m a total hypocrite pushing rescue on people (more on that later) but after listening to the podcast in which you discussed it, I wanted to let you know about my experience with buying a dog as someone who has dog allergies. I think it might help.

Here are the things you said you want in your future pup:

1. You have dog allergies so you need a hypoallergenic dog.
2. You want a cool medium sized dog who will hike with you but doesn’t need massive amounts of exercise because you are busy and travel a lot.
3. You want your dog to be pretty/cute (I get it and I appreciate your honesty :))

A little history from moi:
I have dog allergies but never really went to an allergist for them. I grew up with dogs, shedding dogs, and it was never a problem until I turned about twenty.

Seven years ago when my then boyfriend (now husband) and I moved in together, we decided we wanted some puppy love in our lives. Knowing I was allergic, and not really even being aware at all about dog rescue and how important it is, I immediately googled “hypoallergenic dogs” which led me to several websites that claimed to sell a type of dog that I wouldn’t be allergic to. I bought a dog from a “breeder” after talking to her on the phone, although I’m now certain that this was a woman from a call center representing one of the thousands of massive puppy mills that supplies these so called “hypoallergenic” dogs.

Our lil Ruby was shipped to us when she was 8 weeks old. We picked her up from the airport and instantly fell in love.

She weighed about 4 pounds. Three days later I was a sneezing, snotting, asthma attack having mess of a puddle. This lil tiny “hypoallergenic” thing made me feel like I was going to die, and honestly, I could have. I went to an allergist in a  desperate panic and I had to start medication as well as start getting allergy shots immediately and didn’t stop for over 5 years. It made my allergies A LOT better and now I’m only mildly allergic to Ruby – we bathe her frequently – but it’s totally manageable. I’m still extremely allergic around shedding dogs.

PS. I reaaallly want to go into my entire story with Ruby – how she turned me into a dog lover and got me involved in dog rescue and that the fact that I bought her instead of adopted her is a great source of shame for me and I’m aware that I’m a total hypocrite preaching about rescue but it’s something I’m crazy passionate about so I don’t fucking care…  but this is about allergies so I’ll stick to that.

My allergist also informed me that there is NO SUCH THING as a hypoallergenic dog. I’d been duped by a sales gimmick. Anyone who uses that as a sales pitch is a sleazy liar. Which I’m definitely not surprised by because 99.99 percent of “breeders” are pieces of shit who contribute to massive amounts of suffering and see these animals as dollar signs or commodities. But I digress.

Here’s the rub: You and I are unfortunately allergic to a dog’s saliva and dander, not their fur. Having a “non shedding” dog – one who has hair instead of fur – is definitely a huge help because the dander and saliva is more contained on the actual dog instead of spread all over your house and clothes. Aside from the shedding vs. non-shedding, There is no type of fur or breed of dog that will make your allergies better or worse.

On your podcast you complained that rescue people are always saying, “it’s a mix” but didn’t know what kind of breed mix it was and you feel that buying a puppy from one of these hypoallergenic breeders will guarantee a less allergic experience because you’ll know what you are getting. We hear this as a defense of buying a dog versus adopting all the time: I want to know what I’m getting… Well, The truth is that there are just two types of dogs when it comes to allergies: shedding and non shedding. You can tell a shedding dog from a non shedding dog very easily by just looking at it. You’ll know what you’re getting. I can eyeball a dog and in an instant tell you what you’re dealing with. All breeders selling “hypoallergenic” dogs are ALSO selling mixes who happen to be non shedding, they are absolutely no different from a rescue dog who is non shedding.

Your wish list #2:
A cool medium sized dog who will hike but doesn’t need tons of exercise because you are busy and travel a lot.

The beauty of adopting a dog instead of buying a puppy is that, actually,  you know EXACTLY what you are getting. Also, if you don’t have time for a high energy exercising needing big dog, you definitely don’t have time for a puppy. My unsolicited advice: Adopt an awesome medium sized dog who is over 1 or 2 years old. You’ll know a lot more about that dog’s personality and needs than buying or adopting a puppy.

#3: Pretty/Cute

Hey, guess what happens ALL THE TIME? Someone with allergies or a kid who wants a dog for a minute or people who are ill equipped to care for a dog but just HAVE TO HAVE ONE because they are so cute! Those people go out and buy a dog from a pet store or breeder or online (again 99.99% of which come from horrific puppy mills) and then a week or two later decide they can’t keep the dog and bring it to the shelter where it has a high (at least 50%, often way more) chance of being killed. The dog in this photograph below was one of those dogs. She was a few weeks old and had been at the shelter for two weeks, no one had pulled her and her time was running out. I took her home, spruced her up and voila:

She was adopted to the best couple ever and she actually is one of the dogs you were gushing over on the reservoir.

My point is, the dogs in the shelters and rescues ARE THE SAME DOGS as the ones you see online or in pet stores. They are all the same amount of pretty, just might need a little sprucing to get to that pretty place. imagine being thrown into a prison for no crime whatsoever other than the people who care for you are irresponsible and being terrified, not eating, not sleeping, and oh yeah, your three roommates keep shitting on you. You probably wouldn’t look as gorgeous as you did the other night at the Golden Globes 🙂

Also, quickly – Yes, there are TONS of chihuahua’s and pit bulls in shelters/rescues because those breeds have it the hardest in terms of people not spaying/neutering and/or buying them as short term accessories, but there are probably hundreds of the exact type of dog you are looking for in the shelter/ rescue system in Los Angeles as I write this. Here are a few up for adoption recently, all taken from the LA North Central Shelter Facebook Page:

These types of dogs are euthanized every day – in fact, about 250 dogs are euthanized every day in LA city – puppies, pure breds, you name it. The reason us rescue people are so annoying is because we have many times fallen in love with a dog in a shelter and tried desperately to find it a home, a temporary home, to raise funds to put it in boarding to buy time but we just can’t do it. Then a friend of a friend goes and buys the exact same type of dog from a breeder and the dog we fell in love with is killed. I personally couldn’t take the emotional toll anymore so I try to advocate for rescue instead of get my hands dirty in it these days. Rescuers get a bad wrap but to me they are saints.

SO! Unsolicited advice #2: Fuckin’ ADOPT that dog, do not buy. Do not line the pockets of breeders and allow them to thrive in a cruel business when your pup is sitting on death row in a LA shelter or in a rescue. You’ll be saving his/her life as opposed to contributing to a horrific and easy to avoid problem.

To summarize:
1. There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Know that you might need to get allergy shots regardless of whether you buy from a breeder or adopt a non shedding dog – they are all the same, there’s not one that’s better than the other in terms of allergies.
2. Do not get a puppy. Adopt a slightly older dog and you’ll really know what you are getting.
3. All shelter and rescue dogs are the same as the pretty princess dogs you see online. They just need a bath and a day outside of the hell they’ve been living in.

Lastly – my biggest unsolicited advice of all!

My numero uno suggestion for you is to foster a dog for a rescue! This would be awesome on so many levels. First of all, you could take that dog for a trial run/test spin (don’t mention this as a motive to the rescue though, just say you want to foster a dog who is non shedding) All rescues are desperate for fosters and will jump at the chance to save another life. Secondly, foster families always have first dibs on actually adopting the dog. You’ll get to see if that dog fits into your life, how bad the allergies really are, and maybe there will be a love connection or not. To me it’s a major win win.

Here is Willow – a non shedding dog who was so weak she could barely hold her head up when we got to her. Luckily we had an awesome couple who wanted to foster her and nurture her back to health:

They fell in love and adopted her two weeks later. Here is Willow (and me, visiting!) after a year in her new home:

I have some connections in the rescue world and am SO HAPPY to email intro you to a few people if that’s something that interests you. I hope you’ll consider that as an option.

* Note: Aside from the North Central photos, all the dogs pictured here are non shedding dogs I pulled from high kill shelters and placed in loving homes when I worked with/for The Mutt Scouts. Statistically speaking, half of those would have been euthanized had their families not chosen to adopt.

Sorry if this was super preachy and annoying. I sort of hate myself for doing this but I can’t help it.

All the best,
Elizabeth

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Broken Scale, Broken Spirit?

scale

My scale broke. Or rather I broke my scale… When I stepped on it. When I stepped on it and it shattered.

Pregnancy, miright?! It’s this weird shape-shifty time that is magical and awful and liberating and scary as fuck. I could write a poorly written book on all my thoughts on pregnancy but let’s just talk about the important part: Weight. (That’s a joke. It’s the least important part. Which I’m just now figuring out.)

Important or not, this is the one aspect of pregnancy that really came to a head for me a few days ago when my glass scale surrendered/cracked into a thousand pieces of my shattered confidence. Just kidding, sorry for being so dramatic… They were actually pieces of my soul. A thousand pieces of my soul lay on my bathroom tile. Or maybe it was tempered glass but it felt like all of my hopes and dreams and my sense of self. Shattered. What happened was, if I haven’t been clear, I stepped on the scale and it crumpled into a blanket of tempered glass pieces. My feet didn’t get cut, thankfully, but the metaphorical slashes to my ego were no joke.

And then, after I took a moment to gather myself and DRY MY TEARS (and google the max weight of my particular scale and be relieved to learn I was still a few hundred pounds off..) I realized, hmmm… maybe I’ve been putting too much weight on my weight?

I’ve weighed myself every. single. morning. of. my. life. First thing, clothes off, after peeing, since I started puberty. My Mother, who was a beautiful, loving, fun and effervescent woman, was put on her first diet at the age of FOUR (that’s right) and spent an extraordinarily large amount of her short life worrying about that scale number. She and I went on a diet together when I was ten years old. I lost ten pounds  in three weeks and felt her pride more than I ever had before. We went shopping and she beamed with joy when the sales lady said I was like a living doll. I learned a new, special way to her heart.

My mom passed away fifteen years ago but weight has continued to take up a ridiculous amount of time and focus in my life – time spent thinking about how much I weigh, wanting to weigh less, restricting, bingeing, “not dieting” but still checking, and I can’t help but wonder what I could have accomplished with the energy I’ve put towards something so meaningless and vapid. In the bad times, when I was using food as comfort/punishment/family, I’d weigh myself five times a day. That number would dictate everything – whether or not I got to go to dinner with friends, what kind of mood I was in, how I was doing in “life”. It makes me sad even just thinking about it.

Here was my big realization as I swept up the crumbled sheet of glass shards:
I DO NOT WANT THIS WASTE OF POTENTIAL FOR MY DAUGHTER.

I’m eight months pregnant and she weighs about four and a half pounds right now. The only reason that matters to me is that she is healthy and growing and thriving. Her brain is developing. She moves a lot. It’s beautiful. She is already so beautiful simply by her existence, and I want her weight to matter to me in the way it does right now for the rest of her life. It’s a symbol of her health and alive-ness. Nothing else. Her worth and miraculousness have nothing to do with the number 4.5.  I want her to put the catastrophic amount energy that I and so many girls waste towards shrinking their bodies towards her passions, towards her mind, and her spirit. Her body will follow the way it should, whatever shape it may take.

And I know she will learn this from me. From watching me. I learned a lot from hearing my Mom complain about being ugly or fat when she was the most beautiful woman in the world. It confused me. Nothing was good enough, and if SHE wasn’t beautiful, then I certainly wasn’t.

Not putting myself down in front of my daughter or comparing sizes or complaining of having a fat day or associating food and weight with self worth won’t come naturally to me but it is SO important to me that I work on this for her. For both of us.

That scale shattering under my feet was such a gift. I will never own a scale again. It feels weird waking up and not knowing the number but it’s a liberating weird. From now on it’s about how I feel, it’s about what my body wants to do – move, nourish, etc.. that makes me feel good in my skin. It’s about giving my daughter a better chance.

So… so long scale. You won’t be missed.