Saturday, October 29, 2011

I {heart} my body



This is one of the hardest posts I will ever write. I spent a long time committing myself to doing it, and to be honest I feel a little sick about hitting publish.

I {heart} my body, but I have not always done so and the residue of my extreme lack of body love lingers.

I had an eating disorder for nearly ten years. In my teens and early twenties I spent hours looking at my (perfectly normal) body and picking out all the millions of flaws.


Such was my self consciousness that I didn't wear bathers in public for many years. I was convinced that everyone would be looking at me and passing judgement as harshly as I did myself. Even now stripping down to bathers in a public place makes my breath catch and my heart race.

A few years ago a woman made an offhand comment about 'not standing next to Kate in bathers'. It was maybe a weird backhand compliment, maybe more indicative of her own body issues. It certainly was a verbalisation of a fairly common misconception... That those leaner women amongst us must be so confident in their bodies that they need to be judged and cut down to size. The fact that I remember the comment and the accompanying feeling of self revulsion and embarrassment so clearly five years later would indicate that size has nothing to do with self love.


When I see photos of my teenage self now I could weep for that girl, and more than anything I want my children to grow up with a healthy respect and love for their bodies. And that has to start with me.

This is what my 35 year old body looks like.


My entire body shape has changed since having children. I have pouchy skin on my belly, not surprising having grown four babies within. My legs are thinner than they used to be... a different shape altogether. I suspect that's partly age and partly due to tandem breastfeeding... I expect I'll put on quite a bit of weight when the baby eventually weans and I'm kind of looking forward to that. I feel so pointy sometimes.

I have been breastfeeding for more than 8 years straight and how my breasts look reflects this.


I have lumps and bumps and saggy skin and wrinkles and bits I don't like and bits I hide and bits that I wish I had appreciated more when they were younger.

But I {heart} my body. I {heart} it because it has grown and nurtured my children. I {heart} it because it is moving all day every day to keep up with them. I {heart} that I do not feel the need to starve it to feel in control any more. I {heart} that these arms will comfort my babies when they need me and that they can find solace on my lap.

I may not always like my body parts individually... I am a product of this society too.

But I am amazed at what this body can do.

I'm stepping way out of my comfort zone and joining in I {heart} My Body 2011 at We {heart} Life. Follow the link and help celebrate real bodies in all their shapes and sizes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday: I've got a plan...

It's going to be a short and sweet one from me today, you see I'm pulling together the last ideas and plans for a special Systems Junkie Spring Series next week. I'm a bit excited!

So today I'm feeling thankful for the opportunity to share ideas here.

I'm thankful to the bloggers who have joined in by sending me tips to share.

I'm thankful to the companies who are supplying some awesome prizes for you!

I'm thankful to the bloggers who will link up on Monday with their recipes. The monthly Menu Monday posts are always so much fun and I love trying out the new recipes that are shared.

I'm thankful to everyone who reads along here, and for your comments that truly do make my day every time. I'm thankful for those of you who chat with me on Facebook and Twitter, and I'm thankful for those that maybe don't need or want to join in the conversation but read my words anyway.

It's Thursday and I'm feeling thankful! 
If you'd like to join us simply link up your own Thankful Thursday post below
and be sure to link back to this post so we can share the love <3

Monday, October 24, 2011

If rain on your wedding day makes you lucky, my sister is going to win the lottery.

Truly I can't come up with a better title than that.

My baby sister got married on Saturday. My extended family all headed to Ballarat for the nuptials, with many of us staying at the same motel. Which was ace for me because the Supertrucker couldn't come and I needed all the help I could get!

We've had a lovely few weeks getting ready for the last of the sister weddings. It's a bit end of an era too. I was married in 2001, then we had a run with my sister marrying in 2009, the next one in 2010 and now the youngest in 2011.

So we rock up to the gardens. My children are all suited and frocked, the big two being part of the bridal party and my little two matchy matching just because that's a fun one. It is fairly mild, and starts to drizzle. The assembled guests pop up their umbrellas (it was Ballarat, we thought we were prepared) and head for the shelter of some trees.

The only one who stayed dry.
And then the HEAVENS OPENED DIRECTLY ON TOP OF US! I'm talking lightning and thunder and it was completely insane!! After a few minutes in which every beautifully coiffed woman (and flowergirl) said goodbye to their lush do's along with their mascara the guests all headed for the relative shelter of a nearby rotunda. A small boy was freaking out at the noise and the crowded quarters and spent the next half hour or so in my arms with his forehead pressed against mine. Poor mate, it was just so bizarre and full on!

Now here's the thing. If this had happened on my wedding day I would have been a bawling mess. Not my sister. When the downpour dropped to a mild deluge for a few minutes she bolted out of her vintage wedding car and with the assistance of my Dad joined everyone in the rotunda. She was grinning and laughing and I was blown away at not only how beautiful she looked but at the fact that her attitude turned a wall-less box full of drowned rats into a joyous celebratory group.

The ceremony took place while they were very literally surrounded by friends and family, and there was much laughter when at the point of 'I Do' there was an enormous thunderclap in reply. I have to throw in that I am so grateful to my awesome Uncle who lent me his big coat to wrap around myself and the little man, we were freezing by then and I think being able to wrap both of us together helped him feel a bit more secure.


The hail started just as they were preparing to sign the registry. In my life I have never seen hail like it. The size of marbles and bigger, hard enough to set off car alarms and cause the water in the lake behind us to splash up in sharp daggers. It was deafening!


And the heavens had the last laugh (it must have been a hysterical day really) when the celebrant presented the new Mr and Mrs, and another huge lightning bolt and thunderclap came in response.

See that little red bit? That's just above our heads. Nice one Ballarat!

But despite the wild weather (which we found out later had literally only been that vicious right where we were) the thing I will remember always about my sister's wedding is her grace, her confidence and her ability to turn what could have been a stressful and upsetting turn of events into a thing of good humour and even fun. I've always known my baby sister is an amazing person, yesterday she showed the whole world that and I just have so much admiration for her.

And for the record, by the time everyone had changed (or in my case dried the kids' clothes and my dress with a hairdryer) and returned to that area for the reception the skies had cleared. There was a beautiful golden glow over the lake and it was such a peaceful scene you'd not guess the madness of a few short hours earlier. Aside from losing your heels in the muddy puddles.

Gorgeous girl <3
My beautiful baby girls.

Super spunky boys!

Congratulations little sister. We love you so much and you just shone yesterday. I'm so happy to have another brother in the crew and I know you will both have a blessed and amazing life together.

Just don't forget to buy that Tatts ticket ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fragmented

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You know the one where you're coasting along just fine (you think), and then something that you'd usually deal with and move on totally upsets your applecart?

The one where you feel like you are losing your mind, and suddenly all the appointments and phone calls and the endless having to get things exactly right so no one loses their freakin mind just gets too much?

The one where the fan has to be on unless it has to be off. And if you dare turn off the endless replays of home movies of the big boy on his motorbike, even if the little boy is in a whole other room, it is the end of the world. And if you dare suggest short sleeves and/or pants are necessary because it is hot it causes a screaming fit. So you take your little mate out in trackies and a skivvy and have two different people comment disapprovingly. Know that one?

Or how about the one where you're investigating childcare for a day a week for your small two and you tell yourself it is so you can get some work done, but you know in your heart it is because you need a break. And that knowledge feels awful. And the guilt is tremendous because your little boy has severe separation anxiety and it will be so hard to leave him, even though he is going to need to get used to that sort of thing. And your head could just about explode from thinking about it.

Then there's the one where the waiting lists for private speech pathologists that are within a reasonable distance of where you live are ridiculously long and why isn't anything happening yet?!

Or the one where your other son is being assessed next week and you don't know whether you hope for a diagnosis or not, because something is definitely amiss but you know full well that a diagnosis solves nothing in and of itself. And the thought of two children on the autism spectrum is frightening even though they are the same two children they have always been.

Then there's the big one. The one where you realize that actually you are not coping as well as you thought. You feel like your parenting skills are sub par and resentful that your social life is basically nonexistent because it simply isn't worth the fallout from he who does not cope with change. And then you feel guilty for feeling resentful. I hate that one.

Sorry if you were expecting rainbows and lollipops. I've had people comment on how great my attitude is and how positive my blog is. Usually both statements are true. But like everything on the internet you see only what I show you. Don't ever presume that what you see here is all of me. And don't make assumptions based on it either. I'm human just like you. I have shitty days and I question myself often. I choose not to share a lot of that here because it isn't what I want to look back on myself. The things I share here are true, but they are not the entirety of me or my life.

Oh and if anyone is feeling that I chose to have these kids therefore suck it up princess (as has been implied before), I suggest you keep it to yourself or risk getting stabbed with a fork.

I'm not in a good place right now. It's time to step away from the interwebs for a few days and get my head back in order. One of the ace things I do know to be true about myself is that I'm an optimist and I get over things quickly. No doubt we'll be back to sunshine and smilies very soon. In the meantime play nice.

Peace.

Thankful Thursday: Words

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Not the words I write here, although I am thankful for them.

And not the words I read in your comments, even though your comments are what keep me going sometimes.

Today I'm thankful for the words that are starting to fall from my babygirl's mouth.

My little mate has few words. You get used to it, I understand him better than most and we muddle through one way or another.

But to have a baby who is not quite one yet talking to you all day long and using recognizable words is doubly joyful when you've experienced the opposite.

She has said Mummy and Daddy for ages. She's well sorted with her siblings' names. She loves pears and calls them apples. She says "Hi" over and over interspersed with other words. "Beep" had been my favourite for a while. "Hi Hi Hi Mummy Hi Daddy Hi Beep Beep Apple Hi Hi Hi."

I have a new favourite for the moment though. She's taken to cruising the furniture chanting "Hap-peeee hap-peeee" in her sing song voice.

It melts my heart. She really is so very happy, and I hope she will remain so calmly natured and easy going all her life. What a joyous life that would be.

It's Thursday, and I'm feeling thankful.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autism Days

Or daze, which is probably more appropriate some of the time.

We have had a challenging few days at my place. Sleep is nonexistent and the little mate has been having epic meltdowns over everything and anything.

It began yesterday when I couldn't park in our usual place at the shopping centre and went downhill from there.

I had a whole big woe is me post writing itself in my head this afternoon. But really who does that serve? Time to drink a cup of concrete and focus on the great things that have happened.

My boy pointed to the sky today and said 'Mummy, a plane'. He was right, and he's never done that before.

He recognized the ride on thingy at the shoe shop as a horse and bounced on it saying 'horsey jump!'

When I gave him his icy pole this afternoon he said 'Good boy Mummy!'

We spent an hour on the trampoline, I sang Ring a Rosie 85 million times and by the time we got off he was asking me to 'turn on rosie' (if I sing anything generally he tells me to turn it off).

We sat in the sunshine for ages with the baby watching her perfect her downward dog pose. He loves her and got very worried when she got close to the tan bark... 'baby grass Mummy'.

He is a beautiful, happy little mate most of the time. I am very lucky.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Choc Chip Chia Cookies

You know that thing where you have a Diet Coke with your pizza because that totally makes it a healthier option? Yeah, that one.*

I bought some chia seeds to throw in our home made bread mix, purely because I really like them in the commercially available varieties. I'm not actually buying into the whole superfood bizzo. Mostly because I think all foods are super, it's just a matter of moderation with some more than others. That said I do want my kids to get more pulses and seeds in their diets. I'm sure this is a perfectly cromulent way to achieve it.

This recipe is for the Thermomix but it would be super easy to convert back so you can make it without. It's an eggless cookie dough as well so if you have sensitivities in your family they can still enjoy the dough cookies.

Also, if you don't want to be all super and stuff, leave out the chia seeds. Or add whatever you want. Up to you.

Ingredients:


- 250g butter
- 90g sugar (I use raw)
- 180g condensed milk
- Chia Seeds (I used around 10g)
- 370g self raising flour
- 200g dark choc chips

Process:


- Preheat oven to 170 degrees C and line a couple of trays with baking paper.

- If you've forgotten to leave the butter out to soften like I always do, pop it in the Thermomix bowl and set to 30 seconds, 50 degrees at speed 4.

- Add the sugar to the softened butter and cream for 40 seconds at speed 4.

- Add the condensed milk: mix for 15 seconds, speed 3.

- Pop the seeds and SR flour in the bowl. Process for 30 seconds, speed 3. Scrape sides and whizz for a further 10 seconds if needed.

- Pour in the choc chips and mix for 20 seconds, reverse speed 2 (just to integrate).

- Drop spoonfuls on the baking trays and bake for 13 minutes or until golden.

- Eat, drink and be merry!


The chia seeds give the cookies a really nice crunchy texture, and my kids didn't notice any difference to our usual choc chip cookies. Yum!

* Please note. Adding 'superfoods' to your cookies does not make them lower in calories, fat or anything else. Nor does drinking diet coke actually make anything you eat any more healthy. Sorry. Drink more water. Kthxbai.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blessingway

One year ago today my beautiful friend hosted a Blessingway in honour of the impending birth of our baby.

When I was pregnant with my first baby my bestie gave me a traditional (and fun!) baby shower. Somewhere between the first and the last baby I became a bit of a Crunchy McCrunchster so a blessingway felt more appropriate this time around.

I've been lucky enough to attend a number of these in the past for some beautiful women and their babies. Some super la la ones with chanting and candles and tying the circle of women together with red string, others as simple as sharing our wishes for the impending birth and belly cast painting. Because I'm such a fence sitter between the mainstream and alternative worlds we took the bits I loved and really turned it into a celebration that reflected my own likes.

The one thing I'd wanted to do in previous pregnancies but had not was have my belly henna'ed. As we enjoyed our pink bubbles my talented friend decorated my belly amid lots of laughs and chatter.



I shared a meal with women who shape my life and support my family. We skipped the red string, but each attendee received a candle in a purple sparkly holder (because even when I'm tripping the hipster path I like some bling) and a friendship band to wear until they received news of the birth. When I was sure I was in labour three weeks later they all got a message to light their candles, and between contractions I loved seeing the photos that were sent back to me. Knowing that across Melbourne (and Adelaide) there were candles burning and people I love holding us in their thoughts was simply amazing.

Today as we approach the babygirl's first birthday I'm taking a moment to say thankyou to my circle, your friendship is such a blessing to me and your support helps me be the parent I want to be.

Brought to you by maternity swimwear at Bump Baby & Beyond.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Post for Posterity.

On my 35th birthday:

I played at the playground with my children, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece. It was beautiful and sunny. At 35 I can still hang upside down on the monkey bars when dared by my 8 year old (but only for a moment before I felt like passing out!).

I chased this babygirl around the back yard as she giggled and ate grass.

I spent the afternoon preparing dips and veggies, home made pizzas and about a million mini cupcakes. The big kids are set for their sweet lunchbox snack for weeks to come! Also, I am not a food blogger nor am I an expert cupcake decorator. But they were made with love.

I looked like this, but more smiley. Yep, this is what 35 looks like.

My parents came over for dinner and I enjoyed a glass of wine with them in celebration of my Dad's birthday too. I insist I was the best birthday present he ever got, he still reckons he's not had a birthday in 35 years. We had a yummy family dinner, enjoyed the big boy singing Happy Birthday on his microphone and gobbled cupcakes.

The Chaplain at my Mum's work had given her this book for us, such a lovely and thoughtful thing to do. It is beautiful. I will admit the picture on the cover made me well up before I even read it. It just looks like our small boy. I'm looking forward to reading it with the big kids tomorrow.
Ian's Walk by Laurie Lears
More information here.
And at the end of the day I get to snuggle up next to this:

I'm a fan of 35 so far. I just know it's going to be an amazing year.




Friday, October 14, 2011

It takes a real man...


Or woman if that's your preference, but in this case I'll stick with man.

When you get home from two nights on the road to a small boy having an epic meltdown and a wife in tears at 3am and you are exhausted yourself, it takes a real man to remove and entertain the small boy so your wife can get an hour or two of sleep, even when you desperately need it too.

When you want to spend loads of time with your children but have a mortgage and other financial commitments, and your wife is limited in the amount of work she can do whilst juggling young children... it takes a real man to leave for four to six nights every single week knowing what you're missing out on.

When your wife unexpectedly turns into a freak some time after the birth of your first child, it takes a real man to not only address your own pre-conceived ideas, but to support her wholeheartedly and even go so far as to advocate for full term breastfeeding and homebirth to other people. To other men. Even other truckies. Yep.

When a diagnosis changes plans for your future and that of your family, it takes a real man to hold it together as your wife falls apart and then support her as she rebuilds herself.

When your own foundations are shaky and life has dealt you a number of blows that even years later can rock you to the core, it takes a real man to ask for help.

When you supported your partner through her last year of University in the expectation that she'd actually use her degree to teach for more than a few years, only to find that she will run businesses and work from home with varying degrees of success... it takes a real man to sing her praises every step of the way and tell her she is amazing even when she feels a failure. Especially then.

I am so blessed to have a real man in my life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Inspiration!

Source

It's Thursday and I'm feeling thankful.

When we first moved to this house a couple of years ago we pulled out an overgrown garden bed down the side to create a veggie patch. I will admit upfront that I'm no great shakes with plants, but the supertrucker had built me an awesome patch at our old place and we loved having home grown salad veggies each Summer.

Last year we decided we would build it up before planting again, but I was a huge sooky whingy bag of hormones heavily pregnant by Spring and we had other things on our minds. We made do with a couple of pots with tomatoes and cucumbers on the deck instead.

This year we've dragged our heels a little, but after spending yesterday in the garden I have found my mojo (for at least the next few hours) and am ready to get our kitchen garden going again. It's meant to be a gorgeous day here today so I'm looking forward to digging over the old patch, building it up a little and then heading to the nursery for a heap of seedlings.

So forgive me if this is short and sweet. I have work to do!



Monday, October 10, 2011

His Sleeping Face


He's such a busy boy, with his wheels to spin and lines to make. Endlessly moving except when he's engrossed in an app on the iPhone or iPad.

He does funny things with his face. Moves his mouth in odd ways and looks out of the corner of his eyes. I now know this is self stimulatory behavior (stimming) and quite common to kids with ASD.

He copes so well in the daylight hours, but as evening falls and during the night he can be so stressed and sad as his mind catches up with the events of the day.

It is when he sleeps that he looks most like his siblings. He has such an open face, big blue eyes and a huge smile... But when he relaxes into sleep his whole face changes.

He is beautiful this boy. I would not change a thing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

From the mouths of babes


I so love the mispronunciations and mis-sayings of childhood. I kept a little record on an old blog, and want to do the same here now and again so I don't forget the cuteness.

My little mate has some great ones. He is a boy of very few words, but we talk to him all the time and he's brilliant at parroting (isn't echolalia a lovely word? Pity the reality isn't always as lovely.) He refers to himself in the third party in a funny hybrid of his full name and his nickname.

When I do something for him I'll model gratitude with a "Thankyou Mummy" to which he'll reply "Thankyou (own name)". Then when I thank him by name he'll reply with a 'Thankyou Mummy". But if he says "Thankyou Mummy" and I don't respond with an immediate "Thankyou Smallboy" there is trouble!

He loves cucumber and watermelon best of all. Last year cucumber was 'gwee-gumgum' which has now graduate to 'cue-ka-maka'. And just to keep life interesting 'artawelon' refers to both watermelon and green cordial.

I'd best throw in that miss 11-months-old-today is getting the gist of this chatty chat chat biz as well. She's been saying Mummy and Daddy for a long while now... This last week she also said her brother's name and then blew me away by saying her own while I was prompting the little boy to! We have some fun times coming up over the next year I think.

What are your favourite kid sayings?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Squalor

As I type this I am staring down a few hours of hard labour. Yep, the systems junkie is living in squalor.

Earlier this week I gave my kitchen and pantry a well overdue clear out. I LOVE my 18 month old kitchen, love love love. I was preparing for an Ikea trip and wanted to be sure I knew exactly what was needed. You know, as opposed to loading up a bag with random stuff then leaving half of it before the checkouts. As you do.

When you live in a smallish house with a largish family you learn to be flexible with space. And to use it really well. Small spaces can feel so much larger with the right colours and shapes in them. I had not much of that going on and so the squalor creation began.



I've totally emptied and rearranged both the kids rooms, the family room and I'm about to take on the laundry.

So why am I grateful for squalor this thankful Thursday? Because I live in a country where we are employable and employed. We have a nice house, a GREAT block, good food, warmth, cooling... This squalor comes from living comfortably in a first world country... It is the result of too much stuff!
With so many in the world hungry, sick, living under deplorable conditions, I am thankful for the opportunities available to us here.

Now wish me luck as I lose myself once again in preparation for more functional (and fun) living spaces.

ETA: The ta-da pictures!
Oh clean and tidy, how I love you.










Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Drowning

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In information overload.

Another big package of info arrived in the mail today, this time about early intervention services in our area for the small boy.

I will admit that I've flicked through it so far but that's all. My head cannot keep up with it all. The acronyms are confusing and I feel like I just want a nice timeline of what I should do when instead of this bombardment of paperwork.

I know this will all be second nature in no time but this in between bit is not much fun. I just want things to start happening!

And to not write out everything in the whole world yet again.

I am sure my boy has more words all of a sudden though. Not always clear, but they are there. I can't wait to be able to speak with him and understand each other.

Some days I just wish he had woken on his third birthday and been 'normal' like I once assumed would happen.

Most days I know I wouldn't change a thing, because he is not his diagnosis... He is my son.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm a freak

Source

Or maybe an enigma. Depends on your personal opinion I guess.

When I posted about The Slap yesterday I nearly included a line about how long I've breastfed for. I left it out in the end because I was worried about the reception it would get.

Today I've thought more about it, and by not truly being honest here not only do I do myself a disservice but I can't support others who may be a bit freaky la la too.

I'm a bit crunchy you see. I've mentioned previously that we practice attachment parenting. Some of you will know that our babygirl was born at home. I co-sleep with our small two. And I breastfeed until my child decides s/he is emotionally and physically ready to give it up.

My big boy was 3, and I gave him a nudge having tandem fed for 20 months. Our big girl was 5. Yes, 5. She gave up her night feed about the same time she decided to sleep in her own bed in her own room.
Currently I'm tandem feeding our small boy and the babygirl. No it is not physically damaging to them or to me. Nor was feeding through three pregnancies. Our bodies are amazing things indeed.

Do I think our way is for everyone? No.

Do I think mothers deserve more support so that those who WANT to breastfeed full term are able without judgement? Yes.

Do I think bottlefeeding is bad? Hell no.

Do I think every mother deserves support for HER choices for HER family, even when they may be in direct opposition to my own beliefs? Absolutely.

And possibly my post to the Dear Mummies makes a little more sense now too.

I straddle the line between mainstream and not-so-common practices in a lot of areas. I've birthed at home and in hospital. My children attend a government school and we try to practice gentle discipline. I've put babies under one in family daycare and it was perfect for us. I try to buy organic where I can and my baby loves fries from McDonalds. I used to own a modern cloth nappy business and my small two are in disposables.

Show me your contradictions and I'll show you mine.

I am what I am, take it or leave it. But don't ask me to apologize for it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

If I hit your kid would you sue me?

While I was away last week I actually got to read a book.

Shocking but true.

That book was, obviously, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.

I've been looking forward to watching the mini series when it premieres on ABC this Thursday, but really wanted to have read it first having heard many and varied opinions.

I loved it. Admittedly the influx of characters in the first chapter was a bit mind boggling for this sleep deprived reader, but it built momentum quickly.

I've heard people comment that none of the characters are likable. I agree with that... I found that just like real people there were aspects to each of them that were pretty nasty, but it was possible to empathise with them at times as well.

I will be interested to see how the breastfeeding issue is handled. There's such a lot of ra ra out there about the nearly 4 year old victim of the titular slap being breastfed and the 'bad parenting' going on.
As a full term breastfeeder I'll admit this makes me pretty eye rolly. To me the link between breastfeeding and the 'earth-mother' aspects of Rosie (the child's mother) seem to indicate that the author was trying to represent attachment parenting possibly, but instead we see permissive parenting and the fallout that can occur. I'll be interested to see if and how the series deviates from the book there...

That said, I felt it was actually a pretty accurate portrayal of cultural ideas and beliefs at this point in space and time. I know those characters. I've been some of them in my life. Yes, even the bits that I'd consider fairly unsavory these days.

And of course the overriding question: is it ever okay to physically discipline a child? Especially someone else's child?

Thoughts?