MAYD to Birth: At Your Doorstep

Promoting gentle, empowering mother journies…

I Reject You, Higher Standards

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Today I read a really interesting post by a blogger with spina bifida regarding what she shares or doesn’t share on Facebook. She said people often tell her they wish they had her life because of what she shares on Facebook, but there is so much she doesn’t share about her disease. She writes:

Because, God forbid I should choose the joyful family Christmas dinner in Puerto Rico as the venue for disclosing how I’ve totally slacked off on my neurosurgery stuff and am now desperate to schedule a follow-up with my neuro to find out the results of my MRI, which I had done before the holidays.

That got me to thinking about what I share, but more importantly, what I see other people sharing. This morning I got onto Facebook to check notifications. I almost never read my feed, because I feel like if I respond to one person’s post that doesn’t specifically name-check me then someone else might think I should respond to theirs. Of course, this is extremely self-centered of me to think people will care what I do or don’t “like,” but I don’t think I would know when to stop. I don’t *want* to spend hours on Facebook every day, and I don’t want to worry about whether or not someone liked my profile picture change or what have you. In that way, Facebook is too transparent for me. I don’t know who reads my blog from day to day, and I really prefer it that way. I don’t want to wonder if I offended you or you’ve just been trapped under three feet of snow trying to get through the day for the last week.

Today, though, I read my feed for about five minutes and immediately was happy and sad for people (some of whom I barely know) and felt like I should say all the right things and click the appropriate emotion buttons and I got totally overwhelmed and just shut down the tab, pretending like I’d never opened it.

Pinterest cake

Credit Image: Shards of Blue on Flickr

We share so much information now, and it’s overwhelming to me. I’ve been thinking about why for several years now, and it’s finally occurred to me it’s because I get the news when I don’t have time to process it. If I go to lunch with a friend and she tells me her dog died or she’s been diagnosed with cancer or she’s just in a slump, I’m already there, focused on her, with time set aside already in my schedule to talk. When I hear news, good or bad, I really want to respond immediately. I’m an extrovert and I really love being with other people. So when there is so much in the feed that there is no way on earth I’ll ever be able to keep up, it actually makes my stomach hurt. Thus I avoid Facebook, only checking in every day or every other day to see if there’s anything specifically directed at me, because I also have a fear of ignoring someone without giving them a reason why. Even then I find I’ve ignored invites to events or what have you because Facebook is the only place they were announced.

But that’s not all of it. Not really.

I was immediately relieved when I closed the tab, because I noticed that in the five minutes I’d been reading, not only did I feel sad and happy, I felt jealous of some of the announcements and photos I saw, even though I know damn well we all edit the selves we present in social media and because of it, the standards for what our houses should look like or the presentation of our home-cooked dinners or the outfit we wear to Target go up and up and up. The standards I once thought applied only to the landed gentry suddenly feel like they’re applying to me sitting here in my home office in suburban Kansas City with plans only to buy my daughter a new pair of tennies and maybe hit a family-friendly pizza place on the way home tonight. I used to feel really proud of myself for baking anything and this morning I felt guilty for making my daughter a Valentine’s Day breakfast of chocolate chip muffins because it was a mix and I didn’t put them on a cute plate and the muffin liner thingies had Christmas trees on them.

My fucking muffin liners aren’t even good enough.

I blame Facebook and Pinterest. I really do. The television was always there. The catalogs were always there. The magazines, same thing. I didn’t know if my friends were watching or reading those things, and if they dressed better than I do or cooked beautiful meals, I chalked it up to personal taste or income levels or interest differences. Now because I see everybody doing those things, I feel like it’s the new norm.

Are seasonal wreaths really the new norm? Why does everyone have such cute boots? When did I get left behind?

Is it okay I don’t care about a lot of those things? I mean, I care a little, but well, I still go to the grocery store in yoga pants and a hat All.The.Time. My cooking has improved dramatically since we started eating in as much as possible, but I’m really proud of myself just for using fresh vegetables instead of canned or frozen or God forbid insta-mealed. It doesn’t have to look pretty, too.

I reject you, higher standards! I want to feel good about my not-matching wood and my non-mermaid hair. I want to feel like what I surround myself with can be just functional sometimes and doesn’t have to also be gorgeous and flawlessly maintained. I have no servants who live downstairs, and I’m TIRED.

I want to be good enough.

Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel The Obvious Game & the deputy editor of BlogHer.com. Find more at www.ritaarens.com.

New Facebook Gender Settings and How to Change Yours

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Your body. Your definition. Now on Facebook.

Facebook added the ability to set your gender outside the binary male/female choices just in time for Valentine’s Day. Now you can define yourself with a choice more reflective of who you really are if the binary choices don’t cover it.

Facebook on phone, Image Credit: Shutterstock

Here’s How to Update Your Gender Settings

1. Choose Edit Profile. If you’re on the page with your News Feed, it’s under your name at the upper left.

choose edit profile

2. Scroll down to the Basic Information Section and click Edit.

Edit Basic Information

3. You’ll see a gender option. Use the pull down menu to select “Custom.”

Select Custom

4. Start typing in the input field. After you type the first letter, Facebook populates the list with options based on your first letter. I typed a “c” thinking that I would like to identify as “crone.”

The "C" options

As you can see, crone isn’t an option. I tried typing it in and saving, but got an error message. It will only let you choose one of the options offered. (There are about 65 choices in all.)

I typed a “f” in the box. Here are the options offered. As you can see, choices included options with “f” in many places, not just as the first letter.

the "f" options

5. Pick a pronoun. If you choose a custom gender definition, you have a chance to choose your pronoun.

Choose a pronoun

The pronoun choices are limited and don’t offer some common choices that people who don’t fit the binary prefer. Maybe Facebook will add to the pronoun options later. They need to do that.

6. Save

Virginia DeBolt from Web Teacher and First 50 Words and Old Ain’t Dead.

Is Wanting To Be Beautiful Vain?

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Audrey Hepburn said, “I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.” I truly believe this. Beauty that is skin deep isn’t true beauty at all. When we decide to work on ourselves, to smile more often, to embrace self-love and to treat our bodies with respect, we begin to glow.

is beauty vain

Beauty Comes from Within, but it Doesn’t Have to Stay There

We’ve all heard this statement before. That beauty comes from within.

Audrey Hepburn said, “I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.”

I truly believe this. Beauty that is skin deep isn’t true beauty at all. When we decide to work on ourselves, to smile more often, to embrace self-love and to treat our bodies with respect, we begin to glow.

Eat whole, natural foods. Get a good sweat in often. Laugh just because. Be silly. Make a list of the things you love about yourself. Do something because it makes you feel good. Tell someone “I love you.” And don’t be shy to reach out for help. We can’t always change on our own.

These are the things that make a woman truly beautiful. But, beauty doesn’t have to stay there.

I am the first person to tell you this. While one of my main priorities is self-growth and self-love, I’m as girly as they come.

I love playing with makeup, curling my hair and picking out a beautiful new outfit with the perfect pair of shoes to go with it.

I don’t call this vain. I call this an act of love.

Think of how you feel when you spend the day lounging around after throwing on an old pair of sweats, slopping your greasy hair into a bun and not bothering with any makeup. Maybe you’re more likely to reach for that junk food, as well.

Now, think of how you feel when you start the day with a hot shower. You massage yourself with your favorite scented lotion. You spend time blowing out your hair and putting on makeup to highlight your best features. Then you go into your closet and pick an outfit that makes you feel fabulous.

Chances are, it’s going to be a great day.

See, beauty comes from within, but it doesn’t have to stay there. As women, our body is a temple and femininity is an asset. We show appreciation by treating them that way. When we don’t take care of ourselves or take the time to feel beautiful we dampen our inner glow.

So I urge to you to donate or give away any clothes that you don’t make you feel great. Even if you want to lose weight, it’s important that you have outfits now that make you feel good.

When you treat your body with respect and show her that she’s worth spending time on, you’ll naturally care more about feeding yourself nourishing foods, feeling confident and having fun.

With love and beauty,

Alexis Signature

Want to embrace beauty and self-love?

Check out our Crazy Wild Love Signature course.

How (Not) to Change a Diaper

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It’s not hard to freshen up a baby’s undercrackers, right? The procedure is pretty basic:

  • Lie down
  • Rip, rip
  • Unfold
  • Gag
  • Wipe
  • Lift
  • Lower
  • Fold
  • Stick, stick

You can then stand back and admire your handiwork safe in the knowledge that there will be no poo-splosion on your watch.

Fast forward eight months and the picture isn’t so rosy.

How (Not) to Change a Diaper
Oh it is OHN!

Maybe it’s just my children — although the popularity of tie down change tables in public toilets tells me otherwise — but my babies don’t just lie still for nappy changes.

My babies delight in turning nappy changes into a bizarre ritualistic game, the rules of which remain a complete mystery:

  • Lie baby down.
  • Watch baby flip over.
  • Turn baby onto back again and pin with one hand.
  • Remove old nappy with one hand.
  • Ignore the slightly squishy feeling on the end of finger.
  • Reach for wipe with one hand, realize you forgot to take one out of the packet.
  • Try and pry a single wipe from packet with one hand using a flapping motion.
  • Give up when wipe decides to bring some friends for the ride.
  • Calculate that you can remove hand from wriggling baby, grab wipe with both hands and get back to baby before they flip over and crawl away.
  • Realize you have miscalculated as you watch the baby crawl away before the wipe is out of the packet.
  • Recapture baby.
  • Bribe four year old to come and wave a toy over the baby’s head as a distraction.
  • Remonstrate with son for lack of enthusiasm.
  • Grab baby as son wanders off to play.
  • Decide to try pinning baby with one leg in a strange sideways changing formation.
  • Give that up as a bad job as it doesn’t stop the baby flipping over.
  • Call two-year-old and give them permission to blow raspberries at will.
  • Sit back and smile at semi naked baby laughing hysterically at her big sister.
  • Sneak nappy under baby’s butt mid-raspberry.
  • Untangle baby’s fingers from screaming two-year-old’s hair.
  • Contemplate giving up on nappies and starting Elimination Communication.
  • Call husband over for help while pinning baby down by all four limbs.
  • Assume superior expression as husband takes over.
  • Watch as baby lies still, coos, and allows husband to change nappy without so much as a toe wiggle.
  • Call baby uncharitable name and try not to smile at the gummy grin.

This is not parenting, this is a full contact sport and I’m taking a kicking.

​ 

Mum, activist and parenting junkie. Passionate about empowering women and living a good life with my family. http://www.maybediaries.com/

Terrible "Reporting" by the Daily Mail

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After specifically correcting reporters yesterday during our interview I have been hideously mis-represented in the Daily Mail and the Guardian. I won’t even link to their articles because eff them.

Italics- their “reporting”

Dr Katie Hinde, from Harvard, says formula milk should be gender-specific


  • NOT EVEN CLOSE. I said that there is emerging evidence that the “biological recipe” for milk for sons and daughters may be different in some species and at some times. This motivates doing more research to better understand what human infants may be adapted to expect in milk.

  • In humans there are FOUR total studies on milk for sons compared to milk for daughters, some of them show differences, some of them don’t, so we need more research to understand differences in milk for sons and daughters. Without more research we can’t know how formula could be improved.

  • She also says some women produce such poor quality breast milk that their babies would be better off with formula milk

  • NOT in a million years would I EVER say this. I specifically corrected this statement during the interview when they asked this question. I directly said to the reporters that “I would NEVER say that. I might say that some mother and infant dyads, if infant growth is faltering, could benefit from supplementing with some breast-milk alternatives, as can be recommended sometimes in clinical practice.” 

  • I am, always, an advocate for mothers having ALL the options, and that we should always be endeavoring to make the options better. That we should improve the science, the culture, and environment so that all mothers can achieve their breastfeeding goals.
  • I would like to think that this wasn’t the reporter, but the editor making the title and bullet points click bait. Shame, shame on them.

    2:30 PM Update: The reporters I spoke with were not responsible for the title or the bullet points.

    Also here are some actually informative posts about milk for sons and daughters, here & here. And this really nice write up by Ed Yong. 

    Also the press briefing, with my statements about milk for daughters and sons is here.

    In-hospital formula use deters breastfeeding – Medical Xpress

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    In-hospital formula use deters breastfeeding
    Medical Xpress
    (Medical Xpress)—When mothers feed their newborns formula in the hospital, they are less likely to fully breastfeed their babies in the second month of life and more likely to quit breastfeeding early, even if they had hoped to breastfeed longer, UC
    Breastfeeding made compulsory in EmiratesMadeForMums

    all 2 news articles »

    Last-Minute Chocolate-Dipping Tips: Fruit, Nuts, Bacon and More!

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    Chocolate Dipping Tips Here are some Chocolate-Dipping Tips (and a quick recipe) so you can create enchantment…

    What to Dip

    Fresh Fruit

    • Make sure it’s very fresh and ripe. Even the pricest chocolate can’t disguise the bitter taste of an unripe, midwinter strawberry.
    • Take the fruit from the fridge about 10 minutes before dipping in order to take the chill off and prevent the chocolate coating from cracking.
    • The fruit needs to be absolutely dry and free of moisture before dipping.

    Nuts

    • Whole or halved nuts work best, but sliced or chopped nuts are great too. Put them in small clumps on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spoon on the melted chocolate.
    • If you’re buying a large bag of nuts from a big-box store, taste them as soon as you’ve purchased them. If they taste stale, take them back!

    Other Dip-ables

    • Pretzels, potato chips and other salty junk food can bring a delicious balance to the sweetness of the chocolate. If you’re buying these in a super-sized quantity, make sure they are fresh!
    • Bacon! Thick-cut bacon works best. Fry it until very crispy. Cool completely before dipping.
    • Marshmallows and cookies.
    • Dried fruit. Apricots, pineapple and apples are addictive.
    • Zucchini. I’m not kidding. Slice fresh zucchini sticks and dip them in powdered sugar… then into chocolate. Amazing.

    Chocolate-Dipping Tips

    • Water or moisture in your chocolate will cause it to “seize.” This means it will get hard, crumbly and grainy.
    • Chocolate that gets too hot will also seize. That’s why you need to melt chocolate slowly and at the lowest possible heat until smooth.
    • If chocolate seizes, blend in 1 tablespoon shortening for every 4 ounces of chocolate and stir constantly until the chocolate is smooth again.
    • Chocolate bars and squares are best for melting. They put additives in chocolate chips so the chips will keep their shape. You want the best and purest chocolate you can afford with only these ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (an emulsifier) and vanilla.
    • Chocolate should be warm (not hot!) and have a thin consistency so it gently coats what you’re dipping. If it’s too cool it will be thick and ugly.
    • Use a potato masher to dip fruit, pretzels or cookies in hot melted chocolate. 
    • Don’t waste the last bit of chocolate in the pan! Spoon the remaining chocolate into a plastic resealable bag and seal. Snip off a tiny piece from the bottom corner and drizzle it over anything still left to dip!
    • Cool your dipped items on a tray lined with parchment paper.
    • After coating the goodies, tightly wrap the chocolate and store it in a cool, dry place. You can also refrigerate for up to 2-days.

    Decadently Delicious Chocolate Dippers

    prep: 10 minutes
    cook: 10 minutes

    you’ll need…

    2 cups (16 ounces) chopped chocolate (semi-sweet, milk or dark)
    fresh and dried fruit, candy, cookies, pretzels or nuts

    On top of the stove
    Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
    Place the chocolate into a heatproof glass or metal medium-size mixing bowl.
    Fill a medium saucepan half full with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat.
    Place the bowl of chocolate over the water to melt.
 Stir until completely melted and smooth.
    Remove the bowl from the saucepan and place on a cutting board or trivet.
 Dip the fruit, candy, cookies, pretzels or nuts into the chocolate and place on the lined sheet pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set.

    In the microwave
    Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe container.
    Heat on medium power (50%) for 1-minute. Stir chocolate.
    Continue heating on medium power (50%) for 1-minute intervals, stirring afterwards each time.
    Repeat as directed until completely melted and smooth.
 Dip the fruit, candy, cookies, pretzels or nuts into the chocolate. Place on the sheet pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set.

    Cooking know-how: 
Make sure your bowl is completely free of moisture before beginning… and don’t let water as it boils get in the melting chocolate.

    more great recipes, kitchen gadgets and ideas at: http://www.mamashighstrung.com

    mama@mamashighstrung.com
    http://www.mamashighstrung.com
     

    Existing in a World My Dad Doesn’t

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    Fourteen years ago today my daddy died. The years go by but the story remains the same.

    dad 001

    He was admitted into the hospital on a Monday early evening, diagnosed and he died seven days later of end-stage liver disease. No one knew he was sick. An alcoholic, yes. On his death bed, no. I was twenty-four years old when I held his hand as he took his last breath and died.

    It all happened so fast.

    daisy

    Credit Image: orangeaurochs on Flickr

    The admitting doctor was flabbergasted by our decision not to bring him in sooner. How could we not notice the long list of warning signs that oh, by the way mimic those of a drunk man?

    Was it my fault? Should I have seen the signs earlier? If we did something sooner, could we have saved his life? The answers to these questions didn’t matter. We were faced with the situation at hand.

    As the oldest child, I had already been forced by default to give up my childhood to help raise my brothers and sisters after my mom up and left. And now, by default again, I was forced to make all medical decisions for my daddy.

    The doctors didn’t think he would make it through the night. He remained in the hospital for seven days. Doctors, nurses, social workers (my baby brother was still a minor), hospice care workers and family members all had questions and needed answers, from me.

    I wasn’t allowed to process the gravity of the situation. He died, and I wasn’t given time to mourn. There were more decisions that needed to be made.

    I had to figure out which funeral home to use, reserve the church to hold the funeral, pick out a burial spot, decide not only on a tombstone but what to write on it.

    I had to provide the church with reading selections and songs. I had to select a prayer and picture for the little pamphlet thing.

    I had to chose pallbearers and arrange transportation to the church, the burial site and back home.

    I was in charge of putting pen to paper and writing an obituary for a man I refused to believe was really dead.

    I had to chose the casket and buy the outfit my daddy would be buried in.

    Oh the angst of realizing inside a Dillard’s that it didn’t matter if the bottom of his pants weren’t hemmed because no one would be viewing the lower half of his body.

    psalms grief

    Every year around this time, my range of emotions are in constant conflict with each other. I am left sad and confused.

    I want to remember him for being the amazing daddy of my memories. The one who raised five children as a single dad.

    The one who handed down his passion for the game. The one who gave all of his amazing wisdom in the form of sports analogies.

    The one who instilled in us the importance of discipline, hard-work and respect.

    The one who was unashamed to bust a move on the dance floor and play the drums like a rock star on the steering wheel of his car.

    The one I credit with for  all the good I have inside in me.

    The one who I desperately wish my kids could meet and have in their lives.

    Instead every year on the anniversary of his death I am filled with rage. I am so damn mad at the man who drank his life away. The one who was consumed with addiction.

    The man who embodied the definition of functional alcoholic, excelling at a well paying job for more than twenty-five years but drinking until he was drunk Every. Single. Day.

    People often ignorantly say it gets better with time. They are wrong. It has been fourteen years since my daddy died, and I miss him more today than ever before.

    I think this scene from Grey’s Anatomy titled the Dead Dads Club says it best.

    Like George, I don’t know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn’t. Lucky for me, I don’t have to. When the anger subsides I am left with the truth. My daddy lives through me.

    So on this day I will embrace the anger, the rage and the sadness but I will praise God for his legacy.

    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  {Jeremiah 29:11}

    *It On Took 38 Years {On feeling worthy of  being celebrated}

    *12 Years Ago Today [On the void left after his death}

    *13 Years Later {On keeping his legacy alive}

     **********

    For a behind the scenes glimpse into our everyday life outside of the blog you can follow me on PinterestFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.   

    Is it Really Possible to Love Your Children the Same?

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    I have a unique bond with my middle child and yesterday (chronicled in “My Dance with my Sugarplum”) made me really think about it. I’ve always thought that the closeness we have and the love I have for her that is different from the love I have for my other children developed over time as we struggled through her infancy (more about that in “The Scream Heard Around the Neighborhood.”) But I realized yesterday that it’s always been there, before the screaming, before the fits, before the worry, before it all.

    It started the moment I first saw her. I vividly remember scooping her out of the water after she was born and pulling her to my chest, saying, “my baby, my baby! I love, love, love, love, love you!” And I did. And I have.

    Is it Really Possible to Love Your Children the Same?

    It’s not that I love her more than Honeybun and Doodle, because I don’t. It’s that I love her differently. I truly love each of my children equally but in their own, special way yet there is something unexplainable with Sugarplum. Perhaps it truly did start in those first moments, when maybe we were both taken by surprise by her unexpectedly speedy arrival (which I liken to her shooting out of me like a cannon).

    I think it is natural for people (that includes mommies) to have favorites. As a teacher I’ve always maintained that is was fine to have favorites so long as I treat everyone the same. And I’m not saying I have a favorite child, and I’m definitely not saying it’s Sugarplum, because honestly, a lot of the time she pushes me to the edge (like yesterday). It may not be more than my other two, but it is definitely more intense.

    She pushes me to a point of exhaustion, frustration, and even questioning everything I believe in as a mommy. With the other two, I’m confident. I can hold my own, I can justify, explain, and believe in my choices but with Sugarplum I often feel helpless, useless and completely inadequate.

    It’s no secret that every child is different, but Sugarplum is like no child I’ve ever known or experienced before.

    Outstanding Entertainment Choices for an UNromantic Weekend

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    Romance, schmomance. We don’t need to watch rom-coms or love stories today just because the first three aisles of the drug store have been aggressively pink and red since December 26th.

     Bey Bey can have her Drunk in Love and keep it to herself and what’s-his-if-I-do-say-so-myself-name. There are a million reasons to hate Valentine’s Day, or to not care about Valentine’s Day, or just to hold it in distant disregard, and the world has our entertainment needs covered today, too. 

    True Detectives HBO
    True Detectives Image: HBO

    1. Power + Intrigue

    Netflix is your one true love. By releasing the entire Season 2 of House of Cards they are ensuring that you have 13 hours of superb television to binge on this weekend. Fierce, spiteful, in-charge hours with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright at their absolute finest. 

    If you haven’t seen Season 1 yet, fix that, and don’t go to this link offering a quick recap of the first season. Seriously, do not skip ahead. It’s that good. 

    2.  Crime + Mystery

    As part of the record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that is bringing the Veronica Mars movie on March 14th, Amazon Prime is streaming all three seasons of the television show.   Whether you are new to the Marshmellow fandom (get ready to get obsessed) or want to relive the awesomeness that is Kristen Bell in one of the best-written, snarkiest hero’s journeys to appear on television, you have a month to watch three seasons and to score advance tickets to the movie. 

    3. Drama

    January and February fortunately brought a blizzard of great DVD releases, including some absolute must-sees from last year: Fruitvale Station, The Butler, Dallas Buyer’s Club.

    Those are all sure things, and you’ll want to see them before you place your Academy Awards bets.  Up for taking a chance? The Counselor is out, which people either tend to love (I think I did) or absolutely loathe. In other words, perfect for an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration.

    4. Television Catch-Up

    Use the weekend to catch-up on some of the outstanding television the winter season is offering.

    True Detective on HBO is my new obsession, and the slow creak up the rollercoaster of the first few episodes is, according to the author, about to send us on a freefall. The last few minutes of the most recent episode were breathtaking. Catch up so you can talk about this one right now as it unfolds.  True Detective feels like something new and wonderful is possible in television. 

    In other “I can’t wait for a new episode on Sunday!” news, you can catch up on Shameless. Holy cliffhanger last week, I don’t even know what to say, except that I wish more people would watch the exploits of the Gallaghers. Shameless portrays working class family, child neglect, drug-addicted struggles with a cutting blend of humor and pathos.  I think Showtime has marketed Shameless wrong, because no one seems to know that it features an amazing ensemble including a luminous Emmy Rossum and the brilliant Joan Cusack. William Macy is outstanding, but he’s only part of the show. I’ve been holding my breath all week to see where the next episode will lead, it’s that good. 

    Do you have any other non-romantic screen plans for the weekend? Share them with us here. It takes a village to avoid the onslaught of today’s the pink-and-red blizzard.