Infant swim

September 29, 2014
by Meredith Bland

Infant Survival Swim Class, Or, Kinda Drowning Babies But For Safety

This is a story that I pitched to an editor the other day. She said, “Yes, that is nuts. But it’s also from June.” To which I replied, “Touché. And yet I still must write about it.”

I discovered a little article in the New York Times about something called Infant Survival Swim Training (ISST). I know, it already sounds a little ominous, huh? Generally when you pair “infant” with “survival” you make people nervous. Then you add the word “training,” and you make people confused. The only word in there that is not terrifying is “swim.”

In ISST, what you do is — and I am going to try to put this delicately — drop a child between the ages of six months and six years in a pool and let them kinda drown, because their natural instinct is to eventually flip over and float on their backs.  The babies are motivated by graham crackers and breathing.

The classes are held five days a week for only ten minutes at a time, and go for five or six weeks. That seems like a lot of drowning to learn a “natural response.” Also, parents are allowed to sit next to the pool but are not allowed to interfere with the lesson.

Nope. No no no no no. Negative. Not even close to being interested in this. As someone who saw her son start to drown in a pool last year, I cannot imagine subjecting a baby to the kind of fear that comes with not being able to breathe and refusing to help them. The ISST method is careful not to guarantee that your baby won’t drown, however. As they say on one Infant Self-Rescue site:

ISR believes pool fences, supervision, and pool alarms are important parts of a necessary multi-layered approach to drowning prevention. However, traditional lines of defense break down…Children are curious, capable, and have an uncanny ability to overcome obstacles like pool fences; at ISR we take that ability and teach them skills to potentially save themselves if they find themselves in the water alone.

Now, this is not to say that accidents don’t happen because they do, but if your six-month-old “finds themselves in the water alone,” you done fucked up. How about for the first year or two of their lives, you just don’t let your kid out of your sight when you’re near water? Or you can pretend to drown them a bunch. To conquer a fear, you must look it square in the eye…little baby.

Here are some other great ideas inspired by this method of swim training:

1. Infant Touch No More Training

The goal of these classes is to teach your child what they can touch and what they can’t. For example, we’ll let your child touch an open flame just long enough to learn that they never want to do that again. We’ll also give them a fork and then leave them in a room with an open socket (but don’t worry, medics will be there to revive them if necessary.) And a small prick of the finger with a steak knife will keep your toddler away from your knife drawer.

Infant Touch No More Training: Because Pain Is Nature’s Teacher.

2. Toddler Traffic Safety And Speed Training

Never worry about walking through parking lots again after taking our toddler traffic safety program. Our team of professional drivers go no faster than five miles per hour in your child’s first lesson, giving them plenty of time to learn how to run or roll out of the way. As the classes progress our cars go faster, and so does your child. By the end of the program your child will have their eyes and ears trained to sense an approaching car and run like their lives depend on it. Which they do.

Toddler Traffic Safety And Speed Training: Where Speed Plus Fear Equals Safety

3. Prevent SIDS With Blanket Battle Training

Parents often worry about their newborns getting caught under a blanket and being unable to breathe. With our Blanket Battle Training, we will teach your child to view blankets as the enemy. Bring your baby and a blanket you don’t mind seeing set on fire, and we’ll give you back one blanket-obliterating baby.

Blanket Battle Training: Tonight, Blanket, We Finish This.

4. Fearless With Fido: Pet Safety Training

Most parents are concerned about strange dogs hurting their curious toddlers. Well, the key to avoiding confrontation with dogs is to determine who the alpha is quickly and decisively. Our Alpha Baby pilot program did not go as planned, so we have course-corrected and now employ the Submissive Baby method. When a dog comes within five yards of your child, we will teach them to honor their instinct to lie down on their backs and urinate.

Fearless With Fido: It Won’t Even Be Worth That Dog’s Time

September 22, 2014
by Meredith Bland

Book Review: “How To Survive A Sharknado (And Other Unnatural Disasters”


Sharknado is everything I love about life. When movies like Sharknado come out, it feels like a gift given to the world for no reason other than life is phenomenal. My idea of a perfect evening would be me, my mother, my two sisters, and my husband watching Sharknado. Joy, people. Pure joy.

My Blogging for Books choice this time was “How To Survive A Sharknado (And Other Unnatural Disasters)” by Andrew Shaffer. Because how the hell could I not read this book? It’s “The Official Guide to Staying Alive.” I need this.

Shaffer takes an in-depth look at a variety of disasters. There are four sections of the book addressing the different varieties of unnatural disasters and monsters that we all must be mindful of when the end of days comes. Below I have listed those four sections and provided examples of each kind of attack, along with the author’s sage advice.


SHARKNADO: Of course, sharknados are addressed. This section includes directions for how to use a chainsaw and a recipe for grilled shark steak.

BATACLYSM: “Irradiated vampire bats are flushed from underground caves by seismic activity.” Advice: wear night vision goggles and shave your head (so the bats can’t get caught in your hair).


SWAMP VOLCANO: Also known as a Submarine Supervolcano. How can you tell if a swamp volcano has erupted?

Is it snowing ash? That’s not a good sign. While it might not be a swamp volcano, something has erupted. Did a steam tsunami melt your face off? Probably a swamp volcano. Is lava flooding out of storm drains? Yep. Swamp volcano.


MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM: “High-risk groups are American contractors, corporate lackeys, and treasure hunters.” Shaffer’s advice for staying safe from Mongolian death worms? “Avoid deserts altogether.” Very wise.


PIRANHACONDA: Also known as “River Demon.” Should you come across one and you want to survive, you would be smart to stop whatever you’re doing, and hope that you have access to a car or helicopter. To kill the thing:

Toss a grenade or stick of lit dynamite into its mouth…Unfortunately, an open mouth usually indicates the creature is seconds away from chomping down on you — at which point it’s too late. We suppose you could pretend to yawn, and see if the piranhaconda opens its mouth at a safe distance. Yawning is contagious, right?


If you were a member of my family living in North Carolina, I would anticipate a copy of this book coming your way at Christmas. It will save your life when the monsters come.

(Photo: Twitter)

I reviewed this book as part of the Blogging for Books program. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.

Final Logo 150x150

September 16, 2014
by Meredith Bland

Thanks For Ruining All The Moods, Children

Kids are amazing. One minute they can make you feel like you’re on top of the world, and the next minute you’re wondering what you were thinking being up so high because clearly, you and your first-grader know that’s not where you belong.

I had two such experiences recently with my children. Take a listen:


My husband and I like each other a whole bunch. The kids always see us hugging and stuff. Last week, Mike gave me a smile, walked over, and jokingly tugged on the strings of my sweatpants. One of my children had a question:

“Daddy, were pretending like that was Mommy’s wiener?”

Nope. No he was not.


Every school day I like to walk my kids into their classroom, get them settled, and give last hugs and kisses before the morning bell rings. The other day I bent down to give one child a hug, and they rubbed their hand up and down the left side of my back. Then they did it again. Then they did it once more. Then they pulled back and asked:

“Mommy? Why do you have that flap back there?”

That was my back fat, folks.

So…I’m gonna go home and eat a vegetable.


You can check me out Monday-Friday, twice a day at Mommyish, and every Thursday at Lefty Pop (my first post is this Thursday!).

(from the muppet wiki)

September 10, 2014
by Meredith Bland

Let’s create the missing Muppets

I watched a lot of Muppets when I was a kid. I mean, A LOT. More than I realized, in fact. I found that out when the kids and I borrowed the first season of the Muppet Show from the library. There were scenes and songs that I haven’t seen in probably 30 years, but I instantly recognized them. It was kind of eerie. For example, this song?

I know every word.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I got this month’s Netflix Stream Team theme, and saw that the people who watch me through my computer recommended a Muppet movie to watch with the kids. The theme for September is “Pizza and a Movie,” and one of the movies they suggested for little kids was the origional 1978 Muppet Movie. Well, within about 15 minutes of that my kids wanted no part of it because Kermit went into a seedy bar where there were mean people.

My kids are very sensitive.

Here were the other suggestions from Netflix:

1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

2. The Pirate Fairy

3. Hoodwinked

4. Angelina Ballerina

5. Bob the Builder

6. The Muppet Movie

So instead we watched The Great Muppet Caper, which was my favorite when I was a kid. And then we rented Season 1 of The Muppet Show from the library. And all this muppet stuff got me thinking about muppets that should exist but don’t.

1. Bertrand, the foreign exchange muppet

  • Seduces everyone, understood by no one.

2. Maya, the feminist muppet

  • Trying to save Miss Piggy and failing miserably

3. Ralph, the wheelchair-bound muppet with a heart of gold

  • Puts the brakes on muppet adventures that are not ADA accessible.

4. Cloudy, the hooker muppet with a heart of gold

  • None of the muppets understand her job.

5. Simone, the caffeinated muppet

  • She is happy to be here and extremely helpful.

6. Paul, the muppet with too many secrets

  • Some say he he left a wife and three kids back in Reno, others say he once killed a man for swallowing loudly. No one knows for sure.

7. Hilda, the alcoholic muppet

  • Usually slumped in a corner singing The Rainbow Connection.

I should never be consulted about children’s programming.

September 2, 2014
by Meredith Bland

How Michael Sam Became Every Bigot’s Ex-Girlfriend On Twitter

Image from Twitter

Michael Sam (Image from Twitter)

Some of you know that I am a big football fan. Along with football but slightly more important, I am also a big fan of equality. So, needless to say, I’ve been following the Michael Sam story pretty closely. On Saturday, the day that the Rams made their final cut and we were to find out if Sam was going to be the first openly gay man to make an NFL roster, I was nervous. When I saw that he had been cut, I cried.

Then I went on Twitter.

I know. Super bad idea.

I’m very well aware that homophobia is rampant and ugly in this country, mainly because I am conscious and have eyes and ears. But the homophobia that I saw on Twitter this weekend was so crazy and so bizarre that I have to rail about it here. It is the insistence of the homophobic that Michael Sam is not a news story because it doesn’t matter that he’s gay. There was tweet after tweet about how sick people were of reading tweets about Michael Sam “just because he’s gay.” Do you see where I am confused? These were people who were clearly homophobic, saying that they hated hearing about Michael Sam because the fact that he’s gay isn’t important.

This is the equivalent of a high-school senior saying, “Sarah is going to the prom with Steve? Oh. Huh. Well, so what? I don’t care. I never even really liked her anyway. Let her go with Steve. She can go to the prom with Steve all damn day! It doesn’t matter to me! I couldn’t care less! Oh my god, why are we even talking about this?! No, I am NOT crying! Does she still smell like lilacs?”

This whole thing blows my mind for a few reasons:

1. If you are sick of hearing about Michael Sam on your social media feed, it seems like posting about how much you’re sick of hearing about Michael Sam on social media wouldn’t be your first move. I saw hundred, HUNDREDS of tweets from people saying that they didn’t want to hear about Michael Sam anymore. Honestly. Get your head out of your ass.

If you don’t like coffee, you don’t go to a coffee shop and complain about coffee. Go the fuck home, dude. Let the rest of us drink our coffee in peace.

2. Saying that people shouldn’t be talking about him because you don’t care that he’s gay doesn’t make you sound open-minded. What it says is that you don’t want to hear about the fact that he’s gay. You don’t want to have to think about it. You don’t want an openly gay man in the masculine and physical sport of professional football because it challenges your thinking. It is forcing change, and you don’t want to deal with it.

It’s like racists who say that they’re color-blind. It’s a) not the point, and b) bullshit.

This is Michael Sam mimicking Johnny Manziel's money sign after sacking him. It was one of the most beautiful moments in all of sports. (image from Twitter(

This is Michael Sam mimicking Johnny Manziel’s money sign after sacking him. It was one of the most beautiful moments in all of sports. (Image from Twitter)

3. Michael Sam is important. HE’S IMPORTANT. Homosexual men and women are the target of hatred, bigotry, and violence in this country (and around the world). The fact that a gay man is willing to be open about his sexual identity as he enters a profession where NOT A SINGLE ACTIVE PLAYER HAS EVER COME OUT IS IMPORTANT. This isn’t a question of importance, it’s about how threatened you feel by the fact that it is important. Sure, you would be a lot more comfortable if he weren’t gay, or comfortable with who he is, or pursuing his dream regardless. Well, guess what? He is all of those things. Now grow the fuck up.

4. It has become very clear that there was no winning this fight. If the Rams had put him on the roster, the bigots would have said that they only kept him because he’s gay and they didn’t want to deal with the backlash. Because he was cut, the same group was all over social media saying that the liberals were going to jump up in protest and say it was because of his sexuality, which they, the clear-eyed homophobe, could see that it clearly wasn’t.

In all of Twitter, I saw maybe three posts from people who actually felt he was cut from the Rams due to his gayness. Now that Sam has cleared waivers and, as of Monday night, has not even been signed to a fucking practice squad (which is a farce), I am seeing more and more of them, as I should because that does appear to be the reason that he is still unemployed. But the vast majority of those of us who support Michael Sam understand that the Rams cut him for football reasons and not because of his sexuality. Those of us who are football fans understand that as a defensive end on a team that already had a deep and extremely talented defense, a seventh round draft pick didn’t have much of a shot. But now that a player of his talent is still not on a roster or even a practice squad, and is in danger of seeing his NFL dream slip away, those of us who are football fans also understand that this is an oddity that can only be explained by politics and homophobia. Period.

5. You didn’t have to scroll very far through Twitter to see exactly why Michael Sam is important.

“I hope you get AIDS.”

“Fuck that faggot.”

“I’m glad his gay ass got cut.”

“What about all the other players that got cut? why aren’t you talking about them?” (because PRIVILEGE, motherfucker)

THAT is why his story is important. There is not a single openly gay player in the NFL. THAT is why his story is important.

Sam and his boyfriend. (Image from Twitter)

Sam and his boyfriend. (Image from Twitter)

Michael Sam is a hell of a football player. Guys who suck at football, as so many folks on Twitter asserted that Sam does, don’t have 3 quarterback sacks and 11 tackles in the preseason. It cannot be disputed that the man proved he can play ball. What people can do is hate him. Yes, people have the right to hate whoever they want. But though they may hate what he is, Michael Sam doesn’t. And he won’t let them make him hide his relationship. And he’s going to fight to stay in the NFL. And whether or not he ever sees a professional snap, Michael Sam has changed football. He has made an impact on the world of sports and on our culture. He was the first (though not the only) and he won’t be the last.

Time to put on your big-girl panties, homophobes, because things are just going to continue to be uncomfortable for you. Sarah will still be dating Steve. Michael Sam will still be important. Gay men will still play football. And in the meantime, the world will push it’s way past you as you remain stuck behind in a group that will only get smaller and smaller, yelling into the wind about how none of this matters.

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