World Breastfeeding Week starts today

OK, ladies, I’m going to tell you something you already know: You’re amazing.

Did you know that your breast milk provides infants with all the nutrients and water they need for the first six months of their lives? Breastfeeding also decreases the likelihood they’ll develop ear infections, asthma, obesity and other diseases, while increasing cognitive development.

Breastfeeding benefits you too and decreases a mom’s risk of postpartum hemorrhaging and breast and ovarian cancers.

So celebrate what we provide to our kiddos and what they give back to us during World Breastfeeding Week, which runs Aug. 1-7. Let’s also recognize the importance of protecting and promoting breastfeeding when it’s possible.

If you live in the Flathead, make sure to check out the fourth-annual “It’s All About Our Kids” event from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Depot Park in Kalispell.

The Nurturing Center and the Flathead Valley Breastfeeding Coalition, along with the Flathead City-County Health Department Women, Infants and Children program will be participating in the event. Music, games, vendors, food, raffles, face painting and book reading also are part of the event. HOPE Pregnancy Resource Center, KRMC-OB, The Birth Center at North Valley Hospital and LaLeche League also will participate.

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Mothers = survival (and adventure buddies)

Mothers, Greg Tollefson writes in this week’s column, are responsible for our survival, which can be uncertain at times in the Montana wilderness. His mom often reminded him of safety and made sure he was always well prepared before heading off.

And it was Mom who tended the blisters and sprains, poured salve on the sunburns and scrapes, and mended and replaced the tattered clothing.

His mom was adventurous herself, but turned in her compass after having children.

To be sure, there was a time when her wanderings were farther, wider and more adventurous. … Somehow though, after the war, and with the coming of family, she left that behind her and did her adventuring vicariously through her children. It was expected in those days.

Now, moms have different expectations.

Today’s children get to share the exhilaration of the wild with their mothers. These days, when a mom exhorts her children to tie on their life jackets, as often as not, she ties her own on, too. Then she takes the oars.

Greg’s musing made me think back on all the times my mom shared in adventure with us. Some of my fondest memories are from the canoe or inner tubes on the New River, or while avoiding fiberglass splinters on the crab boat as we dangled weighted lines into White Point Creek.

Even though I’ve moved 2,000 miles away, the confidence she instilled in me to try new things and chase the horizon is the same and has enabled me to whole-heartedly embrace Montana and all the adventure it provides.

Sometimes, we still have adventures together and I love sharing this Big Sky with her, whether it’s in the snow …


… or sunshine …


I only wish we got to venture off together more often.

Make sure to read Greg’s full column here.

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Give Local today

Today is Give Local Missoula Day!

Ninety local non-profits are included in the 24-hour fundraising blitz that encourages people to give to the organizations that make Missoula the town we love.

The goal is $100,000, and “lounges” are set up around town with snacks and beverages and conversation with non-profit reps.

Details here.

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Exercise and buckles

Water aerobics sounded like a great idea for a way to de-stress and get our heart rates up, so I grabbed a towel and my suit on my way out the door for work Thursday.

At 4:30 p.m., with a 6 p.m. meeting looming, water aerobics sounded like they would get in the way of eating dinner, but I had already missed class Tuesday.

To go or not to go?

In the end, my shoes swayed me.

On Monday I bought a pair of sturdy, sensible Danskos that should be comfy through the end of my pregnancy and the heat of August.

Thursday afternoon, I bent over to rebuckle them after earlier kicking them off under my desk.

Let’s just say that if I want to reach the buckles in August I should go to water aerobics way more often.

And in the spirit of healthy lifestyles — the Missoula Family YMCA is holding its Healthy Kids Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday with lots of booths and fun activities (including pony rides and pancakes) for free!

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Missoula Mom is expecting!

Mark your calendars: Aug. 17, 2014.

Not only is that day my birthday, but the doctor informed me it will be my child’s too. Well maybe. Birth dates are an imperfect science, he said.

Regardless, mark your calendars. It could be a momentous day in a long string of recent momentous days.

In June, I started as a reporter at the Missoulian. My husband Jared and I bought our first house here in November. In December we found out we should have bought one with more bedrooms.

Now we’re gradually trading in our weekend-warrior lifestyle for nesting activities like picking out paint colors for the baby’s room.

Choosing colors would be easier if we knew whether the baby is a boy or girl, but we decided to continue the theme of surprises and wait until the big debut. In the meantime, we’re calling the baby “Bob,” which is short for Baby On Board.

So help this motherhood newbie out with at least one pending decision – which shades of green and orange?


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The Daily Kitten: Tootsie

Tootsie is a sweetie with lots of energy. She likes to climb whatever’s handy – curtains, legs, you name it.

She’s not a very big kitten, but she gives big love. Contact the Humane Society of Western Montana if you want her to love you.

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On becoming a grandmother

Here’s a beautiful piece by Kathleen Clary Miller, who recently learned that her daughter is pregnant with Miller’s first grandchild. Kathleen is a writer who lives in Huson; you can buy her books on

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43:18-19

“Christmas came early for us!” my youngest daughter Kate exclaimed while holding up a Santa Claus onesie at the Missoula airport when she and her husband arrived last holiday.  She had taken three pregnancy tests that morning, just before boarding the plane—a trio of positive in result.

After a spurt of joyful tears and effusive remarks followed by hugs all around, it began to sink in:  My baby is having a baby.

I was a worrier-mother, as was the woman who bore me.  Do I tell Kate about the recurring nightmare (to this day, my girls having celebrated their 29th and 28th birthdays I occasionally have it) that baby is tumbling from a balcony and I can’t reach her?  I decide not to; she is basking in that glorious moment, long before you realize your life is irrevocably altered.  You will never, ever be the same.

I want her to prepare herself for the intense devotion that will emanate from every pore and consume her—a love so fierce and a heart so full, you feel your chest will explode.  She thinks she has loved this way before, but I know better.

I know she cannot yet comprehend unstoppable surrender—not even with ample warning—until she lays eyes on her child for the very first time.  Only then, and after inch-by-inch growth, first haircut, broken friendship, and every trip to the pediatrician will ferocious devotion strike her to the bone.  What she would do to spare her innocent the heartache of life’s hurdles will be a list so long she cannot recite it.

Only when she delivers her child to the classroom door on the first day of school will she realize that she has lost herself entirely to another.  When something hurts that innocent heart, that is when will she be ambushed by such desperate tenderness as to dissolve her.  After her teenager pulls out of the driveway, car packed to the gills and pointed toward the college dorm she will feel a seizure of irrepressible longing to turn back time and cradle that babe behind the steering wheel.  As soon as she watches her little girl skip from the church on the arm of a husband throwing mama a kiss through the rice and confetti, will her soul overflow with future for them both while at the same time feeling—wait a minute—there has been a mistake, an accidental amputation here; my limb that should still be attached… is missing.

It is hard, when you love so hard.

Yet, she will never regret this price to pay–the letting go–for creating a life at the cost of her own.  Not for one single, solitary second.

As for becoming a grandmother?  This is the ultimate recovery, the finding of myself again—although not the very same limb I lost, another that can attach and help me walk as if it were my own.

My own mother told me, after accompanying me to the hospital where my oldest daughter, Clary, age two, required the surgical implant of ear tubes to avert excess Eustachian congestion, “I promised myself I would not care like this again.”  She’d spilled so much into her own children that by the time I birthed her grandchildren any possible reserves had been sapped.  She simply couldn’t imagine finding enough space in the chambers of her brimming heart for such volume, not even one more time.  “But here I am,” her voice faltered as she reached to grip my hand in the waiting room, “caring, just the same.”

“I am here,” I tell my Kate.  No matter the passage of time that callously ticks off milestones meant to move us forward, I am irrepressibly drawn to look back from whence I came, forever her mother.  And yet, every time my soul aches to have it all back again, God whispers to “forget the former things; I am doing a new thing!  Do you not perceive it?”

Undiminished simply because I have reached that decade in life where it was fairer weather yesterday than it will likely be tomorrow, I have come to the place where the baby I once bore is her own person, separate and apart from me and soon to become herself a mother.  I will hear that whisper and let go of my little girl’s hand in order to touch the fingers of her newborn child, who will move me with promise to look forward.

I will be made something new, all right.  Something very, very grand.

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LUNAFEST to include ‘Mother of Many,’ a movie about midwives

When the annual LUNAFEST comes to Missoula this year, it will, as it always does, bring a slate of short films “by, for and about women.” And among these films, as usual, is one of particular interest to moms and anyone interested in the birthing industry, specifically midwives: “Mother of Many.”

The festival begins in mid-March and will hold its showings at the Wilma Theatre. The first film will start at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.

Tickets cost $10 ($5 for students); buy them by calling 543-6691, and do so with the knowledge that ticket proceeds will help fund the YWCA‘s GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) leadership program for girls ages 11 to 18, as well as the national Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Here’s the full list of films, provided by the Missoula YWCA:

  • “The Translator,”directed by Sonya Di Rienzo (Toronto, Canada). A foreign film translator finds her story on a subway line.
  • “Getting a Grip,”directed by Rosa Maria Ruvalcaba and Sarah Jun (San Fernando, Calif., and New York, NY). Meet Fannie Barnes, who became the first female cable car operator in January 1998–at age 52.
  • “Touch,” directed by Jen McGowan (Venica, Calif.). Two women make an unusual connection while waiting for a train.
  • “Tightly Knit,” directed by Jenni Nelson (Palo Alto, Calif.). A new generation of yarn bombers and social knitters discover that the ties that bind are sometimes made of wool.
  • “Top Spin,” directed by Sara Newans and Mina T. Son (New York, NY, and Los Angeles, Calif.). With hard work and family sacrifice, a young table tennis champion works toward becoming one of the top players in the world.
  • “Thembi’s Diary,” directed by Jisoo Kim (Valencia, Calif.). Nineteen year old Thembi records an auto diary of her struggle living with AIDS.
  • “Mother of Many,” directed by Emma Lazen (Bristol, UK). The most dangerous journey sometimes needs a helping hand – a midwife.
  • “Irene,” directed by Lindsay Goodall (Glasgow, UK). Ninety-two-year-old Irene suffers from Alzheimer’s, but struggles to keep her independence.
  • “Miracle Lady,” directed by Moran Somer and Michal Abulafia (Jerusalem, Israel). A tale of two old women who spend their days waiting.
  • “Love on the Line,” directed by G. Melissa Graziano (Los Angeles, Calif.). Follow the dots and dashes when star-crossed lovers curbed their raging hormones via the quickest form of communication available: the telegraph.

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MORE zingy education-themed editorial cartoons!



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Victims of child abuse have new advocacy center in Plains

Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

A new advocacy center for victims of child abuse, the result of a three-year undertaking by the Sanders County Child Abuse Response Team, has been named in honor of Sarah Guill.

This remarkable, brave young woman was herself the victim of horrific abuse that continued for most of her childhood. Now the mother of an 8-week-old son, Guill returned to Montana for the dedication ceremony at the new center, called Sarah’s Place.

Read the whole story. It’s not only a testament to one young woman’s strength and resiliency, but also a beacon of hope that all children who endure abuse will one day reclaim their lives – and have a place to go for help in the meantime.

– MM

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