The Beauty Product that Made Me Giggle

One of my Millennial pals raved to me about snail slime, which is apparently the latest beauty craze. And I started laughing my guts out, thinking she was completely full of media hype. Only this is a real trend, common in Asia, and the practice dates back to ancient Greece.

Shut the crazy front door.

I can’t quite wrap my brain around the idea that snail slime is a desired  commodity. I tried it over the weekend and it didn’t feel bad. It’s supposed to help build collagen so I ordered some on Amazon. You know I will be sharing the results with all of you!

The Hubs immediately asked the questions burning in any logical brain:

  • How do they get the slime?
  • Who “milks” these snails?
  • Do women actually put the snails on their face?

Apparently there are snail farms for escargot and about 30-40 years ago the workers discovered that their hands got softer. So now they’ve added slime-production to their list of duties. They poke the snails, wash and tickle their bottoms, and poke in with a swab to get all the slime.

And holy cowbell, as if that wasn’t creepy enough, Korean women do put multiple snails on their face. Like on purpose. For hours at the spa.

Note: Many of these same women swear by the 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine, so they’re already way more committed than I am. Washcloth exfoliation and moisturizer after the shower are much more my speed.

This snail business is right up there with the V-Steam for me. I’m struggling with the “why” women do this to their bodies. I mean aren’t we all gorgeous enough without steamers under our hoohahs and snail trails on our face?

If you still want to know more, here are 10 Fascinating Facts about Snail Slime.

What say you, my posse? Had you heard of this slimy beauty trend? Would you try it? Enquiring minds love to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

p.s. I’m in two places at once today! I’m over at Jami Gold’s place talking about the #1 Enemy of Writing Dreams.

Posted in Health, Thoughty Thursday | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

The NSA Can Now Track Your Sex Toys


Holy cowbell, sex toy hacking is a thing! Did you all catch this splendid news item? Hackers in New Zealand have found a way to hack the Bluetooth technology on a popular “personal massager,” which has opened up a whole vibrating can of worms if you know what I mean. 

At last week’s DEF CON 24 in Las Vegas, one of the speaker modules was titled:

Breaking the Internet of Vibrating Things: What We Learned Reverse Engineering Bluetooth- and Internet-Enabled Adult Toys

Before we get to the article, the device and the implications, let’s chat for a second about DEF CON. Not being a hacker, I’d never heard of the conference before. It’s held yearly in late July/early August and it’s unlike any conference I’ve ever attended.

Get this: entry is cash only, no early bird pricing, NO registration. (I can’t even describe to you how much this would stress all my conference-going pals out.) And there are tens of thousands of hackers attending this event every year.

Just reading the conference information page was eye-opening. Hacker conferences are a THING, y’all.

When and where is DEF CON 24?
DEF CON is generally in the last week of July or first week of August in Las Vegas. DEF CON 24 will be held August 4-7, 2016 at Paris and Bally’s in Las Vegas. Many people arrive a day early, and many stay a day later. Again this year we will have some things running on Thursday.


How much is admission?
$240.00 USD, Cash for all four days. Everyone pays the same: The government, the media, the ‘well known hackers’, the unknown script kiddies. The only discount is for Goons and speakers, who get to work without paying for the privilege. We only accept cash – no checks, no money orders, no travelers checks. We don’t want to be a target of any State or Federal fishing expeditions.


Can I pre-register for DEF CON?
No.


How many people will be there?
Last year we had more than 15,000 people at DEF CON! The last few years, attendence has been in the 12-14k range.

The article I read in the British newspaper, The Register, stated that “the two-person team of g0ldfisk and follower got hold of the schematics for the We Vibe 4 Plus, a U-shaped vibrator that can be controlled via Bluetooth using a remote control or a smartphone app. The wireless functions mean the device’s makers had to report its details with the United States the Federal Communications Commission, and that filing allowed the hackers to figure out a way to crack the device.”

I don’t know about you, but they lost me at “smartphone app.” I have no desire to have my lady bits (and their various and sundry activities) broadcast to the cloud. Anyone who saw Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth knows what happens when control of sex toys fall into the wrong hands.

And the order page for the cute We-Vibe devices says these hackable darlings cost $179 + shipping. That’s a whole lot more than the usual $15-50 range for most nookie toys. The good news is, they’re almost half off at Amazon. *lol*

We-Vibe Web Capture

The gal who sent me the article, said: “Anyone who hacks someone’s vibrator definitely has too much time on their hands.”

My response to that?

My friend, these are hackers. These are not people who are out socializing and frittering away their time with live people. They are busy poking around virtually at the rest of us – literally in this case.

Not that they don’t have a killer sense of humor – here’s the abstract for the talk.

Note: My comments in pink. Their choicest lines in blue.

The Internet of Things is filled with vulnerabilities, would you expect the Internet of Vibrating Things to be any different? As teledildonics come into the mainstream, human sexual pleasure has become connected with the concerns of privacy and security already familiar to those who previously only wanted to turn on their lights, rather than their lover[Dying over “teledildonics”…Dying!!!]

Do you care if someone else knows if you or your lover is wearing a remote control vibrator? Do you care if the manufacturer is tracking your activity, sexual health and to whom you give control? How do you really know who is making you squirm with pleasure? And what happens when your government decides your sex toy is an aid to political dissidents? 

[When “my sex toys become an aid for political dissidents??” If that happens, people, the end days are upon us. Just pack up your non-cloud-connected sex toys and go live off the grid.]

Because there’s nothing more sexy than reverse engineering we looked into one product (the We-Vibe 4 Plus from the innocuously named “Standard Innovation Corporation”) to get answers for you.

Attend our talk to learn the unexpected political and legal implications of internet connected sex toys and, perhaps more importantly, how you can explore and gain more control over the intimate devices in your life. Learn the reverse engineering approach we took–suitable for both first timers and the more experienced–to analyze a product that integrates a Bluetooth LE/Smart wireless hardware device, mobile app and server-side functionality. More parts means more attack surfaces! [No, Mr. NSA, pleeeaaaaazzzzze don’t attack my vibes.

Alongside the talk, we are releasing the “Weevil” suite of tools to enable you to simulate and control We-Vibe compatible vibrators. We invite you to bring your knowledge of mobile app exploits, wireless communication hijacking (you already hacked your electronic skateboard last year, right?) and back-end server vulnerabilities to the party. It’s time for you to get to play with your toys more privately and creatively than before.

[Did you notice there’s “IYKWIM’s” for almost every sentence in this abstract?]

So there you have it, my friends. Here at More Cowbell we’ve all discovered that the NSA really is storing data on everything.

Had you ever heard of this type of hacking? Knowing what you know, would you ever  buy the We Vibe 4 Plus? What’s the most unusual hacking story you’ve ever heard? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

Posted in Technology Fun, Thoughty Thursday | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

8 (Mostly True) Facts About Mondays

What we’d all like to being doing on Mondays… Photo: Dana Ross Martin ~ WANA Commons

I don’t know about you, but I suck at Mondays. And mornings. They’re just not my thing. My only solution to the Monday Madness is to share some smiles.

Facts and theories about the first (often dreaded) day of the week.

1. Monday isn’t actually the worst day of the week. (Tuesday is.) Monday is when you find out what you missed from the prior week – Tuesday is when you must DO those things.

2. Visits to Sexy Town or Hanky-Panky-Ville guarantee a great Monday mood. Married people are more likely to have sex on the weekends (especially if they have kids). Plus, they’ve had some sleep. (This supports my theory from #1.)

3. Monday is hands down the best traffic day of the week. Seriously. All those people who take 3 day weekends are off the roads. Plus there’s lots of “weekend flu” going around on Monday mornings.

4. 50% of workers are late on Monday mornings. No joke. I think it’s the stress, which is kind of hilarious considering most people only work about 3.5 productive hours on Mondays. Or maybe it’s that “weekend flu.”

5. I always have clean hair on Mondays. I can’t state that unequivocally every day. Things happen. But the weekends are when I catch up and that includes hair washing.

6. I drink more coffee on Mondays. Hey, I’m not bragging. Truth is, I’m usually dragging from trying to cram everything in over the weekend. Most days I have 2 cups but on Monday’s I mainline caffeine just to get my verve on for the week.

7. Monday brings cute outfits to the workplace. This is directly related to the aforementioned point of trying to cram everything into the weekend. That includes laundry. This unearths serious clothing treasure.

8. Most people don’t smile until after 11 am on a Monday. (11:16 am to be exact.) Huh. Who knew?

What theories do you have about Monday? Where does it fall in your “Like” rankings? How was your weekend? Equiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

– Jenny

Posted in Life's Challenges, More Cowbell | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

What Is In a Rock Star’s Undie Drawer?

Undie Chronicles

Superhero underpants – Sawdust Art Festival – Durden Art booth

As y’all know, the undie drawer is always a topic of speculation here at More Cowbell. I’m reading Roni Loren’s Wanderlust right now (only $3.99 on Kindle!), a sexy summer read. I’m only halfway through and I’m wildly curious about what’s going on under her hero’s clothes.

His name is Lex Logan and he’s my new yummy book boyfriend. I’ve decided he’s named after the villain who kept Superman in the phone booth, stripping down to his underpants. (That’s Lex Luthor, for the non-geeks.)

I dig me some Lex Logan! And since I know Roni Loren, a super-fabulous smexy author, and her books are on my auto-buy list, I pushed shoved wangled my way onto her blog tour for some Q&A. I’m really, really enjoying the book.

WanderlustQuoteCard1

My questions and comments are below in pink.

1. Why did you choose to set the book and character in the music world?

I love all kinds of music, but rock music has my heart. Going to concerts is one of the things my husband and I love to do most, and there’s just something so irresistible about a guy with a guitar (or a drum kit).

2. What was your favorite part of the research?

Drooling over hot rockstars at concerts? Lol. Oh, how my dear husband puts up with me. I once nearly fell on my face getting close enough to Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) to pat him on the shoulder. And hubs is still laughing about that time I completely lost my s**t when Jordan Knight (of New Kids on the Block—so not rock music, but my adolescent obsession) came into the audience to sing a song on a platform right in front of me. Somehow my rather introverted grown self turned into the screaming fourteen-year-old version of me. O.0  Not my proudest moment.

[This cracked me up, as I DO know how introverted Roni is. Score one for Jordan Knight! First crushes are the best.]

But on a more serious note, I also read rock biographies The Dirt by Motley Crue and It’s So Easy by Duff McKagan (of Guns ‘n’ Roses). I read those just because I wanted to and love both bands, but it ended up being helpful research. And hubs and I are junkies for rockumentaries. Foo Fighters’ Back and Forth, Thirty Seconds to Mars’ Artifact, Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream, and Pearl Jam’s Twenty were all amazing. Plus, we’ve watched pretty much every episode of VH1’s Behind the Music.

3. Biggest surprise encountered during the process?

That this book has finally made it to the shelf. I wrote the original version of Wanderlust back in 2009 before I was ever published. My debut book, Crash Into You, was the book I wrote after this one. But at the time, rockstar romances weren’t popular and were almost frowned upon. Now they’re a thing. Guess I was way ahead of the trend.

4. What kind of undies do your hero and heroine wear?

Aubrey’s a pretty practical girl, so cotton bikinis would be her go to. I think I have a scene where Lex is wearing boxers, but he’d also be the type to just go commando. Rockers do wear their jeans pretty tight.🙂

5. Biggest surprise to be found in each of their undie drawers…

Lex would probably tuck his song lyrics in there because he doesn’t like to share them until the song is ready. Aubrey hasn’t dated in a long time and is all about being self-sufficient, so she’d probably have some self-help. (IYKWIM.)

Hello, my posse! I’ve been on vacation for a while, so I’m delighted to return to More Cowbell with a bang, so to speak.

This is the last week of Roni’s blog tour, so jump in if you want to be in the running for the Amazon card giveaway (Rafflecopter below), or ask Roni any questions.

I’m back to my regular posting schedule as of next week.

About Roni:

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son.

If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that’s it. She is the National Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat.

Connect with Roni: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Loving on the Edge series and Off the Clock, a story of sex, love, rock & roll, and a reporter who’s about to learn a new meaning for staying on top of her assignment…

Restaurant critic Aubrey Bordelon is never at a loss for words to describe her meals in the fancy restaurants of New Orleans. But after her magazine’s high-profile music reporter falls ill, she finds herself out of her element and in a sea of screaming fans awaiting Wanderlust’s lead singer, Lex Logan. The sound of his voice gives her goosebumps, and the stage presence of the hard-bodied rock star takes her breath away. So when he pulls her onstage for a sexy stunt, she knows she’s in real trouble.

Lex doesn’t want to pretend that the sparks on stage between him and Aubrey never happened, but it certainly makes the fact that she’s writing a story on his band all the more dangerous. The last thing he needs is some nosy reporter revealing their problems to the world. But the sexy Southern belle doesn’t give up easily, and soon, he’s wondering if the best way to chase her off the story is to coax her into his bed…

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & NobleGoogle Play | iTunes | Kobo
Add to Goodreads

Holy Cowbell, there’s a giveaway!

  • 1 $25 Gift Card (Choice of Amazon or B&N)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WanderlustQuote2-3

Posted in Amazing Writers, Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Some Words About the Nature of “Consent”

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock, because I just heard about the whole Stanford sexual assault trial this week. [This was the travesty of justice headlined by Brock Turner, in case you have also been hiding under a rock.]

I found out about it when I read this article, We With the Pitchforks (which is excellent). Go read that – there are wonderful links to everything pertinent inside that post.

In my defense, I’m a writer and I tend to live inside my happy little bubble of motherhood and fictional characters. Also, the Hubs acts as a news filter for me and often keeps mum about the child abusers and rapists.

As for Brock Turner…well, there is no defense. He violated a young woman and has not taken any appreciable responsibility for his actions or shown any public remorse.

As a parent of a daughter, I’m outraged by him, but I’m more angry at his father, Dan Turner. He is a bigger asshat than Brock. Not only did he form the crooked psyche that sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, he then sent a letter to the judge referring to his son’s crime as “20 minutes of action.”

My head almost exploded when I read that. [Action? ACTION??! You putrid piece of humanity.]

Yes, I know he was arguing for his son. I know he then made this statement afterward to CNN:

“What I meant with that comment is a 20-minute period of time. I was not referring to sexual activity by the word ‘action.’ It was an unfortunate choice of words, and I did not mean to be disrespectful or offensive to anyone,” Dan Turner said.

And he’s asking for donations to offset his legal costs.

It all makes my blood boil. This letter from a pastor in North Carolina, father to father, made me feel a teensy bit better. The smallest, most miniscule, teensy bit. The letter from Joe Biden to the victim helped a smidgen too.

I tend to push for kindness in all things. I think our world runs low on kindness. But I can’t be kind about this one. I can’t find any kindness toward a young man who perpetrated this crime against an unconsious young woman, and then dragged her through a lengthy court battle when he got caught.

And what was up with this judge? As one Facebook commenter put it:

People like Judge Persky are a big part of the reason why so many rape victims don’t report sexual assault. The justice system failed that woman. It breaks my heart.

So, to Brock and all the other asshats who think consent is a murky issue, you need to watch this video. The Brits always know how to cut to the chase in brilliant style.

If you’re feeling a bit more militant on the Stanford Rapist issue (like the rest of us), this video by Philip DeFranco might be more your style.

I know this isn’t what you usually read about here on More Cowbell, but this outrage has been churning in my gut for a few days and I had to let it out. This victim deserved a hell of a lot more justice than she received.

Did you follow this trial through it’s entirety or absorb it in one sordid gulp at verdict time, like I did? Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.

~ Jenny

Posted in Parenting, Thoughty Thursday | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

An Open Letter to America’s Butt Impersonators…

I’m a little concerned about America’s @ss obsession. I know 2014 was “The Year of the Booty.” I know J-Lo, Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj are raking in millions, partly due to the glorious ginormous junk in their trunk.

I get it, America. I do. I mean who didn’t have at least a passing yen to slip-and-slide down KiKi’s oiled derrierre on that Paper magazine cover? Who could look away from all that shimmering badonk during Nicki’s Anaconda video?

Those butts are mesmerizing.

[Commercial break: Everyone wants to have a butt so perky they could serve tea off it. And squats take time. (Do them anyway, people!) Here are 16 Booty Boosters. Kiki’s butt is strangely motivating to me.]

But does this butt obsession really mean the men and women of America need to transfer blobs of fat from one part of their body and have it injected into their @ss? Do the gals really need to insert rounding devices into their booties to achieve the rear-facing “Minaj Decolletage?”

According to the Journal of Plastic Surgery, that answer is “YES.”

SHAPE magazine reported that “butt implants and lifts are the fastest-growing types of plastic surgery in the United States.” The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that there were more than 22,000 butt surgeries in 2015!

What kind of sick nonsense is this?

How do you heal from this sort of surgery? How do you go to the bathroom? Is there rehab? Take it from someone who did four months of hip rehab a few years back – you do not want to rehab anything near your @ss.

Booty by the Numbers

Buttock augmentation with fat grafting
2015: 14,705
2014: 11,505
2000: no numbers
% change 2015 vs. 2014: 28%
% change 2015 vs. 2000: no numbers

Buttock implants
2015: 2,540
2014: 1,863
2000: no numbers
% change 2015 vs. 2014: 36%
% change 2015 vs. 2000: no numbers

Buttock lift
2015: 4,767
2014:  3,505
2000: 1,356 
% change 2015 vs. 2014: 36%
% change 2015 vs. 2000: 252%

[Commercial break: Eeeeeeeewwwww. They’re grafting fat! Have you ever seen adipose tissue? How do they make it stay…do they melt it, mold it, WHAT? Gah!]

Can’t y’all just celebrate the behind you have? Oil it up if you must. Perhaps you can add a tattoo or a nifty design for interest. But having surgery, just to get Kardashian-looking butt? I think you need to rethink this thing, America. I really do.

[While you’re rethinking, enjoy the Try Guys attempts at the Kardashian Booty Shoot. It is Monday, after all. We must laugh.]

Note: The Try Guys are exempted from the Butt Impersonator questions, since they were up front about it. They weren’t saying – “Hey, Doc…can you move my fat?” They let it all hang out and celebrated it.

So…your thoughts on the Butt Issue? On the current shape-shaming trend for hourglass figures? How do you weigh in on America’s @ss obsession? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

Posted in Health, Life's Challenges | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

Undie Chronicles, Vol. 31 — Hungry Like the Wolf

Those of you who are new to More Cowbell might have missed The Undie Chronicles. The regular posse here knows: When the Undie-verse speaks, we will always listenI had no idea when this began that there were so many hilarious undie-based topics to discuss. Plus it’s Monday, and I like a good Monday belly laugh.

So, apparently Wolf Boxers are a thing. And the Wolf Boxers scare the crap out of me with their snarl, and their realistic in-your-face…nose. I think if I got into a pair of pants that had THESE inside, I’d leap from the bed like Superwoman

One of my pals sent me that tweet, and I immediately began researching…

Where does one get this canine cotton collection?

AliExpress has everything from tigers to wolves to incredibly scary bald eagles, all in “breathable cotton.” You can even buy mixed packages (two eagles, two wolves). And it’s on sale for the next week or so. 

Yessirreee, that’s 25% off a package of four if you decide you can’t live without these bloodsuckers.

Crazy Undies

There’s even an angry version. (Alas, they are only 7% off.)

Crazy Undies

My personal opinion (besides “who wears this stuff?”) is this: Forget the “breathable cotton,” Manufacturers. Include a paper bag. When faced with these gems, it’s not  your manly bits that will need help breathing.

I was so disturbed, I showed my Hubs the tweet and asked him to opine.

Me: So, would you ever wear these?

Hubs: *fastest glance in history* No.

Me: Why not?

Hubs: Because a man who would wear those is the kind of man who names his d*ck.

Me: *open-mouthed stare*

Hubs: Seriously. That’s the kind of guy who would talk about his d*ck in third person. “Wolf wants to eat Beaver.” It’s freaky. And adolescent. And bizarre.

Me: O-o-o-kaaaay. Anything else?

[And here’s where I laughed myself breathless. Sometimes my husband is so bloggable.]

Hubs: “When I was a bartender, one of my customers hated country music. The music, the rodeos, the whole thing. He called those big belt buckles “tombstones for dead d*cks.” Well these boxers are like that — camouflage for a tiny penis.

You’ll notice they’re not a Chihuahua. They made it a wolf on purpose. They’ll probably put out Dobermans next. It’s a paranoid guy’s way of saying [insert Wizard of Oz voice], “Pay no attention to the d*ck behind the Doberman.”

Me: *in between wheezing giggles* So it’s like the midlife crisis of underpants.

Hubs: Yes. Like the “Low-T guy” who buys a Ferrari to compensate for his lack of testosterone.

Me: I had no idea you’d have such definite opinions on this.

And we still have vital unanswered questions…

Like…

Is the nose built in to be that perky? No one could possibly have their junk lined up perfectly with that snout. And forget about that eagle’s beak. That is NOT natural.

How do you relieve yourself in these things? Because we don’t see an opening. Anywhere.

Is there symbolism to this wolf thing, besides the obvious implications of “dog?”

And most importantly, WHO is buying these? The site says they have 70,000 available, which implies a certain expectation of demand.

The Hubs and I spent a wildly entertaining evening pondering these things. I don’t think I’ve gotten this much undie feedback out of my guy since Thunderwear. I have to confess…conversations like this make me fall in love with him all over again.

Had you already discovered Wolf Boxers? Any interest in ordering them for yourself or a loved one? Do you have questions to add to our list? Don’t be shy…enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

Posted in Dating for Dummies, Undie Chronicles | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Why I Freaking LOVE Twitter

I’m a pretty big fan of social media across the board, but there is something about the 140 character limit that brings out the clever in people. Case in point, a hashtag that is trending right now: #ChangeAConsonantRuinAMovie.

I’ve been laughing my head off over these tweets for the last ten minutes, which means I had to share them with my peeps. Because we all need a laugh on Monday…Right? Riiight.

 

 

 

 

 

And then they got started with the Photoshop…

 

 

And if none of that was enough to make you giggle, here are 29 AutoCorrect Fails That Are Never Not Funny. (There are two samples below that really “celebrate the female,” if you know what I mean.)

AutoCorrect AutoCorrect

Happy Monday, y’all! Who or what is slaying you with humor today?

Share the funny links and quotes down in the comments. Which tweet is your favorite? Enquiring peeps always  want to laugh their guts out here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

Posted in Humor, More Cowbell | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

The Beauty of Connections – #BOAW16

BOAW

True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows and with passing years only grows!” — Sam Levenson, “The Beauty of a Woman”

Beauty is strength and kindness and the connections we have each other. I attended a funeral yesterday for a 99 year-old Jewish lady we called “Lovey.” Yes, her name was Sylvia, but she was Lovey.

She was the 90+ year old whose body housed the mind of an irreverent Flapper. She was the gal who yelled “Boobs!” before a family photograph. She was the person you wanted to laugh with over a mango margarita. And she was the woman who collected elephants for good luck and because “they never forget anything.”

My favorite Maya Angelou quote was read at Lovey’s funeral:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Lovey made you feel like sharing kindness with the world. That was her magic, and she passed it on to her daughter and granddaughters in spades.

I watched the women of her family yesterday, as they are the ones I am connected with. I watched them smile through tears, and laugh through grief, and make sure that everyone had just one more cookie or another bite to eatI watched her rabbi granddaughter conduct Lovey’s memorial, supporting the family through her own pain.

The beauty of a woman is in her connections. Her bonding and her backbone. Her caring and her kindness. The beauty of a woman is the joy of creativity and being alive that someone like Lovey spreads through her world.

If I actually get to live a long life, I want to be just like Lovey when I grow up.

Beauty is kindness. Beauty is perseverance. Beauty is love.

What says “beauty” to you? Share it in the comments, and please visit the Beauty of a Woman blogfest today at August McLaughlin’s place. She has an “original” BOAW category and a GirlBoner version. This post is a tiny little part of the original category, but I encourage you to visit them all this week.

Go spread some love today, and wallow in your own beauty.

Hugs!
~ Jenny

Here are some BOAW entries from previous years:

Posted in Amazing Writers, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , | 36 Comments

Is the Secret to Autism in “The Gut?”

Many of you know autism is a topic very close to my heart. My first teaching job was with autistic kids, and my very cool little brother has autism.

Some really groovy things have been happening in autism research these last few years and I’m going to share them as my contribution to Autism Awareness Month. I’m a giver that way.🙂

What kinds of cool things?

This is pretty heady stuff for the families of autistic individuals. Answers and new therapies are always wished for and welcomed.

I wrote an article for Guardian Liberty Voice a while back about the connection between gut bacteria and ASD:

After all the years and studies, it’s looking like the key to autism might be located in the gut. Several new studies are pointing to inflammation, particularly in the gut, as a significant factor in the cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Not only are study results showing that probiotics decrease the inflammation and that they’re alleviating autistic-like symptoms in laboratory mice, the National Institutes of Health has found that the balance of organisms in the digestive tract, often called the microbiome, is key for healthy infant development.

Human microbiomes are made up of trillions of microbes. In addition to the usual genetic information babies inherit from their parents, scientists have discovered they also inherit the genetics of both parents’ microbiomes. This is huge news.

How does microbiome development work?

Just before birth, a fetus begins to populate healthy bacteria in their gut. Before this time, the womb is sterile. Scientists believe that the current higher rate of C-section births and maternal ingestion of antibiotics can disrupt microbiome formation in the infant’s digestive tract.

It was also determined that breastfed babies show a lower incidence of ADHD. Many autism researchers recommend that new mothers breastfeed, if they are able, as a strategy to prevent the development of ASD. These same researchers believe that the destruction of natural flora in infants and young children, through the use of antibiotics, contributes to the development of ASD and ADHD.

Why do the studies think “the gut” is the answer?

The microbiomes of autistic individuals are different, and researchers believe they are contributing to the disorder. Currently, autism is treated via various types of behavior therapy. Based on these new findings, early and consistent treatment with probiotics, which contain “friendly” bacteria helpful to gastrointestinal function may be at least as helpful.

Recent studies have shown that up to 90 percent of autistic children have gastrointestinal problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that children with autism are more than three times as likely to suffer from chronic constipation or diarrhea, as compared to their peers without autism.

What foods are “naturally probiotic” and why would they help?

probiotics, autism, Jenny HansenProbiotics occur naturally in foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi and pickles. Researchers are suggesting that ingestion of these foods be increased by everyone, but particularly by individuals with autism and their immediate family members.

The result of a test reported in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition found that intestinal permeability (IPT), also known as “leaky gut,”is significantly higher in patients with autism and their first-degree relatives.

The IPT of “normal” patients was 4.8% versus the much higher IPT values found in the autistic patients and their families, 36.7% and 21.2% respectively. The study also noted that 46.7% of children with autism experienced gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and constipation.

Researchers firmly believe that administering probiotics will, at the very least, decrease the inflammation that can affect cognitive and social development as well as language. Whether the probiotics would more effective when delivered via dietary changes or via pharmaceutical probiotics has not yet been tested.

Current recommended dosage for autistic or ADHD children who experience gastrointestinal symptoms is a probiotic containing 15 to 30 billion healthy microorganisms every day.

Caltech biology professor, Paul Patterson, believes that if the gastrointestinal issues are alleviated in autistic children, their behavioral issues will be stabilized, and will be easier to treat. Another Caltech researcher, Elaine Hsiao, piggybacked off an earlier discovery that women who get through flu during pregnancy have double the risk of birthing a child with autism.

Hsiao injected pregnant mice with a mock virus, resulting in babies that exhibited autistic behavior: anxiety, obsessive grooming and aloofness from the other mouse pups. Those “autistic” mice developed the aforementioned leaky gut, which is often seen in autistic children.

When Hsiao took blood from these “autistic” pups, their samples contained 46 times more of a particular gut bacterial molecule than the non-autistic pups, indicating the bacteria was leaking into their bloodstream. When Hsiao injected healthy mice with this same molecule, they became more anxious.

After adding a probiotic, targeted to GI problems, into to the mice’s’ food, Hsiao saw several positive results within five weeks: the leaky gut sealed up, their levels of the bacterial molecule had plummeted and their gut microbiomes more closely resembled the healthy mice.

Most astonishing to the researchers was the mice’s behavior. They stopped their obsessive behavior, became more vocal and were much less anxious. They did remain aloof but the other behavior disappeared. The underlying message from all these studies: don’t underestimate the power and importance of gut bacteria. John Cryan, at University College Cork, believes that “gut microbes are as important as the nerve cells of the brain.”

For families dealing with the symptoms of autism, alleviation of some of those symptoms from probiotics would be an enormous relief. If I ever have another baby, I’m giving them probiotics from the starting gate.

In case you wanted to watch that TED Talk…

Article Sources:
Treat Autism & ADHD
OZY
NIH
Mind Body Green

Also, Del-Immune V has collected more than 50 articles about the link between “the gut” and autism on their blog (fabulous resource!).

What’s up with that Puzzle Piece Ribbon?

Autism Ribbon

Photo credit: Jason Eppink, Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasoneppink/294631074/

Do you deal with autism in your life? Have you found any foods that affect behavior? What do you think of these studies? Enquiring minds LOVE to know your thoughts here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

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