Category Archives: Current Events

Explaining Stuff

I feel like I almost never speak my mind.

Outside of my inner circle of friends, it is rare that I say what I’m really thinking. This will, I’m certain, come as a shock to many people, in part, because I never shut up (sorry! I love to gab; this is true.) But the truth is that I often refrain from saying what I’d really like to. I’m afraid to offend. I don’t want to turn off. I don’t want to rile anyone up.

Because the biggest truth of all is that I cannot take confrontation. I completely shut down. And then I cry, which feels like the biggest defeat of all. It’s hard for me to defend myself in any way when I’m doing that red-faced, blubbery, incoherent tear thing. So I try to keep it cool.

In failing to deal with my tear-trigger, I always dreamed to become one of those articulate, quick-thinking speakers. A woman who can snap at someone to stop them in their tracks, turn off the ammo firing at me, and flip it on its head. Well, I never quite figured that out. But I admired people who could.

Now we have a president who can seemingly do just that.

He disarms with his words. His cunning, quick tongue fires at anything in his way. The man can stand his ground. He can seemingly take on anything in his path. He can use derisive little one-liners to bring about pause.

He sounded less presidential. Less professional. He sounded like a man without any real ammunition at all.

What I thought I always aspired to has been, in fact, the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted. Being well spoken, informed and effective is very different from firing at will. It’s different from ridiculing others simply for the sake of it.

I don’t like engaging in political conversations because, remember, I hate confrontation. I don’t like having to defend my ideas because I can’t. But even more importantly than that, I don’t want everyone else to share my ideas. They’re mine. You’re allowed to have yours. You’re supposed to have yours. Please, have yours!

But having children gives me a reason to think more critically about my stance on things. It means needing to consider my opinions and defend them, not because I’m being attacked, but because someone wants to know and understand where my ideas came from.  And I feel like it is my moral obligation as a citizen and as a parent to at least know how I feel and why I feel that way.

So I need to have an opinion about politics. And our president. And how to speak to others. And how to engage with people whose opinions I do not share.

LM1 is precocious, to say the least, and he’s always picking up on things and asking questions.

With the political climate being what it is, I have had our television tuned into the news more mornings than I’d like to admit (because we try to limit screen time….because we’re trying to pretend that limiting screen time makes us better parents).

This week I had the news on while I made breakfast, and I heard the phrase “SOB” spoken full-out on the television. I was shocked that the tv let out such words. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we’ll hear it at an Eagles game or in a zillion other places, but for my three-year-old to hear it at the breakfast table, I thought, Whoa! When I heard someone say SOB on the tv I felt HORRIBLE for having the bomb dropped over pancakes and chocolate milk.

Lesson learned: no more news at breakfast.

But there’s more to learn here for me: I realized the reason it was on the news was that our nation’s president used the phrase to describe other Americans.

And I thought about how this abrasive language, which degrades other human beings, has become a part of our everyday norm. Now this guy is calling another nation’s leader “Rocket Man,” a childish, irrelevant term that is insulting at the human level.  (Note: I’m not saying Kim Jong-un is a great guy or anything– I don’t really know him or his politics.) But is name-calling accomplishing anything?

I’m confused about when name-calling became a part of politics.

The president has an opinion about how NFL players are using their celebrity as a platform to disrespect the American flag. He has an opinion about what should be done by leaders within the NFL to alleviate the protests.

That’s cool. Have an opinion. Voice an opinion. Share your thoughts and feelings and encourage others to consider your side and take action to defend your opinion.

But do we need to degrade our fellow men with rotten language and cheap insults?

Won’t our thoughts and ideas come across in a clear and articulate way when we refrain from this behavior? Aren’t we supposed to listen to each other in order to best resolve conflict? No one is listening from the moment anyone drops a nasty insult. That’s what stops the listening.

I need to understand these things better because I want to explain this life to my sons. I want to tell them what’s right and what’s wrong. I want them to learn to choose for themselves what is right and wrong. But I also want mentors and adversaries to help model productive behaviors and ways in which to engage others– the people we agree and disagree with. There are good ways to engage in discussing our differences of opinion. There are productive ways to ask questions, to learn, to be heard, and to listen.

So how do I explain that?

Interesting read from the New Yorker. Not sure how I feel about this one, either. But for now, I think I’ll keep trying to inform myself as best I can. I’ll inform my opinions and decisions with facts and news and information. And I’ll try my best.

 

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About Raising Daughters

Warning: This may feel like a rant, so it can be completely disregarded if you don’t feel like reading anything potentially fueled by my passion for equal treatment of men and women. Conversely, it may NOT feel like a rant if you, too, are impassioned by the need to find greater equality for men and women.

A few weeks ago I came across a little video-picture-thing on FB about “what it feels like to raise daughters.” It was posted by a News-Media site called YourTango, which I have never heard of before and don’t really know what its viewership is like. The photograph showed an adorable little girl throwing money out of a white-framed window. See a screen shot of this image below.

daughters

So, the image could imply that girls are frivolous spenders. It could imply that little girls are merely little people who throw things they don’t understand the value of. It could imply a lot of things, I guess. I’ve heard moms and dads alike claim that little girls end up costing more money than boys over the years, as if someone is sitting around calculating the cost of their children (I’m sure there are people doing this, but I don’t see the “value” in that– I don’t see how it makes a difference to anyone living outside of, let’s say for the sake of argument, a place like China). Nonetheless, I’ve heard things like this:

“Girls buy clothes, shoes, and bags,” or “Girls spend all your money because they like expensive things,” or “You pay to send girls to college, and then they just wind up married, at home, raising the kids.”

These are actual things I’ve heard said to me at one point in time or another. Though these quotes are over-generalized statements, I’m not generalizing or paraphrasing when I quote them. I can name the people who have said such things to me at one point in time or another.

So, here I am, a SAHM, raising my children, sitting on multiple college degrees, and collecting no salary to care for my kids each and every day.  Then I see this image about raising daughters. I see a cute little girl with her cute little hat and her teeny tiny hands, tossing bills out of a perfectly framed white window. Then I start to sift through the comments on FB. The comments I read below the image were, perhaps, more interesting than the image itself. Lots of commentors griped that the image was meant to be funny and anyone who saw it as sexist or offensive needs to relax and laugh. One guy commented that he put 6 girls through college and four of them got married. What that comment is intended to suggest is subjective, but the fact that it was made is interesting.

“My daughter would have to throw the money with both hands,” another commentor wrote.

“You need to laugh and enjoy the cute things in life,” another wrote.

“It is funny. Not sexist. Not deep and meaningful. Just part of life that always appears more expensive than we would like.”

The last comment made me laugh a little because if a person needs to defend something as “not sexist,” it is probably kind of sexist.

When I saw the image I felt immediately offended. I thought it was blatantly unnecessary. I thought that even if it was intended as a joke, it was a failed attempt. I know how to take a joke, but I can also distinguish between what is and isn’t one.  At the same time, I realize that it’s attempts at “joking” about these kinds of things (in this case, issues of gender roles and sexism) that finally gets discussion going about the issues. This little teeny tiny picture is not the end of the world, but it’s also another teeny tiny reminder about how people can’t distinguish between what is and is not offensive. And it prompts a discussion like the one I’m trying to have here….

Here’s my thought on things: the money spent on raising children, boys or girls, doesn’t have to be wasted.  I recognize that it costs money to raise a family and budgeting dollars and cents is a part of life. But if we want to talk about wasted money we should look at the caregivers who choose how they can spend money on their children instead of the children who “spend their parents money.”

Even beyond the argument about what counts as wasted spending and doesn’t, let’s get back to the sexist issue here.  The bottom line is that no one would ever have created a meme or a post or an image of a little boy throwing money out the window. That hard fact is all it takes to assess what makes this image sexist.

I believe in free speech, and I think everyone can laugh at things that are funny, but making a blanket that it feels like girls are throwing your money out the window is hurtful. What is money wasted on? For a woman such as myself, the first thing that comes to mind is my education because this is something women are fighting for in countries across the world, and it’s something we still argue over even here in the US. Aside from wanting a voice and a place in society, women want the right to an education. In the US, we have that right, but we are sometimes ostracized when we don’t utilize our education in a way that is deemed “the right way” to use it.

Whether a woman decides to raise a family or enter the work world seems completely irrelevant to me when it comes to assessing the value of education. A woman can do whatever she wants, as can a man. But it is still perceived that if a woman wants to stay home to raise her family, a college education is too much money to spend. I understand that education is expensive– but that is a problem someone needs to speak to our government about. I feel adamantly that everyone deserves the right to higher ed, and whether that means two, four, five, or eight years of education (depending on the degree(s) you want to earn), it should be available. The fact that higher education is not more affordable only goes to show that we are not placing a high enough value on access to learning.

Further, anyone who chooses to stay home to raise children benefits from higher education because raising children to be productive, thoughtful, though-provoking, compassionate critical thinkers is no easy task. It is among the most multi-layered, demanding, multi-faceted challenges in the world. There are plenty of crappy people out there. But maybe, if everyone had the opportunity to access psychology, anthropology, science, math, ethics, philosophy, poetry, etc, there would be fewer crappy people. Or at least better informed, self-aware crappy people. Because parents are the ones responsible for shaping and forming great people. And if you’re not a parent, every single interaction you have with young people is forming and affecting them in some way.  What better way is there to shape and form young people than to do it with an educated, well-formed, well-shaped mind? I wouldn’t call that a waste and I wouldn’t think of it as throwing money out the window.

Now it sounds like my post is about creating affordable higher education programming in the US more so than it is about sexism…..I digress.

I can take a joke. My main point is more so that maybe, just maybe, I was educated at one point or another just enough to take notice of the things that disturb me. I can voice truth over rubbish and try to pave the way for my own children. If I were to have a little girl, I would never want her to feel like raising her was a waste money. I wouldn’t want a little boy to feel that way either. I just want everyone to be more mindful about the fact that jokes are supposed to be funny, and offensive crap that lands on FB is not funny just because it gets reposted as “funny” a ba-jillion times.

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Stupid Crap That Irritated Me

Well, everyone had heard the stereotype that pregnant women are bitchy. I don’t think this is a stereotype because I feel like the biggest B of all right now. I guess it’s unfair to lump all the other preggo mommies in with  me, so I’ll just say it’s me. The dumbest, silliest, most inconsequential things are bugging the snot out of me, and while I may not be that lady yelling at the cashier at the grocery store, I’m certainly venting by the end of the day.

Here are the dumbest things ever that bugged the crap out of me this past week. Thanks a lot, hormones….

neti pot1.) Boogers in the sink. WHAT?! My family got sick and the boogers needed to come out somehow. Thanks, Neti Pot, for extinguishing mucus and snot. No thanks, Neti Pot, for putting boogers all over the bathroom sink, some of which I missed when cleaning, those of which hardened and then needed scrubbing from the sink. EWWW. #annoying

2.) There are not enough drive through conveniences. This makes me sound lazy, and I’m sure there’s someone out there thinking, “Why not get on your bike more frequently? Drive-thrus are terrrrrrible.” Well, when your kid falls asleep in the car seat and you’d like to keep him asleep but still get some stuff done, drive-thrus would be awesome. Who’s with me? Listen up, Universe: I need a great sandwich shop, a dry cleaners, a hardware store, and PLEASE bring Dairy Barn to PA— to my neighborhood– to a spot around the block from my house.

3.) Electronic griddles don’t have splatter guards. They SHOULD. Why not have something to catch splatter when you’re cooking off your stove top? I already have to clean the griddle when I’m done, and now I have to clean the whole counter and the walls because of splatter. Eww.

4.) Stupid people sometimes make me want to crawl up my own butt and eat my face off. A waitress recently told me I could not double up on a salad order because the restaurant didn’t offer entree salads. REALLY? REALLY? WHAT NOW? Just scoop two servings onto one plate and charge me twice on the bill. Not brain science. Not complicated. Not worthy of further conversation. I did NOT get my salad and went hungry in protest.

5.) Target has Starbucks, but they don’t have great lunch foods. Target has everything and I almost always need to pop in there. But if I’m in there around lunchtime, I’m screwed. Caffeine will get a person only so far. Dear Target: Please put a sandwich shop, soup counter, or Whole Foods buffet market somewhere inside each of your locations.  Thanks for thinking about it.

What is bugging you?! Get it out there! Maybe changes are afoot…

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Stupid Simple Things I’m Thankful For

‘Tis time to welcome the New Year, and I have a lot to be thankful for. What better way to start off 2016 than to first acknowledge all the goooooood stuff that came this year. Here are a few simple pleasures that made my day, week, and year.

1.) Baby giggles. It’s not stupid to love baby giggles….but it’s a pretty simple thing. I also feel like this one is a no-contest kind of list item. Everyone loves when babies giggle. My little man laughs his balls off when I tickle him under his chin. The sound is beautiful and transformative. If you’re in need of some baby giggles, here’s a YouTube link that will rock your socks and turn a frown upside down.

2.) Underwear that fit. THANK GOD! I found them at Maidenform and they contain and comfort. My pregnant butt couldn’t be more thankful. Or less attractive…..but, hey, you win some, you lose some.

3.) Chinese Jasmine Tea. Hubs has a colleague from China who sent over some legit loose tea leaves in a yellow canister. There are no nutrition facts visible, nor are there warnings. So I have a little bit, like, once a week. It’s not Ayahuasca, but it’s life changing tea. And I haven’t hallucinated anything, I swear. I can’t even share this wonderfulness with you because the tea comes from who knows where, and I don’t know that it wasn’t commandeered off the black market.

4.) Grandparents abound! Aunties and uncles and cousins, oh my! The families in our lives have been so helpful and kind and generous all year. We are so excited to welcome a new member of the family into such a colorful and delightful group. There are visitors and support systems everywhere, and we can’t wait to show our little one what a great family looks, feels, and smells like! (And it’s not just potato and onion…..)

When I put these head bands on in the morning, I almost feel like I'm getting ready for a soccer game in which I'm the goalie, and I'm about to kick some ass....

When I put these head bands on in the morning, I almost feel like I’m getting ready for a soccer game in which I’m the goalie, and I’m about to kick some ass…. (Note to self: I miss my goalie days on the lax field.)

5.) Headbands. They may be receding my hairline, but these bands keep hair out of my face so I can get shiz done around the house, on the playground, over the changing table, in the bathtub, etc. I finally found super cheap headbands that don’t slip or drive me crazy all day.  Thank you, Goody Stay Put Head Bands!

6.) My body pillow. How else would I manage an 8 hour night of sleep and two naps each day? Just kidding. I only get one nap— and not every day. Regardless, it wouldn’t happen without this baby: The Brest Friend Body Pillow.

7.) Pandora. I know this one will sound lame, but I am really thankful for Pandora. I finally perfected my account to include a great mix and variety that soothes any mood. Music is amazing, but having a surprise playlist that manages to satisfy can dramatically change my day. THANK YOU, Pandora. I refuse to pay for commercial free listening, because I’m cheap, but I love you all the same. And my son has figured out how to pause and change songs, which makes me feel like I have a genius on my hands. All good things……

8.) Lemons. Ok, this one is crazy, too, but lemon in my water bottle is LIFE CHANGING. It adds just the right amount of flavor, and it helps encourage more water-drinking in the midst of crazy, hectic days. Lemons are changing my life, quenching my thirst, and making me smile. I know that seedless lemons exist, but I haven’t found them yet. I’m on the hunt! Produce Junction doesn’t have them…..but maybe they will in 2016.

9.) Power-streaming Scandal. On the last leg of this pregnancy (only 7 weeks to go!) I want to sit and rest a lot of the time. I have books to keep me entertained (right now it’s The Danish Girl and A Paris Apartment) but it has also been really fun to have a Netflix account that features the episodes of Scandal. The show is gripping, thrilling, interesting, sexy, and addictive. It has also led me to develop a crush on Shonda Rhimes, which gives me something to research in between episodes. Plus, the hubs is totally into the show with me, and we laugh and gripe over silly nuances about the show together. Who knew S-C-A-N-D-A-L could also spell F-U-N????

10.) Wegman’s Rotisserie Chickens. They are $4.99. They are always available. They are hot, tasty, and easy to serve. This little joy makes dinner-on-the-go fast and easy. I’m not saying we have one every week—- but I’ve grabbed them when the day has gotten away from me, and the baby and hubs LOVE these bad boys. Sure, they’re a little buttery, but they’re protein, and I can serve them with veggies and a simple starch. Thanks, Wegmans!

What is making your life wonderful!? The simple pleasures are just the best!

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Dear Kohls

Dear Kohls,

After learning that you intend to be open 24 hours until Christmas arrives, I will now refrain from shopping in your stores. I don’t understand how or why this new policy would be a good practice for anyone. So you can hire more seasonal people? But ask yourself this: does anyone really want to be at Kohls at 3 a.m.? Did your market research suggest this was the way to make money this holiday season? Wait, no, I get it: you don’t believe in Santa Claus, and this is your way of revolting against the truth.

Let me give you some other truth: this is ridiculous. Please let families be with their families. Please consider that shopping is not the best part of the holiday season, but the worst. Maybe you could do something different…..like buy all of your employees something they could really use. Like gift cards to Amazon.

Love,

Kim

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Violence Breeds Violence, Doesn’t It?

University of Missouri Protests

University of Missouri Protests

There’s been concentrated talk of racism in America for the past few weeks, given the news about The University of Missouri student protests. When the protests extended to include the school’s football team on November 8th, people really perked up their ears. To make a long story short (which I don’t want to do, but this is just one blog post– please go and read all about this if you don’t know what happened/is happening), it was expected that the school president, Timothy Wolfe, should resign, due to his poor handling of racist acts committed on the campus through the fall months of the school semester. The football team declared they would not practice or play until said resignation occurred, which sent a powerful enough message for actions to be carried out. Wolfe resigned and pending changes for the university are now in the works.

University of Missouri Football Team

University of Missouri Football Team

At first glance, I thought, WOW! Student voice goes a long way! YES! When I later learned that the school faced a $1 million fine if the football team did not play Bringham Young University, it made me a little disappointed; it seemed the money talked louder than the students. But, hey, at least the voices were heard and change took place. That was the biggest part of the plan, right?

Shortly following the Missouri protests, I started to think about pervading racism in the United States. As a teacher of a cross cultural studies course for a local college, these thoughts are always on my mind, but it seemed that our entire nation was giving the topic more consideration, which was exciting! I heard conversations on television and across social media asking, “What can we do in this country to help stop racism?” and “How can we help people to recognize what is racist and what needs to stop?” and “What are the small things that will make a big difference?”

Amazing! Hurray! Conversations are flowing and it seemed like we could start to dissect not just the problem, but find some solutions. They even tackled the topic on The View, I thought that maybe more and more Americans were going to get on the train and help to battle our age-old issues.

But racism in the U.S. is more than a black and white issue…

When the Terror in Paris  happened (goodness gracious, who decided to name it that? I’ll thank CNN for that terrible idea…), I wondered if we were getting ready to take a few steps backward. I immediately heard comments like, “We just need to kill all those people,” and “We need to send all the Muslims to Guantanamo Bay” and “How can we wipe out these *&&^%$#@$%s?”

Well, here is the opportunity to open up the conversation, yet again, and let people know that racism extends into a couple of different areas…

Before the raid in Paris, which killed ISIS leader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud

Call me Quaker, or a pacifist, or naive, or dumb, or whatever you want to, but I’m pretty sure that hatred is hatred, no matter how it is directed. Further, when hatred turns to actions that we warrant as a-ok, it’s called violence. And violence breeds more violence. Saying that we should kill other people because they have killed does not solve problems. Saying that we should kill a select group of individuals because of harmful acts they have inflicted, is actually racist and doesn’t solve problems. Killing Muslim individuals, locking them up, hiding them away someplace, etc, is not going to protect anyone.

I’m not sure when people decided to keep the “eye for an eye” mentality in the social fray. Are we really that uncivilized? Is this really what’s ok? I don’t think so, and here’s why:

Killing the leader of the recent ISIS operation doesn’t solve problems. He was just one man. What led to his plot and the delivery of his mission was an idea. And we can’t kill an idea. A new leader will rise in this man’s place. A new team of people will re-ignite the ideals of ISIS and rebuild their efforts to hurt people.

Further, showing that we, as a nation, are willing to kill means we are ready to engage in war. This will lead to more killing. Instead of 126 French lives lost, thousands of lives have the potential to be lost in a war.

Am I too naive to think that compromise and negotiation are the tools toward a brighter future? Is killing the killer really going to solve everything? I can hear the people who disagree with this in my head: “Those ISIS people can’t be negotiated with!” “They just want to kill everyone and build an Islamic world and wipe out everyone else!”

But isn’t there a different way?

Now, I understand having a military force in place to protect people. I commend our troops and all those who serve their nations here and abroad. They protect lives and they make differences beyond the standard call of duty because they are special people. I honor the men and women who have lost their lives in such efforts, and thank those who have survived with humble gratitude. But can’t our leaders find a way to make a difference here? What can be done outside of killing the enemy?

Chime in! Love your thoughts. Get the conversation going!

Still craving some news and articles? Here are a few interesting reads about the prevalence of racism in America:

Obama on Racism

PBS on Hidden Racism

HuffPo on Why Black Matters

US News on The Power of Youth

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Feeling Screwed By the Insurance Co

Soooooo, every day is a learning experience. But, I have to say that I felt particularly screwed when I got a $300 bill from a physician’s office in NY this past week.

The baby and I ventured to Long Island for a visit to see my mom and dad while the hubs was abroad for business. I wasn’t feeling great, missed out on some well-needed rest, and was finally convinced by my parents to go to a doc. Simple enough. Just talk to a doc, get a prescription, make sure nothing’s infected, and be on your merry way. Right?

I first dropped into an Urgent Care facility. The place was very clean, the receptionist was kind and seemingly helpful. I provided my insurance card and ID and asked what a charge would be for a visit. After a thirty minute wait and phone calls (she called my insurance co, I called my insurance co, etc) it was determined that nothing could be determined.

“I can’t tell you the charge,” she said, “because we have different contracts with different insurance companies.”

“What is the charge for a basic doctor’s visit?” I said.

“It depends,” she said.

“Can you give me a ballpark?”

“We don’t know what’s wrong with you yet. And we don’t know what services you’ll need.”

“I just want to talk to a doc, let him/her look at me, and then I can decline certain things, right?” I said. “Like, I know I don’t need an xray or a CAT scan.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” she said.

Frustrated, baby now crying from the wait in a cold office, and hungry, we left the facility to get some food. I told my dad that I would check out the insurance company’s website and find an “in-network” spot that was close by. I would call ahead, schedule an appointment, and figure out what to do with the baby to keep him comfortable.

Another thirty minute search online yielded no results, so I called my insurance company’s customer service line. They got to me after another 20 or so minutes and gave me a list of places that were “in network.” We drove right away and within another 30 minutes, I was seen by a rude but seemingly helpful enough doc.

I provided my insurance information and confirmed with the receptionist that they were “in network.” Then I asked what the charge would be for the visit.

“I can’t really tell,” she said.

I thought it was her job to be able to tell. But, I was wrong.

“It depends,” she said.

I asked for a ballpark. I asked for a typical service charge for a regular doctor’s visit. She told me that there is not one standard rate. Everything is contracted individually with the insurance companies. They cannot determine the rate until after services are rendered.

The bill came a month and a half later for $300. I called both the insurance company and the physician’s office to learn why the bill was so high. I thought there must have been some mistake.

Apparently, health care providers and insurance companies work together to generate contracted rates. My bill was $700 for a three minute chat with the doc, who told me to pick up an over-the-counter med for $20. The insurance company picked up a bit of this, but I was still going to be stuck with $300 to meet my deductible.

I’m going to pay the bill. Obviously. But I am left wondering WHAT THE HELL has happened to the health care system in this country. I don’t know what I was supposed to do differently. I don’t want to be seen by any physicians outside of PA, which is the state where we live, because I don’t know WHAT the bill is going to look like. This is a quandary and while I’d love to run for office and just fix things, the baby is crying and I have to go.

Has anyone else battled an issue like this? Have suggestions on how to handle this differently next time? HELP!

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Bruce Jenner; The Interview

The hubs and I watched Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner last night. I was surprised but glad to learn it was two hours long and provided more than just the interview with Jenner. Sawyer also took time to interview a few therapists, authors, and other transgendered individuals with voices worth hearing.

The tone of the interview was one of sadness, getting tearful at moments. Jenner looked more distraught and nervous than comfortable, which was understandable. He seemed defensive and shaky, emotional, but strong. The weight of his words carried across the camera, but seemed to be weighing him down as well.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Jenner would have appeared so much more relaxed if he had done the interview as himself, the person he only referred to as “her.”

Jenner expressed how he has spent a lifetime dressing unnaturally as a man. He has cross dressed for years, the urge starting as early as childhood. He has been married three times. He has fathered six children and four step-children. Shockingly, Jenner claims to have shared his desires to cross dress with each of his wives. However, he maintained a male identity throughout the years. Jenner has lived over sixty years, working to hide his natural self from himself and the world. Now, he has finally decided to fully transition into a woman, claim his identity, and live a life in which he will finally feel comfortable.

Some of the most shocking parts of this interview, for me, were the fact that Jenner has felt compelled to live a lie to spare his children from pain, and the fact that he has taken so long to come out with this truth to his life. I want to do anything I can to protect my son. I can understand Jenner’s desire to protect his children and wait until they were old enough to comprehend the thought of transitioning (Jenner’s youngest child is now 17). But I cannot imagine spending every waking moment living a lie. I can’t imagine the pain, depression, frustration, and overall lack of well being that this may come with. Watching the interview led me to wonder if Jenner’s children and family have only known him as a depressed, lost kind of guy. I wondered if he could have been so much more to his family if he began living as his truest self years earlier. It made me think that sometimes fear wins out for far too long and robs us of the greatest things to come.

I walked away from the interview also considering the idea of gender reassignment. This is, perhaps, the most finalizing piece of the puzzle. Surgically changing oneself is traumatic, even when it is desired. I was interested to learn that it is a long process. Individuals are recommended to wait a year’s time following hormone treatment before proceeding with the surgical process to follow. This helps transgendered individuals time to cope with the emotional implications of their transition. It allows folks time to sort of process through things before finalizing it.

This made me think of other transitions in our lives. How often do we knowingly and intentionally give ourselves time to cope with large scale changes? I don’t think our society does enough of this. Think about how many transitions we go through in our lives. Grieving for loved ones, getting married, becoming parents, relocations, graduations, settling into new jobs, divorce; the list goes on and on. Sometimes we struggle with big changes, and there is almost never a doctor, a surgeon, a therapist, etc, to tell us, “Give yourself a year to adjust to the thought of this big transition. You need time to consider it, let it live in your heart, and start to accept it.”

What prevents us from granting the grace of time to adjust, grow, and change? The fear of others? The fear of ourselves? A combination of all things considered? I think it’s the latter.

peaceIt is my sincere hope that Bruce Jenner grows into the best version of himself possible. I wish him peace and happiness in the journey to come. If nothing else, seeing Jenner’s pain and frustration inspired me to become less judgmental. It seems that society’s imposed impressions of what others should or shouldn’t be doing is causing more pain than it should.

For all individuals who are saying “yes” to becoming themselves, in whatever facet that may be, I hope you give yourself the acceptance and patience you deserve to make transitions along the way. Life is tough sometimes, and we don’t have to smile and say “it’s no big deal” all the time. Life is a big deal, and it’s ok to take your time getting to where ever you need to  go. Thanks for your courage, Bruce.

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Winter Blues

Winter is a lot like that ex-boyfriend you thought you wanted to get back together with, but then remembered how much he sucked. Every year is the same. I get all pumped about wearing boots and my earmuffs (yes, I’m super lame and LOVE earmuffs over all other head-warming apparel), and the snow! At Thanksgiving, I start singing “I’ll Wash My Hair With Snow!!!” and I “Count My Blessings Instead of Sheep,” (from White Christmas) and winter feels like some dreamland I’m about to conjure up. Then it all gets here and I’m like, “F you, winter, and the cold front you rolled in on.” And I want to break up with winter again, but I need to do it gently enough so it will come back next year, because I know I will miss it. What a vicious cycle.

Here are the five top downers about winter that seem to be getting to me just a little more than usual this winter.

1.) The tea temp is not working. I love tea and stock the house with all kinds. I get the bags and the expensive loose leaf junk my hubs is convinced is not worth the expense. My favorite of late is a Jasmine tea the hubs brought back from China, which I call my Chinese Ayahuasca. (Though the tea is non-hallucinogenic, I swear it has some kind of healing properties. Or it could just be the caffeine, but whatever.) I have two or more cups a day. But I can’t get the temp right a lot of the time, due to my new distraction: El Bambino. I heat up a cup, forget it’s there (read: distracted), and then it’s cold. So I started heating it up even more. My perfect minute and thirty second cup is now a two minute cup. But then the cup is too hot to even hold and I don’t get the warming sensation in my fingers while I wait for the cool. Tea– you disappoint.

This thing makes my baby look like a floating head, but I think it fights the cold.

This thing makes my baby look like a floating head, but I think it fights the cold.

2.) Too cold for baby. My little man hates to wear a hat. We load up into the car seat, snuggle into that $39.95 Cozy Cub Baby Snuggle Sack, and apply a hat. He screams like I’ve threatened to devour him whole. He rips off the hat, cries and points at it, like it brought harm to him, and then snuggles comfortably into the carrier, sans hat. Then he sucks on the pom pom top and gets fuzzy fibers in his mouth I have to vacuum out later. But it’s too cold not to wear a hat. As soon as we get outside and a cool breeze sweeps across his face, I swear, his eyes say, “Are you kiddin’ me B?”

The snow blower is toying with us and it knows it.

The snow blower is toying with us and it knows it.

3.) We broke the snow blower. So, my dad finally decided to snow-bird haul ass his way down to Florida this winter. Disadvantage: we don’t get to see him for a few months. Advantage: he gave us his snow blower. The hubs and I have a significantly long driveway, so this felt like a huge win. BUT, he got a little over zealous getting out into the snow this week and ripped the starter cord/rope thingy. Before that, it ran out of gas. And before that, the carburetor was all gummed up and needed to be cleaned. How many times have we successfully used the snow blower? 1 time. And it’s February. How many times did the hubs have to shovel his butt off before making it to work late? 6 times. The moral of the story here could be that we need to learn better snow blower maintenance. But I’d rather blame winter. Blow me, winter.

4.) The baby has a hard time napping. Our indoor activities are just not rambunctious enough for my growing boy. While playing with blocks might put you to sleep, it’s just not enough for my little amigo. Soooooo, he doesn’t get tired in the usual way, on any sort of schedule, with any rhyme or reason to his actions. He’s like, “This shiz is lame, Mom. I need to stretch my joints!” And I have no real options for him. We went to a place called My Gym on Monday. And that was awesome. But this stuff is expensive enough that we can’t do it every day. We try to get out and about, plan play dates, etc. But it’s nothing like skipping around outside for two hours and then crashing into the most blissful nap of the year. Oh, summer, how I miss thee…

5.) Nothing is warm enough. I don’t know how Jon Snow and Ygritte even considered getting freaky in a grotto in the middle of the Frostfang Mountains. I see the snow outside and my body shivers. Nothing is warming this puppy up. We make a fire, we make hot cocoa, I wear sweaters and scarves. I have new wooly mittens that were probably made from an excavated woolly mammoth, but I can’t shake the cold. I can stay warm for ten minutes before searching for another layer. Additionally, I have two sweaters that I actually consider warm enough for this freeze blast, so now I am that mom who lives in two sweaters. I keep them clean and alternate them, but I know it’s kind of weird. And sad. And unfashionable. On not on trend. I will live under pillows and quilts, then send someone to come and get me in April.

Stay warm everyone! We’re trying our best over here!

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A Sad Day for Educators

I heard that this had become a national story, but I don’t know how far it has reached, so I’ll try to fill you in on the happenings in Coatesville, PA.

Photo taken by Tom Kelly IV

Photo taken by Tom Kelly IV

This past Tuesday, the Coatesville School District held a board meeting to determine whether or not to accept the resignations of School Superintendent, Richard Como, and Director of Athletics and Activities, Jim Donato. The men had engaged in text messaging on school-issues cell phones, which contained racial and gender derogatory comments. You can read these for yourself HERE.  Please be advised that they are disgustingly offensive.

The first article released on the story ran in The Times Herald, and can be seen HERE.

What has transpired since the men’s resignations, posting of the text transcripts, and board meeting approval of those resignations has been unfathomable. The Coatesville Community is in an uproar. Students, parents, taxpayers, and other educators are not quite sure how to handle a situation of this gravity. While all of us can agree that issues of racism and sexism persist throughout the country, seeing the text transcripts in black and white was astounding. As naive as I am, I suppose, I’d never read anything so blatantly filled with blind ignorance and hatred.

Exposing the truth is powerful. It changes us. It makes us see things in a way we didn’t expect to. But, this week’s unraveling of events led me to wonder what this level of truth is achieving. Did I need to read those text messages? Was it helpful or hurtful? What will it change?

Photo taken by Tom Kelly IV

Photo taken by Tom Kelly IV

As an educator, I think first about what a school is. A school is the hub of a community. It’s where we bring our children, allowing others to transform their minds and open them up to life’s wonders. A school is the place where our children grow and become who they are. A school is the place where teachers unite, collaborate, and work together. They work to build the community, as do staff members, partnered organizations, board members, and vendors who operate within or around the school. Schools create social events and philanthropies, boosting engagement for everyone and anyone within that community.

So, I have to wonder how the exposure of these texts (which was done by the acting Assistant Superintendent, Teresa Powell) can stymie the growth and development of a community. People are enraged. Students and children are confused and breeding their own version of hatred against men who were ignorant bigots. This is the natural way that people often react to something of this nature. We are hurt, we are sad, and we are angry.

Could Coatesville’s school community have avoided this? Sure. They could have prevented the leaking of those texts. Would that have been better? Must we first tear down a community in order to rebuild it?

Photo taken by Tom Kelly IV

Photo taken by Tom Kelly IV

Coatesville has been an historically challenged district. I have only lived in Pennsylvania for about 6 and a half years, but I learned pretty quickly what Coatesville was like. Multiple individuals warned me not to work or live near the town, as it has seen hardships in the form of crime and violence. So, it seems that it was a community in disrepair before this episode. But, that prompts me to wonder the next thing: if a community is in need of building up, must it first be ripped apart?

I think about the times in history in which real change became possible. For whatever reason, it seems that human  beings need real destruction, real horror, and real travesty in order to learn and grow. Was this the kind of real shake-up that can bring change to the community? Or did we just show innocent children how disgusting humanity can be for no reason at all?

I don’t have an answer for this one. I think we are all thinking about what the best course of action may have been. A school community is responsible for more than it realizes. It is our job to be as best equipped as possible– to handle atrocities such as this. But I’ll tell you what: I did not learn anything about this kind of stuff when I was in school. I didn’t read any materials, or learn from any teachers or professors, who would come close to describing the best ways in which to tackle an event such as this.

Maybe the best thing to do is start with that. How do we handle this kind of stuff? What do kids and their families need to know? What does the truth do? More importantly, perhaps, I’d like to know how a school community can we prepare people to really handle the truth once it comes out. If we can be there for one another for the aftermath, maybe then, we can start to grow.

For now, this situation tells me we have a long way to go…

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