Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Strong, Brave, Crocuses and the Lesson they Teach

I am ready for Spring to arrive.  While here in the Missouri Ozarks there hasn’t been as much snow as what Boston, Massachusetts has had to put up with, I am tired of the cold temperatures and ready for the warmer temps of spring and summer to arrive.    Crocuses in snow

About two weeks ago, I was enjoying a bit of a Winter weather reprieve.  Temps were actually rising into the high 50s and 60s and one afternoon I noticed that some crocuses had pushed themselves up from the dirt around the base of a maple tree that is in our front yard.  The crocuses were blooming!  Their bright yellow and glossy purple petals were shining in the sun and I called the neighbor boys over as well as my son, to look at these mighty floral marvels.

Doing a bit of research on Crocus Vernus, I found that they aren’t native to North America.  Crocuses are native to alpine regions of Europe and Asia.  Crocuses were brought  to North America by immigrants wanting plants from their homelands to decorate their new surroundings.  Crocuses are a bulb plant, a perennial which means that they will grow each year, without much effort from the gardener-my kind of plant!  The bulbs are planted in Autumn, and in late March in Missouri, that’s typically when the new flowers push up from the dirt, blooming for 3 weeks.  When Spring gives way to Summer, the crocuses have faded but their bulbs are still working hard underground storing up food for next year’s blooms.

As I looked at these flowers with my son and neighbor boys, I thought how they truly are illustrations to that old adage, “Bloom where you’re planted.”  No matter where you are in life, bloom where you’re planted…do what you can do with the talents and skills you were blessed with…serve others with those talents and skills, do your best the best you can and don’t worry about the work of the other folks around you.  If they’re not blooming where they’ve been planted, that is their situation to figure out, not yours to stew and worry about.

These simple flowers also made me think about their existence.  They are an intricately designed plant.  They live the same life-cycle over and over every year.  They live as they were created to live.  They bring smiles to our Winter weary selves when we see them emerging from the cold ground, confidently reminding us that Spring is coming!  Hang on!  Winter will soon be gone!  (As I type this, we are getting snow again in my part of Missouri-I see the fine flakes falling, covering our street and I have to wonder if an early release for school kids will be called as the rural roads in our area are very twisty, curvy, and many are dirt roads-combined with snow, not a fun drive for school buses or their drivers.)

All of my musings on the crocuses led me to further reflection that this time of year speaks of our Savior’s resurrection, also celebrated in the Spring each year.  Currently, it is the Lenten Season.  A time most famously known as a time to give up something.  As Lent is growing in popularity among Prostestant denominations, and not just a “Catholic Thing” anymore, I am sometimes asked by my Protestant friends what is Lent all about?  I answer it’s a time to focus more deeply on the great sacrifice Jesus made when he obeyed His Father’s will.  To focus on how Jesus endured the lies told about him, accepted the guilty verdict the crowd in Jerusalem demanded even though the Roman appointed Governor, Pontius Pilate, knew Jesus was innocent.  When Holy Week arrives, on that Thursday, focus on  the Last Supper, actually a Passover meal, that Jesus partook of with his 12 disciples, which is recorded in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  On Good Friday, focus on the sufferings Jesus endured on the cross to which he was crucified.   Then on Sunday, Easter, focus and  rejoice in the resurrection: Jesus’ defeat of sin and death by coming back to life.  His sacrifice, His willingness to take upon Himself all of the sins of the world-the sins of those who were living at that time and the sins of those who haven’t even been yet born.  For those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, it means our sins are gone.   It means God can welcome us into eternal life in Heaven.  It means that there is much more than this earthly existance.  It means we need to serve others in Jesus’s name and not cause others to doubt Him by our inactions or wrongheaded doings.

A lot of philosphical thoughts in my post today, I  know, but that’s what can happen when one studies the beauty of  crocuses blooming despite patches of snow still looming on the ground.

 

crocuses 2

crocuses 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

crocuses and a cross

 

 

Hey, Madison Avenue, Lighten Up!!

From 1955-65, famed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock hosted an anthology television show.  At the beginning of each show, he’d give a preview of the drama about to unfold, and then he’d make a biting, jokey jab at the slew of commercials that would soon air prior to the drama.  I think that many of the Superbowl ads from Sunday night would have made Sir Alfred roll over in his grave!

What was it that this year, the 49th Superbowl, American audiences saw ads that were sad, depressing, and just not the norm when compared to Superbowl ads of the past? I can recall many hilarious ads for Budweiser beer, snack foods, and myriads of other products but not as many hilarious ads were made this year.  Did Madison Avenue decide to put on it’s PC hat this year and focus on social issues instead of using humor to just sell products for their clients? On to the examination!

Downer Ads: The #1 downer ad, to me, was the one by Nationwide Insurance. Depicting a boy, age 8 or 9, smilingly going about his day and then informing us he won’t live to ride a bike  because he died in an accidental death, then we saw images: an overflowing bathtub, a toppled over tv, spilled household cleaners that contain caustic chemicals. Did Nationwide even think for one moment that parents who had actually lost a child to an accidental death wouldn’t be watching the Superbowl? Did these parents need a reminder of that awful event that took their child’s life?  As I read on a posted Twitter account about that ad, “Nationwide is not on your side!”    Nationwide has since gotten so much negative backlash about this ad that they’ve had to issue a statement about it, trying to explain what points they were trying to get across.   Nationwide

A second downer ad, and one I missed as I was in the kitchen and not viewing the tv, aired only in the St. Louis, MO tv market and was sponsord by the MO branch of National Council on Alchohol and Drug Abuse.  It depicted a mom going into her college-age son’s bedroom only to find him dead from a heroin overdose!!!  To many in the St. Louis market, that ad topped the downer Nationwide ad.

The third downer ad, and again I only caught snippets of it, was about a race car driver dad who has a horrible accident as his family watches the race on tv.  The driver survives and recovers, all an ad for Nissan.  I’m guessing that Nissan was suggesting that if the race car driver were driving their brand of car, he’d be safer? Does Nissan even make race cars? I don’t know.  Also, this ad featured a poor song choice, Harry Chapin’s hit song from the 1970s, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, since in real life, Chapin died at the age of 38 in a car crash!  Nissan

The fourth downer ad was sponsored by the NFL, an ad against Abuse of Women.   Again, I only caught glimpses of this ad, on my way to get a soda and only saw a messy looking bedroom, and missed the ad’s point. I guess this ad isn’t much of a surprise as the NFL has had to deal with players this season not treating the women in their romantic lives well, and an ad depicting the NFL against brutish treatment of women has to happen to keep the NFL’s image from being tarnished.

There were some weird ads, namely the one for Squarespace with actor Jeff Bridges sitting beside a sleeping couple’s bed, intoning weird chant-like sounds as he rubs a stick over the rim of a decorative, metal bowl.  Kim Kardashian’s ad for T-Mobile and the Skittles ad-funny, but weird.  Lastly, there was the awkward McDonald’s ad, stating that starting soon, across America(Europe and Asia, you’re safe!), random customers will have to perform an act of kindess or do a dance or sing a song, and if they do so, their order of food or drink is free.  As someone at the Superbowl party I attended said, this new push by McDonald’s could go horribly wrong.

SquarespaceT-Mobile    Skittles          McDonald's

Polling my kids and myself, we thought the following were the best Superbowl ads and I’m just listing them in a random order, not trying to say one was better than the others: Snickers ad using old Brady Bunch episode clip when Marsha gets hit in the nose with a football, Danny Trejo as Marsha, and the icing on the cake, Steve Buscemi as Jan.  Esurance ad depicting Breaking Bad character Walter White(Bryan Cranston) working as a pharmacist-I only wish they could have somehow gotten Jesse(Aaron Paul) to be in it as his pharmacy tech!  Anheuser-Busch’s ad, heart-warming; depicting the lost puppy being saved from a wolf attack by a team of the famous Clydesdale horses.  Doritos ad, where an airline passenger does a lot of disgusting things in his seat to make sure no one sits next to him on the flight, but when he sees a pretty lady, he flashes his smile and a bag of Doritos tortilla chips, and then discovers that the pretty lady is a mommy with a young child in tow.  Clash of Clans with Liam Neeson acting all tough, and playing his “Father who will get his revenge” character.  Since I’ve been rewatching the 1980s hit tv show, Remington Steel, I liked the Kia ad featuring Pierce Brosnan.  The BMW ad featuring a news clip from an old Today Show segment with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumble, not understanding what the internet is or will be, to their current situation, not understanding all the bells and whistles on the new BMW was very clever. Nationwide did redeem itself a bit with their funny ad of actress Mindy Kaling walking around NYC, thinking she’s invisible, but when she tries to randomly kiss actor Matt Damon, who is having lunch with some friends, she learns she’s not invisible.  Lastly, Loctite won me over with their funny and goofy ad proclaiming the wonders of their glue!  The ad even stated that it saved a marriage! The next time I need a stronger glue, I’m buying Loctite!

In conclusion of my and my family’s analysis of the ads, please, please, please Madison Avenue, lighten up and stop the depressing, downer ads!  We Americans want humorous ads to go with our Superbowl, heart-warming is great, too, but please, no more heroin overdoses or dead kids!!!

AB

DoritosKia

BMW

Loctite

Resolutions, Part Three

My last resolution is  to explore, consider, hash out, and plan out for 2015 how  we as a family are doing with giving. Not giving of time but with monetary donations.  Afterall, one is born into this world with nothing materially and when one dies, it has famously been said, “You can’t take it with you!”

In 2014, a former youth minister who served at First Christian Church of Florissant when we were members of that church,Titus Benton(he now serves as a youth miniser at Current Christian Church in Katy, TX)wrote a thought-provoking book and a spirtually convicting book, titled Grip: Let Loose, Dig Deep, & Take Hold.  To me it was challenging in the ways it caused me to evaluate how my husband and I spend our family’s income, and how we could do more with what we are given to help others in this world who are less fortunate than our family.

We Americans know the names: Rockefeller, Edison, Carnegie, Ford, Du Pont, Vanderbilt, Morgan-surnames from some of the wealthiest families America has produced.  Nowadays, one would probably add Buffet, Gates, Jobs, Cuban, and a steady stream of countless others.  We, in the middle-class, think of these folks as the wealthy. However, and I found this eye-opening from reading Grip, how does my wealth stand up when compared to the World’s?  According to the World’s Economic Standards, due to our family having a house, vehicles, husband’s job, ability to purchase food, clothing, fuel, we are in the top 1% of the richest in the world.  So, technically, we could add our surname to the list I compiled earlier in this paragraph!

We all know about the suffering in this world:  natural disasters that hit without warning, such as the horrible earthquake that hit Haiti, or the Tsunami that devastated the lives of many in Indonesia, the sicknesses that run rampant especially in third world countries, people who are starving, who don’t have access to clean water, people in our own country who are sick, lonely, or in prison.  How often do these people and their needs cross our minds?  Maybe they don’t at all, unless we hear about the latest disaster on the news.  What can the typical American do about these horrible problems?

I would simply suggest that A. Find a charity of your choice that seeks to deal with a problem that you want to see gone.  B. With the help of the internet, you can find out how the charities you are interested in donating to use their funds that they receive; how much goes to the actual work of defeating the problem? How much money is going to overhead costs, like tv commericals and the CEO’s paycheck? C. Examine your monthly expenditures.  After the mortgage, insurance, utilitiy bills, school fees, food, gas have been set aside, I would challenge you to go over the things your family buys each month that aren’t needs for survival.  I’ll pick on one expenditure, Starbucks.  I am not a fan of their coffee as I find it too strong, and I also think they overcharge, but if you decided to not go there for a month, and set that money aside that you’d normally spend there, at the end of that month, you could send that money to a charity.

I would also get the kids involved, if you have kids, and make this a family project.  If we want the future generations to care about the less fortunate in this world, we parents have to lead by example.  Let the kids brainstorm about other ways to save money up for a month such as no restaurant visits or no visits to the movie theatre for a month, and then put that saved money towards another charity.

So, this, my last resolution, is a bit of a challenge, a bit of something for you to consider.  For a thought-provoking read, I heartily recommend ordering the book Grip: Let Loose, Dig Deep, & Take Hold and you can do so through Amazon.  For those of the Christian faith, are you living out your faith by helping others or are you just turning a blind eye to the needs in this world? To those who don’t claim a religious faith at all, I’ll close out with a good quote by John Bunyan(1628-1688), which was also used in Grip:”You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

 

Resolutions, Part Two

Last week I wrote about my goal to be healthier and my ongoing weight loss program.  Today’s post is all about decluttering our house of STUFF!  After almost 26 years of marriage, 7 kids in various stages of leaving the nest and still needing to be in the nest, a dog, a turtle, and having moved and lived in 7 different homes, our family has accumulated a lot of stuff and lots of it needs to go!

I don’t watch the tv show about the people that hoard things to the point that they can’t even really live in their homes, but at times, there are areas in our house that are starting to pile up and I don’t like that that is happening.  Books that we need to evaluate if we should keep them or give them away, toyboxes overflowing with toys that aren’t played with anymore, old computer games and computer parts, VHS tapes and a VCR that according to our kids, has bit the dust.  Clothes-I will pat myself on the back here, as every year I have our kids go through their closets and dresser drawers and cull through their clothes-hand over to me what they can’t fit into or what they just plain don’t like anymore.  Off to Goodwill the clothes depart.  Husband is the only one who won’t go through his clothes-he even still owns a ghastly pair of “earth” shoes, from the his junior high days that I have threatened to send to the grave with  him!  It didn’t help when the main character on Breaking Bad, the chemistry teacher, even wore a pair!!!  Husband delighted in telling me that fashion repeats itself, and the earth shoes stayed in his closet!

The dreaded Earth shoes!!!

The dreaded Earth shoes!!!

I did begin a mini-book give away last week when a former homeschooling music program our kids participated in when we lived in the St. Louis area was asking for donations of educational picture books for their Young at Arts students.  That was a nice feeling, to go through our myriad stacks of picture books and pull some out for donating and delivering them.  I have also planned on a toybox purge this month.  Some of our 7 kids have been polled if there are any toys they want us to keep for their future families: Legos, American Girl dolls, a doll house and it’s occupants and furnishings will be saved and the wooden toys my Dad made, those will be kept.  I think the rest will have to go.  Need to double-check with the firstborn if he cares about his matchbox cars or not and that NFL football his uncle gave him years ago.

A site that I have found very helpful in being a more organized person, and has great tips on decluttering a home, is  Flylady.  Flylady? No, she is not a superheroine, but a real person, Marla Cilley, who earned her nickname from teaching fly fishing.  She is a real person and used to be a cluttered gal, with a home she was embarrassed to let anyone into for a visit.  After living this way for a number of years, she had had enough and began her own system for becoming organized and having a company ready home for visitors.  She eventually wrote some books about her system of staying organized and also began a helpful, online website, which one can check out here, at Flylady.net.

Some common and  wise sayings via Flylady.

Some common and wise sayings via Flylady.

      Flylady

Flylady’s system is pretty easy to follow.  A home is divided up into 5 zones : Front foyer and dining room areas, kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, living room/family room.  Each week of the month, the cleaning focus is on that room, and the assigned tasks usually take no more than 15 minutes.  There is also a weekly Home Blessing, with 7 tasks done weekly, to help keep the home visitor ready, and each task is about 15 minutes in length.  There are also daily kid challenges (i.e. chores) that entail the kids in your home to help keep their bedrooms picked up, and to keep track of their stuff, and even recipe ideas for that ultimate dinner saver, the crock pot.  Flylady does sell house cleaning tools, but it is optional if you want to buy any or not.  There is no fee for looking at her website and trying out her methods.  She also stresses to take care of yourself, get enough sleep, drink enough  water, get daily exercise, and eat healthy foods.  Saturdays she urges all to have family fun time-on an outing or at one’s home.  Sundays, she encourages a day of rest, to worship and recharge as fits one’s beliefs.

2015-here’s to getting organized, to decluttering; I for one don’t want my adult kids having to decide what to do with all of Mom and Dad’s stuff, after we have left this mortal coil!

 

 

Resolutions, Part One

Resolution: per Webster’s Dictionary, states: “The act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.”  With January here and almost halfway done(!), I decided that  for my next 3 Tuesday blogs, I’d focus on some resolutions I have made.

bbq

My first resolution began this past July.  I was at a bbq visiting with some Florissant friends, and one friend in particular, who looked fabulously fit, was happy to share with me how she had lost some excess weight and had been able to  keep it off for two years.  Her method was a low-carbohydrate way of eating, or low-carb, for short.  As I drove home to Rolla later that  evening, I decided that I had to do something about losing my excess weight.  I had had a health scare in November-December of 2013, where my vision in my left eye was dimmer, there was eye pain, a diagnosis of Optic Neuritis was declared and tests for Multiple Sclerosis were run, as Optic Neuritis is often a first symptom of MS.  The tests were negative and at the follow-up with the Neurologist, she kept asking me if Diabetes ran in my family’s health history.  I was able to tell her no, that it didn’t.  She then encouraged me to lose weight, even though my blood pressure and other vitals were in the normal ranges.

On that drive  home, I mulled over in my mind that it was time to get back to a normal weight for my 5’6″ height.  I had successfully lost 20 lbs on Weight Watchers 8 years previously.  Back then, Weight Watchers was  based on a points system.  Certain foods were assigned points and I was allotted to eat 24 points a day.  This system worked but when I had lost the 20 lbs., WW suddenly cut my daily points down to 20!  That came as a nasty surprise to me and I began to slack off of the program and gained back those 20 lbs and then some.  Ugh!

Mary Englebright Expectant Momma Illustration

Mary Englebright Expectant Momma Illustration

In my younger years, I was always a normal weight for my height.  Then, in 1991, motherhood arrived.  You know how James Bond, 007 Super Spy has a license to kill?  I took  my first pregnancy to mean that I had a license to eat!  With 6 more babies arriving, from 1994-2003, my weight kept creeping up.  Low-carb, from my friend’s descriptions of it, seemed like a good way to lose weight and my research began in earnest.

I went to the Atkins Diet website and read all about the program.  There weren’t points assigned to foods.  It was simply a matter of restricting carb laden foods.  The first two weeks were the most stringent of the plan and the second week of my new eating regime I found myself at camp, working as a volunteer, and facing high carb treats at every meal!  But I went to camp prepared, with nuts, flavored waters, and when on the mornings that breakfasts were pancakes or sausage gravy and biscuits, I stuck to eating almonds and drinking my coffee black!

After those first two strict weeks, I could begin to slowly add healthier carb items back in to my diet, and have been sticking to this way of eating since late July/early August.  I have lost 33 lbs and only have 20 more to go and then I’ll be in the healthy range for my height.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were full of carb heavy foods, but I planned accordingly, skipping some treats, letting myself have some of others, and I didn’t destroy my weight loss plans too badly.

It has been fun to give away larger-sized clothes that I can no longer wear to Goodwill. It’s been a pleasant surprise to fit back into smaller-sized clothes that I forgot I owned!  My snoring has stopped.   The compliments from a few individuals have been music to my ears.  I also inspired my parents to give low carb a try and they got nice and fit for their recent 50th Wedding Anniversary party!  My dear husband has also decided to embark on low carb, as he did it several years ago to much success, but then got away from it.  He and I both know that it is the maintenance of a low carb way of eating that is even more challenging than the losing of the weight.

One book I intend to read  is Gary Taube’s Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.  Taube is a science writer and he decided to write a book exploring why we, Americans in particular, become fat? One of the most interesting facts in the book to me was that years ago, in America and Europe, if a patient went to his doctor for weight loss advice, the common answer was to cut one’s carbohydrate intake.  Shortly after World War II, that mindset in the medical community changed to the method we see today, lowfat, high carbs.  If one looks at the food pyramid that our own Federal Govenment plasters everywhere, it doesn’t fit a low carb model at all!

The Food Pyramid when following a Low Carb Eating Plan

The Food Pyramid when following a Low Carb Eating Plan

The Us Government's Food Pyramid-note the huge, suggested daily servings of high carb foods!

The Us Government’s Food Pyramid-note the huge, suggested daily servings of high carb foods!

 

While I have been on this low carb journey, I’ve learned to look at food labels very closely:specifically noting the serving sizes and carb contents, measured  in grams.  It is very shocking how high some food products are in carbs-especially juices, sodas, and even some of the “healthier” drinks on the market.  Even many of the gluten-free products on the shelves are still very high in carbohydrates.  My youngest, age 11, who loves the Eat This, Not That book series, likes to be my food label reader and  carb checker.  He has been amazed to note the high levels of carbs in some foods, too.   Our 16 year old, who is very tall and skinny and loves to run each day, has been my “Jiminy Crickett”-that conscious for Pinocchio in the Disney animated movie-asking me if sneaking a cookie is worth it, how many carbs are in it, etc.  I have also begun using an app, My Fitness Plan, as suggested to me by my 20 year old daughter.  This app has a handy log for keeping track of what I eat each day, a graph to show my weight losses so far, and I can even record my walks and other forms of exercise if I choose to do so.   It’s nice to have the family being supportive of my efforts to be healthier.

This, in a nutshell, is my first resolution, albeit begun in 2014, and so far, the journey to be healthier has not been too hard.  If you are wanting to lose weight, I heartily recommend reading about the low-carb method, and do check with your doctor beforehand, to see if it would be fine with him or her, and listen to any other advice that they may have to offer on getting healthier in 2015.

 

50 Years…Wow!

November 26th, 1964-November 26, 2014.   Those dates are my parents’  wedding anniversary and a couple weeks ago, just a few days after Thanksgiving, our family, my brother and his family, relatives, and friends of my parents,  all gathered to help them celebrate this momentous occasion.

I told a few friends after we got back to Rolla from OH that we  not only celebrated Thanksgiving  but that we also celebrated my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary and without fail, all said the same thing: “Oh that’s so wonderful! That is really an achievement as so few marriages seem to be able to go the distance,” phrases like that.  Believe me, I am very grateful that my parents’ marriage has been able to go the distance.

Back in the 60’s, my parents were high school sweethearts.  Dad went to tiny Oakwood high school, near Paulding, OH.  All the grades, K-12, in one building.  (In fact, Oakwood Schools doesn’t even exist anymore as I believe it was eventually absorbed by Paulding’s School District.)  Mom went to Defiance High School, the bigger school, due to Defiance being the county seat and all that that means.  If a Junior Achievement assignment hadn’t been given for my mom and her club members to take turns selling cheese balls at the Chief Supermarket where my dad worked first as a bag boy then in the Produce Dept., they may not have ever met!

During the anniversary party, each guest was asked to stand and say how they knew my parents.  One anecdote that  I enjoyed was from one of my mom’s younger cousins.  He was an elementary aged boy when my parents were dating and he fondly remembered my dad being the “cool” boyfriend who on the 4th of July showed up at my grandparents’  home with tons of neat fireworks that they all got to set off later that day.  It’s kind of weird, and funny and sweet, all at the same time to hear one’s dad referred to as “cool”!!

My mom had told me the day before their party that she wanted me to say a few words.  I groaned a bit at this, but told her I would.  This led me to a search back at the hotel, on my laptop, for famous quotes about marriage.  Some quotes weren’t very optimistic.  Take this sad one attributed to President Abraham Lincoln: “Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is purgatory.”  Historians have theorized about the mercurial Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln and her husband, Abraham.  If he really uttered this quote, I’d guess it was made after a bad argument between the two Lincolns.  Then I read a sweeter one attibuted to Winston Churchill: “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me.”  When one considers Churchill’s place in history, I think it makes him all the more human to state that getting a woman to fall in love with him and marry him as his best achievement.  American poet Ogden Nash wrote a clever quip about marriage and I did use that in my bit of speaking at the party: “To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you’re wrong, admit it; Whenever you’re right, shut up!”  To Mr. Nash’s credit, he was married to his wife until he passed away in 1971, so I think he probably heeded his pithy advice!

I couldn't locate a photo of Ogden Nash with his wife, so this will have to show his dilemma at being on the 1950s tv show Masquerade with actress, Dagmar! I think he hoped Mrs. Nash wasn't tuning in!

I couldn’t locate a photo of Ogden Nash with his wife, so this will have to show his dilemma at being on the 1950s tv show Masquerade with actress, Dagmar! I think he hoped Mrs. Nash wasn’t tuning in!

Winston Churchill and his wife, Clemmie.  They look like a fun couple!!

Winston Churchill and his wife, Clemmie. They look like a fun couple!!

The Lincolns

I lastly shared a passage from the bible, Corinthians 13, often called the love passage as it is read aloud at so many wedding ceremonies.  I didn’t quote it verbatim, but gave it my own paraphrase: “…love is patient and kind.  It doesn’t envy, boast, nor is it prideful.  It doesn’t dishonor anyone, it’s not selfish, it’s not easily angered, and it doesn’t keep track of wrongs.  Love doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.  It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres; it never fails…”  I tried to continue speaking, but too choked up to continue, so I merely gave my parents a thumbs up, ala Happy Days and Fonzi, and the audience was kind, clapping anyway.  If I hadn’t gotten choked up I would have finished my little speech, to affirm aloud to my parents how grateful my brother and I were, and still are, that they are still married to one another.  That through good times, through hard times, through sickness and health, they illustrated to us the kind of love that Paul wrote about in his Letter to the Corinthians.  I would then have ended with this: “May God continue to bless you both as you continue on your way journeying through life together.”  Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!!  Love you so very much!!!!

Did the President Really Disrespect Stay-At-Home-Moms?

On October 31, 2014, President Obama spoke at Rhode Island College, in Providence, RI.  He was speaking on the topic of Women and the US Economy.  As I was perusing facebook later that same day, several well-meaning friends had put up links from news outlets about the President’s speech.  Most of the news outlets were all touting the same comment, that the President had shown disrespect to stay-at-home moms(sahms).  I was taken aback by this bit of news.  I am and have been a sahm for 23 years now.  I was taken aback because I thought to myself, would the President really say something so disrespectful to a group of women, that has grown to 29% of all women with children 18 and under(Pew Report)?

President Obama speaking at Rhode Island College, Providence, RI on October 31, 2014.

President Obama speaking at Rhode Island College, Providence, RI on October 31, 2014.

I am a conservative voter, thinker, and I follow politics.  I read various news sources each day, watch the news, and while not agreeing with much of President Obama’s political ideologies and policies, I had my doubts that he had really disrespected sahms.   I decided to do a bit of investigative research on what he actually said in his speech on October 31st.

What I found out was that the President was talking about the fact that Rhode Island has a paid family leave as a state law and he wished more states had such a law; 2 other states besides RI have such a law on their books.  The President cited examples of women who can’t take much time off from their jobs for a proper maternity leave, or take time off if they need to care for a seriously ill loved one.  He cited examples of women who do take that  time away to provide care for loved ones, and when they take that leave, they  risk losing their pay or their positions  in their careers.  He went on to state that sometimes families can’t find affordable and/or quality childcare or preschools, so a parent gives up their career to be with the kids when they’re small, and that that can negatively affect a family’s economic level.  He didn’t slam sahms from what I deciphered from his speech.   Here are the remarks he made if you want to read it for yourself.

As to his view of having paid leave for all who need to take leave from a career or job for personal reasons, I have to ask, who will pay for this leave in dollars and cents?  Where will the company find the money to do this?  If a state makes it mandatory, does this apply to all places of employment or just to large companies with deep pockets?  Will this apply to those working minimum wage jobs?  I can’t foresee that many businesses who have minimum wage employees can afford to provide  a paid leave for those employees.  Also, what is an affordable daycare?  What comprises a good daycare and who monitors that?  Let’s mandate  free, quality  Preschools?  To get the free preschools,  that would force the local public schools to add them to their school districts, but then again, that will cost rises in school tax levies which would then be  put onto the school districts’  taxpayers, so saying it’s free isn’t really the truth.  The President may wish the federal government can step in and create full-paid leave for those who have to leave a job for a while and/or fabulous daycares and preschools that are economically priced and convenient to where a family lives, but there is a whole host of unintended consequences that would result from such sweeping legislation.

When my husband and I began our family 23 years ago, we knew that I wanted to stop my teaching career to be a sahm.  I have never regretted my decision to put my career on hold.  As our youngest will turn 12 in 2015, I am gearing up for a return to teaching, whether as a full time teacher in the classroom or as a full-time sub, I have some flexibility in what I choose to do.

Life is hard and it’s not fair.  Life doesn’t always flow like a Happily-Ever-After fairytale ending.  Loved ones get terribly sick and need care.   Babies are born and need care.   Sometimes those life events throw huge monkey wrenches into our lives and the routine of living has to be put on hold for a while or for an entire season of life and those events have to be dealt with, they have to be endured.  When the event is over or has moved to a new stage, then that career and the old ways of living may be returned to.

I suggest, Mr. President, that you leave it up to the individuals and their families how best to deal with those monkey wrenches.

I would suggest different speeches, instead of focusing on women and the economy, how about ways to make the economy better for all working Americans?  Since this speech was made in late October, my cynical self thinks  it was scheduled  to aim a speech at women, in a hope to boost the vote for Democrats in the mid-term elections that were approaching, since the Republicans are supposedly “at war” with women.  Rhode Island, situated on the East coast, isn’t a hotbed of conservative voters, either, so that was  a safer  place to make a speech to appeal to liberal sensibilities.

If you want to help the economy for women, Mr. President,  lower the tax rates, change the way that the federal tax code  penalizes married women vs women co-habitating with a man.  How about  finding  ways to have  colleges  stop hiking up their tuition rates that force some college students to head into onerous debt just in order  to earn their degrees?

No, I don’t see the President’s speech as a disrespectful rant at stay-at-home-moms.  I see the speech bringing up some valid concerns that all Americans will eventually face, from time to time and I see it as difficulties Americans can deal with on their own without more intrusive laws from a federal government that just wants to “help” people.  I’ll end with a famous quote and warning from the late economist Milton Friedman: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”  Also, this quote by Mr. Friedman, which I think proponents of government intervention for every problem under the sun should memorize: ” One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

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