Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Moms Weekend & the TSA

In January I discovered that Ohio University, where our oldest attends college, was hosting their annual Moms Weekend in April. I announced to husband and our oldest, a son, that I was going to attend! Son urged me to stay in Missouri and not attend;hubby began to figure out the costs of gas if I drove. He decided that it would actually be cost effective if I flew to OH for this fantabulous experience so the ticket was bought through Southwest Airlines and the date was circled on the calendar. I was going to Moms Weekend!!

I don’t fly a lot and airplane travel makes me nervous. I know, I know, it’s safer to travel by a plane than to drive in one’s car, I’ve had those statistics recited to me ad nauseum. While plane travel is faster than driving oneself somewhere, there isn’t as much hassle in the travel process if driving oneself. Pack your gear, throw it in the trunk of the car, have funds for fuel and food and overnight accomodations, and off you go!

To make my flight to Columbus, OH I had to rise early, 4:30 am, to be ready to drive to St. Louis’s airport by 5:15 am.  That morning I missed the days when we only lived 20 minutes from that airport! Appreciate how geographically close you are to that airport, North St. Louis Countians!! I arrived at the airport and found the long-term parking lots. I was feeling confident at this point for I had driven in from Rolla in pouring rain and successfully got the car parked in the correct lot and had my parking ticket, and found the correct shuttle which whisked me to Terminal 2 and Southwest Airlines.

Upon entering the Terminal I checked my suitcase in order for it  to be put into the luggage hold of the plane. Hubby had counseled me to just take it on the plane with me and place it in an overhead compartment but I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to gracefully lift that suitcase over my head and place it into an overhead compartment so I opted for the baggage handlers to deal with it! I am glad that I did!

After the suitcase was on its journey,  I glanced to my left and my mouth fell open. The long line that I saw made me gulp-it was full of fellow travelers, all looking bored, or stressed, or both, and I had to join them in that line to await the TSA checks. I was really shocked by how long that line was. I noticed that the TSA agents at Lambert-St. Louis don’t smile. They all had those electric royal blue uniform shirts on with black vests and blue examination latex gloves on. I watched passengers ahead of me so I would know which forms of ID the first agent was wanting to see. Then I got into the next line and saw the travelers ahead of me all had taken off their shoes and put their laptops, purses, carry on bags, etc. into bins so I followed their example. I had purposely worn my Nike tennis shoes in case I had to run from the plane or airport in case a disaster struck. Now I was mentally upbraiding myself for not wearing my flip-flops! As the traveler in front of me was entering a scanning booth I moved to be the next person to enter the booth when the TSA agent near the booth’s entrance barked an order at me:”Madam, attend your purse!” I looked at him and froze, with a deer in the headlights look on my face. Again he barked at me:”Madam! Attend your purse!!”, getting louder and glaring at me. I still didn’t comprehend what he was asking me to do. Was my purse moving around? Why did it need attending? As I was about to say that I didn’t understand his order, he changed his choice of words and said, “Madam, please stand next to your purse.” I immediately jumped away from the scanner booth entrance and stood next to my purse only to have to jump back again as it was my turn to enter the booth. From there on I was the perfect traveler and gave no other TSA Agents a reason to bark at me. Note to TSA Agents at Lambert-St. Louis, when giving nervous travelers orders, use the simplest vocabulary possible, okay?

On my trip back to MO, I noticed that the TSA Agents at Columbus’s airport were much friendlier, more relaxed but still on guard. They also announced several times that travelers ages 75 or older could keep their shoes on. “How considerate and nice!”, I thought. TSA Agents operating with common sense!

Ohio University, not Ohio State as some friends in MO always think that’s the school our son attends, is located in Athens, OH. The  Appalachian Mountains are very near as West Virginia is only 30 minutes away. I grew up in the flatlands of NW Ohio so a trip to Athens is always a revelation to me that there really are such gorgeous areas of OH. The University had a lot of activities planned for visiting Moms and the dutiful college students who would be the hosts escorting their Moms around campus. My son, after his initial reluctance about my visit, was very glad that I came. Luckily for me, my dear mother-in-law also lives in Athens as does husband’s older brother, his wife, and a married niece and a nephew, so a visit there is also a bit of a reunion, which is always a plus. My son took me to his on campus office, Veterans Affairs, which suits him to a t as he is a veteran.

He introduced me to his co-workers and revealed he might be in a student made film about a veteran who is a college student feeling the pull to go back overseas to rejoin the war. My son said the student filmmaker wants to shoot a scene at OU’s Veterans Affairs office and  my son might be in that scene with others trying to talk the college student out of his idea to return to the war. I also toured the “Chocolate Fest” on campus: local bakeries and candymakers selling their wares and giving out samples. I have to give a shout out to the Athens Bread Company-a local bakery that made the best ginger snaps I ever had-very gingery and full of “snap” as the proprietor told me; it had taken many batches for him to get that just right ginger snap taste. My son and I also toured a state park that the OU students like to visit for hikes, fishing, etc. My husband’s sister-in-law went with me to a Native American Art and Jewelry Show held at the nearby The Ridges-a former Ohio State Hospital for the Mentally Ill that was built next door to OU’s campus and is now not in use. The buildings on the property are stunning, a bit eerie as one can see the bars on the windows; the numerous buildings standing  high on a ridge overlooking Athens and the campus. If any fledgling film maker needs a new setting for an eerie movie, The Ridges would be a perfect setting! I also made the requisite visits to two college bookstores to buy OU stuff for the family back in Missouri, sister-in-law expertly guiding me around the downtown.

Fast & Furious 7OU logo

Wide shot of Ohio University

Wide shot of Ohio University

Ohio University

Ohio University

 

 

My son may have been at first reluctant for me to attend Moms Weekend at OU because over the past 10 years, some of the moms who attend don’t act very “motherly”. They use the visit as an excuse to try and look like college girls and to hit the downtown bars and get rip-roaring drunk;cougars on the prowl!! I reassured my son that I had no plans to visit any of the downtown bars and the first night, as I was relaxing at my mother-in-law’s home, we heard police sirens go by and she said, “Uh oh, I bet their going to arrest someone’s mom!” OU also hosts a Siblings Weekend and a Dads Weekend but for some reason, Moms Weekend has grown in local infamy.

Another reason to visit OU was to finally meet our son’s girlfriend. This was an entirely new facet of the mom-child paradigm for me and for my son. I was admittedly a bit nervous to meet the young lady who has caught his eye and his heart but once I met her, I could see why he loves her. A very nice, kind, and sincere young lady. I couldn’t have been more pleased to meet her and to put her at her ease as I am sure she was probably very nervous to meet me. With this texting age, after our first meeting at lunch, he told me what his girlfriend thought of me and vice versa: all good opinions we had of one another. The next evening, I also got to meet the girlfriend’s mom, who had also decided to attend Moms Weekend. The four of us had a very nice dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and again, our texting college students let the other one know that we mothers had a mutual like of one another. Phew!

I would sum up my OU visit as very nice and it was beneficial for my son to tell me several times during my stay that he was very glad that I did attend. That was worth the nerves I endured in flying in for the weekend, dealing with one grumpy TSA Agent, and meeting his girlfriend and her mother. Onward and upward, to next year’s Moms Weekend at OU.

My St. Patrick’s Day Rant

We live in Rolla, MO, a smallish city of roughly 19,000 people.  The place is  dominated by a state university, Missouri University of Science and Technology, to be specific.   It is a mainstay of Rolla, a large employer for the area.   The university began in 1870 as the School of Mines and Metallurgy.  Now it’s known as the school in Missouri to enroll at if you want to be an engineer, work in the field of computers, or work in any field of science or mathematics.

For some unknown reason, back in the early 1900s, a group of students decided to have a party, and they decided to  pick a saint to give their party concept an air  of “honor”.   They chose St. Patrick, claiming he was the patron saint of engineers.  Who knew engineers had a patron saint?  I sure didn’t!  Supposedly good old St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and did do his level best to spread the gospel message to the natives of the Emerald Isle, but patron saint of engineers?

St. Patrick and his minions arrive at the Rolla St. Patrick's Day parade

St. Patrick and his minions arrive at the Rolla St. Patrick’s Day parade

Every year since that group of students began their traditional party,  the week in March leading up to St. Patrick’s Day has become  a time for the students to slack off, and for some, it’s time to just party the days away; beer, booze, and who knows what else.    Rolla gets in on the “fun”  by holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade.  It’s the typical small-town parade: high school marching bands, some honorary civic-minded citizens wearing various green outfits smiling and waving from convertibles as they are driven along the  parade route, boy and girl scout groups, people on horseback, dogs decorated in green costumes, some of the college students march in the parade, some groups build floats for the parade.   The parade lasts a little over an hour and   then the partying begins anew.

As I was listening to the local radio station on Monday morning, I heard that one of Rolla’s ministers went to the latest city council meeting to inform them as to  how the church’s property was mistreated by party-goers.  People with no intention of attending the church had filled the parking lot with their cars, and some folks decided to hold their  parties in the parking lot!  Of course, those happy folks didn’t clean up after themselves.   The church’s worshippers, on  Sunday morning, couldn’t find many parking spots due to the partiers leaving their cars in the church’s lot.  City council was then  informed about  some idiot or idiots  who went to Lion’s Club Park and drove their car(s) in the grass, in 360 degree circles, or “donuts”, tearing up areas of the park.  The other act of vandalism that irritated me when I found out about it was  that an Eagle Scout’s project had been destroyed.  There is a nice, new memorial to veterans near a nice walking trail in Rolla, on the southwest side of town.  Last year,  a boy scout wanting to earn his Eagle Scout badge,  built a proper burn pit  so that the park could host the proper ceremonies for retiring old American flags.  The burn pit was totally torn apart and destroyed.

I was told years ago, in the late 1970s and during the  1980s, the St. Patrick partiers  shenanigans were getting out of control; businesses and other personal  properties were being damaged.  The city council and mayor had a meeting with the University’s Chancellor and told him to  get the celebrations under control or St. Patrick’s wouldn’t be celebrated anymore.  The University complied and the damaging  shenanigans ceased.   I think it’s time for the Mayor and city council to visit the current Chancellor and let her know that destruction of property in Rolla isn’t going to be tolerated.

Granted, I don’t have proof that drunken college students partied in a church’s parking lot, destroyed park property, and destroyed a burn pit.  However, when parties are broadly advertised and people flock to them, it’s pretty much a guarantee that people behaving badly will be the result.

I do have to wonder why the University allows the students to start their partying days before St. Patrick’s Day even arrives.  I was at the Post Office on Tuesday, March 10th, and across the street, the fraternity house had 2 members standing on the front yard drinking beer and blasting music.  At least it was country music, but to some that musical choice would be a crime!

My question  to the University is if you want to have a parade, crown a St. Patrick and pick a Queen of Love and Beauty, then why not  do so on the morning of the parade?   Those events could happen at 10 am and then the parade could begin at 11:00.  Tell the professors that classes and assignments, tests and quizzes will still happen that week  so that the students will still have to work and not have a bunch of free time to while away with drinking.  If the beer bashes don’t begin days before the parade and only happen  Friday night and after the parade, perhaps some of the damage done by the partiers will be minimal.

To businesses and churches with parking lots within walking distance of the parade and the campus proper, my husband wondered why don’t they charge money to park in their lots?   That’s what lots in St. Louis do when people drive in for a sporting event.  Or block your lot off.  Yes, it’s a hassle as you might have to have employees or church volunteers man the lot to make sure the barriers aren ‘t moved but that would be another way to keep the idiots at bay.

My rant is over,  and this video clip about the real St. Patrick might be enlightening for the university community.

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.

 

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