Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Losing the Olympic Bid Was Good for Chicago

I am sorry this doesn't fall into the category of "a blog for and about women" but, I needed to post this second one as well this week because it is something that has hit close to home and could really be a problem anywhere. During the 2008-2009 school year, 33 Chicago Public School students died. While I am sure this number was a disappointment to the Mayor of Chicago's office at the time, I don't recall any national news coverage that came of it. Now, looking back on the events over the past couple weeks in Chicago, I would say perhaps it was a good thing that Chicago lost the Olympic bid after all. Why have I made the connection between these two things?

It has been a month or so since Chicago found out it would not be hosting the 2016 Olympics and while some may be diappointed, many Chicagoens might agree, that perhaps, this was a good thing for Chicago. Since then, Mayor Richard Daley, has turned his attention to the problem of youth violence that has been building over the years in our city. This followed the well publicized death of a Darien Albert, a 16-year old honor student who was beaten to death on September 24,2009, an event that was caught on video and may have very well influenced the decision not to hold the Olympics in Chicago. Mayor Daley, after realizing that the Olympics would not be his ticket to re-election, has now made the fight against youth violence in Chicago his pet project for the past several weeks.

I would like to believe it was just because the death of a teen was serious enough, but, I have a feeling that if Chicago hadn't lost the Olympic bid, this story might not have gotten the attention it deserved, nor the visit from the the Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan that followed on October 7th to meet with Mayor Daley, local leaders, and the fellow high school students of Darien Albert three weeks later after he died. You see why I made this connection?

My question is, why didn't it happen sooner? The problem of youth violence is very troubling in Chicago and other communities as well. I hope that in the end something real does come of all of this or this teen's death might be in vein. Again, sorry this is more of an editorial than our usual post,but, I know you understand why it had to be said.

What I got is good! So, why not share a little...

I admit it, I have been spending way too much time this year concerned about my ticking clock. Those of you regular readers know that I have been pondering motherhood for some time, but, instead of thinking about being a mom or not being a mom, and if I do decide to become a mom, would I actually be able to have kids because it may be too late or some other health issue, etc. This week I dicided to give it a rest and it feels good. Instead, I am going to enjoy what I got.

My husband and I have been married for over three years. Both of us love our jobs for the most part (every job has its drawbacks, and the only thing I don't like about mine right now is the hour commute). We are still very much in love and no matter what we decide as far as having children, we have a lot ahead of us. Because we are older and don't have kids, we do have a lot of good quality time together and we enjoy the freedoms of not thinking about if we go out to eat one more time, how will we pay for school for our children, etc. I am also able to focus on working out 3-4 times a week without wondering who will take care of my kids.

I am sorry if it sounds like I am bragging, but, what I am getting at is we may not have the joy of raising kids or a house of our own, but, I do realize this is a tough time for a lot of women and I am very lucky not worry about paying the bills. For this reason, I also decided to make good on all of my talk about getting back to volunteering and choose an organization dedicated to helping women and girls in our area before the end of the year. I don't have a lot of time other than the weekends and every other Thursday (my flex day) but, darn it, I have more time than other women my age and there are a lot of women out there who need help. I will let you know what comes of it before the end of the year. Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Breaking in the new car...

...literally.

I have to admit, this story has very little to do with any sort of issue of import relating to women. However, this woman needs someone to talk to, and, blogosphere, you're it.

Recently, we bought a new car. My husband and I were so excited to get rid of our 2000 Jetta which turned out to be a piece of junk. It was a beautiful car when we bought it (and since both of us are German teachers, we thought we were so cool at the time - you know the whole Fahrvergn├╝gen/witty VW commercial thing), but, after a few years, the interior began to fall apart and it was like an avalanche from then on; more and more repairs needed to be done and the car was getting to be a total financial burden.

Since my husband and I try to be environmentally responsible, we bought a Toyota Prius, one of those cool hybrid cars. It's a nifty vehicle - sleek, black, and modern. We are also pleased that Consumer Reports gave it top ratings on reliability. We're counting on that, so that we don't blow as much money on it as we did fixing all of the problems on our junk-o-rama-Jetta.

We are encountering some issues with the Prius, though. First, my husband just very well might cause the demise of our entire family in that car. The Prius has a neat computer screen on the dashboard from which you can control many aspects of the car's performance. It also displays the gas mileage you're getting and updates it continually, so you can see it rise and fall as you drive. The more responsibly you drive (no lead foot driving - easy on the accelerating and braking), the higher your gas mileage goes. Of course, being a guy, particularly a guy who loves competition and the rewards that go along with good performance, my husband can't keep his eyes off of that computer and the gas mileage updates. If he is the passenger, there is a lot of back seat driving that the driver has to put up with: "Your gas mileage is tanking!! Ease off of the accelerator!" If he is the driver, he barely has his eyes on the road - they're fixed on that d*** computer. And if I'm not in the car, I'm typically scared to death for my son who is with him, because then not only are his eyes not on the road, but at least one hand is not on the steering wheel, as he's calling me up on his cell phone to blast into my ear: "54 MILES PER GALLON, BRENDA!!! Can you BELIEVE that?? No, no WAIT! 55 MILES PER GALLON!!!!"

And if my husband doesn't cause us to get into an accident that's going to wreck our precious new car, other Houstonian drivers will. Sometimes, I absolutely despise driving in Houston. The experience is often chaotic and terrifying. Streets are strewn with litter in many places and things fly off of the backs of trucks all of the time. My husband and I have seen buckets, huge plastic garbage bags filled with clothes, sofa cushions, and even a ladder fly off of trucks going down the HIGHWAY. Yes, the HIGHWAY. How scary do you think that is going 65 miles per hour?? Pretty darn scary!!

So, the other day, two things happened to me in our Prius in the course of just one day. Driving home from my son's school, I see a brown lunch bag fly up from under the car in front of me. It was too late to avoid it, so I drive over it thinking it was just filled with air. Nope. All of a sudden I hear, "CLANK, CLUNK, BANG!" under my car. I come home to find a huge set of keys with about 15 keys on it nestled in the metal rim of the car that creates a semicircle above and around the top of the tire. Apparently, that was in the lunch bag. I inspect the tire, and it appears fine.

Later that day, I'm driving onto the entrance ramp of the highway, and a large dump truck is in front of me. You know what's coming. A huge chunk of something flies out of the dump truck. I'm too busy watching it hurl toward me thinking, "Please don't hit our new car. Please don't hit our new car. Please don't hit our new car," to think to look at the truck's license plate and note the company name on the truck which my husband asks me about later. Of course, the huge chunk of something hits our hood and when I arrive at my destination, I find a nice, big ding in the paint job.

Plus, I have a flat tire from the keys.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I don't know about anybody else but I am so over the cold and flu season already!! I have had it. My youngest has had it. My mom has had it. Heck my oldest has had it all the way in Spain!! What the heck, people? It's worse than having Christmas decorations up before Halloween!!

And, we are the not the only ones feeling it. Last week, 12% of the student body reported being out with flu symptoms. We weren't the worst either. There were schools in our area that had 60% out and the health department had to close them. What the heck, people??

What is going on? When we were kids, I don't ever remember missing school because someone else was sick?? Has it really come to this? Are we really this weak? I don't know about you guys but this scares the crap out of me!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Should I be concerned?

I am a wimp when it comes to haunted houses and scary movies- for these reasons, I used to not be a big fan of Halloween. The thing that I am just a little bewildered about is that nearly every television show that I watch regularly has a morbid theme usually about death or illness. Don't laugh, it's true. Here is a list of the shows I am watching currently- Bones, The Forgotten, Fringe, The Mentalist, Psych, House, and Flash Forward. I also used to be a big CSI fan before it morfed into two other shows. The only one that I watch that does not fall into that category is Drop Dead Diva which is done for the year. I am sorry, but, I am not a fan of reality TV- I am too old for Gossip Girl or Melrose Place(and I don't think I would watch them anyway). Should I be concerned?


The last couple of years since my nephew has become old enough to try trick or treating, however, have been pretty fun. Last year he was a little scared of all of the costumes and walking up to people's houses in the dark, but, I think this year we have prepared him a little more and he is old enough (nearly 3)to understand that it is all in fun. I hope...we are looking forward to finding out. Happy early Haloween and have a good weekend all!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Alzheimer's hits home

My mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. We all saw it coming, but the reality of the disease is now starting to rear it's ugly head. My mother-in-law deals with a good deal of forgetfulness and confusion which has been quite embarrassing and frustrating for her. Additionally, her days of driving seem to be over since she has started confusing the accelerator and the brake. This means her children (and their spouses) now need to chip in a bit more to help her and my father-in-law out.

For me, it means paying her a visit once or twice a week while my father-in-law is out at the flying field. He flies model airplanes that he has built himself. We all know he enjoys his time there and none of us want to deprive him of something he is so fond of doing.

I'm sure that we are all in for some difficult times ahead. It's time for me to seek out some literature and perhaps other resources about Alzheimer's to become a little better informed about the disease and the task of caregiving for the individual stricken with it. So far, I've been given one book recommendation: The 36-Hour Day.

Any other recommendations or words of wisdom from readers out there?

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Usually Don't Do This But...

I usually don't get involved in the debate between stay-at-home-moms and working moms but...sometimes, it isn't fair.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I volunteer at the school all the time. I have supervised Safety Town, math centers and literacy centers and, I have stuffed Friday folders. I have attended the PTO meetings and I am even leading my daughter's Daisy troop.

The working moms can't do as much as I do and I don't expect them to. However, when it came around to sign up for the pumpkin farm, all the working moms took off work, signed up and got the gig. They can only take a certain amount of parents along on field trips and I got bumped because this is the only opportunity they have to volunteer.

Now, how fair is that? I have worked hard at the school over the last two months and when the holy grail of volunteering comes around, I have to step aside? I am doing all the work and they get all the fun. I feel like the custodial parent who is all liver and onions and veggies and the working moms are french fries and ice cream. I understand that they are just trying to make it equitable but this is one instance, when it just isn't.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Busy, busy, busy

Why is it that the busier my family gets, the less time I have? My daughter starts kindergarten and I am at school just as much as she is. My mom starts water aerobics and I am running her around everyday of the week now. I am phoning my blog posts in, my garden is a weed fest and my husband can't remember what I look like naked. Mama needs some time!!!

Let me see...I can pencil you in Thursday morning between 9 and 9:15:-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why Losing the Olympic Host City Bid Was a Good Thing

I am sorry this doesn't fall into the category of "a blog for and about women" but, I needed to post this second one as well this week because it is something that has hit close to home and could really be a problem anywhere. During the 2008-2009 school year, 33 Chicago Public School students died. While I am sure this number was a disappointment to the Mayor of Chicago's office at the time, I don't recall any national news coverage that came of it. Now, looking back on the events over the past couple weeks in Chicago, I would say perhaps it was a good thing that Chicago lost the Olympic bid after all. Why have I made the connection between these two things?

It has been a month or so since Chicago found out it would not be hosting the 2016 Olympics and while some may be diappointed, many Chicagoens might agree, that perhaps, this was a good thing for Chicago. Since then, Mayor Richard Daley, has turned his attention to the problem of youth violence that has been building over the years in our city. This followed the well publicized death of a Darien Albert, a 16-year old honor student who was beaten to death on September 24,2009, an event that was caught on video and may have very well influenced the decision not to hold the Olympics in Chicago. Mayor Daley, after realizing that the Olympics would not be his ticket to re-election, has now made the fight against youth violence in Chicago his pet project for the past several weeks.

I would like to believe it was just because the death of a teen was serious enough, but, I have a feeling that if Chicago hadn't lost the Olympic bid, this story might not have gotten the attention it deserved, nor the visit from the the Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan that followed on October 7th to meet with Mayor Daley, local leaders, and the fellow high school students of Darien Albert three weeks later after he died. You see why I made this connection?

My question is, why didn't it happen sooner? The problem of youth violence is very troubling in Chicago and other communities as well. I hope that in the end something real does come of all of this or this teen's death might be in vein. Again, sorry this is more of an editorial than our usual post,but, I know you understand why it had to be said.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

39 and Holding

I turned 39 yesterday. There I said it! I don't feel 39, but, I am putting it out there for the rest of our readers to know. This week, I have decided that I have spent enough time reflecting on the things that I still want to achieve- what some would call the "bucket list". Instead, since I do have 39 years of knowledge to share, I am going to write a list of things I have done that I would totally recommend everyone try and do before they hit 40 if you haven't already done them:

• Live in a city or town other than where you grew up for at least a year.
• Do something that scares you every once in awhile (but be smart enough to take percautions if they are necessary).
• Live with someone who you are having a romantic relationship for at least 6mos.
• Live with a roommate for at least a year.
• Live by yourself for at least a year.
• I would say have a child, but, this is one that is on my list.
• Love someone so bad it hurts.
• Love someone and lose them.
• Take any one more of the following classes: cooking, photography, guitar, painting/sketching, dance, voice, crafts or a foreign language. (My friend Kristin would probably add improv classes to the list)
• Travel to someplace in Europe- I highly recommend Venice, Vienna, Salzburg, London and Ireland (anywhere in Ireland is beautiful).
• Travel somewhere tropical- Jamaica and the San Juan Islands, WA (yes, I consider this tropical).
• Have a one night stand that you do not regret.
• Explore the U.S. (I admit, I need to do more of this, but, my favorite places of those I have been thus far are Washington, D.C., and San Diego,CA). Hawaii is definitely on my bucket list...
• Keep a diary for a period of time and then read it- it's a gift you can give yourself that doesn't cost much at all.
• Dance like a child at least once a year.
• See a Broadway show.
• Read or reread a classic novel for fun.
• Do something you haven't done since you were a child.
• Say you are sorry when you are wrong.
• Stand up for what you believe when it's important or when someone else can't do it for themselves.
• See a big name musician in concert (20+ and counting)
• Work at a job you love (and this includes being a mom).
• Go to a museum at least once a year.
• Make a few mistakes.
• Try snorkeling, windsurfing, or scuba diving (scuba diving is on my list).
• Do something out of character at least once a year.
• Volunteer at least once a year.
• Go out of your way for a friend.
• Go out of your way for a stranger or at least an acquaintance.

Now, a few of these are easy- many of us would have them on our list of things they have done, but, how often do we really think about their value? These are things we should all celebrate. Even the ones that may not seem positive at first glance. In some cases, they are valuable lessons learned.

I don't mean to seem like a know it all- I know there are still some things out there I have yet to experience, but, reflecting on what I have accomplished has given me confidence to keep moving forward.

I am sure there are a few more I have forgotten, but, I wanted to see what else others would have on their list. Feel free to share and perhaps, by next year, I will have a few of your recommendations that I can add to the list of celebration.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Uninspired

Well, Ladies...it has happened. I am at a loss for words today. I've got nothing except this flu. Does that ever happen to you? Where you just feel like phoning it in?