Monday, November 30, 2009

Domestic Super Bowl

Over the Thanksgiving season, we had lot's of time to watch educational TV. One in particular struck a cord with me. It discussed the history of the holiday. When we got to the Rockerfeller age, they pontificated that being a housewife and mother was a thankless job. Thanksgiving is the one day of the year when women could parade all their skills to the delight of the entire family.

Really? So that makes Thanksgiving, my superbowl. And if it that is true, I stuck the landing:-) (I guess that is an inappropriate sports reference but it sounded good right?)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't Stress About The Holidays and Shopping...

I have been waiting for this Thanksgiving break for weeks and finally it is here. It's my chance to get away from all the craziness at work, take a breath and relax with family and friends and get ready for the Christmas holidays. With visitors coming tomorrow, I have lots to do today so I am hitting the dishes, the laundry, the polishing, and the errands with zest... wait wasn't this supposed to be a break? Feeling a little overwhelmed I just sat down to take a breath at the computer and found this worthwhile article to assure me that Stress Free Holidays is a possibility.

I also found what I was looking for to get my online holiday shopping started so I thought I would share several of the links from a terrific web site for meaningful and inventive Christmas gifts:

Best Guide for Surviving Black Friday

Gifts for the Hard to Buy Types

Where to Find the Best Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

Meaningful Christmas Gifts- Giving Gifts in a Loved One's Name

Handmade Gift Giving Ideas

Top 5 Christmas Gifts for Women Under $25

Best Places to Buy Online Gifts for Men

Electronic Christmas Gifts for Men that Fit All Budgets

5 Holiday Gifts You can Make with Digital Photos

Here is an article for you Susan: Best Christmas Gifts for Autistic children

My new passtime lead me to this unique story Christmas Gifts for Yogis

I found all of these and more on the Associated Content's Holidays page.

Now it's back to work. Hope this helps. Happy Holidays ladies...

Monday, November 23, 2009

HUGE History

HUGE history was made this week.

Oprah annonced that she is calling it quits after her 25th season. I have been a HUGE fan for ALL of those years. I knew this day would come but, I don't know that I am ready:-) I mean, I was a Junior in high school when she started. My oldest daughter will be a Junior in college when she's done. That's a lifetime!

Jimmy Johnson won his 4th consecutive championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This is something that has NEVER been done before. We are HUGE NASCAR fans and so this is a HUGE deal in our house. Seeing someone do the impossible makes me want to do better in my own life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Scary Predicament

I had very mixed emotions after hearing about the recommendations of the United States Preventative Services Task Force against mammograms for women ages 40-49 and women over 50 should only have mammograms every two years. My first reaction was fear that insurance companies will now use this as an excuse to change their policies for coverage of mammograms prior to age 50. I have heard way too many stories of women prior to age 50 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer to feel good about this.

I was relieved to hear that the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology were not supportive of the new guidelines and hopeful that insurance companies would listen to experts who have been studying cancer for years. In fact, a review of various clinical trials by the Oregon Health and Science University found that mammograms for women ages 40-49 reduced deaths from breast cancer by 15% (Lichtenfeld, 2009). That is a significant number in my eyes.

A friend of mine had the insight to say that perhaps this was a political move by Republicans who would quickly take issue with the proposed government health care plan setting this as an example of what happens when the government gets involved. And sure enough, that is what has happened since Tuesday.

As a woman who will turn 40 next year, I was not looking forward to routine mammograms each year, but, I did feel better knowing that it would be one more assurance of staying healthy. Now, I feel stranded knowing that if I want to be tested I will likely have to pay for it myself in the future. The end result will probably be not getting tested nearly as often or perhaps not at all. And that is a scary predicament. It is even more so for women who have a history of breast cancer in their family, but do not have enough money or the coverage for a routine physical let alone paying for a mammogram. Let's keep our fingers crossed this won't happen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Generally Annoyed by Ignorance

I recently attended a state funding panel discussion at my local school district. Since I have absolutely no political background, I thought it would educate me in how my child's school is paid for. Oh, I was educated alright!

I learned that our state spreads out our tax dollars in a three-tiered system: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. Since our district is considered "property wealthy" we only qualify for primary funding from the state. So, we pay taxes for all three but only take out taxes for one of the tiers. Conversely, Milwaukee recieves funding for all three tiers. Ok...it is the classic "fortunate taking care of the less fortunate." I get that.

The second thing I learned is how completely naive and downright ignorant some of the people in this area are. One woman raised her hand and asked the senator, "That doesn't seem fair?" The state constitutional promises equitable education. Equitable doesn't mean fair. Naive. She then went on to prove her ignorance by saying, "We work hard all our lives. We have made all the right decisions and followed the right paths to buy houses in good school districts. We should be rewarded, not punished for that."

Ok...so, the people in Milwaukee public school districts don't work hard? They haven't made the right decisions in their lives? They haven't followed what you consider the "right path"?

Now, I don't claim to have all answers on how to run the world however, I do know enough to not assume anything about anybody. Does anyone else find this statement to be highly offensive?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Holiday Stress

The crush of the holidays is upon us and for some reason, I find myself more stressed about it than usual. I think it is because I am in unchartered territory of being a new elementary school mom. That has really distracted me away from my normal holiday trance.

I am working hard to establish myself as a useful entity in the school. I volunteer often in the classroom (twice in the classroom plus a field trip and that is just this week). I am co-leading my daughter's Daisy troop and I have showed up at nearly every PTO meeting that was held this year. I am also co-chairing the bake sale. I said to my husband, "Can I get a show of hands of those who really thought I wasn't going to chair this my first year?" He said that he was sitting on his hands:-)

It is possible that I am biting off more than I can chew however, I am having a blast. I didn't get to do any of this with my older daughter. I almost feel like the more I help at school, the more I am healing that wound. So, it isn't stressful at all.

What is freaking me out is that it is November 9th and I don't have my Thanksgiving menu set yet!! By this time last year, I had 6 pies and 48 rolls nestled in my freezer waiting for the big event. This week is a wash so...think of me in a frenzy next week as I struggle to pull this holiday out of the ashes of my own procrastination.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I neglected my family

...for 10 days while reading the Twilight series. Wow, was I ever sucked into that story. When a friend of mine suggested I read it and handed over all four of her books, I was somewhat doubtful about a sojourn into YA literature. As a 39 year old woman, I figured I wouldn't enjoy teen lit enough to invest the time required of the series, seeing as book four alone is 700-some pages. The only reason I really even agreed to do so was that I was a big Anne Rice fan when I was in my teens and 20s, and, to this day, Bram Stoker's Dracula is still on the list of my absolute favorite works of literature. So, I guess you could say I'm kind of into vampires.

As I began reading Twilight, the story immediately appealed to me. I loved the first person narration by Bella. Despite the simplicity of the writing, I was drawn into her emotional world and could easily relate to her vulnerabilities and feelings toward Edward - many of them seemed similar to my own when I was a teenager and involved with boyfriends in high school. Throughout much of the series, I also thought Bella's strengths were an important appeal to female teen readers. Being a feminist at heart, I cheered on author Stephenie Meyer as I read. Ok, sure, Bella is awkward and has some self esteem issues, but she's definitely her own person, walks to the beat of her own drummer in many regards, is certainly portrayed as an intelligent young woman who takes her academics seriously, and makes important decisions for herself without folding under the pressure of others' opinions. Plus, she has the two bad boys of the series, the vampire and the werewolf, wrapped around her finger in no time.

At the same time, as I progressed through book three and book four, I started to get a little pissed off at Meyer. She had done such a great job in the first two books with portraying a nice, healthy dose of morality and feminism for her teen readers. Edward and Bella hold off from having sex until they are married. But wait a minute - what's the deal with Bella getting married while still in her teens??? And then having a baby to boot??? Not exactly what I was expecting from Meyer at that point, and I was pretty disappointed about it too. We never see Bella go to college as Edward so fervently wishes for her to do. Instead, before she's even 20, she's married, has a kid, and becomes a vampire, basically foregoing all of the choices for her future and settling down into the cottage behind her in-laws' house. Hmmm. Not exactly my idea of the the kind of life I'd imagine a young, bright woman of the 21st century would lead. And if I had a daughter who went down that same path (minus the vampire part, of course), I'd be FURIOUS, not giddy with joy like Bella's mother. My own parents would have disowned me had I made the same choices.

So, Meyer, shame on you! What's up with the turnaround?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Seeing Your Fat Ass on TV

...is great motivation for getting back into your workout routine after the flu:-(

For those of you that don't know, I compete in Iron Cupcake challenges here in Milwaukee. This summer, a local food show called Wisconsin Foodie filmed me and two other bakers preparing for our sugary battle. Today, it aired and my large ass (in all it's glory) was the only thing I saw. Nice triple chin too:-(

And so, it is back to getting up at 5 a.m. in front of the DVD player to walk my pounds away. Luckily, I didn't gain back any of my 10 pound loss from September however, I didn't lose more in October either. So, come on November!!! Make me fabulous for 40!!