Tuesday, December 20, 2011

During the Holiday

I know that a lot of people struggle with finances these days. The entire country itself is struggling with finances which only makes things more difficult on business and people in general. This is a great time of stress as well. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to give and make other people we love happy. Sometimes that is just impossible. I know of families that have members that have lost their jobs. The stress became so bad that they fought with each other and one of the parties leaves the other behind. This causes more stress. The other party then doesn't perform as well at work or in her/his relationships outside. They lose friends and become more isolated. This is all a trap. So before you become a statistic think of these things:

1. A gift is one that comes from the heart. It can be as simple as a smile or a note that tells someone how important they are. It does not have to cost money or run on batteries or electricity. If a person doesn't appreciate such a gift then it is their own materialism in question and not your generosity.

2. If you are going through hard times your spouse/significant other is the person you should most be able to lean on. Before arguing about money think about what is truly important. I know for a fact that if I lost everything I own today and still had my family I would feel lucky and blessed. My house is a thing. My car is a thing. My family is my heart. I may not plan on losing my home or car, but things happen that are sometimes beyond our control. Think about this for a bit and you will understand what I mean. Arguing over things are not as important as maintaining communication and love.

3. Never give up. Sometimes help comes from the most unexpected sources. I know someone personally that a year ago had lost it all. They kept the family together. They persevered, managed to gain other employment and a year later are back on their feet - as a family. Put out good energies instead of focusing on the bad that happens.

4. Give up on the past. Don't place blame on everyone and everything else. Focusing blame doesn't change your circumstances. The only way to move forward is to focus on what you need, not on what you may have lost or may lose. Sometimes people blame others and other things just to justify themselves. It's not necessary. Being right or wrong doesn't change the circumstance. It only holds us back longer and tends to make us seem that we are feeling sorry for ourselves.

For those of us that have been blessed with continued good fortune, pass it along. I don't mean with money or gifts, but with support, love, and encouragement.

Remember, an act of kindness never truly goes unnoticed, sometimes it just feels that way because we expect immediate results.

Monday, October 24, 2011

An Online Dating Guide for the Single Man

I have friends that are back on the dating scene. Most of the guys they meet seem clueless. So, here is a hint for the men out there that are looking for a woman.

You're sitting at home wanting to go out, but you find it's just really hard to meet anyone. You figure it should be easy, after all men outnumber women in society, but it's just not that easy. So what are you doing wrong? Maybe nothing. Perhaps you just need a few simple suggestions to help you get back on that dating saddle and ride to your next relationship.

Let's start with online dating, which is becoming the only way most people seem to be able to meet anyone. First, always have your picture up on your profile page. Do not use an old picture or a picture that you took with your ex, but you cut her out. Take the time to get a real up to date picture that looks like you. Nothing sends off warning signs to a woman like a man who won't provide a picture or one that sends a picture that looks nothing like the guy. If dating is really important to you, take a few minutes to clean up your mug, smile, and click.

Another important thing to remember on your profile is to be honest and upbeat. If your profile says something like, “No one wants to date me because most women today just don't like us fat guys,” more than likely you'll make that self-fulfilling prophecy come true. Stick to the positive aspects of your personality, the hobbies you like to have, and what you really would like to find in a relationship. Stay away from stating you are looking for a specific body type. What that tells a woman is that you are just looking for sex. Most women want a man that keeps an open mind when it comes to women. If you state, “only answer if you're thin and good-looking” or “no fatties need apply” you've cut your chances of meeting someone down to about zero.

When you do have a woman that answers your request to chat, keep it light and the tone just conversational. A lot of men go straight to the sex talk. That puts up a huge red flag for most women. You could very well end up on their block list. You'll find most women on a dating site are looking for a relationship that lasts more than one night in the sack. If you're looking for a one night stand, then the dating website might not be your best option. Ask the woman about her interests, her job, and anything else that the conversation you are having seems to lead toward. Do not lie about the amount of money you make, your educational background, or what you do for a living. The truth will eventually come out and you will end up back where you started – dateless.

Finally, when you find that woman that agrees to meet you for coffee or dinner take a small amount of time to clean up. Show that you put a little effort into the date. She'll notice and appreciate it. Also, keep your hands in check. Nothing turns a woman off more than a man that can't keep his hands to himself and has no self-control. It not only makes her feel like you are only looking for another sexual conquest, but it turns her off. As long as it may have been for you since your last encounter, if you really want a second date and like the woman you'll need to restrain yourself and wait just a little longer.

So, just remember these simple little things and you'll be on your way to finding your perfect woman. Keep it honest, keep it simple, and keep your hands to yourself. If you follow these simple steps there is little doubt that you will be off the computer and on your way to dating a real life woman.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's so tiring...

We have millions of people working to try and make ends meet. We have millions of people complaining about the state of affairs in the country. We aren't alone, though. Every single country in the world has complaints.
But it's tiring listening to politicians all say they have the answer - no one is listening.

No matter who comes up with what plan not everyone is going to be happy. We need to be more proactive in our efforts. Quit worrying about which political party will benefit the most. Quit making snide comments about this guy or that guy. Quit jacking everyone around and just do your job.

It's just tiring listening to the same arguments over and over again. Step up, swallow your pride, forget about your political affiliations and think about this country, because in reality, if you don't stop mucking around you won't have a political party to worry about because the country will have fallen apart. Who gets the last laugh then?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Religion in Schools

I realize that there are many families out there that have very strict religious beliefs. It is only natural to want to instill those ideas on your children. However, what I have noticed in my son's 6th grade social studies class some of them do not teach religious tolerance as well.

In this particular class they were talking about Hinduism and their idea of reincarnation. It is understandable that a Christian child would not believe in the concept of reincarnation, but when that same child was asked "If you had a Hindu friend how would you tell him about your idea that reincarnation is not real to you?" The boy answered, "I would tell him that reincarnation is stupid." The conversation went on with other children weighing in on the subject. Most of the class agreed that there cannot possibly be anything awaiting them after death except heaven.

I do not have a problem with the concept of heaven. I don't even have an issue with children being raised Christian. My son, in response to the question answered, "I think everyone has the right to believe how they want. If I had a Hindu friend I would let him tell me about what he believes and we could share our ideas together." He also realized that calling his friend "stupid" would probably not be a very friendly act. My son also told his class that he was not Hindu nor Buddhist, but that we did have some Hindu and Buddhist objects in our home. No one commented.

In this same class it was brought up that Yoga is also a Hindu practice. His teacher told the class that the word "yoga" means "union." Some of the classmates admitted that they or their parents practiced yoga at some time or another. Yoga also was said to bring spiritual insight and tranquility, a concept that no one seemed to have a problem with. It was said then that this practice had been taken over and Americanized so that made it okay.

I remember not too long ago that I had brought up to some people the idea of meditation and reflection in our daily lives. I find this to be an extremely good practice for relieving stress and giving myself some time away from issues and problems. These people looked at me as if I had two heads and was spouting nonsense. One woman very calmly told me, "I just pray. Praying to God is what gets me through."

I don't have a problem with prayer. I pray. However, just because you meditate doesn't mean you can't pray. I have taught my children to meditate. I remember my now sixth grader when he was only 3 years old sitting on the end of the bed with me crossed legged, closing his eyes, his little hands resting on the ends of his knees and his thumb touching the tips of his middle fingers. His brother and I were watching him and smiled broadly. Then we started breathing deeply. As we settled into our breathing we heard, "Ommmm... ommm... ommm...." We looked up to see his eyes clenched tightly and him rocking slightly back and forth chanting. We started laughing. Even though he had been raised with us meditating daily, he had seen something on television about meditation. That one image and program had changed his entire aspect on what we were doing.

I say, if you need to pray - pray. I recommend meditation. I also say that if it comforts you to believe that you can come back to another life to live it better - go for it. If it brings you comfort than it is doing something good.

We need to be careful what we do to our children. Making them too rigid may very well make them miserable adults.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Tribute of Thanks from the Family of Bill Dunbar

Bill Dunbar
During our lives we expect to have special people to share things with. When you are born you start with your parents and sibling, aunts and uncles, cousins, and so on. You are influenced by these people as they help you grow up and make decisions in your life. When you get married your family expands. You gain more parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, and so on. They become an integral part of your life and as they go through life they share their feelings with you. It's expected.

Some of the people that affect our life are more memorable and have more of an impact on you and your family. These are the people that we tend to look up to. Many times we may even take for granted that they are there and will always be there.  However, regardless of how we see things or feel about them, life doesn't work that way. Sometimes even the most special people leave us. We experience grief. We share memories. Those left behind hopefully become closer because we realize that we did have a bond. We were connected by our emotions for that person that linked us and reminded us that we truly are family - not bound by blood, but bound by heart.

This is what happened to my family. My father-in-law, Bill Dunbar was a man that valued friends and family. His laugh was infectious. He has more passion in his soul than you would believe any single human being could hold. His love of life, family, and friends was almost magical. His soul was free. He was able to show this when he sailed. He was able to maneuver through the water with ease and it was as if he was brother to the water and the wind. He was full of knowledge and generosity making him a memorable figure in every life he touched.

As part of his family, we knew this. We lived it and experienced it. And when we lost him we felt it deeply. It's expected because we are family. What we didn't expect was the generosity and outpouring of love and sympathy from the friends he made at the Tsa-La-Gi Yacht Sailing Club out of Okay, OK. They expanded what we knew of Bill and showed us the difference he made not only in our lives, but in the lives of others.

During his memorial service and afterward at the dinner they kindly provided for us in his memory we learned that Bill had been loved by many other people. He never failed to help someone with a project or a need. He was full of words of wisdom for them. He made people feel special. He was the type of man that they wanted to honor and remember. They extended this compassion and generosity to us, his family. The people at the club gave us a new view of Bill and went beyond the normal sympathy that friends show.

These wonderful and magnanimous people took us out on the water that our Bill loved to sail. They helped us remember him not only through our eyes but theirs. We prayed over the water, placed roses and flowers there to commemorate his memory and true love. We found a group of amazing people here in Oklahoma and understood how and why Bill would spend so much time there.

A mere thank you does not seem enough for all they gave us yesterday, but we do thank them all for what they gave us. We will remember it in our hearts and will keep them all in our prayers.

* Note: "TLG Yacht Club is located Southeast of Tulsa. From Wagoner south on highway 16 to the turn east on Gray Oaks Road is 7 miles. East on Gray Oaks Road for 4.3 miles to the second 4 way stop. North for 2 miles a sharp left curve then a sharp right curve to the Jackson Bay sign. Then left for .25 mile to the TLG gate. Jackson Bay Marina and Tsa-La-Gi Yacht Club are the same entity.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Now I Understand Mary's Little Lamb at School.

CNN report on sheep and solar panels help cut school costs at Wilson Middle School in Carlisle, PA.

More schools should be as innovative. If everyone thought about cutting costs this way, perhaps we wouldn't have so much debt!

Gives Mary's Little Lamb following her to school a whole new perspective.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Letter to My Senators

It is ridiculous how Congress continues to argue over the debt and the debt plan. Previously the committee of Bohner and others worked together to come up with a plan and everyone was so excited. It was a bi-partisan effort, but only until it came out of committee. Now, it seems, it's a joke because Democrats want to add more spending capitol to it and Bohner refused.

We NEED to put a stop to overspending. An American family is not allowed to overspend. If we do it we lose our home or our cars because we only have so much money going in. American families understand the concept of needing to budget. Budgeting means that we have to sacrifice some things in order to get ourselves back on our feet.

The American people are tired of the bickering and procrastination. We could care less about Democrats or Republicans or Independents for that matter. What we care about is taking care of business and getting back on track. If  you cannot do that, step down from office and let us put someone in that can.

As far as many of us here in Wisconsin are concerned - cut your pensions when you leave office. Save money there. You aren't working for us anymore so you don't need to get paid. We don't get paid when we leave a job. Quit giving yourself pay raises. Quit using the private jet to fly home. Buy a ticket and go coach like the rest of us. You are overspending and then complain about cuts. It's ludicrous.

The American people are not stupid. You cannot stand in front of us and talk about how this affects our elderly and try to run us through a series of equally picturesque and untrue statements like a carnival con-man just to get your way. If we end up broke and broken medicare, social security, and everything else won't matter anyway. So, lets get real.

Quit trying to convince us that further taxing is going to fix our problems. More tax means less jobs. Not to mention that there aren't enough rich in the nation to fix our debt crisis. Taxing them more would not even put a drop in the bucket.

Do we like the idea of cuts? No. However, we are intelligent enough to understand that it has to happen.

My husband and I are not alone on this. Look at Facebook pages and blog spots. Watch Google +. Read Twitter. You will find that the American people want you to take the cuts. We want you to show you are looking out for the people you represent and not the party you represent.

It's time to show us you went there to do a job and did not run to line your pockets.

** Of course my husband, Brian, has written to Senator Kohl before who merely responds that Brian does not know what he is talking about. Interesting, since Brian is one of the most well read and intelligent people I have ever met. I suspect that my being Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa makes me educated, however, if I do not agree with Senator Kohl I too will be considered "uninformed," regardless of the fact that I have been reading, examining, and even researching the issue for several months now. Of course Senator Kohl is not seeking re-election, so I'm sure irritating people is not a major concern of his.

Ron Johnson is a freshman senator, but he has been vocal about the issue. It will be interesting to see his response. However, he sounds like a Republican...and of course most of  the Democrats sound like Democrats. It would be nice to find a Senator that would sound like an American who cares about the people they are supposed to represent and them be able to influence the others.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mila Kunis Deserves Major Cudos

When a brave and innovative Sgt. Scott Moore takes time from fighting to make a youtube video asking a celebrity, Mila Kunis, for a date, it became a youtube sensation. Gotta love it. It is, after all, the new age of YouTube celebrity mania.
Of course many didn't actually believed that he would get that date. But in steps Justin Timberlake, her co-star in the new film "Friends With Benefits." He tells her it is a duty to her country to accept this soldier's offer to the ball. The event will be held in Greenville, NC on November 18, 2011. They will make a handsome couple.

Also, the agreement to attend by Ms. Kunis  and the encouragement given her by Mr. Timberlake put both celebrities high on the "COOL" list.

I have to say that I think it is super of both Mila and Justin to honor the soldier's request. When Timberlake was asked by Mila if he would go too, he politely responded that he was not invited. However, I'm pretty sure there is an attractive marine out there that might just invite him to attend as well. We'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Caylee Anthony - Maybe Justice is Blind

Many people asked why the Casey Anthony trial was such a sensation around the country. Millions of people tweeted, made status updates, and blogged about the 2 1/2 little girl that was kidnapped by her nanny. A few months later, after thousands searched and combed the area for the child, she was found about a mile from her home. Her coffin consisted of a Winnie the Pooh blanket, a laundry bag, and two black trash bags. Her grave was a drug infested swamp. A once bright and active child was gone. People wanted answers, but none were going to be given.

The child's mother, knowing the child was dead, said nothing. Instead she left home to live with a man and party. She took the time to make shopping sprees with other people's money, as she didn't work and had none of her own. She had never assumed responsibility for her life or her actions, always depending on her mother and father to take care of things, which they did. Her parents doted on their granddaughter and made sure she never lacked for anything in her life. They provided shelter, food, love, and care to both Casey and her daughter. 

After a while of supporting Casey her parents insisted that she help provide for her child. It was only right for a 22 year old woman with a child to help provide for her. Casey agreed, came home one day and said she found a job. Court records now show that Casey never worked during this time. She was lying to her parents and friends, and later would share this same lie with the police. Casey would, however, come up with money. Where did this money come from? During testimony we learned that she had made several unauthorized charges on her mother's account. According to Casey's aunt, she had also stolen money from her grandmother. She would later be arrested for writing illegal checks she stole from her best friend. A pattern of behavior was forming.

During some of the time that Casey was at her fake job, her parents would help watch Caylee. Sometime in here Casey's mother argued with her about not taking responsibility for her daughter. Court testimony tells us that at one point Casey's mother even accused her of being an "unfit mother," words that seemed to have stung Casey and caused her to become bitter toward her parents. According to testimony from friends, Casey told them her mother was crazy and she wanted to get away from her. Casey's story was so convincing that her best friend, Amy, was leery during July of 2008 when Casey's mother called looking for her daughter and granddaughter.  

Casey's parents were frantic. The last time Caylee was seen alive was on June 16, 2008. On that same day in June at around 3:30 p.m. Casey, according to court records and testimony, made several unanswered calls to her mother at work. It wasn't unusual for Casey to call her mother asking for favors. This time, however, Cindy refused the calls. She was busy at work. 

Not long after these calls, Casey was seen on video tape at Block Buster Video arm in arm with a man. There was no Caylee in sight. Caylee would not be found for almost a half year. Casey would insist that Caylee was with a nanny, Zanny Gonzales, a name she stole off an apartment mailbox. For the next 31 days Casey would also lie to her mother regarding her whereabouts. She would be with Zanny, or with other fictional people on a work trip. Toward the end of this time she would be staying with a non-existent man with whom she had a romantic interest. Lies designed to keep her mother at bay.

For 31 days Casey stayed with friends. She planned a trip to the Bahamas with friends, but would not go. Casey didn’t have the funds to go. She wasn’t working. She would spend these 31 days, not pining for the loss of her child, but going to bars drinking, dancing, and laughing it up with friends. When questioned about her daughter she would say the child was with the nanny. Video tape shown in court also shows that Casey went on shopping sprees using funds from her best friend’s account. Not one item in front of the clerk was for her supposedly beloved child. The only thing she purchased, according to Casey, for her daughter was a tattoo with the words, Bella Vita. Everyone called testified that Casey, during this entire time, was happy and carefree. Her defense countered with, “Everyone grieves differently.” In this case the world was seeing a woman who didn’t grieve at all.

When Casey was found by her mother, they argued. The one thing on Casey’s mother’s mind was where was her granddaughter? For the entire month Casey had managed to put off her parents about where the child was. They were not going to be put off any longer. Casey wouldn’t cave. She gave one excuse after another. Her mother called the police. It was not the first call she had made, and would not be the last. Circumstantial evidence was pointing to Caylee not being okay. One such tell tale item was Casey’s car left abandoned which, according to testimony, smelled like a dead body.

Casey came up with more lies on top of other lies. Caylee was kidnapped by the nanny. Casey had spent the last 31 days searching for her daughter. Casey would continue her lies with the police. She would, in front of distraught parents visiting her in jail, insist that the child was simply missing. Scenarios arose about Caylee being dead and Casey would push them off as being ridiculous. “The truth will come out in court,” she insisted. In one video you see her praising her mother and father for being the best parents and grandparents ever. After Caylee’s remains are found she defames them in court.

Search parties ensue. Thousands of dollars are spent on t-shirts, posters, food, and various other materials to enlist help from people to search for Caylee. Efforts to find her seem futile. Casey continues to lie, and people continue to believe her. Everyone, that is, except the police. When led to her place of work Casey is backed into a corner and has to admit she has not been working. As they investigate Zanny they discover everything they were told is a lie. Why would a mother lie about her child being missing? Something wasn’t right.

In December 2008 Caylee’s body is found. There is no physical evidence left. The body had been through flooding, a hurricane, and had been ravaged by animals. The skull had duct tape around the face, duct tape that could be traced back to the Anthony home. The laundry bag and blanket could also be traced back to the Anthony home. Caylee was no longer considered missing. She was considered murdered.

Interestingly enough, even after all her lies, people still listened Casey and believe her. Casey, who had never assumed responsibility before and who had continually lied, was believed over other people. In front of her father she had, captured on tape, called him “the best dad,” now she called him a pedophile. Casey put her entire family on trial. Focus was not directed entirely toward her and the things she had done. Now people were discussing her family and how twisted they were. These were things Casey said that people wanted to believe.

In true Casey style, she had shifted the death of her daughter to someone else. Instead of the nanny taking her daughter, her father had, for reasons unknown, hidden the body. Casey now said the child had drowned in the family pool. No reason was given for not administering CPR or calling 911. These small, yet significant facts were lost in the accusation that her father was a pedophile and an adulterer. Accusations made  by a woman that had already been proven -beyond a shadow of a doubt - to be a pathological liar.

At trial the defense promised to show that the child had drown. That promise was never fulfilled. Instead, we found out that a similar drowning story was shared in the jail where Casey Anthony had been living. No proof would come to show that she had heard that story. However, during parental visits Casey’s mother shared speculation with Casey that the media was saying Caylee had drowned in the pool. Instead of flinching or gasping, a very cool Casey replies with, “Surprise, surprise,” and a small roll of her eyes.

Regardless, after 6 weeks of testimony, video, and circumstantial evidence the jury deliberated. To the shock of everyone they acquitted on all counts except lying. They had decided that Casey Anthony was more believable than the State of Florida. They believed that Casey Anthony was more truthful than her friends and family. Casey Anthony was even more believable than scientific evidence. In today's world, obviously people want to believe an attractive young woman regardless of the evidence.

Since the end of the trial six jurors have come out to claim that they were pressured to vote “not guilty.”  Yet when polled they didn’t say one word to that effect.

Many have found it amazing that a woman, who was said to be a “great mom” who truly loved her child, could place her in a swamp to have her body ravaged by animals. A loving mother would spend 31days avoiding her family. The only memorial she had to give her daughter was a tattoo.

The question is, if this mother loved her daughter so much, why would she hide the body? If the child had truly died accidently, why not allow her to be buried with love and a headstone showing the world how much she meant to her? 

These are questions that we will never have answered, because even if Casey does publish a book explaining her side of things, how can anyone believe a single thing this woman says? Plus, why would we want to reward her for costing so many people so much pain? The answer: because people are more curious then they are angry.

That is what is wrong with this world today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who is to blame for the US Economic Problems?

So, is Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or Barack Obama responsible for the economic difficulties we have in the US today? In my opinion - none of them. The citizens of the United States are responsible for our woes. Why? Because we have a free election and we spend our time arguing, not about what is really important in the nation, but which party has the best plan. We have allowed ourselves to separate into two groups like social groups in high school. But, this isn't high school.

By only aligning ourselves with a party system we are missing the big picture and not making the hard choices we should be making. Politics have become a big money industry. Politicians seem to mostly be interested in power and increasing their power. They are used to living the high life. So how do these people show they are in touch with the average Joe? They go to town hall meetings. They shake hands with citizens. They hire people to make pretty speeches. At the end of the day they go to a high end hotel or back to their high dollar home.

The current, 2011, salary for a rank-and-file member of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. The Speaker of the House receives $223,500 per year. The Majority Leader gets paid  $193,400 as does the Majority Party Leader. The vice-president is paid $230,700 while the president himself makes $400,00 per year plus another $50,000 for an expense allowance. His family gets free room and board during his tenure as well. When Obama leaves office he will continue being paid almost $200,000 for life.

During earlier years senators and representatives were paid on a daily basis, and only if they were in session. So, perhaps during the late 1700's through the 1800's politicians were passionate and concerned with the well-being of the country. Today we don't see the same passion. We have television and news mediums that promote politicians based on their ratings and charisma. Charisma will not save this country.

Common sense tells us that continually electing politicians because of a party affiliation is fool-hearty. The democrats want to tax the rich. There are not enough rich to tax that will save this economy. They want to tax big business. Big business is already struggling, doing layoffs (part of the reason for our current high unemployment), and filing for bankruptcy. This isn't an answer to our economic woes either. Republicans want to give big business tax breaks claiming it will increase their income and allow them to hire more people. They want to cut union strength to give more power to individuals, but this would also mean that the big companies would have to do the right thing by their employees. But how will this cut the national debt in time even if more people are working and paying taxes?

Everyone complains about the welfare system and how so many people take advantage of our hard earned tax dollars, but no one wants to let anyone take steps to do a much needed revamp. We all complain about the loss of social security and how it needs to be saved, yet no one wants to have it touched in order to fix it. So what is the answer to our woes?

The answer is to quit listening to party politics and start using the free education we were given and making a sound judgement based on taking an honest interest in what people are trying to run for office. Quit financing high dollar campaigns. The man with the money doesn't have to win. The man with a solid plan and a passion for this country should have a fighting chance to honestly represent us. It shouldn't matter if he wears an Armani suit or has a manicure. It's time for us to make a real change in this country. Only the American people can do it. We just need to care enough.

(Side note:  Perhaps Paul Ryan has a good plan. He's been demeaned by Democrats and denounced by his fellow Republicans. At least he puts himself out there and isn't deterred by ridicule. Maybe he should step out of the party and garner independent support.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Raising Children When You're in Your 40's

My daughter
When I was told that I couldn't have children, I cried. Of course every time someone else tells me that I can't do something I try my best to prove them wrong. In this case I ended up having four great kids.

I was thinking today, after watching my daughter with her new born son, about how different I parented after having my second set of children. In my 20's I was much more high strung about the children. As they grew up I didn't have nearly the patience as I did with the second set. My two older ones will tell you that they were spanked growing up. My two younger ones will tell you they haven't been spanked. It's an entirely different way of raising children.

So is age the difference? It's not just the age. I went to college after having the first two. I studied to become and educator for children with learning differences. I was schooled in different types of behavior management. I understood more about what a child was going through as they grew older and the different stages of their development. I also changed my living situation.

My new grandson
What I do know is that each child is and individual. What may work on one child may not work on another. While visiting with my daughter and new grandson yesterday I teased her a bit. "Put the baby on a schedule if you don't like how often he's nursing," I smiled. She gave me an odd look and replied, "Yeah. That worked so well when we tried it coming home from the hospital. You try to tell him he can wait ten or fifteen more minutes to eat."

That was my point. Sometimes you just have to develop a system that works for both of you. I'm very proud of my daughter and her growing relationship with her own child. They are both amazing. She has read books on raising children and what you should and shouldn't do for infants, but in the long run she is developing her own parenting style - and it works.

My three sons
I have no doubt in my mind that her little guy will grow up to be a very loving, intelligent, and amusing young man just like his uncles. After all, his mother is doing a fantastic job.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Here's the Bzz on Trend Micro's Online Guardian

I am a BzzAgent and I was asked to check out Trend Micro Systems new Online Guardian Program. I was excited to do this one, to tell the truth. One reason is because at one time I had sneaky teenagers in my home. I know, no way, right? But yes, it happened. They were doing rather unsavory and unsafe things on the computer. Of course when confronted they denied it. Again, I know, a child lying to us? Unthinkable, right? But it happened. It must have been gremlins coming in and sneaking on the computer visiting porn sites that could bring computer viruses and other children hacking into their Facebook accounts and emails writing unsafe things to total strangers.

Like most parents we didn't want to call the children liars, but we didn't always have proof of what they were doing. With this program you can keep them from having to lie. You can see exactly what they are doing and curtail their activities. This program is even geared toward different age groups and allows the parents to give specific times they can be on the computer. You can even decide how long they can be on a website. It's super cool. Well, the kids might not think so, but your peace of mind will thank you.

 So my recommendation is that if you are a parent of  children that are accessing the internet you really need this program.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Color me Surprised!

Okay, I admit it. I read a blog claiming it was spoiler and Dancing with the Stars was rigged. It claimed that Chelsea Kane was going to win. Week after week it was as if the blog was coming true. Would they do that and rig the competition making us believe that our votes actually mattered?

In the end Hines Ward won. I loved watching both Kirstie Alley and Hines. Now the only thing that will make the entire thing perfect is for Hines to join the Green Bay Packers. Right now he plays for the Pittsburg Steelers, who are now having a flagrant foul rule named after them for their numerous illegal hits. Hines would be better off with the Packers, don't you think?  :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Winter vs. Spring

Today is rather a gloomy day. It is supposed to be Spring, but it's like Winter won't let go and is clinging to the Earth for dear life. It is as if when Spring comes Winter will still have it's icy fingers embedded somewhere keeping a chill in the air so it won't be forgotten. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stupidity Not Racism

The news today was regarding an elderly Republican party politician in California, Marilyn Davenport, forwarding an email she received of President Obama as a baby chimp. It was, according to Davenport, sent as a joke as to why Obama doesn't have a birth certificate.

Of course now people are up in arms saying that this is a racist thing, to which Ms. Davenport says that she didn't even consider him as being "half-black."

It's not the first time that politics turn ugly. Several unkind depictions have been made by high ranking Republican black politicians such as Condoleezza Rice  and Colin Powell. When one side doesn't like another it seems that they don't use intelligent boundaries before making unkind depictions.

Bush has been toted as an ape as well by Democrats. However, it doesn't seem to be as much of a problem depicting him as an ape as it does Obama. Personally, I find them all offensive.

"Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death."

The entire situation is, well, to be honest, quite stupid. There is no need to determine if Obama has a birth certificate. At this point and time that is a moot point. He is our president. Even if you don't agree with all of his politics he deserves a certain amount of courtesy and respect because the majority of us elected him into office. It was the same with Bush. Besides, all of these reek of party politics. There is no intelligence in either case of the political "monkeydom."

As far as racism goes, the fact that Obama is indeed "half black" doesn't mean a thing. I could care less if he were 100% black or even Chinese-American or Native American. It's not the race that matters, it's how they do their job.

 In 2011 we don't have separate water fountains, different seats on the bus, nor do we have separate bathrooms. We make our own racism by continuing to do stupid crap like photo shopping animal pictures to make unkind remarks about people that we looked up to enough to elect into a public office. 

In my opinion this is a stupidity problem, not a racial problem. Grow up. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wisconsin Voting War - Prosser Vs. Kloppenburg

It was supposed to be a simple non-partisan election for a ten year term for a Supreme Court Judge in Wisconsin. Ten years ago David Prosser ran unopposed. Life was simple. Then changes were made and the office was being looked at more crucially as a potential area for lawmakers to have an influence. Then steps in Joanne Kloppenburg who on one hand says she won't put her personal opinions in her work, and yet on her facebook page already promotes her agenda of change.  But aren't judges supposed to be impartial? And is it really non-partisan if they hit each other via ad campaigns for their political preferences?

A judge is supposed to look at the facts and figures, determine the legality of the issues, and follow the spirit of the constitution for which the body represents. We shouldn't have to worry if a judge is swayed by his/her own personal opinions or beliefs, although it does seem to lean in that direction at times. It doesn't make for a very secure and untainted judicial system when it does.

As most people know incumbents normally have an edge over newcomers in a race. We can see in this particular heated race that David Prosser has the judicial experience necessary to do the job, after all he's been doing the job since 1988. In 1988 Joanne Kloppenburg was just graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She now works as an Assistant Attorney General and has argued in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

However, it is not the job experience, education, or judicial record that people seemed to be voting on in this particular election. Record turnouts showed that Wisconsin voters felt that much more was at stake - namely the Wisconsin budget reform bill waiting in Democratic limbo to be judged by the courts.

Kloppenburg and her supporters toted Prosser as a Scott Walker stamp in their ad campaigns to incite their voters to dethrone his position. Prosser's campaign indicated that Kloppenburg was a corporate supporter and her courtroom experience was geared against the average Joe and in favor of big money. So far this doesn't sound very unbiased. It very much has the taste of two very distinct political parties - Republicans and Democrats.

So, with the illusion of a non-partisan race out of the way we come to the tallying of the votes. It was an exciting race with both teams coming out of the gates strong. One would nose ahead and then lose a bit of steam as the other loped slightly ahead toward the finish line. As they neared the gates and passed the end of the line it was declared a photo finish. Thursday morning results showed Prosser ahead by almost 800 votes. Thursday evening Kloppenburg was ahead by 200 votes. She then proclaimed victory, while Prosser declined to concede.

Just when you think that things can't be any more exciting in jumps a little ole county clerk from Waukesha County with an "oopsie." Seems that working late nights counting and tallying votes had taken a toll on the workers there. A little oversight of not including the city of Brookfield's votes made another huge difference in the election. Over 14,000 votes were not given to the AP for their election results. Here we find over 10,000 votes for Prosser and over 3,000 votes for Kloppenburg.  And the crowds begin to roar - and not with cheers of victory, but with groans of contention.

Now we have accusations of conspiracy. The clerk's background becomes a bone of contention. She is a Republican after all, doesn't her viewpoint have to be tainted?

Now, take into consideration that the numbers were found during the mandated canvass of the votes. Also that the Vice Chair of the Waukesha County Democratic Party, Ramona Kitzinger, was there during the entire canvass process and assured everyone that she assures the numbers are now correct in that county. The city of Brookfield had indeed been omitted from the original tally.

Even with the Democratic Party assurance it seems that some voters are still yelling foul. They don't understand that an error like this is not uncommon and is the reason that a canvass is required after elections. If this had been the same non-partisan elections of the past no one would have even known. However this is not the case.

So let's take a small look at Brookfield and deem if it is possible for Prosser to have overtaken Kloppenburg in the election.

1.  The population of Brookfield is almost 40,000 - more than enough to account for the number of votes
2. The median age of the residents is 42.5 years of age - definitely most residents seem to be of voting age.
3. The average income for residents in this city is over $80,000 per year - and it is noted that this city is predominantly Republican and conservative.

So, looking at the facts it is not surprising that the city of Brookfield would hold positive results for Prosser in this election. It would seem that Kloppenburg's declaration of victory was a bit premature, especially with the fact that with only a mere 200 vote lead the results were going to be headed toward a recount.

When you look at the facts of the election in the entirety it's very difficult to see where a conspiracy would come into play. It would be almost impossible to envision a county clerk donning all black clothing to sneak into her own office with a flashlight giggling in front of the low light of a computer to have her way with the votes. Tantalizing as that erroneous vision may be, there are records and trails that can be followed to see that nothing nefarious was done. People make mistakes. It happens.

The truly unfortunate part of this entire process was that we turned what should have been an unbiased race for a Supreme Court Judge into a partisan political fiasco. (Say that five times fast.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hena Akhter - Taking Things Too Far

Hena (inset) and Hena's mother, 
24.2. The fornicatress and the fornicator – flog each of them with a hundred stripes; and do not let pity for them hold you back from carrying out God's law, if you truly believe in God and the Last Day; and let a group of believers witness their punishment. (The Miraculous Quran)

Hena Akhter was only 14 years old. She was on outside going to the toilet when she was, according to testimony from her sister, gagged, drug to another location, and then raped by a married cousin. The wife, hearing noises, found the two. She was furious. In her rage she drug the girl into her home then beat her and trampled upon her. She then demanded justice accusing the girl of being a fornicator.

The man in question, in his forties, had been reported for harassing the girl before this incident. Hena's father had gone to the authorities to complain in an effort to protect his youngest daughter. The elders ordered the culprit, Mahbub Khan, to pay the family $1,000. However, other family members asked for forgiveness since he was related. Hena's father showed mercy and forgave the debt.

Mahbub Khan did not show the same mercy to Hena, nor did the court. Even upon hearing from Hena's family that the girl was innocent and a victim, both were sentenced by the imam to be flogged. Somehow Mahbub managed to get away and only received three or four hits. Hena was not as lucky. After about 70 hits the girl fell and did not get back up. She spent a week in the hospital suffering before she died. The entire time she proclaimed her innocence.

Many may look at this and blame the Muslim relgion, but the truth is that months before this practice, sharia, was outlawed. However many small villages are still practicing what many, including myself, consider a barbaric practice. It is something many of us would never condone nor understand.

This family lived in a village in Bangladesh surrounded by rice paddies and vegetable fields. Five of them shared a home put together by corrugated tin and rotten wood. The survived on the income of day laborers working the fields. Their lives were simple.

Nothing for them is simple now. The tragic death of their daughter has brought international attention to them and their tiny village. An investigation, an exhumation of the body, and several arrests, including that of Mahbub Khan, has rocked the very core of their village and the beliefs of the people that live there.

This story brings tears to my eyes. But before we thank whatever powers that be we believe in that we do not practice such barbaric things here in the US let's keep in mind that two young girls, both 11 years of age, were gang raped. One in Texas and the other in California.

The child in California was lured into the situation by another young girl where she knew that boys from a gang were waiting for her to bring them a victim. It was not a religious practice, but more like an initiation into the gang. An insidious act to prove domination and power over the innocent.

The child in Texas was taken into an abandoned trailer and raped by several young men of various ages. The horrible thing is that this 11 year old child is being blamed by some as "asking for it." They insinuate that this young girl is not innocent, she looks older than 11. The father responded that "she has a child's mind."

That shouldn't even have to be explained. Regardless of how mature this child looks, no one can honestly believe she asked for 18 boys/men to do something like this to her. It's beyond comprehension how someone, even a relative, can make excuses for such a horrible act. Blaming the victim shows no remorse for the actions and also displays a severe lack of compassion.

This child, after being raped, was taken from her home, placed in foster care in an entirely different location because she was then being subjected to death threats. She hadn't suffered enough?

We can sit around and point fingers at the world and discuss how atrocious things are in those communities, but let's look at what we have next door as well.

No matter how you slice this each of these young women were innocent victims. A man does not have the right to molest a child under any circumstance for any reason. Those who victimize children in a group are simply cowards. What they did was just as barbaric as the crime and punishment done to Hena Akhter.

Shame to all of you that blame the children.

Monday, March 14, 2011

They Are Strong

Many around the world were shocked and cried for the Japanese people who suffered through, not only and 8.5 magnitude earthquake this weekend, but also a torrid tsunami that wrecked devastation across the land.

As one man searched the rubble for his wife, others cried and were felt lost, and even one woman wondered why she was spared another voice stood out that said, "We are strong. We will rebuild."
It is strength and courage of the people that will help to rebuild the nation. It also struck me that other nations will band together to send aid and assistance. People, who may have political or even ethical differences will finally lay them aside to give support, time, supplies, and love in an effort to rebuild and repair. It says a lot.

And though some scars on the land and the people will always remain, and others around the world weep with them, Japan, without a doubt, will rebuild and show Mother Nature that they are indeed a strong people with their own inner force. May they also know they have a world of friends to help pull them up from the rubble and show them human kindness.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Very Wise Man

What the superior man seeks is in himself.
What the mean man seeks is in others.
The Confucian Analects
A very wise man said something that stuck with me today. We were chatting about relationships and I was teasing him about his girlfriend. Then he said, "The secret of keeping your wife happy is not treating her like a wife or a girlfriend."

"Huh." I thought. He's right. When you start dating someone you are interested in you always put your best foot forward. You care about what they think and how they feel. You even strike up a communication with them, something that seems to get lost as relationships grow. After you have been with someone a while you do tend to find yourself feeling comfortable and doing the same things. You even take one another for granted.

If we stopped and thought about the same things we did when we were dating, how would that change our relationships? Personally, I think it would make a world of difference.

Those of us that have children might think it's a bit more difficult to do that. However, if you think about it it's not the planning or the dating that he's talking about. It won't take any more time out of your day. It's an attitude thing. Just change the way you think about the other person. Not as someone that has to stay with you because you are now linked, but as someone that you really enjoy being around and wanting to spend time with.

Now how cool is that? Who would have thought that a single guy that works all day with numbers could be so relationship savvy?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The White Butterfly

I saw a butterfly of snow

Falling and dancing
With the power of the wind
It couldn’t fly with it’s of frozen wings
It couldn’t love the sky or embrace the sun.
Its form only held a glacial heart.
There was no soaring toward the sun to gather warmth.
It could only fall downward in a spiral
On to the frigid white ground
Where it was lost; and never to be seen again.
                                 --Pasty Dunbar

Monday, February 21, 2011

After the Loving

The marriage encounter weekend was more than I could have ever imagined. There was so much that I learned and experienced, and I have to admit I did not go with an open mind. I was very skeptical. Even as the first couple started speaking I was wondering what I was doing there. I found out soon enough. I was doing something that I should be doing.

I think what I discovered was a deeper intimacy with my husband. Not sexual intimacy, but emotional intimacy. Suddenly all of the things we went through - any issue no matter how small or how large - just didn't matter. What mattered most was where we were. I realized that it was Brian's idea to go in the first place. He had no qualms about calling and setting things up for us. It really meant a lot to him as well.

Saturday night close to the wee hours of Sunday morning I sat up in bed and listened to my husband snore. It was comforting and it made me smile. With each intake of breath I knew he was alive, and as strange as it was, I knew that he loved me. If I got up from the bed he would stir and ask me if I was okay. How do I know, because he does it all the time. I can move and in his sleep he checks on me. Even in sleep I seem to be on his mind.

Sunday morning as I sat in our small cube on the twin bed we shared, I remembered someone from my past. I could almost see her in the room with me. Her name was Darlene Kellogg. She was an amazing woman and a great friend. She had two children, a boy and a girl. She was the one that sewed a lot of Sarah's clothes as a child - dresses complete with little pinafores, and she even sewed the first wedding dress for my sister, Kim.

Darlene was married to a hard working man, Earl. They seemed so loving and supportive of one another. But one day Darlene told me that Earl working nights was taking a toll on their marriage. They weren't able to spend a lot of time together. This coupled with the fact that Darlene's brother disappeared one night only to find him laying dead in a field several months later only put more of a strain on them, I'm sure.

I don't remember how Darlene and I grew apart. I'm sure it was my fault. I started going to college. I seemed to have lost track of a lot of my friends and neighbors for a while. Of course I was growing further apart from my husband at that time as well. Regardless of the reasons - more like excuses, I think - we lost touch.

Years later I discovered that Darlene had passed away. She and Earl had divorced. I admit I was surprised, but then I realized that everyone was surprised when I had divorced my first husband, Oscar. No one thought we had any problems. They didn't know about my crying at night alone or how we fussed over who was to blame for what petty thing. None of those things matter now, but then they seemed so important. "Little things matter."

Darlene, on this cold and snowy Sunday morning, made a difference in how I saw things. I had let a good friend go and I couldn't even think of a good reason why I would let that happen. I wasn't there for her when she more than likely could have used a good person to lean on. And maybe, just maybe, if she and Earl had given themselves an opportunity to try a weekend of rediscovery of each other they wouldn't have lost each other either. But that wasn't important, because I couldn't change the past.

What is important is I have control over what I do know now. I know that I am deeply in love with my husband. I know that I have some great friends and a wonderful life. I have been blessed and instead of sweating the small stuff I just need to trust that I'm not alone when I face them. I am at peace at this moment with the decisions I have made in my life. I have a renewal in the relationship with my husband and with my family. Life really is good.

So here is a little sappy song with lyrics so you can sing along. Give it a try. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Marriage Encounter Weekend

Hubby and I discussed going to a marriage encounter weekend. It's not because we are having problems, but more like we decided that because we aren't having problems we should go to keep from having them later. Kind of a pre-emptive planning on our part. After all the kids are getting older and will be doing their own thing more and more as time goes on.

The one we are going to this weekend is at the Norbentine Abbey in DePere. It looks like a very nice place. I was told that the Norbentine priests retire there as well and we will be having dinner with them on Saturday and Sunday. Actually, I'm rather looking forward to that. I have no idea why.

They said that we should bring snacks and drinks we like. They provide coffee and hot water. They do not want us drinking alcohol. Not surprising. I can imagine how lovely it would be to have a few drunken couples hanging around trying to discuss how to keep the perk in your marriage. Not a fun time, I'm sure.

I wonder if I should bring along the karaoke machine? I bet no one ever thought of that one!  :)

"Never feel remorse for what you have thought about your wife; she has thought much worse things about you."  ~Jean Rostand, Le Mariage, 1927

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rhymed Sestina

Okay, my very first sestina is a rhymed one in iambic pentameter. I know this isn't the traditional sestina, but I thought to get the hang of it I'd try something a little more challenging. Honestly I had written one previous to this, but it was sappy and I erased it. 

So, here's one that is made to make you smile. It's just goofy.

Vampire Seduction

He said, “Come sit with me upon the bed.”
I look at him and his devilish smile.
If my mom found out I would be quite dead.
She wouldn’t care that I had been beguiled.
His words echoed round the brain in my head.
My body swayed back and forth for a while.

 “I will not be quick, this will take a while,”
He said, as he lay prone down on the bed.
Pointed teeth glistened white as he smiled.
Perhaps he will kill me and I’ll be dead
And that is why he can truly beguile -
Shame! Putting such naughty thoughts in my head.

I work to erase wicked thoughts in my head
“Yet what could it hurt to just talk a while?
Oh! How much talking is done on a bed?”
I think, and now he can see my coy smile.
Perhaps it is easy when one is dead,
And they are the one who then beguile.

Never had I been the one to beguile.
What a silly thought to come to my head!
I think I have been standing here a while
As he waits for me to bounce on the bed.
He could melt hearts with those eyes and that smile.
If only he were living and not dead!

Hard to take a boy home who is quite dead
For him to look at your mother to beguile.
Wow, think of the thoughts going through her head!
I might want to put that off for a while.
Or rethink undulating on the bed.
Decline the offer with a simple smile?

And yet I know he wants more than a smile.
Why do vampires need blood when they’re dead?
That is why they truly need to beguile
To get to your neck by fogging your head
And kissing you softly when all the while
You don’t notice you’re dying up on that bed!

I look at him, nod my head, and then smile.
Beguile me, my lover of the dead!
Dead sex on the bed; forget life a while.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Post Valentine's Day

Things around the house have been crazy.

The idea of having my sister's child with us didn't go as planned. All the expectations we had of moving forward and making a difference went flying out the window. It really is true that you can only help those that truly want to be helped. Some people, even children, seem to think that they way they think and behave is perfectly rational.

If anything good came out of it at all I think it is that she learned to appreciate where she was previously. That her adoptive mother wasn't being mean - she was being caring. When you are on the caring side of things sometimes it feels that people are picking on you. I learned that from experience.

The timing was bad as well. Coming right when I had to have my surgery and take care of things. She was the one that wanted to be the center of things. It's kind of hard to become the center when someone else is needing time to recuperate. Instead of just being able to heal, I had to put a lot of the focus and energy on her, but she didn't want 80% or even 90% - she needed 100% and it just wasn't possible.

The teenager's chest with chicken pox and eczema
Of course then the teenager contracted chicken pox, in spite of his inoculations. That combined with his eczema made him one pretty miserable young man. Then there was the unexpected birth of my first grandson; who is adorable, even if I do say so myself. He ended up in the NICU for about ten days. My daughter showed amazing fortitude during his delivery and through his recuperation. Of course things don't end there. The eleven year old now seems to have contracted something as well. It's like a never ending Winter Battle, but our spirits are still high.

I've given myself a goal now. Last night my husband and I went out for a Valentine's dinner. He didn't buy me chocolates, but he wrote me a poem. I think I got lucky. I don't need a chocolate heart, after all. The poem is wonderful and sentimental. He said something that struck me though. "I was going to write you a sestina, but it turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated." In husband talk this means that he didn't have enough time to whip one out. It would take a lot more concentration and time than he can actually put toward it.

His idea of writing is answering blogs. He can spend hours reading them and answering them for people. It's become a topic of ribbing by the boys to him. He even does it now on his Blackberry as we grocery shop. I'm waiting for the day that he looks up from his reading and discovers that we've all left him there.

However, now the idea of a sestina intrigues me. They can rhyme or not rhyme. They can be in iambic pentameter (the older ones were) or not. Each new rule you put to it will not only change the dynamics, but will make the writing more difficult.

Tomorrow I will post my first sestina. Hopefully it will be more inspiring then just a bunch of words that fit a form. I also want to get back to painting - go back to the gym - write more - and generally just take back my creative side of life that has been shelved with illnesses and recuperations.

So, let's get started.