Monday, April 22, 2013

Being a Mom is easy, Being my kid? Well, the jury is still out.

We all have our talents and our challenges in life. The one thing that I've always wanted to do since I was little was be a mom. I had practice on my little sisters. Although, I don't think it actually prepared me for real motherhood. But from the beginning of becoming a mom and having children I was linked to my kids. I dreamed about each one. My first born walked out of the hospital while being born telling the nurses to tell me he'd be back after he viewed the world. He is in the Army. My second child was talking to everyone right after birth. She said her first word at three months old. "Hi." She hasn't been quiet since. My third child, another boy, tried to turn his crib into a time machine. He wants to become an engineer. (Also, I'm beginning to think time travel may be possible.) The dream about my third child was totally different. In his dream we were sitting on a hill having a picnic together. According to the dream dictionary is prophetic of success and happiness. What more can you want for your child?

Now, if you ask any one of my children to describe me in one word I believe the consensus would be, "crazy." I believe that I have been branded this title unfairly, just for the record. I'm not crazy. (Of course my husband prefers the word "eccentric.") I'm just creative. I have a tendency to say things in, perhaps, unusual ways. It makes for a fun household. My children also know that I am a very hands on and engaged mom. I like to do things with them and for them. We spend quite a bit of time together. (As much as possible with my oldest since he lives in another state and has to take leave to visit.) The only problem with taking them places is that I may have a tiny bit of difficulty when it comes to directions.

I believe I inherited this trait from my own biological mother. I remember once when I was five years old, and my younger sister was three, that she stole the keys from my sleeping father to take us for an afternoon drive because she was bored. For some reason my father didn't let her drive. Perhaps it was because she didn't have a legal license to drive. More than likely, it was because he was afraid that she would get lost and never return home. After the incident, perhaps his fears were valid. We ended up in the middle of a golf course with her screaming "WEEEEEE!!!!" as she did donuts in the grass. My sister and I were having a grand time until the police stopped us. Even though I was young I was convinced we were going to jail. But my mother, quick to thinking, started babbling in Italian to an extremely frustrated officer. He just told her to go home, speaking what little Spanish he knew (which he obviously didn't realize was an entirely different language than my mother was speaking), "comprendez?"

You would think this would be one incident that would never be repeated. Unfortunately, that's what one gets for thinking. It is true that the sins of the mother are doomed upon the child. One night I was driving late to get to a camping spot in Oklahoma from Texas. Somehow I made a wrong turn. It just felt like it was the right turn. That's the thing about being directional impaired, you FEEL like you should be going a certain direction. Anyway, lo and behold, after going through a couple of bushes (I still don't know how they got in the road) I ended up on a golf course. My husband, who had very nicely been trying to tell me that he thought I might want to turn around, started laughing. He knew the story of my mother. Now my children had one of their own. Thanks to my husband, that is. Only one sleeping baby was in the car at the time. Of course I could just deny the entire episode and make them think is was one of his tall tales, but unfortunately, they know me too well.

Besides, even if they didn't the story with three out of the four in the car would do me in. After this, I think all credibility of being able to drive without difficulty might be a difficult sell.

We were driving about an hour from home a couple of years ago. My daughter was going with me, as she often does. (Since she has been an adult we have become great friends. Thank goodness her teenage years are behind us.) My two youngest sons in the back of the car. We started out well. Driving down the highway, onto the road in a city we have never been. I had done well. We were still in Wisconsin. (I should get bonus points for that at least.)

The trouble only came when we ran into a detour due to road construction. I had been depending on my handy dandy gps. She had failed me in the past, but she seemed to be behaving that day. She gave me an alternate route. I took it.

I became a bit suspicious as we rode onto a dirt road. The cattle gates on either side did make me raise an eyebrow, but I mean, surely I was heading in the right direction.

The road got a little bumpy. We found some nice greenery on the road. Some trees. And then we came to this extremely steep incline. I paused. Did I dare go down the incline to see if the road got better? It looked like maybe the gps was urging me to go that route. My youngest son in the back was scared. The road didn't look safe to him. My other two children were not very encouraging.

Against my better judgement I listened to them. We rounded the curve and ended up - in a soy bean field.

"Mom, you took us on a field trip!" my daughter exclaimed. I started laughing. I was laughing so hard it made it hard to think.

What to do, what to do? I turned around of course. I was very careful not to trample the van onto the well planted crop. It was tricky, but I managed. I was half Italian after all. Mario Andretti is able to take curves with no trouble due to his heritage, I'm sure.

My daughter suggested I go back to the main road. My sons agreed. I, according to them, had obviously not followed the directions very well. I disagreed. We had an alternative road left, didn't we?

I went back to the dirt road incline. It was steep. If it had been winter and we had skis we would have been set for an adventure. However, it was late Spring and sunny. The van would have to do.

As I started down the hill I hear screaming from the back seat.

"Mom don't! We're going to die!" yelled my youngest in fear.

However, I didn't hesitate. I took the incline. Miraculously we made it to the bottom of the incline and found - a tree. A very big tree. The scenery around us looked like something you would find on late night television. The place where serial killers take their victims to be buried and never seen again. We locked the doors. We carefully looked around - from inside the van. No one was visible wearing a white hockey mask. We were good.  We were also thankful it was daylight.

To this day I swear the gps was laughing at me.

However, we did manage to make it back up the hill without dying.

I went back out through the cattle gates and onto a paved road. We found our destination in the end.

A memory was made that day. I'm sure it is one that my children will remember about me like the one I remember about my own mother. The truly unfortunate part is only that it doesn't change their mind about thinking that I'm crazy. But that's okay. They love me and I adore them. That is what being a mom is all about.

(P.S. I was inspired to write this post for a contest in Mompact after my daughter wrote one.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Letter to Congress - Share yours

Below is my letter to Congress. I sent this letter to each of my state senators and representatives. Please share yours as well. If you need to know where to contact them, click on the link. The letter reads:

President Obama ran on his first campaign to make changes in the US. The people who elected him felt that his message was that the changes would be better for the country and the American people. Since that time the changes have only suppressed the people and caused them more financial difficulty. Those of us that are educated, run households, and know how budgeting actually work are very tired of how things are going in Washington today. We are tired of excuses of party line politics getting in the way of progress, and them also being used as political tools in the media to promote party agendas. The time has come to make some changes in our government and in the government programs.

No one likes to budget. There is not one household in the United States that wants to sit down and cut our things that they enjoy or want in their homes. Some of the cuts we make actually hurt. For instance, as a parent I will forgo my own medical treatment and live with pain, even with the high cost of insurance we pay through my husband's work, due to co-payments if my children need food. We give up everything extra. We no longer have cable or satellite service on our television. We shop at bulk food stores and never buy name brand. We buy used clothing and shoes instead of new. We fight each day to bring down expenses by keeping the heat lower even in the dead of Winter. We need a new roof, but we can't even afford that because our taxes are so high on our home and our mortgage rate is high, but we can not afford to move or sell our home. We had our car repossessed because I no longer could work due to my illness, and yet they refused me Social Security benefits, because they seem to refuse almost everyone unless you hire a lawyer, which we can't afford; which is one of the reasons we needed benefits. These are realities that the politicians in Washington do not even seem to consider. We cut our own costs down to the bone and still struggle. Gas prices go up while our paychecks go down. We understand about sacrifice and how much it hurts.

The average American household makes $41,000 per year. If these same American people worked only the days in which most of what we see our Congress doing and did their job as poorly as what our elected officials are doing they would no longer have a job. Nancy Pelosi says to not cut your pay and ruin her dignity. How is her dignity in tact knowing that every single day she has not considered the real issues that we face financially and that she is willing to consider on her political party concerns over the welfare of the people she represents? I think she has lost her dignity when she lost her integrity over thinking that politics is more important than people. When she said that signing a bill because it was beneficial politically was more important than passing a bill that would be good for the people she supposedly represents. She is not alone in her loss of dignity. Many other politicians are following her suit.

So yes, many of us in Wisconsin want you to take a pay cut to where you are working as hard as the average American and making the same amount as the average American. We want the life time benefits stopped. We want you held accountable for the jobs you perform and the policies you make. If it takes a sequester for you to sit down and actually formulate a budget, then by all means sequester yourselves and come up with a feasible plan that benefits the American people and not the party or Congressional pocket books.

So yes, we, the taxpayers of this nation, want change. We want real change that matters. We want real representation. We don't want to see you spending our tax dollars on lavish parties and hobnobbing with celebrities while we struggle to buy a gallon of milk. We don't want party politics or politics as usual. We want results.

Donna N. Dunbar
Neenah, Wisconsin

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Discovery and Cooking Classes? Gotta love it.

I was watching a show on Hulu today. (I would disclose the show, but it would just prove that I am a real nerd at heart.) I, of course, chose the watch something for 2 minutes and then watch your show commercial free. I assumed I could just doze off for a couple of minutes, but I was wrong. I learned that Kikkoman owns a plant in Wisconsin! I was mesmerized by the commercial and the people working there with what they had to say. As a matter of fact this year they will be making an entire movie about this unusual plant - which just happens to be the largest soy sauce manufacturing plant in the world. Yes. The world!

So, I started searching about the plant and landed on this sweepstakes for $1,000 in cooking classes if you win. (One of the entries was to write about it on your blog, so yes, this is my entry blurb.)

Of course reading the blog and about the sweepstakes I learned even more about this amazing plant and company. Such as it is run by a woman. I find this intriguing, because it is a Japanese company and a woman has been running it when women weren't even considered contenders in the wide world of business.

Anyway, having grown up on food with soy sauce (being raised by a Korean mom,) I now want to see if they have an outlet store - like the bread factories. I would so be up for a road trip!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Explain this to me

Constitutional rights are supposed to be Sovereign. This means they should be supreme and indisputable. They were the basis on which our country was founded - to protect the citizens of our country. It was in place because our forefathers had lived through a time when they had little to no rights or say. They fought to ensure that we had those rights, and through generations of time many others have stood up and fought to maintain those rights.

It is true that some people violate the spirit of the rights we have. One such is the Westboro Baptist Church. The Supreme Court stated that this group of people who targeted murdered children, fallen soldiers, and have been given gross media attention for their chants of hatred in the name of God were entitled. Roberts wrote: Roberts wrote: "Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and -- as it did here -- inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course -- to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case."

So, they used the first amendment to be able to have freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly. Perhaps part of this also was because Westboro claimed religious freedom of thought and action as well. As this same amendment guarantees the respect to and establishment of religion. Let's face it, not everyone is going to agree with every religion. Some people may not agree with any. 

Westboro does spout seriously hateful and disturbing things. Things that mourners should not have to deal with in a time of sorrow. Yet the law does not guarantee a peaceful funeral. Roberts went on to state: "Given that Westboro's speech was at a public place on a matter of public concern, that speech is entitled to 'special protection' under the First Amendment" and "cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt."

I am certain that this type of behavior was not what our forefathers had in mind when writing this in the Bill of Rights. However, it was interpreted by our own Supreme Court to be allowable under the law.

Of course Justice Alito bravely disagreed with his colleague. He stated:  "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case. . . In this case, respondents brutally attacked Matthew Snyder, and this attack, which was almost certain to inflict injury, was central to respondents' well-practiced strategy for attracting public attention." It is true that their behavior does inflict mental and emotional harm on the loved ones left behind. Yet our government thinks so highly of this first amendment right that it holds the contemptible speech as more important than the harm it can inflict.

So explain this to me. 

This first amendment also ensures people of this country to respect the establishment of religion and not to impede the exercise of that religion. In other words, we should not be inhibited to belief however we want to believe and our government should not force us to do anything contrary to our personal religious beliefs. Freedom of religion is a basic human right, which is also recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

By law no person, job, or government can force someone to go against their personal belief. A religious belief, for example, that does not allow a man to cut his beard would mean that a business that refused to allow that same person to work because he has a beard would be breaking the law. A woman that has a religious belief that she should not take any medication cannot be force by her employer to have the flu shot. 

Yet today Hobby Lobby is refusing to pay for insurance that provides the Day After Pill to employees because it goes against their religious principles. Hobby Lobby has made no attempts to hide, since they opened their doors in Oklahoma, that they were a Christian based company. They do not open on Sunday in respect to their belief that Sunday is a day of rest.

This same government that has given Westboro the right to spew hatred refuses to listen to the claim that the healthcare issue violates their religion. Instead they are currently fining them 1.3 million dollars per day since January 1 until they give up on their religious commitment and follow what many believe is an unconstitutional law. How does this happen?

First, I understand the use and importance of the morning after pill. I understand that accidents can happen, women can be raped, and unwanted pregnancies happen each day in our country. I also understand that our government pays via our tax dollars for women on welfare to have free access to this medication. I'm not an opponent of this pill. I will say, though, that if you are having unprotected sex you should pay for your own mistakes, don't expect your employer to bail you out. If a woman is raped we should have alternative and private means for her to seek assistance and reassurance that she has not been impregnated.

I am an opponent of double standards. On one side we have a government that is so zealous about upholding the Bill of Rights that they reward religious haters at the expense of mourners. On the other side we have a government that refuses to recognize a private family owned business that refuses to give into government and turn their back on their own religious standard. 

In my opinion: It just ain't right.

Friday, January 11, 2013


For those that might not be able to see the graphic, here is the poem:


Unseasonably warm, and yet a chill rides through my bones.
And the gray fog wraps around me whispering secrets I have buried.
For the fog does no longer hides and disguises, but reveals.
I try to speak but it says, “Shhh. Just listen.”
And I realize that the fears I have hidden have awoken
Resurfacing from their dormant state
Resurrecting  to haunt me again.
Fingers of fog holding tighter as I struggle to become free,
But freedom is a high price and my karmic debt is not yet paid.
I have no credit left.
                                                               ~ Pasty Dunbar

I wrote it this morning looking out of my bedroom window at the thick gray fog that surrounding the house. The snow is melting and, warm for Wisconsinites, a lot of people have been wearing sweaters instead of thick coats.Yet it is only January. Very warm.

Last night, as the house was very quiet a large boom rang through the house shaking the floors. Startled I stopped and yelled to make sure my husband, Brian, was okay. He said, "What the hell was that?" Looking through the house we didn't see anything. Then it dawned on us both at the same time. The extremely large icicle, about seven feet high and three feet round, had fallen on the extended roof. Sure enough there lay the fragments. The roof unharmed, but the memory of house shivering and shaking fresh in our mind. 

Our home was built in 1890. There was no damage, but there was this thought: Damn! They sure built this house to last. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Don't Give Me that Bullcrap!

I learn a lot about what some people are spewing out there in this new big wide world, (in regards to excuses people make for being less than what they are capable of being) from my husband. Yesterday, on his blog, he wrote:

"Chandra, a "recovering grammar snob" who works as an English teacher, has a smashing trio of essays on Literacy Privilege -- the invisible privilege that accrues to people who have the facility to write well and clearly, and who have absorbed the "correct" conventions of English. I know I've been guilty of dismissing people because of their grammar/spelling errors."

So today it's a privilege to be able to speak and write correctly? Seriously? I didn't have all the advantages of what the youth of today have when I was growing up. My mother was a single mother with a serious illness for the first part of my life. We didn't have a big house. We lived in an apartment complex near Washington, DC. 

Growing up I was beaten almost to death by a sibling. I spent time in the hospital recovering from this.

I was put in a home to be watched by an insane woman who locked us in rooms, threw food at us like we were dogs, and pulled us down the stairs by our hair. I lived through this while my mother visited her family for one last time in Italy. 

I watched my mother struggle until the illness got the better of her. I lived through a lot, more than what I can comfortably write here at this moment. 

I was bullied in school after my mother died for not having a mother. 

So, what I didn't do was make excuses for myself. I didn't sit down and feel sorry for myself because life had been hard on me. 

I worked to become educated because having an education was important. I was not a person that felt that everything should be handed to me, not even as a child. I learned. I grew. I focused. 

I was not given video games to play. I wasn't coddled. When I lost at a sport I did it with grace and an understanding that to become better I needed to practice. If I wanted to develop a sense of pride in an ability I worked to obtain in for myself. 

At the age of ten I had developed an impressive vocabulary and took pride in being able to read and write. I worked for every grade I made in school. I read because I knew that reading was a way to gain knowledge. It was a choice. 

I studied other languages to develop a better cultural understanding of the world. I was not pompous and arrogant enough to think that it was the responsibility of everyone else to learn to speak to me in my native language. I didn't expect other countries to cater to my English while I sat back and felt superior. I am not superior to others, but I am not inferior to anyone either. I am comfortable with who I am.

Every single day we make choices in our life. English is a dying language because people are becoming lazy. They shorten even simple words to make things in their lives quicker and easier. They don't work on developing skills, and this is not my fault. 

I am not living a privileged life. I am living a life I worked to have. I put effort in being able to read well and write legibly. Just because I don't bastardize the English language doesn't make me privileged - it makes me educated. I worked to be educated, and I feel I am better for it.

So no, I don't think those that have been too lazy to work toward reading and writing legibly are to be pitied and catered to. They have had the same, if not better, opportunities to learn and excel. I will not coddle them. They have been coddled for too long by too many, which is perhaps why more and more people fall into that same trap. 

Make all the excuses you want, but the truth is this - becoming literate takes work. If you aren't willing to do the work to obtain that talent then it's your own fault. It doesn't make someone that works for it privileged, it means they are just more focused on success.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Snape Doesn't Know Everything

In Harry Potter Professor Snape tries to show how ignorant Harry is and how important it is for him to know things in order to do better magic. Of course in theory according to the books and movie, Snape is just being a good guy (cough) trying to make Harry stronger so he can defeat Voldemort in the end.

But who would have known that Snape was wrong? Hmm. Makes you think about how that pompous exterior would have reacted, had he lived, to know he had given a classroom of students misinformation.
The truth is that Monkshood and Wolsfbane are not the same. However, a lot of people think that they are.

Monkshood is known as Aconitum napellus and has blue flowers, but Wolfsbane is actually Aconitum vulparia, and has yellowish flowers. Both are, however, quite poisonous. Wolfsbane is said to deter a werewolf (probably because they don't want to be poisoned). In ancient times it was used to poison the water supply of  the enemy. The plants do serve some medicinal purposes, however, mostly topically.

There are actually 109 species of Aconitum - all of which are poisonous. You can order seeds or plants and they are beautiful flowers. Just know that if you handle these plants your hands could suffer from numbness. If you ingest them you could die. There is no antidote.

So, teaching young children about the plants - well, maybe Snape was being helpful, or maybe he was being hopeful. He didn't seem to actually like children a whole lot, after all.