Tag Archives: parenting

just stuff I’m thinking about

(Note: if you are offended by “crazy right-wing nonsense about abortion, contraception, etc.” , or by Monty Python humor, too bad. Read, or read not.)

Just stumbled on that Johnny Depp quote up there. Really, I stumbled on it. StumbleUpon, if you haven’t seen it, is a great time-waster that will cater to your particular means of wasting time. Check it out. Or not.

Truth is, StumbleUpon isn’t what has been on my mind lately. Johnny Depp’s quote up there, and related issues, have been swirling around in my head. (Johnny Depp isn’t one of my favorite actors, but oh how I love Jack Sparrow…just sayin’)

I guess it started with the Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood thing. When I was a teenager, I thought that Planned Parenthood was actually about teaching women how to “plan” on getting pregnant, or not getting pregnant. I was stunned when I figured out that Planned Parenthood provided abortions. Sounded to me like the women going to PP for abortions where there because they FAILED to plan. Silly me. (Point of clarification: I haven’t actually been in a PP clinic. But several of my college friends had been. It was a ‘slap-self-in-forehead-and-say-DUH!’ moment for me.)

When this story hit the fan, I was fascinated by the amount of uproar it was causing. I pulled out my trusty calculator, did 20 minutes of online research, and crunched some numbers. I documented my process, as follows:

So, I’m wondering what all the excitement is about this. I read the Reuters, AP, CNN, USA Today, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox…did I leave any of them out? Probably. Anyway, the funny thing is that I can’t find any actual dollar amounts, except for the $250,000 Mayor Bloomberg has donated to PPFA to help offset the loss of donations from SGK, and I see that thousands of folks are following his lead.

It took me 20 minutes of research to find the latest annual report from PPFA (2008-2009). They report a year-end net asset amount of $994,700,000. That’s $995 million dollars, rounded up. Round a little more, and you get $1,000,000,000. That’s $1 BILLION dollars.

Most articles report that SGK donated approximately $700,000 last year. Mayor Bloomberg has already replaced over 1/3 of that amount.

Percentage-wise, the annual amount donated to PPFA by SGK is…wait for it….0.07%. Seven-hundredths of ONE percent. Let me check the math again: that’s 700,000 / 1 BILLION times 100 to get the percentage. Yup, 0.07%.

Looks to me like PPFA won. And there’s a Washington Post article that agrees with me. Not the Washington TIMES, but the Washington POST.

I also checked out a current PPFA document on Services. “The core of PP affiliate medical service is contraception and accompanying health care, education and information. In 2010, [PP] provided 11 million medical services for nearly 3 million people, and helped to prevent approximately 584,000 unintended pregnancies.”

Now I’m moving from “just the facts” to “my opinion”….seems like PPFA should work a bit harder on their contraception “education and information” so that they wouldn’t have to spend so much money “preventing unintended pregnancies.” And, is it really ‘preventing’ if she’s already pregnant? Doesn’t sound like it to me. Maybe that wording could be a bit more accurate, something like ‘terminating 584,000 unintended pregnancies.’ Regardless of the semantics, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or Benjamin Franklin thought so.  Maybe if PPFA educated more and aborted less, more PPFA funds could be allocated to cancer screenings. Probably wouldn’t have stopped SGK from buckling under public pressure, but I can dream, can’t I?

Addendum: See? The San Francisco Chronicle says so too.

So, SGK thought about taking a stand against PPFA in support of unborn babies, and then caved under public pressure. Ah, the power of FaceBook!

Now there’s a raging debate over ObamaCare’s contraception mandate. I’m having a difficult time finding a basic definition of what the mandate is, and I’m still recovering from the headache I developed after reading the “Affordable Health Care for All Americans” bill when it was first introduced. This is the most concise definition I could find: The “Health and Human Services mandate orders all insurance carriers to provide the full slate of ‘reproductive services’ at no cost.”

A couple of questions come immediately to mind. At no cost to whom, exactly? What does ‘full slate of reproductive services’ really mean? And the funny thing is that the current debate has nothing to do with either of those questions. It is, in fact, an argument over First Amendment rights, specifically the freedom of religion (or freedom FROM religion….Henry VIII had a lot to do with that particular language making its way into our Constitution,didn’t he? If you know your Monty Python, you’ll recognize this: “There’s a dead priest upon the landing.” “RC or C of E?” “How should I know?” “It’s tattooed on the back of their necks!”)

I find a lot of this angst to be unnecessary. If the full slate of reproductive services conflicts with an individual’s First Amendment beliefs, then is that individual going to partake of those services? Probably not. The bigger question is this: When did the Constitution of the United States become an instrument for determining what the government CAN DO to its citizens, rather than a document defining what the government CAN NOT DO to its citizens?

The bottom line in my world is this: being a parent of an infant demands that you put the rights of that infant ahead of your own. You want to sleep, but the baby is hungry at 2:00 AM?  Guess who wins? Not you. If you aren’t ready to become a parent, if can’t think of loving anything or anyone more than you love yourself, then take steps to prevent becoming pregnant, or becoming a ‘baby daddy.’ Prevention vs. termination. And yes, I know that nothing is 100% foolproof except abstinence. I personally don’t believe it is expecting too much of folks of child-bearing age who do not want to become parents to take precautionary steps, including abstinence, to prevent their fear from becoming reality.

In other words: grow up. Take responsibility for your own actions. If abortion is a large part of your birth control method, remember that you are aborting babies, not puppies or kittens. You are participating in causing the death of an innocent human being. There is another word whose definition is “participating in or causing the death of an innocent human being”, but I’ll leave it unsaid here.

Why is this so evident to me these days? That’s easy. I used to be an advocate for abortion rights, “free” contraceptives for me from my health insurance provider, all those things. Then I had Kate, 8 weeks premature. When I saw her for the first time I realized that I could have ‘terminated’ her, and it would have been perfectly legal in several states that had no prohibition on late-term abortions. And, a few years later, she asked me what a “partial-birth abortion” was. And I had to explain it to her.

It still makes me sick, thinking of that conversation.

Another twist of irony: I’m listening to Pandora radio as I write this. I have it on “quick mix” mode, which means I never know what’s coming next. What’s playing right now?

Amazing Love.

And my home page: Grief is the price we pay for love. -Queen Elizabeth II


so, anyway

As of yesterday we’re a home school. Little girl has hated high school since she started last year. As summer started winding down and 10th grade loomed imminent, her mood started tanking. So we downloaded the official form, gave our home school a very pretentious-sounding name, dug up my college transcript to prove I grad-yee-ated 6th grade just like Jethro Bodine, and mailed everything off. It took less than a week to get it back. Amazed. It usually takes any government agency, federal, state or local, a month of Sundays to do anything. Heck, I’ve had Medicare as a secondary insurer for almost 2 years and they still haven’t paid any co-pays they’re supposed to, so don’t talk to me about how everyone who has Medicare loves it. Everyone I know who has Medicare thinks a bit less highly of it than I do.

But I digress.

Yesterday we dropped by the high school to officially withdraw and thumb our nose at it, just a little, then grabbed a celebratory McGriddle (not me, just her) and headed off to the local used bookstores in search of stuff. We found some stuff and brought it home. She had one homework assignment to complete, and voila! we’re done. Her homework was to write something. Anything. Without thinking about rules, grammar, spelling, whatever. Just write.

Physician, heal thyself.


My mom sent me this email yesterday. Doesn’t matter if it’s a true story or not; the principle is dead on as far as I’m concerned.

Effort and Reward

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”. All grades would be veraged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.

The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

Do I believe there’s a professor somewhere who never failed a single student? Maybe, maybe not.

Whoever wrote this used Obama’s name, but in my estimation it’s not a criticism aimed directly at President Obama; it’s a criticism of the fundamental flaw inherent in socialism. It’s a wonderful concept; there’s just one problem with it: pesky human nature.

It’s the same problem I always had in school, and at work, with group projects. I wound up doing the work because I was not willing to take the lower grade, or create a less than acceptable product, because of everyone else’s lack of participation.

Pesky human nature.

taking care of business

In February of 1999 my grandfather was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He endured one round of chemotherapy, said “enough” and went home. My sweet parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, along with a wonderful hospice organization, took care of him while he took care of business. He spent quite a bit of time those last few weeks helping my mom make sure everything was in order, that his wife, children and family were taken care of. Grandpa knew how to take care of business.

Seven years ago today our country was viciously attacked by people who hate us. They aren’t interested in trying to understand our way of life. They aren’t interested in trying to persuade us to understand their way of life. They hate America and everything it represents. This is war, and the only way to deal with it is to defend ourselves from it, to make sure that our children are safe. And if defending our country means that we go on the offensive, take the war to their turf, then we go. We take care of business.

My little girl is supposed to be in biology class at this moment. She’s next to me, on the couch, asleep. She decided last spring to sign up for Air Force JROTC this year. It’s been a tough week in JROTC class. They had the option of watching a National Geographic documentary on the events of September 11, 2001. She chose to watch most of. We’ve never hidden the truth of what happened from her. She knew people jumped to their deaths. She had seen pictures and heard stories. But studying the events in school brought them to life for her in a new and frightening way. She got up this morning and put on her uniform, all without saying a single word. She does that sometimes, gets up and goes about her business without saying anything. Her dad asked her one morning if she was ok and she said, “Just because I get up early doesn’t mean I’m a MORNING person!” Bless her little heart.

Anyway, I started asking the mommy questions, trying to get to the root of the problem.

Do you feel sick? No. I didn’t sleep good last night.

Do you have a test? No.

Is someone picking on you? No. I just want to stay home with you today.

A little tear slipped down her cheek. So, I thought, is this something relational, since she teared up when I mentioned another person?

She is missing her big brother terribly since he went to college. Last night, after she went to bed, he stopped by for a few minutes. She’d seen him at church earlier. She knew he was coming, but she just couldn’t stay awake long enough to visit with him at home later.

Are you missing your brother? Yes.

Many more tears.

OK, this is something we know, but she hasn’t been this upset about it, and hasn’t wanted to stay home from school because of it. So far, she’s enjoying high school.

Think, think, think.

Is this about September 11?

Unconsolable tears.

Mom, last year they didn’t even mention it at school. Not a minute of silence. Not anything. Please, can I stay home?

So, we snuggled up and took a nap. We munched on cookies and watched TV. She loves Animal Planet.

It’s chilly here today so she’s wrapped up in a quilt, snoozing on the couch.

Tomorrow she’ll go back to school, and I’ll have to answer to the school authorities as to why she stayed home today. We’ll take our little war to their turf. We won’t have a doctor’s note, we’ll have a mommy’s note that will say:

My daughter needed me, so I took care of business.

things I found

Here I am, waiting for the bus to bring my baby home from her first day in high school. It’s been, um, different around here since Wubby went to college. I’m not sure I like it. It took a week to get his room cleaned up, and there’s still a small shelf in there I need to dust. There was quite a bit of trash in that room, as well as some amusements, and some treasures. I found

  • 10 black Sharpies – Wubby draws, in black ink. For the past four years I would buy a Sharpie, use it one time, and it would vanish. Now I know what happened to them!
  • Hokey-Pokey Elmo – A gag Christmas gift. Since hubby and I are both Virginia Tech Hokies, we have a fondness for the Hokie-pokey. Wubby despises Elmo, but had to admit that this one was pretty funny.
  • 2 air mattresses – Used on a trip Wub and I took to Gulfport MS to work construction the summer after Katrina.
  • Dominican Pesos, assorted game tokens and $35 in change. (He found most of the change before he left, but he didn’t get it all.)
  • A Japanese phrase book from WWII – It belonged to my father-in-law.
  • 8 packages of guitar strings – Assorted types for acoustic, electric, jazz etc. Not one complete set in the bunch.
  • A bluebird house – He made it years ago, with my dad, I THINK.
  • 227 pencils, pens, erasers, markers – Various colors and stages of usefulness.
  • My dad’s tuxedo.
  • Crash Bandicoot 2 – The first Playstation game he ever got, a Christmas present from maybe 10 years ago. I love CB2!
  • A bible – It belongs to the girl next door, who was his girlfriend for about a week. She knew she left it somewhere, but had no clue it was in Wub’s room. She was happy to get it back.
  • Chickens – Little plastic chickens. A chicken alarm clock. A glass chicken. A garden decoration chicken. Wub LOVES chickens. I don’t know why, except that he was fascinated by the chickens that run free in Cielo (Dominican Republic community.) Personally, I think that chicken-clucking sounds should be included on those things that generate white noise or ocean waves or breezes, you know, that are supposed to help you sleep. Chickens clucking is the most soothing sound.
  • Wubbies – Hoodies, actually. When hooded sweatshirts made their fashion appearance a few years ago, Wub adopted them as some kind of uniform. “Wubby” came from the movie “Mr. Mom”, I think. It was a special blanket that the baby had to have at all times. Wubby has to be wearing a hoodie at all times, regardless of outside temperature or destination. Mall – Hoodie. Church – Hoodie. Date at fancy restaurant – Hoodie.

There were drawings, paintings, clothes, games, toys, boxes, bags, electronics. You name it, it was in there. Everything’s all cleaned up now. I can see the carpet. The dresser drawers are empty, as is the TV cabinet and the CD shelf. I put a new quilt on the bed, and a new lamp on the dresser. I can use the room as a guest room now. All of the things I found in there have been sorted and stored, except one:

My little boy, all grown up.

He’s still in there, and no matter how far he goes he’ll always be there, in his room.

worth the risk

The contractor finished up this morning, and we now have a new house on the outside. The inside is still a mess, and now I have no excuses for not “getting my house in order.”

Time to start thinking up some, huh?

Tomorrow is Hubby’s birthday, and it’s also ‘Freshman Academy’ day at Little Girl’s high school. She’s really, really, REALLY not thrilled about going. But, sometimes we all have to do things we’re not not thrilled about, don’t we? Like me and the clutter. So, tomorrow she’s going to F.A., I’m going to my Thursday morning Truth Project study, tomorrow afternoon I’ll start where I left off in cleaning out Wubby’s room, bless his heart. Then we get to celebrate Hubby’s birthday. Delayed gratification. (Wubby’s room, and the contents therein: could be an excellent inspiration for NaNoWriMo!)

Wubby was not thrilled about high school. He had been to a middle school that was not a feeder for his high school. So, in order for him to engage in high school, he had to take some risks, put himself out there, make an effort to to meet new people, yak yak. Now he’s started college, and we’re having those same conversations with him, again. Is it a guy thing or what? I really don’t understand this. I changed schools tons of times, nine or ten anyway, and I will admit that I got tired of “putting myself out there” after a while. But, I did participate in some club stuff, music ensembles and such, and those things made a difference in how I experienced high school then, and how I remember it now. The Wub, on the other hand, went to class. Period. And his perception now is that high school stunk, everyone hated him, more yak yak.

Little Girl is shy, like her mom. Her friends love to say things to her like “Would you not talk so much? Gosh!” Behind her shyness, though, is a sparkling personality, an amazing intellect, and a blossoming wicked sense of humor. I want her to take the risk and let some people see that incredible side of her that only we get to see.

There’s a quote I picked up from an episode of “Seventh Heaven” a few years back. I don’t remember it verbatim, but it was something like this:

I know how scary it can be to hear your own voice, and what a risk you take when you put it out there.

It’s true, but the rewards are worth the risk. Heck, I was nice to a guy I barely knew in 10th grade because he was in a leg brace. Was it risky? Yep. Was it worth it? Yep.

He married me, bless his heart.

about house and Home

Housework is not my thing. At all. It was sooooo nice to be in the mountains, in someone else’s sparsely furnished house. No messes, no clutter. My house is a disaster. It should have yellow hazard tape around it. Really.

Remember the contractor that was going to redo the windows and siding on our house, oh, about 6 weeks ago? Well, they came Tuesday and did the windows. It rained on Wednesday so they didn’t come back until Thursday to start on the siding, which was totally OK because Wednesday was move in day at college for Wubby. He packed up the car and the van and off we went like it was nothing. Only we forgot to pack the sheets (twin XL, specifically for college dorm rooms) so by lunch time he was back home to get the sheets and eat. Then he was gone again.

It’s probably a good thing that he’s only twenty miles away because I’m not sure who misses who the most. I know his little sister misses him something terrible. And after all the mommy-ing and fussing and prodding….I miss him something terrible myself. He called from the dorm the first night and said things were ok but he was homesick. Twenty miles away and he’s homesick. And four years from now when it’s his sister’s turm, I’m not sure she’ll be able to leave the driveway. She was homesick when we were in Arizona, and we were all there together! She’s definitely a home girl.

I look at my kids and wonder how it could be that they are, for all practical purposes, grown. And how they could be such home-bodies. Then I remember growing up, moving a lot, and home wasn’t really a place. Home was where Mama and Daddy were.

My energy level has been non-existent this week, partly because we found Elk Knob last Friday and hiked to the top and back. It’s a beautiful place. From the summit you can see up into Virginia–White Top and Mount Rogers; Roan Mountain (I think) in Tennessee; Grandfather Mountain, Beech, Mount Mitchell, and tons more North Carolina mountains. The hike will, one day, be very pleasant. It’s a new state park and the trail is under construction. The first little bit is very easy. Then the trail just ends and you’re left with an old logging road that goes straight up to the top. One mile and 1000 feet in elevation, straight up. It’s a difficult trek. Even the kids, who went lickety-split all the way up said later that it was a hard walk. I stopped several times, thinking I just couldn’t go another step. Then I’d muster up some courage or stupidity or something and go some more. Hubby kept encouraging me, feeding me blackberries. A few yards shy of the summit I sat down on a rock and just cried, saying “I can’t do this anymore. Let the fibromyalgia win. I quit.” (Actually I usually say “Let the Wookie win.” Our family lexicon would be frightenly dull without movie quotes!)

But it wasn’t the hike that I couldn’t do any more. I think I realized, for the first time, just how close we were to watching the first fledgling leave the nest. What I was really grieving was not the limitations of my stupid fibro. I was the end of my son’s childhood, and maybe the end of my “young” adulthood. He’s out there now, in the world, learning to make it on his own. Yes, we’re helping and we’re always here for him, like tomorrow after church when he’ll be here looking at the outside of our house and shaking his head, and then packing up more stuff from his room before he goes back to school. I guess you don’t really grasp how monumental the task of parenting is until you let the first one go. At least I didn’t.

So, about home. It has always bugged me to hear someone say something like “Look at the beautiful home.” It’s a house, definitely. It might be a home. Then again, it might not. A house is shelter. A home is relationship.

If you’re about my age and you grew up in this part of the country, then you might remember that Beech Mountain used to have a theme park at the top called “Land of Oz.” It’s gone now, but the gazebo is still there. Back in the day there was a sculpture of Dorothy and Toto in the center of the gazebo, with the quote from the movie:

if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!

For me, in terms of place, home is the mountains, even though I don’t live there now. But home is really where my family is. Home. It’s the messy house where I sit pecking away on my computer, listening to the TV as my little girl sits on the couch, gnawing on beef jerky. And where my husband is currently crashed in the bedroom after spending the day painting gutters. And it’s the house across the way where my mom lives now.

And, in spite of the messiness, it’s where I wanna be.

in the crowd

Wubby is graduated, and lived to tell about it. He almost didn’t because his grandma and mom and dad just about cleaned his clock before we left home Saturday morning. For some reason he just wasn’t in a hurry, even though he was supposed to be at the church auditorium where the ceremony was held AT LEAST 1 HOUR before things started. We left 90 minutes early, to make a 15 minute drive that took almost 30 minutes because of traffic (everyone else going to graduation), arrived to find an almost full parking lot and a line of parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. wrapped around the building. We headed for the crowd as Wubby joined his classmates inside.

As we stood in the crowd waiting for the doors to be opened, I noticed an old acquaintance of mine in the crowd ahead of us. Actually, he and I used to work together. Our sons were born about three months apart. Later in my career I worked FOR him. Then I left and went to work for another company two blocks over. He’s still at the same place; his job went from programming to managing to outsourcing. I guess he’s one of the few, maybe only, people left in the systems area. I wasn’t surprised to see him there. I knew his son was in Wubby’s class; they just didn’t run in the same crowds. But I was really surprised to see how he had aged since I’d seen him last. I like to think I don’t look my age (don’t burst my bubble here, please!), but he and his wife both seem to have aged way past their late-40s / early-50s actual age. I suppose outsourcing your friend’s and co-worker’s jobs could have that effect on you. Thank heavens I don’t know about that.

Once the actual ceremony began the teachers all came filing into the auditorium wearing their black robes and graduate hoods (those that have advanced degrees…) and another face in the crowd caught my eye. Another co-worker, from the same company and systems team, now teaches math at the high school. Again, I knew this. But seeing him, wearing the robe (no hood) on the faculty of the school where my daughter will be starting in August, threw me. He and I, how to say…….well, we worked together. Our families were friendly for a while. The working relationship, the family relationship, both, ended badly in that, hubby and I will not allow our daughter to be in any of his classes. He looked old too, and I’m older that he is.

As each of the 400+ graduates crossed the stage, he or she had an opportunity to “smile for the camera”, as the entire event was being professionally videotaped. Wubby was his somber, serious self. Other students gave various thumbs-up signals, etc. It was entertaining. More so were the various cheers offerred by parents, siblings, friends, etc. of the graduates. Individual applause was not allowed, but shouts of “Hallelujah!” et. al. were present in large numbers. The crowd favorite was a father who shouted “I love you!” as his son crossed the stage, then shouted even louder “Get a job!!!” as his son received his diploma. There were also families with kazoos and rehearsed cheers. The video should be a hoot.

So, for now, wubby is officially allowed to wear his cell phone on his belt if he chooses, go to the bathroom when he wants, without a hall pass, and various other things he couldn’t do in school. The class valedictorian recited an exhaustive list of these little jewels; I stole two of them. In addition, wubby has a job at the church, which means he’s getting paid to do something he would do for free. Except he did call me at home this morning to ask me something and prefaced his question with “I’m not trying to get you to do my job, you just know more about this than I do….” and then asked me to help him do part of his job, sort of.

At least he still asks.

Next week we’re heading to the Grand Canyon for a few days. Then it’s another 10 days and it’s off to teen camp in the mountains. Another three weeks or so and he’s off to college. And before we know it, his sister will be following right behind him.

But I can’t be this old!