Category: Help a woman out?

Cultural Summaries for the ’00s & ’90’s?

So as I was taking my car to get an oil change the other day, American Pie by Don McLean came on. I cranked it.

As I was riding home with my husband, and pondered the song, it occurred to me that song summarizes many cultural happenings from the 60’s into the early 70’s. Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire does something similar for the 50’s through the 80’s

In the early 90’s I made the switch to country music. Pop music was dominated by rap, techno and electronic music. I still wanted some guitar and harmonies in my music. Now that I have kids, I’m back listening to pop radio at least part of the time. Some of it is awful, some of it isn’t half bad (Fun., Pink to name a few).

I was wondering are there any songs that chronicle culture from the 90’s and the ’00’s?

Come on people help me out here.



Boys and Guns

'Gun' photo (c) 2011, Pedro Alonso - license: Mim is 8 and recently, his focus has switched from Lightening McQueen and Cars to Luke Sky Walker, Star Wars and Nerf guns.

The dog does her part to discourage the Nerf guns by nibbling on any foam bullets that get left on the floor (I take them from her before she swallows them), but it’s not even the shooting that he’s that enamored of. It’s more about holding the gun, cocking it. He has a Nerf rifle (a gift given to him by a family member with my permission) and the other day, I watched him cock it by dropping it to his side, like some macho military hero. Oh dear Lord I’m raising a Terminator!

Before you jump down my throat. I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-careless gun use. We don’t have a gun in the house, but that doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t have a gun it yours. So long as guns are cared for and treated with respect, I’m fine with them.

Respect is the issue I’m struggling with. How do I teach Mim to respect guns and their power. I don’t want to restrict his imaginary play by saying “No guns”, but I want to inform it. I understand the feeling of power when you hold a gun. He’s 8, he has so few opportunities to be all powerful and in control, he should be able to do so in his imaginative play. At the same time, imaginative play is where kids work out the issues they are struggling to grasp. It’s where they role play and try on different personas. It is were they practice being citizens of our society. I need him to understand that real guns come with responsibilities and if you aren’t responsible with a gun, there can be real and dire consequences. How do I do that in an age appropriate way?

I also worry in today’s bully aware society that a child who plays at pretending to shoot a gun and says “I’m going to kill you.” could land in real trouble. Mim is not a malicious kid, but he is not always as aware of the feelings of those around him as he could be. At times, he’s downright oblivious. I’d hate for some other child to be scared of him or worse take his play as a serious threat.

There is so much gun violence on TV and in video games. I don’t believe either is inherently bad, but like anything too much exposure to fantasy without any comprehension of reality is unhealthy and counterproductive to functioning as a successful individual in society.

I welcome feedback on this issue so long as it is respectful. You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am to mine. I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right and vice versa. The underlying question I am trying to address is how do I foster a healthy respect for guns in a manor that is age appropriate for an 8 year old and going forward? Be warned, I will delete comments I believe to be inflammatory. It’s my blog, I can do that 🙂

Weight Loss Check-In

Bathroom Scalephoto © 2010 Paul H | more info (via: Wylio)Thank you to everyone commented on my this post both here and on Facebook. I appreciate your support and I liked hearing your stories. If I am to believe my scale, I’ve already lost five pounds. I think my scale is fudging just a little. First off, no two scales will ever give the same reading, even if you step off of one and immediately step on to the other. I’ve weighted myself on three different scales in the last ten days (only once by my own choice, long story). The other component of this weight loss is most definitely attributable to monthly water loss if you know what I mean. I do think I’ve lost some “real” weight, but I’d guess it is closer to a pound or a pound an a half. Either way, I’ll take it.

Exercisewise, this week was rough. It was a combination of things, Daylight Savings Time kicking my butt, a sore throat bug and stress. Since I’m thinking all three of these things will continue to occur on a regular basis, I need to find ways to overcome.

On the bright side, I’ve been good about my food journal but I haven’t eaten as well as I could have. One night I ate four Do-Si-Dos (Peanut Butter Sandwich Girl Scout Cookies) because I was so hungry and it was the only snack I that “appealed” to me. At times it is as if a part of me is fighting this new way of thinking and I sabotage myself. It is as if, that part of me realizes I’m serious this time and change is imminent and that part is pouting with fists full of chocolate bars and stamping it’s feet like a child saying “HELL NO I WON’T GO”!

20070928 thai wraps 02photo © 2007 Jennifer | more info (via: Wylio) Odd, because overall, I’m feeling positive about exercising more and finding ways to feed my cravings without completely depriving myself of the foods I love. To the latter point, I ordered myself some Choffy this week (an awesome low cal caffeine free way to fulfill my “need” for chocolate) and I’ve discovered that lettuce makes a pretty good holder for sandwich stuffin’ like tunafish with veggies.

I had a major epiphany this morning while updating a friend on a family member’s health. I say of the family member, “he talks a good game, but she is just making excuses” (pronouns changed to protect the guilty :)). It hit me like a board in the face this morning, OMG, am I doing the same thing? At times, yes. I should have skipped the !#%@ cookies and had some almonds. There is no law on the books that says you can’t have the same healthy snack two times in one day and seriously six almonds would have most assuredly been better for me than the four cookies.

On the bright side, I have run three days of Couch to 5K and enjoyed it every time. I love being outside again. I found a few videos on Netflix that I like and I have one of Leslie Sansone’s walking DVDs waiting to be tested (Hat Tip to The Blog Antagonist for the Leslie Sansone reco). I rode my bike for 3 muddy miles with my daughter last weekend too.  Can’t wait to do more of that!

In case you hadn’t guessed, I am an impatient perfectionist. If I read this like a friend wrote it, I want to hug her and cheer her on and say “Great start! Good realization, do something constructive with it! Keep up the good work”, and yet here I sit annoyed that I ate four cookies the other night. Sometimes I guess I’m my own worst enemy! One battle at a time I guess.

Sam’s Story

This post is part two of a follow up to an earlier post I wrote about at Self Magazine article on how isolating infertility can be. You can read my infertility story  part one and part two. A friend read my first post and offered to share her story with me.

Swing, swing, © 2010 Julie V | more info (via: Wylio)Like many women, Sam was surprised and pleased when quickly she became pregnant with her first child. Twenty-eight and happily married, she an her husband conceived their daughter A with only a couple of months of “practice”. About 3 years later, they decided they were ready expand their family again.

Hello secondary infertility,

Mother Nature had other plans. After a year of practice with no success, Sam was getting mixed messages from the medical field. Some said she hadn’t tried long enough, others said it was time to see a specialist. Sam trusted her gut and went the specialist route. Sam and her husband endured the usual battery of diagnostic tests with no conclusive results. Sam even endured the dreaded hyserosalpingogram (HSG) sans ibuprofen! The doctors prescribed Clomid and the mixed messages persisted. She was told her infertility was due to PCOS (this would later be disproved), she was told is was due to her weight (after losing forty pounds she STILL didn’t get pregnant).

Throughout this process, despite being close to her family, she didn’t share her struggles with them. Her husband was very supportive, but still she felt ashamed and wondered ‘What’s wrong with me?’. She wondered is her family was complete. Something told her no, she wasn’t finished having kids yet, so she shouldered on.

The next level of drugs her doctor was recommending was not covered by her insurance. A nurse at her doctor’s office recommended her for a study where IVF and the associated drugs would be paid for. It was time for some soul searching. She and her husband weighed the issues including the practical, travel and the logistics as well as the more complex, the higher risk of multiples and the issue of who would get custody of any unused embroys? Suddenly it wasn’t just “making a baby”. After many heart to heart talks Sam decided she couldn’t go through with the study. Her husband was relieved and supported her decision whole heartedly. In November, she stopped taking all medications and went about enjoying her daughter that much more.

One chilly December morning, she made her morning coffee and was utterly repulsed by the smell. At first she questioned the coffee and wondered what she did wrong. Belatedly it occurred to her that she hadn’t be able to stomach coffee while pregnant with her daughter. Bingo! Her son D was born the following August after 22 hours of labor. Six years after his sister.

Looking back, Sam is grateful for the support of her husband and the nurses at her infertility doctor’s office, but still it was a lonely time. Her advice to women struggling with infertility is to reach out, to find support. It is a very personal problem, but it can be less of a burden with support. Take the time to build a support system that works for you. She also advises educating yourself and advocating for your needs politely, but strongly.

After D’s birth, Sam knew her family was complete. She admits the age gap presents challenges, but deep down her children love each other and she’s grateful to have them both.

What Camera Should I Buy?

I love pictures. The advent of digital photography has been a boon to a snap happy fool like me. I can snap away and delete the junk (and there is a lot of junk) without any real penalty.

I have a decent Cannon PowerShot point and shoot camera. My biggest complaint about point and shoot cameras is their over reliance on the flash. I much prefer natural or ambient light, but in many circumstances, those are hard to maximize with a point and shoot camera. I’m not Jenna or Casey, but I’ve got a decent eye and sometimes my execution is even good.

Sometimes, not so much.

It was while trying to capture these photos in Washington that I said to my husband. “It is time to move up to the next level of camera.” I just can’t get the control I want with a point and shoot.

Here’s where I need your help. I need help figuring out which camera to buy. When I walk into any retailer that sells cameras, it is instant overwhelm. I’ve read review sites, but most contain far more technical babble than I can decode. So, I’m hoping if I tell you about the pictures I like to take and my learning style you and your collective wisdom can point me in the right direction (no pun intended).

I take memento photos (us on vacation, my kids on stage), but more and more, I’m interested in candid shots from a distance and scenery shots.

I also tend to hang around with people who are extremely sensitive to bright light. So, learning to maximize ambient light would be a huge plus.

I need a camera that will allow for manual settings as well as auto because sometimes let’s face it you only have time to grab the camera and push the button. However, I plan on keeping my PowerShot. It lives in my purse and will continue to do so. This other camera will be for the more predictable “Kodak Moments”.

I taught myself PhotoShop years ago, I had a book that showed you how to make textures. I learned about the different functions and features by doing. I’ll likely be the same way with photography. I’ll see a shot and tinker with the settings until I get what I want. So, settings should be fairly easy to manipulate. An the view screen should be a good size. I am have problems seeing detail clearly at a distance, so the ability to take the shot via the view screen is a must.

I would like to be able to change lenses and tinker a little there too.

I don’t need video functionality although it appears to be hard to get away from it.

This is not going to be an instant purchase, and I don’t want to drop a HUGE chunk of change, but I’m looking at this as an investment since writer’s make more money when they can supply photographs too. I don’t need bells and whistles and sirens. Just a few bells and maybe a whistle would be nice.

Camon Vs. Nikon? Olympus? Sony? I’ve been Canon most of my life, so I’m familiar with their menu structures and since I’m not anywhere near professional, I won’t notice the color variations. I’m inclined to stay with Canon based on familiarity, but am open to alternate suggestions as well.

So dear reader, what do you recommend?

Kids and Funerals

How do you explain death to a child? How do you help them come to understand the diversity of human reactions to death, dying and grief? At ten, Fish is starting to experience death. One of her grandfather’s passed almost two years ago, and this winter, we lost our beloved dog Daisy. Death is natural and it happens to all of us, so I think as a parent, it is part of my job description to teach my kids how to manage death and grief. Still those aren’t easy lessons to teach.

We have an opportunity at hand. A member of my husband’s extended family passed away last week. The wake and funeral are this week and we have decided to take Fish to both events. She knew the woman, but they weren’t close. To my way of thinking this is a good way of introducing her to the rituals and diverse reactions to death in a way where she can be a slightly detached observer rather than an emotionally overwhelmed participant (Dennis used to say funerals are for the living).

Fish is fortunate to be loved and cared for by many people who are a generation a head of me (how’s THAT for diplomatic). Both of my parents are still alive as are Aunts and Uncles to whom we are close. A-Man’s Mom and her husband live right next door. The upside is that Fish has access to lots of love and benefits from their collective wisdom in her life regularly, the downside is she’s got a lot of funerals in her future.

I hope we are doing the right thing by exposing her this early. My thinking and I know this sounds morose, is that in all likelyhood, the next death we encounter will be someone much closer to us. She’s the kind of kid who does better when she knows what to expect. I don’t feel there is anything to be gained from shielding her from death. My hope is to give her the knowledge she needs to be as comfortable as possible. Death is never easy, but I hope by introducing her to the process and expectations now, She will be better prepared when she is truly overwhelmed with grief.

I hope this doesn’t sound at all disrespectful. I need to be clear, that we would be going to the wake and the funeral anyway and that there will be other children (her cousins) there. I also want to say that the deceased was a teacher, so I’m thinking she’d understand 🙂

How were you introduced to death, funerals and grief?

UPDATE: The wake was Tuesday and the funeral was yesterday. Fish was fine. A little bored at times, but she took the experience in stride. As far as funerals go, this wasn’t one of the more emotional ones I’ve been too. There were tears and there was most definitely sadness, but there was also recognition of a life well lived.

I’m glad she went.  I think we made the right decision. WHEW!


Allow me to set the scene. It is the end of the day. I’ve spent the afternoon at swimming lessons and grocery shopping with Mim and have just picked up Fish from Girl Scouts. She’s giggly with her friend while we walk to the car. As we get in the car, Mim asks Fish if her friend has an younger brother. “No, she has an annoying younger sister like you.” I call foul on that comment. Once we buckle up, she’s moody and stares out the window.

“Ok, what’s up?” I ask at home as we get out of the car. I’ve sent Mim into the house in an effort to grab a minute of one on one time.

“It’s HIM she nods her head towards the house. He’s just so . . . embarrassing! He acts so cool and he’s not! He embarrasses me in front of my friends. I want the old Mim back.”

I’m immediately defensive. “Oh” I say, walking away. “I thought something was really wrong.” Oh yeah, there’s my nomination for the mother of the year award.

I’ve heard this is standard faire between siblings, but I have no personal experience in this area. Here in, lies the rub. I was an only child. I would have liked to have had a sibling but for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t meant to be. When A-man and I talked about having kids, I was clear, that I wanted kids but that I would entertain the idea of not having kids. However, if there was one, there would be two. I didn’t want to raise another only child. It was a bit of a lonely childhood and frankly a royal pain in the a$$ in adulthood. I have PCOS, so we had to work to have one. We tried unsuccessfully for a year an a half to have a second. Ultimately, I resigned myself to raising an only and I moved on with other life plans. Six weeks later, I was pregnant with my Mim (yes, I am one of THOSE annoying fertility stories).

They are four years and two months apart and all in all, they get a long very well. At times the age difference is a challenge, but mostly it works. A-man and I make a conscious effort to have quality time with both kids alone and together. Fish generally is an awesome big sister. She looks out for him and he worships the ground she walks on. I also try to be sure she has alone time with her friends.

After I collected my thoughts, I went to talk to her. I know her brother can be frustrating. That child frequently stomps on my last nerve. I wholeheartedly agree he can be embarrassing. Fortunately, he’s young enough that the expressions and attitudes he regurgitates from his favorite video game (Cars) are still considered cute. He can be loud and bossy and short tempered. But, he’s her brother and he’s not going away.

So, dear readers, what advice do you have for me? I hope that overall, they will continue to get along, but I suspect as we meander through the teen years this is going to be minefield we revisit regularly. To some extent I want to validate her feelings, but lets face it, he’s a little brother. From what I gather, it is his JOB to embarrass her.

Suggestions? Cautionary tales? Anecdotes I can use to illustrate that she’s not alone in this? HELP!!

Photo credit: Target Portrait Studios.  FWIW, they do an awesome job!