Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Freedom Riders celebrate their 50th Anniversary

It's hard to believe that fifty years ago in the United States of America segregation was alive.  Yesterday, commemorated the anniversary of the very first bus to leave Washington D.C. for the south, to challenge segregation.  The first Freedom Ride was filled with civil rights activists of all races that were heading down into the deep south to see if Boynton vs Virgina would be upheld.

These young men and women felt a NEED to fight for racial equality.  In fact, they were willing to risk their lives for it.

When these buses reached the south, they were met with medal pipes, clubs, chains, and worse some of them were set on fire.  The KKK and even local authorities refused to accept the rights of the freedom rides.  Many turned a blind eye to the violence.  Others participated.  The police threw the passive riders in jail.

The freedom riders also sat together in segregated restaurants and other establishments.  They forced this nation to truly examine why "separate but equal" was unacceptable!

I think this is a great teaching tool for our children.  It's not the history lesson, but the personal one.  I always tell my children that it begins with one voice.  One voice to stand up and say "don't do that."  The freedom riders are an example of that.

Bullying is rampant in our schools today, and we should teach our children to stand up for each other.  It begins with talking to them about doing the right thing.

"I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. "  George C. Wallace, Governor of Alabama

"In many ways, history is marked as 'before' and 'after' Rosa Parks. She sat down in order that we all might stand up, and the walls of segregation came down."  Jesse Jackson

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cancer- signs and symptons you should not ignore!

I was diagnosed with stage 2b Cervical Cancer just over two years ago.  It was a highly aggressive.  I had a pap smear in December that was clear, and was confirmed with a pap smear in April.  I could have caught it sooner, but I ignored the signs.  I had heart burn and bloating that was persistent, nothing seemed to treat it.  It took me too long to see my internist.

I put myself last.  Two years later I am still fighting this battle, but it might have been different.  Please read the most common sign that women ignore, so you won't be one them.

When your newborn baby gets the sniffles, what do you do?  You pick up the phone and call your pediatrician.  Then you bring the poor baby into the doctor's office so they can have a look and tell you to steam up the bathroom and your baby is really and truly JUST FINE.  But you still needed the peace of mind that came with the doctor actually seeing your child in person.

Over time some mothers relax.  We treat fevers and stomach bugs at home, perhaps just a few conversations to check in with our pediatricians.  Different moms have different sick child styles, and as long as you get your children to the doctor when it's serious that's fine.

So, why is it that we seem to put ourselves last?  Most children never miss their annual physicals, in fact schools and camps won't allow it.  My son's school will not let him return without a doctor's note if he's been absent for more than three days.  There are checks and balances in place to guarantee that we are taking care of our kids in every way possible- these days they are even checking their BMIs.  What are we doing for ourselves?

Somehow, moms always fall to the bottom of the list.  When we get sick, we can't call our boss and say that we're not coming in to work!  But are we ignoring more serious signs of illness?  Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body.

Here are some of the warnings that you SHOULD NOT IGNORE!

1.  Weight loss- more than 10 pounds in one month (if you are not dieting).  Unexplained weight loss is sure sign that something IS seriously wrong!  Make sure that your doctor rules out thyroid problems and Cancer!

2.  Bloating- this should not occur every day (especially if it goes along with abdominal pain or pelvic pain and increased need to urinate).  This is the number one sign of Ovarian Cancer!

3.  Changes in your breasts- a rash, hardening, inverting of the nipples (excluding when you are breastfeeding) any changes of the skin texture can indicate a very rare, but series form of Breast Cancer.  Always check for lumps!

4.  Bleeding between periods- this is NOT normal (unless this is always your normal), neither is bleeding after menopause.  This can indicate Endometrial Cancer, Colon Cancer, Rectal issues or other GI issues. 

5.  Fatigue.  Prolonged or persistent fatigue is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong.  A battle is going on inside.  This battle could very way be physical or mental, but if you are tired during the day for more than three weeks, you need to see a doctor.

6.  Do you see white patches in your mouth?  Do you or have you ever smoked?  These white spots, especially on your tongue can indicate a precancerous condition called leukoplakia that can progress to oral cancer.

7.  Blood.  If you find blood in fluid where it does not belong, save it and get it checked out.  That means in your urine, stool, and phlegm.

8.  Pain.  I know that sounds vague, but pain can indicate many things.  Some pain goes along with Cancer, others can point to a neurological condition.  More simply sometimes pain comes from fatigue and depression.

9.  Constant indigestion or heartburnRED FLAG!  Cancer of the throat, esophagus, or stomach.

10.  Difficulty swallowing- perhaps it seems minor and you've changed your diet.  You are eating softer foods, more liquids etc- this indicates a GI issue!

11.   Persistent stomach ache?  Does it feel like a gnawing pain?  Do you feel depressed?  See an GI and ask about Pancreatic Cancer.

12.  Lymph node changes.  If you have a swollen lymph node that stays that way, or gets larger over a period of weeks or longer, see your doctor- that need to perform a biopsy.

13.  Fever.  Fevers in adults are rare, and do indicate an infection.  They are also a sign that Cancer has spread or of a blood Cancer.  If your fever persists, see the doctor.

14.  Changes in skin pigmentation- we all know to watch for moles, but even slight changes in skin tone can be the first clue to skin Cancer.

"The name of the game is taking care of yourself, because you're going to live long enough to wish you had."  Grace Mirabella

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hats Off!

It wouldn't be a proper wedding without a sea of hats in Westminster Abbey.  And I wouldn't be me, if I didn't have something to say about the good the bad and the ugly!

The standouts of the day had to be the daring duo, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.  These two royal brats' hats were startling to say the least.  Beatrice's hat looked like it was inspired by Georgia O'Keefe- if I had to title her hat, I'd call it, "Vaginal Bulls Eye."  Oh, and her poor sister Eugenie.  An over sized, ultra-marine, pill box hat with everything and the kitchen sink thrown on top!  Hmm, were they protesting the fact that their mother, Fergie was not invited?  Or don't they own a mirror?
 On to Miriam Gonzalez Durantez.  Is this a hat, or a turban?  She is being swallowed from all ends!  Don't even get me started on the polka-dots...
Hail to the Queen.  She was perfectly understated in a canary yellow silk shift paired with a matching hat adorned with hand made roses. By the way, did you check out her Queen Mary's True Lovers Knot?

Kate's mother, Carole was simple, classy and looked perfectly lovely (as the English would say) in a piece designed by Catherine Walker, one of Diana's favorite designers.  Her hat was a disc designed by Jane Corbett.  All in all, it was refreshing and a great choice for the Mother of the Bride.

Now for the step-mother of the Groom, Camilla.  Let's take an unbiased look here, forgetting all that we know and may or may not like about her.  She does look somewhat matriarchal - and not in a good way...a little too fuddy-duddy.  I almost thought that her hat had the look of a fancy, folded restaurant napkin coming off the top.  She could have done better (but let's face it- based on some of the hats from her past, she could have done worse).
David and Victoria Beckham- bravo.  Each with their hats in tow.  Victoria's hat was fab!  Dainty and daring all at once.  On the other hand, Posh designed her own maternity dress, and I did feel it was a little drab for the occasion...

Here comes the next royal bride, Zara and her fiance Phillip.  I'm torn over her ensemble for the day.  Her overcoat makes her looks as if she's prepared to defend off heat seeking missiles, or hop the next shuttle to the moon.  I do like the hat...from the profile, but not straight on.  Straight on you get the sense that the hat's eaten all of her hair and about to consume her face!
Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue...clearly Tar Palmer-Tomkinson was something blue today!  Shocking, electric blue from head to toe.  She matched her diamond pill box hat, to her opera length gloves, to her dress, to her wrap down to her shoes...matchy matchy is a no no.
In general, Autumn Phillips and Lady Frederick Windsor basically sum up the look of the day.  Ladies in shift coats (in case of rain), dressed in pastels or simple singular color schemes.  Men were required to wear Dress Uniforms or Mourning attire and of course every woman must don a hat in the abbey.  But for every rule, there is always someone to disobey...

This time around it was the British Prime Minister's wife, Samantha Cameron who spit in the face of tradition and opted not to sport a hat in favor of a beaded barrette and platform heels from Aldo!

Finally, I would be remiss to end this entry without commenting on Kate, err Catherine's gown.  It's a classic silhouette with modern construction detail.  Absolutely timeless.  It immediately reminded me to the scene from the Sound of Music when Julie Andrew is walking down the aisle to marry Captain Von Trapp (that and it had a Grace Kelly feel).

If you would like to learn more about Catherine's dress, or anything else regarding the wedding, Wills and Kate have their own Royal website with tons of details!  here's the link:


"Women wearing hats are at once sophisticated and whimsical....Their faces are younger and softer.  They carry themselves differently, daintily, like deer.  Their voices flutter a bit...even when they are talking about things like money and power and work, even when it's clear they're very much in charge of their lives." (from "O" Magazine)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Take my child...please! (I mean to work day)

So, as you may or may not know- and clearly IF you are my husband and/ or my husband's employer of over 12,000 you fall into the NOT category- today is national Take Your Child To Work Day.  I also have to add here that my husband's employer prides themselves on being a "FAMILY FRIENDLY" company- if that were the case, my kids would have gone to work today, right?

Instead, we are going to prepare a very interactive dinner and learn about all of the things that Mommy does!  Which is just fine.  Mind you, this day falls on a day when I'm not working out of the home, and if I have to be truly honest, I'm not really working much in the home either...

Take your child to work day kind of caught me by surprise too...but I'm not going to let on to that!  The original idea of this day is to load up the kids, on the train or in the car, let the know how the commute goes, let all the people that you work with (outside of the house) see how cute and adorable your kids are IN PERSON, take them out for lunch, then cut out early- right?  This is my husband's job for today.

Now I just have more work!  Yesterday, I had a big work event AND I cleaned the house, dealt with the plumber, the landscaper and the laundry. 

I save Thursdays.  You see, Thursdays I need to save up all the energy I can.  My kids come home from school really cranky.  The long week is catching up to them, the big spelling test is tomorrow.  The weekend still feels like it's far away.  They're exhausted from sports.  They need their mommy.  I need to be fresh and ready to receive them with open arms and understanding- not tons of to-dos around the house.

That brings me back to take my kids to work.  I sincerely believe that a mother's job is the hardest job IN THE WORLD.  We are on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  We are doctors, chefs, teachers, actresses, therapists, housekeepers, engineers, movers, vets, singers, referees, laundresses, musicians, cheerleaders, chauffeurs, bakers, coaches, repair women, athletes, story tellers, memory makes, boo boo fixers, stylists, architects, gardeners, umpires, role models, mothers and sometimes fathers, disciplinarians, captains, leaders, police, firemen, baby makers - we are their everything and more.

So what did I decide to teach my two boys this rainy Thursday afternoon?

Here's my plan.  I'm taking out all of my extra sheets and building the best fort my living room!  When we get home, we are all going to climb into the fort, put on our pjs and watch their favorite movie curled up together under the covers.  For dinner?  Pizza!  Then we're all going to sleep in our fort in sleeping bags on my living room floor- even my husband (he'll hate this)!

So, why did I pick this?  The best lesson that I can teach them is to be spontaneous.  That once in blue moon it's okay to brake a rule (if mommy's in on it).  This is a memory they will have forever.  Besides, how much longer will they be willing to sleep on the floor with me?

"We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up."  -Christopher Morley

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Golden Rules for Children??? hmmm

Our household lives under its own Bill of Rights.  I began drafting them around eight years ago when my son was old enough crawl across the room and snatch a toy out of an innocent playmates chubby fists.  My son was a speed crawler, and a grabby SOB!

The first rule was :
Share our Toys

My guidelines are not elaborate.  I strive to keep them age appropriate.  The truth is that they probably protect "the others" more than my kids.  But they teach life lessons.  Concepts and ideas that take years to master, and do not come naturally.

Ward and June we're not.  But who wants their kids to be known as the "naughty boys"???

We've spend a lot of time discussing our "rules"- and yes, many of these discussions take place while my children are seated on the bottom step in a time out.  Well, not so much anymore.  I just wanted to raise nice human beings.

Here are some of our rules:

No hitting
No biting
No kicking
No pulling hair
No lying
Always say please and thank you
Say excuse me (after you burp, fart or when an adult is speaking and you interrupt them)
Always say "I'm sorry" and make eye contact

These are basic rules of etiquette.  Over the last few years I have been truly shocked by some of the behavior exhibited by other people's children in my home.  One seven year old boy told me to F-off when I said he couldn't have a soda with his snack (our kids don't get soda)!  I asked him if he's allowed to use that language in his house- he said..."F- yeah!"

I feel that my expectations are realistic.

I have to wonder, have we lowered our expectations?  Below are the "rules" that the Girl Scouts Bicentennial Historical Activity Book published.  How does your family compare?  My personal favorite is the last!!  lol

Twelve Golden Rules for Children
(from the 1880's)

1. Shut every door after you without slamming it.

2. Never shout in the house.

3. Never call to persons upstairs or in the next room; if you wish to speak to them, go to them.

4. Always be kind and polite to servants if you would have them the same to you.

5. When told to do or not to do a thing, by either parent, never object and obey cheerfully.

6. You may tell of your faults and misdoings, but not of those of your brothers and sisters.

7. Carefully clean your shoes before entering the house.

8. Be prompt at every meal hour, especially so in the morning, and thus cultivate the habit of rising early.

9. Never sit down at the table or in the parlor with soiled hands or disheveled hair

10. Never interrupt any conversation, but wait patiently your turn to speak.

11. Never reserve your good manner for company, but be equally polite at home and abroad.

12. Let your first, last and best friend be your mother.
Love to hear how it works in your house!

"Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."  Bill Gates

Sunday, April 24, 2011

These Boys are Making me Grey!

When I was pregnant with my first son, I got my first grey hair when I was fifteen weeks along.  I had preterm labor, and was hospitalized numerous times.  The pregnancy was tenuous to say the least.  By the time I delivered our child (seven weeks premature) I not only had a fair share of grey, but wrinkles as well!

Little did I know that the stress I experienced before I ever met my child face to face, would not even compare to the anxiety and nausea produced by the antics of raising two young boys.

I have been a mother for eight years, but I was also the youngest of four.  My siblings were all boys.  Are boys more accident prone?  Maybe.  Here's what I think...

Birth order absolutely determines how your son will approach every tree he climbs.  As a new mom when my son's binky falls on the floor, I'd wash it- by the time the second child came around I had declared the "five second rule."  This was pretty much how I raised them overall.

My first son is definitely more cautious, even anxious at times.  He loves to have adventures, but he is very organized and methodical in his approach.  On the other hand, my second is always racing to keep up.  He hates the thought of being considered a "baby."  He is a natural athlete, and already scarred from head to toe.  (i.e. the two staples he received in his scalp yesterday)!

My husband is an only child.  He has never broken a bone, doesn't have a scar or stitch on his body.  Talk about over-cautious.  He used to take a bath with a visor on his head until he was seven because he was afraid of getting water in his eyes!  To avoid that fear that I dumped buckets of water on our boys head from the beginning- I mean COME ON! 

Maybe raising girls means more tea parties and fewer trips to the ER.  I was born to raise boys, and I love their energy.  It also means that I carry a first aid kit everywhere I go!

 "Men blames fate for other accidents, but feels personally responsible when he makes a hole in one."  author unknown

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Anatomy of a Facebook Affair

A double edged sword?  A gift and a curse?  A door to your past...

Facebook is all of these things, and so much more.

How many annoying invites to join your mafia or water your garden do you have to send me?  While I may be a stay at home mom, and clearly you think I don't have anything to do all day long (and maybe I don't) I still don't want to play farmville because I'd rather be napping!!!

 Now that I have a facebook profile, people keep finding me.  They send you invitations to be their "friends."  Let's be honest about this- it's awkward, right?  Oh, hey like we were in the same third grade class and I sat behind you, we never spoke but let's be facebook friends?  Um, I'm gonna pass.

Instead, I have to post pictures and announce my relationship status, and list all of my family and friends- and oh- update everyone regularly on my happenings!

Reading some people's status updates is like watching paint dry...boring!  "scratching my ass"  "grocery shopping"  "can't think of anything to say, but wanting to post here anyway"

Really?  Facebook is the internet's NUMBER ONE time-sink! 

And that brings me to the last dangerous aspect of Zuckerberg's social experiment- your ex is on facebook.

It's understandable that locked away in some part of our minds we all have a secret compartment, a tiny area that rarely gets triggered because it's all in the past.  A past that we shared with someone else.  BEFORE we were married.  Before we had children.

With websites like facebook our past is easily accessible- too easily for some.  Old boyfriends come out of the woodwork, and in some cases women are like termites, going in search of their past flames.

The thinking is that catching up with an ex is okay- but would you have picked up the telephone to catch up if facebook didn't exist?  Taking this first step, is just that A FIRST STEP.

Flirting online is the beginning of an emotional affair.  Where do you intend to go from there?  Once you put your words out into cyberspace, they are forever out there.

So the question that I put out there today is, was he worth it?

"New York is definitely haunted.  Old lovers, ex-boyfriends, anyone you have unresolved issues with you are bound to run into again and again."  Sarah Jessica Parker