I want to start by giving you all an idea of how the world was when I was in high school. I graduated in 1983. We didn’t have cell phones, and our computers looked like this:
Madonna was still a virgin, the Brat Pack and Molly Ringwald ruled the screen and BIG hair was the look. Along with acid washed jeans, parachute pants, leg warmers and banana clips.
My memory of high school has never been great. I wasn’t the kid who had a “bestie” all through school that I still keep in touch with. In fact, I didn’t even have a best friend who lasted throughout my entire high school career. I had some good friends in 8th grade who were still my friends in high school, but we drifted apart, and weren’t such good friends by Sophomore year. I had different friends in Sophomore year than I had in Junior and Senior year.
I wasn’t particularly pretty or athletic. I was in the band, and in theater. I definitely was not part of the popular crowd. They sat at the lunch tables right next to the doors leading out of the cafeteria. I sat FAR from those tables.
I don’t remember hanging with the same crowd during the four years I was there, nor do I remember really having a great time. I was full of angst, making my mother crazy, getting into trouble and always pushing the limits.
There were “cliques” in high school, the jocks, the brains, the stoners, the cheerleaders, and the whole earth kids. I didn’t belong to any of those groups. In fact, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I tried to fit in, but never really did.
After high school I went into the Navy, left the town I grew up in and never really looked back. My parents lived there for a few years after I joined, so I would go back to visit them and would occasionally run around town, but I never reconnected with the kids I went to school with. Then my parents moved from Connecticut, and I haven’t been back since.
Of course we had high school reunions I knew about, but I never felt any desire to go. High school was not a fun time for me. Kids were mean to me. I was called names (I was large breasted and “two ton tittie” was a favorite of some). I was shunned and teased by my some kids in my homeroom class (thanks to one of my older brother’s girlfriends), and in my mind a reunion just meant more of the same.
As the years went by, technology changed, the internet was born, and a website called “Classmates” emerged. Of course I checked it out. I suppose it was my voyeuristic need to see what “everyone else” was doing. These were the early years of the internet, and unless you paid for a “gold” membership you really couldn’t see anyone’s profile. I did reconnect with a girl I had been friends with in 9th grade. I even went to visit her in Kentucky when I was driving through to go to an Amway conference. (Yes I did Amway, but that is a story for another day).
Fast forward a few years. The internet has grown, and Facebook was born. Of course, just like everyone else I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, and got started. I reconnected with dozens of people from my years in the Navy, and then started slowly reconnecting to people from high school. Remember this was 2004, and by this time I was in my 39, as were all the other people I had graduated with. I have to admit I was surprised by some of the people who wanted to “friend” me. These people were not my friends in high school that I remembered. Some of them had not been very nice to me. Why did they want to be my friend now? It made me start to think that the kids who were mean to me didn’t remember being mean. I remembered.
Then a strange thing happened. Facebook started changing my memories. People would send me messages like, “when we were in high school you were always so friendly and always said hello to me. You were so nice.” Or, “I remember you talking to me when I was having a hard time, and you really helped me.” I even had someone send me a message that was, “I know you don’t know this, but high school was really hard for me, and you were one of the only people who was really nice to me. I will never forget that, You meant a lot to me. Thank you!” That one really floored me because I had no recollection of that event, but it solidified my belief that we don’t always know the impact we have on people, positive or negative.
I once described myself on Facebook as an “average Jane”, to which a classmate said my perception of myself was funny because she would describe me as anything but an average Jane. That surprised me as well. In fact recently I reconnected on Facebook with a classmate who is a successful author, blogger, freelance writer and radio show host. I had made a comment about the negative comments on the Huffington Post article I was in, and she said that she really liked the article and thought I always had something interesting to say! I was floored. I couldn’t believe she had even noticed me. She was a popular girl in school, and is a bestselling author today!
It made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who struggled and felt alone, or awkward. I was a nice person in school who had a positive impact on people’s lives. I am sure I probably had some negative ones also, but nobody has come forward to yell at me…… yet.
So this year when a 30 year high school reunion was announced, I decided to go. I have to admit I am a little nervous. The crowd I “hung out” with in school isn’t going, and I wonder if anyone will sit with me or talk to me. Just because they seem to like me on Facebook doesn’t mean they will want to talk to me in real life. Will they all be too busy with the high school buddies they have stayed friends with all through the years? Bluebell is going with me, and surprisingly my two teens want to go for the weekend as well, to see where I grew up, and hang at the beach.
Reconnecting with people on Facebook has given me the courage to go check it out and I think I will have a good time. It changed my perception of high school and the other people who wandered those halls with me. Now I will go see if my changed perceptions are true. Wish me luck!!
By Carol Rood
When my children were young I took them on vacations. It was a struggle as they were still in diapers. As a matter of fact, I took Joe Cool on a family vacation to Barbados and Puerto Rico when he was almost two, and I took both of them on vacation to Puerto Rico when Joe Cool was 4 and The Genius was 2. I potty trained The Genius while on that vacation. I just let him walk around diaper-less, and within a week he had it figured out. Don’t judge, we were in a house with no carpeting so clean up was easy.
I took them on vacation as they became older as well. I have taken them to the Poconos, Shenandoah, and Orlando (a few times). They have always enjoyed themselves and since we usually stay at RCI resorts they have participated in activities like arts and crafts, putt putt golf, basketball, etc while we were on vacation.
Last week we took them to Massanutten Resort for Spring Break. We arrived, brought in the luggage and groceries and this is where the two older teens ended up:
On day two it was pretty quiet. We did get them out of the condo to go to the Massanutten indoor water park. But they wanted to come home after only 2 hours because “It is boring and the little kids are annoying” This is what they did the rest of the day:
The Genius (who is 13) was not happy because he was having a good time and the older teens ruined his fun. (Don’t worry I bought him a three day pass and made sure he went back and enjoyed himself two more times).
On day 3 we all went and made tie dye shirts.
Then the older teens spent the rest of the day like this:
On Day 6 we got them out of bed to go out just for a couple of hours. Joe Cool and The Genius went ziplining. Otherwise they spent the day like this:
Fun right? Sigh…
On the other hand, Joe Cool, Bluebell and I had a ball! We made tie dyed shirts, we played Candy Bag Bingo.
We went to the rec center and played pinball. I worked out and walked. Bluebell took two camera classes.
The Genius made glycerin soap:
He made a stepping stone:
And won this super cool light playing games in the arcade.
His older brother even spent some quality time one evening teaching him how to play Black Ops….oh joy!
I did get the older two boys out a couple of times.
But The Genius had a ball!
I may just take only The Genius on vacation next time!
At least he gets out of bed.
By Carol Rood
You can never be exactly sure about what is going on inside your body. Well, there are the obvious things, like hunger pains and gas…. but beyond that, it is impossible to really have a clear picture of how healthy our organs are, or how our blood looks, or exactly how things are functioning. Of course we know when they STOP functioning, but what about when things are “okay”, but maybe not perfect?
For example, what if your lungs had some spots that were unhealthy because when you were younger you decided to cave to peer pressure and smoked cigarettes for 15+years? (I am talking about a friend here….duh.) Or if you decided to smoke marijuana a couple of times just to “check it out” (ummmm duh, a friend again)? Or maybe you even might have tried something harder once (FRIEND…OKAY?? Sheesh!). We can’t look into our bodies and see what kind of damage these choices may have caused.
What about the people who have illnesses due to no fault of their own, but just because it is that way for them? What about time bombs that are just ticking away, like cancer, or heart disease, high cholesterol, or a stroke. Just waiting until your guard is down to strike and cause havoc in your life and those of your loved ones. Too bad we can’t have some sort of see-through window that doctors can use to determine what might happen to us and our bodies, so we can prepare.
My point is that we never know what is going on inside us. Maybe that is a good thing, maybe not.
About four years ago Bluebell began having headaches. Every day. All day. They were worse if she coughed, or sneezed, or bent over to tie her shoes. I made her go to the Primary Care doctor. They sent her to a neurologist. He ordered an MRI. We were called back to the Primary Care doctor. She brought us in, and told us she did not know what was causing Bluebell’s headaches, but they had found a “tumor” in her brain while they were doing the MRI, and Bluebell would be sent to a Neurosurgeon for evaluation.
Then the Neurosurgery appointments began. MRI’s, Cat Scans, discussions. This was in December of 2009. Bluebell was diagnosed with a Meningioma (benign tumor of the meninges), which was sitting right next to her brainstem in a very bad (inoperable) spot. She had an amazing Neurosurgeon at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital: Dr. Piccarilli. Dr. P. is a super smart lady, and told Bluebell that it was a very small (millimeters) tumor and we were simply going to watch it for a while. Get MRI’s annually and see what it does.
I was shocked! Really??
In an inoperable spot right next to her brainstem?
Only Bluebell could have this kind of luck. We often joke that when God created her, He mixed up lots of different kinds of health issues, and tossed them into her DNA, just to see how she could handle it. We had already been through eye surgery, cervical cancer, a radical hysterectomy, benign thyroid tumor, lymphedema from the hysterectomy, a stapedectomy to correct her deteriorating ear bone…
So we did what we assumed everyone does in that situation.
We named the tumor.
He became her scapegoat. Any time she did something and we got into an argument she said “Oops, must be Calvin.” If she forgot something she would say, “thanks a lot Calvin.” Poor Calvin. Blamed for all Bluebell’s difficulties. I almost felt bad for the poor little millimeter of tissue….except that he parked himself right next to Bluebell’s brainstem (which is, incidentally a VITAL organ).
Time went on and Bluebell continued to see Dr P. After a year, Dr P decided that Calvin had grown just a smidge, and it was time for Bluebell to see someone else about Calvin. A neurosurgeon who specialized in a particular procedure that could help either reduce Calvin’s size, or stop him from growing. So she sent us to see a doctor at Riverside Hospital in Newport News named Dr Lesnick. He is a surgeon who specializes in a procedure called Gamma Knife Radiation.
For the procedure, Bluebell was given a twilight anesthesia cocktail which means she wouldn’t feel anything but would be alert enough to answer questions and respond to directions. However, she wouldn’t remember anything, so of course I took advantage of that!
They had to put a contraption on her head called a “halo”. Then they buckle this helmet thing on in the machine and use a computer to pinpoint exactly where the radiation is to go.
To hold the halo in place so it won’t move they actually screw in into your skin in four places. Two on the forehead and two in the back of the scalp. Hence the anesthesia.
It was pretty much an all day procedure. All went as well as expected, and she was scheduled for a follow up visit in 6 months to do another MRI to see if Calvin was affected by the Gamma Knife.
The follow up MRI showed that Calvin had not grown, but he had not gotten smaller either. Still, Dr. Lesnick was very hopeful the procedure had worked.
So now Bluebell goes in every year to have an MRI done to see how her tumor is doing. In May it will be time for her annual visit to check on Calvin. Since she remains asymptomatic, I feel pretty confident the Gamma Knife stopped him in his tracks.
I will say that one of the most touching moments I had during this entire situation was during a visit with Dr Lesnick. I told him how grateful I was that a doctor of his prominence made this procedure available to those of us who use government healthcare insurance (Tricare) because I know Tricare does not reimburse doctors very well. He responded it was the least he could do to honor people who served in the military! Brought tears to my eyes!
I guess the moral of the story is that you never know what life will throw your way, and in the big picture we just do the best we can and keep marching forward to face the challenges head on. Literally, in Bluebell’s case.
So, because he is in a place that no surgeon can get to, Calvin is here to stay. He is a part of our life, and he is going to remain right where he is.
By Carol Rood
Last week I wrote about my Culinary Bucket List which included a few things I would like to attempt to cook or bake. Bluebell and I really wanted to try to make cannoli, but apparently in order to make it you need cannoli molds….who knew? And they are difficult to find, only avaulable online. Sheesh.
So it was on to Plan B – chocolate lava cakes. You know, those supremely chocolatey cakes with chocolate oozing from the center.
I found the recipe on the Ghiradelli web site. I doubled the recipe because I wanted to use 6 oz ramekins instead of 4 oz ramekins.
1 1/2 (6 oz) 60% Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars (I actually used 3 oz bittersweet and 3 oz semisweet)
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cake flour
To make centers, melt 2 ounces of chocolate (1/2 a baking bar) and cream in double boiler. Whisk gently to blend. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. Form into 6 balls; refrigerate until needed.
To make cake, heat oven to 400°F. Spray six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. Melt 4 ounces of chocolate (1 baking bar) and butter in double boiler; whisk gently to blend. With an electric mixer, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and light. Fold melted chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture just until combined. Spoon cake batter into ramekins. Place a chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin.
Bake about 15 minutes or until cake is firm to the touch. Let it sit out of the oven for about 5 minutes. Run a small, sharp knife around inside of each ramekin, place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin. Garnish with raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
Here is how it looked:
So the bottom line is: the cake was yummy, although it was definitely bittersweet. The boys took a pass, as they said it was too bitter. Although the Hunter took his, mixed in about a cup of whipped cream and pronounced it “ok”.
I would not make this again, as in my opinion the results did not live up to the effort of making them.
NOT a winner for my family.
By Carol Rood
I think I am a pretty good mom. A responsible woman. I didn’t have my first child until I was 31. Not because I planned it that way, but because it just kind of worked out that way. I had plenty of relationships, I just never envisioned myself having children with any of those people. Finally I met a man who I wanted to have children with. That was when I was 28. So, the first pregnancy occurred at 30 and Joe Cool was born was born when I was 31. The Genius was my “surprise” bundle of joy. I wanted to wait four years between my pregnancies, but a carefree birthday evening when I turned 33 brought me my sweet Genius.
I bought and read all of the “What to Expect” books: “….When You’re Expecting, “….the First Year”, “….the Second Year”, etc, etc. I bought healthy baby food. I didn’t let my babies have chocolate the first year. I let my babies “cry it out” to self soothe and go to sleep. I was never afraid to hold and cuddle them “too much”. They had their own rooms with consumer report-approved cribs and changing tables. I had the best car seats, bedding and toys.
I took the boys to the doctor, dentist, played with them, read to them, had gender neutral toys (trucks as well as doll houses). I was a “good” mom. I introduced new foods, one at a time, bought them age appropriate toys. In short, everything the books told me to do, I did. They were happy, and well behaved (for the most part). They loved each other, and all was well in the world.
But even the lofty can fall from their perch.
Fast forward about 9 years. Joe Cool is now 14 and The Genius is 11. I am a very busy mom with three boys at home (Bluebell also has a teenaged son at home with us). I work two part time jobs, I blog, and I am a part time college student. My life is hectic and my brain is scattered at times. One of my jobs is as a Youth Coordinator at the local Unitarian Universalist Church. As part of that job every other year I coordinate a very large program for 13-year-olds that is a “Coming of Age” program. I look at it as the Unitarian Universalist version of catechism and Confirmation.
The day has come for our big church program to honor the kids in the program (of which Joe Cool is one), and we get through the service with success. Many tears of joy were shed by me that day.
Immediately after the Coming of Age service I stay at church to attend a semiannual church meeting, then I have to rush off to pick up a cake for the party to honor the kids that evening! FULL schedule.
After the service Bluebell took Joe Cool and The Hunter home, and then came back to attend the Church meeting with me. The Genius wanted to stay at church during the meeting because the kids were watching “Despicable Me” in the Sunday School classrooms while the adults attended the meeting.
Bluebell and I attended the meeting, which became just a tiny bit intense (budget discussions), and after the meeting ended I drove Bluebell to her vehicle in a nearby parking lot and jetted off to pick up the cake for the Coming of Age Celebration. Meanwhile, Bluebell headed home to pick up Joe Cool to take him to the Coming of Age Party.
Okay, at this point in the story you need to remember what a responsible, caring mother I am. How I pampered and cared for my babies. The joyous pictures I shared. How happy and healthy my boys look. Do you have that planted in your brain?? Do you see what a great mother I am?? Good. So now I can tell you that in my scattered brain, and my rush to go get the cake, and get to the party, I left the church…
without The Genius.
Yes. I left my kid behind. I forgot him.
Bluebell realized we left The Genius when she was about 1/2 way home and immediately called me. Well, friends, I didn’t answer my phone. “Why not?” you ask? Well, because I left my phone at the church too. I just got up and left my phone and my kid. So when Bluebell called me, a nice lady at church (I shall call her “S”) answered my phone and after a few minutes of conversation, the two of them figured out it was my phone. “S” asks Bluebell what she should do with my phone, and Bluebell tells “S” to give my phone to The Genius, because not only did I leave my phone, I left our kid.
Before I get judged too harshly, at least I left our kid at church, where he was safe and dry and cozy. With people who know him and love him. Where he felt comfortable. Okay, I know, I know, I am just trying to make myself feel better.
I guess the moral of my story is that even “good” moms, can goof up at times.
Feel Free to visit me at Coffee, Clutter and Chaos
I love National Public Radio. Our local station is WHRV, and I listen to it most of the time. I especially love Morning Edition and BBC Newshour. In fact I also love the Cathy Lewis show, and Fresh Air. Okay, I love it all. There have been many times I have sat in my car in the driveway, or in the parking lot at work, and been late just so I can listen to a program. All the while thinking, “just a few more minutes”. I like listening to public radio because I feel smarter when I do. I feel like I learn something new, or hear a different perspective than I had in my own head. I don’t always agree with everything I hear on the radio, but I always listen.
This morning was one of those mornings where I stayed in my car to hear the last few minutes of a broadcast. It was very interesting, and I heard someone speaking about something I had thought many times but had not put voice to. I heard a story about Eric Weiner and a book he wrote called “Man Seeks God”.
He talked about how he went to the emergency room at a hospital with abdominal pains and a nurse whispered in his ear, “have you found your God yet?” Being a person who works in the medical field I do find it a bit odd that she would say such a thing to a patient, but it was a good thing because it caused Eric to embark upon a quest. A quest to find his God.
In his book he talks about his journey through Islam, and Buddhism, and Christianity, and Judaism. He talks about the things he found and what it meant to him. I will probably buy his book and read it, but the whole topic hit really close to home for me. I mean, I am 47 already.
Have I found my God? I spent some time thinking about it. I talked to my clients about it, and my co-workers and my partner Bluebell. I asked myself what my religion is and I thought about my own spiritual journey.
I was raised Jewish, but we were a family who did not attend Temple. I did not have a Bat Mitzvah and cannot speak or read Hebrew. I do know the prayers and my parents always did the “big” holidays. We had a Passover Seder every year, and ate apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah. We fasted on Yom Kippur and had a dreidel box with presents in it at Hanukkah. It was next to the Christmas tree, but at least my parents taught me about my Jewish heritage.
When I grew up I had a roommate who was Mormon, and I married a man who was a Christian. I liked many of the things I learned in church, but could never quite wrap my head around the “only Christians get to Heaven” part. My parents were good people, but they did not believe in Jesus as their savior. Why did that make them unworthy? Why were only Christians the right ones? I never understood how they could be the only group that is “right”. To me it felt a bit elitist.
After I got divorced and fell in love with my partner I was looking for a church home for us and happened upon the Unitarian Universalist faith. That was a welcoming faith, and I love almost everything about it, but even there, I have some reservations about some aspects of it. I like some Buddhist beliefs, but can’t find my way to all of those either. I have studied some Wiccan beliefs and find those very interesting and comfortable also. When I came home today I asked my family what they believe their religion to be. My mother is an atheist, my lovely Bluebell says she was “raised Catholic”, but now says she “doesn’t know” what she “is”. The oldest son The Hunter also says he “doesn’t know”, the middle son Joe Cool says he is an atheist, and the youngest son The Genius says he is a “Jewnitarian”, (A Jewish Unitarian Universalist). So even my family is a hodge podge of religious beliefs.
So I guess there is no cookie cutter religion for me. I don’t think God is a man, yet I don’t think God is a woman either. I don’t think of gender when I think of God, I usually think of the universe, or an ethereal being of some kind without a body shape, just spirit. As Eric puts it I seem to have found an “IKEA God.” “Some assembly required,” he says. “[The] idea is that you can cobble together your sort of own personal religion, a sort of mixed tape of God.”
I liked that. It made sense to me, and somehow seemed to put the religious puzzle pieces in my brain into a cohesive unit. So I have decided that it is okay to be eclectic when dealing with religion. That you can take the pieces you like and that make sense to you and add it to the other things that make sense to you and stir it all together to make a wonderful spiritual soup that is palatable and I can live with on a daily basis!
By Carol Rood
The other day, on the way to Coffee Heaven (aka Starbucks) with my 16-year-old son (“Joe Cool”), I mentioned that I might use our coffee time to work on a blog post while we waited for his older brother to get off work.
He was all, “That’s cool mom.”
I said, “What should I write about?”
Now while we were driving to Starbucks and I was trying to talk to Joe Cool he was listening to music on his phone. So I would tap his knee so he could remove his headphones and listen to me. So when I asked what I should write about, he said (a little too quickly I might add), “Why don’t you write about what a nuisance you are when you keep trying to talk to me when I am listening to my music?”
I was a little annoyed at first, and then decided this could be an opportunity for me to find out what I do that annoys him, so I could either:
1) Not do it as much
2) Use it to push buttons. (Hey, you would not BELIEVE all the ways this kid pushes mine, it is good for me to teach him how to handle annoyances in a positive way -that is my story and I am sticking to it.)
So according to Joe Cool these are the ways I am a nuisance:
1) Bugging him when he is trying to listen to music by touching him or getting his attention in some other way and stopping him from his listening pleasure.
2) When he is playing Black Ops on the PS3 I will sometimes call him to come talk to me about “unimportant things” (his words). Of course yesterday it was to talk about our vacation Spring Break, and to discuss school work. But to him this is unimportant apparently. He said I should come to him to talk instead of making him come to me. HA HA he is a funny kid.
3) I am a nuisance when I talk to him about girls. Saturday night the kid went to a movie with two girls. One a sophomore and one a senior. The senior drove him. He was annoyed that I wanted to meet the girls. Um Hello??? I need to meet and lay eyes upon the person who is driving him around. Oh, and I need to know her name also. I do not think that is overboard. Inviting myself along is overboard. However, when I asked him if he was “talking” to either of these girls (the new term for liking someone), he became annoyed with me for asking. I had never heard of either of these girls before, of course I am going to ask if he is “talking” to one of them. ESPECIALLY since one is a senior and too old for my almost 16-year-old. (Is that old fashioned???)
4) BIG problem for him: I won’t let him play PS3 during the school week. That is a HUGE annoyance for him. This is from the kid who has a D in Geometry due to low grades on quizzes and tests. This is also coming from the kid who has missing assignments in almost every class. DUH no PS3 during the week. If he can’t manage to get good grades with NO distractions except TV and his guitar, how much worse will it get if he were jumping on the PS3 after school and getting lost in his Black Ops world?
5) Making him clean his room annoys him. Let me remind you what his room usually looks like:
Um, yes I want that cleaned.
That was all he was willing to tell me, because he really wanted to drink his drink and listen to his music.
So you tell me, am I really annoying, or just being a proper mom??
By Carol Rood
I tend to lean towards the left as to social issues, and tend to lean more towards the right with fiscal issues, but right now I am leaning towards disgust with both sides.
I am not extremely politically savvy. I don’t understand all of the subtle nuances of the budget, debt ceiling, deficit reduction etc. I read about it, but to be honest it seems to me there is a lack of nonpartisan articles out there. Some have their viewpoint (Democrat) and say the Republicans suck. Others have their viewpoint (Republican) and says President Obama and the Democrats suck. The list of partisan websites goes on and on. However, I have yet to read an article that blames them ALL. THAT is what I want. Something that gives me just the facts. So after reading and reading I have come up with what seems to me to be the facts.
We are in terrible debt. Our economy is a mess and we keep spending money. We spend too much on Medicare and Social Security. Medicare, Medicaid and entitlements are in bad need of reforms. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. I was in favor of the richest of the rich paying higher taxes. Not because I am jealous, but because if I were in their shoes, I would be okay with giving more to help those who have less. I can only assume that others share the same ideals that I do. I can’t be the only one.
I am also okay with getting rid of loopholes for oil companies and super wealthy Americans. That is a revenue. I suppose it is a “tax increase” as the Republicans tout it, but in my mind it really isn’t so much an increase as it is a “fairness meter” to level the playing field a bit.
Okay, so all of that being said, I understand that President Obama originally put the Sequester before Congress. I believe he was using it as a bluff. I don’t think he thought that the Congress would let it happen. Quote from CBS News.com: “The $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress’ 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional “supercommittee” couldn’t come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years — half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. The cuts were designed to be so drastic that Republicans and Democrats would be compelled to craft an alternate, bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction.”
So that tells me the sequester was agreed on by EVERYONE. Now we are 10 days out from the sequester happening and Congress is on a week vacation. Seriously??? WTF???
If the Sequester happens thousands of Civil Service workers will be forced to take a 22-day furlough. That is 22 days off without pay. In order to make this forced pay cut more manageable for families instead of 22 days off in a row without pay, each worker will have one unpaid day off per week, or 4 unpaid days per month. My partner Bluebell is a Civil Service worker.
This is a BIG deal. I know for my family that means a loss of over $600.00 per month in income. That is A LOT of money to remove from a family budget.
That basically equals 1.5 of my paychecks, so I am working for free for three weeks!
We recently had a family meeting and talked to the boys about what was going on and if the furlough happens what it will mean for our family. It means No eating out. No hot school lunches. They have to pack every day. It means no more allowance, a timer for showers (10 minutes only) and a serious reduction in our grocery bill. No more snacks, just basic necessities. No more hair appointments for me, back to coloring my hair with a bottle. If the furlough extends for any length of time, it means no Boy Scout summer camp this year, no summer swim league, no family weekend camping trips and possibly no graduation celebration for our High School graduate. It means I have to work every Saturday to try and bring in extra income. It also means we have to use our income tax refunds to pay bills. No extras this year. This may not seem like a big deal to y’all, but it is a big change for our family lifestyle. The total loss of income to my family will be over $4000.00. That money has to be absorbed elsewhere in my budget because the mortgage needs to be paid. We need water and electricity and heat. There may be extremely limited air conditioning this summer. That is not pretty in Southeastern Virginia.
I have to say I was very proud of our boys, because when we had this meeting there was not ONE single complaint out of any of them. In fact, they asked what they could do to help out the family. That was a very proud mama moment for me.
Congress, and the President, could learn a lesson from my boys. My boys could teach them that when times are tough we rally together and pitch in to make it work. We compromise and reach a deal that everybody can settle on. These are values Bluebell and I taught our boys when they were in Kindergarten. Maybe Congress and the President need to spend some time in Kindergarten to relearn how to compromise and get along.
There are thousands of families that will be affected here in Virginia. If every family has to tighten up the way we will, I wonder how long it will be before local businesses are affected?? The economy on this area will no longer be inching up, but will come to a screaming standstill.
I don’t lay all of the blame on the President’s doorstep. Nor do I blame only Congress. I blame them all. I have decided I am making it my personal mission to email and/or call EVERY Congressperson, Senator and the President to ask them why they feel it is okay to make American families suffer financial consequences such as these. I am also going to ask them why THEY do not have to receive furlough. They are Federal employees also. Why are they above suffering along with their constituents?
I urge you all to join me in asking our Representatives these questions. They need to know the American people are not happy. Many people will agree with me, but I wonder how many will actually take the time to contact them. If you are willing to put your money (pun intended) where your mouth is, here is a list of all the United States Congressional Representatives with phone numbers. If you click on their name you go to their website where you can get their email addresses. Here is a list of Senators. And the White House.
I am starting my email campaign today. Will you join me?
By Carol Rood
Let me back up a bit, that is actually the middle of the story.
Yesterday the phone rang. The person on the other end asked to speak to The Hunter. The Hunter is a high school senior, and has been receiving lots of phone calls and mailers from colleges. He does not plan on going to college. He has been going to technical school during his junior and senior years and has learned welding. He wants to be a welder when he graduates. He is looking into the welding apprenticeship programs at BAE and the Naval Shipyard. So we were pretty sure he was going to do the apprenticeship program and start his life as an adult working and going to school. Then THE phone call came…
He was on the phone for quite awhile. Bluebell even picked up the extension so she could eavesdrop. It didn’t work. The Hunter walked down the stairs and shook his head at her. It turns out the man who called was a Marine Corps recruiter. He was telling The Hunter all about the programs the Marines have to offer. He talked to The Hunter about being a Marine reservist so he could continue to pursue an apprenticeship and ALSO be a Marine.
Bluebell was NOT happy when she was told about the phone call. Apparently The Hunter told the recruiter he was willing to take a practice ASVAB test “just to see” how he would do. He is still 17, and therefore cannot yet join without parental permission. We did tell him that we wanted to meet the recruiter to speak with him. So The Hunter called him back and told him to come by the house and pick him up today at 5:00.
It was a long night for Bluebell and me. I will tell you that the idea of any of the boys joining the military had never really entered our minds as a reality, so we had never discussed it. We are both retired Navy, so we definitely value a military life, but the Marines? They are the first ones in the thick of the action…
So the recruiter showed up today at 5:00. I had my hands in a bowl of flour, making chicken and dumplings for dinner, and Bluebell was waiting and ready to pounce. Of course it would have been easier for her to pounce on him if he had not been a young, polite, nice, clean cut kid, who was nothing but respectful. He said he understood our concerns, and he believed young people, even if they are old enough to join without parental consent, should listen to what their parents’ concerns were.
We were frank and honest about those concerns, and he answered each one with a thoughtful and detailed answer. (He’s pretty good at recruiting.) So once our questions were answered, what else could we do but let the recruiter take The Hunter for his test?
Poor Bluebell. She cried. She cried as her 17-year-old son The Hunter walked out the front door with a Marine Corps recruiter…
She smiled when he came home and said he would need to “study” more. (But she didn’t let The Hunter see her smile.)
By Carol Rood
I work with teenagers.
I live with teenagers.
I hang out with teenagers and young adults.
I actually pride myself on the fact that I can speak their language and tend to “get” them (for the most part). I like hanging out with them. In fact, I find myself thinking about my own teenage-hood when I am hanging out with them.
My kids don’t read my blog and for that I am often grateful. After all, since they don’t read the blog I can bad mouth them, talk shit about them, generally smear their names, or I can tell things about myself that I don’t necessarily want them to know.
So, back to my original point, which is that I feel that I “get” them for the most part. I have learned not to share too much about me, but am able to get them to open up about themselves. They seem to trust me. Even my 15-year-old will admit that while I am a “Super nag” about his schoolwork, I have NEVER embarrassed him in front of his friends, or given him a hard time about his girlfriend. I am one of those adults who believe that teens can experience true love, and have NEVER said to a teenager, “You don’t even know what love is”. Of course they do. They have the same feelings adults do, to the extreme in many cases. They fall in love. They care for each other. The fastest way to stop your teen from listening to you is to tell them they don’t “really” love their girlfriend or boyfriend.
I do get young people, I do love hanging out with them, but I still sometimes think they are stupid. Boys can be stupid. ESPECIALLY the ones who wear their pants down low and show their boxers. This is behavior I just don’t get. I mean, really, I just don’t understand why they do that. I can’t even tell you how many times I have wanted to walk up to the young guys I see on the campus where I attend college classes and say to them, “Listen, I know I am a middle-aged white lady who just really doesn’t get it, but could you please tell me what it is that goes through your head when you get dressed in the morning, and choose to put on your pants, and then belt them around your thighs?”
Is this sexy????
I am a gal who wears my pants at the appropriate place on her body. Which for a plump, middle-aged woman, is waist high or therabouts. No low riders for me……..no ma’am. I have a hard enough time keeping the muffin top under control as it is.
But back to the matter at hand…which is why do young men wear their pants so low?
TOP 10 REASONS YOUNG DUDES WEAR THEIR PANTS SO LOW (“BUST A SAG”):
10: They just have too much junk in their pants (i.e. well endowed) and they need more room for things to “spread out”, shall we say….
9. They have just spent lots of money on VERY cool boxers and want to share their amazing undies with the world.
8. They are working on their arm muscles, and having to reach down and hitch up their pants every two steps while they are walking is a mini workout.
7. They have a new amazing belt, and think if they belt their pants around their thighs, you will have more opportunity to see it.
6. There was a super clearance sale at the Big and Tall shop, and they just couldn’t pass up a good bargain, even if the pants are three sizes too big.
5. They received hand me downs from a much larger person, and just couldn’t refuse accepting and wearing them (possible beat down there).
4. They have recently lost LOTS of weight and therefore their pants don’t fit properly anymore, and constantly fall down.
3. They have decided they are taking a stand on running, they are just NOT going to do it, hence the low pants…you can’t run in those things even if you needed to. Criminals who need to get away fast do NOT wear saggy britches…….Just sayin’……
2. They have decided to boost the economy in their later years by ruining their hips now (have you seen the wide stance walk they have to use to move in their way too big pants), so they can spend money later on things like walkers, canes, etc to get around.
and the number 1 reason men wear their pants low:
1. They are overheated and just need the butt and nut air conditioning…….
I have to say that I did do some research on this topic, (so I could point out to my sons where it really started), and found that the explanation that this style started in prisons so men could show they were “available” for some “attention” is a myth. However, the style is related to prison garb, which is usually too large for inmates and they are not allowed belts, so they have to constantly hitch up their pants. Then some hip hop and rap artists took on the style as their own, and young men (particularly young urban men) started copying the rappers they admire so much. Some cities have banned the style, and at my son’s high school “sagging” is not allowed, and you can be sent home if you can’t conform to the dress code.
When I asked my young man (the newly minted 18-year-old) why he sags, he said it is so he can get a “breeze”. Seriously??? How hot can it get in his britches????