Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My name is Lynn and I support universal health care.

I am not a genius, and I don't know much about political anythings. I do know that you can't see Russia from Alaska, so in some circles that makes me more qualified for Washington than former vice presidential candidates, but still... I don't profess to be an expert on anything (although I did really well in debate the year our topic was universal health care so that must mean something, right???). However, I don't think it takes a genius to see that health care in this country is in the pooper. I don't think you need a masters in political science or a background in constitutional law to see that the status quo ain't good. There is no life, liberty and pursuit of happiness if you are dead, dying and pursuing crap medical care because you can't afford the treatment that you really need. And all men are certainly not created equally when the folks with the moolah get the meds and the poor folk get to wait in overcrowded emergency rooms waiting for someone to see their sick kid only to find out that their medications will cost too much out of pocket and they leave with nothing. But, here's what I do know...

I know that my son has had ear tubes twice, with one more set coming on Friday. I know that my insurance requires us to pay a $3,000 family deductible and the last two times Will had this surgery we were billed about $900 out of pocket... each time. I know that while that is an extreme hardship on my middle class, single income family.... we are lucky enough to be able to pay it. I know that another mother, in another town whose husband doesn't have the mediocre insurance that we have, would not be able to pay. I know that woman has to sit up with her son while he suffers the inconsolable pain of chronic ear infections and eventually that woman's son will have permanent hearing damage from the fluid festering in her son's ears. I know that is happening all over this country, and that is why I know our system sucks.

I know that there is a man in Delaware in desperate need of a lung transplant. I know that he is a former United States Marine and has been employed and insured his entire adult life. I know that the transplant he needs to survive is covered by his insurance. I know that the aftercare required to keep those lungs functioning is not. I know that the transplant gods who divvy up the organs will not give a dying man a set of lungs that he cannot keep alive. And I know that this man will die without them. So, this man is physically an excellent candidate for a transplant, his insurance will pay for the surgery, but at the same time, it makes it impossible for him to qualify for it. I know that his four children think this is unfair and it appears to be a form of corporate sponsored murder, and that is why I know our system sucks.

I know that a good friend of mine was laid off from her job after 10 years at the same company. I know that she decided to try starting her own dream business, something she was previously too afraid to do. I know that she tried to get medical insurance privately, and a surgery she had a couple years earlier was considered a pre-existing condition and she was rejected. The only insurance she could get would have cost a fortune and covered virtually nothing. By the grace of God, my friend didn't suffer any medical misfortune while she was without medical coverage, but that could have been different. One appendix rupture or one severely broken bone and she could be in serious, long term debt exceeding even her college student loans. I know that it sucks to avoid minor check ups at the doctor just because you know you don't have the cash to cover it that week, and I know that is why our system sucks.

I don't know if President Obama's plan is the right one. I know it is expensive and I know change is scary... but I can't understand why doing nothing seems like a better alternative. I know that Australia, England and Canada have all managed to provide quality health care to their citizens (all of them!!!) and those three countries have managed to continue to exist thereafter. Amazingly, their entire infrastructure didn't crumble just because they actually treat all their citizens equally. I know that this system sucks, and I find it hard to believe anyone out there can't agree on that. As far as the current plan of action goes... if you don't like it, propose another one. Don't cry about mandating insurance being unconstitutional.... cry about the people who die without it. Don't scream about the price of the plan... scream about the tax money already going toward the uninsureds' crappy care in emergency rooms. And don't accept a system that sucks just because you fear the unknown. We are a country who makes changes for the better in the search for equality. Why would that stop at medicine?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Unspeakable Kindnesses...

Ok, so my fam and I just got back from Mexico, so there will be an upcoming blog entry about the lovely trip complete with sunburns and lost luggage. But, before I get to the nitty gritty, something occurred on our way back yesterday that I hope will stay with me forever. I hope to remember it every time I think about the nasty way we human beings treat each other and I hope to embrace it every time I am given an opportunity to behave the same way.

Back story... So, as mentioned, yesterday we traveled back home from Mexico. The check in at the Cancun airport took 2 hours. Two sweaty, crying, tantrum, crabby and for one wee traveler... diarrhea filled hours. Yuck. The first leg of our flight took 3 hours. Three hours of kids being troopers. Tired, napping, uncomfortable... but trooping their way back home. Bucking up, as we call it in our family. Then, customs. 45 minutes in a crowded line at customs with kids crying, exhausted, confused, hungry... and that is where my story starts.

First, to Abby. Abby from Carrollton, Illinois who I don't know and will never see again. Thank you for entertaining Will. Thank you for talking to him and playing I Spy with him in your carry on bag. Thank you for making him laugh, when all Mark and I could do is make him cry harder. Being in a situation with crying kids that you cannot fix is a parent's worst nightmare, and you made it bearable for us all. Thank you, Abby from Illinois.

By the time we were leaving customs, we have 8 minutes to catch our next flight. Not a typo, 8 minutes. Really. We ran up to security to get to our gate and the TSA staff wouldn't let us cut. My kids were crying. I was near tears as I already had been told that the next flight was 4 hours later and at this point, completely full. There was little to no way that our family of five would get on. But, the seas parted and every single person of the 50 or so in line ahead of us, let us cut to the front. One couple offered, then suddenly the entire line stepped to the side to let us pass. The parents traveling without kids did with looks of "been there, done that" on their faces, but then college students let us pass, business men motioned us ahead with their briefcases... Total strangers stepped aside and let us pass. I was so overcome with gratitude that I could barely choke out the thank yous. These people who I don't know, these people trying to get to their own destinations on time, stepped aside and demonstrated a generosity that you don't see anymore... especially in the world of cut throat airport security lines! We raced to the head of the line and threw our items on the belt and prayed that the 6 minutes we had left would be enough.

I took off running, barefoot, with Will and Jack in tow yelling to Mark and Tabbi to get the stroller and bags after they went through the scanner and meet us at the gate. I carried Jack like a sack of potatoes and I pulled Will through the moving walkways (which hurts your feet when you are barefoot, by the way) and yanked him behind me all the while he was bawling and screaming "Stop, Mommy! Slow down!" Then, an angel stopped to help me. An angel in the form of a woman driving a handicap cart. She picked our disheveled threesome up and whisked us away to gate C 14. I have never felt so happy to be the center of attention in all my life as when she yelled at people to get out of way as we flew down concourse C.

When we got to the gate, the plane was closed. Doors shut. The end. I felt a brick settle into my chest. Until, the gate attendant said the most beautiful words I have ever heard, "Let me see if we can get them to open it back up." I prayed and begged and thanked them 100 times over as they agreed to let us on. The doors opened right as Tabbi and Mark ran up with our carry on items and lo and behold we made our flight. We sunk into the first seats we could find and I nearly cried tears of exhaustion and gratitude.

Then, Will started whining about being hungry. Flights don't give out food anymore and our promised stop at the snack stand didn't fit into our 8 minute dash. So, the woman across the aisle offered us her Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. Will and Jack each got a cup and at that moment, I could have hugged that woman. I know she lives in this area, so if anyone tells you about donating their Reece's to kids on a plane, let me know. I will happily buy her a case to say thank you!

To Abby, and the people in security, my driver from heaven, that gate attendant who didn't just dismiss us and the lady with the chocolate... I am not sure they could ever know what they did for us yesterday. Something so minuscule in their day ended up being monumental in mine. The next full flight from Charlotte ended up being postponed til 11:30 last night. And even then, I don't know if we would have gotten on. So, these wonderful people, in a time of greed and selfishness, gave us the gift of our home. And I just hope that some day either they stumble across this entry and realize it was them or, perhaps even better, some day I will have a chance to pass this gift along. I hope we all do.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In case you see me today....

I am not wearing green. Nope. Instead, I am wearing darkish pinky red. I matched that with a stained off white (and it's even offer now that it's been washed a million times) long sleeve t-shirt and brown corduroy pants that my butt crack sticks out of. Yes... this is what happens when your painters show up before you are dressed. You grab any old thing and throw it on to be able to answer your door. Couple that with the fact that I have no blinds on my bedroom windows and had to army crawl naked from the bathroom to the closet to put on said attire. Once you rug burn your entire front... you no longer care what you're wearing. (And let me digress by thanking the painters for telling me to take down those blinds on Monday even though they have yet to set foot in my bedroom. Yes, I realize now that you did that to get a good laugh about how stupid we are to get ready in the bathroom or the closet. Ha ha freaking ha.)

Back to today. I don't want you to kiss me. I am not Irish, and if I was, your beer stank breath wouldn't appeal and I would still not want you to kiss me. By the way, good rule of thumb... never kiss strangers anyway. They might just punch your ass out.

Also, it's not wise to pinch me. I don't like to be touched. Not just mean touches like pinches, but I don't do hugs either (and kisses per the previous paragraph). I like my personal space and while I know it may be traditional on St. Patty's Day to get all up in strangers' business and pinch them because their green garb was in the wash... but, you best keep those fingers to yourself when I walk greenless through your door. You might not get them back.

And, finally... I am not drunk. I didn't start at dawn, I have no whiskey in my home and Guinness is only fun when it's a world record.

So, in closing... Happy St. Patrick's Day to all... and leave me alone.


Monday, March 15, 2010

I don't know what zeitgeist means....

This morning I was reading a magazine article about mommy bloggers and how we're taking over the world (muah ha ha... that was supposed to be my evil laugh) but I realized while reading that I will never be the world conquering mommy blogger that they spoke of.

For one, they featured Dooce of Dooce.com. And you know what.... I don't get her. Sometimes I think she's funny, but most of the time I can't tell if she is kidding or not and if her posts are funny or serious. I think she's too "ironic" for me. Plus, when I look at her style choices and things she is liking right now (ok, products she is getting paid to endorse on her site)... they usually aren't anything I would be interested in. No connection between Me and the Dooce.

The, the clincher... the ultimate reason why I am going to picked last in the proverbial mommy blogger kickball game... I read a comment from some other mommy blogger who is popular enough to make it in the magazine and yet I've never read her before, and she said something along the lines of mommy bloggers changing the "zeitgeist regime" or maybe we are the "zeitgeist regime" or maybe the "zeitgeist regime" should fear us... or maybe we should fear it... I dunno. All I know is that I don't know what a zeitgeist is or whether or not I want to be in its regime. I like to be in clubs and stuff, as long as I don't have to do much work, but I am not sure if I want my club title to be a word that I don't know what it means. So, instead of mommy blogging freeing me and opening my very Barney-wilted brain... this article made me feel dumb. (Insert snarky comment here).

Reading the article, specifically that comment, reminded me of an evening in college. I was at Village Inn (yummmmmmmm) with some friends and someone asked what a fascist is. People accuse others of being fascist, but what is that really? I boldly stated my opinion of the definition of fascist (really having no idea, but saying it with confidence so I sounded impressive) and the coffee drinking, pierced chain smoker at the next table snorted and uttered "that isn't even close." I felt like an establishment schmuck... and what's worse.... I still can't really define what a fascist is. I can tell you the symptoms of thrombocytopenic purpura, a disease I learned about in 10th grade, and I love to throw out antidisestablishmentarianism when I need to, but I still don't know what a fascist is and don't get me started on zeitgeists. So, I don't think Mr. Zeitgeist will let me be in his regime anyway.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Silent Epidemic...

I've had this idea for awhile now... but wasn't sure how to word it or what to say, so I've never posted this post that's been rattling around my brain for months. But, today I heard the most disturbing thing. I heard that Howard Stern and his snarkette female counterpart were discussing Gabourey Sidibe (star and Oscar nominee for the movie Precious) and they determined in their infinite wisdom that she will never get another acting job again. His statement, though I am paraphrasing, was that no one that fat will ever succeed in Hollywood. And finally, I decided that even though I don't know the words I want to use, I am ready to say what I want to say.

It is my opinion (in my infinite wisdom) that self esteem for young girls and teens is at an all time low, and the ramifications of this societal pressure that we inflict has reached epidemic proportions. And, it makes me sad. Sad because this brainwashing isn't talked about and sad that when someone mentions it, the consensus is that it is a problem but not a damn thing ever changes. And, it is our children who suffer. Our little girls are the victims and there is no vaccine, no treatment, no prevention... because we just shake our heads and watch another Weight Watchers commercial or laugh at another photo of Tyra Banks and her cellulite and never do a damn thing about the media, magazines or movies that perpetuate a stereotype no one lives up to. (Except Heidi Klum. She does.)

Seven million girls were treated for eating disorders last year. Those are the reported cases... not the ones still suffering. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young girls and teens. And, those are just the obvious effects of our current standards that we set for our girls. How many girls sleep around with boys just to feel beautiful? How many girls let their boyfriends beat them because they didn't know that they were worth more than that? How many girls go home and cry at night because they don't look like the Prom Queen. Well, let me tell you... pretty much all of them. And, the Prom Queen is crying too. Crying because she isn't perfect either. Girls are crying because they're too fat, too thin, breasts are too big, breasts are too small, too short, too tall, too ethnic, too plain... everything. Girls are crying. And no one cares. Our standard is still the negative sized girls on 90210 and the emaciated models walking the runways. We still revere them and condemn Oscar caliber actresses because she can fill out an evening gown. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but only when telling our daughters that it's ok that she's the shortest one on her basketball team.... not when we're deciding who will grace the cover of Cosmo this month.

We need to do something. My 11 year old stepdaughter and her friends are already falling victim and it's time for us to step in and do something. Hundreds of actors, actresses and singers came out to raise funds for Haiti and while that was totally valid... who is willing to step up for this? I propose that we get a group of outstanding women together. A group including: Gabourey, Robin Roberts whose self esteem wavered from her height, Julia Roberts who hated her nose, Diane Sawyer who hated her glasses, Venus Williams who dealt with being African American playing in a "white person's" sport, Paula Deen who was once afraid to leave her house, Lisa Ling who just reported on the Chinese phenomenon of trying to look Caucasian, Kathryn Bigelow who was the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar, America Ferrera whose acting career began with shows about her being a curvy girl, Ellen DeGeneres who came out as a lesbian before it was cool, Chelsea Clinton who had to face adolescence on national news and every other female who once felt like her looks didn't measure up and yet somehow they gained the confidence to succeed in their careers.

Let's get groups of these types of women and fill football stadiums with our youth and teach them. Let them know that their feelings are the same feelings that all their friends have. That beauty really is within.... that Ellen is gorgeous, not because she is physically... but because she gives something to this world. That intelligence matters as much as pant size and what you say is equally important to the face that is saying it. Let's go across this nation, and maybe this world, to tell our girls that they can succeed at anything, with or without glasses on. I nominate Elisabeth Hasselbeck to be our emcee, as she fights for self esteem for our nation's youth every day on The View. Let's get the show started and see if we can actually put our money where our mouths are. Instead of agreeing it's a problem... let's see what we can do to fix it. Maybe then we can actually put positivity in our daughters' minds, and do more to curb the tears than just wiping them away. Let's do as much for this epidemic as we do for swine flu and tell our daughters that this is enough. They are enough.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Conversation with Jack

This is Jack.

Ok.... this is the rest of Jack.

Sometimes he wears clothes, though. And he isn't always on a dinosaur, although I kind of wish he did ride around on a dinosaur all the time, because he's heavy. I get sick of carrying him. But, the dinosaur doesn't walk, so I guess Jack is my very own human sack of potatoes. Jack does walk though. He runs and climbs and is even trying to jump, which is very funny. He doesn't talk though. Not in the true definition of the word. In fact, he sees a speech therapist. She is coming in half an hour. And yes, if you are a long time blog reader, you can add this to the list of Jack's stuff. He had reflux as a baby (needed an ultrasound), he had torticollis (needed physical therapy), he had a seizure (had 100 tests), and they almost put him in a helmet. Yes... poor Jack has had some stuff. Now, he doesn't talk. Except, we had a landmark occasion yesterday. He said "da da." Yes, he is almost 19 months old and he just said da da. So, here is an update of what my non-talker says.

Jack's Language:

Momomomomomom: Mommy

Da da: Daddy

Ssh: Fish, Shoes, or cheese. (Good luck figuring out which, although if he's at the fridge, it's always cheese).

Ah ah ah ah ah: What a sheep, horse or goat says. Could also be a cough. If he has a cold, it's probably a cough.

MOOOO: What a cow says. Typed in all caps because he moos with gusto.

Oof Oof: What a dog says... except Bentley doesn't woof, he howls so apparently it's what a dog that doesn't live in this house says.

Ma: Grandma. Obviously channeling southern accent through.... well, I have no idea, but he would make a Texan proud with his twang.

Uh uh: Any other word in the English or any other language... often accompanied by pointing and subsequent tantrum when one cannot figure out what he wants.

Yep, my baby is coming right along....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Where's Julia When You Need Her?

I am on the hunt for the perfect recipe. For those of you who know me, you know that I can't make anything up on my own. I can't doctor up a meal from the remnants in my freezer or pantry. I need ingredients, cooking times and temps and oh my god do I need a step by step list of stuff to do and when. And, that doesn't just happen in the kitchen. Let me give you an example... I went to wash Bentley's dog bed and the care instructions said "remove outer cover and wash in cold." Well, I think it's missing some key steps. Like which part do you wash in cold? Do you wash the cover that you've removed or the core of the bed that you have remaining. Well, let's just cut to the chase... it wasn't the actual bed that was supposed to be washed in cold, ok... Lesson learned. So, like I said, I need specifics. And today, I am looking for that perfect set of instructions... on parenting.

I want an accurate, Good Housekeeping tested, recipe for a healthy, happy kid. I want a list of ingredients like family dinners or extra-curricular activities. I want a time and temperature and I want the step by step movements that guarantees my perfect kid to come out when the timer dings. Is that too much to ask? If I can Google the perfect souffle, why can't I find this? Julia Child has the kid in her name, but she did beef bourguignon instead.

I've discussed this with some friends and we've all wondered what it takes to raise a kid the "right" way. I have a friend whose oldest daughter is suffering from a drug addiction, so she often says she is going to raise her younger daughter in the opposite manner. But, it's not like she fed her oldest crack rocks for breakfast or anything. Yes, there were factors that were beyond my friend's control, and you can look at that and think... maybe that is why. But what about all the situations where there isn't an obvious factor. There is a family in my area with two adult sons and one is a successful lawyer and the other was arrested for allegedly raping a woman. You can argue that both are criminals (ha... cheap lawyer joke), but really... they were raised by the same people in the same way, and one turned out good and the other... not so much.

I see these things and I look at my beautiful boys and Tabbi and I wonder... what do I do now? Will and Jack are so young that they are blank slates. I have the canvas to paint however I want to, but what colors do I use to make sure they end up in the positive category and not the negative? And with Tabbi... so much has already happened to that girl... how can I turn the dysfunction into function before it's too late? She's turned around school into straight As and student council, but other areas still need work. And what work is it? Constant love, affection and BFFing has gone terribly wrong in other kids, while tough love and strict adherence to rules has failed others. Kids grow up in poverty and either overcome with flying colors, or go down the rabbit hole into drugs and crime... then you have Marie Osmond's super privileged son doing stints in rehab and now committing suicide over the weekend. So, what do we do? Marinade in a bath of all the spices the world has to offer, or go with a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste, but not ruin the meat?

I have never tried a single drug in my life, and my brother and I are pretty much as straight laced as they come.... but what did my parents do to get that? We didn't discuss the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but for some reason, we didn't do them either. So, what do I do with my own kids? It seems to me that if we can figure out the science of putting people on the moon, growing human ears on mice, and turning salmon into a foam to rest atop a bed of wild mushroom risotto (thank you Top Chef)... then why can't we figure out how to get our infants into adulthood safely?