Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why elected official's affairs matter

In our church's 7th grade confirmation class, the students learn about David and Bathsheba , with the accompanying question, "Can your parents think of any Christian leaders who were caught in infidelity?"
Of course, this is an easy question to answer.
What seems harder to answer- as far as I can tell from the internet- is if it's the public's place to be all up in the bedrooms of it;s elected representatives. My thoughts? Yes, and no.
I don't claim to be or want to be the morality police. I do not believe we should legislate the sex lives of consenting adults. I support the legality of  gay marriage and polygamous marriage. I believe prostitution should be legal, regulated and taxed. Further, I in no way think it's my place to tell anyone they should limit sex to marriage or one partner (unless I gave birth to you). That runs into a whole question of separation of church and state.
So why do I think we have a right to question politicians who cheat on their spouses?
It's because marriage is a legal contract. If I agreed with a candidate's policies or voting record, I would vote for them if they were single and playing the field, or in an open marriage, or for that matter, divorced . But marriage is a legal contract.  It's not about whether the candidate can keep his or her pants on, but about the ability to honor a legal contract. If a person can't honor their legal contracts; marriage, business, or otherwise, I do not trust them to represent my interests in Olympia or Washington.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A few fitness hacks for people with no time to be fit.

Chances are, you know someone who has said "I don't have time to get fit. I don't have time to cook my own food, go to the gym, or take up  running." This may even be something you, dear reader, have said.
Before you commit to that forever, please read this great blog post on Nerd Fitness.
Still not convinced, but feel it's time you do something ? Try these simple changes. I hope that if you try these for  a month or two, you'll decide feeling better is great and decide to take it to the next level.

Belly roll, not jellyroll 
I'm putting this one first, because it's great for people who don't feel they have time to exercise, AND for those of us who do eat well, work out, but still want to cry when we see the flabbiness of our bellies ( you know, those of us who've popped out a kid or more). The belly roll in fantastic because once you master it, you can do it anywhere, anytime, with no equipment, and while reading, working or showering. You won't actually lose weight, but you CAN improve the appearance of your tummy.

There. Now you have something to do while you read the rest of this.

TV Multi-tasking:

You don't have time to exercise, you say? f your life is so busy you never watch TV or play video games, I'll believe you. Otherwise, it's more honest to say, "I could exercise, if I gave up my TV show, but I just like  Survivor more. " OK. STILL not an excuse, and you know why? No one is forcing you to sit on the couch while you watch TV. Stand up and do some lunges and squats. If thousands of knitters can turn out sweaters in front of the latest episode of Fringe , you can work on your legs at the same time. Better yet, pick up some hand weights or kettlebells and REALLY work out to your favourite show. Start small - " I will do bicep curls until the opening credits are over"- then work up. If your favourite show is Dancing with the Stars, you've got the workout ready made! More of a gamers? Trade in 20 minutes of Skyrim for 20 minutes of Zumba.

Walk while you work

My friend S is the classic type A, dedicated business man who works something like a gajillion hours a week, yet he's in much better shape than most of his 50-something peers. The reason for this is he doesn't take phone calls sitting down. At the home office or office office, he takes advantage of Blutooth technology to pace while conducting business calls- and it shows. Anytime you can get out of that chair at work and walk, you'll burn calories- and perhaps save your life.

Can't cook? Choose better convenience foods.

I like cooking, but I admit there are days I wish the combination of finances and my myriad food issues didn't force me to cook EVERYTHING. The closest I get to convenience foods is pre washed, bagged veggies. If you want to eat better without cooking, you can do this. Stopping at the grocery store for convenience foods? Pick up a  few bags of salad mix, a rotisserie chicken, and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar ( almost all bottled dressings have rancid oils and a host of other Big Bads. If you're too lazy to mix your oil and vinegar, just pour a few tablespoons of each on. It'll be fine) . Much better for you than a freezer pizza, and no more work. Feel the drive through is your only option? Get a kid's meal instead of an adult combo ( if the toy in superhero themed, pass it on to me!) and get apple slices instead of fries. or, order a salad- and not one with breaded chicken.

Most importantly, DO NOT DRINK CALORIES

Yes, I'm shouting, because it's that important.When I started on my weight loss journey, I went for 6 months without drinking anything with significant calories ( black coffee naturally has 5 calories a serving, a good trade for me not killing people) . No soda, especially no diet soda, no juice, no mochas. Just water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea. 65 pounds later, I can enjoy a few espresso con pannas a week, with heavy whipping cream based mochas as a treat. However, I find all soda and juice to be so cloyingly sweet, I can't finish it. I think if the average American did nothing else, cutting out the calorie dense drinks would result in notable results.

I hope you find something useful here, If you do, let me know, and if you have any other ideas share those too!

Friday, April 13, 2012

What The Mommy Wars fails to get.

     You'd have to be living under a rock not to know about the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney kerfluffle. It's exactly what mothers do NOT need any more of- Mommy way divisiveness.
I'm not just interested in what Ms Rosen and Ms Romney had to say, but also  in how we've responded. It saddens me to see parents taking sides. The parents who think a stay at home parent (usually, but more often, the mother) is the only way versus the employed* mommies. There is one particular thing about the framing of this debate that I'd like to address.
(*I'm going to use the word employed to distinguish mothers who work for pay, as we know ALL parents are working parents)
     In defense of employed mothers, I've been seeing the argument, "What about those mothers who have no choice? " I don't like this argument. First and foremost I just DON'T LIKE the "But I have no choice! " argument, in anything. We almost always have more than one choice. Sometimes all our choices are less than ideal, and we hopefully make the best, or least bad, choice we can in those times. In the times that we are doing the very best we can in the face of not great choices, we shouldn't whine that we have no choice. We should hold our heads even higher for doing so well in the face of adversity.
(I don't even like when people giggle and say "I just couldn't help myself!" when they crack a bad joke or do something else annoying. Really?You couldn't? Maybe you should go work on that character flaw.)
     But that's not the heart of what bothers me. In using the "no choice" argument in defense of employed mothers we really demean the choices every mother makes.  Are there mothers who would like to be at home, but make the choice-CHOICE- to seek employment so their children will have food and shelter, with or without aid? Yes. They are making the BEST choice, but it's still a choice. I know, because my mother *didn't* make that choice, and I shudder to think how my childhood would have been lived if my grandmother has not chosen to take us in.
     What about mothers who simply choose to be employed? There are families who *could* get by on one partners income but both parents choose to be employed. In some cases it's because as parents they place a priority on being able to afford private school, soccer and piano lessons, and family vacations. In other cases, both parents may simply enjoy what they do and choose to pursue that part of their lives along with family. When we use the "no choice" cases in defending employed mothers, we denigrate all those mothers who simply choose outside work.
     I work very part time, and those who know our situation tend to think it's great that I can supplement our income while being mostly at home. But that's not the only reason I work. I LOVE what I do. I think it's important work, and it fulfills me. If my husband suddenly started making 5 times what he does now, I would still work (though I might pass on those Wednesday past 9 pm shifts!).
     On the other side of things, the "lucky you have that choice argument" insults those parents who choose to stay home and have to work very hard to make that feasible. We make considerably less money that 99% of the people who told me that. Anyone who has a working dishwasher, whose cars have no years old body damage, who regularly buy first owner clothes what aren't socks and underwear, or who is in the habit of taking vacations that do not involve visiting the deathbed or graveside of a relative, yet has the AUDACITY to suggest I'm somehow privileged in making this choice, ought to take a step back and consider what they're saying. I wouldn't give up being home  and home schooling my kids for the world, just as I wouldn't give up the joys of my outside work. They both fulfill me. But it's in no way privilege; it's work. It's disrespectful to me and every other family who chooses to have a parent to stay home to suggest it's luck; just as it insults every mother who chooses employment to insinuate that "need" is the only valid reason for her to be employed.
     In the end, we need to recognize that as parents we have all these choices. It's not always easy to wade through them and sometimes it feels safer, more defensible, to fall back on "I'm making the only choice that I can." I feel that if we could just put the Mommy Wars aside and REALLY respect others' choices, we wouldn't need to go there. We could then say to each other, "I am making the very best choice I can- and I know you are to."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting things done

It's been a week of Getting Things Done. This has involved doing student progress reports, registering the older two for their virtual school, filling out the paperwork for the new virtual school Turbo will be going to next year, and today taking him for a check up (first in 4 years, because it's the first time in 5 years we didn't have a co-pay) . Took his booster shot like a man, and it might be proof of how I feel about needles that I gave him a cane sugar sucker and then took him to Starbucks for a hot chocolate and TWO pastries. This is why The Dungeon master usually takes kids to the doctor, but between the FMLA time he took when his father was dying and my medical issues, he has no sick time to spare.
Not such good luck getting to the school district office to get out of district release forms filled out though. They have moved, and even with GoogleNav I was not able to find the new location. I'll have to try another day which means MORE gas used and a delay in getting registration completed but I was just DONE driving around.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Fit is a feminist issue

In, 1984   the book Fat is a Feminist Issue was released. It was revolutionary and important in that it challenged the patriarchal expectations of beauty and how women literally kill themselves to fit a beauty norm.  A recent post by Ashley Judd shows that sadly, we're still fighting this battle. .
But then there is the flip side. The thing I have thought for years but hesitated to say. Have we gone too far? Have the people who rightly rail against sizeism inadvertently given people an out to not care for themselves? I can very much see someone saying to themselves it doesn't matter if they sit on the couch eating ding dongs because it would be WRONG to put effort into fitting America's beauty standard.
This is where I need to sidetrack and say what this is NOT about. This is not about a pants size or a number on the scale. We all know people who eat like crap and don't exercise but are skinny ( sometimes called "skinny-fat" ). We all know people who eat right and work out but will always be heavy boned or pear shaped. For the most part though, fitter people will be more slender and, with those skinny-fat people or healthy pears, you will be able to look at their skin and eyes and tell the difference.
Nor is this about make up, haircuts, or clothing. Or, for that matter, plastic surgery.
It's about fitness, and taking care of yourself so you have the energy to enjoy life, avoid illness, and be there for your loved one. No matter what size that makes you.
How does this tie into feminism? I was reflecting on that this morning as I hauled branches downed by our winter storms to the side yard. I was hauling some pretty big logs, some of them one handed. Back when we hauled the to the back yard in the first place, I was working along side my husband and (then) 14 year old son. And you know what?
I was working as their equal. IN the case of my husband, I can say that this is the first time in 19 years of marriage that I have felt I was his equal in heavy labour. The reason's pretty obvious to me: I work out, he doesn't.
It felt pretty empowering.
Yes ladies, we should not let the patriarchy and the advertisers decide how we should look. (Neither should you, men). On the other hand, if you want to feel like a man's equal, lift some weights, haul wood, swing a sledgehammer.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Failing at Easter

I try not to overdo the Easter basket thing. For me, Easter is about the Resurrection of Christ, and I never wanted to dilute that for my kids with the Easter Bunny or concerns about all the loot in their baskets. I don't do nothing at all though: we have small tins I bought at the dollar store years ago that I fill with home made candy.
This year the peanut butter eggs went off well, but I somehow broke the chocolate making the coconut haystacks. At 9:15 last night, as I was blearily getting in some before bed reading, I looked at The Dungeon Master and said: "I forgot to hard boil and dye eggs." He had a one word response. "Don't."
Then , I get up in the morning and put the peanut butter eggs in the tins. I pull the tray of chocolate bunnies out of the freezer and...they don't want to come out. I manage to pop out enough for the kids' tins, but only by slamming the try on the counter loudly enough to wake them all. I let my husband dig his out.
At this point, I was 100% sure I had failed at Easter.
(At this point, I'm sure even those readers who don't share my faith will say...."Wha.....? There are worse failures!")
I get to church, work for the first service in the nursery,and then meet my family for the service. All of them, together, with the teens not permitted to go sit with their friends. Now, I am usually a contemporary service girl, but on Easter I like the traditional service. We have an amazing choir, and the service always ends with Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus", complete with guest musicians. As we stood at the beginning of the service and began singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today", it came to me. I can NOT fail at Easter. No human can. Isn't that what Jesus died for? Because we are weak, imperfect humans? In the greater scheme of things, having to eat your coconut haystacks with a spoon means nothing in light of all Jesus has done for us, and asked us to do for our neighbors. That's not what it's about.
I feel truly refreshed this morning. I worked more, came home, and enjoyed the lovely coffee my loving husband had lovingly made me. I've boiled some eggs but will not bother dying them. I'll make devilled eggs that only Supergirl and I will eat. I will make a delicious uncured ham, mashed potatoes, and asparagus. But I will know that if something gets burnt or over salted or the eggs stick to the shells when I peel them, it won't matter. That's not what Easter is about.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Lenten Wilderness

It started well before Lent. By "it", I mean the medical issues I have previously detailed here .  Since writing that post, I had the visit with the gastroenterologist. After talking with me for all of maybe 10 minutes ( at most), she wanted to do a colonoscopy. I joked that I've always felt that a doctor would need to give me drugs before suggesting such a procedure, let alone undergoing it. She said she would consent to doing a completely useless celiac sprue test first. Even though I don't eat gluten. I agreed just because I hoped for ANY alternative.
By the time the letter arrived telling me that it had come back negative, I had gone through another excruciatingly painful cycle, and it was now Lent. When I called to schedule follow up, I asked about alternatives to the scope. What about a CAT scan or MRI? Should I not have a fecal occult blood test first?
No, no and no. We will do nothing more for you until we can shove something up your ass.
I went ahead and scheduled to scope, because at it's worst the pain is so bad I feel like I can't breathe. It was scheduled for Good Friday.
I soon discover that physical pain is NOTHING.
Without going into great detail, I will say that I Have Issues. My mental health quickly began to deteriorate. I couldn't sleep, or eat, I felt panicky all the time, and just getting through my days was an exercise in will power. Over the course of the 2 1/2 weeks I had the appointment, I must have called the gastro's office at least 3 times, asking if there was ANY other test we could do. On the third call, I explained my issues. The nurse asked if I "wanted to wait until I was more stable". I explained that I had been stable for almost 20 years and that the thought of this procedure was the cause of this instability. At this point the thought of a a doctor performing the scope on me and me then having to look her in the face and speak to her made me feel like vomiting. I constantly felt like a bird beating it's wings futilely against the bars of it's cage.
During this time, the few people who knew me well enough to know my issues were saying one, or both, of two things.
"You can use this as an opportunity for personal growth"
"You're the patient. No one can make you do this. Demand another test or another doctor."
I went with the latter.
I called my regular provider, and after explaining things to her nurse, was seen the next day. I was treated with sympathy and respect. She ordered the FOBT and the CAT scan. The CAT scan was scheduled guessed it...Good Friday. After talking about the current progression of my symptoms, she feels the likely culprit is endometriosis. I can live with that...literally...although that is not enough to keep my mind from going to bad places. Getting a test on Friday means you go into your weekend with no idea of your results. In this case and because of my beliefs, the most sacred weekend of the year. A time of hope and resurrection. I am at peace, though I know on Monday I'll be keeping my phone close.