Thursday, September 30, 2010

I think it's the sweetest hat ever.

For my mother's *mumble mumble* birthday, she decided to do a ladies-only tea party.  Our invite said that hats and gloves were highly recommended.  I took that as a challenge.


See these ladies and gentlemen here? They gave me inspiration.

Firefly/Serenity hat quote 
(for my fellow geeks out there)

Jayne: (wearing ugly homemade hat) "How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don'tchya think?"

Kaylee: "I think it's the sweetest hat ever."

Book: "Makes a statement."

Jayne: "Yeah, yeah!"

Wash: "A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything."

Jayne: "Damn straight."
Go big or go home.
So, I bought the biggest sun hat I could find.  Then I bought out the dollar store craft section.  This was the result.

We went to a tea room for the party.  Ladies were taking my picture left and right. My mom had to stick me in the corner, though:  no one wanted to get knocked in the head by my larger than life hat!

So versatile!

Not only did I wear this to my mother's tea party, but I was able to wear it again at a tea party for my daughter's Girl Scout troop. I won first prize for the best hat.  Are you surprised?

This post was prompted by the Red dress club.

A typical evening goes horribly wrong

A typical evening for us as a young couple; we've been married for about 2 years. I'm knee-deep in grad school work, and hubby is finishing up his cyber-work. Hubby packs up his martial arts gear, and informs me that he's going to stop over his parents' house after Tang Soo Do tonight. Just before he heads out the door he asks if he can have my last pizza pocket, but I turn him down. I'm planning to have it later. He grumbles, and heads out the door.

I dive head first into academic articles and essay drafts. The evening quickly flies by, when I realize it's already past 10pm. Wow -- hubby is hanging with his parents for a long time tonight!

10:45pm. Really? I didn't think my in-laws stayed up past 10pm. Did he have to get gas for the car on the way home?

11:15pm. Ok. There is NO WAY my husband would chat with his parents this late. They are early birds. I'm starting to get worried.

11:30pm. Worry turns to mild panic. I do what no young wife wants to do -- I call my in-laws. My mother-in-law picks up the phone.

"Is my husband still there?" Trying to sound casual, calling my in-laws at WAY too late in the evening.

"No, he left shortly after 9pm." says my mother-in-law sounding half-awake, half-annoyed.
What??? It only takes 30 minutes MAX to get home from there! Now full-fledged panic sets in.
"Did he say he was going to stop anywhere before heading home?" Me, still attempting to be rational...

"He said he was going to stop at an ATM." My mother-in-law is now fully awake. My mother-in-law quickly joins me in panicland.
We now babble back and forth about all the potential things that could have gone wrong. I think this is the most I have ever spoken to my mother-in-law.

Robbed and shot at the ATM? Kidnapped at the ATM? Broken down by the side of the road? Dead by the side of the road? Two women who love a man considering the "what ifs" -- a downward spiral of horrible scenarios.

My step-father-in-law finally intervenes. He says they are getting in the car, and going to drive the route to my house, and see if he is broken down by the side of the road. He thinks this is the most likely scenario. This is good for my mother-in-law because she is now DOING something about the panic, but now I'm stuck at home. Panicking.

So, I do what any rational adult would do. I call my mommy.

At this point, I'm sobbing and it probably takes several times through the story before my mom can understand what the problem is. She is over an hour away, so she recommends that I call my friend that is much closer, and have her come over to keep me calm. We also discuss calling the local hospitals.

I call my best friend Nicole, who is about 15 minutes away, but I swear she made it to my house in 7 minutes or less. In times of distress, you suddenly realize who your true friends are.

I start calling hospitals. "Has a mid-20s Asian male been admitted tonight?" No, no, no.

It is well past 1:30am in the morning. I'm a WRECK. My mother-in-law calls me again. They are in town, but they have decided to go to the police department instead of my apartment. They are going to see if they can file a missing person report.

As I am about to hang up with my mother-in-law, my husband walks through the door. He's surprised. I'm a sobbing mess. My best friend is there.

All I get out through my sobbing and hugging is "Where have you BEEN? Talk to your mother." I hand him the phone.

After I calm down, I find out that he went out for a night out with the boys from Tang Soo Do. Why didn't he tell me? Well, it just came up after practice tonight.

And he was mad at me because I didn't let him have my pizza pocket.

What marriage lessons did we learn from this incident?

My husband learned: ALWAYS tell me where he's going, and his approximate time of return. He also got to send flowers to everybody involved that panic filled evening. Wifey. His mother. My mother. My best friend.

I learned: Always keep the hubby well fed. And if he wants my food -- let him have it.

This story was prompted by the writing prompt from Mama Kat...

"And then I panicked"

P.S. This post was pre-approved by hubby.  I guess I'll have to feed him again.

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WMW: Hey mom! What does your work look like?

This is a prompted post for Working Mom Wednesday. I'm responding to "#2. Show us your life/ room/ work/ house/ drive to work, etc. in pictures!"

Geek goth mom style

This is my cube.  I work in IT at an automotive supplier. One of my fellow IT coworkers said my cube looked goth and he thought I was going to throw a rave party

12:00:  This is a hood covering the top of my cube, shielding me from the evil, skin melting fluorescent lights that beam down from above.  If I could, I would encase my entire cube.  I'm part IT geek, part vampire, part migraine-sufferer.  I HATE the light.  Please -- put me in a dark room.  At all times.

2:00:  The cold and flu viruses (plushy version), as well as my dragon neopet.  I figure if I keep the viruses on my desk, then I can't get infected. Nice idea in theory.

3:00:  Some photos I took at a Japanese garden.  They are to keep me calm.  Ohm.

4:00:  Water and Diet Mountain Dew.  This is what sustains all IT workers.  Male IT workers might go for the full-sugar version of the Dew.  Also, my fancy work phone and headset that I live on all day to call various areas of the world, including India, China, Germany, Slovakia and Holland (i.e. Holland, Michigan).  I live on conference calls, and rarely meet my teammates in person.

5:00: Paper.  Used for doodling during meetings.  And scratching things down when I'm sharing my screen with others, and can't pop up Notepad.

6:00: My ergonomic chair.  Yes, that is a chair, I swear.  The chairs at work SUCK.  I threw out my back last year, including having permanent nerve damage in my leg.  I brought this chair into work because they will only give me a different chair that also sucks.

8:00: Headset hooked to my laptop.  I can use it for an IP phone when I'm not at my desk, or listening to when I want to drown out the forklift

9:00: (From left to right).  My anniversary award.  An award for a project I was on.  My wedding picture. Tissues. Cool purple light.  Hand lotion.  Calendar. My laptop.

10:00:  PMI certification.  That means I'm an IT project manager.  AKA I'm mom at work, too.  Plus, lots of pictures of the kids and my niece.  And, my conference call info. 

11:00:  Cool purple lights, and skeleton kitty.

Dead center:  Monitor, keyboard, mouse and my worry stone

I hope you enjoyed the tour.

Conference call h*ll

And for those who would like the multimedia experience, I give you David Grady's Conference Call...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Post-it Tuesday: A unique baby shower


That One Mom

BWS tips button

I Am From...

This is a prompted post called "I am from..." Find out more about this prompt.

I am from ghost stories in the Ruthy's basement, from Cabbage Patch Kids and Big Wheels with the tires worn through.

I am from the blue colonial in the middle of French Creek, from the thick shag carpet and sturdy, coarse American Eagle couches. Surrounded by corn, soybeans and the Balmarts.

I am from the brown clay thumb pressed into bowls, the neighbor's herd of loud guinea hens running wild until we unleashed the cats.

I am from big Christmas gatherings with boisterous chatter and blond and blue eyes, from the soft spoken grandfather missing 3 fingers.

I am from the crowd-haters and migraines.
From See Ya Later Alligator and After While Crocodile!

I am from the heathens, cast off in a sea of Catholics. Going to hell because I was never baptized. Jealous because I never had a beautiful white communion dress.

I'm from rural Ohio, snobby suburbia, Finland, England, Germany and other European places only my ancestors know. City Chicken and Sushi.

From the science experiments and the philosopher's quotes at Grandma Nimelli's house, the apple pie and jar of hard candy at Grandma King's.

I am from the piles of books and boxes of trains and crocheted blankets. And a family that's loud but inviting to all that dare to approach. We've even adopted a few extra here and there -- or maybe we just don't let them leave.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My other kid

So, I was originally planning to write my Mama Kat writing prompt on 4) Your pets least likable character trait.

I was going to tell you some of the annoying traits of my 10-year-old puppy.  Such as how she is so anxious some days that she might literally explode out of her crate when I come home. And how she stares me down each night at 10pm because it's her bedtime... and I need to tuck her in!

However, last night at about 4am, she woke me. She was panting and pacing. After I tried letting her outside and back in, several times -- I knew something was amiss.

For the non-dog whisperers out there -- panting and pacing are signs of pain in dogs.

With no sign of injury, I had to go back to a reoccurring problem we've had since Annabelle's rear leg amputation (cancer) in June: phantom limb pain.

Fortunately, we still have pain medications prescribed by her vet. I gave her one (with the "prescribed" tablespoon of peanut butter), and lots of over-the-counter snuggles. She wouldn't come back upstairs to bed, instead going into her crate while the drugs took effect.

She seemed much better this morning -- back to normal in fact. I wish we could better understand and prevent this phantom limb pain. We go back for a check-up next week, so this will be at the top of my list.

Since my dog can't talk, anyone know someone who has experienced phantom limb pain?

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You know you are a working mom when...

Despite living in the 21st century, there are still other American women who think that moms belong in the home.  Not only that, but also working moms are causing the decline of AmericaYou know you are a working mom when you have to keep defending your choice to work.  And when that choice does not include the words "I'd stay home if I could...", then you must be a bad mom

Working mom guilt

You know you are a working mom when you are told you have an extra burden of mom guilt, because now your time with your kids must be 100% quality time.  No time wasted, lest you are neglecting your children.  And how dare you trust other adults with your children every day -- untrustworthy, amoral adults like daycare providers, teachers and camp counselors!

You know you are a working mom when -- despite that fact that study after study after study shows that working moms have nothing to worry about -- you still have guilt.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Scarecrows of Dow Gardens

The children's garden at Dow Garden in Midland, MI.  Each child made a scarecrow.

They look kinda like zombies.  I think they might scare off more than crows...

This one reminds me of Where The Wild Things Are.

Madison's scarecrow is channeling Raggedy Ann.

One of the zombie scarecrows is going against the grain.

Peter and Ruben are determined to keep more than just the crows away from their crops!

Cinderella can look fabulous while keeping away the pests.

Superman has another superpower: a green thumb.  Must be that farm boy background.

I think this is my favorite.  Super Crow. 

Are working moms at fault for the world's social ills?

So, I responded to My Little Life's post about The Refeminization of America , but I did not specifically address all the social ills that she had the "gut feeling" were connected to moms being out of the home.  I did this because she specifically mentioned she's not researcher, and did not back any of her thoughts up with evidence or research.  So, I thought I wouldn't go there.

However, lots of other people believe these social ills are connected. I really start twitching when people assume cause and effect.  My Little Life has a "hunch" that working mothers caused the "decline of America" including

"increases in crime rates, divorce rates, obesity, teen pregnancies, substance abuse"

Maybe it's the nerd in me, but before you start stating things like this -- at least have your facts straight.  Also -- please forgive the nerd.  She's very feisty.

OK.  I'm going to be very, very nerdy about this.  First, we have to see if there is a correlation.  That is, do the two rates (increasing working moms and increase in the social ill) have a complementary or parallel relationship (one increases and the other also increases).  Then, we can consider if these two might have a causal relationship.  In the real world, rather than in a lab world, this is always speculative at best, but at least we can consider if it is plausible, or if other factors to consider, and if other reasonable causes that may be at play.

Working moms

So, how many working moms are out there?  Here's that the statistics say:

"In the mid-1990s, 58 percent of mothers with children under the age of six, and nearly 75 percent of those with children between the ages of six and 18 were part of the paid labor force. The number of single mothers with full-time year-round jobs increased from 39 percent in 1996 to 49 percent in 2002. A growing percentage of married women living with their husbands work as well: 40 percent worked full time in 1992, compared with 16 percent in 1970. " Source: 

In general, the number of working moms has been increasing since the 1970s.  So, we will go with that assumption.  Agreed?

Crime rates

Increased crime rates with increased working moms:  NO correlation.

Crime rates have declined ever since the 1980s. No increases in violent crimes or property crimes.  There is lots of ideas about why the crime rates have declined so much, including 3-strikes-and-your-out and -- strangely enough -- reduced lead poisoning.

Violent crime rates for U.S. Source: Wikipedia

Property crime rates for U.S. Source: Wikipedia
Divorce rates

Increased divorce rates with increased working moms:  NO correlation. 

Divorces peaked in the 1970's.  It seems the experts agree that the increase directly related to the introduction of "no-fault" divorces.  These same experts agree that getting rid of no-fault divorces, as well as extending waiting periods during divorce, will reduce divorce rate even more.  Enjoy this article:  U.S. divorce rates returning to idyllic 1950s levels.


Increased obesity with increased working moms: Correlation.

I think anyone listening to the news knows that obesity has become an epidemic in the U.S. here's a few facts from the CDC:
Since 1980, overweight rates have doubled among children and between 1980 and 2000, obesity rates doubled among adults. About 60 million adults, or 30% of the adult population, are now obese. Obesity has tripled among adolescents – increasing the number of years they are exposed to the health risks of obesity.
OK. So, we have a correlation. Now what? So, is the most plausible cause for obesity that there are more working moms? Are there other factors at work here? Clearly, poor diet and exercise are the most direct environmental causes of obesity. But, I think that is not what we are looking for here. In terms of the research, the closest thing I found talked about "family factors." Read here:

Parent-child interactions and the home environment can affect behaviours related to risk of obesity. Family life has changed a lot over the past two decades, with trends towards eating out and greater access to television than previously. Children consume more energy when meals are eaten in restaurants than at home, possibly because restaurants tend to serve larger portions of energy dense foods. A bedroom television increases viewing by 38 min per day. By contrast, eating family dinner seems to decrease television viewing and improve diet quality (less saturated and trans fat, less fried food, lower glycaemic load, more fibre, fewer soft drinks, and more fruits and vegetables).Moreover, social support from parents and others correlates strongly with participation in physical activity. In view of these results—relating psychosocial factors to dietary and physical activity behaviours that affect energy balance—it is not surprising that children who suffer from neglect, depression, or other related problems are at substantially increased risk for obesity during childhood and later in life.
So, I didn't find a direct relationship between working moms and obesity, one can draw some relationships between working moms being too busy to prepare healthy meals, leading to more eating out and less healthy options at home. However, keep in mind that this study listed this one paragraph causal factor after several pages documenting genetic, physical activity and diet causes of obesity.

At my house, no TVs are allowed in bedrooms. No TV at dinnertime, and we eat at the dinner table every night, even when one parent is not home. But, we are not perfect. We are currently in a battle with my daughter about how many "treats" she is allowed to have each week (even though these are usually something like a sugar-free Popsicle); we have limited her to 3. She recently scribbled over the "treat calendar" in frustration. Doh.

Teen pregnancy

Increased teen pregnancy with increased working moms:  No correlation.

While the article I got this graphic from is specifically talking about a recent rise in teen pregnancies (since 2005), overall, teen pregnancies have increased into the 1980s, then decreased throughout the 1990s during the age of working moms.  Overall, there has been a decrease since the 1970s. In other words -- no correlation. 

Substance abuse

Increased substance abuse with increased working moms:  No correlation.

Apparently these kinds of statistics are hard to come by, but a study by Frontline put the numbers together from 1979 to 1998 for illegal, and that seems to suffice for our purposes of correlation.

I also found another graph from the NIH that looks at alcohol induced cirrhosis of the liver (which is indicative of alcoholism), and it has decreased as well.

Rates of Alcohol-Related Liver Cirrhosis

This nerd is done.

So, of our five social ills, only one is correlated with an increase in working moms!  Please ladies and gentlemen.  Do your homework.  Or you will unleash the nerd.

Monday, September 20, 2010

SAHM vs. Working moms: Let Mortal Kombat BEGIN!

Ok.  I swear I'm not one to start battles, but I read a post by a fellow blogger, My Little Life, and it just struck a nerve. She titled it "The Refeminization of America"and called for an "anti-feminist" movement.  Though she is a working mom herself, she thinks all moms belong in the home.  OUCH.

I'm in a hostile environment. I'm totally unprepared.

As I read the comments, I was very surprised at how many of the commenters agreed with her. So, before I start my rant, I want to set my own ground rules:
  1. I am all for both stay at home moms and working moms.  In fact, I don't know why we are so often on the "opposing sides." Why can't we just get along and be happy for the decisions that other mothers have made?
  2. As this is a semi-political post, I welcome any comments that are well thought out.  I'm quite open-minded.  However, any trolls or attacks will be summarily deleted.
I'm a full time working mom.  I work not because I have to -- because I want to.  Because I'm a better mom and a better person by working at a full-time professional job. I graduated with honors from a top college;  I got my Masters degree in a technical field. I have always wanted to work and pursue a career;  I have also wanted to have a family.  I do not see these as in conflict. Neither does my husband.  He also works full-time at a professional job.  No, we do not need both of our incomes;  we could survive on one.  But, this is the best situation for us.  And it is not about stuff, though the extra income does provide us more choices for our children, and we use it (college savings, preschool, life insurance, etc.).

Prove it?

It would not be good for my children or my mental health for me to be a stay-at-home mom.  Anyone who knows me personally would agree. I would go crazy at home with my kids all day. I give kudos to stay at home moms!  You have a very hard job. My brain does not function well on toddler time.  I say this honestly; some people are better fit for this kind of work.  I'm better fit for working with business people, programmers, and various other IT geeks.  I don't see this as a character flaw. I think I'm an asset.

Does this mean that I'm not a good mom? I think I'm a pretty good mom.  Better than most, in fact.

We -- my husband and I --  love our children and we work hard to make the best decisions for them.  So, we found a wonderful at-home daycare.  Then, we found a wonderful Montessori preschool. Then we found a wonderful full-time day camp during the summers between school sessions.

We make it work.  For us.  I wish the business world and society was more supportive of us working moms, but we still make due.

We are not alone. 

Now, it seems the response to this is that we are -- or specifically I am -- allowing someone else to raise my children;  I say no.  My husband and I are raising our children. My kids know who is in charge and who loves them -- mom and dad.  They also have lots of wonderful adults around them that mom and dad have chosen to influence their values and education. I don't think it is a problem to have other reasonable adults influencing my children; in fact, I think it is a good thing. Also, mom and dad are actively involved with the caregivers to make sure that our wishes and concerns are forefront.   

Case in point:  I have just exchanged 3 long emails with my daughter's first grade teacher over a teasing incident at lunch. I'm less involved with my kids just because I work full-time? Please.

I made a choice. This is OUR tournament, remember?

Why is someone else going to tell me that I should have stayed home?

Would that really a better decision for me?

I don't think so.  

Why else would I have chosen such a disreputable-looking cretin?

By the way -- my husband is NOT demasculinized.  He happens to be a 5th degree black belt;  if that's not masculine, I don't now what is.  And yes, he respects me.  And yes, he even brings me flowers -- for no reason at all.  Just because he loves me.  Awwwww.

Now, back to where I started.  When moms, even another working mom, start saying things like "moms belong at home" then that is a moral value call on other mother's decisions. Why can't we just stand by each mother's right to make whatever work decisions she feels is right for her family?

My story is just one.  There are also single moms, mixed families with step kids, military moms and multi-generational homes -- just to name a few!  There is no one size fits all, so let's not pretend there is. And let's not pretend there is even one "ideal." There is not an ideal, when there each family must make decisions based on the situation they are in.

Why are people still making up this silly "war" between moms when we all have made decisions for our own reasons.  We are all on the same team!


My inner-nerd has been unleashed.  With statistics.  Enjoy.

Are working moms at fault for the world's social ills?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is there a Know-it-all gene?

I do crossword puzzles as something occupy my brain when my husband is watching "quality" TV like Ultimate Fighting or golf, so I usually have a few puzzles floating around the house.

I picked up one of these puzzles recently, and noticed that my first grade daughter had filled in one of the answers for me.  Three-letters, the clue was:

____ You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

The first grader filled in the answer:


I fear I have passed on my know-it-all gene to her.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Five Question Friday: Red Wings, Nerds and The Week

1. What is the first nightmare you remember?

Gosh, I barely remember my dreams even now.  But most of my nightmares usually involve forgetting to do something important, then being chased by "the bad guy."

2. Even if you're not a sports fan, what's your favorite sport to play/watch?

I'm not a big sports fan, but I also don't mind watching sports, either.  I'm a typical Michigander who enjoys some Red Wings Hockey, Pistons B-Ball and college (A-hem... University of Michigan) football. 

Of course, my girly gene comes out strong during the Olympics (both Winter and Summer), and I love me some ice skating and gymnastics.

3. If you could pull off one piece of trendy fashion, what would you want it to be (jeggings, hats, thigh high boots, etc.)?

Skinny jeans.  NOT.  Hey... I get my fashion trends from the Disney Channel now, so I'm a little out of it.

4. Did you make good grades in school?

That would be an understatement.  Nerd.

5. What magazines do you subscribe to?
The Week.  I love it.  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a truly balanced news magazine that gives a good summary of the week's news, as well as covering arts and other lighter topics.


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