Thank you for dropping by!

I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.

Friday, October 7, 2016

My Outrage at Your Outrage

Donald Trump made some extremely vulgar comments to Billy Bush and it was caught on on tape and everyone is outraged.

First of all, I don't actually know who Billy Bush is, so I'm not going to lie, after I realized it wasn't a member of THE Bush family, based on the content of the tape, the irony of his name made me laugh.

And then I got really, really pissed.

But not at Trump or this Billy guy.

They are idiots.

I'm pissed at YOU.

Yes, YOU, oh Outraged Horrified One.

Are you kidding me?

THIS pisses you off?


This is a shock?  This is offensive?

How the hell did you think the world worked, Pollyanna?

Women comprise 4% of the CEOs in the Fortune 500. 4%  Yet they earn a third of the MBAs.

Did you think we just busted our asses through business school and thought naw... we don't want the jobs?

I've worked in the casino industry and in financial services for nearly my entire career.  Do you think what Donald Trump said surprises me in the least?

Do you think that in 25 years no gross, slobbery, fat, bloated, hair plugged ego maniac offered to sleep with my then adorable 25 year old self?

How about a pathetic middle manager or two?

Or even the sleazy 20 something colleague because "Hey, nobody would really need to know, would they?"

Do you know that I do have nice male colleagues that shared that I was voted "Most Fuckable" in my office?  And no, that didn't come with a trophy-- just the "honor."

The awkward cornering in the coffee rooms, the leering, the fact that you can't have lunch with a male co-worker without the rumor mill starting--

I have to say, I am happy that I got fat.  It made my professional life soooo much easier.

And speaking of fat, out of all the awful, misogynistic things that man has said about women- it causes problems in a marriage when wives work, women need a nice rack to be successful, abortion should be criminally punished-- calling Miss Universe fat is what pissed everyone off at the debate?

So sure, be all offended.  Act surprised.

Did you even noticed that his defense of Pussygate was that Bill Clinton is a bigger pig than he is? 

You know what's REALLY wrong with that--


THAT'S the issue.

He debated her husband's policies.

For once, I agree with Sniffles the Clown.

He's right.

Bill is a pig.

But here's the thing, Sniffles, this is for you-


Hillary is.

The woman.

The one with the pussy.

The one with the rack.

And when you interrupted her 51 times--

51 freaking times-

she wasn't shocked.

I wasn't shocked.

Because she's used to it.

As am I.

And I'm sure in her 20s, she ran with a powerful group of men, men with bigger hands than you who I'm sure offered to "buy her furniture."

So go ahead, America.

Be all shocked.


This is what we've been trying to tell you for the past few hundred years.

This is what's been going on in the workplace where we still don't earn what men earn when we do the same job.

This is what you've said we've been overly sensitive about.

Too PC about.


Now grow up and stop looking so surprised.

The only person he owes an apology to is his wife.

Stop being stupid.

He's exactly what he is.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Parenting, Glass Ceilings, Marriage, Gardens, etc...

I've started a few blogs lately and haven't been able to finish them.  They were more like babbles than well written essays.

I usually write about my kids on their birthdays.  Yesterday, my son turned 14.  He's awesome.  While we were out to dinner we saw a 2-3 year old completely out of control, eating sugar packets while drinking a soda.  So I thought maybe I could write a blog about parenting basics- including don't let your toddler eat sugar packets.  You know-- that deep insightful stuff.

Last weekend, I celebrated 20 years in financial services by hosting an appreciation event with my clients.  It was nice.  Looking back over 2 decades, it still makes me laugh at the blatant sexism I faced.  And how completely naive I was to think we had passed that some time in the 80s.  But interestingly, in 2016, so much is still the same, it's shocking.  I always think of Ginger Rogers commenting how she did everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in heels, but he was the star.  Granted things are better, but 20 years better?  Not even close.  You think stockbroker, you think man.  I started a blog on feminism but I don't really have an answer so it seemed like I was bitching. Like an angry, bitter woman.  Sigh.  That wasn't going to help.

Marriage.  That's been interesting as my husband and I approach our 15th and found ourselves completely retooling everything this summer.  But that's personal and I chose to not blog about it.  Although as my good friend Bill said "That's the shit people need to hear."  Maybe one day.  Not today.

And my garden.  I lost myself intentionally in my garden this year.  It had a rough start but found it's soul and I've been busy pickling and canning and getting ready for the fall.  There were so many analogies to what was going on in my life to my garden.  So many.  But it's all pretty raw and I couldn't write about it.  Plus, in the southwest, our gardening season isn't done.  Maybe when I'm pulling everything out, I'll be able to write about it.

With all these ideas floating in my head, it was interesting that what came to mind tonight, so clearly was my grandmother Viola.

I've written about her once or twice in the past.

She was my grandma on the Italian side.  Only she wasn't this big, squishy, lovable woman who smelled of garlic.  She was northern Italian.  "We aren't all sloppy like that" she would say.  We had nothing in common but we had everything in common.  In fact, she told me once that the reason we probably didn't get along well is because we were so much alike.

She was the queen of the backhanded compliment -- "You'll age well because you'll look prettier as you get older.  You don't have any looks to lose like the other girls and compared to them, you'll be pretty."  I like to think she was saying I had a classic look.  Or when she told me I was a good mother-- and she meant it.  I know this because it was followed by "I'll be honest, I didn't really expect it.  I'm surprised."  I laughed and said "Me, too." 

She warmed up to me in my 20s as I learned to sew.  She was a fantastic seamstress.  She made so many quilts, clothes, aprons for us over the years.  I made her a pillow- two actually.  The first one was a disaster but she took a nap on it every day.  So I made the second one.  She said it was too nice and she didn't want to ruin it.  I told her the first one was awful and she didn't have to pretend to like it.  She told me "Lori- in all my years of making things for people, you're the first person to ever sew anything for me."  (Now to all my aunts' and cousins' credit- because they are all super nice and not at all selfish and awful as this implies and I'm pretty sure they HAD made her things-- my grandmother could be a bit.. um.. critical.  I never really cared about what she said, or maybe I was so stupid that it didn't matter, and I gave her my awful, poorly made & designed pillow. ) For the next 10 years, she took her afternoon nap on it. 

But the best, most genuine compliment she gave me was one my marinara sauce.  She loved it.  She wasn't faking it.  During her last year, my dad was staying with her during the day.  She was my mom's mom and never really liked my dad much.  And since I'm like my dad... well...  Anyhow, as my dad kept her company, they became quite good friends.  To both their surprise.  And with my dad spending time with her, because I called my dad every day and he was at her house, I got to talk with her.  The year before she and I had started chatting about once a month or so when I had my son.  Usually about cooking or gardening or what he was doing (she adored him which was not her norm).  She not only was a good cook, she had had an AMAZING garden growing up, so we talked about my tomatoes.  It was during one of those calls I told her I had found this fantastic marinara sauce.  When I went to visit her- for what we both knew would be our last visit-- she asked me to make the marinara sauce for her.  I was surprised- I had forgotten we had talked about it.  The recipe was 2000 miles away.  I called home thinking there was no way I could explain to my husband where it was.  But he found it.  He could hear in my voice how important it was.

And around her table, for that last time, I knew I had her respect.  Most definitely.  She devoured it and told me she liked it better than her own. 

Tomorrow my son is having a birthday party with some friends.  Every year I make him a chocolate cake (my recipe, not my grandmother's-- okay, honestly, it's the chocolate cake recipe on the Hershey cocoa can) but with my grandmother's crazy good fudge icing.  If you like chocolate, this is to die for. 

Even though I've made the frosting 100+ times, I still get out the cookbook my grandmother hand wrote for me.  Her notes in the margins.  Poems she liked intermingled.

And she was there with me.  In that stand offish way that was her.  In her "My job is to train you, not to coddle you" manner that she had but somehow she still was fun- like how she used to freeze snow every year so we could have snowball fight on her birthday in July.  She always tried something new and never seemed to quit learning.  She appreciated that I sent her Christmas cookies that WEREN'T her recipes.  She would call and ask me about the cookies I had made.  She loved my brown sugar pecan sliced cookies.

After spending the last month canning- I had made my clients pickles from the cucumbers in my garden and had canned my marinara sauce for the fall- and cleaning up my garden throughout the week for the fall/cool weather garden- it was grandma that was woven through my entire last year.  Our conversations on parenting, on how she had wished she had had the opportunities I had for school, on what a pain in the ass marriage can be but you stick with it, on my garden...

This whole past year which was at times overwhelming and exhausting with so many little things being thrown at me that I actually broke down this summer in tears in the parking lot at my office--all that-- and yet in the midst of the self pity quagmire, I pulled myself together, stood up, brushed myself off and turned it all around.  All of it. 

And there she had been the whole time.  Ingrained somehow in my soul.  Cheering me on.  Well, not cheering but the voice in my ear  essentially telling me to suck it up and put on my big girl pants- life isn't what's in the brochures, but it certainly doesn't suck unless you let it.  There's was nothing in my life that wasn't fixable and what an amazing blessing that is.  My grandmother wasn't a fan of the pity party. 

So when I pulled out the cookbook to double check the recipe, I could see her smile -- the smile she gave me at the table when we shared that last meal.  That "You did it. Not bad."  No hug, of course, because that would be sloppy.  Like the southern Italians.  But I could feel her genuine, rare approval.

And everything that I am seemed to come together as the cake baked and I made the frosting.  My heritage, my life woven into the core of who I am. 

My children, my business, my marriage and my garden are thriving now.  They needed time.  They needed work.  I needed to reevaluate priorities.

And it will be perpetual.  And it will not be easy. And there will be obstacles and hurdles.

But I will be fine.

Because I am Viola's granddaughter. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Zen of Gardening

I haven't really blogged a lot lately.  It's been hard to find nice things to blog about.

And then I put in my garden.

It's been two years since I've had a garden. 

The last year in our old house, since I knew we were going to list our house I didn't put one in.  The year before our then newly adopted dog mistook my tomatoes for balls.  THAT was frustrating. Then, our first year in our new house, we were building the pool and there wasn't time to put one in.

I almost didn't get one set up this year.

Fortunately, El Nino was on my side and we had a freakishly cool spring and I was able to get one set up.

Boy have I missed it.

I first started gardening at 7.

You read that right.


I stumbled upon a book in the library about postage stamp gardening for kids.  I went home, dug up part of the yard much to my parents surprise and went to town planting my first garden.

I'm not kidding.

They were a little less than thrilled.

I had a habit of replanting tree seedlings all over the yard so they figured at least they would help me set it up.  Try to reign it in a bit.

They didn't need to help me- I had my book, I was good to go.

I also had the benefit of Mr. Morrison who lived behind us and was a retired farmer.  He thought it was fun to watch me get excited about my garden.

I learned that nitrogen created too much leaf and not enough fruit- great for growing spinach, not great for tomatoes.

I also learned that horse manure had more nitrogen than cow manure.  It was better for your leafy crops, but in general if you were going with manure, cow was the better, more versatile bet.

(This became an interesting tidbit as I went off to my fancy Ivy League college in central New York- an area even more rural than where I grew up.

I was driving with some friends with from the New York City area and we went past a field and one of them commented about the nasty smell of cow shit.

I said, without hesitation said "Oh no- that's horse shit."

They all got quiet and started laughing.

So I added "Horse shit has a much more pungent aroma due to the higher nitrogen concentration..."

We then drove past a horse farm and they all looked at me, a little surprised and a little impressed.  Not a cow in site.

"What can I say?  I know my shit."

Taught them city folk a thing or two.)

So flash ahead, I'm living in Las Vegas, I went a little crazy with houseplants.  When we finally got our first house, I was THRILLED to put in a real garden.  I also had the advantage that my father-in-law was a gardener.  In fact, I married into a ranching family that was one of the original ranching families in the areas.  He gave me great tips on gardening in the desert.  We didn't have much in common, but we both lit up when we talked about gardening.

One argument we had was about corn.  He said I couldn't grow it.  I bet him that I could. 

Unfortunately, he passed away before I harvested anything from my garden.

As my corn came in, I found out that I needed to hand pollinate.  That included pulling back the husks, separating the silks and massaging the pollen into the ears.

Yes.  It was hilarious as it sounds.

And to make it even funnier as my husband watched me hand pollinate the corn, I cranked up the stereo with Barry White.

We got corn.  I won the bet.

I've just never had the heart to plant it again, though.

My husband, however, has had many times to laugh at me in the garden.  There's my hat for one thing.  Gotta have a hat.

There was also that time the middle of the night when I went outside, covered it in blankets and kept my tomatoes warm with my blow dryer during the first early frost. 

Yes.  I did that.

My kids helped me from the time they were small.  My son when he was a toddler had a habit of picking my watermelons and bringing them to me to announce they weren't ready yet.  I eventually stopped planting them.  A picture of him watering the tomatoes when he was 2 used to be part of the master gardener tomato class- "So easy even a 2 year old can do it!"

One of my favorite memories with my daughter was when she was about 4 months old and I had her on a blanket as I weeded my herb garden. I had her smell each herb.  She loved the lemon thyme and basil.  The mint made her wrinkle her nose.  I remember how she closed her eyes and took deep breaths- like she knew what we were doing.  It was magical.

In fact, if you ever want to see me completely get excited about something- ask me about gardening.  I could go on for hours.

There is something about putting a seed in dirt and watching it grow that brings me peace.

Gardening taught me patience.

It only goes so fast.

Gardening taught me that no matter how perfect the plan, you have to adjust the plan as you go.  There are just some variables you can't manage.  This year's El Nino-- never had plant fungus before... learned a few new things.

Gardening has taught me that the environment matters.  That nurturing matters.  That the seed matters.  You can't just plant something and expect it to thrive.  You have to watch it.  But if you do too much, you can kill it- over fertilize, over water, over do it.

Gardening taught me that what's under the ground matters as much as what's above the ground.  Pretty leaves and flowers don't mean anything if you have grubs and a weak root system.  

Gardening taught me that every plant needs different things.  Root veggies need more calcium and phosphorus.  Tomatoes need more calcium and to rotate because they can't grow in the same place year after year or they will stop producing.  Certain vegetables compliment each other.  Others don't.  Some pretty flowers are great pesticides- like marigolds- and others are wonderful at attracting bees- like echinacea.  And of course, without bees, you have nothing.

So gardening taught me balance- you need the little bugs to eat the grubs, the bees to pollinate, the lady bugs to eat the aphids... everything has a purpose and a role.

But this year, my garden has brought me peace.

It made me slow down.  My kids are remembering the taste of fresh vegetables.  They both spent much of their childhoods pulling cherry tomatoes off plants an eating them.  They get to do that again.  I like knowing that if I need herbs, they are out in my garden.  Every morning, the dogs go out to  "walk the fields and check the crops" with me and get a treat of fresh kale. 

I joined an online group of fellow Las Vegan gardeners and it's made Facebook fun again.  I even went to a rose society meeting and met some really interesting people. 

Apparently, gardening has even more to offer me.

So maybe to you, it looks like I planted a garden.

To me, I planted a little bit of heaven- or at least what I imagine it must be.

Armenian Cucumber blossom
A green pepper about to be born....
Eggplant blossom.

In just a few weeks it's already busting at the seems- it doesn't even look like this... it's like a baby picture....

Marigolds- nature's pesticide.  So pretty yet so stinky.

Maters in the desert.

Next venture... roses...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Klan and Me

I grew up in a fairly small community in the rust belt in east central Ohio.  It was a mix of steel mills and dairy farms.

The Erie Canal ran through the farming community and expanded the area into a decent industrial community attracting immigrants to work in the mills.

It was not a diverse community then.  It is still 97% white.

I spent quite a bit of time with my grandmother while I was growing up.  I've always enjoyed the company of older people and both my grandmother (my mother's mother) and my grandfather (my father's father) were exceptional yarn spinners. I loved listening to their tales of the past- of the wars, life in Appalachia, relatives past- it was history brought to life.

My mother's side is Italian and my grandma would tell me stories about how her family came to the United States.  She was born here but some of her older siblings were not.  A set of twins had died in Italy before her parents moved.  They came through Ellis Island and settled directly in my small town and opened a small grocery store.  They loved their new country.  My great grandfather insisted they speak English and he embraced his new culture.  They were from the more northern part of Italy. 

They were, for all intents and purposes a fairly affluent family.  Small business owners. 

There were other Italian immigrants who also moved to the area.  Many, like my grandfather, had come specifically to work in the steel mills.  His family originally settled in Chicago where he was born and then moved eastward.

The new immigrants to the area were not received with opened arms, according to my grandmother.  In fact, they were often visited and threatened by men with pillowcases on their heads, as my grandmother described them.

Needless to say, that was the Klan.  You see, my hometown is just far enough to the South that until the 70s, there was an active Klan group.

Ahh... the sweet life of small town living....

Now, Italians are pretty good at being an organized group.  In fact, they came over with their own club- the Cosa Nostra- "our thing" or as you might know it, the mafia or the mob.

Since my grandmother's family was from the north, they were not part of it.

They also were not Anglo-Saxon so they were not part of the Klan.

My grandmother would tell stories of how both groups would try to convince her father to turn against the other.  Her father continued to do business with both groups.

And for awhile, being Switzerland so to speak, seemed to work.  Her family was happy.  Then the Depression came.

Money became tight.

And because her father refused to be loyal to either group, they ran his business into the ground and her family lost everything.

And I would say that she was exaggerating- because she was prone to do so-- but when she described the cross that was burned in their front yard and I could still see the fear in her eyes-- I knew that she hadn't been.

She had to drop out of school for a period of time and work as a domestic worker, cleaning houses, cooking, doing laundry.  She told me how she asked one family if they wanted her to wash the fancy pillowcases with the holes in them.  She returned to high school (at the encouragement of a teacher she was working for) and finished but returned to working as a domestic worker until she married my grandfather.

It was an unspoken history in my town.  Certain families were in the mob.  Certain families were in the Klan.

Growing up, I didn't know who was who but my grandmother did.  I knew exactly where the Klan farm had been.  When I met the kids of the people who owned it, they were nice to me and we all assumed time had moved on.

In fact, in my 20s, I dated a very nice man that I had gone to high school with and became close with his grandmother.  She was the same age as my grandmother.  When I asked if she remembered my grandmother- after all, it was a very small town and they both had lived there for 70 years- she danced around the question. It made her visibly uncomfortable.

I asked my grandma.  She was usually direct.  She really liked the guy and said she was sure they had probably met at some point.  She brushed it off.   It wasn't until he and I had been dating for more than a year that I pushed my grandma about it-- she didn't seem interested in meeting his grandmother.  I  couldn't understand-- they had so much in common.  They could be friends! Then my grandma in her more blunt manner said "I've met her family before-- they came to visit with sheets on their heads.  Trust me, she knows exactly who I am."

My jaw dropped.

His family's farm was right around the corner from the Klan farm.

This wasn't some history book.  This was my family's history.  This was my family's history colliding with his family's history  like a Danielle Steele novel. 

Well, not that interesting. I'm not a Countess in hiding. At least not that I know of...

His grandmother eventually did say "Oh... I think I remember meeting Viola..." 

And she was always kind and lovely to me.  And my grandmother was always kind and lovely to him.

And to me, it meant the world had moved on. His family truly could not have been kinder.

The Klan was something in the past.

It was dead.

When David Duke ran for Senate, I had the misfortune of visiting Louisiana.  I say misfortune because it warped my perception of Louisiana permanently.

It seemed silly and dated.

People were smarter than that.

They were.

He lost.

But now.... just last week there were Klansmen at the Republican caucus near my HOME.  In my city that is NOT 97% white.

In my city that I love because of the richness of its diversity.

The Ku Klux Klan.

A major presidential candidate has their support.

He refuses to denounce them.


This is not okay.

This is not even a little bit okay.

This is not funny.

This is terrifying.

This is how Hitler came to power.

People not voting.  People too busy with their own lives to pay attention.  People saying "Oh there goes Mama Bean again, all worried about silly politics..."

It matters.

It matters a lot.

This is real. 

This is happening right now in one of the most diverse countries in the world.

A candidate is running on the platform of hate.

Just like Adolph Hitler.

He is blaming immigrants and minorities for all issues.

He wants to turn back the clock.

Back to when my grandmother had a cross burning on her yard.

Because they came to this country to make a better life.

Please, turn off the Kardashians.

Please become engaged.

Please vote.

We can disagree on economic issues.

We can disagree on the best ways to reform immigration and education.

We can disagree on many things.

We cannot disagree on racism.  This is not who we are as a country.

Read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" to see how quickly angry zealots can destroy a country. In less than a year, Iran went from a progressive nation with less gender disparity than the US had at the time to a regressive nation which oppresses human rights.

In a YEAR.

Voting matters.

This matters.

This is real.

Please do not sit idly by.

(I would also like to add the post thought that I appreciate that because I am white, I can make the comment that we moved on past the Klan in my home town.  I am very aware that racism has persisted and is alive and well in this country.  The Klan, however, and its hatred, to me, seemed to be waning and not growing.  I was clearly mistaken.

While racism effects all of us, I am not so arrogant as to say it impacts me the same way as a person of color.

However, if you are Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Latino-- the Klan hates us all.)

Some links:

Klan History in Tuscarawas County

Auction Time

Ohio Klan History

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dear Gloria Steinem and Secretary Albright

Dear Gloria Steinem and Secretary Albright,

Thank you.  Thank you for everything you have done.

In fact, Secretary Albright, I like you so much that my daughter's name was Madeline for a few hours after she was born.  It didn't quite fit her, so we didn't stick with it.

That's how much I like you and how much I respect everything you have done in your career.

I really liked you when I watched an extensive multi-hour documentary on PBS about the Clinton administration and why you left.  You were forthright and I looked at my husband and said "Wow- she does not mince words.  I like her."

I also acknowledge that the sins of a husband are not the sins of a wife. 

And Ms. Steinem, I've read quotes by you at a women's group with which I am active.  You have motivated me to break down barriers.

I work in an industry that when I started, was only about 15% female.  I was happy at an investment conference last summer because I FINALLY had to stand in line for the bathroom.  I was sad that when I posted that observation on Facebook only 4 male friends liked it because the other men had no clue why I would be excited about standing in line at the bathroom.  So there's a long way to go, but that's progress.

I attribute my fortitude to much of what I've read that you've written, the movement that you helped direct and creating a pathway for me to be all that I want to be.

However, as a feminist, I was so incredibly offended by what each of you has said over the past few weeks that it makes my head hurt.

I also would like to say that I understand that Secretary Clinton is not responsible for what you said.

The comments were flippant.  They were ridiculous.

Had Trump said them, I would have rolled my eyes.  But you....

So since you think that I am some silly girl who has no respect for the fight that you fought (and we continue to fight, as a side note), let me explain in detail why I am supporting Sen. Sanders in the Democratic Caucus next week.  I actually think I might explain it better than he does, to be honest.

I am supporting him because he is addressing the root causes of the primary issues facing our nation today and holding us back:  political corruption and economic inequality.

Government cannot function in today's environment.  Sen. McConnell was threatened by his own party to tow the line and was primaried by a well-funded opponent.  Congressman Boehner couldn't take it any more.  They weren't allowed to find the common ground.  And it's not just the Republican Party.  On our team, special interest groups use endorsements and contributions to force elected officials to vote their way or be challenged.

In fact, one reason I won't run for any office is because I would never want to be beholden to donors.

It is wrong.

Nothing can be done until we address this issue.


The fact that he is the ONLY candidate discussing this issue is important to me.

I also had the privilege of attending a few smaller events with the Senator.  He really does not care who you are or how much money you donate.  Truly.  He left a VIP room- pissing off more than a few people- to make sure that a rally of 3,000 people started on time.

So he walks the walk and earned my respect.

He is the only candidate that has a fundamental plan to address the root of economic inequality- whether it be racially based or gender based.

And I'm not talking about equal pay or raising the minimum wage.

I'm talking about funding education.

It's not pie in the sky.  When you were both in college, it was possible to work a summer job and pay your tuition.   It's impossible now.

You had the opportunity.  I sorta had the opportunity- my state offered scholarships to state universities for students with certain GPAs and ACT scores.  Tuition would have been free for me had I opted to attend a state school.

So why not the young people today?

"Reach one, teach one" I just heard the other day.  I want every smart student who wants to go on for higher education to have the ability to do so.  I want to pull people up and give them the same opportunities that we had.  Not say it's impossible.  Find a way to make it possible.

I want for-profit universities to not be eligible for federally subsidized student loans.

Education provides opportunity which reduces poverty and crime rates. 

Sen. Sanders talks about specific plans to make the playing field fair.  Corporations should not have more tax privileges than small business owners.  I am a small business owner.  I am sick and tired of every large corporation being offered tax incentives to come to my state- no taxes for them, mean more for me. I joke that small business owners are the Atlas of the US economy. I can't go offshore. We pay for EVERYTHING. 

Including health care. I can't get discounted rates from insurers because I'm not a big enough group plan.  The Affordable Care Act has made health insurance less affordable in many ways.  I am happy about the accessibility but having a national plan that I could opt into for my employees would be fantastic.  I want to run a business, not spend time shopping health coverage.  It seems ridiculous to me that we are the only industrialized nation without a national health care plan.  When did my running a business obligate me to offer benefits?  In fact, I've always been amazed that conservatives haven't jumped on the national health care plan.  I'd gladly pay a tax that is shared by everyone rather than insurance premiums that is unevenly split amongst fewer people.

In summary, I find that his ideas and plans address the key fundamentals that are dragging our society back into a Gilded Age.  They are not policies that simply say "Give more money to this group" or "Change that law..."

It is fundamental restructuring.  Like FDR. 

I don't accept "It can't be done. We shouldn't even try."

You didn't accept it when they said women should stay home and not bother themselves with silly things like politics and other "men's" issues.

And I won't accept that what we have is the best we can do.

THAT is why I am supporting Sen. Sanders.

Not to meet boys.

Not because I don't respect the feminist movement.  I just don't think it's done.  I don't think we've even come close to scratching the surface of inequality. Being born poor shouldn't mean you stay poor.

So thank YOU for showing me that women can do anything. 

But on this issue as to why I support Sen. Sanders over Sec. Clinton, I very kindly disagree.

I wouldn't vote for a candidate because she's a woman any more than I would vote for a candidate because she's white.

I would vote for the person that I think is more aligned with my values.

In this case, it's the loud, old white guy from Vermont that sometimes spits when he talks.


Mama Bean

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How I Parent (which should not be taken as How to Parent)

There have been a few articles circulating on the webisphere about how to parent.  One will say parents are too easy on the kids.  The other will say parents' expectations are too high.  One will say parents need to be aggressive.  Another will say we need to focus on compassion.

It's all very confusing. 

I'm not going to lie- I've gotten help parenting from two books.  One was "Babywise" which discussed the importance of putting a baby on a schedule.  Despite some of the negative buzz on this book, it did NOT say a ridiculous, minute by minute schedule.  In fact, it even made fun of that by saying that people should use their common sense and adapt.  The second book, which is slightly embarassing, was "Family First."  It's embarrassing because it's by Dr. Phil.  THAT Dr. Phil.  It's fantastic. 

Both of these books helped frame how I parent.  I had no clue about how to parent.  The baby classes taught diaper changing and swaddling but not parenting.  Pregnancy and delivery never scared me nearly as much as what you do the next 18 years or so.  THAT terrified me and continues to terrify me daily.

So what makes me think I should give out advice?  Well, I get asked a lot about how I get my kids to behave and be nice.  I have great kids.  They make me look like a great mom.  They make it easy. 

My son's school did this fantastic team building, anti-bullying program recently.  He came home and said "You know, you're a pretty terrific mom.  I didn't have anything bad to say." And I got a hug, so there's that.  He's 13.  I can count the hugs.  I also commented on one of his former teacher's Facebook thread when she posted an article on affluenza.  What followed were a few comments on what a great kid I have.  From teachers.  So I'm going to say he's turning out okay. 

My daughter is more of a flutterfly.  She's smart- tests ridiculously well- but academics bore her creative mind and grades are more challenging.  However, her teachers have always loved her and she has a ton of friends.  I adore her.  So I'm going to say that so far, so good, she's turning out okay.

Neither kid is perfect, but I'll address that in a bit.

But here are my thoughts on what makes a good environment for kids to grow.

Have a Routine
My kids have been on a schedule since they were six weeks old.  Not minute by minute but there's been a routine.  Bedtime was a bath with lavendar, a story, hugs, kisses, soft music, good night, lights out.  My daughter slept through the night (well, 6 hours) at 2 months, my son at 3 months.  To summarize "Babywise" - how would you feel if you had to scream and yell every time you were hungry, wet or tired?  Good point.  My kids have always been chill because they know what to expect.

We do this today.  Tuesday we are usually having tacos.  We watch certain shows together.  There's a routine, a pattern. 

Any time we get off this pattern- especially if I have to work more- it gets frustrating and we all seem off.

Having a routine means everyone gets enough sleep, gets fed and we have time to connect.

And in that routine- down time.  Every one needs some time for nothing.  My kids are not overscheduled robots.  "Hanging out" is underrated.  I also think it encourages them to entertain themselves.  My kids are never at a loss of what to do.  I've heard "I'm bored" a handful of times- they always have something to read, make, play with, think about-- they manage their own entertainment.

Do Not Negotiate with Terrorists

My kids learned early on that no means no.  I'm also okay with saying maybe when I'm not really sure and don't want to jump to no (like when I'm in the bathroom and they want to do something give me a minute).

But no means no.


Or as I say: "Before you ask me again, think about it.  My answer will still be no and then I'll be annoyed.  So your choice is to let it drop and move on, or ask again and have a crabby, irritated mom.  Now what were you going to ask?"

I am a terrible mommy friend when I see friends cave on this.  It. Makes. Me. Nuts.  You said no.  Your child will live.  I am dumbfounded when they ask "Why is my kid still having temper tantrums"--- um, because they work.

I know it's easier to cave.  And hey, if you choose to cave, just know that you are doing nothing to change behavior.  If you're good with that, fine. 

I think it's crazy.

If your kid is having a complete meltdown, walk away or leave wherever you are with your kid.  No one likes to watch this. 

There is a good chance your kid is tired or hungry.  And if you stick with the whole routine thing, you circumvent a LOT of this type of tantrum.

Sometimes, it's not because they are tired or hungry and it's because they want something.  This is what I did- for each kid- and it completely eliminated all future public temper tantrums.

One was in Target (my son), the other Jo Ann Fabrics (my daughter).  Both kids were about 2 1/2.

I sat down on the floor, started kicking my heels and started yelling "I'm so upset... my kid won't listen to me..." and on an on I went for about a minute or two, having my own temper tantrum.  Both kids shut up, looked at me and then I said "It looks ridiculous, right?"  They nodded.  "How about I promise never to do that again, if you don't either?"  Worked like a charm.

I also used a lot of common sense.  Before we went into the store I would say "You are not getting anything today.  We are going to get X, Y, Z and nothing else, okay?"  I also tried not to take them when they were hungry or tired.

The louder they screamed, the more they didn't get what they want.  They soon learned it didn't work. 

So if your kid is having temper tantrums, it's because they work.  They are training YOU.

Let Your Kid Be Your Kid
You probably think I'm some Tiger Mom now with rules, time tables, zero tolerance- no love whatsoever.


I think parents should let their kids be whoever it is they are. 

I shudder when parents of shy kids force their child into something like theater or dance-- especially younger kids.  I think it's really awful, to be honest.  If your kid is terrified of being in a crowd, forcing them on stage does NOT create a stronger soul- it just terrifies them all the more.

Or the completely uncoordinated kid being forced on a sports team so the parents can relive their childhood dreams.

Now if your kid WANTS to do that- my daughter stunned us with her desire to play soccer- then go for it.  But if your kid is crying all the way to ballet class, every week- don't sign them up again (don't bail mid-season, though-- I'm all about finishing what you started).

So what if your kid is the quiet, thoughtful child that likes to read and doesn't need a pack of friends?  Or if your kid is bouncing off the walls, don't sign them up for an activity where they'll be sitting for an hour.

Try new things- you never know.  And revisit them.  Your uncoordinated 5 year old might be an excellent swimmer at 13.  Who knows?  But know your kid.  Your kid is a not a mini- you.  I love that my kids are readers but they both have very distinct likes and dislikes from me. 

My daughter was too independent as a kid to do things that were class like- she'd rather play on her own.  My son is great at taking direction and did really well in team sports at a very young age.

They are them. I am me.  Ask them what they like.  Your job is to expose your kid to the world- not force them into stuff.

And again, we always finish what we start.  You sign up for guitar lessons, you finish through the month.   If you want to take them in the future, I'm okay with that as well.

Don't Encourage Your Child to Lie

Of course- who would do that?

I see it a lot.

My husband has a temper.  We've talked about how he reacts to the kids and he has done a 180 because he's seen this work.

Your kids will screw up.

I screw up all the time.

If you lose your head over spilled milk, incomplete homework or whatever- your kid will start lying.  I promise. 

Our kids know that lying is the absolute worst thing they can ever do.  I'm serious.  Scratch the car- it can be fixed.  They lie, now I don't trust them, and it takes a long time to get fixed.

My daughter would have a cookie in her mouth and say she didn't take one.  So we are pros on this.

Basically, if you're certain they are lying, call them on it.  Tell them that if you find out they are lying you are going to be twice as angry and the punishment will be worse.

And when they tell you the truth, don't lose it.  Thank them.  Thank them for being honest.  Think about it.  Then hand out a punishment.

We always need a minute to regroup.  Or a day.

Our kids know there are consequences.  Usually the waiting period is scary enough.  More on this is a minute.

But if you are constantly yelling or screaming or reacting at your kid, you are pretty much telling them that it's easier to lie.

I also think that taking a minute to think, rather than yelling, teaches them that it's okay to make a mistake.  They are safe.  They are loved.  They are growing up.

But if you lie... you lose the benefit of the doubt.

The Punishment Needs to Fit the Crime
Don't overreact and ground them for life.

Make the punishment fit the crime.  Also make sure it's enforceable.

No TV ever again.... not gonna happen.  Bedtime at 8- that you can make happen.

My son lost computer privileges for 3 months when he was 10 and we caught him chatting in an online group.  Because that was serious.  At 13, he appreciates how serious and creepy people can be on the internet.

Watching a rated R movie because we were too stupid and gave you the Netflix password-- that's a verbal "You know better" lecture and we change the password.

Eat Dinner Together as Much as Possible
Our evening dinner is a big deal.  It is also very hard to stick with as a mom with a business.  I'm constantly asked to go to events and when I say "I can't miss dinner with my family" I get weird looks like "It's just one night"- it's not just one night. 

Dinner is part of our routine.

We talk.  We catch up.  We laugh.

As the kids approach the teen years, I know this time is limited.  But for now, I want them to know they are a priority and our family is a priority.

My kids bicker because they are siblings, but at dinner, we are one unit.

Don't Do Your Kid's Homework or Projects

I could rant for hours on this.

My mother-in-law even commented that she had thought I was being mean in kindergarten when I used to make my son do his own homework.  He would say "But Mommy, the other kids jsut have their parents do it..." and I would say "I already went to kindergarten."

But now, he does his own work.  Without reminding.

And the projects... sigh.  That's been the hardest.  My kids walk in with their less than perfect whatever and see the other kids' Smithsonian Exhibits... but now they know.  And I can see the impact, especially as my son is getting older.  The pride he feels when he receives an award or a good grade- it's his.  My daughter just won a costume contest at Halloween for a costume she designed. We helped her as needed, but it was hers.

I think it's good to help, but so many parents don't know when to stop.  Your kid will be so much happier and have such a sense of accomplishment in doing their own work.  They will become more independent.  More confident.

If you step in every time to "fix" things, they will feel incompetent and grow dependent.  You're undermining them, however, well intended.  That A is yours, not theirs and they know it.

Let Them Fail

I'm big on this.  It's not your test.  It's theirs.  If they felt it was unfair, they need to say something- not you (now if it's an ongoing thing, obviously talk with the teacher).

The project didn't get done?  Oops.  That's gonna suck.

When my daughter's Daisy troop took ice skating lessons, the first thing Kat, the teacher taught, was how to stand up.  The second thing, how to fall down.  The third thing, how to stand back up.

I think it's a great analogy for life.

If you don't let your kid fail, they will never learn how to get back up.

It's better that they learn it as a kid than at 25 the first time their boss says "This sucks- do it again."

It's completely okay to not be perfect.  No one is. 

Plus, you learn a lot more from failing, than succeeding.  Learning how to take and manage risk is all part of this.  If your child fears failure, they will never learn how to assess risk.

Listen, I'm not a perfect parent.  My kids may end up crack heads for all I know.  But something tells me that allowing them to be themselves, knowing that we are here for them, knowing that they can figure it out on their own-- I can't imagine that that won't somehow make them responsible, successful adults.

More so than overscheduled lives, perfect grades and designer clothes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Birthday Reflections

This morning the alarm rang at 4:15 and I almost thought "Well, it's my birthday--- I should stay in bed and then get up and eat pancakes...."

But I didn't.

Because it IS my birthday.

I managed to get around the planet one more turn without dying.

Pretty awesome.

And because I would like to make it another trip around, going to the gym IS my birthday present.  To me.

And when I got there, Carole was on the treadmill (I drug another friend into this early morning crazy) and I didn't see Stacey because....

The bag has wine and the she got me a TON of jellybeans because she's hilarious.  You see I am liberal and she is conservative.  I often ask her to translate conservative logic to me and she will have me decipher the liberal take on things.  The jellybeans are a reference to Reagan and her card had an elephant on it.  She also wrote the most hysterical wishes for my upcoming year.  Including her getting a job she really wants.  Which cracked me up.  At 5 am, that is quite impressive.

By the way, having your locker decorated is just as cool at 46 as it was at 14.

The rest of my day was going to be spent working with the jazz band this morning, then getting free coffee at Starbucks, enjoying the office birthday party put on by my office manager Julie who makes everyone feel special on their birthday, installing a new external hard drive, getting my nails done over lunch, one client meeting and then the Cheesecake Factory for dinner.

I say "was" because my daughter has that throat thing that's going around.  She came home with a fever yesterday and she's a little warm today so rather than risk it, she's staying home.  My son, last night at lacrosse, had a coughing fit and looks a little grey.  Last year, he ended up in the ER with bronchitis because he doesn't ever act sick.  So he's here, too.  On the couch.  Watching Star Wars, of course. 

I've got a lap top to get some work done.  I changed my one meeting to a web conference. 

So when we talk about values alignment- health & family are top priority today.  Excellence & integrity- I'm working from home, so hopefully I can return calls & email as needed and not drop the ball.  Happiness- well, it's my birthday. I spent the early morning with my friends and the rest of the day with my family.

Today is definitely in alignment.

No matter who calls and is upset that I can't personally control the Chinese economy and oil markets, I will know that I am in the right place, doing the right thing. 

I had a client tell me that the 50s are the best.  He felt the best about who is was, had good health-- I can see that now that I'm over the hump heading towards 50, he's right. 

That confidence that you regain as you age-- and I say regain because I think we all have it but life knocks it out of us- is truly quite liberating. 

Welcome Year 46!