Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Raising Awareness or Selling Out?

We've all seen the ads, posters, billboards, you-name-it promoting breast cancer awareness. NFL players wear pink on their uniforms during the month of October. We see the stickers on cars and know exactly what a pink ribbon represents. Various manufacturers even sell their merchandise in pink to support the cause. Most people probably know the name Susan G. Komen. Heck, way too many people know or know of a woman who has faced a personal battle with breast cancer. As a woman who knows women (some of whom are my family) that have faced this illness, I'm all about raising awareness.

So why do I have a problem with the breast cancer awareness campaign?

Well I didn't at first. And my problem is not with the fundamental idea of raising awareness. That part is great. I do feel however that over time the fundamental message has gotten lost, or at least shoved aside a little. I have a hard time understanding how we've gone from participating in fundraising events like runs and walks and wearing pink ribbons to putting stickers on our cars that suggest you should "Feel your boobies." Ok, the bottom line is there, but is there no more classy or tasteful way of saying that? What parent wants to explain that to their children, or have their kids who may not understand it think it's ok to walk around saying such a thing (after all, people post it right on their bumpers). I honestly used to receive emails from a parent of one of my students for whom breast cancer awareness was a top priority. How do I know that, you ask? Because at the bottom of her emails she had a signature that included her name followed by "Team Leader, Team Boob-a-licious." Wow. Good to know. At least I hope it was about breast cancer...

I decided to write this post when I saw what I felt was the farthest over-the-line advertisement I have seen yet. While on our lovely weekend in New York, we noticed this billboard just off of Times Square:
There are 3 words but I can't remember/see what the top one is. The other two are "Communicate" and "Conquer."

If a billboard in Times Square is pushing the limits, then all limits were obliterated when I spotted this same photo today hanging on the wall in the waiting room of my pediatrician's office!!! Well thank God I don't have a 6 year old son to explain that to. Wouldn't it be a little bold of them to go ahead and spark that conversation for me? I'm not talking about discussing cancer with a child, but rather why there are photos of bare breasts on the wall in the doctor's office. I really wouldn't want my kids to think that it's just casual commonplace for women to walk around exposed. Seriously.

Clearly my issue is with how we've gone from raising awareness to using suggestive sexual photos to catch peoples attention. Is it really necessary? Does it even respect the cause? I guess that is my biggest issue. Exposing the illness and the pain and suffering it causes isn't good enough anymore. Now we have to expose our body to get people to pay attention. Exactly what message is that sending young women? "If people won't listen to what you're saying honey, just show them your boobs." God help us all.

Not only do those types of advertisements seem way out of line for young eyes to see, but I feel like it's just so disrespectful to women. I'm not a feminist by any stretch, I actually think the feminist movement is pretty gross. I'm happy admitting that I'm a woman with a woman's body made to do womanly things. That said, for a cause that is so important to women, I am just shocked that we've stooped to the level of using our bodies to raise awareness. And let's go ahead and be honest: to raise money. Wait, does that make us....????? GASP! See what I'm saying? It's offensive and I have half a mind to write to the Breast Cancer Foundation and tell them just how cheap and dirty those ads are. Should we start a petition? Tell them to stop treating us like 5-letter words? Who's with me?

To depart on a lighter note, I am reminded as I write, of a clip from one of my new most favorite TV shows, Community. In a recent episode Britta called out (and mocked) Annie for playing the doe-eyed helpless damsel routine in order to raise money for the gulf clean-up. Turn up your volume, at least on my computer it was really quiet. Enjoy...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Story About NY

I will begin by saying we had a lot of fun while in New York. Our only complaints were about the place we stayed. This weekend stay was gifted to us by a friend of my husband's. It was one of those time-share previews where you get a discount on your stay and you listen to their sales pitch for 90 minutes, then otherwise enjoy your time.

The location of the hotel was great. It was on West 56th and 7th Avenue. Like I mentioned before, just a short walk south to Times Square, and an even shorter walk north to Central Park. When we first arrived somewhere around 1 or 1:30 the receptionist told us we couldn't check in until 4:00 even though our appointment to do the tour and hear the pitch was at 2:00. They said they would store our luggage for us though. So we went out walking briefly and then came back for our tour. About 5 minutes into the conversation with our salesperson, it came to light that I am currently on leave from my job. She told us that without my income we did not qualify for the tour or the gift of either tickets to a show or dinner vouchers. So wait, we don't have to spend 90 minutes of our day listening to you talk about something we're not going to buy? Sounds like good news to me. Keep your tickets. And off we went.

We walked around the city for a while longer, went to the top of Rockefeller Center, ate dinner at our favorite place, Heartland Brewery, and finally returned to the hotel a little after 8. We got our luggage that had been stored and headed up to our room. Our room turned out to be decent, but nothing special for a place that was supposedly selling us property. The biggest issue though was that it was hot in there. I'm almost always chilly, and I had to change my clothes. We set the thermostat as cold as it would go (there was only a dial that had "cooler" and "warmer" on it), and set the fan to "high." After over an hour my cheeks were still flushed so I reached up to feel if there was any air coming out of the vent. It was, with about the force of my breath. We decided we'd have to open the windows to be able to sleep comfortably. Keep in mind the low temps in NY that night were in the 40s, and we were on the 22nd floor, and there was no screen in the window. We slept all night with the windows open and I was only half-way under a sheet.

That was the biggest problem. Another issue was the furniture. The sofa in our room was neither clean nor comfortable. The cushions looked like they had been cleaned, but the arms of the couch were dark and oily from 1.3 million people touching them. GAG. I understand it's a hotel that lots of people use, but if you're trying to sell property to someone, wouldn't you at least try to make a good impression? Is that what we'd get if we bought a place??

Moving on. In the morning our plan was to get the complimentary continental breakfast (we had spent a lot on all of our other fun and figured, if there's a free breakfast, we might as well), and then head up to Central Park for a morning walk. We found the breakfast on the 26th floor. It was, you guessed it, nothing special. Cold bagels, mini boxes of cereal, some muffins and pastries, and some whole apples and oranges. There was also coffee but I decided to wait until we were leaving to get that so I could take it with me and it would be nice and hot. Good thing, too. We each had a bagel and my hubby had a bowl of Wheaties. We also each had a small glass of juice. As we were finishing our food, a waiter walked over. Mind you, this was a self-serve situation so this is the first we've seen of any wait staff. He placed a bill on the table and walked away. Ready for this? Here's our bill.....

(notice gratuity included... for a self-serve continental breakfast!)

The hubs called down to the front desk to ask about the "complimentary" breakfast. He was told that complimentary breakfast was part of the "gift" that we didn't qualify for. Well, who knew? No one told us $40 bagels were included in the things we didn't qualify for. Trust me, had we known, we would have walked the couple of yards to any number of nearby cafes and stuffed ourselves with a hot, made-to-order breakfast for half the cost. When my hubby asked to talk to someone else he was told that no one could help him because it was Sunday. Wow. Never again.

We enjoyed Central Park thoroughly. The weather was perfect fall: cool and crisp, bright blue cloudless sky. After that we did one more trip around Times Square and hit a few stores. I had a cup of coffee, we stopped in Midtown Comics, then we stood in line for lunch at the Carnegie Deli. It was good but over-priced. Granted the sandwich we split was enormous, but it was still a $26 turkey club. Finally we were ready to grab our Jamba Juice smoothies and hit the road. Back in the hotel lobby while we waited for our car, my hubby decided to use the bathroom one more time before we left. If everything else hadn't been enough, he found in the bathroom one of New York's finest... a cockroach. It was not on the floor, but sitting atop the hand drying towels.

Needless to say, the Manhattan Club got their little feedback survey from me... along with a strongly worded letter. Looking back, it made perfect sense that the man in the elevator told us he owned 4 shares and wanted to sell them all, cheap.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Latest Adventures, As Promised :]

I don't have pictures of everything, but here are a few to give you a general idea!

We went to the pumpkin patch with my sister and her family. Here are the five cousins on my side of the family.

My husband performed the marriage of Jason and Leslie. Jason is his best friend and college roommate. He and Leslie have been together for 9 years!

Our baby girl had a play-date with her guy pal Nicholas (11 months) and her cousin Caraline (10 months). The babies were pretty funny together and dang near impossible to get a picture of all looking at the camera!

We met the amazing and talented Michael Oher! He was totally fascinated by the picture (of him) that we brought to have autographed. He even took pictures of it with his phone.

Our baby girl met her brand new cousin, Colt! The first baby in our family born after her.
He's still in that sweet stage where they sleep all day :)
Brothers holding each other's babies - how cute is that?
My hubby bonding with our brand new nephew.

We were off to New York first thing Saturday morning - one of our favorite places in the whole world! Here I am wearing Baby Girl in front of the Empire State Building.

We got to the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza just as the sun was going down. I'm kind of terrible at low-light shots (as in, I don't know how to set my camera for them) and the wind was really strong so I got only a couple of pictures that weren't totally blurred and my heart was broken (especially for the $42 it cost us to go up there!) This one of the Empire State Building turned out kind of nice though. That is one reason to go to the top of the Rock instead of the ESB, because then the ESB is in your pictures - stunning! (Plus the ESB has chain fence around the top and the Rock has plexi-glass). The end.

An almost good picture of Central Park :(

The next morning we got up and went for a walk in Central Park. It was heavenly. I am in love with the fact that within the park you have no idea that you're in the middle of one of the world's biggest and busiest cities except the splendor of the skyscrapers peeking through the trees. It's incredible. Also the weather was beautiful and crisp.
Our stay in New York wasn't as impressive as we had thought, but we still had a great time. Usually we do a really long day trip (taking the bus at 4 or 5 a.m. and returning at 9 p.m.) and this time we arrived one afternoon and left the next afternoon. The hotel we stayed in was on West 56th Street and 7th Avenue. For anyone unfamiliar, that is just 2 blocks south of Central Park and about 6 blocks north of Times Square. Seventh Avenue merges right into Times Square so if we set out of the hotel going south, we were staring right at the big screen with the New Year's Eve ball above it. It was pretty hot, I won't lie. The hotel itself (a timeshare property) was nothing special, but I'll give you the details in another post. Perhaps tomorrow? You'll have to check back to find out!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not Me! Monday

Alrighty, it's been a few Mondays, so today I'm ready to jump in with all of my disclosures of the things I have not done, and let's be honest, would not ever do.

- I have never hit my own self in the mouth with my Canon Rebel when trying to quickly throw the strap around my neck to capture my baby doing something cute in the other room. And such an event certainly would not have resulted in a fat lip. Please, I'm way more coordinated than that.

- I would definitely not hear some of my formerly favorite tunes from not-so-long ago in my high school days and discover that I absolutely couldn't stand the stuff. What am I, my mother?? Ha! Not me. I'm still young and awesome.

- I've never allowed my baby to nap on the edge of my own bed (even if she would have rolled into her own bed) because that's where she fell asleep and I dared not budge her. That would be ridiculous since my baby naps perfectly in her own bed all the time!

- I would never turn on my iTunes visualizer in order to distract/mesmerize my baby so I could do the dishes. She is perfectly happy to just sit and entertain herself while I do household chores. This is why my house is sparkling.

- I have never driven myself, my baby and our dog all the way to the local park to set out for a nice long walk only to discover I was still wearing bedroom slippers.

- I certainly wouldn't stop in the middle of Central Park South to take a photo, only to realize I was zoomed too far out. At which time I definitely would not adjust my lens and take the photo while my husband stared back in disbelief from the other side of the street. Most importantly I would never do any of that while wearing my baby.

- I definitely did not vacuum my living room rug on the 'occasion' of a play-date with my sister and friend. I vacuum at least daily since my baby plays on that floor all the time!

- Lastly, I would not ever be so pathetically paranoid that I've gone racing into my bedroom, practically waking my baby, after I thought I heard faint coughing on the monitor and then convinced myself that she could be breathing her last breaths if that faint coughing were actually her choking on something even if there's nothing in or near her bed that she could choke on. I probably don't need a video monitor. Nope, not me.

Have any fun stories of things you have not been doing lately? Don't be ashamed! Join in on the Not Me! Monday fun and post your stories in a comment or on your own blog.

Coming up soon.... lots of pictures of what we've been doing, and why I have an issue with the breast cancer awareness campaign!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Making a Comeback!

(To my blog, that is)

Suffice it to say we've been extremely busy the past couple of weeks/weekends. In a nutshell, we spent a day at a farm with my sister and her kids, my husband performed a wedding for his best friend, our nephew was born, we've been to Manhattan and back, we met another Ravens player, my husband had a birthday... you get the idea.

BUT, the good news is: I'm back! I have a Not Me! Monday post for tomorrow and of course half a billion (not really) pictures of all the fun things we've been up to.

Right now, however, I need to eat some pizza and take a hot shower, and go. to. bed. I'm excited to be back on the blog - see you in the morning!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Walk in the Park

The weather in our part of the world today is just stunning. Temps are in the mid-70s, the sky is clear and bright blue. I figure, fall is upon us and days like this are surely numbered. So I decided that I would take the baby and the dog over to the park for some fresh air and a nice long stroll. After everyone had sufficiently been clothed, fed, and pottied (or diapered as the case may be), we got ourselves out the door and loaded into the car. Whenever I decide to take my dog somewhere I am always immediately reminded why I hate taking him places. While generally a good dog, he's excitable. So he whines and prances and tangles me up in his leash. Is a baby carrier and diaper bag not enough for me to juggle? Seriously.

So we get in the car and head over to the park which is about 10 minutes from home. We're singing, the sun roof on the car is open, and it's just generally a good time. When we arrive at the park I find a primo parking space and pull right in. I head to the back of the car and get the stroller out, get the baby carrier appropriately latched into the stroller and get the dog out of the car. As I look down to let the brake off the stroller I see this.....

(Those would be my fuzzy pink bedroom slippers)

Awesome, right? This in combination with the fact that I had to bat away no fewer than a dozen stink bugs in the 3 minutes that I was out of the car promptly brought our walk at the park to a conclusion. I might have gone back if not for the stink bugs. Darned if those little pests don't ruin everything. Thus, our fresh air for the day consisted of driving back home with the sun roof open, and then parking far away at Target!

Happy Friday :]

Thursday, October 7, 2010

There's Nothing to Fear...

... but fear itself. Right?

I was recently talking to my sister-in-law who is expecting her first baby in just 2 weeks. She was asking me about baby products that I thought were most helpful. This wasn't the first time I've thought about this by a long shot, but in telling her about the products I liked most, I realized that I am a certified bundle of nerves. Not that I'm jumpy, but more paranoid.

Let me clarify. So that no one becomes unnecessarily concerned about my mental health or well-being, I am not referring to any type of all-consuming fear, worry or paranoia. I am just talking about a heightened sense of caution. That said, it began when I started dating my husband. I think it's based in realizing that a person is so precious to you. So when I knew that I was going to marry this guy, my view of the world changed. If I heard sirens outside and he had just left to go somewhere, I'd call him just to make sure it wasn't him.

I still feel that way and always think about him and his safety. Sometimes it gets on my nerves, other times I think it really helps me not to take him for granted. First of all, he's an exceptional husband. I know that guys like him are rare and I should and do appreciate everything about him. But there aren't any guarantees in this life. We could live to see 100, or well, not. So those thoughts and worries that something might happen to him drive me to make sure he feels loved every minute of every day. They ensure that I kiss him hello and goodbye, every time. They make me tolerant of his silliness when I'm in a bad mood (most of the time, I'm not perfect). So in that sense, it's a good thing.

Now that we have a baby, much of my worry has transferred to her. She is so helpless and her well-being is entirely up to us. I know part of it is being a first-time mom. I've told the story about her first 24 hours and how one of us stayed awake with her at all times because she was having trouble gagging on fluid that was left over from birth. When we first brought her home, I felt unnerved at the thought of both of us going to sleep at the same time because there was no one watching the baby. It sounds kind of silly now, but it was a real worry of mine at the time. Now that she is 5 months old, I realize that the worry will probably never go away. Some of my worries have changed but I still reach over and check to see that she's breathing when I turn over in the middle of the night. One of the things I was telling my sister-in-law is that I'm going to have to get a video monitor when she starts sleeping in her own room so that I'm not running down the hall every time she does, or doesn't, make a sound (which, of course, would be at all times).

I don't want to be a worrier. Part of it I know is just natural and all moms are going to worry about their kids in some way or another. I'm ok with that. But I also want to feel like I trust God more. I guess I would say I feel kind of guilty about worrying because God has said not to. He gave His word, made His promise, and I should definitely have enough faith to feel comfortable with that. It is, in fact, what I remind myself when I feel like I'm worrying too much. MckMama mentioned in one of her recent posts about how Satan whispers lies in our ears. Ever since reading that I feel pretty certain that I've had that experience. I used to think my imagination just got carried away sometimes, but now I realize that Satan is trying to put fear into my heart, and I need not be afraid.

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
-John 16:33 (NIV)

I don't expect to ever be completely free of worry or fear, but I am glad that I have this and numerous other verses to remind myself that someone else is in control and looking out for us. Now I just have to put it to use :]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Class Reunion

I recently passed up my high school reunion. I had a couple of good reasons as well as maybe some questionable ones. I honestly had some mixed feelings. Who isn't a little curious what people look like and what they're doing with their lives? And I don't mean curious like you want to catch up over appetizers and beer, I mean curious like you wouldn't mind peeking at them from afar and hearing a brief update through the grapevine. However, we all know that the class reunion is not intended for just observing from afar.

I feel like class reunions, in a way, are a thing of the past. For example, my mom has always gone to hers. It's a big fancy event that everyone attends. They have a nice dinner and there's dancing and formalwear. My mom goes because she knows and (generally) likes all the people she graduated with and they will, for the most part, all be there. She has a great time catching up with all of them and reminiscing about their old times as well as talking about everyone's children and grandchildren. Ok, so I can understand the desire to attend such an event.

People and society in America has changed since my mom was in high school. I feel like class reunions are essentially designed for my mom's era of folks. Think about the 1950s for a minute. I get images of unlocked doors, tons of kids in every neighborhood who all play together and are in and out of each other's homes daily. All the parents of all the kids know each other. Crime takes place only in the worst neighborhoods of the worst cities. Small town suburban America is safe and friendly. I didn't live in the '50s, but I'm in the middle of a book written by a guy who was a kid then, and this is pretty close to his description. Now think about today. Kids today are spoiled and mean. You hear stories in the news about children as young as middle school and as old as college who have taken their own lives because their peers were so mean to them. Thinking about high-schoolers in the last decade or two brings up images of cliques and kids with emotional issues.

Well, my high school was no different. It was full of a lot of wealthy kids. I was not one of them. Most kids fell into some kind of clique- band, sports, arts/theater, snobs, super-smart. I was none of those either. I mean, I didn't just sit around by myself, I had friends. I just wasn't in any exclusive group, while most kids in my school were. I went to school, went to class, and then went to work after school. It wasn't miserable, I actually really liked high school. I just wasn't friends with every single kid and honestly didn't care to be.

So in thinking about my high school reunion, you can imagine where I stood. There are a small handful of people I was friends with who I've lost touch with since graduation. I wouldn't mind seeing them or catching up with them. A lot of people I've reconnected with through Facebook. As for everyone else? I really don't care. I might have been remotely enticed if the reunion itself was geared toward people our age. Instead it was planned by the people who had been in the cliques. Is it any wonder they were the ones who wanted to organize the event that would let them revisit the time in their lives when they were king/queen? Gag. It was at night in a bar in the city. Ok, I'm not so old that I can't go to a bar. But really? That's how you're trying to have a high school reunion? Can you even have a conversation in a bar? Nevermind catch up on all the things that have transpired in your life since high school. But then I guess if not much has changed... I digress. It was something like $50 for crappy bar food and beer. I'm also not too much of a snob for bar food and beer, but I'm not spending that kind of money on it. Oh and my husband also graduated with me making that a $100 night for us... to hang out with people who probably don't even know my name. On top of that, my baby was too little to leave with a sitter and I wasn't taking her to the bar. That was the excuse I didn't even need :]

I sound like a Scrooge, I know. But unlike Christmas, there was nothing redeeming about this party. Believe me, I saw the pictures. The only people pictured were the same people I mentioned earlier- the kids who were popular, that only associated with each other, and may not have even known that I went to their school. Interestingly, they were all either exactly the same or 50 pounds heavier. A lot of the girls were still unmarried (which is fine) and the boys had less hair. But there they were, still doing the same crap with the same people. It was like they never moved on. No thanks.

The funniest part of the whole thing is that these people who were too cool for me in high school are suddenly sending Facebook friend requests and asking me to come to their party. Am I honestly to believe that all the sudden you care if I'm there or not? They don't, and that's ok with me. As it turns out, the people I want to stay in touch with from high school, I'm still in touch with!

I'll probably never go to a high school reunion. Part of me wonders if that's lame. The other part of me is pretty sure that the reunion is lame. What do you think? Ever been to your reunion? I kind of hope not all high school classes are the way mine was ;]

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Fall Outing

When Autumn comes, it doesn't ask
It just walks in where it left you last
You never know when it starts
Until there's fog inside the glass around your summer heart
-The Great JM

I believe this post could be likened to what blogger extraordinaire, MckMama, calls "Stream of Consciousness." Essentially, it will be a rambling about my fall outing this morning. Hold on to your hats....

I went out this morning with the purpose of finding a cute little fall or halloween outfit for my tiny cute girl. You know, something cute with leaves, or a pumpkin, or a black kitty cat on it. I started at Old Navy because they always have those cutesy little seasonal things. Sadly, nothing there for baby.

I then went to Target because if nothing else they have baby tops and bottoms for $4, and who can argue with that? Again I struck out on the fall or halloween outfit, but to boost my spirits I decided I would use my last bit of cash to get a pumpkin spice latte at the Starbucks counter. It was my first, and quite possibly my last, pumpkin spice latte of the season and... maybe ever. I'd venture to call it the worst cup of coffee I've ever had. And to be clear, my sweet sister in law who lives at our house just threw out every package of coffee in our cabinet (and there were a bunch) because they were expired. I mean, really expired, by a year or more. Ok? So I've had some bad coffee and this was the worst.
I drank about this much, and had to pitch it. Not only was this cup of coffee just awful (it tasted like the smell of a shoe store, that's the best I can describe it), but it cost $4 for the smallest size!! Hello, did they miss the part about me just buying a totally adorable onesie for my child for that same price?!

After Target I hit the road for Kohl's hoping they'd come through for me in the cute seasonal outfit department. What made me think going to these stores on a Saturday was a good idea, I'm just not sure. But when I got to Kohl's the parking lot was somewhat of a zoo. I found an open spot and as I pulled in a woman walked over to my car and informed me that she was waiting for a tow truck and could I leave that space open. Sure thing. I found a spot but on my way in to the store I noticed two women in a car who had parked right up front in a handicapped space.
As both of them stepped out of the car on their own two legs, the driver placed her handicapped hang tag on the rearview mirror and they walked into the store. Am I wrong for having an issue with this?

Fortunately, I found good news inside Kohl's...
The outfit in the middle was actually from Target, but it still had nothing to do with fall or Halloween.

The other good news? I was pretty cute in my new denim jacket, and yes it was chilly enough to wear a real jacket. Sigh.

Also good news, my tiny sweet bebe was in the best mood the whole time we were out!

And then when we got home, I washed dishes and made a sculpture with them in the drain rack :]

The end!