Friday, August 15, 2014

My thoughts on #icebucketchallenge

As one of my mid-week confessions I wrote this:

3. I wish every horrible disease and illness got as much attention as ALS is getting right now (and without the gimmick!).

I am sure that this was taken the wrong way by some people, but I have some fairly strong thoughts about the #icebucketchallenge. Let me begin by saying I think it is amazing that so much money has been raised for such a devastating illness. For people to donate millions of dollars in a time period that typically only sees thousands is nothing short of awesome. ALS is a truly horrible illness that needs to be properly researched and funded in order to find a cure. 

However...

I think of many social media "causes" that began as hashtags-- #kony2012 and #bringbackourgirls are two that jump immediately to mind. At their height, these two causes were viral. They were all over FB and Twitter. Celebrities were tweeting their solidarity, teenagers were updating their statuses and attention was heightened about these two causes.

And then there was silence. 

Where are these two causes today? I can't really tell you.

This is why #icebucketchallenge isn't philanthropy. This is what concerns me. This year, millions was raised for ALS research, but what about next year? Or the year after? Certainly, people will tire of filling buckets with ice water and pouring it over their heads in the name of solidarity. Certainly people will forget that this hashtag phenomenon even happened. 

So, is there a solution? Well, I think so. Rather than dumping a bucket of ice water over your head or donating $100 and calling it a day, why not take $10 every month and donate it to a cause (or, a % of your income). Maybe it's ALS research. Maybe it's a cancer fund. Maybe it's a soup kitchen. Or, if donating money isn't your thing, why not donate time? Feed the hungry. Serve the community.

I know the inspiration behind the challenge. I understand the significance. But we can't pat ourselves on the back for supporting a cause and then forget it a week, a month, a year later. Charity should be ongoing. It should sustain. 

Social media is amazing. It spreads the word faster than any other outlet, and makes causes go viral overnight. But it's also a snapshot--an instant--and then it's over. We need to be a society that looks beyond the confines of our FB feeds and twitter updates. We need to see the long term picture. Sure, something is better than nothing, but it's not enough and it never should be.

So, certainly, take up the cause, but don't forget the cause when social media goes silent. Donate, volunteer, and give back as part of a life routine. Don't let the phenomenon fade away.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Confessions

Decided I need to indulge in a few mid-week confessions this week. Here it goes...

1. I cannot stand it when people think their hobby should be their profession. No. No it should not be. I blame this on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets (two people tell someone what they did is pretty and suddenly the person thinks they have a new calling). Just because you can sew doesn't mean you should be selling clothing. Just because you have a nice camera does not mean you are a photographer. Just because you can use wire and ribbon does not mean you were magically meant to have an Etsy shop. Now, I know some very talented people who do awesome things, but, please, not every hobby is meant to be a job. There is a lot more work behind the scenes than just executing your craft or your picture. Keep your hobby just what it is-- a hobby. (unless it's cake pops...)

2. When people who clearly aren't listening then proceed to ask 6,000,000 questions that were already answered (when they weren't listening).

3. I wish every horrible disease and illness got as much attention as ALS is getting right now (and without the gimmick!).

I have other things I would love to confess here, but it's not the appropriate place for those confessions. My next post will be the big back-to-school post!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back from vacation!

We are back from vacation, and, quite abruptly, thrust into back-to-school mode. I will write about going back in a separate post. Right now, I want to focus on the week away with my family.

This year we went back to Myrtle Beach. It was Lily's second trip and Jack's first trip. The ride both ways was long and rainy, but the kids did wonderfully. We watched a lot of Disney movies, a lot of Max and Ruby, and a lot of The Land Before Time. Jack was a champ on his longest car ride to date (the trip down took 12 hours!). We decided that North Carolina has a lot of rain, Virginia has a lot of traffic, and next year the car ride needs to be shorter. I sat between the kids in the backseat (thank you, mom and dad, for letting us borrow your Pilot!), so that was just an adventure in itself.

The week started rainy, but quickly cleared to sunny and, generally, mild (for SC in the summer). We had a string of beautiful beach and pool days, which made our munchkins very happy. The resort had a playground this year, which they didn't have the last time we were there. This was great for evening walks and play time. Overall, we had a very nice week and were able to enjoy some fun time with the kids. It was nice being on the beach with the kids, but the pool was really the shining star for both Lily and Jack. Lily loved everything about the kids area this year: the slides, the misters, and, eventually, the mushroom thing that pours water all over you. Lily even did the big slide (that is for older kids and adults), which was a big step for her (especially since, not so long ago, she was scared of water)! Jack also loved everything--even the slides! He rode with adults because he wasn't super sure how everything worked (and he would have sunk like a brick).

Here are a few pictures from our trip-- the castle building, swimming, shell collecting, fun!

Jack selfie at the aquarium.

Lily loved the aquarium! It was a great distraction on a rainy day.

Let's go, guys!


Brave enough to take on the water this year!






Vacation 2014. Love this one!

She's crazy. Asked her to smile. Got this.


Common for Lily. Played hard, slept harder.




Friday, August 1, 2014

An uncharacteristically religious and political post...oops.

This morning, I was reading a thread about the two American health care workers who are being transported via isolation plane back to America for treatment in Georgia (near the CDC). These workers contracted the ebola virus while helping patients suffering from the virus in West Africa. For those who might be living under a rock, or refusing to watch the news/read Twitter/check Facebook, the virus is rampantly spreading across West African nations, and is being touted as the worst outbreak in years. That being said, fast-forward to this morning.

The thread was via WBAL and the post mentioned the two Americans and how they are coming back to America even though they have this deadly virus. It asked readers to respond to the question, "Should people who are ill with a virus that is known as being highly fatal come back to the US?" (Ok, it was something like that, but you get it.)

The responses ranged from, "yes, we can give them better medical care" to "no they shouldn't, it's too much of a risk." Then there were these responses:

"Yea great idea, just send the presidents Air Force one plane over to pick them up."


"Take them to the White House."

Wait? What?


A lot of people posted about how this happens in movies and everyone dies, so I kind of threw out those 
posts because movies are sensationalized and, oh yeah, we live in real life.

The reason these posts really bothered me is because (I am generalizing here, so please bear with me) the people who posted these responses are probably conservative, and therefore, probably Christian (again making assumptions, but I have a point, so hang on). These posts are part of a greater problem about conservative Christianity in America (oh, and I am Christian (Catholic, so some Christians probably say I am not Christian)). The problem being the lack of compassion, of living a life of Christ, that these people display.

People can disagree with the President, but to wish him ill? To wish him dead? That sounds Christian to me. The man is a husband and a father, and people wish him dead. Christians wish him dead. 

I guess I missed that sermon in the Bible, "love one another unless a person isn't a race you like, a gender you like, a socio-economic status you like, etc..." 

My biggest issue with this form of Christianity is that it isn't Christian at all. Christianity says love another. But only if you check the right boxes. Only if you fit a certain type. And Christ just didn't preach that.

The Christ in my Bible said to embrace the weakest and poorest of these. He healed the sick (and even hung around lepers!), he loved the poor, he embraced the outcasts. He didn't reject or judge or hate. He rejected the "eye for an eye" and said "turn the other cheek." (He even said that divorcing your wife makes her a victim of adultery, so maybe we need to look at that divorce rate a little more closely...)

My point is: how Christian are you being when you hate blacks, homosexuals, poor people, immigrants, and any person who fits in a category that you aren't in? You can't be.

Until you extend the mercy and compassion that you give to an embryo at conception to every single person regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, circumstance, or creed, you cannot rightly say that you are acting like Christ. Because Christ loved all. Christ accepted all.

"He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5: 45-48)

Monday, July 28, 2014

The quest for a perfect chocolate smoothie...

I am on the quest for the perfect (or almost perfect) chocolate smoothie. Why? Because why not? Ok, that's not a real answer. I have been having fun trying new smoothies for breakfast or lunch and I wanted something packed with protein. I have been working on tracking my eating habits, and I noticed the two major areas where I consistently lack nutrients are in the protein and iron categories (this isn't a shock to me, with both pregnancies I became anemic and had to go on iron pills, so I am sure I was already behind before the pregnancies).

I did a lot of research on various types of chocolate smoothies. Most have the same basic ingredients: cocoa powder, honey, some creamy base (banana or avocado), and then a variety of other things to round out the flavors and nutrition content. I decided to start with a smoothie with the following ingredients: frozen banana, honey, vanilla, spinach, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt (I think that was everything). I added some ice just to make it extra cold, and finished it off with some chia seeds. Overall, I liked the texture, but it was too banana-y for me. I felt overwhelmed by the banana flavor.

Today, I tried the following: cocoa powder, peanut butter, almond milk, 1/2 avocado, honey, vanilla, spinach, and Greek yogurt. This one was MUCH better. It was too peanut-y though, so next time less PB. I also got almond butter to try, so I might try that.

I am going to try a few other concoctions this week to see how they turn out. I like the high protein of this smoothie, plus, I feel like I am getting a sweet treat without being totally unhealthy! Both smoothies were definitely filling. The first one filled me through dinner!

If anyone has an ideas or contributions for chocolate smoothie recipes, please share!! I would love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Living a life offline

A few days ago I was scanning Facebook and came across a blog/article from Baby Center titled "Do we live in an 'anti-mother' culture?" I am not a huge fan of mommy wars posts because I believe they are perpetuated by mothers and steeped in our increasingly social media-centric culture. I think the only way mommy wars will stop is if female bloggers/tweeters/Facebook users (etc) stop worrying about being 'perfect' and just work for happy (and stop sizing themselves up against other moms). Anyway, the reason this article caught my eye is because it says this:
The rise of social media and the spread of technology has made the sharing of opinions much more accessible and while nobody wants to believe they are impressionable, a good deal of what we read is considered when we develop our own opinions. There is clearly a void where mothers and fathers used to have approval, help, and compassion from other parents.
Finally, someone acknowledged the role that social media plays in the perpetuation of these 'wars'! Recently, I decided to cut back on some of the social media outlets I read and subscribe to in an effort to disentangle myself from the web of negativity that this competition breeds. I try not to fall into the trap of comparison, but I know I do because the Internet is full of mom blogs, tweets, pins, etc...that are constantly telling me I should try this and do that and be this. I want to do and try and be for myself. I don't need other people telling me, showing me, how to raise my kids. 
That said, I don't think I can completely cut the ties to social media. Our society is too steeped in these forms of communication (and, increasingly, my profession is too tied to these forms of communication) to totally remove myself from the online world. As I grow as a person and a mother, I have come to realize that the best support I have on this parenting journey are the people that I have in my life-- my husband, my parents, my family, and my friends. The proverbial village isn't found across Internet wires, it's found in the real world, in my real life, with real people. 
So, here's to living a life offline, stopping the wars, and living life in the real village.
(And, yes, I realize the great irony of this post is that I am writing it online...I said I was cutting back (cutting things out), not giving it all up completely!)


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

17 Months!

At 17 months Jack loves...

1. ...doing the booty dance (long story, learned from Lily...).
2. ...trying, and trying, and trying to jump!
3. ...saying a very few words, his favorite being sit!
4. ...mango. He inhales it.
5. ...cheesing at everyone he sees (and waving, too).
6. ...his sister. He loves to imitate her.
7. ...using a fork and spoon (or, at least, trying to do so...).
8. ...blowing his nose and wiping his face.
9. ...wearing hats. Any hats.
10. ...and, of course, mama and dada!