Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking back at 2008 - did I really accomplish all of my goals for 2008?

Ok. This time last year, I was at this computer thinking about what I wanted to accomplish for 2008. Did I really do it? Lets looks at my 2008 goals.

Look at labels when I eat. Well. I really semi did that. I was gung-ho the first couple of months, but come March and its effects and affects, I did not totally do that every day. I was more aware of the saturated fat, but not with everything. I did gain 10 lbs during the year, and lost 11 before the holidays by way of Weight Watchers. I blame that weight gain on going back on the pill. Of course, I did gain about 4 lbs back from the holidays. I am so ready to get back on Weight Watchers. It may be a slower method of losing weight, but it is a realistic way to watch your weight. The WW way leans more towards low fat eating anyway, so I know the look out for Saturated fat is there. Of course the golden rule is eat less, exercise more. Once I get back on the program, I will lose that weight this year for sure because we have a cruise coming up in August. Those 25 lbs will be gone!!

Run at least 2 5Ks.
Okay. I never did run at least 2. I did walk 2 5ks The Race for the Cure in June and the Drumstick Dash in November. There was a heart walk, but I can't take credit on that because my 4 year-old was cutting up too much to participate. So, that one is marked off. Though I did not run any of them, the desire to do so has not gone away. I have my eye on an 8k in March and a 10k in June. And, if I feel up to it, do a 10 miler in the Fall. I will really have to train. Now that my husband bought me a membership to a gym for my anniversary, I will take advantage of the gym every chance I get and get in the best shape. I can already do 2.25 miles no problem on the treadmill at 5.9 mph. Looking forward to actually doing these accomplishments!

Be more Green. Okay. I definately did that better. I am better at taking my bags to the store. I am always thinking of ways to 2nd use things and have decided to start buying 2nd hand clothes on occasion. I have made some headway there!

Be more patient. This is the hardest one of them all. I do see myself taking more breaths and waiting before reacting to either of my daughters problems or screaming. It is a challenge, an will continually be a challenge for me.

Be more in touch with others. Thanks to the invention of Facebook, I have been able to get in touch with folks I have not seen in years! I did have a personal tragedy with a loss of a friend this year. Getting in touch with others have been a way for me to cope with the loss and a way for me to keep tabs on what folks are doing. Now, I am not puntual on returning messages, that is something I will still have to work on. But, Facebook is fantastic!

I will have to come up with my resolutions for tomorrow. Will keep everyone posted.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tis the season of giving

Sometimes I think things can be very commercial. I know that is the complaint by most during this time of year where getting rather than giving is what seems to be the most important priority for our children. I do want my children to learn the value of charity and understand that there are those less fortunate than ourselves.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to actually take inventory of the things we have as far as what my children have in the way of clothes, toys, games, etc. And after counting all of the dolls and little stuffed animals and the like, they have more than what I remembered having at their age. In fact, I think they have too much. So, we are in the process of weeding out all of their goods and making room for Santa gifts.

Once we have our goods together for giving, I have taken both of them with me to a local 2nd store, Joseph's Coat, to donate them there, and also to give us the opportunity to see what the store has for sale. They actually love going into the store and seeing all of the different kinds of past treasures. They don't know that it is all second hand, so they think it is just a great place to see all kinds of toys, clothes, bikes, and even a "funny mirror" that is there for shoppers to try on clothes. It's like an adventure for them. I have also managed to by them so much buy them some much needed sweaters for the winter. Where else can you go and buy a Talbots or a Gap sweater for $4.00 total!

I think with these times, there is no shame in purchasing items from thrift shops as gifts. In our reduce-reuse-recycle culture, it is in a way beneficial for our "green" friends and relatives to see that we are buying something second hand and also contributing to a non-profit in need of funds. So, before you head out to Macy's and other places like Needless-Markup, trying looking at thrift stores too. I don't think your young children would know the difference in that $100 bike versus the $15 one that needs a little TLC to make it special, or that top of the line new Fisher Price gizmo versus the one that is 3 years older one that just needs some batteries. Saves you money but also gives you a chance to customize the gift to give it straight from the heart.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The hangover after the election - now let's get down to business (or no business)

2 days after the election of our first African American president, a very historic event indeed, people are recovering from political add overload and going back to life as normal. Transitions are taking place and people are welcoming the idea of an African American coming to the White House. Hopefully the process will be smooth, and Republicans will resort back to dissentors in the law making process.

I know my children in years to come will look at this election and see its significance, but in the next 4 to possibly 8 years, I have no idea what a legacy Obama will hold. He was selected by the Democrats as the first Socialist leaning contender on the Democratic ticket. I don't know if he will ever go into the middle when it comes to policy making as president. Under a socialist system, business is going to not find alot of support - an idea that some people don't seem to understand. Non-profits will suffer because of the growing size of central government. More taxes, more harsh effects on this sick economy. I really don't know even if Obama will make it for another 4 after the first.

We will all have to see. I don't want the African American community to be disappointed because of the lack of effective performance, but only time will tell. Either way, Obama does need prayers and it is best that all of us pray for our new president elect.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Living in a toss up state has its price

In this year's presidental campaign, Virginia happens to be one of those states, that with it's poll numbers is too close to call. Approaching closer to Nov 4, we have been bombarded with campaign adds, from both McCain and Obama. It is almost to the point of illness, and to the point where "I don't care, just get Nov 4th over with!"

I know the demographics of this state is different from one end to the other. In Northern Virginia, where I live, there is more of an Obama leaning. Down south, near where my parents live, there might be more of a McCain leaning. Either way, we are all screwed because we are listening to and watching all the negative attack adds, several within an hour's time. How much more do we have to take? Well, Nov 4 cannot come soon enough. I am ready for it be here today!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Overscheduling - talk about getting out of balance!

This past weekend in the Washington Post there was an article of a mom who color coded her 8 year old son's and 5 year old daughter's schedule to make sure that they can fit every opportunity her children could possibly do in a week. Color coding? Anyway, her son's schedule was filled with piano, football, tennis and something else ? and her daughters was filled with ballet, swimming and art? What a schedule for one week! I know with us only doing ballet for our oldest, I often wonder if we are overdoing it at times. Yes, I do want her to be exposed to other things, but how much is too much?

The article continued to say that children who were more exposed to extracurriculars like the sports and music lessons were more likely to succeed in life. I think a lot of it has to do with balancing schedules and organizing time. But how do we balance? Do we do what they want to do or what we as the parent wants them to do? And if your children are interesting in other things, do I want to add on top or expand?

I think I have come up with a solution, at least for our lives, when we start this quandry of extracurriculars, is that we need to keep them balanced outside of school to keep their outlets in life balanced. My solution is to pick one activity on each of the following:

Pick one activity spirtually based:
This centers around the childs spirtual growth. I dedicate Sundays for that in my children's life. They need to have their spirtual identity defined, their relationship with God and knowing about faith in general. This could mean Sunday School, youth group, acolyting, or anything else that engages them on their level.

Pick one activity that is mentally based: Mental activity could mean anything from chess clubs to reading book clubs or drama or music lessons. This grows creativity and grows how they can solve problems. Mental activities should be only what the child likes best, and where the child feels most comfortable to express his or herself. Don't push the violin if the child wants to read instead. Why engage them in something they are just not that thrilled about?

Pick one activity that is physically based: This, of course, means sports or something that encourages physical activity. This means whatever the sport or activity the child likes best. Right now, my 4 year old likes ballet, and probably can only do that one activity for the time being. We tried the soccer route with her, but she was not ready yet for sports. She likes expressing herself with dancing, and right now is where we are going stay. When she wants to start running with mommy, she can do that when she is ready

Basically, each of these activities will bring out the balanced life that we as adults try to find. Introducing this to kids, we need to keep it at their level. After all, they are still kids. If they strive to be the best, they will do it naturally, but don't do it at the expense of either their spirtual or mental development. I know with me as an adult, I look for these three activties in my life to fulfill my life as a giving person in society. As long as I am happy, I think that is what I want to portray most.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

They really need to teach finance in schools

With the economy the way it is today, all the buyouts of banks and foreclosures on houses and people losing their home, everyone is rethinking money. Everyone is not going to the movies as much or going out to eat and finding better solutions on their utilities as well as paying down credit card debt. These are more reactive solutions to people's money problems - I know I am guilty. I think we are opting more for Mac & Cheese and PB&J sandwiches over the juicy steaks and fresh produce. We are rethinking how we spend, and getting our credit card debt down and saving for a down payment on a house. Problem is, with all of this reactivness, is though we are doing the right things in getting our finances solved, not everyone knows what to do.

Living in the USA, everyone has to know something about how money works, how loans work, how credit cards work. But everyone is learning from the "school of hard knocks" and not being educated in schools. Being in a capitalist society, it has not been a priority for schools to educate students on the basics of finance. So, unless you study it in college, or you enroll in a community class, you have no idea of how the system works. I am sure there are some good school systems that might incorporate into their curriculums something about business math, or economics in general. I remember studying economics for a semester in high school but it was only a semester and the curriculum was only covering the basics of economics. But finance is something a little different. Nothing about borrowing or investing. Should it be our responsiblity to make sure our educational systems cover this? If not, who will, and at what price?

Since our society is rethinking money, we need to rethink our educational system and make sure everyone is educated on how the system works before we have a generation of kids entering the workforce who have no idea.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pro-life stance - can it be that bad?

Well, after the dizzy coverage of the election this past week, with the Republican convention and the media circling around Sarah Palin, there has been alot of hard core issues that have been brought up. First and for most, abortion. Obama's campaign started running a radio ad this week with a Planned Parenthood nurse saying that McCain is going to end all abortions because he favors pro-life issues. I guess trying to put the fear in all women that the "option" will be taken away from them if he is elected. Of course, Sarah Palin is very staunch in her stand against abortion, living it in her own life with a baby with down syndrome and a pregnant teenage daughter. I guess the liberal's are mostly attacking her for the "choice" she made for her and her family. Yet I read an amazing statistic this week, that 90% of abortions, or at least 90% of the conceptions that were aborted, were from the mother who chose not to raise a child with down sydrome. With statistics like this,it make me wonder where we are taking this abortion issue, in trying to make a super human race by getting rid of the not so perfect one early.

I know with my personal experience, with being pregnant in my 30's the chance of having a down syndrome child increases. During my last pregnancy, I remember my OB offering me in my first trimester the option of genetic testing, and he said that he felt obligated to tell us that we do have the option to end the pregnancy if the tests came back less than favorable. Both my husband and I said "No" It was not an option for us. We wanted to raise whatever child God blessed us with, because the road to get there was not easy (trying for nearly 3 year to conceive our first was hard enough)and going at it again for another would not be an easy road at all. So, we did not get the testing done and put it at the will of God on the outcome. We were blessed with a healthy baby girl without complications.

Thinking about raising a child with special needs has to be an amazing task for the parents. I truly believe that God gives those children to the people who would be able to take care of them. God chose them to raise that child. Unfortuately, 90% of those mothers don't think of it that way. Several years ago, I was listening to an online broadcast of Dallas talkshow. The host, Humble Billy Hayes, has a child with down syndrome and was asked to speak at a convention in Pittsburg for a national association for down syndrome (or something like that). Anyway, he was making a comment about a speech that he heard at this convention about a woman who "chose" to end her pregnancy once she found out she was going to raise a child with special needs. Apparently she had felt it would have been more of a burden on her and the child bring him/her into the world. I remember Humble interjecting his option after this- and I am paraphrasing - How can she say this child could have been a burden? My child has taught me more that I have him. He has taught me patience, and he is actually the one who has stopped and smell the roses. Well, I remember bawling when I was listening. And alot of his listeners in Dallas were calling in crying too. If there is a way to find this telecast from 1999, I will see if I can so I could post it on my blog. But, needless to say, children with special needs should never be thought of as burdens, but blessings.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Presidental race, making history at every turn

The day after Barack Obama gave his historical speech to the Democratic Convention in Denver, John McCain made a historical announcement, nominating the first woman to be the VP candidate for the Republican party. Sarah Palin, an outsider to the DC Beltway, is new to me, but what I have heard about her so far, has an interesting story to tell about her political activeness and down-home roots in Alaska. I know McCain's strategy was to get someone out of the beltway, to balance out his 25 plus years in DC, someone who is more in tune to local issues. And picking a mother of 5, which one child is a 6 month child with down syndrome, brings up a lot of issues with mom--can she really do it? Can she balance it?
Well, first and for most, the VP spot has always been a joke position, someone who is there but not always doing something. Not knowing what a VP does on a day to day basis, I really can't answer to say what they do on their jobs, other than that his/her responsibility is to preside over the Senate and be number 2 in line. Could she balance that? If she had a lot of support, I am sure she could. After all, if the Republican ticket wins in November, all eyes will be on her on how she does her job, men and women to see how it is all done. Maybe women will finally get paid what they are worth, and start running for political offices in record numbers.
Of course, this whole Presidential race will be making history regardless of the ticket. Women and African-Americans alike will have someone to look up to in order to motivate them to say, "Hey, it can be done!!"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympics inspire a new generation, and rejuvenates the old

Watching the Olympics this past week has definately given me a new appreciation of hard work. Looking at the accomplishments of the USA team with the mens and women's gymnastics, not to mention the Amazing Michael Phelps, and all of the other sprinters on the running track, you begin to ponder on the possibilities of the human body. My daughters have been inspired by it. They were glued to the TV when the gymanists were doing their floor work. During some of the swimming events, I heard my 18 month old say "WOW!" When my husband and I asked our oldest if she wants to go to the Olympics she said "yes" but has not confirmed with us which sport.

Being a mom, I am particularly inspired by the "past prime" ladies winning medals. Dara Torres won a couple of silver medals at the age of 41. And with a 26.2 mile run, the oldest marathon winner was Romanian Constantina Tomescu at 38 bringing her country home a gold. Both are moms and definately deserve all the praise of keeping up their goals with their busy lives.

Of course, I know that I will never qualify for Olympic games. All I want to do is just to say that my feats have been accomplished. I am training for a 10K to be held the fall, and it is a long process to get my 36 year old body to be where it needs to be. Through the experience, I want to show my daughters that they can do what ever they want if they keep up the hard work. During our vacation last week, my oldest saw an advertisement for a Susan G Komen 5K run to be held. She said "Look mommy they all have your shirt!!" I told her that I did that run already in DC, and then she said "Mommy when I get older, I want to run that race too." At least a seed has been planted :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The delicate balance of life - how to make it all work!!

I know this is a very popular topic for everyone, working, raising a family and having a LIFE. There are blogs all over the internet about it, and something I am constantly thinking about, since it is a huge concern of mine.

Working full-time, being a mom of two young children, and try to litter my time in between extracurriculars is something everyone has in common. I am contantly making that balance in finding out what exactly is most important first (First things first as taught in Covey training). Find out was the most important thing is first and everything will follow. Yeah RIGHT!! If my kids are sick, or if some other dire emergency come up, putting them first and putting my job and extracurriculars second could be hard to chew. Having other commitments outside of what is most important (health and well being of my children) would tip that balance of job security, and other personal goals (oops, can't do my 3 mile run today and train for that 10k in a couple of months). It is all so delicate and explains who we are and we think is important, right?

Another think I am struggling with is keeping up with chores around the house. I don't have it in my budget to hire a maid, so we fill our weekends with cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, etc on top of our girls activities. I think the fact that I have not been keeping up with my blog is a mere fact that I have beein putting other priorities first. If I had the time to do everything I want to get done, it would be a miracle!!

I would love to hear suggestions on people's time saving tips they have around the house. Maybe it will make my life easier, not to mention other readers!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Anti-McCain Ad..telling those to think like they think

Okay, I am sure you have seen the new controversial ad by and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It started last week and has alot of airplay on all the major networks. Basically it is a mother with her 7 month old baby pleading John McCain not to send her child to Iraq, commenting on his past statement that our country could be in Iraq for 100 years. After watching the ad, I am sure that there are a few women reacting (not thinking mind you) to actual thought of sending babies to Iraq. This ad begs alot of questions to me and I would like to share them.
1) - Since when has our government sent 7 month olds into the military? I believe the youngest age is 18 now a days.
2) - Even when this kid turns 18, wouldn't John McCain be out of office? The max a president could serve consecutively is 8 years. Wouldn't there be another president making other decisions of war at that point?
3) - Last time I checked, our government has 737 bases across the globe(google it - you will find it somewhere). Is Iraq the only place where the military is deploying now a days? How about Japan, Germany or Spain? I am sure when this kid turns 18, there would be another "hot spot" in the world, and Osama bin Laden would have been in the past. Wouldn't Iraq just be another place for a military base at that point?
4) - When this kid turns 18, is it the kid or the mom who decides on whether to serve in the military? If my daughters are called to serve our country, I am not going to stop them. It is a respectable duty. Besides, isn't it the business of the military to fight wars? That is what they do! Even though you don't like the thought of having your own children die before you, dying for your country is something else. If Princess Di - someone vocal on peace issues - were alive today, wouldn't you think she would be proud of her sons for serving their country?

I hope that when you pull the lever in November, regardless of who you are voting for, that you do not think off of the cuff, and resort to voting on reaction. I wish that all American voters actually think about all the issues at stake, not just Iraq, when making a decision. This ad definately serves it purpose in educating the uneducated public, thinking that this election year is only centered on one issue. I think we as a thinking public think of ourselves more than that!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Go Red For Women : Community of Stories - More

Go Red For Women : Community of Stories - More

Has been a while, and there is a lot that still needs to be done

Well, I had been on a hiatus for the past few months. Alot has happened in my life since the last blog, which I really don't have time to go into much detail about, but it has made me more centered than ever in what to do. I have been focused on bettering my world in every way I can.

One of the things that I am doing, especially in the next few days, on June 7, is that I will be joining the thousands of others in on the National Mall to walk/run in Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure. I have been asking close friends, co-workers and relatives to contribute to my efforts in this cause. I had a grandmother who died from the disease. She decided to treat it after the disease had progressed, rather than once she detected it several years before. She was never proactive in seeking treatment early, or in preventing it. I think if she did, she would have lived to see me graduate from college and see me get married. I know much technology has changed since 14 years ago, but there is no excuse that any woman could get early detection.

Every woman needs to be proactive when it comes to health issues. Not only is breast cancer a threat to 1 in 8 women, but there is heart disease, in 1 in 2 women. I have joined as a contributor to Go Red for Women campaign, bringing the idea that heart attacks and any heart ailments don't happen to just men, they happen to women as well. My blog on the Go Red site tells about my journey in finding out about my heart ailments when I was pregnant with my first child.

I want my daughters to look at their mother and see how proactive they need to be to be healthy. It takes changing minds to convinence people to know that something is wrong if you have abnormal side affects. Please take the time to learn about these two diseases for your mothers, sisters, friends, and daughters. The life that you may save maybe your own.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Discernment - something everyone must do at some time

Today at my church, I participated in a retreat at my church. It was about 3/4 day's worth of work and spiritual exercises, but it was insightful to say the least. I participated with a group I am involved with at church, our Outreach Committee, and it was a way for each one of us to focus on the reasons of our ministries. Our leader made us focus on three main factors, 1) God - what is God telling us 2) Family 3) Community.
One of the first things our leader said was that we don't Day-Timer God into our lives. Which, I must admit, I am guilty of. I get up at 5:30 and go to bed at 10, not taking the time to pray or meditate. I know now that I must make it a priority, even though I have a hectic day.
One of the exercises that we partook in was our leader had different photos on a table in one of the Sunday School rooms. Each picture was a variety of items like a picture of a hurricane, pictures of people holding hands, pictures of nature, etc. We were to pick a picture that God was drawing us towards. Of the 50 pictures, I chose one that had a girl ( about 6 to 8 in age) with a pink dress and with a hand crafted heart - something like for Valentine's day. We were to take a few moments and reflect on the picture and why we think we chose the picture. Everyone had different pictures with different perspectives. With my picture, I felt it was something I was personally going through, as a mom and as a mission in my life.
I felt like I was drawn to the picture because God wants me to focus on my daughters, my family. They motivate me right now in the spritual decisions. I felt the hand-crafted heart represented 1) the love I have for them and vice-versa 2) How we treasure their hand-crafted pictures/arts as a heart-felt expression from them. 3) of the personal heart-health issues I have had to face personally and how they are a blessing from it. In conclusion, I felt like it was her father and me to lead them in the right direction, towards God's way, and teach them to express themselves.
I think I need to do more reflections like this...I know it is a daily challenge to re-center my life as much as possible.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A move for the office, and lots of change to come

This past Friday, our office moved locations from a darker, dingy and older building to a new, improved and brighter suite. It was a requirement that everyone participate in this move, to their capacity, and have their computers set up at the close of business. Luckily, there is only a mile's distance between the 2 offices, and everyone was eager and willing to do the move. We all packed up our personal items, computers and such, and put them in our cars and transported it to the eighth floor of our new office. Everyone was excited about the "newness" of everything from new desks to new walls, new conference areas and new window views. Everyone, including myself, are excited about have the opportunity to use the fitness center during our lunch breaks.

In the midst of the newness, there is that feeling of sadness of leaving what was left behind. After grabbing our items and leaving the furniture for the movers, there was an emptiness, thinking that we are going through the change. Granted I have only worked at that office for 6 months, there had already been so many memories. I starting growing in a new career direction in those walls. It all represented a memory of a new start for me. Knowing things will always be changing and things will always get better added excitement to this process.

Tomorrow, people in our new office and begin adjusting to the new surroundings. Let's see how at home we can all be!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year and New Resolutions

At the end on one year and the beginning of the next, New Year's resolutions are always phenomenal for people like me who always seek to be better. Here are some areas in my life not to mention lifestyle I am trying to do better.

Look at labels when I eat..Really! I know alot of people want to lose weight, and I know I do especially trying to lose this baby weight from 2007! But, for a lifestyle change, I am going to strive to read labels on foods, and get the real dirt on what I eat. What I am particularly interested in, since I have heart disease, is the saturated fat. I have a website here to where I calculated what I should be eating each day in that regard. I vow to do no more than 18 grams a day, as well as restrict my fat and calorie consumption. If I happen lose weight, wonderful!

Run at least 2 races. I know in one of my later blogs, I was striving for a 5k on Dec 31. That never happened yesterday because of my lack of training. Now, our office is moving to new accommodations that include, none other than a gym, free of charge. Finally, a place to where I can go during my lunch break with motivated co-workers and not get up at 4 in the morning for a 40 minute run. So, with my 5k goal and possibly a 10k, I will strive to be strong in the end. Not to mention trying to keep up with my 4 year old and toddler!

Be more Green I know this is hubbub of the day, but in my lazy days of 10 to 15 years ago, we thought those "tree huggers" were a nuisance to society! Now, with fuel prices and energy prices going through the roof, I am learning that it does not hurt to bring bags to the grocery or purchase organic wear, or turn out lights when they are not in use. I think of it as saving the future for our children. It is almost as if I have become a hippy (but not all the way!)

Be more patient. My husband does complain this about me alot of the time. Every time my child yells and throws a fit, I lose my cool too. I need to learn not to fly off the handle on little things and take them for what they are, little things. There are more prevalent things in this world to get mad about, and little things are not it.!!!

Be more in touch with others I think every year I have made this statement as a resolution, whether it is for sending birthday cards or sending out emails more often. I am much of a hermit of sorts, with a busy life and circling around my children. I don't have alot of time to get in touch with old friends or make new ones. I am going to commit a little time each day to catch up or reach out to folks.

These are my reflections of a new and happy new year. Maybe 365 days later, I will see how each of these got accomplished!!