Thursday, August 30, 2012

Everymom

My life is steeped in politics. The political rhetoric and barbs are unavoidable, and I've heard more than my fair share of political speeches. I had never heard a political speech that completely resonated with me. Not until Ann Romney took the stage at Tuesday night's Republican National Convention in Tampa. Maybe her words hit home with me because she's not a politician but a political wife. Like me.

She spoke of love, family, and commitment from the heart. She spoke of work, kids, single-parents, and the long sighs of making it through yet another day. Another day of feeling like you are running in place and never truly getting anywhere. She gets it. But Ann Romney pulled me in when she spoke of watching one of her son's graduation ceremonies and silently wondering how did so many long days turn into years that flew by so quickly? So true. When your life is full of children the days are endless but the years are short.

Ann Romney came across as a strong woman, not a docile, purse-toting political wife who follows her husband around to meetings and fundraisers. She is strong but not domineering like a few political wives can be, vying for the political spotlight with their husbands. She is not a fake, baking chocolate chip cookies for reporters or saying anything to get her husband elected. She is a real person facing the real struggles of staying at home with her kids. Perhaps not her first choice, but that's where she landed and she's made it work. Like me.

For those who might criticize Ann Romney for her pro-motherhood speech I have to ask you if you really did listen to her speech? Yes it did single out women, but it's not anti-Dad or overwhelmingly partisan. Her words are fair. Giving credit where credit is due, to American Moms. If it's all just a political gimmick, which I do not believe it is, this chic Mom fell for it completely.

Mitt Romney has his work cut out for him tonight. People can relate to Ann Romney, not necessarily Mitt. Good luck outshining Ann.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Real Rulers of the Free World

Do you know who really controls the world? (And no this is not a conspiracy theory.) Coaches. Specifically football coaches. Thank you to my friend Diane for pointing this fact out to me while I waited an extra 15 minutes for yet another football practice to finish up. She's right! Coaches do rule the world. At least the worlds of parents with kids involved in any organized sport.

The calendar is packed full of practices and games. The kids are scheduled down to the minute. They know when they must be back home, have their gear on, water packed, and in the car with their helmets and cleats. Let's go! We cannot be LATE for football practice.

The little boys congregate in front of my house 30 minutes before their football practice even begins. They are all on their bikes, wearing their football pants, pads, backpacks containing their cleats, and sometimes even their helmets as they swarm around the cul de sac collecting other players on their team. Then they all bike off to practice at a nearby park. All in a big pack of miniature football players who already have it drilled into their psyche: Don't Be Late for Practice!

That's great and all as arriving early is good. A virtue perhaps. So now the boys practice football for 90 minutes or up to 5 hours depending on their age. The time has come to pack it in and go home. All of the Moms and Dads are waiting patiently in the parking lot or along the sidelines ready to leave. The end of practice has arrived.

Here is where the football coach decides he rules the world. He does not let the kids leave the field. No, he makes them complete a few more conditioning drills, runs them in dashes across the field, and gathers them into a tight huddle for a long talk. That's when you think it's done because they've already gone 15 minutes over and you have to pick up yet another kid at yet another practice at yet another school across town. You are already late.

The football coach does not care. He does not care that parents might happen to have a life outside of football practice. All he cares about is football and shaping these kids into decent players. So let's tack on an extra 10 to 20 minutes of practice time. Better yet—let's make finish times completely random as to thoroughly confuse and irritate the parents. They cannot do anything about it because if they complain, their kid may not play. Coaches rule the world after all. At least during football season.

I realize not every coach operates this way. But for those coaches who take over everyone's time— enough already! End your practice on time because people have lives! Even though I don't coach football, I do have a busy life and other responsibilities. I respect the coach's time and get my kids to their practices on time. Please respect my time, be true to your word, and end the practice on time for change!

If it sounds like I'm picking on football coaches, I am.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Are Politicians Thinking?

"No one is going to vote for him. He's a complete freak!" Is this statement political brilliance or just plain common sense? Perhaps just the honest truth. My daughter uttered this political insight today when she finally heard the news about a local Minnesota State Representative caught having oral sex with a 16-year old boy at a Duluth rest stop. It gets better. He found the kid on Craigslist and since it was consensual, this sex act is not a crime in Minnesota if both parties are at least 16. This State Representative, who was recently released from the hospital after a rumoured suicide attempt, announced that he is NOT seeking re-election.

At least he had the clarity not to run for re-election. Unlike Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin who defied all logic and decided to stay in the Senate race after his unbelievable string of abortion comments over the weekend. In case you missed it Akin was asked in a television interview about his view on abortion in the case of rape. He told the Missouri TV interviewer: "It seems to me, first of all from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

And what century is this Mr. Akin? I don't know if he's completely clueless or if he really believes his legitimate rape statement. It's not like he is a political newbie. He's held public office as a Member of Congress since 2001. It's not like he's never done a televised interview before. What was he thinking in letting these words slip?

His words are bad enough, but he's decided to stay in the Missouri Senate race despite calls from his own party to abandon the bid for the US Senate. I suspect the only person happy that Akin decided to stay in the race is his Democratic opponent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

On the parenting side of this issue, I've completely given up sheltering my kids from the news. They are going to see and hear these stories no matter how many times I hit the mute button. I love explaining rape to my 9-year old and having my daughter hear about same-sex, oral sex acts over her Cheerios at 6 am. Thank you to these incredibly stupid politicians and their X-rated acts.

Seriously if you're in public office, running for public office, or even considering a public office bid wouldn't you think twice about what you say and do? Slamming abortion choice in a legitimate rape case while on TV and having oral sex in a highway rest stop with a teenage boy are not wise choices. It always comes out. People are going to notice and not vote for you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Year

Unlike most people who mark the new year on January 1, I celebrate in mid-August. My unconventional streak is shining through. The start of football marks a new year in my world. Obviously I do follow the traditional calendar, but for me, the August tradition of pulling out all of the football gear along with the back to school shopping heralds in a new year. 

Both of my boys play football and they absolutely LOVE playing football. They really could care less about all of the back to school hubbub and frenzy. The boys prefer to remain happily in their summer routine for as long as possible. The arrival of football practice this week rocked their summer worlds.

My daughter is the contrarian. She does not play football, but dutifully helps drive her brothers to their practices and will watch their games. She loves back to school shopping, triple-checking her list of supplies, and cleaning out her closet of last season's worn clothes. This girl insisted on driving to Target to pick up all of her school supplies the day that the list arrived in the mail. She will probably offer to shop for all of her brother's supplies as well. She really couldn't care less about the arrival of football season, but bring on that 2012-2013 school year!

I do agree with her. As much as I love summer vacation and having the kids at home with me each and every day, by late summer it is time to return back to the school routine. How do I know? There are some telltale signs:
  • A rise in the number of brotherly basement fights. Too much time spent together + tempers running short + the horrible and violent X-Box influence = more physical fighting (happy to report no concussions yet)
  • Unusual rise in drawer and room cleaning. This would be my daughter Anna's way of preparing herself for school. Sort of like nesting for the start of the new year. Out with the old and in with the new.
  • Increase in Skyping friends. Anna's friends are scattered all around the Twin Cities metro and have not really spent much time together all summer long. Time to Skype and plan the first day back to school.
  • Actual enforcement of X-Box rules. As I mentally calculate the number of hours the boys have spent playing COD or Minecraft all summer long, I'm appalled at my own lax parenting and actually now limit the number of hours spent on the X-Box.
  • 911 call threats on the rise. Due to actual parental enforcement of the rules and physically taking away the X-Box controllers resulted in my youngest son threatening parental abuse. I was nearly ready to sedate him after he punched 911 into the phone and threatened to push the CALL button because I took away the X-Box controllers after a marathon COD session. After talking him off the ledge and prying the phone from his hands, he realized the implications of calling 911 only because Mom was mean enough to hide the controllers. No sympathy from the police!
  • Complete boredom. Any activity suggestion is quickly ruled out as BORING! Projects that are undertaken are short-lived because they are boring. The only activity that holds any attention is slack-jawed TV gaping at Phineas and Ferb, Drake and Josh, and Gossip Girl episodes.
When Mom becomes the entertainment committee for the family, I know that it's time football season and a hasty return to the classroom. Happy New Year!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympic Style III: Skimpiest Olympic Uniform Winner

And the 2012 London Olympic Games Skimpiest Uniform prize goes to—Men's Synchronized Diving! Why? Very simply, two very buff, toned males wearing tiny, tiny Speedos that leave little to the imagination.

Usually the distinction of skimpiest uniform would go to the women's beach volleyball players. I felt they were easily eliminated during these Olympic games due to the cool and drizzly playing conditions. Players had to cover up for some matches, wearing shirts and tights underneath their volleyball bikinis. Unlike the Syndey 2000 games, there was not so much skin showing.

I always found it a bit unfair that women had to wear their sporty beach bikinis while the men's beach volleyball team could wear tank shirts and running shorts. However the skimpy uniform playing field was leveled at the London Aquatics Centre. Where did Men's Synchronized Diving come from? I've somehow missed it all of these years or else the networks never covered it.

I'm sure these Olympic athletes think nothing of pulling on their Speedos and diving in tandem off of a platform raised 3-stories above the pool. Maybe it's not such a big deal in foreign countries where men actually wear Speedos around the beach or pool. I think it's safe to say that your average American Olympic viewer isn't quite used to seeing Speedo-clad men embracing each other in the jacuzzi tub or divers hiding behind judiciously placed dripping, miniature towels.

Congratulations to the all of the Men's Olympic Synchronized Divers whose training enabled them to complete extraordinary simultaneous dives and who were brave enough to proudly wear their Speedos in front of a captive audience numbering into the millions.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan Is the Right Choice for VP

"It's FALL!" my husband exclaimed at 6:40 this morning. I blearily roll over and face the open window with the cool air streaming in. "No, it's still summer" I mutter, closing my eyes. Yet again I hear: "It's FALL!" Huh? Removing my earplugs so I can actually hear enough to argue my case that it's still technically summer, my husband announces: "It's PAUL!" Hmmm . . . Paul. As my mind scans any Pauls I might know who would possibly come up in conversation at 6:40 am on this Saturday morning, realization hits. Of course, Paul Ryan is the VP pick!

The Romney campaign has finally made the right move and picked my old friend and former colleague from Wisconsin for his running mate. Paul Ryan is currently in his seventh term in the US House of Representatives and serves as the House Budget Committee Chairman. He is also husband to Janna and Dad to Liza, Charlie, and Sam.

Some will say he is too young or too policy-wonkish. True on both counts. But Paul Ryan is wise beyond his years. His budgets and plans to revamp health care and the Congressional budget show brilliance that stretches far beyond his 42 years.

Paul is a hard-working and normal guy from my home state of Wisconsin. I couldn't think of anyone better to put on the Romney ticket. Paul will bring a sense of normalcy to the crazy and out-of-touch world of Washington, DC. He's a very smart "numbers" sort of guy, but also someone who you wouldn't mind hanging out with and watching the Packers game on a Sunday afternoon.

It's not every August morning you wake up to proclaim it's still summer and discover an old friend is now on the ticket for the White House. I'm relieved that the Romney campaign finally made a good move and chose Paul Ryan to energize an otherwise lack-luster campaign. I know that Paul Ryan will work tirelessly for the American people, be fiscally responsible, and turn America around, putting the US economy back on track. Go for it Paul!

Maybe I was on to something here . . . attached are the links to my previous Paul Ryan posts.
http://christiannasblog-2011.blogspot.com/2012/03/paul-ryans-budget-right-choice-for-all.html
http://christiannasblog-2011.blogspot.com/2012/04/breakfast-with-chairman.html

Friday, August 10, 2012

Olympic Style II: Funky Neon Tape

Neon is making a comeback in the 2012 London Olympics. All neon yellow shoes aside, Olympic athletes are also adorning their bodies with brightly colored tape. At first I thought it was purely for some sort of bizarre decoration. Then I noticed the tape on athletes in the pools, on the tennis and volleyball courts, and even on the balance beam. Why is everyone wearing tape on all different parts of their bodies?



Turns out that the tape is called kinesio tape and was designed by a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist Kenzo Kase. The kinesio tape is made of soft and flexible cotton that supports injured muscles and helps athletes movement while decreasing muscle pain. And it also comes in black and nude, not just neon.

Kinesio tape basically lifts the skin and separates it from other tissue layers. This allows for increased blood flow to the taped area of the body.  Many athletes swear by it as the colorful tape allows an injured athlete to get back into their game more quickly. However, the scientific reviews on the benefits of using kinesio tape are mixed. The tape does aid in rehabilitation but is not a "cure".

Regardless of how an athlete decides to use the bright tape, it's become a vivid staple of these Olympic games and a functional fashion statement. The strategically placed kinesio tape may be the most visible (and colorful) pain med placebo at the London Olympics. Seems to have worked for Kerri Walsh Jennings!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic Style I: Neon Yellow Sneakers

If you've watched any of the track and field events from the London Olympics, you could not possibly miss the bright yellow Nike track shoes on display. Nearly every runner, hurdler, and jumper is sporting them. Nike has done an amazing job marketing these shoes as they are ubiquitous.

Nike undoubtably now has a huge following with these track spikes adorning the feet of Olympic athletes and on display for the entire world to see and purchase. Either these shoes truly are phenomenal (if you're in the calibre of an Olympic athlete) or else Nike has a ton of endorsements swathing the feet of Olympians. A great deal for Nike when sprinter Alyson Felix and decathlete Ashton Eaton are wearing those bright yellow Nikes. Even better when the neon yellow transforms into gold—the gold of an Olympic medal.

From US triathletes to long jumpers to the US women's swim team, their feet are all clad in yellow neon. However, I do believe these neon yellow sneakers are a part of the US Olympic uniform. But that doesn't explain why the Russians, Germans, and Kenyans are wearing the identical Nike track spikes. Perhaps these bright yellow shoes really do enhance athlete performance.

Being a runner and a fan of bright obnoxious sneakers, I'm loving these Nike track shoes. A quick Google search found a variety of these yellow Nike shoes (Zoom Ja iD, Superfly Spike and Mamba) ranging from $75 to $125.

I certainly spot a trend. Maybe they come in pink!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Onslaught of the Japanese Beetles

My garden is under invasion by the beetles. And not the ones from Liverpool! (How can you resist a little Beatles wordplay?) Have they reached you yet? If not, consider yourself lucky but they are on the way. If you're like me, you've been battling these annoying pests the entire summer.

I guess I'm lucky that it took this long for the Japanese Beetles to reach my corner of Minnesota. Friends in other parts of the Twin Cities are well into their second summer of ridding their gardens of these pesky Japanese Beetles.

They do look kind of cool though. Iridescent almost. But that's all that is remotely likable about these pests that have taken up residence in my yard, gardens, and window boxes. I first noticed them devouring my patch of mint in the herb garden in June. Then eating the petunias on my deck. From there they jumped over to the plum tree and began devouring it. The tree was literally crawling with Japanese Beetles.

What to do? When these beetles are not chowing down on my plants and trees they are mating. Sometimes doing double-duty and mating while gorging themselves on my flowers. At night they lay their eggs on my lawn, waiting to come to life in the spring for another feast on my gardens.

Those bright yellow plastic Japanese Beetle bait bags really don't work all that well. If you want every Japanese Beetle within a mile radius in your yard, hang those bags in your trees. I'm now on my fourth bottle of Ortho Elementals insect spray, but all this really does is knock the bugs off for a day. Then they started in on my hollyhock hibiscus plants that I was finally able to find and grow in a Minnesota climate. In desperation I doused the plant in an organic Fungicide. It worked better than anything else, keeping them off of the hibiscus plant for nearly a week and entirely off of the mint.

But what about my poor plum tree? Sevin Ready to Use Bug Killer. It even has a drawing of that horrible Japanese beetle on the bottle. After spraying down the entire plum tree, I'm pleased to say that it worked remarkably well. Not one Japanese beetle eating up the leaves and plums. They probably have taken flight and taken up residence in a neighbor's plum tree. As for all of those beetle eggs buried in the grass . . . nothing a few bags of Grub Control won't fix. (I'm starting to sound like a farmer or something. Scary!)

Given all of the time and money I've invested in my flowers, I take great pleasure in eliminating these Japanese beetles from my yard. So much that my neighbors now think nothing of me stopping by their house to chat with a bottle of organic fungicide in hand. Sayounara nasty Japanese beetles.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Forward. To Where?

Punctuation nerds, like myself, are puzzled. The new Obama campaign slogan stops rather abruptly. FORWARD. It's that glowing period that does it. To me the new "FORWARD." ends before it even begins. The period haltingly proclaims the end. The additional halo glow around it makes the improper use of a period even worse. I am surprised that the President and his campaign team signed off on the period idea. Don't they know they are jeopardizing the grammar geek voting block with this inane move?

My Chicago Manual of Style would certainly cite this as an example of how not to use a period in the English language. Maybe the Obama campaign is trying to be clever or innovative. A better choice would be an exclamation point that portrays movement and excitement—FORWARD! Unless the Obama campaign wasn't really all that excited about moving ahead given all of the unknowns on the campaign trail. Perhaps they are not looking forward to a potential win and all of the years ahead to dig out of a stale economy. By adding that period the Obama camp has stopped any forward momentum. Maybe they're just moving ahead without any acclaim and want a quick end to the whole race. I'm actually already a bit tired of the campaign ads and the whole national Presidential campaign hasn't even kicked in yet!

FORWARD

Just do the right thing and drop the period entirely. It's a simple move to make one thing right in this crazy race to the White House. Forward into the future minus the period and who really knows what will happen. That is the truth. Period.