Shower the People


I dutifully posted a reminder on my FaceBook wall to watch last night’s final presidential debate.

However, I didn’t watch it myself, and here’s why.

I had better things to do, and not in the snarky sense of “debates suck and why would I watch” but in the very real sense of I had a choice to sit and watch my daughter practice for a band competition or watch the debate and I chose my daughter.

I’m a band geek at heart, so having a child in the largest marching band in the country is pretty exciting for me. They are also deep into marching competition practices which means they are working hard and perfecting every section of their show. And my daughter is a great marcher. And I love her. And I want to show her how much watching her do what she loves makes me happy.

The Allen High School Band at their last competition a week and a half ago.

I am most definitely not one of those super self sacrificing uber-moms. I wish I was, but I care too much about my own life to be totally selfless. (If you’re a fan of the Divergent books, you know I would never be in Abnegation.) I do however try to find balance between the time I spend on me and the time I devote to the people I love, and sometimes, the issues of the world just do not fit into that equation.

As much as I believe it’s important to be informed and news savvy, I also believe in retreating to that little cocoon that is my husband and kids…the rest of the world be damned.

This weekend an acquaintance of mine lost a child to SIDS, and an acquaintance of my husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. When things like that happens, it is human nature to stop and think about your own mortality and the mortality of the people you love. We can’t always live each day like it’s our last, but we remember to appreciate that the time we have together is limited and do our very best to enjoy it.

And that it why I spent my evening with friends and with great music instead of fuming over the TV.

And I don’t regret it one. little. bit.

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The Vice-Presidential Debate, or “Honey, Can you Get Me the Tums?”


I don’t know how many people will know this term, but I have, what in my family is known as “agita” which is Portuguese for “stir” and basically means I’m agitated or all stirred up.

I had a tough time watching the debate last night for several reasons.

First, and least importantly, just looking at Biden and Ryan is off putting. If I had muted the debate and just watched the split screen of each of their faces I would have been almost as aggravated as I was with the sound on. I would have wondered what was so funny that Biden was LOLing every 10 seconds, and as for Ryan,  I see the type of look he was giving Biden on my teenagers’ faces on a regular basis and it’s the type of look that makes me want to slap it off whatever face I see it on. ( I control myself though!)

This is the look I see on my kids’ faces when they are thinking “How did someone as stupid as you ever manage to keep me alive this long?”

Hey Joe, can we stop the histrionics? (And BTW, you went a little too far on the tooth whitening this time.)

Second, the rhetoric, the rhetoric, the rhetoric. We are going to hear the same dozen or so catch-phrases over the next month until we run screaming from our televisions.

“The 47%”

“The Medicaid Death Panels”

“The tax studies (5 or 6 depending on the debate)”

“The $5 trillion tax cut”

And on and on it goes….and basically any non-partisan website will tell you that the facts and figures behind these catch-phrases are, at best, a stretching of the truth and at worst, out and out lies. Both sides are doing it, and it is such a perversion of what politics should be that it makes my stomach hurt.

But the thing that makes my stomach hurt even more are the folks who are gobbling up these “facts” without questioning them at all.

My FaceBook wall is a funny place. I grew up in New England and I now live in Texas. As you can imagine I have friends all over the political spectrum. So reading the posts regarding the debate was interesting to say the least.

What’s clear to me is that if someone’s mind is already made up, regardless of which side it’s made up for, nothing the other side can say is going to be given any consideration. Meanwhile, all of the BS coming out of the mouth of the candidate that person is backing is accepted without question.

It’s time for us to be more discerning voters. You may be conservative or liberal at heart, and you may back one party for the rest of your life, but that does not mean you should endorse the way the facts about the things most important to your country are distorted. Ask yourself this. If your child came home with a story that was as far off from the reality of what happened as the stories the candidates are telling us, you’d discipline them for lying.

We need to do the same thing with the men and women who mean to lead us.

Please, I beg you, check your facts….not on a website sponsored by any party, or by NBC or FOX, go to factcheck.org or politifact.com/truth-o-meter, or any other nonpartisan website. They are out there. It will probably not change your mind about who you’d like to vote for, but at least you’d be voting on fact rather than fiction.

 

The Best $78 Million I Ever Voted For


Oh, my hackles are up! I understand that folks all over the country have been making fun of my town, and our new high school football stadium.

Yes, it’s big and fancy.

Yes, it cost 60 million dollars.

Hell, no, I have no problem with it.

My guess is that if you haven’t been in Allen, TX you hear $60 million dollar high school football stadium, and you roll your eyes assuming that money that could (and should) have been spent on improving schools was sacrificed at the alter of football worship. I probably would have felt the same way if I didn’t live here.

I’d like to set the record straight, because I think that if more school districts could do what we did here in Allen, kids everywhere could benefit.

Let me say right off the bat that I recognize that my town is better off financially than most. Obviously that makes a huge difference in the money that goes into its public school system. That said, I think how our district handled the need for a new stadium was great.

You might have noticed that my title says $78 million, and the stadium cost $60 million. What happened to that other $18 million?….

Before they even broke ground on our fancy, shmancy stadium, the school built a gorgeous new wing onto the high school holding a Performing Arts Center, Art gallery, restaurant (for the kids wanting cooking and hospitality experience before going on to college), a TV studio (for kids interested in communications experience before college), new classrooms for all performing arts and visual arts students, and new classrooms, and labs for students learning what it takes to get into health-care professions.

Blu Restaurant: Where Seniors complete their hospitality practicum.

In short, they did it right. Unlike so many schools that are cutting music and art budgets to the bone, Allen is investing in making sure the Arts are alive and well. It’s impressive, and as a parent who’s children are NOT sports minded kids (both are in the band program), I appreciate that my kids have amazing facilities to learn and perform music.

Photo Courtesy: Yarberry Photography

So what about the stadium? Well, on Friday nights in the fall the whole town gets excited and goes to watch the games. The band, color guard and drill team  (with over 800 members total) perform. Oh yes, then there are the high school students who do all of the camera work for the game, and edit the graphics on the scoreboard, and learn how to sportscast in the booth. In my mind, football is just the event that provides a springboard for opportunities for so many other kids to get some real world experience while they are still in high school.

Photo Courtesy: Yarberry Photography

So yes, I love my new stadium, but I love the foresight of the people who planned ahead for our school district even more. I wish that all kids had the kind of opportunities mine do. Arts, sciences, technology, service careers, and sports too…..they are all fully supported by the school, and that is how it should be.

A Word on Justin Beiber’s Mom


Don’t worry…I do not have Beiber fever, and I am not one of those creepy cougar types who goes all gaga over a teenaged pop star.

Honestly, I’ve never really paid too much attention to the Justin Beiber phenomenon other than the basics. I know he was discovered because of a YouTube video his mom posted. I can see he’s pretty talented and a cutie patootie. He seems to have a good sense of humor when I’ve seen him on The Ellen Show and I respect the fact that he took time out of his day last week to acknowledge a young super-fan who passed away.

Basically, he seems like a sweet kid who hasn’t gotten too wrapped up in his fame, which is, at least in part,  a testament to his mom.

It wasn’t until the past week or so that I understood her story…a teenaged mom, raising a son on her own and she herself the victim of longstanding sexual abuse. Not exactly the blueprint for having a successful outcome to one’s life.

What is interesting is the rest of the story… She found religion and made different choices for herself than she had in the past. She concentrated on raising her son, and he turned into Justin Beieber. I, for one, am happy for her and very impressed with the struggles of her life and how she’s handled them so far.

Her memoir was recently released and she has been making the rounds doing interviews about her story. One topic that invariably comes up is her unplanned pregnancy, and her choice to continue the pregnancy in the face of pressure from her family to abort.

That is where the Pro Life camp picks up the thread of the story for their own purposes. I have had several postings on my FaceBook wall with basically the same message of “See what she would have lost if she’d  had an abortion.” (Implied here is that having an abortion would have been taking the easy way out)…..and that’s where you lose me.

We’ve seen this argument before….Tim Tebow’s mom comes to mind….and the anecdote about a college professor posing a scenario to his class in which they decide to abort a fetus that would have turned into Beethoven…such a flawed and simplistic argument for such a complex topic. As if a woman should keep a pregnancy in case they win the gifted human lottery and produce a child that becomes famous.

Because let’s face it, you could just as easily take the story of Ted Bundy‘s mom or Osama Bin Laden‘s mom or even Hitler’s mom (Hard to imagine Adolf Hitler having a mom isn’t it?) and say, “Wow, how many people would be alive  today if his mother had had an abortion.” Just a different lottery….in this case gifted for evil instead of good. It’s just as ridiculous an argument.

Here’s the thing…abortion is an immensely personal decision. No one should be pressured into getting one when they want to carry a pregnancy and bring a child into the world, and no one should be pressured to carry a pregnancy they feel they cannot.

As a woman, and a healthcare provider I am beside myself. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to make a choice about whether or not to continue a pregnancy, both of mine were planned and desired. My gut reaction is that I don’t think I could have an abortion, but  would I feel differently if I were raped and became pregnant or if the fetus I carried had anomalies which would have been incompatible with life, or if my life was in jeopardy which would mean risking leaving the two kids I do have without a mother? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone truly knows what they would do until they are in that situation.

But damn it, I have the right to make that decision. I believe that my husband has a right to some input. That’s it. No one else. Not my friends, relatives and certainly not the politicians in my state or my country. I am insulted that anyone thinks they know better than me about what goes on inside my body, and more importantly (as I am nearing the end of my reproductive capabilities) I am scared for my daughter and for any future granddaughters and great granddaughters I may have. I just shake my head in disbelief that they may live in a country that has stripped them of autonomy over their reproductive lives.

Honestly, I have no problem with anyone telling their story of how they could have had an abortion, and are so grateful that they didn’t. Nor do I have a problem with anyone telling a story about why they had an abortion and why it was the right decision for them. Everyone deserves to know their options and get many points of view, but when it comes down to it, everyone also deserves to be able to make their own decisions.