Archive of ‘Life’ category

Why Gwyneth Paltrow, and Other Celebrities, Don’t Get Hunger in America

Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines this weekend with her little food stamp challenge she posted online. Despite their best efforts, Gwyneth Paltrow, and other celebrities, prove they just don’t get hunger in America.

It’s cute when an uber-rich celebrity tries to relate to the rest of us who struggle to buy groceries every week.

Why Gwyneth Paltrow, and Other Celebrities, Don’t Get Hunger in America

Gwyneth Paltrow makes it so easy for us to dislike her.

 

She tweeted the above challenge and was promptly eaten alive by online critics for it. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, which allows $29 per person to help with a family grocery budget. She was challenged by celebrity chef, Mario Batali to the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, to spend $29 on groceries for one week.

She also tweeted she is “walking in their shoes to see how far we get” (*gag*), but let’s face it, she really is not.

First, SNAP is meant as a supplement program and not to fund an entire grocery budget. SNAP recipients get $29 per person, not $29 for an entire family. The amount also varies by state. Those on SNAP have a job, but need a hand up when it comes to feeding their family.

Second, this grocery haul by Gwyneth isn’t enough to feed a single human being for a week, even a super-skinny one. This picture reminds me of a cleanse one might see on her popular blog, Goop. Also, people who are hungry don’t choose to buy seven limes and organic cilantro, as these are garnishes. We buy protein (like chicken), canned beans, bread, eggs, milk and jars of spaghetti sauce and dry noodles.

Lastly, being poor, struggling, and hungry is seen as a fun challenge to celebrities, not reality. They get to suspend their reality for seven days, ending it with a #IDidIt.

People struggling to feed their family are forced to live this reality every.single.day. Families who are hungry in America are not who you think. Hunger in America isn’t a fun hastag to them with a a self-congratulatory-look-at-me at the end of seven days. It is a hard reality with harder choices.

If celebrities really want be challenged, try living it as real life. For instance, try being a struggling single mom with three kids, a broken down car, and working a 9 hour day. After a long day, that started before dawn, all that mom wants to do is get food on the table for her hungry kids, because it’s 6:30 p.m. and she still needs to help them with homework, bath time, and any other drama that comes along with being a single parent. And, do it for more than a week…Try a month, or three to start.

Try understanding the slight humiliation a mother feels when having to pay for groceries with an EBT card. Knowing that her card is ready to expire and she has to reapply, being forced to prove that she can’t provide fully for her family. Knowing that because she had to spend extra money on an unexpected car repair bill, she will have to also visit the local food bank this week to help with groceries or go without. Telling her child ‘no’ to the name brand cereal and opting for the cheaper cereal. Forget about eating organic, too.

I know other hashtag challenges have been wildly successful, can we say #IceBucketChallenge, but this one is different. What is the point of proving celebrities can eat on $29 a week? To say they did it?

Hey, I will give Gwyneth a #NiceTry and #Kudos only because the internet and talk shows are talking about hunger in America today. But, she gets a #HugeFail on her shopping list and her understanding of the real problem.

Because it’s not about food. It’s about so much more. Until they understand that, they won’t get it.

REAL SOLUTIONS & REAL PEOPLE | Feeding America, No Kid Hungry

10 Reasons Why I Hate Doing Homework with My Kids

Homework is supposed be for the benefit of my kids. It should only take 20 minutes a night to complete. It says so right in black and white in the school handbook. Insert me laughing, hysterically.

After yet another homework fight with my second grader, I wrote a little I Hate You, Homework list. Because it helps me deal.

Then, I renamed it: 10 Reasons I Hate Doing Homework with My Kids. It‘s eloquent, I know.

  1. Twenty minutes of crying because the homework instructions are confusing. And we’re talking about me crying here.
  2. Realizing I am not smarter than a second grader. Or, seventh grader. Or any grader.
  3. Doing the science fair experiment twice, and we still couldn’t grow crystals. Opt for colored carnations instead, which will never win first place at the science fair. Or, any place.
  4. Running to four different stores to find sugar cubes to build a small replica of the great pyramids. Buying every box they had. Total spent: $32. Grade: A. Kind of feel like I bought that A.
  5. Being told, “Your child should complete the majority of this simple machine project.” Then, see the other projects turned in, complete with motorized cranes and laser lights. Obviously, not completed by a second grader.
  6. Another twenty minutes of tears because…Kid: “That’s not how the teacher told us to do it!” Me: “I don’t care! That’s the answer. Write.It.Down!”
  7. “Go to your room and calm down,” kid says to me.
  8. It’s 9 p.m. and I hear this, “I forgot. I need to write a short story using all my 15 spelling words. It’s due tomorrow.”
  9. No matter how many times I Google explanations to Algebra problems, I will never understand it. 
  10. Homework wastes paper. Save the ink…and the trees. I am a graphic designer and I have never uttered those words in my life, so you know I am serious!

“I love doing homework with my kids!” Said no one. Ever.

11 Ways to Combat Text Bullying

You remember the days of prank phone calls. Chances are you made this one:

“Hello.”

“Is your refrigerator running?”

“Yes…”

“Then you better go catch it!” Hang up. Laugh hysterically.

Admit it. You did it as a teenager. It was annoying to the person on the other end of the line but innocent.

Oh, how times have changed. Today, messages via texting, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram have replaced the prank phone call. And, they’re not telling lame jokes.

A few months back, our family had a big fat lesson in internet safety, and thanks to our local Police Department, it’s been an eye-opener for us and our daughter.

Then, this past week, we were tested, again. Sigh.

This time it was a harassing text from a girl to my daughter. My daughter took it very seriously. Thank you again, Police Department, she was listening. The exact details of what was said in the text isn’t as important as what you, as a parent, should do if it happens to your child.

cyber bullying

11 WAYS TO COMBAT TEXT BULLYING:

  1. Never dismiss text bullies as innocent pranksters. Text messages (or online messages) that are harassing in nature, physical or verbal, is the definition of cyber bullying. In some cases, it is a criminal act.
  2. If there is name calling, it is cyber bullying. Period.
  3. If a threat is made to do bodily harm, this is a criminal act. Yes, the Police should be involved.
  4. Remind your child not to respond or engage. Instead document everything, i.e. with screen shots of your child’s phone or computer, or print outs, but ALWAYS keep the actual data on the phone as evidence. Never delete it.
  5. Do not underestimate the distress a bully can have on your child. Words do hurt. Never tell your child to “ignore it”, or “it’s just a joke”.
  6. Recognize it early, and take steps to stop it immediately. This could mean contacting the police, your child’s school, or the other child’s parent to have a little chat. (I will tell you from experience, a chat with the parent is not fun, but they may not realize what is going on, and will take steps to stop it.)
  7. Know that there are apps that allow a bully to use a number that is hard to trace. Now days kids know more about their phone than we do, educate yourself. Being a parent in this technology-savvy world means you need to know a thing or two about it.
  8. Understand why bullies do what they do. They crave attention and gratification. It is our job to hold them accountable for what they say and do. Their nasty words are NOT a reflection on your child, nor your child’s fault. Reassure your child of this fact.
  9. Text bullying is similar to stalking. Learn if you can block a phone number on your child’s phone. Some phones can, some can’t. If you can’t, consider changing the number and only allowing a limited number of people to have the new number. It’s like changing the locks on your door. If the bully doesn’t have the number, they can’t text.
  10. Insist on ZERO TOLERANCE for cyber bullying. It is a crime. Teach your child to speak out about cyber bullies. Let them know it will it be tolerated in your house. Let them know the consequences if they do it. Encourage them to be part of the solution against such bullies. Resist the urge to take away your child’s phone if they are the victim of a text bully. It’s not their fault.
  11. Encourage you child to talk to you openly if they experience cyber bullies, or if they witness it. I don’t need to link stories of children who have taken their own life because of cyber bullies. We know it happens.

Kids need to coexist with technology not be bullied by it.

A side note: Just as there are rules in our house, there are rules with her phone. When my daughter first got her cell phone (in 5th grade) she signed a Cell Phone Contract with us. On the list was spelled out what is expected of her with the privilege of a cell phone. Same is true when she got her iPod. This included no text bullying, no sexting, she must hand over the phone whenever I ask, and I am allowed to go through it if there is probable cause. Here is a great contract, and this one has a sense of humor about it. It’s never too late to talk about cyber bullying.

HELPFUL RESOURCES | BullyOnline, LoveYourChildrenUSA, TextBullyingStats, StompOutBullying

*Background photo source: StockVault.

Marriage is…

If you are a Sex in the City fan, like me, you might remember the little episode where Carrie has writer’s block. She is so desperate for a story that she contemplates writing a comparison between French fries and men.

That episode reminds me of where I am right now. I am deep into writer’s block and actually wrote a post about my quest for a new can opener that actually works. That is what we call ‘First World Problems’, people. Fortunately for you (and me), I wrote that one in my head and not in pixels.

Instead, below is a a post that I first wrote in 2010. It may be old but it is still relevant today. And, it’s one of my most popular posts entitled Marriage Is…

Marriage is

Marriage is…grocery shopping together to save a buck
Marriage is…vacuuming the carpet
Marriage is…emptying the dishwasher, then refilling it
Marriage is…taking turns cooking dinner
Marriage is…putting the kids to bed, tag-team style
Marriage is…balancing the checkbook and paying bills
Marriage is…respecting each others requests
Marriage is…when the dryer dies and the mini van needs brakes
Marriage is…sharing your hopes and dreams with someone
Marriage is…sharing in the homework chore with the kids
Marriage is…putting your money together for the common good
Marriage is…listening when the other person talks
Marriage is…really listening
Marriage is…hanging out on the front porch on the swing
Marriage is…running to the store to pick up milk, late at night
Marriage is…watching your kids play, together
Marriage is…sharing in the disciple of the kids
Marriage is…faith in the future
Marriage is…growing old together
Marriage is…changing and growing together
Marriage is…emotionally supporting of another person
Marriage is…having someone to let off steam to
Marriage is...loving someone, even when they are not at their best
Marriage is…having someone to kiss everyday
Marriage is…we, not I

Marriage is…not always pretty and romantic. It’s not what you imagined. It’s not always happy days and passionate nights. It ebbs and flows with life. It’s valleys and hills. It’s a roller coaster ride…with laughing, crying and some screaming. Don’t disrespect it. Don’t take it for granted. Celebrate it. Enjoy it.

* * * * * *

Some great additions from reader comments:

  • Love is a choice
  • Marriage is a choice
  • Great understanding makes a great marriage
  • Great sex doesn’t hurt
  • Marriage is not all bliss, all the time

Whether you are married or not, what would you add to the list? After almost 20 years of marriage I would add, marriage is a marathon. Pace yourself. You will get exhausted and want to quit, but you have to push on to find your stride.

*Aqua wedding cake photo: StockVault.

 

For Strong Women Everywhere

This post is dedicated to strong women everywhere…and one in particular…my mom. She is many things, including caring, strong and beautiful, but possibly her greatest trait is her deep spiritual relationship and trust she puts in the Lord. When the day comes that she meets Jesus, he will have her wings ready and waiting for her.

…29 Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all. 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:29-31

In this world it is easy to become enslaved to upholding worldly appearances of fame, fortune, and beauty. We work hard to make our outsides look more beautiful while our insides rot away with sin. Outwardly beauty and charm will only get you so far in this life, and this life is like “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” [James 4:14]

My friends, our days are numbered here on earth, each one is a blessing. Find joy and kindness in your days. Once we are gone from this earth, it is not the end; there is an eternity waiting for us.

How we prepare for it during our time here on earth will determine what kind of eternity we enjoy.

Ladies, you are strong and amazing and beautiful. Seek the One that matters most, and your inner strength and beauty will radiate outward; this cannot be matched by fame, fortune, or physical beauty.

Work to develop your character and relationship with the Lord. This matters much more than anything material of this earth. Have a blessed weekend.

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart and Faith Barista’s WhiteSpace. Please check out these amazing women who are sharing their heart and love for Jesus on their blogs.

The Truth of Unhappy People

Unhappy quote

Unhappy people will never be happy with anything you say or do. Really. It’s a truth of unhappy people.

No matter how hard you try, unhappy people will criticize your weight, labeling you fat, thin, too thin. Unhappy people will find fault with your parenting choices. Unhappy people won’t like the outfit you are wearing today.

Unhappy people will call you uncool, a geek, a slut, a snob, or a {insert word here}. Unhappy people will find the positive quote that you post on Instagram anything but positive. And they’ll let you know they are unhappy about it.

In an attempt to make themselves feel better, unhappy people will take to Facebook, ranting and spreading lies about you. As they say, misery loves company.

ANOTHER TRUTH: Unhappy people are happy being unhappy. Unhappy people are incapable of seeing the brighter side of life…therefore, they are unhappy.

So, take a page from Kelly Clarkson when she was confronted with one unhappy bully, and say, “Screw them!”

Be happy. Be you. Be happy with your life, right where you are. You can’t change unhappy people, you are only in control of your happiness.

So, go. Be happy. Live a good life. Let them keep their unhappiness. You don’t need it anyway. You’ve got things to do.

Nothing but Positive Things to Think About

Now that I have given up social media (FB, Twitter and Google+) cold turkey I needed a little something to satisfy my mindless surfing and some positive things to think about. I can’t quit the internet all at once, ya know.

I am tiny house obsessed. Maybe it’s the purging instincts in me. And, if it weren’t for my 2 kids, husband, poodle, black lab and the abundance of crap we have, it would be totally doable. Until the kids move out I will have to settle for living vicariously through Livin’ Lightly. This family of three sold mostly everything they owned and moved into an Airstream trailer and are now in search of a simple and intentional life. Plus, also, their baby is named Paisley! Seriously cute.

This is one example of why I quite Twitter.  Curt Schilling is a former baseball player for the Red Sox. He blogs as 38Pitches. He works to raise awareness for ALS and Malignant Melanoma. And, this week he got caught in the crosshairs of some Trolls when he tweeted a seemingly innocent congratulations to his daughter. He fought back…hard! I don’t know much about baseball, but I know this dad hit it out of the park with his post against cyberbullies! Seriously, read Schilling’s response in defense of his daughter.

Thor

Totally random photo of my black lab, Thor. He loves the snow.

The Hip Paris Blog. I know it’s a total cliché to romanticize Paris but still…the Eiffel Tower. And Brie. And espresso. That’s all. (Again, living vicariously.)

And because I love squirrels…especially these red Russians squirrels. Bored Panda is a little place on the blogashere I just discovered. It’s just a fun place to waste a lot of time looking at beautiful photographs.

My Jesus Project. Have you heard about what Christian Piatt is doing? Well, I’ll let him explain, “For the next year, I’m doing a sort of “human experiment” project in which I try to figure out what it really means to follow Jesus in the 21st century western world.” In this project, Piatt is asking the important question, “What does it mean to really follow Jesus?” Which, I think, all Christians are on that journey. We are figuring it out as we go. Our Church, Christian speakers, faith books, and religious blogs try to tell us what that means. But, in this modern, tech-obsessed world, do any of us really-really know what it means anymore? The journey starts here.

Icicles

Another totally random photo. The huge icicles hanging off the house this week.

 I just finished reading the book “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. It actually didn’t take long to read…it’s only 140 pages. The reason I bought the book was, not so I could learn to steal art, because of this quote:

steal like an artist quote

So, there’s that.

Everyday Lens of Life

It’s been life moving way too fast around here. I just say, slow down already. Captured here is everyday lens of life.

Parker-Nerd

This girl really wants to wear glasses…

SONY DSC

And this girl officially became a teenager.

Alex-StockShow

Love me some goats!

SONY DSC

Getting ready for a free throw!

Parker-Ears

Brave little girl got her ears pierced.

Parker-Ears2

1, 2, 3…

squirrel

And this guy stealing bird seed from the feeder.

Which reminds me, I need to get some peanuts for my homemade squirrel feeder. Squirrels need love too.

My Big Fat Lesson in Internet Safety

I have been living with a teenager for a week now and it has been an education. As in, a big fat lesson in internet safety. Some of you may have been there, done that, but for me, it’s my first time to this rodeo. And this rodeo just kicked me in my butt!

We live in a visually stimulated culture. As if you didn’t know that. Everywhere you turn, sex sells things from shampoo to cheeseburgers. Pop stars are hyper-sexual in their lyrics, dressing, and videos.

So, it shouldn’t be shocking when my teenager sees sexual images online, whether intentional or by accident.

Yet. It is.

Gone are the days of finding a Playboy under their mattress. It’s so much more scary. There are real sickos out there, just waiting for our teens to take the bait on the internet.

Serious sickos.

Our kids can Google something seemingly innocent and porn will pop up on the screen. They can be curious about a website and get more than an eye full. They can give out too much personal information and open themselves up to an online predator.

Besides the constant enforcing of internet rules, what else can we do to help my teen navigate the internet? By using protection. Protection in the form of big, bad parental controls.

A quick Google search finds a lot of information on the subject of Parental Controls. Programs one can install that will track keystrokes, take screen shots every so often, social media controls/blocking, help prevent cyber-bullying, and password controlled programs. 

A couple of highly useful articles I found for those of us who are new at this are Digital Trends and Top 10 Reviews on Internet Filter Software. And, if you want to freak your kids out read this story about the dangers of sharing too much information online.

One thing I know for sure? Get it. Install it. Learn it. Use it.

Okay, that’s four things. 

Also. Something else happened. Let’s call this one a temporary lapse in judgement, or who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-kid.

Trust was tested. 

Did I mention it’s only been a week?

She’s still learning and growing up. I am still learning to parent a teenager.

Just like when I held her for the first time…I admit I still don’t know what I am doing. I am still learning how to do this parenting thing. Gone are the days of time-outs. Now it’s grounding and removal of technology, which is like taking away air.

This week, living with a teenager has been a series of take-a-deep-breath-count-to-ten moments that make me think I have seriously screwed up. We are both learning together.

At least she hasn’t knocked over a gas station yet, so maybe it’s not so bad. Right?

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth, Coffee for Your Heart

Take Stock in the Here and Now

We are one month into 2015. Thirty-three days of resolutions, one words, plans, and lists.  It’s a good time to take stock in the here and now.

And, the here and now is winter. Just when I was thinking spring was just around the corner with 70º degree weather, Mother Nature slapped us in the face with 8″ of snow this past weekend. Old Punxsutawney Phil spotted his shadow, so it’s official, another six long weeks until spring.

The term taking stock originates from ‘stock taking’ when farmers in the ye ‘ol days counted their stock, equipment, tools, etc. They took inventory of their assets. Taking stock can also mean assessing ones life to decide what to do next (which is what I think Phil is actually doing); or taking stock by counting ones blessings in life.

Taking Stock

I am pausing for a moment and taking stock in all the little blessings that may go unnoticed day-by-day.

Loving: Parker being so creative and sweet and thoughtful and silly and loving and…just wants to have a sewing day with mom only. I am cherishing this before she grows up and doesn’t think I am the coolest person to hang out with on a cold winter day.

Needing: An acupuncture treatment for dog allergies. Seriously.

Meeting: Friends at Starbucks to give blog advice and chat. Really, wonderful.

Creating & Sewing: Planning to sew new pillow cases. I have a long to-sew-list for 2015. But, before that I used Alex’s old t-shirts to make a few throw pillows (pictured above).

Link loving: #Create inspiration: Simply Me // My Art Journal // Oh Happy Day // Brave Girls Club

Watching: Alex playing basketball for the first time. I haven’t been this teary-eyed since she last competed at figure skating. Why do I do that? A good friend is her coach. So loving that, too.

Sharing: I am sharing a story for an e-book that a fellow blogger is working on. Lord willing there will be more news about that in the coming months. The Lord is blessing this woman in many ways!

Struggling: What do I write and do next? What is Your plan for me, Lord? I could use a clue right about now. Thanks so much. Amen.

Eating: More fruit in winter. And coffee.

Reading: My goal is to read one book a month. Check The Red Tent off the list. I highly recommend it, too. We are reading Junie B. Jones with Parker. We have read all of the book series with Alex, now it is Parker’s turn. And, I have started Gone Girl.

Planning: Alex’s 13th birthday celebration this week. She’ll officially be a teenager, even though I have been calling her a teen for the past six months.

So, what are you taking stock in?

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