5 Reasons Why You Should Vote

Vote buttonI spent a lot of time bashing our political system in my last post. The truth is that no system is perfect and ours is no different. Regardless of our flaws, we are so privileged to live in a country where we have the right to vote. As far as I’m concerned, suffrage is such a hard earned right, that is not just a right, it’s an obligation. Each and every one of us needs to make our choices known and here are the reasons why.

  1. The right to vote is one of the greatest freedoms we have as Americans. Put simply, the inability to influence how we are governed through the election of representatives was one of the motivations for the American Revolution. Yes, there is corruption that needs to be rooted out, but for the most part we as Americans have the right to cast our votes in an election that is relatively tamper free and straightforward.  If you are black and/or female, of which I am both, the right to vote is that much more important. People fought hard for a right that so many of us take for granted. If you are 18 years old you are old enough to do your research and make a decision on who our leaders should be.
  2. Although the presidential election is usually the hot ticket item, many people may feel like their votes have no voice, especially in a state with a strong party ties. But elections are about so much more than the presidential election. There are tons of other candidates and issues on the ballot where your voice matters. As close as some of these races can be, our collective voices really do count when it comes to these candidates and initiatives.
  3. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, Democrat, Republican, or Roseanne Barr, voting gives you a voice not only now but for the future. It gives you the power to shape your country and your community.
  4. If you don’t vote, don’t bitch about­­ how you are represented in your nation, state or locality. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but how can you truly express frustration at an elected official that you neither supported nor opposed. Maybe this point is somewhat meaningless, because we’re all going to complain about whatever we want to complain about, but it seems that the amount of complaints about our system far outweigh the number of people who participate.
  5. Having the right to note vote, should make you that much more appreciative of the country we live in. Yes, that may sound odd, but there are actually countries that have compulsory voting. We are privileged to have the right to choose whether or not to vote, and while not voting may make sense for some, it goes against the very meaning of what being American is.

Although this list may be shorter, it’s no less important than the last. The ability to vote is a precious gift. The ability to vote is one of the principals the founding fathers fought for along with many other who have fought for the right to vote since then. As someone who wouldn’t have had the right to vote had I been born in another time, it’s that much more precious to me. As citizens we all need to become educated on the issues and take a stand by voting. It’s one of the only voices we have to make our thoughts known in the political system.

7 Reasons Why I Hate Politics

Democrats vs. RepublicansI can still remember my 9th grade civics teacher teaching one of the first classes of the year. He described politics as the following – “poli” means many and “tics” are bloodsuckers, so politics means many bloodsuckers. Even though I know the statement was partly in jest, that lecture from over 20 years ago still bears a resemblance to the truth.

Although politics are a constant in life, I always feel like the presidential election brings out the worst in politics. I follow the political issues at hand, so that I can make informed decisions, but I really hate talking or thinking about it too much. The bottom line is that although I deal with it – I hate politics. Here are several of my reasons why.

  1. All politicians lie. Yes, I said all. Maybe there’s some politician out there in the middle of a sweet little town in the middle of nowhere who really does tell the truth, but all of the major politicians lie, at least some of the time. Don’t believe me? Check out Politifact for a rundown of the truthfulness of what some of our candidates say. Maybe it’s their advisors, maybe it’s them, but the fact is it’s often hard to know without thorough investigation what is true and what’s not. Don’t believe it just because you heard it.
  2. There is a ridiculous, ridiculous, amount of money spent during the presidential campaign. This year sources have ranged between $2-6 billion. Really? What is this money really doing other than buying votes? Who really benefits? This is money that could be better spent on our economy, on the poor, on education, rather than thrown down the drain for political campaigns that aren’t even always based on truth.
  3. I can’t stand the negative tone of so many of the ads on the air. Yes, some amount of attention needs to be paid to the other party and what they’re bringing to the table, but how about focusing on your own platform? Let me judge for myself how bad the other guy is, just tell me why I should get behind you.
  4. A two-party system simply is not enough to represent all of the thoughts and beliefs of a country as large and diverse as the United States. Yet, if you don’t conform to one of these two parties, you only have a small amount of hope to win a major political position, and a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the presidency. The political systems in place are too strong for anything else.
  5. Politics are so divisive. Okay, so on one hand I’m saying we need more division, more parties, and on the other I’m saying politics are too divisive. Politics are too divisive in the sense that people seem to pick their party, and then decide that everything else anyone else says must be wrong. They vote on their party lines, and never make a decision on their own. It feels like it’s almost impossible to work together on anything. Politicians should work together towards the needs of all Americans, not just the members of one political party. After all, our system is one of majority rule, and neither party holds a true majority of Americans.
  6. Politics cause cyclical changes in all of society – One day in an economics class I asked my professor why we have so many ups and downs in the economy if we have so many people studying it and trying to make it owrk. His one word answer was “politics.” Every time a president changes, everything changes and we start from scratch. Issues that lag get attributed to the next person who takes office. How can we ever get ahead if we constantly have to start from scratch?
  7. The Electoral College needs to be put to rest. Every person’s vote should count for a presidential election. The republican voice in California should count as much as the Democratic vote in Texas. No election made that more obvious than the Gore-Bush election. The American people as a whole should have the right to choose the president, not proxy that collectively throws votes into a bucket.

So you’d probably think if I hate so much of politics, I could care less if people actually take part in our political system, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My next post will talk about why each and every American of voting age should make their way to the voting booths or mail in their ballot to make their voice heard.

What nobody told me about motherhood

Teddy bears in bedI definitely think someone should write a book about the things they don’t tell you about motherhood. I’m sure there’s at least a book worth of stuff that I have learned just from on the job training. Considering all the mothers I’ve known in my life, it sure would have been nice if they had filled me on on some of this.

One thing I had no clue about, is that I had no idea I could be dealing with an 18 month old who still doesn’t sleep through the  night on her own. Inevitably she ends up in our bed each night somewhere between 12 – 4 am. And if that wasn’t good enough, once she gets into the bed it’s not like she cuddles and sleeps the rest of the night. After she’s in the bed she proceeds to wiggle and turn so much that nobody is getting any sleep. Needless to say, she’s got to sleep in her bed and stay there.

I have researched a few different sleep training methods, and realized there are some things I just won’t do. Sleep training is a very personal thing and there is not a one size fits all policy. I simply won’t just leave my daughter in her room to cry it out. I am not judging parents who use these methods; it’s just not for me. Even more, I resent people who tell me to just let her cry or act like I have a third eye when I tell them my daughter still has trouble sleeping. I know I’m not the only one!

Recently I was told about a class given to help mothers struggling to get their children to sleep. The class is in Orange County, CA, and is conducted by Heather Irvine at Good Nite Baby, who also does personal consultations. For one thing the class is great because it’s so nice to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with toddler sleep issues. The class has also been a huge wake up call in addressing my own part in her sleep problems. One thing that has been kind of hard to deal with is that essentially the issues I’m having with my daughter’s sleep are of my own making. We are doing what they call “reactive co-sleeping.” In an effort to maintain sanity we bring her to our bed instead of doing what we need to get her back in her own. And it’s not even like it helps us get sleep, it just helps keep her quiet. Luckily there is no judgment, just solutions, but it’s crazy to think that my attempt just to pacify my daughter may have led to more issues.

So far in weeks one and two we have learned various ways to set the stage for sleep success. We haven’t even officially begun “sleep coaching,” but I have already made so many changes! Here’s just a quick list -

  • Eating dinner earlier, but snack before bed
  • Oatmeal as snack for most nights
  • Bath every night (as compared to every other night)
  • Shorter bedtime routine
  • Less reading time after bath
  • Louder setting on white noise machine
  • Adding a humidifier at night

I think there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now. Next week we start the official sleep training, and while I know it will be hard I am looking forward to getting her into regular sleep habits. I think I’ll be an even better mommy once I can sleep through the night again.

Trials of mommyhood

The first time you see your baby bloodied or bruised is not likely to be a time you forget. I had my first brush with this downside of motherhood this weekend. I was holding my sweet pumpkin as she fell asleep, when I realized that her other side was covered in blood. There was blood everywhere, her hand, her eye, in her ear and all over her pj’s. I had no idea where the blood was coming from, all I knew was I had to clean her up and figure it out. Luckily she wasn’t crying or flipping out, so I was hoping the injury wasn’t anything major, but the amount of blood that had come from my baby girl threatened to make me lose it a bit.

I ran to get a towel to clean her up, and tried to figure out where it was coming from.  Once I got her cleaned up a bit, it was easy to see that the wound responsible for all of this blood was a small cut to her middle finger. A small cut that didn’t want to stop bleeding despite the fact I was applying as much pressure as I could to her tiny little finger. A couple of moments passed by and I realized I just needed to be a little patient. Everything was okay.

I still can’t believe how much worry I could feel from one little injury. I think I’m still realizing every day how much your capacity for emotion changes when you become a mother. Being responsible for the care and well being of another person is an incredible responsibility. One that I am still learning and adjusting to on a daily basis.

Throwback Thursdays – Nirvana

By no means is this week’s song my favorite Nirvana song. It is, however, one of Nirvana’s songs that holds the most memories for me.  When “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became popular I was nearly *ahem* 20 years younger and I was a freshman at Leavenworth High School in Leavenworth, KS. That year there was a big talent show in the school auditorium. A group, that actually included several drummists, did a cover of the song that, while not the best in the world, riled up the whole auditorium.  Black, white or purple, it didn’t matter what you were. Everyone was up and out of their seats for this one.

So often music is categorized in ethnic categories, that I still remember that  moment as a special one for me.  But “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a song that moved us all at the same time. The genius that is Kurt Cobain still lives on through this song.

Find Nirvana here or download on iTunes.

How much is too much?

I had no idea how hard it would be when I became a mom. It probably doesn’t help that when you become a mom, the rest of the world does not suddenly go away. Before having my daughter I was already a wife, step-mom, daughter, sister, full time employee and student, among other things. Having a child meant one more huge commitment. Nothing else went away and more hours didn’t suddenly materialize for each day.

Stressed mom

It's not unusual for me to feel like this during the day

It has been a struggle to find the time to manage everything I have to do. Many days I feel that I do not do very well at any of my obligations. I have little time to cook an actual meal, clean my house, workout or take some good ol’ me time. I end a lot of days feeling like I’m a horrible mom and I’m not doing enough.

I’m blessed in that I have a husband that does more than many for our household. He does such a good time trying to take care of me and the kids. But he has his plate full as well – in addition to having a full time job he’s also a father, a student, and he spends one weekend a month making sure he’s ready to defend our country at moment’s notice, should the need arise. Obviously, he’s stretched pretty thin, too. Utilizing family to help is not much of an option, as both of our families are so far away.

Worst of all, I know I’m not the only mom, or person, in this boat. So many of us have too much on our plates and not enough hours to get it all done. How do you decide what’s most important so you can prioritize? Is there anything you can really let slip through the cracks?

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I simply cannot do it all. If I keep on the way I’m going, something is going to break, most likely my marriage, my health or my sanity. Some time ago I posted about wanting to be a stay home mom. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option a year ago, and it’s still not. I also don’t think it’s the answer to what I’m going through right now. But I needed to start thinking outside of the box, and luckily I was able to figure out a possible solution. It may not work for everyone, but I sure hope it works for me. I’ll post more on this soon…

We be buggin’!

Yo Gabba Gabba CrewI have a secret infatuation. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I think I like Yo Gabba Gabba more than my daughter does! Sometimes I turn it on for her and find myself watching it while she plays with her toys.  Even worse, curiosity has driven me to discover all sorts of weird info about the show – such as the fact that Plex is voiced by one of the show creators, DJ Lance is in his 40s, and the show is dubbed in the UK. 

The music and the colors somehow draw me in way more than a children’s television show should. Last time I watched it was one of my favorite episodes – the one where Muno raps about bugs. That guy has skills. I love that song so much I had to download it! I know that I’m not acting under my own influence here.  Surely this show is part of an evil plot to take over the world?

April Goals Update

I wanted to give a little update on my progress towards my goals that I posted back in February. Rather than write an individual update on each goal at this time, I’m just going to cover a few key points -

  • Working out – I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I would have liked in this area. I am so out of shape it’s not even funny. The other day I put in the instructional video for Zumba and nearly passed out just from learning the steps! Needless to say I have a lot of work to do in this area.
  • Be a better student and a better wife/mom/step-mom – Something big is in the works that will allow me to make a lot of progress in each of these areas. I will post more about that soon.
  • Learn Spanish (do all 100 Pimsleur lessons by the end of the year) – Spanish got put on hold for a while due to stress and illness, but I’ve completed the first 30 lessons (all of Phase 1), and have moved on to Phase 2. If I continue at this rate I will definitely be done by the end of the year. Yay!
  • Blog > 3x per week – okay, at this point I suck. Nuff said.
  • Create a budget with the hubby and stick to it – The family budget will be implemented as of April 1 (and no it’s not an April Fools Joke!)
  • See my family back home at least 3x per year – Visited last week. One out of three down and the next is already scheduled.
  • Blog more about my family/daughter, milestones, etc – see bullet four.
  • Learn more about blog design – Took several classes over at April Showers.

So not all where I wanted to be, but at least I’m moving!

[seriesposts title="Follow my progress!" order=ASC]

Throwback Thursdays – The Beatles

I have never considered myself to be much of a Beatles fan. I never understood what the big deal was and I didn’t think I knew many of their songs. Then in 2007 I took a cruise with my family, and one of the shows was a Beatles revue. During the production I repeatedly found myself singing lyrics to songs I didn’t think I knew. Even more, I actually enjoyed the performance. That performance helped me realized just how pervasive the Beatles have been to our culture and the influence the group continues to have on popular music. Now, when the Beatles come on the radio I am much more likely to sing along than change the channel.

For more of the Beatles click here or download on iTunes.

Throwback Thursdays – DeBarge

Corny fact about me, but one of my favorite movies of all time is The Last Dragon. The summer that I turned 16 I think I watched it more times than I could count (and my have subjected my sister to it as well). I love the movie so much that at the end of the movie when DeBarge is on the screens in the club singing “Rhythm of the Night” I always want to get up and dance, too. Luckily my hubby loves this movie, too. So he doesn’t laugh at me too much when I make a fool of myself.

This week’s song from DeBarge takes it down a notch and definitely puts me in the mood for romance. I hope it makes you feel that way, too.

Get more DeBarge here or download on iTunes.

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