Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's a Pineapple Look Like Anyway?

I'm not a big fruit and vegetable eater, never have been. But my kids are getting me to broaden my horizons. Every time they accompany me to the grocery store I end up buying something surprising. Like kiwi fruit. Or plums. Or pears.

And this past week I did one more thing I never thought I'd do; I bought a whole pineapple with the intention of cutting it up at home.

My kids begged me. I'm not kidding.

And so this weekend we tackled the pineapple.

It was fun, with both the girls watching in anticipation to see how tough the outside of the pineapple was, and how the core looks different from the more edible part. They felt the thick, tough leaves, the prickly exterior and couldn't wait to start nibbling.

It was delicious, juicier and firmer than the canned stuff I usually buy. The pieces were disappearing as quickly as I could cut them up.

Next on our list: pomegranate.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Instead of Cartoons

Who needs Phineas and Ferb when you've got an imagination like this?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Rite of Passage

Lindsey has been asking for technology -- an iTouch, a cell phone, but one thing she hasn't been asking for is earrings. She's asked over the past few years about getting her ears pierced, about whether or not it hurts, how long it hurts, if it hurts every time to clean them or just when you get them get the picture.

So I was surprised when a few weeks ago she asked to get her ears pierced.

A couple of her friends have gotten them pierced recently, and she decided to get over her fear of the pain to get hers done as well.

I thought about it a bit and decided she needed to make her bed every morning for a week before she could get them pierced, to show that she could take on some additional responsibility. After all, she would have to clean her ears three times a day for six weeks before taking out her starter set of earrings.

So a couple of Saturdays ago she and I headed out for the mall. She was too nervous to eat lunch beforehand and had butterflies in her stomach, she was both nervous and excited. And when I gave her the option to back out, she was committed.

And so she did it. She picked out green ones, the birthstone for May (same color I got when I had my ears pierced.)

Waiting in anticipation.
She did great and I am so proud of her. And she is diligently cleaning her ears three times, every day.

My little girl is growing up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WW: The Toys May Change...

...but the scene remains the same.

First photo taken March 2006, second taken February 2012.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Wrong Debate

I don't really follow politics much. I should -- I'm one of those uninformed voters who should probably know more about seats and candidates before I hit the polls.

But you can't help but follow politics now, in a presidential election year. And here's what I'm learning: our politicians spend too much time worrying about campaigning and how their decisions while in office affect their chances of re-election.

Take, for example, the birth control debate.

President Obama recently backed a mandate that requires religious institutions to provide health insurance coverage to their employees for contraceptives. This is something the Catholic church is not happy about, and Obama's camp is being touted as "smart" for taking this stance which will activate young, female voters. Pollsters have found that voters across the board -- including Catholics -- support access to contraceptives.

Political analyst Charlie Cook put it this way: "If it's framed as a fight over contraception, President Obama wins and the church and opponents of the rule lose. If it is perceived as a fight over religious freedom, the church and rule opponents win and Obama loses."

Who loses in this discussion? We all do, but especially women. After all, the majority of contraceptives are ones targeting the female reproductive system.

Let's first talk about the reasons why women in this country may need contraceptives. Did you know that a woman taking oral contraceptives ("the pill") reduces her risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers by up to 70 percent? And some women use the pill along with a host of other prescriptions to control acne. Some pills are used to reduce the symptoms of PMS, an actual medical diagnosis that reduces the quality of life for the women suffering from it. You can read more about all the reasons not related to contraception why women may want to take the pill on this WebMD page.

Note that it's a medical website, not a political website.

But where are the medical experts in this fight for coverage for contraceptives? Nowhere. They have no voice. Or, if they are talking, they are not getting media coverage so Americans can be educated on this issue. What do our politicians know of medicine? Don't they have bigger things to worry about?

It's a shame that Obama's advisers have to recommend a course of action based on whether or not it's popular in the polls. How about making decisions based on what's the right thing to do? That gets lost in the election debate. They're talking about the right things for the wrong reasons.

It seems that the campaign trail gets longer and longer and starts earlier and earlier. Obama was only one year into his first term when I first heard political analysts discuss how his actions in office will impact his ability to be re-elected. How about what impact his actions have on the country? On our lives?

We need campaign reform. This is ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Capital "T," Capital "G": The Grind

Get up. Get ready for work. Get children ready for school.

Brush little one's hair. Create ponytail/pigtail/braids.

Give hugs and kisses.

Go to work. Meetings. Phone calls. Spreadsheets. Letters. Emails. Emails. Emails.

Leave to pick up kids. Go to school #1. Looks for boots. Look at special school project at close visual range.

While in car on way to second school hear all about the day. Pick up at school #2 begins.

Collect boots. Collect backpack and gym shoes. Bicker with sister over who gets to tell mom about her day.


Quick! Feed the dog, he looks like he's going to gnaw your arm off. Whew! Disaster averted.

Start dinner.

Look through backpacks.

Stir dinner. Add some more ingredients.

Collect mail. Throw a load of laundry in.

Set table.

Serve, eat and clear table of dinner. Transfer laundry to dryer.

Clean up kitchen while half supervising homework. Or, in today's case, make a Valentine's Day mailbox for one child.

Begin bedtime routine. Begin bedtime routine. Begin bedtime, girls! Get your butts upstairs! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!

Fold clothes while checking in on children's progress at 2-minute intervals.

Distribute clothes to bedrooms. Read books.

Give hugs and kisses.


And usually fall into bed myself shortly after.

6:00 am -- Get up. Get ready for work.

"Why am I so exhausted?" said one friend last week, when we broke this routine to gather for drinks. "I don't understand, I don't even DO anything!"

Capital T, Capital G. The Grind.

I think I know how Sisyphus feels.

Super Mom does not live here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Marissa and Mommy Day

This morning Lindsey got special time with Daddy at a kid's track meet at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse. His running has inspired our kids, Lindsey especially, and she was excited to spend time with her dad doing his favorite sport.

Marissa did not want to go, and I decided that we would have some special time just she and I.

So off we went to Choo Choo Bob's, a model train store in St. Paul that I've heard about from lots of different parents. While there's lots of kids train products, they also carry many different kinds of railroad sets for the serious adult hobbyist. Need HO gauge railway? How about N gauge? All types, all sizes, they have it all.

They also had a story hour going on when we got there, and two different birthday parties, one for a 3-year-old and one for a 4-year-old. It was packed. We barely walked in the door and Marissa wanted to turn around. "This is a little kid's store!" she declared.

But we walked around a little bit and she decided it wasn't too bad, though she refused to play with the Thomas the Train set tables in the back of the store, even though I know she still loves to play with our trains when given the opportunity. Too many toddlers around,apparently.

She wanted to leave so down the street we went, to see what else was around. We ended up stopping in to a local coffee shop called Kopplin's Coffee. This is a brand new location for them, and it was hopping. It made me smile to see the local neighborhood types in there, the entrepreneurs meeting with clients on a Saturday morning and the long-time friends getting together to catch up.

Marissa had a hot chocolate and a donut muffin (a muffin that seriously tasted just like a donut!) and I had a rogue mocha. What makes a mocha rogue? The chocolate, apparently, which was a specialty 70% cocoa bean chocolate. Yum. And seriously, how cool is the froth on it? Every drink had a different design. Such a nice touch.

We headed back down the street and stopped by Sweets Bake Shop, which was now open. We picked up a little something for dessert tonight, and then peeked back in Choo Choo Bob's one last time before leaving the area. This time story hour was over, and we got to see the real model trains in action. We watched this for a bit, and then Marissa decided she wanted to go home. So we did.

She's been playing by herself for hours now, making up her imaginary worlds and dressing up. And even though she said she wanted the entire day to be "Mommy and Me" day, she's decided she just wants Marissa time for now, to play and imagine the afternoon away.

That sounds divine.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

How Planned Parenthood Created an Army

Graph from Planned Parenthood 2009-2010 annual report (link below)
 What an interesting couple of days this has been in the world of fundraising.

If you hadn't heard, Susan G Komen announced on Jan 31st that, due to a new policy they implemented, they have cut funding to Planned Parenthood that pays for breast exams and screenings, to the tune of $680,000. Their new policy was that they cannot fund organizations that are under federal investigation. Guess what, Planned Parenthood is pretty much ALWAYS under investigation, thanks to one of the services they provide to their clients.

Within 24 hours, Planned Parenthood sent an email out to their supporters, asking for their assistance to fill this sudden and unplanned-for gap in funding, so they can continue to provide breast cancer screening to low-income women.

The public's first response was surprise: You mean Planned Parenthood doesn't just abort babies?

Once we all were educated that Planned Parenthood provides many more services than abortion, the collective public became outraged. How could Komen, the leader and most well-known breast cancer brand in the world, choose to cut funding to those who can least afford it? Doesn't this go against Komen's mission?

This blogger did a better job of summarizing what happened than I can; read more of it at the Nonprofit Marketing Guide blog.

The backlash in social media has been immediate and loud. Shame on Komen -- support Planned Parenthood!

Within 24 hours Planned Parenthood had an army of advocates speaking out on their behalf on the social media spectrum, standing up for them and making their voices heard. Within 24 hours after Planned Parenthood's cry for help, the $680,000 gap caused by Komen's decision had almost completely filled by supporters who became donors. I suspect Planned Parenthood has a whole lot of brand new donors who have never given to them before.

The word from Komen's camp?


Finally after 2 days had passed, Komen's PR machine began to churn, with Facebook notes, tweets and a push via traditional media to make their voice heard on their change in policy. But at this point 75% of all social media buzz was against Komen and for Planned Parenthood; they have some work to do.

Here's the best part.

I began wondering, "Hmmm...what does $680,000 mean to Planned Parenthood anyway? How big of a gap IS this?"

The answer: Not very.

Planned Parenthood's latest annual report indicates that they receive hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable income, through individual donations, grants, program service revenue and other sources. Their net assets on their most recently filed 990 are $103 million, with gross receipts of $130 million.

Let's see...$680,000 into $130 million...that's .5% of all of their funding. Yes, that's a decimal point in front of that number. That's less than 1% of their total funding.

Wow. All this, over a dollar amount that they probably could've replaced just by asking some of their other sources for a couple more bucks.

But look at what they've done. They've brought over new advocates and supporters to their cause. They've educated the public as a whole as to their mission and how they fulfill it.

I am sure that the long-term impact is that Komen will never fund Planned Parenthood again. If I were Planned Parenthood I would say that that's no big loss, considering the amount of supporters they've gained in this debacle. And Komen is already under attack and has lost walkers and donors, just as they are ramping up in their marketing for the 3-day walks which take place all over the U.S. all summer long.


Well played, Planned Parenthood, well played.

*NOTE: As a disclaimer, I must remind readers that these views are my own and not that of my employer, former employer, husband, dog, great-aunt's second cousin once removed. Just me. Thanks.