Monday, August 1, 2011

The Gift That Truly Says It All

A few weeks ago my husband Scott and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. Our romantic history is long and complex, having started not one decade ago but actually 36 years ago. We met in 7th grade in a cooking class at our junior high school. Love at first sight? Hardly. But it was, in fact, best friendship from the very beginning. Too young for love at age 12, we instead became the best of friends.

As time passed, we eventually tip-toed around an actual romance. Still, the thought of trading in a surefire friendship for a questionable romance was more than the two of us could consider. We moved on to other relationships and eventually both got married and then divorced. We remained in contact through it all, grateful that our solid friendship sustained where other relationships had faltered and failed. Scott came to visit me in Illinois from his home in Florida 11 years ago and from the moment I saw him standing in the doorway of my suburban Chicago home, I knew for certain what had remained only uncertain in the past: We belonged together.

Within five months we were seriously dating. Within 7 months we were engaged. And within 12 months we were finally married. A lifetime of deep friendship had morphed into a love affair and we were finally in the right place, at the right time, and with the right person. It was bliss ten years ago and it is bliss today. We are the couple that some choose to hate…an opinion that we completely understand. Holding hands in the grocery store, dancing in the kitchen, and endless inside jokes are the hallmarks of our life together.

Still, as often happens with married couples, we find that so much of the time we spend together is business oriented. Not just the business that we actually run as a livelihood, but the business of marriage and parenting. You know, those deep conversations that married people have, about getting colonoscopies or which pizza place to order from or who will be picking our daughter up from ballet. Three minute conversations that are 100% practical and goal oriented. This is no way to stay connected to your life partner and ensure that the marriage continues to be rooted in friendship.

As our 10 year anniversary approached, we discussed what we would do to celebrate this big benchmark in our marriage. Maybe a cruise was in order. Or a big celebration with our extended family. Perhaps a major purchase for our household. As we talked and talked about our possibilities we both came to the same conclusion about what we wanted out of our celebration: togetherness. We just wanted extended time together in an attempt not just to keep the love alive, but to revitalize the friendship as well.

What we settled on was a good old fashioned road trip wherein we drove from our home in the Chicago area to Niagara Falls. We were gone for 7 days and tried not to drive for more than 250 miles per day. It was leisurely and lovely. We winded our way through wine country, the shoreline of Lake Erie, Amish country, the Alleghany Forest and stopped at more than a dozen McDonalds’ for coffees and Diet Cokes. And all the while we talked. And talked. And then talked a bit more. We talked about everything from where we should retire to what sort of car we should buy next to where we should go on vacation next summer. We laughed, we made up silly sayings, sang along with songs from the 1970s and adored just being near each other. Corny? Yes. But also true.

As it turns out, ten years into marriage he is still my very best friend. I knew that all along, but sometimes it just takes moments like this to be gently reminded. The very best gift we could possibly give to each other was the gift of our time and our attention. It was, in a word, priceless.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fax Numbers of the 111th Congress

Let's get involved, folks! Following are the fax numbers of the 111th congress, so there is no reason not to take a moment, gather your thoughts and let Congress know your real opinion of their refusal to tax the wealthy of this country and combine revenue (read: taxes) with tax cuts. Every poll available shows that Americans support this combined philosophy, yet many in Congress are intent on defying those desires.

Sen. Jeff Sessionsᅠ

202-224-3149

Sen. Richard C. Shelbyᅠ

202-224-3416

Rep. Jo Bonnerᅠ

202-225-0562

Rep. Bobby Brightᅠ

202-225-8913

Rep. Michael Rogersᅠ

202-226-8485ᅠ

Rep. Robert Aderholtᅠ

202-225-5587

Rep. Parker Griffithᅠ

202-225-4392

Rep. Spencer Bachusᅠ

202-225-2082

Rep. Artur Davisᅠ

202-226-9567

Sen. Lisa Murkowskiᅠ

202-224-5301

Sen. Mark Begichᅠ

202-224-2354

Rep. Don Youngᅠ

202-225-0425

Sen. Jon Kyl.ᅠ

202-224-2207

Sen. John McCainᅠ

202-228-2862

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrickᅠ

202-226-9739

Rep. Trent Franksᅠ

202-225-6328

Rep. John Shadeggᅠ

202-225-3462

Rep. Ed Pastorᅠ

202-225-1655

Rep. Harry Mitchellᅠ

202-225-3263

Rep. Jeff Flakeᅠ

202-226-4386

Rep. Raul Grijalvaᅠ

202-225-1541

Rep. Gabrielle Giffordsᅠ

202-225-0378

Sen. Blanche Lincolnᅠ

202-228-1371

Sen. Mark Pryorᅠ

202-228-0908ᅠ

Rep. Marion Berryᅠ

202-225-5602

Rep. Vic Snyderᅠ

202-225-5903

Rep. John Boozemanᅠ

202-225-5713

Rep. Mike Rossᅠ

202-225-1314

Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggerᅠ

916-558-3160

Sen. Barbara Boxerᅠ

415-956-6701

Sen. Dianne Feinsteinᅠ

202-228-3954

Rep. Mike Thompsonᅠ

202-225-4335

Rep. Wally Hergerᅠ

202-225-1740

Rep. Dan Lungrenᅠ

202-226-1298

Rep. Tom McClintockᅠ

202-225-5444

Rep. Doris Matsuiᅠ

202-225-0566

Rep. Lynn Woolseyᅠ

202-225-5163

Rep. George Millerᅠ

202-225-5609

Rep. Nancy Pelosiᅠ

202-225-8259

Rep. Barbara Leeᅠ

202-225-9817

Rep. Jerry McNerneyᅠ

202-226-0861

Rep.ᅠJackie Speierᅠ

202-226-4183

Rep. Pete Starkᅠ

202-226-3805

Rep. Anna Eshooᅠ

202-225-8890

Rep. Mike Hondaᅠ

202-225-2699

Rep. Zoe Lofgrenᅠ

202-225-3336

Rep. Sam Farrᅠ

202-225-6791

Rep. Dennis Cardozaᅠ

202-225-0819ᅠ

Rep. George Radanovichᅠ

202-225-3402

Rep. Jim Costaᅠ

202-225-9308

Rep. Devin Nunesᅠ

202-225-3404

Rep. Kevin McCarthyᅠ

202-225-8798

Rep. Lois Cappsᅠ

202-225-5632

Rep. Elton Galleglyᅠ

202-225-1100

Rep. Howard McKeonᅠ

202-225-0683

Rep. David Dreierᅠ

202-225-7018

Rep. Brad Shermanᅠ

202-225-5879

Rep. Howard Bermanᅠ

202-225-3196

Rep. Adam Schiffᅠ

202-225-5828

Rep. Henry Waxmanᅠ

202-225-4099

Rep. Xavier Becerraᅠ

202-225-2202

Rep. Diane Watsonᅠ

202-225-2422

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allardᅠ

202-226-0350

Rep. Maxine Watersᅠ

202-225-7854

Rep. Jane Harmanᅠ

202-226-7290

Rep. Laura Richardsonᅠ

202-225-7926

Rep. Grace Napolitanoᅠ

202-225-0027

Rep. Linda Sanchezᅠ

202-225-5859ᅠ

Rep. Ed Royceᅠ

202-226-0335

Rep. Jerry Lewisᅠ

202-225-6498

Rep. Gary Millerᅠ

202-226-6962

Rep. Joe Bacaᅠ

202-225-8671

Rep. Ken Calvertᅠ

202-225-2004

Rep. Mary Bonoᅠ

202-225-2961

Rep. Dana Rohrabacherᅠ

202-225-0145

Rep. Loretta Sanchezᅠ

202-225-5859

Rep. John Campbellᅠ

202-225-9177

Rep. Darrell Issaᅠ

202-225-3303

Rep. Brian Bilbrayᅠ

202-225-2558

Rep. Bob Filnerᅠ

202-225-9073

Rep. Duncan Hunterᅠ

202-225-0235

Rep. Susan Davisᅠ

202-225-2948

Sen. Mark Udallᅠ

202-224-6471

Sen. Michael Bennetᅠ

202-224-1933

Rep. Diana DeGetteᅠ

202-225-5657

Rep. Jared Polisᅠ

202-226-7840

Rep. John Salazarᅠ

202-226-9669

Rep. Betsy Markeyᅠ

202-225-5870

Rep. Doug Lambornᅠ

202-225-1942

Rep. Mike Coffmanᅠ

202-226-4623

Rep. Ed Perlmutterᅠ

202-225-5278

Sen. Christopher Doddᅠ

202-224-1083

Sen. Joseph Liebermanᅠ

202-224-9750

Rep. John Larsonᅠ

202-225-1031

Rep. Joe Courtneyᅠ

202-225-4977

Rep. Rosa DeLauroᅠ

202-225-4890

Rep. Jim Himesᅠ

202-225-9629

Rep. Chris Murphyᅠ

202-225-4488

Sen. Tom Carperᅠ

202-228-2190

Rep. Michael Castleᅠ

202-225-2291

Sen. Mel Martinezᅠ

202-224-2237

Sen. Bill Nelsonᅠ

202-228-2183

Rep. Jeff Millerᅠ

202-225-3414

Rep. F. Allen Boydᅠ

202-225-5615

Rep. Corrine Brownᅠ

202-225-2256

Rep. Ander Crenshawᅠ

202-225-2504

Rep. Virginia Brown-Waiteᅠ

202-226-6559ᅠ

Rep. Cliff Stearnsᅠ

202-225-3973

Rep. John Micaᅠ

202-226-0821

Rep. Alan Graysonᅠ

202-225-0999

Rep. Gus Bilirakisᅠ

202-225-4085

Rep. Bill Youngᅠ

202-225-9764

Rep. Kathy Castorᅠ

202-225-5652

Rep. Adam Putnamᅠ

202-225-0585

Rep. Vern Buchananᅠ

202-226-0828

Rep. Connie Mackᅠ

202-225-6820

Rep. Bill Poseyᅠ

202-225-3516

Rep. Tom Rooneyᅠ

202-225-3132

Rep. Kendrick Meekᅠ

202-226-0777

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinenᅠ

202-225-5620

Rep. Robert Wexlerᅠ

202-225-5974

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultzᅠ

202-225-8456

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balartᅠ

202-225-8576

Rep. Ron Kleinᅠ

202-225-8398

Rep. Alcee Hastingsᅠ

202-225-1171

Rep. Suzanne Kosmasᅠ

202-226-6299

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balartᅠ

202-226-0346

Sen. Saxby Chamblisᅠ

202-224-0103ᅠ

Sen. Johnny Isaksonᅠ

202-228-2090

Rep. Jack Kingstonᅠ

202-226-2269

Rep. Sanford Bishopᅠ

202-225-2203

Rep. Lynn Westmorelandᅠ

202-225-3013ᅠ

Rep. Hank Johnsonᅠ

202-226-0691ᅠ

Rep. John Lewisᅠ

202-225-0351

Rep. Thomas Priceᅠ

202-225-4656

Rep. John Linderᅠ

202-225-4696

Rep. Jim Marshallᅠ

202-225-2515

Rep. Nathan Dealᅠ

202-225-5995

Rep. Paul Brounᅠ

202-225-8272

Rep. Phil Gingreyᅠ

202-225-2944ᅠ

Rep. John Barrowᅠ

202-225-3377

Rep. David Scottᅠ

202-225-4628

Sen. Daniel K. Akakaᅠ

202-224-2126

Sen. Daniel K. Inouyeᅠ

202-224-6747

Rep. Neil Abercrombieᅠ

202-225-4580

Rep. Mazie Hironoᅠ

202-225-4987

Sen. James Rischᅠ

202-228-1067

Sen. Michael Crapoᅠ

202-228-1375

Rep. Walt Minnickᅠ

202-225-3029

Rep. Michael Simpsonᅠ

202-225-8216

Sen. Dick Durbinᅠ

202-228-0400ᅠ

Sen. Roland Burrisᅠ

202-228-5417ᅠ

Rep. Bobby Rushᅠ

202-226-0333ᅠ

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.ᅠ

202-225-0899ᅠ

Rep. Daniel Lipinskiᅠ

202-225-1012ᅠ

Rep. Luis Gutirrezᅠ

202-225-7810ᅠ

Rep. Mike Quigleyᅠ

202-225-5603ᅠ

Rep. Peter Roskamᅠ

202-225-1166ᅠ

Rep. Danny Davisᅠ

202-225-5641ᅠ

Rep. Melissa Beanᅠ

202-225-7830ᅠ

Rep. Janice Schakowskyᅠ

202-226-6890ᅠ

Rep. Mark Kirkᅠ

202-225-0837ᅠ

Rep. Deborah Halvorsonᅠ

202-225-3521ᅠ

Rep. Jerry Costelloᅠ

202-225-0285ᅠ

Rep. Judy Biggertᅠ

202-225-9420ᅠ

Rep. Bill Fosterᅠ

202-225-0697ᅠ

Rep. Timothy Johnsonᅠ

202-226-0791ᅠ

Rep. Donald Manzulloᅠ

202-225-5284ᅠ

Rep. Philip Hareᅠ

202-225-5396ᅠ

Rep. Aaron Schockᅠ

202-225-9249ᅠ

Rep. John Shimkusᅠ

202-225-5880

Sen. Evan Bayhᅠ

202-228-1377

Sen. Richard G. Lugarᅠ

202-228-0360

Rep. Peter Viscloskyᅠ

202-225-2493

Rep. Joe Donnellyᅠ

202-225-6798

Rep. Mark Souderᅠ

202-225-3479

Rep. Stephen Buyerᅠ

202-225-2267

Rep. Dan Burtonᅠ

202-225-0016

Rep. Mike Penceᅠ

202-225-3382

Rep. Andr? Carson?

202-225-5633

Rep. Brad Ellsworthᅠ

202-225-3284

Rep. Baron Hillᅠ

202-226-6866

Sen. Chuck Grassleyᅠ

202-224-6020

Sen. Tom Harkinᅠ

202-224-9369

Rep. Bruce Braleyᅠ

202-225-9129

Rep. David Loebsackᅠ

202-226-0757

Rep. Leonard Boswellᅠ

202-225-5608

Rep. Tom Lathamᅠ

202-225-3301

Rep. Steve Kingᅠ

202-225-3193

Sen. Sam Brownbackᅠ

202-228-1265

Sen. Pat Robertsᅠ

202-224-3514

Rep. Jerry Moranᅠ

202-225-5124

Rep. Lynn Jenkinsᅠ

202-225-7986

Rep. Dennis Mooreᅠ

202-225-2807

Rep. Todd Tiahrtᅠ

202-225-3489

Sen. Jim Bunningᅠ

202-228-1373

Sen. Mitch McConnellᅠ

202-224-2499

Rep. Ed Whitfieldᅠ

202-225-3547

Rep. Ron Lewisᅠ

202-225-3501

Rep. John Yarmuthᅠ

202-225-5776

Rep. Geoff Davisᅠ

202-225-0003

Rep. Harold Rogersᅠ

202-225-0940

Rep. Ben Chandlerᅠ

202-225-2122

Sen. Mary Landrieuᅠ

202-224-9735

Sen.ᅠDavid Vitterᅠ

202-228-2577

Rep. Steve Scaliseᅠ

202-226-0386

Rep. William Jeffersonᅠ

202-225-1988

Rep. Charlie Melanconᅠ

202-226-3944

Rep. Jim McCreryᅠ

202-225-8039

Rep. Rodney Alexanderᅠ

202-225-5639ᅠ

Rep. Charles Boustanyᅠ

202-225-5724

Sen. Susan Collinsᅠ

202-224-2693

Sen. Olympia Snoweᅠ

202-224-1946

Rep. Tom Allenᅠ

202-225-5590

Rep. Michael Michaudᅠ

202-225-2943

Sen. Benjamin Cardinᅠ

202-224-1651

Sen. Barbara Mikulskiᅠ

202-224-8858

Rep. Wayne Gilchrestᅠ

202-225-0254

Rep. C. "Dutch" Ruppersbergerᅠ

202-225-3094ᅠ

Rep. John Sarbanesᅠ

202-225-9219

Rep. Donna Edwardsᅠ

202-225-8714

Rep. Steny Hoyerᅠ

202-225-4300

Rep. Roscoe Bartlettᅠ

202-225-2193

Rep. Elijah Cummingsᅠ

202-225-3178

Rep. Chris Van Hollenᅠ

202-225-0375

Gov. Deval Patrickᅠ

202-624-7714

Sen. Edward M. Kennedyᅠ

202-224-2417

Sen. John Kerryᅠ

202-224-8525

Rep. John Olverᅠ

202-226-1224

Rep. Richard Nealᅠ

202-225-8112

Rep. Jim McGovernᅠ

202-225-5759

Rep. Barney Frankᅠ

202-225-0182

Rep. Niki Tsongasᅠ

202-226-0771

Rep. John Tierneyᅠ

202-225-5915

Rep. Edward Markeyᅠ

202-226-0092

Rep. Michael Capuanoᅠ

202-225-9322

Rep. Stephen Lynchᅠ

202-225-3984

Rep. William Delahuntᅠ

202-225-5658

Gov. Jennifer Granholmᅠ

517-335-6863

Sen. Carl Levinᅠ

202-224-1388

Sen. Debbie Stabenowᅠ

202-228-0325

Rep. Bart Stupakᅠ

202-225-4744

Rep. Peter Hoekstraᅠ

202-226-0779

Rep. Vernon Ehlersᅠ

202-225-5144

Rep. David Campᅠ

202-225-9679

Rep. Dale Kildeeᅠ

202-225-6393

Rep. Fred Uptonᅠ

202-225-4986

Rep. Mark Schauerᅠ

202-225-6281

Rep. Mike Rogersᅠ

202-225-5820

Rep. Gary Petersᅠ

202-226-2356

Rep. Candice Millerᅠ

202-226-1169

Rep. Thad McCotterᅠ

202-225-2667

Rep. Sander Levinᅠ

202-226-1033

Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrickᅠ

202-225-5730

Rep. John Conyersᅠ

202-225-0072

Rep. John Dingellᅠ

202-226-0371

Sen. Amy Klobucharᅠ

202-228-2186

Sen. Al Franken

202-224-1152

Rep. Tim Walzᅠ

202-225-3433

Rep. John Klineᅠ

202-225-2595

Rep. Erik Paulsenᅠ

202-225-6351

Rep. Betty McCollumᅠ

202-225-1968

Rep. Keith Ellisonᅠ

202-225-4886

Rep. Michelle Bachmanᅠ

202-225-6475

Rep. Collin Petersonᅠ

202-225-1593

Rep. James Oberstarᅠ

202-225-6211

Sen. Thad Cochranᅠ

202-224-9450

Sen. Roger Wickerᅠ

202-228-0378

Rep. Travis Childersᅠ

662-844-5437

Rep. Bennie Thompsonᅠ

202-225-5898

Rep. Gregg Harperᅠ

202-225-5797

Rep. Gene Taylorᅠ

202-225-7074

Sen. Kit Bondᅠ

202-224-8149

Sen. Claire McCaskillᅠ

202-228-6326

Rep. William Clay, Jr.

202-226-3717

Rep. Todd Akinᅠ

202-225-2563

Rep. Russ Carnahanᅠ

202-225-7452

Rep. Ike Skeltonᅠ

202-225-2876

Rep. Emanuel Cleaverᅠ

202-225-4403

Rep. Sam Gravesᅠ

202-225-8221

Rep. Roy Bluntᅠ

202-225-5604

Rep. Jo Ann Emersonᅠ

202-226-0326

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyerᅠ

202-225-5712

Sen. Max Baucusᅠ

202-224-9412

Sen. Jon Testerᅠ

202-224-8594

Rep. Dennis Rehbergᅠ

202-225-5687

Gov. Dave Heinemanᅠ

402-471-6031

Sen. Mike Johannsᅠ

202-224-5213

Sen. Ben Nelsonᅠ

202-228-0012

Rep. Jeff Fortenberryᅠ

202-225-5686

Rep. Lee Terryᅠ

202-226-5452

Rep. Adrian Smithᅠ

202-225-0207

Sen. John Ensignᅠ

202-228-2193

Sen. Harry Reidᅠ

202-224-7327

Rep. Shelley Berkleyᅠ

202-225-3119

Rep. Dean Hellerᅠ

202-225-5679

Rep. Dina Titusᅠ

202-225-2185

Sen. Judd Greggᅠ

202-224-4952

Sen. Jeanne Shaheenᅠ

202-228-4131

Rep. Carol Shea-Porterᅠ

202-225-5822

Rep. Paul Hodesᅠ

202-225-2946

Sen. Robert Menendezᅠ

202-228-2197

Sen. Frank Lautenbergᅠ

202-228-4054

Rep. Robert Andrewsᅠ

202-225-6583

Rep. Frank LoBiondoᅠ

202-225-3318

Rep. John Alderᅠ

202-225-0778

Rep. Christopher Smithᅠ

202-225-7768

Rep. Scott Garrettᅠ

202-225-9048

Rep. Frank Palloneᅠ

202-225-9665

Rep. Leonard Lanceᅠ

202-225-9460

Rep. William Pascrellᅠ

202-225-5751

Rep. Steven Rothmanᅠ

202-225-5851

Rep. Donald Payneᅠ

202-225-4160

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysenᅠ

202-225-3186

Rep. Rush Holtᅠ

202-225-6025

Rep. Albio Siresᅠ

202-226-0792

Sen. Jeff Bingamanᅠ

202-224-2852

Sen. Tom Udallᅠ

202-228-3261

Rep. Martin Heinrich

202-225-4975

Rep. Harry Teagueᅠ

202-225-9599

Rep. Ben Lujanᅠ

202-226-1528

Sen. Charles Schumerᅠ

202-228-3027

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrandᅠ

202-228-0282

Rep. Tim Bishopᅠ

202-225-3143

Rep. Steven Israelᅠ

202-225-4669

Rep. Peter Kingᅠ

202-226-2279

Rep. Carolyn McCarthyᅠ

202-225-5758

Rep. Gary Ackermanᅠ

202-225-1589

Rep. Gregory Meeksᅠ

202-226-4169

Rep. Joseph Crowleyᅠ

202-225-1909

Rep. Jerrold Nadlerᅠ

202-225-6923

Rep. Anthony Weinerᅠ

202-226-7243

Rep. Edolphus Townsᅠ

202-225-1018

Rep. Yvette Clarkeᅠ

202-226-0112

Rep. Nydia Velazquezᅠ

202-226-0327

Rep. Michael McMahonᅠ

202-225-1272

Rep. Carolyn Maloneyᅠ

202-225-4709

Rep. Charles Rangelᅠ

202-226-0816ᅠ

Rep. Jose Serranoᅠ

202-225-6001

Rep. Eliot Engelᅠ

202-225-5513

Rep. Nita Loweyᅠ

202-225-0546

Rep. John Hallᅠ

202-225-3289

Rep. Scott Murphyᅠ

202-225-1168

Rep. Paul Tonkoᅠ

202-225-5077

Rep. Maurice Hincheyᅠ

202-226-0774

Rep. John McHughᅠ

202-226-0621

Rep. Michael Arcuriᅠ

202-225-1891

Rep. Dan Maffeiᅠ

202-225-4042

Rep. Christopher Leeᅠ

202-225-5910

Rep. Brian Higginsᅠ

202-226-0347

Rep. Louise Slaughterᅠ

202-225-7822

Rep. Eric Massaᅠ

202-226-6599

Sen. Richard Burrᅠ

202-228-2981

Sen. Kay Haganᅠ

202-224-1100

Rep. G.K. Butterfieldᅠ

202-225-3354

Rep. Bob Etheridgeᅠ

202-225-5662

Rep. Walter Jonesᅠ

202-225-3286

Rep. David Priceᅠ

202-225-2014

Rep. Virginia Foxxᅠ

202-225-2995

Rep. Howard Cobleᅠ

202-225-8611

Rep. Mike McIntyreᅠ

202-225-5773

Rep. Larry Kisselᅠ

202-225-4036

Rep. Sue Myrickᅠ

202-225-3389

Rep. Patrick McHenryᅠ

202-225-0316

Rep. Heath Shulerᅠ

202-226-6422

Rep. Melvin Wattᅠ

202-225-1512

Rep. Brad Millerᅠ

202-225-0181

Sen. Kent Conradᅠ

202-224-7776

Sen. Byron L. Dorganᅠ

202-224-1193

Rep. Earl Pomeroyᅠ

202-226-0893

Sen. Sherrod Brownᅠ

202-224-6519

Sen. George Voinovichᅠ

202-228-1382

Rep. Steve Chabotᅠ

202-225-3012

Rep. Jean Schmidtᅠ

202-225-1992

Rep. Michael Turnerᅠ

202-226-1443

Rep. Jim Jordanᅠ

202-226-0577

Rep. Bob Lattaᅠ

202-225-1985ᅠ

Rep. Charlie Wilsonᅠ

202-225-5907

Rep. David Hobsonᅠ

202-225-1984

Rep. John Boehnerᅠ

202-225-0704

Rep. Marcy Kapturᅠ

202-225-7711

Rep. Dennis Kucinichᅠ

202-225-5745

Rep. Marcia Fudgeᅠ

202-225-1339

Rep. Pat Tiberiᅠ

202-226-4523

Rep. Betty Suttonᅠ

202-225-2266

Rep. Steven LaTouretteᅠ

202-225-3307

Rep. Deborah Pryceᅠ

202-225-3529

Rep. Ralph Regulaᅠ

202-225-3059

Rep. Tim Ryanᅠ

202-225-3719

Rep. Zack Spaceᅠ

202-225-3394

Gov. Brad Henryᅠ

405-521-3353

Sen. James Inhofeᅠ

202-228-0380

Sen. Tom Coburnᅠ

202-224-6008

Rep. John Sullivanᅠ

202 225-9187

Rep. Dan Borenᅠ

202-225-3038

Rep. Frank Lucasᅠ

202-225-8698

Rep. Tom Coleᅠ

202-225-3512

Rep. Mary Fallinᅠ

202-226-1463

Sen. Jeff Merkleyᅠ

202-228-3997

Sen. Ron Wydenᅠ

202-228-2717

Rep. David Wuᅠ

202-225-9497

Rep. Greg Waldenᅠ

202-225-5774

Rep. Earl Blumenauerᅠ

202-225-8941

Rep. Peter DeFazioᅠ

202-225-0032

Rep. Darlene Hooleyᅠ

202-225-5699

Sen. Robert Casey, Jr.ᅠ

202-228-0604

Sen. Arlen Specterᅠ

202-228-1229

Rep. Robert Bradyᅠ

202-225-0088

Rep. Chaka Fattahᅠ

202-225-5392

Rep. Kathy Dahlkemperᅠ

202-225-3103

Rep. Jason Altmireᅠ

202-226-2274

Rep. John Petersonᅠ

202-225-5796

Rep. Jim Gerlachᅠ

202-225-8440

Rep. Joe Sestakᅠ

202-225-0280

Rep. Patrick Murphyᅠ

202-225-9511

Rep. Bill Shusterᅠ

202-225-2486

Rep. Chris Carneyᅠ

202-225-9594

Rep. Paul Kanjorskiᅠ

202-225-0764

Rep. John Murthaᅠ

202-225-5709

Rep. Allyson Schwartzᅠ

202-226-0611

Rep. Michael Doyleᅠ

202-225-3084

Rep. Charlie Dentᅠ

202-226-0778

Rep. Joseph Pittsᅠ

202-225-2013

Rep. Tim Holdenᅠ

202-226-0996

Rep. Tim Murphyᅠ

202-225-1844

Rep. Todd Plattsᅠ

202-226-1000

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouseᅠ

202-228-2853

Sen. Jack Reedᅠ

202-224-4680

Rep. Patrick Kennedyᅠ

202-225-3290

Rep. James Langevinᅠ

202-225-5976

Sen. Jim DeMintᅠ

202-228-5143

Sen. Lindsey Grahamᅠ

202-224-3808

Rep. Henry Brownᅠ

202-225-3407

Rep. Joe Wilsonᅠ

202-225-2455

Rep. Gresham Barrettᅠ

202-225-3216

Rep. Bob Inglisᅠ

202-226-1177

Rep. John Sprattᅠ

202-225-0464

Rep. James Clyburnᅠ

202-225-2313

Sen. John Thuneᅠ

202-228-5429

Sen. Tim Johnsonᅠ

202-228-5765

Rep. Stephanie Hersethᅠ

202-225-5823

Sen. Bob Corkerᅠ

202-228-1264

Sen. Lamar Alexanderᅠ

202-228-3398

Rep. Phil Roeᅠ

202-225-5714

Rep. John Duncan, Jr.ᅠ

202-225-6440

Rep. Zach Wampᅠ

202-225-3494

Rep. Lincoln Davisᅠ

202-226-5172

Rep. Jim Cooperᅠ

202-226-1035

Rep. Bart Gordonᅠ

202-225-6887

Rep. Marsha Blackburnᅠ

202-225-3004

Rep. John Tannerᅠ

202-225-1765

Rep. Steve Cohenᅠ

202-225-5663

Sen. John Cornynᅠ

202-228-2856

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchisonᅠ

202-224-0776

Rep. Louis Gohmertᅠ

202-225-5866

Rep. Ted Poeᅠ

202-225-5547

Rep. Sam Johnsonᅠ

202-225-1485

Rep. Ralph Hallᅠ

202-225-3332ᅠ

Rep. Jeb Hensarlingᅠ

202-226-4888

Rep. Joe Bartonᅠ

202-225-3052

Rep. John Culbersonᅠ

202-225-4381

Rep. Kevin Bradyᅠ

202-225-5524

Rep. Al Greenᅠ

202-225-2947

Rep. Michael McCaulᅠ

202-225-5955

Rep. Mike Conawayᅠ

202-225-1783

Rep. Kay Grangerᅠ

202-225-5683

Rep. "Mac" Thornberryᅠ

202-225-3486

Rep. Ron Paulᅠ

202-226-6553

Rep. Ruben Hinojosaᅠ

202-225-5688

Rep. Silvestre Reyesᅠ

202-225-2016

Rep. Chet Edwardsᅠ

202-225-2234

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Leeᅠ

202-225-3317

Rep. Randy Neugebauerᅠ

202-225-9615

Rep. Charles Gonzalezᅠ

202-225-1915

Rep. Lamar Smithᅠ

202-225-8628

Rep. Pete Olsonᅠ

202-225-5241

Rep. Ciro Rodriguezᅠ

202-225-2237

Rep. Kenny Marchantᅠ

202-225-0074

Rep. Lloyd Doggettᅠ

202-225-2947

Rep. Michael Burgessᅠ

202-225-2919

Rep. Solomon Ortizᅠ

202-226-1134

Rep. Enrique Cuellarᅠ

202-225-1641

Rep. Gene Greenᅠ

202-225-9903

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnsonᅠ

202-226-1477

Rep. John Carterᅠ

202-225-5886

Rep. Pete Sessionsᅠ

202-225-5878

Sen. Robert F. Bennettᅠ

202-228-1168

Sen. Orrin G. Hatchᅠ

202-224-6331

Rep. Rob Bishopᅠ

202-225-5857

Rep. Jim Mathesonᅠ

202-225-5638

Rep. Chris Cannonᅠ

202-225-5629

Sen. Bernie Sandersᅠ

202-228-0776

Sen. Patrick J. Leahyᅠ

202-224-3479

Rep. Peter Welchᅠ

202-225-6790

Sen. Jim Webbᅠ

202-228-6363

Sen. Mark Warnerᅠ

202-224-6295

Rep. Robert Wittmanᅠ

202-225-4382

Rep. Glen Nyeᅠ

202-225-4218

Rep. Robert Scottᅠ

202-225-8354

Rep. Randy Forbesᅠ

202-226-1170

Rep. Thomas Perrielloᅠ

202-225-5681

Rep. Bob Goodlatteᅠ

202-225-9681

Rep. Eric Cantorᅠ

202-225-0011

Rep. Jim Moranᅠ

202-225-0017

Rep. Rick Boucherᅠ

202-225-0442

Rep. Frank Wolfᅠ

202-225-0437

Rep. Gerald Connollyᅠ

202-225-3071

Sen. Maria Cantwellᅠ

202-228-0514

Sen. Patty Murrayᅠ

202-224-0238

Rep. Jay Insleeᅠ

202-226-1606

Rep. Rick Larsenᅠ

202-225-4420

Rep. Brian Bairdᅠ

202-225-3478

Rep. Doc Hastingsᅠ

202-225-3251

Rep. Cathy McMorrisᅠ

202-225-3392

Rep. Norman Dicksᅠ

202-226-1176

Rep. Jim McDermottᅠ

202-225-6197

Rep. Dave Reichertᅠ

202-225-4282

Rep. Adam Smithᅠ

202-225-5893

Sen. Robert C. Byrdᅠ

202-228-0002

Sen. John D. Rockefeller, IVᅠ

202-224-7665

Rep. Alan Mollohanᅠ

202-225-7564

Rep. Shelley Capitoᅠ

202-225-7856

Rep. Nick Rahallᅠ

202-225-9061

Sen. Russell D. Feingoldᅠ

202-224-2725

Sen. Herb Kohlᅠ

202-224-9787

Rep. Paul Ryanᅠ

202-225-3393

Rep. Tammy Baldwinᅠ

202-225-6942

Rep. Ron Kindᅠ

202-225-5739

Rep. Gwen Mooreᅠ

202-225-8135

Rep. James Sensenbrennerᅠ

202-225-3190

Rep. Tom Petriᅠ

202-225-2356

Rep. David Obeyᅠ

715-842-4488

Rep. Steve Kaganᅠ

202-225-5729

Sen. Mike Enziᅠ

202-228-0359ᅠ

Sen. John Barrassoᅠ

202-224-1724

Rep. Barbara Cubinᅠ

202-225-3057

Delegate Eni Faleomavaegaᅠ

202-225-8757

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Nortonᅠ

202-225-3002

Delegate Madeilene Bordalloᅠ

202-226-0341

Delegate Pedro Pierluisiᅠ

202-225-2154

Delegate Donna Christensenᅠ

202-225-5517

.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saddened But Not Shocked: The Death of Amy Winehouse

While the weekend death of 27 year old singer Amy Winehouse has left many folks saddened and distressed, it has left few actually surprised. In fact, it seems like our world has been filled with celebrities young and old who seem clearly on a path to self-destruction and there is little the public, let alone their family, can do to stop this freight-train of personal ruin. When this devastating path leads from bottle to pills to grave, leaving only misery in its wake, the world grieves not just the loss of a young life but the vision of what may have been given the great talent involved.

What sort of cautionary tale is this for the likes of Lindsey Lohan or Charlie Sheen, who seem to be also wallowing in behavior that at best reeks of poor judgment and at worst is plain dangerous? The sad truth is that they will learn nothing. Amy Winehouse follows Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, John Belushi, Jim Morrison, Chris Farley, Jimi Hendrix, River Phoenix and far too many more to name in one short blog posting. If Amy did not learn from Kurt who failed to learn from John who did not learn from Jimi, then any celebrity currently battling their own addictions will not learn from her. There is a pathology to the way that celebrities view themselves and the world that leaves them impervious to lessons that seem all too obvious to the rest of us.

The death of Amy Winehouse is tragic beyond belief, but she has been on the short list of celebrities-who-will-die-too-soon for quite some time. Once someone has committed themselves to prescribing their own death via drinking and/or drugs, there is little that anyone else can do to alter that pathway. I am sure that Ms. Winehouse’s parents, extended family, close friends and professional management team have begged her to change her ways. They have likely cried more tears than we can imagine and mentally prepared for her funeral hundreds of times. None of this changed the way she lived and none of this altered the timeline for her death. She needed help in the most desperate way and could not claw her way towards health, as the draw of the addiction was stronger than anything she had in her spiritual or emotional arsenal.

A picture was released in 2007 of Amy Winehouse wandering in the streets of London, wearing only a bra and jeans. She is disoriented, confused, out of control and appears nothing short of desperate. The camera catches her raising her hands as if to surrender and she is naked both physically and emotionally. It is a scene of desperation and one that speaks to her complete helplessness over the addiction that had consumed her very existence. It is, in a word, sad.

RIP Amy Winehouse.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Real Price That Deadbeat Parents Pay

Many of the myths surrounding child support continue to shock and surprise me, even 16 years into my own process. As I peruse child support forums in preparation for this blog, and for my own information, there are several fairytales that persist. The most common one is this: The money I pay to my ex does not go to my kid. Every single time a parent paying $30 or $100 per week makes this allegation I am torn between laughing and screaming. The kids in question needs clothing, food, shelter, education, social activities, medical care, haircuts, new shoes, a blow dryer, eyeglasses, poster board for a school project, tights for a ballet performance, knee pads for soccer, money for a field trip, and more. You really believe your small amount is going to some other cause? Not a chance. In fact, your small amount does not even begin to impact the real expenses that the child incurs. There are costs you cannot even wrap your brain around, such as having to rent a 2 bedroom apartment for $1,000 versus a one bedroom at $800 because you have a child. Or, buying a home in a great school district for $325,000 versus one in a mediocre district for $275,000.

The fact of the matter is that the custodial parent has no choice in paying for these expenses, whether the non-custodial parent pays up or not. Can she go to the school and say “Sorry, can’t pay tuition until my ex pays me”? Can she tell the child, “Nope, no new eyeglasses until Daddy comes through”? No, the expenses need to be paid and the custodial parent just prays that the money comes through…eventually….someday. If there is such a concept of economic or fiscal abuse, this is it. And it is abuse that the custodial parent cannot walk away from.

Something I have heard hundreds of times in my own Child Support Journey is, “All you care about is money”. Funny, only folks that owe other people money say things like this. It is an attempt to make me look petty, superficial and shallow. It does not work and fails to affect me personally, because I know that whether the money is there or not I am still on the frontlines of parenting taking care of financial needs, emotional needs, academic needs, social needs and basic needs. I need to do that whether I have gotten $100 in the last month or $100 in the last year. My duties as a parent endure, even as the flow of money stops. The bottom line is this: The money matters.

Still, deadbeat parents do pay a price that is much higher than just the money piece. I have yet to talk to a deadbeat parent that has a close and loving relationship with their child. In fact, the older the child gets the more they realize the truth of the matter even as the custodial parent never says a word about her financial strain. In my own case, I never once spoke to my child about the money owed as I felt that this was a burden that a child does not need thrust upon their shoulders. On the other hand, I also never once withheld visitation in some nasty effort to punish my ex. My very wise divorce attorney told me early on that money and visitation are completely separate issues and that one has no bearing on the other. He also said that I should always do the right thing even as the other parent did the wrong thing, because if we ever end up back in court I will want to stand before the judge with clean hands. There were years where I got zero dollars even as my child visited his father nearly every weekend.

As Bradley matured, though, the truth of the matter became evident to him and he knew that a man that did not care for his child from a financial perspective did not care about him at all. The easy part is going to the park or the movies or riding bikes with your kid. The hard part is putting your child’s financial needs ahead of your own and saying to yourself, “Gee, I really need to get in shape and would love a gym membership, but my child needs braces”. Know how often a custodial parent that is owed money says such things to themselves? Daily.

Now, so many years later, my son has turned into an amazing young man ready to start college in six weeks. Two years ago he opted on his own and for very personal reasons to walk away from his father for good. And, he has never looked back. His biological father did not see him graduate from high school, will not see him graduate from college, will not see him marry, and will never know his grandchildren. He will never know the pain of sharing Bradley’s heartaches or the pure joy as he has fallen in love with a lovely young woman. He will not be there to help select a graduate school, fuss over buying the perfect first car or help straighten his tie for his first job interview.

He has sold all of this privilege, all of this honor, all of this blessing for five digits worth of past due support. What a shame for him.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Broken Child Support System

I would like to preface this blog, and all related blogs to follow, by saying that I am not a child support collection expert. I am not an attorney, financial advisor or CPA. I am just a mother that desperately wants what is best for her children, including protecting their financial interests. I would also like to mention that the current support owed to me by my first husband is a staggering $70,000. Bear in mind that this is support only and does not include 50% of other owed expenses such as medical insurance, day care expenses, and school tuition. If we crunched those numbers, we would be closer to $100,000. The current order that is in place for this case, not that it seriously matters because the ex could care less, is a mere $70 per week. This means that if I started get support today…literally, today…that he would be all paid up sans any interest in 1,000 weeks. For those of you without a calculator handy, this is about 20 years. Yes, I will be collecting child support at the same time I am collecting Medicare. Even as I reflect on this, my stomach twists and turns in a maddening cocktail of rage, astonishment and pure helplessness.

While I live in Illinois, I also have experience with the child support system in both Ohio and Florida. However, it seems that Illinois is light-years behind many other states when it comes to child support enforcement and my case is no exception. I wonder at times if I am too lax in my approach or too patient in waiting for what is owed me. The fact of the matter is that it takes time, energy and money to pursue delinquent child support and I am short on all of those things. As a freelance writer, if I am not at home working on a project for a client then I do not get paid. I do not have the luxury of abandoning my work in pursuit of money that I know in my gut I may never receive.

In the last 6 months I have traveled four times more than 120 miles round-trip to the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, Illinois. This is nearly 500 miles and with gas nearing $4 per gallon I have spent $100 in order to get a zero net return. Obviously, this does not even include the money I could be making if I were at home for those hours actually making money. Yes, I would end up making more money if I simply stopped pursuing child support. How sickening is that?

My current husband, who is pragmatic almost to a fault, believes that I should simply wash my hands of the matter and if money floats our way, so be it. And if it does not, I will have saved myself money, endless tears and nonstop aggravation. He knows that this outstanding balance will never evaporate and that it will eventually catch up with the ex. He knows that in a thousand different ways our lives are more magnificent than the ex could even hope to imagine for himself. Of course, he is right. But let’s not tell him that….yet.

Because my case is being handled by the Illinois States Attorney’s office I am at their mercy regarding whether they actually act on my case. I cannot reach anyone by phone, by fax or by mail. For those who have never lived within the child support system, you probably imagine that as soon as a check is missing you can pick up the phone and say, “Well, he is late again. Please do something”. It simply does not work like that. In the 16 years that I have been dealing with this matter, I have stood before a judge a total of three times. The first time was six months ago when the ex asked for a reduction in support (granted). A reduction? Are you freaking kidding me? The second time was a month ago when the judge wanted (after I pleaded a bit previously) an update on the exes employment status. In that case, he never even showed up and so the case was continued until yesterday. Yes, read that again…he never even showed up to court. Surely something happens in that case, right? I mean, contempt or a fine or something? Nothing. I stood in front of the judge feeling as though my head was going to explode. It did not and I drove home with tears streaming down my cheeks.

There is so much to this case that I will continue nearly daily updates on this until either I get a bit of money or I finally take my husband’s advice to walk away from this frustrating journey. Stay tuned as tomorrow I will outline for you just what my ex is missing out on, when it comes to my amazing son and why my son has made his own choice to walk away from his biological father.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tips for Reducing Healthcare Expenses

Whether you have health insurance with your current employer or you are self-insured, there is no question that healthcare expenses are too much for the average household budget. In fact, according to a 2007 Harvard University study 62% of the personal bankruptcies that occur in the United States are due to unmanageable medical expenses. While this percentage has decreased a bit in the subsequent few years, it is still holding at greater than 50%. Because of this, folks are looking for ways to possibly reduce what they spend on healthcare for themselves and their family. Following are several great tips that may help you in keeping healthcare expenses low.

Insurance Via Your Employer
If you are employed and have insurance through your employer, you should request from your supervisor or Human Resources Department a full outline of all of your health insurance options. In some cases, employees are offered a variety of plans (HMO, PPO, POS) through the same insurance company. Given these three options, HMOs will nearly always end up being the most cost economical. While restrictions apply to HMOs, most people find that this plan more than satisfies all of their healthcare needs and is a plan that is very easy to work with. If you follow all of the rules of an HMO (e.g. obtaining referrals, staying in network, etc.), you will procure the maximum benefit levels allowed by the plan. In fact, you will likely have no out of pocket expense except for your copayment. If you do not have an HMO option via your employer sponsored plan, you should still consult with your plan administrator to determine if there is any way to reduce your monthly premium expense. For instance, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) you may be able to pay for your health insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars.

Adjusting Your Deductible
If you are self-employed or have retired early you may have to purchase your own health insurance plan without any employer assistance or subsidy. While you will not get the monetary enhancement that you would with an employer sponsored plan, you will have greater control over the expense and insurance options that you choose for your family. The primary way to keep your plan at a reasonable rate is to maintain a high but manageable deductible. If you are young or fairly healthy, this will prove to be a huge cost savings. For instance, the same insurance plan via a national insurance carrier will cost a 30 year old female $174 per month with a $1,000 annual deductible versus $56 per month with a $5,00 deductible. This is a cost savings of $118 per month or more than $1,400 over the course of one year. You should try to find a sensible balance of premium expense and deductible.

Short Term Plans
If you are temporarily unemployed or an adult college student not eligible for placement on a spouses plan, you should opt for a short term health insurance plan. These policies are very reasonably priced and do provide at least a measure of insurance coverage. At the very least, you will get the insurance carrier discount when seeing a physician. This may mean the difference between paying $75 for an office visit (no insurance) and $57 (insurance plan rate applied). These short term plans are valid for up to 6 months, but may be renewed regularly. As with any other plan, try to find a plan that has a manageable blend of monthly premium expense and annual deductible. There are several online sites that offer short term policies and you can usually know within just a few moments if your application has been approved.

Health Insurance Discount Programs
Most of the major health insurance companies offer to their members a variety of discount programs in an effort to ensure that they remain healthy and have a reduced number of medical claims. For instance, you may receive 15% off of a gym membership, 20% off of mail-order vitamin supplements or 25% off of a weight management program via a national chain. Contact your health insurance company to see what programs they offer to their members. In most cases, you can view that information right on the carrier’s website.

Working With Physicians and Hospitals
If you have no insurance at all or your insurance company has paid very little on a high dollar claim, you should appeal directly to the providers for assistance with the outstanding balance. Do not wait to do this while hoping that the outstanding balance will evaporate or you may risk going to collections. You just need to contact the Office Manager of the physician office or the Patient Accounts Department of the hospital and discuss the matter directly with them. In your discussions, be honest with them and tell them that you are experiencing an economic hardship. In the case of a bill for physician services, they may be willing to discount your bill up to 50%. For hospital bills, depending on your financial situation you may have up to 100% of the bill written off. If you approach these folks with honesty and integrity, they will work with you with regards to your outstanding balance.

Freebies
Both large and small hospitals have health outreach programs for their community and the programs are often free. Services that are offered may include: nutritional counseling, diabetic counseling, exercise programs, pregnancy services, healthy cooking classes, smoking cessation programs, asthma management programs and more. Contact your local hospital to see what they are offering that may be of benefit to you. Also, most of the major health insurance companies have nurses that staff a free hotline for medical inquiries 24 hours a day. They can address questions such as:

• What are the symptoms of sunstroke?
• What is the difference between a sinus infection and the common cold?
• Should I put ice on a sprained ankle?
• What should I do with a colicky infant?

Finally, another great freebie for you is right at your physician’s office. If your insurance plan does not cover medications, or covers them at a very low level, you should take the time to ask your doctor for samples of any medications you take. The pharmaceutical companies regularly provide to physician offices plenty of samples, which the doctor will be happy to share with you.

Whether you are insured, uninsured or underinsured, managing your healthcare expenses can be a real challenge. Using some of these tips should help alleviate some of that burden and ensure that your bank account remains as healthy as you do.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Breaking News: Casey Anthony is Found Not Guilty

At about 1:15p CDT the verdict was finally returned in the Casey Anthony trial. As you may know by now, the verdict was not guilty for all of the main charges including first degree murder. She was, however, guilty of providing false information to law enforcement officials in this matter. I believe that I have literally felt my heart fall to the floor as those words….Not Guilty….float from my television and to my unbelieving ears. As I watch tears of relief fall from the eyes of Casey Anthony, the rage is rising within me as I wonder how many tears of grief she has shed for her deceased baby girl.

This trial has captured the attention of the nation for a variety of reasons. The little baby girl, Caylee Marie Anthony, was so very cute. So very innocent. So very helpless. And now that the trial has run its course and this shocking verdict is alarming the good folks of our nation, Caylee is also so very without justice as well. In many ways it feels like the O.J. Simpson trial all over again and the hollowness in my heart persists without end.

I have not followed this trial as diligently as others, but have gleaned enough to get a real sense for what was going on in this horrible matter. Perhaps it is because I am a mother myself, or perhaps simply because I have a soul, I cannot fathom not turning the world upside down in an effort to find my child who had been missing for four long weeks. Hell, after five minutes of not spotting my kids at a playground I can be found searching every tree, swing and parked car like a lunatic. Albeit, a caring, loving, and protective lunatic. What Casey Anthony has displayed was not just poor parenting, but it was flat out criminal regardless of the insane verdict that was just announced.

Caylee Marie Anthony, we will never forget your precious angel face. Caylee Marie Anthony we will never forget that your mother has gotten away with murder. Caylee Marie Anthony we, as a civil society, are so very sorry about this injustice.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Yet Another Double Standard

Imagine a scene such as this…

A daytime talk show with 4 male co-hosts, average age of about 45, sitting before a live studio audience. The audience is 95% men with an average age of maybe 55. The audience is excited, clapping, laughing and squirming in their seats with near-teenage giddy anticipation. Clearly, something exciting is happening here at Generic Television Studios USA, but what could it be? On stage the co-hosts are as tickled as the audience regarding the impending show featuring one awesome guest.

To the roar of clapping, wolf whistles and general shrieking the much-anticipated guest of the day makes her entrance. It is young Miley Cyrus and the middle aged men in the audience and on the stage are going positively crazy with excitement. Some in the audience hold crudely made signs saying “Seniors for Cyrus” and “Work it Girl” and “Marry Me” while others simply wave their hairy arms trying to capture the attention of this teen sensation. The audience is squirming, wiggling in their seats, and droplets of hormonal fueled perspiration are forming around their hairline. Soon the shrieking intensifies…”We love you Miley!” and “Oh, you are sooo cute!” and “Can I take you home?”. Even the co-hosts are adjusting their ties and smiling nervously, unable to contain their enthusiasm for being just this close to a darling teenager. Their ensuing banter is nothing short of flirtatious and the co-hosts do what they can to stroke Miley’s hand and hair while trying to slip their arm around her waist.

What do you think of this picture I have painted? Pretty cool, huh? No, I didn’t think so either. I think it borders on some sicko pedophilia and, literally, the thought of it turns my stomach. Grown men treating a young girl in this manner? Ugh.

Yet, I was fortunate enough to witness a similar scene just yesterday as I sat down to watch The View when their featured guest was Justin Bieber. They and their audience acted towards him just as I have described above with the Miley Cyrus scenario. And no one seems to be thinking twice about it or thinking that it is grotesque. Except me, of course. Why is that?

Probably for the same reason that when a cute female teacher is caught in a sexcapade with a teen boy there are usually snickers all around and comments along the lines of “Wish my teachers in high school looked like that” or “Yeah, he’s one lucky fella”. Is that fair? No. It sure the hell is not. In fact, it is just one more way that gender equality in this country seems eons away. Just when you think we have finally gotten our act together as a society, little tidbits like this chip away at any perceived progress we may have made. A shame, I tell you. It is a damned shame and it should cease sooner rather than later.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Your Problem?!

When you talk to people about their childhoods, as I am prone to doing since I am nosy like that, there are typically either a long or short list of complaints that they are quick to register. Maybe their father never said "I love you" or their mother was overbearing or a sibling was clearly the preferred Golden Child. Of course, some complaints are actually rather serious (read: abusive). For the purposes of this blog, that is not truly what I am talking about. I mean, just general bitching and moaning that they were ripped off by not having the ideal childhood. Or, what they presume is ideal.

I mention this because I recently interviewed my brother for a book I am writing about our father. This brother, who shall remain nameless for no real reason other than the fact that "remain nameless" sounds cool and mysterious, is the kind of guy that appears to be totally self-sufficient. Really together. Very much in control and wanting for nothing emotionally. One of those people that accepts whatever life has thrown at them and makes the best of it without looking back. No regrets, no repairs required.

So I was surprised when this Nameless Brother (still uber mysterious, no?) went on and on during our interview about how he had yearned for more attention, affection and positive reinforcement during his childhood. Even now, some 50 years later, these soft emotions and deep disappointment were so apparent. Believe me, we did not come from a neglectful home and he got, in terms of attention, pretty much about the same amount as any other kids in our upper middle class slice of suburbia.

But I don't want to talk about him....this is my blog, so let's bring this back around to me (see, we all crave attention). My own children, Brilliant Bradley and Perfect Paige, have had what I consider a super blessed childhood. Great vacations, constant encouragement, life in a safe subdivision, loads of opportunities, and fully supportive parents. Seriously, in the Championship Of Parenting, my husband and I have successfully landed in the top 10%.

Which leads me back around to my first thought -- childhood complaints. I can't help but wonder that when my kids are quizzed by some nosy friend, neighbor or other intrusive freak about their own childhood, what will they say? Since we all have mild to moderate (if we're lucky) complaints about what went down the first 18 years of our lives, what will these kids who share my DNA say? There must be something.....right? How about "My mother loved me too much" or "My dad provided excessive positive reinforcement" or "What, you think it is so great to be told that you are loved a dozen times per day". Maybe it will be like one of those job interviews where you are asked about your weaknesses and you are supposed to present them in such a way that they are actually strengths. "I am too honest" or "I tend to be a perfectionist". Side note: Seriously, do human resources professional actually believe that BS? What do they really think when people say that? Probably that they are hiding some serious personal flaw, like they plan to pilfer the company pens and steal their co-workers ham on rye sandwich from the communal staff fridge.

In one way I can peep into the future on this one. My kids are space nearly ten years apart, so in a few years I can quiz 18 year Brilliant Bradley about his childhood and then still have a few good years to fix whatever I have broken with Perfect Paige. Still, I think we are clean. You know why? Because amazing children make parenting easy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We Meet Again

Am I the worst blogger in the world? Well, maybe not. I mean, I am not filling this site with homphobic rants (let's leave that to Tracy Morgan), personal attacks on my exes (so not worth my time) or sappy little odes to my children (okay, I am occasionally guilty of that indulgence). I am a Bad Blogger because I am a neglectful blogger. This was to be a chronicle of my amazing life. It was to an open diary that you can peep into and share my joys with me. And here it sits...neglected, dormant, empty and pitiful for lo these many months. Or has it been years? Scroll down and verify for yourself. What am I, your mother? Pull your own weight on this blog.

I will not bore you via getting caught up on the highs and lows of our life here in suburban Chicago. There has been parenting challenges, marital bliss with a side of toe-to-toe disputes, awesome vacations and dismal health issues. There has been the blossoming of children, extended family, lines of business and personal growth. Oh, yes, we have all been to that Zen place by now -- Scott heads there via Budweiser, Bradley by way of guitar genius, Paige is All Zen All The Time and I achieved spiritual and undying peace by writing. Okay, that is a lie. I get paid to write and I happen to like it. Most of the time. Writing 500 words about how great silk flowers are or 750 words about 3D televisions can be mind-numbing. The dance to the bank? Uber gratifying. Do you enjoy your job 100% of the time? Smiling around the water cooler, skipping to your office, singing as you type, mold, design, fix, or whatever? Nope, me neither.

So enough about me and my neglectful habits. Would it surprise you that I also fail to dilligently floss, haven't cleaned out my freezer since the democrats held the House, and have three Christmas items that have yet to make it to the basement? It seems that you and I are fairly similar, no? Because I neglect so much of my life and control so little of it, I vow here and now to commit to this blog. I want you to come back, I want you to be amused (laugh with me, laugh at me, laugh near me) and I want to get back to writing for me....well, also for those folks that pay the bills as well, but mostly it is all about ME.