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A Writer's Den: October 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Does The Next Step In Women’s Rights Require Women To “Man Up?”

There’s nothing worse than politicians taking the hottest slang turning it into wannabe snarky phrases my own mother wouldn’t use. This year’s phrase is “Man Up.” I want even touch on the political affiliation of the candidates using these terms, as it is beyond the scope of this article. But I want to touch on the fact that female candidates are telling their male opponents to “man up.” So why is that a problem?

Before I answer that, let’s discuss what “man up” means. According to Urban Dictionary, man up means to work through impediments and obstacles without whining, to grow some balls, and stop being an utter wuss, to name a few. I’m a married woman and a mother of 2 young girls and I have serious problems with females thinking it’s cool to tell men to man up, specifically in regard to gender roles.

First, man up assumes that men have certain characteristics requiring they make tough decisions that women can’t handle. The last time I checked, women make tough decisions everyday. And being born without balls or shedding a tear every now and then hasn’t stopped women from making tough decisions. 

Second, it’s belittling. Men come in all shapes and sizes just like women do. To assume every man who doesn’t allow his masculinity to limit him from showing compassion or sympathy is less of man is ridiculous. This train of thought is what has ultimately led to men and women being pigeon holed into certain roles.

Third, what do our children think when they hear terms like “man up?” I’m not a mother of boys, but I am a mother of a daughter. I can’t imagine her telling another little boy that he’s a wuss, a whiner, a pussy. Bottom line, I don’t want her telling men how they should act because I don’t want a man telling her how she should act. 

Women have come a long way from not being allowed to own property nor the right to vote. Women are now the majority in colleges and universities. But does the next step in women’s rights require we “man up?”

“Man Up”, Urban Dictionary.com, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=man%20up (accessed October 29, 2010)

Credit: btrenkel © istockphoto.com/btrenkel

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

I’m Sorry

Whatever Happened to Those Simple Words We Learned During Childhood?

From the moment children understand the difference between right and wrong, parents begin teaching them to say the words “I’m sorry.” Whether children are apologizing for refusing to share a toy, pushing on the playground, or having a total meltdown in the middle of the grocery store, when it’s all said and done, parents love to hear those magic words “I’m sorry mommy” and “I’m sorry daddy.”

Do We Require More of Our Children Than We Require of Ourselves?
My 3 year old has pretty much perfected the art of apologizing. She will even add in the occasional tear, and bat her beautiful brown eyes, all in hopes of us forgetting whatever she’s done wrong. The other day when she was apologizing for snatching a toy from her little sister, I suddenly wondered at what point it became okay for parents to require more from our children than we require of ourselves. Honestly, when was the last time you said the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” without being forced to or trying to wiggle your way out of it?

Why is it so Hard For Adults to Apologize?
We say hurtful things. We break promises. We even let each other down. And when it’s all said and done, many of us would rather hide out for a couple of months or years hoping our transgressions will be forgotten, or simply ignore the fact that we’ve made a mistake and dwell on the other person’s actions. I often wonder would the world be a better place if adults would say “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” more often. Maybe I’m a little naïve, and those simple words we learned as children don’t mean anything as we get older. However, if I had to choose, I would most certainly choose the world our children live in. A world where I can shed a tear and bat my beautiful brown eyes while saying the words I’m sorry to the person I’ve hurt.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Not a Daredevil Anymore … How Being a Parent Changed My View on Driving

The Daredevil
Do you remember jumping in your car, putting your pedal to the metal? I swore I could put Nascar drivers to shame. That was me before I had children. If I had to be somewhere 45 minutes away, I would challenge myself to be there in 15 minutes since I wasn’t going to leave my house until the very last minute. If you were driving to slow, I wasn’t going to continue driving behind you. I was the girl speeding around you thinking “get off the road slow poke.” And if you ever cut me off, I’m sure you felt my wrath as my tongue spouted off things I’d rather not repeat here. Needless to say, I used to be a modern day daredevil when it came to driving.

The Daredevil’s Wakeup Call
Then, I became a mom. It would be so easy to say I’ve changed, but I think I should share my latest driving scare with you so you can see what I mean when I say I’ve really changed. Yesterday, as I was driving home with my six month old, a 20-something year old man was driving next to me. I was driving my SUV in the far right lane next to the guard rails and he was driving a mid-sized sedan in the left lane. As always when I’m driving, I was not only watching the road in front of me, but I was also watching those around me. I’ve learned it is my job to drive for myself and everyone else if I want to make it home safely. Suddenly, the young man’s car began driving into my lane. We were on a bridge and the only place to retreat to happen to be the guard rail next to me. I physically laid on my horn hoping to get his attention. There was no way I was hitting the guard rail knowing that my 6 month old was sleeping peacefully on the side where the impact would occur. Nor did I want to risk our lives hoping the guard rail would carry the weight of my SUV, keeping us from driving over the bridge. On top of everything, while I was blowing my horn, he was still coming over on me.

Finally, he lifted his head up and we made eye contact. I didn’t say one word. But the horror on my face with tears streaming down my eyes spoke for me. I read his lips as he apologized for almost coming over on me. I was so shaken up that when I finally reached my exit, I sat at the red light and laid my head on my stirring wheel.

Not a Daredevil Anymore
It’s funny how things come full circle because I couldn’t help thinking maybe this guy was payback for my poor driving habits in the past. One thing’s for sure, I’m not a daredevil anymore.

How has becoming a parent changed your views on driving? 

credit: Dancer01carterdayne © istockphoto.com/Dancer01

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Friday, October 22, 2010

The Potentially Chilling Effects of a Nationwide Halt on Foreclosures

Recently, Bank of America, the nation’s largest bank, voluntarily halted foreclosure sales in all 50 states. Other major banks followed Bank of America’s lead, but stopped short of issuing a 50 state freeze on foreclosures. Not even two weeks later, Bank of America announced that its internal investigation into foreclosure procedures has been completed, opening the door for it to continue foreclosure sales. Now the FBI is investigating whether banks violated any laws during the foreclosure process that has left many Americans without homes.  

Although forcing banks to halt foreclosures nationwide may sound like a great idea, here are a few of the potentially chilling effects of halting foreclosures.
  • The Deaf of Property Values: Let’s say you buy a $150,000 home today. If a nationwide halt on foreclosures happens, then your $150,000 home may become a $100,000 home because when the foreclosure freeze is over, those frozen properties will flood the market and bank’s will have no choice but to lower their prices to move inventory again. 
  • Longer Imprisonment for Upside Down Homeowners: For homeowners who are trying to refinance but can’t due to underwater or upside down mortgages, another decrease in property values only lengthens the amount of time they will be trapped in those mortgages without options to refinance.
  • Buyers Market Without Buyers: Even if it is a buyer’s market, no buyer in their right mind will purchase a home that they may have to walk away from later because they unknowingly purchased an illegal foreclosure.
  • Decreased Home Sales to Non-existent Home Sales: With almost a year’s supply of real estate on the market, a halt on foreclosures would not only halt foreclosure sales but all real estate sales will be affected and the supply of real estate currently on the market will increase.
  • Banks Receiving Bail-outs to Banks Going Belly-up: Banks have given homeowners going through hardships the run around in applying for modifications and short sales in hopes of saving their homes. And although Americans have bailed out banks and many are angry that the banks aren’t returning the favor, no one bailed out banks to see them go belly up and watch more Americans lose their jobs in the process. 
  • A Real Estate Market that Never Fully Recovers: Unfortunately a mandatory halt on foreclosure sales will more than likely lead to longer recovery periods than initially predicted, and it’s possible the market will never fully recover to the level we were at prior to the housing crisis.  
There are so many different situations to consider when dealing with the issue of whether banks committed illegal foreclosures. However, we must balance the interest of homeowners that are current on their mortgage payments, past homeowners who were not in foreclosure but were illegally foreclosed upon, homeowners that purchased foreclosed homes, delinquent homeowners currently in foreclosure, and potential buyers. Without a doubt, banks should be punished for any crimes or civil violations they have committed, but we need to make sure innocent homeowners aren’t punished in the process.
credit: carterdayne © istockphoto.com/carterdayne

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Hi There Beautiful!

Hi there Beautiful!

I’m talking to you.

You woke up this morning, rolled out of bed and barely glanced at me. But I stopped everything I was doing to take a look at you.

I stared at your face, admiring the dimples on your cheeks and the beauty marks under your eyes.

I counted each freckle, like I’ve done every day since the first day we met.

I even noticed the first strand of grey planted in your head months before you even cared to take a look. I hope you know that we are actually more attractive with our beautifully placed strands.

I often wonder where your smile has gone.

I long for a glance into your beautiful eyes.

If only for a moment, if the world would stop, I would stare at you, promising to never look away. 

credit: BakiBG © istockphoto.com/BakiBG

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Support a Mom’s Right to Choose

Because Walking in Another Mom's Shoes Ain't Easy

You never really notice all the bickering that goes on between moms until you actually become a mom. From breastfeeding to childcare, everyone has an opinion. I know I definitely have an opinion. But isn’t there a way we can have an opinion and still support a mom’s right to choose? Here’s a shortlist of a few issues we should start standing together on regardless of the personal decisions we have made for own families.

  1. Right to Be a Stay At Home Mom: No one wants to get interrogated for choosing their children over working for the man. Choosing to leave the workforce is not a bad thing. However, it is a choice that we should all respect. So don’t start the “you’ve worked to hard for that position or that degree” speech. Raising children is a 24/7 job, it just happens to be inside the home.

  1. Right to Work Outside the Home: It’s none of our business why a mother chooses to go back into the workforce after having children. It could be she loves her career, or maybe her  family needs the money. Whatever the reasons are, we should all have the choice to work outside the home if we chose to. So don’t try to make moms feel guilty for juggling motherhood and a career.

  1. Right to Choose Quality Childcare: Some of us have childcare-a-phobia, which means we ain’t trusting anyone to take care of our children. But what about the mother’s who have to use childcare? It may be hard to believe, but there are high quality daycares out there. So stop bashing moms who use childcare facilities.

  1. Right to Breastfeed in Public Places: Mother’s have a right to breastfeed, and they should be able to do it anywhere they choose to. Likening breastfeeding in public places to sexual activity is disgusting. If seeing a mom breastfeeding in a restaurant or coffee shop is a problem for you, you need help!

  1. Right to Formula Feed: For some breastfeeding moms, it may be hard for you to stomach this, but no mother should be forced to nurse their child. If you don’t want to breastfeed or didn’t have the opportunity to breastfeed, that’s okay. And no, the recent recall on formula is no reason to force every mother into breastfeeding.

  1. Right to use disposable diapers: Moms that use disposable diapers are not lazy. They may not be 100% tree huggers but it doesn’t mean they don’t care about the environment.

  1. Right to use Cloth diapers: Cloth diapering moms aren’t old fashioned, and no they’re not cheap either. It’s simply the path they have chosen to take.  

  1. Right to Have More Children: Far too often, I hear moms question why someone would want 5 or more children. Questions like “how can you give each one the attention they deserve” are ridiculous.  

  1. Right to Choose Public School: Lately everyone is looking for an alternative to public school. Every mom can’t afford private school, every child cannot attend charter school, and every public school isn’t bad. However, the right to choose a public school should always be an option. 

  1. Right to Homeschool: Educating your own children does not make them weird or unsocialized. Moms that homeschool their children are no different than moms who choose to send their children to school.

  1. Right to Spank: Yep, I said it. For all you non spankers, good for you. Spanking is not child abuse, nor is it illegal. In fact many of you were spanked, and although you may have taken a different path of disciplining your own children, you’re not aggressive and you haven’t killed anyone. Right?

  1. Right to Choose a Natural Birth: If you don’t want meds, and you don’t want to deliver in a hospital, this is a personal decision. I say if you can handle it, more power to you.

  1. Right to a Cesarean: Again, many of you will not agree. And yes, I’ve seen the rising number of cesarean sections that may not be necessary. My concern is that cesareans remain a viable option for those moms that need them.

I purposely didn’t include any statistics or studies in this list. This simply comes down to moms respecting other moms' decisions. Can you handle that? 

Credit: kemalbas © istockphoto.com/kemalbas

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Check Out My Guest Post: What Really Happens When You Give a Preschooler Choices?

A couple of weeks ago, I was given a wonderful opportunity to write a guest post for my friend Jill over at Single Mom on a Budget. This post has everything, from pediatrician advice to mother/daughter play-by-play action, all centered on the theme “choices.” I am so excited for this opportunity, and I sincerely wanted to thank Jill for everything. So without further ado, please run over to Jill’s and check out my featured post, “What Really Happens When You Give a Preschooler Choices?”  

Kludgy Mom

Week 3 Reading: Why and How To Guest Post: B2S/B2B Week 3 Guest Post

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Dear Victim of Domestic Violence, Is Today the Day?

Dear Victim of Domestic Violence,
I am your mother, your sister, and your friend. Day after day, I provide a listening ear for you to share your pain. And I often ask myself “Is today the day.” First the arguments begin, and although I was worried, we laughed through your pain together after you assured me that he was just a little jealous. So against my better judgment, I held my tongue.

Then you called me in tears one night saying that he hit you. I tried to stay strong as I listened to your story. Little did you know, the tears were swelling in my eyes, slowly streaming down my cheeks, while listening to you make excuses for his actions. I placed a pillow over my mouth to hide my sobs. You needed me to be strong for you, but as I listened to your story, the weaker I became. After we hung up the phone, I cried for you that night and I have cried for you every night since then. As I fall on my knees in prayer, day after day, I boldly say your name aloud asking that God protect you. I have even asked my guardian angel to leave my side to stand by yours because deep in my heart I wonder “Is today the day.”

A few months later, you called me from the emergency room to let me know that you had suffered a head injury at his hands. This time I couldn’t hold back my tears, and I refused to only be a listening ear. I told you to leave him. I even offered to pick you up. Finally it seemed you’d had enough because you did leave. We talked through your pain, and somehow we managed to laugh again.

A few days later, you decided to return to him. I assured you that my home was your home, as you walked away. Then I went into the room to make up your bed. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as I stopped in my tracks and fail on my knees. You didn’t prepare me for the drops of blood you left behind on your pillow. Holding it close to my heart, I said a prayer for you and asked God “Is today the day.”

I know now that you must make the decision to leave all on your own. Although, I love you more than you will ever know, my daughter, my sister, my friend, I cannot continue to stand by helplessly waiting for the day. The day my phone will ring, hoping to hear your voice on the other end, only to hear an unfamiliar voice asking me “Are you the next of kin?”

With Love,

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month! Please join me in supporting The Allstate Foundation’s Tell a Gal Pal movement, by clicking on the “like” button on the Tell a Gal Pal Facebook page,  and pledging to Tell a Gal Pal about domestic violence to help raise $20,000 to be donated to the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in The Allstate Foundation’s Tell a Gal Pal blogging program with TwitterMoms, making me eligible to get an interview with Cheryl Burke. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
Credit: maodesign © istockphoto.com/maodesign

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Tale of 3 Bloggers

We Blog Better, The Work At Home Wife, & Me

I really don’t consider myself a blogger. I’m more like an amateur, or a work in progress. The reason why I started blogging was because I needed someone, anyone to desperately read what I was writing. So I guess you could say I needed an audience. Then I realized that I had nowhere for my audience to go. An audience with no place to visit me was like having sweet tea with no sugar. You’ve probably already guessed that I’m southern. Somehow I stumbled upon the world of blogging, and I thought it would be an easy, cost efficient way for me to become famous (maybe one day, right?) by forcing poor souls like you to read my stuff. 

Little did I know, there is nothing easy about the world of blogging. I learned that really quick when my first blog went up in smoke. But a couple of months later, I decided to take another go at it, but this time I was really going to try to make this work. So I pulled out the big guns…

We Blog Better 

“Blogging Tips & Tricks for Much Better Blogging”

Kiesha Easely is the owner and editor-in-chief of WeBlogBetter.com. She’s always blogging about a thousand different ways to help her fellow bloggers. I took the leap a couple of months ago and reached out to Kiesha when I couldn’t understand why my retweet button was displaying the same number of tweets for all my posts. Then I reached out again when I had a question about backlinks. I had no idea when I clicked on her contact form that she would even write back, but she did. And I was shocked. This changed my entire outlook on the blogging world. Here I was trying to do it all alone, when there are people out there like Kiesha willing to lend a helping hand.

So please visit her blog, and also check out the WeBlogBetter’s Birthday Celebration Cash Give-away!! 

The Work at Home Wife 

“Home Business Solutions and Internet Marketing Tactics”

Angie Nelson is a work at home wife, virtual assistant and owner of ASN Virtual Services. Angie truly understands the need to escape the cubicles of the business world, and uses her blog to help others find freedom. Angie has always been very supportive of my writing, by sharing my articles with her followers on Twitter. But she recently allowed me to work on a project for her, on a subject that I truly feel like I barely know anything about, blogging. She couldn’t have approached me at a better time because I really needed a confidence boost.

I think you all will really like her latest post, “Upping Your Game to Overcome Intimidation.” 

As for me, I’ve still got tons of work to do on this blog. But it’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

  Kludgy Mom

Week 4 Assignment: feature a few of your loyal followers  in a post this week. Act as if you’re their media agent and you’re trying to get them a job. Sell them to your community – talk about how fabulous they are. Or maybe just say thank you to specific followers for their support. You can feature them however you want to – get creative!

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Banks Under Fire. Again.

Is Halting Foreclosures Delaying the Inevitable?

Update: October 8, 2010: Bank of America extends halt on foreclosure sales in all 50 states, meaning borrowers' homes currently in foreclosure will not proceed to judgment or a foreclosure sale.

Recently, Bank of America, the largest bank in the United States, announced it was halting foreclosures in the 23 states[1] where court approval is required. Although Bank of America has not announced how many homeowners will be affected, the voluntary halt on foreclosures comes in the wake of Bank of America officials admitting to signing foreclosure affidavits without verifying whether these legal documents contained accurate information. JP Morgan Chase and Ally (formerly “GMAC”) have also joined Bank of America in halting foreclosures in those 23 states. Foreclosures are still proceeding in the remaining 27 non-judicial foreclosure states, requiring no court approval, such as California, Georgia, and Texas.[2]

What Does Halting Foreclosures Mean for Homeowners?
Halting foreclosures doesn’t mean foreclosures will not continue at a later date. Banks are simply reviewing their processes. It should also be noted that no allegations have been made that these homeowners are not behind on their mortgage payments, and are being wrongly foreclosed upon. It comes down to a technicality of whether the information in the foreclosure papers is totally accurate. For instance, whether the lender’s name is correct on the documentation, or whether the correct lender is foreclosing upon the property. These inaccuracies unfortunately, have nothing to do with the more serious issue of homeowners failing to make their mortgage payments.

Things to Consider
Lastly, we should consider whether we are prolonging the recovery process by encouraging banks to halt foreclosures. Congress has been encouraged to look into ways of halting foreclosures in an attempt to force banks to work with homeowners. It has been reported that 52 million homeowners have outstanding mortgages on their homes in this country. Of that 52 million, 10% or roughly 5 million are delinquent or in foreclosure. Do you simply delay foreclosures for all these people, when the other 47 million homeowners are struggling to make their payments to avoid foreclosure? Has the government missed the ball by encouraging banks to help delinquent homeowners, essentially ignoring the homeowners that have continued to make their payments on time?

What are your thoughts on halting bank foreclosures?

[1] The 23 states include: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.
[2] The Attorney General’s in California, Connecticut, New York, Texas, and Massachusetts, are paying close attention to this situation, some taking steps to suspend all foreclosure proceedings until servicers have completed internal reviews.

Rooney, Ben, “Push to halt foreclosures gains steam,” CNNMoney.com, http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_realestate/~3/2VSg7rR5BVc/index.htm, (accessed October 6, 2010).

Shapiro, Adam, “Major Banks Suspend Foreclosures,” FoxBusiness.com, http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4358465/major-banks-suspend-foreclosures, (accessed October 6, 2010).

Zibel, Alan, “Bank of America delays foreclosures in 23 states” The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/01/AR2010100105392.html (accessed October 6, 2010).

Associated Press, "BofA halts forelcosure sales in 50 state," YahooNews.com, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101008/ap_on_bi_ge/us_foreclosure_mess, October 8, 2010. 

Credit: ZargonDesign © istockphoto.com/ZargonDesign

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Monday, October 04, 2010

“Chefs Do That” ...Wife, Mom, Government Assassin

Parents What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

One day you’re in the working world, experiencing the day to day hustle and bustle of corporate America. Some of you may have even been working on a college degree, in hopes of taking the next steps in fulfilling your childhood dreams. Frankly, we may have all been doing drastically different things before we had children. However, no matter what we were doing before, now we all have one thing in common, we are parents. I’m not sure what your experience has been, but I’m learning that no matter how much I plan my day hoping to set aside some time for myself, children have a strange way of tweaking those plans. Needless to say, waking up as a parent can truly be a shocking experience for those who enjoyed the day to day certainty their lives were once afforded.

Take today, I woke up thinking “Chef’s Do That.” I wasn’t just any chef, I was a knife throwing government assassin. The character Samantha Caine, played by Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight, is a school teacher with amnesia. In her previous life, she was a knife wielding, gun carrying assassin working for the United States government. When she finally starts to remember pieces of her previous life, she sets out on a journey to find out who she really is. At one point in the movie, she’s at home with her husband and daughter and suddenly an intruder busts through her front door, attacking everyone in the house in hopes of killing her. Suddenly her instincts kick in, and this mom turned amateur chef, murders the guy with her own hands. Her husband looks at her in horror, and she says “chefs do that.” It’s pretty clear that Samantha never really forgets who she was. As an assassin, Samantha only had her career. But now Samantha is married to a loving husband, with a beautiful daughter. Finally, she comes to a crossroads where she must decide what is really important. As in any great movie, she walks away from her career as an assassin to be with her family.

Unlike Samantha, most of us chose the life we are presently living. We didn’t get amnesia and wake up with a family. And our lives didn’t end when the movie was over. I love being a mom, but that is only a part of who I am. I remember wanting to be a nurse, a news reporter, and then a lawyer. Now I want to be a writer. I may not be a New York Times Bestseller, but I am determined to wake up each and every day, thinking “Chef’s Do That,” but instead of being armed with a knife, I’ll have my pen and paper in hand, working towards what I want to be when I grow up.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

credit: Allstarpics.net © http://s11.allstarpics.net/images/orig/a/h/ah6fcbtoi4d6a66i.jpg

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