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Friday, July 29, 2016

It's Your Vote... Don't Waste It: The Downfall and Reality of a Two Party Democratic System in 2016

The 2016 Presidential election is a hot topic-- not just in the U.S., but around the world. The international community seems to have taken a bigger interest in this year's elections most likely because 1) this is Prime-Time American Reality TV starring one of our country's biggest celebrities and 2) America is an extremely powerful, passionate and strong country-- and the decision of who will lead such an International Powerhouse does, in fact, affect people around the world.

Back here in the U.S. though, many people consider this election "Business As Usual".
We do this routine every 4 years, right?
- A group of left and right politicians rip each other to shreds for a few months until the last one standing miraculously gains ALL of the support of their once rivals, to be nominated.
- Then 2 candidates attack each other's past, knowledge, rhetoric, history, mistakes, successes, failures, families, employees... (you get the point) until November comes along.
- Everyone votes.
- A winner is announced in a generally dramatic fashion.
- And then its over.
- People are sad.
- People are happy.
But in the end, what is the worst that could happen? These candidates were all qualified, right? They're respectable people who have the competency, patience and consideration to do this job??
Up until now, yes... but this year things have changed.

This year the stakes are even higher.
The reality and importance of this election should strike you to your core.
The candidates this year are NOT perfect. In fact, I'm sure if we could all rewind a year and take a closer look at the qualified people on the list, we would-- BUT since a Time Machine has not yet been invented (who's job was that, anyway? Einstein? FAIL!) we really all need to be realistic about November.

There are 2 choices: Donald Trump and Sec. Hillary Clinton.
To those of you saying, No! There's more than 2 choices! I can write in  (Insert Name Here)
Let me start here: I am all for the "Revolution" ... and I too LOVE Bernie Sanders and all of the political, economic and social reforms that he was planning to thrust upon this country. But Bernie didn't win the Democratic Primary. However that happened-- in whatever capacity emails may suggest otherwise-- Clinton won the votes. Period. Point Blank. So the romantic idea that a large group of people can write in a 3rd candidate (party affiliation unknown/undetermined) is just that... romantic.
The reality is: 1/3 of you will write in Bernie Sanders, 1/4 of you will write in Gary Johnson, 1/8 of you will write in your favorite Celebrity, Musician or Family Member, and at least 1 person is still voting for Ralph Nader.
That means that a large number of the intelligent, level-headed people in this country are splitting their votes up between some equally intelligent, level-headed people -- while the people who have already shown force in electing Donald Trump the Republican Nominee will continue to band together and make him our next President.

I don't know about you, but there is nothing that scares me more than having this man lead our country. 
Not Terrorism. Not Gun Violence. Not the threat of Nuclear Weapons. 
Nothing in this world scares me more than to think that this man will shape the future of our country and the world my children will grow up in.

Without going into a lecture on the reasons Donald Trump has NOT earned my vote in November (which I'm sure will spawn its own blog post in the near future)-- I just want to clarify to my friends why the answer is NOT to vote in anger, jealousy or retribution come November.
You may not like your choices-- but you need to make a choice.

The reality is: one of these people will be our next President. Sorry to burst your bubble.
If you "vote your conscious"-- whichever candidate that means for you-- then YOU may feel good about yourself for the day because you stood your ground and didn't conform, blah blah blah.
But how will you feel 4 months later? 4 years later? How will you feel for the next 4 years knowing that your vote-- as a whole-- should have made a difference?

In November I ask that you take into account the gravity of the situation. The entire world is looking to us-- the United States of America-- to do what we've always done: The Right Thing.
To say NO to hate, to bigotry, to unkind words and threats.
To not respond to these uneasy, scary times with fear and more hate-- but with love and trust and hope that things will eventually get better if we come together and embrace each other for our similarities and our differences.
The world is constantly changing and we want a leader to embrace that.
Not a leader who shuts people up, calls people names, threatens friends and allies, expresses support for enemies and dictators, puts up walls, blames others and makes more enemies.

This country's founders and leaders would NOT find this man to be a worthy leader.
Born into privilege, raised with a silver spoon and rewarded for his greed, hatred and disregard for others does NOT make someone a good leader. Not of this country.
This country means more, does more, stands for more.

I continue to hold out hope that the America I grew up in would not let such a person represent us all on the global stage-- and I sincerely hope that this is the America that shows up to the polls in November.

With Love, Respect & Kindness, 

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Zika Virus: A Plague on the Only Child

My daughter has been asking for a "Baby Brother" since she could talk. She loves to pretend to change her baby doll's (or Daddy's) diaper and give them a night-night bottle. She lays them down, covers them with her blanket and (forcefully) pats their back-- commanding "Go Sleep! Go Sleep!"
She loves hanging out in the baby room at Daycare-- although I can only imagine how much of that joy comes from just generally terrorizing smaller human beings.

I get asked weekly-- sometimes daily-- "When are you and your husband going to have another one?"
In some cases, I think its just polite small talk. In other cases, people are genuinely delighted with my daughter's pleasant demeanor and they genuinely want to know when another adorable human just like her might be created. And in other cases, my friends and family just want me to keep popping out small adorable snuggle-monsters so they can reap all the benefits from my 9-months of misery.
Don't misunderstand me: I'm not offended when people ask (although that doesn't make it any of their business. Unless they plan to pitch-in with raising and paying for the next one-- in that case, I'm all ears! Ask away!)
But I was on vacation recently when I realized that my answer had taken a dramatic turn.

Up until very recently, our "Baby #2" plans had been centered around life: my military husband leaves often for training so we try to take those dates into consideration (at least the few we're aware of ahead of time), my work schedule, our upcoming "event" schedule (weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, vacations, anniversaries, funerals, etc.)
Basically, over the last 2-years we've discovered something ALWAYS comes up -- allowing those "baby making plans" to get pushed back.
Originally, we wanted to wait a year before I got pregnant again. Then, my husband's job took him away to Missouri for 6 weeks --- so we waited. Then a few of my close friends got engaged and that brings Bridesmaid dresses and Bachelorette parties-- so, once again, we found ourselves pushing our own plan back. Now we were looking at after our daughter turned 2 in early June 2016.
And here we are in early June 2016-- but once again, plans have changed.
But no one new is getting married. My husband isn't deploying. And no, the terrible 2s (and HORRIBLE 3s) haven't scared us away from pro-creating again. 
This time, its something way bigger and out of our control.

Just a week ago my mom asked, "You're not trying to get pregnant right now, are you?"
Normally, I would just chalk that up to my mom being my mom. She's known for speaking her mind. But in this case-- she asked out of concern. She, like many, have just started tuning in to the increased concern over the spread of the Zika virus around the world-- specifically the impact on pregnant women and unborn babies.

6 months ago I was starting to look into a vacation to Mexico with some friends for some summer fun in the sun. After only a week of "searching" I had to ditch the vacation plans altogether because of a little-known virus that had just started causing a buzz south of the border -- and there was already a "travel warning" issued for Pregnant woman, Women trying to get pregnant or Women of child-bearing age.
That's vague, I thought. Child-bearing age is now anywhere from 16 to 40 (and in Janet Jackson's case... 50!)-- so are World Health leaders literally telling ALL WOMEN ages 16 to 40 NOT to travel to these "hot spots"?
The answer: Yes. 
The reason: A scary virus that while generally harmless to adults can be deadly if passed on to unborn babies-- causing serious and potentially deadly birth defects.
And that's reason enough for me.

So, my husband and I talked. And I cried. Because once again my dream of having more kids has been put on the back burner-- and this time, it feels more indefinite.. more uncertain. This time, I don't have a date in mind for when I can start planning to add to our family. This time it is sad because its finally the right time for us and our family... but the wrong circumstances.

In just the past week, I've found myself needing to explain our decision to wait to friends and family.
Some are very understanding. Some have echoed our concerns. While others make me feel like I'm being paranoid or acting TOO cautiously.
But let me tell you something-- if there is anything scarier than your first pregnancy, its the 2nd.
You know what to expect, yes-- but you now know *everything* you can expect--- every "worst case scenario", every terrifying birthing experience and every possible life-hiccup that can impact you and your child's life forever. In a sea of "unknowns"-- and in a world of crazy life ups-and-downs -- if you can manage to keep some control over the circumstances surrounding your baby's health and well-being-- you should.
And in this case, I chose to take control over this situation and say: I will not be having any more children until the risk of the Zika virus is better understood, until the spread of the virus is no longer a growing threat to the entire world's population, and/or until a vaccine is created for mothers and fetuses so the threat of birth defects in infected babies is diminished dramatically.

I will worry constantly for the first 9-months of my next child's life.
Am I eating the right things? Drinking enough water? Taking the right vitamins? Driving safely?
But I cannot, in good conscience, get pregnant with this terrifying virus spreading throughout the world-- and the saddest realization is that this epidemic could make my daughter an only child.

With Love, always.