Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Practical Tips for Watching the Presidential Debate

Well, another debate is upon us which means that if you haven't completely given up on social media, you're in for a wild ride tonight.

I think most of us have figured out that the Presidential Debate Drinking Game is probably not the healthiest way to go. I realized that during the first debate when I woke up the next morning wearing nothing but the American flag and a cowboy hat.

Recently I saw an article from the Wall Street Journal that encouraged yoga for the debates, but I feel like that will just have us all tied up in knots - mentally and physically.

Now, let's be honest. We ALL know the issues that are going to be brought up tonight and we'll have the added discomfort of watching President Obama's half-brother sitting on the other team's side while Hillary Clinton has asked a couple of billionaires to sit in her corner (hope they're bringing their tax returns).

If you'd like to sit this one out, I completely understand. So I've decided to sum it up for you NOW so you can go to bed early. Yes, I have suddenly discovered I have political psychic powers that will anger and amaze both parties.

You're welcome.

  • Trump will criticize Clinton for all of the past issues with Obamacare. All of the problems will be presented to her in no particular order but the outcome of this will be his assurance that he can defeat ISIS.
  • Clinton will smile and listen to her earpiece before asking for his tax returns. 
 The Plight of the Middle Class
  • Trump will relate to hardworking people everywhere by reminding them that he came from nothing but $1 million in seed money from his father and that his work ethic is what it will take to defeat ISIS.
  • Clinton will remind him that it was $14 million and ask if that was documented on his tax returns.
Violence Throughout the Country:
  • Trump will remind everyone that he is focused on the issues that plague inner cities while suburban moms watch and wonder if it's okay to send their kids to the neighborhood school two blocks away from home.
  •  Clinton will smile vacantly while he talks and then go into her thoughts on gun control before asking for his tax returns.
Tax Loopholes:
  • When asked about his tax history, Trump will finally be frustrated enough to bring up a related topic - Bill Clinton's infidelities and Hillary's complicit behavior while Bill tries to glare at him through the bags under his eyes. He will then tell everyone that his tax returns were in the emails that Clinton deleted and can't be retrieved.
  •  Hillary will smile smugly as America Googles "Presidential Candidate Infidelities" and scrolls through 15 pages of sexual assault accusations directed toward Donald Trump, including one in Latin that no one understands.
  • Trump will assure us all that he has plans in place (presumably screaming, "You're fired!" before pushing the button that will nuke everything south of Turkey) and that they are good plans. Huge.
  • Clinton will amaze us all with her plan that we don't understand and we suspect was taken from an episode of Scandal where the characters talk so fast we just assume they know what they're doing. She will mention that defending the country would be a little easier if Trump would pay his taxes.

I have now saved you 90 minutes wasted, the embarrassment of finding yourself in a yoga pose you can't get out of, and a hangover.  What I cannot rescue you from is a newsfeed full of things you don't agree with even from friends who are voting for the same person you are.

For those of you who will bravely go forth and watch the debates tonight, I wish you good health and good luck.

And remember that ripping your television from the wall doesn't hurt anyone else but you and that the candidates can't actually hear you when you're screaming.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thoughts on Feminism and Why I Feel Bad for Ivanka

 For those of you who are new to my blog (which at last count was over 1,000,000), you're going to have to get used to my blogging style. While I try to be succinct and hopefully make some sort of point, my blog has often been the place I go to try to make sense of things.

And that sometimes happens in a roundabout way.

So, I was in the car with my 15-year-old daughter and we were talking about feminism. Before you give me too much credit for having such an enlightened conversation, I will admit that our talks usually center around how bad her feet smell after practice and questioning when I might see the carpet in her room again.

Anyway, she had just finished an AP World History study session with her friends and she said, "It's weird. I don't think a lot of my friends know what feminism is."

"Really? What do they think it is?"

"They said they've heard from boys that feminism means that it's okay to hit a girl because now we can hit back."

I glanced over at her. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."

"I know."

I stared at the road through the windshield. "You know, I've been thinking a lot about Ivanka Trump lately."

Now, this is more like our regular conversations. We'll go from global warming to what's on sale at JC Penney and if you're not paying attention, you'll wonder how in the hell we got there.

But I promise I'm going somewhere with this.


I don't consider our household particularly "feminist"...although if you asked my son he might tell you differently. Since my husband passed away, he is completely surrounded by women and I've often said I'm raising the best husband in the entire world. Marriage will probably be a lifelong vacation after the houseful of hairspray and fingernail polish he's been growing up in.

But I do believe in raising strong young adults, no matter their gender. That doesn't necessarily mean that I expect my kids to all be CEOs someday; it means that I want them to make their own decisions and find their bliss and know that anything is possible.

Does that mean I'm a feminist? I don't know.

My kids have had ringside seats to my own changes as an adult. I went from working in an office to being a stay-at-home mom to working from home and running my own business and becoming a writer. I've had a role as a traditional homemaker that morphed into being both the stay-at-home parent and breadwinner.

I believe in leading by example and that was never more true than when my husband died.

I knew that I had a choice. I could fall into the despair that was threatening to swallow me or I could show them that happiness was something that you have to work for sometimes - but it's worth the fight.

And one of the reasons I believe that is because no one told me that I couldn't be exactly what I wanted to be.


One of the things that Hillary Clinton mentioned as one of Donald Trump's attributes is that he's raised children who are obviously very loyal. Actually, with both candidates that's true - each seem to have kids who think the world of them.

But knowing how Donald Trump feels about women (yes, I know that he loves them) has made me wonder what it was like to grow up with him as a father. I know that with my own parents I always had a fear of disappointing them and pleasing them still makes me feel good.

But my dad is no Donald Trump.

My parents are still married and  have a good relationship (unless my mom is reading a map on a road trip) and I'm extremely close to both of them. Even as a 40-year-old woman, their opinions are valuable to me. And as I watched and listened to videos of Donald Trump talking about his daughter, saying that he would date her and allowing someone else call her a "piece of ass" it got me to would I feel if my own father said that?

Actually thinking of my dad on Howard Stern in the first place makes me want to throw up a little.

Of course, Donald Trump isn't the first dad to say stuff like that. Remember when Joe Simpson talked about about Jessica Simpson's breasts? If you don't, you probably don't read Us Weekly on a regular basis like I do. But I can guarantee that every woman who read that cringed just a little.

Knowing how I feel about my parents and hoping that I'm a good daughter, it made me wonder what it was like to grow up as Ivanka (and Tiffany who has been MIA during most of this campaign). Did she feel like she had more to prove as a business woman - or as a woman in general - because Donald Trump was her dad? Knowing that he probably thinks that there are capable women out there who can't get very far without being beautiful...did she thank her lucky stars that she's as lovely as she is? Did she have to work harder than her brothers to gain his respect in the business world?

I don't know. But during this whole campaign, my heart has gone out to her a little.

Now, for all of you out there who are going to comment and say that she's an adult and she has a mind and a path of her own...I agree. But I also know that when you're completely ensconced in your family and have been brought up a certain way, it can be hard find your way out of it.

Especially when the world is watching.


As I explained my train of thought to my daughter, she nodded along.

"Can you imagine having a father who says things like he has about women?" I asked. "Can you imagine what that must have been like growing up?"

"No," she said.

"Well, what did you say to your friends when they told you what they thought feminism was?"

She thought for a minute. "Well, they think that being a feminist means that...well, that...."

"You're a bitch?" I offered.

She looked at me sideways, surprised that I'd actually said the b-word. "Yeah."

"What do you think it is?"

"I think it means I can do anything a guy can do."

Hells yes, you can.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I Don't Want my Daughter to be a Stripper for Halloween

It’s no secret that Halloween stores can be a little scary to walk into.  My 6-year-old daughter cowers on her way to the children’s section as things howl, move, and light up.  My son, a mellow and sensitive 8-year-old, pales a little when he looks at the costumes on the wall for boys his age, packages of costumes containing bloody hockey players and psychotic clowns.

But the scariest part of the store for me is the “tween” selection available to my 11-year-old daughter.

As a mother, I’m living my own version of American Horror Story.  My daughter is young enough that dressing up and trick-or-treating is still something she looks forward to, but old enough that the costumes like the friendly bumblebee or Strawberry Shortcake just don’t fit her anymore.  And while I’ve rolled my eyes in the past at the women’s selection in the adult area – French maids, sexy pirates, and alluring police officer uniforms – this year, looking at the costumes for teenage girls…my blood began to boil.

Because the only thing missing is a stripper pole.

It’s sexist.  There’s no other way to say it.  When I looked at the boy pirate costume, it looked like…well…a pirate.  But when I looked at the girl costume it looked like….

If, heaven forbid, my daughter had said she wanted to be a police officer for Halloween, we would have had to go to the male section of the store.  Because there is no way in the world I’d let her out of the house in this:

In the teen girl section, baseball players aren’t wearing uniforms, they’re wearing sporty cocktail dresses.  Candy bars aren’t boxy-cut material in the shape of the actual candy, but more like tight-fitting tank dresses well above the knee.  And as far as Supergirl goes…the majority of the material is used for the cape.

Now, I realize that I come from a relatively conservative background.  When I was dressing up for Halloween as a pre-teen (back in the day), my costumes centered around things I could find in my home – I was a bum or a rock star or something my dad could make out of a cardboard box.  But kids don’t really do that anymore.  Most of the costumes are store-bought and I can understand that when you’re an 11-year-old girl, it’s still fun to play dress-up every once in a while.  For 364 days of the year, my daughter is a regular middle school student but for one night, she just wants to be something else.  So it kills me to see her face fall when she looks up at that wall of costumes that are in her size because she knows I would never let her out of the house in any of them.

Actually, I wouldn’t even let her wander around her room in that stuff – as my grandmother would say, “They barely cover possible.”

Who are these people who think that it’s okay to objectify young girls this way?  Right now, I’m picturing a panel of men – not one father in the bunch – deciding on these designs and picturing young girls like my daughter wearing them.

And that has been the creepiest part of my Halloween this year.

This post was originally published in The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Being a Pro-American


When one sits down to write a blog on a Saturday night because one is stuck at home with a bad cold and one cannot breathe through their clogged sinuses, one doesn't usually expect to wake up a few days later and find that one's blog has been read by over 100,000 people.

But there you have it.

Frankly, right now I don't know whether I should take credit for that blog or bounce the attribution to Mucinex - it certainly did its part.

The last few days have been a mystery to me and as a woman who overthinks everything (yes, aren't you glad you're not dating me?), I've been trying to figure out why this took off. After all, I certainly don't consider myself a political expert and as I mentioned in the previous post, I shy away from those types of conversations.

So, it's somewhat ironic that after all of the writing I've done, a post about the 2016 election is what went viral.

And the Gods laugh.

What I wrote was true - this election has changed many of the conversations I have, especially with my kids. And as terrible as the hate and ranting throughout the media has been, I do appreciate that I'm openly talking to them about things like sexism, racism, and several other isms that we might have accidentally ignored, living out in suburbia the way we do.

What's fascinating to me is actually listening to them because they're smarter than all of us adults. I've told them many times that I wish the voting age could be lowered because our kids have a lot to say and they come from such an honest place. A 10-year-old has no hidden agenda when it comes to things like healthcare. She's just glad her doctor gives her a sticker when she leaves the office.

And it's actually exciting to me that we're raising a generation of kids who are more shocked to see someone smoking a cigarette than a same-sex couple walking hand-in-hand down the street. While these kids are often buried in their smartphones, they're also a more tolerant group (I've found) and because they spend so much time online, they're often more informed than we give them credit for.

When I listen to my kids...they're a lot like me. They're not Republicans. They're not Democrats. They want what's best for their community and country and discuss issues that don't pigeonhole them into a certain party. Like me, they're not pro-Hillary or pro-Trump (that would be obvious from my last blog).

They're pro-America.

Someone asked how I felt about Clinton in the comment section of my blog about Trump. And this was my response:

As a parent, I consider the issues on BOTH sides a "teachable moment." Honesty, integrity, kindness, and inclusiveness should be a given with our leaders...not something that we have to search so hard for. 

I truly believe it's a teachable moment for us all. We have to learn from this. Yes, it's a mess, but we can be better because it's happened. Maybe this moment in history is the catalyst that helps us usher in a new era of politics.

Too hopeful?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Thank You, Mr. Trump.

 I'm going to be honest. I don't identify with any party and, truth be told, I usually don't get into political discussions.

Brad (my late husband) didn't get into politics with people either, which I thought was interesting given the fact that he was ex-military and worked in the defense industry. And growing up I was taught that discussing politics or asking people who they were voting for was bad manners - how you voted should be private.

I still believe that.

But here's the thing. The world isn't like it was when I was growing up. I've watched what's going on with a mixture of disbelief, laughter, and fear. This last year has made me feel like we're all trapped in an never-ending episode of Scandal.

And that makes me sad.

No, Hillary isn't my favorite, but Trump is just...there are no words. But I do have to thank him for a few things.

1. Thank you for being such a bigot. I don't think that race relations have been discussed this much in my entire life. And while things have been volatile (and I'll agree that part isn't entirely your fault), you've made most of America fear that we're going backwards when it comes to civil rights. As a middle-aged white woman, I thought we'd come further than we have. I'm grateful that you've shown that I'm wrong. That just means that I have to help the change that should happen.

2. Thank you for being sexist. We all knew it, but you showed that "good old boys" are still out there. And I know you didn't mean to, but your idiocy has prompted many women to come forward with their own stories of abuse which should have happened long ago. You've united strong women because we know we can overcome men like you. We just needed you to force our hand.

3. Thank you for your nonsensical double-standard. Hang on. I need to outline this one.
  • For blaming Hillary for her husband's infidelities when you're a philanderer yourself. And when has a man EVER been blamed for his wife's indiscretions?  
  • For marrying an immigrant and then closing the doors.
  • For marrying a woman who posed provocatively throughout her modeling career. I'm not judging her. But you've, once again, proven what a racist nation we are. If Michelle Obama had had this kind of career, Barack wouldn't have been elected to town council, much less the highest office in the nation.
  • For commenting on the appearances of others, especially women. No one is perfect and if you think you are...well...I guess all I can say is I wish I had your mirror.
4. Thank you for testing my patience. I can turn you off. But I've had to listen to others who believe in you.

5. Thank you for testing my friendships. The last few months have been interesting. You see, I'll get together with my friends over a glass of wine and discuss kids and schools and what's going on in the community. Rarely do we get together and talk about how we feel about other races, abortion, abuse, and other issues that really define who we are. Since you've been on this path, I've learned more about my friends than I ever wanted to know...but really should have. Now I know who is willing to sweep sexual assault under the rug, who doesn't think immigrants have a place here, who thinks that any race is inferior, and who thinks that being a woman is a joke.

6. For helping me teach my kids valuable know like being a good person, helping others, that you should always watch what you say, and that you can be guilty by association (Billy Bush is learning that a little late in life). And that making fun of anyone doesn't make them just makes you look like an ass.

So, Mr. Trump, despite the fact that you', you've actually done some good. I think you've inspired a time of growing pains that will be painful, but in the end we'll be stronger for it. We've all known that our political system is flawed, but until you came along we didn't know how bad it was.


Now, go away.