It is all over the Internet, on social media, and the center of conversation this past week due to the terrible shooting tragedy in Oregon. Guns. Should guns be banned? I am not one to get into politics on this blog and I respect all (or most opinions) but it is starting to feel like there is not a place in the US that is actually safe. As a 7 month pregnant woman, I think about these things differently now.
What will it be like for my little boy to go to elementary, middle, high school and college? Even separate from that I think about it in grocery stores, movie theaters, malls, and almost any public area. Whatever the conversation is about banning guns, focusing on mental health, making more laws about having licenses and permits, or classes and training — something has to change. I am not going to get into solutions or politics. Whatever the solution (there has to be one) that can mean that Americans can still feel free. That is what concerns me the most — the fear of going about your daily life when shootings continue to increase. How is that freedom? Whether it is a shooter that kills one person or a shooter that kills many, the act of shooting a human with a gun does not equal freedom for the innocent victims and their families.
Among quite a few organizations that are trying to raise awareness for gun conversations, I came across “Not One More.” It is an organization that shares the stories of those who have lost loved ones through gun violence. Not One More is fighting for safer communities. Who does not want that? Who does not want to feel safe and free? Regardless of our political views we should all want the same end goal. Freedom and safety for ourselves and our loved ones.
I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.
You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.
Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).
This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.
It seems like every time I travel I come home and have some story about crazy passengers, annoying TSA agents, and just the overall experience of flying the [un]friendly skies. Yes, I am picky, but I also think we’ve lost the service out of customer service… which means the customer is left hanging. As companies fight for market share what many are finding is that service is actually what sets many companies apart. Think Zappos or Nordstroms.
I just came across this story back from May 2015 where Southwest Airlines elevated their service game. After reviewing a few articles about her story, here is a recap of what happened:
A woman is on a Southwest plane flying from Chicago to Columbus finds out her son is in a coma after an accident. The plane turns back to the gate and the flight attendant asks her to get off. At the gate they told her to call her husband. She finds out that her son, who lives in Denver, is in a coma after a head injury. This is what Southwest does:
_Offered her a private waiting area
_Rerouted her luggage
_Allowed her to board first
_Packed a lunch for when she got off the plane in Denver
_Her luggage was delivered to where she was staying in Denver
_She received a call from Southwest asking how her son was doing
Amazing right? Yet, should it be? I wish we did not think that was stellar service. I want that to be the normal type of service that we can expect. How often does this type of tragic thing happen to folks? Often. People travel to sick, hurt, and dying loved ones, but so often we do not know their story. The morale is — how can we raise the bar and make what Southwest did for this woman the norm?
I am on a pumpkin trend. Last week I shared these Flourless Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips. This week we tried a savory dish for dinner: Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It was good — depending on how much you like pumpkin. I like pumpkin but if we made this recipe again we would tweak it. We would put in less pumpkin and more cheese. The sauce could have been a bit creamier, so I think we would have played with the sauce a bit more.
The breadcrumbs on top softened the heavier pumpkin flavor — the breadcrumbs are a must!
Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
12 oz. dried whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 quart baking dish with 1 Tablespoon of the butter. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well and return to the pot.
While macaroni cooks, melt remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Whisk in milk, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add pumpkin and cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until creamy, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Pour sauce over macaroni and stir to coat. Transfer macaroni to the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and oil. Spread evenly over pasta. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and macaroni is heated through.
Of course preparing myself to have a baby boy has me thinking of a lot of different ideas. I always thought it would be easier to raise a girl than a boy — for the simple fact that I am a girl and it felt more relevant to me. Having said that I have never really been a girly girl (nevermind the few years growing up that I was adamant that my sister play Barbies with me). Then I had to grow up fast and, well, my most girly girl self was replaced with real live survival.
Of course I enjoy a bit of dressing up — you know once every year, where I bring out those uncomfortable high heels, and Chris oohs and aahs, and then those shoes collect dust in the back of the closet. I am and always will be most comfortable with myself when I am comfortable. Flip-flops, comfy outfits, and hopefully all that just falls in the background so that others see just me. Not what I am wearing or how it fits. As none of that really matters. I digress — this blog post’s intent is nothing about that at all.
Over the weekend, I came across this article “Why Boys Need To Play With Girl Toys Too” and I thought I wonder what Chris thinks of that? No matter at the moment, because whether he is okay with it or not, the message that I left with that I want to bring in to our parenting (we’ll talk Chris) is that I want to teach my son to care. For some that may mean a boy playing with a doll, or maybe it is about nurturing an animal or pet, whatever the vehicle I want to make sure to show my son how to care. That in my mind starts with Chris and me. For a long time he will watch us, emulate us, and learn the way of the world from our example. If he wants to play with dolls and we do not let him, that sends him a message. You get the point.
And in the end, while I have not really even started this raise-a-child thing, I can tell you I was one (with not the best childhood), and I spent from the age of 9 – 23 babysitting, working in day cares, and nannying — what matters most is that you show them you care. You do this by being present, listening, and appreciating what they have to say. By showing you care, they respond and show that to others. To me that is what matters most.