My 2 Cents

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Wow, I can’t believe the last time I posted was almost five months ago!

Lots has happened since then, and the next few months are going to be super busy for this little family of three. I will try to keep everyone posted, and hopefully after the transition I can begin to blog more often!

What’s the transition you ask? Well for those of you who don’t know, The Other Half has recently gotten a new job! He starts in about 10 days. Wow – that seems so soon. We have been here in North Carolina for almost five years now. We thought we would stay here indefinitely, but recently we decided that we would try to move back towards home. Randomly, luckily – and much sooner than expected The Other Half (THO) found a job in Hershey, PA. He starts soon. Peanut and I will be sticking it out down here until the end of summer school though. I can’t leave my students at this time of year, and Summer School is REALLY good money! I can’t pass it up. We are super excited for this new chapter in our lives. We are glad to be moving closer to home, family and friends. I am ecstatic that Peanut will be able to grow up knowing her family, and not just seeing them a few times a year.

In addition to the move, we have decided that I am going to be a SAHM once we relocate. I am looking forward to this, but am also a little apprehensive. I have literally worked since I was 15 in at least some capacity (except for maternity leave when Peanut was born). I can’t wait to spend time with my daughter, and watch her learn and grow. She is growing so quickly, and I swear she gets funnier everyday! On the other hand, I feel as though I will be losing a bit of my independence. As I go through this transition, I am eager to see if the grass is really greener!

Gotta go! Lots to pack.

What transition are you and your family going through? How are you coping? Please share!

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Yes I’m Atheist. Yes I celebrate Christmas. I know – that seems like a contradiction.

I was raised Episcopal, and married in a Catholic church. I didn’t become an Atheist until after I married. Our family has always celebrated Christmas.

For me, even as a child, it was never really about religion though. Jesus wasn’t really the reason for the season. I remember being very little and going to church on Christmas, but I don’t think I really understood it. I think my brother and I were even in the Christmas pageant once or twice. We just thought it was fun. To give you a little idea of how religious we were, we walked into a store one year, and there were statues of the three wise men up as decorations – my brother yelled “Hey Dad, check out the gypsies!” Clearly we didn’t even know the basics.

As kids we loved to see all the Christmas lights. We loved decorating the tree. And year after year, I remember pulling ornaments out and talking about where we got them from, or who made them, and what memories they remind us of. I remember our neighborhood used to have a luminary and we would all walk up the hill and sing Christmas carols around a bonfire. Then Santa would come on the fire truck and pass out candy canes. I remember playing with my brother’s train set for hours. We set it up so it goes around the tree. It used to have little people and lights and a train horn. I’m pretty sure we used to try to run the cat over with it! I remember waking up on Christmas day and sitting at the top of the steps with my brother waiting til our parents woke up so we could get up and open presents. We had to wait for them to wake up so that they could make sure Santa wasn’t still there! I also remember trying to wake up in the middle of the night and catch Santa leaving presents. We left beer and cookies out for Santa one year, and still talk about how my brother drank the rest of the beer the next morning. I remember some of the presents that we got through the years. Some of the big ones like power wheels, a computer, and a puppy stand out. After all of the presents were opened, we always sat down for a yummy breakfast. Then we went to our grandparent’s house and my cousins, brother and I all got to check out our new toys. I remember my great grandmother always got me underwear for Christmas! Oh, and we always got some super comfy, super festive Christmas pajamas to wear on Christmas eve. I remember Mom always spazzing out about the Christmas decorations going up. She still does, and they always look so pretty. Dad would put tons of lights outside on the bushes. Or house always looked so pretty around Christmas.

My point is that Christmas is all about the memories we make with our families, and the time that we get to spend with them. I want Alayna to be able to have all of those memories. I want her to get to experience the magic of Santa. We aren’t going to overwhelm her with tons of presents, and we aren’t going to take her to church. But we can continue some of our family traditions, and create new ones.

Last Christmas Alayna was too little to understand anything. This year, she is still confused I think. But she loves looking at the lights, and taking all of the ornaments off of the tree. I think we put between five and ten back up each night. The whole bottom of the tree is bare. But to me, those are the things that we will remember, the stories that we can tell her when she’s older. She cried when we went to see Santa last weekend, but smiled once I picked her up off of his lap and let her see him again. We have a tree and a few decorations up in our living room – stockings and snowmen and a few Santa Clauses. We had a good time taking out our decorations this year. Pictures of Alayna from last year remind us of how much she has grown in such a short time. Some other decorations are pottery that the other half and I painted years ago when we lived in Arizona. To me, that’s the best part of Christmas!

To me:
Christmas is for family, especially the kids. It’s for making memories, and cookies! It’s for tradition, and excitment. It isn’t about religion or God to me. And for these reasons, this Atheist is going to continue to celebrate Christmas.

Okay, so I am finally so fed up that I feel the need to comment on this whole Penn State scandal. Usually I don’t care too much about big scandals like this. But for some reason, I feel some sort of connection to this one. Maybe it’s because I have had tons of friends that graduated from PSU, or the fact that my grandfather was also an alum. Or maybe it’s because of my connection to education as a teacher. Or possibly it’s because I have a child of my own now and I know how I would feel if she had been abused and no one did anything about it.

First of all, let me state that I am not a graduate of this university. I did however grow up hearing about JoePa and how terrific he was. My grandfather was a HUGE fan and religiously went to and watched the games. I remember wearing PSU cheerleader outfits when I was a kid, and sitting around with Poppy on the weekends rooting for the Lions. I also applied to Penn State and was accepted. To this day I still do not really know why I chose to go elsewhere. While I didn’t go there, I visited plenty. Even after college, I joined my friends who graduated from PSU for a few summers to visit during alumni/ArtsFest weekend. Needless to say, I always had a blast in Happy Valley. In fact, I would even venture to say that I might have more allegiance to PSU than to my own Alma Mater.

With all that being said, I can’t fathom why everyone is still supporting “JoePa” through all of this. He knew about children that were being abused and did nothing about it. And let’s be real, it wasn’t just abuse it was RAPE. I don’t care who he is or what his position is, he had a moral and legal obligation to tell authorities about what he knew. I don’t care how much of a legend he is or what good he has done for that school. I don’t care if he was afraid of losing his job. (He was already in his 70’s when this started happening. He could have easily been hired at another school, or retired.) Hiding something like this completely negates anything positive that he has done in my eyes. What a selfish, self serving JACKASS!

As for the school, I cant help but think that more people knew about this and did nothing. We all know how word travels through the work place. So far there have been so many people that we have heard of who knew what was happening. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plenty of others who knew as well. As an educator and as a parent, I know that children are sent to school to learn, but also because we view educators and teachers as advocates for children. We expect our kids to be safe when they are at school – whether that be daycare, grade school or college.

I’ve seen interviews and Facebook conversations that start out with “You just don’t understand what he did for the school…blah blah blah.” I say, what if those victims were your child, or sibling? How would you feel if that were the case? What would you think about Paterno and others hiding it then? Put yourself in their shoes. It’s one thing to support the students, and victims, but really people Paterno?!? As far as I’m concerned he is an accomplice.

The victims will have to live with the memories of the horrible things that were done to them for the rest of their lives. Quite frankly, I vote for a slow and torturous death to all those involved at the hand of the victims and their families. Those who knew or participated should have to suffer just as they inflicted suffering on others.

I remember my grandfather saying this often as I grew up. He would buy something from the store, use it a few times, and then it would break. Sometimes he just needed someone to blame for his own mistake, but lots of times he was right. The tool, or item really was a piece of crap.

Recently, I found myself saying the same thing as I yanked my inherited 1967 Electrolux vacuum out of the closet the other day. And, NO, that’s not a typo. It is every bit of 44 years old. But it is by far, the most AMAZING vacuum I have ever owned!

My Dad is a “rug man.” My family owns a flooring company that’s been in business for over 50 years.* I remember them going through vacuums like crazy when I was a kid. It seemed like everytime I went to work with my Dad, there was a new one. I remember Dad always saying, that when it comes to vacuums, just get a cheap one because they all work pretty much the same.

Then my stepdad came along and swore by this Electrolux. He used to sell20110901-083806.jpg them, and knows all about them. The one that he and my Mom had got too heavy for her to cart around. They bought a new one that was made of plastic and not metal, but still made by the same company (which is no longer called Electrolux**). So he asked me if I wanted the old one. He showed me how it worked, and all the parts and attachments. Honestly, at first, I thought he had this kind of crazy obsession with vacuums. After all, his theory on a vacuum was completely opposite of what I had been taught my whole life. But I figured I would give it a try.

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I have pets, 4 of them, and they are very furry. We also let them on the furniture. In the past ten years I have probably had between 5 and 7 vacuums. We currently have a Bissel vacuum, that is totally designed for pet hair. It’s a piece of crap! But I thought it was great until I tried the 44 year old Electrolux. I used to have to use the pet attachment from the Bissel and go over the couch 4 or 5 times to get all of the hair off, and then there was still some left. Now, I just stick the little brush on my Electrolux, and it sucks everything up right away. If the hair is really bad, I might have to go over an area twice. Another thing I have noticed is that when I vacuum the carpet, there is SOOOO much more that comes up!

For me it’s hard to go against my Dad’s philosophy, but I have realized that we use vacuums for two totally different purposes. When he puts a rug in, the carpets are clean and brand new. He just needs to get up the big bits of carpet that are easy to suck up, and vacuuming is just the finishing touch.  Who doesn’t love a freshly vacuumed carpet, especially when it’s brand new?!  As for me, I need to get up dog hair, crumbs, dirt, and everything else that life tracks in my house. Now I swear by the Electrolux. I’m sure you probably think I have some sort of crazy obsession with vacuums now too. But come try mine, you’ll be sold for life. Sorry Dad :(, but I think I’m sticking with the Electrolux.

* To all of my Southeaster PA readers: Dad’s business installs flooring of all types, for less than most chains. My grandmother still runs the showroom, and Dad, my uncle, and my brother install and do estimates. It truly is family owned, and operated. They may not be able to be there the next day, but they do an awesome job!

Check them out: L.H. Stewart Carpet & Sales. The phone number is 610-449-1914. Address is 61 W. Eagle Rd. Havertown, PA 19083.

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**Electrolux has a new name. If you are interested in buying a new vacuum they are manufactured by a company called Aerus. They are expensive, but you may never have to buy a new vacuum again. I can’t wait to see how much longer mine lasts!

I have had lots of comments and questions about my hair lately.  Justto make it perfectly clear, just because I don’t use shampoo doesn’t mean I have turned into a dirty hippie. Not that there is angthing wrong with that if it’s your style.  Even though I’m not using shampoo, I still wash my hair on a regular basis.

Grilled Teriyaki Tofu

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This is yet another recipe from my Whole Foods app.  I’m not typically a huge tofu fan, when it’s by itself, but this was super good!  I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, and served it over snow peas and rice.  I didn’t grill it though, I used the broiling option because it took a bit less time.  I would definitely recommend it, it was yummy and easy!

Serves 4

Use in sandwiches or wraps, or serve on a bed of sautéed veggies like spinach, carrots, bok choy or bell peppers.

Ingredients

1/4 cup low-sodium tamari
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Olive oil cooking spray
1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry, cut crosswise into 8 slices

Method

In a wide, shallow dish, whisk together tamari, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic. Add tofu, turn to coat all over, cover and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Pat tofu dry, then oil lightly with cooking spray. Grill over medium-high heat or broil on a foil-lined baking sheet until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

Nutrition

Per serving (about 4oz/106g-wt.): 80 calories (30 from fat), 3.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 4g total carbohydrate (0g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 7g protein

 

 

A note about the following post:  Everything here is copied verbatim from a letter I received and a copy of a letter that I wrote back in return.  I have changed some names or substituted the person’s relationship to me in parenthesis for privacy purposes.  I am open about this subject, and welcome comments/questions.  Discussing it helps me understand it better.

 

I received the following letter on a Saturday in November 2009.  I was 27 at the time.

Melinda,

You have turned out to be a beautiful young woman.  You have accomplished your goals.  It’s lucky you have (your stepfather) to thank because without him you would have never been able to attend college as you did.  I never thought you would ever speak to me in the manner you did in July.  Melinda you are only going on what you mother says and she is not always truthful to you or anyone else.  No one ever wants to think of their parent in a poor way, but you have many a time.  I recall all the phone calls when you were in college because you mother was drunk and wouldn’t stop calling your dorm.  I recall your mother punching you in the face on Christmas giving you a black eye and you going to your dads and having to lie for your mother.  I recall since I have lived in Maryland your calls as to your mothers wereabouts when she was drunk and refused to answer your calls.  So many times I can think of that I have been there for you.  My only concern is the continual lying your mother has and still does with you.  In 2002 after your mother left your dad for (your stepfather) you received a phone call from an unknown person stating that you were adopted and (your brother) was not.  This phone call was the truth.  Your mother has made your father lie to you all these years and it has been something that has bothered me forever.  What right does your mother have to withold information from you.  She wants to always look like the angel from heaven which she is far from.  Has she ever sat down with you and (your brother) and told you about the son she had and gave up for adoption befor she meat your father.  No caues your mother chooses to not think of the things she has done.  If you would like to know about your birth parents only I can give you this information because it was (?) and I that took care of your birth mothers transportation to Phila. for your birth.  Your mother even had the balls to call me and say if anything is wrong with this baby I don’t want it and your father stood ground and told her it was no different that had she given birth and what ever condition you arrived in you would be accepted as their own.  Only I know if you have other brothers and sisters, but you’ll have to ask for the information.  Even (your stepfather) told your mother it was time to stop lying to you and she still wont.  Your mother has played the game of being and innocent victim when in fact she is the one despensing all the heart ache.  She keeps and has kept everything a mistery about (your grandmother).  She feels that she is the only one that is owed anything.  I don’t want any of (your grandmother’s) belongings because its only material and (your mother) wished to invision herself as having so much money.  (Your mother) would have nothing if it weren’t for (your stepfather).  She has turned him into a scorned man just the same as (your grandmother) did to (your grandfather).  (Your stepfather) can’t even speak without first approval from your mother.  She may think she is gods gift to the world but I’ll tell you something she is a worthless piece of shit.  You go on and believe the crap she dishes out to you.  Your father, his mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncles, (grandmother), my daughter, everyone except you knows your adopted.  (Your grandmother) will play her supid game of I don’t know anything like she has all these years with our entire family.  If you ever wish to know about your birth family I am willing to tell you.

Now go call your mother so she can fucking lie to you again.  I’d call your gather first because I know he hasn’t been the one to hole this secret.  He only does so thru threats by your mother.  She even has the balls to tell everyone that if it weren’t for her your father won’t have a place to live.  She slaims she pays for the house not your father.

I’m sorry you have to learn this way, but you have choosen to follow your mother in her game of life that now there is no other way to tell you.  I’m sorry you missed out all these years of knowing the truth.

Aunt Deirdre

(my mother’s sister)

 

The following is what I wrote in response about 5 days later.

Deirdre,

I have had a few days to digest the information that was in the letter I received from you last Saturday.  There are many thoughts that have run through my mind.  I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions as well.  I have also had time to think about a lot of things.

First, let me say thank you for helping my parents with my adoption.  I truly am grateful for being given the opportunity to be raised by them.  While neither of them are perfect, they have both been great parents.

In addition, thank you for the times you’ve been there when I needed someone to talk to.  I know that I could call you and vent.  My fear is that you took much of my “venting” and temporary anger very literally.  Mom and I have had our differences; however I love her, and that will never change.  This isn’t about her though; it’s about what you did to me.

During our phone conversation on Saturday afternoon, you said that you never meant to hurt me, and that you had my best interests in mind.  But, you felt I had the right to know I was adopted.

I have really spent a great deal of time the last few days thinking, analyzing, and re-thinking this whole situation.  After a great deal of thought, I have come to the following conclusions:

1. You may not have meant to hurt me, but you knew you would.  Anyone with any sense could have figured that out.  Therefore, your main goal must have been something else.  I don’t know what, but judging from the comments in the letter it must be to get back @ mom.

2. As far as my phone number being changed, it’s been the same for over a year and a half now.  You had the number when you called me in July – remember?!  So, your claim of trying to contact me in other ways is a flat out lie as far as I am concerned.  My e-mail settings haven’t changed either.

3. I have been a “pawn” in the came of chess that you have been playing.  You even said on Saturday that giving my mother the “gift” of love and of a child may have made things better between you two.  So even in 1982, I was just an object to you-a peace offering if you will.

4. If you really did care about me, have my feelings in mind, or think about how this kind of news would have affected me, you wouldn’t have delivered it this way.  If you had any respect at all for me, and my knowledge of being adopted was the first thing on your agenda, then I wouldn’t have received a letter full of misspelled words, grammatical errors, and trashy language.  In fact, you would have left the decision to my parents.

5. The news, no matter how much you were involved in the adoption, was NOT yours to tell.  It wasn’t even your place to determine whether or not it should be told.

When it comes down to it, I have no Idea what your true intentions were.  All I know is what you did was malicious and cruel.  Not because being adopted is a horrible thing to find out, but the way you went about telling me was disrespectful and down-right mean.  As the parent of adopted children, you should have respected my parents decisions whether you agreed or not.

Finally, I’m fine with being adopted.  As of right now, I have no idea if I want to meet my birth mother.  She hasn’t tried to find me, so I don’t really see why I should look for her.  Plus, I love my parents and their flaws – probably even more now than I did before.

I have no desire to keep in contact with you.  I am tired of being a game piece.

Melinda

 

Most of what my Aunt said in the letter was true, but there were some complete fabrications.  I continue to feel pretty much the same way I did in my response letter.  I am still not sure whether I would like to meet my birth parents.  Although, it would be cool to see if my little one has any of my family’s features.  I still don’t speak to my aunt, nor does anyone else in my family.  Even almost two years later, some days it just hits me like a brick that I am adopted.  I guess that’s just what makes me who I am though.



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  • currans2cents: The original blog that sparked all of your angst was written purely as an OPINION piece. As you stated, we are entitled to have them. I truly am int
  • Mychal B.: It doesn't "seem" like you are only picking on JoePa, you ARE only picking on JoePa. Mike McQueary has received no disciplinary actions against him fo
  • Mychal B.: Um, I never claimed to understand anything about the war. I wasn't aware that the war had anything to do with this case. I also never said that becaus