Monthly Archives: September 2009

Declutter that clutter

Ever since I can remember, I have grown up in clutter and I remember saving everything – from the first note I wrote to a boy or got from a boy to stickers – I had a sticker collection. As I have grown up and established a home of my own with limited space to work in and kids’ things, I am growing EXTREMELY weary of clutter. From coupons, receipts, and paper statements/bills to the clothing and assorted cheap toys, I am taking a new stand to rid my home of clutter. My mom has tons of trinkets all over her home from plastic flowers to tiny collectibles and no real display case to appropriate store them, so they end up at odd places all over the house. My in-laws’ home is the same- of course, each collectible carries a sentimental feeling. Who knows? Maybe I will save my daughters’ projects but somehow I doubt it. I also do not mind saving things but believe it should be saved appropriately. I just recently started throwing away things that once meant something to me as well. This is my firm belief: All of the sentimental items can fit into one box – if not, it is time to go through it and declutter. For example, I still have my scrapbook from high school – that fits into one box but there are boxes all over with things in them and I have recently started consolidating. Last year, I got rid of a stuffed animal my college boyfriend gave me… I knew it was time to let go and move on.

In any case, my new resolution which is a continuing resolution is to ensure whatever space I can declutter, stays decluttered. This involves going through closets and other neat hiding places and trying to either consolidate all items, throwing some stuff out, and donating others. It involves marking boxes and knowing where everything is. I know it is tough to actually execute this plan because with the kids and life, something always gets in the way. This weekend I will be gone again so my goal is that by January, all my clutter is either identifiable, thrown away, or donated to someone who may appreciate the clutter more than me. Here’s to living 2010 somewhat clutter-free and imparting the same values to my children.


The Cost of Shattering the Glass Ceiling

When African-Americans received the right to vote and desegregation occurred in this country, I do not think anyone thought about a negative cost of that glass ceiling breaking- in fact, except for bigots and racists, it was a win-win for the economy and the individuals who won that right. However, the same cannot be said about women entering the workplace especially entering traditional male jobs, including athletics and the military. In fact, I think across this country as women excel in all career fields to become CEOs, CFOs, Olympic gold medal winners, and Generals in the Army, there is a cost.

I initially wrote this blog as a big whine on the military and how unfair it is to women, especially those who are trying to raise kids and find work/life balance. However, someone was wise to point out to me that the cost of breaking the glass ceiling does not exist for just women in the military, it occurs across the board. From the woman who has to travel for work three to four days a week, work extra hard to get the same position on the board as the man, the athlete who cannot take her infant with her due to antiquated rules in the Olympics, to the woman who deploys for six months or more, leaving her infant child behind, it seems that everyone is making a sacrifice. In the case of women earning their place in society, the corporate world, athletics, and/or the profession of arms, there does seem to be a cost and everyone is bearing it.

It is not easy to leave behind an infant in the middle of nursing to go fight a war on foreign soil, likewise, it is tough to ask for a leave of absence from work for more than a few weeks especially if you work for a Corporation and the way to get ahead is to be seen and present. It is tough for an athlete to take a break from the sport and even after returning, to take breaks to go nurse a child. Moreover, athletics takes a toll on nursing as well – it can reduce breast milk production. Whether we choose to admit it or not, there is a glass ceiling and while we as women strive to break it, this comes at a cost to our families and ourselves. Many women decide early on to make the sacrifice – to not return to work, to give up their careers and their passion because of another equally important passion – being a full-time mother. Others cannot or choose not to do so. I am still surprised to learn of antiquated practices in the workplace- whether professional, blue collar, or otherwise. Many workplaces are family unfriendly. While our government has attempted to make strides in family-friendly practices including alternate work sites, part-time and alternative work schedules, there are those employers and corporations out there that have not- it is a traditional male work place mentality: Work here, or take vacation; work when we tell you to instead of just getting the job done; and work under the conditions provided – no lactation rooms, or private rooms for pumping. It is interesting how many more employers are family friendly and yet, the glass ceiling remains along with an equal number of employers who refuse to change with the times. Whether it is because they choose to overtly discriminate is another story but if they are not forced to change, why would they? After all, it would involve changing a culture- a mindset.

The military, for example, has regulations and laws which require a woman to be deployable (in shape, immunized, and so on), within 6 months of childbirth. It is not six months post-partum to “start getting ready” – No! The Regulations are clear: be ready to DEPLOY 6 months from the date of childbirth. After all the statistics on child bearing and nursing, why should a mom be deployed for 4 months after a mere 6 months of nursing and being with her baby? That makes no sense. There are no accommodations made either for the nursing moms in many professions. You cannot take your child along with you or let him or her stay with you. Many corporations will not pay for childcare or the child’s ticket if he or she travels with mom. Why should they when they can get away without paying for it in the case of a man travelling instead of a woman? There is no incentive for an employer to make special cases for a woman and the employer who is family friendly tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

Despite the fact that studies indicate breastfeeding and remaining with a child at least 1 year after birth improve the child’s immunity and well-being, we choose as a society to ignore medical and health science and instead of working with the mom, offer her a choice: feed your baby, remain with your baby OR excel in your career by being more like a man. Well, if it were that simple, it would be very easy. It is not. Biologically, if men could nurse a baby, then, what a different world we’d be in! Unlike the racial barrier, the gender barrier is harder to overcome. In race, there are no biological differences per se except skin tone. In gender, there are. And therefore, for better or worse, there remains this cost of our attempts at breaking the glass ceiling and no matter how far we get or what we achieve, we still face these costs – whether that cost comes in the form of our emotions, our children, our spouses, our healthcare, our social programs and … our society!


Born Lucky

Based on the movie, Osama, which I saw recently, I really got to thinking about how lucky we are to be born in a certain country, to certain parents, and the opportunities we receive along the way in our lives. More importantly, I felt very lucky to be born a woman here in America.

I am not saying other countries are beneath us or have nothing to offer. I am merely appreciating the opportunities, rights, and privileges that I have here that perhaps women and men in other countries do not get to realize. This movie is eye opening and paints a picture of life in a Taliban-run Afghanistan and all the restrictions and horrific things that happened as a result especially to the people of Afghanistan. People were not allowed to celebrate weddings, dress in beautiful garb, sing, speak out against the Government, and women were not permitted to show their feet, hands, and ultimately, while the movie ends tragically, it really paints a picture of how horrible it was and still is to live under this regime.

Sure, every religion has its share of issues and a history of causing death and destruction but it made me realize that even in modern day, religion makes people do some pretty horrible things including stoning, death by firing squad, and worse. In this movie, they also showed the harsh reality of some cultures – wedding extremely young girls to very old mullahs or older men. In the name of religion, people abuse others and think it is acceptable to lower the self worth of others. Of course, I feel blessed to be born in a country where I can be what I want, wear what I want, and my self worth is not defined by my religion, caste, or my gender. It is a worth watch movie but definitely troubling on many levels and made me think of my young daughters and how lucky they are too. There were some good portions of the movie where people help each other and cover for each other especially when the Taliban are coming down hard on people for just living life. In any case, it was an eye opening movie to watch to understand how the Taliban devalues women in turn, disrespects God and Allah himself through their actions. Like some movies stay with you, Osama will stay with me for sometime to come.


Operation "Lunch Out"

Well, it had to happen…. my husband and I had not had dinner out alone or lunch out or even a meal together alone for about 8 weeks now… in fact, you could say we have not had minutes alone together in quite some time. If one daughter is sleeping, the other one wakes up, and so on – you can imagine our frustration that we have not had alone time. Of course, other factors get in the way too – work, illness, injury, and other duties in life. But, we knew it was time so we planned last week for a week of dates this week. Last week, my in-laws were in town and now, next week, my mother is arriving followed by the arrival of my dad a few days later so we knew our window was shrinking.

So, we planned it and executed our mission and low and behold- it was a huge success! I say huge success because you do not realize how precious these moments truly are until you are singing and excited about a lunch alone with your husband. We met Bagali’s in Broomfield and it was nice. We beat the lunch crowd and had a nice sit down meal – we were able to talk and engage in conversation without the TV, dishwasher, washer and dryer, and the kids going … it was great! I think it’s really important to have some time alone – quiet time, to talk, and just engage in each other’s lives without interruption and privacy. In any case, Operation “Lunch Out” was a success and with any luck, we will get to meet again this week and enjoy another date before our house dynamic gets mixed up yet again.


Furnishings Update

Well, looks like we finally did it- we bit the bullet and finished our basement last month and did a lot of moving in but organizing is still left to do. This past week, I bit the bullet and put a dent in our budget again by shopping for furniture. The furniture shopping was prompted by a bad bed and my back pains associated with it. So, I decided it was time to get a new Queen bed for my infant daughter’s room. This will be a temporary placement as I am sure in another 18-24 months, my two daughters will want bunk beds and sleep together – I hope so anyway. In any case, a good bed is a necessity – it is a must for me.

So, I made the trek to Furniture Row and during this trip, as you can tell from the blog before this one, ENDURO WHAT?, I went ahead and got an enduro suede(R) sofa- the Malibu (after much angst and changing my mind that is). I also got the Durango Queen mattress from Denver Mattress. I am happy to report that we are now a Furniture Row home as all of our mattresses are Denver Mattress and all of our furniture is too. Of course our dining room table is from American Furniture Warehouse but we got a great deal on it. In any case, I took delivery of all the pieces yesterday and had the delivery guys put the old items in the basement. We got new mattress pads and comforter sets too – Wal-Mart is a great bargain! Everything looks great and I am so far pleased with everything. I even woke up refreshed and without back pain from the new bed. It may be time to call in my warranty on the King-size Durango that seems a little dented in with a big speed bump in the middle where little or no use was received during both my pregnancies. In any case, I am excited to see that the basement will get much use in the coming weeks. We have my sister-in-law coming this week along with my in-laws for 6 days. I am excited that everything is ready in time for their arrival. The bathroom is ready for use as well down in the basement. This provide a good testing ground of the basement space and how it works with our family dynamics as well. All in all, I am pleased with the purchases thus far and look forward to continued use. Opinions mean a lot to me so I will be intrigued to see what my in-laws think and my mom too – my parents arrive in less than four weeks as well. Let’s hope the basement was a good use of our money… time will tell.

December 2009, Update on Enduro-Seude Couch from Sofa Mart:
Okay, not pleased due to the dry winters in Colorado, as you can see from my blog, ENDURO WHAT? I am getting a lot of hits on this fabric and static and cleaning tips and I gotta say that while it is super easy to clean this couch, it is a royal static machine. You can literally see sparks on it despite what you use on it. When it first arrives from Sofa Mart, it is coated nicely with something but a few months later especially in Colorado (altitude + dry), you can really see the static cling and it is annoying at best. I do not recommend it at all! Get leather or fabric if you can.