Friday, April 21, 2017

A Cake Love Story

Alice and I had known each other for a few years casually. I finally got up the nerve to ask her out for Valentine’s Day and braced myself for what seemed like an inevitable rejection.

It came:


“I’m going to be out of town for Valentine’s Day. Sorry.”


Sure. Well, at least you tried to let me off easy. Thanks anyway.


“But if you’re willing to break tradition, I’ll still be around the day before Valentine’s Day.”


A Forgotten Unforgettable Walk


Being a poor college student without a car I had learned my lesson about walking on a date: it can be an absolute disaster. A cold, silent walk isn’t the best way to start things off, and more than one date was over before it began because of an icy conversation.


Well, this wasn’t one of those walks.


To this day, I have no idea what we talked about, but I remember how it felt: Warm.


I’ve heard conversations described as warm before, but I had never taken it literally. We were bundled up and it was below-freezing, but I never felt cold. Later I asked her if she was cold and she said, “Cold? It was unnaturally warm for February.” Well, no, Idaho doesn’t get warm in February, but a great conversation sure made it seem that way.


Impressive Cake


I was already smitten when we sat down for dinner. When I’m smitten, even the smallest things make deep impressions on me. That night, we had a steak dinner, and the waiter came to ask us what we wanted for dessert (by the way, you want great service for a Valentine’s Day dinner out? Go the day before Valentine’s Day. We basically had the restaurant all to ourselves). Alice studied the menu intently.


She pointed at a picture of a rich chocolate cake. “Wanna share it?”


How could I refuse?


I have been out with women who refused dessert because they were “Watching their figures.” Here, a woman who was attractive and fit was willing to indulge in something deliciously unhealthy. She didn’t count calories in front of me or wonder out loud how she was going to burn it off. Her confidence was extremely attractive.


There was no grand gesture or fabulous gift that night. Only a warm walk and great cake. Now, we only celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 13th.


Labels: A Cake Love Story

A First Time Dog Owner Needs to Know, is My Dog Bad or Bored?

I have had dogs and pets most of my life. I usually give my dog a lot of attention. This is one reason why I don’t have behavioral problems with my dog.

It usually can’t be helped when we have to leave our beloved dog home alone for periods of time on a daily basis. Have you ever had a dog that was completely bad when left alone? There are many bad behaviors that dogs can pick up. Dogs will do things like incessant barking, chewing on your belongings, and getting in the trash.


Your job as a dog owner is to not let these bad behaviors develop in the first place. Many times dogs exhibit this type of behavior because they are bored. I had to learn this lesson the hard way with my first dog.


My first dog friend was a little mixed breed dog. He was very smart. Both my husband and I worked, and our little dog had to fend for himself during the day. While we were away he would get into a lot of mischief. One of his favorite things was to get in the garbage and spread it all over our apartment. That was a completely disgusting habit that he developed. We never knew quite what to expect when we came home. He was pretty random in his destruction. One day we came home and found him wound up in the curtains. The curtains and grabbed him and wouldn’t let go. Who knows how long he had been trapped.


What we didn’t know was how bored and lonely our little dog got when we were not with him. He needed a lot more attention than he was getting. We learned that left to their own devices a bored dog will find things to do.


We learned things to do to help keep our dog happy. We provided him with toys to play with, and we would take him to the park for a romp. We also realized we couldn’t give him the run of the house until he learned to be respectful of our belongings. Eventually he grew out of his destructive habits. It takes a lot of patience and love to provide entertainment for your dog. They need daily attention and play time with their owners.


Dogs need to know from the beginning what the word NO means. Don’t let them develop bad habits like chewing on shoes. In fact a good thing to do is to put those shoes on your feet and take your dog for a walk. Both you and your dog will be a lot healthier and happier.


Source: Personal Experience


Labels: A First Time Dog Owner Needs to Know, is My Dog Bad or Bored?

5 Bold Eye Makeup Colors to Play With This Spring

As the long and dark days of winter give way to sunny skies and more bearable temperatures this spring, celebrate the change of the season with some bold new hues in eye makeup. Spring is the perfect season to play with bold and bright colors that will not only bring out your natural eye color but also lighten up your look.

Whether you want to freshen up your makeup for a special social event, or pull off the smoky eye look for date night with a twist, here are five bold eye makeup colors to play with this spring:


#1: Violet
Dark purple is always a top eye color trend for the Fall and winter months. If you don’t want to part with this sultry hue during the change of the season, lighten up to violet or lilac instead. Violet, lilac and even lavender eye shadow can really make brown and blue eyes “pop” and are a good match for many of spring’s lighter-colored ensembles.


#2: Turquoise
This tropical-inspired hue can add a fun and playful twist to your look Eye shadow in this color is a good match for blue and green-eyed gals. Use it to play up your natural eye color or to create a bold, head-turning look with a colorful smoky eye. Mix it with grey or silver for a muted version of this bright hue.


#3: Coral
If you have dark brown or light brown eyes, coral will bring out the color of your eyes and also warm up your skin tone for spring. Use darker coral shades as a base color right up to your eyebrows, then fill your lids with a lighter coral or pink shade for a playful, feminine touch. Complementary eye shadow colors include beige, tan, and shimmering gold.


#4: Champagne
If you’re going for a more natural look this spring, add a glamorous twist to your look by choosing a sparkling champagne color or silver eye shadow speckled with light pink glitter. Both of these eye makeup hues can help you create a clean and chic look, but with a twist. Pink champagne eye shadow also works well with ivory, light silver and some metallic eye shadows.


#5: Dark Green
Forest green or military green are also some bold and bright hues to play with this spring. The key to making these colors work for you is to only outline your eyes in the color, or use a darker green as the base when creating a smoky eye look. Avoid filling your lids entirely with green or your eyes will look like they’re bruised. Keep it simple and layer with beige, tan or light brown for a sultry, but spring-friendly look this season.


Labels: 5 Bold Eye Makeup Colors to Play With This Spring

A NEW PAIR of GLASSES

Suppose you were trying to view the world through distorted lenses, or a fogged window with bad window wiper blades. You may not see enough to steer you way out of danger. Your view would be distorted like the mirrors in a fun house. What is you were trying to maneuvers through life with emotions that were stormy and distorted? Your actions would be set limited by your limited view. Your actions may even confuse those sitting at a different angle and a different perspective. Those sitting at a different angle may actually see an entirely different picture. By changing the emotions, many problems look different, too.

Cognitive distorters are mental lenses that may not allow us to perceive people, places and problems in the same manners as other viewers. Defense mechanism are distorters that keep us from being bombarded by everything we encounter. Without these defenses, few of us would ever survive. However, without penetrating these defenses, few of us would ever change.


The most common cognitive distorted is ‘all or nothing” thinking. Everything is seen in “black and white” categories. Anytime your performance false short of perfect, you see yourself as a failure. This is a common excuse for not picking up the pieces and continuing the pursuit. Most of life is lived int he shades of gray. I you choose the wrong answer, simply choose again.


Over generalization is the twin companion to “black and white” thinking. You focus on every single event and see it as an “Always or Never” occurring process. This usually places the focus on the negative and views a never ending pattern of defeat.


Labeling is an extreme form of generalization. Instead of describing the problem, you become the problem. “I am no good,” or “I will never amount to anything .” When you label yourself or others you attack the identify instead of the behavior. Some examples are: “He is a jerk!” “She is not a team player!” These defensed contribute to problems instead of conflict resolution. Labeling is highly colored and emotionally charged, causing a chain of events and deflecting from the original problem, thus propagating the problem. This is one of the problems with stereotyping.


Deflection is a form of avoidance by diversion. Individuals quickly change the focus of the topic to escapes the discussion of their behavior. Isolation is another form of avoidance. By refusing to reveal the problem and individual does not take responsibility that would force action or a change. It also prevents getting the help that could assist in making the change .


Minimizing and Magnification occur when you over or under exaggerate the importance things like other’s “opinions” or your “achievements.” You may shrink or over inflate the importance of things and this will impact yourself and other’s in a negative way. This may sometimes be referred to as “binocular trick”


Projection is a type of denial in which your own unthinkable acts a passed on to another person.There is no conscious recognition of who really owns the problem. This is different from blaming. In blaming the individual owns the problem but, someone else is the cause. This is corrected by expanding your consciousness and having a guide.


Rationalization is just excuse making. There are many kinds of excuses and justifications for bad decisions, but the explanation does not fit why something happened in the first place. Intellectualizing is what appears to be a rational explanation, but keeps you from feeling the emotion that would lead you to action.


Should statements are the fathers of resentments. If you whip yourself and others into change, the emotional consequences are guilt and shame. Emotional reasoning does not reflect reality. Feeling like a failure does not make you a failure. Lack of action makes you a failure. Right feelings always follow right behavior.


Clean up the lenses you use to view the world and the entire picture may change.


Recommended read: “A new Pair of Glasses” by Chuck C.


Labels: A NEW PAIR of GLASSES

Are Prescription Weight Loss Drugs for You?

Weight Loss Medicine

The most common statement I’ve heard is, “I can’t I am dieting.” WebMD (www.webmd.com) is a great website to find tips on eating essentials, losing weight, anti-aging, and fact. vs. fiction. Most of my friends live a lifestyle most commonly termed dieting. I wanted to write an article that will help inform readers about weight loss, diet, fat, and foods. These are key words that the common girl, or guy will always hear.


Can Anyone Get Prescription Weight Loss Drugs?


Prescription weight loss drugs should be approved by your doctor, and should be used to treat obesity for individuals who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above. Make sure that you have no obesity related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease, gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout, breathing problems or a pre-existed strokes. If you do have an obesity-related condition you can use prescription weight loss drugs only if you have a BMI of 27 – 29.


Obesity most often requires a long-term commitment. Committing to exercising, diets, losing and keeping off the weight to maintain healthy weight loss is hard. Obesity can sometimes use a little help with the right guidance. All drugs don’t cure obesity. Most drugs specifically for weight loss are prescription, or over the counter. The weight loss meds usually tell you to eat healthy, exercise, and drink water. When you take the drugs they should be combined with physical activity and an improved diet approved by your physician.


Types of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs:


Meridia – is a short-term prescription weight loss supplement for diet and exercise. It is for obesity. It affects the chemicals in your body and helps maintain your weight with the help of healthy dieting and exercise. Important information about Meridia – be caution when you are driving or performing hazardous activities. Do not take other prescriptions and over the counter medications without consulting your doctor first. The medicines you should ask your doctor about are tryptophan, anti-depressants, depressants, cough suppressants, lithium, and migraine medicines.


Alli – is a weight loss program that is FDA approved. This is an over the counter drug weight loss drug that you can buy at approved stores. This product comes in capsules and comes with a myalliplan. It provides a guide to losing weight. Alli is not for everyone. Go to http://www.myalli.com/whatisalli.aspx to see if Alli is for you.


Xenical


*Xenical and Meridia are the only weight loss drugs that are approved by the FDA for obese people. It is not recommended to use for more than two years from the day you start using.


How Do the Prescription Weight Loss Drugs Work?


All prescription weight loss drugs must be approved by the FDA. Weight loss drugs do not suggest instant weight loss. They are appetite suppressants that trick the body. Appetite suppressors encourage weight loss by tricking your brain into thinking that it is not hungry, or full. When these prescription weight loss medicines decrease your hunger, or make you feel full, it’s because the chemicals serotonin or catecholamine affect your mood and appetite.


I hope that I’ve helped solve some of your questions about prescription weight loss drugs! Leave comments, and tell me about the weight loss medicines that you are taking. I would love to hear back from you!


Works Cited:


http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/obesity-health-risks


http://www.drugs.com/meridia.html


http://www.myalli.com/whatisalli.aspx


Labels: Are Prescription Weight Loss Drugs for You?

A Scary Story: The Ringer

The raspy screams of her dying grandmother reverberated in her head mercilessly. Celeste sat numb at the table, trapped in her own trance. A passing train howled into the night and merged with the cries of her cherished Gram. Focus was consumed by the horror in that hospital tonight. The oppression of this late-July humidity trapped everything. It crushed the sweltering heat back inside the old house. It relinquished no space for sweat to escape her suffocating body. It held these tortured thoughts inside her skull as an amniotic caul traps a newborn face without breath.

Doorbell! Startled from her stupor, Celeste jumped up. Ding-dong! Like the Avon commercial. But it was almost midnight. No Avon Lady stood out there. Why did Kurtis leave her alone tonight? Doorbell! For a second Celeste grasped hopefully at relief. Kurt must be home! She hurried to the enclosed back porch expecting to see her husband. Angry or not, she needed it to be him. Silence waited outside the screen door.


A chill slithered over her body. The train called its farewell from further down the track. Doorbell! But now it was the front door. Again she grasped at the straw of relief. “He must’ve thought I wasn’t coming to the back and ran around front.” Celeste raced to open the door, praying to see Kurtis. Nothing. She stared into the night. Oh God, was the heat making her hallucinate? She felt lightheaded and wanted to call her mother. Or anyone. But there was no phone. The doorbell was ringing again. In back. She bounded breathless to the back door.


“KURTIS!” she called hard. Anger and desperation gave her voice an edge she usually wouldn’t show him. No one answered. No one appeared. Very softly, almost a prayer, she whispered into the night, “Kurtis?” Her lone unanswered voice brought a shiver. Her heart was a mad drummer in a padded cell. She noted that the little latch was hooked. Celeste stepped from the back porch into the kitchen again, dabbing at sweat with her skirt. Her eyes locked on the black wall phone, willing it to work. Celeste lifted the heavy receiver and dialed 0 for operator. If anyone answered, she’d ask for the police. But all she held to her ear was deadness. Ding dong! Front doorbell again. Celeste stood her ground this time.


“Damn it, damn it! God forgive me for swearing.” Thoughts crowded her brain, fighting for dominance. She couldn’t clear a path, find a way out. “Why did Kurtis have to lose another job? Now our phone’s cut off.” Celeste remembered their excitement, knowing he’d be home from Vietnam for the new baby, active duty complete. He’d been home three months and lost two jobs already. Kurtis had always been moody, but there was something else now. Something he never spoke of. Something that gave him nightmares and made him glare at her from dark recesses in his mind. They had two baby boys and Celeste wasn’t yet twenty-one. She gripped her spinning head to hold her sanity in, but all she got was her grandmother’s screams mixed with the insistent screaming doorbell.


Celeste heard her mother’s desperate pleas to the nurse, obliged to withhold Gram’s pain shot for another hour, “God Almighty! My mother’s eighty-one, and her leg’s been amputated. She’s dying, she’s in agony, and you’re worried she’ll become a drug addict?!” Celeste heard those weird awful crackling noises in Grammy’s chest, like a radio slightly off-station, turned real low. Aunt Bev called it the death rattle. Death Rattle! Celeste thought, “Like some primitive medicine man in there with his painted face and animal skins, shaking a gourd full of snake rattlers. The Death Rattle. But it won’t scare Death away. It calls it in. This can’t be happening!”


Ding dong! Ding dong! “Hail Mary, full of grace, help me, help me!”


Celeste thought of neighbors. But in this huge Victorian, her family had the ground floor. To reach upstairs apartments, she’d have to go outside. Couldn’t risk it. Couldn’t leave her babies. She slipped into the boys’ room and touched both sleeping sons, damp with sweat, sucking their tiny thumbs. Their worthless fan resigned to blowing hot air around.


Kurtis acted mad having to stay with Nate and Sammy while Celeste went to the hospital tonight. When she returned like a zombie, he bolted for a drink. Why tonight?! Oh God, please stop ringing that doorbell!!”


Back door now. Celeste gathered her feeble courage and faced the screen door. She peered deep into the dark behind her house, barely squeaking out, “Who’s there?” She was shaking as she reached for the handle. As if hypnotized, Celeste touched the little latch. She had to see what lurked outside. She had to know. But a sense of movement to her left intervened. Celeste leaned into the screen enough to catch a glimpse of white pressing against the house, like the shoulder of a t-shirt. Like Kurtis was wearing. Was that his breathing inches away? Celeste was desperate to see who was tormenting her, but the realization that Death might stand so close she could hear his breath, so close he could grab her wrist the instant she lifted the latch… OH GOD! Her hand recoiled with serpentine reflex. Was that a white-shirted figure moving through shadows, turning his head toward her? Celeste shrank back.


Doorbell! Celeste was frantic. The thought that this might be Kurtis gripped her. She knew he was troubled since Vietnam. More brooding and secretive, but he claimed family was his life. Even in his darkest moods Celeste couldn’t believe Kurt would be this malevolent while her precious Gram lay dying. In this moment of dread, with the doorbell ringing, ringing, one thought paralyzed her: There was a maniac outside her door. Or her own husband, trying to make her think there was.


Doorbell! But this time, when she looked out, the tall slender man on the front porch was Kurtis. Celeste broke. Screaming through tears,” Why did you do that?!” Accusations flew. Defensive denials reared. Kurtis showed more annoyance than concern, but she wanted to believe him. She needed to believe the man who slept beside her each night was not capable of torturing her like this. Especially tonight.


Night crawled through sweat and snippets of hell. Illusive figures breathing in darkness. Grammy alone in the woods, unable to find water. Celeste clawing at webs.


Morning brought the news. Grammy had passed peacefully around 1 AM. It was over. At least this part. The rest of her life, missing her beloved grandmother, her link with history, had just begun.


But the unresolved lay roiling beneath the surface. Seeds of doubt and fear had been planted. No matter how much denial she poured on the growing stench, there was no way to stop the decomposition or unring this doorbell. Was the young man who shared her bed and her life going through post-war turmoil that time might heal? Or had some monster been created, capable of unspeakable torment, growing in strength each night, feeding on her fears? She didn’t dare look too deep, except in her unraveling dreams.


Sources:


Actual experience


Labels: A Scary Story: The Ringer

Activities for the Family to Enjoy in Columbia, MD

Columbia, MD is a pretty little town with lots of fun activities for families. Bike paths weave in and out of the town in an almost spiderweb-like framework, connecting you to all the places you would want to go. There are five lakes that are each a host to free concerts in the summer and are stocked with bass for those whose passion is to share their next fish story. There are ten village centers, each with a shopping area and a community hall. There are also 170 tot-lots and playgrounds for the really little ones to enjoy.


If you are interested in concerts and fesitvals, one of the most prominent festivals is the Columbia Festival of the Arts. A two week long festival of music, art and dance from around the world, it has featured prominent international performers. Many of the performances are free so children get an opportunity to see unique styles of dance and art and listen to international songs. They also participate in hands-on activities specially designed for them. The Boat Float allows residents to design their winning boat floats and show off their hard work. The competition is quite stiff. The Wine in the Woods Festival affords adults an opportunity to taste various wines from the region, sample different wares and enjoy picnics with serenades from live performers. The children enjoy the performances and the face painting, balloon animals, and the occasional juggler that may wander their way. The Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts internationally acclaimed artists and concerts of various genres of music. The International Day offers up ethnic foods, art, music, dance, and artifacts.


For those who are interested in theater, there is Toby’s Dinner Theater that offers up a smorgasbord of wonderful musicals complimented by tasty meals. The acting is great and the cooks divine. Howard Community College’s theater center and the Jim Rouse Theater, also provide great entertainment. Local societies offer a series of films for the residents. If your taste is more contemporary, you might want to watch a movie at one of the two large movie theaters.


For the daily things to do, why not take the children (ages 6 weeks to 10 years) to Playwise Kids where they can indulge in creative play. There can shop (pretend of course), keep house, paint, play piano, and tap dance. If you prefer, the Columbia Association provides a gym membership that includes swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), roller skating, ice skating, tennis, raquetball, martial arts, weight lifting, aerobics and fitness classes, a special room with exercise equipment and a rock climbing wall specifically for children, and batting cages. The list is almost endless and the price is great. There is also a discount buying service that allows you to get tickets to area events at a discounted price.


There are more things to do, but you need to come to Columbia and see for yourself. Bring your bike, enjoy the view.


Labels: Activities for the Family to Enjoy in Columbia, MD

Academic Achievement in Girls Can Lead to Bullying by Other Students

Bullying and teasing in the high school setting has continued to be a significant psychological and social complication. With the dynamics of bullying and teasing running a full spectrum, school counselors struggle to manage the complication effectively especially when it affects the most academically talented female students.

Even before high school, the foundations for bullying and teasing are established with many children exposed to the risk in grade school and middle school. With girls more often affected than boys, the long term ramifications of teasing can extend well into adulthood, impairing self-esteem. As the parent of a child who is about to enter into high school, it is important to understand the underlying foundations by which most children will tease one another.


In the simplest of terms, teasing and bullying occurs on three foundations: competency, appearance and height-weight proportions. If you child falls outside of the “norm” in any of these areas, she may be at-risk for teasing or bullying by other students. Where your child may have once been full of self-esteem and confidence, the onset of bullying and teasing can destroy everything you have built into your child, resulting in a profound occurrence of negative peer interactions.


Aggression and social withdrawal are quite common in the child who is experiencing teasing and bullying at school. If you begin to notice your child is experiencing a change in personality, this may be indicative of a teasing or bullying complication.


Girls who are extremely talented in terms of academic performance often face the greatest challenges with teasing at school, aside from female students who are overweight. If your daughter is not only very intelligent but also overweight, you can expect the teasing and bullying will pose a significant risk in the high school setting. To avoid this risk, many parents are becoming actively involved in their child’s education, even considering placement into a private school.


High school is a challenge for many students, especially for girls. With the added complications of bullying and teasing, you may notice your child experiences a sudden change in personality in response to bullying. Becoming involved and taking proactive measures to improve your child’s academic setting is important to the success in high school. When bullying or teasing becomes quite significant, making changes in the academic setting may provide for the best possible outcome. However, even with a change in educational settings, bullying and teasing continue to be a complication for students who are highly intelligent, students who pose a unique physical appearance, and for students who are height-weight disproportionate.


Labels: Academic Achievement in Girls Can Lead to Bullying by Other Students

4 Reasons to Love Apple Cider Vinegar

Have you ever seen those giant bottles of apple cider vinegar and wondered “who needs that much vinegar?” I used to have the same thought. But now I know why!


1. Good for your hair.
So, it’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I have been “no poo” for a year now. And if you’re willing to take that leap (it’s not that far of a leap, honestly), you will find that apple cider vinegar makes your hair soft. Like really soft. It may seem strange, but I swear by it. And so do many women. Seriously, just Google “no poo” and you’ll see what I mean. I keep a squeeze bottle of watered down apple cider vinegar in my shower, and I shake it up and squirt in on my hair. It works just like conditioner, but without all the build up. What’s not to love about that? You might be thinking of the vinegar smell, but it’s really not an issue. Once you rinse it out, the most you’ll smell the vinegar is maybe a vague apple-y scent. Nothing vinegary at all.


2. Good for your face. Apparently, Scarlet Johansson swears by it. But you can also take it from me. Dabbing a little on your face with a cotton ball, like you would with a toner, does work wonders. And it’s cheaper than toner!


3. Kills weeds. At least, that’s what my Mom uses it for. Ever since I was a little girl, my mom poured gallon jugs of apple cider vinegar on her weeds. Then they died. Then she pulled them right out with no problem. Cool huh?


4. Kills gnats. You can also use it to kill gnats and fruit flies. You only need a little bit of it, and some dish soap in the bottom of a small cup. The gnats go right for it, and literally overnight, you’ve dealt with your gnat infestation.


These are the four ways that I commonly use apple cider vinegar. Are there any other uses I should know about? Let me know in the comments.


Labels: 4 Reasons to Love Apple Cider Vinegar

Another Look at the Twilight Craze

Especially with New Moon having recently rocked the box-office, surpassing even Dark Knight in ticket sales, it is difficult not to have noticed the mass hysteria that is the Twilight fandom. The holiday shopper has been beset with monuments built to the pale-faced vegetarian vampire Edward Cullen and the clumsy and wholesomely appealing heroine Bella Swan. Giant displays of novels, calendars, magazines, and puzzles loom in bookstore aisles, movie posters are plastered on any vertical surface imaginable, and every so often you can catch a Twilight-themed Burger King commercial if you stare at the television long enough. Fangirls sport t-shirts and bags declaring themselves “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”, taking sides on which fictional character really deserves the love of the female protagonist. The majority of the American female readership has been floored by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, a fanaticism that hasn’t been seen since J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. After some analysis, though, does the thirty-five year-old author really deserve all the praise and adoration that the masses are showering upon her?

For the minority that is not in the know, Twilight tells the story Bella Swan, a clumsy and self-sacrificing teenage girl in the dreary town of Forks, WA, and her vampire boyfriend, Edward Cullen. The two are completely, totally in love with each other, which is made complicated by the fact that (1) Edward thirsts for her blood like no other human he has met before, (2) the other vampires don’t like him dating a human, and (3) the local teenage werewolf, along with every other boy in town, also has a crush on Bella.


On the surface, the entire thing seems pretty harmless and run-of-the-mill. However, the most disturbing part of the book is not the plot line; it is, in fact, the general consensus by its fandom that the relationship between Edward and Bella is beautiful, perfect, and true.


Throughout the course of the first book, Edward consistently behaves in an abusive manner towards the naïve Bella Swan. His deeds include stalking her, keeping her from hanging out with other young men, forcing her to leave her family, threatening to kill himself when she tries to leave him, and frightening her in order to get him to do what he wants her to do, stating that all of it is for her own good.


And that’s just the first book. By the end of the most recent novel, the couple (married by this point) go on their honeymoon and conceive a child – which Edward demands that Bella abort. The reasons seem viable, being that the unborn baby is eating Bella from the inside out, but the ease with which he comes to the conclusion that the only solution to is to kill the new life that he and Bella have created is disturbing in and of itself.


What kind of message does all of this send to teenage girls who are enamored with Edward Cullen and the relationship he has with Bella?


Many fans of Twilight would protest that this interpretation is flawed and biased, arguing that Edward does all of these things out of love for his human lady-friend. However, if the boyfriend of one of these fans behaved in the same way that Edward does toward Bella, not only would the girl be frightened and upset, she would probably file a restraining order. If she didn’t, everyone around her would be more or less convinced that she had serious self-esteem issues that needed to be addressed for her own physical and emotional health.


So parents, before you buy your daughters the entire box set of the Twilight saga, really think about what you want them reading. What sort of views do you want them to have about themselves? What sort of values and standards do you want them to have for their own romantic relationships? And wouldn’t you like for your sixteen year-old daughter to be reading a book that requires more than a fourth-grade reading comprehension?


The Twilight craze isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be, and after looking at the basic message of the novels, it’s actually a little frightening. Mothers, steer your daughters towards stronger, more independent protagonists. In this day and age, it’s essential for young women to have the right sort of role models, even if they’re just fictional characters, and literature is practically teeming with perfect candidates. Carolyne Keene, Robin McKinley, and Charlaine Harris might have some suggestions for you.


Labels: Another Look at the Twilight Craze

A Great Inexpensive Honeymoon Trip to Michigan

Your honeymoon is a very special time for you and your spouse; it is your opportunity to spend some romantic time enjoying the celebration and the end of the stress of planning the wedding. When my husband and I were married I spent countless hours trying to figure out where to go on our meager wedding funds. Looking back at the time, I realize that even though we didn’t take some $5,000 trip to the Caribbean, we still had an amazing time and I always think fondly of that trip.

We ended up taking a 4 hour road trip to Mears, Michigan, home of the Silver Lakes Sand Dunes.


We stayed at the Dunes Waterfront Resort which is a lake front resort. Across from the lake is a giant Dune which is great to climb. Once you climb over, you will find a breath taking view of Lake Michigan. The resort offers:


Marine Rentals


Row Boats


Pontoon Boats


Quad Rentals


Dune Buggy Rentals


Wave Runners


Ski Boats


Fishing


Dune Scooter Rides


Jeep Tours


Sand Dunes


Bike Rentals


Horseback Riding


Miniature Golf


Go Karts


Souvenir Shopping


Lighthouse Viewing


4 Golf Courses nearby


The room we stayed in had a great view of the lake, a balcony, and a giant Jacuzzi right in our bedroom! The hotel also has an indoor heated pool and a hot tub. We really did not spend that much money in the three days we were there. We rented a boat for about three hours for around $30 and cruised around the lake. At least until our motor died, and then we spent an hour trying to row ourselves to shore! We were saved though by a friendly man on a wave runner who pulled us part of the way.


The town is very small and has a few diners. I was not a fan of the restaurants, but I did enjoy the café next door which offered tasty pizza. For the most part, my husband and I took free walks along the lake, indulged in treats like a shop that had homemade fudge, visited the Lighthouse which was beautiful, and rode bikes around the town. It was a stress free trip that allowed us to come home and not feel guilty or worried about spending a bunch of money. The car ride gave us time to really talk and blast Aerosmith, and stop at some fun roadside shops along the way. So if you’re wondering how you and your hubby can afford a honeymoon, remember that there are great places nearby that can be romantic and fun. Think about what you hope to gain from your trip, and make that the main focus-not how luxurious you can make it.


Labels: A Great Inexpensive Honeymoon Trip to Michigan

A Scary Ultrasound Experience for a Mother-to-Be

When I was 20 weeks pregnant, my boyfriend and I went in for a routine ultrasound. The technician was really nice. She was checking out every inch of the baby, but for some reason she kept stopping and focusing on the heart.

After I left the office, I got a call about two hours later from the doctor. He said my baby’s heart was showing echogenic foci on its heart. These are calcium deposits that show up as small reflections in one of the ventricles of the baby’s heart. They told me not to worry, but I needed to go to a specialist.


Yeah, right: I totally freaked out. Nobody wants to hear that something could possibly be wrong with their unborn child. I couldn’t stop crying; I looked it up on the Internet; I called the doctor’s office with questions excessively. All of these things made it worse because the doctors were telling me not to worry, and the Internet said it could be connected to Down syndrome. To top it off, the appointment at the specialist was about three weeks away, so I had to wait a while.


Well, I finally went to the specialist, and they examined the baby with a more advanced ultrasound machine. It turned out that the baby was fine. The way they calculate your risk or possibility of having Down syndrome is through markers. The more you have, the more likely the baby has it. Well, showing echogenic foci is a small marker that is insignificant without any other markers present.


The specialist told me that since my blood work came back showing a very small risk for Down syndrome, and since I was only 21, the echogenic foci were insignificant. She told me they did increase my risk, but it was like I was a year older. The older you are, the higher your risk, but you really are not at increased risk until after about 35. This put me at the risk of a 22-year-old. She also explained the calcium deposit as similar to having freckles. It’s like a birthmark, not a birth defect.


As for what I read on the Internet, only about 1 percent of people with Down syndrome have echogenic foci. So it is not really an indicator of Down syndrome. I was so pleased to hear all this. I couldn’t believe I had freaked out about it so much. I would have been better off listening to my doctor. In the end, everything was OK. And, I just went in for a 4D ultrasound at 32 weeks, and I got see what my little one is going to look like, and it was really an awesome experience. And the baby is still doing fine.


I am glad I went through this because it helped me get closer to my baby. I never knew how deeply I would have been affected if I had lost my baby or if my child would have had to go through a hard life. I knew I would be devastated, but it really shows the connection a mother and an unborn child have, even before you can feel the little one. This situation for me symbolizes the first obstacle my family and I had to overcome as the three of us, and we have gotten closer because of it.


I thought it would be important to share my story for other mothers who might possibly go through this. It really helps me to get feedback from people who have experienced situations I am going through, so I wanted to reach out to other mothers. My advice for another mom going through this is to listen to your doctors. They know what they are talking about. All the worrying and crying only hurts the baby, and you haven’t received the whole story yet. Wait until they tell you, “Your baby has Down syndrome” or any other disorder that can hurt them. Also let everyone around you support you even when you want to just roll into a ball and cry. Hang in there and listen to the professionals.


Labels: A Scary Ultrasound Experience for a Mother-to-Be

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