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On a hot day in the middle of summer, I remember setting my alarm so that I could awaken at dawn to view the Royal Wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. Sleeping bag and pillow in hand, I watched with glee as her long train trailed down the aisle, wondering if I were the only one of my friends who had awakened to witness the event live. I found out later that I was. When my friends learned of my early wake up time, they thought I was barmy. I had never really been a devout fairy tale girl, but I fancied the notion of witnessing a royal wedding. I recall wondering why the wedding was taking place on a Wednesday when most weddings in the United States occurred on Saturday. I tried to research this, but the answers that surfaced were a bit dodgy at best. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I should warn you that in celebration of Prince Williams and Princess Katherine’s royal wedding, I will be interspersing common British sayings into my blog.

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On Friday, the world celebrated the 64th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's historic first major league baseball game. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson donned a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey with the number forty-two across his back, walked onto the field and de-segregated the nation's (then) favorite pastime, baseball. Amid boos and death threats, where the "N" word was thrown at him like candy from a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float, Jackie Robinson boldly and bravely walked on to the field and dared to do what no man of color in the United States had ever been allowed to do, which was play in a major league baseball game with white people. The number forty-two is now retired in all of baseball, in honor of Jackie Robinson.

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When I was five or six, I absolutely adored Tina Turner. “Proud Mary” was my anthem. Not lacking in the performance chutzpah category, I would perform for my parents’ friends at the slightest suggestion, wrapping a yellow towel around my head to mimic the long blonde wig that Tina wore. Lip synching and dancing with a Soul Train and American Bandstand frenzy, my Tina Turner “Proud Mary” performance usually garnered a standing ovation. It would be years before I realized that I could neither sing nor dance, and that my “Proud Mary” performance, though quite entertaining, was applauded for the comedy that it provided and the courage that it took to dance and sing with such bravado and so little musical talent.

I can recognize great singers, and when standing near someone in church who is blessed with a good voice, I try to mimic their tonality like I imitated Tina Turner, hoping that I can tune into their pitch to elevate my voice the way my golf game is elevated when I play with people who are better than I am. It works in my golf game, but not with singing, yet I sing anyway. When a favorite dance tune is played I scurry to the dance floor undeterred by my Whitney Houston type moves. I remind myself that we all have different gifts and talents, and that if I could sing and dance, my ego would be uncontainable, so I thank God for my limitations, smile and keep it moving. The empty dance floor usually fills up when people see me bobbing my Vanna White size head to the music. I think my boldness gives them the courage to get up and move too.

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In the state of Illinois there is a statute (law) [§ 730 ILCS 5/12-12 et seq.] that defines aggravated criminal sexual abuse as sex “...with a victim between age 13 and 17 by an offender at least five years older.” In the state of Illinois, the age of consent is eighteen. Even if the relationship is deemed "consensual" by both parties, meaning that the underage person was a willing participant in the encounter, it doesn't matter, it's still against the law because a person under the age of eighteen is not able to grant consent or permission to engage in a sexual relationship with someone at least five years older.

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I love shopping, and I come from a long line of "quality" shopaholics on the paternal side of my family. By quality, I mean that we search for the best value at the most economical price. When entering any of the swanky retail establishments on North Michigan Avenue, we instinctively scour the clearance racks first and never pay full price for retail for anything other than shoes. Some of the women in my family wear quads (AAAA) and those seldom go on sale. For me and many of my relatives, shopping is almost an Olympic sport. I have early and fond memories of my grandmother and her sisters, dressing up for a downtown shopping excursion. We take our shopping seriously.

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In February, our nation makes a concerted effort to recognize and highlight the contributions of African Americans in the United States. In classrooms, corporations and cities large and small, many people are participating in Black History programs out of a sense of obligation and outright disdain. For many, this brief twenty-eight day pause is misunderstood and deemed unnecessary.

At our children's Christian school, many of their classmates make comments such as: "I don't understand why we have to learn about African Americans." "Things are equal now." "Slavery is over, why do we have to learn about it?" "The Civil Rights Movement happened almost fifty years ago, get over it!" I brace myself when they enter the car, wondering what today's civil lesson will bring. The good news is that the school is recognizing Black History month in some small way. The sad news is that the students are less than willing participants. Fortunately, my militant tween and teen have ready made comebacks to silence the Black History haters. Here are a few of my favorites: "You didn't whine like that when we learned about the Holocaust." "The Jews talk about the Holocaust every chance they get because they don't want the world to forget it." "The Holocaust lasted less than ten years, and slavery lasted over two hundred years." When they share the comments made by their classmates, my response is always, "And what did you say in return?" They know that I expect ignorance to be met with teaching moments, so their comebacks are usually clever and serve to silence the shocked complainer.

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The mystery was solved the day that my husband and I brought our first child home from the hospital. I’d always heard women describe childbirth as the most quickly forgotten pain. I’d ponder this mystery and wonder how it was possible to forget pain that is often said to be the closest that a woman will come to death without actually dying. But as I held our precious miracle in my arms, outside of the sterile hospital environment, I found myself in that euphoric state where the joy of motherhood had numbed my memory of the intensity and physical pains of childbirth. For my readers who have experienced the joy of labor and delivery, I think you’ll agree that just like getting a tattoo while in high school usually turns out to be a bad idea, having a baby while in high school is a really bad idea.

Exhausted from ten hours of hard labor (including four hours of active aerobic pushing where my long nails clawed into the flesh of my thighs) I didn’t think that I had the stamina to continue. It was six o’clock in the morning, and I had been pushing since two a.m. Yes, I had been pushing since two a.m., but my pushing seemed to be in vain as no progress was being made, and the baby’s heart rate monitor was now beginning to trouble the nurse. The neonatal intensive care unit had been summoned. Delirious and in pain, I was now afraid.

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Today our nation celebrates the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK); the man who was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and whose selfless sacrifice and obedience to follow a dream placed on his heart by God is the reason that civil rights exist in the United States. Dr. King's actual birthday is January 15th, but the nation always celebrates it on a Monday. There will be no mail delivered today, and no services performed at organizations who have a federal connection including: banks, courthouses, the post office and most public schools.

Not all public schools are required to honor MLK's birthday, because when the nation decided to make Dr. King's birthday a federal holiday, states were given the sovereignty to decide if their particular state would honor this nationwide holiday. Although we are the United States of America, there are certain things that states are allowed to decide on their own. Sadly, many states in the union have chosen not to honor MLK day, so some children will be in school today. Wisconsin was one such state. Our school district did not recognize MLK day, President's Day or Columbus Day for that matter; however, we were usually out of school on President's Day and Columbus Day which were dubbed Fall Break and Teacher In-Service days. When we lived in Wisconsin, we kept our children home in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday and used it as a teaching moment to explain who Dr. King was. Sadly, we often fell quite short of that goal.

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When we lived in Chicago, I enjoyed listening to a local radio station's Sunday evening blues segment. Chicago is the home of the blues, and I'm from Chicago, but I'm not a big fan of the blues. My dad loved the blues, so I thought that the blues was an acquired taste like beer, and that I just hadn't acquired the taste yet.

So, each Sunday afternoon while cooking dinner, I would switch to the blues station, trying desperately to gain an appreciation for this art form. "My Last Two Dollars" (performed by Johnny Taylor) is one of the songs that I remember from my months of culinary blues coursework. As I chopped and diced and fumbled my way through cookbook recipes, I hummed along and learned to love this song. My other favorite song was "It's Cheaper to Keep Her" about a guy who realizes that it's cheaper to stay with his old lady than to ditch her for a younger model. I understood this song right away, and adopted it as one of my favorites. Each week I listened to the blues, but, for the most part, I didn't really "get" the Blues, I just hoped that the disc jockey would play my two favorite blues songs. And he usually did thanks to the beauty of pre-programmed music.

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One of my favorite winter traditions is watching old black and white movies. For some reason, the cold weather and gray December skies combine to create the perfect backdrop for watching vintage films. In fact, my son calls them "gray movies." "Mom, why are you watching gray television?" he asks. At seven, his world has always been in living color, plasma and high definition.

The original "Miracle on 34th Street" is one of my all time favorites. I love it for its basic themes of believing in something as simple as Santa Claus. When a young Natalie Wood is chewing on that bubble gum in one of the opening scenes, I settle in for the familiar ride, cheering when Santa delivers the only Christmas gift that she asks for in the final scene. But I also love "Miracle on 34th Street" because it's filmed in New York city! As the Macy's Christmas Parade careens down Fifth Avenue, and they enjoy their window seat perch overlooking Central Park, I sigh with delight. Don't get me wrong, I am a Chicago girl thru and thru, but Manhattan is definitely my second favorite city.

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On a hot day in the middle of summer, I remember setting my alarm so that I could awaken at dawn to view the Royal Wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. Sleeping bag and pillow in hand, I watched with glee as her long train trailed down the aisle, wondering if I were the only one of my friends who had awakened to witness the event live. I found out later that I was. When my friends learned of my early wake up time, they thought I was barmy. I had never really been a devout fairy tale girl, but I fancied the notion of witnessing a royal wedding. I recall wondering why the wedding was taking place on a Wednesday when most weddings in the United States occurred on Saturday. I tried to research this, but the answers that surfaced were a bit dodgy at best. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I should warn you that in celebration of Prince Williams and Princess Katherine’s royal wedding, I will be interspersing common British sayings into my blog.

User Rating: 0 / 5

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On Friday, the world celebrated the 64th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's historic first major league baseball game. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson donned a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey with the number forty-two across his back, walked onto the field and de-segregated the nation's (then) favorite pastime, baseball. Amid boos and death threats, where the "N" word was thrown at him like candy from a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float, Jackie Robinson boldly and bravely walked on to the field and dared to do what no man of color in the United States had ever been allowed to do, which was play in a major league baseball game with white people. The number forty-two is now retired in all of baseball, in honor of Jackie Robinson.

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When I was five or six, I absolutely adored Tina Turner. “Proud Mary” was my anthem. Not lacking in the performance chutzpah category, I would perform for my parents’ friends at the slightest suggestion, wrapping a yellow towel around my head to mimic the long blonde wig that Tina wore. Lip synching and dancing with a Soul Train and American Bandstand frenzy, my Tina Turner “Proud Mary” performance usually garnered a standing ovation. It would be years before I realized that I could neither sing nor dance, and that my “Proud Mary” performance, though quite entertaining, was applauded for the comedy that it provided and the courage that it took to dance and sing with such bravado and so little musical talent.

I can recognize great singers, and when standing near someone in church who is blessed with a good voice, I try to mimic their tonality like I imitated Tina Turner, hoping that I can tune into their pitch to elevate my voice the way my golf game is elevated when I play with people who are better than I am. It works in my golf game, but not with singing, yet I sing anyway. When a favorite dance tune is played I scurry to the dance floor undeterred by my Whitney Houston type moves. I remind myself that we all have different gifts and talents, and that if I could sing and dance, my ego would be uncontainable, so I thank God for my limitations, smile and keep it moving. The empty dance floor usually fills up when people see me bobbing my Vanna White size head to the music. I think my boldness gives them the courage to get up and move too.

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In the state of Illinois there is a statute (law) [§ 730 ILCS 5/12-12 et seq.] that defines aggravated criminal sexual abuse as sex “...with a victim between age 13 and 17 by an offender at least five years older.” In the state of Illinois, the age of consent is eighteen. Even if the relationship is deemed "consensual" by both parties, meaning that the underage person was a willing participant in the encounter, it doesn't matter, it's still against the law because a person under the age of eighteen is not able to grant consent or permission to engage in a sexual relationship with someone at least five years older.

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I love shopping, and I come from a long line of "quality" shopaholics on the paternal side of my family. By quality, I mean that we search for the best value at the most economical price. When entering any of the swanky retail establishments on North Michigan Avenue, we instinctively scour the clearance racks first and never pay full price for retail for anything other than shoes. Some of the women in my family wear quads (AAAA) and those seldom go on sale. For me and many of my relatives, shopping is almost an Olympic sport. I have early and fond memories of my grandmother and her sisters, dressing up for a downtown shopping excursion. We take our shopping seriously.

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In February, our nation makes a concerted effort to recognize and highlight the contributions of African Americans in the United States. In classrooms, corporations and cities large and small, many people are participating in Black History programs out of a sense of obligation and outright disdain. For many, this brief twenty-eight day pause is misunderstood and deemed unnecessary.

At our children's Christian school, many of their classmates make comments such as: "I don't understand why we have to learn about African Americans." "Things are equal now." "Slavery is over, why do we have to learn about it?" "The Civil Rights Movement happened almost fifty years ago, get over it!" I brace myself when they enter the car, wondering what today's civil lesson will bring. The good news is that the school is recognizing Black History month in some small way. The sad news is that the students are less than willing participants. Fortunately, my militant tween and teen have ready made comebacks to silence the Black History haters. Here are a few of my favorites: "You didn't whine like that when we learned about the Holocaust." "The Jews talk about the Holocaust every chance they get because they don't want the world to forget it." "The Holocaust lasted less than ten years, and slavery lasted over two hundred years." When they share the comments made by their classmates, my response is always, "And what did you say in return?" They know that I expect ignorance to be met with teaching moments, so their comebacks are usually clever and serve to silence the shocked complainer.

User Rating: 0 / 5

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The mystery was solved the day that my husband and I brought our first child home from the hospital. I’d always heard women describe childbirth as the most quickly forgotten pain. I’d ponder this mystery and wonder how it was possible to forget pain that is often said to be the closest that a woman will come to death without actually dying. But as I held our precious miracle in my arms, outside of the sterile hospital environment, I found myself in that euphoric state where the joy of motherhood had numbed my memory of the intensity and physical pains of childbirth. For my readers who have experienced the joy of labor and delivery, I think you’ll agree that just like getting a tattoo while in high school usually turns out to be a bad idea, having a baby while in high school is a really bad idea.

Exhausted from ten hours of hard labor (including four hours of active aerobic pushing where my long nails clawed into the flesh of my thighs) I didn’t think that I had the stamina to continue. It was six o’clock in the morning, and I had been pushing since two a.m. Yes, I had been pushing since two a.m., but my pushing seemed to be in vain as no progress was being made, and the baby’s heart rate monitor was now beginning to trouble the nurse. The neonatal intensive care unit had been summoned. Delirious and in pain, I was now afraid.

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Today our nation celebrates the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK); the man who was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and whose selfless sacrifice and obedience to follow a dream placed on his heart by God is the reason that civil rights exist in the United States. Dr. King's actual birthday is January 15th, but the nation always celebrates it on a Monday. There will be no mail delivered today, and no services performed at organizations who have a federal connection including: banks, courthouses, the post office and most public schools.

Not all public schools are required to honor MLK's birthday, because when the nation decided to make Dr. King's birthday a federal holiday, states were given the sovereignty to decide if their particular state would honor this nationwide holiday. Although we are the United States of America, there are certain things that states are allowed to decide on their own. Sadly, many states in the union have chosen not to honor MLK day, so some children will be in school today. Wisconsin was one such state. Our school district did not recognize MLK day, President's Day or Columbus Day for that matter; however, we were usually out of school on President's Day and Columbus Day which were dubbed Fall Break and Teacher In-Service days. When we lived in Wisconsin, we kept our children home in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday and used it as a teaching moment to explain who Dr. King was. Sadly, we often fell quite short of that goal.

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Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

When we lived in Chicago, I enjoyed listening to a local radio station's Sunday evening blues segment. Chicago is the home of the blues, and I'm from Chicago, but I'm not a big fan of the blues. My dad loved the blues, so I thought that the blues was an acquired taste like beer, and that I just hadn't acquired the taste yet.

So, each Sunday afternoon while cooking dinner, I would switch to the blues station, trying desperately to gain an appreciation for this art form. "My Last Two Dollars" (performed by Johnny Taylor) is one of the songs that I remember from my months of culinary blues coursework. As I chopped and diced and fumbled my way through cookbook recipes, I hummed along and learned to love this song. My other favorite song was "It's Cheaper to Keep Her" about a guy who realizes that it's cheaper to stay with his old lady than to ditch her for a younger model. I understood this song right away, and adopted it as one of my favorites. Each week I listened to the blues, but, for the most part, I didn't really "get" the Blues, I just hoped that the disc jockey would play my two favorite blues songs. And he usually did thanks to the beauty of pre-programmed music.

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

One of my favorite winter traditions is watching old black and white movies. For some reason, the cold weather and gray December skies combine to create the perfect backdrop for watching vintage films. In fact, my son calls them "gray movies." "Mom, why are you watching gray television?" he asks. At seven, his world has always been in living color, plasma and high definition.

The original "Miracle on 34th Street" is one of my all time favorites. I love it for its basic themes of believing in something as simple as Santa Claus. When a young Natalie Wood is chewing on that bubble gum in one of the opening scenes, I settle in for the familiar ride, cheering when Santa delivers the only Christmas gift that she asks for in the final scene. But I also love "Miracle on 34th Street" because it's filmed in New York city! As the Macy's Christmas Parade careens down Fifth Avenue, and they enjoy their window seat perch overlooking Central Park, I sigh with delight. Don't get me wrong, I am a Chicago girl thru and thru, but Manhattan is definitely my second favorite city.