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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roller Skating Days

I took my girls to a skating party this week. Walking into the rink brought back of flood of memories from my roller skating days at Pooh’s Park in College Station, Texas.

I remember doing the limbo. I remember doing the speed skate. I remember occasionally being asked to do the couple skate. I remember being jealous of the kids who had skates with the lights under the boots.

Those were the days. Good times.

But a lot has changed in 30 years.

For starters, about half of the kids were racing around the rink on Razor scooters. Other kids were cruising with inline skates. Only a few people had the traditional roller skates that I loved back in the late 70s and early 80s.

Of course the sound system is better now. The lights and special effects are definitely more high tech. But the arcade didn't have my favorites Ms Pacman and Frogger. And the snack bar didn't offer Frito Pie. Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen Frito Pie on a menu EVER here in Utah. (God Bless Texas!)

But the real difference was the music. It just ain’t what it used to be. There was no “Disco Inferno”. There was no “YMCA”. There was no “Whip It”.

Come on, people! These kids need some real skating tunes! How can today’s youth truly appreciate the skating experience with music by Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga?

It’s a shame. We may not be able to bring about world peace or solve the global economic crisis, but we can certainly improve the music being played at skating rinks today.

Unfortunately, I have no time to tackle this issue. Or any other issue, for that matter. My days are filled with office work and my evenings are packed with checking homework, doing laundry, and fulfilling church assignments. On the weekends I’m trying to cram in everything that didn’t get done in the week.

I'm just trying to keep my head above water these days. It's been a crazy year and sanity doesn't appear to be headed my way any time soon.

I think I'll make an iPod playlist with all of my favorite roller skating disco tunes. That will make me feel better. Then next time I take the kids to the rink I can listen my personal "oldies but goodies" skating music. And perhaps I'll even sneak in a Frito Pie.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Holiday Shopping Drama

I feel compelled to do Christmas shopping. And I hate Christmas shopping. Loathe may be a better word to describe my attitude about the holiday shopping season.

I can’t stand the long lines. I detest the packed parking lots. I refuse to pay shipping & handling costs for online purchases. I will not get up at 4 a.m. to breakdown the doors of a big box store the day after Thanksgiving.

I just want to get it over with. My true “blue” personality wants to cross the task off of my checklist. If I could have all of the gifts stashed away in my super-secret hiding place by Halloween I would be quite content.

But that just won’t work. Why?

Because I have a hard time passing up a great deal. As much as I hate Christmas shopping, I’m a sucker for a good buy. And you and I both know that there are going to be some fabulous offers from retailers during the next two months.

If I get everything I was planning to purchase for Christmas before Halloween, do I have the self control to not buy anything else holiday-related for the next two months?

What if a super great deal comes along on Black Friday?

Perhaps one of my gotta-buy items will go on sale at a better price after Halloween?

On the other hand, if I don’t get it now will it be out-of-stock later?

Oh, the dilemma! I can feel the anxiety coursing through my veins! Quick…someone pass me a Xanax!

I know that I should just focus on “the reason for the season,” but it’s only October. It’s a bit too early to put out the nativity set (although I’ve seen those in the stores as well).

In my la-la land perfect world, I would forego all of the holiday shopping and gifts for a family vacation. We would hop on a plane December 23rd and head for the resorts of southern Mexico singing “Feliz Navidad” the whole way. Christmas day would be spent lounging in the white sand underneath a palm tree, my husband massaging my feet, my girls body-surfing the waves, and my cabana boy bringing me margaritas (non-alcoholic, of course).

Yet, the question remains. If I had my dream...a family Christmas vacation on the beach…could I (would I) resist the allure of bargain basement prices on “must-have” items that come along during the holiday shopping season?

It has become clear that I simply must take an exotic vacation beginning Columbus Day through the New Year’s Day holiday. Not only will I be more relaxed, but in the end it may be less expensive.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Women & College

Did you know that Utah is last in terms of the percentage of female students enrolled in college?

I did not know that until this week. I was stunned. So I went online to learn more.

According to the Utah Women and Education Project (UWEP), 49 percent of higher education students in the state are women. However, national statistics show that 57 percent of college students are women. (Go here
http://www.uvu.edu/wep/ for more info on their research.)

A recent report on KSL-TV in Salt Lake City stated that one part of the study’s early findings shows that cultural attitudes might be influencing young Utah women to skip higher education altogether. The perception among these women is they don’t plan on having a career after marriage.

Let me write that again…young women don’t PLAN having a career after marriage.

So what exactly is the PLAN for these young women?

How can a young woman possibly know what the next 50 or so years will bring?

Here are my thoughts regarding young women who want to forego a college education:

Thought #1: Have a personal financial plan that is more than a hope and a dream. And a back-up plan. And a back-up plan for your back-up plan. Have short-term and long-term plans.

Maybe you won’t get married. Maybe you’ll get married and it won’t last. Maybe you’ll be like me and not get married until you’re 27. Maybe you’ll marry an awesome guy that doesn’t get an awesome paycheck. Maybe you'll raise a family during the next great recession.

Guess what? A man is not a financial plan.

Thought #2: College brings about much more than a diploma.

Sure, a diploma is a great way to get a job. But it's much more than a piece of paper.

The societal benefits of a college education include a healthier lifestyle, increased community involvement, elevated interest in social issues, and crucial communications skills.

Societies with higher levels of education are safer and have less poverty. Research shows that educated women live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Thought #3: Cultural attitudes may need adjusting.

I may be making a BIG assumption here, but do cultural attitudes really mean the LDS faith when it comes to women in the workforce in Utah? (And yes, I consider myself among the active LDS.)

If that be the case, then why isn’t the “culture” embracing the counsel of our leaders when it comes to getting a college education?

President Gordeon B. Hickley Hinckley said in a talk to the youth of the LDS Church in November 2000 that they need to “Be Smart”. Below is a direct quote from the talk he gave 10 years ago:

“You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world.

[The Lord] wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives. And as you do so and as you perform honorably and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship.

Be smart. The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you.”

If you are LDS (and even if you aren't) there is a church website that helps young people who are pursuing higher education. You can check it out at http://besmart.com/.

I do not want to ignore the fact that many women want to stay home with their children. Motherhood is a wonderful and noble profession. It's probably the most important job a woman can ever occupy. A college education can help you become a better mother because it helps you become a stronger person.

A study commissioned by the Utah System of Higher Education (UHSE) found that 99 percent of Utahns sampled believe that higher education is important. Yet, the same study showed that only 39 percent believe that females need a four-year degree or higher.

Why do we have such low of expectations for the young women in Utah when it comes to a college education?


Sad. Very sad.

We live in a country and in an era where women have every opportunity available to them to get a higher education, and so many young ladies just set it aside. There are women in parts of our world today who are maimed or even killed in their pursuit of a basic education…never mind a higher education.

We need women who have strong minds. We need women to become more involved in political and societal issues. We need women who are self-sufficient. We need women who can teach children and each other.

Let’s set a higher standard for our young women. If you are in a position of influence – a parent, a teacher, a coach, a religious leader, a caring neighbor – encourage the young ladies in your life to go to college.

In the words of President Hinckley:

“There can be no doubt, none whatever, that education pays. Do not short-circuit your lives. If you do so, you will pay for it over and over and over again.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication

“Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life.” -Katherine F. Gerould

The other night while I was making a quick dinner of quesadillas and tomato soup, my 8 year-old matter-of-factly said, “Stay-at-home moms usually make fancier dinners than working moms. Stuff we usually eat for dinner is what they eat for lunch.”

I know she didn’t mean to hit me with a guilt trip, but it landed straight between the eyes. Just as I was getting ready to respond with a comment about not having time to spend an hour making dinner after I get home from work, she asks:

“Why don’t stay-at-home moms fix their hair or put on make-up?”

Wowza!

The guilt-trip left as quickly as it came.

I’m rarely at a loss for words, but this was one of those moments when my mind went into overdrive while I was trying to figure out the best thing to say.

After all, on the weekends it’s not uncommon for me to be in my pajamas through mid-morning and not make myself “presentable” until mid-afternoon.

If I didn’t have to be dressed with hair done and make-up applied by 7:30 a.m. every day, would I?

I’d like to say “yes”, but the truthful answer is “probably not”…especially if the only people who were going to see me that day were my kids and some of their friends.

I managed to make some sort of reply like “Honey, sometimes moms get so busy at home they don’t have time to fix their own hair or put on make-up.”

Then my mind went to President Uchtdorf’s recent LDS conference talk on simplifying your life. For me, a working mom, simplifying my life means preparing quick dinners during the work week. For a stay-at-home mom, it may mean throwing their hair into pony tail and not worrying about make-up.

No need to feel guilty about either one.

Why make ourselves busy…fretting over things that are here today and gone tomorrow? We should free ourselves from those tasks that are not necessary in our day-to-day lives.

Leonardo da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

I think I’ll use that line next time I serve a not-so-gourmet dinner of mac-and-cheese with a side of apple sauce.