Friday, May 25, 2007

Hair Happiness

After 30+ years of battling my curls, I've decided they have won. No more straightening, brushing, fussing, or fighting. The good news is that I have finally found hair products that are completely made for curly hair. No, really. So many hair products SAY they are for curly hair but when I use them I end up with undefined, stringy, partially frizzy, mall-girl hair. Or defined but wet-looking and crunchy. Yuck.

Oh yeah...the hair product. It's called Ouidad. The namesake is a woman who owns a salon in NYC and caters only to curly hair. You can order her stuff online and it's worth every penny. She understands that not all curly hair is thick and heavy. Many curls are fine like mine and can get weighed down by all of the oil and goop that you tend to find in curly hair products.

I just may spend the $175 and have her cut my hair. She has done Sarah Jessica Parker. Gotta love that.

So, I'm happy for this. Small but important favors.

Pop culture drive-by: Rosie O'Donnell quits The View and doesn't complete her contract. She mentions on her blog that when the painting is done, it is time to walk away from the canvas. Rosie, darling, the painting has been done for quite some time now. Not only is it time to walk away from the canvas, it's time to put down the brushes and find something else to do. Something a little more suitable to your talents and your way-left-of-center politics.

I have a semi-soft spot for her because I know what it's like to get fired up and not always have a razor sharp retort. I know what it is like to feel passionately about an issue. And I know a thing or two about never feeling like "you're one of them". But she loses me when she spews hyperbole and bullies people. When did she get so shrill and mean?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Madame President?

OK...I'm the first to admit that we women are way too hard on one another but......c'mon. While you don't have to be a beauty queen to hold public office, you can't look like you rolled out of bed after a bender. Oh Hil...I had such hope for you back when I thought all things liberal were sound and enlightened. Oh well.

Get some sleep darlin'. And get thee to a day spa. As far as your politics...well...I don't think a make-over will help you much there.

A woman in the White House would be a momentous achievement. Too bad she's the wrong woman.

Elizabeth Dole anyone?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Politics of Life

A few months ago, I had dinner with two, dear nephews. It was a lovely evening. They were most interested in why I have become so conservative over the years. I explained that it had mostly to do with gradual epiphanies about the realities of personal responsibility, the shedding of naive perceptions about what are individual rights versus privileges, and a deeper, more reverent devotion to this gift we call life.

As recently as ten years ago, the term pro-life conjured an immediate picture for me. Anti-woman, anti-choice, right wing, extreme. You could not convince me otherwise. This is a woman's right, it is her choice, no one, especially the government, has any business interfering in what is a women's health issue. I said all of this and I was passionate in my conviction. I played the part anyway.

Yet, there was a lingering inner voice, urging me to question the Ms. Magazine talking points. How can we know for sure when life begins? Does a fetus feel pain? Can a woman truly feel sustainable relief after an abortion? Or does that fade and eventually turn into an immense sense of regret? Maybe even shame? Why are pro-choice advocates so zealous in their position that they fight any and all restrictions on a "procedure" that has such a chilling impact on our entire society? Regardless of however marginal or infrequently practiced, why do they resist ending barbaric practices such as partial birth abortion? How can they advocate abortion-at-will for underage girls, insisting that it be available without parental consent?

These and other questions sat in the back of my mind. Regardless, I maintained my pro-choice stance. And then everything changed for me the day I gave birth to my first child. Simple as that.

Until you hold your first newborn child you just cannot understand the enormity of the love that you will feel. It was so overwhelming to me that I felt stunned, almost paralyzed. The new sense of responsibility is beyond describable. The child trusts you for every single one of his needs. And you, his parent, are obligated to care for him in every way. How is it that we understand this for a born child but we do not afford the same basic standard of care for the unborn? Suddenly, I realized how arbitrary and ridiculous the born/unborn cutoff really is.

I also came to realize that this gift to create and bear life is not the bondage described in Women's Studies 101. It's an incredible power bestowed upon us and it is not to be taken lightly. I realize that unwanted pregnancy happens and that not all parents are equipped to meet the many demands of a child. Thankfully, adoption is a loving and responsible alternative when this situation occurs. There are so many resources available to women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. The Church certainly walks the walk where this is concerned. A good example: Gabriel Project.

I pray that I can live up to the responsibility that I have been given with my own children and that someday soon, the killing of untold numbers of children will someday end. I also pray that we elect officials who have the fortitude and determination to protect the weakest, most vulnerable among us.

The issue of life is pivotal and yet I have heard liberal pundits ask why are you people so focused on abortion? Are there not other, critical problems to solve? My answer is simple. Right now, we live in the midst of a holocaust. Thousands, if not millions of unwanted children are killed each year. It is state sanctioned child abuse. With this definition in mind, I cannot think of an issue that surpasses abortion, both in terms of scope and consequence.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Kid Quote

Mom: Ethan, with Daddy traveling so much, I'm really counting on you to be the man of the house.

Ethan: OK, but does that mean I have to be the guy who does everything around here?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why I Am Catholic

Living in Wheaton, we Catholics are just a wee bit on the defensive. Unlike Chicago proper, we are the minority here. Certainly, there is no persecution or anything malevolent occurring. Actually, it's quite the opposite. I have wonderful neighbors whom I respect and admire. I've said it before: I'm really happy here. The reality, however, is that Wheaton, Illinois is largely comprised of evangelical Christians. And sometimes you just want to be around more people who believe and worship like you do.

Maybe that is why I'm really pleased about our newly elected leader in our little town. He is Wheaton's first Catholic mayor. How silly is it that I feel like we scored one for the team? Joking aside, I am told that this is big for these parts, the so called "golden buckle of the bible belt". As recently as 30-40 years ago, some Catholics had a hard time in this once "dry" town. Some felt ridiculed and mistreated by their fellow Christians. That's hard to imagine now but I don't doubt it is true. The Catholic Church has always had detractors.

The slights that you occasionally witness now are mild but noticeable. Sometimes even kind of funny. When we considered buying another house in the neighborhood, the builder proudly noted that one of the art nooks could proudly house "one of our Catholic statues". I just started laughing and he turned three shades of crimson. I asked him if he also had any ideas about where in the home we could dedicate our shrine to the Blessed Mother.

When I started parochial school in 1975, my grandmother was fearful that her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother Whistance, would find out and be upset. Lord only knows what those nuns were bound to do. They worship idols and saints! Great grandma was a certifiable holy roller. A card carrying member of the Assembly of God. Her great-granddaughter at a Catholic school? Let's just say the subject was avoided.

The fact is that I have loved my Church from the first day I entered Queen of Apostles (San Jose, California) in Fall, 1975. As a child, I felt great warmth, guidance, and love there. It was literally a salvation, a sanctuary from my chaotic, sometimes scary home life. I never felt limited or stifled by the routines and structure. If anything, I found solace. I knew that in this loving, nurturing environment, I was safe and protected. Far more than I was at home. Through their teaching, I knew that life as I then knew it was not a road map for the future. I could do anything and be anything because God had a plan. It was up to me to simply listen and follow through.

As a young adult, I lost my way as many do. Like a wayward child, armed with youthful arrogance, I wanted to go it on my own. I wanted to do it may way. So, I eschewed what I then perceived as rules intended to subjugate. It took me many years to fully realize that God doesn't impose rules to spoil our fun or to arbitrarily impose control. Rather, like the best parent, He knows what is best for us. And He gives us the free will to do it our way, even if such choices are destructive and empty. But there is always redemption once you've found your way. And love. More than we can possibly imagine or understand.

I truly appreciate the pageantry and ritual of the Church. It serves to remind all of us that the worship that we engage in is far larger than the life we know; it is truly elevated. And our ultimate salvation is not of this world. Signs and symbols all around to remind us that God's love is both ethereal and immense.

The Catholic Church has gravitas. It's not a start-up with a questionable future. Blue chip all the way. I can remember visiting a Pentecostal church as a child and witnessing their form of communion. Saltine crackers on a plate. Even as symbolism, I thought they missed the point. I remember thinking that they forgot the ham and cheese.

We recognize Communion as a gift from God, his actual body and and his blood. Receiving Communion is an intimate and reverent act. Children are taught for lengthy periods of time in order to participate in the Sacrament. We remind ourselves during the Mass, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed".

Yes, there have been many problems in the Church, especially over the last several years. I'll address that in another post. Suffice it to say, all families have problems but you just don't up and leave your family. You work it out and you keep trying, the best way you can.

We're a Catholic family and happy to be so. I hope to be worthy of all the blessings that we receive on a daily basis. And I hope to see more of us in Wheaton in the years to come.

Church Sign Wisdom

There is a church here in Wheaton (one of dozens) that posts a pearl of wisdom on their lawn marquis. I don't know the denomination. In fact, I don't even know the name of the church. But I just love their drive-by messages. So, I'll try to share when I can. Here is this week's:

Autograph your work with excellence.

Another one from quite awhile ago comes to mind:

Don't confuse busyness with fulfillment.

More to come.