Thursday, July 2, 2020

Sia is a Grandma via a Great Path

Is it better to have children when you're in your 20s or earlier? Or is it better to have kids when you're in your 30s and older? The answer, my friends, is YES. 

I don't know what it's like to be a young mom, but my sis was 19 when she had her first, so I've had the chance to observe her journey. 

The news is buzzing with Sia becoming a grandma at 44. If you don't remember Sia, she's an Australian pop star and song writer. Here she is











You might recognize her better like this











Sia adopted two 18-year old boys 10 years ago when they were aging out of the foster system after having lived in 18 different homes in 18 years. 

A 48-year old friend of mine just adopted a 2-year old. My dad had a child at 60.

Having kids will turn your life upside down, shifting your schedule, your priorities, and your focus--completely on your little (or bigger) child. Most parents (who are healthy humans) will note that having children is one of --if not the-- best thing they've done in life. 

I wonder if anyone will read this who needs a push to know that if you have the heart to raise children, the place to provide, and the means to support and connect with children, there is a child (or two or three) who needs you! 

Coming from a military family, it seemed seeped in our family culture that once children were 18, it was up to the military to become the family and finish raising them. I find the older I get, the more and more important family becomes--whether it's family or framily. 

There's something about having a place you know you belong that provides a foundation for confidence and strong identity. If you can, why not provide that for children?

AdoptUS is a good place to start for information and a search. I limited my search to four states and found 355 adoptable children.

It's time amp up focus on this in our own house. Honey! :) 

Take Care,








Images from siamusic.net and Entertainment Tonight

Resources consulted:

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

How to Save Your Country After a Conflict

In light of Covid-19 and the conflict resulting from the death of George Floyd by law enforcement, the US is in a -- most say absolutely necessary-- conflict. I'm writing this as a humanities teacher. They say the reason we study history is to inform our current choices, so let's study a little history and see how major historical conflicts resolved . . . or didn't.

How do you deal with conflict? Apparently, there are five approaches to conflict--sorted according to how assertive and/or cooperative you are.

Notre Dame categorizes conflict resolution as a key negotiation skill, one vital to successful business school grads. It's interesting to consider these approaches in light of

 the current conflicts in the world,

 the leaders in our lives, and

 our own brain churning in response to this tumultuous time-- or is that just me?

Avoid it. 

One approach to conflict is to pretend it doesn't exist or to shut down when anything triggers tension.

Give in.

This is the "OK, honey" or "It's fine" approach. You give up your voice for the sake of a nearly immediate return to equilibrium.

Stand your ground.

I picture this approach as a planting of the feet. There is no compromise here, only a winner.

Compromise.

This is best accomplished in tandem--where each party drops small points and agrees to negotiate larger matters.

Collaborate.

To collaborate, each party must express his side and work creatively with the team to reach a solution that involves no concessions. This approach takes the most work. I picture the United Nations sessions. 

Havard's Program on Negotiation blog cites South Africa and Ireland as places that have worked through conflict to reach a livable community. They note that in cases where deep values are in conflict, each side should focus more on learning about the other's side than finding a more "traditional" settlement.

How South Africa Addressed the Inequity of Apartheid

In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Beginning in 1996, about 2,000 victims and perpetrators had the chance to share their stories about how apartheid had impacted them. The conversations continued for seven years. There are new laws to reach toward equity, but many social problems exasperated by Apartheid remain. Some say that because the perpetrators suffered no consequences, there was no justice. South Africa saw rounds of anti corruption protests in 2017 as South Africans reached toward the peaceful vision Mandela projected, but today's South Africa remains "the most unequal nation on the planet" (The World Bank). Half of households make less than the equivalent of $90 per month. Unemployment is over 50%. In the AP photo below, the foreground is the mostly black slums while the background high-rises house the rich.

















How Ireland Resolved The Troubles

In Ireland, the conflict began in 1919 when some of Ireland (the strongly Catholic southern part) revolted against British rule and became an independent state. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland was supportive of Britain and strongly Protestant. Even though the Catholics and Protestants had often lived in diverse neighborhoods for generations, they generally avoiding mingling socially--no common schools, no intermarrying. When Northern Ireland remained part of the UK, many Irish Catholics felt pushed out of jobs as the Northern Irish--they said--favored the Protestants.

By 1968, what became known as "The Troubles" erupted in riots and Ireland formed the NRA to attempt to reclaim Northern Ireland for The Republic of Ireland. Fiery conflict continued until 1998 when the factions formed a Good Friday pact. Paul Bew, a historian and professor emeritus at Queens University in Belfast compares this compromise to "an agreement between a husband and wife who still can't stand each other but have to find a way to live together." Since 1998, tensions have mellowed so that in 2017, 50% of Irish identified as neither unionist nor nationalist. Some say Brexit is reigniting the need to claim a side because in a recent iteration of the same poll, only 39% of Irish identified as neither unionist nor nationalist.

What Does History Tell Us About Solving Civil Conflicts?

So, how can US leaders save the country after a conflict? Well, based on how leaders as respected as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and even Tony Blair handled the resolutions, it's not quick. It's not easy. Listening is key to any feelings of resolution.

Books/Authors that came up during my reading:

Articles I read:

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Five Easy Weeknight Dinners

We've all been doing a lot of cooking lately due to Covid-19. For me, it's no real change, but for those who don't cook regularly, this has been one of the hardest parts of living through quarantine. These are some simple fam favorites that I land on when I don't have a plan or motivation to complete a plan.


 Chili 

I have tried so many variations of chili that I've almost lost track: tomato-based chicken chili, white chicken chili, creamy chicken chili, turkey chili, veggie chili, Texas steak chili, and more. On a weeknight, though, there's nothing that beats basic ground beef chili. If I were making this just for me, I'd spice it up and add some roasted red peppers, but to keep it family friendly, the only pizzazz I add to this recipe is using fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. Sometimes, I substitute black beans for the kidney beans. Ree calls for simmering this for an hour before adding the masa harina (corn meal), and I'm sure it's even better that way, but mine usually only simmers for about 20 minutes or so, and it still tastes great. In my family's style, we add cheese, Fritos, and lettuce. Sometimes, I make cornbread. Without the cornbread, Fritos, and cheese, it's a pretty healthy meal. If you get the cornbread in the oven first, dinner is ready in 30.

 Nachos and/or Tacos

Here's another simple meal with plenty of variations. I like to make my own taco seasoning and keep it on hand. This way, you can use as much or as little spice as you like. If you like chicken tacos/nachos, and you know there are several ways you'll use it during the week, it's worth roasting some bone-in chicken breasts and keeping the chicken ready. Then, you can throw some blue tortilla chips on a sheet pan, cover with shredded roasted chicken, freshly grated cheddar, and your choice of toppings, and broil for five minutes. Add salsa. Dinner in five with a little prep.

 Minestrone 

This just recently jumped onto my rotation list when I was looking for more vegetarian options to add to the menu. If you make enough and don't mind leftovers, you can make a batch of this and have dinner prepped for three days. There are so many variations of minestrone, so if you have a little garden, you can throw in whatever veggies you need to use up. It's so satisfying and relatively healthy. This one takes a little longer to throw together, but it does become more flavorful over a few days, so I would put it together the night ahead and store it in the refrigerator. Tip: Cook the pasta, rinse with cool water, and store in a plastic bag. Add pasta to bowls of hot soup as you warm it up. This will keep your pasta from absorbing too much of your soup broth.

 Breakfast 

Whole grain toast and an omelet. Simple, delicious, nutritious. Done in 10.

 Special Cereal Night

A friend of mine in college instituted a special cereal night in her house. Though her kids usually ate healthier cereals, on special cereal night, she busted out a few boxes of sugar cereals, and everyone ate choice cereals. Most of the time, her boys chose the healthier cereals anyway! :) Because cereals are fortified, this can be a fun tradition and a relatively healthy option. 

So, if you're burned out on coming up with menus, here's yours for next week:

M--Breakfast
T-- Chili
W--Minestrone
R-- Nachos
F--  Special Cereal Night

Weekend--Leftover Minestrone