Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding's Dazzling Hats!

So today is a day for a much needed lighthearted blog post!
This morning I along with millions of people worldwide tuned in to watch Prince William wed the beautiful Kate Middleton.  The ceremony was quite a spectacle and dazzled the world.  All this was expected of course.  The fashion world waited on pins and needles to see the dress the sparkling bride would wear and it was beautiful as expected. As I sat on my couch in the wee hours of the morning I found myself in awe. I was not in awe of the dress, or the carriages or the magnificent church, and not of the fairy tale story come to life.  A girl of “common” blood marrying a prince and riding her carriage off to live happily ever after is quite amazing in the 21st century, but as they have been dating awhile all these things were expected, rehearsed and planned.  
I sat memorized by the magnificent hats worn by the guests.  Never in my life have I seen such beautiful head gear.  It took all I had not to pull out the craft box, sprinkle some glitter and lace on my old girl scout beanie and wear it to work! I can’t wait to go buy hats now!  Here are some of the photos of these breath taking pieces that will likely take the fashion world by storm.
Women began wearing headwear during the middle ages as a result of a church decree mandating that the hair be covered[1].

A milliner is the term used for a person who makes hats. Some only produce hats, but  it is very common that they are the  designer too. Historically a milliner made headwear for everyone no matter age or gender; however; in recent years, the clientele of a milliner is mostly female[2].

Hats were primarily used to cover the head for protection from the elements or for activities, but they were considered part of everyday necessary clothing not for fashion and were very plain[3].

At the turn of the 20th Century in 1900, hats became a symbol of status and etiquette books deemed it inappropriate to leave the house with one[4]!

Over the last century, hats have slowly lost popularity, they have not even been worn much at  weddings and religious services.  They have not been worn by the masses since the 1920s[5]

The 1980s brought a brief resurgence of the hat as the beautiful Diana, Princess of Wales and fashion Icon used them to add a sense of sophistication to her persona in the early days of her marriage[6]

Hope learned a bit about hats and enjoy these hats as much as I do!

[1] Walford, Jonathan; Topper the Form, April 29, 2011,
[2] Damewood, Cassie; What is a Milliner, April 29, 2011,
[3] Thomas, Pauline Weston; The Wearing of Hats Fashion History General Information, April 29, 2011,
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sack Lunches Sidelined in Chicago

Sack Lunches Sidelined in Chicago
The United States of America has been at war against obesity for a number of years now. As many of us know the public school system has begun an overhaul in an effort to support the nationwide initiative to provide more balanced meals and snacks.  For example, locally, many public high schools have done away with vending machines that used to sell soda and have replaced chips and candy bars in snack machines with healthier options like granola bars.  From the start I have supported this initiative.  I personally believe that our children should learn from a young age how to make healthy food choices and that it is important for parents to limit fast food and empty calorie consumption.  I have never given much thought as to how far schools should go to regulate children’s health decisions. I’m not even sure what the threshold would be to determine what was an adequate regulation and what was too far. I guess I figured I’d take a Justice Potter Stewart stance and “know it when I see it”[1]. Well…I’ve seen it. 
This month, Little Village Academy, a public school in Chicago, Illinois has banned children from bringing sack lunches to school[2]. Yes you read that correctly. Children are not allowed to bring their own lunch to school. The school officials have decided to take away a parent’s ability to send food to school with their child.  Principal Elsa Carmona has instituted this policy that forces students to eat the healthy school lunch or go hungry[3].  And go hungry is exactly what many of the students choose to do[4]. Chicago Tribune writers made a visit to the school and found many of the students threw the lunches away without touching them[5]. The intent behind this policy is to protect the students from their own, or indirectly their parents, unhealthful food choices[6].  To add insult to injury, students who do not qualify for the free or reduced lunch program in Chicago must pay the standard $2.25 for lunch each day[7]. Forcing the children to purchase the lunches puts money directly into the pocket of the school district’s food provider Chartwells-Thompson[8].
                                                             (Actual picture of the "healtier" lunch courtesy of The Chicago Tribune)

What gets me is how the school can impose this and get away with it. Is this not an infringement of parent’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children? Fundamental rights are those “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty…so deeply rooted in this nation’s history and traditions[9]such that "neither liberty nor justice would exist if they were sacrificed.[10]” The right to direct the upbringing of your child includes the right to direct their healthcare, religion, and lifestyle. In my opinion, the right to decide and prepare the food that your child eats is an essential part of their healthcare and lifestyle.
If a fundamental right is being infringed upon and it is challenged in court the government entity imposing the infringement must show the following
a)      That the infringement is for a compelling state interest;
b)      That the enforcement of the infringement is directly related to ends sought; and
c)       That the infringement is the least burdensome alternative. 
In this case, you must ask, does the school district or specifically the principal have a compelling state interest in mandating that the children purchase the healthy school lunch? I would have to say yes. Secondly, you ask is the implementation of the rule directly related to the outcome of children eating healthier lunches. Again, Yes.  However, when you get to the third prong of the test, it fails.  Is the outcome achieved by the least burdensome alternative to children eating a healthy lunch.  NO NO NO NO NO.
In fact, at Claremont Academy Elementary school on the south side of Chicago, not far from Little Village Academy, the principal achieves the same outcome by implementing a system that allows for sack lunches; however, requires that any unhealthy food or drink brought in the lunch be confiscated until the end of school and then returned[11].  This approach is much less burdensome and accomplishes the same end result.
I think the school has overstepped their boundaries in this instance. I would personally be outraged if my child’s school informed me I could no longer have an input in what she would eat each day.  I think allowing this to continue is allowing government even in the form of a public school administrator, too much sole discretion on a policy that drastically affects a number of students and their families.
As an aside, I would like to thank my brother WN for pointing this story out to me! I owe you one…or two, but who’s counting?

[1] Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

[2] Goodwin, Liz; Chicago school bans homemade lunches, the latest in national food fight, April 11, 2011,

[3] Garcia, Karen; Cafeteria Food Fight, April 11, 2011,
[4] Eng, Monica; Chicago schools ban some lunches brought from home, The Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2011
[5] Id.
[6] Garcia, Karen; Cafeteria Food Fight, April 11, 2011,
[7] Id.
[8] Eng, Monica; Chicago schools ban some lunches brought from home, The Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2011

[9] Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 US 494

[10] Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937),
[11]  Eng, Monica; Chicago schools ban some lunches brought from home, The Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Different Easter Story

There is excitement in the air at my house today.  Egg painting, basket decorating and meal preparation are all in full effect.  My 6 year old is anxiously awaiting her Easter basket and the arrival of the Easter Bunny.  In preparation of tomorrow’s early morning egg hunt, I was at the store purchasing my last minute plastic eggs and stuffed bunny earlier today.  While waiting in the never ending line I wondered to myself why I was there.  Nothing about the Easter story that I was taught has anything to do with standing in long lines for chocolate bunnies at Kroger. So how did the crucifixion of Christ Jesus my savior at Calvary and his subsequent resurrection leave me scheduled to attend a sunrise church service and an egg hunt all in the same day?  How could a holiday with such a religious meaning become crossed with such secular tradition? And such a silly tradition with large bunnies and chicks at that? Just didn’t seem to jive to me, so in true nerd fashion,  I came home and started researching.
What I learned was actually very interesting.  I always assumed that Christ died first and then somehow, somewhere between then and now the Easter bunny emerged. I was surprised to learn that in fact the foundation of what we call Easter today was actually laid far before Christ walked the earth. [1] Spring was a time when many pagan cultures held celebrations and festivals[2]. The Anglo Saxons believed in the Pagan Goddess Eastre or Eostre who was an obscure goddess that represented fertility. [3] Her fertility touched crops, animals and people and was extremely important for survival in agrarian societies.[4]  Each spring they held a festival in her honor in hopes that she would grant the community fertility[5]. Eostre was a beautiful maiden who took reign over the earth in the spring and was known for her magical companion that was a bunny and a basket of red eggs.[6] The bunny has long been a symbol of fertility and thus was appropriate as they are known to be avid reproducers.
After the death of Christ, Christian missionaries were spreading the word of God and trying to infiltrate Christ’s message all across the world. [7] It was not uncommon for Christians to adopt pagan traditions and customs in order to appear more acceptable. [8] Coincidentally, the Pagan Eostre celebration occurred around the same time as the death of Christ, his ascension into heaven and the Christian celebrations surrounding those events. Christians took the Pagan holiday and incorporated the religious meanings to it to hopefully gain acceptance and to bring more people to Christ. 
After the death of Christ, in the 600s, Pope Gregory the Great forbade the eating of eggs during Lent (the 40 days proceeding Easter), and this helped make eggs a special treat.  This practice coupled with the colorful eggs the Pagan Goddess donned as an accessory provided a vehicle for Christians to tie in religion with the springtime festivities.  Many European countries also gave decorated eggs as gifts.[9]   Eastre celebration evolved into Easter and the secular meaning and pagan origins dissipated as Christians hoped and the religious meaning became the common meaning.  The secular traditions however continued with the religious tie in.  These traditions strengthened in Germany and the Easter Bunny as we know it today evolved. Children in German countries believed that Eostre’s rabbit would leave them colored eggs in the springtime if they were good. They would leave hats in the bushes which later became baskets.
So now I have a greater understanding of Easter and the tie in of between the resurrection of the Savior and the eggs and bunnies that cause so much anxiety and excitement annually.  Happy Easter Everyone!   

[1] Author Unknown, How did The Easter Bunny Become Part of a Religious Holiday, November 8, 2002,
[2] Id.
[3] Wodening, Swain, Eostre, Wednesbury Shire,
[4] Author Unknown, How did The Easter Bunny Become Part of a Religious Holiday, November 8, 2002,
[5] Id.
[6] Ostara, T., Spring Equinox, 2003,
[7] Id.
[8] Robinson, B.A., Parallels between Christianity and Ancient Pagan Religions, 1999,
[9] Author Unknown, How did The Easter Bunny Become Part of a Religious Holiday, November 8, 2002,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perry v. Parents....Public Education and Personal Responsibility

So I received the letter today from my daughter's school informing me of the cuts that will be made next year. Cuts will include a 10% reduction in operating budget which will total $4,000.00, 1 teacher in each grade will be laid off resulting in an increase of 4 children in each class and cuts in extra curricular programs such as Spanish class and Art.
I am hopeful that today’s repeal of the “Save Our Schools” legislation will allow over $800 Million dollars previously refused by Rick Perry to quickly make it's way to the hands of Texas Education officials. The legislation originally brought by Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett was repealed as a part of the compromises made by Democrats in Washington to keep the government up and running this week and avoid a partial closure. Rick Perry opposed this legislation from the start. The “win” by Perry and his boys does not however make me think any different of him. Perry originally turned away the over $800 million dollars because provisions within the legislation singled Texas out by requiring that the money not be used to replace state education money that would have been spent regardless of any Federal funding. The decision not to sign the 3 page legislation that would have given Texas $830 Million dollars months ago was risky and came at high costs. The current state of the Texas public education system is in shambles. In a sentence Rick Perry, YOU ARE SELFISH. In a nation being torn apart right down party lines, it is not surprising to me that this Democrat created idea was shunned by Perry, but when it comes down to it….I don’t care if Democrats created and backed the legislation. To be honest, I don’t care if Kermit the Frog came up with it. It was a viable solution to our state’s financial shortfall at a time when school funding was desperately needed.  Had the government not nearly shut down, the legislation would have pushed forward and our children would have lost out on the hundreds of millions of dollars while elected officials tied the fight up in court which we all know would only further slow down any hope of seeing the money.   So Rick, while the end result may turn out okay, I truly hope your mismanagement of the Texas Pubic Education System costs you any future political bid for a presidency or other office.  
Glad that I got that off my chest. Let me move on.  While I'm furious at the situation, I do believe sitting back and complaining won't help. If you are going to complain l like I am you must also suggest a solution.  I am going to throw something out there for all my readers and you can take it our send it back to me. The repeal of “Save our School” likely will allow Texas to receive some much needed money; however, the timeline of when that will occur is uncertain.  In the meantime, and for the upcoming school year, the choices are to, move to another state, complain and protest, or to take matters into your own hands and fix it. My daughter’s school has already begun a very grass roots movement to organize functions and meetings to combat the new obstacles that we are now faced with. I'm going to help our school with private fundraising and personal donations in an attempt to make up the budget gap. This may include cutting personal luxuries like cable and nail shop appointments, but my daughter’s education is important. If the state can’t give her a decent education then it is my responsibility to. 
Think about one bill in your household that is an “extra”. For example, cable television, movie channels, gym membership, cleaning lady, nail appointment…something. Imagine if instead of paying for one of these luxuries each month you donated that much money to your school. If everyone did that, the 10% reduction in each school’s operating budget would easily be made up and then some. The salary of a teacher might even be saved. Are these drastic measures…maybe.  Is personal sacrifice required in this state to receive public education…No. However; at some point the complaining has to stop and people need to take responsibility. I get tired of seeing protesters who are willing to stand on the street and hold a sign voicing their opinion that layoffs are bad, but not willing to do anything about it personally. This problem will not fix itself.    It’s obvious that elected officials don’t always keep our children in mind, so we have to. 
Just my opinion….take it or leave it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Start the Madness with College Football – Death to the BCS

A March Madness style playoff should be instituted in college football and the BCS should be put out of its misery.  There. I said it. Put another way….THE BCS SUCKS! While many will argue that this years Butler vs Uconn College Basketball championship is evidence that a playoff style championship does not produce the best team in the league, the suspenseful playoff games leading up to the championship prove that the hype of a true playoff is real and there is a following for a head to head match up type series.  Many can also argue that the only time people tune in to college basketball is during March, further evidencing the excitement of a true playoff. 
The biggest downfall of the BCS is that you often don’t get to see the best match-ups in the league leaving fans unfulfilled.  Each over 500 college football games are played and the season fails to yield a true champion. The league offers as a consolation the bowl games and while some games are exciting many are total blowouts and a waste of time. Each year ends in speculation as to which team would really top another because there is no true champion and the best games are never played.
The magic of the college basketball playoffs and the road to a championship game at the very least grant fans finality to each season and leave little to no question as to which teams can truly boast themselves as champions. Now I am sure I can hear laughter from many readers as we all just witnessed an admittedly sad and depressing championship game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament this year, but I counter that by asking what is wrong with Bulter in the championship game? Cinderella stories are what sports are all about.  College football requires teams to peak early and remain consistent. This unlikely format quickly eliminates slow peaking teams from the bowl games leaving no room for hope and no underdog.  This too drains a teams earning capacity early on as fans will not hang around and spend money on their team with no hopes of a strong finish.  
I do think that realistically the true solution to the BCS problem is more in the implementation than in the ideology of a change. The dynamics of football are different than basketball and the size of each team in itself create issues for unplanned matchups even in just the administrative scheduling side of a playoff scheme. Coordinating travel, lodging and meals for 100+ players and coaches can be a task in itself and doing so in on a whim after discovering which opponent you will be facing is an obvious downside to a football playoff system.  But perhaps Billionaire Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban is on to something. His idea of a sort of invitational violates NCAA rules, but could perhaps be the beginning of the end to the BCS as we know it. Under Cuban’s scheme 8 teams would be paid to participate in his tournament with a true winner emerging as the champion at the end.  Now whether or not this idea could be expanded on to incorporate more teams and lead to a true “March Madness” style tournament has yet to be seen and will hopefully come to fruition in the near future.
Who knows what will become of college football and whether or not the BCS will truly ever fall, but until a final solution or compromise can be concocted,  fans will continue to quarrel over which college football team is really the best each year and many potentially epic games will never be played.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Glitter in the Air

My daughter is turning six next week and I frequently find myself wondering where the time has gone and wondering what my life was like before her.  It seems that almost instantaneously with her birth, my life too, actually began. The 22 years of life preceding her existence has become an insignificant glimmer in my memory…..almost meaningless.

A pastor once explained life to me as though people are fish swimming up stream.  They don’t have any clue that the world exists outside of that stream. But occasionally a fish jumps up out of the water and for a split second he see’s and is aware of the outside world and that there is more than just the stream.  Kaily is my glimpse of something more. She is the realization of the existence of a heart stopping love that brings me to tears and humbles my soul.

It is true that life had shining moments before she was here, but since her arrival every day now sparkles….both figuratively and literally. Lol.   After all it must be sparkly when you are 5 and your idols are Michael Jackson and Lady GaGa. Occasionally I think back about how my life went from basketball and parties to glitter cupcakes and impromptu make-up sessions. From late nights out with friends to late nights feeding her and changing her and holding her when she was sick.  From MTV to PBS cartoons. The most shocking part of it all is how happy it makes me.   

From her first giggle, to her first steps, and her first words, she has captivated my heart and erased any boundary I ever thought love had.  She has pushed me to succeed, loved me when I have failed and done so all without knowing it.  So to the love of my life, to the reason I breathe and the total diva that brings meaning to my crazy life….

Happy 6th Birthday Love!