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The Royal Wedding Schedule Is Here, So Set Your Alarm Clocks

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 08:03 AM PST

Details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming wedding have been released

I love a good royal wedding and it’s been years (nearly seven, to be exact) since I’ve had the opportunity to set my alarm for 4:00 am and curl up with a coffee to watch a live feed of a wedding most mortals could only ever have in their dreams. But the time has arrived — because Prince Harry and fiancee Meghan Markle have released the schedule of events for their wedding day.

That weird, high-pitched noise you hear is me squealing from now until May 19th, 2018.

The Palace released the details of the couple’s impending nuptuals on Twitter this morning, and it sounds like the dreamiest day imaginable. It will start with a noon service at St. George’s Chapel, a church on the grounds of Windsor Castle where Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, and end with an intimate reception thrown by the groom’s older brother.

We. Can’t. Wait.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the day’s events, the Palace sent out some kind words of gratitude on behalf of Harry and Meghan for all the well wishes they’re received since announcing their engagement.

And now, the good stuff.

The service at St. George’s will be be conducted by the Dean of Windsor and officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which sounds like a line straight out of a fairytale.

And speaking of fairytales, once the services conclude, the newly married pair will “undertake a Carriage Procession from St George’s Chapel through Windsor Town returning to Windsor Castle along the Long Walk.”

As you do. There will be no short walk on this most momentous of days. But all kidding aside, their reason for taking this little trip is a very sweet one — it’s so more spectators can see the royal couple in the moments after they’re officially married. People stay up all night and set up camp for a glimpse of the newlyweds, so it’s very kind of them to make sure as many of their loyal subjects as possible can wish them well.

Then, it’s time for a super royal and undoubtedly decadent reception at St. George’s Hall.

Followed by the real party thrown by Prince William and wife Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who will have given birth to the couple’s third child only weeks before the wedding. Now that’s a truly dedicated sister-in-law.

We can expect plenty of exciting royal moments for the big day, but as Harry is not directly in line for the crown like his big brother, things may be a bit more understated. For instance, William and Kate were married at Westminster Abbey, a massive and centuries-old Gothic church that seats 2,000. St. George’s seats just 800 people, so it sounds like Harry and Meghan’s ceremony will be slightly more intimate than William and Kate’s. Regardless, get ready for more adorable British toddlers in gorgeous outfits and a wedding dress we can collectively drool over.

Just three more months, but who’s counting? (Me. I’m counting.)

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School Policy Says Girls Have To Dance If Boy Asks And Our Heads May Explode

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 06:37 AM PST

This Utah school believes girls must dance with a boy if she is asked

A Utah mom is upset about a school policy she recently learned about– and rightly so. The rule revolves around an elementary school dance and the fact that girls aren’t able to say “no” when a boy asks them to dance regardless of whether they actually want to dance with that boy or not.

Can I get an “oh hell, nah?”

Natalie Richard's daughter attends Kanesville Elementary in West Haven, Utah and is currently in the sixth grade. When she originally told Richard what her teacher had said, she thought her daughter must have misunderstood the school policy. "Oh no, no honey,” she told Fox 13. “You guys are misunderstanding again. That's not how it is.”

So the mom took it upon herself to talk with the teacher and was astonished to learn her daughter had heard correctly. "The teacher said she can't. She has to say yes. She has to accept and I said, ‘Excuse me," she explained to Fox 13. So she went to the principal.

"He basically just said they've had this dance set up this way for a long time and they've never had any concern before," she said.

Apparently the idea behind the rule is to try to teach kids to respect one another.

"We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance," explained Weber School District spokesperson Lane Findlay, who confirmed the policy is in place. "Please be respectful, be polite.”

It sounds like what they are actually doing is trying to teach girls to respect what the boys want regardless of their feelings on the matter. There are so many things wrong with this picture I’m not sure where to start unpacking.

Not only does it teach boys that girls will do whatever they ask, it negates these girls’ feelings and reinforces that their opinions and emotions are somehow less important. This isn’t a dance for boys — it’s a school dance, which means all parties should be dancing with whomever they want to dance with.

But wait, there’s more.

Apparently before the school dance (which is voluntary), the girls receive a card with all students names on it who have expressed interest in dancing with them and are asked to choose five boys they want to dance with. Then it’s up to the girls to alert school officials if there is someone on the card who they feel uncomfortable dancing with so it can be hashed out beforehand.

(*picks up eyeballs off desk and inserts them back into eye sockets*)

"If there is an issue, if there's students that are uncomfortable or have a problem with another student, I mean: that's certainly something that can be addressed with that student and parents," Findlay said.

NO. No, Sweet Caroline, NO. that’s not at all how it’s supposed to go.

You mean, the girl has to defend her reason for not wanting to dance with a boy to the boy and his family and the school?!? How is this a thing? How about, “No means no and I don’t have to give you a damn reason.” Period. End of story. Ba-bye.

"I do see it from their perspective when it comes to that, but there are many other ways to teach children how to be accepting than with a social dance," Richard explained. "Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying I can't say ‘no’ to a boy,” she said. “That's the message kids are getting.”

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Polly Pocket Is Relaunching Their Classic 90’s Toys

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 06:34 AM PST

New pockets will be available this summer

As we continue to relaunch all the best things from the 90s, some genius decided to take on a toy that should’ve never left us in the first place: Polly Pocket. That’s right, this summer you can once again buy the beloved compact toys.

If for some bizarre reason you don’t already know this, Polly Pockets are tiny toy worlds crammed into a small case. They come with equally small dolls – Polly and her friends – who fit into the case that closes up and can be easily transported anywhere.

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They came in seemingly endless options: beach, home, garden, amusement parks, castles etc., and spurred hours of imagination time for kiddos. More than 10 million pockets were sold before the line was discontinued, Buzzfeed reported.

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They were always a huge hit at birthday parties because kids know dope toys. I remember the ohs and awes when one was unwrapped. You could feel your friends taking note: “Jennifer gives Polly Pockets. Tell mom she gets a birthday invite.”

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You could play with a Pocket on your own or swap with your friends and play with theirs. Due to their compact size and shape, it was a perfect toy for parents, too. Pull out a Polly Pocket and all of a sudden hanging out the DMV with your kid isn’t the absolute worst.

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If you think we’re exaggerating the love kids had for Polly Pockets consider this: an Etsy shop that sells vintage PPs has more than 15,000 followers on Instagram. And a vintage Polly Pocket Fairy Light Wonderland recently sold for nearly $500 on eBay.

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The original creator, British company Bluebird Toys, made 350 Polly Pocket sets between 1989 and 1998 before they were sold to Mattel. They gave the brand a makeover that never really took off. But with the relaunch, we should expect to see Polly Pockets that closely resemble the originals. According to Buzzfeed, they’ll be hitting shelves this June.

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Is It Okay To Be Naked In Front Of Your Kids?

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 05:23 AM PST

You may like being in the buff, but what do your kids think of your muff? And will they become nudist when they grow up? Have no fear, Madge the Vag is here and sits down with pediatrician TJ Gold to find out!

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Even An Amicable Divorce Is Brutal

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

Two weeks ago, I sent my ex-husband a text as we were discussing our kids’ schedules. I told him I felt like we’d turned a corner, like we’ve all settled, and I felt a feeling of peace and calm come over me — something I hadn’t recognized inside myself for years — maybe even a decade.

He agreed, and told me he was happy I feel that way. And he meant it. Our divorce was mutual, uncontested, we both knew we’d come to the end of the road. We hired one lawyer, a family friend, filled out some paperwork and before we knew it, we were no longer married. After 6 years of trying to force something, this felt like sweet relief.

He now lives a few miles away, I helped him decorate his condo, and we have shared custody of our three kids, which seems to be working well. We’ve let them call the shots as to where they want to go for the most part, and it’s working for all involved.

As far as divorces go, compared to some of the hardships I know couples go through when they are splitting up, ours has been fairly smooth.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not brutal. And believe me when I say, I didn’t expect to be driving down the road less than a week after sending a text filled with peace and love to my ex-husband, and be on the verge of a panic attack because an old memory from when we were a happy family came out of nowhere, swallowed me up, then spit me out.

We aren’t in love with each other anymore, and have not been for some time, but it still knocks the wind out of me when I see his girlfriend climb in the front seat of the family car my husband took with him because that’s where I used to sit as our three kids piled in the back as we’d head off for a family day together. Feeling like you’ve been replaced is a deep, unexplainable pain. God, it’s tough to watch.

Saying goodbye to your kids a few times a week leaves gutted. It never gets easy and feels unfair to everyone involved — even if you desperately need a break from parenting solo.

When you get divorced — no matter the situation — certain things are forced upon you that you don’t want. No one wants to give up time with their kids. No one wants to pass over their favorite painting. No one likes having to answer questions about your relationship when you see an old friend. No one likes to tackle the stress of owning a home and paying bills solo. No one is excited to sell their engagement rings. And no one likes to see another person sit where you used to sit — not at your kid’s basketball game, not in the passenger seat of your old car, and especially not in someone’s heart occupying a space that used to belong to you.

Even if you love sleeping alone (oh, I really like this), every night when you crawl into bed, you remember, even if it’s only for a moment, that another person used to lie there with you.

You will have lonely moments, lonely days, lonely weeks. Sometimes you don’t know what to do with those feelings, and will go to great lengths to find something — anything — to occupy your mind.

When you share your life with someone — buy a house, have kids, build a family — they become intertwined in your soul, they feel like home. You like their smell, they bring you comfort, you get used to the way they move. And when those feelings disappear and you go your separate ways — whether it’s amicable to not — the memories stay. After all, they’ve had a hand in making you who you are and will forever be a part of you even if you want to forget, which sometimes we do because it would be a whole hell of a lot easier to move on.

But it’s impossible. Because even if you are happier, even if you are stronger than ever, even if you are your best self, living a life you’ve always dreamed of, you are not immune to driving down the road and getting a kick in the gut because your life looks so different than what you thought it was going to look like.

Divorce doesn’t have to be horrible to kick you in the ass. Every divorce is brutal, and the only way to the other side is to wade through it.

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My Husband’s Fitness Journey Is Pissing Me Off, And Here’s Why

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

I thought I was opening an Amazon box o'fun. I didn't know what kind of fun, but maybe some surprise goodies, like the unicorn mug my husband bought me that proclaims, "I AM FUCKING MAGICAL." We Amazon-prime incessantly, often presents for each other, and often fun stuff we'd never buy. Could it be a dress? Some new lube? A t-shirt or phone accessories or something else you could argue I kind of sort of needed.

Nope.

The package was not for me.

It was a fucking Fitbit.

Fitbit, in case you live under a rock in the hinterlands of Mongolia, is a little doohickey that straps to your wrist, syncs to an app on your phone, and tracks fitness and wellness stats. Like how many hours you slept, or how many steps you took, or your heartrate. You can log how much water you drink (get your 64 ounces, asshole!), scan your food for calorie counts and then estimate how much of those calories you've burned. It's like this perpetual diet monitor tied to your wrist. It will also tell you who is texting you.

I am in the process of going totally body positive. I'm sick of living like I'm not good enough, like I have to meet some arbitrary industrialized Western standard of beauty that does not include a childbearing tummy and anyone over a size, like, 4, except for Ashley Graham. Or anyone with saggy boobs. Or anyone who in any way deviates from the norm.

So, after a lifetime of living in terror about my weight, which included some time with an eating disorder and years on restrictive breastfeeding elimination diets, I said, Satan, be gone.

I eat — food. When I want. I don't eat huge portions, unless I'm hugely hungry. I eat to saiety and then stop. This is very hard when you spent a lifetime ignoring the flashing red light that says, "I'm full, bitch." I try hard, very hard, to be okay with this. I try hard to look in the mirror to be okay with me. I ignore fitness stuff and exercise gurus and your half-marathon times because they make me depressed at this stage in my life. I'll get there. But I'm not there yet. My husband is wildly supportive of this effort.

I waited a whole three days before I said something. "I saw you got a Fitbit, Polly Prissy Pants," I said.

"I want to track my sleep cycles to see if I have apnea," he shot back.

Oh. Well then.

"I didn't want to tell you because I knew you'd be like this," he said.

When you're married for a decade, you learn certain things.

And if that's where it had ended, that would have been fine. But it didn't. Suddenly, the Fitbit began creeping into our conversations. "I made my 10,000 steps by 11 am," he sighed, a teacher who paces his classroom while he talks. Or, "I walked five miles today," he'd say. "Indoors."

And I panic, thinking, oh fuck, I didn't walk five miles indoors. I'm lucky if I walked a half mile in between housework and homeschooling and that great Target parking space I scored. I should have walked five miles. I should have hit 10,000 steps by 11 am. But, alas, I didn’t. 

He'll talk about his exceptional hydration habits too. "I hit 64 ounces of water by the time I got to school!" And I'm over in the corner with my cup of joe thinking, "Well, at least I mainlined 32 ounces of coffee by that point in a desperate attempt to stay upright."

Every point became a competition. And every point I came up wanting. I started to hate that stupid black box strapped to my husband, which was probably geotracking him like a darted howler monkey. This was not body positive. This was wrecking my mojo. This was driving me into the arms of salads and extra pushups.

We finally had to make a pact. He had to shut up about Mr. Fitbit for my mental health. I supported his desire to get healthier, if that's how he wanted to do it. I just found it highly triggering. It makes me competitive, this stupid little watch. So much so that I started to feel like I needed to buy that stupid little watch. Which would send me into a spiral of obsession and despair.

So the Fitbit and I have an agreement: I pretend the Fitbit doesn't exist, except for comments about sleep (its original purpose, and a good one), and the Fitbit does not inject itself into random conversations.

My husband has his brother for that. I'm supportive. I believe in my husband. I believe he can fly, and touch the sky, and do whatever the fuck he wants to his body, though I also believe his beefy Scots-Irish body looks quite fine, if the frequency of our sex life is any indicator. So I go my own body positive way.

One day I'll be able to hear fitness talk feeling triggered. But not today, Satan. Not today.

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What I Realized After My Son’s Autism Diagnosis

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)—it's difficult for me to express exactly what feelings stirred up inside of me the first time I heard these words in reference to my child. My thoughts were one jumbled mess as I attempted to settle into the fact that we would be stepping into a new normal, one which my perfectionistic, well-thought-out life plan did not include.

My children were all supposed to be exemplary scholars who excelled in extra-curricular activities while maintaining high scores across the board in school. They would be obedient, healthy, emotionally sound, spiritually secure little people with undying love and support from their got-it-all-together parents.

Let's all take a moment to snicker laugh uncontrollably at my blissful ignorance. It's never "convenient" or entirely pleasant to have the rug of euphoria ripped right out from under you… but it happens and here we are.

So, what exactly does this new normal mean for us?

This "new normal" is only a confirmation of what I have already known in my gut all along. Even from the very beginning when I held my firstborn baby in my arms, I knew he was different. And I don't mean in the normal (whatever that is) "every child is different" kind of way. By golly, if the baby textbook assured us our baby would do something, he was sure to do quite the opposite.

For example, my newborn did not nap — ever. He might surprise us with an occasional 15 to 20-minute power nap, but that was the extent of it. And boy did he have a set of lungs on him which he took the liberty of exercising regularly. He was the purest definition of a colicky baby. The poor, little, anxious, over-stimulated child struggled to deal with life even then.

As he grew and developed, we noticed more and more differences making their debut. He never stuck anything in his mouth like most crawling, exploring babies did. He would simply pick up newfound objects, turn them over in his chubby little fingers, and seem to study them for several minutes (sometimes longer) before setting them down to move on to the next object.

On top of these differences, I realized even before he was two that his memory was extraordinary. With no help from me, our 20-month-old memorized the entire map of the United States of America. He was given one of those electronic maps that would ask questions and recite the names of the states as each state was touched. My boy would obsessively press those buttons over and over and over again, until one day I noticed him answering all of the electronic toy's questions correctly. He knew where every state was located and learned them all on his own. His concentration and memory were remarkable.

As he grew, I couldn't help but notice all of his many quirks rising to the surface—the meltdowns, the OCD tendencies, the tics, the fits of anger. All of these were simply pieces to a bigger puzzle that took us seven years to piece together. But little by little it DID come together.

This new normal is ultimately freeing. Finally, our boy will get the help he needs to not just get by, but thrive in school, at home, and in life in general. He will talk with counselors who specialize in ASD and anxiety disorders. He will learn how to adapt to every day social demands and will be taught techniques he can utilize when he begins to feel out of control. School will be a whole new world where he can learn and test in an environment that suits his individual needs. Freedom comes with this diagnosis.

Everything will change, but then again everything will stay the same. My inquisitive little boy will still be enthralled by dinosaurs, maps, and numbers while other boys his age might prefer movies and baseball. He will still need extra words of affirmation (heck, even I need those at times) and assurance that it's okay to be different. He will still receive love, consequences, and nurture as he matures, even though some of the techniques may be altered to better suit his needs. Overall, the biggest change is one we are embracing whole-heartedly — we will finally have the knowledge/education needed to guide our special ASD child.

And you know what, knowledge is power. I've always known this statement to be true, but knowing and believing are two entirely different things. In my mind, placing a diagnosis on my child would do more harm than good. I feared the stigma that these words would place on my child's back.

To be honest, it all boiled down to selfishness on my part. I was like a little junior high girl terrified of what my peers would think and how they would respond to my child who wasn't quite as "cookie-cutter" as all of theirs. I didn't want them to see my son as he screamed and cried and hit himself because he couldn't blow up a balloon like his friend could, and I sure didn't want them to witness his full-blown meltdowns at Friday night football games when the numbers on the scoreboard were in favor of the opposing team.

I did not want to believe my child was destined to be different. Different is scary. Different is hard. Different is… well… different. What I failed to realize was that different can be incredible. Just ask Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, and Sir Isaac Newton who all fell on the autism spectrum too. Mind blown.

When you finally are given resources and tools to allow you to understand how to help your child, there's an overwhelming peace that takes hold of your heart. My child may be different, but that doesn't mean he can't learn; he just learns differently. My child may be different, but that doesn't mean he won't develop meaningful relationships; he just might take a bit longer to find that coveted best buddy. And my child may be different, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to cope with the challenges life hurls at him; he will just have to cope with them… you guessed it… differently.

I might be new to all of this, but if there is one piece of advice I could offer someone else with a child who is a little "different," it's this: don't fear a diagnosis. Instead, fear the absence of knowledge and, in turn, never being able to see your child thrive in his unique and extraordinary differences. When it comes down to it, different really isn't all that bad, and a new normal is in fact "normal" nonetheless.

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Why It’s So Hard To Re-Enter The Workforce After Being A SAHM

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

About 10 months ago I started writing again. I hadn't written anything in probably over 15 years. It was by chance that I started, and it turned out to be something I didn't even realize I desperately needed to do again. I started writing every moment I could. I felt like, after 12 years of taking care of my family, I had something that was all mine. I started a blog. I began connecting with other moms. It was fabulous. But I wanted to contribute monetarily to my family, too. It would feel so good to make some money doing something I really loved.

I started researching freelance writing jobs. They all had one thing standing between me and fulfilling my goal — a resume. Ugh. Sure, I had been a high school English teacher 14 years ago. But that seemed obsolete now. I also had plenty of life experiences from spending the last 12 years of my life taking care of my family, but none of them would be seen as "professional."

Why is it like this? Why is staying at home with our families not considered the type of choice that has enough value to be deemed resume-worthy? Have we not been doing something incredibly challenging and useful? Yes! Of course we have! We're dedicating our time to raising good, decent human beings and it can be argued there is no job more valuable and difficult. But it is not synonymous with mainstream occupations. There is no paycheck, no health benefits, no accolades, and no space for it on a resume.

Some might argue that I knew what I was getting into when I quit my job and decided to stay home with my kids. I knew that leaving the workforce came with sacrifice. I understood that I would have to put some of my passions and skills into storage to collect dust and get rusty. But I also have not been hibernating. I have not been lazy and remote and cut off from the outside world. I am still a creative, intelligent, strong force with which to be reckoned. We SAHMs have resume content that would knock the competition out of the park in manys if given the opportunity to share these life experiences with potential employers.

Do I have an understanding of the updated Excel, Power Point, and other computer programs?

No. But I have learned how to track my kids via GPS a dozen different ways, mastered parental controls, and learned more about technology than I ever thought possible. I'm pretty sure I could become proficient in those other things as well.

Do I handle constructive criticism well?

I have a tween daughter, two strong-willed boys, and have been married for 15 years. I'm gonna go with YES on this one.

Am I a hard worker?

I haven't slept in ten years and am responsible for the happiness, safety, well-being, and behavior of three growing humans (and two dogs). They can do the math on this one.

Do I have good communication skills?

I've been meeting and interacting with moms, teachers, administrators, coaches, tutors, doctors, and specialists for years.

So what do we do when we want to re-enter the "career world" when we've been home with our kids all these years? I don't want to get out there and do something that doesn't appeal to me simply for the fact that I don't have the technically "correct" descriptions to put on a resume. I'm going to get out there, keep writing, keep nudging my way in, and demand that what I've done for all these years be recognized as more than just a "break from work." There is no break in what we do. I haven't been taking vacationing; I've been fully immersed in the real world, just from a different setting.

If we decide at some point to re-enter the workforce, we must be empowered by our value. We must remember what we've done and go forward knowing that we have worked long hours, dealt with emergencies, acquired valuable tools, created, fixed, grown, socialized, mastered, re-worked, failed, succeeded, worried, cared, learned, taught, delegated, dropped the ball, ran with the ball, orchestrated, and LIVED. We are strong. We are dependable. We are powerful. We will not be ignored and seen as less than. We will get out there and get it. Whatever "it" is, we are worthy and deserving. We are a brave community and warriors of the human experience.

Maybe there is no spot for our role on a resume because what we have accomplished is not measurable. Our cup overflows. Graduate to a bigger cup and keep filling it. We are not done. We are only getting started.

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