Friday, August 29, 2014

The History of Labor Day: 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know

Did you wake up this morning and go “Holy pool noodles! It’s almost September!”
I did. I can’t believe that summer is almost over and Labor Day is only a few days away. There was so much I was supposed to do this summer - like visit a water park, go kayaking, plant more flowers. There is a silver lining though, after 11 years of building, we finally finished our back porch and made our lawn greener than it’s ever been -- meaning it no longer looks like the Adams Family lives in our house.

And all is not all lost. They will still be warm days to soak up the sun and build up our defenses against the frozen dreadfulness that is a Pittsburgh winter.
To help kick off the Labor Day weekend, here are 10 cool historical facts about Labor Day, starting with how we should all thank Canada:

1.  Labor Day originated in Canada. While most of us think of Labor Day as a uniquely American holiday, it actually began in Toronto and stemmed from labor disputes in the 1870s. A parade was held to support a strike against a 58-hour workweek. As a result, 24 union leaders who organized the event were arrested under anti-union laws.




2.  The date of the first labor strike is still being debated. Many believe it occurred in 1872 when 100,000 workers took to the streets in on of the largest worker strikes in the nation.  Others say it was 1886 when during the Haymarket Riots in Chicago. Still others argue that the first labor strike in America was in 1836 when a group of Maine fisherman refused to work after the owner of their boats failed to pay them.




3.  One of the most well-know Labor Day observances in the United States was a parade. On September 5, 1882, ten thousand workers paraded through New York City under the sponsorship of the Central Labor Union. So what pissed off those 10,000 workers enough to make them march through the city? A 12 hour work day, that’s what! The first Labor Day rally was held to help them gain support for an 8 hour workday.




4.  The Labor Movement called for a 8-hour workday in 1836. Although non-unionized Boston ship carpenters won an 8-hour day in 1842, the 8-hour day was not firmly established until 1916 with the passage of the Adamson Act, the first federal law regulating hours of workers in private companies.




5.  Oregon was first to declare Labor Day an official holiday. In February 1887, Oregon passed the first laws officially recognizing Labor Day as a holiday.



6.  Labor Day was declared a National Holiday under Grover Cleveland. Making Labor Day an official national holiday as part of his political campaign. In 1894, President Cleveland made good on his promise and signed a law making Labor Day an official U.S. holiday.



7.  Labor Day is recognized worldwide. Although Labor Day originated in Canada and is celebrated in the United States, a number of other industrialized nations celebrate as well. While not all celebrate it at the end of summer like we Americans do, the concept is similar: it is a time to respect and reflect on workers.




8.  The first Waffle House opened on Labor Day. In 1955 in Avondale Estates, GA, waffle lovers rejoiced as the very first Waffle House opened its doors. Today, the restaurant chain counts has over 2,100 locations in 25 states. Yum!



9.  Fashion faux pas. In the “olden days” Labor Day was the time when women packed away their white shoes, white skirts and white pants. Today, wearing white is more of a year round staple and something women can do without getting a beat down by the fashion police.





10.  Labor Day is the unofficial NFL season kickoff. 99 percent of the time, the NFL plays its first official season game on the Thursday after Labor Day.



Happy Labor Day! Enjoy your weekend and have a fun and safe celebration with your family and friends.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Irrational Things Middle Aged Men Fear

When it comes to irrational fears, we all have em’, and they can be pretty embarrassing. As middle-aged adults, we all try our best to get a handle on our fears because we think we should have moved beyond that stuff at this age. In that regard, I fail miserably. What can I say, I was a neurotic kid and I’m a neurotic adult.

I’m also a female and today, we’re not talking about me (FINALLY you’re thinking!) and instead talking about irrational fears men over 50 have. 

My completely unscientific research consisted of asking the handful of men over age 50 that I know well enough what their biggest fears are. Here are their answers. (Your mileage may vary.) 

Impotence


In news that should shock absolutely no one with any sense, the number one fear of men over the age of 50 is impotence.

FYI: There are currently 24 different types of drugs that treat sexual dysfunction in men – and not a single one that treats it in women. Ugh. Shut up science. I’m getting really sick of this shit.


Hair Loss


This one absolutely blows because there’s no controlling it. It’s a fact of life that when you reach a certain age, your hair thins and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s just one of those shitty things about being middle aged that you have to learn to deal with and be a grown-ass human about.


Failure


Failure as a husband. Failure as a dad. Failure as an employee. Whatever. The latest statistics that are being thrown around say middle aged men are afraid of failure.

Just remember, it's all about perspective. Your "Holy crap I suck!" is another person's "No big deal." Makes sense, right? Yeah. Totally plausible.



Being Wrong



This fear can go DIAF. (That's die in a fire for those of you not up on internet slang.) There’s no reason to act like a big, bushy set of dickwhiskers and pretend you know everything about everything and don’t ever make a mistake just because you happen to have a penis. Who’s with me on this?


Appearing to Need Help





I’m talking about how men resist stopping to ask for directions or walk down every aisle of a store six times instead of asking where they keep their ¾ inch grommets.

How long can this continue to be a thing? Most women simply can’t wrap their brain around intentionally making things more time consuming. Anyone with a vagina will tell you all that I’ll-figure-it-out-myself BS adds up to one giant OH HELL NO.

Seriously dudes, if you need help, ask for it. Women everywhere will be doing secret fist pumps.



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Monday, August 25, 2014

FYI: Kidney Stones Really, REALLY Hurt

I used to think the worst kind of pain you could feel was labor pain. If you’ve had a baby, you know what I’m talking about. How many times have you described childbirth as “The most painful thing you could ever imagine” and then shuttered at the memory?

Well that all changed last week when I was laying on the couch watching America’s Got Talent and suddenly developed a stabbing pain/dull ache/burning/cramping feeling on my right side that felt like my guts were being twisted and ripped out by a giant steel claw.

Initially, I didn’t take the pain seriously because 1) I didn’t want to miss America’s Got Talent. 2) I’m stupid and 3) My period was due I thought the weird pain had some connection. Can you believe that? I can hardly believe I believed that. Even after I started throwing up, I was still thinking, “It’s my period.” In hindsight, that was really ridiculous. I mean, it’s not like I’m new to menstruation.

Of course I did what any doctor-fearing dumbass would do – I held on to my side and paced around the house convincing myself that it was hormones or a muscle spasm. Then I went to bed, willed myself to sleep and managed to doze off for an hour before waking up to even MORE pain. That’s when I knew something was REALLY wrong.

What followed was more pacing, throwing up and moaning with Bill following behind me saying, “Should we go to the hospital?” and me saying, “Ohhhhhh.”  “Owwwwwwww.” “Oh God it hurts” and “I DON’T KNOW!!!!!” Finally, at midnight we ended up driving to the hospital because I wanted to. Remember my extreme fear of doctors? That’s how you know it was bad.

Once we were there, it was pretty clear to everyone immediately that I was having or passing a kidney stone. In case you’re not familiar with kidney stones, they are VERY painful. People describe them as more painful than child birth and that is true. Given the choice, I’d prefer to consecutively birth ten 15 pound babies without an epidural than have another kidney stone.

Thankfully, when you are in massive pain (and vomit all over the waiting room) you get speedy treatment in the ER. We weren’t there for more than five minutes when I was hooked up to an IV and the nurse was saying, “I’m going to give you some morphine now” because when you’re in the hospital with kidney stone pain, they give you morphine just like that.

Two hours and a CT scan later, they confirmed I had a 3 mm stone and sent me home with a strainer to catch it in (Ewww), a crap ton of good drugs and instructions to rest for a few days. I, of course, did not listen. The next day I cleaned the house, got groceries and went to the gym. You can go ahead and roll your eyes and call me an idiot. I learned my lesson when I woke up feeling shitty the following day and the day after that and the day after that. So now I’m listening. I’ve been home resting and taking it easy and it is actually kind of nice. After a week, I’m starting to feel better. I have a follow up in a few days with a urologist so yeah for that. (Said sarcastically.)

Anyway, I thought I was going to have a break from doctors for a while and you probably thought we were done talking about my pee. Wrong and wrong.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's Only Wednesday, But MAN It's Been a Rough Week


For the past few days I've been behaving in an...um...slightly irrational manner. There's the way I ate a pack of Oreos and then chased them down with a bag of potato chips. Or the afternoon I was folding laundry and sobbing during a peanut butter commercial. Or the way I've been hanging oiut by the refrigerator for emotional comfort. Or the way I feel so...so...evil. And ugly. And full of hate.

Then I happened to look at the calendar and was like Ohhhhhh. RIGHT!

You know what I'm talking about -- that occasion that happens every month and never fails to occur on a holiday or during a beach vacation or on that one day you have to spend at the pool or, if you're me, on your honeymoon. For some reason, I always manage to forget about it until I turn into a bloated, crampy sack of emotional WTF. 

At this point, I know you're thinking, "OMG! Not ANOTHER another period post!" Yes, this topic may be a dead horse, but I am going to go right ahead and beat it again. (Hey-o!)

When I was 11 years old I was the first in my group of friends to get her period even though I showed no other signs of puberty and didn’t need to wear a bra for like, six more years. Thirty seven years later, it's kind of mind blowing that I’m the last one in my group still getting her period.

I listen to my friends tell their stories about how great it is to put PMS behind them, not get cramps and not have to tote around feminine protection I'm all "That's awesome. I'm happy for you" but really, I'm not. I'm pissed for me. 

I mean, WHEN DOES IT STOP??!!

I don’t know if I was optimistic a few years ago when my doctor said "menopause” or just delusional in thinking this shit would be ending soon. HA! Basically, what's going on here is that I've been getting my period for nearly four decades. I don't know about you, but that's pretty much how I envision hell.

The rest of my body has given up on youthfulness but my menstrual cycle -- it won't throw in the towel. It's so consistent! Where does that come from? I am not consistent. As a matter of fact, the only thing in my life I’ve ever done with any consistency is get my period.

I feel like a hormonal, angst ridden, button pushing BITCH. I’ve done nothing to deserve this good fortune, yet I have it anyway.

Okay, I’ll stop now. This period talk is probably a little awkward for all of us. You know, as in TOO MUCH INFORMAAAA-TION.


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Things You Need To Do If You Ever Want Your Kids To GTFO

This past weekend we took Justin back to college and that got me thinking about how much things have changed since he started four years ago. Specifically, how at the start of his freshman year, he was completely and totally unprepared to take care of himself thanks to my incessant need to do everything for him.

Like the first time Justin had to do laundry, I pictured him staring in bewilderment at the washer and dryer wondering what the hell to do until some eye-rolley college student strolled into the laundry room and showed him how to wash clothes.

Okay, I don’t know if it really happened that way, but the hard truth is, Bill and I did our kid a big disservice by not teaching him some basic life skills before he turned 18 and left home. In that sense, we totally sucked as parents. I don't mind admitting that. When the shoe fits, I'll gladly accept my labels.

I'm not making excuses, but one reason I never taught Justin some necessary skills was because doing things myself was quicker and easier than having to explain how to do it. Another reason was because I grew up not being allowed to do a lot of household chores because my mother was afraid I would burn myself with bleach and become disfigured or break a glass and slit an artery or fall off a step ladder and break my neck. I had a mother-does-everything-because-you-might-hurt-yourself mentality burned in my brain so Justin grew up with me acting like a modern day June Cleaver.




Admitting that makes me cringe. So does acknowledging that while I was giving our son a free pass on the more "precarious" chores, he was out there riding a dirt bike, playing every sport imaginable and most likely doing a ton of dangerous shit I don’t know about.

In hindsight, we were pretty stupid. When it came to teaching our kid what he needed to know in order to function in the world, Bill and I dropped the ball. Thankfully, we've made great strides in the past few years. But still, if I could step into a time machine and go back a decade, here are the 10 things I'd make sure Justin knew before he left for college:


How to do his own damn laundry.


Even if your kids are still in grade school, make a promise that you will absolutely refuse to raise a child who doesn't know why it's important to sort reds and whites.


How to file his own tax return and FAFSA


Filling out the FAFSA isn't hard, it's just time consuming -- and Justin had tons of time since he didn't have to piss around with laundry.


How to make a grocery list and shop on the cheap.



The first semester of his freshman year, our child nearly bankrupted us by shopping at the expensive grocery store across the street from his dorm and toting home nothing but name brand, not-ever-on-sale items. 


How to change a flat tire.



I admit, we still take the easy way out and throw all kinds of money at AAA, partly because we’re lazy and partly because I have this fear of my son being run over by a truck as he changes a tire on the side of the road.


How to make a budget and manage money.



That first year,Just in wasted way to much money eating out. One day he went to a breakfast buffet at a moderately priced restaurant, had lunch at Applebees and dinner at a steak place. Come on now!

What followed was a conversation about the big building on campus called a cafeteria that serves food three times a day along with a strong suggestion that he eat there. (Okay, it was more like, “Stop that eating out shit! Go to the cafeteria and use that meal plan we were forced to pay for!")


How to eat at a nice restaurant and not look like a jackass.



Considering the amount of eating out Justin did, it’s safe to assume he’s mastered this one.


How to cook his own food.



In my defense, I like to cook and I don't like anyone in the kitchen when I'm doing it. Selfish, I know. Especially when you think about how sent a kid to college that didn't even known how to make pancakes.



How to clean his gross dorm room so one day he doesn't have a gross apartment.



That means having enough sense to know you don’t use a vacuum cleaner to suck up last night’s vomit.



How to use public transportation.




I never thought this was important until Bill and I went to Washington DC last fall, tried to figure out how to get around on the Metro and looked like a couple of idiots.


How to have empathy.



The phrase “I understand” can be a lot more healing than offering a solution. Your kids should know that. Everyone should know that.

In hindsight, here's what I've learned: (1) This stuff is the boring side of parenting. (2) If you want your kids to GTFO, you must teach the how to be self-sufficient at an early age and (3) You don’t have to teach your toddler how to scrub a toilet, but by the time he or she goes to college, they should know how.

This is your job as a parent. Do it and the world will thank you.