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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm going green!

I have officially jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon.

I was a skeptic at first. When wheat grass first came out, all I could think was eew, that looks gross. But as I was seeing more and more people putting green things in their smoothies, I got curious. Matt has been saying for ages that we needed a new blender so we could start doing smoothies more often, if for no other reason than to get more fruit and veg into our diets, which is never a bad thing.

Then, last week I came across a green smoothie recipe on (which, by the way, is an AWESOME blog full of healthier versions of foods that normally aren't, complete with weight watchers information).  That particular recipe didn't appeal to me because it included a few ingredients that I don't like, but she linked to a different recipe that I immediately wanted to try. So Saturday morning I headed out to Bed Bath and Beyond, armed with the requisite 20% off coupon, and bought a Ninja blender. Then I hit up Giant for the couple of things that I didn't have, and headed home to try out this awesome recipe.

(Of course, it wasn't that easy, because my life never is. I got everything loaded into the blender, and blended for a few seconds. I stopped it to scrape the sides, and the damn thing never turned back on. Go figure, right? So out came the old food processor to finish that one up, and back to Bed Bath and Beyond I went. Luckily, their service is awesome, and it was a fluke, because the new one works perfectly.)

Today was day 3 of the green smoothies, and I'm officially hooked. I haven't made it the same way twice, but they've all been good. The great thing about them is you can't taste the greens! I'm almost through a bag of spinach, and I think I might try kale next.  I also really liked the one with the scoop of peanut butter in it - a little extra protein, and some savor if you don't want it all the way sweet.

And I also have to put in a plug for the Ninja. The model I bought comes with 2 single-serve cups and a single-serve blender blade, so you can make just the right amount and switch the blade out for a drinking lid. Best idea ever, although I did have to add the greens in increments since they take up a whole lot more room before you blend them than after!

Does anyone else do green smoothies? What's your favorite thing to put in them?

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Thoughts on a News Story (No, Not That One)

I am FAR from a good Catholic. I think its been close to 4 years since I've been inside a Church for something other than a wedding. Its not that I don't believe, or anything like that, I just stopped enjoying Church when everytime I went to mass for many years at different churches I felt like I was either being judged or at a political speech, and that's not why I was there. I can't believe that when Jesus tasked Simon Peter with maintaining the Church, the current state of it all is what he was going for.

I've also really become disenchanted with organized religion in general. I look at this campaign season, and the attempts of those especially on the religious right to insert religion into government in exactly the way our founding fathers were trying to prevent. I see fights over issues where the only argument on one side is religion, with no regard to the fact that no single religion has a place in our government. I see schools so paranoid about the religion issue that they're taking the word God out of God Bless the USA. And I'm not dogging one side or the other on this - both extreme sides of this argument tend to be a little much. Do I think that the United States is or should be a completely Christian nation? Absolutely not. Do I think that having a Christmas party at a school goes against that? Hell no.

So that all leads me up to what I really wanted to write about today. Far below the top of the page Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman news, and the Secret Service Scandal, and the Presidential race, I've been following a situation in the news the last few days that has me really bothered, and really kind of confirming why I've been hesitant to go back to the Church. Apparently, the Vatican is none-to-pleased with American nuns because they're not keeping 100% on the exact doctrinal path that has been set for them. And its not even totally about them going against anything, although a couple have spoken publicly about thier disagreement with the Church's position on ordaining women. But apparently its more about the nuns staying quiet on abortion and euthanasia - not going against the church, but not teaching the church's positions either - and the support of the Leadership Council of Women Religious of the Affordable Care Act and the compromise over the whole birth control mess earlier this year.

Now, I haven't had a TON of experience with nuns over the years. I didn't go to Catholic school, and we never went to a Church that had any real presence of nuns in it. Most of my interaction has been limited to a friend's aunt, who I've only met a handful of times, and the nun that runs the school where my uncle has lived for a very long time. And school is not even the right word to describe it - they have a school, but they also have group homes, work programs, and everything else necessary for the mentally handicapped to live their lives as fully as possible. This type of activity is what I've always associated nuns with - charities, hospitals, schools, and other activities that are meant solely to help those less fortunate. And throughout all of the scandals and bad things the Church has dealt with over the years, I can't think of one instance in which the nuns were implicated or where their record was tarnished.

All I can think about right now is these women, who have devoted their lives to a Church that they believe in and love more than anything in this world, and now that Church is effectively turning against them. I can't even imagine how that must feel to them - it has to be similar to your family disowning you, in the sense that both loves, from the Church/God/etc and from the family, are supposed to be unconditional. Except that their relationship with God and the Church is more like the relationship between husband and wife.  I'm sure that's not the first thought of most people in this case - how the nuns must truly be feeling. But I can't get it off of my mind.

Like I said, I could probably be in contention for the World's Worst Catholic award. But I had always retained a little bit of hope. This might just be what drains the last of it out of me. I hope not, but you can bet I'll be watching to see what happens.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Discovery's flight over DC

I am super lucky to have an awesome boss who let me run outside for a few minutes to snap some pictures of the space shuttle discovery (hooked to the back of an airplane and accompanied by a fighter escort) flying over DC. This was perhaps one of the coolest things I've ever seen. It flew right over the Pentagon, then over the river, around the Washington Monument, and back south. I got outside just after it made its first pass, and it made 2 more while I was out there. I took a bunch of pictures, but here are a couple of good ones.  I'll try to post some more tonight when I can more easily access them.

Tis the Season...

... for the Arthritis Walk!

We've all heard of arthritis, probably because one of our parents or grandparents or older relatives or friends has it. What most of us don't know is that there are 100 forms of arthritis, or that nearly 300,000 children live with arthritis pain every day. It's the most common cause of disability and sometimes it's even deadly.

For the past several years, my family has participated in the Arthritis Walk in honor of my younger sister Emily. She's 20 years old now, but she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just before her 3rd birthday. She's been lucky in that medicine has been good to her - she pole vaulted in high school, is a sophomore in college studying nursing, and is active in her sorority. Many are not so lucky, and the Arthritis Walk is one of, if not the, biggest fundraisers each year to improve research and care for people like Emily.

I'm asking you to help make arthritis unacceptable by making a donation to support the 2012 Arthritis Walk. With every donation, you are helping make a difference in research, community outreach, education, and life-improving programs.

If you can spare a few dollars, I'd really appreciate your donation. This is a cause that couldn't be closer to me and my family, and I'm proud to be able to do something, even if it's something small, to help other children get the opportunities that Emily has had to live a normal, fulfilling life. Please click here to donate. Thank you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Miss Tricare.

Yup. I said it. I miss military medical insurance. And that's basically blasphemy, and I don't care.

Was it perfect? Of course not. Sometimes the military doctors (even the civilian ones employed by the military) were not as in tune with my needs as I would have liked. In fact, it took getting out and going to a civilian doctor to get the referral to the sleep doctor that I needed to get my diagnosis for my sleep disorder. Let's face it, though - that could happen anywhere. But that's about the only major gripe I can think of off the top of my head.

I've learned quite a bit in the nearly 4 years since I got out of the Navy when it comes to health care and health insurance that I had never had to deal with during almost 28 years being covered by Tricare and its predecessors. Who knew that a doctor's decision to prescribe a certain medication just isn't good enough for an insurance company, that said insurance company needs to authorize that medication too before they'll cover it? Who knew there was such a thing as a perscription deductible? Who knew that its totally legit for an insurance company to cover absolutley nothing related to allergy treatments until you meet your deductible? This last one is what spurned this whole thing - I went on my insurance page to check on something and found the explanation of benefits for the serum for my allergy shots. While my last insurance covered allergy stuff completely (I just paid an office visit copay for the two visits to the actual doctor), my current plan covers ABSOLUTELY NOTHING until I hit my deductible. Which I won't hit before our plan year restarts in May. The cost to actually get the shots is small - $21/week. But the serum? Turns out that stuff costs $156. And I get to spend that today, because we apparently finished a vial last time. It's worth it to me, because the shots have helped more than any allergy medicine (or cocktail of allergy meds) every has, but HOLY CRAP.

These, among others, are reasons why I have such a hard time with this whole health care debate we're having in this country, and why I was so disappointed when Obamacare didn't include tort reform. Do I think that everyone should be able to access at least bare minimum health care? Absolutely. But there are a few reasons why people can't right now, and those reasons are where the concentration of efforts should be, not forcing people to buy plans. Health care is expensive as hell. From what I understand, this is primarily because doctors and other providers have been forced to buy outrageously expensive malpractice insurance, and pass those costs along to their customers. Also, the only way to get even remotely affordable health insurance is to get it through your employer, provided you're lucky enough to have a job that provides such benefits. Individual insurance policies are expensive, and they can deny coverage for just about any reason. (This is where the pre-existing condition part of the Affordable Care Act comes in - so people like my little sister with arthritis or my friend with epilepsy or my other friend with a heart condition can get insurance.) Yeah, it sucks that the taxpayers have to pay for people to go to the emergency room that don't have insurance. I just don't see this as addressing the issues of WHY they don't have it. But maybe I just don't get it.

But I digress. I challenge all of those people complaining about Tricare to go for a few months on an average "regular" health insurance plan, provided by someone like Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield and see if they're still complaining about Tricare. Unless they're in perfect health and rarely use their health care, I'd be willing to bet that they'd breathe a huge sigh of relief when they get back to Tricare. I know I would be, warts and all. At least then I could get the things my doctors have told me I need without having to get additional permission from my insurance company and pay an arm and a leg for it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Tax Man Cometh...

Today, a monumental thing is happening. And not in a good way. For the first time in my working life, I owed taxes in 2011. And not just a few bucks - in the (very low, not that it matters) four figures. And I set today as the day for that debit to occur.

Luckily for me, I am in a financial situation where I was just able to suck it up and pay the tax bill. No having to put it on a credit card, or set up a payment plan that would be subject to interest, but off the top of my head, I can think of at least 5 things that money could have gone towards - the new couch, the Visa, the Mastercard, a new flat-iron (I've had the same one for nearly 10 years - its legit!!), and/or my next grad school class.

Instead, I'll just wait for the debit to happen, cry a little, and put a little less than originally planned towards all of the above. And hope that this year, since I just started a new job, my withholdings will be a little bit closer to on the mark!

(Oh, and for those of you who may be curious, Tony did, in fact, get saved by America on The Voice last night. Go Team Rock Boat, and on to the next round!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Official.

I suck at blogging. And at keeping New Year's resolutions. But worse at blogging.

I have been so MIA lately that it's not even funny. I have a semi-good excuse, though. Since the last blog, I've gone on The Rock Boat, moved houses, and moved jobs. That's a lot for 2 months!

But now that I'm settling in to both the job and the house, I really do want to start writing more. Maybe I'll succeed, maybe I won't. But I really do want to try.

First topic for discussion: Christina Aguilera completely dogging Tony Lucca last night on The Voice. Can we say jealous much? Seriously, just because Justin Timberlake is supporting him and not her, she's going to say something like that on TV? She who has Alicia Keys' backup singer on her team, and don't anyone forget it? Sorry Xtina, its not the "celebrity sway" that's going to keep Tony on the show - its the fan base that he's been building for the past 20 years, been taking the time to get to know, and who will support him not only because of the amazing music we've seen him put out over the years (which, by the way, is the furthest thing from one dimensional ever, and you'd know it if you'd listened to any of it) and because of the fact that he is a genuinely good person.

And that's my rant for the day :) Follow Tony on Facebook and Twitter, and watch tonight to see him (hopefully) get saved live on The Voice!