All posts by Jana

I represent your remark, President Obama

“And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result.  And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

The remarks above were made by President Obama at a speech in Rhode Island on Halloween (  I know that they have made their way around the internet and I didn’t really pay that much attention to them.  To me it is just another case of President Obama inserting his foot into his mouth. He has done that a lot.  But then I got to think about what he said.  I am exactly who he is talking about. In April, I resigned my position at a community college to stay home with my boys. They are not babies or toddlers. The decision was one that I wavered about.  I really enjoyed working, but the strain it was causing to me and my family was not worth it.  I began working when my husband retired from the military. Despite what some may think, transitioning from military to civilian life is not easy.  My husband and I reversed roles.  He stayed at home, going to school and taking care of the boys while I worked.  Then about six months later, he got a job. We were both working.  It was not easy.  Finally, we decided I was needed at home.  It was the right decision and a decision that needed to be made.  My boys deserve for their mother to be home.  I am not worried about having lower wages for the rest of my life if I know that my sons will have the guidance and love they need. I tried very hard to be active in everything that the boys did while I was working, but I missed things.  It couldn’t be helped.  The boys were very understanding, but it hurt.  The email to my coworkers was very honest and open about the reason I was leaving. It was to be a stay at home mom. There is no shame in the decision. I don’t understand who the “we” is when President Obama said “that’s not a choice we want Americans to make”.  I am very comfortable with me and my husband making decisions for our family. I do not need outsiders, like President Obama, making decisions for my family.  Women deserve more credit than we are given.  There is no shame in being a stay at home mom.  There is no shame in being a working mother.  The point is it is the individual’s choice not the government’s.  For the last 6 years, the government has been slowing creeping into our homes.    We have been told what we should eat, drink and even what we should think.  Women staying at home rose 29% in 2012. There are 10.4 million women who are stay at home moms.  There are a myriad of reasons for women staying home, but the decision to stay home is their decision.  I have been home for about 7 months now.  I am very busy and sometimes probably have too many irons in the fire. I still work. I substitute teach, but it gives me the flexibility to be here for my children.  I am active in my sons’ school, my church and in my community.  I have been able to focus on my children that I never was able to do as a working mother. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but for me the decision to stay home is one that makes good sense for my family.  It may not be what President Obama wants, but it is what my family wants.

Where have I been?

I started this blog so I could write.  I am ashamed to say my last post on this blog was December 2012. That is disgraceful!  Of course, I have excuses.  I was working full time.  Now I am back to my most important full time job — mother.  I was busy, but not busy enough that I couldn’t write.  Imagine a whole year without writing.  I started this blog as my way to vent about things that make me ponder, muse or just plain make me upset.  It was a good outlet.  Then I started working.  My outlet became my coworkers.  We would rejoice over a student that came in with stellar placement scores or bemoan the student that was never prepared.  My fellow academic advisors became my work family.  Now, I am home with my family.  I miss that work family.  I still keep in touch with some of them. Occasionally, I get an email asking if I will clean out the refrigerator (wise guy!).  Then I think do I miss the day to day job. I can unequivocally say no. I really don’t.  I really did enjoy working especially helping students along their educational journey, but I don’t really miss it at all.  I substitute taught for four and half days at the end of the school year.  It was frustrating and rewarding.  Being a substitute teacher is not difficult, but it is not easy.  I enjoyed those four and half days.  I really enjoyed being back in the classroom.  I often think if I would like to go back and become a certified teacher.  The answer is no.  I started off my college career following the secondary education track, but it didn’t work out for me. I got sick and barely made it to graduation.  Being a substiute gives me the opporotunity to put into practice what I learned all those years ago, but I don’t have to deal with evaluations, parents, etc…  It really is a good gig.  So that’s where I’ve been.  My goal is to write about whatever makes me muse or rant about.  So Musings of a Banana is back and it feels good.

My letter to the editor

I just sent off a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal.  It is in response to a column in today’s paper,

I usually read the column and think about sending in a letter, but never do.  I have no idea if it will be published, but I thought I would share.

In Leslie Linthicum’s December 16th column, she espouses the debate of gun control after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. Reading her column it was clearly a knee jerk reaction. Ms. Linthicum writes that 9000 to 10,000 people die every year in firearm homicides and uses this statistic as a debate for more gun control. What about people who are killed every year by drunk drivers? According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 10,228 people were killed in 2010 and 9,878 people were killed in 2011 from drunk drivers. On Friday, the same day as the shooting in Connecticut, my community lost a caring and compassionate woman due to injuries sustained when she and her husband were hit by a drunk driver. So when the hearings begin in Congress about banning guns than maybe we can go a step further and include alcohol. This may seem a silly and flawed argument to many, but so is Ms. Linthicum’s. We already have background checks in place and banning guns and ammunition clips doesn’t mean that a person who is intent on harm won’t find a way to carry out their attack. Maybe what we really need to be talking about is not gun control, but the state of mental health in this country. Ms. Linthicum says oh well people snap and it’s the “human condition”. That is not acceptable. The debate on how to treat those with mental health issues is what we need to focus on and how to help those who suffer. My heart aches for the families who lost loves ones in this senseless tragedy. I have two elementary school aged children and cannot imagine what it would be like to have to go through the pain and loss. I just believe that before we begin on another debate of gun control we take a closer look and put things into perspective. We will never understand this tragedy or the others that came before or may come after. As a country we will never accept children dying and we will never understand why a person decides to  harm others. We can start talking about our “collective responsibilities” to help and protect one another, but more gun control is not the answer. 

Remembering to feel thankful

I really love this time of year.  It really brings all of the blessings and the things and people you are thankful for to the forefront.  It’s not that you are not thankful year around, it’s just that there is something about pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing that make us remember the wonderful things in life.  This has been a year of adjustments for my family.  I got a job, my husband retired from the military, we moved, my youngest started kindergarten and my sweet (step)daughter is home after being on a mission in Brazil for our church.  I am thankful for this time to reflect.  This year we are not going anywhere. We are firmly planted at home.  I was secretly counting down the days until Thanksgiving because now that I work two days off from work, paid I might add, is wonderful.  I am thankful for my  job.  It was a tough adjustment.  I haven’t worked outside the home in 8 years. After the birth of our first son, my husband and I decided it made more sense economically for me to stay home.  We lived in the Washington, D.C. area and it was crazy expensive for day care.   Now fast forward eight years and I am back in the workforce doing something I love – advising college students.  I work at a community college so the population is diverse.  Sometimes it can be as simple as helping a student find a class, but other times the student just needs someone to listen to them.  I also work with some great people and have a super boss.  So while I am working, my wonderful husband takes care of our boys.  What a role reversal for him.  He is doing great. I know he gets  frustrated, but I also know that the boys enjoy their time spent with him.  So while taking care of the boys and the home, he is also a full time college student. He is almost done with his degree.  I think we have gotten some whispers behind our backs about our situation, but that’s okay.  My husband served 24 years in the military doing things that I didn’t even know he did until they read about them at his retirement.  The kind of things that were heroic and dangerous.  It was probably best that I didn’t know at the time.  The whispers are just that.  They mean nothing to us.  Everyone has a different path and this is our path right now.  I am so thankful for my education.  My husband encouraged me to continue my studies after we were married. He even scoped out local schools at the first base we were stationed at in New Jersey. I am thankful for my wonderful parents.  I have a very close and special relationship with my mom and dad.  They are always here for me no matter what.  They have always encouraged me to follow my dreams, be independent and speak up for myself.  I have no problem there (just ask the guy at the movie theater that was trying to save a whole row of seats).  I am thankful for my husband and for all that he does.  We get on each other’s nerves at times, but we always work it out.  After 18 years sometimes we need a little space.  I am thankful for my (step)daughter. She is great example to me, her dad and her brothers.  We have had our ups and downs, but the times we have together are always fun.  I love having her home and will miss her so  much when she returns to school in January.  I am thankful for my boys.  I love them so much.  They make me laugh, drive me crazy and make me feel so blessed to be their mom.  I am thankful for my family – my husband’s family, my brother, his wife, my nieces, my grandma who is feisty as ever at 90, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

We played a game recently where we pulled a letter out of the pile and wrote down what we are thankful for starting with that letter.  It was a fun game, but it got me to thinking how thankful I am for so many things. It’s not just my family but so much more.  We live in a great country.  We need to stay true to our beliefs and convictions.  I am resigned to the fact that the person who won the election will be around for 4 years. But 4 years can go by fast.  I am thankful to be able to blog. I love to write. I don’t do it often enough anymore, but I am so thankful to be able to express myself out loud.  I am thankful for books. My imagination grows by leaps and bounds with a good book.  Heating pads, cozy slippers, watermelon, tacos, the Lord, prayer, zebras, laughter, toilet paper well you get the idea.  Gratitude is an attitude and it is one that I hope I can keep all year long not just as I sit down to eat turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Handle with care

Today I was reminded of the time I was blamed for a person’s decision not to come to church anymore.  It was after the Proposition 8 vote in California.  I didn’t live in California and neither did this person, but it affected her husband and eventually her.  I was her visiting teacher for a time.  When this was happening I had been reassigned different women to visit.  I had no idea she was falling away.  Then the fateful day came that she announced to everyone in Relief Society that she didn’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. The air was sucked out of me. I had to leave the room.  She was one of our teachers and here she was announcing this.  After her lesson was over, the other sisters in the ward came up to her and hugged her. They gave her encouraging words. They said they would pray for her.  I felt impressed to tell her that maybe if she read Rough Stone Rolling about Joseph Smith that it might help give her a better perspective.  It didn’t and I was blamed by a few that I had caused her falling away from the church.  I felt horrible.  I wrote to her because by this time I had moved away.  She said it wasn’t my fault, but it was hard not to feel that way.  Then today I was told one of our Primary teachers wouldn’t be back.  She just called the Primary president and said I am not coming to church ever again and you need to find a new teacher.  What a punch in the gut.  She was just there last week.  I know this girl because I have advised her on her academic goals at the college where I work. Now I wonder if I will ever see her. Will she avoid coming into the office? I do know that I won’t say anything.  I will act as if nothing happened.  Maybe this isn’t right and I am sure there are many in the church who would say so, but I am not the judge of others actions or their testimonies.  I have learned my lesson.  One’s faith is so personal and even though we all have the same goal which is to return to Heavenly Father how we get there might not be the same.  I will not be running out to tell her to read a book or to pray a little harder.  I will let her be.  I will handle this one with care and I will pray a little harder in hopes that she will come back.

“It’s my truth.”

I had the opportunity to attend the Mentoring Institute’s conference at the University of New Mexico for three days last week.  I wasn’t able to attend, but for a few hours each day.  On Friday, I went to one session and the presenter did not show up.  I made the decision to go to another session that sounded interesting – Mono-culturalism, conversing our way to success.  It was presented by an English woman who is currently living in Utah and teaching at Weber State University.  Knowing that this presentation was about diversity, I was shocked when she opened up her presentation by bashing Utah and Mormons.  I was about to jump out of  myseat and call her out.  I didn’t. I thought I would just see what would happen next.  It continued.  She said in her experience people in Utah in particular Mormons are not accepting of others. They only see Mormonism and Zion. They never look beyond.  She also said that if you are not a Mormon in Utah than you are referred to as a gentile and your children will be shunned.  My mouth was gaping.  In between her rants, she spoke about her success in partnering English speakers with ESL students.  But even then she would bash Mormons.  She said that while returned missionaries were quick to volunteer as a conversation partner they don’t empathize with the person or their situation. What!?!  I learned very little about her program and only about her feelings about Utah and Mormons.  I wondered why she chose to live there.  She could always go back to England.  So after the presentation, I wanted to speak to her.  Another attendee had her attention so I followed them out of the room.  As they were talking, I quietly stood to the side.  I jumped in when she began to tell the woman about Mormons.  I said excuse me but I am a Mormon.  I am offended by what you have presented.  She said I am sorry you are offended, but it is my truth.  She then told me she is a Mormon!   I was shocked.  My mouth fell to the floor.  She said she is the Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward.  I found this very hard to believe.  I told her I found it very interesting that she would paint such a wide brush stroke over the church knowing that the majority of people in the room (there maybe 10 people) were not members of the church and would believe whatever she said.  She never once said during her presentation that she is a Mormon.  She never made that disclaimer.  Here was a member or at least she said is bashing her own church and its members.  She said she watched the recent general conference and that she hated everything the church leaders said.  From what I remember, it was about following Christ and strengthening families.  How could anyone be upset about that?  I told her we all have free agency to think and act how we want, but I was disappointed that she would portray the church in such a poor light.  She didn’t care what I had to say and I had to get back to work so I left.  My blood was boiling.  I was glad that I had said something, but I really should have jumped out of my seat.  I understand that everyone has their opinions and ideas and I respect that.  I just don’t understand how denigrating a religion is helping the dialogue in this country.  I am writing a letter to the organizers of the event as I think they should know about this incident.  If they want someone to speak about diversity, then maybe they should screen them first.  I might even write a letter to the president of Weber State University.  I wonder how they feel about a woman representing herself as from Weber State that goes around beating up the Mormon church and the state of Utah?  Maybe this is going too far, but I don’t think so.  I believe in doing what is right and just. That is my truth.

Trying to keep my mouth shut is hard

I can’t say that I haven’t talked about politics. I just haven’t talked to anyone except for two people well three.  Two of those people are my parents and the other is my husband.  I continue to read and watch.  But I think tonight after watching the worst debate format, the town hall debate, I have to say something.  The town hall debate has never been a good idea.  The questions asked sometimes are off the wall and oftentimes favor one candidate over the other. The moderator clearly showed her preference tonight.   The questions in tonight’s debate were decent.  Some of the questions were never answered that were asked.  The woman who asked about wages for women was greeted with an answer about employee insurance that provides birth control.  What does that have to do with wages?  Then the man that asked about security at the embassy in Libya never got his question answered. He asked why increased security was denied. The president couldn’t answer this question because he had no answer.  Then he claimed he said he called the killing of an ambassador and three others an act of terrorism. If you look at the transcript at the White House website (  you will find that the president says no act of terror, but he never refers to the attack in Libya as a terrorist act.  Then the ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, appeared on all of the Sunday morning talk shows and said it was not a terrorist act.  It was all because of a video on YouTube.  The video had been on the web since early summer by the way.  Then the president went on the David Letterman Show and the View and was asked if it was an act of terrorism and he would not say. He then mentioned six times in his speech to the United Nations that the cause of the attack was a video. He never referred to it as a terrorist act.  His standard answer was we are investigating.  The White House has lied to the American people.  The president said he is responsible, but he can’t answer anything about the attacks.  His Secretary of State said she is responsible.  So who is responsible?  Tonight’s debate only made me more angry about the lies we, the American people, are being fed from the White House on the economy and on foreign policy.  I am tired of the president not taking responsibility for anything he does.  It is always Congress’ fault.  But for the majority of his presidency the Congress was ran by the Democrats.  I think the president needs to have a talk with his old pal, Harry Reid, to get things moving.  I can truly say that I am disgusted and do not hold the current president in high esteem.  I am sure that is well known just by blog posts on this site.  When he was elected I was not thrilled, but I hoped that things would change.  They haven’t.  We are more divided than ever.  I will be spending a lot of time on my knees over the next few weeks.  Praying for this country and for a hopeful and bright future for all Americans.

Keeping my mouth shut … for now

My older brother and I have never shared the same views on things.  He lives in California and well he’s always been left of center. Well that’s the way I saw it.  We talked about politics on occasion and although we disagreed it was okay.  That all changed this past week.  I foolishly answered a question he asked that was political in nature.  I then followed up.  Big mistake.  Then a phone call that I should never have answered.  A shouting match and me hanging up the phone ended it all.  I felt terrible.  I didn’t get a word in during the phone call only to say stop it and hung up, but it was enough to make me feel horrible. I already have one brother that has nothing to do with me or anyone else in my family for that matter.  I was so afraid that I was losing this brother too.  And it would all be over politics.  I only speak to a very select number of people about politics.  I have written about my views on this blog often.  I am a news junkie and yes, I did watch the RNC.  But after this experience, which is still somewhat raw, I have decided to keep my opinions about about politics to myself.  I will not be talking or writing about them.  I will keep my opinions to myself until after election day.  After telling my brother he said you have to be true to who you are.  That is so true, so I will just keep my mouth shut… for now.

Cluck, cluck, cluck

Today was Chick-fil-A appreciation day.  It was brought to life by Mike Huckabee and others to support Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-a.  Cathy said on a radio show that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.  That is the short version.  That was back in June.  Today people lined up to support Chick-fil-a.  There were also people who protested.  I did eat at Chick-fil-A today.  It wasn’t too exciting. The chicken sandwich was great as always.  I ate at the Student Union at the University of New Mexico.  There were no protests and no one batted an eye at my bag as I crossed the campus.  There were protests in Albuquerque, but far more people were there supporting the restaurant.  Mayors in Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco all said they don’t want these restaurants in their cities.  That’s too bad because the chicken is so good.  But this is not about the chicken.  This is about someone having an opinion and because they are in a position of owning a company then they all of a sudden lose that right to speak freely.  If I don’t like something, I don’t watch it, buy it or listen to it — whatever may be the case.  There is no reason to protest or seek a ban on something because that entity does not agree with personal beliefs.  What has happened to this country?  Why can’t people just live and let live.  The country is divided.  It has gotten worse since a particular person took residence at the White House.  People can’t have opinions anymore.  The mayors of the cities that don’t want Chick-fil-A restaurants are trying to impose their beliefs on cities that have millions of people in them.  That is called fascism.  Forcing political beliefs on others is not the American way, but that is happening all over.  It is happening even in small towns over land being bought and sold.  People who should know better that politics and religion do not mix.  Chick-fil-A is a religious company. They are closed on Sundays.  It should come as no surprise that the CEO has the views he does.  If you don’t like something then don’t support it.  It is that simple.  Protests do little.  Money not spent does a lot.  Whichever side you are on, take that stand, but don’t trample on the rights of others to express their beliefs just because they don’t jive with yours.

Dreaming of the Olympics

I want to write but I have writer’s block. I am sitting here watching the Olympics and tears are in my eyes as I watched the Women’s Gymnastics team win gold.  How exciting for them.  I always wanted to be more athletic and be in the Olympics.  I would practice swimming at the pool every summer.  Of course, I am not a great swimmer so that was out.  I am not a gymnast so that was out. I can’t figure skate well I have never tried.  So my hopes of being an Olympian is probably not going to happen, but there is still hope. I saw an interview with Kim Rhode. She is a double trap and skeet shooter.  She is only 5 years younger than me.  Granted she has been in the Olympics 5 times and medaled each time. She also started shooting at a young age, but I am thinking I need to get out to range every chance I get to shoot.  I love target shooting. I don’t do it often enough.  Maybe this is my chance to live the dream that I have had since I was a little girl.  I am sure I can get my husband on board. He would love to spend more time at the range I am sure.  Now I just need sponsors.