Why I Won’t Kneel For Social Justice

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By now, most of you have probably heard of Colin Kaepernick. I’m not the most football-savvy individual, but I am a news junkie and occasionally overhear my husband tuning into ESPN in the mornings, so this story has been all over my radar. Before I dive into my thoughts, I’ll give you a brief summary.

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In case you missed it, Kaepernick, quarterback for the 49ers, decided in the preseason to sit during the National Anthem. When asked about this, he stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” He then added that he would continue to protest until he feels like the American flag represents what it’s supposed to represent. In the last preseason game, he decided that kneeling during the National Anthem for this season would be more respectful than simply sitting.

And here’s where my anger comes in: I have loved ones that serve in our military. Now, I was extremely patriotic before these said loved ones joined the military, but my patriotism and pride in my country grew even more upon their enlisting and since then as I’ve seen their sacrifice.

When I think of the National Anthem, I think of the people who have served and are currently serving. I think about their sacrifice–risking their lives, giving up time with their families to fight for our security, domestic and abroad. I am so extremely proud of these amazing men and women who serve, I could never not stand and sing the National Anthem. I could never politicize this song (or the flag) and what it means, because to me, that is so extremely selfish. In the words of a really smart person I know, “The message Kaepernick is sending is ‘I hate America’ and not, ‘I love black people.’ By protesting the flag, he’s protesting what it stands for: freedom and justice for all, which is the opposite of the point he’s trying to make.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

How an athlete could see men and women in the military standing in front of them on the field during the anthem and NOT stand to respect them is beyond me. Maybe people like Kaepernick don’t have people they care about in the military and can’t quite grasp the magnitude of it all. Maybe it will require having their own family or friends go for a deployment and be left wondering if any news article about a roadside bomb or attack is about their loved one. Maybe once that happens, they’ll understand the undeniable pride one feels for their country. Whatever it takes, I hope he and many others can understand that so many of us are not just upset over a song. He’s right, he has the freedom to make the decision to silently protest–but he has that decision because of the people he’s disrespecting. The irony is palpable.

Yes, there are many things wrong happening in our country today. Yes, I cringe and fight back tears many evenings when I turn the news on. As a human being, my heart breaks when I hear of yet another African-American being shot and killed by law enforcement. It’s unacceptable and things need to change. (Side note: I cannot attempt to understand the bravery that is required to be in law enforcement, especially today. I don’t make any assumptions about any police officers that have shot at any individuals, because I was not there and cannot know the full extent of what took place. I am extremely thankful to all those in blue, and will continue to hold the belief that 99.9% of law enforcement is made up of good people who genuinely want to serve and protect.)

That being said, if you want to fight against injustice, STAND UP. Sitting (or kneeling) gets nothing done–ask our men and women who are serving us today. What if they decided that they weren’t treated fairly, and that they should just take a seat? Our amazing men and women serving in the military are fighting injustice all over the world, so that you and I can go about our normal days. I would respect Colin Kaepernick, and many others for that matter, a heck of a lot more if they put their money where their mouths are (and I mean that quite literally in Kaepernick’s case). What if instead of simply disrespecting those serving our country during the National Anthem, these athletes worked to make a change. A silent protest isn’t going to cut it here, Colin.

And another thing…can the judgmental people of America please stop generalizing all white people?! I am so sick and tired of being told that I don’t feel enough and that what I’m doing is not good enough. You don’t know my heart or my thoughts on this matter. If Colin Kaepernick literally sitting down and doing nothing is motivational enough for you, how is my heart breaking over this not enough? Sweet Moses, let’s just stop making assumptions about one another and just be good to each other!

So here’s what I propose: You want to create change? DO something! Call your local law enforcement and suggest ways to prevent this from happening in your community. Who cares if they’re already working on a plan–YOU could have a new idea they hadn’t thought of before. Better yet, come up with comprehensive plans to educate people in your community on all different matters, but especially on what it means to be a responsible, law-abiding citizen (like this new bill that recently passed in Illinois, or these workshops offered by the New York Civil Liberties Union). Write to your local representative and request an open forum in your area, for community members to be able to talk to local law enforcement openly and candidly about their thoughts and concerns. Talk to others in your area about racial matters and how we can be game-changers to make things better for every single person.

And lastly, this is for all you parents out there: raise good people. I don’t care what race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, etc. you are…it should not be that hard to raise decent humans. Teach your children about responsibility, respect, love, and kindness. If we all really knew these things and acted accordingly, I’m sure our world would look so much different today. It can’t be that complicated, can it?

So America, how will you respond? Will you silently sit (or kneel) by and hope for change, or will you stand up and do something?

15 Years Later

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September 11th, 2001.

I’m sure 99.9% of adults can tell you exactly what they were doing or where they were when they heard the first plane hit the World Trade Center (and when the subsequent hijacked planes crashed).

What makes 9/11 different from other significant events is that it was an attack on all of us. A single group of people was not targeted: America and everything we stand for was attacked.

I was in 4th grade that somber day. I can tell you what I was doing and the expression on my teacher’s face as we watched the news, but I can truthfully tell you my naiveté would prevent me from understanding the significance of that day for many years.

As I became more interested in government, history, and politics over the years, I started to understand what that day meant for our future. That this would not just be a one-time event. That these hateful, evil people would continue to commit their lives to ruining ours.

If I could prevent my child from knowing what I now know about the evil of this world, I would do everything in my power to shelter him so he might only know of the good. But unfortunately, this hatred that Islamic extremists have for our way of life is unending. There will not be an end to it until we make it end. As much as I wish we could pray away the evil and hate, we simply cannot. God gave each of us freewill, and unfortunately that means there are those who choose darkness over light.

I wish I wouldn’t have to explain to my son someday that he is hated simply for being born in the most amazing country, where brave men and women willingly risk their lives to fight for our freedoms every single day. A country where on 9/11, people of all races, religions, etc. came together in spite of evil. Darkness didn’t win on 9/11. The people of New York and beyond showed the rest of the world that light cannot be easily extinguished.

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You know what gives me hope? Those brave passengers of flight United 93 who fought back so the plane would land in a field, preventing even more death than had the plane reached its target (the Capitol). Or the ferry drivers and boat owners who all came together and drove towards the chaos to rescue 500,000 people from Manhattan who were stranded after the planes struck the World Trade Center, making it the largest boat rescue in WORLD history. Or the CEO of a huge company who lost 600+/900 of his employees that day, and has since on 9/11 every year had his 3,000+ current employees forfeit their pay for that day to go to the families of the victims.  There is so much good in the world, so much hope.

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Do I still become enraged, depressed, confused, and heartbroken every time I see footage of that horrible day or when I hear what the victims and their families have endured because of that day? Yes. I didn’t know anyone who lost their life that day, I wasn’t there to see the horror–and yet, I cry every single year when I reflect on this day. It impacted all of us.

So here’s my hope as I reflect on this day, fifteen years later: I pray that each time I am tempted to fall into despair when thinking about our future and our safety, I might be reminded that love is greater than hate. That when people come together, the light cannot be put out. That my God is bigger than all of this, and He is in control.

I am proud to be an American every day, but I am especially proud to be an American on this day.

Breakfast Hash Brown Cups

Breakfast

One of my favorite memories growing up is helping my dad cook our big Sunday breakfast every week…or probably more accurately, stealing pieces of bacon while chatting with my dad in the kitchen. I wish I would’ve paid more attention to his cooking skills, but I loved that Sunday morning tradition and hope that my husband and I can recreate it for our kids!

This recipe is your basic breakfast: sausage, eggs, and hash browns–yummy! It’s perfection because it combines my favorite breakfast items into one perfect muffin-sized piece of heaven. And even better? These little cups won’t leave you feeling greasy or guilty! Sign me up!


Smartpoints: 4 points for one
Serves: 6 (makes twelve cups, we had two each)
Adapted from: Emily Bites

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (ex. Simply Potatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 4 turkey sausage patties
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine hash browns, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix until well coated.
  3. Spoon hash browns evenly into each of the muffin tins. Then, press the hash browns down into the cups and up the sides. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the sausages into small pieces. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and cook the sausage on medium heat until browned.
  5. In a separate large bowl, combine eggs and egg whites. Whisk together until thoroughly beaten. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Evenly spread the browned sausage pieces and shredded cheese into each hash brown cup.
  7. Then, spoon the egg mixture over the top of each cup. Put the cups back into the oven, and bake for an additional 15 minutes (or until the eggs are set and cups are golden brown).

Skinny Chimichangas

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I hope everyone reading this has experienced the amazing creation that is a chimichanga. If not, you are missing out and need to go try one ASAP. It’s pretty much a deep-fried burrito…cue the heart attack, am I right? But so worth it!

I love a good challenge in the kitchen, and ever since joining Weight Watchers, my challenges have been all about finding yummy recipes that are still healthy. I came across this skinny chimichanga recipe and hoped and prayed it would be amazing haha and it didn’t disappoint! This is a new family favorite–the husband and sister ask me to make it on a weekly basis.

I definitely recommend whipping up some guac to throw on top (of course, it’ll add some points, but it’s definitely worth it)! Try these skinny chimichangas out–I promise you’ll love them!


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Smartpoints: 7 points for one
Serves: 3 (we had two each between the three of us)
Adapted from: Recipe Girl

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 8 ounces of salsa
  • 7 0z can of diced mild green chiles
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • Six 8-inch flour tortillas

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat.
  3. Add turkey, onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano and cumin. Break up the turkey and let cook until browned.
  4. Stir in salsa and chiles, bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until the flavors are blended and the mixture thickens slightly, (about 5 minutes).
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.
  7. Meanwhile, wrap the tortillas in tin foil and place in the oven to warm for 10 minutes.
  8. Place about 1/2 cup of the filling into the center of each tortilla. Fold in the sides, then roll to enclose the filling. Place the chimichangas, seam-side down, on the baking sheet.
  9. Lightly spray the tops of the tortillas with nonstick spray. Bake until golden and crispy, about 20 minutes (do not turn).

Your Doctor Isn’t God…and other Medical Revelations

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Being a parent is challenging in so many different ways.

But do you want to know what one of the hardest things is? You are literally in charge of a person’s life. Their health and medical decisions are up to you.

I’m sure most parents feel the pressure of this great responsibility. I have a hard enough time figuring out my own medical decisions, let alone an infant’s!


When I got pregnant, I assumed I’d go with the flow and do whatever the doctors told me was right in regards to the health of my child.

But as the time got closer to having my baby, everything changed.

I was 36 weeks pregnant and went in for my weekly checkup. Upon my arrival, I was told about the Tdap vaccine. (Well, not so much told about, more like guilted about.)

The doctor explained that it was very routine and they were giving it to pregnant women around this time in the pregnancy, in the hopes that it might transfer to the baby before birth, so they could be protected out in the world from whooping-cough.

I had never even heard of this. And yet, I almost just said, “Sure thing, Doc! Load me up!” But something in me took pause, and I told her I’d think about it and let her know at my appointment the following week.

So I went home and did research. I wanted to know more about this, as my gut reaction was skepticism. I asked relatives and friends who had babies just a few years earlier and discovered none of them were given a vaccine in their third trimester. That’s when I learned it was a very recent recommendation by the CDC.

Obviously then I started thinking, “Well if my mom didn’t have it and these more recent moms didn’t have it, and all of those babies were fine, why do I need it?”

I couldn’t find a single article, not on google or any scientific publication, that proved the theory that getting this vaccine so late in my pregnancy would do any good. There were no studies done that showed positive or negative side effects. And yet, they could recommend it to the point of guilting me about it.

So with that, I decided it was not a good idea.

In addition to this, I had gotten the Tdap a few years prior, and it supposedly is good for ten years.

So I went to my appointment the following week, and felt like I had to give a huge speech on why I didn’t want to get the vaccine. At the end, the nurse wrote down, “Patient refused Tdap.” “Refused?” I thought to myself. I just politely declined after being made to feel like I would be killing my baby for doing so.

**Sidenote: The day after my son was born, I got the Tdap vaccine in the hospital to make sure I was all up-to-date so people would calm down about it.


After my son was born, I had more interesting encounters with medical professionals.

When we started going to see the pediatrician for his visits, we were given a sheet with the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule–I was shocked.

How could they give this itty, bitty human three or four shots at one time?!

Now, I feel like I need to be clear here: I am very pro-vaccines! I want my children to be vaccinated–I just want to do it differently. This is something I hadn’t planned on before having kids.

But when I looked at the schedule handed to me and then at my brand new baby, my mama instincts told me something wasn’t right. And if there’s something I’ve learned since day one of being pregnant, it’s that you should always listen to your mama instincts.

I decided that it would be irresponsible for me as a parent to allow my baby to be shot up with various vaccines, especially in one sitting, if I had no idea what was in those vaccines. Are doctors typically looking out for your health and well-being? Of course. But I decided it was my duty as a parent to do what was best for my child, not what is best or easiest for the doctor’s office or the government.

So I did research. Lots of it. And I didn’t like what I learned.

How can doctors safely recommend giving multiple vaccines with loads of aluminum or mercury in one sitting? I understand that some vaccines need these components to fight off otherwise deadly or scary diseases, but can’t they alter their schedules so that only one of these vaccines is given at a time then?

I’m not saying such vaccines will lead your child to have autism or permanent damage. I’m just pointing out the obvious: when did we decide it was okay to inject a brand new human with ALUMINUM and MERCURY?!

After doing as much research as I could handle, I found an alternate plan that I really felt comfortable with. The plan would allow my son to still get all of the vaccinations before he reached school-age, but would just break up the amount of shots given in one sitting, especially in consideration of those containing sketchy components.

All this plan did was require more work for me–it meant instead of getting four shots at his every-other-month checkup, he would get two at the checkup, and two the next month when I’d bring him just to get two more shots (and not have a checkup).

This plan didn’t bother me in the slightest, because it gave me comfort. I knew if he had a reaction, we’d know it was from one of two shots he had (instead of four), and that I was helping him get the safest amount of aluminum/mercury possible (if you can call putting any amount of that into one’s body safe).

From day one, my son’s doctor seemed okay with our beliefs. However, the office didn’t, as they first sent out a form explaining the dangers and risks of an alternative schedule (CHILL OUT, he’s not going to get polio)!

One time when we brought him in on the “off-month” for just the shots, a nurse said, “When I had kids, we never questioned the doctors.”

I’m not even surprised to get backlash anymore, I just expect it.

I never thought I would question a doctor or be one to follow my own plan, but having my own child changed how I perceive so many things.


Here’s what I’ve learned: The doctor is NOT God. The CDC is NOT God. They are not omnipotent or omniscient. They do not know my child like I do, nor do they care about my child like I do. In the end, I am going to do what’s best for my family, regardless of how that aligns with anyone else’s plan. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can, and that looks different for each and every family.