Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thoughts on Student Athletes

   Anyone who has known me for more than 2.5 seconds knows that I bleed orange.  As an Oklahoma State University alum, former member of the Cowboy Marching Band and Spirit Band, Homecoming Steering Committee member, athletic training major, and Zeta Tau Alpha alumna, I've been a part of just about every aspect of OSU.  My parents are alum, my sis is a double alum (bachelor's and master's degrees), my cousins are alum...I've grown up very orange.  Needless to say, I was very sad about the allegations made against the university and its personnel in the SI articles this week. 

Circa 2005, before I fully converted him. 

   I am not so blinded by orange as to think that every word is false.  I personally knew people (non-athletes) that were involved with less-than-honest academic dealings, smoked things they shouldn't, drank underage and to excess, had unsafe and indiscreet relationships with other students, and lots of other things stereotypical of "the college experience." I would expect no less than to see that same behavior within the student athlete population.  Do I think it's right?  Absolutely not.  Do I think it's their own fault?  Not entirely.  The sex, the drugs...that's your own stupid decisions.  If other people can choose not to, you can too.  Academics, on the other hand...

   As many folks much more qualified to speak than I have expressed, there are athletes on college campuses who, if not for a sport, would never even be able to dream about attending their school.  Their high school performances, for whatever reason, were not up to admission standards.  Their tests scores were not high enough to qualify.  Sometimes that means a kid was lazy in high school and ought to be embarrassed.  Sometimes that means that a 2.4 high school GPA was the best he could do with what he had to work with, and his sport was likely the only reason he hadn't already dropped out of the world of academia.  The SI articles allege that some of these athletes were even functionally illiterate.  This to me speaks less about a scandal and more about a grievous failure on the parts of both the NCAA and the colleges themselves. 

   To generalize, there are basically two kinds of student athletes: good players who love the game, have a good head on their shoulders, will play through their eligibility, get a degree, and move on to live a normal life, and exceptional talents who play college ball as a means to sharpen their skills and get noticed by the pros.  They have no intention of getting a degree, and some of them couldn't get admitted to a major university even if they wanted a degree. (Disclaimer: please don't hear me saying that all exceptional athletes are dumb as dirt.  I am not.) Holding these two athletes to the same standard of academic eligibility is essentially unfair.  Because exceptional talent increases your odds of winning, and increased winning brings in increased revenue, recruiting high-talent athletes makes school a LOT of money.  No one denies that.  And truly, is that a bad thing?  Unfortunately, this may come at the cost of a student.  If you recruit exceptional athletes who are not good students and who have no interest in being good students, you do them a disservice.  You have now dropped a guy who is potentially years behind his peers academically into a classroom that is being taught way above his head, and expecting him to perform at the level of his peers.  Then punishing him when he does not. 

   The way I see it, which is certainly only one perspective, if we want college sports to be held to a standard of rule-keeping and order, which I do, we have two options.   We can change the admission criteria for our student athletes, or we can change the expectations of our student athletes.  If we want college athletes to truly be student athletes, Mr. All-Arounds, I think that's a fine objective.  We need to raise the minimum academic requirements to allow these athletes on the team.  Recruit students who will actually be successful in college, not just on the field.  We also need to be ready for a decline in the level of athleticism we pay to watch.  If we want to watch the highest possible level of athletics at the college level, we need to change our expectations of student athletes and equip them with what will truly help them live a successful life. 

   What if that means we allow them to declare "Professional Athletics" as a course of study?  This would not result in any sort of academic degree, but it could be structured with classes that will give those athletes valuable life skills: public speaking, basic accounting, reading and negotiating contracts, academic remediation if necessary for general courses.  That way, they could be enrolled in classes that would benefit them, that they could be successful in, and that would give them a stepping stone to their next phase of life.  Student athletes who didn't want to go pro could still pursue any degree they choose on scholarship, and those who would have been successful in college under the current system would still be successful.  We just give an option to those who would not have been, other than academic dishonesty.

   This has gotten long, and probably a little ranty.  I see the current college sports situation sort of the way I see healthcare in America.  It's broken.  I don't know how to fix it, but if we want it to last much longer and to actually benefit people, it needs to change.

   What are your thoughts on the SI articles?  The NCAA?  Student athletes? 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy Fall, Y'all!

   Although the weather has been decidedly un-fall, I decided since Labor Day and come and gone, it is fall.  Fall, that magical time of year when I wear boots and scarves (sometimes regardless of the weather), watch more football than is healthy, and consume so much pumpkin I take on a fake-tan-orange glow.  I love it.  All the best things happen in fall.  State Fairs, college football, Thanksgiving, new school supplies, hearty warm dishes like stew and the aforementioned pumpkin, bonfires and hayrides, apple picking...need I go on?
   To celebrate the season, and to encourage it's swift arrival, I spend yesterday fall-izing the house.  That doesn't take long when your apartment is as small as mine.  I don't go all out, but a few changes here and there really go a long way to up the cozy factor.  Here are a few examples:

A collection of things for a centerpiece on the dining room table

I love the bumpy little gourds!  I buy real ones because I don't have storage for faux.

This $5 candle from Wal-Mart gives such a nice scent and glow to the space! It's Apple Cider scented.

Our favorite fall snack, candy corn and peanuts, looks so welcoming with some burlap and more gourds!

   In the living room, our rug and furniture are neutral enough to stay year-round.  I used to have a brown and blue patterned rug that I used for spring and summer, and a red rug that I used for fall and winter.  Since we invested in this "grown-up rug" as I call it, we use it year-round.  In spring and summer I have sort of grayed aqua blue silk-look curtains and pillows.  Now I've switched the curtains out in favor of these brown ones with a great nubby texture that just feel warmer, and the pillows are a red and brown plaid and mustard colored velvet.  In retrospect, I should have fluffed the couch cushions.  Oops.  I added a few yummy throws. switched the botanical prints on the adjacent wall (not shown) out for more fallish wildlife, and called it good. 

   I can't wait to make that first pot of stew, wear a scarf and boots without sweating (yeah, I already tried it), and continue rooting on my Cowboys this season!  Better start planning my Thanksgiving menu...

   Do you decorate seasonally?  Have a favorite season?  Get an orange glow too?  Let me know!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Finally on the up and up!

   I am so happy to report that my sweet girl finally seems to be herself again!  She is playing, eating, and generally being as silly as usual.  (Although today she opted out of her morning nap.  I'm pretending that's a fluke.)  She still has her rash, but it's finally getting brown and fading.  Apparently that's what a measles rash does-- it "stains" as it fades, meaning it turns brown instead of red, sort of like a freckle.

Friday rash
   We were able to get out of the house a little this weekend, which was good for my sanity.  I only noticed a few people giving her the side-eye, but no one said anything to us.  I think it helps that she was pretty happy and didn't act sickly.  She was still a little low energy over the weekend and seemed to run out of steam a little more quickly than usual.

Sunday rash

Monday rash
   We kept her home from church again because her rash was still pretty prominent and we didn't want to worry any of the other parents.  I was also a little worried that her immune system wasn't quite up to the challenge that the nursery can provide.  We knew she wasn't contagious, but her little system has had quite a workout lately, and I wanted to make sure she was good and well before exposing her to anything else.

Monday rash.  That face!  Love love love!!!
    Maybe we can get things back to normal this week.  I had outlined a cleaning schedule for myself to hopefully keep myself on track.  I made it about four days into my schedule before The Great Rash Outbreak, then everything went out the window.  It's not a complicated list, just a reminder of some things and a way to break up tasks to make housework less overwhelming.  I'll let you know how that goes.  What are your favorite housekeeping tips?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rash Update

   This has been the longest week I've had in a long time.  Probably since we figured out that Abigail had a milk sensitivity.  I told you that we took her to the doctor on Monday morning about her weird rash.  And I told you that the rest of Monday was rather unpleasant.  Well, unpleasant has persisted.

Tuesday bumps

   She has continued to cry off and on (mostly on) all day, every day.  When she isn't crying, she is alternately clinging to me for dear life and lying in the floor limply.  This is not like my sweet girl.  She is typically happy, social, and wild.  She is not a snuggler, sadly.  She does not have a fear of strangers.  She doesn't do anything quietly.  I know, many of you have babies with different temperaments, and are rolling your eyes at me complaining about my baby crying, but since that's not like her at all, I know that when she acts like this there is something very wrong.

Tuesday bumps

   I called the pediatrician's office this afternoon to ask the nurse how long I should anticipate this to last.  She seemed concerned that Abigail was still having symptoms, and wanted us to come in an hour later.  So we went.  We saw the same doctor that we did on Monday, which was helpful because he knew what she'd presented with then.  He checked her over again and declared she was fine.  He said that the measles typically last 10+ days, so this might as well.  X(

Wednesday bumps

   I was smart enough to ask a few more questions this time around.  I asked exactly what component of this vaccine had caused the reaction.  He said it was nothing in the serum or any chemical, but was her body's immune response to one of the actual diseases, likely measles because of her rash.  I was going to ask what that meant for the later dose of this vaccine and he beat me to it.  He didn't recommend that I skip it, but insinuated that perhaps that would be a choice that I (and he) might make, and offered that when the time came he would be happy to provide whatever documentation was necessary to obtain a medical exemption.  He said there was a chance there would be no reaction at all, but there was a chance it could be even worse than this.  Things to think about.

Wednesday bumps

   While of course I'm glad that she's improving and there are no other complications, I was clinging to the hope that we were about done with this.  Every morning when I go get her out of bed, I hope that the rash will be gone.  Now I know I may not be even halfway there.  Talk about a buzzkill.  Chris has been great to take the wheel in the evenings and let me be a worthless lump on the couch for much of the evening, but I am just. so. tired.  I can feel myself getting emotional about stupid things, and I can recognize that is from fatigue.  Today I was so tired that I broke down and took a nap while she was taking her morning nap.  I have a million things that I should have been doing, but I just couldn't.  And it did help some.  Thankfully, tomorrow is Friday and we'll have Daddy home with us for the weekend! Two-on-one is always better!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Project 333: Fall

   I've been pondering an idea called Project 333.  It's not new, but it's new to me.  In an effort to challenge people (women) to do more with less, to view their closets with fresh eyes, and to get creative with their clothes, the game is this: Select 33 articles of clothing to wear for the next 3 months.  Now, some people get all hardcore and say that your 33 must include shoes, accessories such as scarves and belts, and any outerwear you might need.  Me, notsomuch.  Almost everyone agrees that your 33 does not have to include PJs, workout clothes, super gribby work clothes, or underthings.

   My closet, shared with my dear husband, is not spacious.  It is not well laid-out, and it has some downright wasted space.  If you have known me for long at all, you have probably heard me complain about it.  Since we're renters, there's just about nothing I can do about it.  However, compared to the rest of the world, it's almost embarrassingly excessive.  What's more excessive is the amount of clothing I have stuffed into it.  I have been making an effort to pare down and simplify many other areas of my life, and have "conveniently" not gotten around to my clothing yet.  The time is here.

   The objectives are few and simple: 1. Look appropriately dressed for the event, weather, and social group.  2. Dress in a speedy manner in the mornings.  3. Have enough variety to prevent boredom and resist the siren call of Target's clearance racks.  I scavenged through my clothes, made lists of what occasions I would need to dress for during these three months, and started mentally weeding through my closet. Here's what I came up with:

Project 333 (Fall): The Basics

    Rest assured, this is merely a representation of the clothes I have.  Not the actual brands/pieces/whatever.  My grey dress has a v-neck.  My striped sweater is green and white, not green and grey.  It was the best I could do on Polyvore.  On one hand, it was hard to decide what made the cut.  It seemed like I have so many clothes that I had to say no to.  On the other hand, seeing them all in one place, 33 seems like plenty of clothing to get me through the fall. (Oh, that's right.  I decided to do September, October, and November for my three moths.) I clearly did not include my accessories in my 33, partly because I was scared to go that minimalist, and partly because I feel like I choose my accessories to be worn in a variety of seasons and settings and with the intent that I will have them for a long time, so I didn't want to limit them.  We're talking about belts, jewelry, and scarves.  Not going to take up a lot of room.

   I am actually looking forward to this experiment.  The object of the game is not to suffer, hate your clothes, feel ugly, or pity yourself.  It's an exercise in creativity and hopefully a gateway to simplifying another area of your life.  You do not have to throw away anything not in the 33.  You simply box it up out of sight, and at the end of three months, do what you will.  Some people put their clothes back in the closet and get on with their lives, and some assess the 33 and make any necessary edits for the next three months.  I'd love for some of you to join me in this adventure!  Any thoughts? 

Monday, August 19, 2013


Sunday bumps
   This is what we woke up to Sunday morning.  Spots.  All over her, but mostly concentrated on her torso and face.  My first thought was chicken pox.  She got her MMR/varicella vaccine a week and a half ago, and we had been warned about late reactions to it. I tried calling the pediatrician's office, but they don't have anyone answering the phones on Sundays.  I gave the families that had been at her birthday party the day before a heads-up, although thankfully all the kids had had their vaccines well in advance of Abigail.
Sunday bumps

   Obviously we couldn't take her to church, so Chris stayed home with her and let me go have some grown-up time at church.  When I got home, he said that she'd been a little less perky, and seemed to have a very low grade fever, but generally seemed okay.  We stayed in the rest of the day, just taking it easy and low-key.  By bedtime, I was doubting my diagnosis of chicken pox.  The bumps didn't quite look right to me.  I couldn't call the doctor until morning, so we went on to bed.

Monday bumps

    Our pediatrician has walk-in hours from 7:00 to 8:30 on Monday mornings, but the nurse hotline doesn't open until 8:00.  I was undecided if I was going to go straight in, or call the hotline first.  When she woke up this morning even splotchier and redder, I decided to go on in.  We were given our own private waiting room when we got to the office, "just in case."  By that point, she hadn't been running a fever for a while, but had started rubbing at her skin like it was bothering her, especially on her face.  (Who could blame her!?)  The doctor checked her out, and concluded that the rash was a reaction to her MMRV vaccine.  He described it as a "measles-like rash," explaining that this is the type of rash a child with measles would present with, but she would be a very sick little girl if she actually had the measles, with high fever, coughing, and often icky eyes.  This rash is not contagious, he said, but also isn't treatable.  We could give her something if she had a fever again, and we could give her Benadryl if it kept itching.  Otherwise, it just has to run its course.

Monday bumps

   I took her home and it was all downhill from there.  She pretty much cried all day, didn't nap for more than 20 minutes at a time, screamed like she was on fire if I tried to set her down to do anything, but squirmed and flailed when I held her.  In short, we both had a very bad day.  We were out of oatmeal, but I tried a baking soda bath, I tried essential oils topically, I tried Benadryl.  The combination of the three of them seemed to help a little, but she's still a miserable little speckled thing. She's in bed now, but still restless and cries out occasionally.  Last night she got up 3-4 times and needed me, hopefully we can sleep a little longer than that tonight.

   It's a scary situation when the things that are supposed to be protecting your health are detrimental to it.  I can't say that I 100% support the standard slew of vaccines as they are recommended by the medical community, and things like this make me so uneasy.  I don't know what she had the reaction to.  Was it a component of the serum?  One of the viruses itself?  Should I be concerned about future vaccines?  I know that this wasn't one of the life-threatening side effects that the scary pamphlets warn you about, but it is unnerving for me.  She's my baby!  And she's clearly ill!  You better believe that I'll be doing some research and asking a whole lot of questions before her next vaccines.

   So many people have called, texted, or Facebooked to check on us, and it really means a lot.  It's nice to know that we have so many people who love us and our sweet girl, and so many people praying for her.  Thank you thank you thank you!  Keep it up!       

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Well, that escalated quickly...

We won't talk about the last time I posted.  Yes, my child is nearly 13 months old.  Yes, we are still in the Little Nest in the Big City.  No, we were not abducted by aliens or deathly ill or dealing with some other sort of terrible tragedy.  I was just learning how to do this mom thing.  Some days I'm a better student than others. 

As soon as I get my photos edited, I'll give you a walk-through of the past few months, including a very sweet first birthday party.  But for now, here's a terrible quality albeit recent photo of my little Peanut:

Bath time is very exciting.

At her (somewhat delayed) 12 month checkup last week, she was 23 lb 3 oz, and nearly 30 inches long!  Still at 95% for height, but she does seem to have slowed down a bit with the growing.  Her 12 month clothes still fit, which hasn't previously happened.  Usually she is a size ahead of her age, but she even has a couple of 9m outfits that work, and some of her 12m clothes are a little big.  Mostly in the waist. 

She has eight teeth and a great appetite!  She eats just about everything, with her favorites being meat, eggs, and beans.  I declare, that is the bean-eatin'-est kid I've ever seen.  She loves them all.  I'm glad.  It's something I've had to learn to eat, and I'm still a little wary of them.  Her other favorite food is broccoli.  Who'd have thunk it?  Not quite walking alone yet, but if she has a hand or some furniture, she's off like a rocket. 

I think it's good for me to have this outlet to pretend I'm talking to grownups, so I'm going to try to keep things more updated 'round here.  If there's anyone out there...