Planned Parenthood: Never been? I have.

Over the course of the last week, I have watched several demonstrations and have read several news articles concerning current events. I tend to shy away from conversations that are political in nature, but the debate surrounding Planned Parenthood and Women’s Rights has really upset me and I can no longer be silent.

Have you ever stepped foot inside of Planned Parenthood and received their services?  I have. Here is my story.

In 2008, at 26, I moved over 650 miles from Western Pennsylvania to Georgia. I had left my position as Director of Prevention and Education at a non-profit domestic violence agency in suburban Pittsburgh to begin a career at a large Fortune 500 company. A crazy, huge change! After 21 months, I lost my job in what is known today as the Great Recession. Along with loosing my job, sanity and security, I also lost my healthcare coverage.

During the time frame that I was uninsured, it came time for my annual gynecological exam. I thought about skipping the exam and waiting until I found a new position with health benefits, but who knew how long that would take. I asked myself, do I really need to be doing unnecessary things?

While fretting over this decision, my non-profit training kicked in – Planned Parenthood and their sliding fee scale for the uninsured! I found the Planned Parenthood that was closest to me, scheduled an appointment and drove to get a physical exam that included an evaluation of my height, weight, blood pressure, urinalysis, breast exam, pelvic exam, and Pap smear.

If you have always had healthcare coverage consider yourself fortunate. If you have never had to weigh the pro’s and con’s of skipping a preventative and potentially life saving exam consider yourself fortunate. Everyone is not that lucky.

 

When folks are outraged and want to “defund” Planned Parenthood (or similar organizations, like local public health departments) they are risking programs that offer pap smears, breast exams, pelvic exams, birth control, mammograms, prenatal services, HIV testing and a myriad of other services that I and tons of other women have needed or currently need.

I am not here to debate abortions, political parties or pink protests and marches, for that matter. Everyone has a right to their own autonomous views and I respect that.

But, I am here to challenge folks to be “compassionate” and “thoughtful.” Think beyond yourself. Think beyond your family. Think beyond your financial situation and socioeconomic status. Think beyond the women you interact with in your social circles and mom groups. Think beyond your immediate neighborhood. Think beyond your “stereotype” of the women accessing public programs. If anything, think of me.

 

 

Staying Healthy During Flu Season

This morning when I woke up, one of the first things I noticed while stumbling to the kitchen to make coffee was a news segment on a highly contagious stomach flu ripping through U.S. schools. Yuck!

I wish I could say the flu bug has not bitten our house this winter, but it has. My husband had it a few weeks ago. Fortunately for us, his case was very mild and everyone else came out unscathed. Hallelujah!

Sometimes these things happen and you simply cannot prevent every illness (even with the flu shot). With that being said, here are some of my favorite things to do in an “attempt” to keep everyone healthy.

  1. Flu Shot(s) – The flu shot is not a guarantee that you will NOT get the flu, but I truly believe it reduces your risk.
  2. Vitamin C – Vitamin C is known for immune support and I am sure to give the boys their daily supplement. When taken, it can help the relieve cold symptoms or reduce the duration of colds.
  3. Probiotics – After a few stomach bugs, and a few recommendations by our pediatrician, I decided to start giving the boys daily probiotics. Like Vitamin C, the probiotics help support their natural defense system.
  4. Hand Washing – Last but certainly not least, keeping hands clean is imperative when trying to prevent the cooties!

What are some things your family does to prevent getting sick?

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by your pediatrician.

One Dish Chicken and Mushroom Alfredo Bake

Do you often times find yourself rushing around in the evenings asking yourself, “what am I going to make for dinner?” Why not try this one dish chicken and mushroom alfredo bake. Minimal effort. Maximum taste.

Ingredients:

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Two, 15 ounce Bertolli Alfredo Sauce

One, 16 ounce Kraft Shredded Low Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese

One 16 ounce Barilla Penne Rigate

Green Giant Sliced Mushrooms

McCormick Alfredo Creamy Garlic Pasta Mix

John Soules Foods Fully Cooked Chicken Breast Strips Rotisserie Seasoned

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

 

Directions:

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Prepare the McCormick Alfredo Creamy Garlic Pasta Mix and set aside.

Prepare the Barilla Penne Rigate and set aside.

Grease the bottom of a 9×12 casserole dish with Crisco.

Pour one jar of alfredo sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Add your penne rigate, mushrooms and chicken breast strips.

Season your pasta, mushrooms and chicken with the creole seasoning.

Pour the McCormick alfredo creamy garlic pasta mix over the pasta, mushrooms and chicken.

Add the remaining jar of alfredo sauce and top with the mozzarella cheese.

Grease foil with Crisco and cover your casserole dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Garnish with parmesan cheese & enjoy!

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The Beginning of the New Year

At a quick glance of the calendar, I cannot believe January is almost over. We have been quite busy beginning this New Year!

We brought in 2017 at home, quietly with my parents who were visiting from Pennsylvania.

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And on New Year’s Day we had the amazing honor of celebrating my husband’s great-grandmother’s 100th birthday. It’s amazing to ponder on the societal changes that she has seen over the course of 100 years. Remarkable!

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In the following two weekends, we celebrated the works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by attending our city’s annual banquet. The speakers message was quite simple, but powerful. Drawing from the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the speaker posed the following questions to the audience, “Are we willing to do whatever it takes to lift up someone who is hurting?” he said. “Are we wiling to do whatever it takes to help a child who does not have food, or a single parent who may be struggling to make ends meet?” “Maybe we pray for someone but we do not help them,” he said. “We must be able to do whatever it takes if we are to keep (King’s) dream alive. When we see someone who is down, we have to act with a sense of urgency to help them.”

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In between all of those events, we have had winter weather, summer weather, and several basketball games.

How has the beginning of your New Year been?