August 21, 2019

Guest Post: Meeting Mayor Pete: Meg Morgan

Posted by Becka

What a crazy, cool weekend. We had the intention of driving straight down to Pete Buttigieg's Town Hall at The University of Charleston*, but we looked at the weather, saw heavy rain was in the forecast, and realized we hadn't packed umbrellas. We mapped the closest shopping, and hit a store right off the freeway. When I opened the trunk to grab Tahini's leash and harness, I saw our suitcase wasn't in the car. In our excitement to get on the road, we'd both forgotten our clothes! So, we grabbed a couple umbrellas and some basics to get us through the weekend, and got back on the road. 

I checked the SC Pete event calendar, and saw that his 3pm round table event had been moved to Moncks Corner, which was easy enough to hit on our way if we took the rural route, and the GPS put us there around 2:15. We got there a bit after 2, and waited for about two hours. Max was so good, and we were able to keep him sitting (we had no idea when the entourage was going to get there because of the previous event and the torrential thunderstorms) until Pete walked through the door with:
* Three lollipops.
* Roadtrip talk.
* Several games of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
* Pen and paper.
* The promise of ice cream.

Of course, then everyone started talking about healthcare and Max was done. 😅 Poor Duncan got to hear the first five minutes and then took Max for a walkabout in the kids' library. 
As for the round table itself, Pete did not disappoint. From the moment he walked in the room you could tell he was there to listen and let people know their personal concerns mattered to him and would hone and shape his campaign moving forward. There was no pretentiousness, no grandstanding, no talking points, and he looked people in the eye when they spoke and when he answered them. 

There were several hard-hitting questions and experiences. One attendee, the bearded gentleman to Pete's left, explained how he pays $1000/mo for his insulin. Several others in the room voiced concern about this, and asked how Pete planned to lower the cost of these essential prescription drugs. He didn't skip a beat, and explained (among other things) that he wants the Medicare system to have the power to negotiate drug prices way down so that insulin, and other life-saving prescription drugs, are available and affordable to everyone who needs them. 

When I had the chance to ask him a question about the gap between Medicaid and the ACA for states that don't take the Medicaid expansion, he immediately started nodding and I could tell it was already something he was concerned about and had given a great deal of thought. While he wishes, as many of us do, that all states would take the Medicaid expansion in the short term, his M4A who want it plan would fill that gap. 

After he was finished -- even though he was late for his next event and I'm sure bone-tired -- he took time to talk with us personally, and to talk with every person in the room who stayed (which was everyone). He listened intently, took photos, and graciously signed books. Then, with honey badger stealth and tenacity, he sprinted to his motorcade and was off to his next event faster than you can say South Bend.
After meeting him, I can safely say that Pete is all he seems to be and then some; an outlier in the best sense because he's giving his dedication and hard work back to us, to this country. He's a true public servant. 

If you want to know more about where Pete stands on the issues, check out his policy page HERE
*Video of that event, and the #TeamPete itinerary of that entire day, is HERE.

Thank you, Meg, for allowing me to post about this weekend! It was great meeting you!! 

June 19, 2019

Product (RED)/Javier Munoz Day

Posted by Becka

All pictures used from the RED Instagram and Facebook pages and the Global Fund Twitter 

Life got in the way again. At least it wasn't a year this time :) 

More about this, at the end of the blog post!

With this being Pride Month, I wanted to do something a little special. 

When we first found out about AIDS in this country, little to nothing was known about it. People had many misconceptions and irrationalized fears about this disease. 

Many people, at that time mostly men, were ostracized, kicked out of their houses, even refused medical treatment, because people were ignorant about AIDS and HIV. (You can have HIV without developing AIDS itself) 

When Freddie Mercury passed away from AIDS in 1991, it was still a few years, before any advancement in AIDS and HIV research, would come about. Magic Johnson was lucky, that he had access to the medical treatment, that would have been available to Freddie, in just a few years. 

It was also believed to exclusively be a "gay man's" health issue. Today, we know that it can be contracted by anyone, male, female, gay or straight. But AIDS education still has a long was to go. And every two minutes, a teenager is infected with HIV

Even with so much medical advancement and AIDS education, there are still many people that do not understand the disease or how it is passed, or not passed, from one person to the other. It has always been intriguing to me, as to why AIDS is not including as a speaking point, in most, if any, sex education classes, in the United States. 

In many countries, including the United States, many babies are born with HIV. It is no longer a death sentence for them, just like for adults infected. This will only get better, providing drug companies keep improving, as well as still making the drugs accessible to the general population. 

Sadly, that is another factor. Both financially and, in some places, geographically. We need to lobby, petition, whatever we need to do, to make sure that more people fighting HIV and AIDS, have access to their life saving medication. The numbers are terrifying! 

So get out there, try to educate the masses and let's stop the myths and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS! Learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your friends. Don't be afraid to talk about it. This isn't a taboo subject anymore! 


Now the awesome part. 

An amazing man that I follow, Javier Munoz, is a huge advocate for RED and the fight against HIV and AIDS. And now, he has his own RED merch, with 100% proceeds going to RED

Click below to go directly to each shirt and help RED and Javi fight against AIDS!

I got mine and I will be wearing it on June 21, which has officially been declared Javier Munoz day in New York City! Congrats Javier! 


April 1, 2019

Every Month Should Be Child Abuse Prevention Month!

Posted by Becka

 Every month should be National Child Abuse Prevention Month. As a parent educator, mother of four children and former preschool teacher, I am appalled by the growing rate of child abuse, neglect, maltreatment and murders in our country and even in our own state. According to state statistics, abuse against children has increased almost each year, by as much as 40 percent or more. Nationally it is even higher. Why is it that in a country such as ours, where we are always trying to do better by our children, where people are required to obtain a license to drive a car or get married, that anyone can have a child with no proper education on how to care for infants and young children?

    We have seen some disturbing instances, such as a mother kidnapping her children and taking them out of the country, mothers and fathers leaving their children in cars reaching over 100 degrees so they can go gamble or to the mall and newborns being beaten because they are crying too much. Most of us think that being a parentcomes instinctually and that as soon as our baby is born we will know what to do. But once we get that little bundle home and we see how much he or she depends on us and puts trust in us to be a proper caregiver, many parents become overwhelmed and many are pushed beyond lines they swore they would never cross. Parental frustration leads to child abuse. The most common form of infant abuse is Shaken Baby Syndrome. The violent movement pitches the infant’s brain back and forth within the skull, rupturing blood vessels and nerves throughout the brain and tearing the brain tissue. The brain strikes the inside of the skull, causing bruising and bleeding to the brain. 

    Of these tiny victims, 20-25 (or more) percent die as a result of their injuries. Most of the rest suffer permanent damage. Shaking of babies respects no boundaries. It occurs in rich and poor families and in families of all colors. In the United States there are over 1,500 cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome per year. It is likely that many more babies suffer from the effects of SBS yet no one knows because SBS victims rarely have any external evidence of trauma. A University of North Carolina study estimates that we may only be diagnosing 1 percent of all babies who are shaken. Reducing just these incidents, by educating more parents on how to calm a crying and colicky baby and how to take a break and ask for help, would save almost $2 million in medical and legal costs. That prevention just may be possible with a new approach to baby calming. There are some cultures around the world where babies rarely ever cry. 

    One should wonder how, in a sophisticated society such as ours, we do not have the proper education and training to take care of a fussy baby, yet others in underdeveloped countries have the knowledge to keep their babies safe and calm for nearly 23 of 24 hours in the day. In the nationally certified program The Happiest Baby on the Block, developed by renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, hundreds of certified educators all over the United States have been trained to help parents before and after the birth of their babies. In this program, parents are taught age-old techniques that have been long abandoned and replaced by wives’ tales, which tell us we will spoil our young infants if we love them too much. The core of this program is to teach parents five calming techniques that when put together correctly trigger an inborn calming reflex in their babies. 

    Parents learn that in the first six months after birth babies still need that comfort they had for nine months in the womb. When given this extra comfort, babies are less likely to be colicky, there will be less crying and fewer incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Shaken Baby Syndrome, marital stress and breastfeeding failure as well as increases in father involvement. This is something Dr. Karp calls the “missing fourth trimester,” and it has been proven to work with thousands of babies across the country.

    In order to stop these innocent babies from dying, being abandoned, neglected or other forms of abuse, parents need to be trained on how to care for their precious newborns. It is time we petitioned to have mandatory parent-education classes implemented in our hospitals, birthing centers and child-care facilities in order to prevent the deaths of any more babies. Asking for help will not make anyone think less of you, in fact, you will be thanked by your baby in the future!

Here are some important links to follow: 

March 23, 2019

We Love Mystic Falls!

Posted by Becka

In 2012, my daughter and I, late to the game, discovered a little show called The Vampire Diaries. From this show, we not only got to see where the magic was made in Covington Georgia, AKA Mystic Falls, VA, we made a ton of amazing friends, who are now family.

My daughter joined the Ian Somhalder Foundation Kids Army and, through that, go to meet kids from all over the world.

It had been 6 years, since we were able to make it to Covington. So, in February, for her 16th birthday, I decided to bring her there.

Of course, we had to go to the Mystic Grill. The last time we where there, in March 2013, it was not yet open to the public.

Not only was it beautiful, there were amazing displays of autographs, plaques and pictures form the cast and crew of The Vampire Diaries, as well as other famous people that have visited. 
We had to go to the beautiful square and get pictures of the houses we loved in the show. Including Ten Oaks, also used in other TV shows, such as Dukes of Hazard and movies, such as Gone With The Wind. We also got pictures of the Lockwood Mansion and Elena's house, which I aways LOVED! 

Of course, she HAD to go to Scoops, her most faboitre of all ice cream places. 

I wish it weren't raining, or else we could have walked around, instead of driving. But there will be a next time!

Oh and, since we were in the area (if you count being na hour away in the area) I also HAD to drive to the Love, Simon house, that they used for Simon's family's house. This house could be yours, for only $1.4 Million! Totally with it, I think! the entire neighborhood is absolutely beautiful!


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