The Blog of a Bluegrass Belle: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

So you think you want to be a Disney Princess?

Due to popular demand I am blogging about my race experience with Run Disney at the Princess half marathon at Walt Disney World Resort.  It wasn't as "magical" as I dreamed it might be but it wasn't a completely poor experience either.

My personal race bib and my team bib.  

The Race Expo was moved from the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex to the Coronado Springs Resort due to events being held at the sports complex.  It was very congested (like most of the race) and very hard to get around.  I picked up my race packet, and made it through half of an aisle before I got frustrated and we left.  I don't understand why they crowded the aisles into such a very small space, there was still a significant amount of space left in the ballroom.  There were things I really wanted to pick up but I just couldn't bare to deal with the crowds.  My family and I spent the rest of the day on Friday at Magic Kingdom but I will blog about our vacation experience in a second post.

We spent Saturday at Animal Kingdom.  I waited to pack my race bag which was a huge mistake.  My ear phones disappeared.  I frantically ran out to the local Winn Dixie to pick up a pair.  I ended up not getting in bed til about 11pm which isn't great when you are getting up at 3am.  If you can't handle getting up really early, this isn't the race for you.  I was out the door by 330am and still managed to forget my breakfast.   I drank a 16oz coconut water and some gatorade on the drive over.  

My first piece of advice is stay at a Disney Resort.  Run Disney provides transportation from all Disney hotels.  I stayed at a Disney Good neighbor hotel, Marriott Residence Inn Buena Vista.  It was just a few miles down the road and it still took over an hour for me to drive into the parking near Epcot.  If you are military affiliated, stay at the Shades of Green resort (I will discuss this at length in the vacation post).  The grounds are beautiful, the staff is so friendly, and they have Run Disney transportation. 







Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Violence Against Women Act VERY URGENT! Immediate action required!

One Billion Rising has alerted everyone that tomorrow a vote will occur in Congress regarding the Violence Against Women Act.  Please take a few moments and locate your Congressman, and make your voice heard.  

There are two votes happening that need your attention.  
I am cross posting this from the V-Day facebook page because it needs immediate attention:

ONE BILLION RISING V-Day facebook page 

There has been an important and TIME SENSITIVE development with VAWA. 

On WEDNESDAY, February 27th, the House will vote on a rule to proceed with consideration of VAWA. We want them to vote YES on the Rule. 

On THURSDAY, February 28th, the vote on the actual bill will occur. We want them to vote NO on the House substitute bill and YES on the Senate version of VAWA.

Your Congress Members are listening to you! We only have a few hours to act so please call today and tomorrow morning. Members must hear loud and clear that they need to pass the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA! Your work has gotten us this far – let’s get this done!

URGENT ACTION ITEM:

To reach your Congress Member, call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or look them up herehttp://www.house.gov/representatives/. When you’re connected to their offices, ask to speak to the staff person who handles VAWA.

MESSAGE:

I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________. I’m calling about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). I urge Congress Member ________ to vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. VAWA can and must protect all victims.

Tweet to your Congress Member:

@[congress person’s handle]: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA  I have even included twitter handles.  


In Kentucky our members are 


Kentucky

DistrictNamePartyRoomPhoneCommittee Assignment
1Whitfield, EdR2184 RHOB202-225-3115  
2Guthrie, S. BrettR308 CHOB202-225-3501
3Yarmuth, John A.D403 CHOB202-225-5401
4Massie, ThomasR314 CHOB202-225-3465
5Rogers, HaroldR2406 RHOB202-225-4601
6Barr, Garland ""Andy""R1432 LHOB202-225-4706



Twitter handles
https://twitter.com/RepEdWhitfield
https://twitter.com/RepGuthrie
https://twitter.com/RepJohnYarmuth
https://twitter.com/RepThomasMassie
https://twitter.com/RepHalRogers
https://twitter.com/RepAndyBarr

Please know your Districts... Congressman Barr is Fayette and surrounding counties.  Knox County is Harold Rogers.   It only takes a minute or two, there is a link up top regarding other States.   

If you follow me on Twitter you can just RT my tweet and like it.  Please feel free to share!  

Happy Wonderful Wednesday
XOXO




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Call to Action: Domestic Violence and Dating, Child Fatality

Unfortunately, most people do not realize how easy it is to let your government leadership know how you feel. Generally a quick call to their offices will do. There are two proposed bills that need our support. House Bill 9 and House Bill 290 both deal with issues related to domestic violence. Kentucky House Bill 9 This bill would allow dating couples to get get domestic violence protection orders. 

 It is unfortunate that Kentucky and South Carolina are the only two States in the Nation that do not allow a dating couple to file for a civil protection order. In Kentucky you can only file for civil protection to couples residing in the same home, have a child together, or have been married. House Bill 9 would allow dating couples to receive the same protection. Civil order are often considered more serious. They are often the most quickly executed, and can be vital to saving someone's life. Civil orders often have extended time frames. 
Here is a link to the actual bill House Bill 9 

Kentucky House Bill 290 An act relating to the external child fatality and near fatality review panel. Create a new section of KRS 620 to establish an external child fatality and near fatality review panel; establish its membership, duties, and responsibilities; and amend KRS 620.050 to allow records to be provided to the panel. The provision would allow records to be released to the panel to review fatality and near fatality cases in children who were suspected victims of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect. If you would like to read over HB 290, I have included a link directly to the Bill. Kentucky HB 290 

 One in four women will experience an episode of domestic violence in her lifetime. My brother and a dear cousin both lost their lives to domestic violence. No child should ever die at the hands of a parent or caregiver. A parent shouldn't have to grieve over the loss of a child, and it is equally devastating for a sibling. I will never get over losing my brother Brandon, and no family should ever suffer the way we did. My dear cousin Angie lost her mother Cathy at the hands of her father. It is never easy to lose a loved one, but it certainly isn't easy to lose them at the hands of someone you trusted. 

 It is very easy to call. The number is 1-502-564-8100. Please remember that legislators are elected by voting districts. If you live in the Lexington-Fayette area here are some contacts. You can let the operator know you support one or both of the proposed bills. 
 The names you will want to give them are
 Julian Caroll x 651 
Kathy Stein x608 
Tommy Buford x610 
Alice Forgy Kerr x625 
Stan Lee 
Ruth Ann Palumbo 

Click here for the link to legislators by county in Kentucky 

 Please make your voice heard. Whether you believe it or not, every voice counts. Speak up for those that have already lost their lives to domestic violence. You could help save lives with your action. 

 Please and Thank You 
Happy Thankful Thursday 
XOXO 
~Jess 

 And please feel free to share the link to this blog. We need to spread the word and make our voices heard!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Self-fulfilling prophecy...

How many times have you believed the worst in people or a situation, long before you know enough to make an educated decision?  I am guilty.. guilty.. guilty!  We often develop preconceived notions about people and their intentions.  We can use the theory of self-fulfilling prophecies to our advantage but often they are detrimental to us.  

Self-fulfilling prophecies are known as the Pygmalion effect.  Paul Watzlawick, an Austrian born psychologist and philosopher said, "A self-fulfilling prophecy is an assumption or prediction that, purely as a result of having been made, cause the expected or predicted event to occur and thus confirms its own 'accuracy.'"  It is the theory that we can sabotage or improve a situation by either negative or positive thoughts about it.  

I wish I could be a perpetual optimist but unfortunately my life experiences have taught me otherwise.  I hate being pessimistic, but it can be devastating to be let down.  I have had people who I put faith in, hurt me and shatter my confidence in others. In reality I know I have (often unintentionally) done the same.  I always expect patience and understand for myself, when I am not always willing to give it freely to someone else.  

"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier."
~General Colin Powell

I challenge you to be more optimistic about the world around you.  Our children are taught by example.  We can't steal the hope from their eyes.  We need to be kind, loving, hopeful, and most of all optimistic.   We need them to know they can fail with grace but they can succeed with determination.  

I will use myself as an example.  I am happy to point out that I grew up in a very rural part of southeastern Kentucky.  I am proud of where I came from.  Life isn't always easy growing up in the foothills of the mountains.  The entire World has a preconceived notion about Kentucky and especially rural Kentucky.  I hate the stereotype that we are all barefoot and pregnant at sixteen.  This stereotype is only compounded by my thick southern accent.  

Someone once asked me, "Aren't you afraid they will make fun of you?".   I figured out how to use my accent to my advantage.  It is a conversation starter.  I once spent a large chunk of an evening volunteering at the KET gala entertaining then football coach Rich Brooks and his friends with my accent.  I like proving that just because, "I talk slow, doesn't mean I am stupid."  

Instead of walking into a room or speaking with hesitation, I speak with great confidence.  I am determined to undermine the stereotype that hinders many in Kentucky.  I am using a self-fulfilling prophecy to aid instead of hindering myself.  

We shouldn't lower our expectations of others just out of the shear fear of disappointment.  We should aspire them to greatness with our expectations.  

Happy Spectacular Sunday,
XOXO
~Jess   


Friday, February 15, 2013

Dear Senator... Belle goes to the "Hill"


Capitol Hill once seemed like a place for just tourists and politicians.  Earlier this week, I walked onto Capitol Hill advocating for change.  It was quite surreal for a girl that grew up in southeastern Kentucky.  It was one of the most exciting and exhilarating days of my life.  I was getting to speak up for someone who was unable to do so.  



While we were there, our group visited the offices of Senator (R) Rand Paul, Senator (R) Mitch McConnell, Representative (D) John Yarmuth from 3rd congressional district, Representative (R) Andy Barr from 6th congressional district , and Representative (R) Thomas Massie from the 4th congressional district. 



Walking into Senator (R) Rand Paul's office was a lesson in humility.  We walked into a "gun fight that we knew we were gonna lose" but we walked in there anyhow.  Senator Paul is a very vocal advocate against any United States Foreign Aid.  The United States only spends about 1% of the fiscal budget each year on foreign aid and diplomacy.  It is touted by many journalists that Senator Paul uses his opposition and out spoken nature to gain media attention.  After all, negative attention is still attention.   I guess he hopes that the U.S. is never directly attacked, that we won't need allies, and we have never received any foreign assistance from other countries.  

Senator Paul should realize global health also impacts U.S. health.  I would hope as a physician he would see those implications.  Germs do not carry passports, outbreaks of infectious diseases in other countries still means the possibility of outbreaks in the U.S.  In 2000, measles were declared to be eliminated from the United States but due to vaccination propaganda and resulting lowered vaccination rates, in 2011 there were 222 cases reported by the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.   Just across the "lake", in England measles cases are at an 18 year high.  There have already been cases of the measles reported in the U.S. this year.  Complications from measles can be deadly especially in young children and those with compromised immune systems.  An outbreak of measles in the U.S. doesn't just involve the health of an individual and their family.  A reported case of the measles requires CDC notification, exposure and tracking measures, and the alert of CDC personnel.  It places a significant burden on the healthcare system which is entirely unnecessary.  It also affects public transportation and education systems, it is an infectious disease which has easy modes of transmission.  

U.S. Today reported that a measles outbreak in Utah in 2011 cost $300,000, that was one outbreak!  It only costs $5 to immunize one child from measles and polio for life, $20 covers measles, polio, pneumonia and rotavirus.  These are diseases which are easily prevented if the we intervened.  

These children are real.  This photo is from a Shot@Life observation trip to Uganda. 
In reality the most important impact should be humanitarian.  The prevention of needless deaths.  We are a global society.  All American citizens were once immigrants from somewhere.  I can trace my roots to Ireland and Scotland, along with my Native American heritage.  My son has lineage in Ecuador and Spain.  Everyone deserves access to life saving vaccinations, regardless of place of birth.  A child and their family shouldn't be punished because they were born in Africa, Pakistan, Guatemala, or any other country.  It is the most cost effective form of humanitarian aid.  It easily pays off dollar for dollar. 

 It is unfortunate that Senator Paul, wants to "throw the baby out with the bath water" as we say around here.  He might not approve of all forms of foreign aid but global vaccination funding is vital the U.S. and the rest of the World.  In reality it isn't his job to approve of anything.  He was elected to vote as the voice of his constituents.  He should listen to what the people of the state want and vote for us.  In September he proposed that the U.S. cut all foreign aid to Libya, Pakistan, and Egypt because of government disagreements.  Why should we punish the children and families of those countries because of government disfunction?  Those children are no different than the children living in our own neighborhoods, except our children have access to local health departments and clinics to get vaccinations.  

I would like to a take a second to also point out that Senator Rand Paul was one of only 8 senators that voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  Last year there were 18,733 unduplicated new referrals to the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association and a total of 39,919 continuing individuals served.  To put those numbers in perspective, there is only 31,888 residents in Knox County Kentucky, where I grew up.  My brother and a dear cousin were both lost due to domestic violence.  Senator Paul must know that his vote was unacceptable.  

In this technologically advanced age it is easy to let our Congressmen and Senators know how we feel. You might not have money to donate to the campaign, but if your reading this you have internet access.  You can call, email, or write a letter to your Congressmen and Senators to let them know you support U.S. allocated funding for global vaccines.  You can also contact them via twitter.  

I don't care if you are a teacher in Barbourville, a coal miner from Harlan, a farmer from Mayfield, an attorney from Lexington, or if you fall anywhere in between.  If you are 18 years old, you have a voice and you should let it be heard.  Your vote counts, you elect the officials.  I am going to make it simple.  

Here are the websites for officials for the State of Kentucky, if you live outside of Kentucky you can use google and find yours.  


I hope you will contact them and let your Senators and Congressmen know how you feel, whether it be about global vaccines, domestic violence, or any issue you feel is relative to you.  

Happy Fabulous Friday, 
XOXO
Jess 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Global Citizen


"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  
~Edmund Burke

Frank is my favorite person to heckle over the University of Louisville.  


I have spent the last few days with an amazing group of individuals who aren’t standing around doing nothing.  Actually most of them were shouting, “Hey, things need to change!”  Its easy to stand around and pretend your hands are tied.  It is much harder to try to get others to join your cause, especially when those you are advocating for are half a world away.  

I always use my time flying to think about my schedule and issues at hand.  My flight from Ronald Reagan airport in Washington, D.C., into Bluegrass Regional airport here in Lexington from gate to gate took about 1 hour and 30 mins.  I was on the plane about 5,400 seconds, and in that time approximately 270 children around the world died of a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine.  Doesn’t anyone find that unacceptable?  Where I am originally from, that is approximately the population of one elementary school.  

It would have only taken $5,400 to save those lives.  My goal over the next year working with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign is to raise $5,400 to help prevent the death of that many more.  I hope my wonderful community will help me work toward that goal.  I am blessed to be surrounded by so many caring friends, family, and neighbors.  We are global citizens, we aren’t bound by the same borders that once contained us.  These could easily be your own family and friends, if you weren’t lucky enough to live in a country as fortunate as the United States.  

Many people don’t realize Foreign Aide is only one percent of the U.S. budget and global vaccines are one of the most cost effective ways to help those in developing nations.  I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to lose a child to something that could have been easily prevented if they only had access to a vaccine.  

Traveling to Washington was my first trip away from my three year old son and it was very emotionally difficult.  As a parent I can only imagine the grief and fear of realizing you could lose your child to a disease that could have been prevented.  From January 1 through January 19th of this year, Pakistan recorded 103 child deaths from complications associated with measles.  Five hundred and fifteen dollars is all that was needed to vaccinate those children against measles and polio.  A twenty dollar donation would vaccinate one child for a lifetime against measles, polio, diarrhea, and pneumonia.  

I want to do more than just fundraising. I hope over the next year I can create a dialogue with my community and government officials.  We need to let them know as constituents we approve and want allocated United States funding for global vaccines.  We need to advocate for those than can’t advocate for themselves.  

Please visit www.shotatlife.org to read more about the campaign.  Please feel free contact me with any questions, if I don’t know the answer I will try to find someone who can answer it.  I would also love to talk to you about the Shot@Life campaign.  Please contact me, and I will gladly speak to groups and even individuals.  

You can donate directly to the Shot@Life campaign through 
http://www.globalproblems-globalsolutions.org/goto/teambluegrassbelle and we can keep track of area donations.  You can also join my team, it is a free and all the money raised goes to a great cause!  I have some exciting things in the works for a our beautiful town, and I can't wait to show the world how much our community cares.  

I promise to blog later about my trip to D.C., all my new wonderful friends, and lobbying on the “Hill”.  I just have an adorable three year old I want to snuggle with.  I hope everyone else will snuggle their own babies tonight, and think of all the parents who would love give their own children a shot at life. 

Happy Worldly Wednesday,
XOXO
~Jess




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Some birds were meant to fly


Some birds were meant to fly and I flew the coop a long time ago.  I have always been adventurous and slightly audacious.  When I graduated high school at 17, I was ready to leave that sleepy little town that I loved to explore the world.  I have been fortunate to travel and meet lots of interesting people along my path, and yet I feel like my journey has just begun.  

Today, I took my another big leap out of my nest.  I left my son with my mother while I am gone to Washington, D.C..  I know we are both ready and we need this.  In his three years on this earth, he has traveled to Idaho, Nevada, throughout South Florida, along with the countries of Colombia, Curacao, and the British Virgin Islands, and countless stops inbetween.  If you count the 9 months I was carrying him, he has been a few other places too!  I was determined to teach him to have wings too, but sadly I realized I have been hindering him.  We have never slept in separate rooms  and tonight will be our first night apart.  I have never been away from him for more than a few hours.  

I am an Army wife, and I have an Army life.  My husband is gone alot.  He has been gone since shortly after Gabe turned one year old.  In honesty, if you counted up the days, he has been gone close to half our marriage.  It is the life we chose and I am grateful for his career.  Sadly, I sometimes feel like Gabe is being short changed in the parental department.  My family lives about two hours away.  It is just Gabe and I most days.  I feel guilty leaving him when his Dad is gone all the time.  

I believe in teaching a child by example.  I need to teach Gabe to fly by watching me.  He needs to know that I have dreams and I am not afraid to follow them.  I can’t make him afraid to leave the nest or always need me to fly with him (although I gladly would).  Leaving him asleep this morning wasn’t easy, but in my experience nothing that came easy was ever really worth it.  

Today I dusted off my wings and hopefully Gabe will start to use his own.  Watch out Washington this Bluegrass Belle is on her way!  I am so excited about advocating for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.  I say this repeatedly, I may not be able to change the World, but I can work to make it better even if it is just one person at a time. 

Dear Boo, 
Momma will be home soon enough.  I miss you bunches and love you more than you will ever know.  Big a big boy and don’t be too mean to Escobar. 
Love,
Mommy

Happy Soaring Sunday,
XOXO
~Jess 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Big Red Shoes and Tiny Little Hats

Can you imagine having a baby small enough to wear this hat? 
Three of my very slender fingers fit in this tiny little hat
My son weighed 7 pounds and 8 ounces when he was born 2 weeks shy of his due date.  I was terrified I would hurt him, and he seemed so small.  He weighed nearly 4 times what some of the super premie babies born or transferred to the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center do.  I can't imagine having a baby that small and having to watch them fight for survival.  It would heartbreaking.  Thankfully Ronald McDonald Houses across the country provide a warm shower, cozy bed, and a hot meal to families of children who are hospitalized due to prematurity, illness, or injury.  They help make the day a little brighter and easier, for so many families who are clinging to hope.  



Today Bluegrass Junior Woman's Club was recognized by the Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass for our support to their organization and the room that we sponsor.  It was heartwarming to see the clubs name on the door and hear all of the success stories.  They had a county map which listed the number of families from each county, along with the number of nights they stayed cumulatively.  My home county Knox, was one of their top five counties serviced.  Last year 19 families from Knox had stayed at the house for a total of 200+ nights.  I couldn't help but be curious if anyone from my hometown had stayed in the BJWC sponsored room.  I am from a very close knit community, everyone  either knows everyone else or they are related.  The county is nearly 2 hours away from the hospital, so staying at the house would be a necessity for anyone with a hospitalized premie.  I love knowing that the Ronald McDonald house is there for those families.  In the south, "we take care of our own," as they say.  

Some of the women from our organization, Bluegrass Junior Womans Club and the only clown I would ever be around
The club took a tour of the house and we snapped a few photos.  Most of us have cooked dinner there multiple times but I had never been given a tour.  Along with our premie caps, the house gave each of us a pin and an umbrella (mine is going to D.C. with me next week).  Our time at the house reminded me to be thankful for so many simple things in my life, especially a healthy child.  It was nice to see the dedication of our club pay off, and know that so many families were helped in a time of need.  

A candid of me chopping veggies for soup, I diced nearly an entire bag of onions
We cooked dinner for the residents of the house.  It always great when you can watch a large group of woman work successfully together.  The club chose Rachel Ray's Chicken Orzo Soup 

Here is the recipe for anyone interested:


  • cup orzo pasta
  • tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • pound chicken cutlets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • ounces sliced white mushrooms
  • ribs celery, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 15 ounce can  cannellini beans, rinsed
  • cups chicken broth
  • tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the orzo until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and celery and cook until the chicken is golden-brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cooked orzo, the beans, chicken broth and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until heated through. Stir in the parsley. 
When we were done cooking, I sat at the table with my friends and watched as the residents ate.  I couldn't image what they were dealing with, I just hoped they were enjoying a peaceful, delicious meal.  I came home to a happy, healthy little boy and a heart full of gratitude.  

There are so many ways to help your local Ronald McDonald House.
1. Donate money
2. Plan a dinner with a group of friends
3. Volunteer at the house or at the family room in the hospital
4.  Collect soda pop tabs
5.  Host a fundraiser
6. Collect items for their "wish list"

You could easily help make a difference in the life of one child and their family.  Please visit Ronald McDonald House of Lexington to find out how you can help or volunteer!  

“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa


XOXO ~Jess