Her’s Day Thursday

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Have you ever wondered what it could be like to be a “Bond Girl”? Well, two women knew what it was like to BE Bond—centuries before the British sex-pot spy was ever created!

 

During the American Revolution, a spy operation called the Culper Spy Ring functioned from 1778 to 1780 from NYC (which, at the time, was occupied completely by the British) all the way through Connecticut and west to none other than General George Washington’s headquarters at Newburgh, NY.

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The key spies operating the Culper Ring were Benjamin Tallmadge (Washington’s Intelligence Chief), Abraham Woodhull, Robert Townsend, John Jay, Caleb Brewster, and two women: Anna Strong and one known only as “Agent 355”.

 

Anna Strong would receive and distribute encoded messages to fellow members of the Culper Ring by hanging a black petticoat on her wash line when a message was ready. She would also include different colors of handkerchiefs to signal where and when the messages would be delivered. Go, Anna!

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There is much speculation, however, to the identity of Agent 355 but there is no denying her involvement or importance in the Culper Ring.

 

Agent 355, it is believed, was a member of higher society being born into a wealthy, British-supporting family. She lived in New York City and had easy access to members of British society as well as British officers.

 

Whenever she could, Agent 355 listened in on conversations between the officers—in that time, men held the belief that women were to have the same political views as their husbands (or, if unmarried, fathers) so they took no special precaution to censure their conversations. Because of this and her “beguiling charm”, Agent 355 was able to pass on sensitive information through the Culper Ring to General Washington. She is even credited with assisting in the outing of Benedict Arnold as a traitor!

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Agent 355–a woman on a mission!

 

Both of these ladies have been featured on the AMC series, Turn. Ever watched it? For more information on these awesome ladies, click here!

 

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Her’s Day Thursday

Her's Day Thursday3

 

The other day, the kiddos and I were walking around Walmart and, because I bribed Huff the Tot with looking at the toys if she behaved, we found ourselves on the doll aisle. I let her do her thing and then heard her shout, “Mommy! Look! It’s Leia!” And sure enough, there was Princess Leia, in all her awesome glory! Turns out, Hasbro has just released a bunch of all female Star Wars action figures called Star Wars: Forces of Destiny!

There’s Princess Leia in her Hoth gear with R2D2:

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The princess rockin’ her look from Endor (complete with a cute ewok sidekick):

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Rey from The Force Awakens: 

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Rey and BB8:

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(I LOVE the freckles!)

 

Sabine Wren:

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And (my fave) Jyn Erso from Rogue One!

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This is super exciting to me! I feel like, in the action figure department, female characters really get the raw end of the deal. Store shelves are packed with male characters from super hero/nerd culture films, but their equally bad-a female counterparts get fewer figures. Plus, not only can you snag some of these for your little BAMF-girl in training, but there are also books all about the lightsaber-wielding ladies as well:

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Hashtag, intergalactic girl power!

 

Her’s Day Thursday

Hers Day Thursday Girl

 

Last Thursday, my family and I were hit by a devastating loss. Our sweet little miniature pinscher, Pinny Lane, passed away.

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We knew it was coming. She was plagued with health problems: diabetes, cataracts/eyesight loss, hearing loss, pancreatic tumors, and kidney problems. Even though we knew it was coming it was still tough.

Last Monday I took her to the vet and she said that even though it hurt her heart to say it, she believed euthanization was necessary. Very reluctantly, and with heavy hearts, we made the appointment for last Thursday at 4:30.

The kids and I had somewhere to be at 9:30 that morning. On our way, I decided to stop at my sister’s house to check on Pinny. When I walked inside, the house was silent. There was no patter of little paws coming to greet me. I turned from the kitchen into the living room and saw her laying on her pillow, with her favorite pink blanket over her. At first, I thought she was sleeping.

I called out her name, but she didn’t move. I gently shook her pillow. When she didn’t stir, I knelt down, searching her chest to see if it rose and fell. It didn’t. I reached out and touched her–she was gone.

As I went back to the car and my kids, I started thinking about that sweet little pup and everything she meant to my family…

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Pinny was given to me by an ex-boyfriend while we were still together back in 2004. At the time, she stayed at his house. This was fine with my family–they didn’t get along with the guy and certainly didn’t want a dog at their house that reminded them of him. The relationship was…awful. And that’s being nice.

There was emotional/mental abuse, manipulation, and controlling behavior. When I finally broke up with him, I decided that I was taking Pinny with me. She was mine, after all, and I wanted to be the one to care for her.

She came home with me and my dad set up a little fenced in area for her in the backyard. Soon after, my grandpa built her a dog house. I always thought it was so cute the way she’d fluff her blankets to cover the hole of her little house. Eventually, when the weather changed, Pinny became an inside dog.

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There was a point that my family was still a little reluctant to take her in. But soon after, Pinny got sick–I still don’t really remembered what happened. What I do remember is my mom and sister crying on the back porch and praying over that little black and brown dog. She quickly solidified her place as a member of the family after that!

We moved to a new house on the other side of town a few months later and Pinny Lane slept with me in my bed. When Huff the Hubs and I got married in 2011, neither one of us wanted to keep her cooped up in a tiny apartment, so she went to live with my sister, Bridget. And that’s where Pinny has been ever since.

Pinny has been such a great companion to Bridget. Bridget spoiled her rotten and loved her deeply. There were so many times I’d see her wrap that sweet dog in a blanket and hold her like a baby. But that’s what she was–Bridget’s baby.

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Pinny has held such a huge part of our hearts for so long and means so much to my family. We credit her with bringing my family back together again after I was in such a bad relationship that fractured our family dynamic (it’s no wonder the name Penny means “weaver”!).

She was an enormous blessing and will be forever missed.

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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With the twentieth anniversary of her untimely death this year, I thought it would appropriate to highlight one of my favorite women in modern history–Princess Diana. I’ve always been a huge fan of anything and everything British and a superfan of the British royals.

We all know the story of her unhappy marriage, rife with infidelity and lack of support from the very start, so I will not spend anymore time on that. Instead, I’d like to focus on her amazing impact and legacy “The People’s Princess” has left behind.

Her work with AIDS victims

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Back in the late 1980’s/early 19990’s, not a lot was known about HIV/AIDS. People were afraid to be in the same room with those afflicted with AIDS, let alone touch them. Princess Diana helped to break that stigma by using her “celebrity” to bring focus to not only the disease itself, but also to the humans suffering. She did this by going to various hospitals and touching, holding, and just showing genuine care and affection toward those with HIV/AIDS.

 

Her fight to rid Bosnia of landmines

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As a patron of The Halo Trust, Diana went to one of the most war-torn areas in the world at the time–Bosnia. She visited those who had been injured or lost someone due to the astronomical amount of landmines left over from a brutal civil war. Of the injured, children made up much of the victims.

 

Her homeless initiatives

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When Diana first became a royal, she made homelessness her top charitable priority. She was blown away at the amount of homeless–teens and veterans especially–there were in the capital city. Diana wanted to help those in need and also show her sons that they, too, needed to be aware of other people’s needs by taking her princes with her to The Passage, a homeless shelter in London. Prince William is still a patron of the charity and visits.

 

These are just a few examples of the way that Princess Diana was able to bring awareness to problems facing the world by her visits to various hospitals, hospices, orphanages, third-world countries and even her own backyard. Her impact can still be seen today, through the good works of her sons, Princes William and Harry.

 

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Her’s Day Thursday

Hers Day Thursday Girl

 

Summer is here which means trips to the beach, the pool, and the water park. While many of us are super excited to don our swimsuits, not everyone feels the same. I know I struggle A LOT with body acceptance and how I feel I look. This week, I read an article about a mom that used her daughter’s “no filter moment” as a way to teach about body acceptance and what “fat” really means. I thought this was a great reaction and also wondered if there were any resources for moms of girls/girls themselves to help them accept their bodies the way they are and celebrate their uniqueness! Here are some great items I came across:

 

No Body’s Perfect by Kimberly Kirberger

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Just one glance at the summary of this book proves it is a must-read for tweens and teens: “…powerful stories and poems from real teens, as well as personal tales and advice from the author, this book strives to help girls learn to accept, love, and appreciate their bodies–and, in turn, to love themselves.”

 

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Liking Herself , Even on the Bad Days by Laurie Zelinger

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This book is from a series of “self-help”-type books for girls from the creators of the American Girl doll line. There are several books that deal with issues all kids will face: bullies, drama, trouble with friends, getting along with siblings, and doing well in school. This particular book helps girls understand the emotions they are feeling, how to work through them, and also how to control their emotions and trust themselves.

 

Beauty & Self-Esteem Dice Game: Rockin’ Your Body Image for Self-Esteem Groups

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This printable game from the Teachers Pay Teachers store, Mental Fills, is a great way to get girls to open up and talk about their body issues in order to improve the way they feel about themselves. According to the TPT site: “Rock ‘In Your Body Image is a dice game that helps identify and dispute body image distortions in an effort to improve body image and self esteem. Helpful activity for eating disorder behavior, and self confidence improvement for individual and girl’s groups.”

 

The Care and Keeping Of Us Cara Natterson

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I know, another American Girl book. BUT, this one is too awesome to not talk about! This book is actually three books in one and helps to foster communication between girls and their mothers: “…there’s so much for moms and girls to talk about. But how do girls ask the questions they need answers to, and what words can moms use to answer those questions? Here’s the solution! This kit includes twin books, one for girls and one for moms, filled with dozens of how-to-say-it scripts to get the conversations going. These scripts give girls the words to talk about all the big topics from body basics, hygiene, and healthy habits to friends, first-love crushes, clothing, and more. And mom’s book gives her the actual words to respond to her girl’s questions, as well as scripts to initiate important conversations with her daughter. Plus, a sharing journal lets both moms and girls jot down everything from jokes, memories, and must-remember moments to thoughts, questions, and even to-dos. Two bookmarks are included to guide each other to the latest entry or point out something they don?t want the other to miss. The journal becomes a great keepsake, and the books will be a hand-me-down resource to treasure. Kit includes: The Care & Keeping of Us: A How-To-Say-It Book for Girls, The Care & Keeping of Us: A How-To-Say-It Book for Moms, and The Care & Keeping of Us: A Book for Girls and Their Moms to Share.”

 

Have you read any of these? Do you have a resource/book/game that YOU use to help your daughter? Share in the comments below!

Her’s Day Thursday

Hers Day Thursday Girl

 

The other night, I was watching PBS (big shocker; that’s my nightly ritual. Yes, I’m basically an 80-year-old in a 32 year old’s body) and there was a special about a woman named Lydia Mendoza.

Lydia or, “La Alondra de la Frontera,” (The Lark of the Border) was born in Houston, Texas in May 1916. Her parents were very musical–her mother and grandmother actually taught her how to play guitar when she was a toddler! When Lydia was just four years old, she built her own guitar out of wood, nails, and rubber bands. Lydia and her sister performed with her parents in a family band named La Cuarteto Carta Blanca on the streets of Houston. One day, Lydia’s father found an ad in a local Spanish newspaper, looking for musical acts. The family performed and won the chance to travel to San Antonio to record for the Okeh record label.

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Not long after, Lydia and her family moved to Michigan as migrant workers. They quickly built up a large fan base within their migrant community, with Lydia shining bright. The Mendoza family eventually moved back to San Antonio and resumed performing. In the early 1930’s, Manuel Cortez (a pioneer in Mexican-American broadcasting) saw Lydia perform and was immediately taken by her talent. He signed her and she recorded her first single, Mal Hombre. It was an instant success! Lydia toured the country with her family in tow.

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Lydia accomplished great success in her career which spanned over 60 years, 50 records, and more than 200 songs. Her soulful style, 12-stringed guitar, and ability to write deep, meaningful songs has made her a pioneer and a legend within the Spanish-speaking music community. Lydia continued to perform–even playing at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration–and tour until she suffered a stroke in 1998. She has received numerous awards and acknowledgements: the National Heritage Fellowship Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Folk Alliance International. And, in 2013, Lydia was honored with a commemorative stamp from the United Postal Service.

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Gracias, Lydia, for your beautiful voice and amazing legacy!

Her’s Day Thursday

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The other night, I was watching PBS (a nightly ritual before I go to bed…sheesh, how old am I?!) and a local program came on, highlighting influential women in history that were from Oklahoma. One of them was Kate Barnard.

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Catherine Ann “Kate” Barnard was born in Geneva, Nebraska in 1875. After her mother passed away when she was little, her father sent her to live with relatives and he joined the Land Run in Oklahoma. After staking his claim, Kate journeyed to Oklahoma to live with her father. In 1895, she attended a Catholic school and earned a teaching certificate, teaching until 1902.

When she quit teaching, Kate took a business course and became a secretary for the territorial legislature. She was chosen to represent Oklahoma at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. It was there that she met Jane Addams and other social reformers. This was the first time Kate had been exposed to city life, and experienced first-hand the slums and terrible living conditions the poor had to endure. When she returned to Oklahoma, she was determined to help bring about social change.

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She threw herself into aid and charity work, participating in Farm Labor meetings and even being elected the Charities and Corrections Commissioner. Through her appointment, she enacted essential education laws, helped create programs to support poor widows, and a state ban on child labor. Kate also advocated for safe working conditions and the eradication of “blacklisting” union members. She was also a voice for abused Native American children. Through her incredible speeches, she was able to convince politicians that there was a deep need to increase federal protection for members of the Five Tribes. Her most notable achievement has been noted as uncovering the abuse of Oklahoma prisoners being held in Kansas. Kate discovered the prisoners were being subjected to torture and forced labor in coal mines. Because of her findings, it forced the governor to return the prisoners to Oklahoma and resulted in the building of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlister.

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Kate’s political career ended during her second term in office. She fought so diligently for the needs of Native Americans who were being cheated out of their land. Because of her devotion to righting this wrong, she made many enemies, including William H. Murray who convinced the state legislature to defund her office. In her book, A Chief and Her People, Wilma Mankiller quoted Kate: “I have been compelled to see orphans robbed, starved, and burned for money. I have named the men and accused them and furnished the records and affidavits to convict them, but with no result. I decided long ago that Oklahoma had no citizen who cared whether or not an orphan is robbed or starved or killed – because his dead claim is easier to handle than if he were alive.”

Kate died in 1930, due to many lingering health problems and was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982.

Thank you, Kate, for your amazing work for Oklahoma!