Saturday, March 31, 2012

When Mom And Dad Don't Agree, Child Writes to Tazi For A Tie-Breaking Vote

Dear Tazi:

My Mommy and Daddy are painting all of the rooms in our house. I want to paint my bedroom purple, but my Mommy won't let me. Daddy says it is my room, and I should be allowed to paint it whatever color I want, since I am the one who will have to live with it. Auntie who lives with us said I should let you decide since Mommy always says you give great advice. I am telling Auntie what to say and she is typing this on the Internet for me. Mommy reads your letters every day, and sometimes reads them to me. I like them! I think you are a nice kitty. Will you tell Mommy to let me paint my room purple? I am 5 years old.

Hugs and Kisses,
Madison


Dear Madison:

Five years old! Why you are practically a little lady! Thank you very much for writing to me, and asking me to solve your problem. I like helping humans solve their problems. When humans are happy, they feed me more kitty treats.

Can I tell you a secret? My bedroom - the room I share with my Mommie - is painted purple, and I love it! Mommie took a long time to look at lots of different color purples before she finally decided on two different purples, a dark one and a light one. She was afraid she would get tired of looking at all that purple, so she had to make extra sure she liked the colors. I think your Mommy is afraid that she will get tired of looking at all that purple, too, so here is an idea that you can try:

Since you really, really want to paint your room purple, I think you should be allowed to paint it purple - but your Mommy gets to choose the other colors for the room; like the bedding, curtains, carpet, and paint trim. This way, you get purple walls and your Mommy doesn't get a headache from looking at all that purple. This idea is what grown-ups call a compromise.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. Remember to say thank you to your Auntie for helping you write to me! --T.K.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Foot Odor, Nosy Co-Worker Make For Uncomfortable Office Environment

Dear Tazi:

I have a terribly embarrassing problem. I have horrible foot odor. Even though I wash my feet daily; wear thick, absorbent socks; and use powder to absorb any swear my feel still smell rank. It think it is very noticeable to others, even when I am wearing shoes, although no one has ever said anything about it - until now.

I recently started a new job, and the woman in the cubicle next to me must have a very sensitive sense of smell because she keeps telling me she smells "a dirty foot kind of smell" and that she cannot figure out from where it is coming. She has asked me if I can smell it, too, or if she is going crazy. Our co-workers say to ignore her, that she is always smelling something; but I can't help but wonder if she is smelling my feet. Should I say something? Apologize? Pretend not to notice? I just don't know what to do, Tazi!

Signed,
Smelly Paws


Dear Smelly Paws:

Have you talked to your doctor about this problem? Generally, foot and other body odors are harmless, caused by a combination of excessive sweating and the bacteria that feed on human sweat. If you have tried all of the over-the-counter methods to combat foot odor - such as Gold Bond medicated powder or Odor Eaters products for your shoes - and you are still not getting relief, perhaps it is time to try a prescription-strength deodorant and antiperspirant. I hear that Drysol - or any other brand of aluminum chloride hexahydrate (AlCl3*6H2O) based product - has a wonderful success rate for humans with your exact same problem.

In the meantime, if you are not comfortable revealing to your co-worker that you are the source of the foot odor, do not feel obligated to do so. The next time your co-worker complains, suggest that she try using a small, desktop air freshener to combat the offensive "phantom odor" that only she can smell. Soon enough your problem should be solved - and so, in turn, will hers - until she finds another smell to bring to the attention of everyone in the office.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, March 26, 2012

True Beauty Comes From The Inside; A Beautiful Face Is A Bonus

Dear Tazi:

My boyfriend of several years, "Barry" is a bartender. He works in a nightclub that is known for its fights, due to differing ethnicities (that don't get along) who both like to hang out there and call the place their ground. About six months ago, a raging brawl broke out. Barry was working that night and tried to calm things down before the cops arrived and got caught in the middle. He was struck in the face by a broken beer bottle, and had his cheek sliced open, from the top of his jaw diagonally down to his chin. The doctors say he was very lucky not to have incurred any nerve damage; and the only evidence of his ordeal is a long, jagged scar that runs the length of his face. It is this scar that is the problem.

Before this fight, Barry was a very handsome man. Now, the scar makes him look like a thug. I can't stand looking at him and seeing that nasty, jagged reminder of that awful fight! Because the scar is on his face, he was well-compensated by the worker's compensation insurance; and his health insurance will pay for any plastic surgery to have it removed. I have told Barry my feelings on the matter - that I would like to see the scar taken care of - but Barry has refused to undergo reconstructive or laser surgery to have it removed. He says the scar adds "character" and that he has learned to live it with it. I am not sure that I can learn to live with it, Tazi. I have told Barry this, but he just shrugs me off; he says that it is his face, so it is his decision. Don't I have a say, Tazi? I am the one who has to look at him! I know that sounds mean, but this scar is very upsetting to me!

Signed,
Scarface's Girlfriend


Dear Scarface's Girlfriend:

What is it exactly that bothers you about this scar? Are you upset that it has marred Barry's once perfect face? Or is the scar a difficult reminder of the night your boyfriend could have been killed in a bar-fight? You need to be honest with yourself when answering this question, for Barry's sake and well as the sake of your relationship with him.

To answer your question as to whether or not you have a say in the matter of Barry's scar, my answer is "maybe" - it all depends on what you want to say. If the scar is upsetting to you because it reminds you of the violent attack your boyfriend suffered, you need to explain this to him. Barry should then try to work with you in getting past this emotional trauma; because I am certain the attack was no picnic for him, either. This bonding experience could bring back your closeness as a couple.

If the scar is upsetting you because you think it makes your boyfriend look ugly - which, from your signature, I am guessing is closer to the truth - you need to get over yourself. Any kind of surgery is painful and has risks; and facial surgery possesses risks all its own. The face has more than a dozen major sensory and motor nerves, and thousands of nerves that branch off of those nerves, making facial surgery a painful experience. Additionally, should any one of those many nerves be damaged during surgery, facial deformity could occur. Barry could be left with a drooping eyelid or a sagging jaw if a nerve is damaged. I am almost positive that these risks were explained to Barry during his recovery period, and are most likely the reasons for his decision to leave the scar as it is - not because he thinks it adds "character".

I think you may have to learn to live with Barry as he now is and remember that true beauty emanates from within. You say that you have been with Barry for "several years"; I'd like to think your feelings for him are based upon more than just his good looks.

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tazi Recommends: The Garden Of Eaden

Happy Sunday, Readers!

Is it just me, or is the warm weather being a tease, coming out for a few days only to turn cold again? Not that I care a paw lick about the cold - I have a nice warm fur coat - but when it gets too cold my Mommie shuts the windows and I cannot sit in them and sun myself! No matter...the nice weather is coming for good, soon, and with it Mommie's garden - the most wonderful place on earth, full of large leaf plants that are perfect for me to crawl under and hide as I watch the world go by! In the spirit go garden celebration, I am recommending a gardening blog this week! I suggest you head on over to

The Garden of Eaden
by Simon Eade of Kent, United Kingdom


Why do I suggest this blog over all of the other gardening blogs that are out there? Besides the obvious play on the author's last name? There are several reasons, ranging from pure bias for the people of Kent (my Mommie's ancestry traces back to Kent) to the credentials of Mr. Simon Eade, to the ease of navigating the page; not to mention the enxcellent web-design work.

The Garden of Eaden is a site for people who want to learn how to garden from a professional, but don't know where to begin. Simon Eade is a professional horticulturalist and gardening writer, and has been featured on several British television shows where he offers his expert gardening advice to viewers who are probably just as lost as you - if they weren't, they would be outside in the garden; not inside, watching it on the telly!

The Garden of Eaden is dedicated to "Combining good gardening practice with sound organic and environmental advice", so you will find a variety of topics from which to choose - feel free to dig in anywhere that interests you! The site offers a Blog Index that is alphabetized by category - starting with Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers and finishing up with Wildlife and the Environment (my Mommie's favorite is Medicinal Plants). Most of the categorical headings feature a blog, video, or full-color picture offering explanation or information on the overview topic, followed by a long list of blogs related to each specific topic being covered (also alphabetized), such as Are Slug Pellets Poisoning Our Wildlife? (found under Pests and Diseases) or the particularly interesting Gardening In The Arctic Circle - Greenland (found in Plant Myths, Legends, and History). Before reading this article, I know I never thought of the Arctic Circle as a good place to grow crops, although I suppose it should be the obvious choice for cold weather crops like potatoes, cabbage, and radishes.

For the armchair gardener, The Garden of Eaden offers plenty to read in the form of informative blogs and vlogs (video blogs), which offer a National Geographic feel to the site - check out Living Dinosaur Shark - The Frilled Shark to see what I mean, and you may find yourself drawn into spending the day exploring the other topics listed, as well.

For the active gardener, there are plenty of gardening tips and tutorials on how to properly seed and grow various vegetables (Gardener Eade was discussing onions on my last visit to his page, earlier this week), which is when I also learned how to grow strawberries from seed - a tutorial I will be showing my Mommie, so she can grow her own, in addition to picking her own (something I mentioned in my review of Stuff White People Like just a few weeks ago!). Some of the blogs seemed a little tame (really now, How to Grow Cucumbers from Seed? This one just seems a little too obvious, although I did learn that cucumbers originated in India and have been cultivated for over 3,000 years now, so I guess that blog serves a purpose, too).

I have some mixed emotions about the way The Garden of Eaden constantly plugs its Garden of Eaden Seed Shop, an online store where you can purchase any of the seeds that the blog is discussing. On the one hand, it is marketing brilliance to offer the seeds being discussed for convenient sale; but on the other hand, I think it might pull people who are not ready to commit to gardening into the idea that they, too, can grow their own; essentially setting people up for a rather pricey failure (gardening, while not an expensive pastime in the long-run, can be costly at the start). Well, caveat emptor, right?

Last but not least, one of my favorite features of The Garden of Eaden is that is offers recipes that feature the goodies that you have grown in your garden! Imagine making homemade tomato soup with tomatoes grown from your very own garden? Or even an old-fashioned fruit chutney (is there any other kind of chutney besides fruit?) from fruits fresh-picked form your local farm? I have to be honest....I may skip my Sunday afternoon nap today and pester my Mommie to learn how to make homemade gelato from the blueberries she is planning on growing this summer...but then, blueberry season is still a few months away, so I suppose my afternoon nap can happen after all - just as soon as you put down that Sunday newspaper so I can crawl all over it!

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Love Of Animals Does Not Lead To Hoarding Them

Dear Tazi:

I love my girlfriend and my girlfriend loves her cats. Actually, she loves all cats, which is what scares me. "Angela" has often commented that if she could afford it, she would adopt every cat in the shelter and take them home with her. She puts food out for the strays in the area and is on a first-name basis with the local Paws Watch, which comes by once a season to perform spaying and neutering services, but there always seems to be more cats every year.

Right now, Angela has two indoor cats; which I can handle, but I am afraid that time will change her into the crazy cat lady, and she will end up with fifty cats and a house full of cat hair. Angela talks about getting married, and I would like to ask her to marry me, but this one fear is what is holding me back. Being a cat (person?) what is your opinion on this situation?

Signed,
Allergic To Crazy


Dear Allergic to Crazy:

Not knowing Angela, I have to ask: does she dress her cats up like this?



If the answer is yes, I think you should run - as fast as you can - in the direction opposite Angela; but not before rescuing those poor, put-upon indoor kitties of hers!

The possibility of a cat lover becoming a crazy cat person has more to do with their overall mental health than their love of animals. In fact, the more a person loves animals the less likely they are to hoard them because they know that having too many animals under one roof is not fair to said pets. If Angela is psychologically well-adjusted, and not prone to hoarding, I do not think she will suddenly turn into an animal hoarder (or, as you put it, a "crazy cat lady"). This in turn begs the question: Are you sure that you are not just looking for excuses not to marry Angela, and posing them as genuine concerns?

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Differing Tastes, Parenting Styles Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

Dear Tazi:

I am the mother of a toddler. In a world full of violence, I would like to keep my child shielded from evil for as long as possible. I monitor what little television I allow "Eddie" to watch, keep educational DVD's on-hand for his entertainment, and do my best to limit his exposure to roughhousing that occurs on the playground and in other public areas. The one problem I am having is occurring in my own home, with my husband's taste in movies.

"Rick" has a preference for violent horror movies that turn my stomach. I refuse to watch the absolute garbage that he calls entertainment, and ask that he not view these materials during Eddie's waking hours. Rick feels that I am raising Eddie to be "a complete and total wuss", but has honored my request not to watch his gruesome movies when there is a chance Eddie could walk in on him, as he agrees that "R-rated" movies are inappropriate for young children. Because of this, Rick watches his movies late at night before bed. It can get rather late before the movies end, so Rick has developed a habit of simply turning off the TV and going to bed without taking his DVD out of the player.

A few nights ago, I went out with my girlfriends and left Eddie and Rick at home to have some father-son bonding time. Rick told me that they had watched some of Eddie's Baby Bumblebee DVD's and had a fun evening together before putting Eddie to bed for the night. I thought this meant that the Baby Bumblebee DVD's were the only thing viewed that night. I was wrong.

Eddie woke up in the middle of the night, upset that I had been out at bedtime, so I hugged and snuggled him; but he would not go back to sleep. I carried him out to the living room to view his DVD and was shocked to discover that my husband had left a Quentin Tarantino movie in the DVD player! My innocent child was exposed to machine guns, blood, and profanity! Thankfully, it was only a few seconds until I was able to stop the DVD and shield Eddie - who did not seem to notice what was going on - but the damage was done. Rick cannot understand why I am so angry with him! How difficult would it have been for him to remove his DVD and put our son's DVD back into the player?

Rick says I am over-reacting and being a control freak; I say that Rick is being a lackadaisical parent. My concern is making sure an episode like this never happens again. I am tempted to ban violent movies from our home, but Rick has already said he would not abide by such a rule. What is your opinion, Tazi?

Signed,
Concerned Parent


Dear Concerned Parent:

The issue at hand appears to be more than just a difference in opinion between you and your husband; but a difference in parenting styles. Your husband has agreed to compromise in order to balance his personal interests with the well-being of your child, and it appears that this dynamic has been working well. You mention that Rick has a habit of leaving his DVD's in the DVD player; have you developed the habit of double-checking the DVD player to see what is actually in it before turning it on? You do so much to shield your son from real-world violence, I would not think this one small step (just the push of a button) would be too much to consider in order to keep the peace in your home.

Banning violent movies from your home is not the answer. Your husband's tastes in movies may not reflect your own, but to tell him he cannot bring these movies into his own home is to treat him like a child. In a healthy marriage, both members are equal partners with an equal say in matters. You are Rick's wife - not his mother, so it would be in the best interest of your marriage not to try and discipline him.

You say that your son did not seem to notice the few seconds of the violent movie that played, and I am inclined to believe that he was too tired to notice anything more than his Mama's arms around him. I would not fret that this incident will be the ruination of your son's innocence. Furthermore, rather than blame your husband, use this incident as a lesson to never assume - as the expression goes, it makes an "ass" out of "u and me".

A simple, inexpensive solution that would guarantee an incident like this one will never occur again would be to buy a second DVD player dedicated solely for your child's movies. DVD players can be purchased for less than $50; the expense could be considered an investment in your child's well-being. You could even label it "EDDIE'S DVD PLAYER" so there would be no confusion as to which player is which. I'll close by saying that I believe the more important issue at hand is for you and your husband to get onto the same page when it comes to parenting your child. Your local community center may be able to assist with some low-cost or free parenting classes.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Ex-Boyfriend" Needs "Closure" To Let Go; May Suffer From Erotomania

Dear Tazi:

My ex-boyfriend (and I hesitate to elevate him to that status) "Spencer" - who I only dated for a few months - has enough issues to fill a month's worth of your columns; thus the reason he is an EX-boyfriend/guy I briefly dated. As I mentioned, we only dated for a few months (not quite two); but he refuses to leave me alone. He keeps asking if we can "try again". He suggests that we get together for coffee to discuss "what issues each of us needs to address and focus on changing" in order for the relationship to work.

First off, I do not believe we were together long enough to define what Spencer and I had as a "relationship"; and second, I do not want to get back together with him, so why should I focus on changing who I am to suit him? When I pointed these facts out to him (much more tactfully than I do here) Spencer went off into a tirade about how I am refusing to accept my "share of the responsibility for the failure of our relationship" and that this issue is adding to his already heavy stress load. Tazi, our relationship failed because he is a self-centered dreamer who is all talk and no action. With his charming personality he can win people over until they discover the truth about him: that every word out of his mouth is a lie; that he suffers from a ridiculously inflated sense of self-worth; and that his charm is all that he has going for him. When I explained this to Spencer - in those exact words - he told me that I should get counseling, since I am obviously "deflecting" my own issues of low self-esteem onto him, and that he would be willing to accommodate me by attending couples' counseling with me. I do not suffer from low self-esteem, do not need counseling, and certainly do not want to attend couples' counseling with him because we are not - and never were - a couple! The relationship was never said to be exclusive, nor do I believe my actions led him to believe it was!

Tazi, I admit that I broke things off with him rather suddenly; telling him over the phone one night that I did not see a future between us and that I think we should make a clean break of things, but at least I told him voice to voice and not via text message. Spencer keeps telling me that I have "denied" him the "closure" he needs to move on with his life, and that I am not being fair to him by changing my phone number (which did not work; he managed to get the new one from a mutual acquaintance unfamiliar with the situation), ignoring his calls, and refusing delivery of the flowers he tries to send me. Short of taking out a restraining order against the guy, what can I do to get him to leave me alone? Should I meet him for coffee just this once to prove to him that there is nothing there?

Signed,
Moved On


Dear Moved On:

Obviously, whatever occurred between you and Spencer meant a lot more to him than it did to you. What the dynamic was between the two of you is something you do not mention - did you see each other every day? Once or twice a week? A few dates? Hot and heavy? You mention that exclusivity was never discussed; but it appears that Spencer assumed it. For this one reason, it would have been more appropriate to break up with him in person, not over the phone. Should Spencer call you again, I think a quasi-apology (from you) expressing this fact would be appropriate. You do not have to get all remorseful; just a simple, "Spencer, obviously our friendship meant more to you than I realized, and I should have respected your feelings enough to break up with you in person. However, what's done is done. I have moved forward with my life, and it would be best if you did the same". Notice that the words "I'm sorry" do not appear anywhere in the above statement.

If Spencer continues to suggest that you get together to discuss where things went wrong, answer the phone ONE TIME, to simply repeat that you have moved forward with your life and think it would be best if he moved on, as well. If he continues to demand "closure" tell him that this is the best that he is going to get from you. Ignore any further phone calls from him, as well as any other form of attempted contact - by giving him your attention you are giving him what exactly what he wants. It does not matter that you are thinking horrible thoughts about him; the point is, you are thinking of him.

If Spencer decides to bring things to the next level by following you around in person or showing up at places you frequent at times he knows you will be there, do your best to ignore him. If he approaches you, report him to the management; they will most likely ask him to leave the building. If he starts creeping on you via social media, block him and/or turn your page private for a few weeks - eventually, he will give up on you.

If none of these tactics work - or especially if they make the situation worse - Spencer may suffer from a rare (but very real) mental illness called "erotomania", a very serious disorder in which the stalker believes their victim(s) are truly in love with them but are just playing hard to get; and the more you push them away, the deeper they believe that you really and truly love them. In a case such as this - and you will know it if it is such a case - legal intervention will be necessary to secure your personal safety and mental well-being. An excellent book on this topic is I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist's Account of Stalking and Obsessive Love, a first-person account by Dr. Doreen Orion. Included in the book is a chapter on resources for the victims of erotomaniacs. I wish you all the best. Please write back to me to let me (and my readers) know how things turn out for you.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beauty Pageants Are Not For Every Child (Or Every Parent!)

Dear Tazi:

I have absolutely HAD IT with my ex-husband! What ever it was I once saw in the man has disappeared from both view and memory, and the only reason I still have contact with him is because he is the father of my daughters, ages 5 and 3 (not that he does much fathering).

"Jordan" is a horrible failure in life because he refuses to commit to seeing a project through to its finish. He will start out with the best of intentions, but then things will get hard; inconvenient; or both and he he will simply give up because he is no longer enjoying himself. Of course there will always be reasons for why someone else is to blame for his failure - from his supervisor at work giving him too many hours and burning him out (which is why he quit his last job) to being too distracted to concentrate because it was basketball season and he had money riding on the game (his excuse for failing out of the vocational program that he INSISTED was going to turn his fortunes around). Do you need to here more? I have several, but each one ends the same way: with Jordan quitting mid-way through and being unable to pay his child support because he can barely support himself.

Thankfully, I do not NEED Jordan's child support money to get by - my current husband and I both make excellent incomes, and any money we receive from Jordan is banked for the children's futures. As of this writing, Jordan has not paid child support in almost two years. Because he is not paying support, I have the legal right to withhold the children from him, which is something I have not done because I feel it would only hurt my children to cut Jordan out of their lives completely. However, I am seriously considering taking that path after Jordan's latest shenanigans.

Jordan has been watching the TV reality series Toddlers and Tiaras, and has decided that he would like to travel the country as "manager" to our girls as they compete competitively in beauty pageants. His plan to cover the expenses is to have local businesses "sponsor" our daughters, charging more than the actual expenses and keeping the overage as his "manager's cut". He believes that the money the children could earn if they win would bring them fame and fortune and, as their manager, would put him on the path to financial solvency as he accepted new "clients" with each pageant win. I am absolutely, positively, 100% against such an idea! And besides that fact, neither of my girls is the pageant type - both are more into athletics than ruffles and lace - and I will not force them down this path. On his last visitation day, he tried to get both girls to "frill up" for photographs and head-shots, and both girls came home hysterical, crying to the point of exhaustion.

Jordan has threatened to take me to court and sue me for access to the girls in order to put his "business plan" into play, saying the judge will see that he is trying to do what is best for all involved, and that I am not only standing in his way but turning the girls into tomboys, as well. I doubt he would win, but I can't help but wonder, "What if??". My husband has suggested we counter-sue for the termination of Jordan's parental rights, which would allow my husband to legally adopt the girls. Both of my daughters love my husband, and consider him to be more of a father than Jordan...but still, I am hesitant to seek termination of parental rights. Jordan IS their birth father, after all. What do you think, Tazi?

Signed,
Wondering How Far To Push


Dear Wondering How far To Push:

I can tell from the tone of your letter that there is no love left between you and your ex-husband, so I find it admirable that you still care for his feelings and seek to nurture a bond between him and your daughters. My question is, are you certain that this is what is best for the children? If Jordan was physically abusing them, would you still try to maintain visitation with him? I am certain the answer to that question is "no", so why are you trying to maintain a relationship when it is obvious that Jordan is mentally abusing your girls?

For a child to come home crying "to the point of exhaustion" because she was forced to "frill up" for photographs makes me wonder what kind of photographs Jordan was taking! I am not accusing the man of sexually exploiting his daughters, but the red-flag is there...exploitative photos of children that fall just short of pornography are often used as a way to build a client base of buyers who want to see more, as well as acclimate the children to taking these kinds of pictures. If I were you, I would demand to see any photos that Jordan took of the girls while they were "frilled up". If he refuses or claims to have deleted them from his camera, I would see that as a further red flag, and end Jordan's access to the children immediately.

You asked for my advice, so I have given it. You did not ask for my personal opinion, but I feel compelled to give it anyway: If your daughters consider your husband to be their father, and your husband is willing to adopt them as his own, I suggest that you entertain the idea. Jordan does not sound like any kind of role model for your young children. A termination of parental rights does not mean you must terminate all contact and visitation - if you want, Jordan can still remain a part of your daughters' lives; but he will have no legal say in which to attempt his hairbrained - and possibly crimminal - schemes.

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

College Education Could Be The Beginning Of A New Life For Young Student

Dear Tazi:

I come from a very small town in a part of the country where people still marry their high school sweethearts and buy the house they grew up in from their parents when Mom and Dad are ready to move to Florida. Don't get me wrong, I love my small town - and the people in it, especially my boyfriend "Randy" - but I have always yearned for more! My favorite movie of all time is Sweet Home Alabama, and I often imagine myself in the role of Melanie Carmichael [the Reese Witherspoon character] - until she decides to leave New York behind and settle back down in her hometown.

My family has lived in our town for seven generations now - nobody has ever left, not even to go to college. My teachers have always told me that i am very bright and that I could be somebody if I furthered my education past high school, but my parents always said there is no way they could afford to pay for me to go to college. Late last year, I secretly sent out applications for colleges and I just got the news that my first choice wants me! They have even offered me a full academic scholarship, so I would not have to worry about how to pay for it! When I told my parents the news, Mama cried tears of joy; and Daddy told me he was proud of me, which from him is high praise, indeed! The local newspaper did a write-up about me, and put the story on the front page; and the local diner where I work cut the story out and posted it on the wall for everyone to see. Everyone is so happy for me, I feel like a local hero! The only person who is unhappy is my boyfriend, Randy, who is against me traveling away for school.

Randy and I have been seeing each other since I was 14, and he is the only boy I have ever dated. Randy told me that was hoping that we would get married after he graduates high school (he is a year behind me, because he stayed back a year when he was little) and that my leaving for school would change everything. He is convinced that I will forget all about him and meet someone new while I am away. He suggested that we get married at the end of the school year, and he can come away with me; but I am not certain that is something I want. For one thing, I want Randy to finish high school. For another thing, I am afraid that if I get married I will not be able to handle the responsibilities of college and being a wife. Plus, if I were to get married I couldn't use birth control and I know there would be no way i could handle college and babies. Last of all, I have always hoped that I would grow up to move to a big city, like Atlanta; but Randy has no desire to leave our hometown for good.

What should I do kitty-cat? I don't want to break up with Randy, but I do want to go away to college and start a new life! Do you think it's possible to have it all?

Signed,
Miss Independence


Dear Miss Independence:

You may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now; so I want you to think back to four years ago, right before you started dating Randy. Do you remember what you were like? What was your favorite way to spend your free time? What were your favorite TV shows and books? How much have you changed over these four years? I doubt that you are still the young girl you were when you and Randy started dating. Think for a minute about the dreams you held back then...have you accomplished them?

Now, think about the dreams you hold for your future. What do you hope to accomplish in your four years of college? Do you hope to pledge a sorority? Write a book? Design your own line of clothing? Cheer for a Division 1 cheer-leading squad? Graduate with distinction? Now, for the most important question of all: Do the dreams you have follow the same path as Randy's dreams? Or can you see the two of you growing apart as you both continue to grow up?

The "you" that Randy fell in love with may not be the same woman who returns home from college. Randy is fully aware of this fact, and would like to prevent any such change from occurring by keeping you at his side, be it in your hometown or away on a college campus. Would you be willing to sacrifice your dreams in order to see Randy's fulfilled? The tone of your letter tells me the answer to that question is no.

At this point in time, I would advise you not to make any rash decisions one way or the other. Enjoy the time that you and Randy have together and enjoy your senior year of high school! When the time comes for you to prepare to leave for school, ask Randy to give you one year away at school without any pressure to come back home. One thing you will experience once you get to college is culture shock. You will be surrounded by countless new people from countless different backgrounds. You may take to college and the city like a duck takes to water or you may find that there is a big difference between what we dream and the reality that those dreams can bring.

During this time away at school, you will be able to sort out your feelings for Randy, your hometown, and what exactly you would like your future to include; while Randy will be able to decide what is best for his future. You may both discover some hard truths about life, including the fact that we can't always have everything exactly as we want it. Whatever you discover, I think time and experience will tell you the zip code of where your heart truly resides.

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Woman Falling For Counselor Wonders If She Should Look Elsewhere

Dear Tazi:

I have been seeing a therapist for about a year now, to discuss the problems I have been having in maintaining a romantic relationship with a man. In meeting with "Joe" on a weekly basis, I have been able to pinpoint the issues, and work on resolving them. My problem is, in a nutshell, that I date self-centered men who are only interested in having their needs met; men who are not the type to give or compromise to fulfill the needs of the woman in their life. Consequently, I end up being the one who does all of the giving and none of the taking and, when I choose to complain about how unfair things are, I am further victimized by being chastised or dumped.

Joe is the first man who has ever taken an interest in what I have to say - my opinions, my needs, my desires, hopes, and dreams! I never knew that a relationship with a man could be so fulfilling until I met him! Now, I realize that Joe is being paid to listen to me, but the euphoric feeling of the attention he gives me is one I would like to experience in a real relationship someday. I am trying very hard not to fall in love with my counselor, but it is difficult. For this reason, I have decided that it might be time that I dip my toe back into the waters of the dating scene. My problem is, I am scared that no man will ever measure up to "Joe".

Obviously, my concerns are something that I should be discussing with my counselor; but I am uncomfortable revealing to him that I have developed feelings for him. It would be a dream come true if he felt the same, but a nightmare if he did not - especially since it would mean that I would have to jump full-on into the dating pool to find someone I could care for the way I am starting to care for Joe. Is my letter even making any sense, Tazi? I guess what I am asking for is advice on what to tell my counselor: Should I tell him I am ready to start dating again; or that I would like to date him?

Signed,
Ready To Take the Next Step

Dear ready To Take the Next Step:

You are correct in your belief that your counselor is being paid to listen to you - so please keep that fact in mind! This does not mean that Joe does not care about you as a person, or even that he has not developed a sense of concern for you; but as a professional he must draw a strict line between his personal and professional relationships. This may break your heart, but I highly doubt Joe will be willing to socialize with you outside of his office - to do so would represent an extreme breach of ethics on his part.

As a counselor, Joe is in the unique position of being the person you trust to assist you through an emotionally charged time. It is not unusual for people to develop romantic feelings for their counselors; however, it is unusual for the counselor to develop reciprocal feelings for their patient. As Joe could explain to you if you were to reveal your feelings for him, the balance of power in such a relationship would be tipped in his favor as you are already dependent upon him for nurturing care.

Rather than telling Joe that you would like to date him, make a list of the qualities he possesses that attract you. Obviously, good listener is on that list; but is there anything else? What about qualities you seek that Joe does not possess? Be sure to add those to your list, too! Once you have that list in your head, tell Joe that you feel you are ready to start dating again; and that he has served as a wonderful role model of positive qualities that you would feel you should be looking for in a man. This compliment will tell Joe that his guidance has been helpful, and can also give him an opening to reiterate that the relationship between the two of you is strictly professional. Hearing such a sentiment from your counselor's mouth might go a long way towards strengthening your resolve towards finding an appropriate man to date.

Once the topic of re-entering the dating scene has been raised, your counselor can help to guide you away from the shallow men you have dated in the past and towards deeper, more meaningful opportunities.

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tazi Recommends: Go Ireland AND The Italian Blog

Dear Readers:

As I am sure you all know, this week was St. Patrick's Day; but tomorrow is another Feast Day dear to the hearts of my hometown: St. Joseph's Day! Being from a city that has both strong Irish and Italian roots, I am honoring both Feast Days today with my blog recommendations!

Normally, I prefer to recommend amateur blogs, but

The Go Ireland Blog
the featured blog of GoIreland.com

offers so many interesting and informative blogs on a variety of topics - from political to human interest - that I could not resist. Featured for St. Patrick's Day was a blog on the health benefits of Guinness, which made such a strong argument I am thinking of asking my Mommie to pour some of hers in my water dish! Another blog of interest was done as a picture blog, with a poster graphic illustrating the theme 10 Irish Inventions That Changed the World. Raise your hand if you knew the Irish created chocolate milk? The blog is an offshoot of an Ireland Tourism website, so many of the blogs are primarily related to tourism and things to do in Ireland, but they feature some great pictures and offer an interesting view into the Irish culture and history (check out Historic Sites of Dublin or the 7 Wonders of Ireland to see what I mean!). The site is categorized with a table of contents running down the right sidebar of the page, so it is easy to navigate your way around the page and find exactly what you are looking for - from Irish Culture and Irish Food and Drink (including recipes) to Irish Geneology blogs that offer tips on how to trace your Irish family tree! Even if you are not Irish, there is something on the Go Ireland blog for everyone to enjoy and explore.

If Irish food and culture is not your thing, check out

The Italian Blog
by Daniele, Lori, and Jay


The authors are REAL Italians, who are from (and still live) in Italy! The blog is (mostly) written in English, so you do not need to speak the language to enjoy this blog. The theme of the blog is Italian culture - daily living, recipes, history, and holidays - told from the point of view of your average Italian citizen.

Hailing from one of the many Little Italy regions here in the United States but not actually being Italian myself (I am American Short-Hair), I found this blog fascinating! When I saw the headline "Not Only Mafia" I thought I was going to read an article dispelling the stereotypes of Italians pictured in The Godfather and Goodfellas, so I was surprised to discover it was an informative article on a museum in Calabria that is featuring the documentation of many other criminal enterprises that go under the radar, thanks to the focus on the mafia. The museum site is in Italian, but easily translated if you have Google Chrome.

In the blog post "Sometimes You Just Need to Be Hungry" the authors give a brief but hypnotic review of a little cafe in Siena. The description paints a picture of what it is like to spend the afternoon "among culture and art", seeking to wind down with a pleasant meal. Though short, the blog gives the reader a sense of what it is like to live in Italy and participate in their culture. As a cat, I have to say I am liking the relaxed atmosphere much better than the hustle and bustle of American living!

The Italian Blog will keep you occupied as you jump from the funny little jokes they post, like the picture and translation of a humorous Help Wanted sign they saw in a village near Torino to their praise of the coffee break, an apparent universal love of humans everywhere! I would suggest that you take a coffee break right now! You know the drill: Put down that Sunday paper (so kitty-cat can nap on it), grab a mug of your favorite caffeinated brew, and check out the Go Ireland blog and The Italian Blog. Consider it your daily dose of culture. You're welcome!

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Celebrate With Caution When Drinking Heavily!

Dear Tazi:

Last year, my 21st birthday fell on the weekend following St. Patrick's Day. Because St. Patrick's Day fell on a Thursday, people were celebrating the whole weekend through, drinking enough to blind a large farm animal (as my Grandma used to say) and unfortunately choosing to drive themselves home. I was one of those revelers (I AM Irish!) and because it was my birthday, I was out with several friends; one of whom was actually a friend of a friend, who was invited along because he agreed to be our designated driver.

I suppose I should have known better than to put my trust into someone I did not know, but I was just so excited about turning 21 and finally being able to go out and party that I didn't think anything of it. I wish my story could end with something stupid, like the designated driver got drunk and I had to call a cab; but things went much more badly than that. Our designated driver stayed sober all night, and drove every one of us home safely - until I was the only person left to drop off. Instead of taking me home, he drove me to a local park - a place my parents would have called a "make-out spot", but this guy had more than "making out" on his mind! Long story short? THANK GOD the local police were patrolling the park, and saw me struggling to get away from the "nice guy" who had offered to be my designated driver!

The police ended up giving me a ride home that night, even though I chose not to press charges against the guy who tried to rape me. I did tell our mutual friend what a slime the guy is and - what a surprise - I am no longer friends with her, because she refused to believe me; claiming that I was "too drunk to know what was happening". This is the reason I am writing to you, and is the message I want to impart to St. Patrick's Day revelers.

With St. Patrick's Day falling on the weekend this year, there will certainly be many more people out celebrating. We have all heard about the importance of not drinking and driving or of designating a driver; but I was never taught about the dangers of choosing the wrong designated driver! I want your readers to ask themselves this question: If someone is offering to be my designated driver, why are they offering? Is it because they don't drink? Is it because they believe in putting responsibility before fun? Or is it because they are hoping to have an advantage being the only sober person among the drunk people? I got lucky that night and managed to escape; but I can only imagine what might have happened if those police officers hadn't happened along.

Signed,
Erin (Go Bragh)

Dear Erin:

Your story is a sobering one (no pun intended) and offers a lesson that could only have been learned through experience. Although most people who offer to be the designated driver do so with a pure heart, there are some who do it in order to take advantage of drunken revelers. The lesson you learned was an important one: that just because someone is friends with a friend does not mean that they will be a friend to you!

To my Irish readers, I wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed St. Patrick's Day! To all who plan to go out and celebrate the holiday, I wish you a safe and healthy evening; and remember: If you are going to drink, don't drive! If you are going to drive, don't drink!

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. to Mr. and Mrs. J.J.D. of Colorado: A very happy 5th anniversary to you!! May Irish eyes continue to smile upon you!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, March 16, 2012

For Some, Everything Is A Competition - Even Illness

Dear Tazi:

My sister-in-law "Betsy" has me wanting to scream! With her, everything is a competition. Back when she and my brother were dating Betsy saw me as a threat because he and I were so close, so she felt the need to one-up me every chance she got. If I won an award, Betsy would talk about how many more awards she had won; if I bought a new dress, Betsy would run out and buy and entire new wardrobe; when I took up photography as a hobby, Betsy invested in a professional digital camera. She even delayed her wedding to my brother because she wanted a nicer venue than the one my husband and I had! You get the picture. The worst part is, Betsy and my brother do not have the money to be making all of these expensive purchases! Because my brother is head over heels for Betsy, he lets her charge whatever she wants tot heir credit cards, with the idea that they will get paid off "eventually". Her attitude upsets not just me, but the rest of my family as well.

I am generally not petty, and have learned to ignore Betsy's insecure behaviors; but she recently went beyond the pale and I am not sure I can hold it together around her much longer. What started out as a recent, routine doctor's appointment turned into a living nightmare when a lump was discovered in my breast. The doctor did not want to worry me, but was concerned enough to order a biopsy, the results of which would take a couple of weeks.

I did not want to call a false alarm and worry my family; but I did not want them to wonder why I was suddenly so moody and short-tempered while waiting on the test results, so I told my husband and immediate family - our children, my parents, and my brother. Since I really did not need Betsy's one-upmanship during this time, I did not tell her about my biopsy; but she found out anyway from my brother, who mentioned it in conversation with her.

Thankfully, the biopsy came back normal and I do not have cancer. For this, I am grateful. However, I now have to deal with Betsy carrying on about how I "always have to be the center of attention" and "worried the family half out of mind over nothing" and, worst of all, her own tales of "the many times" she thought she might have cancer but was "strong enough" to keep it to herself. At first, I was concerned that Betsy had gone through cancer scares alone in an attempt to appear brave; but after my mother pressed her she elaborated - her "cancer scares" were no more than WebMD symptom searches, where anything can be cancer if you look hard enough.

Tazi, I want to take the high road, and I have tried to put this past me; but Betsy just announced (over Sunday dinner, no less) that she has a doctor's appointment because she's been having headaches and "might have a brain tumor" and wants to have her symptoms evaluated "like 'Jennifer' did at her last doctor's appointment". Thankfully, I had a mouthful of food and started choking, allowing me to excuse myself before taking Betsy to task. How should I handle things, when this issue arises again?

Sign Me,
"Jennifer"

Dear "Jennifer":

First, let me offer you my congratulations that you are cancer free - such a health scare is like no other, so I can completely understand why you are offended by your sister-in-law's self-diagnosis, and her comparison of her special doctor's appointment with your routine one.

One detail you left our was your family's reaction to Betsy's news. Were they honestly concerned or was there a lot of eye-rolling in her direction? I ask because both extremes will feed Betsy's need for attention - the former a reward for her pleas, the latter a challenge to try harder. Betsy's reaction to your health scare - and her constant need to be the best - stem from a very fragile ego. Whether Betsy suffers from low self-esteem or an inflated sense of self-worth, it is obvious that she sees you as a threat to the love that her husband (your brother) feels for her.

I would advise you to sit down with Betsy and be straight with her. Explain to her - nicely - that you are concerned that she seems to constantly need to compete with you for attention, and that this competition is one-sided; that she is family, and that you wish to have the close relationship that sisters-in-law should have. Tell her that the comments she made about your needlessly worrying the family hurt you, and that you did not share your medical news to draw attention to yourself, but rather to explain a sudden change in personality.

I cannot promise that, as a result of this conversation and line of reasoning, Betsy will change her behavior; but she will at least be aware of how you and the rest of the family view it. I would like to recommend counseling for Betsy, but for you to suggest it to her would most likely end badly. I just hope that she is reading this column, and sees herself in your letter.

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shy Twenty-Something Seeks Dating Advice From The Confident Kitty!

Dear Tazi:

Are all cats as confident as Puss In Boots? If you are, can you send some of that ego my way? I am a 22 year old man, and have never had the courage to ask a woman on a date. Because of this, I never went to any of my high school formals - not even my senior prom. I will be graduating college this May, and my university will be hosting its annual formal for all graduates. The Graduation Ball is a huge tradition - with both the university, and my family. I am a legacy (on both sides of my family) going back generations. It was at their Graduation Ball that my father asked my mother to marry him; and all my mother ever asks me anymore is who will be the "lucky lady" who accompanies me to the dance. No pressure, huh?

Tazi, there is this one woman that I like an awful lot; and I would really like to ask her to be my date for the Graduation Ball, but she is only a sophomore (we have a general studies class together). Among the underclassman, to be asked to the Graduation Ball is a huge social honor, so I have no doubt she would say yes; I just want to be sure that she is saying yes for the right reasons - because she wants to go to the ball with me, not because she just wants to go to the ball and would attend with a three-headed martian if one were to ask her. If I am going to ask her I will have to ask soon, so she can find a dress and do all that other stuff that women do for formal events. I guess what I want to know is, how can I be sure?

Signed,
Shy Guy


Dear Shy Guy:

Cats are, by nature, egotistical creatures. Confidence with the ladies comes naturally to us. Yes, we felines are a lucky bunch...but enough about me! Let's talk about you! The fact that you are 22 and have never been on a date is not unheard of, nor is it unusual among today's high school and college age generations. Dating rituals are very different than what they were when your parents were dating, with a lot of the formality having gone the way of the IBM typewriter and the 8-track cassette. These changes have both positive and negative aspects, ranging from taking the pressure off of the person asking for a date to the lack of formal dating experience among twenty-somethings.

Asking someone on a date can be nerve-wracking, but know that waiting and wondering if the person you like likes you back can be equally nerve-wracking! I encourage you to take the plunge in person, not by sending a her a text message. Some things are just better done face-to-face. However, before you ask this woman who has caught your eye to such a formal event as your Graduation Ball, you might want to ask her out for coffee first! By spending some time in each other's company, you will be able to get a feel for whether or not you would like to spend time with her outside of a classroom setting; and a sense of whether or not she is interested in you.

Since time is of the essence, I suggest you invite her out A.S.A.P. With the warm and sunny weather arriving, you could ask her to join you for a coffee in a cozy spot on the other side of the campus; giving you time to take a walk together, as well, and extending your coffee date. If at the end of the coffee date you feel confident that she would be interested in going to the Graduation Ball with you - and not just anyone, including a three-headed martian - ask her! Tell her that you really enjoy her company, and would love it if she would accompany you to this special event. From there, who knows where things might lead? Not me, so if things work out for you, please write back and let me (and my other readers) know!

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teenager Finds That Tea-Party Ideals Difficult For Average Person To Reach

Dear Tazi:

Last Fall, my wife and I wrote to you about our teenage son "Joey" who, at 15, decided to turn against the beliefs he was raised with to join the Tea Party. You advised us to respect Joey's new-formed beliefs, and to go along with things - every step of the way. We took your advice and told Joey that we would be providing him with the support that was required by law (food, clothing, shelter) but that any extras - designer labels, his iPhone, and recreation - would have to be paid for out of his own pocket.

My wife and I also renegotiated Joey's allowance, basing the amount of work he does around the house on a fair-wage for hours worked system. The amount of chores he completes each week takes approximately one hour of his time. We decided that since the Tea Party is against "living wage" legislation that we would be paying Joey the Federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour). This actually resulted in a large cut to his weekly allowance. My wife and I decided to put the money aside and, at the end of this experiment or six months later (whichever was to come first) donate the money to charity. We offered Joey the opportunity to earn back the balance of his allowance by taking on extra chores at the hourly rate; with the overtime rate kicking in after only three hours of work (we considered the amount of time he spends in school and on homework to go towards a forty-hour work week). Joey leaped at this challenge, and immediately began to feel the bite of reality.

Once Joey had gone through his allowance savings, he started asking for extra chores; however, few were available. After the first snowfall, we offered Joey the opportunity to wake up an hour early (5 AM, instead of 6 AM) to shovel snow at the rate of $10/hour, but he chose sleep instead and was upset that I had shoveled the driveway and the walk by the time he woke. When he complained that this was unfair, I explained to him that when work calls the employee must answer; that this is a part of developing "a work ethic and a sense of morality" that he originally insisted the poor do not have.

When Christmas rolled around, Joey got a Jitterbug phone (which he is embarrassed to be seen using) to replace the iPhone he could not afford; as well as a few things he wanted, but nothing near the extravagant gifts my wife and I usually give to him. Joey was disappointed, but we explained that he is a "working man" now, which means he should be buying gifts for others as well as receiving. Since he did not purchase gifts for my wife and me, we did not give as generously as we normally would. During school vacation, we took him shopping for new clothes and sneakers - at JC Penney, where he was mortified to be seen purchasing store-brand clothing. My wife wanted to give in when she saw how upset Joey was, but I convinced her to keep up with the "tough love".

Due to a lack of snowfall, there were no (more) driveways to be shoveled over the winter and warm-weather yard-work does not yet need to be done. Last night, Joey asked me if he could "collect unemployment benefits" since "work has been slow". My wife and I responded that he was not eligible for unemployment benefits since he did not have enough work hours banked, but that he could try applying for T.A.N.F. benefits [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, formerly known as "welfare"]. The look of horror on his face was priceless, when I explained to Joey that since he was a single man with no children he probably would not qualify for T.A.N.F. benefits anyway.

This morning, when my wife and I came downstairs for breakfast, Joey was standing in the kitchen holding a sign that read "Working Poor. Please Help. Need Gas Money for Carpool to Get to School". My wife and I plan to have a long talk with our son this evening (I am writing this on my lunch break), but we are pretty certain that this experiment has reached a concluding point. It has been a great success, and we just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful advice!

Sincerely,
Two Proud Liberal Democrats

P.S. We made Joey walk the two miles to school, just to drive home our point!


Dear Two Proud Liberal Democrats:

Thank you for writing back to me to follow up on your situation! I love hearing back from people who have had success with the advice I have given - it makes me purrrrrrrr like a kitten!

Although I cannot guarantee that your son will not continue to hold ultra-conservative viewpoints (which is his right, should they be his beliefs), I do believe that you and your wife have taught him the importance of having compassion for others, and not to judge someone until you have walked a mile (or two!) in their shoes. You have done your job as parents, the toughest job there is! Keep up the good work!

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. You went even further than I suggested! I didn't think to take away his iPhone or to restructure his allowance. Bravo!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

La Quinceañera Should Not Be Ruined By A Lack Of Funding (¡La Quinceañera no se debe arruinar por una carencia de la financiación!)

[Ed. Note: The letter that follows was originally written entirely in Spanish. The Editor apologizes for any grammatical errors made in translation].

Dear Tazi:

You are such un gato maravilloso the way you give advice to people. Whenever I have a problem, I snuggle with my cat, Sombra (that is Spanish for "Shadow". Like you, he is un gato negro). This is why I write to you, because I trust you to give me good counsel.

I am a 14 year old Latina. My birthday is this summer, but my parents do not have the money to offer me a proper La Quinceañera. My Papá has been out of work for over a year, and my Mamá has had to go to work cleaning houses to help pay the bills. They are deeply ashamed of this, but I love them for all they are doing to make sure mi hermana [sister] and I are well cared for and happy. Sadly, the money Mamá brings home is not enough to pay all of our bills; and mis padres have had to use the money they had saved for my La Quinceañera to pay our mortgage and other expenses. They still want me to have a Misa de acción de gracias [Mass of thanksgiving], complete with all the trimmings, but there will be no money for a proper fiesta to follow. Querida gatita [cherished kitty], this would be more embarrassing than to have no La Quinceañera gathering at all!

In my culture, to invite guests to such a special occasion and then not provide a fiesta to follow is the greatest of insults! Plus, it would reflect poorly upon my padrinos [godparents], who have twin daughters of their own who will soon be turning fifteen. Mi familia does not wish to take from their celebration in order to provide for my own. Do you have any ideas on how to solve this problema terrible?

Signed,
La Muchacha con Tristeza [The Girl With Sadness]


Dear La Muchacha con Tristeza:

Gracias por los elogios! (Thank you for the compliments). I hope I did not mangle the translation of your letter too badly. According to a Quinceañera magazine poll, one-third of respondents planned on spending upwards of $800 on their dress alone. This is a lot of dinero (money)to put down on a dress, especially when you are on a budget. Is it possible to cut the cost of the dress and put the savings towards a small fiesta? Do you have an older friend or relative who has already celebrated her La Quinceañera who would be willing to lend you her dress? I realize the dress is a special part of the day; but think how special it would be if you and your mejor amiga (best friend) got to share a dress for such a special occasion? Would it be like a daughter wearing her mother's wedding gown? (I am not Latina, so I am not certain if this would be proper). If this idea is not workable, do you know someone who sews and would be willing to offer their talents as a gift for your special occasion? A home-sewn gown, when done properly, will outshine anything that you can buy in a store for a fraction of the cost. If you do not know someone who sews, do you have abuelos (grandparents) or other relatives who could purchase a gown as their gift to you?

The most important part of La Quinceañera is not the fiesta, but the Misa de acción de gracias (Mass of thanksgiving). So often, this is forgotten in the planning of the festivities that follow. Rather than rent a huge banquet hall, would you be able to celebrate in your church hall? If your sacerdote (priest) is aware of your parents financial situation, he may be willing to offer the space free of charge. Do you have friends who know how to DJ? Might they be willing to offer their services as a gift for your special birthday? You do not need to approach these people yourself, but rather your padrinos could ask them for sponsorship. From what I have read about La Quinceañera, multiple sponsorships to defray the expenses are not uncommon. Do not think of these offerings as caridad (charity), but as gifts from loving amigos and amigas (friends) who want to help make your La Quinceañera all that you deserve!

Se Acurruca*,
Tazi

*This is how you say "Snuggles", right?


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really el hablar felino (a talking feline) - in English or Spanish.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mother Not Amused By Young Son's Obsession With Toy Guns

Dear Tazi:

My young son "Ralphie" is positively obsessed with guns. Right now, he is too young to handle a real gun - even an air rifle - but he loves the toy guns he finds at his friends houses and, since I will not allow such toys in my house (I feel that they promote violence) Ralphie will make a gun-like motion with his thumb and forefinger and pretend to shoot, saying "bang bang" as he aims at anything that moves.

I have tried everything to dissuade Ralphie's interest in guns, running the gamut from punishment to rewards, but nothing works! I am afraid I am raising a little Charlton Heston and this is not what I want! Ralphie's father is not a part of his life, so I do not know where this obsession came from, but I would like some advice on how to end it!

Signed,
Peacemaker


Dear Peacemaker:

I can understand your concern about your young son's obsession with guns; but please understand that an obsession with guns does not necessarily translate into an obsession with violence. There is a well-defined line between fantasy-play and reality. The next time Ralphie points his pretend finger-gun at you - or another living creature - take a moment to sit him down and ask why he would want to shoot someone. If he gives a response that indicates that he is just playing (and this type of response can range from "because the dog is secretly an alien" to "because the cat is a bad guy") put your concerns to rest that your son is not the next Son of Sam. You should also take this moment to briefly explain to your son that guns upset you, and to please not "shoot" while in the house. According to PBS.org, this means talking with him, not to him. Ralphie's understanding of how a real gun works - and the damage one can cause - is probably much less developed than you realize.

As for where your son's gun obsession could have come from, that is anybody's guess. Some child psychiatrists (which I am not) believe that boys have a genetic predisposition to aggressive behavior, and an interest in guns is an off-shoot of this programming. If Ralphie is interested in other toys and activities besides guns - such as sports, games, children's books, and other age-appropriate activities - I would dial down the worry several notches. If Ralphie's "obsession" with guns is to the point where he ignores all other toys, I suggest that you speak to his pediatrician about his psychological development. It could be he is just going through a phase, or it could be that there is an underlying cause for Ralphie's fixation on one particular thing (in this case, guns).

Regardless of how deep Ralphie's gun obsession is, here are some tips courtesy of PBS.org on how to talk to your son about his gun-play:

Talk with your kids
Instead of talking at your son about guns (“Guns are dangerous!” “Don’t do that!”) talk with him. His understanding of guns is probably less sophisticated than you think.

Ask open-ended questions to acknowledge the play and spur conversation: “Looks like you’re having fun. What are you doing?” And gently but consistently underscore the difference between real and toy guns by emphasizing how much fun it is to “pretend.”

Limit your child’s exposure to violence on TV or in video games
“I think exposure to violence on TV or video games should be a greater concern to parents than gun play,” says Joshua Weiner, an Arlington, Virginia-based psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescents. “Repeated exposure has been demonstrated in studies to desensitize kids to violence. It is important to limit this exposure, especially in younger kids.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids be exposed to no more than one to two hours of “quality [television] programming” per day.

Monitor, don’t necessarily prohibit, your child’s gun play
As long as playing with toy guns doesn’t dominate a child’s time, it’s okay to let him explore it...provided a parent or trusted adult is watching.

“Many young kids (under age five) don't even understand what shooting someone really means,” says Weiner. “The shooting is more about power, fantasy and imagination—not killing and death.” That said, “If all your son wants to do is engage in gun play, you need to place limits like you would on any other activity done in excess,” Weiner notes. “In this case, parents should consider taking the guns away and talking with their child about their concerns.”

If you’re going to buy a toy gun, make sure it really looks like a toy

Encourage “target practice.”
Achieving the simple goal of hitting a target with a foam-ball gun can be extremely satisfying for an active little boy, and it helps develop hand-eye coordination to boot. Just draw a bull’s-eye on a white board or make a pyramid of empty soda cans, and you’re good to go, says Kelly Moore, a mom of three from Denver, Colorado. There’s an added benefit, she says: “The boys can be competitive and have fun without accidentally hurting each other.”

Teach proper gun safety
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth pointing out: if you choose to have real guns in your home, it’s imperative to help your children understand and respect their power.

Again, these tips are courtesy of PBS.org. To read the full article, click here.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. You mention that Ralphie's father is not a part of his life. I do hope that he has other active, positive male role models in his life, or this could lead to other developmental issues down the road.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tazi Recommends: Women Of History

Good Morning, Dear Readers!!

Spring is in the air and I have been in the catnip, which explains why I am feeling extra playful and spunky this morning! This week, in honor of Women's History Month, I am recommending a blog about women in history, appropriately titled,

Women of History
by Melisende from Australia


What I like about this blog is that it digs up interesting information about women who have changed the world, from ancient history to modern time. Just this week the blog oscillated (there's an SAT word for you!) from a history lesson on the Judaic feast of Purim to the current judicial injustices against women in Afghanistan. Women of History is a blog in the traditional sense of a blog: rather than being authored solely by the blogger, it is an offering of previously published blogs and articles researched and gathered by the blogger; allowing for a variety of stories on one broad subject (in this case, women of history) to be gathered in one "blogspot".

Even if you have no interest in women's history, or feel that women's history month acts as a preventative to teaching women's history as part of a regular curriculum, there should be something in this blog that will be of interest to you. Women of History has gathered articles on topics such as political scandal, like "Queen Victoria's Secret Daughter", archaeological discovery (Queen of Sheba), political science (including Mexican Politics), and book reviews.

For those who have fondness for a particular period in history, Women of History has an index page that neatly categorizes its blog entries by historical and cultural period, from Women of The Crusades to Women of Japanese History. The Historical References page offers links to historical maps of ancient and medieval civilizations and links to blogs dedicated to the historical periods or events that Women of History discusses, so this blog/site offers more than just women's history, although that is the overriding theme; rather, it shows the places that women hold in history and immerses the reader into the history that surrounds us all.

The blog entries on Women of History are generally short to medium length, and should take no more than a few minutes to read, which keeps with the whole purpose of a blog - quick, easily digestible bites of information that capture human interest in order to introduce the reader to something new, which I suggest you do right now by putting down that Sunday paper and checking out Women of History!

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

EXTRA EDITION: Change Your Clocks And Batteries

Dear Readers:

As a cat, I tend to sleep a lot, regardless of what the clock says; but for those of you who must obey time, please remember to set your clocks one hour AHEAD! Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 AM on Sunday, March 11th.

While you are up changing your clocks at that hour, please be sure to let your pet know that it is you and not an intruder. We stay awake while you sleep to make sure your home is safe and secure! You can do your part to make sure that your home is safe and secure by changing the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms!

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

She's In Love With Justin Bieber!

Dear Tazi:

Is it possible to be in love with a man who doesn't even know I exist? I know it sounds crazy - and that he is crazy in love with Selena Gomez - but I am in love with Justin Bieber. At first I just thought it was a stupid crush, but then I saw him in concert; and I swear he looked right at me several times during the show...and I felt something like I have never felt before! When that crazy woman accused him of fathering her baby, I went nuts! All I could think was that she HAD to be lying - that Justin would never lower himself to sleep with a groupie; but then, how do I know that, really? I really don't KNOW Justin Bieber as a person - just what I see in the media. My obsession with Justin has reached the point where my boyfriend left me over it; and yet, I really don't miss him. I think I would miss Justin more.

Tazi, the worst part of my problem? I am old enough to know better! I am in my mid-twenties, and Justin is just a kid. But still...I dream of one day being one less lonely girl, and of being Justin's favorite girl. Never say never, right?

Signed,
That Should Be Me!


Dear That Should Be Me!:

I almost didn't publish your letter because of all the Justin Bieber links I had to enclose in it. Did you really have to make that many references to his songs????? [Ed. Note: In order for non-Bieber fans to understand the references, song titles have been linked to the videos]. However, I have published it, so I will offer you the following advice:

Come back down to earth, and accept the fact that you and Justin Bieber will most likely never be a couple. You have a celebrity crush, which is perfectly normal; but you have allowed it to invade on your everyday life, which is unhealthy. If your boyfriend was not someone you were serious about, I could understand why you would not miss having him in your life; but if you are breaking off successful relationships for a fantasy crush I would suggest you take stock of where your life is headed.

You need to ask yourself why you are so obsessed with Justin Bieber. Is it his boyish looks? His sensitive song lyrics? Does he somehow embody traits that you are seeking in a man? If this is the case, you need to start looking for an appropriate mate who embodies these traits. Or is it possible that you are afraid to pursue a relationship with someone attainable, and are using Justin Bieber as an excuse to keep interested and available men at arm's length? Some soul searching, and some serious discussions with a trusted friend or counselor could help you to answer these questions; as well as assist you in moving forward with your life, and putting your crush on Justin Bieber back into perspective.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Birth Control, Sex Life A Private Matter

Dear Tazi:

My husband and I are having an argument over an embarrassing topic, and we need a neutral third party to settle it. I cannot take birth control pills because they make me sick; I hate the way a diaphragm feels; and an IUD is too expensive. My husband "Xander" will not have a vasectomy, so as a solution to this problem we use condoms. Because we are married, we don't want the whole world to know this - like I said, it is embarrassing.

On our last trip to the local drugstore to pick up a few prescriptions and what not, Xander decided to grab a large box of Trojan vibrating condoms (which is not what we use!) and loudly ask me from ten feet away, "Honey, do we need more condoms?" as he shook the box for emphasis. Angry and humiliated, I shouted back, "No dear; we still have plenty at home!". Xander feels that in saying this, I was announcing to the entire (rather crowded) store that we don't have sex very often; I feel that he basically announced to the store that we have a kinky sex life and that we are constantly going at each other. At this point, I do not want Xander touching me until he apologizes; but he feels that I owe him an apology. Who do you think is right, Tazi?

Signed,
Holding Out


Dear Holding Out:

Your story reminds me of one my Mommie once heard, while working in a pharmacy. A woman shyly walked in to buy a box of condoms, and the pharmacist asked her "what size?", referring to the size package she wanted. The woman, not understanding the question, responded, "Well, to tell you the truth, my husband is on the small side..."

I share this story with you so that you and Xander can see that there are much more memorable conversations that occur at the pharmacy, and that your tiff probably does not even make it into the Top 10! Xander was wrong to make such a public announcement in a crowded store, knowing that you would prefer to keep your method of birth control a private matter. A Tazi Paw Tap of Disgust to his nose for breaking your confidence!

I have to add, though, that your smart-remark right back to Xander, while difficult to resist, obviously hurt his feelings. If this is the first time that Xander has broken your confidence, I would let it slide and offer an apology to him in return for an apology from him. Once apologies have been given, I suggest you kiss and make-up. Marriage is difficult enough without holding a grudge over a bruised ego.

Snuggles,
Tazi


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bowling Widow Can't Spare Time For the Game

Dear Tazi:

My boyfriend recently joined a bowling league with a bunch of people from work, and now he is obsessed! He has "game nights" once a week, but he and a few of his teammates get together three other nights a week to practice, bringing his total weeknight commitment to three nights a week plus one week-end night for the games. This was time he had been spending with me; but now I have been pushed back for this new priority. Obviously, I am upset at playing second fiddle to a "sport", but I really do miss spending that time with my boyfriend.

I do not bowl. I have no interest in bowling, so please do not ask me to consider joining the league or attending the games to show support for his new interest (my boyfriend has already asked, and I have said no). Bowling bores me to death, and I have better things to do than spend my evenings hanging around a loud bowling alley with a bunch of people I don't know. I just wish my boyfriend felt the same way. Do you have any realistic suggestions on how to fix this problem?

Signed,
Neglected


Dear Neglected:

You could always break up with your boyfriend, since he has already left you for his new hobby; but then, this isn't really about bowling, is it? The issues at hand are the divergent interests between you and your boyfriend: he likes bowling, you do not. Is there anything else that he likes that you do not? Are there things that you both enjoy doing that you could do together; hobbies that might pull him away from bowling for a few nights a week?

You do not say what you and he were doing during the time he used to spend with you, but obviously it was not interesting enough to him to hold his interest like bowling does. Had the two of you slipped into such a routine that things just got boring for him? Four nights a week is a lot of time to devote to a sport, especially when that time was once devoted to someone or something else. Were the two of you actually doing anything with your evenings? Or were you just sitting on the couch watching TV all evening? If you want to recapture your boyfriend's attention, you are going to have to recapture his interest.

My advice to you is to lose the attitude about bowling. I realize that you find it boring; but your boyfriend does not. Can you muster up a little support for him? Enough to go to his league games and cheer him on one night a week? Can you reach out to his co-workers/teammates and try to get to know them? The fact that your boyfriend is with them four nights week (after being with them at work five days a week) tells me these people are more than co-workers, but valued friends. If you value your relationship with your boyfriend, you will make an effort to get to know them.

Relationships are not static - they are live and growing things that need to be nurtured, lest things grow old and die. If your lack of interest in bowling is tearing your boyfriend from your side, I would be concerned about him meeting someone who has an equal enthusiasm for the sport that he plays (yes, bowling is a sport!). Perhaps now is a good time to take stock of your overall relationship, and decide if things are at a seven-ten split, or if the two of you can salvage things by picking up the spare and moving forward.

Perfunctory Snuggles (Because I Like Bowling),
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.