Friday, October 31, 2008

My Political Soapbox

Everyone keeps saying that this election is the most important one in our lifetime and probably in many ways it is. We are at war, in an economic crisis, buried in debt, and the list of maladies afflicting this country goes on. When candidates began campaigning I was undecided, truly stumped as to who I would vote for. During the primaries I liked Bill Richardson for the Republican Party and John Edwards for the Democrats. Of course Edwards dropped out and there was the whole affair debacle and while I wasn’t a huge fan of Hillary I preferred her to Obama. Over time I began to like her more and while many viewed her husband as a hindrance I viewed him as an asset. After all, despite his moral and personal shortcomings, he was a great President and even though he would probably butt in it might not be such a bad thing to have his input now and then. However, since I am registered as neither a Republican nor a Democrat I would have been unable to vote in the primaries anyway.

So, when it became clear that our candidates were McCain and Obama I was disappointed and for the first time contemplated not casting a vote. Then I began to really pay attention. I wanted to learn everything I could about both candidates. I wanted to know their voting records in the Senate, where they stood on issues, what they had for breakfast, etc. I listened to what they said (and what they didn’t say) and ignored what each said about the other or what others said about them.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t love either candidate…still. However, to me it has become clear that Obama is a unifying force. I feel that McCain is divisive and I base that on the ads he has run recently, his body language and facial expressions during debates, and what he has said in a series of speeches which have grown more desperate and more attacking as election day draws near. I do not agree with every one of Obama’s ideas. In fact, there are some I wholeheartedly disagree with. However, for me it comes down to whom I agree with more. As time goes on there is less and less that I like or can even tolerate with McCain. His healthcare plan is most frightening and his tax plan or a variation thereof has proven to be ineffective in dealing with the current economic crisis.

There’s also the sense of calm around Obama’s campaign. There is not the frenzied flurry and often desperate and dramatic measures that seem to surround the McCain campaign. If the way each candidate has run his campaign is any indication of how each would run his White House I have to say that I prefer the calm resolve Obama has shown and not the chaotic panic demonstrated by McCain and Co.

I have taken some flak lately because I am not voting Republican. I am a Christian; I attend church regularly. My family and most of my friends hold similar Christian beliefs. Many Christians believe when it comes to Christianity and politics that you can’t be a Christian and vote anything other than Republican and that abortion is the ONLY issue. The rest are secondary.

As a teacher I rarely allowed research papers or position papers or debate topics to be on the issue of abortion because it is such a personal topic that inevitably someone would become offended or have their feelings hurt or just get outright mad. I would end up with a classroom of hysterical, teary-eyed, hormonal teenagers who, while they felt passionately one way or the other, could not articulate WHY they felt that way, let alone even fathom that there was another side to the issue.

In a lot of ways, many Christians are like those high school students. They refuse to acknowledge that someone can be a Christian and also a Democrat. Or they refuse to consider that someone can both be pro-choice and pro-life. It’s not as if these concepts and beliefs have to be mutually exclusive of one another. You can be both or all.

I do not think that anyone is truly pro-abortion (except maybe a few low-life degenerates). Nobody I know gets pregnant hoping for an abortion. I realize that abortion is often abused and some use it as a form of birth control. Truly, that makes me heartsick. I personally am pro-life. It is hard for me to believe that I would ever have an abortion (Don’t even ask me to speculate as to what I would do if I were a victim of rape or incest or my life was in danger while carrying a child because I would like to say I would never abort, but until one is in that situation no one really knows). However, for every other woman in America I am pro-choice. I don’t think it is the government’s place, right, or responsibility to govern or place mandates on morality. It bothers me that so many Christians (people ascribing to a similar or the same religious doctrines I believe) will vote for McCain SOLELY for this reason. Look, if you are a McCain supporter I begrudge you nothing. Vote your conscience and if you think he is the right man for the job then that is great. But don’t claim that in order to be a Christian you have to vote Republican and you have to vote on the issue of abortion alone. I have similar feelings towards those who will vote for Obama strictly because he is black or will not vote for him because he is black.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I do believe Obama will make a good President, not a perfect one by any means. And while I am sure McCain would do an okay job (well, I am not even really that sure) we need someone who will do more than just an okay job in our country’s time of crisis. We need someone to unite the parties and not divide them. My point is also that someone can be a Christian, a Democrat, pro-choice, and pro-life all at the same time and being one does not negate or invalidate being any of the others. So, on that note I encourage you all to vote next week, whether it is for McCain or Obama. Where I was once unsure of whom I would vote for, or if I would even vote, I am now confident and comfortable in my vote for Obama.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween

I have never been a big fan of Halloween. Even as a kid I never really got that excited about dressing up and having to go door to door for candy. I can remember being so shy that it pained me to go to a stranger's door and say, "Trick or Treat". I can remember one year when I was probably in 5th or 6th grade one of the old ladies that answered the door said, "Aren't you getting a little old to be trick or treating?" (I was tall for my age). On a side note, when I became a teacher I had high school students who would go trick or treating, which for the record I think is waaaaaaaay too old, however I wanted to go back to that old bag's house and say, "See, they are in high school and they trick or treat."

Anyway, I think because I am fairly apathetic about it, Halloween has never been something that our kids (granted this is the first one our son has participated in) blow out of proportion. This will be the first year my daughter is truly dressing up. She's going as Cinderella and is very excited about wearing her "gown and glass slippers". In the past she either was too little to necessitate dressing up and trolling for candy or she went in cute kid scrubs as my son will be going in this year (Sesame Street scrubs). I have played up my excitement for their sake, and really I am excited to see my kids dressed up and trick or treat, and my daughter is very excited to get candy, a rarity around here.

We will kick off our Halloween by attending a free concert by the BoDeans. I love their song, "Good Things" and am very stoked to see them perform live. Later we are going over to my sister and brother-in-laws for dinner before heading out with our kids and theirs to trick or treat in their neighborhood. Their neighborhood does Halloween big. It's like a ridiculously huge block party (last year I had never seen so many people taking their children trick or treating with beer in hand) and they don't hold out on candy. My niece and nephew each filled a pillow case last year.

Plus with our extended family coming along it is like an event unto itself. My husband, kids, and I go, along with my sister, her husband, and their four children, my parents follow along as well as my brother-in-laws folks. So, it has grown to be quite an ordeal. My daughter is just excited to trick or treat with her cousins.

So, tell me about your Halloween plans. Are you a fan of Halloween?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Special Place

I love my children dearly. There is not a thing in this world that I would not do for them in order to make sure they are happy, cared for, provided for, and loved. Anything they truly needed I would willingly find a way to give. I would assume that most parents share this feeling about their own children. Most parents, at least the ones I know and have contact with, love their children more than anything else and make sure their children are loved and well cared for.

That is why it is appalling to me that there are parents out there who treat their children so horribly. There are deadbeat fathers (and mothers) who don’t provide for their families. There are parents who abuse their children either emotionally or physically. There are even parents who are capable of killing their own flesh and blood. (Just typing that gave me the chills). To think that there are people who don’t feel the same fierce loyalty and obligation to protect their children is unbelievably disturbing to me. But these people exist. Just by turning on the news we are bombarded with horrible stories of neglect and abuse on a daily basis.

I just don’t understand it. How any parent can look at his/her child and not feel an overwhelming obligation to take care of, at all cost, that child is something I will just never understand. Children are just that, children. They are wholly dependent on the adults in their lives and sometimes those adults are deadbeat losers who feel no obligation to protect what they have created. For those types of people I really do feel that there is a special place in hell for them.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shoes for The Boy

I really like See Kai Run shoes for my son because they are one of the few brands that seem made especially for chubby feet. The problem is they are so expensive (retail at $36-$50). A few months ago I got these on Amazon for $25 and free shipping. Based on a tip from my sister I got these Stride Rite shoes at Ross for my son. They were originally $48, but at Ross they were $13.99.
These are another Amazon purchase. They are also by See Kai Run and while they are not the "coolest" shoes, I love the orange and they were marked down to $12.99 plus free shipping.

What are some of your favorite brands of children's shoes? Where do you have the best luck finding reasonably priced shoes?

The No Napping House

My 16 month old seems hell-bent on giving up naps. Really, I don't know how I am going to keep my sanity if I have two children who never nap and hardly sleep at night. My daughter gave up napping before she was two so I should not be entirely surprised by this, but it doesn't make it any easier.

I am with my children from 6:30 am (when they wake up) until 8 or 9 pm (when they go to sleep) EVERYDAY. I love them dearly, but for heaven's sake I would like just a few hours a week to myself. At least with my son napping I could have my daughter in quiet time and get a solid 30 minutes to myself. Times, they are a changin'.

Shoot me now, please!

The Old Dude: Larry McMurtry

When I was in college and for many years after I spent a lot of time reading anything I could get my hands on that dealt with the 1960’s. It’s a time period that still holds an interest for me today. I read Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and was hooked. I then read anything and everything I could about Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Neal Cassidy, the Grateful Dead, Larry McMurtry and my favorite Ken Kesey, among many others.

I tell you this because I once spent a summer travelling in the company of Larry McMurtry. Certainly not in the way you are thinking and at the time I didn’t even know who he was, but nonetheless I was around the man for months. When I was in high school I played on a national basketball team that traveled the country. One of my teammate’s mothers is Diana Ossana (of Brokeback Mountain fame). Larry McMurtry (who co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, but who is better known for writing Lonesome Dove) is one of her best friends (my teammates godfather, in fact) and at that time was living with her after recovering from a heart attack. We spent a lot of time in a car travelling from game to game and I frequently rode in the car Diana Ossana drove with Mr. McMurtry riding shotgun. We (the players) had never really heard of him and always asked our teammate, "Hey, why is your mom always hanging out with that old dude?" I remember him as being quiet and gentle and very generous. He would buy the team meals very frequently, but wouldn’t tell us. We would find out later and when we would thank him he’d put his hand up, dip his head, and softly say, "Of course."

So, what’s the point you might ask? For the life of me I wish I would have known then what I learned a few short years later. I wish I had grasped the significance of who this man was when I had daily access to him. I would have loved to pick his brain, ask him about his time in the 60’s, ask him about his relationship with Ken Kesey, and ask him about his writing process. I had a famous author in front of me on an almost daily basis for months and we just thought he was some old dude who wrote some books. The ignorance of youth.

Thinking back it seems surreal that this well-known and respected author spent a summer watching and supporting a high school girl’s all-star team and all the while never once letting on that he was "somebody". It’s almost embarrassing to me now knowing who he is and knowing that none of us had a clue. Diana Ossana is a success in her own right, but we didn’t really know that either. If I could just go back I would savor those four months and relish being in the presence of successful authors and a living icon (in McMurtry’s case). The saying, "If I only knew then what I know now…" really is appropriate.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Music Worth Checking Out

About a month ago I picked up the new Buckcherry CD entitled "Black Butterfly" along with Ray LaMontagne's "Gossip in the Grain." While they couldn't be more different, both CD's were worth the money. (The discounted price I paid on Amazon versus the in store price I refuse to pay).

Until recently I have not listened to a lot of Buckcherry. In 2006 I purchased their cd, "15" and enjoyed most of it, including surprisingly the raunchy hit, "Crazy Bitch." So when "Black Butterfly" was released I was excited to give it a listen. I was not disappointed. Buckcherry is a rock band: heavy on the guitars, great riffs, and catchy hooks. They're loud and unapologetic. However, they are also capable of slowing it down and that is demonstrated in my favorite song on the album, "All of Me". This is the CD you want if you need to get your adrenaline pumping. Overall, a good listen.

I've been a fan of LaMontagne for a number of years now. His hit song, "Trouble" is among one of my all time favorites. "Gossip in the Grain" is the first CD of his though I have actually bought. In the past I have just downloaded my favorites and forgotten the rest. I don't think that there is a bad song on this CD. My two favorites are "You are the Best Thing" and "Sarah". His voice is soothing and melodic, reminiscent of James Taylor or Cat Stevens. We listen to this in the car quite frequently and the kids almost seem to go into some type of trance; they are instantly calmed.

We listen to a wide range of music and like everything pretty much except ultra heavy metal or hardcore rap. Music plays a huge role in our home and I have a great appreciation for those, much more artistic and capable than I, who are able to put out amazingly touching and fantastic CD's. So, if you have some time and are interested, please check out these CD's and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why The World Needs Women

A few nights ago I was making chicken for dinner. On nights when I make a meal with meat I always make some type of side dish that would constitute an actual meal for my daughter who does not eat any meat. I was interrupted in middle of cooking by our inconsolable son and asked my husband to finish while I went to take care of our son (who was very ill). "Finishing up" included making something for our daughter to eat.

When I came back downstairs they had already sat down to dinner and were eating. My daughter was eating ice cream. ICE CREAM. FOR DINNER. I looked at my husband like, "What the H?". He says, "Well, mac and cheese would have taken too long, so we went with ice cream." I said nothing at the time, but our daughter knew that ice cream for dinner would never fly with me. She looked at my husband and said, "Daddy, you should have never let me have ice cream for dinner."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison

I recently finished reading The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison. Admittedly it took me about fifty pages in to really develop an interest. The author's style and cadence takes some time to get used to. It is written, I am sure intentionally, as if she is uneducated yet trying to convince others that she is.

The premise centers around the friendship of Deborah Laidlaw and Toby Ruben. It is a friendship that lasts decades, survives multiple falling outs, petty jealousies, and baseless insecurities. Both women are needy but Toby has a particularly strong need to be accepted by Deborah. While both women are married with children, it at times seems as if Toby is in love with Deborah. A psychologist would have a field day dissecting the dynamics of their relationship.

During their first meeting Deborah loans Toby one of her husband's books, entitled Trolly Girl, which is about a female activist/anarchist who played a prominant role in the trolly strikes and is accused of causing a trolly accident that kills someone close to her. This activist later becomes an artist and her life intersects many years later with Toby Ruben. It is this story within a story, however, that was most fascinating. It left me wishing that the story within a story was a book in and of itself.

This woman, Berry Cooper, and Toby become friends. More accurately Toby ends up caring for Berry in her old age. It is as if Toby is trying to redeem herself for her failings and shortcomings in her friendship with Deborah.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It dealt with issues of friendship, forgiveness, redemption, and second chances. I would like to think we are all capable of displaying such unwavering loyalty to those we care about. It surely does not exist only in fiction.

If anyone else has read this I would love to hear what you thought.

Random Nothingness and Tales from My Crib

A few months ago we bought our daughter these pink cowgirl boots. She loves them and wears them everywhere and with everything. Yesterday she declared, "I need to start riding a horse when I wear these boots."

Does anyone know what the heck this is called? It showed up in our weekly produce delivery. It looks like some broccoli-cauliflower hybrid.

Our son has been sick for 4 days now and not able to eat much of anything. Yesterday I was eating some honey wheat pretzel sticks with humus. He wanted some and to my surprise at quite a bit of it. Of all the things to finally eat. He hasn’t eaten anything since, but at least that was something.

We have a lab mix who is very good with our children but she is excitable and poorly trained (yes, that’s our fault; we’re bad pet owners). While my daughter usually loves our dog and does a great job of getting him food and water everyday, my son is not real fond of her. My parents, though, have a springer spaniel who is very docile, gentile, and generally passive. My son will spend hours sitting on the deck just petting her and even lying down next to her. The other day, while playing outside at our house, my daughter says, "I wish I had a dog named Molly (my parent’s dog). I don’t want Killian (our dog). She knocks my brother over."

Our kids don’t watch much TV. In fact, I cannot think of a show they watch outside of Disney movies and even those are rare. So, many of the popular characters our children know only from books. Yesterday, rather excitedly, my daughter says, "Did you know Dora is on the TV now?" I said, "She is?" My daughter replied, "Yeah, I didn’t know she’s on the TV now." I inquired as to when she saw her on the TV and she said, "Yesterday, when you were in the shower." She just couldn’t get over the fact that in addition to being in her books and the figurines and dolls of Dora that she plays with that Dora is also on the television set.

My daughter brings out her play laptop and sits next to me on the couch while I was reading to my son. I asked her what she was up to and she says, "Oh, I am just checking my email. Then I have to write my blog." I said, "Oh yeah? You sound busy." She says, "Oh, I am. Then I still have to write my article. Unbelievable."

My daughter has wavy hair which becomes wild (we call it her "wild woman" hair) if not brushed after a bath. Getting her out of the tub the other morning I sat her down to brush her hair, which is always a battle because she prefers it messy. It’s now become a game and so after I finished brushing her hair she runs off and says, "Hey, give me my wild back."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Kid's On Fire

When our son was 8 months old he was hospitalized with RSV and Bronchiolitis. It was a horrible week with him hooked up to oxygen, pulse monitors, and the like. I stayed in the hospital with him while my mom and husband alternated caring for our then 2 year old daughter. It was a very upsetting experience (compounded by the fact that my brother almost died from a similar respiratory problem when he was close in age to my son at that time).

Because of this experience whenever our son gets sick I worry a bit more than I normally would. He unfortunately seems to have been cursed with my inferior immune system, so when he gets sick he gets hit really hard. Two days ago he came down with a 102 degree fever. While that's high, I wasn't overly worried. Aside from the fever and a runny nose he didn't have many other symptoms. By Tuesday morning he was beside himself, crying, whining, staggering around. His fever had risen to 103. We dosed him with tylenol and ibprofen as often as we could, put washcloths on his neck, under his armpits, and on his groin to try to cool him down and otherwise just tried to wait it out.

By last night, he was on fire. I took his temp. and it was 104.5. By this time I'm really nervous, worrying about a potential febrile seizure. It's 11 pm and both our doctor and urgent care are closed, leaving the ER our only option if it came to that. Fortunately, it did not.

Long story short, I was up with him until 3 am trying to bring his fever down. The lowest it went was 102.7, which is certainly more manageable than 104.5. He is still sick today but his fever is only 102.3 so I am hoping he is on the mend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Curse of the Zoo

We went to the zoo today, despite just having been last week. We had a really great time and my husband was off today and able to come with. I am beginning to think, though, that maybe the universe is trying to tell me something about my visits to the zoo. Take, for example, my last three visits.

Exhibit A: We were witness to two bears having sex. Unsavory!
Exhibit B: Me and the children were witness to a very graphic session of two giraffes having sex, finishing in the truest sense of the word, then going back for more.

That brings us to today. Exhibit C.

Exhibit C: The lioness was euthenized this morning as we were visiting. Obviously we did not witness the actual putting down of said lioness, but we were looking around and saw the lion sadly wandering. My daughter kept asking where the "girl one" was. We looked and could not see her anywhere. The zoo keeper seemed funny and reluctant to answer when we inquired as to her location. When I came home I read on our online newspaper that they had euthanized her pretty much at the exact moment we were looking for her.

See what I mean? Where we travel we bring either sex or death.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Aisle Blocking Jerks

Why is it that people at the grocery store feel completely entitled to block half the aisle with their shopping cart and the other half with their ass? I just can't get over it. When I am shopping, usually with both kids in tow, I am overly cognizant of how much room we are taking up and constantly making sure we are not blocking the pathway of anyone who may want to get by. Apparently I am one of the few actually aware that other people do shop in the store.

Today's experience was especially frustrating as it seemed every "aisle blocker" was out in force. The first "run in" was with two ladies, shopping side by side who decided to stop in middle of the aisle and argue about which brand was better. In so doing they blocked the entire aisle. When I said, "Excuse me, we need to pass" both looked at me as if I had just finished smoking something.

Then at the same store we went to pay. This lady who was in the line next to us, stepped across into our line at the exact moment my husband was pushing the cart up to the conveyer. She just stood there, looking through magazines, with her leg back in her aisle, so as to not lose her place and her body blocking our way. She said nothing, but stood there for a good 2-3 minutes. My husband said "excuse me" and still she stood. He then tapped her foot with the cart while again saying, "excuse me" at which point she moved, never once saying "Excuse me" or "Sorry" but making sure she gave us her dirtiest of looks.

I realize we are living in an increasingly rude and inconsiderate society. Courtesies and behavior that was once commonplace is now the exception more than it is the rule. However, there are certain courtesies and behavior that should be standard practice, especially while in public. The ironic thing is that most of the offenders are the older generations; the same ones who constantly bemoan the state of today's youth. Just from my personal experience it is the younger teens who more often than not hold the door open for me when pushing a stroller as opposed to the grandmotherly or grandfatherly looking folks who usually let it slam in my face.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Busted Lip = No Photo Trip

I take tons of pictures of our children so there is certainly not a shortage of photos documenting their everyday lives. However, since my son has been born we have had their photos professionally done only once -- when my son was 7 weeks old. He is currently 16 months old so we figured it would be a good time to have new pictures taken.

I scheduled an appointment for tomorrow, had their outfits picked out, ironed, and color coordinated. Then this afternoon my son tripped, slamming his face into the coffee table, splitting his lip pretty badly. He now looks like Bubba on Forrest Gump. It goes without saying that I will be cancelling the appointment for tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Second Chances

When I was a college student I had a couple poems and articles published. Nothing major and my "pay" was basically a certificate of congratulations. I was supposed to be satisfied with merely the "prestige" of being published. To be honest, at that point in my life, I was. I was an English teaching and writing major so it was something that came fairly naturally to me and something I enjoyed. It never felt like work (well, at least not most of the time).

I’ve posted before about my recent reflections on whether or not I should have accepted a technical writing job out of college instead of the teaching job I accepted. At that point I had plans to teach for two or three years and then go to law school. A plan that was put on hold after my daughter was born. I thought that it might not be too late to pursue what I had once let go. There were certainly more writing opportunities out there for me to explore.

So, I’ve spent the past four months writing new pieces and editing older pieces. I’ve made it a point to set aside time everyday for myself, usually really late at night since it’s the only time my house is quiet, to focus and write. I figure I’m still young (30) and the likelihood of another career is not out of the realm of possibility.

While I still want to be home with the kids while they are young I figured I’d be able to do most of the job, if not all of it from home, and during hours when the kids were asleep or days my husband was home. So, I applied for three positions and am contemplating applying for one more (what I would consider my "ideal" at this point in both content and pay). All were mostly contributing writer positions for publications. The type of writing varied from short stories to articles to reviews on various topics. I ended up being offered two of the jobs, one of them being the one I really wanted, and my first article, for which I’ll actually be paid for in cold, hard cash (or check), was published this week.

While I know that everyone who writes dreams of writing the next great novel (myself included) I also acknowledge that I have to start somewhere. I am excited about this opportunity because I am able to write about issues I feel passionately about and enjoy and I’m hoping this might lead to other opportunities. I’m looking at this as a good way to gain experience and get my foot in the door.

So, I guess in some ways I have rejoined the ranks of the working world. Wish me luck.


Why does it seem that every year health care premiums increase yet coverage decreases? I had some first hand exposure this week to what healthcare would mean under a McCain/Palin administration. If there was ever any doubt about who I was going to vote for (and for a short while there was) that was cleared up this week. God (or whoever you believe in) help us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Perfect Day for the Park

The weather was too nice to waste indoors. And yes, those are cowgirl boots. Perfect park attire, don't ya think?
Two little munchkins on the swings.
Rock climbing in her boots. She kept screaming, "I can't get traction."
The boy and the girl playing at the sand table. Moments later, the boy went head first into the yellow sand bucket. Good times.

The Rooster Plias

In the same book mentioned in my previous post, The Organic Farm, there is a page with different birds laying eggs. I explained that the birds squat down, lay an egg and then that is what I use to make scrambled eggs. My daughter looks at me and then says, "So, the rooster does a plia*, out pops an egg, and then you cook it?" Yep, that's what happens.

**My daughter is in ballet and that is one of the terms for when they put their heels together and bend down.

They Eat Sheep?

We don't eat a lot of meat in our house, but we certainly do eat some. Everyone, that is, except for our 3 year old daughter. She has never eaten meat and in fact the mere thought of it disgusts her. At first we were concerned, but considering the fact that I was a vegetarian for a number of years it never really bothered me that much. We just make sure she gets plenty of iron and protein from other sources.

Then last night I was reading The Organic Farm to her and we came to a page where there were sheep grazing in a field with the shepherds/farmers. I ad-libbed and made the comment, "And there are the sheep that they eat" not even thinking that maybe my daughter didn't realize that the meat people eat comes from the animals she loves.

She stopped me and looked at me incredulously. "They eat sheep?" she demanded to know. I admit that I froze. I just stared at her as she repeated, much more urgently this time, "THEY.EAT.SHEEP?" I started to stammer some lame answer when she again interrupted and said, "Mommy, people do not eat sheep. That is not nice."

At this point I made an executive decision and instead of explaining to her that yes, meat does indeed come from animals, I decided to spare her any further trama and lamely said, "No, mommy misspoke. I meant to say there is the grass that the sheep eat."

I figure we have plenty of time ahead of us to explain the finer point of being a vegetarian versus being a meat eater. Last night was just not the night to begin such a dialogue.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I attended a parochial school from grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. My graduating class was a class of 12 people. We were a close group, having gone to school together for nine years. We all ended up at different high schools throughout our city, though, and aside from seeing each other at church on Sunday we went our separate ways, immersing ourselves in new friendships foraged at our respective high schools. Once in a while we'd bump into each other but it was not like we shared much in common anymore other than the connection from our youth. Over time we went away to college, got married, moved, and had children. We started new lives and these old grade school friendships really weren't a part of these new lives we'd begun.

Many of these classmates I haven't thought about in years. That is until the past few weeks. A friend of mine from that time found me through Facebook and she and I began emailing. It was strange because it was like we had picked up where we left off sixteen years ago. The conversation was easy and we reconnected immediately. There is the easy banter of familiarity. Through this reconnection we began to hunt down other members of our class and we all seemed to ease right back in to the friendships we once had. There were no pretenses.

It just made me wonder why some friendships can go years without contact yet seem to pick up right where they left off with no awkwardness or adjustment period yet others become uncomfortable if there little contact for only a short period of time. Why do some endure and others fizzle or implode?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

We seemed to have a really long weekend, I think in part because my husband was off Friday and then again Sunday. So, it really felt like the weekend began Thursday night. It was Parent Observation Day at my daughter's ballet class so that was really a pleasure to watch. They have come such a long way in such a short period of time. They performed a portion of the dance they will be doing for their Christmas recital and now I can't wait to see the rest. They really were terrific.

Friday we took the kids to an outdoor mall because the weather was too gorgeous to pass up. There is a lot of open space for the kids to play and quite a few water fountains as well. It was just nice to be outside and not roast. We certainly have to take advantage of this weather while it lasts. (Which apparently isn't long as it is expected to be back in the 90's this week..Ugh!)

Saturday my husband was back at work so it was me and the kiddos. Both are battling colds so we spent most of the day at home writing on the sidewalk with chalk, playing in the sandbox, reading, and watching Robin Hood (one of my favorite childhood movies). Later in the evening we stopped by my parents for a visit. My daughter had to check out the new toys grandma bought. She was adequately pleased with the purchases to say the least.

Then, as mentioned before, Sunday was our 6 year anniversary. My husband and I went out for a few hours to eat at a relatively new restaurant in town. We had a great time just talking and spending time with one another, without the kids. We certainly don't do this often enough.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. So, what was on your agenda? How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Six Years

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. Six years ago my husband and I stood on a cliff overlooking the ocean on Catalina Island and exchanged vows in a small and intimate ceremony. Sometimes I can hardly believe it has been six years; it seems like only yesterday. In many other ways it feels like we have shared a lifetime together already.

We have weathered both good times and bad, joys and sorrows, arrivals and losses. In six years we have moved twice, had two children, changed careers, and suffered the loss of loved ones. We've shared in the pleasure of all the rich blessings we have been bestowed and sought consolation in one another when things couldn't seem to go more wrong.

I am not always easy and yet my husband continues to love and support me. His love isn't conditional or fleeting like the love of so many relationships/friendships these days. We don't always agree yet we have always continued to love and respect one another.

If I could go back I would do it all over again. I'd stand on that cliff and pledge my life to the man I am married to today. (Only this time I would probably push his mother off the cliff, instead of merely thinking about it).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Book Worm

I know I have made mention of my daughter's love of books on this site before so I won't go into any elaborate explanation other than to say that if given the choice she'd choose to read all day everyday.

Tonight, before I put her to bed, I had been reading to her for about an hour. After tucking her in I went into my bedroom and read for a while and then started doing some writing. About an hour had passed and I walked into the hall and saw my daughter's light on in her bedroom. There she was sitting on her bed with about 15 books just reading to herself.

Once she'd been spotted she started to laugh. I asked her what she was still doing up. She said, "I've just been reading all this time by myself." I turned the light off again and told her to go to sleep. As I was walking down the stairs she yelled after me, "Mommy, I might have to sneak the books again" and then laughed hysterically. So, I went downstairs and picked up, only to return again to find her still reading. She did indeed "sneak" the books again.

As much as I wanted her to sleep and as much as I don't want to encourage her to disregard bedtimes, I just didn't have the heart to interrupt her. (She did finally go to sleep...much later than she should have).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

All Aboard...The Polar Express

Every year around Christmas just a few hours north from us there is a train ride called the Polar Express that takes you to the North Pole. You go in your pajamas, drink hot chocolate and cookies, and Santa pays a visit and hands out bells to all the children. On the train ride the outside is decorated with lights and Christmas scenes and when you finally reach the North Pole you see all the elves getting the presents ready for delivery.

We took the kids last year and our daughter was in hog heaven. (Our son was only 6 months old and slept through most of it). She was thrilled to meet Santa, get a bell, drink hot chocolate, and best of all play in the snow. She has been talking about it ever since. In fact, she has been talking about all things Christmas: lights, reign deer, Santa, elves, Christmas trees, snowmen, baby Jesus, and the list goes on. (Ironically, she says very little about presents). I have never seen a kid so dedicated to one season, twelve months out of the year.

So, again this year we have made plans to head to the North Pole in December. We are going about a week earlier than we did last year so I'm hoping we will still have plenty of snow. My sister and her family went last year around the time we are going this year and there was no snow. Our fingers are crossed!

I bring this up, realizing we are two months away, because my daughter informs her brother on a daily basis that we are going to go on the train and get a bell from Santa. He nods and mimics her excitement, although I doubt he has any idea what she is so stoked about. Daily she pulls out the blanket that I recently made her and tells me that she will be taking that one on the train to keep her warm. I just hope this ride lives up to everything she is expecting it to.

What holidays or events are most exciting to you or your children? Any special traditions or events you attend each year?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Birds and the Bees...and uh...Giraffes

I am usually pretty good about remembering to take my camera when going on an outing with the kids, especially when we’re headed somewhere that may be ripe for a photo op. Today, however, I was in such a rush that I forgot the camera. I figured, "Hey, it’s just the zoo. What could happen?" Granted it has been a few months since we’ve been, but it’s not like we haven’t been there a million times before. Part of me wished I had my camera to capture and share with you what we witnessed. Truly more for your sake than mine, simply because I think only a picture could truly do it justice.

We got there just in time to watch the male giraffe "stalk" his female counterpart before deciding to mount her and make a woman of her. I do realize that giraffes have sex. I mean how else would we get baby giraffes. But, to be honest I just never really thought about it, let alone visualized what that might look like. I never spent any time contemplating the specifics of how such an act would be accomplished. For the record, let’s just say I saw more than enough to last a lifetime. I’ll spare you the play by play and leave it at that. I am pretty sure that every person who was in the zoo at that time was standing in front of the giraffes watching with a morbid fascination. It was almost as if there was some type of gravitational pull.

My daughter kept asking why the one giraffe was climbing on the other. "He’s hurting her" she insisted. My son then felt the need to chime in with a never-ending chorus of "Ouch, bad. Ouch, bad." Despite my attempts to explain that the giraffes were simply playing with one another, my daughter wanted to know why they played like that and why the "bad" giraffe wouldn’t leave the "good" giraffe alone. She kept saying, "She doesn’t want to play like that." (And yes, I did usher them away from the giraffes and toward the polar bears…who thankfully were not mating).

What I want to know, though, is why every time I take the kids to the zoo we get a firsthand demonstration on the finer points of animal reproduction. The last time we visited, approximately 6 months ago, the sun bears were putting on a show of their own.

What's next? The elephants?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Introduction To Our Legal System

I have a lot of respect for lawyers. My brother is a lawyer, I have friends or friends' spouses who are lawyers, and I know many of you, my readers are lawyers. So, in no way is this an attack on any of you personally or the profession as a whole. As with all professions there are "good ones" and "bad ones". The legal profession is no different.

We are in midst of a legal battle with a jeweler who ruined my wedding ring. My husband and I have done everything possible to keep this out of court and have been more than fair and accomodating when dealing with the defendent, both before we filed our claim and even now in the midst of litigation.

Unfortunately, the other side is playing dirty and I know they are doing so (aside from the simple fact that they can) in the hopes that they will wear us down and we'll drop the claim. I know they assume that I won't want to continue to represent myself, that I can't afford to hire a lawyer to defend me, and that I won't want to continue to participate in a drawn out legal battle. They are right in all respects. I don't want to continue to represent myself; I spend hours researching every night so that I am prepared to not get run over in court. I might as well be in law school. I can't afford to hire a lawyer and I don't have the time or the energy to fight this for the next 6 months or more. Where they are wrong though is that I won't drop it simply because of that. This particular lawyer knows her clients are wrong. I have more than enough proof and documentation and she knows that so she wastes her time and mine by constantly filing time consuming motions that in the end have no bearing on the outcome of this case.

I just hate that so much of lawyering seems to be silly games that they play with the intention of screwing the little person, in this case me.

So all you lawyers out there....any thought, advice?

Edamame, Kefir, and Hummus

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to eat the same three foods everyday for every meal? Most of the time my parents wouldn't let me and they made me eat something different, something new. When I became a parent I have at times been confronted with the same issue.

While my son will eat anything, my daughter is very picky and has about 7 items on her approved list. Fortunately for me they are pretty healthy things like apples, pears, cottage cheese, and hummus. However, I often find myself telling her that she has to try something new, something different than her usual. Well, that has recently backfired on me.

I was sick for about a week and not able to eat much of anything. When I started feeling better the only thing that sounded good was salt, so I would cook edamame everyday and sprinkle it with kosher salt. We eat a lot of edamame anyway, but this now became a meal unto itself...sometimes all three meals. So, for about the past week I've had edamame and kefir for breakfast, hummus and pretzels for lunch, and then a normal dinner. This morning when I was again drinking kefir and boiling the edamame my daughter looks at me and says, "Mommy, you really need to have something different for breakfast. You can't just keep eating the same thing everyday."

Pot meet kettle.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ramblings from the Weekend

Last week just seemed to fly by. In fact, I was really surprised when the weekend came as soon as it did. Usually, I have a sense that the week drags on and is neverending. We had a pretty healthy balance of planned events and time for relaxation, which was nice.

The kids got their flu shots on Friday and while my daughter rarely has reactions to any type of shots, my son has a history of horrible and severe reactions to almost every shot he has received. Fortunately, they did not react badly but both did get fevers and were out of sorts for most of Friday. My daughter was fine by the evening, but my son's "funk" seemed to last through most of Saturday as well.

My husband worked Saturday so the kids and I just spent the day at home, mostly reading and playing with puzzles, princess barbies, and trucks. Saturday night we attended my nephew's 1st birthday party. He is the youngest of four and only a few months younger than my son. My youngest niece is only a few months younger than my daughter so they had a great time playing with dolls, dancing with grandma, and having a tea party with grandpa all evening long. Prior to getting to the party my daughter wanted to make sure that the birthday boy was going to share his cake, which I assured her that he would. Once that seemed to be settled she was ready to p-a-r-t-y!

Sunday was so gorgeous outside we spent quite a bit of time playing in the yard with the kids. My husband and I also managed to find time to clean the house. We had our house up for sale for a year so I got used to keeping it really clean and clutter-free. Now, that the house is off the market I can't seem to break that habit of wanting it spotless. I also gutted my Pathfinder. We are considering getting rid of it and getting something more fuel efficient, so the less junk I'm hauling around the better.

We were supposed to attend an NFL game Sunday afternoon that my husband won tickets for from work. I'm not a huge football fan, but the tickets were skybox and it seemed like it might be okay. However, he ended up giving the tickets away after he figured it would almost be more hassle with the kids than it was worth and we decided to stay home instead. I'm really glad we did. The game would have been an all day affair that would have taken until mid-week to recover from.

So, here begins another week. The kids and I went and checked out a new library in town today. It was really small, much smaller than our usual but it served our purposes fine. Both kids left with a few books each and returning them next week will be a good excuse to check it out a bit more closely.

So tell me how your weekend was? What activities filled up your days and what do you have on the agenda for the week?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I Talk. It's What I Do!

Our daughter is really chatty. She talks all day long about everything and nothing and anything in between. It is a running monologue on any topic imaginable and sometimes she'll pause long enough for me or my husband or her brother to respond. It's adorable and cute, but frankly it is getting to be exhausting. So, today I was trying to get ready for a birthday party we were going to and my daughter was following me from room to room going on and on. I finally just said, "Sweetheart, please let mommy finish getting ready. Can you please just stop talking for a few minutes while I get dressed." She looked at me and with all the seriousness in the world said, "Mom, I talk. It's what I do." I could not hold the laughter in. A few minutes later as she followed me into the bathroom she repeated her previous statement and continued by saying, "Me and my daddy we just talk and talk all day long." Yes, they do!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Veep Debate

Any thoughts on the debate?

Book Review: Write It When I'm Gone by Thomas DeFrank

I recently picked up Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford by Thomas DeFrank when I was at Costco. I'm not sure what led to this selection as I usually would glance over this type of title. I took it home and started reading and was instantly captivated. DeFrank was a young reporter for Newsweek instructed to cover Ford when he was the Vice President. He and Ford ended up developing a strong friendship over the years which led to a series of candid and revealing conversations about his own presidency and his impressions of others holding political office.

This arrangement came about when Ford let slip a statement that he would have regretted had it been made public since it pertained to the liklihood of him becoming President due to Nixon and the Watergate fiasco. He confided quite a bit to DeFrank with the understanding that he could publish none of it until Ford had died. DeFrank kept his word. While I won't spend this time summarizing the book I did find quite a bit of the information very interesting. I'll just share some of that here.

* Ford felt it was very important to pardon Nixon in order to help heal a fractured country. He felt that his reasons for doing so were often misunderstood and misinterpreted.
* Ford felt Nixon was very easily manipulated and used the Watergate situation as his prime example.
* Ford blamed Reagan for his failed Presidential bid and never truly got over that. The wounds healed somewhat when Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
* Ford stumped for Reagan so hard because he thought Carter would be worse for the country, not because he truly supported Reagan.
* Did not think Jimmy Carter was a good President. In fact, didn't really care for him as a person until well after they had left office and Carter requested Ford's help in planning his Presidential Library.
* Thought the election in 2000 would be McCain vs. Gore. He thought McCain could beat Gore, but did not think that George W. Bush would be able to beat Gore if he were the nominee.
* Ford thought the key to Bush getting elected and re-elected was that he needed to moderate his views. Thought Bush risked being seen as an "extremist" as he started veering too far right. Ford felt the same way about Cheney.
* Ford thought President Bush (Dubya) focused too much on WMD's when trying to convince the American people that war on Iraq was justified. Ford felt that telling us Sadaam was a threat should have been enough. He also felt that Bush would start losing support once the casualties reached 1,000 (at the time the book was written there were 500 dead).
* Ford thought W's best attribute was his wife. He found Laura Bush to be very smart and classy.
* Ford revealed that W planned to invade Iraq merely one week after 9/11. He supposedly called General Tommy Franks and said, "How quickly can you put together a plan to attack Iraq?"
* Truly believed that Bill Clinton was a sex addict and needed professional help.
* He found Hillary to be very smart and politically ambitious.
* Thought she would possibly run in 2004, but definitely in 2008. Ford thought she would be the Democratic nominee, but felt that she would not win and become the first woman president.
* Ford predicted that it would be Hillary and Guiliani in 2008 with Rudy pulling out the victory. Ford thought Guiliani would make a great president.
*Ford spoke little of his personal life. He did talk about how his mother was abused by his father and she took him as a baby and fled. She remarried and he had a wonderful relationship with his step-father and admired him greatly.
* A friend in law school ended up suing Ford's biological father for child support. He was put in jail until he paid.
* He was on the Warren Commission and truly believed that JFK's assassination was not part of some greater conspiracy. He was bothered by movies and theories that suggested otherwise. He was also very sensitive about rumors of a coverup on the Warren Commission. He wanted the entire report released in its entirety and he felt that would maybe help eliminate many of the conspiracy theories.
* Ford was a self-proclaimed pack rat. He kept everything. As he aged he had letters appraised. The letters from Nixon during the Watergate years were appraised at roughly 7K. The letter Sarah Jane Moore wrote him from prison basically saying she regretted not killing him was appraised at 9K.
* Believed OJ was guilty (who doesn't?)
* By all accounts he was faithful to his wife their entire married life.
* He loved Dick Cheney. He was one of his proteges.
* He poked fun at his own children, once saying that his son Jack wished to be a $250,000/year park ranger.

While the book does cover some of Ford's presidency it is more a book covering Ford The Man. It is interesting to see how someone on the inside viewed Ford both as a President and as a man. DeFrank obviously was very fond of Ford and that is clearly conveyed in his writing. However, I also think DeFrank does an adequate view of acknowledging and addressing some of Ford's flaws and not so flattering qualities.

Overall, it was an insightful book and one I would recommend. It was an easy read and not something so political that it becomes a turnoff. Ford seemed to be able to assess Presidents on their merits and not just on their political affiliations and it is interesting to hear what his opinions were both on Presidents from his party and those from the Democratic party.

Has anyone else read this book? If so, what did you think?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In Need of Some Peace

My daughter has been a bit frustrated with her brother lately. While she is usually pretty good about playing with him and sharing her toys, lately it has bothered her that he always seems to be in the way. Part of that is he has his own ideas about how he wants to play with the toys and those are vastly different from the ideas my daughter has about how to appropriately play with those same toys. She likes to have some time to herself where she will read or draw or just play with her toys. However, her brother ALWAYS wants to play with her and do exactly what she is doing and he doesn't understand why she doesn't want him to. We had the following conversation yesterday.
Me: Sweetheart, are you okay?
Her: I just need some peace (she said exasperated)
Me: You do? What's the matter?
Her: My brother. He is driving me crazy. I need some peace from him.
Me: Well, what would you like to do?
Her: Take me to old grandma's* and leave me there so I can have some peace for a while.
Me: You want me to drop you off there for a while and I'll take your brother and go do something else?
Her: Yes, I need to get some peace.
Me: Okay

* Old grandma is my grandmother. My daughter has called her that since she could talk as opposed to my mother who is either grandma or new grandma.

These Precious Times

"Slow down," they say.
"They grow up fast;
these precious times
well, they won't last."

You learned to crawl
and walk so soon
from your first words
and Goodnight Moon.

Now soon enough
to school you'll go
I'll ask myself
where'd the time go?

You'll learn to drive
have a first date.
Get your first ticket
and come home late.

"Slow down," they say.
"They grow up fast;
these precious times
well, they won't last."

You'll move away
live on your own
meet some new friends
spend time alone

You'll get your first job
lose your first love
buy your first car
question God above.

You'll walk down the aisle
have kids of your own
visit on holidays
so we're not alone

"Slow down," they say.
"They grow up fast;
these precious times
well, they won't last."

Then all too soon
your kids will be grown
you'll call me with sadness
and wistfully moan

"Slow down," you said.
"You're growing up fast;
these precious times
well, they won't last."

"Why didn't I listen?"
you'll want to know
"You were too busy growing;
always on the go."

"But one thing I'll tell you
and don't you forget
I'll always love you
no matter how big you get."

So go tell your children
to cherish each day
to slow things down
as they find their way.

by Sarah