Sunday, September 30, 2007


We just got back from a fabulous 4-day trip to the DC area for Husband D's high school reunion. My parents met us at the airport with two cars. They took the kidlet Ds to their house on the Eastern shore for the weekend.

Husband D. and I took the other car to their Northern VA house and spent 4 glorious days alone:
-Speaking in complete sentences.
-Not wiping anybody's butt.
-Staying out in bars until 1 am. (and I hardly even drink...I just stayed out because I could.)
-Wandering through Old Town, Chinatown, (really any-town)
-Eating meals without ketchup.
-Sleeping past the sunrise.

Pre-reunion...taking a photo of ourselves. (Did I mention that we were ALONE? For 4 days? No one to take the requisite "pre-big-event" photo.)

Son D dressed in his full German Soccer kit on the way home in honor of the women's world cup victory. We don't know why - but Germany is his favorite team. No, we aren't German. He's never been to Germany. We ate at a German restaurant once, though. Must have made an impression.

The cats survived without us.

I have a whole 'nother post about Hope Solo, but it will have to wait for another day because I'm beat. We've had the kids since 9 am today. That's exhausting. It's back to reality for me...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No child gets ahead

It's a rare day when I agree wholeheartedly with the Cato institute. Their catch-phrase is "Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Free Markets and Peace"

They wouldn't exactly endorse my "health-care-for-all" position...but we might be able to find common ground on my "if-you-want-to-get-married-why-the-hell-should-the-gov't-stop-you?" belief.

Strangely enough, I think I agreed with just about everything they wrote on No Child Left Behind.

I've only had a child in the public school system for 2 years, so I'm no expert. But my initial impression is that the biggest result of NCLB is that school districts have uniformly dropped their standards.

The only thing that seems to really matter is to achieve a large percentage of "proficiency" within a district - so let's teach everyone the test. If it's not on the test, it just doesn't matter. And while were at it, let's drop what we require to be "proficient."

The larger number of mediocre students - the more recognition (and money) the district gets. Hurray!

Is this our goal? To actively produce mediocrity?

If the Cato Institute succeeds in creating a world of free markets, we are going to be in big trouble if we're the nation that supplies the mediocre workers.

All together now..."You Want Fries With That?"

So, I'm with Neal at Cato: End 'No Child Left Behind' and let some of our children get ahead, instead.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If it's Sunday, it must be Soccer

All three of the D's are on soccer teams. They all have games on Sundays.

Son D. is a fabulous soccer player. He's on a team of other fabulous soccer players. they have a fabulous coach and a solid team of many players. They have regular practices and cute, custom uniforms.

Daughter D. seems to have inherited my VERY SENSIBLE fear of balls barreling towards her at 100 mph. (Hey she's in U8 now, they can kick hard.) She only has 4 people on her team, total, so they don't get much rest. (It's 3v3 and the other teams seem to have 10+ people.) None of the team members are particularly proficient in the game of soccer. They are great kids and someday they will be, but for now, they resemble the Bad News Bears of soccer.

I know that I should swell with pride when I see son D. score goal after goal. And I do, really, I do. His team regularly scores more goals than I can count. He scores a lot of them.

But my *true* moments of great-mama-bursting-pride occur when daughter D. goes anywhere near the ball. I think she missed 2 or 3 goals tonight. But she kicked it! Tentatively, yes. In the wrong direction, occasionally. To the wrong team, often. But she kicked it!

Today, her team only got one goal. The other team seemed to get hundreds.

I've always got a sore spot for the underdogs. (Hey, I was a Red Sox fan for most of my life...this winning thing - it's still a bit foreign.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eating local. (in September, anyway)

Our CSA farm has a blog! They are calling it a "flog" (farmer's blog):

Big news on the blog too - soon we'll be able to get meat straight from the farm too.

As long as they don't name the chickens on the blog - that could seriously turn me back into a vegetarian...

It strikes me as odd (in a good way) that my children are growing up knowing exactly where their food comes from. Are we going back in time? Is it like that everywhere? or just in the Midwest?

Of course, this is my perspective in September, when food is plentiful. We'll be back to buying strawberries grown in Chile in January, I guarantee it.

Milk comes from Larry the milkman straight from local cows.

Cheese is from Farmer John.

Veggies are from Harmony Valley. (link above...)

Fruit is from whichever vendor at the farmers market we get to first.

It makes eating packaged food a weird experience. Don't get me wrong - we eat as many frozen pizzas (and corn dogs, and chicken nuggets, etc) as the rest of the world. And Twizzlers. Can't forget the Twizzlers.

But I can't buy fruit or veggies at the grocery store in the summer/fall any more. They taste so bland and blah compared to the stuff straight from the farm. Our milk delivery has been suspended for 2 months while they work on the plant and the kids do nothing but complain about supermarket milk (even the $6 organic kind!)

It's a lot more fun to serve food from grown by (or delivered by) a friend. long as the chickens stay nameless...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Race Relations

The other day, the kids were playing with the Playmobil jail. They enacted a robbery of a jewelry store. The police caught the robber and put her in jail. (She escaped, of course.)

All was well and good until I noticed that they had picked the black playmobil person to be the robber. I called husband D over - horrified. "Where did we go wrong,?" I asked. We send our kids to a school where whites are a minority. We are on our third "little sister" and all of them have been African American. We are an equal opportunity household in every way possible. (to the best of our ability.)

Was it because we moved to a neighborhood with a country club? Was it because our neighbors are all white? What did we do wrong?

Then, yesterday, Daughter D. asked me a question about race and perception. (Really, she did. It was almost like she was scripting a segue for me...) I brought up the Playmobil incident and asked why they thought that they had chosen the black playmobil for the robber.

The kids answered in tandem:

"We didn't chose the black playmobil, mama, we chose the one with the most jewelry. She had earrings and a necklace and a bracelet too. None of the others had jewelry. Since she robbed the jewelry store, she had to have jewelry."

Sure enough. She does have a lot of jewelry.

Maybe I've just been reading too much about the Jena Six - a truly sad and tragic case, from all sides.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birth Day

I ran into a good friend at the farmer's market yesterday. She remembered son's D's birthday well because she was the first person to meet him (other than us parents.)

I looked at her quizzically - I honestly didn't remember her being there. But after a moment, my memory sprang back. Minutes after son D was born, I sent husband D to get daughter D. I was alone in the room with son D and he was sleeping. I decided to take a shower. (why? I don't know.) While I was getting in the shower, I fainted. Evidently, I'd lost a lot of blood during the birth. A nurse found me.

My friend worked at the hospital, in HR, and she was the only name/number I remembered so they paged her and she dropped everything, came up and took care of me. I was in all my glory - bleeding, naked, leaking milk, and still un-showered (I fainted before I could get clean, darn it.)

Really, I forgot that whole thing until I ran into her again yesterday. I swear there is some mechanism by which you only remember the positive things about the birth of your children. I am known to proselytize on the glories of natural childbirth. I've claimed that the good hormones are so strong, you recover instantly from the pain.

Now I'm thinking that it probably hurt like hell and I just don't remember it...

Either way, I'm so glad that son D. and I made it through the blood, sweat and tears 5 years ago today.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The best laid plans

I'm supposed to do my last "long run" before the Milwaukee Marathon tomorrow - a 20 mile jaunt through our lovely city.

So, I was planning an early (& large) dinner, followed by a quiet evening and an EARLY bedtime. Say, 9 pm.

At 6 pm, Skimbleshanks the kitten swelled up like a balloon and started having seizures. He'd had his first set of vaccinations this afternoon, and the emergency-24-hour vet we called said it sounded like a reaction.

So, I threw the kittens into the cat carrier (they asked us to bring both, just in case) and raced to the other end of town to the emergency vet clinic. I learned many things on my drive over. First, it is not smart to put a puffed-up-seizure-prone kitten in the same cat carrier with his healthy brother. And second, puffed-up-seizure-prone kittens poop. In the cat carrier. And it stinks. It stinks up the whole car.

When we got there, they gave poor Skimble a million shots. Steroids, Antihistamines, etc. And we waited for him to un-puff. After an hour, they told me to go get dinner and come back in 45 minutes because he was still all swollen and they couldn't release him.

I couldn't eat. The one thing I can't do when I'm stressed/worried/anxious is eat. I'm not sure why. (Someday I will make millions on my diet book, "Just Worry, Be Skinny")

But I could shop - and I, shopper extraordinaire, managed to find the one mega-pet-warehouse store on that side of town that was open until 9 pm! Got them a new blanket (to replace the pooped-on one) and some not-really-needed cat toys. To make myself feel better. Normally we shop at those little, over-priced independent shops. But dire circumstances such as these call for mega-store shopping. (Besides, the independents all closed at 7)

By the time I returned to the clinic, all was well and Skimble was set to go.

So here, I sit at 10 pm, scarfing down a quick dinner of something frozen from Trader Joes and licorice. Lots of licorice. (Licorice has carbs, right?)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mommy, what do you do?

Saw this at APL (who saw it here, I think...)

According to this quiz, (and we all know I can't resist a quiz!) My top careers should be:
1. Communications Specialist
2. Professor
3. Management Consultant
4. Economist
5. Researcher
6. Political Aide
7. Adoption Counselor
8. Corporate Trainer
9. Market Research Analyst
10.Foreign Language Instructor

My current job is a combination of numbers 1,8,and 9. But what I wanted to be when I was a kid - my whole life until I got to college - was 11. I would have made a darn good Librarian too.

And then I'd have an answer for my kids when they asked, "Mommy what do you do?" Seriously, they think I sit at a computer and type all day long on the days when I go to work.

Actually, now that I think if it - they aren't that far off...Is it too late for my Librarian dream to come true?

But sadly, I don't think a part-time Librarian job would support my Banana Republic/Ann Taylor addiction.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


As I was putting son D. to bed tonight, I realized that my BABY is going to be 5 in five short days. How did that happen? Five-year-olds aren't babies.

But then he started whining about how he wanted to open his presents tomorrow. He didn't want to wait 5 days.

Yep, there's still some baby in that kid yet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The more things change...

A letter came home in the backpack today to let us know that they are creating a new mixed-age 2nd/3rd grade class. Evidently there are too many 2nd graders and not enough 3rd graders.

I just got back from the PTA meeting and our 2nd grade Daughter D was waiting up for me to get the details. She is now sobbing in her room - terrified of the prospect of being in a new class with a new teacher with (gasp) third graders.

I kept telling her that it would be OK. She got moved into a combined 1st/2nd class last October and it worked out wonderfully. (Although technically, she had the same teacher, so she didn't move physical classrooms - the 2nd graders came to her.)

I hope, hope, hope that we get to stay with this wonderful 2nd grade teacher we have this year. But I also know it will work out if she does get moved. We survived it last year - we'll survive it this year. (Someone please tell me how to transfer this confidence straight into my seven year old?)

At least this year, they are doing it in September. It was hard to move things around in October last year.

But really, couldn't they have sent the letter home the day AFTER my PTA meeting?
: ) It's hard enough to run these things with happy parents, you know?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

39 and holding

Every year on my birthday, I do the same exact thing. I head down for the basement storage unit and find the one pair of jeans I've held on to for the last 20+ years. A pair of Guess jeans circa 1986, complete with tapered legs and zippers at the ankles. Every year, I try them on. And so far, every year they have fit (except for 1999 and 2002 when those pesky pregnancies got in the way.)

I figure if I can still fit in the jeans I wore in high school (no matter how un-stylish they may be,) how old can I really be?

This year, however, we made the mistake of going downtown for lunch. Big mistake. You see, tomorrow, our fair city is hosting the "Ironman." That is where people swim for a long time, then bike 112 miles, and then, just for kicks, run a marathon. All in the same day. It's absolutely insane.

Now, I run marathons. I run lots of marathons and other events. I ran 18 miles last weekend. I will run 20 mile next weekend. I still fit into the same jeans I wore when I was 17. You'd think I'd be reasonably confident in my physical fitness. And I am. Until I run into those Ironman Freaks. My god - they have no body fat. They are 100% muscle. They are super-humanly fit. And this weekend - they are EVERYWHERE. You can't turn a corner without running into one of them.

Luckily, the rest of the day was so wonderful that I forgot all about my feelings of inadequacy in comparison to my Ironman brethren.

We had a fabulous lunch. But I kept fixating on the voice at the next table. I couldn't help myself - it was such a familiar voice. NPR junkie that I am, I knew that it had to be someone from radio. Sure enough, it was Michael Feldman (host of NPR's "Whaddya Know?" - and he was very nice and didn't even mind my interrupting his lunch to tell him I was a big fan.

And tonight, our neighborhood had a huge block party. Tons of kids and adults with fabulous food and great conversation. It was so fun that I completely forgot that our children normally go to bed at 7:30. We *all* left the party at 10:18 pm. Yes, almost three hours past bedtime. Tomorrow, there will be hell to pay. But tonight - tonight I thoroughly enjoying my last year as a "30 something." Next year - the big 4-0. (and no - I will NOT be doing the Ironman!)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Week one. Grade two.

We made it through the first week of school. Despite putting our daughter on the bus in tears every day this week...

There were a lot of changes this year for her: new principal, new teacher, new bus driver, new rules at school, new bus route (this week - a ONE HOUR bus ride home!) And finally, due to the boundary changes, less friends at school. Nothing earth shattering. Nothing unmanageable. But, when you are seven, these can be big changes.

She *begged* us to drive her to school and go in the classroom with her. We said no. On the very first day, I followed the bus and quickly ducked in the classroom with her supplies - but that was it. I didn't stay. She burst into tears. I hugged her quickly and left the room.

Each day, she said she couldn't do it. We told her she could. She said she was scared. We hugged her and told her we loved her but that she still had to go and do this scary thing.

It's so hard. I want to do all the scary things for her. But we can't. I've read about the "Helicopter parents" and I can see why they want to move into their child's dorm room with them. It's hard to watch your child get scared. I get that. But I never want to be that parent. Our thought is that if we start fostering small steps of independence now...hard as it the time she is 18 there will be no way in hell she would ever consider letting us accompany her to her college orientation!

We managed to luck out for the third year in a row and get a PHENOMENAL teacher who "gets" daughter D. Even after only 4 days, I can tell that she has found herself another "remember all your life" teacher. Three years in a row. What are the odds?

Oh, and son D? He ran into his Pre-K classroom with a huge smile on his face and didn't even turn to say goodbye. These kids come from the same gene pool?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day of School - buzz, buzz, buzz

This year the first day of school was brought to you by....

The Mosquitoes.

I have never seen so many mosquitoes in my life. Evidently, having two weeks of torrential rain and flooding followed by warm, sunny beautiful weather is just the recipe for a bumper crop of the little buggers.

Because of a brand new bus schedule, we ended up being outside for 35 minutes waiting for the bus. Son D. now looks like he has the chicken pox. The bug spray? Not so effective.

Inside the elementary school, there were children, teachers, parents, school supplies, signs welcoming the children....and.....MOSQUITOES. Hundreds of them, flying around.

I've never seen anything like it. I wonder if they mosquitoes will participate in circle time? I imagine that art class with mosquitoes might be interesting. They might add a new tone to music class, I would guess.

Overall, the first day went very well. Daughter D has a wonderful teacher who didn't think it was silly at all when D. burst into tears at the thought of spending 5 *whole hours* without her brother. (They've been together all summer, it's going to be a tough transition for her.) Other siblings fight like cats and dogs. Mine - they burst into tears at the prospect of being apart. I'm not sure which is better.

More photos can be found here:

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password: mylastname

Monday, September 3, 2007

The economics of Fabulous

At dinner last night, Son D turned to me and asked, "Mama, what does 'imported' mean?"

My eyes lit up - finally, someone in my family who is genuinely interested in the economics of global trade! I envisioned evenings by the fire, debating NAFTA with my second-born.

I launched into an explanation of world trade, giving specific examples where possible (i.e. why Daddy spends so much time in Asia...)

After I concluded, I said, "So what made you ask that?"

He replied: "Well, Sharpay uses towels imported from Turkey. And she's fabulous."

High School Musical Two wins again.