Thursday, November 29, 2007


I saw this post over at Lisa's blog and was very confused. What was she talking about?

But, intrigued, I clicked on the links.
here and here and here.

I can't resist anything that combines fun, liberal views, science, and an internet google bomb. Here are mine: (italics are added)

1. Cigarettes are VERY bad for you

2. Men and Women are equal. In their own way.

3. Global Warming is real, and (by the way) it’s all our fault.

4. It’s not all relative.

5. Gin is better than Whiskey. Whiskey is better than Gin. Both are pretty bad

6. Intelligent Design might be wrong.

7. Over consumption is a serious problem.

8. The Millennium Development Goals are worthy. (Those are actually something worth linking to.)

9. Wilco is good, sometimes exceptional, but often inconsequential. But they are from the Midwest, so we listen anyway.

10. Sh*t happens (ditto for sex and death).

11. Creationism is silly to be asking about in presidential debates. (also, see 6)

12. SUV’s are just stupid.

13. The truth is worth more than an iPod.

14. On the whole, disorder increases. Every day, at our house.

15. Science, for better or for worse, is all around.

I wish the folks over at The Science Creative Quarterly the best of luck in their experiment with the truth. Most of my favorite people in the world are quirky-science-types, so I'm glad to help.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I vant to be alone

Next week, I will be doing something that I haven't done in 9 years.

I'm spending TWO NIGHTS ALONE. There will not be 3 cats jumping on my feet. No darling husband snoring next to me. No son crawling into bed at 5 am. No daughter with Harry Potter nightmares.

I'm going here.

It's a work meeting. I'm sure I'll be doing a million brainstorming exercises and team building games and all sorts of other taxing things. I'm sure I'll miss the kids and the husband terribly. I've never really been away from the whole family for more than 24 hours before.

But - I will have a bed all to myself. I may even get to use the bathroom alone. I think I will survive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happiness is a Book Fair

Son D. and I just got back from volunteering at the Scholastic Book Fair at Daughter D.'s school. I can't think of a better way to spend a day. Some generous local businesses donated $$ so that *every* kid at the school could get a book. The kids were so excited. We were there when the Kindergarten classes came through. They were so cute.

The poverty level at our school continues to increase each year. When I volunteer at an event like this, it is so noticeable.

The kids get their free book today. They get to go back later in the week to purchase a book with their own money if they want to. I'm torn. This is when the divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots" becomes clear as day. In each class, there are 1-4 kids who can buy another book. The other 12-15 kids can't.

In the past, I haven't let her buy another book at school. (We go to "family reading night" and buy some then.) But now, she has an allowance and free choice. I'm tempted to drop off an anonymous envelope with cash so that all the kids in her class can get another book. But even if I am able to find the spare cash to do that, there are still 15 other classes.

I hear about the ever growing divide between the rich and the poor all the time. I've been hearing about it for years.

It's hard, though, to be seeing it so closely. And I still don't know what to do about the book fair money. We'll see what daughter D. recommends.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I could write a long, long list on why I get so annoyed by the website Babble. But I won't.

I will, however, write why this particular article annoys me:

Why must all these articles ALWAYS assume that everyone in the world shares their level of income? That we are all awash in Webkinz and Crocs and Heeleys, oh my.

Daughter D. is having a "no gift" party tomorrow. Not because she is at the front of any hip trend. Not because she will be donating anything to charity. She won't.

She's having a "no gift" party because one of her best friends *can't* bring a gift. A. started as our "little sister" through BBBS (one of the most phenomenal organizations in the entire world.) We've only been matched for 7 months and already she has become one of our very favorite people. Sadly, there is no extra money for presents in her world.

We talked and D decided that the best thing to do would be to have a small party and ask her other friends not to bring gifts. The other friends agreed wholeheartedly.

I have to think that showing kids that they can be good friends without *purchasing something* really shouldn't be blamed for turning charity into something "routine" or making birthdays less special.

For me, Daughter D's thoughtfulness and maturity are just about the most special thing in the world. And I can't think of a nicer gift than that.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dreaming of a White Thanksgiving...

I'm quite convinced that there is a child-mood-enhancing narcotic added to snow. (It is a white, powdered substance, no?)

We got *maybe* an inch of snow yesterday. Maybe. But the kids acted like we'd just won the lottery. Son D woke up at 5 AM. He was so excited to see snow that he simply had to wake us up too. Perhaps if I'd been cooking a turkey, I'd have been glad to wake at that hour. But since Whole Foods was cooking the bird for us this year, I'd have been just as glad to sleep in. Maybe until 6.

The kids raced outside immediately after breakfast. We didn't hear from them for over an hour. (At what point can I just go back to bed? It's not like I'm supervising them...yes, we live in one of 6 neighborhoods left in the country where all the children roam free. Our friends on the coasts think we are terribly negligent...) They took their sleds and attempted to slide down one of our trees.

After our delicious meal (Thank you Whole Foods!), I broke down and took them sledding-for-real. We walked over to the golf course and found the biggest hill and they zoomed down until I was too cold for any more. (it was in the 20s all day...I know it is winter, but it takes me a while to get used to it.)

I think this is the first "white Thanksgiving" in recent memory. The kids definitely approved. Me, I'm hoping that the first flakes of the next storm fall mid-morning so I can get my beauty rest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bribery will get you everywhere

I've been trying for weeks to convince Daughter D to skip school tomorrow. She has refused. (This is the child who refers to our idyllic trip to Hawaii as "the time you made me miss a week of Kindergarten.")

Son D. and I are heading up north tomorrow to visit one of my best friends from High School. She married someone from Green Bay and we haven't seen each other since we had kids. It will be a very fun trip.

What child refuses to skip school? Mine, evidently.

So, today - which happens to be her 8th birthday - I presented my secret weapon. Book 4 of Harry Potter on CD. She's a bit obsessed with Mr. Potter at the moment and is about a quarter of the way through book 4. I dangled the chance to sit in a car for 3 hours and do nothing but LISTEN TO HARRY POTTER.

She hesitated. I saw my moment. I quickly added, "And when we get back, I'll sit and do an hour of math worksheets with you."

That, my friends, sealed the deal. And I successfully convinced my now-8-year-old daughter to ditch school for the day.

Those of you with 8 year olds - do you take the booster seat away immediately? Or do you wean yourself off it it?

Putting a child in a car without a car seat is going to feel so very strange, after all these years. (Yes, Daughter D is already as tall as many adults who ride w/out them just fine, but it will still feel strange.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

News you can Use

Due to the wonderful generosity of my parents, I get my best news-fixes on the weekends. On Saturday, my favorite magazine (The Economist) arrives. It's a slightly conservative take on the world, and brilliantly written. Then on Sunday, my favorite newspaper arrives - the Sunday Times. Decidedly more liberal, and slightly less brilliantly written...but it has a Style section which more than makes up for that.

I spend a good part of my weekend reading the conservative Economist and the Liberal Times and come up with my own wacky-middle-ground-compromise-see-it-both-ways views.

So, I should like Hillary, right? A nice centrist Democrat.

But I don't. I'm trying. But I don't.

I watched this week's debate in Vegas with great anticipation. Maybe she would "wow" me. Nope. She scared me. The minute she finished her answer on Iran, I realized that I had to find a candidate to support and QUICK. I do not want her running our country. I'd *love* a woman president - don't get me wrong. But not her.

A liberal friend and I were joking the other day that we should probably start researching the Republicans. Then we realized we weren't joking....Huckabee might send women/gay/civil/environmental rights back a few decades but he won't get us all killed in another senseless war.

I've think I've got it narrowed down to Edwards and Obama. Kuchinich creeps me out. Biden is super-smart and I like to hear him speak...but he's not presidential to me. Richardson is too slick for me and he doesn't speak well. I was interested in Gravel, but he appears to have disappeared.

If I were Edwards and Obama, I'd make a deal. I'd join forces NOW. Run as a package deal. Edwards/Obama or Obama/Edwards - I don't care.

Anyone but Hillary.

Daughter D. is set on Obama. My friends seem to lean towards Edwards.

What's a middle-of-the-road Democrat to do?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


When I agreed to be the PTA President last year, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no idea how much unpaid work goes into running a school.

I'd heard all the stereotypes. I've read all the derogatory blog posts on school volunteers - like this one called Volunteer Vampires.

(All I can think of when I read stuff like that is what a luxury they have to have so many helpers to be able to complain about one of them!)

Our school has a 66% free/reduced lunch population. That means that over 2/3rds of the school is on some kind of assistance. There is a heck of a lot of volunteer work to do.

Most of the work is decidedly unglamorous. It takes a lot of time. There's not much glory. There is absolutely no pay.

Last week, I was sitting in the teacher's lounge with Daughter D. She was helping me count out bunches of xeroxed flyers to put in each classroom mailbox. I was grumbling a bit. It takes freaking forever to count those darn things out and there are paper cuts galore and I got a Masters Degree for THIS? Collating?

But she looked up at me with her big beautiful brown eyes and said, "Mama, it's so much fun to help you with your work at my school" and went back to dutifully counting her papers.

Her words were like a time machine stick. I was instantly transported back to 1976 and I was sitting with *my* mother at one of those awful mimeograph machines and we were making worksheets for the Spanish lessons she was running for my school's PTA. For a minute, I swear I could smell the black dust of the mimeograph.

School volunteering may create "vampires"; It may give a new definition to the word "tedious"; It may be the worst paying job with the longest hours (other than parenthood, itself, of course.)

But evidently, it is genetic. Sorry Daughter D. In 30 years when you are stuck making copies for the PTA with your eldest daughter in a poorly ventilated teacher's lounge, you'll know who to blame.

(Your grandmother...of course!)

Monday, November 12, 2007


You can always tell when husband D. goes to Asia because I'll post every day for about 10 days, and then will fall immediately silent for the week of his return.

As difficult as these long stints of single parenting are, the return to a happy smiling family of four has its own challenges.

Basically, we run through the seven dwarfs of emotions...

The minute he returns we are both DOPEY with joy - it's amazingly wonderful to be reunited and see each other and the kids are ecstatic. Daughter D gets a little BASHFUL. She sometimes has a bit of trouble with the transitions.

The dopey-happy stage lasts about a day. Then we move quickly into SLEEPY. He's fighting a 14 hour time difference jet lag and the fact that he just traveled for 24+ hours with little to no sleep. Me, I've been alone with kids for almost 2 weeks. I don't sleep well when he is gone, so I'm bordering on sleep deprivation lunacy when he returns.

SLEEPY quickly morphs into GRUMPY. Two sleep-deprived parents. Two attention-starved kids. You do the math.

Fast on the heels of GRUMPY comes SNEEZY. Someone gets sick in the week after he returns. Always. (leading to a repeat of both SLEEPY and GRUMPY.) Eventually, one of us will end up at a DOC for some relief.

Eventually, we catch up on rest and our sniffles go away and we are all HAPPY again.

Just keep me away from any poisoned apples, OK?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A good day for NPR fans

One of the highlights of my week is "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me."

I've never seen "Dancing With Stars" or "The Amazing Race." I can't tell you who is on "American Idol" or "Survivor." But I can name every single "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" panelist. I love them all.

I'm a card-carrying NPR geek, and Wait Wait... is simply the best NPR show. Ever.

So imagine my glee when I discover that Peter Segal has a blog!

And there I learn that there is an article about him:

And I even got to hear the end of his piece on All Things Considered today that cut out due to technical difficulties.

One of these days, I'm going to call into the show. Then, not only will I have Ari Shapiro on my answering machine - I'll have Carl Kasel too. Really - what more could a girl want?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Look Ma, no Cavities.

I went to a brand new dentist today.

The good news is that I have perfect teeth. 39 years, and still no cavities. Ever. I was feeling awfully proud of myself until the dentist told me that really, it is only because I have less of a certain kind of bacteria in my mouth. Everything about my teeth is just peachy, according to my new dentist. She loved my teeth.

But my gums, oh my gums - they aren't living to the high standards set by my teeth. My gums are trying hard to get attention by creating "pockets." Pockets of what - I have no idea. marbles? air? who knows? All I know is that when they poke said pockets with pointy metal sharp instruments, it is not so fun for me.

So, they are recommending a "Sonic Care" Toothbrush. I've always assumed that those $100 toothbrushes are a marketing scam. (I'm in marketing. I get that most things are marketing scams.) But if helps me empty those gum pockets, maybe I should try it? Are they worth it?

My other alternative is to sit down and have a talk with the teeth: "Teeth, maybe you could just get a teeny cavity, so that the gums don't feel like they need to overcompensate for your ridiculous over achievement by acting up with their silly pockets?"

Yeah, that ought to work. Me thinks I'm out $100 for a fancy pocket soothing toothbrush.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Silver Lining

Why does it take 12 hours of continuous vomiting for me to just chill and relax my standards a bit?

I've been single parenting for 9 days. I was attempting to do it while maintaining the same rules/standards/whatever that I do when my husband is home. (My incredibly helpful, supportive, dish-doing husband....nothing like 9 days of doing your own dishes to make you appreciate your spouse!) No TV; Daily exercise; organic vegetables; clean house; Get to work on time; Volunteer; Everything.Perfect.

You know what? I can't do it.

Today, I let the kids watch 2 hours of TV. (My daughter normally watches about an hour/week.) They saw SpongeBob SquarePants for the very first time. I served
crackers and banana bread for lunch. No vegetables or fruits to be seen. I canceled my "Big Sister" activity for the day.

Husband D has been traveling to Asia 3-5 times/year for the last 5 years. I've always tried to manage our life on my own while he's gone. But today - today, I found a sitter to come help this afternoon. In 8 years, I've never done that before. We have sitters for dates - or when I need to work - stuff like that. I've never hired a sitter just so I can have a break. It feels positively decadent.

Everyone I know is working so hard to make sure our children have the ideal childhood. The best schools. The most stimulating toys. The healthiest foods. The most enriching activities.

And we are all raising lovely, well-behaved, well-rounded, intelligent little creatures.

But you know what? SpongeBob SquarePants is really funny! Maybe a little decadent mind-numbing good-for-nothing time-wasting sprinkled in with all that enrichment is good for us.

Maybe the "best" childhood is the one that doesn't always focus on doing what is best all the time...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Misery Loves Company

At least it's not just us?

I guess I can't complain that I spent the day scrubbing my house with bleach. They had to scrub a whole school!

Friday, November 2, 2007


Son D goes to a home daycare once a week, while I go off to earn a meager living. This week, he was the ONLY child at the entire daycare who did not get a horrid stomach bug that involves copious amounts of vomiting and diarrhea. As I picked him up yesterday, yet another child was vomiting. (Leading to the fastest daycare pick-up in the history of time.)

I have become a hand-washing drill sergeant. Every three minutes, I bellow "Everyone! To the sink! Wash your Hands!" I'm rubbing tea-tree oil on anyone who stands still. (No, I have no idea if it really works to boost immunity, but it SMELLS like it does. That's good enough for me.)

Today, we are going to a neighborhood birthday party. Most of the kids who will be there are those who fell ill this week.

What are my chances of making it through the weekend without vomiting and diarrhea?

'tis the season, I suppose.

Barfing stared at 2 pm (including 3 times in the car! fun!) and is occurring approx. every 20 minutes.

Diarrhea came at 4 pm.

My dear husband is in China.

I have a huge proposal for work due at 5 pm. Had to cancel the sitter I had arranged so I could work all afternoon....

I sit at my computer and type furiously for 15 minutes, and then run to get barfed on, clean up, head back to the computer for furious typing. Repeat.

This has not been my most fun day ever. Back to the work typing.