Monday, September 29, 2008

Hold on, the ride is about to get a bit bumpy

It's been a strange day. A day in which I actually agree with George Bush. A day in which I admire my own Representative, Tammy Baldwin, and my favorite Republican, Tom Davis, even more:
roll call for the bail-out vote
more here

(And we can only wish it was a bill to provide assistance to the Peace Corps volunteers....evidently they had to steal the name of another bill to get it through so quickly.)

I get that people don't want to use taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street. I certainly don't!

Here at chez-Nelson we've been living in our not-very-big house and staying (mostly) within our monthly budget. I've been a working mom, even when I really would have preferred being home for those first few years. I've been contributing slowly but surely to my 401(k) and the kids' 529s to keep our assets higher than our liabilities and save for the future. Living within our means. blah, blah, blah, boring, boring, boring. Suze Orman would be proud.

So why should any of my hard-earned, smartly-invested income go for a wall street bailout?

Because the alternative is much worse. And because we can't afford to see what happens if the banks fail and the credit market dries up.

See Dan Drezner and Paul Krugman and The Economist for more nuanced analysis.

Ironically, the conservative writers seem to be making the best points:

Megan McArdle
Larry Summers

Ironic because it seems that the House Republicans were the ones who voted against it.

Should we fly in a few economists to teach them about the Ted Spread?

They've got to be able to find 23 House Republicans who care more about their country than getting re-elected, right? (I think that is the number they need?) The Republican president supports this. The Republican Treasury Secretary supports this. The Republican presidential candidate supports this. What are the House Republicans trying to prove?

Yes, this sucks. But it isn't just going to blow over.

Can I go back to horse camp? At least the manure was used for something useful there...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Escaping for the weekend

Daughter D and I are headed here for the weekend for "Mother/Daughter Horseback Riding Camp." It was my 40th birthday present to myself.

I bet the horses won't care about sub-prime mortgages, corporate layoffs, bank failures or political debates. It will be good to turn the news off for a few days.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Babe

We are hopelessly behind on Thank-You-Notes for the half of the family who celebrated September birthdays chez K&3D. I blame Kindergarten. Kindergarten has worn me out.

But son D got one of his favorite presents ever from my aunts: A Yankees Jersey. He literally danced with joy when he opened it. Danced. I kid you not.

How the son/grandson of a family of die-hard Red Sox fans became obsessed with the Yankees is a bit of a long story.

I blame Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth has a very interesting history. Many, many biographies have been written about Babe Ruth documenting this very interesting history. I know this because I have read every single one of them out loud to my son.

At the beginning, I tried to insert the words "the evil" before every mention of the "New York Yankees" in the many, many books I read. This worked for a few weeks, and it was a bit cute (in a twisted way that only a Red Sox fan will understand) to see my then-four-year old son refer to the team as "the evil New York Yankees" repeatedly.

But eventually, he turned five, and realized that Mommy was a) not reading the real words; and b) a bit jaded.

Finally, he turned six this month and ended up with a full-blown obsession with Babe Ruth. He was thrilled beyond words when he heard that the Yankees won their last game "in the house that Babe built."

We aren't trying to raise little replicas of ourselves, right? It's good when they show their own minds and opinions, right? Life would be boring if our kids only like what we tell them to like. Right??? least he hasn't stuck a McCain sign in the lawn. Yet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wake me up when September ends.

George Will has some interesting points today.

If the Republicans had nominated someone with even an ounce of financial sense, this election would be wrapped up. I would gladly put aside all my other issues and vote for the candidate who fully understood the global financial situation. Republican or Democrat. This crisis is that important.

Sadly, I'm not sure we have a great financial-whiz option with either of our two current choices.

I've been listening to both of them. McCain is coming across as someone who would make questionable decisions without fully understanding the facts. (The first thing we should do is fire Chris Cox? Really?)

To me, Obama is coming across as someone who has never really firmly grasped the workings of the world financial system. I'm hoping that someone as bright as he is could learn quickly. He does seem to be surrounding himself with smart people.

What a mess. Is it just me or does something momentously horrible happen every few years in September? Terrorist attacks, Tragic hurricanes, Financial catastrophe.

My apologies to Green Day, but next time - maybe you could write a song about July or February? Could we spread the wealth a little here?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Required Reading

As an economist-wanna-be, I found this article in the Times to be the best out there on explaining the activities of the week.

Read it and weep for your 401(k) account.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finally, someone who gets it

It's been over 13 years since I lived in the DC area, but I still read the Washington Post on-line regularly.

This article by Sandra Tsing Loh on parents and public education is brilliant.

Ever since Palin came on the scene, I've been reading blog post after blog post mocking the "PTA Mom." Each author assumes that PTA moms are all stay-at-home women who like to bake cookies and think that running the PTA is their life's ambition. They feed into the stereotype that we are type-A overacheivers who have fallen off the career path with no outlet for our creativity except for building a better bake sale.

They don't get it. They don't get what it is like to be deep in the trenches of an urban, poor school.

We aren't volunteering because we have nothing better to do.

We are volunteering because over half of our son's class didn't eat breakfast and probably won't eat dinner. We are volunteering because the time we brought in oranges, half the class lit up with joy because they'd never seen an orange before. We are volunteering because one third of our son's class doesn't speak a single word of English -- Gee, ya think the teacher might need to spend a little extra time with those kids?

I think I might be developing a PTA-mom crush on Sandra Tsing Loh. Of all the articles I've read over the last month, she is the first one who truly gets it. At least from where I sit.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

no intenet! and I survived!

Our modem has been dying a slow death. About a week ago, it stopped working, but sporadically gave us a minute or two each day of internet. Then, mid-week, it just died. Finally, today, someone from the cable company came out and brought us a new one.

It's amazing how much a complete lack of internet changes your daily life. I read books. Whole books. Read the "The Abstinence Teacher" at one sitting.

Despite the "no internet," it's been a busy week. Let's see...I turned 40; hosted a birthday party for 14 friends of my turning-6-this-week son; worked like a madwoman at my job; dealt with the usual school stuff...and more.

School is going really well for the kids.

One benefit of being in a low-income school in Wisconsin is the class sizes. Daughter D has 11 kids in her 3rd grade class.

One of the challenges of being in a low-income school in Wisconsin is that they can never predict class sizes accurately. (It's a very transient population.) Son D has 18 kids in his class - so on Monday, they are going to create a brand new class and many of the Kindergartners will move to the new class. I know everything will work out fine - whether he moves to the new class or stays in his current (fabulous) class, but this not-knowing stage is always hard. Bottom line is that he'll be in a class with less than 15 kids, no matter what happens. So that is good.

He's having a great experience though. His class includes many kids who don't speak English. There are a few kids who no absolutely no English. He is fascinated by this. So far, his main contribution to their education seems to be the teaching of what we would deem "bathroom words" - but hey, I guess everyone needs to learn those words somewhere.

I didn't have a problem with turning 40 on Monday. It felt like it was time to be 40. I'm at a very "40" place in my life. I have a job I enjoy, a husband I adore, healthy (and wonderful) children, a home that feels like a home, amazing friends and all the rest. It feels like 40 should be to me.

But, son D will be 6 on Wednesday. That just doesn't seem possible. Really - he was JUST born. Like yesterday. Really. He's 6?????

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Swing State Commercials

Here in Wisconsin, we are now being treated to this ad:

The beginning of the ad is fine - basic differences in how McCain and Obama view education. I'm actually interested in learning more about McCain's views on education - how he sees the voucher system working - how he would flush out school choice.

But then..they go and claim that Obama wants to teach sex education to Kindergarteners.
How low can they go? That is a blatant lie.

My favorite quote from the Chicago Tribune piece:

Is Sen. John McCain against kindergartners being taught the difference between good touching and bad touching to protect children from sexual predators?

Or does the McCain campaign really have such a low opinion of Sen. Barack Obama that it actually believes he wanted to have Illinois kindergartners taught all the titillating details of human sexual anatomy.

There's another possibility, of course, that we are in the spitball phase of the campaign, where the McCain team is willing to send whatever it can Obama's way to see what sticks.

When the Republicans nominated John McCain, I was so relieved. I may not agree with him on all the issues, but at least he was a decent, honest, honorable straight-talking man who wouldn't stoop to Rove-ian tactics to get elected.

Guess I was wrong about that. Shame on you, John McCain. This is worse than some of the stuff Rove did. This is no renegade 527. This has you at the end saying "I approved this message." Shame on you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Clone Warzzzzzzzz

Let this be a warning: I sat through the Clone Wars so you don't have to.

I'm not sure a movie could be more boring if they set out to make a boring movie.

I told son D. that I'd pick him up at school on Friday afternoon and we could celebrate his first week of Kindergarten by doing whatever he wanted! Obviously, my first child is a girl, because in my mind he would choose a) go to the zoo; b) go to the library; c) go shopping - all fabulous choices.

But no, he chose the Clone Wars. So, to the movie theater we went. Me, my 2 kids and 2 of their friends.

It reminded me of those long boring novels that we found at the half-price book store - the novels based on the Star Wars screen plays. 300+ pages of light saber fighting descriptions with no literary value. At least the movie had pictures, I suppose. I could never tell who was a good-guy and who was a bad-guy, that made it frustrating. They all looked like the same droid to me.

But the kids loved it. Best movie they'd ever seen. I guess you need to be 8 or 5 to truly appreciate this one.

Now to get them to stop calling me their "padawan....."

working 9 to 5

I'm getting immense joy seeing all those conservatives touting a woman's right to have a career and a family.

Because I gotta say, I have *not* been feeling that love before this week.

I work 20 hours/week. We have 2 children. We have had excellent childcare. Husband D. is an extremely involved father. I feel immensely lucky that we have managed to end up with this arrangement.

But I have been told as various times by various conservatives that I:
- was shirking in my duties by "letting someone else raise my kids"
- was putting ambition before my true vocation of motherhood
- was not a "real" mother because real mothers stay home with their kids. All the time.

I'm no Governor. I'm not campaigning for anything. I don't have 5 kids. I don't have a pregnant daughter and I don't have a special needs son.

Me, I couldn't do what Palin is doing. She seems to love it and seems to be thriving. Honestly, I don't think I could throw my daughter into the national spotlight if she were going through a major crisis. Ever. But that's me.

So, you won't hear me saying that Palin isn't a real mother...or that she is putting her ambition in front of her children. I may silently think it for a moment or two. But then I will try to remember all the people who have accused me of the same thing. And I will hold judgment. Or try to, anyway.

But still - I am enjoying seeing these tables turn.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of School - brother and sister version

Daughter D. and I have been watching random speeches from the Democratic Convention via iTunes. My favorite - by far - has been the introduction of Michelle Obama by her brother. He was heartfelt and sincere. Michelle's speech was fabulous, of course, but it was his introduction that got to me.

Today was my youngest child's first day of Kindergarten. I thought I'd get emotional - cry maybe. But I didn't. I didn't cry for daughter D's first day 3 years ago either. Maybe I'm missing the "crying at Kindergarten" gene. Perhaps because my "crying at every friggin commercial during the Olympics" gene is the dominant one. (Seriously, who tears up at a Visa commercial, but doesn't shed a tear during a major life moment? Me, I guess.)

But today, I was too busy having a brief shining moment of joy for the relationship the kids are creating. Daughter D. took her brother under her wing - sat with him on the bus - got him where he needed to go - explained everything to him.

At one point early this morning, we were sitting in the living room. Son D. was talking about how nervous he was to go to school and said he needed a "snuggle." I reached out, and he reached right past me...into his sister's arms. She gave him a big hug and he rested his head against her shoulder. It was one of those moments in which all is well with the world.

I know this won't last forever. In 8 years, it is pretty much guaranteed that he will be the pesky younger brother spying on her dates. But for now, it is pretty great.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Obama takes the high road

When asked about Palin's unmarried teenage daughter's pregnancy, Obama says:

"I have heard some of the news on this and so let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people's families are off limits, and people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics, it has no relevance to governor Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18. And how family deals with issues and teenage children that shouldn't be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that is off limits."

I like him more and more....

From the Atlantic