Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kiss Your Brain Thought of the Day

Katie and I, and Will if he's not at work, enjoy our walk to and from her school each day. There are many fun and odd things to look at in our old (by American standards) Fifties-era suburban neighborhood. There's a hole in a tree that reminds me of Scout and Jem and Dill's hole. (Insert 12 year old giggle.) No, not that kind of dillhole. I'm referring to the one in the best book of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Katie's a little nervous as we walk by it because she's convinced herself a grumpy owl lives in it despite the fact that we've never seen an owl in there. She told me one morning she doesn't like that grumpy owl because, "Owl's are nocturnal and so if we wake him during the day he'll be grumpy at us."

I knew where she was going with this thought. "You mean like the grumpy owl in 'Bambi'?"

"Yes." Katie whispered, looking back toward the tree. "But, Mama, how come the owl in 'The Fox and the Hound' is awake during the day but she's not grumpy?"

"We'll, maybe she's not a night owl but an early bird. Or maybe she's just in general a nicer owl than the one in 'Bambi'. I'm sure, like people, not all owls are alike." Much of parenting I've learned involves pulling answers to absurdly wonderful questions out of your ass.

As we walk farther down the sidewalk we check each day to see if any new mushrooms have appeared and which ones have disappeared from a neighbor's yard. Either they're at work and unaware or they secretly watch through the window and giggle at this little kid tip-toeing through their yard scouting for mushrooms. I've never seen them, but I hope these neighbors are gigglers.

There are many barking dogs to say hello to. Squirrels to laugh at. Tree limbs to jump over. Smiling old people out for their morning constitutional. Sky above us that changes every day. Funny fat trees with skinny leaves. One old tree, its roots taking up about half the yard, has such a wide trunk it's had to have been here since before the area was developed. I explained to Katie that the wider the tree, the older it is. She looked at my behind and smiled.

This morning as we approached her school, we noticed they had planted some new trees. "Teenager trees," Katie decided. They're skinny and tall and have to be held up by poles so they don't snap in a strong wind.

Before we got to the teenager trees, though, we passed the turtle. The one Katie likes to point out every day is the one I thought was real. Since we approached it the first time and discovered it's made of ceramic, Katie has not let me live this blunder down. Then I have to explain to her that the reason I thought it was a real turtle and not yard art is because turtles are so slow you can hardly see them moving, which in my mind explained why this immobile turtle was on top of our neighbor's tree stump.

We were still talking about the turtle statue as we walked by the teenager trees when Katie asked me why turtles move so slowly.

I hadn't had my coffee and the owl question had evidently pulled all my creative answers from my ass, so I said, "I don't know."

Without hesitation, Katie said, "Maybe they move slow because their shell is so heavy?"

Why of course. Kiss your brain! As her kindergarten teacher says.

So I kissed my Katie and watched as she walked through the doors to her school, worried yet hopeful that her public education, with its state and federal budget cuts, rules and focus on conformity, will not stiffle her thoughts but instead will broaden her brain so she can one day be as wise as that wide old tree.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kindergarten Homework

Katie came home today with a purple folder in her backpack. On the inside left pocket someone wrote "look" with two eyeballs for o's. That side is for notes from the teacher, Katie explained.

On the right side pocket someone wrote "Home". That side had a cut-out school bus, but it was missing a wheel. I stuck my hand in further and found a card with instructions to color and cut out the second wheel and paste it on the bus.

I looked at Katie in amazement and said, "Is this homework?!"

She beamed, twirled on one sock-covered foot, lept over the floor pillow she uses as part of her indoor obstacle course and said, "Yes!" As if I had asked her if it was a birthday cake. Only a freshly bloomed kindergartener would feel so thrilled to get homework.

I didn't get homework in kindergarten. I got thrown up on in circle time by the boy sitting next to me. That was memorable. And I remember accidentally voting for Ford instead of Carter in the 1976 Presidental faux-election at our school. I was so mad when I got home and told my mom, "I voted for Ford!" thinking she'd be proud.

"Oh. I voted for Carter." She said it softly, as if she knew what she was saying would disappoint me. "It's your dad who was going to vote for Ford."

I was so mad at myself! How could I have voted for the one my DAD likes? Ugh. For some reason I had the name Ford stuck in my head and I got mixed up and ruined my first ever pretend civic duty.

I made many mistakes in kindergarten, I'm sure, but they all took place within the confines of the building. I never had homework. Ever.

I swear I don't remember ever getting homework until third grade, and even then I forgot to do it. I came stumbling down the hallway into the living room where my mom was watching "The Tonight Show".

"I forgot. I have homework!" I handed a piece of paper with math questions on it to my mom. She looked through her reading glasses at the paper, up and down like she was inspecting a tax form. Then she looked at the clock, then the TV.

"Here. I'll do it for you. Go back to bed."

I remember not feeling like "Yay, I got out of doing my homework" but "Yay, I have such a nice mom. Now I won't get in trouble at school tomorrow." I knew there was no way my sleepy head could figure out those figures.

Forgetting to do my homework became a recurring theme by high school. I ended up with a 3.4 GPA only because I oddly enjoy taking tests. Ask me what I learned and I'll tell you but don't make me do all that bullshit busywork.

But I couldn't stop smiling today when I saw Katie's first ever homework assignment. And I was so disappointed I didn't get to help her with it. I had to work, and she was in bed by the time I got home, so Will was the lucky one who got to help our girl with this milestone.

I couldn't have cared less about my own homework when I was in school, but now that my baby's getting it, I'm all excited to help her with it. And sometimes fudge and do it for her when she forgets so she can go back to bed, because that's what understanding mamas do.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Man with the Cane and the Three Legged Dog

I was taking a walk during my break at work. People used to go into the breakroom to rest their tired feet back in the days when most American didn't sit on their asses at work. Now we take quick walks to wake ourselves and warm ourselves up since remaining immobile for four hours can give you a chill.

As I was break-walking, I saw a regular library patron heading my way. He walks with a cane. And this time, he was also walking with a dog. And not just a dog. A three legged dog.

So this man with a cane and this dog without a leg approach me, man smiling wide, dog panting and hitting the man in his bum leg as he rapidly wagged his tail. I wondered if the man could feel the thumps or not.

My point is, they were both so happy to be out for a walk. We stopped and chatted a bit. I got to pet the dog and talk to it like a crazy person talks to babies and other adorable helpless beings.

After my walk, I went back to my desk and wrote myself this note:

"When you think you're too tired to go for a walk, think about the man with a cane and the three legged dog."

Virgin Housewife Tip: Tea Bag Wrappers Make Good Bug Smushers

Since I went part time at the library, Will and I have been trying to live more frugally. I've been making iced tea at home for Will instead of his buying one of those fancy schmancy bottled teas they sell at his work. It's way cheaper, and he claims he likes it.

But it leaves me with an abundance of those little tea bag wrappers. I had been recycling them until I came up with an even better way to use them. Bug smushers. Just keep a pile of them on your countertop and whenever you catch a freaking g*da*mn sneaky little m*therf*cking tiny ant, despite having just spent three hours, yes THREE HOURS, cleaning the kitchen and very precisely spraying ant spray around the baseboards of the window crack where they were hitching a ride to the other side, smush it with the tea bag wrapper and dispose of it in the trash. Voila!

So yes. Try it at home. Kill those pesky critters, then sit down and relax with a refreshing glass of homemade iced tea.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cute Katie Quotes: Cantaloupe Anteloupe, Blue Popsicles, And Politeness with Letters and Numbers

On our recent trip to the zoo, Katie pointed towards the antelope and asked me what they're called. I told her, she said nothing, and that was that.

We sat on a shady bench and watched them for awhile, cooling ourselves with a rest. As we got up to go to the next sighting, Katie waved to the antelope and called out, "Bye! Sorry we called you cantaloupe!"

It reminded me of when, around age two, she went through this phase of finding objects around the house and sticking them in the refrigerator. One day she opened the fridge to get her cup of milk. Inside there was one of those letter/number magnets kids like to drop onto the floor for you to step on, put in their mouth, and evidently hide in the fridge. As her hand passed the magnet to reach her cup, she said, "Excuse me L." She paused, picked up the magnet, flipped it over and said, "Oh, excuse me 7."

Ok one more. This one's my favorite. She was just a month shy of four years old: "I like the blue popsicles. They taste like the sky."

I'm Hanging up My Hangups about Who Does The Housework

I'm getting more adept with a broom. Not a witchy broom. A sweeping broom. I was never even one of those goth girls in high school who stole library books about Wicca. I have always had a very low tolerance for religious things that have anything to do with the paranormal or spiritual world. It freaks me out to think of ghosts and spirits and the unknown. Could have something to do with my seeing "The Exorcist" at the theater when I was three. I HATE scary movies.

But what I was saying is that my sweeping skills have improved. I mean, there's still going to be clumps of pet hair found at inopportune moments, but I've gotten into the habit of daily sweeping. I know. Sweeping has come over me.

It's funny to discover you're good at something at an older age. I always portrayed myself as someone who doesn't do much housework. And I doubt I will ever keep a house as clean as say, my sister who runs a professional cleaning business. But the more I use a broom, the more confident I am with it in my hand. I like to feel good about my work whether it's teaching Katie a moral lesson, helping a patron find information on how to get a job, or sweeping my floors. It's all important, and when I thought otherwise it was just an excuse to ignore it because I thought I wasn't good at it.

A lot of my issues with keeping our house clean have to do with my not wanting to appear submissive to my husband. My husband and I are equals. He's better at me in many areas, especially anything about mechanical things or physics or astronomy. I'm better at him at sitting on my ass blogging, playing hopscotch with our kid, and paying thousands of dollars to rescue dying foster dogs.

So for a long time I felt that if I did more housework than Will somehow that made me appear like I was in the stereotypical "housewife" role. I must have subconsciously thought that housespouses didn't have as much power in a relationship as the breadwinner. But now that I'm experiencing more of the role of keeping house, since I went part time at my library job a month ago, I understand just how hard it is. It's physically tiring, cognitively numbing, and exceptionally Sisyphean.

But I like philosophy, so pushing boulders up a hill over and over again, or in my case sweeping pet hair off the floor daily, isn't so bad. It gives me a chance to clear my head for interesting thoughts so I can go sit on my ass and blog about them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Good Kind of Tired

I like the feeling of sore underused muscles after accomplishing a physical project. I'm sweaty. I'm gross. But I stand there with my hands on my hips and admire my work. Occasionally. I should mention that. I've lived in our house for nearly six years and I've been meaning to retile the closet in the guest room, the room formerly known as the cat room, for years now.

A litter box sat there for nearly six years. Used by two cat for two of those years. I scooped it. I cleaned it our periodically. But still. Six years is a lot of cat pee.

But I finally did it. I pried and chipped off all the old tile and enzymed the hell out of the floor and walls. I'm sure it will be probably weeks before I can get it odor free, and I'll have to paint the floor with Kilz, but man, I feel great for feeling so tired.

Our Bathroom Nearly Competes with the one in "Trainspotting"

Will likes to say he's attracted to my brain and my booty. I'm so glad he's not one of those spouses who are attracted to a clean house. Our house looks like a dump. There's cinnamon dumped all over the windowsill in the kitchen in an holistic way to keep out those pesky ants. I'm trying to get the guest room to not smell like cat pee. And our bathroom nearly competes with the one in "Trainspotting".

Five Year Old Philosopher

It's always in the car it seems. These philosophical questions. I think she secretly plays a game called "Stump Mother."

"Mother, why do babies need more sleep than toddlers and toddlers need more sleep than little kids and little kids need more sleep than grownups?"

"It's all part of the life cycle. And when grownups get really old, like Great Grandma, they kinda need someone to care for them like they did when they were a baby, you know what I mean?"

She paused and asked, "What does 'mean' mean?"

I didn't get it at first. "It means you're not acting nice."

Katie whined in frustration, "Nooooo! MEAN, like when you said, 'You know what I mean."

Dang, kid. Now you want the meaning of the word mean?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Do You Think of a War Tax?

I'm not sure what I think of Leahy's idea of bringing back the war tax because I don't know much about it. It sounds like a logical fix to our country's broken piggie bank. If a president is going to invade two, possibly more countries, depending on how you define war, then someone ought to point out that it's very expensive to kill people on the other side of the world and we might need to raise some revenue to pay for it instead of basically using a credit card to pay for it and letting the next president break the news to taxpayers that the bill is past due.

It's especially annoying that President Bush authorized our nation to invaded nations of people who had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda is not a nation. It's a multi-national organization whose mission statement appears to be to hate Westerners. So why not spend less money focusing on capturing the actual people who are plotting to kill us and dump the old military mindset that countries fight countries. We're fighting lunatics, not countries. See: even Wikipedia knows this.

People say, "Cut welfare!" No way. We need social programs. We need affordable education, healthcare and housing if we want our citizens to be strong. I don't want to live in a country with a bunch of uneducated, unhealthy, homeless people. I want to live in a country that lifts up the children of irresponsible parents. Pulling them out of the cycle of poverty and crime and violence and self-destruction and whatever obstacles those kids face so they don't repeat their parent's mistakes.

So I gladly pay my taxes to support other people's children's education, healthcare, food and housing. I want them to have a good chance in this life. I don't want Katie to have to live in world with a bunch of ignorant, sick assholes. Plus, we simply can do better to those in need, the least of these amongst us, to paraphrase that radical cat Jesus.

I don't mean to bring Jesus into the argument in the "Al-Qaeda is also known as the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jews"way. I love Jesus but I am no Crusader, although I am 1/16 Jewish on my mother's side. (Go Tribe!). I am referring to Jesus the Peaceful Lamb, not Jesus the Slaughterer of some distorted versions of Christianity. I don't want my blog to fan the fires of the eternal holy war. I haven't found a gadget to make available a political argument extinguisher. Wouldn't that be cool? If I knew anything about computers I'd make a gadget that allows you to offer your readers a button to push that automatically inserts a big heart over the text of a raging political argument.

What were we talking about? Oh yeah. I was rambling about taxes.

This is a fascinating article that explains how Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was in favor of raising taxes to pay for wars and how that reasoning changed for most Republicans over time. Most were open to tax increases to pay down the deficit in the Fifties through the late Seventies until around 1978-1981, when more and more Republicans marched in step and decided tax increases were always bad, deficit be damned.

I like this quote especially: "Although all of evidence of the previous 20 years clearly refuted starve the beast theory, George W. Bush was an enthusiastic supporter, using it to justify liquidation of the budget surpluses he inherited from Clinton on massive tax cuts year after year. Bush called them "a fiscal straightjacket for Congress" that would prevent an increase in spending. Of course nothing of the kind occurred. Spending rose throughout his administration to 20.7% of GDP in 2008."

And this quote too: "Despite [the 'Starve the Beast' theory of not raising taxes] continuing popularity among Republican politicians, at least a few conservative intellectuals are starting to have misgivings about STB. In 2005 free-market economist Arnold Kling admitted he had been wrong. 'Cutting taxes did not help to reduce the size of government,' he conceded."

So what do you think? Should we pay a war tax? I personally would rather end these endless wars, pay off our debt with a slight tax increase on the wealthiest citizens and quit being such an effing bully country.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thank You Mrs. Barr, Wherever You Are

Monday, August 22, 2011 was the first time I felt like writing is actually my job. At last my aspiration has appeared. It only took twenty five years.

I decided I wanted to be a writer while taking Marla Barr's "Writer's Workshop" class at Milburn Junior High in 9th grade. On the last day of school, Mrs. Barr put her arm around my shoulder. Remember: I was a little Ally Sheedy Breakfast Club Weird in junior high, so I froze when she touched me and I looked at my black grannie booties. She turned her face to my ear but she did not whisper it: "You're going to be the next Erma Bombeck, Becky!" At the time, I was humiliated. I knew who Erma Bombeck was. The old lady who wrote witty stuff about her family. Blah. She was one of my mom's favorite authors. But she was most definitely NOT Harper Lee, my idol. I loved Mrs. Barr, though. She was one of my favorite teachers. So I forgave her for saying it.

I also forgave her when she told me that I had talent but I lacked discipline and that I reminded her of her best friend in college. They were dorm mates and both Creative Writing English majors. Mrs. Barr had to write diligently every day, revising, revising, revising. Staying focused. By this part of the story I had raised my eyes from my grannie booties to the window where I could see girls outside playing soccer.

Since I was only half-listening at that point, I think Mrs. Barr said that her friend, although she had much more talent than Mrs. Barr, she let it go to waste. She'd write brilliant stories the night before they were due, but just think of how much better they could have been if she had worked on them longer? So Mrs. Barr ended up a creative writing teacher and her friend ended up a waitress at a truck stop and never really finished anything she started writing. I think that's what she said. I could have just made that truck stop waitress part up, but that's how I envisioned Mrs. Barr's slacker friend.

Mrs. Barr smiled at me the way I now smile at Katie when she says things like, "I don't want to (insert anything I've asked her to do). I want to watch TV!" I smiled back, a little sad I would never see her again since I was heading to high school in the fall, but also a little proud of her confidence in my talent. Regardless of the lame-o author comparison.

I haven't seen her since. Milburn Junior High no longer exists. I don't know where she went when they closed the building.

So thank you Mrs. Barr, wherever you are. I hope you know how much you inspired me. Ok, I'm still a total slacker, but at least I'm writing. I'm not getting paid to write yet, but at least I'm not serving cinnamon rolls at BETO Junction, although I'm sure I'd be doing that job by now if it weren't for the love and support from not only the usual suspects, Will, Katie, my family, but also my bosses and co-workers at work who are cheering me on as I cut my work hours at the Library so I can have more hours to spend working on getting my book published. Evidently I need to work on shorter sentences.

I feel as excited and nervous about this new endeavor as Katie does about kindergarten. Like there's this long path ahead of me, and I can't see the end of it yet, but it looks really amazing and I'm curious. I'm scared. I'm brave. I'm anxious. I'm doing this.

Virgin Housewife Tip of the Day

Do not make your spouse's lunch without turning on the kitchen light because you've been maniacally writing til 3:00am and you don't want the bright light to wake your husband and daughter, asleep with the bedroom doors open. You will surely spill the sugar you're adding to his refrigerator brewed tea (ask me for the recipe). You'll somehow accidentally get mayonnaise on your eyeglasses, and you won't be able to find his lunch box.

Perhaps I shall market a Virgin Housewife Miner's Hat with Built in Flashlight.

Rob Us While We're Sitting, Oblivious, In Front of a Screen

Look at this chart here. In 1973 the average new house was 1,660 square feet. By 2010, the average new house was 2,392 square feet.

Our house was built in 1956. It's a ranch in the suburbs of a mid-sized Midwestern city. It has sidewalks and schools and libraries within walking distance. It was a coveted place to own in 1956. Imagine the first family who bought this house. Imagine how excited and proud they were. Their daughters could share a bedroom, their sons could share the other bedroom, and the parents would have a room all to themselves! And, get this, an attached garage so Dad can step right inside the door into the dining room where his family and a hot meal await him. They were probably paying for it with his GI Bill loan.

Our house is 935 square feet. The first family who bought our house in 1956 was probably considered middle class. Definitely moving on up. I bet they had a TV. Maybe even a color TV.

I'm not at all saying I wish our society could cram inside Michael J. Fox's DeLorean and go back to the days of racial hatred, closeted gay people, bored housewives, fathers who missed their families because of their long hours at work, and children who were taught to fear their parents instead of learn from their example. I don't want to go back to the days when I most likely would have already had at least one electroshock treatment during my lifetime.

So are people today spoiled? Do children expect their own bedroom and cell phone and dance lessons and chicken nuggets at every meal? Does it matter if they do?

I've been thinking a lot about taxes lately. Partly because a month ago I quit my full time position at the Library and took a part time position in the same department. So we're losing almost half of my income. So we're broke. So I looked up if we qualify for reduced price meals at Katie's school, but we don't. Not by a lot. I was surprised. How do people who make less money than us survive? We have to hold our breath and hope the mortgage payment isn't processed before our paycheck is directly deposited every month. Are we just too frivolous? I really am going to make banana bread out of those black bananas and not throw them away, I promise.

No, seriously, I'm the kind of person who resets her "trip" odometer every time she fills up her gas tank so she can calculate how many miles per gallon she got that time. I coast down hills and drive at or under the speed limit. I don't slam on the accelerator whenever the light turns green. I am 40, so I guess it makes sense that I drive like a grandma. But I learned these tricks when I worked for Greenpeace one summer during my first, no second, attempt at college long ago.

Lately I've been getting 25-26 MPG in my mini SUV. Terrible compared to what it should be if our President would quit wanting everyone to like him and pass some kick ass energy policies that raise truck MPG to 40 and small cars to 70 MPG. But considering the manufacturer says my car should get between 18-22 MPG, I feel pretty good about my grandmotherly driving ways.

I think the reason Will and I struggle like so many middle and lower class families do today has less to do with our lack of frugality and more to do with the economy being all f-ed up. I can't leave the grocery store without spending $50. And that's on two items from Costco. And our unemployment rate is obscene. At the public library where I work, we have regular patrons who come in every day applying for jobs online. Some of them have been coming for years. Seriously. Some of them have given up hope and sit in the corner reading the newspaper so they don't have to sit in their sweltering hot unairconditioned homes. Or cars if they're even unluckier. Or the homeless shelter if they're still unluckier. It's not like we want to be moochers off the government's social services, but how do you feed your family when you can't find a job?

So how do we fix our economy and pay down the deficit? I have an idea. As Socialist Billionaire Warren Buffett says, the wealthiest Americans don't pay high enough taxes like they did in more prosperous years.

When our house was built, with it's fresh coat of white paint, it's new saplings planted in the front and back yard, it's smooth driveway and back yard patio, it's lush green lawn, back in 1956, more than likely only one of the parent's worked and the other parent stayed home and took care of the kids, the house, the family management. How did they do it on one income?

President Eisenhower, a republican, taxed the wealthiest citizens 91%. Today, during our so-called Socialist president Obama's administration, the highest citizens pay 35%. Another thing that helped pay for Eisenhower's programs: The GI Bill, our Interstate Highway System, paying off the war and subsequently brought prosperity to many Americans during the 1950s is that capital gains were not treated differently from earned income. The rich paid 91% then and only 15% now.

Think of all that lost revenue that could be paying down our deficit, to fund schools and libraries and senior services and services for people who simply can't take care of themselves, no fault of their own. Think of that money we could use to fix our crumbling bridges and levees and inner cities instead of whatever big toys or chicken nugget-like cuisine a few billionaires want.

Come on, people. Be sensible. Pay attention. I feel like the wealthiest Americans are robbing us while we're sitting in front of the screen watching people fall down in YouTube videos, Facebragging about our perfectly average child's developmental milestone, or blogging to a faceless friend, somewhere out there online.

Like me.  Ugh.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Did You Wear on Your First Day of Kindergarten?

Katie was deciding on an outfit to wear her first day of school. And guess which two outfits she had decided to choose from? A pink and frilly Eiffel Tower top with a black flower and a pink tutu-ish skirt with an empire waist black belt or the Lightning McQueen "Cars" racing shirt Grandpa picked out for her and jeans. I love how she doesn't dress just frilly or just tomboyish. And you could tell as she was looking at both outfits that she was measuring them not on the appropriateness of the outfit, but on which one she felt like wearing more. No stereotypical girl/boy agenda.

She finally picked the pink Parisian set and said, "I'll wear my 'Cars' shirt tomorrow on my second day of school."

After she got home from kindergarten today, and after lunch, we were playing in her bedroom before Daddy had to take her to afternoon preschool which is in session til the end of the month. We were playing with the Smurfs from a few recent Happy Meals she's had.

The Smurfs have taken over her dollhouse which used to be inhabited by the Dwarfs of "Snow White" fame. But suddenly the Dwarfs have defaulted on their loan and split, letting the Smurfs buy the luxurious house at a bargain and live in it like a commune, bringing down even further the real estate values of the neighborhood. Or something like that. I haven't asked Katie what happened to the Dwarfs not living in her doll house yet, so most likely her story is much less depressing than mine.

As we played, she spotted her "Cars" shirt hanging where it had been earlier this morning, on the back of her door. Then, instantly it became very important to change her shirt, which had a nearly invisible spec of lunch on it.

So Daddy took her to preschool wearing her Lightning McQueen "Cars" shirt, her pink tutu-ish skirt from the Parisian outfit, her Disney Princess pink rain boots, and her Briar Rose blue eyeglasses. She looked freaking adorable.

Oh, and by the way, I did not cry nor puke when we had to say our goodbyes inside her class this morning. Will got a little misty eyed, but no tears were shed amongst the three of us. I was amazed. We're usually such crybabies. But I think now the reason we didn't cry has nothing to do with stoicism and more to do with the firm foundation of love and trust we have established with our daughter. Or, it could be the clonazepam.

But seriously, I am so proud of our Katie Bug, and I'm proud of Will and me, being ok with her buzzing off into the world in search of answers to life's curiosities. And an interesting wardrobe.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Katie Bug is Buzzing Away

Katie starts school tomorrow. I'm that blend of excited/nervous that I used to feel when I myself would start school, but this is ten times more intense. My baby. My baby. Wasn't she just swaddled in my arms? Her pink and blue knit cap covering her skullet, pink cheeks, such alert eyes. Looking right at me. Eyes so full of curiosity. As they still are today. Oh God I love that girl.

I told Will I wish I could go with her and just sit in the corner and watch. I LOVE watching her interact with other children since I have been unable to provide her with a sibling to play with. So I wish I could stay awhile and watch her enjoy interacting with people her own age.

But no, I have to cut the cord. But dang, I have to wait until October before our first parent-teacher conference! I don't want to wait that long. Oh poor teacher. I am going to be one of THOSE parents.

Katie got it into her head that 8:00 is when kindergarteners go to bed at night. I don't know who told her that. Maybe Will. Maybe she saw it on TV.

So tonight when she asked me what time it was and I said 8:45, she said, "I mad about you, Mama! Why you make me take a bath and miss going to bed on time!!!"

Poor punctual child with a dawdling mother. I told her I would try harder to get her to bed at 8:00 tomorrow. WTF? This is also the kid who asked me for broccoli one time at 6:30AM. What a funny kid.

But it makes sense. Funny kid = funny mother. I'm the helicopter parent who nonetheless is lenient about rules and requirements and discipline. I just like to watch her take in life. I don't necessarily want to interfere with her learning.

But I totally would, I know, if I somehow managed to actually do it. So I won't. Dangit.

Warren Buffett Has a Kind Mind and a Smart Heart

I just want to earn a living wage and have a decent, simple life. I have no desire to make more money than I need. And I think all of my fellow citizens should live decently too, ergo I love the idea of sharing wealth. If I ever make more money than I need, I will share it with my family, my friends, my neighbors, my fellow humans. That is why I am a socialist. Warren Buffett is a billionaire who does not believe in sharing his extra spending money with everyone. He just happens to be a capitalist billionaire with a kind mind and a smart heart. Wanting to raise the taxes of the top two percent of the wealthiest Americans makes Warren Buffett smart, not a socialist.

Buffett's just recommending we tax the rich a tiny fraction of their wealth. But why should we? Let's make poor people (a family of FOUR living on around $20,000 a year) pay their fair share! Did you know 99.6% of poor people own a refrigerator? How dare they have such luxuries on our dime? Those wealthiest top two percent of our citizens should be able to buy their boats, their jets, their Lamborghinis with their OWN money if those mooching poor people have the audacity use our money to keep their food sanitary!

Warren Buffet's just being reasonable. He's just stating that the people in our country who don't need so much money can pay down the deficit so our country can be strong and no longer live on the verge of economic collapse. Wouldn't that be wonderful, my billionaire friends? You wouldn't have to worry so much about having to move all your shit to Qatar when the United States falls like Rome.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Virgin Housewife Tip: Big Feet Make Great Brooms

I have very big feet evidently. They don't seem that big to me. It's like I have the opposite of body dysmorphic disorder of the feet. But I must have big feet relative to my fellow Dos Equis. And by Dos Equis I don't mean the most interesting man in the world. I just mean double x's. I like the way dos equis sounds better than two exes. And I don't mean to exclude all non-speakers of Spanish. I feel like the last four sentences should be footnotes you should feel free to skim over and move on.

I wear a size 9 1/2 WW. Not XX. But for someone with two X chromosomes, a WW is really wide. Makes sense. I'm a pretty wide person. Wide hips. The whole "Your ancestors were peasants picking crops in the fields and not sitting on their asses on the computer all day" cankles. So it would probably look weird if I had "average" width feet. Like a sumo wrestler in ballet shoes.

It's a hassle to find shoes that I can wear all day without experiencing some sort of foot pain. I've found two styles that fit me best: Birkenstock Milanos and Ugg Wool Knit boots. And bare feet. One perk I had not thought of when deciding whether or not to go from full to part time at work is the ability to work braless and shoeless. No back pain. No foot pain.

So it's kind of a bummer to have enormously wide feet since it's so hard to find shoes that don't hurt me.

But I've finally found a benefit to my clownish feet. Tidying up Katie's room. Tidying is really not the right word. More like creating a path so I can walk to her bed without twisting my ankle or snapping a Littlest Pet Shop pet's head off with my step. I just take my big ass feet and shove the toys to the side. Using both feet, kinda like a soccer move, I get a mini workout from it too.

Weapons at School

My five year old daughter had to sign a form today indicating she is aware that she is not allowed to bring weapons to school. At first I was all beaming because my daughter was one of the children who could actually write her own name and not have Will or me do it for her. But then my paternal pride turned immediately to community depression when I realized how sick it is that the school has to make it clear that schools are no place for weapons, as if that's not common knowledge. School. Like where my sweet baby girl will be going soon. My innocent child who covers her ears and shuts her eyes tight when someone raises their voice to another in a cartoon on The Cotton Candy Network. My little girl who goes over to kids she doesn't know at the playground and calmly and gently asks them if they're ok when they fall off the equipment.

Is kindergarten going to turn her sweet soul into a jaded, world weary disappointed rambling nut? Like her mother? Can't she stay sweet and innocent and blissfully ignorant to the hard world a little longer?

It's time to call in a refill for my clonazepam.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chain and Saw, Mr. Teeth and Ohie

Katie asked me tonight if she could play with her chalk outside. I said no, it was too dark. I came back a few minutes later and she had invented a game.

Me: "What's it called?"
Katie: "Chalk and a Saw"
Me: "Oh yeah, how do you play it?"
Katie: "You take Builder Smurf's saw and you saw through the chalk and make two sisters."
Me: "Two sisters?"
Katie: "Yep. Two sisters."
Me: "You mean like twins?"
Katie: "Yep."

So then she proceeded to "talk" for the sets of twin sister chalk and kept arranging them by height and then by color.

Don't you remember the days when you were a kid and you could have fun with virtually nothing? What was your favorite made up game you played when you were a kid?

I used to cut pieces of paper, making strips that went about half-way across. I called those strips teeth. The whole paper itself, after I cut the strips, was called "Mr. Teeth." I even had a song about teeth that I would sing while riding my Ohie rocking horse. But Mr. Teeth. Mmm. I remember riding in the back seat of my mom's 1976 Vega with black vinyl seats in the middle of summer with the windows rolled down and I didn't even notice how hot it was because I was laughing at Mr. Teeth's teeth blowing in the breeze as I held him out the window into the bright sun.

Comparison Parenting

Like the dutifully prepared mother I am, I was taking the school supplies out of the thin plastic sack gaudily displaying the store's name where my husband took Katie to buy them. I was transferring them into a proper reusable bag so Katie's teacher straight out knows her parents are good citizens. Crap! I'm doing that Comparison Parenting again. Stop it. I'm a good mom. I'm a good mom for Katie. Probably not for a normal kid, but my weirdo and I do just fine, thank you. I have no reason to compare myself to other parents at her school.

But it was while I was getting her things ready for kindergarten that I saw on the supply list it says all twenty-four pencils need to be sharpened.

First of all, why does a five year old need twenty four pencils? I don't recall writing in kindergarten, just singing songs and getting vomited on by the boy sitting next to me during circle time. But in first grade I remember having one of those giant pencils for people with tiny hands and fat fingers--oh, that's why they don't use those kinds of pencils anymore.

But anyway, I looked at the box of pencils Will and Katie picked out. The label touts them as the best pencils in the world and that they have some kind of super human shield that covers them to keep other kid's germs off my daughter's hands. But wait, she has twenty-four pencils. What's the likelihood that someone else will use up all their twenty-four pencils and need to borrow one from Katie?

But that wasn't my point. My point is even though these supposedly awesome pencils kill germs, they do not come pre-sharpened.

And I don't own a pencil sharpener.

Katie actually owns one. Our good friend gave her this really fancy adult art set once when Katie was like three and it has since been destroyed as any proper three-year-old's art set should be. It had a really nice heavy duty metal pencil sharpener, but alas it is lost.

I have an old eyeliner sharpener from back during my Siouxsie and the Banshees phase, but it looks like it's about the crumble. I think it was Wet and Wild brand or something. I'm afraid it would destroy the undestroyable unsharpened pencils with its Eighties might. It could break the pencils, but the lead poking out would be pretty much as cylindrical as it is inside the wood and definitely not what a kindergarten teacher I'm sure would consider sharp.

They have to have a pencil sharpener at school right? Can't I sharpen them there if I promise to empty the shavings into the trash can neatly and not dump them all over the carpet or forget and leave the shavings in the sharpener to clog it up?

First time parent School Supply Anxiety should be a formally recognized disability.

Philosophical Housework

I love to argue but I hate to fight. I love to organize my house and rearrange furniture but I hate to clean. I like to make birthday cakes, but I get bored with daily cooking. I love to come up with ideas, but when it comes time to put those ideas into action I'm ready for a nap. Either none of this has to do with any of it or it all has to do with each other. Or some of both.

I've been cleaning the room formerly-known as the cat room (it contained the litter box as well as everything else in the house we didn't have a good spot for) and soon to be known as The Guest Room. This has been Will's dream since we moved into our bourgeois burbs house, to have a room for his drunk friends to crash in. And family!

But I figured no one wanted to sleep next to the litter box or the vacuum cleaner or my old diaries, so I'm rearranging. I love to rearrange things in the house. As I'm doing it, I think, I'm going to be so organized now. I'll keep on top of it all and it won't ever get this messy again. Yeah right. Anyway, I think some of the dust and cat hair has gone to my head. Or perhaps the cat nip.

So I'm sweeping, thinking, I bet Virginia Woolf would have reconsidered her room of one's own idea if she lived in the age of blogs. She could have gone anywhere, well, anywhere except the middle of a river, and send messages to our souls without having to cloister herself. She wanted to get away from the world to speak to it. I say speak to the world to get closer to yourself.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Katie, Age Two, "Reading" to Our Dogs

"Goodnight little mouse. Squeak squeak." --Katie

Our little dog Beau who had Addison's disease is in the kennel behind Katie at the end of the video. Katie's reading obviously put the little guy to sleep. He died, what, about two years ago now? Miss that little tiny man. He weighed nine pounds, which is actually big for a Maltese. My mother-in-law and father-in-law gave him and his brother to me to foster until we could find them good homes. They kept accidentally impregnating their female dog, who happened to be their mother (eww, animals are gross says the city slicker,) and she was getting too old to have puppies.

So I took in Beau and Gabie. Gabie found a forever home in about two seconds. He's so freaking adorable and sweet. Now he helps other foster dogs who have been recently rescued from puppy mills and such get adjusted to life.

Beau was not a "standard" looking Maltese. He was too big. His hair was too wavy. He had a doofy personality. (While taking a walk, on his leash, he would bark at other dogs as we walked in front of THEIR house. He had little man syndrome.) He had an undescended testicle so when I took him to the vet to have him neutered at age 7 or so, they had to do a more thorough surgery instead of the snip and clip they usually do on male dogs. So Beau had a longer healing period. Then he got sick. Then he almost died. Then I rushed him back to the Humane Society. They said his temperature was not even registering on their dog thermometer and there was nothing they could do to save him. Then I held him against my chest and neck, thinking my body heat could keep him warm, and I drove my stick shift car 10 miles to the 24-hour Pet Hospital.

Two thousand dollars later, BoBo was no longer our foster dog. He was our pet.

I miss the little guy. He was a pain in my butt and I'm not sure the money I decided (while he was dying in my arms) to spend to save his life was a wise investment, but he could make Katie giggle and he made my lap warm.

Jon Stewart Is More Trustworthy Than the Mainstream Media

Once again, Jon Stewart nails the mainstream media for being the bullshit corporate propaganda soldiers they are. I swear, the three newsources, two of which are fake, I trust most these days are The Daily Show, The Onion, and NPR.

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That's how I felt in 2008 when my man Rep. Dennis Kucinich (from Ohio) was running for president during the Democratic Primary. The media was paying more attention to his hot wife than his message, and in my opinion Kucinich had the most rational and compassionate solutions to the problems in our country of any candidate. But he wasn't considered a "top tier" candidate from the start.

Why do you think the mainstream media pays attention to some candidates and not others, despite what polls and audiences and protests demonstrate Americans actually want?

By the way, I'm not a Ron Paul supporter. See my other Ron Paul rants on this blog if you want to know why. I just feel sorry for an underdog. But feeling sorry for an underdog and wanting an underdog run my country are two different things, unless the underdog is The Dude.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cooking Gone Wrong Recipes

Ok, this is an interactive blog, so PLEASE leave your cooking confessions below in the comments section.

I saw my mom and two of my sisters Friday. We were talking about how we all make hard-boiled eggs slightly differently, comparing notes. Mom listens to everyone but says nothing. Then we all look her way, like it's her turn, and she says, "Here's how I make hard-boiled eggs: I put them in a pan with water and turn the stove on high. Then I go upstairs and paint a canvass. An hour later I go downstairs to get my cerulean blue paint from my art room and discover the water is gone and the eggs have turned from white to black at the bottom of the pan."

Or like the time I poked some holes into a sweet potato, stuck it in the microwave for about four minutes and went into the back yard with Katie to play hopscotch. An hour later, we came inside to eat dinner and discovered a half mushy cold sweet potato in our microwave awaiting us.

Please share your "Cooking Gone Wrong Recipes" below

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rwandan Genocide Videos

When I'm sad, I'm not one of those chicks who sticks her face in the freezer and sucks out all the fat and sugar content within. When I'm not sad I'm that chick, just not when I'm sad.

When I'm sad I like to dwell in it. I know. I'm weird. But I don't care anymore. Something happened to me when I turned forty where I don't care if what makes me feel good and is harmless to others causes notice in others.

When feeling sick, either psychologically or physically, or both, here's what I like to dwell in:

Movies -
"Ordinary People"
"Dances with Wolves"
Documentaries from PBS about horrific events such as the Rwandan Genocide.

We call those type of movies my "Rwandan Genocide Videos". Once Will got home from work and found me in a ball crying on the couch, the TV fuzzy, loud in need of turning off. Instead he grabbed me and held me and found my face and asked me what's wrong. I said, "Why do people have to be so mean to each other?"

He smiled, then he shook his head. Then he said, "Babe, why do you do this to yourself? Why do you watch these things?"

I don't know. They somehow make me feel, not better, sometimes worse. They make me feel human, and they make me want to live if for no other reason than to make this a better place.

What's wrong with a little commiseration?

"To Kill a Mockingbird"
"The Color Purple"
"Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant"
"Fun Home"

What do you like to dwell in when you're feeling depressed?

Ready to Go

Reason #3547 that Katie is her own person and not just like me: She doesn't have to leave for school for nearly an hour, but she's already dressed. Not just dressed, but ready to go out the door: matching Dora hoodie and sweatpants, pink and white socks with hearts on them, Disney Princess rainboots, shiny pink butterfuly raincoat (buttoned herself), and Hello Kitty umbrella.

Fortunately her father is taking her to school so I'm still in my housedress. Even if I weren't sick and it were my job to take her to school, I'd still be in my housedress. Here's how I get ready to go: I generally wait til I've got about five minutes to throw something on and then open my closet to realize I have no clean clothes and end up wearing my wedding dress to drop my daughter off at preschool. Thank God Will can do all that today. I bet he shows up at her school wearing his dress slacks and old choir dress shirt.

Let's all guess what Will wears to drop off Katie at preschool this afternoon? Leave your guesses in the comments section below.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"I Don't Make Music for Eyes. I Make Music for Ears"

Adele blows my mind. She's one of those beautiful people who don't care what they look like.

"'I don't make music for eyes. I make music for ears,' --Adele

I don't know. I think she's freaking hot.

What I'm Listening to While Revising My Mental Wellness Manuscript and Periodically Patronizing Katie's Art Table

Amazing by Adele.

Wow, just wow. Her voice is like fooling around with the love of your life while swinging in a hammock.

Trying to Obtain Peace Via Violent Means is Simply Illogical.

I got the usual, "Becky, dearie, I know your preference is to live in a world of abundant rainbows and unicorns..." which is the verbal equivalent to a pat on the head. My libertarian friend and I and some guy I don't know who is Libertarian Friend's friend were having a friendly agrument on Facebook about the rioting in London and the United States Second Amendment.

Someone suggested the streets would be more peaceful if law-abiding citizens were able to carry concealed arms. My response was this: "Peace cannot be achieved through a power struggle. Someone will always feel unfairly treated. Peace is achieved only by harmonious relationships, whether intimate or international. Peace comes when you choose not to carry a gun, and when a fellow human robs you, you buy them a cup of coffee and let them tell you the story of their life." I was referring to Julio Diaz, one of my heroes.

Then I got the same ole same ole response when I get righteously indignant: Becky you believe in fairy tales.

Actually, my preference is not to live in a world of abundant rainbows and unicorns, but I would like to leave this world a better place when I'm gone.

If people shrug off rioters as animals incapable of human civility and empathy, in need of violent weapons to destroy their enemy, then sure, you're right, guns in every sane law abiding citizen's hands is the way to go.

But as we see from many examples in life, people like Julio Diaz, The Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Anne Frank, Jesus of Nazareth, just to name some famous ones--there are so many more peace heroes known by their friends and family but whose names are lost in history--people can rise to their highest altruistic selves and not dwell in the desperate anguish that many of these London rioters have seen in their daily lives. I'm not condoning the rioters' behavior. Fighting opression with violence only works in the short run but not as a long term solution to social and financial problems that enhance a human's potential to act at our most primal, scared, self-defensive mode, to turn to crime and violence, to lash out.

Trying to obtain peace via violent means is simply illogical.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jesus is My Financial Advisor

I don't understand the argument that lazy people suck the welfare directly out of our hardworking hands and think they're entitled to it. Well, duh.

You're an 18 year old single woman, kicked out of your foster parents house, you get pregnant by this nice guy you meet at a Special Olympics event but you can't remember his name (you're not good with names) and you don't know how to get ahold of him.

As her neighbors, as her fellow humans, how can we help her? By telling her, "Hey, that's you're problem"? Or by saying, "That's what you get"? Or by saying, "She can get help at a religious charity"? What if she won't give her life over to whatever version of the truth the charity recommends and wants to just be able to live her life and have a giggle with her kid occasionally? We need a secular charity. How 'bout this, Conservatives? We rename welfare "secular charity." That way people can donate to the poor if they're godless liberals, or they can tithe to it if they're social conservatives of devout faith. And everyone inbetween. Or the assholes who just want a tax write off. Taking their money and giving it to the poor is a great idea to me.

Please, everyone, channel your Atticus Finches. Wait, I'm mixing literary metaphors. We need to do more walking around in other people's shoes. The top 2% of the wealthiest amongst us ought to give it up to the least of us, or so that radical hippie Jesus once said. Something like that. Jesus is my fiancial advisor, by the way. I highly recommend him.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Get Out the Door: Are You a Pokey Person or a Go Go Go Person?

I think if someone were to figure out how to give a five year old the Myers-Briggs test Katie would be an INFJ. Her father is an ISTJ and I'm an INFP. The reason I think she's a J and not a P is because she's asked me about fifteen times this morning if I'm "reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadddddddddddddddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy to gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo yet?"

I admit it: I'm pokey. It takes me twice as long to do things as most people. I'm a slow reader, a slow talker, a slow walker, and a slow get-out-of-the-houser. It's not that I don't want to leave the house. It's not that I don't want to be wherever it is I'm supposed to go. I don't know what it is. I just like to be in the moment, and for me, mornings are for slacking, sipping coffee, friendly arguements on Facebook, puttering around the house in your slippers or barefoot if it's warm.

But poor Katie just wants to go go go. Maybe she's not a J. Maybe she's just five. I can't remember if I was pokey as a kid or if I was a go go go kid. My parents are both go go go people, but somehow that quality escaped me, their only child. Ok, enough pondering, I really do need to get out the door.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I am Katherine/Katie/Kate/Punkin/Punk/Katie Bug's Mother, not her Mommy

First thing out of five year old Katie's mouth when she woke me up this morning: "Mother, I have a question. How come in England people speak English and we speak English here too? And I have another question. How come in England a children's room is called a nursery but here it's called a bedroom?" Wow. I need a little coffee before the history lesson, kid.

Katie has taken to calling me "Mother". I suspect it's Disney's British invasion that has come to our house. Will bought a bunch of VHS tapes at Half Price Books, thrift stores, garage sales. Most of them cost $1. We currently have two working VCRs, so his thinking was that even if the VHS tapes crumble after one viewing, it's the same price as paying Redbox to watch a movie overnight. And none of the tapes have crumbled. In fact, they're all in amazingly good shape.

So Katie has been on a steady diet of "Alice in Wonderland," "Mary Poppins," "Peter Pan," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Sword and the Stone," "Robin Hood," and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." Whenever I say "Peter Pan" with my flat Midwest accent she corrects my pronunciation, "It's 'Peetah Paaaaaaaaahn."

It's weird to be called Mother. I associate someone called Mother with the corpse in "Psycho" or, even scarier, my grandmother. I always thought it was funny that my mom called her mom "Mother" and her dad "Daddy." When my grandfather was staying with us the last month of his life, I remember my mom giving him a sponge bath in bed and calling him "Daddy." I was about ten or eleven at the time, and I had stopped calling my dad "Daddy" when I was in third grade. I thought "Daddy" was just what babies called their fathers. But there was my middle aged mother, caring for her elderly father, calling him "Daddy." I asked her why she called him "Daddy" and her mom "Mother." Her response? "That's what they wanted me to call them."

I never thought about what I wanted to be called by my own child. I assumed she'd call me "Mama" when she was an infant, "Mommy" til about third grade, and then "Mom" after that, just like I did with my mom. But no matter how many times Will referred to me as "Mommy" or I referred to myself as "Mommy" or anyone else did too, Katie always called me "Mama." Until the Disney British invasion. Now I'm "Mother."

At first it kinda creeped me out. I didn't want to be "Mother." It's so formal and cold sounding. But not coming from my little girl's mouth. She makes it sound endearing, so I'll let her call me that is she wants. Even if she pronounces it "Mothah" like she was born in London and not Overland Park, Kansas. So I just think of it as like a tall guy going by the name "Shorty" or a fat guy called "Slim". I'm about the least formal parent I know, so calling me "Mother" is kinda funny.

Another funny thing is that I never intended on my daughter's nickname being "Katie." I love the name Kate. Just Kate. I should have named her just Kate. But I wanted to name her after my wonderful sister Kathryn, who goes by Kit or Kitty, who was named after our maternal great-grandmother Catherine/Kitty. So we went with the third spelling, Katherine, and decided to call her Kate.

So for the first three or four years, we called our little girl Kate. Then, around the time she started learning how to write her name, she decided she'd prefer to be called "Katie". I was hesitant at first. Katie? That's such a goody goody name. Kate sounds strong, even presidential. But it's her name, not mine, even though I gave it to her. So we've been calling her "Katie" for a little over a year now and it's stuck.

Until she came home a few weeks ago after playing at a playground and no doubt hearing the new name announced she wants to be called "Kaylee". I had to put a stop to this madness. "Kaylee? Punk (my nickname of her nickname Punkin,) Kaylee's not a nickname for Katherine." Katie slumped her shoulders and asked, "Why not?" I said, "Because Katherine is a name with a long history. The name Katherine has been around for a long, long time, and many people have had that name over time. So there are many nicknames for it, but not Kaylee. Kaylee is a trendy name now, but it's not a name that will survive throughout history." Katie was listening intently. Whenever I speak in broad terms her eyes get big and I can see the wheels churning in her freakish little brain. "What's history?" she asked.

I sighed and poured myself some more coffee.

Ron Paul Facebook Rant Part II

I've been doing some more Facebook ranting:

In response to someone asking me if I think the Department of Education is good: " I think the Deptartment of Education could be a good thing with much reform. I think "No Child Left Behind" is a joke and should at the very least be reformed and preferably repealed. Standardized tests don't tell us how well a child is l...earning how to learn. One of my favorite books is by educator Alfie Kohn called "Unconditional Parenting." I highly recommend it. He has also written numerous books about how our education system is a disaster.

IMHO, our education system is a disaster because of too little federal involvement and too much state and local government control. The education of our nation's children is the responsibility of all citizens, not just parents. Here's why: Those children grow up and become adults. And they can move. So say a child is born into poverty in Mississippi and has a really shitty education because the school system gets most of its funding and regulation from property taxes, and those are really low in that area. So that child grows up and is functionally illiterate. Can find a decent paying job because of her poor education. So guess what? We end up having to pay her food stamps so she and her family don't starve, because we're a humane people.

That's one scenerio. Here's a worse one. Say someone lives in an area with shitty public education. People who are well educated tend to commit fewer violent crimes, and are just all-in-all better citizens and neighbors. Do we really want to allow areas with high poverty rates to educate their children so poorly that they turn to a life of crime rather than find a legitimate job?

I only have one child, but I'm happy to pay taxes that go toward educating all our nation's children. I wish more of our federal funds went to education. I want to live in a well educated society, not one where only wealthy people can afford to give their children a decent education.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Body Is Like Kansas Weather

I never knew folding laundry could be such sweaty work. My body is like Kansas weather. Last night I was so cold in our house where we keep the temperature set at 78, I had to put on a hoodie and slippers. This morning I can't move more than a foot away from the fan without sweating. It's great to be 40!

What do you do when you find yourself having a hormonally induced power surge?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Did You Lose Your First Baby Tooth?

Katie lost her first baby tooth today. She just turned five less than a month ago.

Her tooth had been loose for two weeks. Will and I kept trying get our hands on it like when you see someone with a sunburn you just instantly want to start peeling their skin. But Katie'd always pull her head back and say, "Stop it! You're freaking me out!"

Finally this morning, after two weeks of the baby tooth barely hanging on to her gums, she wiggled it a bit with her finger and it popped right out. She said it didn't hurt a bit, so it didn't freak her out doing it HER way. :)

I lost my first tooth when I was four while I was eating corn on the cob. I remember it vividly. Everyone was done and had left the table. I was gnawing on my corn cob. I had already eaten all the corn off it. But gnawing on the cob felt good on my itchy gums. Then - pop - out came my baby tooth.

How did you lose your first baby tooth?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Team Parenting

Katie will be starting kindergarten two weeks from tomorrow. When Will got home from work this afternoon (he loves his new day hours schedule) he hung out for awhile. I asked him if he'd mind taking Katie school supply shopping. I had written a list of what we need. Without my even needing to explain that I had some intense writing I needed to get done tonight, he said, "Sure, we can do that!" I love that Will is such a good team parent.

So I got to work on my manuscript epilogue alone in my quiet house. I think living alone for ten years inspired me to be even more introspective than I normally would have been. So I find now, even with a wonderful husband and child, I feel like I need alone time to reflect. And to work, now that I'm trying to really write like an actual book. *hyperventilates*

Procrastinating Mental Wellness

I need to write the epilogue of my novel. I know kinda what I want to say. But I'm anxious about actually finishing it. The story. I'm in the process of revising the novel I wrote in three months three months ago. I'm scared and excited both. I feel like I'm about to go cliff diving, and it's something I've wanted to do my whole life, but I'm still wearing Depends just in case.

I might run some hose water into the hippo pool/fountain and let Katie play while I sit on the swing and write long hand in a notebook. When I was a young girl I had visions of myself sitting under an apple tree, eating a crunchy, juicy red apple with my left hand while writing in a notebook with my right hand. My write hand.

Any tips for a first time novelist struggling with anxiety? Other than taking clonazepam? Or any first time any creative endeavor? Tips on how you worked through the fear?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Social Networking Sites - Good News for the Nosy Neighbor?

Social networking sites are like porch swings. You get to chat for awhile, small talk some, get into heated political discussions occasionally, share pictures of your kids and grandkids and grandpets, shoot the shit and all that. It's a very neighborly thing. And no awkward feeling of, "When should I end this conversation and go home?" You just pop on and off. It's a very freeing way to be a nosy neighbor.

Ron Paul Facebook Rants

I'm supposed to be working on the epilogue to the Manuscript I'm writing--Mental Wellness--but instead I'm eating Famous Amos cookies and writing earnest messages on Facebook. And probably misspelling some of my words, therefore ruining my argument.

"The reason I won't vote for Ron Paul is because he believes in the State's rights to decide what I can and cannot do with my body when a fetus is involved. I am not pro abortion. I hate abortions. I wish everyone who doesn't want to have a child would use birth control measures and that they were 100% effective. I wish all children born were conceived intentionally and planned for. But I also hate the idea of my sisters being blocked from making a very morally ambiguous choice. I don't believe the government should be involved in our decision making about our own bodies. Only ourselves, our spiritual guide(s), and our doctor(s)." --Posted by me on Facebook today

So what do you think of Ron Paul? What do you like to rant about on Facebook?