Friday, April 28, 2006

Trick or Treat

Doesn't this guy look like the rat who just stole the cheese? Can you guess who this is? That's right Hastert. And why is he so furtive? According to this and this he apparently cannot abide being in a hybrid car for any longer than one minute without going through gass guzzler withdrawls.

The trick or treat? Well, according to the NYT's article above, we can all be looking for congress to buy our votes for a fat juicy $100 cheque, a gas "rebate," right in time for elections (which puts it right about Halloween). While, simultaneously, Bush, true to form, blames environmentalists for our increasing gas prices. After all, the tree huggers were the ones who forced us to add all that Ethanol bologna to our tanks to make the gas burn cleaner, Environmentalists who force us to import oil from so far away, raising the cost exponentially. So he is proposing legislation that will slash requirements for ethanol added to gas for cleaner air and open up Alaskan oil fields for unlimited drilling (wasn't this the guy who just told us in his State of the Union Address that USA is addicted to oil and we need to get off of it?). Fortunately, Republicans are "suggesting" to congress that there be greater oil company taxes. All this while Exon is raking in the money, a seven percent gain in first quarter profits.

The trick here is the same trick that these Republicans play on us again and again. Bait and switch. Coopting our ideas into their own evil schemes. Buying our love. This "rebate" for our high gas woes? Don't fall for it. What is $100 when the prices keep soaring upward, and oil production and use is destroying our planet? And the timing! You can take it to the bank those rebates will come right before the November elections. "Suggesting" taxes on oil companies? Folks, a suggestion is less than a promise, much less than a bill, and much much less than a law. Anyway, that was the Democrat's idea, everyone. It was sneared when "W" promised to veto a bill it was in last year before all the Republicans in office feared losing their jobs. Republican's don't really love you and don't really care about your out of pocket woes. They just just blocked an effort to "...prohibit oil companies from escaping federal royalties for drilling on public lands when oil prices exceeded $55 per barrel. (Prices recently rose above $75 a barrel.)." That's right! Taxpayers are supporting oil companies for our high oil prices and Republicans feel that we should all continue to do so. They are like the "magicians" who hide the jewel under the cup, move the cups around really fast, and you have to guess where the jewel is when it really is not there at all. It is all smoke and mirrors and illusion, a clever disguise as caring folks. Just look at Hastert sneaking from his hybrid back to his gas-guzzler, and please don't be bought. Please don't be tricked this year.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The "Today Show."..Breaking News...

Normally, I would not even be watching NBC's Today Show, but I must have subconsciously known they would have such pressing news on today. They ran a segment where a morning talk radio host who had barely ever lifted a finger to change a diaper switched places with his eight-month pregnant wife for two days. She went on some mini-vacation while he stayed home and played "Mom" (complete with the strap on pregnant tummy--too bad he didn't get strap on swollen feet, varicose veins, or hemroids to go with it) to their 17 month old twin girls. The first half of the first day he was all grins and "This is not so bad"-isms, even after changing a poopy diaper that you would have thought from the melodrama was the worst ever shat. After naptime was when the real fun began. Those girls ran him ragged. At one point, the sound man rescued one of the girls from a swim (or at least a fun splashing) in the toilet. The poor Mr Mom was completely wiped out after Day One and said to "Confession Cam" the next morning that he was, "...dreading day two." After another succession of scenes that might have been from "Toddlers Gone Wild" including overflowing the bottled water dispenser, sampling the trash, and infultrating the laundry room (the camera man rescued them this time), it was bathtime. This is where the "Toddlers Gone Wild" really begins. There were naked toddlers streaking to and fro. Before he could diaper them both, someone had stained the floor. At this point, the poor man was practically begging for it to be the next day when his wife would return. And he even had the film crew there to help him out! The breaking news here? He admited that what his wife did was hard work. My question is, when did this become news or newsworthy? I mean, yeah, thanks for the props to mothers and everything Katie, but really, shouldn't it be common knowledge that mothering is work? It is really discouraging and shows just how far we haven't come that we still need trite media segments to tell us that mothering is important.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Toddler Cuisine

Can anyone tell me why kids won't eat spaghetti, mac 'n cheese, barbeque chicken, or even broccoli, but they act like Mommy is interrupting them from four star gourmet cuisine when she removes a crayon from their mouths? How can a crayon be any more yummy than broccoli? I have had children for thirteen years now and I still can't figure that one out.

Lessons from the girl.

Yesterday, my daughter showed me how to add this graphic* to my profile. And she knows HTML.

"Oh Mom, you have a blog? Do you know the code for hearts? I could put some in for you."

Great. Hearts. Just what this site needs.

Seriously, though, I do feel very proud of her that she has taught herself all these things. But I also feel very, I don't know, oblivious, that I had no idea she had these skills. And it is humbling to learn new skills from one's daughter. You know, the cute little vixen who's hair I braded and who I dressed in ruffly tights. The girl I taught to drink from a cup and all her colors and letters. The girl I did endless flashcards with to learn her multiplication tables. The one I picked up again and again as she learned to ride a bike. The same girl who drew her own lined paper to practice writing her letters when she was four. She was my little girl. Now, she has betrayed me by not only learning something new, but learning something I had absolutely no skill in.

So this whole blog thing for me is going to be a learning experience in many, many ways. I now know for sure that she is unstoppable. She can do anything, even if I did not give her the specific skills. She know that there are no boundaries "girls" can't overcome. These things I taught her.

*Side note: about my graphic. The five headed dragon is for the five hellions. I don't know who the two gnarly goons are, but the woman is Boudica.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What I'm Watching

I have to say that scene in the latest Big Love episode where Margie is sitting on her couch eating some chips in her exercise gear watching a workout tape with a lipstick-marked house was classic! I almost died laughing. My son Eighty-Eight Fingers got into some lipstick once and drew a lovely Picasso-esque portrait on my bedroom wall, so I could relate.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Walmart and my moral dilemma

Yes, I stress out and agonize over going to Walmart. Funny, eh? Of course, they are so much cheaper than any other store. We don't do a lot of frivolous buying either. I am talking about for diapers, toiletries, over-the-counter medicine, and other mundane items. For our family, being as big as we are and surviving on just one income, barely making ends meet, anything that saves a dollar is absolutely what we have to do. Yet. Walmart is wrong in so many ways.

My biggest gripe is Walmart's exploitation of its employees. It pays terrible wages. It offers little to no (or too expensive) healthcare so that the mostly single moms that it employs must utilize Wisconsin's state funded healthcare (Badgercare), while the low wages ensure that these working poor mothers must depend on Housing Assistance, Child Care Assistance, Food Stamps and other government assistance. Ultimately, that costs taxpayers more because they fund all these programs (see, I can speak Republican, too!). I think it is deplorable that a super-mega-billionaire enterprise like that cannot pay its workers more so that they can really get off welfare (technically WI doesn't have welfare anymore, now it is W-2 Wisconsin Works).

Walmart dazzles us consumers with its super-low prices, so we think we are getting ahead, but really we are just helping perpetuate this cycle of underpaid, exploited workers. Some people say, "Those people don't have to work at Walmart." That is true. However, I worked in the staffing industry. I know that there is an extreme shortage of living-wage paying jobs. At any given time, many of Walmarts employees are those who have been downsized from better jobs and work at Walmart until something better comes along.

Sadly, for these people there is more often than not no something better. Wisconsin, for sure, and many other states have shipped their manufacturing jobs to Mexico or overseas. What is left is Walmart and other McJobs.

Consumers (myself included) must shop with conscience. Do we continue to perpetuate this cycle of supporting super-mega billionaire companies that screw their employees? Or just say fuck it, there is a sale and I really need an extra $1.50 off this pack of toilet paper? I believe that if we were all willing to spend a little more at the checkout, we would all be a little better off. Lower taxes because we won't be supporting McJobs. Better lives for McEmployees (hey, I never said it would make your bosses stop being dickheads!).

So here is my idea. This is just a thought and probably way to simplistic to ever work. Probably some Econ God can explain how it is a pipe-dream and totally unrealistic.Heck, even in my heart I know it is unrealistic. But, whatever. I will explain it anyway.

Do we always have to have the latest MP-3 player or Gameboy or whatever other game system my lame self doesn't even know the name of? Could we wear the same pair of pants maybe two winters instead of just one? Do we really need so much New Stuff all the time? Maybe if we cut back on buying New Stuff constantly, we could afford a little more for essentials like food and clothes. Then wages would increase, our taxes would decrease, and we would have more money to spend on stuff again! I know, Econ God, it probably would never work. But MLK Jr. had his dream. I have mine.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Better have those *Undercover* parties now...before it is too late!

South Carolina is banning the sale of sex toys. Come on! This is just tooooo funny. And very sad. Why can't those right wingers just stay out of our bedrooms? Do they just have nothing goin' on in theirs?

Here is an article describing just that. Thank you Rev. Moon! Enlightment is mine! It is really great to know that his regime is large and his people are voting:

By 1989, U.S. News & World Report was reporting Moon had built "a network of affiliated organizations and connections in almost every conservative organization in Washington, including the Heritage Foundation," but that "conservatives ... fear repercussions if they expose the church's role." In 2004, a veteran Christian Right lobbyist, Gary Jarmin, arranged to have Moon coronated the "King of Peace" in a kitschy ceremony on Capitol Hill in which he wore a glittering crown and royal robes...
Far from being confined to his church, his philosophy has fueled years of voter mobilization drives, state and local candidacies and public campaigns opposing sexual liberties for nonmembers -- such as birth control, sex education, gay rights. There have been Moon-sponsored rallies for "pure sex" in the streets of Chicago, featuring mascots dressed up as gonorrhea bacteria. So don't mistake his sexual beliefs for a party to which you aren't invited. "By 2004, we have to reach the level of Jesus occupying Rome," he said in 2001, speaking of his American ambitions. "Invite me as master and owner, or it all will fade away and be broken. The Capitol Hill, the U.N. -- I should be the king."

This guy wrote a book detailing all sorts of rules for men and women. I won't get into it here. Read the article. It is scary. Did I mention this guy is the creator of the Washington Times?

What to do?

I was over at Mommycakes and read her inner dilemma over working when she really desires life as a SAHM. I am posting my reply here because this is one of my soapboxes, so sorry if you have to read this twice.

Don't get too hung up on the whole feminism thing. Sometimes I think the whole femenist movement let women down because it said, "You need *equality* with men." It defined equality as sameness: same career, same salary, same political standing. Don't get me wrong--women have benefited greatly from the movement. We aren't property anymore for starters. But in a lot of ways, it fell behind. As anyone who has raised more than one child simultaneously knows, equality and sameness don't always equate. Just as each child has a unique personality/needs, so do women/men have unique needs. We are different, women do have children, and why should we have to feel guilty for wanting to raise them instead of pursuing a career? The women's movement forgot about the family, and that is its biggest shortcoming. If a woman chooses to stay at home, THAT IS A CHOICE and after all, isn't that what all the fighting was for?

I also wanted to explain my motivations for being a SAHM (and I really didn't want to start blabbing on and on on her blog--how rude!). It is something I chose because it was the best thing for our family. But, to be honest, I did not chose it because my deepest desire was to be home raising my kids and daycare is a horrendous mind warping establishment or anything like that. The formula was more like this:

1)HOLY S**T WE ARE HAVING TWINS!!!!!! (hysterical screams, fainting, and trying to pinch ourselves out of a dream state)
2)Between my husband and I we already had four kids at this point. One of them would still be a baby when the twins arrived--only a little over two.
3)We were mentally/financially prepared for one other baby, but somehow two seemed like overkill. I was still going to work full time with one baby (even though most of my salary would go to childcare). However having two babies would mean that more than all take home pay would go to childcare.
4)Frankly, I hated my job.
5)My husband was further established in a career. He also had a lucrative and flexible part time opportunity that he could take advantage of so he could make ends meet.

So we agreed financially my "dropping out" of my so-called career would be the best option. The problem was a psychological one for me. I have been working since I was 14. I was a single mother at 17 with no child support from my daughter's father until just recently (long story--not because he's a deadbeat, we just couldn't find him), working two or three jobs if necessary to support her. I completed college as a working single mother (okay, so I did get married briefly during college, but that did little to improve or financial prospects so he is basically totally irrelevant). I bought a house on my own as a working single mother soon after I graduated college. In a nutshell, I have always worked and supported myself and my daughter. So it was very difficult to hand over the reins to someone else. Especially after being involved in some not-so-good relationships with control freak irresponsible losers. That being said, my husband is one hell of a guy and I came to realise that I trusted him completely, that I HAD TO trust him completely in order for this to work for us. And it has.

So, honestly, I did not start this SAHM career because it was my heart's desire. My Dad likes to remind me of the days back in high school where I said, scornfully, "I never be like one of those women, those June Cleavers cleaning the house in a dress with pearls around her neck, having dinner waiting for her husband when he gets home." Yes, that little bitch was me. Thankfully, I have some lessons from the school of hard knocks to straighten me out, and now I thoroughly love and enjoy my time with my kids and realize what a gift it is. I also enjoy caring for my family. So I guess that even if my heart wasn't totally in it when I made the decision, it is totally now. And I am very happy with(and I feel, very good at) what I do.

Therapy Cake

This has got to be one of my all time favorite recipes, not because it tastes absolutely delicious (it is good!), but because making it is really very therapeutic. Here it is.

Therapy Cake
1 cake mix (yellow or white-pudding in the mix)
10-12 peanut butter sandwich cookies
2-3 eggs
1/2 can chocolate frosting
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2-3 T milk

1) Take the sandwich cookies and place them in a sturdy, sealable plastic bag. Grab sturdy tool for smashing (a hammer works well). Smash the cookies into fine crumbs or until all anxiety and stress is relieved.

2) Mix the cake according to directions on box. Fold in cookie crumbs after cake is well mixed.

3) Bake cake at 350 degrees in 13x 9" cake pan according to directions on box.

4) Mix 1/2 can chocolate (or vanilla if you are demented) frosting with 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter and milk until desired consistancy.

5) Frost cake after it has cooled for a half hour. You can use additional sandwich cookies for garnish, or forget it and simply cut a slab of cake and drown your sorrows in chocolate (or vanilla if you are demented)!

And this is therapy cake. It is easy to make, the chocolate rush is great, and who doesn't need to just pound something sometimes? I made it for my daughter's 13th birthday and it was a hit (no pun intended).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A post for the girl

My daughter was always a little old for her age. I think she was born grown up. I am thinking about her now because it is spring time, and my favorite memory of her happened in the spring. She is really sick of this story, but I will never tire of it. I plan on using it to torture her when she brings home loser guys for my disapproval...

I bought my house when my daughter was six. She was so cute, a little first-grader with her purple back pack and pig tails. I was a single mom then. At first we didn't have furniture or even a fridge or oven. We sat on a beanbag chair in the huge empty living room and slept on mattresses on the floor. Now she is thirteen. The house is filled with boys and stuff. Oh, and my poor girl, lost in this overwhelming mass of testosterone. But that is another story...

Anyway, the spring after I bought the house I was reveling in new home-ownership. On a Sunday night, I was raking the leaves and debris that had gathered in the basement window wells. A (the girl) was playing cute little girl games like Let's All Be Puppies or something with the neighbor kids somewhere nearby. Suddenly, I came across a nest of baby bunnies buried under a pile of leaves. I called A over and she came with all the neighbor kids trailing behind. I showed her my discovery and her face lit up with delight. How I loved those dimples of hers! The kids all marveled over the rabbits for a few minutes until I sent them away explaining that they needed their mom and she would not come with all of us around and to never never touch them. Then I put away my rake and A and I went in for the night. That was it for me. The mystery and majesty of baby bunnies was forgotten. Time to get back to real life.

The next day, Monday, was back to the grind. I woke up expecting the usual struggle to get A moving. Oh, but was she SLOW in the morning. A get dressed. A eat your Breakfast. A put on your shoes. A are your teeth brushed yet? Come on we gotta GO!!! Every morning was the same. Except that Monday. A was up and dressed almost instantaneously. She inhaled her breakfast and blasted her teath clean. Her bag was packed and she was ready to go a good 15 minutes before me. Wow. She is growing up! She is learning to be helpful in the morning! I told her how proud I was of her for getting ready so well that morning. Yes, she could play outside until I was ready to go...Soon I came out, packed A and myself in the car and we were on our way to a normal spring day.

The day proceeded at a normal dull drawl at work. I was in HR. People were fired, people were hired, polocies administered, meetings attended, reports written and filed. Then it was lunch. Time to check the voicemail. The usual assortment of callers inquiring about jobs, applications, insurance questions, vacation questions, pay questions, and the...what was this? A's teacher? What does she want? Oh, she only wants to know what to do with all the baby bunnies A took to school for show and tell. What?!!?!?! Oh no! I called her back and told her I would pick them up over lunch. Fortunately, I worked close to her school. But what was I going to do with a whole bunch of bunnies? I called the humane society first thing. They said put them back in the nest. Apparently, rabbits are not offended by human scent like other wild animals. Great! So I chased to the school, picked up the bunnies and chased back home (fortunately that was also close!). I dumped the bunnies in their nest and sped back to work,, only overextending my half hour lunch by about ten minutes, but who's counting anyway. What a delightful lunch.

I had considered being angry at the girl. I really tried. I even tried to lecture her about touching wild animals and sneaking the bunnies to school. But I could not do it. It was just too damn hilarious. I could not even complete the lecture without turning away several times to hide my and coughing to hide my chuckles. Oh, and when I asked her what she thought she was going to do with those bunnies? She had it all worked out. She would raise them in her room and feed them with her doll bottle, of course!

Silly Mommy.

And the Eggs Were A-Flyin'

I just wanted to post quickly about our fun-filled Easter here. Actually, this is from the boys' perspective about their new sport--Easter Egg Ball.

Yes, the pretty hard-shelled Easter eggs are so much fun to grab out of your basket and the crunch when you launch them at your brother's head...undescribable! Flakes of pretty colored shells all over the kitchen floor, squished eggs between your fingers....there is nothing in this world like it! Oh, and then Mommy yelling and cheering you on from the sidelines, that was so cool! She turned our game into Easter egg keep-away. But even though we aren't so good at couting, I know we have her outnumbered. It was so much fun to watch her running around and diving to catch one of us and yelling strange words so all the world could hear. I hope she lets us do this again next week!

So the moral of this story is, plastic eggs plastic eggs plastic eggs! Or never ever, ever ever give K (AKA Eighty-Eight Fingers) and the Feller crew pretty projectiles in a gift-basket.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

One More Reason Why the US Ought to be ASHAMED

One thing I really do want to rant about is why, when Brazil of all places is scheduled to be completely GAS FREE by 2007 are we still so gas dependant in this wealthy country with all of our resources and scientists and institutions of higher learning where they surely must know a way out? It just does not seem right. Check this out:

Published on Sunday, April 17, 2005 by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
The Future of Ethanol
by David Morris

Want to see the potential of biofuels? Visit Brazil, as I did a few weeks ago.

In Brazil, by law, all gasoline contains a minimum of 25 percent alcohol. Yet ethanol is so popular it actually accounts for 40 percent of all vehicle fuel.

By 2007, 100 percent of all new Brazilian cars may be able to run on 100 percent ethanol. Brazilian sugar-cane-fed biorefineries will be capable of producing sufficient ethanol to allow the entire fleet, new and old cars alike, to do so.

In Brazil, ethanol is now being used in aviation. Small planes, like crop dusters, are switching to ethanol because it is a superior fuel and is more widely available, even in remote parts of the country, than conventional aviation fuel.

Its stunning success with ethanol has encouraged Brazil to begin displacing diesel fuel with vegetable oils from its vast soybean crop. Within 15 years it expects to substitute biodiesel for 20 percent of its conventional diesel.

One more detail. Back in the mid 1990s, Brazil ended its ethanol subsidies. Nevertheless, with world oil prices hovering around $55 a barrel, the price of ethanol today is only half that of gasoline. Since its inception, Brazil's ethanol program has displaced imported oil worth $120 billion. This is comparable to a savings of almost $2 trillion for a U.S.-sized economy.

Back in Minnesota, our vehicles remain stuck at the 10 percent ethanol level first achieved almost a decade ago. Yet today, ethanol produced within the state could displace 25 percent of gasoline consumed within the state. Without increasing crop acreage, Minnesota could become self-sufficient in passenger-vehicle fuel and significantly displace diesel fuels.

Minnesota arrived at this enviable situation as a result of farsighted state policies. In the early 1980s the state ethanol incentive mirrored the federal incentive -- a partial exemption from the gasoline tax. That incentive increased demand, but every drop of ethanol was imported into the state.

In the mid 1980s, Minnesota's farmers successfully petitioned the Legislature to restructure the state incentive to encourage in-state production of ethanol.

The incentive became a direct payment of 20 cents per gallon. There were limits: The ethanol had to be produced in Minnesota. The incentive was available only for the first 15 million gallons produced each year. The incentive lasted only for 10 years per plant.

The restructured incentive has made Minnesota home to 15 small- and medium-sized ethanol plants (18 by the end of 2005). The biorefineries' relatively small size has enabled a significant proportion of the state's full-time grain farmers to become owners. This dramatically boosts the local economic benefit of such facilities.

Because of the incentive's time limit, within the next year or two, more than half of all state ethanol production will receive no incentive. Several new plants are being built without a state incentive.

Brazil has shown us that biofuels can be a primary fuel rather than simply a gasoline additive. Here are seven policies Minnesota should adopt to imitate Brazil's success.

1. Immediately request a waiver from the federal government to allow a 20 percent ethanol blend in all vehicles. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has indicated his desire to do so. The request should come from many states, not just one, and the cost of all the required testing should be shared by these states. If all 29 states whose governors have joined the Governors Ethanol Coalition chipped in, the cost would be a trivial $100,000 per state.

2. Aggressively expand the number of Minnesota gas stations that offer ethanol as a primary fuel (E85). Adding $15 million to the state bonding bill would enable every gas station in Minnesota to have at least one E85 pump.

3. Require all governments in Minnesota to purchase flexible-fueled vehicles. Several dozen popular models are already available and on the roads.

4. Develop a 20 percent renewable transportation fuels mandate that mirrors the 20 percent renewable electricity portfolio mandate that many states have passed.

5. Inspire a public discussion about redesigning the federal biofuels incentives so that they are tied to the price of oil. If oil rises above a certain level (say, $60 per barrel) the incentive would completely disappear. If it drops below a certain level (say, $35 per barrel) it would be equal to the current incentive.

6. Focus on converting the state's abundant cellulosic materials into energy. Brazilian biorefineries are virtually energy self-sufficient because they burn bagasse to power and heat the mill and refineries. Bagasse, the fiber fraction of cane, is brought to the mill along with the sugar cane. In Minnesota the corn stover (stalk, etc.) is not transported to the mill along with the corn kernels. The Chippewa Valley Ethanol Cooperative (CVEC) is developing innovative ways to economically transport the stover to the mill. Given the high price of natural gas, and the resulting pressure on ethanol plants to shift to coal, Minnesota should immediately provide the funds to accelerate the use of cellulose in the ethanol plants (first for heating and later for making ethanol itself).

7. Make farmer ownership the state's ownership preference. New ethanol plants are very large and absentee-owned. The ethanol they produce is welcome, but they do not generate the local and regional economic and social benefits that farmer-owned plants do.

David Morris is vice president of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

© 2005 Star Tribune

What I think about this is why stop at MN? Biofuel should be every responsible nation's goal. Why we have not made it ours is easy to guess: Big Oil. Big Agriculture. Yep, here it is, a $0.50 per gallon tax on Ethanol imports and subsidies to the Big Corn producers (see this). Way to go BO and BA lobbies!


Time to celebrate rebirth and life. My husband and older children are off of school this week, so I expect my posting will be minimal, as I will be spending some much needed time with them. Also, Grandma is home from the hospital and recovering from surgery and has confessed to doing some housework. This cannot be tolerated! She must rest snd recuperate, so I am going to be spending as much time as possible with her and help her out around the house(hahaha with the three little boys, that ought to be quite funny, not to mention impossible, but give me an E for effort). We are going to steal her away Monday and I am going to pamper her with a German lasagna and peanut butter chocolate cake (I can cook, kind of! It's the housework that stumps me...). My uncle (her supposed caretaker) should be ashamed of himself for a) being a filthy slob, b) not cleaning up after himself while she was in the hospital so she did not have to come home to such a mess--if he knows anything he should know how she could absolutely not feel comfortable in that, and c) sitting back and letting her to do his week's worth of dishes, laundry and general clutter pick-up. But he is shameless, lucky him.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why I Blog

These excerpts are from a wonderful article "The Secret Life of Mothers" by Andrea Buchanan. This article expresses better than I could why I write this blog.

"The proliferation of shared experience as seen in these blogs is a powerful way to unite women who might not otherwise feel as though they had anything in common. These are the invisible mothers becoming visible before our eyes, these are the silenced voices slowly beginning to articulate what their literary grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers gave voice to in texts from 30 years ago (Erma Bombeck) to 150 years ago (Fanny Fern). These are real mothers turning to literature -- endeavoring to create literature -- to make sense of the secret world they have discovered, where it turns out, in fact, that we can't have it all and do it all, and that the walls we thought had been knocked down prove to be strikingly resistant when we -- suddenly, surprisingly -- bang our heads against them. These are real mothers struggling to create a narrative out of the often disjointed, complex, and simultaneously occurring events of their lives."

"She couldn't see it, but her own comments answered the primary question she raised: I write about such private things in a relatively public place because sharing my experience as a mother-in-process, as a mother continually learning and evaluating and questioning and contextualizing and theorizing and evolving, may touch someone. It may touch someone who is in a similar emotional place, or in similar circumstances, such as the readers who write me to tell me that what they read makes them feel less alone."

"Blogs in their individuality -- the way they are dominated by a single voice, the way they enforce a lack of community or consensus as they are focused on the experience of one person -- might seem to undermine the work of creating a unified experience of feminism. But in fact, in allowing marginalized voices to have a presence, to be heard -- or, in this case, read -- I believe they function in the exact opposite way. Mothers who go online are finding a multiplicity of viewpoints, a real and humanized investigation of the complex and varied ways in which we mother, and mothers who recognize themselves in the writings of these mother-bloggers feel valid. They feel heard. And they feel empowered."

I also do this to jot down thoughts that I have to prove to myself that I do, in fact, still have them. Sometimes I wonder after being a SAHM for the last 2 1/2 years... I don't have many opportunities for intellectual pursuits during the course of the day (memorizing the words to Sponge Bob's theme song doesn't count as an intellectual pursuit!). I do have to have somewhere to go to vent and brag and tell these stories and share these thoughts and just be me--somewhere I'm not on duty. For me the motivation to write all this stuff down in a paper journal or word doc just wasn't there. The chance to reach out and share with others who may be of a like mind, or share some of these experiences or who just want to debate is why I do it, why I have gotten so into it. I know my husband worries about privacy, and I do respect his concerns. I don't want a cyber stalker or anything like that. But what I need is an outlet to releave some of this isolation I sometimes feel. After all, sometimes months go by when I don't leave the house except to get the mail (and that doesn't really count because my feet stay inside--I just open the door and grab it). Anyway, that is my confession. That is why I blog.

More Mothers Movement Ranting

I am glad I am not the only one who thinks this country's policies for families are appalling.

First read this

I wanted to comment on the article and some of the comments. First, (a commentor) Susan mentioned that children are offered our compassion in this society, while other disadvantaged people are not. I think that that while children may be offered *compassion,* it is only lipservice. Who can argue that this empty gesture does not go far enough. It does not feed the hungry or educate the poor. It does not takeinnocent children need our compassion? But compassion is an empty gesture. It does not feed the hungry, educate the poor, or take the of absent parents who are working second jobs just to make ends meet. So while children my be offered so much compassion compared to others in this society, it really means very little.

Another thing, many people comlpain how parents (read women with kids generally) are offered so much time off for child related issues such as child birth, doctors appointments, etc. It may be true that mothers (sometimes fathers, too, but mostly mothers) take off for these things, their careers and paychecks do suffer. That time off is frequently unpaid, and when it comes time for raises and promotions, *mothers* who have taken the time off for any child related reasons do not get the raises or promotions given to non-mothers. If they are not simply fired for these things. Many employers will not accept child-related excuses as excused absences, so the *mother* is fired (I was in HR--it happens frequently). Not to mention, if the company does pay for sick time, most *mothers* use the time for their kids are up shit creek if they get sick themselves.

Another thing, one nameless commenter was talking about how sex/having children was voluntary. True. However, last time I checked it takes two to procreate, yet it is generally the mother that bears the responsibility to a) make sure of the BC, b)deal with the pregnancy if the bc fails--and ultimately make and deal with the choice of abortion, which is not easy to get even if you want one with limited facilities and increasing restrictions, etc, and c) deal with raising the child if she does chose to have it. Another thing, this administrations adherence to abstinence only education is decreasing the use of birth control and increasing the number of unwanted pregnancys (not to mention STDs)by increasing ignorance of Birth Control. See this article on AlterNet.

I agree with Bitch Dr. The point is that this society's problems are deeper than lack of compassion for children. Its policies are individual-centric. Until that changes, those who have no voice of their own will continue to suffer. Including children.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Women's Issues Wednesday

I really consider myself to be your average girl next door. That being said, this administration is pushing policies that are really overstepping its bounds. I feel it is my obligationt to raise some awareness here before it is too late.

1) HIMMAA Legislation that basically wipes out all the health insurance coverage we so so recently and dearly bought.

2) Imagine, a vaccine that could practically eliminate the number one cause of cervical cancer! The problem: the Religious Taliban thinks punishing women for sex via dealth by cervical cancer is A-Okay. Hey, lets teach those nymphos a lesson!

3) Speaking of punishing nymphos, there is always the SD abortion ban even for rape and incest. Won't it be fun when that one goes to Bush's buddies and election granters in the Supreme Court!

4) But what can we expect with all this abstinance only education. Let me tell you, it is working so splendidly for our children. And could it actually be contributing to the spread of HIV?

Ladies, before long this administration will be going all Margaret Atwood on us, busting out the corsets and chastity belts, slapping on the scarlet letters...or maybe I'm just paranoid?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Chicken Soup for the Eye

That was the blog my Dad started for me. Unfortunately, he is a busy college student and has not done much with it, so I have stolen it back from him.

Here is the real story of Chicken Soup for the Eye...

"Chicken soup for the eye?" you say. Of course! A site for those "mother" moments or family moments or just whatever.

Let me tell you about chicken soup for the eye.
It was a frigid Sunday in March here in Southeastern Wisconsin. March here is a time when the sun seems permanently implanted behind some clouds and cold damp winds blow clammy tendrils of air down to your bones. March is the time of year when you can forget what sunshine looks like because your world is one of clouds and rain and gloom.

This particular Sunday the whole family was gathered in the cramped shoebox-sized kitchen of our small ranch home for some special chicken chili lasagna, an impromptu celebration to try to break winter's hold on our spirits. By the whole family I mean myself, my husband, our six children, and my father, which I guess is enough of a family to fill our small home so that neighbors driving by may have remarked on the walls bowing out. As I labored on my masterpiece, scampering from one end of the kitchen to the other frantically mixing up sauces, one of the twins, Benton I think, was screaming and fighting with his four-year old brother Kyle, while Jake, the other twin, was rhythmically tugging at my pants-leg, begging in a high pitched shreik for a "Taste, taste!!," and Analise, my thirteen year old daughter, was explaining the urgency of her need for a trip to the mall to buy that special t-shirt before it sold out. As I poured chicken broth into the measuring cup from the large economy sized can, it splashed into my face, breaking on my glasses like a wave upon the shore, and my scream joined the general cacaphony in the kitchen. Removing my useless, chicken broth coated glasses and wiping the oozing mess from my eyes I cried, "Ah! Chicken soup for the eye!" My dad, always one to appreciate a good pun, was the only person to get it and laughed gratefully.


I know there are times we all feel a little lazy, myself definatly included. But my fifteen year-old step-son has taken laziness to journyman craftsman level, I swear. The latest example was the Chinese Food Carton Incident. The other night we splurged and ordered carry-out Chinese. He is a growing boy, so while everyone else shares an order of Cashew Chicken and Egg Foo Young, he gets his very own order of Sweet Sour Chicken. That night he could not finish it all off in one sitting. Figuring he would be hungry later, he went to the trouble of finding a Sharpie (in this house where the only readily available writing utensil is either broken crayons or dull pencils because all the desirable pens with ink have gone to that rosy pen heaven in the sky, not an easy task!) to label every side of the box so that when he was hungry later he could distinguish his box from the rest of the left-overs on sight and not have to waste valuable energy digging around in the fridge. Now that is lazy!

Identity Crisis II

This is just another unique twin thing B does that I find hilarious and intriguing. The Fellers are in the prime of their Terrible Twos, fighting over everything, and occassionally getting into WWE style disagreements. Sometimes when I miss the fight because I am busy in another room and B is the victim, he will tattle on his brother in Twinish, "B** duba ju wa!" while patting his head or arm or whatever injured part. Yes, he calls his brother by his own name. Isn't that funny? I think he is confused as everyone else by this twin stuff.

I know this may be boring to everyone elso on earth, but I find this whole identity development thing with twins facinating. The competition, the imitating each other, the fights. It all continues to absolutely amaze me. To me they were unique from day one, but it's like they still have to discover and prove it to themselves.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Identity Crisis

It was just after bath time Wednesday night. The Fellers were running around, slick little streakers reveling in their chance to play as nature intended while I was distracted with cleaning the two inches of standing water in the bathroom. My husband decided to help me out that night and grabbed the first rascal to wiggle by to dress. He grabbed the nearest outfit from the clothes I had set out and began to insert arms, legs and head while B screamed bloody murder. Meanwhile, in a fog, tuning out B's screams, I grabbed the remaining outfit and the other streaker, who was giggling with glee at his brother's evident discomfort. It was then that I noticed that my husband had grabbed the wrong outfit for B. My Mommy Noise Reduction Filter still on, I continued to pay B no mind and proceeded to dress J as B still shrieked and flailed in my husband's arms. After the Fellers were dressed, B continued to protest. He screamed, and pulled at his shirt and J leared giggled with glee. My husband and I bagan to realize B was having a major issue. We questioned him. Was something scratching him? Did he have owies? Whatwas wrong? He tried to tell us, "Daddy! Non na sir da tiggu! Boo! Mommy, Daddy nona da boo!" but really he and his brother speak Twinish, a mixture of English and Gobblety-Goo. Needless to say, my husband and I remained clueless as B began to become completely distraught, tuggging frantically at his pants and shirt. Finally, like a flying toddler, it struck me. He was upset about his outfit!

Normally, the Fellers are dressed in whatever I happen to grab that somewhat matches. Rarely, like when it's the Spiderman sweatshirt, they wear the same thing. However, that night I had laid out outfits from their first Halloween, one Pooh and one Tigger. I had always dresed B in Pooh and J in Tigger. B is going through this stage where he is very possessive about certain things: his Spiderman action figure, Luke Skywalker (NEVER Obi Wan), the Cat Blankie. The other kids cannot touch those things without B losing his composure completely. Evidently, the Pooh outfit had become one of B's things. My guess is that it is an identity thing, a way of defining himself through his unique stuff, something us singletons can never understand.

After I realized that the outfit was the problem, I briefly considered just having him stay in it. After all, it was getting late at night on an already long week. He could suck it up for one night, couldn't he? It was just an outfit. . . But one look at his distraught face and I couldn't leave it at that. So I asked J, who is normally so accommodating, if he would trade with B. Well, J was so delighted to be wearing Pooh and at B's displeasure that when I moved to undress him, he started squwaking. So that wasn't going to work. On to Plan C. Time to pull out the big guns. Time for the ultimate favorite, the Spiderman sweatshirt. No one can resist the power of the Spiderman sweatshirt, hahahahaw!!! B was more than willing to forget his distress for Spiderman. Then J saw what was going on. B can't wear Spiderman and not J! Now J was squwacking for Spiderman. But I could only find one Spiderman in the fifty million laundry baskets piled up (long week, remember). After another frantic search, I located another Spiderman sweatshirt. But it was the older brother's and a little big. Oh well, J can wear that one. Now K, the older brother, wanted Spiderman...

I guess you can't win them all.

Wow, it only took me one run-through of Shrek 2 to write this thing. By the way, now I must tear the house apart for B's Spiderman action figure because you would think losing it brought on Armageddon .

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mama Told Me There Would Be Days Like These

Actually, she didn't. She never really told me much of anything except "Righty tighty lefty loosey," but that's another story.

Anyway, I have wanted to work on this blog, have been dying to all week. But with two teens and a Medieval Total War junkie husband in the house, I have to put in a reservation months in advance I guess.

Anyway, anyway. About this horrendous week. Where to begin. Can I start on Saturday night? I guess this is my world so here goes. My husband and I had our first real date since September!!! We went out to dinner at a lovely Bistro downtown and it was really great: the food, the conversation, live jazz playing softly in the background. We really needed this time to ourselves and I think that the timing could't have been better, considering the week to come.
Just the day before our perfect date I found a small but worrisome lump in my traitorous breast. I think what I felt most of all was anger at my body. The thing that really most defines me as a woman attacking me and causing my death. Okay, I know, that is very melodramatic. Monday I went to the doctor. she felt it and was very unimpressed, labeled it a cyst, so off to the hospital for a mamogram on Wednesday just to be sure. And I was diagnosed with a sinus infection, thus the neverending sniffles! She perscribed some antibiotic.

Oh great, the appointment is Wednesday and I have my dad at home worried to death, watching the three crazy fellers today. Now I have to dig up another crazy person to watch three little boys on Wednesday, too.Fortunately, my husband helped with the frantic multiple phonecalls to any and all relatives. Good, my retired but still ever-so-busy father-in-law has a few hours free.

There is a bomb threat at my husband's school. We can't mention it to the kids. He is not worried, not too much, anyway.

Seven million loads of laundry and counting. A big putsy dinner to make. Wiped out and drained with this neverending cold. And dreading the Test. My thirteen-year-old daughter's teacher calls. She was kicked out of class for insubordanance (I wonder where she got that from?). Well, she made a scene in school and must be grounded. Great, and there is a huge party she is going to miss this weekend that she is furious about. My sister calls after dinner and informs me that Grandma is in the hospital. She had fainted last Thursday, had a doc appointment Monday, and was sent to the hospital. The doctors have run many tests but can find nothing wrong. I am devestated. My grandma and I are very close (she practically raised me while my mother spent her life finding herself) and she has been in the hospital two days and NO ONE has told me until now??? Supposedly mother tried to call. Funny, we have caller ID and I find no evidence of a call from her.
Mamogram, long wait and breast ultrasound. Yep, just a cyst. Come back in 6 months. Oh and you have calcifications, but everyone has those. Might want to consider giving up coffee (NEVER NEVER NEVER gonna happen, I gotta have SOMETHING!!! and my something is coffee, I don't care how lumpy it makes my breasts). Stop by and visit Grandma. She is scared, but acting brave. Her carotid arteries are clogged and she needs surgery, probably Friday. She actually had had a stroke. Mom is too busy to visit today (yeah, sure). We hug and both try not to cry. I leave and retreive my fellers. They are happy to see me, not happy to go. Try to get them to take a nap when we get home. It is kind of late in the afternoon. The Teen Girl gets home from school, stomps and bangs around the house, wakes up the fellers. I get a call. I have to pick up the Teen Boy. Get back in the car for more driving.
Take the fellers to visit Grandma in the hospital. She is off the IV and monitors and thankful for that. She does not need a stress test, good. But she is so scared. The woman has never had a surgery in her life. All the doctors are giving her scarey info: the risk of further stroke or heart attack during surgery, there will be at least two surgeries, she will be in overnight, she will be in for a week...The fellers rund around the room, ransacking the place, search and destroy. Yes, they even colored on the floor. And why do they all want the pink squirt gun (empty of ammo!) when there is a bigger better green one, too? So they fight, and they scream, and Grandma keeps saying how sick the people are here, and J gets mad when I try to take off his sweater, walks around with his arms out screaming, so I say its time to go home (thinking to get him to stop screaming, some threat) and he agrees, "ome, ome!" Packing them back in their sweaters, I am dripping sweat on the marker marks on the floor. All the people I see must be right, they are a lot of work. Did I even talk to Grandma today? I remember nothing except preschoolers jumping on the $10k bed, dripping cookie crumbs and apple juice, yanking the blood pressure cuff out the wall while the four year old yells and makes a mad dash to the bathroom to go poop. Have to take the urine collection cups out of the toilet first! What was I thinking???

My husband does not get blown up today, thank goodness!!! But he is away at conferences and I miss him.

Lessons learned: 1)Never ever bring toddlers/hyper preschoolers to a hospital for any reason unless one of them is leaking blood or some other serious condition that would disable their running around screaming feature. 2) Mom will never change, she will never be the mother I always wanted or the daughter Grandma deserves. 3) I feel like a big jerk for having all this family and stuff going on, for neglecting grandma these last years, and I know I shouldn't and I know she doesn't hold it against me, but time really is so precious and short, as cliche as that may sound. I don't know, I just can't imagine how empty this world will be without her.