Monday, September 29, 2008

The old-fashioned way

I took Lily to her "ballelet" class yesterday, leaving Campbell and Ella at home with B. He took them on a bike ride up to the neighborhood store to buy provisions for dinner, which they greatly enjoyed.

Since I didn't have to chase after Campbell during Lily's class, I was able to sit in the parent waiting area and knit while chatting with my friend L, whose daughter is in Lily's class. There was a boy in the waiting area, who was maybe 8 or 9 years old, and he was fascinated by my knitting. He asked what I was doing, what it was called, and what I was making. I explained everything to him, showing how I'm knitting from the top down and how the sleeves are part of the whole thing.

Later, his mother came over and whispered to me that after I had finished my explanation, he had leaned over to her and said, "Mom, she's making a sweater the old-fashioned way!" I had to laugh, because he is exactly right. The basics of knitting haven't changed in centuries, and the pattern I'm making has probably been around for a long, long time.

I was hopeful that I'd converted a new knitter, but when his mom asked him if he wanted to learn, he said no. Ah well. I'll just have to keep working on the girls.

Little sister

Poor Lily is having a hard time being the little sister these days. One of the nice things about where we live is that we have so many neighbors who have kids the same age as Ella, but that's also one of the problems. Lily considers them all her friends, too, even they are all two years older than she is. She desperately wants to hang out with them and play whatever it is they are playing. And for the most part, the big kids are great with her, including her in their games. Some days, however, I can tell that they want her to just go away, which is understandable.

The girls spent most of last weekend playing in the backyard. Our friend M, who is Ella's age, came over Sunday afternoon to play. Ella and M got involved in some very complicated game that only they understood, but Lily really, really wanted M to watch her do tricks on the trampoline. She kept yelling,"M, watch me do this!" M was a good sport, but I had to intervene on more than one occasion to rescue M from Lily.

At one point Lily wan in tears because Ella and M weren't including her in their game. I tried my best to distract Lily by offering other activities that she could do with me, but it was of no use. She just wanted to play with the big girls.

We had the same problem this weekend. M spent the night Saturday, and Lily kept tagging along, five steps behind M and Ella. I offered her the chance to go with me to the knitting store and then to get a treat - trying to give her some one-on-one time with me while rescuing M and Ella from Lily - but she refused to leave the house. I decided that dragging her out with me would cause more problems than it would solve.

It's not that Lily doesn't have any friends of her own, because she does. But other than MJ, who lives next door and who is a year younger than Lily, we don't have any who live close to us. It takes effort on my part to set up playdates for Lily, and these days it's tough for me to work up the energy. I'm hopeful that Lily will start asking to have playdates with friends from kindergarten, since those kids will at least live in the neighborhood.

In the meantime, I'll try to keep her from being the pesty little sister AND try to find special things for her to do when Ella is otherwise occupied. It's not easy being the little sister.

Friday, September 26, 2008

If this is paradise, I wish I had a lawnmower

Disappointingly, David Byrne didn't sing that particular song last night. Ten points to anyone who can tell me what Talking Heads song the line is from.

Last night my neighbor L and I went to see David Byrne in concert at the Paramount Theater, and the show was amazing. Our seats were in the fourth row, on the side. DB was RIGHT THERE, right in front of us. And let me assure you, he's as geek sexy as always.

I was first introduced to the Talking Heads when I was in high school. My dad rented their film Stop Making Sense, and it was a revelation for me. At that point in my life, I was in the full throes of Duran Duran mania and I had no idea that a concert could be an artistic performance. Dad had rigged the VCR so that it ran through the stereo, giving us an early version of surround sound. So I bootlegged a tape of the soundtrack, and it quickly became one of my favorite albums ever. And now, more than 20 years later, it still is.

When I was living in Gainesville, FL I had the treat of seeing DB in concert at a fairly small performing arts center. Thanks to a friend who had connections, I was able to score 10th row center seats. The show still holds the title of the BEST CONCERT I've ever seen. Within three songs, the whole place was up and dancing in the aisles. The best song in the show was a version of the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," which brought down the house.

Last night's show wasn't as good, but it still ranks in my top five. As with the show in Gainesville, the crowd was up and dancing in the aisles. The balcony was a mass of bouncing people; I was a bit afraid it would collapse. The playlist was all songs that DB has worked with producer Brian Eno on, and it included Talking Heads standards as well as solo DB songs and an amazing version of "Help Me Somebody" from the album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

The coolest part of the evening, though, was seeing how much DB still seems to get a kick out what he's doing. He was smiling and laughing throughout the concert, and he cracked up when someone from the audience yelled a request for "Freebird." He was also able to laugh at himself when he had to start a song over twice because he couldn't remember the words. It was also fun being part of a crowd that truly appreciated the show. I've been to concerts where the audience wasn't in to the music, and it definitely takes away from the experience. Having the whole place on its feet, singing along was amazing. As L said, "This is a lot of noise for such a little theater."

If I go into labor in the next 24 hours, it will be all David Byrne's fault. I haven't danced that much in years.

Hmmmm - David Byrne Gardner . . . there's a name for Baby Bee.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trusting in the instructions

When I was in third grade, I was tested and identified as being "gifted." In fourth grade I started attending a special school specifically for gifted students. I felt like I had found my home - a geek among geeks. One trait that most gifted students - and adults - share is a refusal to read instructions. I don't know if it's because we like the challenge of figuring out how to to do things on our own or the ego of thinking we're smarter than the instructions. It could be a combination of both.

I've put together lots of kid toys, set up computers, formatted my iPod, and the like all without reading instructions manuals or looking at diagrams. Granted, these projects haven't always gone well or according to plan, and there has been much cursing and and yelling at times. Just because I don't like to read the instructions doesn't mean I know what I'm doing.

But knitting is teaching me that I have to follow the directions, step by step, one line at a time, or bad things happen. And I'm not sure I like it.

Right now I'm working on my first-ever sweater. It's a top-down pattern knit on circular needles. My mom insists that it is a good pattern for a first sweater. But I'm not so sure - the instructions make absolutely no sense to me at all. I keep re-reading them, hoping to figure out what is going on, but I'm still lost.

So I've decided to stop reading ahead and to just trust that instructions are correct and that if I follow them I'll end up with a sweater. So far, I just have a lot of knitting that doesn't look like much of anything.

I've already had to rip everything out and start over once. I'm far enough in now, that I really hope I don't have to do so again. That would be the end of the project.

And for the knitters who care about such things - the yarn is Cascade Quatro, colorway Jamaica. It's 100 % Peruvian wool.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are you ready?

Ever since I found out my delivery date and shared the news, people have been asking me if I'm ready for the baby. Well . . .

I'm definitely ready to not be pregnant anymore; the magic and wonder of pregnancy wore off some time during my second pregnancy. I'm ready to not have an alien inside me, kicking me in the ribs while I'm trying to sleep. I'm ready to wear normal clothes again. I've gotten VERY tired of the three pairs of pants and six shirts that currently fit me, and I'm too cheap and too stubborn to go buy more maternity clothes for the next 5 1/2 weeks. But if I get any larger, I may be forced to. Or I'll just wear pajamas all the time. I'm ready to be able to go walking and running again. I miss being able to exercise.

I am not, however, ready to actually have a baby in the house. There's still so much I need to do before November 4. Here's my list, in no particular order:

1. Clean out my closet. I have to do this to find the cradle that I know is stored in there somewhere.
2. Put together said cradle.
3. Dig out what few newborn clothes I packed away for sentimental reasons. But, as with the cradle, I have to clean out my closet to find the clothes.
4. Buy newborn clothes, once I figure out what stuff I already have.
5. Buy a different car. The car I drive now, while I love it, will not hold four children, at least not legally. Ella has volunteered to ride in the wayback, but I think I'd probably get arrested for that.
6. Buy diapers
7. Figure out what, if anything, I'm going to give to the girls as their "big sister" presents.
8. Call the hospital billing office and work out a payment schedule for the many thousands of dollars this is going to cost us.
9. Cry about the many thousands of dollars this is going to cost us.
10. Get the kids to draw pictures on this special transfer paper and send them to my aunt so she can put them in a quilt for the baby.
11. Wrap up three work projects, one of which has a deadline that's the same as my due date.


Fortunately, my across-the-street neighbor has loaned a bunch of baby gear like a baby bucket car seat, bouncy seat, and swing because I had given away all of my stuff. And another friend gave us her son's crib. Thank goodness for small favors.

So while I'm desperate to not be pregnant, I'll take every day I can get to prepare for this next stage in our lives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The eighth pair

Yesterday afternoon I finished the socks that wouldn't end. I bought the wool in July when my mom was here, and I loved the colors on the skein.

I didn't, however, like how the socks striped up. The colors and stripes are a bit too busy for me. I had cast on with a ladder pattern, but once I got about two inches into the first sock I realized it was just too much with the stripes, the colors, and the ribbing pattern. So I ripped everything out and started over with just a plain pattern. The first sock knit quickly, mostly because we were at the beach and I was trapped in the house with Campbell. The second sock was a struggle to finish. I even took time away from knitting it to do some baby hats.

After I finished the socks, I counted up what I've knit in the past year - it's been almost exactly a year since my mom got me started on my first pair of socks. Here's my tally:

8 pairs of socks
6 pairs of baby booties
3 baby hats
1 grown-up hat
1 felted purse

That's not bad for a year of squeezing knitting in where I can.

I'm feeling burned out on socks for the moment, so I'm knitting some more baby hats out of a watch cap pattern that I'm making up as I go along. Next I might try a sweater. My mom sent me the pattern that she used to make this sweater for Campbell. It's knit on circular needles from the neck down and sounds like something I can handle. I'll visit the yarn store tomorrow night while I'm waiting for Ella to finish climbing practice.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ten inches

That's how much I cut off my hair this week. Ten whole inches. I'd been growing it out so that I could make a donation to Locks of Love, and I am very glad that it was finally long enough. I had had enough of drowning in my hair.

I go through this cycle every five years or so, where I'll grow my hair long and then lop it all off. This time I decided to cut it all off for a purpose.

There have been some disasters of short hair cuts in the past. My hair isn't straight, but it isn't curly either - it's more lumpy than anything - and it's hard to predict what will happen when I cut it short.

Here I am with long hair.
Here are the two pony tails. I have pretty thick hair, so my hairdresser was able to divide it into two big chunks. Everyone in the shop gathered around when she pulled out the scissors and did the cutting. I closed my eyes.
And here I am with very, very short hair. I love it, even if my face does look like a big round moon pie these days. I think all the weight I've gained has gone straight to my cheeks.

The reviews from other people have been mixed, though. My husband HATES it. Of course, if he had his way, I'd have hair down to my rear end. What is it with men and long hair? The girls keep asking when and if my hair is going to grow back. Campbell is oblivious.

My friends have been kinder. They all say it looks great, and maybe they are lying to me, but I don't care. I'll take the positive comments where I can get them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Election day baby

Finally, after months of stress and waiting, I have a delivery date set. Provided that I don't go into labor early, which given my track record with babies is entirely possible, my c-section is scheduled for 7:00 am on Tuesday, November 4.

For the first time since I turned 18, I'll have to do early voting. I love the routine and process of going to the polling place on election day and standing in line with my neighbors. But this year's election is just too important to miss, even though my vote for president doesn't count for much in Texas, which is thoroughly Republican.

Also, an update on my doctor - she has indeed had to retire from practicing due to a degenerative bone disorder in her hands. It's heartbreaking - she is so good at what she does and loves it so much. I saw my new doctor this week, and while she's not Dr. L., I feel good about switching to her practice. She'll be the one doing my c-section.

Let the countdown begin.

Rock star

Ella has joined her first official team. She's now a member of the Austin Rock Gym Junior Climbing Team, which means B and I are now responsible for driving her to and from practice twice a week - at rush hour, in far south Austin. Sigh.

I took her to practice on Tuesday and managed to snap a few pictures while she was bouldering, which is when they climb without a harness. I try not to get too nervous when I see her 20 feet off the ground clinging to the wall by her fingertips, but sometimes it's hard.

In the above picture you can see the coach's hands. I'm not sure what good she would do if Ella fell from that height, but I guess they need to at least give the appearance that they're spotting the kids.

Here Ella was climbing "problems." All of the grips on the walls have colored pieces of tape under them that mark different routes. Ella had to climb the wall using only the grips that had certain colors of tape under them. At least that's what I think she was doing. I'm still figuring out how it all works.

Soon she'll be traveling to competitions. I'm not sure how exactly they compete, but I do know it's a big thing. The head coach just got back from the Junior World Climbing Championships in Australia. The US kids took 3rd overall.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday little Roo

How time flies. Two years ago today Campbell looked like this . . .

And here he is now, celebrating his second birthday. It's hard to believe he's two already. Everytime I saw something like that to my dad, he points out that he has a tough time believing his little girl is a 38-year-old mother of three (almost four).

I'm feeling a little misty today, and it's not just because I'm sick. My baby boy is growing up so fast.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two hats in two days

When my mother was here in July, she brought me a skein of yarn from a South African company called Be Sweet. The wool was called Magic Ball and the colorway was "Nemo's World." The skein contains multiple kinds of wool all blended together and had enough wool to make two baby hats.

I've been working on a pair of socks that just won't end, so the other night I took a break and cast on the first of the baby hats, using a pattern from Be Sweet. Basically, I used size 9 dpns, cast on 54 stitches and knit for four inches. Then I ran a ribbon through the last row and cinched it tight. Et voila, a hat. I'm just worried that they are too little.

I used Lily's doll, Bitty Baby, as a model. This first hat is definitely a girl baby hat. The very top stripe has pink fluffy stuff in it.

This second hat could work for a boy baby. I could add a blue ribbon or some sort of trim to the top if I need to. There are bobbles of yarn on the top that were in the wool, and boy were they tough to knit around. I had to monkey around with the stitches to get the bobbles on the outside of the hat.
I may go to the yarn store and pick out more fluffy yarn to make more of these hats. I have a bunch of pregnant friends, and they'd make good gifts, especially since they are so fast and easy to knit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cake messes

And now for something completely different . . .

I have a new favorite time-suck Web site to along with icanhascheezburger. It's called Cake Wrecks, and it's a collection of professionally made cakes that are wrong for all sorts of reasons - from a cake that looks like a pregnant woman's belly to one in the shape of Tom Selleck, complete with chest hair, and everything in between.

Last year, for Campbell's first birthday, I splurged and ordered a cake from our fancy grocery store instead of our usual neighborhood one, which has always provided us with excellent cakes. We were having the birthday party at fancy store's playground, and they have this rule about only allowing food that's been purchased at the store on the playground, and I figured I should play by the rules.

When I ordered the cake by phone, I spelled Campbell's name for the guy three times before giving up and saying, "Just like Campbell's soup." The guy said, "Ah, got it." I figured I was safe at that point.
On the day of the party, I ran into the store and picked up the cake along with drinks and ice cream and a fruit tray. The store was a zoo, and I had to wait about 10 minutes at the bakery, so when the woman handed the cake to me, I gave it a quick look and headed for the check-out. During the 10 minutes I stood in line at the check out, I took a closer look at the cake and discovered a problem. Ten points to anyone who spots the error.

At that point I was already late to my own son's birthday party, so I decided to just let it go. I didn't have the energy to go back to the bakery. Plus, I figured there wasn't much they could do about it anyway. But even now, a year later, it still grates on me that I spent as much money as I did on a cake with Campbell's name spelled wrong. I've never ordered a cake from that store again.

This year I'm not taking any chances - I'm making cupcakes for the party. They won't be fancy, but they'll still taste good.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I hate insurance companies

B and I are both self-employed, which means we are self-insured. We pay a pretty large premium each month for so-so coverage and a large deductible. Our insurance plan does not cover pregnancy or delivery, which means we're paying everything for Baby Bee out of pocket. We had to pay out of pocket for Campbell, but because I had to have an emergency c-section, insurance did cough up for part of it. At any rate, this pregnancy and delivery will cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $12,000, and that's including the 20% discount my OB offered since we paid up front for her services.

Last week I received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield touting this new FREE BENEFIT they're offering pregnant women. It's called something like Healthy Start, and basically all it involves is assigning me an OB nurse who will call and check in with me every few weeks to see how the pregnancy is going, answer any questions, and make sure I'm getting the appropriate pre-natal care. I ripped up the letter and threw it in the trash.

Wednesday afternoon I got a call from a BCBS rep checking to see if I had received the letter and asking whether I was interested enrolling in the FREE BENEFIT. She kept stressing what a great program it was - and did she mention it was FREE. I told her I'd be a whole lot more impressed if BCBS would actually cover my pregnancy and delivery. That stumped her for a moment, but then she got back on script about what a great service they were offering by providing guidance throughout my pregnancy - for FREE. I told her it was my 4th pregnancy and I pretty much knew what I was doing at this point. She paused again before getting back on script, asking for the third time if I wanted to enroll in this FREE BENEFIT. I answered that I only have 8 weeks to go, so they're a little late with the offer. At that point she gave up and ended the call.

I just found the whole thing insulting. They are offering this FREE BENEFIT like it's something I should be so grateful for, when it's nothing more than a couple of phone calls from a nurse. BCBS is touting it as a way to help women have healthy pregnancies and full-term babies, but really it's nothing more than a cost-saving effort on their part. The more healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries, the less money they have to pay out in claims later on. Not that having regular calls from a nurse would have prevented my emergency c-section with Campbell. No phone call in the world would have stopped him from flipping breech three days before he was born.

There is the chance that I'm being cynical and unfair. Maybe BCBS really does care and really does want to to help pregnant women, no ulterior financial motives involved.

Fat chance.

Can we put it on a t-shirt?

A reader named Amanda (Hi Amanda!) left a great comment on my ranting post about Sarah Palin. She read the quote on another blog, and whoever wrote it originally ought to be printing it on t-shirts and bumper stickers.

Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor.

It might need to be shortened a bit to fit, but even shortened, it's a brilliant statement.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In memoriam

Nothing to say today. Just hug your family and tell them you love them. And take a moment to remember those who died on that horrible day seven years ago.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Movie Review

I rarely see movies in the theaters. I don't know why, but I've been that way all my life. One of my ex-boyfriends used to describe me to his friends as "the one who's never seen any movies." Lately, my reasons for not seeing movies include the cost of hiring a sitter and the migraines I get from any movies with loud sounds and bright lights.

Occasionally, however, a movie comes along that I make a point of seeing. Man on Wire is one of those movies. I talked two friends into going, but I would have seen it even if I didn't have any company. Here's my review, in four words - GO.SEE.THIS.MOVIE.

It's a documentary about Phillipe Petit, the wirewalker, who, with the help of a band of merry men, strung a cable between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent 45 minutes walking back and forth, 110 stories above the ground.

The movie chronicles Petit's other exploits - walking between the two towers of Notre Dame and between the stanchion towers of the Sydney Harbor Bridge - as well as his preparations for the WTC walk. Petit and his co-conspirators filmed a lot of their preparations, which the movie includes. When there isn't first-hand footage, the movie uses goofy re-enactments that are actually a lot of fun.

Petit retells a lot of the story, and the filmmakers struck gold when they picked him as a subject. In his 60s, at least, he is still as energetic and enthusiastic in his retelling as he was in the home movies taken in the '70s. The film includes interviews with the other conspirators, and they are just as much fun, if a little more contemplative than Petit. They seemed to grasp, in retrospect, just how badly it could have turned out. Two of them refused to take part at the last minute because they were too afraid that they were sending their friend to his death. The interviews alone are worth the price of admission.

Watching Petit and his compatriots, I couldn't help but wonder that they pulled it off. They were just such numbskulls most of the time. One of the American helpers admitted to being stoned when he showed up on the day they set everything up.

The lack of real security was also amazing. Petit and his crew made counterfeit ID badges and basically strolled right in to the building and took the freight elevators to the top floor and then walked the rest of the way. They did have to hide out from security guards, but other than that, no one noticed them - not even during all their reconnaissance trips in the months leading up to the walk when they climbed all over the roof, taking pictures of everything.

Some of the footage included in the movie is just amazing, like the shots of Petit actually doing his walk. There was one shot from street level looking up at Petit; he just shows up as this little tiny dot moving back and forth. And the filmmakers included a picture that Petit or someone from his crew took looking straight down to the street. The idea that Petit stepped out on a wire 110 stories in the air is just beyond belief.

There is no mention of September 11 in the movie, which is how it should be. But you can't help but be reminded of what eventually happened while watching the footage of the construction of the towers. Seeing the big beams being put into place was all too reminiscent of seeing them being lifted out of the rubble pile, twisted and scorched.

When the movie ended I was struck at the audience's silence. No one moved or spoke while the credits rolled. I've never seen that happen in a movie before. I think we were all just so absorbed in the magic of the movie that we didn't want to leave the theater.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Work, what work?

My work calendar has cleared up significantly in the past week, for which I am grateful. A project I've been working on for about 18 months at the textbook company I work for is finally nearing completion. We're in our final round of approvals, and the product should be going live within a few weeks. I should only have one more set of edits to proof, and then I'll be completely finished with it. Halleluah.

I picked up another quickie project from the textbook company last week and was able to bill a quick 10 hours. It was a relief to work on something that had such a short turnaround time and quick completion date.

Things have also slowed down with my other client, for whom I do a fair amount of writing. All of my drafts are either being reviewed by the experts or are in the process of going live.

Now, ordinarily, I'd be a bit panicked at not having any work on the horizon; it's a freelancer's worst nightmare. But I'm not. In fact I'm kind of hoping nothing else comes along for a week or two. It was such a long summer of trying to balance working at home with kids who were home and cramming work hours wherever I could. It wore me out.

I'm looking forward to taking guilt-free naps in the afternoons while Campbell rests. When I have projects going, I have to use that quiet time to get stuff done. I'm also looking forward to doing whatever I want during the two mornings a week Campbell is at school. I can run errands or get my hair cut or go to the dentist (or not) without having to hire a sitter or drag a reluctant toddler along. I have a limited number of those mornings left before Baby Bee arrives, so I want to take advantage of them while I can.

So I'm going to enjoy this lull, knowing from more than five years' worth of freelancing that it will be short-lived.

Right now, I'm going work on finishing a pair of socks that are taking me forever to knit.

Monday, September 08, 2008

That didn't take long

We've only just begun our third week of school and already all three kids have been sick. It certainly didn't take long for the bugs to start being shared.

Campbell started the trend last Wednesday afternoon by spiking a fever of 103.5. It came down relatively quickly with Advil, but he was a mess the rest of the day. At 9:00 pm he woke up fussing, and I checked his temperature - 104.1. Time for more Advil. His fever broke at about 1:00 am, and he woke up Thursday morning without a temperature. Unfortunately, he was a cranky, clingy kid the rest of the day.

Friday afternoon Ella came home from school saying she was tired. I should have known something was wrong, because the child will NEVER admit to being tired. She had a birthday party that evening, and I asked if she was too tired to go, and of course she said no. I chalked her tiredness up to her first rock climbing team practice the night before. She climbed for two hours and then didn't get to bed until later than usual. I explained all this to the birthday girl's mom when I dropped Ella off and headed to another party with Lily. When I picked Ella up two hours later, she was mostly asleep on the sofa, despite the commotion of the party. As soon as we got in the car, she started sobbing that her head hurt. I took her temperature when we got home - 103.5. No wonder she had been so droopy before the party. I felt awful for sending her off to the party without noticing she was sick.

Ella spent most of Saturday flat on the sofa watching movies. But she rebounded with a vengeance Saturday night, bouncing off the walls with energy. She's been fine ever since.

However, it's Lily's turn now. She started complaining of a headache Sunday afternoon. So I took her temperature - 100.3 - and gave her Advil. She and I took a three-hour nap in my bed, but she was still complaining of a headache when she woke up. Today she's at home, flat on the sofa. She doesn't have a high fever, but she obviously doesn't feel well. So she's missing school and her first ballet class of the fall. I haven't even mentioned that to her because I know it will cause buckets of tears.

My hope is that neither B nor I come down with whatever this is. Although, you would think that after three kids we would have become immune to pretty much whatever they bring home.

In the meantime, we'll have another quiet day of watching PBS and drinking Sprite.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The end is in sight

Not the end of my pregnancy. I still have nine long weeks to go.

Not the end of the political season. We still have nine long weeks to go (yes, I'm due election week).

No, it's the end of the summer heat, and I couldn't be happier. Our dog Mollie and I always perk up this time of year. It's like we come out of our summer heat-induced hibernation and return to life. I'll even willingly leave the house in the afternoons to run errands and sit out in the yard while the kids play.

Don't get me wrong, it's still hot here. We hit 100 degrees on Tuesday for the 50th time this summer, but there is a definite change in the weather. The mornings are cool enough for me to open the windows and let in some fresh air. Campbell and I have been taking Mollie for walks around the block and not coming home drippy and sweaty. Mollie is acting like a spry 10-year-old dog instead of a 13-year-old one.

Summer's back has been broken, and I've survived my 14th year of miserable heat.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Political ranting ahead

So fresh off my feeling of hopefullness last week, I was brought down by the whole Sarah Palin debacle. I've been struggling to put into words ever since her selection was announced just why it bothers me so much, because it really does.

I can't find one thing in specific that gets to me; rather, I have a list.

1. Her selection is political pandering, pure and simple. McCain and Rs picked her because she is pro-life, conservative, pro NRA, and Christian. The Christian right hasn't been a big fan of McCain, and Palin shores up his religious credentials.

It's also pandering, in a horribly misguided way, to women. And, frankly, I find it insulting that the Rs believe I'm going to change parties just because they've picked a woman even though she stands for everything I find repellant about the extreme right.

I know the Rs were hoping to pull Hillary's supporters over, but I can't see that working. I have friends who support Hillary and who are plenty ticked that she didn't get the nomination, but not one of them - NOT ONE - is going to vote for McCain just because he picked a woman.

2. She has no experience, at least not the kind necessary for someone who is one heartbeat away from the presidency. Being the mayor of a small town and then governor for two years is not enough to qualify someone. And if I hear one more R mouthpiece say that she has foreign affairs experience because Alaska is next to both Russia and Canada, I'm going to scream. It's not like the Russians have been threatening to cross the Bering Strait and invade. And the Canadians are too polite to cross the border without permission. Then there's the fact that the current occupant's only leadership experience was being governor, and look where that got us.

It's also getting painful to watch the R mouthpieces try to defend Palin and her credentials. They won't deviate from their talking points to actually answer a question. And in the rare instances when they do, their answers are such baldfaced lies that I wince - like today when Guiliani said he believes Palin is qualified to handle an event like 9/11. I nearly barfed up my coffee at that one. There's also a clip on You Tube of Campbell Brown of CNN beating up one of the many Tuckers who is on McCain's staff over his inability to give a clear answer on any decision Palin made regarding the Alaska National Guard.

The party's claims that her experience as small-town mayor and governor make her more qualified that Obama are laughable. One commentator pointed out that by Rs' standards, she's actually more qualified than McCain to lead.

Palin's record of being a maverick and standing up against the status quo in Alaska also seems to be overblown. She was for the "bridge to nowhere" before she was against it, and even though she rails against earmarks, she paid a lobbying firm hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure millions in earmarks for Alaska.

3. I think choosing such an unqualified candidate has set back the cause. She wasn't picked because of her experience or qualifications but because she's a Christian woman. While I don't agree with their politics, there are plenty of women in the Republican party who would have made far better candidates. If McCain had picked Kay Bailey or Christine Whitman or Olympia Snowe, I would have applauded his choice to put a woman on the ticket, even if I had no intention of voting for her.

4. Making the choice to have a baby who has Down's syndrome is not limited to pro-choice, evangelical, Republican women. I'm tired of hearing about heroic Palin is and how she walks the walk just because she chose to not have an abortion. I'm about as pro-choice as they come, and I'm not religious, but if I had been in the same situation, I would have had the baby too. That's why B and I have never had any of the pre-natal screening the doctors have tried to push on us: finding out that something was wrong with the baby wouldn't change our minds about having it.

5. I feel awful for the daughter. I can't imagine being 17 and pregnant and having everyone in the country sitting in judgment of my actions. I can't believe the Palins put their daughter in the position of having to go through this in public, and I do hold both parents accountable. They had to have known what would happen when the news broke, and they had to have known it would.

Plus there's the whole hypocrisy part of the story. If the Obamas had a 17-year-old pregnant daughter, you know darn well the religious right would be casting aspersions on the Obamas' parenting skills and family values. Instead, we're supposed to congratulate Bristol on her choice not to have an abortion and on her family's support.

However, if McCain and Palin have their way, Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and other 17-year-old girls who don't have the same support Bristol does will have no choice other than have the baby or give it up for adoption. Given that both McCain and Palin support abstinence only sex education, there will be more pregnant teenagers.

Plus, news broke today that as governor, Palin used her line-item veto power to cut 20% from the budget of an organization that offers housing and job training services to teen mothers. To me, this sends the message that Governor Palin doesn't believe teen mothers who aren't her daughter are worthy of support and assistance.

6. How do Obama and Biden deal with her? If they go after her at all, they'll be accused of being sexist and beating up on a woman. Her family life is off-limits, which means the Ds can't talk about her pro-life or religious leanings without being accused of bringing her daughter into it.


So there's my list, for now. I'm sure I'll find other things that bother me. I have no intention of watching Palin's speech tonight; I think it would send my blood pressure through the roof. At the very least, I'd end up shouting at the television, and it's never a good thing when I start doing that. I think I'll watch Project Runway instead.

I've now seen clips and read excerpts from her speech, and it seems the McCain camp did a good job of getting her ready. I, however, found her shrill and her speech sneering and insulting. Instead of talking about what she and McCain would do for the country or about her actual accomplishments in Alaska - other than selling the state's jet - she spent her time running down Obama and Biden. I know she got everyone at the convention worked up, but I truly hope that's as far as her influence goes.

Guest blogger

It's finally happened! I was asked to be a guest blogger - it's only taken two years of blogging. Today I'm the guest blogger over at The Fish Pond for Fishy Girl, who is on vacation at a house without Internet access. Who knew such a place existed? I was so excited when Fishy Girl asked me to write something for her blog, but then the pressure kicked in. I spent a week writing and deleting posts. I was trying to be witty and clever and just like MadMad, but then I gave up and decided to just be me.

I sometimes think Fishy Girl and I were separated at birth because we have so much in common. She has four kids; I have a fourth on the way. She used to be an English teacher; I'm the daughter of an English teacher and a hopeless grammarian. She used to be a Stampin Up! rep; I've spent WAY too much money on Stampin Up! products. You get the idea.

Because Fishy Girl has four kids, she's really the only one whose advice I listen to when I start to freak out about having a fourth kid - she's already been there, done that and has lived to tell the tale. She's talked me off a ledge a number of times when I've been in panic mode about how on earth I'm going to manage four kids ages 8 and under.

So if you have a few minutes, head on over the Fish Pond and check it out. And if you're one of Fishy Girl's readers visiting me - Welcome! Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and nose around for a while.