Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My Publisher

Well, it got really late and I got really tired and I still have my book club book to finish. (Review coming very soon, like it or not.)

So instead of a real post, I'll just do a plug for a product in which I sadly have no personal stake. Jessica first turned me on to My Publisher Bookmaker, and it's awesome. If you've always wanted to have lovely books of organized photos but hate scrapbooking, this is totally for you. Especially when they have their 2-for-1 sales!

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Mondays

Happy Monday, everyone!

It has been an incredibly busy weekend. On Friday afternoon, Paul, who is a very young elder at our church, left for a weekend session retreat. I finally got Ellie to bed around 10:30, after which I had a little snack while watching some Olympics - I'm now three days behind coming out of this weekend - and cleaned the house. I tried to read a little of my book club's February selection before passing out.

On Saturday morning, Lizzi decided that even though Ellie and I wanted to sleep in until 7:00, we should all get up around 6:00 like normal. Then some friends came over to play, which made things better. They left, and Ellie napped.

Ellie has had a rough week. I wonder if she's still getting her 2-year molars, because it took over 3 hours to get her to sleep most nights last week, and her only naps involved being in bed with me while I sang to her or rubbed her back whenever she woke up enough to realize that I'd stopped. I hope that this week is better; she had a long nap today and we got her to sleep in about an hour tonight. That's still too long, but it's better.

After Ellie woke up on Saturday afternoon, we met some other friends at the park for a windy playdate, then they came home with us for an evening of fun. Paul met us after his retreat, and we all went out to dinner. Then we played with the kids until bedtime. For a wonder, both toddlers were asleep by 8:30, leaving the grownups to play games four hours. After our friends left, Paul and I passed out again without accomplishing anything on our weekend To Do list.

Sunday morning came too early, as always. We went to church, after which we had a reception for our beloved youth minister, whose reserve unit is shipping out to Iraq. His wife - also a friend - is stationed here and will not be going with him to Iraq or to the base where he'll be stationed for 2 years after returning from his year-long tour in Iraq. Man. Wow oh wow. I really admire and respect what he's doing: the soldiers over there must really need good Chaplains and he's great, but this will be incredibly hard on him and on his family. This could easily become a whole post on its own, so I'll leave it there for the moment.

After naps, we met up with still other friends and their toddler for dinner then rejoined back here for sugar free desserts and toothless coffee drinks.

I finally watched the women's figure skating final, then hopped onto the computer to do this before bed.


In closing, I've had to restrict Anonymous comments again, since unfortunately this blog has gotten some trolls who feel most comfortable spewing hate anonymously. I apologize to all of the non-trolls who don't have Blogger accounts and are inconvenienced by this. An explanation is over in the Passionate Posts section of the sidebar, if anyone really wants to search it out. I don't intend that post to be something for most of you to read, but it's a good place to point the trolls who come here just to tell me how wrong I am.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Shout Outs to Blogger Comments

Thanks to Blogger Comments, the super cool duo of my sister-in-law and her husband are coming to visit! They're going to take care of Ellie while Paul and I get some stuff done around here. And spend some quality time with us too, of course. Wahoo!

OK, now you go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Oh, Oh Olympics: Rants and Raves

The announcers who talk about "these girls" when referring to the female athletes, especially when they're referring to "these girls" in their 30s. (I can understand it a little better when they're actually talking about, say, young teenage gymnasts.) Ditto for the announcers who make it sound like they're advertising Ladies' Night at a bar when calling the women's competitions.
Edited to add: and what's up with the anchors? Where's Mary Carillo? She got to do much more coverage in Athens in 2004. That extended time-fill improvisation she did on badminton should have won an award.

Shaun White. This guy is an amazing athlete and his personality shines. He glows with Olympic spirit and good sportsmanship. And he was born with a serious heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot. He has had two open heart surgeries, and will need to take prophylactic antibiotics before he has his teeth cleaned at the dentist's for the rest of his life. But look at what he's done. Powerful.

Rave and Rant:
Bode Miller and his detractors. Miller is also an incredible athlete, but I feel sorry for him. His many critics have been suggesting that he's a let-down and a failure to have not won Torino gold. There's no shame in placing as highly as he has in this field of competitors at the Olympics. Moreover, many many people are criticizing his "work ethic." I have some thoughts about that. First, I defy most of us to meet his work ethic. Miller competed in something like 136 competitions and took something like 1 weekend off in preparation for these games. That's not slacking on the couch, folks. And what about the party-animal rumors? I don't think that Bode skis a mental run. I think he fears overthinking his events, something many athletes fall prey to. I suspect that Miller performs best as an underdog, and to cope with all the hype, he sets himself up to be coming from behind. It's not an unusual strategy, and it has often worked quite well for him. And again, there's no shame in placing 7th or 9th in this field.

Michelle Kwan has handled herself with composure and grace as always, even in the face of critics like this asshat "mental health professional" (pity his clients!) who tells her "You're too old for the gold. Go home and rock that cradle." Sexist implications aside, he's flat wrong about her skill. Kwan is one of the most graceful and talented skaters in the world, still, today. And she has a lot more pressure on her than do some of the younger skaters, of whom not much is yet expected. Still, she holds up under the pressure, never cracking, rarely falling. And she put the team ahead of her ego, refusing to skate while injured.

Gentle Criticism:
Lindsey Jacobellis. Jacobellis had an incredible day. She had the gold locked up, and with it she would have clinched a U.S. lock on 4 snowboarding golds: men's and women's half-pipe and snowboard cross. But she celebrated early, hot-dogged a method air, and fell. She won silver. I don't blame her for showing off. I don't blame her for denying it in the first interviews. And I admire her for having the guts to sit down with that jerk, Bob Costas, to admit her mistake. I wish her luck in future competitions. But the Olympics aren't just another competition. Olympic athletes represent their countries in this competition moreso than they do anywhere else. I wish that Jacobellis had acknowledged that she let down her country (or her fans at home, if you prefer) with that unnecessary move, rather than just saying that she has "no regrets."

But I gotta go. I'm still two nights behind!

Oh, Hi!

In my fantasy world, someone will drop a pile of money in my lap and say, "Here! I insist that you use this to build that home office you've been wanting."

Because in my dream world, the computer isn't stuck in the guest room, rendering it inaccessible when we have company staying with us.

Neither is the computer sitting on the kitchen table, as it did for about a year after Ellie's nursery rendered my office obsolete.

And I can have a room with a door, a large computer desk, file drawers, and horizontal surfaces upon which to place my beloved piles. I am a pile person and I like to be a relatively neat person, two traits that are incompatible when aligned with my mother-of-a-toddler persona. What could possibly be more fun than removing papers from the top of the coffee table? Apparently, very little.

Where is the Big Pile of Money fairy? The only fairy I've seen around lately is the Big Pile of Dept fairy, who pays us regular visits. We don't discourage her company, though, because we have a really cool basement bathroom and neato retaining walls to show for it. We do wish that this fairy twosome would work in tandem, though.

Anyway, I'm here again!

And it was lovely having my mom in for the weekend. We went to The Magic House and The City Museum. The Magic House is exactly what it claims to be, and The City Museum is the sort of place that I can't believe really exists. I mean, who would insure them? Who would let their kids climb around that death trap? The City Museum is the sort of place that should be required for all children, but is all too often discouraged in favor of safe activities.

And on Sunday we spent a fun afternoon with Paul's high school best friend and his wife.

So, I'm full of excuses, but the truth is that mostly I've been watching the Olympics. I'm glued to the tube! But I'm two days behind, so don't tell me what happened.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Deep Thoughts, Not By Jack Handey

Here comes some strange writing that sounds melodramatic:

Some periods of time have a really distinct identity that's strong enough to effect everyone who lived through them. For example, everyone talks about the radical 1960s, either with approbation or derision. But the fact is that the 1960s changed "us," both as a society and as individuals. I was thinking about how the 1960s changed forever the way we - as a society - see the world. Jim Crow, justice, peace, feminism, civil liberties - these are some big issues.

But what of the children who grow up during these distinctive periods? Certainly, they were more effected than the adults, who were already formed by the times of their own upbringings and are usually malleable in slighter and more subtle ways.

What, then, about me, a child of the 1970s? And my youngest sister, a child of the 1980s? Surely we too were shaped by the times of our childhoods, if perhaps not so dramatically.

In thinking about the 80s I wonder about that decade's legacy: me first; high maintenance beauty ideals; a shiny, happy face, country club coke parties replacing reefer around the campfire.

The children of the 1980s are now adults. How will they change the world?

One very interesting thing about children of the 80s and beyond - and I'll include some children of the 1970s in here too, for those like myself whose sexual awakening came in the later 1980s and beyond:

We see sex and death as inextricably linked. We see sex as dangerous in a way that mere birth control cannot address. How does this change us? How will it change the world?


And now you know what I jot in my notebook late at night when I'm curled up in a hotel bed on a business trip. Thank goodness I'm alone at these times and everyone else is spared my rambling "deep" thoughts. Until now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day with a toddler:

Last night was spent staying up far too late trying to exercise, relax, and have some "me" time. "Happy Valentine's Day, sweetie"'s were exchanged well before the adults crashed into sleep.

This morning came far too early, with a short parental Valentine's power struggle regarding who had to get up with the beautiful toddler (Mama won, as usual, by playing dead and teaching her to cry for Dada in the morning).

In addition to her precious giggle, the toddler's Valentine's offerings included such gems as trying to get into the shower with Mama, flooding the bathroom in the process, and throwing lots of tomato sauce on the - formerly very light - family room carpet.

Still, it was a warm, lovely, sunny day, and after an hour of PT outside, Mama managed to have a lovely romantic dinner ready when Daddy got home from work. The beloved toddler slept through dinner, then battled sleep until after 9:30, nearly 2-1/2 hours post bedtime.

The romantic dinner - heart-shaped meatloaf included - was eaten by Mama and Dada on the couch in front of the Olympics, in shifts, while the candles rested unlit on the dining room table with the condiments.

Presents were exchanged. Candy was not.

"Me" time commenced shortly before 10:00 pm, setting up a similar tomorrow.

Hug the One You're With

Bye-bye, Rose. I hope you're feeling better.

This week's Grey's Anatomy kept asking, What would you want to do, if today was your last day to live?

I really like what Moreena has to say about living every day as if it's your last. "You just can't live life that way, not really."

She's right. But sometimes it's good to remember to pick up that child who is driving you crazy and squeeze her until she squirms away, just breathing in the perfection of her hair and skin for as long as you can.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Last Name Thing - Part II

What a wonderful discussion below about The Last Name Thing! Thank you to everyone who's been chiming in. I have a couple more things I want to add:

In some ways, The Last Name Thing is more controversial than abortion. In part, this is because most of the people having the discussion are progressives, and most progressives already support a woman's right to choose abortion but are divided on the Last Name issue. Many people who are otherwise quite liberal are OK with women not taking their husbands' names, but only if it doesn't affect their own families.

Certainly, most people don't want to legislate against women keeping their own names. But neither do they want to talk about it.

"It's my choice," is where the discussion often begins and ends.

And that's true. It is our choice as adults to decide what we want to be called.

It is also my choice if I want to wear a cute little pink t-shirt that says, "Math is hard." It's my choice if I want to be an at-home mom.

My point is not that choosing to take your husband's name is equivalent to walking around with "Juicy" on your butt - I don't believe that it is! - but rather that our choices are not made in a vacuum. There's significant social pressure on us to choose what we choose, and our choices effect others.

So while I support my friends who've changed their names, and will vigorously defend them against anyone who's judgmental about their choices, I also think it's important to talk about why it's so often the husband's name that's so freely "chosen" for the family name.

I want it to be more of a real choice for my daughters.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


OK, I have a follow-up post with my thoughts relating to the Gender Traitor post below (and the discussion that follows!) but they'll wait for tomorrow. For a little Friday flare, I have a short story from my day today.


I found my purse lying on the floor, and it had clearly been searched. My wallet was open on the floor next to the purse. My mobile phone, which had slipped through a hole in the lining of the purse, was still in place.

As I placed everything back into my purse, it seemed that all was accounted for. Except -

There was the lid to my chapstick, not a foot away from the purse. The chapstick itself was nowhere to be seen.

I found it later tonight, in another room, completely eaten.

I don't think it was the dog.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Gender Traitor - The Name Thing

The one in which I criticize other women and feel bad about it.

On a one-on-one basis, I get the name thing. I get the desire to have a single, simple family identity embodied in a name. I get the desire to lose the name of an abusive father or a despised ex-husband. I get it. I'm sympathetic.

But in the bigger picture, sometimes it frustrates me. It frustrates me that it's still the "norm" for women to change their names rather than the reverse, or some combination involving give-and-take on both sides. Some months after I got married, a woman at work - someone I didn't know very well and who doesn't know my husband at all - sent me an email saying that she almost didn't recognize me because my name hadn't changed. I mean, really!

That's small potatoes, though, because what really frustrates me are the professional ramifications. More specifically, how it effects me at work. I want to contact someone in the licensing department in Philadelphia, but I can't just shoot her an email or look her up in the company directory. I can't find her in the system because she got divorced and I can't remember her new last name.

One woman I worked with had 3 last names in 10 years. That's actually not so uncommon: single, married, divorced, remarried. I work with a lot of women. It's hard for me to remember names at the best of times, and when I have to remember the revolving names of dozens or hundreds of colleagues, it's just impossible. I was looking around the room during a meeting today, and saw several women whose names have changed in the past few years. It's very hard to keep track of women at work.

The thing is, I know and understand the stories of lots of these women. This one got divorced, that one got remarried, I love them and I understand why they changed their names. I am sympathetic. But why do they have to change their names at work every time?

At what point does it become unprofessional?

At what point does it begin to effect the way all women are seen in a professional setting?

Is there a point, after some arbitrary milestone, when a woman might decide to keep one name - a birth name or another one - just professionally?

When does the personal become political?

Is the personal ever really just personal?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"You Can't Be Both Catholic and Pro-Choice"

Of course you can.

This is a bumper sticker I see around St. Louis quite often, usually on the back of a pick-up truck or mini-van driven by a man. Aside: Most anti-abortion bumper stickers I see are on vehicles driven by men or older woman. "Sure, easy for you to say," I always think.

But you can absolutely be both pro-choice and Catholic. The only reason this is a point of contention is that Catholics have been confusing religion with the law since the early days of the Church.

Here's how to be both at once:
  • Never, ever, under any circumstances, choose to have an abortion, even if it kills you.
  • Actively work from within to change the church's position on legislating the issue.
  • Aggressively work to improve women's choices so that fewer feel that they have to choose abortion.

See, it's pretty simple.

As I wrote in the comments to this post, a leading evangelical Calvinist Christian theologian, Richard J. Mouw, recently wrote:
[T]his does not mean I want to impose "Christian culture" on everyone. God desires that people freely acknowledge [God's] rule and that they freely offer their lives of obedience to [God]. Nothing is gained when we impose specifically Christian standards on people who do not acknowledge God as the ruler over all things.

There will always be conflicts between what our religions guide us to believe and what the popular culture around us believes. In these situations, it's the responsibility of religious folk to uphold our religions.

The reason I have never committed adultery is because I believe that it's wrong, not because it's illegal. I don't need a law requiring me to "honor my father and my mother;" I know that it is the right thing to do. If you feel that abortion is wrong, don't have an abortion. Help other women so that they feel less need to choose to do so. But don't legislate your religion onto those who do not share your religious conviction.

This is what I would have posted, if I hadn't missed this year's Blog for Choice Day.

The Gift of Tears

That was the title of this morning's sermon at church, and it got me thinking about crying.

It's one thing to sing It's All Right to Cry and to give that advice to others. It's quite another thing for me to apply it to myself.

I don't think that I know how to cry without trying not to cry.

I wonder what would happen if, next time I am sad about real life, not a book or a movie, rather than fighting down the tears and calling up my requisite sarcasm, instead I told myself that it would be OK to just let loose.

I bet I'd dry up like the Sahara because I wouldn't know how to do it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Tonight my husband told me that my new trouser socks are "really sexy."

In honor of this new progression in our relationship, I thought I'd share with you five things that you might not know about me.
  1. When Paul and I first started dating, "our song" was Closer (NIN).
  2. I used to work in a liquor store. I was in charge of stocking the girlie mags (and everything else).
  3. Women warned me about Paul when we were getting together, telling me that, er, his motives were impure.
  4. I was on the drill team in ninth grade. Yeah, half-time shows with pom pons.
  5. I was on the homecoming court one year, and was a "Jr. Princess" at another dance another year.

In my defense:
  1. We didn't really analyze all the lyrics.
  2. It was the only job I could find one summer. I got in trouble more than once for organizing the porno mags in alphabetical and date order, rather than having the newest, hottest titles front and center.
  3. That was mostly sour grapes.
  4. We did a really cool James Brown number. I could say that I loved to dance, but it's also true that I loved wearing that skirt to school. No use denying it. I had to give up drill team sophomore year when it conflicted with Jazz Band.
  5. Yeah, and then my parents moved us at the end of my sophomore year. No bitterness here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Party People in the House

I used to go see Ani Difranco twice a year, in Chicago and in St. Louis.

Then I didn't go to concerts very much for a while.

But I'm back, baby. We went to see Dora the Explorer Live!: Dora's Pirate Adventure just over a week ago, and we're going to see Ralph's World in a few weeks.

Yeah, I rock. I just gotta find my hemp do-rag.


On a happy note (punny! hah!) Ellie has started singing along.

At Musicgarten, a music class we attend once a week, we sing a song that mostly consists of "La la las" and Ellie la las along. We also sing a drumming song that sounds like, "Ray ba tay, ray ba tay, ray ba tay boom. Boom, boom, boom-boom-boom." She sings, "Tay tay tay Boom boom oom." At home, there's a song on one of her lullaby CDs that songs to me like, "Baloo baleery, balooo, baleeeery." I sing it to her when soothing nonsense is in order, like in the middle of the night. One night last week she started patting my back and singing, "baaooo, baooooo" to me. I burst into laughter, which probably didn't help my cause of getting her back to sleep.