Sunday, August 31, 2008

Y'all a Bunch of Racists

By now I'm sure you've heard the main Republican attack against Barack Obama. Immediately after Obama's acceptance speech on Thursday night, CNN had the following headline: GOP says Obama's set is too much.

Seriously? That's all you got?

The attack is this: "The Temple of Obama. Barackopolis. Egobama."

And it's echoed across the internet and all conservative media outlets.

Yes, the biggest Republican attack against Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama is that he's an uppity black folk.

Seriously. You ever met a politician who didn't have a healthy sense of ego? You got any measure of how he's supposedly more confident than your average presidential candidate?

You should all be very, very ashamed of yourselves.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I hate to stomp on that adorable video of my kids, but I'm too stunned not to speak immediately. Here are my immediate reactions to McCain's choice of new Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

As an American:
I am horrified. McCain is very old - if elected he would be oldest President ever inaugurated - and he is not well. His Vice President needs to be ready to take the reins from day one, if necessary. Palin was the mayor of a city of 9000 in a remote state distant from the rest of the union in more than mere geography before serving as governor for under 2 years. With no national or foreign policy experience, in no way is she ready to be the President of the United States of America.

As a woman:
I am offended. In 2008, when there are more accomplished and experienced women in executive and legislative positions than ever before, the Republicans choose an inexperienced former beauty queen and think we'll vote for her just because she's a woman? This shows a profound lack of respect for women. (I felt similarly about Harriet Miers when Bush nominated her for the Supreme Court.)

As a mother of a child with Down syndrome:
I am saddened and confused. After facing the difficult news she did during her recent pregnancy, followed by having a child with special needs, surely she understands that it can be dark and difficult sometimes. Having been in the same position, I simply do not understand the desire to legislate (rather than educate) women into making better choices, let alone the strange belief that one knows what's right for all families. I simply do not believe that forcing women to have children they do not want is what's best for my child and others like her.

As a parent:
I am concerned. Most parents need to work to support themselves and their families. Others enjoy it and choose to work, which is wonderfully, incredibly fortunate. But choosing to go back to a very demanding job three days after giving birth, then launching an all-consuming run for the vice-presidency 4 months later, concerns me in any candidate, male or female. Especially with a child who has special needs. [Edited] What are family values?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

God Bless America!

Friday Photo Blogging - Patriotic Edition

This is all awesome, like the way Ada says "America" and "God," but one of my favorite things is the way she turns toward Paul and the camera at the end and says, "Cheese!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Watched, and I Cried

Those who've been to one of our election year parties know that I'm a bit of a political junkie. 4 years ago, we rented a huge TV and put it in our living room (where we have no TV normally). It looked like we had a silver space ship parked in front of our china cabinet. We turned all the furniture to face the TV and hosted an official debate watching party, followed by an informal election night results watching party, complete with red-and-blue colored food and drink.

I've been burned out ever since. But Paul's engaged again this year, giving me unsolicited updates from and talking about when we should rent that monster TV again for our parties.

For my part, I planned a trip to Walt Disney World that will get us back in time to vote, but will ensure that we miss most of noise the week before election day.

But I am watching the convention, of course, and I did watch Hillary speak last night. Wow, that was a good speech. Solid. She sold it. She had me wanting to rush out and vote immediately. She made it clear that her loyalty is to the ideals she espouses from the stump and to the party, rather than to personal glory. She also made it perfectly clear that she could have been it. That speech was so energizing, so fabulous. She could have been the charismatic leader that the Democratic party wants and needs. Barack can, too, of course. And I'm sure he will prove it tomorrow night.

This afternoon I watched part of the role call. "From the great state of Maryland . . ." Look girls, cousin Abby is voting! "From the great state of Michigan . . ." Cousin Arria is voting! . . . "From the great state of Missouri . . . " That's me, that's me voting, one of those 6 little delegates for Hillary Clinton, that's me, I said with tears streaming down my face.

I usually cry at the Olympics, at every track and field event, regardless of who's running and what the outcome. Not this year; I was saving up. I also cry at political speeches. And I thought I was crying this year out of happiness for the party uniting, happiness for Obama's nomination, happiness for the democratic process. And I'm sure that was part of it.

But I was also sad. As a suited white male commentator on NBC said last night, it's already been 24 years since there was last a woman on a major party ticket. Assuming that McCain doesn't choose a woman as his running mate, it will be even longer before it happens again. That's a whole generation of girls - and boys - who've grown up without that example.

I believe in most of the policy positions of both Clinton and Obama. I am excited by both historic candidacies. I'm excited by Barack Obama, my candidate for president. But that doesn't mean I'm not a little sad, too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Little Girl Who Loved Pink

This morning, I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a long time.

Ellie and I first met Harrison Moss nearly 5 years ago, in the fall of 2003, when Ellie was a newborn at one of her first well baby pediatrician appointments. One of the nurses opened our exam room door - safely closed for flu season - and ushered in a couple of strangers, saying, "Oh, you have to meet Harrison. She's the most beautiful little girl, and she looks just like Ellie." In fact, for the next few years, those nurses would refer to Ellie as "Little Harrison," as did her first teachers and therapists.

I've come to be honored by the comparison, deeply and honestly, but I didn't start out that way. Before Ellie was born, I wasn't sure how much I'd love her. After she was born, I loved her immediately, deeply and intensely. But I loved her as an individual and was very uncomfortable around others with Down syndrome. Soon my love and acceptance spread to encompass all babies with Down syndrome, then, as Ellie grew, little children her age. I now hold every child with Down syndrome I meet in my heart with aching and tenderness. I still have a hard time around adults with developmental disabilities, but I'm sure I'll continue to grow.

When I first met Harrison and her mom, Jill, I didn't see the similarity between the two girls. First of all, Harrison was so huge, almost a year-and-a-half older than Ellie. Do you remember what that's like, when toddlers seem like scary giants compared to your first newborn? And she was not well. Harrison was born with the same heart defect Ellie had, but hers was more complicated. Her stunning blue eyes, soft white-blond hair, delightful smile, and sweet, alert presence were overshadowed for me, that first time I met her, by her blue-tinged lips and fingernails, her pale skin, her slightly clubbed fingertips, all due to poor oxygenation from her struggling heart. That's what you think my perfect baby looks like? I thought.

Jill and I took our girls to a monthly play group for young children with Down syndrome at the school both girls attended, and I got to know Harrison a little bit more. I couldn't remember feeling the way I'd felt when I first met this amazing child; I was blown away by how accomplished, how funny, how sweet, and how beautiful she was.

Eventually, she had the successful surgery that fixed her heart, allowed her skin to turn pink and healthy. But she never recovered from the surgery, and she died in February, 18 months ago, only 4 years old.

I ran into Jill this morning, outside of Ellie's new school. Once again, Ellie is following in Harrison's footsteps. First we chose the same pediatrician, then the same daycare/preschool/therapy team, then, finally, the same pre-K. And Harrison's little sister is now a student at the same preschool.

She's a peer model in a special ed class, since her mom wanted to give back to the same system that helped Harrison, and to expose her youngest child to other kids like Harrison, the sister she barely got to know. But she's also the only girl in her class, and there are no students with Down syndrome, which is not exactly what her mom wanted.

It turns out that there's an opening in Ellie's class for a typically developing child a couple of of days a week. I can't imagine what it must feel like for Jill, seeing Ellie, a little girl with down syndrome and a repaired A/V canal defect, one people have called "little Harrison," running around healthy.

It makes my heart so full that it hurts, and I'm the mom of the little girl I can snuggle every day, the little girl who's so generous with her hugs and says, "I love you, Mommy" whenever she thinks I need to hear it. I'll never tire of hearing it. Every mommy should get to hear that from her children, every day of her entire life.

Do You Believe in Fairy Tales?

Last night I watched the Democratic National Convention in the most perfect way. I sat on the floor, my back resting against the couch and my laptop on a little stool in front of me, working on a new short story (first draft complete at 2700 words, unlike my puny little 750 word homework assignment that was due today).

I watched Ted Kennedy's speech, then, later, Michelle Obama's. I didn't stick around for the political commentary between or after, I just watched and listened to the speeches, then turned off the TV and kept writing.

I really liked Michelle Obama's suggestion that we vote our hopes this year, not our fears. That was beautiful.

And I think that Teddy Kennedy did a wonderful job. I saw his wife redirect him as he started to walk the wrong way to the podium, I saw his shaking hands, I saw the looks of concern and anxiety on the faces of his family.

But he gave a great speech, and my heart ached a little when he promised to be there in January to see Barack Obama inaugurated.

It reminded me of a few months ago when I was thinking about the Kennedy political legacy, and how here is this family that has so much money and history but is so focused on giving back, helping others. And the whole Camelot fairy tale, and about how we want so badly for it all to be real, for our political leaders to be perfect. For these rich, privileged people who are so dedicated public service, who have this large sense of the responsibility they bear to the rest of society, to be strong and perfect in all ways. To not have affairs, drive drunk, abuse alcohol and drugs, lie.

That night, months ago, I spent some time on Wikipedia, looking up JFK's family: his siblings and their children and grandchildren, searching for someone with that magical Kennedy name who had the right biography. Someone with the moral fortitude to stand comfortably in the extremely bright spotlight in which we bathe our politicians, but who also has the charisma to lead us, to inspire us to believe.

I don't believe in fairy tales, but I want to. And if I am faithful to my own husband, is it too much to expect that he's faithful to me? If I don't drive drunk, if I've never done drugs or abused alcohol, is it too much to expect others in my community to do the same? Is all this too much to ask that of our role models and public figures? And is it ever OK to expect a higher standard?

When they fall short of their promises and our hopes, we feel disillusioned. So I am afraid to believe in Barack Obama. But I want to believe that, yes, we can.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Move On Dot Org

The Olympics are over and now it's time to move on.

For example, I need to clean my bathrooms again.

Hopefully, over time, my children will stop their annoying refrains of, "No volleyball, no!" and "No more 'lympics, Mommy!"

And, sigh, it's now time to move my focus from fun international rivalries in sport to domestic politics.

To help ease my way down that path, we all piled into the Cool Cool Car on Saturday afternoon and headed up to Springfield for the first public appearance of Obama and Biden. We didn't want to make Ellie skip gymnastics, so we didn't get there in time to actually see the speeches. But we heard them in the car while driving around Springfield. And then we loaded the girls into the stroller and walked around the old courthouse area, buying a t-shirt and enjoying the energy of the crowd.

It's also time to get back on track with other things. Tomorrow I start writing morning pages.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ugly Butterfly

This afternoon, I was exhausted (my own fault, of course) and frustrated. My girls weren't exactly thrilled to be going down for their naps, but we all needed the rest. And the break from each other.

Ellie, exhausted toward the end of her first full week back in school, was particularly contrary. And she would not stay in bed.

Finally, I had Ada down. Not sleeping, but in her bed and quiet for a minute. Here was my 15 minute break! But no, here came Ellie again, complaining about a butterfly on her arm.


I sent her back to bed, carefully lifting all the layers of covers to check for bugs. Perhaps it was a spider that she brushed off without seeing it clearly? I saw nothing except the usual carpeting of toys.

She came right back out, holding her arm and complaining about a butterfly. Again. I looked at her arm; it was fine. I put her back to bed, a little more angrily.

The third time she came out complaining about a butterfly, I was really frustrated. I was just trying to go to the bathroom, pick up my book, get a glass of water, before joining her in her room and keeping her company while she went to sleep. Couldn't she wait a moment? She's 4-1/2 years old!

But she was really anxious, so I got over my frustration and listened more carefully. I set down my quarter-filled water glass and went with her to her room, sat down on the bed and tucked her in.

Almost immediately, a mosquito swooped in for the attack.

I smacked it against the wall, killing it.

"It's all done!" Ellie exclaimed, excited. But she was still a little freaked out. "Clean the wall! Clean the wall!"

And she wouldn't stay in the room alone while I went for a Kleenex. So, after I cleaned the wall and washed my hands, I took Ellie to my room and settled her on Paul's pillow. I lay down next to her, soothing her gently until she fell asleep.

And then Ada started screaming about being neglected in her crib for so long.

But just then Paul came home from work early! And took Ada with him to pick up our freshly repaired lawnmower (sorry about the ugly lawn this week, neighbors). So - I got to climb into my soft, comfortable bed, snuggle in with my favorite 4-year-old in the world, and rest for a while.

When she woke up, Ellie gave me a great smile and lots of cuddles. Then she saw a piece of lint on the bedding. "Butterfly!" she cried, with concern.

Wonderful afternoon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Writers Fest 2008

On September 6, the Greater St. Louis Sisters in Crime chapter presents Writers Fest 2008. I hope to be there. Come and join me!

Do you want to be published? Do you want your book to sell? Then join us for a powerful one-day seminar featuring Todd Stone and P.M. Terrell on Saturday, September 6, 2008, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Steinway Piano Gallery Recital Hall, 12033 Dorsett Road, Maryland Heights.

In the morning, Todd Stone will present a new set of drills designed to make your progress on your book greater, faster and more rewarding. He'll help you complete your manuscript by offering practical instruction in plot, characterization, setting, drafting and revision.

We'll break for lunch--continental breakfast, snacks, beverages and lunch are included in your registration fee. We'll also have frequent comfort breaks and opportunities for you to network and have books signed by local authors.

After we eat, Patricia (P.M.) Terrell will help you get media attention for your books and get people into the stores to buy your work. If you are currently writing your book, Patricia will discuss tie-ins that will boost your sales. She'll also show you a geographic approach to touring to maximize your budget--and she'll introduce you to Virtual Touring.

Then Todd will wrap up the day by presenting Real World Revision. If agents or publishers have shown interest in your book, but not offered you a contract, this is exactly what you need. (If your book isn't finished, this will save you the agony of rejection!)

And of course, at the end of the day, you'll be taking home these precious resources: a copy of Novelist's Boot Camp in book or live presentation CD form (to be mailed to you after we duplicate it), a copy of Take the Mystery Out of Promoting Your Book, and great handouts.

Print out the form below, enclose your check or credit card payment, and make plans to be a successful author!

State & Zip______________________

□ I am a member of Sisters in Crime or Chesterfield Arts. (You pay $75.)
□ I’m not a member of either--yet. (You pay $85.)

After Sept. 1, a $10 walk-in fee will be added.

I prefer Todd Stone’s Novelist’s Boot Camp in this form:
□ Book □ CD—live presentation

Method of Payment:
□ Check (enclose & make out to Greater St. Louis Sisters in Crime)
□ Credit card
Circle one: Mastercard/Visa
Expiration date:__________________

Mail to: Chesterfield Arts, 444 Chesterfield Ctr. #130, Chesterfield MO 63017 or call 636-519-1955


Alas! It's late again. I've finally finished my homework (one day late) so you get a piece of that instead of insightful political commentary (who has Obama chosen?!) or adorable anecdotes about my children (they are both still perfect).

And, as always, a note or two about the Olympics:
  1. If you missed this morning's women's volleyball quarter final between Italia and the USA, you missed a great show. USA! USA! USA! Bump-Set-Spike!
  2. Obama's feel-good campaign ads almost don't bother me. (I like my Olympics without election year politics.) But McCain's incessant attack ads are really starting to tick me off.

Now on to a brief except from my 3-page description of a farm. I'm using my weekly homework assignments to write a short story. It's coming together out of order, all in little 2-3 page snippets, but it's been a fun new way to write. (For this excerpt, remember how much I love nature, and realize that my main character in this story shares an exaggerated version of that trait):

Steph turned the Volvo off the interstate onto a lettered highway, then a double-lettered blacktop liberally sprinkled with potholes, and finally onto an unpaved road that didn’t seem to have a name at all. Each road got noticeably windier and narrower, until Clara’s sense of being a speck in the middle of a big, open state was replaced by claustrophobia; the trees crowding in on the car limited visibility more than skyscrapers downtown.

They bumped along the gravel road for a while, stirring up such a trail of dust that Steph stopped the car in the middle of the road long enough to raise the retractable hardtop and ensure that everyone had their windows closed. Clara removed the blanket from baby Carrie’s face and took a deep breath of air conditioning.

For several miles, Clara had been noticing periodic columns of something along the side of the road. Bugs, she realized just before Steph accelerated again. There were swarming columns of bugs every few feet. She shuddered.

A large, white mailbox appeared on their right, hidden by the trees until they were almost upon it. The mailbox marked a dirt track leading up a small hill and into a thicket. Disregarding her shiny, green paint job, Steph turned onto the narrow path and plowed ahead. After only a hundred feet or so, they topped the rise and popped out of the undergrowth, finding themselves in an open area of closely mown prairie.

“Oh!” Clara said, surprised.

“Dad likes to mow before people come out here,” Steph said. “It keeps the bugs down.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tropic Thunder

I am very, very tired. And I have just finished as much of my homework as I can complete tonight, so I'm going to bed. Soon.

In lieu of creative, original content from me, I'm linking to an incredible review of the "best comedy of the summer," Tropic Thunder.

As you might or might not know, disability rights groups have called for a boycott of this movie. And it turns out that "un-PC Language" is not the worst of its crimes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Autumn Is Coming!

Thursday was Ellie's first day of school. On the way home after dropping her off, Ada fell asleep in the car and made the transfer to her crib for a long nap.

I had two hours to myself, two hours to write.

And I had so much to say. All at once, the doubts of the last few months were shoved aside by the next scene in my novel-in-progress, one I'd been afraid to start for so long. It just seemed to overwhelming, until, suddenly, it wasn't.

After getting nearly 700 words into that scene, I opened a new document and sketched out the main character and seed of an idea for the novel I want to write this November, for National Novel Writing Month.

Now I just need to finish my current novel within the next month or two, so that I have time to work out an outline for the NaNoWriMo novel before November 1st. And maybe have time for a little break in there somewhere, to finish up a few essays and short stories I've got banging around in drafts.

Fall is in the air! In only 2 weeks, Ada will be in "preschool" two mornings a week and Starbucks will start selling pumpkin spice lattes. I'm poised to break out my new brown twinset and my creative energy, which somehow begins to peak as the year wanes.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Friday Photo Blogging

There is nothing better in the world than watching my two girls playing together.

Sadly, they were separated by the first day of school. (This is actually a silly face, not a sad one.)

But hilarity resumed after lunch!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Future Olympian?

Actually, I'm surprised at how uninterested both of my girls are. Although they're both walking around saying, "Bump. Spike!" (I don't know why they always skip the set.) I record the late-night volleyball game and watch it in short spurts throughout the next day, so they're exposed to a fair amount of mommy's amateur commentary. Maybe in 2012 they'll be more into the Olympics-watching experience. I'm thinking they won't connect as much with the winter games, as they've never been skiing - or ice skating, so far. Plus we get so little snow here.

But at least they've stopped saying, "How about Monsters?!" every time we turn on the TV this week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympics Are Hard Work!

Man, this pace is grueling. I'm exhausted from sitting on my couch and watching so many hours a day of the Olympic Games. But there's not much I'd want to give up! Thank heavens for Tivo. (I don't have to watch McCain's attack ads or beach volleyball, which is almost as bad. And I can skip ahead to the last round in the synchronized diving.)

A note to people I connect with in real life, like my children: you'll hear back from me in a couple of weeks, after it's all over and I've slept it off.

In the meantime, here's some helpful advice: How to Recycle an Old T Shirt Into a Sexy Bikini.

Don't throw that oversized and sloppy old t-shirt out just yet. You can make a neat bikini out of it with basic sewing skills and a pair of scissors. Here is how.

On a related note: How to Get a Bikini Worthy Body.
1. # Start eating healthy food.

(and so forth)

Hey, I eat healthy food. I just eat a lot of crap, too. It's the Olympics! What better way to celebrate than on the couch with rotel cheese dip and tortillas?!!

Will Having Kids Make You Happy?

Having Kids Makes You Happy: FALSE

It's a great article, and not long. Recommended reading.

It goes without saying that I love my kids. I'd give my life for either of them without hesitation. If I had it to do over again, I'd have them. And so forth.


I used to feel sorry for people without kids. A decision made in haste, repented in leisure, I thought. They'll be so lonely when they get old without kids and grandkids, I thought.

Those impressions die hard, but nothing has made me more understanding of others' decisions not to have children as my experience as a parent.
In Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book "Stumbling on Happiness," the Harvard professor of psychology looks at several studies and concludes that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child—and increases only when the last child has left home. He also ascertains that parents are happier grocery shopping and even sleeping than spending time with their kids. Other data cited by 2008's "Gross National Happiness" author, Arthur C. Brooks, finds that parents are about 7 percentage points less likely to report being happy than the childless.


"Parents experience lower levels of emotional well-being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers," says Florida State University's Robin Simon, a sociology professor who's conducted several recent parenting studies, the most thorough of which came out in 2005 and looked at data gathered from 13,000 Americans by the National Survey of Families and Households. "In fact, no group of parents—married, single, step or even empty nest—reported significantly greater emotional well-being than people who never had children. It's such a counterintuitive finding because we have these cultural beliefs that children are the key to happiness and a healthy life, and they're not."

A friend once told me that he wants to have kids because all the parents he knows have told him that they love their kids, that their kids are the best things that have ever happened to them, that they'd do it again. Well, yeah!

[W]hich parent is willing to admit that the greatest gift life has to offer has in fact made his or her life less enjoyable?

Parents may openly lament their lack of sleep, hectic schedules and difficulty in dealing with their surly teens, but rarely will they cop to feeling depressed due to the everyday rigors of child rearing. "If you admit that kids and parenthood aren't making you happy, it's basically blasphemy," says Jen Singer, a stay-at-home mother of two from New Jersey who runs the popular parenting blog "From baby-lotion commercials that make motherhood look happy and well rested, to commercials for Disney World where you're supposed to feel like a kid because you're there with your kids, we've made parenthood out to be one blissful moment after another, and it's disappointing when you find out it's not."

The quoted studies also come to some interesting conclusions about why we might be less happy (marrying and having kids later, experiencing more years of pre-kids adulthood and career successes). But I'm still glad I'm a parent:
For the childless, all this research must certainly feel redeeming. As for those of us with kids, well, the news isn't all bad. Parents still report feeling a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives than those who've never had kids.

To my friend who recently (and cautiously) told me that she and her husband have decided not to have kids, I say, "I understand. Good for you for realizing that."

And to my friend who said that he wants kids because of what other parents tell him: I know you want kids for more reasons than that. But please know that there are things parents aren't telling you.

And, an important thing for all of us to remember: having kids won't fix us, any of us. It won't make us happy if we're depressed. It won't make a fragile marriage stronger. (In many cases, it can actually make a strong marriage falter. Like, you know, mine, a couple of years ago.)

But I'd still become a parent, if I had it to do all over again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Personality Type

When I was a kid, my family went to Presbyterian Synod School at the University of Central Missouri every summer. If you've never been to a synod school, I hardly know how to describe it. We stayed in the dorms, the 5 of us in a 2-room suite connected by a bathroom. (I have no memory of where my youngest sister slept, though I bet she does! Lilsis?)

All day there were classes and workshops and music and art and . . . fun stuff. As a preteen and young teen, I was very excited by walking around campus, going to classes without my parents, and eating meals in a dining hall (with a soda fountain! and soft serve ice cream! our favorite was to fill a class with ice cream and cover it with every type of soda).

One year, when I was 13 or 14, my class took a Myers-Briggs personality test. I was an INFJ. My husband recently had many of his co-workers take a Myers-Briggs-type test as part of a team-building exercise, and I took it just for fun. You can, too!

Now, I am an INTJ. The difference? I used to be more feeling, now I'm more thinking. Well . . . yeah. I grew up! But seriously, this transition makes sense to me; as a teenager, like many teenagers, I felt everything so acutely. As I grew up, that toned down a bit.

I don't mean to suggest that adults who are "F's" are immature. But it makes sense as a description of me. The "Thinking" thing is a trait I've attempted to cultivate, practicing and concentrating and focusing on hearing, analyzing, and responding to arguments intellectually rather than emotionally. Both types are necessary, of course, but I made a conscious effort to shift my balance.

Anyway, I like the description of me (though it's not all accurate). And the suggested careers? Not so much!
INTJ - Scientists, engineers, professors, teachers, medical doctors, dentists, corporate strategists, organization founders, business administrators, managers, military, lawyers, judges, computer programmers, system analysts, computer specialists, psychologists, photographers, research department managers, researchers, university instructors, chess players. They have a particular skill at grasping difficult, complex concepts and building strategies.

E=2 Extraversion
I=9 Introversion
S=5 Sensing
N=15 iNtuition
T=12 Thinking
F=7 Feeling
J=16 Judging
P=3 Perceiving
You are an INTJ

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Parenting Olympics II

Welcome to the Home 2008 Games! Once again this year, The Sarahlynn Online Live Network has been granted exclusive media rights to cover the competition. The SOL Network proudly features both biased and emotionally manipulative coverage, unilaterally deciding which events and contestants merit sympathetic focus.
For today’s broadcast, we're focused on parents Paul and Sarahlynn.
And now, a summary of our medal count expectations to date:

Event: Creating the Children
Paul claims a lot of credit for his important role in this team event, but fans in the all-important “mothers” demographic throw their support behind team captain Sarahlynn for her notable endurance in the “incubator” and “finish line” portions of the contest.

Event: Going to Sleep
Despite Sarahlynn's early superiority here given her breasts body type, Paul has emerged as a strong competitor in this event. For the first time this year, this event will be staged in two different bedroom arenas for two different levels of competition: infant and preschool. Currently, Paul is competing more strongly in the “preschool” category, while Sarahlynn still leads in the “infant” room.

Event: Potty Training
Despite the fans' strong support of Paul, Sarahlynn periodically pulls ahead due to sheer consistency and stamina. Neither competitor is performing at Olympic levels here, I'm afraid. Hopefully we'll soon see a big improvement.

Event: Discipline
Recently, both competitors have begun work with new coaches, retooling their techniques. We look forward to this contest with enthusiasm, eager to see which experimental approach will win the day.

Event: Coping while Tired
This competition has been fierce in places (cough cough) but Sarahlynn emerges the clear victor. Judging is closed and no disputes are currently being heard.

Event: Balancing Career and Motherhood (Paul has registered a formal complaint at his exclusion from this category.)
In 2004, Sarahlynn and her former teammates memorably decided via consensus that no single gold medal would be awarded. Instead, all the women pooled their resources for group lunches and happy hours. This controversial event will be considered an “unofficial” part of the 2008 Games.

Event: Enriching Activities
Sarahlynn took an impressive early lead in this category, but lately both contestants have been floundering. Neither seems motivated and both seem exhausted. I don't think they're in the proper shape for such a long-haul event. Frankly, they're competing for the bronze.

Sponsored Olympic Moment:
These advertiser-friendly and emotionally manipulative editorials are shot in warm lighting and soft focus, profiling the amazing job Paul's and Sarahlynn's parents did in their day. They each conclude with tearful modern-day contestants revealing their fears that they are doing but a pale comparison of what their parents did before them.

Event: Reading and Singing
After the short program, all contestants forfeited rather than compete in the extremely repetitive long program.

Event: Extreme Sports, including child balancing and very short range tossing
Paul is the clear leader in this area, but a protest has been lodged by the opposition that these events are unsafe and should not be included in the competition.

Event: Toddler-Assisted Walk (an endurance sport)
All contestants in this category have complained of back pain.

All of these events are currently ongoing, but starting times are repeatedly delayed by contestants’ late arrivals. As for the rest of the coverage, while judging ceremonies may have already occurred in real time, your access to the results will have to await the network's leisure.

In our next segment, we will introduce several experts who will explain why “keeping score” in The Parenting Olympics is a bad idea. And then we will pelt the judges with soggy goldfish crackers.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


In lieu of Friday Photo Blogging this week, I'm going to post an updated version of The Parenting Olympics. I wrote this post for the 2006 Olympics, when life was . . . well. I hardly know how to describe the difference between having one quiet, newly walking baby and having two very active, very young children, except with maniacal laughter.

8/8/08. Woohoo!


My girls picked out some shorts last time we were at Target. They were from the boys section, but they are nice, knee-length, brown plaid shorts with a hint of light green, quite lovely, actually, and not nearly as short and tight as most girls shorts. So I corrected their size selections and dropped them into the cart.

A few days later, my mom arrived for a week long visit. "We need to go to the mall to get the girls some matching shirts for these shorts," she said on her first morning here.

OK . . . that seemed a little weird to me - the shorts are brown and go with pretty much anything, also, it has to be the mall? - but my mom seemed adamant so I didn't protest. Plus, she wants to buy stuff for my kids. Who am I to complain? (Of course I complain. But I still appreciate it!)

As soon as the new air conditioner was installed, on my mom's last morning in town, we finally made it to the mall. Except that we never actually made it inside the mall itself. We parked by one of the anchor stores, walked inside, found a 50%-75% off sale in progress, shopped more than we should have, then went home for lunch and a quick dash to the train station where my mom hopped her ride with about 30 seconds to spare, thanks to CONSTRUCTION everywhere around here.

Before leaving the mall, we did actually stop by the little girls section and get a couple of school things for Ellie that she can wear this fall, while it's still warm.

But the real reason for our trip to the mall became immediately apparent as we walked into the store. We were not there to shop for the girls at all; that was a ruse to get me into a clothing store. She'd been subtly mentioning wanting to buy me something and I'd been less subtly resisting. As we breathed our first grateful gulps of industrial-strength air conditioning, I said, "Oh, look, the fat chicks section." (That would be me. And that would be where we spent almost all of our shopping time. You know how sale racks are crowded with tons of size 0 and 2? Shopping in the fat chicks section is great because I get to be the 0 and 2. Or maybe the 4 and 6. And the stuff there is no longer matronly and ugly. But yet I still have to insult it, and myself, and millions of other women. Hmm. I need to work on that.)

I walked out of the mall with a pair of slack shorts, three blouses, a knit top, a sweater twin set, and a skirt. All cute, contemporary, flattering, and perfectly fitting. She paid for half and I paid for half, because what better to do immediately after buying a new air conditioner than to go clothes shopping?

I can't remember the last time I shopped like that, the last time I got so much new stuff all at once.

"I can't even put away the clothes I have now," I said. "I have clothes. My closet is stuffed!"

"Yeah, but how much of it fits?" my mom asked. (She has a point. Since my size varies, there are usually a couple of seasons worth of clothing in 2-4 sizes hanging in my closet at any given time.) "And besides, you need something presentable," she followed up. She stopped herself just short of critiquing actual pieces of my everyday wardrobe, but her significant glances at over-stretched necklines and unraveling hems did the trick nicely.

Yowch. Perhaps it has been too long since I've shopped for myself.

Note: Tomorrow is 8/8/08 and we all know what that means: THE OLYMPICS! Woohoo! Ladies and gentlemen, start your Tivos!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Time for Dinner - review

This is just a quick follow-up to my earlier post about Time for Dinner.

Verdict: highly recommended! We haven't worked our way through all the dishes, yet, but we've tried most of them (all but the Apple Butter BBQ Pork and Asian Chicken Stir Fry) and everything we've eaten has been very good. Great, even.

Not only is the food wonderful, but I'm finding it far easier to eat in when I can just grab a meal from the freezer. I was afraid I'd be unexcited by the prospect of eating frozen food and would want to eat out. Since all the meals sounded delicious and I was involved with preparing them fresh, this hasn't been a major concern.

Which is not to say that I wouldn't still be happy to go out for chips and salsa every night, though.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm Behind

I went to the Central West End tonight for a book launch party.

My fellow Sister in Crime, Angie Fox, just published her first novel: The Accidental Demon Slayer.

It's a great concept, a catchy title, an attention-grabbing cover . . . and is stocked at Wal*Mart and Target. I'm thinking Angie's gonna do very well her first time out of the gate! I mean, a gang of geriatric biker witches? What could go wrong?

And she did all of this with very young children. Wow.

I didn't stay very long at the party, though it was a great party. The venue is one of my CWE favorites, Brennan's, and the pineapple-habanero chutney served with triple cream brie was to die for. But the room was very very hot and crowded . . .

And I had work to do at home.

I'm working on a homework assignment that's due tomorrow, and am a little stymied because the assignment is uncharacteristically vague. I enjoy getting specific writing assignments and then figuring out how I can fit them into my WIP, which is sort of like working with a puzzle. I'm given the shape, but need to color it in. In this way, slowly but surely, I've taken lots of little pictures and created something much larger.

Anyway, this annoyingly imprecise assignment gave my mind free reign. And, sadly, my mind took off. It traveled so far afield that I came up with a better(?) mystery for the title/shell of my current WIP and another title/shell for the mystery I've actually been writing.

This might explain the problems I've been having with the writing - I've been trying to force a mystery into the wrong casing. And both stories might end up better in the end. But the route from here to to better is daunting.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Sadly, this is not a post about how hip I am. (I am not hip.) (But I am cool.) (Recently, I was hot.)

On Saturday, we got a surprise gift for ourselves, a brand-new air conditioner.

We've been battling with our A/C for a long time, and it finally conked out for good on Saturday. Only my visiting mother, staying in the guest room in the nice, cool basement, slept well on Friday night. The rest of us were up and down, hot and cranky, and tempted to join her. If it hadn't involved setting up a bed or two in the middle of the night, we might have done it.

Our A/C repair people open shop at 8:00 am, and my mom, bless her heart, rang as soon as they opened. She was watching the girls in the basement playroom while Paul and I caught a little sleep in our room with both the ceiling fan and a box fan pummeling us with tepid air.

By 11:30 we had a brand-spanking-new air conditioning unit working away at the back of the house, cooling us down and decreasing the humidity so that we no longer needed gills to breathe indoors.


Of course, now that we're poorer than we expected to be, we should cancel our planned autumn trip to Walt Disney World. But we probably won't, because we're irresponsible like that. And we're feeling a little giddy. Because we're cool! And the heat index was 113 at 7:00 pm today!