Thursday, October 30, 2008

Castle View

After checking into our hotel on Sunday morning we headed directly over to Disney's Hollywood Studies to catch the Block Party Bash. As we waited in line to have our diaper bag checked by security, I overheard a middle-aged dude in the next queue talking to his wife.

"Why would you take your baby to Disney World? I just don't get it. I mean, they-" then I caught his eye and he turned away; I couldn't hear the rest.

If only he could have followed us around for a while, he would have seen this:

and this:

and this:

not to mention, this:

At dinner on the way home tonight, at a Mexican restaurant in rural Illinois, we were talking about the highlights of our trip. Ada was pontificating (in her one-year-old way) about the Dumbo ride and its similar cousin, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, a subject about which she is particularly emphatic.

"Dumbo was your favorite, wasn't it?" Paul asked her.

"No!" she replied, surprising both Paul and me. "The Castle!"

And it's true that she's talked a lot about Cinderella's Castle. Every morning, she'd run to our hotel room window and look outside, saying, "Castle! Castle!" She repeated the process every evening, making sure that we each appreciated the spectacular view.

"Ellie. Ellie. Ellie! ELLIE! Castle!"

Tonight, she looked out the darkening window of La Tequila in Marion, Illinois, across the tiny parking lot to the white-painted cinder block wall of a Sherwin Williams paint store, and said, a little morosely, "No see it."

It begs the question, given the means and inclination (two very big factors indeed) why wouldn't you take your baby to Walt Disney World?

Monday, October 27, 2008

November is National Novel Writing Month

So, are you going to do NaNoWriMo this year?

I plan to.

But I still don't know what to write!

I have about 30,000 words left on my current novel. (The NaNoWriMo goal is 50,000 and you're supposed to start with nothing, rather than the nearly 40,000 words I have written so far.)

Do I put my novel aside to work on something new for a month?

Do I finish my current novel in November and spend the rest of the month finishing or starting other projects?

Or do I try to write two novels simultaneously at the break-neck NaNoWriMo 2000 words per day pace? Hah and double hah.

What to do, what to do?

Whatever I decide, real life friends, please don't be offended that I probably won't be around much until December!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

Mommy! Mommy! Birds! Flying!

Angel in the sunlight

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Relax

Fall is my favorite time of the year. But it's just so busy. October is especially crazy, and for the last couple of years I've chalked that up to Ellie's birthday party at the end of the month. Well, this year we moved the party up to the beginning of the month, but still: madness. I've had at least one commitment every morning and evening for the last couple of weeks, and often days packed with one thing after another. It's exhausting. And we have vacation coming up! It will be a vacation regardless - a break from my everyday life and routine - but it would be nice to go into it not exhausted and worn to a nub.

One of the things on to-do list for this week was a hair cut. I haven't had my hair cut in nearly a year and a half, since my disastrous triangle look (aka the "trendy bob"). I was long overdue, so I had my hair cut this morning and after that I felt much more relaxed. Or so I thought. It was a great hair cut. Lovely salon, good consultation, relaxing short head/neck/shoulders massage, hair washing, cutting, slow blow dry. I walked out of there energized, refreshed, and able to get 1000 new words down before picking up Ada from Kids Day Out.

Then I worked out tonight, and after finishing my cardio I did a few yoga poses to wind down. In the middle of a sun salute: cramp! My hamstrings decided to clench. They're still really really tight, though I'm resting, hydrating, and stretching gently every now and then. Here's hoping I really do relax soon. Maybe Paul and I can treat each other to November massages in the imaginary respite between the wildness of autumn and the frenzy of the Christmas-lasts-months-and-must-be-perfect season.

But back to the hair. I hate the way layers look, especially on me, but they were becoming necessary. My hair was just so long that it was lying very flat up top and still curly at the bottom; it looked silly. My stylist was pretty careful to blend the layers well, and I love the back but am ambivalent about the front. I'm giving it a while to grow on me, and will know better what to ask for next time. This is an improvement. I'm already considering a next time!
From 2008-10

From 2008-10

Didn't I mention that we shoe-horned a trip to the pumpkin patch in between naptime and dinnertime? Well, it's just that kind of week. Too many things to mention.

How Many Chromosomes Do You Have?

Others' pretty pictures:

“Surprisingly there are still a number of myths to be dispelled about Down’s syndrome and even now I am still asked the question: ‘Does Down’s syndrome exist in every race’?”

The answer is: it doesn’t matter what part of the world you live in, what religion you are, what your culture dictates, or what race you are; having a child with Down’s syndrome
[sic] is just pure chance.

Also, for good measure, here's a shirt I want to get Ellie in a few years (not yet):
I Have More Chromosomes Than You

Or maybe this one:
Are You Down With It?

got trisomy?

Ah, heck, a lot of them are good.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Candidates on Disability - Part VI: Obama and Healthcare

Surely this is the last installment in the series? We shall see.

Obama ran a great ad that talked about his healthcare plan, with a memorable graphic showing a large, red, double-headed arrow spanning from socialized medicine at one end to deregulation at the other. Right in the middle was the Obama rising sun emblem. (If you can find that image anywhere online, I'd love to have it!)

From the HealthCare page on Obama's campaign web site: On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes - government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong, and that’s why they’ve proposed a plan that strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies accountable and ensures patient choice of doctor and care without government interference. . . .

Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year.

If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.

  • Make Health Insurance Work for People and Businesses - Not Just Insurance and Drug Companies.
  • Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions
  • All children will be covered by a health plan
  • Several supports in place to help (and incentivize) small businesses to offer affordable health plans to their employees.
  • You still have choice. You can stay in your employer plan or choose another. You can choose your doctors. You can be a partner in your own health care decisions.
  • Obama is a strong supporter of mental health parity and he believes that serious mental illnesses must be covered on the same terms and conditions as are applicable to physical illnesses and diseases.

Here's how it works.
  • Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.
  • Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.

But don't take my word for it. Note endorsements of Obama's plan by The American Small Business League, National Staff Nurses Union, American Nurses Association, National Union Hospital Healthcare Employees, and Doctors for Obama, as well as analyses by The Kaiser Family Foundation and The Commonwealth Fund.

That's all she wrote.

Huge Crowd Hears Obama - Under the Arch

Have you ever been part of a shiny, happy crowd of 100,000 people?

Have you ever heard The Pharcyde's 1992 song "Ya Mama?"

(You're welcome)

I've got a little chant running in my own head, and it's been there for days: Whatever/Yo Mama/Votes for/Obama.

You betcha.

As will my own Mama. And my Mama-in-law.

And, also, Colin Powell.

Now, let's dance.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Girls at Play

Birthday playhouse on the bed
From 2008-10

This girl talks with her hands (cool shirt)
From 2008-10

Ada on the way out the door for school
From 2008-10

Little girls on the prairie
From 2008-10

Ada with a toy oven mitt, cooking toy dinner. This is how I look when I'm cooking, too, I'm sure.
From 2008-10

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Candidates on Disability - Part V: McCain and Healthcare

And to think that I thought I was done with this series!

OK, here's the deal on regulation/deregulation. Some states regulate health insurance more heavily than do other states. For example, my state might require medical insurance providers to cover prescription drugs while your state does not.

John McCain supports "deregulation." He would like people to be able to buy insurance across state lines. That sounds harmless, right? Maybe even a good idea? But what if you live in a state that requires medical insurance companies to cover things like pre-existing conditions, maternity care, expensive treatments for cancer, or prescription drugs? Your insurance policies are going to be more expensive than a plan that doesn't cover those big ticket items.

If you deregulate and allow people to shop across state lines, young, healthy folk are likely to buy cheaper plans to save money. That just makes good sense. (It's a gamble, of course. If you ride in a vehicle, breathe, or just tend to age chronologically, chances are you will need your medical insurance at some point. Perhaps for something that's not covered.)

But if the healthy people are getting their health insurance elsewhere, then all that are left in the truly comprehensive plans are . . . the elderly and the sick. And those plans are going to get a lot more expensive.

The only way for a medical insurance company to stay in business will be to move to a state with less regulation and not offer those treatments that aren't cost-effective.

This is very bad for people with pre-existing conditions and disabilities.

But wait, there's more.

While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit - effectively cash - of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider.

Sounds good, right? Two big problems. First, if you choose to participate in your employer-based program, you'll be taxed on that benefit as if it were part of your income! (This will drive people out of employer-based plans and to private plans, see above.)

Second, you have to be able to pay for your plan up front, with the government "refundable tax credit" coming later. Say you don't have a few thousand dollars (or more, if you're older, female, or otherwise harder to insure) lying around in your checking account. What do you do?

BusinessWeek reports:
The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit that studies health-care issues, estimates that McCain's plan would reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 1.3 million over the next decade, at a cost of $1.3 billion, while Obama's plan would reduce the uninsured by 34 million and cost $1.63 billion. The Lewin Group, a health-care market researcher, figures that McCain's proposal would cost $2.05 trillion over 10 years, and Obama's would cost $1.17 trillion. Both campaigns dispute all these estimates, saying costs would be lower and coverage higher.

If you have a disability or you love someone who does, and you want to make sure that your family is insured, and that your insurance pays for the treatments you need, then McCain's plan is scary for you. According to a report from the nonpartisan Commonwealth Foundation in MedScape Medical News, "The McCain plan encourages people to move into the free market, which may benefit some. But there are a whole variety of structures in the McCain plan that are ill suited for people with chronic needs, such as cancer patients. It would allow or even encourage the loosening of state regulations that currently protect people with chronic illnesses."

The links above, to McCain's campaign website, the BusinessWeek report, and the Medscape report are very interesting. Also very informative is the October 7th Diane Rehm Show. And I highly, highly recommend Jane Bryant Quinn's Vetting McCain's Health Plan in the October 13th edition of Newsweek. It's a quick and easy read. Please check it out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Warning, this is a potty post

This will have to be quick; apparently Blogger has a scheduled outage in a few minutes.

OK, so Ada has shown some interest in the potty. By this I mean that she knows what it is and wants to sit on it sometimes. When she sits, she always goes, even if she's just had a diaper change and can only go a little. And when she does have a BM in her diaper (sorry, those not interested in diaper talk, which has got to be pretty much everyone) she often goes and gets a fresh diaper and brings it to me immediately, sometimes spreading the new diaper on the floor and lying down on it awaiting my attention.

So she's clearly got some control and some interest. Common sense seems to indicate that I should jump right on this and get her potty trained. But I can't bring myself to do it.

For one thing, she's 1! That doesn't mean that she's not ready, just that I'm not ready.

For another thing, I like changing diapers. No, I'm not crazy. It's just that with diapers things are much easier and more controlled for me. I don't have to worry as much about accidents, about finding clean and accessible potties when we're out, about when was the last time she went, etc.

But the big thing, the main thing, is that I'm just so burned out that I can't bring myself to do it.

Some of you might recall that Ellie started using the potty happily when she was 18 months old. That was 3-1/2 years ago. And the process is still ongoing. Sure, she's been potty trained for a year and only wears a pull-up to sleep (and is showing signs of eventually moving toward giving that up). But it's still a work in progress. And in some ways, things are worse. My frustration with the situation has become so obvious that Ellie now fights going to the potty, rather than being excited by it, even when I'm not around.

But I am frustrated. Really frustrated. And I try to deal with that, or at least hide it, but I've not been successful.

I know, from glancing back over this blog, that there was a time when Ellie took control of her own potty schedule. But I don't remember it - it was last spring, apparently, but it seems now like a figment of my imagination - and can't imagine it ever happening again.

Not only do I have to remind Ellie to go, I have to make her go, while she whines and sulks and tries to escape to "go play." And if I don't, she'll have an accident then come tell me about it.

And even if we get that back on track, where she realizes in time that she needs to go and takes herself to the potty, she'll still need help. She can't raise and lower her pants completely independently, and still has trouble navigating the turn around on the stool and sit on the toilet maneuver without a spotter.

Once she's on the toilet, she doesn't want to get off and will stay indefinitely. It's not like I was an early person before, though being a parent has definitely changed my perspective on how long it takes to get out the door, but it's nearly impossible to get places on time now. How do you budget for a child who "needs" to sit on the toilet for 5 or 10 or 15 minutes just as you're leaving the house, even if she just went a half hour before. (And, indeed, doesn't really go.)

It's all very parent labor-intensive.

I get that it's about control. I get that it's a battle that I can't win. I don't want to fight it, really, I don't. But I can't seem to break the cycle. I just get so frustrated by the situation, all of which is exacerbated by the fact that I hate bathrooms all by myself, and I know better than to spend longer than is necessary or touch more than I have to in there.

So, I'm not really potty training Ada, though I do let her sit on the potty when she asks, and praise her when she goes, and I talk to her about the process sometimes. But I can't bring myself to get all energetic about doing it because I haven't had a break in this potty process for three and a half years, and no clear successes or light at the end of the tunnel.

At every age, I say: this is the best age yet.

But now there's a worst, too. My hands-down least favorite parent responsibility is the potty. No contest. (Lo and behold, it has nothing to do with Down syndrome at all.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Like Bullet Points, but Lazier

First of all, Annika is doing well. I mean, she's still a very sick little girl, but she's doing as well as can be expected.

Second, wow, I like the big TV. I still like lots of things about not having a big TV, and I'm much more excited about taking the girls to Disney World than having a big TV, but, it sure is lovely. As is the thought of a fancy, new, HD Tivo that could connect to our wireless network. Ah, well. Other priorities intrude.

Third, a funny thing about the Wii Fit. Most of my family and many of my friends have Miis on my Wii (for the non-Nintendo folk, this means that they have a character/avatar who looks a lot like them hanging out on our machine). When I'm hula hooping my way to fitness, Paul encouragingly tosses me additional virtual hoops. When I'm out for a jog in Golden Gate Park, various friends smile at me as they pass headed the other way. Meanwhile, Ada totally passes me up without a glance, quickly disappearing into the distance ahead of me without so much as a wave. Sometimes, she laps me. Hilarious. Anything to keep me coming back for more.

Fourth, what the heck is up with the 80+ degree weather for days on end? Ada has 4 new mosquito bites on her face. Bring back autumn, please.

Finally, here's Ellie holding her new little friend, AJ:
From 2008-10

(Ada's not quite as excited about his arrival. Mildly interested and jealous, perhaps.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's New in Your World?

My Monday post is early this week.

Two of the little girls who couldn't come to Ellie's birthday party last weekend for completely understandable very good reasons were Annika and Frankie. They were in town for a visit, but Annika was not feeling up for a party, even a small, quiet party.

She was waiting for a new liver, you see, but I was under the impression that the wait might be long, that she didn't quite qualify yet. I check her Mama's blog from time to time, but the situation is all overwhelming, when there's so much at stake and you're waiting, waiting, waiting . . . what is there to say? So there haven't always been regular updates.

Imagine my surprise tonight when, while Paul was giving Ellie and Ada their baths, I popped over to see how Annika was doing and found myself 3 pages of posts behind. In just a couple of days, how could so much have happened?!

Well, Annika got a new liver, that's how.

How could my life have been going along normally, with me thinking about regular daily schedule stuff, about wrapping birthday presents, about my Sunday school lesson for tomorrow, while Moreena and Joerg and Annika and Frankie's lives have been completely turned upside down, and I didn't even know it? It's a weird feeling, related to the way I've felt this weekend when I've wanted something from a particular Korean shop where I like to go with my friend Elizabeth, but just before I pick up the phone to call her I realize that she's still in the hospital after having a baby, and probably my costume jewelry requirements aren't at the top of her mind for once.

I'm so happy and emotional about Annika that I've been crying. I've known her for years through her mother's blog, and I've even met her. She's a delightful little girl. I am so thrilled that she's got this big, fat, liver of a chance.

But of course there's always the other side of the story in my mind, too. The part about the donor, the pediatric donor whose parents gave up her liver, her heart, other organs to fortunate little patients this week. My heart is full for them, too, and I hope that they have Something to hold on to right now.

It's the sort of situation that leaves me emotional and limp, and very glad that my children don't understand it enough yet that I'm having to answer their questions because I don't even know where to start. The basics are clear but it's hard to explain a world in which this stuff happens. Kids get so sick that they need organ transplants. And other kids die . . .

But back to Annika, back to the happy side of the story. I can't wait for her next visit to St. Louis. I might plan another clown party just to celebrate. In the meantime, I've got a great idea for a care package that involves some leftover treat bags.

But first I'm going to go nurse my baby and snuggle my birthday girl goodnight.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Babies and Baas

My best friend had her first baby today, after 8 years of hard (and mostly unpleasant) trying. She is so very, very happy, as is her husband. And little AJ is absolutely perfect. I am thrilled for the whole family, and you'll just have to take my word for it that AJ is beautiful baby, since we haven't uploaded our pictures yet. Next week, hopefully, I'll be able to post a good picture of Ellie holding the baby. She was fabulous with AJ, and gently climbed up into the bed to snuggle with my tired but happy friend.

Instead, for Friday photoblogging, here are some shots of my own beautiful babies:

Here's Ada brushing Ellie's hair as we got dressed one morning. It's worth noting both that the room was tidy the night before, and also that Ellie fights when anyone else touches her hair with a brush.
From 2008-10

Ada is a brave and independent girl . . . as long as she has a special "Baa" or two (or three) with her.
From 2008-10

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Perhaps I Just Need a Nap

I'm so tired I think I might die. Not really, but there is a certain appeal to the idea of lying in a quiet, shady, well-tended cemetery for an indeterminate length of time.

Presumably this tiredness stems from the facts that I am chronically sleep-deprived and currently overweight.

As to the latter, I continue to stubbornly refuse to diet but have been exercising. (Which just makes me more tired, but hopefully will begin to help soon.) I do my cross-training machine in the basement while watching "hour long" dramas on DVD. This works well if I can find just the right show. It has to be interesting enough to make me really want to watch it, but not so tough to follow that I can't concentrate on it while huffing and puffing.

And tonight I started alternating/supplementing those workouts with Wii Fit workouts. I love everything about the Wii Fit except for the exercises themselves, which are just so-so. When cardio kickboxing comes out, I'll jump for joy. And kick something that's at least waist-high.

The greatest thing about the Wii Fit is the Body Test thingie, which measures your center of balance, BMI, and body control to determine your Wii Fit Age. It tracks everything in motivational graphs, and I keep my data locked so that my husband can only guess at my weight and Wii Fit Age (currently +5, but as my strength and balance continue to improve by doing the suggested daily exercises, that will come down).

So that's the other great thing. It's not just about cardio, BMI, and weight loss. it's about improving strength, especially core strength, improving posture, gait, flexibility, etc. It's about being healthier. Plus I can do it in my street clothes standing in front of the TV upstairs. What excuses do I have left?

Oh, yeah, right, I'm really really tired.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Open Letter to Curtis Sittenfeld

Dear Curtis,

May I call you Curtis? I hope so. For one thing, we're about the same age. For another, your writing is very personal/confessional in tone, which makes me (the reader) feel like we've got this one-sided connection. And third, I usually don't mind when people call me by my first name, if it's done respectfully, so I'm hoping that you'll feel the same way. "Ms. Sittenfeld" just seems so cold in this context. And "Curtis Sittenfeld" sounds all fangirl, like you're a celebrity who must always go by her full name.

First of all, I'm a fan. I just want to make that clear.

I found you through your essay, "Your Life as a Girl" in Listen Up! Voices of the Next Feminist Generation through a Women's Studies class in college. Several of the women in one of my book clubs are reading American Wife right now. It's my month to pick for my other book club, and we like to read stuff that's not brand-new, so we're reading Prep. But I had everybody read "Your Life as a Girl" first.

Don't worry, I'm not asking you to come to the book club.

But there is something I would like to ask of you, as a fan. See, I live in St. Louis, too, though I'm not from here. Like you, I've adopted this as my home. But it's a great city and I really enjoy living here. I hope that you grow to love it as well. Or, at least, I hope that you don't publicly disparage it.

I respect your desire for privacy, I do. But the way I see it, you opened the door yourself, talking about the fact that you live here now in certain publications, then not in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Consider your interview with Lesley Stahl in WOWOWOW September 3rd.
Curtis: I now live in St. Louis, MO.
Lesley: Really? St. Louis?
Curtis: I know.

You know what? If there's another way to read that than "That hick place? Seriously?" I'd love to hear it.

And then, of course, there's the non-review of American Wife in the Post-Dispatch (which published a real review, as well).
An author in our town is getting a lot of attention. Only I can't tell you that. I can't even tell you she lives here. And I certainly can't tell you her name.

. . . If you read any of several national publications, you'll find her in articles on the book "American Wife," a roman à clef about George and Laura Bush. The book is even No. 3 on this week's best-seller list (see Page 11). The author has been on talk shows, and the la-dee-da New York Times printed her photograph, too, along with the name of the city where she lives: St. Louis.

But I doubt that you saw that piece. It was printed far away in the National Media. Despite what some economists and new media gurus say, the world really isn't all that connected.

I know this because a helpful publicist for the author told me. I mean she told me that the author doesn't want to talk to local media. Because if we plaster her picture on our arts section, her privacy will be ruined.

She wants to maintain her privacy, said the helpful person paid to obtain publicity for an author writing for the public.

But The New York Times printed her picture, photographed in her "home in St. Louis," I had to say, objecting to the obvious snubbing. And her face is plastered on the book jacket.

Well, national media weren't supposed to say where she lives.

I objected again: We're much nicer than national media. You know how rude sports fans are in places with national media? And how bloodthirsty the media are there? Well, in St. Louis, fans are polite. We applaud. I'm sure that's what we'd do for an author, too. We're practically never bloodthirsty.

Well, everyone in St. Louis reads the Post-Dispatch. But hardly anyone reads the Times.

And so forth. It looks . . . very snobbish. Very anti-Midwestern, or at least anti-St. Louisan. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of intelligent, well-read, interesting people here, too, and not everybody spits hayseeds when they talk. (I do, but only when I forget to floss after mucking the stalls.) Of course you don't have to publish your address or give interviews to everyone who asks. But if you could say something nice about your new hometown, now that the news is out, well, that would be nice. Perhaps a little statement on your website or in an interview. Something to mitigate the ugliness suggested by the two interviews I've excerpted above (one with you, one with your publicist).

I'd feel a lot happier about calling myself a fan and recommending your novels to others if I didn't feel like you were insulting me and looking down on me based solely on where I choose to live.


P.S. Do you want to be my local critique partner?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Clowning Around

Ellie had her 5th birthday party on Saturday, one week early.

Here are her previous cakes (castle, Backpack, pug, pizza).

This year, she wanted a clown and a clown cake. So here's her clown:
From 2008-10

And here's her clown cake:
From 2008-10

It was a gorgeous day, the weather was perfect, and my girls had such a good time sticking the nose on the clown:
From 2008-10

From 2008-10

Rocking their balloon hats:
From 2008-10

From 2008-10

Singing songs, and loving their balloon creations - instantly recognizable and loved Elmo, bumblebee, camel, and Mike Wazowski (Monsters, Inc.).

I could throw a party like this everyday of my life and still not express how much I love these two amazing little girls.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

It's Alright to Vent

Today was Ellie's 5th birthday party (her actual birthday is a week from today) and Monday's post will be extra special happy wonderful. Because everything was great and Ellie had a wonderful time. But I didn't, so this is my time to vent. We expected 7 little girls, including our two. We had the table set for 7, favor bags for 7, a clown prepared for 7, etc.

Until, at the last minute, cancel cancel cancel. One girl came, making a total of 3 kids. She's been here before, for most of Ellie's birthday parties, and I'm friends with her mom. So I doubted she'd flake out. There were definitely some really good reasons why some of the girls we'd invited couldn't come, which I completely understand. But the two we expected that didn't show at the last minute, one without even calling? Suckage.

I was going to post a unhappy girl picture from the party, but looking back over the shots we got, there really wasn't one. The decorations were cute. The cake came out well. Both of my girls had a blast. Ellie had a good birthday.

But I'm still a little peeved about the two little girls that Ellie's been talking about wanting to have at her party for weeks, who said that they could come, and just . . . didn't. I'll get over it; Ellie already has.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's Alright to Cry

I'm going to do my Friday Photo blogging on Monday this week, to maximize cuteness.

In the meantime, I sold another short story (this one to an anthology) am finally over half done with my novel, have several essays out on submission, and am still loving my daytime writing time.

Speaking of which, Ada is done crying at separations now. I know this both because she's stopped crying when I leave her at school (Kids Day Out two mornings a week) and in the nursery at church, but also because she told me so. "Mommy, no mo' cwying." Sweet, sweet baby.

Then she fell down and skinned her knee, was upset for a moment, asked for a kiss to make it feel better, then struggled to gain control of herself. "No cwying," she said emotionally.

"Oh, Ada, sweetie," I said. It's OK to cry. It's alright to cry whenever you get hurt, or feel sad or angry. It might just make you feel better!"

Whine, Slap!

This has been a lovely, beautiful autumn week here in St. Louis. The humidity is low, the sun is out, the air has a little bite, and finally, finally, the mosquitoes are gone. Days have been in the mid-60's and nights in the low-50's. Evening walks after dinner require a sweater but are otherwise perfect.

Just last week, the weather was still hot and muggy. And we've had the worst year for mosquitoes. It's a wonder I haven't had a car accident or gotten a ticket, as I've spent half the summer driving around swatting at miniature blood suckers in the van, swerving irregularly.

One day last week, Ada and I went outside for an hour to drag branches down to the curb. And despite being in the sunlight in a mown yard at noon, we both came in covered with bites. And poor, poor Ada has a significant reaction to mosquito bites. So I've been enjoying the last few days.

The other side of the season change, though, is the increase in political yard signs. News coverage is almost exclusively political. I came into this election cycle still a little burned and burned out from 2000 and 2004. So here it is October 2008 and I've already reached a boiling point.

There have been studies - objective studies - measuring media coverage of Republican and Democratic candidates, both quantity and favorability of coverage, and determined that the so-called liberal media bias is a myth, a rallying cry for the right. But it's what we're still hearing, along with blatant lies. Obama wants more abortions? Obama wants comprehensive sex ed for kindergartners? (I heard McCain actually defend this latter one on NPR's Morning Edition today!)

To set that part of the record straight . . .

On abortion, Obama opposes a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade. Also:
Barack Obama is an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.

(Note that the desired end of education about contraception and reducing unplanned pregnancies is to significantly decrease the number of abortions.)

And regarding the ridiculous sex ed claim:
Here's a cite from the conservative Christian CBN News: I must say that Romney's comments suggesting that Obama wants to teach sex education to kindergarteners is a little misleading. Because he didn't put in the proper context, many in the audience probably left thinking that Obama is ok with the condoms and cucumber approach.

[Obama's clarification] Now, I'll give you an example, because I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old daughter, and one of the things my wife and I talked to our daughter about is the possibility of somebody touching them inappropriately, and what that might mean.

And that was included specifically in the law, so that kindergarteners are able to exercise some possible protection against abuse, because I have family members as well as friends who suffered abuse at that age. So, that's the kind of stuff that I was talking about in that piece of legislation.

And from ABC News: Obama responded to the attack in 2004 by saying that he wants young children, including his own daughters, to know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching because he has family members and friends who suffered abuse at early ages.

On the other side there was that health care deregulation just like banking deregulation gaffe on McCain's part that Obama has used to attack him. While that's definitely what McCain said, it's probably not what he really meant. In context, he probably just meant buying medical insurance across state lines, not actual deregulation. I hope. It's hard to say, in the absence of a clear, strong response.

So, bah humbug. (In addition to being fall, it's apparently also Christmas shopping season.)

Is the level of discourse just going to get worse and worse every four years? Are we so stupid that we can't handle civilized, truthful discourse that comes in paragraphs rather than soundbites and rhyming slogans? Can we have Change?