Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Other News

As I said before, I’ve been running around like a madwoman for the past two-plus weeks, trying to survive another quarter-close at work. Other than me neglecting my family and the housework and all of us eating lots of take-out for dinner, here’s a few things that have been going on in our world:
  • I’ve been trying to convince the boys to be Adam and Jamie for Halloween. So far One is on board (his alternative is no costume for the first time ever – sniff!) but Two is stuck on being a vampire. I might talk One into being Jamie and Adam – one side of his body for each. I can’t decide if I should split him in half down the front, or have him be Adam from the front and have Jamie’s face on the back of his head. Thoughts?
  • The boys received their first mid-term grades and all is well. Despite never having grades before, and One not actually knowing where they came from, both were covered in A’s. Bravo!
  • I think I’ve decided that, as a family, we are Not Cut Out For The Cub Scouts. There is quite a lot of evidence mounting to support this, including (1) Two running out of his first Tiger Cub meeting and refusing to go back in. This might have been because the uniforms reminded him of his first school, which he hated. (2) One of Two’s den parents (or whatever they call the dads all into Cub Scouts) telling me “this is not a drop-off activity” when I don’t actually do things that aren’t drop-off activities, especially not on a Wednesday night when I have work to finish and church to get to immediately after the den meeting. (3) Husband’s subtle refusal to acknowledge that he said he would do the camping if I did all the meetings. Since I apparently can’t do the meetings (see 2 above – and neither can Two – see 1) I think this absolves Husband of the camping, and, combined with 1 and 2, consequently knocks all four of us out of the Scouts.

    I’m crushed. I was really looking forward to seeing all the dads in those cute little uniforms.

Random Political Tidbits from the Internets

I’ve been overwhelmed with work lately, hence the lack of any updates here at the Grass Widow. To avoid me having to think too much but to get away with posting something, here are a few notes from the wonderful world of politics.

  • The “Safe Schools Czar” (can we please stop using that word?) is in some hot water about failing to report a relationship between his 15 year old student and a 30 year old man who met each other (where I always met all my dates before I was married) in the men’s bathroom at a bus station. HT: Mommy Life
  • As everyone knows, pedophile Roman Polanski is finally in jail and will hopefully be deported to the US soon to face prosecution. Hollywood types are upset about this, since artistes shouldn’t be subject to the same rules as the rest of us. Or is it because they just don’t think what he did was that bad? What do you think? Ann Althouse has a funny and outraged post on the subject here.
  • Information on the defense funds for Acorn-exposing journalists Hannah Giles, James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart can be found on Breitbart’s website,
  • Stephen Green makes an amusing suggestion.
  • There is a vigil for the 70 million Chinese killed by the People’s Republic of China over the past 60 years – tonight in NYC at 7pm. More information here.

Motherhood vs a Flat Tummy

After an absence of more than a week, all I have for you right now is this funny article.

"And mixed in among the blood and the milk and the jiggly belly, there’s a new life, for both the mom and the kid, and it’s pretty awesome. That's the "amazing" part. Why, then, would anybody think it’s so great to look like it never happened?"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Orthodox Child

No longer shouts "uncle!" when his father tickles him to the ground. What does he holler instead, you ask? "Have mercy on me!" of course.

Good grief.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Late Night Conversation

Me: "Using Bill Maher's logic, the President shouldn't be proposing health care reform until he's proven to the public that he's quit smoking."

Husband: "Why are you using the words 'Bill Maher" and 'logic' in the same sentence?"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Galveston 2009

I posted a little earlier about our 1 year anniversary of The Returning of the Blessed Electricity after Hurricane Ike, but I have yet to blog on our Labor Day trip down to Galveston. One getting the Pig Flu the Friday we got there sort of put a damper on the whole weekend, and the rest of us showing up with Pig Flu by Tuesday of the next week definitely prevented me from posting anything for a few days. I'd wanted to spend some time in Galveston itself that weekend and take pictures of how things are, one year later. Pretty much all I did get was pictures of Pirate's Beach, which fared very well all things considered. The house we rented in 2008 was there for us in 2009; it looks the same now as it did last Labor Day.

Here are the pictures I did manage to take:

The beach, good and bad:

Where the dunes used to be, there is a digger:

It looks like the dunes will eventually be here, between the houses:

High water marks at the Elissa dock (Ike is the 2nd arrow):

The Elissa herself, as proud as ever:

Overall, Galveston looked great, and we were glad to be back.

One Year Ago Today

We got our power back on after Hurricane Ike. Read about it here.

It's My Life

And it's a hectic one; we're at end of quarter at work and that makes everything fall apart for me.

Some thoughts and vignettes from the week:

Teamwork is when you do the dishes at 10:45 PM and your spouse cleans the glass you broke out of the garbage disposal for you.

Running out of bread twice in one week is a new record. Tuesday the boys had tortilla PBJs; today they had soup. One, entering the kitchen for breakfast: "What's that smell?" Me: "The smell of running out of bread again." One: "Oh. Canned soup."

My greatest dream is to work from home full-time, so I can fold laundry while on conference calls. Everyone has to have a dream.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not For Any Particular Reason

But just because I can, I'm going to share some of my favorite P.J. O'Rourke quotes with you. He's been on my mind lately; I have always admired him as someone who can loathe the government with a smile on his lips (and a drink in his hand). I think it's the attitude we should all take.

Here are some of the best:

"Ideology, politics and journalism, which luxuriate in failure, are impotent in the face of hope and joy."

"America wasn't founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damned well pleased."

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
(Husband's all-time favorite)

"The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it."

"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."

"There are just two rules of governance in a free society:

•Mind your own business.
•Keep your hands to yourself."

"Term limits aren't enough. We need jail."

"Bringing the government in to run Wall Street is like saying, 'Dad burned dinner, let's get the dog to cook.'"

"I'm so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire's recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they'll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican."

" Ann Coulter ... has the look of a soon-to-be-ex wife who has just finished shouting."

"The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors— psychology, sociology, women's studies— to prove that nothing is anybody's fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view."

"Advocating the expansion of the powers of the state is treason to mankind, goddamnit!"

"People who are wise, good, smart, skillful, or hardworking don't need politics, they have jobs."

"Your money does not cause my poverty. Refusal to believe this is at the bottom of most bad economic thinking."

More Suggested Solutions

To the health care mess are proposed here - calling for less government intervention and not more. That's something I'm always in favor of!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Late Night on 9/11 with Two

Last night, Two caught me watching Lileks' 9/11 collage video last night, and asked me what was going on. I told him as little as I could, how bad people had flown planes into the buildings and made them fall down. He wanted to know if we'd gotten all bad men and I told him well, we'd gotten lots of them. Then he said confidently "and we put those tall buildings back up, right mom?" and I wanted to sob. He said he would get right on it as soon as he was a grown up engineer, and I hugged him and carried him back to his bed. One of the best and worst conversations I've had with him in his 6 1/2 years. He wants to know everything is right again - the bad people defeated and order restored. But when he heard that that wasn't entirely so, he showed his desire to be the hero; if others hadn't set things to rights, he would do it himself. Oh my perfect sweet baby!

After thinking about that conversation, I realized that it called to my mind what Lt. Thomas Meehan wrote to his wife as he prepared to leave for D-Day as a paratrooper (his plane would be shot down and he would never land alive). In his last letter he wrote: "If I ever have a son, I don't want him to go through this again, but I want him powerful enough that no one will be fool enough to touch him. He and America should be strong as hell and kind as Christ. That's the only insurance until human nature becomes a tangible thing that can be adjusted and made workable."

Amen, Lt. Meehan.

And to my beloved Two: may you always possess the clarity you have now to tell the difference between good and evil, and may you always wish to act (and act) to make wrongs into rights.

May we all.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Everybody's Talking 'Bout

This Salon op-ed by an American writer named Stephen Amidon, who spent 12 years in London and consequently loves the NHS. He's certainly entitled to his opinion, and he shares it in this very well-written piece. But before you decide it's an unbiased account of real life under Britian's national health system, read this 2008 interview with the same author, in which he makes his politics perfectly clear. A sample quote:

"Moving back has been a mixed bag. We returned in 1999, when the country was at peace, prosperous, liberal-minded (or so it seemed) and there was a cool, interestingly flawed person in the White House. But almost immediately after we settled in, Bush stole the election, 9/11 happened, and this horrible reactionary period started. It was as bad as when I left. No – worse. Much, much worse. Sometimes while we’re watching the news my wife looks at me like – what have you done to me? Take me back to Twickenham!"

Not that I've ever been dumb enough to believe Salon was an unbiased source of information ...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Quote for the Flu Day

As I was tucking One into bed tonight, I had a coughing fit (not unusual the past few days, with all four of us down with the flu). He patted me on the back and said, "Mom, you need to get some herbal tea and then sack out, you know?"

And so I have.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Wade into the Fray

Lots of people who are way smarter than me and write way better have been writing about whether to keep your children home from public school on September 8th, so as to avoid them hearing President Obama's speech to schoolchildren. If you want to read their (better written) opinions on the subject, you can go here, here, here, and here. But if you want to stick around and read mine: be my guest, by all means.

The boys will be at school on the 8th, primarily because the last thing they need is another day off, just three weeks into the school year and after a three day weekend. They have work to do, and presumably President Obama will not be taking up their entire day. Therefore, they will be at school for the math and the reading the the science - and incidentally for the speech. However, I do plan on recording it and watching it myself, and then the boys and I can have a discussion about what we each thought about the whole thing.

I am pretty clear about my political leanings: in public, here on this blog, and at home with the boys. But that doesn't mean I want to teach them that (1) we run away from people whose views differ from our own, (2) I insist they share my political opinions without question, or (3) we can be disrespectful to our President (and our teachers) by skipping school and doing as we please all day. So I'm not threatened by the President's speech; I trust that my abilities as a parent are up to any task it may present.

I also trust in the natural suspicion and tendency to boredom inherent in all small boys. Neither of the boys has a problem obeying authority, but nor do they have a problem questioning it. If Obama demands the swear their allegiance to him in this speech (and I seriously doubt that's what he will do!) they will not blindly stand up and give it. I know this: I'm the one who has been arguing with them to "obey mommy all the time!" since birth, and it's still not working out very well. Second, they want to get their work done. They want to get on with the day. They have a fairly low opinion of anyone who disturbs them from those tasks. Being asked to listen to a short speech - fair enough. Being asked to meditate on it and write about it? Now you're trying their patience - now you're boring them to tears. I also know this well: every time I bloviate for more than five minutes on something they interrupt and ask me if I have some more legal work to get finished, and don't I want to go back to my computer?

So while I'm not in love with the idea of a "dear leader" speech given to children by any politician, I prefer to use this opportunity to teach my boys respect and discernment rather than partisanship. Class, you are dismissed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Not Knowing What to Pray

"Oh Lord, I know not what to ask of thee. Thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me. I dare not ask either a cross or consolation. I can only wait on thee. My heart is open to thee. Visit and help me, for thy great mercy's sake. Strike me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence thy holy will and thine inscrutable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice to thee. I put all my trust in thee. I have no other desire than to fulfill thy will. Teach me how to pray. Pray thou thyself in me. Amen."

--- Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

Need. A. Shower. Now

A friend* told me about this last night, and then another posted the link on Facebook this AM. Of course I can't keep my mouth shut on the subject:

"Miss Cougar America, Gloria Navarro, 42, of Redwood City, proudly accepted her title before more than 200 guests, most of them men in their 20s, 30s and 40s, at Dinah's Hotel in Palo Alto on Friday. She said she was proud to represent a new breed of woman: empowered, secure and willing to break boundaries."

Yes, she was proud of the fact she looked 10 years older than her purported age and devoted her spare time to chasing down men 20 years her junior for s*x. If you don't believe me about the "10 years older" thing, just run through the slide show the story provides. (shudder)

Once again, another woman wants to stand up in front of the world and proclaim that the best thing about her is she loves to have s*x. Pathetic, sad, empty - there is more to life than this, people, I promise!

*Said friend lives near Redwood City, and stayed close to home all weekend, just in case. He didn't want to go our without his wife for protection. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Math: What I'm Not Having a Trauma About this Week

Now that we have mostly settled into school, things we'd rather not think about have begun crawling out of the closet. Chief among them: how One happens to be an entire year behind in math, thanks to Montessori math strangeness and my utter refusal to listen to two years of my overly patient husband suggesting "I really think we need to get him a little extra help in math."

Sigh. Can I be a little bit thicker? I do wonder sometimes ...

So despite the fact I swore a solemn vow (while in the throes of homeschooling fervor three years ago) that I would tutor my own children if they needed extra help, I am checking out remedial math options like Mathnasium to find which program will help our strange little ex-Montessorian. He is missing (a rough estimate I put together this past weekend):

-- adding and subtracting money
-- ditto for weights and measures (okay, he doesn't even know that 16oz = 1lb)
-- fraction addition and subtraction
-- any ability at all with word problems
-- most geometry
-- any idea how to take a test or where grades come from

What did he do his entire third grade year, you ask? Math every day, of course. Multiplication. Every. Single. Day. Nothing else worth mentioning.

I love it when things are my fault. I love making work for others, especially when they're small and they trust me to not do such things to begin with. I love it ... I just love it to pieces.