Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Okay, I like Tim Russert just as much as the next guy, er, girl. Maybe more so, given that I have political junkie tendencies. But seriously, is it really necessary for NBC and MSNBC to devote 5 entire days to practically non-stop Russert coverage?

I was seriously bummed when I heard the news that he had died and at work, no less, because I love Meet the Press and was always eager to hear his analysis. I am more than sorry that he won't be around for the election. But really, I think the 5 days of glowing reviews of his achievements and sobbing and hand wringing on NBC and MSNB is a little much.

Makes me wonder what they'll do when Tom Brokaw or Matt Lauer bite the dust. Will we have a solid two weeks of TV mourning? Enough already.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why Can't I Be A Swimsuit Model??

I have wasted exactly 1.5 hours today looking at swimsuits online. What an effort in futility.

We all know that you can't really buy a swimsuit online. Well, you can, but it's not a good idea. Well, it might be an OK idea if you are, like, 15 with the body of a prepubescent boy. But if you are 35, have birthed two children, have a map of the Mississippi river and all it's tributaries in stretchmarks across your stomach and hips, and sport two saggy D-cup bazoombas, it's not a good idea.

About a month ago, I optimistically (and foolishly) skip-a-daisied to the mall to look for a couple of suits for our two big beach trips. This will great, I thought. I'm thinner than I've been since I was 26ish. Maybe I could even wear a modestly cut bikini! Dreams of bikini models danced through my head. I pictured myself gloriously tan lounging on a rock with a come hither look on my face clad in a gold lame string bikini. The wind whipped through my hair and my skin glistened with the sheen of tanning oil. I happened to find this visual aid that corresponded nicely to my imaginary self.

Vanity, thy name is Molly.

Reality check. First of all, rocks hurt. Second of all, any effort of mine to get a tan results in a lobster red burn complete with blisters. Thirdly, gold lame is kind of tacky. Lastly, hello, this is me we are talking about.

Still, I had high hopes.

High hopes that were soon dashed on those imaginary rocks.

I must have tried on every single remotely attractive suit in not one, but THREE department stores. I wisely avoided the skimpy stuff and shunned the old lady purple hibiscus flower suits, but I hit everything in between.

I quickly reaffirmed my belief that I look like crap in a one piece. I am very short waisted and need the break in the waist line that a two piece provides. In the past, I have worn tankinis but somewhere in the big swim department in the sky, they must have decided that tankinis are passe. So that left me with all the two pieces.

The biggest problem is in the bust region. Who the hell designs swimsuits with no bust support??? Men with no boobs, that's who. Seriously, would it hurt to put an underwire in there somewhere? Halters are cute and all, but unless your boobs are silicon, they don't do much for support. Likewise with the triangle tops and the bandeau tops. My selection was automatically slashed by 80% since I require the underwire.

And then there is the bottom. It's hard to find that perfect rise. Some are too low. Those hip hugger things don't flatter anyone. Boyshorts either. Some were too high and looked like industrial strength granny panties. I finally came to the conclusion that a well cut skirted bottom was the way to go and seems to be in style judging from the vast quantity of them.

It was only after trying on swimsuit number 98 on my second visit to the department store where I started that I finally found one that seemed better than the rest. It's not perfect, but it has the necessary underwire, boob coverage and sassy skirt that looks a little MILF. I plunked down the $85 bucks and called it a day. (The fact that what is basically a set of underwear costs $85 boggles my mind).

So, given my frustration with my in-person swimsuit shopping, one might wonder why I wasted 1.5 hours looking online when statistics would say that unless I mail-ordered 100 suits and tried them all one, I would not be able to find one that actually looks good on me.

Desperation, my friends. Since I have exhausted the possibility of finding another suit here, I thought perhaps I could find a similar suit online. Easier said than done. I did find a couple of cute ones at Victoria's Secret of all places, but they are sold out of one and the other would be over $100 with express shipping so it gets here in time. And I just don't want to spend $100 on a swimsuit, even though I know that is the going rate. I just can't do it.

I guess I will have to hit some shops in Destin and hope I can find something, or maybe I'll just wear my one swimsuit the whole time. At least then I will get my money's worth out of it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Memphis in the Meantime

Ok, I know I have slacked off again, but we have been out of town for the last week. I took the kids to Nashville and then on to Memphis to visit relatives with my mom. We spent the first night in Nashville visiting my family and then left for Memphis on Tuesday morning.

It was nice being in Memphis again. We got to spend a lot of time with my aunt and uncle and cousins. We stopped by my alma mater, Rhodes College, saw some new sights downtown, drove over the bridge to Arkansas so the kids could add another state to their tally and went to the zoo. If you have never been to the Memphis zoo and are ever in the area, you must go. It's become a world class zoo and has an amazing polar bear exhibit. I also got a chance to visit Molly's and catch up with some old friends.

Memphis seemed much the same as when I left about 8 years ago. It's still poor as dirt, rundown, and dangerous. I loved living there because I liked the realness of it and the people. It also has a great nightlife scene and great local music. Now, however, I don't think I would want to live there with my kids. We would have to put them in a private school because the public schools are so awful and we would have to live way out east and not in the Midtown area that I love. Big B would never consent to live there anyway, so I think it will have to remain a place for memories and not a future home.

The kids did surprisingly well for their first real hotel experience. Sweet Pea slept in a bed by himself and Ladybug slept on sleeping bags on the floor. She is still in her crib at home and thinks a big bed is just a trampoline, so I didn't want to put her in a bed. They ran around like wild animals for about 30 minutes the first night and Ladybug sang in her little bed for a long time before going to sleep. The second night they were so tired that they were asleep the minute their heads hit the pillow.

We returned home late Friday afternoon and I think we were all a little sad the trip was over. The trip to Memphis was a little sad for me, just because I had such a good time living there and made some great friends. I could never return to that life, but I do miss it from time to time. Being in Nashville is just being at home and I am always sad to leave. The first year or so that we lived in Knoxville, I cried for about the first 40 miles every time we left from visiting Nashville. I miss my family immensely and I miss the city. We both want to move back, but with the economy and housing market the way it is, who knows when that will be. Sooner rather than later, I hope. The three cities are so different from one another--something to explore in a later post, maybe.

So that's what I have been up to the past week. Hopefully now that we are back and now that I don't have a cancer diagnosis hanging over my head, I will be posting on a more regular basis. The huge piles of laundry, the weeds in the yard and garden, the messy house, the prep for the beach, all that can wait, right?

Friday, May 30, 2008


We got a call from the surgeon this's benign! No indication as to what has caused the hardening and enlargement, but it is definitely not cancer. Thank God! What a relief. All this worry for naught.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Anxiously Waiting...And Puking

Had the biopsy Tuesday but I've been so sick that I have barely been able to surface. Not sure if it is from the anesthesia or painkillers, but I have been barely able to keep anything down since post-op Tuesday. Today has been some better but not great. My mom has been here helping with the kids....a definite lifesaver, as there is NO way I would have been able to take care of them Tuesday or Wed.
No news yet on the pathology. Hoping for a call tomorrow.
I'll write more when my stomach settles.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Countdown to Tuesday

I meant to post yesterday, but was just too tired. I saw a surgeon yesterday and had a CAT scan. We have a biopsy scheduled for Tuesday morning. They will take out the largest node. Pathology should be back in 48-72 hours. The surgeon was hopeful that it is not Lymphoma, but he said a couple of things that run contrary to all the information I have read on Lymphoma, so I am taking his statements with a grain of salt. All we really need is the node out and the pathology. The surgeon I had the appointment with is going to be out of town this week and thought we needed to get the node out ASAP, so another guy in the practice is doing the surgery. Between meeting the two of them and the exams, I forgot to ask a few questions about the pathology. I've read up on all the things you are supposed to ask for and do so that you can take your pathology to a major cancer center for second opinions and treatment courses. If I do have Lymphoma, I will go to Vanderbilt or Duke, get a treatment plan and have it executed here if possible, so I need to make sure I can get a copy of the pathology slides and a flash frozen section if possible. It's so much to all take in.

I also had a CAT scan, which really sucked. You have to drink this nasty chalk cocktail over the course of an hour. The actual scan is effortless. You lie there and they run your body through the machine, but the cocktail made me want to puke. It was foul. They gave me a disc of the images and I have looked at them but it is a little hard to know what to look for. You can see the major organs but there are lots of globs of things that you can't place. We will get the report on Tuesday.

So, that's the update on my health front. We'll hope for the best on Tuesday. I alternate between thinking I have cancer and thinking I just have calcified lymph nodes. I just want it to be over at this point.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


We are finally on the right track. I saw the Internal Medicine specialist at UT today and she agreed that I needed a CT scan and biopsy. She was apparently impressed by the hardness of the nodes. She said a couple of times, "They are small, but boy are they hard."She was worlds better than the previous doctor. Very serious and no chit-chat, but as my dad says, that's not what you are paying them for.
She took tons of blood for the hospital lab to run "extensive" blood work on. Apparently they break it down and look at it on a cellular level, looking for chemical markers, sedimentation rates, and other stuff that meant nothing to me. She also sent me for a chest X-ray this afternoon.
Unfortunately, she did not offer any alternate diagnosis. I could tell from her questioning that she was looking for other possibilities, but came up with none. I have the CT scan on Friday, as well as an appointment with the surgeon. She thought we might be able to get a biopsy as soon as next week.

Bad Doctoring

Later today I have yet another doctor's appointment to try to figure out what is going on. So far, my experience has been a lesson in bad medical care.

Several months ago I noticed a small swollen lymph node in my left groin area. It didn't hurt at all. It was just enlarged and hard. I wasn't sick and hadn't been sick and I didn't have any infected cuts or other infections. I forgot about it, figuring these things happen once in a while and it would go away in a week or so. Last month I realized that the node was still there and it was joined by a friend. Both were hard and painless. I figured it was probably time to get it checked out.

Since we moved here three years ago, we have not had a primary care doctor. We haven't been very sick and just haven't needed one. I see my OB/GYN and a urologist regularly and so I went to my OB/GYN to get the nodes checked out. I ended up seeing the nurse practitioner and she put me on a round of Doxycillian and said that usually takes care of the problem and if it didn't they would send me to an Internal Medicine doctor. The antibiotics had no effect and I called my OB/GYN's office to get the referral. Here's where things got screwed up.

The receptionist at the office gave me the name and number of a doctor and I made an appointment for the next day. The doctor was a very nice woman about my age. She felt the nodes and we went through all the possibilities. Usually reactive nodes are painful. These are painless. Usually reactive nodes are soft. These are hard and fixed. Usually reactive nodes resolve in a week or so. I have had these for months now. And I have not been sick or had anything that would cause a node reaction like this. The only other symptoms I had at that time were fatigue and a constant backache in my lower back, right behind the nodes.

At this point, the doctor said that we have to look at cancer as a possibility. She also said that it could be that the nodes were reactive at one point but have calcified permanently. The nodes are a little smaller than often seen in Lymphoma patients, but they could be just getting started. She took blood work and said she wanted to send me to a surgeon to get a biopsy. I went home and immediately started researching Lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease, the most likely culprits. Turns out that I am the perfect picture of an early case of Lymphoma.

I immediately called my in-laws because my father-in-law is an OB/GYN. He offered to set me up for a fine needle aspiration the following day. We had it done but the pathologist was unable to get enough cells to send through cyto flow and so it was inconclusive. I was thankful to my father-in-law, however, it turns out the fine needle aspiration is not used to diagnose Lymphoma. They need to see the node in its entirety. Back to square one.

A few days later, my blood work came back normal, We had hoped the blood work would show some infectious disease or reason for inflammation, but no suck luck. The doctor sent me to a general surgeon. The surgeon, also a woman my age, proceeded to tell me that she thought I could just feel the nodes because I am thin. She said she can feel her nodes too. I pointed out to her that the nodes on the other side are not palpable and that I knew the enlarged nodes were not there 6 months ago. She didn't have much to say, just that she thought everything would be fine and we should just wait and see. The surgeon also questioned why my doctor had not done some preliminary imaging, as is typical.

After having been told I might have cancer and finding out I did indeed closely resemble a Lymphoma presentation and knowing that a biopsy is the only way to know for sure, I was not too pleased that the surgeon did not want to do a biopsy and also not pleased that we had not done the imaging. I went back to the doctor to see if she could at least set up an MRI or CAT scan. While waiting to see the doctor, her nurse asked what I thought of the surgeon. I said she seemed fine and asked if they worked with her often. The nurse replied that no, they didn't know her at all. The nurse just picked her name off a list of general surgeons. The doctor doesn't know her at all. Not a good sign.

When the doctor came in, I explained what had happened and asked what we should do next. This time the doctor seemed a little confused. In a total turn around, she said the nodes were probably OK and we could just leave it alone and see what happened. I think that she is just very new and does not have a working relationship with other doctors in the area and was not confident enough to push a surgeon for a biopsy. She said she didn't send me for imaging because it was expensive and she figured a biopsy would be easier.

I was obviously none too happy with all this. I have been lucky to always have really great medical care. My parents see the best doctors back in Nashville and therefore, so have I. My urologist is one of the best in the country and my OB/GYN is the chief of the OB/GYN department at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. I have always seen doctors who are aggressive in diagnosing and treating illnesses and I have always trusted their judgment because I have know that they are the best in town. It was obvious now that this doctor was not up to snuff. I was about ready to just go back to Nashville and see our doctor there even though our crappy insurance would not pay for all of it.

I went back to my OB/GYN and saw the nurse practitioner again. I explained the situation. Turns out that the office should have never sent me to the other doc in the first place. She is just a family practitioner. They meant for me to go to an Internal Medicine specialist at UT hospital. The NP spoke to my OB/GYN and he agreed that he wanted a biopsy and imaging and he told her he wanted them to get me in to see a colleague at UT immediately. This was Friday. That day, his nurse tried to get me in, but was told that they had no openings until August. Great. On Monday, another nurse called me at home and told me that my doctor himself was going to get me in as soon as possible and she would call me back that morning with an appointment day. She called back 10 minutes later and told me the appointment was for today, Wed. May 21.

So, finally, today I am hoping to get some real help. In the three weeks that all this has happened, I have two new enlarged and hard nodes in the area and one is developing on the other side of my groin. One of the initial nodes has grown. My backache has continued. I have also had several episodes of night sweats, another symptom of Lymphoma. I am hoping that these new developments will result in an immediate biopsy. In fact, I am going to pretty much demand a biopsy. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Toddler Talk

It's so nice to have a child whose speech has progressed at a normal rate. My son was a late talker. He hardly uttered a word until he was two. Ladybug, though, is right on schedule and knows hundreds of words now and uses them all the time. She is also a gregarious little girl and especially likes to speak to "babies." At least she thinks they are babies. They are usually about her age, but she seems to think she is a three year old like her brother and therefore anyone her age is a "baby."

For example, the other day at the library, we walked past another mom and a little girl about 18 months old. Ladybug checked her out as we walked past and then turned around and said, "Goo goo ga ga, baby." This is because when she was a baby, my son would say "goo goo ga ga" to her. Apparently now this is what she thinks you say to a baby. The baby looked very confused.

She also likes to make sure that all other babies know that things belong to her. We were walking in the neighborhood the other day and passed another child in a stroller. Ladybug looked at her from her perch in our stroller and yelled across the street, "MY STROLLER!" Maybe she thought the baby was shooting envious glances at our stroller. Who knows.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Been Gone Too Long

I am sure I have exactly zero readers now after my extended absence, but just in case there is anyone still out there, I thought I would offer an explanation for my hiatus. I am ready to jump back in, though my posts may become somewhat more abbreviated due to time nowadays.

Major, major upheaval in casa Molly the past month.

First of all, huge daycare problems. We did not get a spot in any of the three acceptable day cares. This resulted in two weeks of teeth gnashing and hair pulling trying to decide what to do. We toured several alternatives which all sucked. Guess that's why they had openings. In the end, I decided that I have the whole rest of my life to work, and only a few short years to be home with my children so I will not be returning to work next year. It was an agonizing decision as I was really excited about getting back to the classroom, but I am at peace with it now after seeing where I would have to leave my kids if I wanted to do it. So, that crisis is over and done with.

Then, out of the blue, my husband's grandmother, to whom we are very close and see every week, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has had a biopsy, lumpectomy, and mastectomy all in the last three-four weeks. She's 82, so of course we have been very worried about how she will fare through all this. Luckily though, she is one tough broad and is fighting it tooth and nail. She actually had the mastectomy today and is doing just fine.

Finally, and here's the kicker.....there is a chance I have Hodgkin's disease or non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I've had this enlarged lymph node in my groin for about 6 months now. The one has become several and they are all hard, fixed, and painless. I have not been sick or had any injuries or infections that might result in enlarged nodes. We have ruled out any infectious diseases through blood work. I have also been very tired lately. I get 8-9 hours of sleep a night but an still exhausted all day. And, last night, I woke up drenched in sweat something I never, ever experience. I am always freezing at night, never hot. These things can weigh heavy on a girl's mind, you know, and I have been pretty consumed with worrying about it all. I've also had a snafu with finding a really good doctor and have been off on a goose chase of sorts, but finally have an appointment with an Internal Medicine specialist at the major research hospital here on Wednesday. Lymphoma is relatively rare and the odds are I don't have it, but we won't know for sure without a surgical biopsy.

So, there you have it. That's where I have been. I've also been trying to spend more time actively engaged with my kids in an effort to improve some behavior. It is working some.
I am going to try to start posting again though, at least every other day, if not daily. So don't give up on me totally. I'm still here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Daycare Rush

Well, I would love to tell you that this time away has been fruitful and glorious, but that would be a lie. Well, that is not exactly true. Ladybug has been doing better with the extra attention. We went to a wonderful birthday party today and we have had fun with friends this week.
But unfortunately, this fun was had with a big cloud of gloom and doom hanging over my head.

I remember back when I went through sorority rush. You go to all the parties, listen to the spiel, endure the endless skits and songs and sappy sisterhood talk. After each round, you make your selections and hope that those houses select you too. Then, at the end of the week, you cross your fingers, check Tri Delta and hope to God they pick you. On Bid Day you tear open your bid envelope and read your fate. Kappa Kappa Gamma, Tri Delta, or Chi Omega? Whose letters will soon be emblazoned on everything you own?

For some unlucky girls, there is no bid envelope. The houses they picked did not pick them. The have "fallen through" rush.

Well, we have fallen through daycare selection. Back in August, we did the tours and put the kids' names on the three most outstanding places in town, hoping for a spot in August 2008. Back in Nashville, you have to sign up at birth, but here, we've been told, there is not that much of a wait. We did our homework and asked around and even the centers told us it should not be a problem.

Well, wrong-o. Apparently we should have put their names on the list when we filled out their birth certificate registration, because all three childcare centers told me this week that they do not have spots for Ladybug and Sweet Pea. They have made their fall lists and are full. We can keep checking back and hope someone moves, but as of now, we have no childcare for August.

I have a job offer, but no child care. Immediately after hearing all this, I started calling everywhere else in town. Of course all the other acceptable centers are equally full and we would be put at the bottom of their lists. We are now faced with hiring a nanny, enrolling in some home-run center, or me staying home. The nanny is a possibility but logistically very difficult because at anytime one of the centers could call and say we have a spot and then we'll take it and we won't know for sure we need a nanny until mid-July, two weeks before I go back to work. The home-run center is out. I will stay home before putting them in a less than ideal situation but since I assumed we would have the kids in full-time care, I did not register them for Mother's Day Out/Preschool and now of course those spots are full as well. Hopefully our MDO can work something out, but if not my son has no preschool the year before kindergarten.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vacation Time

Sometimes you just can't do everything you would like. I am taking a little blog vacation for a few days. My house is a huge mess and I have a garden to plant. More importantly though, I need to devote some undivided attention to my daughter, Ladybug. Ladybug is what some would call a "challenging child." She has always had quite a temper but she has become very aggressive in the past few months, pinching, hitting and biting. We have been doing some reading about ways to deal with this and right now, I need to give her some one-on-one heavy duty playtime and love. I often get distracted by chores and blogging and I believe she feels left out. So, since my primary duty is to her, I am stepping back from the blog for a few days to see what happens.

Check back in a few and I'll let you know how things are going.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I am Crazy and Chivalry is Dead

It would seem that the universe is pointing me in a certain direction. Either that or I've lost my freaking mind!

At preschool on Wednesday, the day after I started Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, my son planted a bean seed. He was so excited. He came right home and started looking through the pantry because he wanted to plant one here. I found some dried red beans, we wrapped them in wet paper towels, stuck them in a baggie and taped them to the window. That evening, Sweet Pea could not stop talking about planting things. He is a frequent visitor to his great-grandmother's vegetable garden and his grandmother's flower garden and now wants to start his own. At bedtime that evening, I told Sweet Pea that we would stop at Lowe's on the way to the library and buy some seeds so he could grow a plant or two. Operative words here would be "a plant or two."

Later that evening, I got well into Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and made the decision that not only would we plant a plant for Sweet Pea, we would also attempt to grow some vegetables this summer. I was inspired. I was on my high-horse. We'll fight "the man" and give my son a lesson in agriculture!

So, yesterday on the way to the library, the kids and I selected a plethora of vegetable seed packets, some starting soil, and some little starter cups. I let Sweet Pea pick most of the veggies. He selected carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, several pepper varieties, green beans, and three types of tomatoes. I added my usual summer herb collection of chives, oregano, dill, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, and basil.

I have two small children. I have a dog who runs rampant in the backyard. I have no gardening experience. I just bought a gazillion packages of seeds to plant in my backyard, in a part of the country currently in a drought. I have lost my mind. This will be a learning experience, I am sure of that.

Now for the chivalry. The two bags of garden soil that I bought were humongous. Really large. I could barely lift them into the cart, and I am not that weak. I lift weights. I do push ups. I guess I need to do more, though, because these were too heavy for me. Of course there were no employees around and there never are. I managed to get them balanced at least on top of the cart, fairly evenly balanced I thought. Ladybug was in the cart seat, the bags balanced on top of the cart and Sweet Pea was walking beside us.

I made it to the checkout. The old guy at the checkout scanned everything and when I asked if anyone could help me get the bags into my car, he said there was no one available. OK, you jerks, I thought. I can manage.

We headed out into the parking lot. We were walking down the main lane in front of the store when we went over a speed bump and the cart tipped over. It was one of those slow motion things. I could see it all happen but could do nothing to prevent it. The momentum of the cart and the bags was too much for me to resist and the cart fell on its side, right on top of Sweet Pea, spilling Ladybug in a heap on the ground. Sweet Pea was screaming because he landed on his elbow. Ladybug was crying and trying to run away. I was trying to tend to them, right the cart, and pick up the 300 lb bags of soil.

Directly across the lane were two Lowe's employees, men, looking at the grill selection and talking to a customer, also a man of able body. All three saw the accident. Did any of the gentlemen come to assist? Nope. They just kept on flapping their jaws about the features of the grills, while I tried to keep my 18 month old out of traffic, calm my three year old and lift two giant bags of soil into the cart.

Who came to my rescue? You can probably guess it....two other mothers with babies. That's right, one mom held the babies while the other mom and I lifted the bags of soil into the cart.
And they say we're the weaker sex.

What a pathetic example of the male species these guys were. And Lowe's is lucky my kids were not seriously hurt.

More on the seed planting tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

In a nonthinking moment last week, I submitted requests to my branch library for nine books. I figured that some of them already had holds and I would receive the books in a trickle rather than a flood. Well, call me Noah and build an ark, because I now have two weeks to read nine books. I just finished Bringing Down the House, the story of a group of MIT students who make millions counting cards in Vegas. It was a fascinating and quick read. I can only say that I wish I were that smart.
Yesterday, I began book 2, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. The author has written numerous works of fiction, but this book chronicles her family's decision to eat locally for one year. Her family of four moves to a Virginia farm and resolves to only eat what they or others in their region grow or produce. I am only about 100 pages in, but already the book has sparked a lot of thought about how we eat.

For dinner last night, I made Moo Shu chicken. I used Tyson chicken, raised somewhere in Arkansas probably. I used wheat flour from somewhere in the grain belt. I used carrots and mushrooms, which were probably grown somewhere in the US. And I used bok choy and water chestnuts from who knows where. None of these vegetables are in season, yet I was able to purchase them in my neighborhood grocery. My fridge is full of out of season, mass produced items. Apples, cantaloupe, blueberries. I think the only things in season are lettuce and asparagus.

We in the US are now used to having whatever we want when we want it. I try to always buy more of stuff when it is in season, but I still buy the majority of my produce out of season and think nothing of it. Nothing I buy is produced locally. It is all grown somewhere else, usually far, far away.

Kingsolver argues that this type of food consumption is tragic for our environment, our world economy, our bodies, and for nature. Our food today is largely grown on huge, industrial farms and then shipped thousands of miles across the country. A very small group of companies controls something like 90% of our food production. The small farmer is no more. It is almost impossible for a small farmer to eek out a living anymore. And much of our food is imported. Those berries and fruits you eat all winter are often grown in countries to our south. And do you think those farmers are making much profit? They should at the price of $5.00 a pint of raspberries, right? Wrong. They make less than $10 a day, while their boss at Dole makes multimillions.

Our produce is genetically engineered to withstand pests and disease and the rigors of cross -country travel. In all our modifying of crops and choosing crops for sustainability, we have managed to narrow down the variety of plant species that we eat to minuscule levels. Humans have eaten 80,000 species in course of history. Now we eat 8.

Those large companies that control our agriculture have managed to require that farmers buy new seed each year. Farmers can no longer save seeds. They must buy the latest genetically modified seed. This is resulting in plants that have lost the evolutionary ability to adapt. The plant species is not naturally evolving along with the pests because the plants are tinkered with and not left to nature. Because these large corporations also control seed catalogs, they have even squeezed out the availability of "heirloom" seeds to the average gardener. You used to have thousands of seeds to choose from when you opened up the seed catalog. Now you have only a few hundred. Plant geneticists warn that we are setting ourselves up for mass starvation because we have limited and controlled our food options to such drastic extremes. In Europe, there has been some effort to force these companies to lift their ban on farmers using last year's seeds, but so far this has not happened here in the US.

We also spend billions of dollars on transport costs and packaging in order to get these products to the supermarkets. Gas prices are skyrocketing. We have seen the results in the price of goods in our grocery stores. Those products have to be shipped thousands of miles and that takes gas. The packaging materials have to be shipped from maker to the food plant. The grain the animals are fed has to be shipped to the animals' location. And think of the emissions that all this transport spews into the air. And all the waste that packaging manufacturers pour into the water supply.

When you resolve to only buy locally, you are not supporting this giant food industry. You are putting money in the pockets of local farmers. You are supporting your local economy. You are not adding to energy consumption. You are not supporting companies who are restricting the natural evolution of plants and animals. You are hopefully putting fewer chemicals and hormones into your body. And as a personal reward, the food you buy tastes better. When you buy locally, you must buy in season and in season food is worlds better than out of season food. You already know this. Those supermarket tomatoes seem a distant and homely cousin to red, ripe juicy homegrown beauties.

When you look at it all laid out, it makes a lot of sense to buy locally. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. I don't even know where to go in my city to buy locally grown food. There is a farmer's market downtown in the summer, but what about the rest of the year? My Kroger doesn't have a local food section. I will have to actively search out local food sources. And it may cost more. The prices may be higher, as there is no Sam Walton keeping them down by mass purchasing. And it could be more time consuming, requiring me to forgo convenience foods and make more myself. And, perhaps most difficult of all, it will require willpower. When I get a hankering for strawberries in December, I can't have them. I have to wait until summer. I can't have asparagus year round. It will require a total change in thinking and planning meals and ultimately, sacrifice.

So, will I do it? I think I probably will to some extent. I may try to ease into it, find some local sources and buy what I can. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shine a Light

In Webster's Dictionary 3008 Edition, instead of a definition for Rock 'n' Roll [rok-uhn-rohl] noun, they will just have this:

I have had the good fortune to have seen The Rolling Stones in concert twice. Friday night, I felt like I had seen them a third time. Big B and I went to see Scorsese's Shine a Light and it was so good. We left the theatre feeling like we had been at a concert. I danced in my seat the whole time and had to hold myself back from making a fool of myself by getting up and letting lose in the aisle.

The movie was shot during a Stones concert at Beacon Theater in NYC and is basically a concert film interspersed with a little historical footage. It was shot using 18 cameras and the resulting effect is an up close and personal perspective. You see their wrinkles, the sweat on their clothes, the ash on Keith's cigarette, everything. You get to watch their interactions on stage, the way Mick and Keith look at each other, Charlie Watt's expression of tiredness after one song, their cues, all that. The music is, of course, great and there are appearances by other musicians, my favorite being Buddy Guy. Some reviews said the film did not measure up to the standard set by the recent 3D U2 film, but I didn't see it and can't compare. I thought Shine a Light was a great time.

Throughout the film, I was struck by how old and yet young Mick Jagger and Keith Richards look. Their faces are a map of their living. Every wrinkle and crag probably points to the thousands of drinks, groupies, tokes, bong hits, snorts, and needles in their lives. These guys are about the age of my parents, but their skin is much, much worse. On the other hand, the guys are in amazing shape. Mick Jagger has more energy than my three year old. He is a whirlwind of motion the entire time. And while the other guys are more sedate on stage, it still must take an enormous amount of energy to put on the show that they do. Big B and I often like to joke that Richards has pickled himself and will probably outlive us all.

And despite their AARP membership, they have not lost their sex appeal. Rock and roll is largely about sex and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards may be the perfect match of sexual appeal in a band. Jagger is the world's best front man, full of himself and his ego. He exudes confidence and that's pretty sexy. He also has that ugly but strangely sexy thing going. He is not a necessarily good looking guy, though in his younger years he had a languorous sensuality about him. I have always seen him as somewhat androgynous. And yet, when he starts prancing across the stage and moving his hips in that manner that is all his, I can see the appeal.

And Keith Richards, what can you say? Back in my groupie days, he would have been my rock 'n' roll dream come true. He's the consummate bad guy with a sensitive side. He makes a comment in the movie about how he feels the music when he is onstage and in several moments, you see that. He closes his eyes and almost makes love to the guitar. That devotion and introspection, matched with the devil may care, rebellious attitude and the pirate accessories makes for a powerful good combo. I wouldn't kick him out of my bed, that's for sure.

It will be a sad, sad day when The Rolling Stones is no more. I hope I will get to see them at least one more time, but until then, Shine a Light will do nicely.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

All We Need is Love

This is going to be a rambling hodge-podge of a post and it is not the promised movie review, but I only have a few moments so here goes.

First of all, thank you to everyone for the comments on my friend's situation with her husband. You guys are so, so wise. I will give an update tomorrow or Tuesday when I talk to her.

Today is a gloriously warm and sunny day here in east Tennessee. The kind of day where you are magnetically drawn to the outdoors and the feel of the sun on your face. I am eagerly awaiting the end of the kids' nap time, so we can all head to the park and soak in some vitamin D. I wouldn't call Spring my favorite of seasons, but it's definitely up there. I love the smell of fresh cut grass and I love the vibrant, almost neon green that everything turns if we are lucky to have enough rain. I also love daffodils and tulips and eagerly await their bright faces. And I can't complain about breaking out the short sleeves and flip flops. Allergies do bother me a little and I am counting down the days to swimsuit season with dread, but all in all, Spring is a good thing.

This morning we made our third visit to a Presbyterian church in town. In the three years we have lived here, we have visited just about every Presbyterian and Methodist church in a 15 mile radius but have found none that really suit us. It seems we are in the minority of 30-somethings who don't like contemporary services and music. We have had difficulty finding a church that has traditional services but also has a large number of families with young children in attendance. Back in Nashville we belonged to a huge traditional church of around 4,000 members with a superstar preacher and every program under the sun. There just isn't anything like that here, in part because Knoxville is so much smaller and because it seems to be more religiously conservative here.

Thankfully, though, it looks like this church might be the one for us. It is small compared to our old church, but actually is probably a better fit. There are enough kids, the music program is excellent, and the people are friendly. It is progressive and is very focused on social justice issues, so I feel right at home. It probably has the highest concentration of Democrats under one roof than anywhere else in the city and I am looking forward to not feeling as isolated in my interests. And most importantly, we have very much enjoyed the services and have come away feeling like we have learned something each Sunday.

This morning the sermon was given by a guest minister who was in the region at a poverty and hunger conference. One of the focuses of her sermon was how we often fail to see God right in front of us. She told a story of being lost looking for a restaurant in Seoul, Korea and how a man came up to her and said, "I am a Christian. Are you lost and do you need help?" The man led her to a McDonald's (of course!) and they ate Big Macs together. The story was much more detailed and insightful and it made me think about my conception of God and God's influence in our lives.

I am not super, super religious really, but I am pretty spiritual. I am not the best church-goer and I have difficulty with literal interpretations of the Bible. I don't see God as some supreme being who answers prayers and is always interceding in our lives. I don't agree that God causes people to die or suffer a disease for some particular reason. I am not sure there is a reason to everything or that God tries to teach us things through troubles in our lives. I don't think of God as a being who is capable of those things.

Rather, I think God is within us all and is simply goodness and love and energy. God is the love and goodness that makes us give the homeless guy on the corner a sandwich. I don't think of God as a being who directs me to give the guy a sandwich, but rather as the feeling of love and mercy I have in my soul that encourages me to make the decision myself to give the man a sandwich.

During the minister's sermon, I tried to think of all the moments in my life when the love and goodness inside someone else affected me in a profound way. I am sure there have been many times throughout my life, but the ones that came to mind were recent.

Some of you were readers of my previous blog and know that I had a very serious battle with postpartum psychosis last year. There were two people in my life whose help I could not have done without: my mother and my friend, Shannon. My mother gave up her life and job in Nashville to come live with us for four months and care for me and my children. My friend Shannon was a source of constant support and understanding. Both of these women acted from the love in their hearts. Obviously my mother loves me, but Shannon and I had only been friends for a year or so. It would have been easy for her to kind of stand back and not want to get involved in such a personal battle. But instead, she offered me all the support she had, calling, emailing, bringing little gifts and sources of guidance. She did this because her heart is so good and she has so much love for other people.

These are bright and shining examples, but there are other folks as well who have offered much needed and crucial love during times of crisis. And I bet there are folks who have helped me and I don't even know it!

Who has been a force of love and goodness in your life?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I Am Not a Slacker--Just Busy and Tired!

I know I haven't posted in a few days and promise a new post tomorrow. I had to work at my MOMS Club consignment sale all day today and am tired in more ways than one. Let's just say that some organizations outlive their worthiness in your life and when that happens, it is time to move on.
Last night was date night with Big B--check back tomorrow for a rockin' movie review! Here's a hint:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thumb, Sweet Thumb

My son is a thumb sucker. Not an occasional thumb sucker, but a full-time thumb sucker. His sucking is not limited to sleepy time. No, he sucks in the car and while watching TV. In the middle of playing, he often will retire to the couch for a quiet suck. The thumbnail on his preferred thumb never grows. I suppose any growth is sucked right off. It is often puckered and pruney. He loves his thumb.

It was no surprise to us that Sweet Pea took to thumb sucking. One of his ultrasounds showed him sucking his thumb in utero. For the first three months of life, he had a paci. We were never without a paci. We had pacis in the crib, in every room of the house, in the diaper bag, in the car, buried under the couch cushions, in the laundry basket. Everywhere. He loved them.

Then, at three months, he found his thumb and he never looked back. I would try to give him his paci, but he spit it out with a snarl, look at it with disgust, and shove his thumb back in his mouth.

I allowed the thumb sucking because, well, I was a thumb sucker. Until the age of 9. Really. I distinctly remember the feeling of comfort and peace that would wash over me as I sucked my thumb with my sock doll Polly in hand. I would hold her leg in my sucking hand and rub her softness against my nose as I sucked. All was right with the world. How cruel would I be to deprive my son of that pleasure?

Now, however, my leniency has come back to bite me in the ass. At 3 1/2 Sweet Pea is sucking as much as ever and it is affecting his speech. We had his speech evaluated and it is still within the normal range, but just barely. He has a frontal tongue protrusion caused by sucking and can not pronounce words correctly. There are times that we can not understand what he is saying because of the mispronunciation.

We need to limit the thumb sucking, but how? I can't make him totally quit. I have no control over what he does at nap time and nighttime. I can remind him during car rides and TV time to take his thumb out of his mouth, but what else can I do?


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bring Back the Lethal Weapons!

Back in the good old 70's, our moms packed our pb and grape jelly sandwich, bag of fritos, three Chips A'Hoy cookies and a thermos of milk in this:

A metal lunch box and coordinating thermos embossed with the television heroes of our times. These lunch boxes rocked because they had pictures on all sides. Some of them featured characters who were slightly raised so that in moments of boredom, you could trace their figures with your fingers.
In those days, the best part of back-to-school shopping included standing before the lunchbox aisle in the five and dime and carefully weighing the pros and cons of each and every lunch box. Your mother stood there telling you to hurry up and just pick one for goodness sake, but you made sure to examine each one, looking at all the pictures on the sides, tops and bottoms and checking out the thermos inside. It was an agonizing decision, but finally, finally, you selected the one you were sure was the coolest lunch box there.
Your lunch box was a source of pride and entertainment. In the cafeteria during lunchtime, you would take your place at the long brown table with the attached round orange seats, open your lunchbox and prop it up in front of you so that it was on display for everyone to see. You would take out your thermos and pour your milk into the little cap that conveniently turned into a cup. Then you and your friends would entertain yourselves for the next 25 minutes by looking at everyone else's rig. You compared them. You envied them. You judged others by their lunchbox.
The sweetest and nicest girls in the class carried this:
The kid that loved to cream everyone in dodge ball carried this:
The girl who chased the boys around the playground, wrestled them to the ground and kissed them carried this (on account Bo and his hotness):

The cute blond boy carried this:

The cool girl whose parents let her watch adult TV shows while the rest of us were restricted to Zoom and Sesame Street had this one:
Some time during the early 80's a group of parents started an uproar about the danger of metal lunch boxes and they fell out of fashion. Seems they could be a "lethal weapon."
So manufacturers turned to plastic and vinyl and lunch boxes began their descent into boredom.
The hard plastic ones were still marginally cool. This was one of mine. I have a longstanding love affair with Star Wars. I had Star Wars bedsheets. I believed I was in love with Luke. When my mother got us lost while driving to my uncle's house I told her, "The stars will guide us."

I also had a vinyl Wonder Woman box. The only drawback was that it got a very funky smell after a while. Seems that sour milk permeated the plastic. Yuck.

Nowadays, kids carry nondescript thermal bags.

I can't help but think their lunch hours are less interesting for it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Come On, You Know You Want One Too

Some guys have tasteful armbands.

Others have cool monochromatic celtic or tribal shit.

Some dudes prefer crazy-assed skulls.

Others wear their religion on their back.

Some unleash their inner animal.

Others are just plain freaky.

And beyond freaky.

My guy, he rocks a Happy Meal tatt.

That's why I love him.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Maybe I Should Run Away and Join the Circus

Just the other day, I read another one of those ubiquitous articles by a stay-at-home mom re-entering the workforce. You know the article, you read them all the time and may have even lived it yourself. Mom decides to go back to work and embarks on the difficult and treacherous journey to finding a job. In interviews, she is asked how devoted she will be to her job. Will the career or the children win out in the battle of deadlines versus 105. degree fevers? Will she be willing to stay late or does she need to be home to read Goodnight Moon to her lonely toddler? She is questioned on her ability to contribute to the workplace after a long absence. Has she kept current on trends and developments? Does she know the latest software or has her mind gone to mush watching too many hours of Sesame Street?

We all know the story.

Today, as I was driving home from the Sisyphian battle of carting my always sick daughter to the pediatrician, wrestling her flailing arms and limbs for yet another ear exam and throat check, putting her in a headlock for a breathing treatment and then running from pharmacy to pharmacy to find one who keeps small nebulizer masks in stock all while trying to keep she and my son separated so they won't kill each other and my son's greedy hands off of everything he sees in the store, my mind floated away to the near future when I will be employed and transported from all this madness, at least for a few short hours a day.

I contemplated my choosen profession of teaching and realized that motherhood is probably going to make me a better teacher. In fact, there are probably quite a few professions which would benefit from some mothering skills. Hmm, I thought to myself. In which professions would a mother really excel?

And then it struck me.

Circus Freak.

Our lives definitely resemble Barnum and Bailey's finest. And if pressed, I think we mothers could easily fill a pair of over-sized goofy looking clown shoes or, in the right outfit, be mistaken for a juggler.

Here are some of the positions tailor-made for us.

Ringleader: Because we all know it is us who make the trains run on time in our homes.

Lion Tamer: Because anyone who has stared down a little boy at the moment right before he flings his spoon of cereal at his sister's head or tried to change the diaper of He-man cleverly disguised as a toddler can face down a little ole lion with no problem.

Juggler: Try holding a squirming child on one hip, the hand of a three year old, one back-pack, one over-sized purse that is necessary because you must take everything but the kitchen sink with you where ever you go, two sippy cups, one half-eaten lollipop, one free Kroger cookie, one discarded jacket, all while talking on the phone and trying to check out at the grocery store. Three bowling pins? Piece of cake.

The bearded lady: Let's face it. Who has time for meticulous grooming? We've all had those days when we've looked in the mirror to find a inch and half of roots, wrinkles the size of the Grand Canyon, and a mustache rivaling our husband's sprouting on our upper lip.

Trapeze Artist: Hell, I fly by the seat of my pants everyday.

Man, er,Woman who can turn her head half-way around her body: How else would we know that child A is sneaking pop shots at child B in the back seat, or that the unintelligible whimpers coming from the rear seat are demands for the dropped lovey?

The 800 lb. lady: What pregnant woman has not felt this way at 9 months? Or post-partum, for that matter.

Speed eater: I haven't enjoyed a leisurely meal in 4 years. There is always something that is too hot or too cold, a dropped fork, spilled milk, screaming child, child who needs my lap, child who wants to run around the restaurant, requests for more, etc. etc. You very quickly learn to inhale your food.

Contortionist: I put these great skills to use this morning trying to get my daughter to hold still for her breathing treatment. One harm around head, one wrapped around her arms, both legs up and wrapped around her body Indian-style, squeezing with all my might, while perched on the edge of the seat and leaning back on the exam table. My inner thighs are still burning.

Poop cleaner-upper: People poop, dog poop, cat poop. I am a poop expert.

And last but not least, clown: Because we have an endless bank of stupid-human tricks we can perform at any given moment to prevent our children from freaking out in line, in the restaurant, in the doctor's office, on the plane, etc. etc.

So, in the event that my teaching gig falls through, I'm calling Barnum and Bailey. I am sure they have a spot for me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stop the Insanity

I have an odd habit for a lefty liberal; I sometimes listen to conservative talk radio. Not every day, but fairly often. I usually listen to it in the car on the way to and from my son's preschool or on one of our practically daily trips to Kroger or the library. Some might call me a glutton for punishment. I think I just like to marvel at the stupidity so evident in the discussions and also get a peek into the conservative mind.

Today, I caught about 10 minutes of the master of right-wing rants, Rush Limbaugh. Now, I really, really dislike this guy. Occasionally one of the other talk jockeys will make a point that I can see at least a shard of truth in, but never Rush. He just spews irresponsible lies and divisiveness. I usually just switch the station because he gets me so hot and bothered.

Today, though, distracted by traffic, I kept the drivel on. I have read and heard about Rush's appeals to conservative voters to vote for Hillary in an attempt to throw the Democratic primary. Today I got to hear the man himself proselytize about this "Operation Chaos," which he says is his attempt to create chaos in the Democratic party.

Some in the media have speculated that Rush's sermons and call to action actually did have an effect on the Texas and Ohio elections. Rush's listeners are the kind of folks who actually show up to vote, so he very well may have had a hand in Clinton's victories. Just the other day, I heard on another station that someone has filed a complaint with the FCC over Rush's crusade.

I hate what Rush is doing. However, in the US, we have a little thing called the free press. This is a good thing. However, journalists should also act within ethical standards and perhaps Rush has overstepped that line. He's not really a journalist, but he is a media personality and shouldn't he be held to some standards? Hasn't he in fact, encouraged voter fraud?

Some folks in Ohio, seem to think so. The Election Board in Cleveland is investigating voter fraud by the thousands of voters previously registered Republicans who switched to the Democratic party prior to the primary in order to vote for Hillary. This fraud is a fifth-degree felony.

It is one thing for media to cover actual news events and to commentate on people and events. It is another for a media outlet or personality to encourage untruthful and fraudulent behavior in citizens. I think someone needs to pull the plug on him for this.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Talk Talk

Do you have a secret language with your friends and family? Terms that you and they alone understand? I think it would be entirely possible for my college friends and I to have a conversation that is unintelligible to an outsider. We have just that much lingo. My friend Bob Frawg has compiled an entire lexicon. If we had all put as much energy into academic pursuits as we did flapping our jaws, we could all be Noble prize winners today.

My family is also guilty of having our own little dialect. Here are some examples:

My sisters and I all refer to my mother as "The Mom." As in, "So, I talked to The Mom the other day and she said she adopted a seventh cat." This came about one summer vacation long, long ago when my sisters were out on the balcony waiting for my mom to return from the bakery with croissants for breakfast and my sister, C. shouted, "There's the Mom!" She has been "The Mom" ever since.

Oh me Lordy---As one collapses on the couch after an evening of toddler-wrangling, one sighs and exclaims, "Oh me Lordy."

Car Car--"Let's get in the car, car."

Terrible Bad-- When something is truly awful, it's "terrible bad."

Too much Santy--When everything is overwhelming or just too much, you say "Too much Santy." This expression is most suited for Christmas, as it means too much Santa Claus, but it is used year-round.

Alligator Sandwiches--ice cream sandwiches. We always got a stare from people in the grocery store when we asked for alligator sandwiches. I have no idea where this came from.

Happy Fatso--self-explanatory

Our betters-- Anyone that has more money than us

Out amongst'um--Whenever my sisters and I were going out for the night, we were going "out amongst'um."


Tortillars-Tortilla-- based on the time way back in the 60's when my Texas-born grandmother moved to SC and had to special order tortillas from the local grocer and he referred to them as "tortillars."

Koogo-Kroger as coined by my son.

All elephants are Dumbos at my house.

If something is tastes bad, it is "not much good." This one was contributed by my husband's grandfather.

My family also has odd names for grandparents. My great-grandmother was called "Tookie," and my son has named my mom, "My," for no apparent reason at all.

So, what are your odd expressions?

August Can't Come Soon Enough

In four months, I will be going back to work. I agonized over the decision for a long time. Back when I was in therapy for postpartum psychosis, my therapist tried very hard to get me to plan to go back to work that fall. I wasn't sure that it was the right decision at the time and didn't do it. Then, last October, I finally decided that this would be my last year at home. I just can't do it anymore. It was a hard decision, but the right one. Sometimes I still have moments of doubt, but I have noticed that the universe often gives me little reminders of why I want and NEED to go back to work.

Two such reminders occurred this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, we were all driving home from the library, my husband at the wheel of my car. He was playing around and accelerated quickly to entertain my son. I jokingly asked him to please be careful with my car. He replied, also laughing, "Well I paid for it."

Now I know that this was all in fun at the time, but that comment really irritates me. There have been other occasions when he has said it in a completely serious manner, so he does really mean it to a certain extent. It bugs me because first of all, it is not true. The car was paid for in part with a trade in from my old car bought before I even met him. And for the first year we had the car, I was working.

Second of all, we made the decision for me to stay home jointly. He knows I don't love being at home, but it was important to him for me to stay home at least while the kids were very young. He knows that I do a lot of work at home, taking care of the kids and the house. When a married couple makes this decision, it seems to me that the income coming in still belongs to both of them. And to hold it over my head that he makes the money makes me feel like I am beholden to him and that I am somehow less of a partner in the marriage. It implies that I am dependent on him, just as the children are. That I should be grateful to him for providing a car for me. That he ultimately controls things. So I will be very happy when I go back to work and he can no longer say nonsense like this.

The second incident happened yesterday morning while I was trying to get ready for church. The problem was that I really have nothing to wear to church. We have not gone much since Ladybug was born and I lost a lot of weight postpartum. I am thinner than I have been in years and my old clothes don't even come close to fitting. I can get away with some of the tops, but the pants, skirts and dresses are impossible for me to wear now. Even if I could wear them, they are all 5-10 years old and some are noticeably out of style and pretty worn because I really haven't bought much since I quit working.

Because money is tight now, I have not been able to buy replacement clothes. My parents and in-laws generously gave me some money for Christmas and my birthday and part of that went to new clothes, but there were others things we needed first. Our double stroller had to be replaced, we needed a new vacuum and we had to pay a large deposit on the condo we are vacationing in with friends this summer. I also needed a couple of pairs of new shoes. So, the money leftover didn't go too far, especially with clothes prices as high as they are now. And I know that my husband worries all the time about money and he makes it known he is not happy when he thinks I spend too much on stuff for the kids or groceries or whatever, so I have not felt that I should spend any money on new clothes. I don't want to cause even more worry for him.
So, yesterday, trying to find something to wear on Easter, I got upset and we got in a huge fight that pretty much put a damper on the whole day.

It's not like I will make a ton of money teaching, but it really is becoming clearer to me that we can't make the sacrifices anymore. We simply need the money and I need the independence. I think we will all be happier for it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

Go forth and gorge yourselves on Cadbury Cream Eggs. I have a secret stash calling my name.

Friday, March 21, 2008

For Those Having Problems With Jeremiah Wright...

For an enlightening examination of one of Jeremiah Wright's sermons, go read CNN's Roland Martin's blog.

Too bad stations and news reports did not carry the full statements. They seem a lot less radical and a lot more Christian given their context in the sermon.

The Veil Has Been Lifted From My Eyes

If you are a frequent reader, you know by now that I love me some politics. Always have and I thought I always would. Not so much anymore.

I am becoming increasingly disappointed and disillusioned with this presidential primary, the media, and the lack of vision and willingness to understand that I have recently seen in the American people.

I started out this primary season full of excitement and hope. It appeared that the Democratic party had not one, but several well-qualified, sharp, and capable contestants. I have always liked Barack Obama, but a year ago, I could also see myself voting for Hillary, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, or John Edwards. In fact, I waffled between Edwards and Obama for a couple of weeks. While I made the decision to support and in fact campaign for Obama, I was satisfied that no matter who was nominated, the Democrats would surely win the election in November.

This excitement and hope has turned somewhat sour as I have watched the Democratic party disintegrate into warring factions and have seen race and gender bias rear its head. I am disgusted with several things.

First of all, I am disgusted with Hillary Clinton. A year ago, I would have voted for her if she won the nomination. Now, I don't think I will. I am disgusted with her tactics and her willingness to do anything, even circumvent the rules, to win. I am disgusted that she agreed to a set of rules regarding Michigan and Florida, but now wants to throw them out the window for her benefit. I am disgusted that she has been so ugly and vehement in her attacks on another Democratic, aligning herself with John McCain against a member of her own party. I am disgusted with the fact that she would over-rule the popular vote to see herself elected. I am disgusted that she would alienate an entire generation of young voters and African Americans to steal an election. I am disgusted with her subtle insinuations about race and religion and Obama. I pretty much am disgusted with her.

Secondly, I am increasingly disgusted with the national media. I am disappointed with the lack of real, substantive examination of issues in favor of sensationalist sound bites and endless pundit spin. I am disgusted that a radio host apparently has the power to sway an election, as Rush Limbaugh has been able to do according to exit polls in Texas.

I am beginning, in fact, to think that it may be impossible for the nation to elect a worthwhile candidate in a constant 24 hour news cycle. Who among us would ever stand up to the constant scrutiny and digging in our past? Who among us has no outspoken or opinionated friends with whom we disagree?

Who can live up to the standards that our media sets? A candidate now must look and sound good on TV, have no disagreeable persons in his or her sphere, have no skeletons in the closet, no matter how minor, never misspeak or inadvertently use an incorrect term or name, must have a spouse who never says anything of substance or too revealing of personality, must make sure to not have an ethnic sounding name, must be affiliated with a religion or religious organization that is acceptable to every voter, must wear one's patriotism on one's chest, literally, must employ no one who speaks his or her own mind, and must be neither too white, too black, too masculine, or too feminine.

Does such a candidate exist? I think not. And how many brilliant people do we never even get a chance to see because they would not subject themselves to such scrutiny?

Finally, I am deeply saddened by the lack of vision and understanding that we the people have shown in the past couple of months. I am disappointed that people will circulate hateful and false emails about a person's religion. I am disappointed that you can hear the sexism leaking from some news commentators' mouths when discussing Hillary Clinton. I am disappointed that this race has turned into a race about race. I am sad that one in five Ohio Clinton voters said race was a factor in their decision to vote for Clinton. I am sad that we have not come as far as we thought we had.

I am sad, also, that people and the media are not taking time to understand Jeremiah Wright and his comments. Wright's comments do no bother me in the least because I know that some African Americans harbor feelings of anger and resentment. And because I believe they are entitled to harbor that anger because they live in a society in which racism exists, no matter how well concealed. I don't believe that I, a white woman, can tell an African American that he or she should not be angry.

I also know that Wright is a theologian in the Black Liberation theology and that his words and work are aimed at helping African Americans reclaim their self-worth and dignity and rebuild an urban community that is disintegrating. This theology is meant to empower African Americans so that they can lift themselves up, out of the impoverished neighborhoods, out of gangs, out of drug and alcohol addition. This is a good and worthwhile thing.

I also am not bothered by Wright's comments because I happen to agree with the thoughts behind some of them. For instance, I agree that 9/11 was in part a result of American foreign policy.

I think that the white reaction to Wright is based on fear and an unwillingness to acknowledge and face reality. No one wants to hear that another person dislikes them or is questioning them. Whites do not want to hear that African Americans are angry. It scares them and threatens them. They also don't want to acknowledge a racist society because that would mean shouldering some of the blame.

I wish that we could have an open dialogue about race. I wish that the media was capable of conducting such a dialogue in an honest and thoughtful way. I wish that people would take the time to listen to one another and really hear what people are saying. I wish that we could open our hearts to one another.

I am so disappointed because I really think that this election is a unique opportunity, and it is being squandered. I hope that we can find a way to rise above all of this and to see the commonality in us all and to join together to work for a common and higher purpose. I fear though, that there may be too much hurt and anger now on all sides for that to be possible.
I am worried that the longer the fighting goes on, the more and more people will become disillusioned and opt out of the whole process. I am worried that if Clinton gets the nomination, an entire subset of Democrats will leave the party. I am worried that such a nomination will cause us to lose a generation of voters. Can we afford this?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Oh No, Honey, I Have No Idea Who Ate All Your Cookies

It is never a good sign when your husband asks, "What's with all the binge eating?"

Here is a list of all the delicious and not-so-delicious sweets I have consumed in the past 48 hours.

Three bowls of Cinnamon Life cereal--I had forgotten how yummy it is
75% of a box of Tagalongs (damn those girl scouts)
50% of a box of Samoas (damn them to hell)
20-odd Coconut Cream Hershey Kisses and a Vanilla Cream Russel Stover egg (damn the Easter Bunny too)
5-6 handfuls of apple-flavored fruit loop type cereal that I bought my self son as a special treat
1 apple fritter from the donut bar at Kroger
2 rock hard mini Babe Ruth bars that were totally not worth the calories
1 bowl of Pumpkin Spice pudding I found in the depths of my pantry, apparently leftover from Thanksgiving
Half a pan of homemade date bars--must save that recipe

The dimple factories in my thighs are working on overdrive. You would think that with all the medical know-how we have today, they could invent a pill that would miraculously eradicate those premenstrual cravings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary?

Today is the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq and to commemorate the occasion, I am participating in Blogswarm, joining with bloggers all over the world in voicing my opposition to the war.

I am opposed to the war for many reasons.

I am opposed to the war because it was waged unjustly.

I am opposed to the war because it was entered recklessly and unnecessarily.

I am opposed the war because I suspect it was premeditate long before George W. ever sat in the Oval Office.

I am opposed to the war because it has diverted our attention from real terror threats.

I am opposed to the war because it hijacked trillions of dollars that could have been spent here at home, rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, shoring up our infrastructure, educating our children, providing health care for millions of uninsured, funding scientific and medical research, funding alternative fuels, alleviating poverty, building low-income housing, funding job-training programs, the list could go on and on.

I am opposed to the war because the US only seems to intervene in foreign affairs when it benefits our pocketbook. Why no war in Darfur? Why no action against Saudi Arabia?

I am opposed to the war because it has sucked our military families dry and yet our government will not adequately support the soldiers when they return home broken and in need of long-term medical and psychiatric care.

I am opposed to the war because thousands of American children are growing up without a parent at home and thousands more will never know that parent because he or she died in Iraq.

I am opposed to the war because it has only encouraged and emboldened our enemies. It has served as fuel for radical factions to spread their message of hate against the US. We are now more hated than ever.

I am opposed to the war because the US never does what it promises in these countries. We never fulfilled our promises of civilian aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan, in part because we were diverted by this war.

I am opposed the war because it's constant coverage has made us and our children immune to horrific violence.

I am opposed to the war because it has weakened our image abroad.

I am opposed to the war because it has killed countless innocent women and children.

I am opposed to the war because it has destroyed hundreds of archaeological sites and treasures.

I am opposed to the war because it lines the pocketbooks of defense contractors who are arm in arm in with the administration.

I am opposed to the war because it is increasing evident that a military solution is not the answer. We need to intervene with aid and education, not bombs.

I am opposed to the war for all these reasons and more. How about you?