Monday, December 29, 2008

Ch ch ch ch changes

If you are a parent, perhaps you can chime in if you recognize this:

Do you remember when your newborn went from being that little lump that just lay in your lap, it's milky little eyes open but not able to focus on anything, to a little chub that sat up and took notice and smiled?

Or when your baby started forming words, then sentences, then opinions? "NO RELLA!" meant he was adamantly NOT having any tofurella cheese, and really, I can't blame him.

Or when your sweet natured toddler became a defiant, maniacal button-pusher? BWAAAAHAAAAAHAAAA! I PUSH DESE BUTTONS!!!!! Where did that agreeable little cherub go? And I was so afraid I'd never see him again. I did, but he was returned to me changed a bit, having lived a little wilder, a little more independent, a little more sure of his hold on the world.

And now, can I just tell you, my son is going from little kid to big kid and there just isn't enough coffee to catch me up. My sweet natured kiddo is becoming an eye-rolling, "so" monster. I'll ask him to do something he'll roll his eyes. I'll tell him that there will be a consequence to the behavior and I get "so". (I HATE "SO". SO, SO MUCH). There is so much attitude, I can hardly believe it. And sometimes, he's just in a bucket of worms. His emotions are running really hot and cold. He'll cry if he thinks I'm being unfair (like when I remind him to brush his teeth or something of this heinous nature), and he'll get so angry about something I say, so out of all proportion angry, I just almost have to laugh. (But I don't. But I really, really want to.).

It's odd too, because most of the time it seems as though he's just trying it on. Not like he really feels committed to these thoughts and feelings, but like he's performing some covert social experiment, networking with the other eight year olds to see who can drive their parents crazy first. And farthest. "field note: mom does not give in to whining at 0800 hours. Begin before coffee for next attempt."

Today though he had a friend from down the street over, and he's having his first sleepover, ever. And I'm seeing glimpses of my boy. The thoughtful one, who, when the kid staying over sasses me, say "Hey, don't say that to my mom!" And when I went to tuck them in (for the tenth time), he looked up at me with such big eyes, and said "g'night mom." and whispered "I miss snuggling you".

So yeah, he's growing up crazy fast. But we're still hanging on to that last little boy thread. Thank God.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Talking to cousin Tim


Talking to cousin Tim
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
Joe-Henry has cousins that are all quite a bit older than he is. His cousin Tim is 21, but they are dopplegangers in so many ways. They have a lot of the same mannerisms and speech patterns and interests, and Joe-Henry loves him like a brother. He was talking to him on Christmas day and you can just tell from the picture how much he loves him.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night

Joe-Henry and I made it out of the worst weather in recorded history in the Northwest with nothing more than a half hour delay.

Charley's car died on the way to the airport this morning and he called my brother at 5:21, who came and got him to the airport on time, then waited by the car for the tow truck for only 10 minutes (after being told it would be 4 or 5 hours). He arrived here safely at 11:50 a.m. It was odd, because I woke from a fitful sleep at 5:22, and had started to text him to see if he was at the airport when he texted me, not wanting to wake me. When I texted him back, he called to tell me what was going on. But I knew already - we were on the wavelength.

My flu, which hit the first day we arrived is subsiding.

The presents are finally wrapped. The snowglobe is settling, and so I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and a New Year guided by guardian angels.

I am so grateful for each and every one of you, dear bloggie friends. Enjoy your holiday.


Friday, December 19, 2008

snowball fight

Joe-Henry had a snowday today, and he and the neighbor kids had a snowball fight. They had a blast, and even though the snow is gone now, the giggles are still lingering.
Enjoy

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Wish You A Merry Christmas...

...And all those other wintry wonderful celebrations!

Stay warm, stay cozy, stay safe.

AnnieMcQ

Sunday, December 14, 2008

charlie Brown Christmas Dance

I'm the girl in the pink dress near the middle - which Charlie Brown dancer are you?

Friday, December 12, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

So, even though they do not nurse from my teats, these "kittens" of ours have a way of keeping me up all night.

And, btw, since it seems I've been missed, I just went ahead and used the word "teats" right there in the first sentence. Like when John Travolta jammed the needle into Uma Thurman's heart in Pulp Fiction.

I have been running interference between cats and kid and husband, and even though we have wisely decided not to put up a tree this year because starting a fire is low on our list of priorities, they have still found plenty of things to knock over, pounce on, chase and use their claws on. Stripes has taken to crawling under the covers when I'm sound asleep, finding my fingers, and attempting to bite the rings off my fingers. It's my favorite thing, next to Lulu shitting on the kittens' cozy bed and smearing it around the bathroom.

And yet. And yet, I love them madly (well, I'll be honest, Lulu has been walking a pretty tight rope for the last 7 years, so, while I try to show her love and affection, and we take the best care of her that we can, she's on my last good nerve). Bosco is turning into a huge love bug - she snuggles up on my lap when I'm at the computer or reading the paper and she purrs so loud she sounds like a little motorboat. She's also begun to drool when she's happy, which I love, because I don't feel so lonely when I do it. Stripes will give me kisses on my mouth if I pucker up.

That last sentence has officially punted me into crazy old cat lady territory, hasn't it?

In other news: it's cold up here, and expected to get colder this weekend, with rain/ice/snow in the forecast. We're stocking up on firewood and insulating the pipes and hoping to stay safe and dry. We'll probably play some monopoly, if we can't get out to see Santa. I have a feeling that this might be the last year I can get him to go see the guy. Sigh. And even though it makes me sad to think about that being lost, I'm also kind of ready to let it go. Maybe when he knows it's us, the crazy expectation of presentspresentspresents will ease, and he'll just be able to feel the magic of the season - you know, love and goodwill and all that. Or not.

Maybe he'll just be bitterly disappointed and his trust in us to tell him the truth will be shattered forever.

He got a fantastic report card today, the kind that I will be fondly looking at when he's a teenager, I'm sure, but still. I'm popping my buttons a bit, and so is his Dad. His teacher seems to think he's a great kid, and we do too, so perhaps he'll turn out alright.

It's strange - Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I'm not feeling crazy. I'm not sure what's wrong with me. It's usually right about now that I begin to freak out about stuff. Maybe the shitty economy has taken the pressure off. Or maybe I'm just getting better at remembering what's important. I'd like to think that somewhere around age 47 one can begin to acquire some perspective.

I'll tell that to Joe-Henry when he gets the bad news about Santa. "Hang in there, kid. You'll come out of it in 40 more years or so!".

Sunday, November 30, 2008

All Grown Up

Yesterday afternoon, after puttering, crafting, and driving playdates to and fro, I decided I needed a playdate of my own. With that strapping husband of mine. So I called in the cavalry, and my brother came over to hang with Joe-Henry. I bribed him with leftovers and pie, but honestly, I think he would have done it without it. He's just that nice.

So when the man came home, we headed out to see Quantum of Solace. With this yummy slab of man-pie:



Then we came home and watched Casino Royale, which I hadn't seen.

Two movies where no furry animals talked. In one night.

And then.... we had some fun.

I had sweet dreams last night.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bubble Man


Bubble Man
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
His name is Ron Winter, and I met him when I tagged along with my guys today. They had wanted to play some football, so I took the camera, knowing that Officer's Row in Vancouver always offers something to photograph, no matter when you go.

Today I struck gold when I met Ron, who introduced himself as Ol' Man Winter. He was making these magical bubbles, and I was mesmerized. He told me he started doing it when his kids were younger (they are in their teens and twenties now). He was peaceful and methodical, and told me the best book to get (the Bubble Book on Amazon), the best time to make bubbles (not when it's sunny, not when it's rainy, not when it's too windy) the best tools to use, the best formula, but honestly, I had lots more fun just watching him. It was so serene and zen-like, and the pictures made me squeal when I saw them.

Thanks Ron, for the serendipitous magic this afternoon.

check out the rest of the set here

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How We've Spent Thanksgiving So Far


How We Spent Thanksgiving
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
We started our Thanksgiving early. I made a feast for our little unit yesterday (we're going to my sister's today for seconds of everything!), and last night we broke in our new Monopoly board.

I HATED Monopoly as a kid. I never "got" it. I always lost. The only thing I like about it was getting the little thimble.

Now, even though I pretty much mopped the floor with everyone, I have discovered, that it's not that much fun to win, either. It's not a good time to be wealthy. People resent you. Also, I feel guilty for making people pay $600 when they land on New York Avenue. Perhaps I'm just too much of a bleeding heart liberal to get it.

But I will say this: no matter who won or lost (and officially, the game, which started last night, went for 3 hours, and went another two this morning is not over yet) it has been SO much fun to sit around the table with my boys and the kitties, laughing our booties off.

Grateful, is what I am.

Just plain grateful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks Giving


Stem
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Author Unknown

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giddyup


Cowboy & Green Pipe
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
Joe-Henry found out a bit about his ancestry this weekend when we watched "The Searchers" with John Wayne. My husband's grandfather was a stuntdouble in the old Westerns, and they even named a character after him in that movie.

Charley McQuary's cowboy hat was given to his grandson Charley, who then gave it to his son Joe-Henry today. We had a spare hat around when his friend stopped by. He'd gotten some cap guns as a prize for being brave during his flu shot (after suffering through a week of the stomach flu). They've been playing at it for hours: they've set up a tent, a "campfire", playing mandolin & ukelele to keep the frost and loneliness at bay, and have been keeping us all safe here at the homestead.

Giddyup.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kisses

Nothing sweeter than kisses, unless they are kisses from an adorable French child.

Kisses to all of you!


Love(ly) words from Capucha on Vimeo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

HeadSong Friday: I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow

I was going to post another song entirely, something far cheerier, and something from this exact movie, but divine intervention popped this little gem right in front of my face on youtube before I could even look for the other one.

Sometimes, it's just that simple.



Now I know that George is never prettier than when he is being funny, but there is also something incredibly sexy about normal looking guys who can play the shit out of a guitar and enjoy playing music together. So, to top off the ice cream Sundae of silliness that is O Brother, Where Art Though?, I give you Dan Tyminski & Ron Block from Union Station. Dan was the voice of George in the movie.

Funny + talented = I feel all better now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Got Nothin'

I've been trying to come up with a post for a while, but we're still recovering from the crap. He's been to school this week, and seemed to be getting better, having one brief episode of diarrhea (which is one of my very least favorite words to spell), but still the occasional, brief tummy ache. But last night, he woke up in the middle of the night with explosive diarrhea, the last bout being very bloody. It was another long night for he and I, and Charley stayed home with him and took him to the Doctor (who said "he seems fine") and sent us home with a kit to collect a stool sample for the lab. The funny part is he DOES seem fine, although thinner, and he isn't having diarrhea anymore (well, of course not because it's not the middle of the night), and he's just chipper as all get out. He and Dad built Star Wars Legos today, and he and I had a little nap when I came home from work, and well, life, it just goes on.

But I can't shake the worry and it's just mine. No one else seems upset or worried, and honestly I don't want them to be. I just feel like I need to be isolated and I'll come out when things get better.

I'm frustrated and angry and tired. I'm entering the irrational worry place that comes with his syndrome. I know it's probably fine, and the blood was most likely irritation (although there was enough that it was pretty alarming), but I just wanted the doctor to say, "you know what, let me run some tests" to make sure it's not some nasty bacteria. I WANT it to be just bacterial. I don't want to think about what else it could be, but there it is, and it's all I can think about.

So that's what's in my head. I'm sorry.

On a positive note, I've been getting a lot of great reading done at night. Middlesex, by Geoffrey Eugenides. It's a fantastic read.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Boy

From this tiny baby


To this Big Kid


in the blink of an eye.

I love you so much, and feel so honored to be your Mom.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A New Day...

....and a full nights sleep. Which means good things, mostly. The good news: Joe-Henry woke up hungry, asking for a donut yesterday at around 4:00. I gave him some soup, which he kept down, and then some toast (with a tiny bit of jam....I know - risking it!), and he started to sound a little bit like his old self. No more moaning, he didn't sound weak, and in fact I could tell he was hungry because he was really obstinate. He slept all night, I did too (more on that in a minute) and wants to go to school today.

Good news, yes? I will send him to school, I will go to work, and of course, the bad news is I will spend the whole day worrying about him. Never mind that I know he'll be okay. I'm still going to worry.

I'm worrying also about my husband, who is suffering a really low period now. I can't say more than that - it's his story, not mine, but suffice to say that he could use some good thoughts. After the kidney infection and lack of sleep this week, there wasn't a lot of me left to offer any support to him.

It did feel good to get a full night's sleep, even though I wound up in the kid's bed again (I just fell asleep there and didn't move the rest of the night) and my back is killing me today. I'm hoping it's just from sleeping in his bed, and not the kidney infection rearing it's ugly head.

But sleeping a full night left me to dream, and I have to share a bit of the dialogue that I woke up with. I worked as some kind of numbers cruncher for a large company, but I had my hand full of tiny kid's books and stuffed peechee folders. Tom Hanks was my boss, and had given us a pep talk and a middle school friend that I haven't thought of in years was a co-worker. I was trying to organize my work, and put it in piles and I said "it feels so good to finally get that organized!" My friend lamented that she didn't know, exactly, what it was we did. It was like a slap in the face, a huge existential crisis in my dream. What DID I do? Then she repeated what Tom Hanks said to us, and it was his voice coming out of her mouth. "I understand that God's Tit is funny, but how does it pertain to what we do?"

Then my alarm went off. I hope you have as much fun trying to figure it out as I'm sure I will.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Worry Update

Managed to get through the whole day with no vomiting. Ate half a soda cracker, drank some water to stay hydrated.

Vomiting again tonight. He's so weak and flushed. Doctor tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is what being a parent is about.

The day had gone pleasantly enough: after staying home from work Monday, seeing the doctor and getting the needed antibiotics, I was feeling better. I'd had a great nights' sleep, and was looking forward to spending the day with my boy. It was a holiday, and we had things to do, but no real timeline to get them done.

We lounged in pj's until after 10:00, then dawdled some more. At about 11:30 we left the house to run errands. Goody bags and the loot to fill them for his party on Saturday; some decorative brads for a Christmas gift project. Then a stop at the bowling alley/arcade where the party would be. You see, we've never been bowling before. I was afraid we'd never find shoes to fit him. So we put it off, and then one day he talked us into going to the arcade, then I had the great idea that we should do a birthday party there. We didn't have it in the budget to pull off the normal birthday at Disneyland (we had been spoiled when we lived in LA and it was a reasonable thing to do, then managed to do a couple more after we moved to the Northwest, then this year with the economy we couldn't justify it), and he agreed that it sounded like fun. Except I had a worry deep down that we'd get there on Saturday and in front of all of his friends he wouldn't be allowed to bowl because there were no shoes that would fit him. So we fit in a "dress rehearsal" yesterday afternoon and found out that there ARE shoes that will fit him, and that we will be just fine. We didn't get to bowl though. It was a holiday and the lines were long. He was disappointed, screaming at me through tears that I was so mean, and I told him that when he turned eight years old he would have to find a new way to deal with disappointment, because tantrums were so beneath him.

We got home, he invited over the boy next door, but it was too rainy to play outside. The boy next door is ten, and will only play baseball or football with Joe-Henry, and only if he wins. He also has a Myspace page and a girlfriend and a cell phone and a way of letting Joe-Henry know that he is just too young to understand. The boy next door is a post all his own, and this one doesn't belong to him, it belongs to my boy.

He played with Legos after the boy left, he played on the computer a bit (a Lego racecar game - he doesn't have a Myspace page - I told him he has to wait until he's 30), I fixed dinner. It was a delicious meal: burritos with roasted corn, peppers and onions, black beans and shredded pork and melted cheesy goodness. He ate it all - every bite, which is, again, the subject of another future post. Getting this boy to eat is becoming a struggle. But last night, he ate it all, and earned the dessert he had wanted - Halloween candy, one piece.

After bath, he got into bed, we read a book, he wrote in his journal, we chatted about our day, and he went to sleep.

An hour later, I was in my own bed, watching SVU and drifting off to sleep when I heard him make that sound. The one that lets you know immediately that you will not sleep at all that night. He didn't do it in bed, we got him to the bathroom, and he managed to get it everywhere. I have to say, having done this for almost eight years now, last night's bout with the stomach flu was impressive for two reasons: it's smell, which was overpowering. It wasn't until this afternoon, after mopping last night, and scrubbing and cleaning that I finally found the culprit that kept hitting me in the face everytime I walked in the bathroom - two errant black beans and and three kernels of corn wedged under the tub. The second reason it was impressive was this: it didn't panic anyone. I repeat: none of us panicked. We all clicked into our appointed roles: Charley scooped up the towels, the rug, the clothes and hefted them down to the wash; I stayed up all night, holding his head, offering sips of water, sending the appropriate emails/calls to my employer, making myself comfy at the end of his bed; and Joe-Henry rolled his eyes everytime he felt it coming, like a teenager enduring a parent's embarrassing story for the hundred and third time. Even the kittens knew better than to pounce in the middle of the night. They slept curled at my feet like purring slippers, mewing when he would stir, then settling down again when he did.

After round number five (or was it eight?), when he had nothing left but dry heaves, he wiped his nose and sighed.

"This sucks, Mom."

"I know."

"Would you read to me?"

"Sure, sweetie. What do you want?"

"Nothing about food. How about Winnie-the-Pooh?"

So I did. I read Winnie-the-Pooh, and Shel Silverstein. Poetry, all night long, feeling a bit like a Mommy-Sheherazade, reading to keep the barfs at bay. We both even managed to come up with extemporaneous poems about the other, his rhyming "beautiful mother" with "another", and mine rhyming "vomit" with "comet". It got a weak laugh.

At five a.m., he finally, finally slept. Fitfully - there were two more rounds to go before we'd see the end of it. At 10:00 a.m. we crawled into our bed and he watched Sesame Street and Maggie and The Ferocious Beast. He hasn't watched them in almost two years. I managed a small nap, and he finally drifted off at 12:30 and is still asleep now at 3:15. He'll wake up hungry, I hope. But he's asked that we not have burritos again for a while. I'm in complete agreement. We'll start with some broth and crackers and see how it goes.

Staying up all night with a sick kid is never high on my list of things I want to do; seeing him suffer rips my heart into tiny pieces. But it's an honor, just the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lead Us.

Much has been said about our new President, and the job that hangs like the Sword of Damocles above his head. There is so much mess to clean, not to mention the day to day job of just running the country.

But we must remember - we elected him only to lead the way.

The hard work is not his alone.

It's up to us to put our hands and our brains and our hearts to the task.

We have a leader. Now it's up to us to not only follow, but follow through.

Photograph uploaded from Flickr
Joe Crimmings Photography
Young Obama Supporter in Des Moines, IA

Monday, November 10, 2008

Laughter, The Best Medicine.

So, last night, I was feeling a little bloated about 8:00 p.m., and by 10:00 had a back ache, and by 11:30 I was in so much pain I couldn't get comfy. The doctor thinks it's a a) kidney infection or b) a kidney stone. The pain was excruciating while lying down, but when I got up and moved around and took a bath it got better. Which meant I slept about an hour last night.

So today I stayed home from work, and slept and caught up on 30 Rock and some Daily Show goodness, and watched my kittens pounce all over each other.

I am so in love with them. They have very distinct personalities, but together we call them Action Kittums! They have a theme song and everything.

It goes like this:

Action Kittums! They're Kittums of Action! Action Kittums - Watch out - here they come!

So this is Bosco - she is the sweet one. She has lots of fun pouncing and can hold her own in a tussle, but she loves the lovin' and has the biggest motorboat purr you ever heard.



She loves to chase things and gets REALLY distracted by her tail. I once watched her chase her own tail for five minutes. She is very curious and loves to look out the window at the birdies.



This is Stripes.



She has two speeds: hyperdrive and off. She wakes up and goes - fast and furious - and I'm convinced that should the curtains decide to attack one day, they will be no match for her.



Both cats are polydactyl, or have an extra thumb on all paws. Which will come in handy when tax time rolls around, or when they need to open the refrigerator in the middle of the night.



And if you need a dose of something that's good for you: how about some kitty lovin'? These little girls, curled up next to you in bed, both motors going? As my dad used to say, "it's good for what ails you!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dear Mr. President

This letter to President-Elect Obama was written by our dear Rodius, and might be the best thing I've read in a long time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

sjnoieuoinvlnse'i[∆aoierfjaweilfklandvlkanogiuå oi

I'm too nervous to come up with a title.

ONE. MORE. DAY.

asoeirfjaewoinf;åÒENV'ioaen g;uiasego;ihagna;eifg[o8iae

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Art of Listening

From the musical "Working", based on the book of the same name by Studs Terkel, who died this week at 96.

He reminded us that listening to one another can be an art. Thanks, Mr. Terkel. You were a rare bird in this cynical age.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, Mateys!


Arrrrgh, and AVAST!

Have a Happy Halloween, all you Wenches & Scallawags!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Counting The Days

Almost eight years ago, I was great with child. My belly was great, my ass was great, my feet were great....

We hadn't met Joe-Henry yet, a fact I now find so hard to fathom. I had never seen him or heard his voice, but he was profoundly a part of me, and it was his future I thought of as I cast my ballot for Al Gore. I felt confident, knowing that this great country that I love wouldn't fall for a frat boy, even if he was the son of a former President.

After we voted, we strolled down Hollywood Boulevard, and I made ready for my weekly doctors appointment. My fantastic ob/gyn, a liberal like myself, held my hand as she told me I'd be put on bed-rest due to my blood pressure. With only two weeks to go until my due date, I groaned, but felt lucky that they caught it, and knew I'd be okay. I thought I'd go home, and watch the election returns, knowing that there would at least be a new president by the time my boy arrived.

Except there wasn't. Talk about high blood pressure. I'm fairly certain George W. Bush is to blame for my nearly stroking out after my emergency C-section (leaving me wide open for Sarah Palin to give me shingles 8 years later). There would not be a FINAL count until December 18th, and even then, it has always remained the most questionable election in the history of the United States. Many people (Al Gore & Myself included) think that the election was stolen. Al Gore has actually moved on. I on the other hand....

Nearly eight years have passed since casting that ballot for Al Gore. My son arrived; the election fell to the bottom of my worry list when we learned that our baby had a rare syndrome called Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome; we lost sleep and learned to be parents. Our boy is getting tall now, loving sports and music and school, and can roll his eyes at his mother with the panache of a teenager.

But I still remember a more innocent time - when my son was a baby, and presidential hankypanky was the worst offense happening in the oval office.

My candidate has a pretty good lead, but the last eight years have shown us more dirty tricks than a naked magician.
Still, I am trying to stay positive.
For my son.
Because now that I've known him a while, I think I'd like him to inherit a better America than the one he's known so far.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"What Were You Thinking?"

Normally, when horrible things happen to children because their parents made a mistake, my empathy for the parents can overwhelm me for days. Left your child in a hot car all day? - well, honestly, it could happen to anyone, meaning, OH MY GOD IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME. Those parents have to feel so awful, and their lives are changed forever and it's because of a mistake they made. "What were you thinking?" is something that would never come out of my mouth.

Yesterday though, I read this article about an 8 year old boy, whose father (a doctor) took him to a gun show that had a firing range, and with an instructor standing there, the boy held an uzi, aimed at a pumpkin and it recoiled so strongly (as Uzi's will do), and fatally shot the child in the head.

Hunting, somehow I get it. I don't agree with it, but I understand the tradition of "menfolk". And while I will never have a firearm in my home while I have children, and JH will NEVER be allowed to go into a home that has guns, I don't want to take away anyone else's right to own them.

But automatic weapons? They are not for sport. They should be outlawed. There is no reason for them other than to kill people. You don't hunt with an Uzi. Any rational sporting male will tell you this.

And so I can't get this thought to go away, no matter how much sympathy I feel for his parents:

"What were you thinking?"

Monday, October 27, 2008

No on Proposition 8

This is posted, with respect, to my Mormon friends.

If I lived in California, I would vote No on Proposition 8. I'd write you a whole big long list of why's and wherefore's, but I'm sure I wouldn't do it as eloquently asJoe Vogel, a thoughtful young writer, who happens to be Mormon. The Mormon Church is leading the charge to vote Yes on 8.

Some highlights of "A Mormon's Lament: Church is On The Wrong Side Of History Again With Proposition 8":

"You hear of marriages ruined all the time because of abuse, neglect, or stress over finances. But I have personally never heard of a divorce caused by another gay couple getting married.

Yet instead of focusing on issues that can really help nourish our families we obsess over a word. A word we refuse to share. A word that has never been perfectly fixed. There was a time, after all, when inter-racial marriage was just as taboo and illegal as gay marriage. Marriage has been many things, but the common ideal has been and should continue to be a relationship built on love and commitment."

And this....

"Maybe you don't completely understand homosexuality. Maybe you think it's a sin. But shouldn't we leave that to God and allow others to be who they are and make their own choices? As followers of Christ, isn't it always better to err on the side of compassion and love?

Martin Luther King once lamented in his famous letter from Birmingham Jail:

So often the contemporary Church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church's silent---and often even vocal---sanction of things as they are."

Please read the whole post here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Favorite Public Servant

In all the nastiness of this election, I haven't mentioned my very favorite Public Servant. My father-in-law, Chuck McQuary, one of the most knowledgeable, hard-working, self-deprecating people I know, is running for City Council in their beautiful town of Carpinteria, CA.

If you are so inclined to spend twenty minutes viewing a small town's candidate statement for election, you can check it out here. He's the second candidate interviewed.

In this nasty election season, it's really refreshing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

HeadSong Friday: I Miss You

My Sweet Hubband's birthday was back at the beginning of October, and I decided that I would get him concert tickets. I know he loves music, I know what music he loves, and TOTAL BONUS, I get to go too, and we get a date out of the whole deal.

So, knowing that he had just picked up Randy Newman's new cd "Harps and Angels", and seeing in the newspaper that Mr. Newman was coming to the Aladdin Theater, I snapped up a couple of tickets. They were pricier than usual, considering it's a general admission theater, but it's a smallish venue and I thought it would probably be alright.

I got a sitter for the night, which is a rarity around here, and met my sweetie in downtown Portland after he got off work. We ate dinner at a Brew Pub, and took in the brisk, beautiful evening and even managed to get some shopping in. Just like the old days. I snapped up some fantastic bargains at J. Crew, with my sweetie cheering me on. Initially I thought they might have an age limit there that we would surely exceed, but it turns out, I can still pass for under 40, and the sale they had was too good to pass up!

Then it was off to the Aladdin. Because we had taken our time, the theater was packed and we wound up in the balcony, right behind my gynecologist and her husband. (TOTAL BONUS: We'll have something to chat about the next time my feet are in the stirrups!)

As we found some seats, and took the measure of the room, two things were clear: With just the lone Grand Piano on stage, there would be no band, just Mr. Newman and his fantastic playing and funky, croaky voice; and we were NOT in the minority age-wise, for once. The sea of thinning hairlines and reading glasses was jarring at first, knowing as I do that these people, they weren't our parents, they were us. But after that first moment it was just plain reassuring.

When he took the stage just after 8:00, he really TOOK the stage - he tripped over something and nearly landed in the lap of someone in the front row. I thought it might have been planned, but it was clear it wasn't. Still it started the concert off perfectly, because it made him seem like one of us, and set up an intimacy that didn't feel staged. It was like hanging out with him in the living room, chatting, sharing fond memories.

If you don't know his work from anything but his work with Pixar, here's a little homework assignment for you: before you listen to the following tune, check out a few of these gems: First, there's Louisianna, 1927, and then Dixie Flyer. Oh, and if you are anticipating the election but still wondering if America's good name can ever be recovered, Uncle Randy has a few words of reassurance for us: A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country.

But it was this song, last night that got me. It's full of longing and the complexity of life with all the stupid mistakes we humans make.

Enjoy. Or don't. But I sure did. It was one of the best concerts I've been to, one I'll remember always. Thanks, Mr. Newman.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Husband: Writer, Artist, Kilt Wearer



My husband is an artist. He's working a job to pay bills and support his family now, but he's an artist. If you need further proof, check out this fantastic piece of writing (his!) at the Utilikilts website.

Oh, and he shaved his head the other day, and has taken over badass Vic Mackey in the sexy bald men category.

Parent Teacher Conferences

At JH's parent-teacher conference today, we were wrapping up, and he said "Can I say something? I just wanted to say that I love my school and I'm so thankful that I have teachers and friends who really care about me and how I'm doing. I feel like people here really support me and it feels so good to come here every day."

Writing it down, I'm not doing it justice. I realize he sounds a little like Eddie Haskell, but I assure you, he wasn't kissing up. Just being honest.

His teacher completely welled up, and on our way out she took me aside and apologized. "I've never done that before!"

Proud to bursting and counting my lucky stars.

And I know there is still time for him to turn into a sociopath. Or a teenager.

So I'm cherishing this moment.

Friday, October 17, 2008

FINALLY

I got my ballot in the mail today.

It will not spend the night in my house.

Amazed.

Last night at bedtime, JH and I were talking about his day at school. He's been working hard at sorting out his feelings about P/R, and realizing that they are very different people. I haven't been pushing the conversation about him lately because a) we've already talked about it and I don't want to hit him over the head with it, b) I think that other than limiting playdates, there isn't much I can do about what he does at school and c) I trust that he'll figure it out.

As we snuggled in the dark, we had this conversation:

"Mom, all my friends have playstations and Nintendos, but I don't".

"I know, Bud. Dad and I don't think the time is right for those things now. We want you to play outside and run around and use your imagination".

"P/R has all those things too. He told me they got them for him because he told them to. It's like he's the boss at his house."
Then without a word or any prompting from me he said this:
"I'm glad I'm not the boss of our house. It's too big of a job for me. There's too much responsibility for a kid to be the boss."
Then he gave me a huge hug and a million kisses.

I know. I truly do know, how lucky I am.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The "Health of the Mother"

John, there is no "pro-abortion" movement. Abortion is a difficult, awful, painful solution. And everyone who physically endures the procedure has a uterus. And for those of us who fervently support Roe v. Wade, it is the "Health" of the mother we are concerned with. Luckily for us, not everyone who supports Roe v. Wade has a uterus.

Not having access to a safe, legal abortion (which is what John McCain wants - he wishes to overturn Roe v. Wade) is why these women and countless others have died.

That he put the "health of the mother" in airquotes, with such a sneer, has guaranteed that he will not get my vote.

Because I have a uterus. And I vote.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kittums



Our newest family members. No names yet. Names on the list are:

Bosco & Stripes.
Bosco & Tigger
Bosco & Bettie
Superman & Fuzzy
Bugs and Daffy

Makes the election a lot more tolerable. I suggest you all get kittens. Or new babies. Something cuddly and adorable. It helps.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We Break from Our Regularly Scheduled Rant...

...to bring you something completely different.

Cleaning house today I was listening to Mark Knopfler, this song came on and it made me so instantly happy. Not because it's a happy song, for it's not. But it's a celebration of an artist, someone I had never even known about until this song. So listen to Mr. Knopfler first, then skip on down and take a listen to his inspiration.



It will lift you up, get you through the weekend, and if it doesn't, if it doesn't even make you tap your foot, just one little bit, I will do your dishes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This Makes Me Physically Ill

The last months I have become increasingly on edge. It has very little to do with the daily minutia of parenting and life, and almost everything to do with the upcoming campaign for the presidency. And the fact that the economy, bailout and all, seem to be sending the markets further south. Funny, because we are not really "market" people, although we do have some small investments. No, the feeling has been mostly annoyance, with the candidates of course, for what they say and do (or don't say and do). I get all steamed up because Sarah Palin seems ridiculous to me and I can't fathom anyone actually falling for her "America's Gun-Totin-G-Droppin Sweetheart".

And then I see this. This clip is a pretty straight forward clip of McCain/Palin supporters walking into a rally, being asked questions by an Obama supporter. It reminds me of those old newsclips of the Little Rock Nine, and the hatred that they had spewed at them by ignorant white people, God-Fearing-This-Is-America-Goddammit White People. It points out pretty well that we haven't come as far as we'd thought. And it also points out the absolute fact that the McCain/Palin ticket is playing directly to these crowds, fomenting their hatred of "The Other", and it makes me fear for the safety of the Obamas.

So the next time John McCain calls Senator Obama "That One", or Sarah Palin talks about him as "Barack Hussein Obama" or says he "pals around with terrorists" remember that THESE are the people they are talking to. And THESE PEOPLE? They are dangerous.



Thanks to Kari over at Persistent Cookie for pointing it out.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Picture Day


Picture Day
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
It was picture day at JH's school, and we did our usual pic in front of the house after school. It took several shots before he cut through the ham.

I can't believe how much older he's looking these days.

Friday, October 3, 2008

We Don't Need Leaders Who Wink At Us

I have no debate transcript this morning, because JH wasn't here for the whole thing, and my brother came over to watch, and what I did happen to tweet was merely for the sake of of blowing off steam, so there is a LOT of cussing.

I will only say this: if America falls for her adorable act, I will be ashamed of my country.

Aside from the fact that she pulled the cutesie-poo thing when she got stuck in a bind, aside from the fact that she couldn't say the word "Gay", aside from the fact that she came across like Yosemite Sam's adorable kid sister, aside from the fact that she WINKED AT AMERICA - more than once, aside from the fact that she couldn't say the word "NUCLEAR" (dear God, please not again), aside from the fact that she couldn't seem to keep the "g"s on her words that ended with "ing", aside from the fact that she is VASTLY underqualified to share a stage with Joe Biden, much less the office of Vice President...

The reason Sarah Palin bugged the crap out of me during the debate is this:

She talked down to me. When she addressed the camera, talking to American Families Everywhere, her Little Mommy Sunshine act was an embarrassment to the women who have worked so hard to earn her the opportunity to share the ticket with John McCain.

Joe Biden won hands down. He was statesman-like, he has experience, and class. I got the feeling that he truly felt for the people of America in this crisis, and not only wants to help, to serve, but he has the goods to get it done.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mommy Radar

Ohmydearinternetfriends.

Up til now, I had hoped to avoid a certain parenting issue entirely, I naively thought perhaps I was out of woods on this one. But something has been happening with a boy in JH's class at school. I'm discovering that this particular parenting issue is far worse than grocery shopping with a child that is jacked up on sugar or catching barf with my bare hands.

It involves telling my son to be judgemental. Or to put it in a way in which I can live with it better: telling my son to use his better judgement.

This boy: He's been talking about him a lot. He's a new boy this year, one of only two - JH is with all of his same classmates and his teacher from last year, so they all know each other pretty well. I think JH wanted to help this boy out because he was new, and for that I'm really proud. He's been talking my ear off about this boy, P* does this!, P* does that!, but one day last week, he told me that P* was nine (in second grade). My mommy radar went up a notch, then the next day he told me that P* had a cell phone and sometimes was called R* instead of P*. My mommy radar started to inch up next to the red zone, then the next day, he told me that P*/R* stuck up for him. "How nice!" sez I, and the needle begins to drop back into the safe, pretty blue zone. "Yeah, P*/R* told me that if someone bothered me, he could just grab him by the tenders, or pinch their neck." Staying calm, but firm, because that mommy radar needle is now spiking the far end of the red zone, I reminded JH that that was NOT okay to do to anyone, and if someone at school was bothering him, he should use words first, then tell a grown up if it doesn't stop. Now I'm seriously worried that maybe P*/R* isn't the best person for JH to hang out with, but I don't want to tell him he can't be friends - after all, kids are a lot better at being friends without judgement than adults are. Maybe JH can be a positive influence on this kid, I tell myself, trying with all my might to get that needle back down to a safer, calmer color.

Yeah, but.

I finally met P*/R*, and his "uncle", who was so scary, it was all I could do not to run away. We all met at the park, and he told me that they had come looking for our house (JH had given our address out - and YES we had the conversation about THAT not being safe), and in our conversation I discovered that no one in the house works, yet they have a WI, a Playstation, not to mention the kid has a cellphone, but the "Uncle's" teeth were rotten. And he couldn't read.

It would be one thing if this boy were a good student, or had some redeeming quality that I could overlook all this. But JH tells me the boy hates school, is disruptive, and has alienated all of JH's other friends.

So no. Never again will I ignore my "Mommy Radar". It's there to keep my child safe. I've told JH, firmly but gently, that he is to play with other friends at recess. He should be nice to this boy, but make different choices about who he plays with at school.

The needle hasn't come back down yet, but I'm hoping, hoping it will soon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Transcript of the Debate

Well, this is a transcript of our REACTION to the debate (mostly Joe-Henry's; my comments are in italics), as reported live on Twitter:

JH: "it's weird that they shake hands when they don't like each other"

JH, after Obama got to go first: "it's nice that Obama gets to go first, so that John McCain can learn from him."

John McCain's tie is freaking out my tv screen. Stripes man - you've been around awhile, don't you know they mess with people's screens?

JH: "Mom, do you think John McCain is as mean as (Oregon Republican) Gordon Smith?" Clearly we're getting tired of campaign commercials

I love that Jim Lehrer is MAKING THEM talk to each other. I did that to kids on the playground today.

JH: "Oh, that was an EASY question."

JH: "He (John McCain) sounds like Gopher in the Winnie-the-Pooh movie"

Obama looks directly at McCain while speaking, while McCain will not look at him. Like he'll burst into flames if he does.

JH: "Why is McCain smiling?" Me: "Because he's uncomfortable".

JH: "John McCain needs to stop laughing. This is serious, isn't it, Mom?"

JH: "the prisoners get tortured? Don't torture the prisoners!"
(what I didn't tweet, because I was listening to the debate and wanted to hear what they said, was that he also added "that's not very good sportsmanship."

gogogogogoBAMA!

JH: "John McCain isn't teaching his opponent anything at all!"

Ohhhhhh, nice comeback Barack! Well done.

JH: "you wouldn't have to wear the boy's bracelet if you didn't make the war."

John McCain is a bitch..
Oh, Barack, I love how you stay so cool.
you can just feel the audience desire to clap for Barack's statement
John, your creepy smile is, well, creeping me out.


JH: "John McCain doesn't think Obama understands anything."

JH: "I love you Barack Obama. He's a sweet dude!"

Barack, you are so classy.

And finally, at bedtime, this was Joe-Henry's summary of the entire debate:

JH: "Mom, you know what I like about Barack Obama? He stood up and said in firm language 'that's not true about me. If John McCain used...
...his two minutes to tell the truth, maybe more people might vote for him."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

When You Feel Like Crying....

....Because Sarah Palin gave you shingles and it hurts now to sit down, because not only are they on your back, your hip, your stomach, but also, um, elsewhere....

....what you really need is a good laugh. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:



Also, I am officially adding John Oliver to my list. You know, THAT list.

For when I no longer have burning blisters all over my lower half.



Hey, if you don't laugh, you'll end up in tears.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Joe-Henry for President

"He doesn't say anything about what he's going to do, and he doesn't sound very confident in his words."

Joe-Henry, age 7
in response to President Bush's address to the American People regarding the proposed $7 billion bailout of the major financial institutions.

Joe-Henry for President

Sarah Palin Gave Me Shingles.

Oh, my dears. What a week we've been having! Lots of fun at school for JH, Charley's plugging away at the Genius Bar. He got some new socks at Sock Dreams, so he's a total fashion plate. I started doing reading groups. I have four kids in my group and one of them... well, let's just say I have a newfound respect for teachers who deal with an entire roomful by themselves.

Oh, and I went to the doctor this week because I've been having this strange pain for about a week and a half. It hurts when my son puts his arms around my waist to hug me, and it hurts to sit, and it hurts to wear clothes, and ....

It's shingles. Apparently, it can be brought on by stress, but I say to that: What stress? You can also catch it from someone who has chickenpox (or shingles), which sounds more likely, since I work in a hotbed of germ-infested tinys who continually pick their noses and then wipe it on tables, so that seems more likely. (Not that that, in and of itself, is not stressful).

But wait! Now that I think about it, it could be the stress caused by Sarah Palin. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Not her, per se, but the fact that 50% of responders to an NPR poll think she's qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States. (Would you please, please go take this poll so that we can tip the balance?)

Or it could be the fact that Barack Obama has disappeared from the airwaves, and is now just Twittering away to let us know he's doing town hall meetings. (He's not even mentioning in his Tweets that Sarah Palin gave me shingles.)

Could it be that this upcoming November Election, an election that will bring an end to the absolute cluster-fuck that has been the Bush Administration, might be won by McCain/Palin? Because there are plenty of signs that it might just swing that way. Which means, friends, that we will be going from bad to worse. Well, for some of us, anyway. Except for those that will be taken up in the rapture.

Could it be that my shingles are a sign of pestilence, one foretold in the Bible, along with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Some sure believe it.

But I don't.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shakin' it up

I was never called into the Principal's office when I was a kid, so I had nothing to compare the feeling to when the Principal at my school asked me to step into his office. "Don't worry, you're not in trouble", he teased.

I was still nervous.

It turns out that, because our enrollment for our class was down, and because I am the low woman on the totem pole, it was my turn to be put out of the SCC class. However, the good news is, I will still be in the building, doing patrols (and yes, wearing a safety vest - luckily orange and green are SO my colors), monitoring recess and doing reading with K-3 kiddos. I'm really excited about that last part. But the BEST news is, because we have staff leaving in January, I will be back in the classroom I started in at some point.

When I started working in that classroom, I had very little knowledge of autism, but a huge desire to learn and work with these amazing kids. It can be hugely challenging, and some days I come home in need of a beer and an icepack for my back, but the rewards.... the rewards are breathtaking. And the staff - they are some of my favorite people on the planet. Patient, funny and whipsmart, and they always, always have your back.

So, while I'm truly honored that they wanted me to stay in the school, and I SO look forward to working with the adorable kids that I see in the hallway everyday, my heart will always be missing "my kiddos". Luckily for me, I'll still see them and most especially HEAR them in the hallways!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This Old Man


This Old Man
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
Our Pould left us this morning. We woke to find he wasn't on our bed. He and Charley would have lovin' every morning, so we knew something was up. We found him under the futon in Charley's office. He was in the corner, and couldn't walk.

He was such a grand old man. We will miss him so much. I'm turning the rest of the blog over to Joe-Henry to tell you what he loves about our Pouldie.

"I love how he goes around my toys, and sometimes knocks them down. And I'm like 'Pouldie'! I love how he sits in shoe boxes when I get new shoes, I love when he tries to crawl in the grocery bags and wiggles his head in it. He's just a really good cat."

We'll miss you so much, sweet old boy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ugly

I don't care what side of the aisle you sit on, really how can you read the following and not feel outraged at the new lows the GOP has sunk to in trying to Shanghai this race.

You know, I think at this point in our history, we can all agree that a bit of mudslinging is what makes it politics. It's all a dog and pony show, and yes, I think the Republicans play dirty, but I also think the Democrats need to learn how to throw an elbow and show some spit. Give us a good show at election time.

But GodDAMN it, the vote is sacred. It is NOT a joke, and they are making a mockery of the citizens of this country. I read this today and the bile rose in my throat. When I think of the people who have served this country honorably, and think that THIS is what they fought and died for, I feel literally sick. My dad served in WWII, and thank God he didn't live to see this, because it would kill him for sure.

If Obama doesn't jump on this one and take them on, I will be sadly disappointed.

Read it and weep. Here's the link to send it to friends, but the full text is below. Thanks to Kirsten at Living In A Girl's World for the heads up on this one.

From The Michigan Messenger, 9/10/2008

Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote
By Eartha Jane Melzer

Michigan Republicans plan to foreclose African-American voters

The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County, Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day.

“We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed.

State election rules allow parties to assign “election challengers” to polls to monitor the election. In addition to observing the poll workers, these volunteers can challenge the eligibility of any voter provided they “have a good reason to believe” that the person is not eligible to vote. One allowable reason is that the person is not a “true resident of the city or township.”

The Michigan Republicans’ planned use of foreclosure lists is apparently an attempt to challenge ineligible voters as not being “true residents.”

One expert questioned the legality of the tactic.

“You can’t challenge people without a factual basis for doing so,” said J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department who now runs the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington D.C.-based public-interest law firm. “I don’t think a foreclosure notice is sufficient basis for a challenge, because people often remain in their homes after foreclosure begins and sometimes are able to negotiate and refinance.”

As for the practice of challenging the right to vote of foreclosed property owners, Hebert called it, “mean-spirited.”

GOP ties to state’s largest foreclosure law firm

The Macomb GOP’s plans are another indication of how John McCain’s campaign stands to benefit from the burgeoning number of foreclosures in the state. McCain’s regional headquarters are housed in the office building of foreclosure specialists Trott & Trott. The firm’s founder, David A. Trott, has raised between $100,000 and $250,000 for the Republican nominee.

The Macomb County party’s plans to challenge voters who have defaulted on their house payments is likely to disproportionately affect African-Americans who are overwhelmingly Democratic voters. More than 60 percent of all sub-prime loans — the most likely kind of loan to go into default — were made to African-Americans in Michigan, according to a report issued last year by the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth.

Challenges to would-be voters

Statewide, the Republican Party is gearing up for a comprehensive voter challenge campaign, according to Denise Graves, party chair for Republicans in Genessee County, which encompasses Flint. The party is creating a spreadsheet of election challenger volunteers and expects to coordinate a training with the regional McCain campaign, Graves said in an interview with Michigan Messenger.

Whether the Republicans will challenge voters with foreclosed homes elsewhere in the state is not known.

Kelly Harrigan, deputy director of the GOP’s voter programs, confirmed that she is coordinating the group’s “election integrity” program. Harrigan said the effort includes putting in place a legal team, as well as training election challengers. She said the challenges to voters were procedural rather than personal. She referred inquiries about the vote challenge program to communications director Bill Nowling, who promised information but did not return calls.

Party chairman Carabelli said that the Republican Party is training election challengers to “make sure that [voters] are who they say who they are.”

When asked for further details on how Republicans are compiling challenge lists, he said, “I would rather not tell you all the things we are doing.”

Vote suppression: Not an isolated effort

Carabelli is not the only Republican Party official to suggest the targeting of foreclosed voters. In Ohio, Doug Preisse, director of elections in Franklin County (around the city of Columbus) and the chair of the local GOP, told The Columbus Dispatch that he has not ruled out challenging voters before the election due to foreclosure-related address issues.

Hebert, the voting-rights lawyer, sees a connection between Priesse’s remarks and Carabelli’s plans.

“At a minimum what you are seeing is a fairly comprehensive effort by the Republican Party, a systematic broad-based effort to put up obstacles for people to vote,” he said. “Nobody is contending that these people are not legally registered to vote.

“When you are comprehensively challenging people to vote,” Hebert went on, “your goals are two-fold: One is you are trying to knock people out from casting ballots; the other is to create a slowdown that will discourage others,” who see a long line and realize they can’t afford to stay and wait.

Challenging all voters registered to foreclosed homes could disrupt some polling places, especially in the Detroit metropolitan area. According to the real estate Web site RealtyTrac, one in every 176 households in Wayne County, metropolitan Detroit, received a foreclosure filing during the month of July. In Macomb County, the figure was one household in every 285, meaning that 1,834 homeowners received the bad news in just one month. The Macomb County foreclosure rate puts it in the top three percent of all U.S. counties in the number of distressed homeowners.

Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent and Genessee counties were — in that order — the counties with the most homeowners facing foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac. As of July, there were more than 62,000 foreclosure filings in the entire state.

Joe Rozell, director of elections for Oakland County in suburban Detroit, acknowledged that challenges such as those described by Carabelli are allowed by law but said they have the potential to create long lines and disrupt the voting process. With 890,000 potential voters closely divided between Democratic and Republican, Oakland County is a key swing county of this swing state.

According to voter challenge directives handed down by Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, voter challenges need only be “based on information obtained through a reliable source or means.”

“But poll workers are not allowed to ask the reason” for the challenges, Rozell said. In other words, Republican vote challengers are free to use foreclosure lists as a basis for disqualifying otherwise eligible voters.

David Lagstein, head organizer with the Michigan Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), described the plans of the Macomb GOP as “crazy.”

“You would think they would think, ‘This is going to look too heartless,’” said Lagstein, whose group has registered 200,000 new voters statewide this year and also runs a foreclosure avoidance program. “The Republican-led state Senate has not moved on the anti-predatory lending bill for over a year and yet [Republicans] have time to prey on those who have fallen victim to foreclosure to suppress the vote.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

HELP

So tonight at bedtime, JH was in a super chatty mood, having just gotten a new computer game from Dad, and he was rattling off stuff about light sabers and such, when the topic shifted to school.

Okay, it didn't just shift. I said, "Let's talk about school." Because I can only talk about Star Wars for about 10 minutes before my eyes start rolling around in my head. He tells me about who he played with at recess, we talk about math, then he says "Mom, 'M' has a crush on 'S', because he has crushes on lots of girls, and sometimes he even kisses girls!" I ask him what he thinks about that, and he says, "I thought I'd better ask you what you thought!" So I told him I thought that it wasn't appropriate for second graders to be kissing, but that getting crushes was pretty natural. I told him that when I was in second grade I had a crush on twenty one boys. At once. He called me a slut and rolled over. NO HE DIDN'T - I just wanted to see if you were still with me.

ANYHOO, he giggled at my story, then I asked him if he had any crushes. He said "Oh, GEEZ, I KNEW you were going to ask me this!" He put his hands in front of his face and thrashed around like I'd thrown lemon juice in his eyes, then he said "I do have a crush!" I asked him who it was, but told him that if he didn't feel comfortable telling me he didn't have to. I promised not to say anything to anyone (you don't count, internets. he was TOTALLY talking about anyone at his school), and so he told me he had a crush on basically every girl in his class. I said "well, you know, crushes are really normal at your age, but you should just treat those girls like friends, because they ARE your friends, and you know, no kissing. It's just not appropriate for second grade". He promised me no kissing, and promised that he would just be normal around the girls, and focus on school. And he promised not to talk about s-e-x at school. Which is good, because he he only knows enough right now to confuse anyone who happened to be in his path.

Then he said "Mom, if I marry 'MK' (his friend who is a boy), like they do in California, would I have to kiss him?"
Me, without skipping a beat: "well, yeah. that's what married people do. if they're doing it right."
Him: "would I have to wear a ring?"
Me: "Yes, probably".
Him, with concern in his voice: "could it be a man ring?"
Me, in complete seriousness: "Yes."

a quiet moment, then: "Mom, who do you want me to marry?"

Me: "I want you to marry someone you love."
Him: "I know. But who?"
Me: "Whoever you love".
Him: "I know, mom, but WHO?"
Me: "YOU ARE SEVEN YEARS OLD! When you're old enough to know who you love, that's who I will want you to marry. But I have always wanted you to marry 'G' since you were babies*. But, you know, only if that makes you happy. GOODNIGHT".

I felt like I stepped into a lovely row boat for a gentle paddle on a quiet lake and wound up navigating Class 5 rapids.

Geez, parenting is interesting sometimes.

*And if you really need to know if I want him to marry 'G' because she's a girl, it's truly not that. It's because they are such amazing friends. But if he grows up and still wants to marry 'MK', because he would make him happiest, it will be a mom's wish come true for me.

Some of the Nicest People I know

Joe-Henry's birthday is in November, so the rush of holidays that come directly after that always leave my head spinning. Never was this more true than the year he turned one. We had moved out of our apartment into a condo, and were getting to know our neighborhood. But it wasn't until the following holiday season that I would meet some incredible people who lived right across the street. It was sometime before Christmas, and Charley was carrying Joe-Henry on his shoulders, and I was wearing a pair of light up antlers that my sister had sent me that day. I had tried them on to amuse the boy and forgotten to take them off. We had gone for a walk around the neighborhood, and it wasn't until after I had a full conversation with our neighbors about the fact that we should get together sometime because we both had babies, that I realized I looked like Blitzen on a bender.

She handed me her number, and after a few days, I gave her a call. I was nervous - I hadn't done a lot of mingling, or playdates, or whatever new moms did. We'd just bonded with our little family and other friends who had babies the same age, but we didn't venture outside of that tiny circle much. Would she like me? Would my house be clean enough? Would we have anything to talk about besides our kids? As it turned out, she became one of my dearest friends, and her first-born one of Joe-Henry's first best pals. We'd meet around 4:00 in our little cul de sac, trading our catalogs we'd gotten in the mail, while the boys played in the "rabbit garden", making us "cowboy drinks". We'd watch them and laugh, scolding on occasion as they learned the social niceties about sharing and not playing too rough. She had another baby boy, then a couple years later, another baby boy. We became friends or acquaintances with others in the building, and they'd all come and go, laughing at our kids covered in dirt, or throwing sticks into the water meter.

We had been friends for a while when the last election rolled around, and we discovered that we sat on opposite sides of the aisle on many issues. We agreed on many, as well, and I like to think that we both have our hearts in the right places regarding doing what we believe is best for the country. But at some point, I think we had to agree to disagree, and stick to other topics in order to keep each other healthy. I never doubted for a moment that we would stay friends; we were too important to each other and kept each other sane in so many ways to lose a friendship over politics. We kept it civil from there on out, and I give her great credit - she never, ever gloated. She was a gracious winner. I like to think I would have done the same, because I love her dearly.

She moved first. They packed up their family and moved to Arizona, and we left the 'hood not long after, moving to the Northwest. I miss her so much. She would like the neighborhood I live in now. There are a lot of friendly Republicans here, too. I have one right next door who knows Sarah Palin's husband personally. He is so excited about the election, and ribs me constantly about my lonely Obama sign on our lawn. He tells me he's going to put up his McCain sign, and I smile and tell him he should, this country is big enough for both of us and our opinions. None of the rest of our neighbors have signs up, but they don't really have to. I kind of know already.

I am doing my best to load up on facts, to keep civil, to fight the GOOD fight - sticking to facts and trying to remember that my neighbors don't wish me ill personally.

But during THIS election? It's really so hard sometimes I think my head might explode. But I know if I collapse on my lawn, my ears spurting blood, one of my nice Republican neighbors will call 9-1-1.

"facts ought not be debatable"

Saw this on the Huffington Post, and I think it puts to words the feeling I've been having that has left me screaming at my radio and television.

"But facts ought not be debatable. The media have an obligation to point out when a politician is lying about a matter of fact, but the right-wing attack machine has so cowed some of them you can almost hear them moo. Steve Schmidt, McCain's top dog, is a brilliant and audacious strategist. His candidate has had the most favorable press coverage of any politician of the last century -- fawning, adoring, sycophantic press coverage. And yet he is brutalizing the press, waterboarding them into pretending that whether Gov. Palin supported the "Bridge to Nowhere," or hired an Abramoff-connected lobbyist to secure massive earmarks are somehow debatable.

The real debate is over whether the media will be vigilant watchdogs, sounding the alarm when McCain and Palin lie, or fall back to the role they've played for most of McCain's career: lapdog." Paul Begala

Here's the rest of the article.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Working Girl

Last year was the first year that I worked as a parapro in a specialized communications class. I sought this job because: it payed better than the other aide jobs (but not as much as bus drivers - those folks are livin' the dream: they drive for a couple hours, and spend the rest of the day reading or buffing their nails or eating donuts or something), and I would be able to put JH on his bus to school, and be waiting for him when he got home. I would also have all the same holidays and days off, which would save us in childcare expenses. I also took the job because in my previous life (before JH) I was an actor, and though I loved it so much at the time, I have lost my burning desire for it. And that's what it takes to make money at it. And we need money. And insurance. And I know that starting all those sentences with "And" is going to have me burning in Grammatical Hell, but I still have that side of me that just HAS to call attention to myself, so I just turn all BadAss with the English Language and say "TAKE THAT, Blogosphere!"

Where was I? Oh, yes, my job. It could have been a disaster, but it has been anything but. Yes, there are days when I want to cry and run away, but mostly, I am so excited to go to work, so thrilled to be trusted with these amazing kids, and so energized by our joint attempts at communication.

I happened to walk into this job a complete neophyte a) working in the public school system, and b) working with a population that has all kinds of special sensory needs. If I were to write a job description for someone considering this line of work, it would go something like this:

"Part Australian Blue Heeler, part Rodeo Clown, part mud wrestler, part wind talker. Humor is a must. Fashion Plates need not apply. Creative thinking is a must. You will spend your day running, or waiting. You will get dirty. You will get frustrated. You will need a good stiff drink at times. But you will also fall in love on a daily basis. You will see examples of heroic attempts to overcome obstacles several times a day. And you will leave each day wondering how you can make the next day better."

I'll be managing better after a month or so. But I remember last year at this time, I was taking afternoon naps, the kind where you wake up in your own drool and wonder where you are and what year it is. This year is a bit better, but I'm still dragging my ass. Of course, it's closer to the ground than it was this time last year, but we're working on that.

So now you know a little bit more about how I spend my days.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Magical

Maybe I was just so taken with Suttonhoo's tweet that she has BUNNIES in her backyard, but I've been realizing that, what with the Election and everything, I'm needing a bit more MAGIC in my life.

A friend sent me this link, and I knew I had to share it with you all. Enjoy your Sunday. Hope you find some magic of your own.


Little Girl Giant Plays in the Park from XINERGY on Vimeo.

I Tried...

But I just couldn't do it.

Darlin' Melanie sent me this clip, because I haven't been up late enough to see my secret boyfriend Jon Stewart and our tivo is out. Enjoy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

HeadSong Friday: More Love

Happy Friday! Hey, we made it! In a week that brought us the Republican Convention and some truly fantastic mudslinging, I wanted to offer my own olive branch to my conservative brothers and sisters.

I know there are some out there who believe very differently than I do, and the snark and sarcasm has been flowing freely out there on both sides, so I'd like to wrap you all up in a big warm hug and ask if we can't all get along? Or at least agree to do our part to focus on the real issues rather than take the nasty pot-shots that are just too easy to come by during any political season.

I'm not making any promises, I'm just saying I'll do my best.

Have a lovely Autumn weekend, all.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Because My Brain is Incapacitated....

...due to school/work starting, I am posting verbatim what my brilliant friend Melanie said. She doesn't have a blog (yet), but she should. This is her reaction to Palin's speech, which I am still not feeling brave enough to watch:

"Well, let me first swallow the vomit in the back of my throat...

I felt like I was watching the emperors new clothes. First of all, I wish someone at one of these friggin networks would comment on the complete lack of diversity in attendance at the RNC. It looked like the Southern Baptist White Convention.

Her speech was energizing and direct and I'm sure worked in the house last night. She attacked Obama many times and would do so with a smug smile. She looked like a puppet for Karl Rove. And with a 72 year old nominee, that is exactly what she will be. They kept her off topic with regards to social issues which was smart as she is extreme even for the RNC, and they put her on the attack instead. She came off as a little mean. Not sure if I would have gone there when it is the first impression most people will see. Guilianni was an a-hole, criticizing the "left wing media" (forgetting how much he loved being called "America's Mayor"). I think that Palin gave them exactly what they wanted and needed. There is a buzz out here among conservative women who perhaps weren't going to vote. I am afraid that this choice will expand McCain's base with the uneducated white rural voter. Her speech was effective but full of half truths and some flat out misrepresentations. I don't think she has a right (having been in a national race all of 10 days) to be so critical and dismissive of Obama. Frankly, I wanted to punch her. She made fun of his "Community organizing", made him out to be a fake Jesus, made fun of the pillars on his set in Denver, made fun of Michelle's comments on pride, made fun of Obama's comments on guns and religion saying "what you see is what you get with me and McCain". Ok, that helps when there is audio like the one I sent you or the one where she condones a radio talk show host who refers to her democratic rival in Alaska as a "bitch" and a "cancer". She is so extreme in everything from choice to climate change and by not going there last night, I realized that is their Achilles heel with her." Bold italics mine. We need to be driving this home. Anyway, to get back to what Melanie sez:

"She truly doesn't sit well with moderates or independents. Our job is to make sure that people (especially women) are aware of just how extreme her views are. Right now there is euphoria in the RNC and McCain still has to speak tonight. He's not a great speaker but Damn! He's a war hero! He needs to clarify his positions. My fear is that this euphoria will last nine weeks and she could be our president. I am truly frightened by that.

You should watch the speech."

(Yes, I know, but I'm just too chicken. I'm afraid my hubby would come home to find I had spontaneously combusted. So I'm waiting a bit.

"She was able to be the bitchy PTA mom and remain likeable. We need Hillary to fight her on her record, we need Biden to fight her on her record and on her flip flops. This is no longer about race or gender or party, it's about two completely different directions for this country. One that moves us ahead and one that not only maintains the status quo politically but socially could put us back 30 years."

Exactly.

She sent me another email this afternoon, with this addition:

"How come no one is talking about the fact that Obama went to HARVARD!!! Where did she go to school????? Then Obama gave up six figures to go and help real people in a real crisis! His "responsibility" was to his own conscience because he saw human suffering and wanted to make it better. It's not ambition to work for 10,000 a year in the south side of Chicago. It's heart. And soul. God am I proud to be a DEMOCRAT!!"

Amen, Sistah.

Everyone, lets give it up for my brilliant friend Melanie. She could use it, she lives in Alabama, and let's face it, she's not surrounded by like-minded individuals.